The Larkin Ledgers

Like an endless chain of half-built houses

Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part VIII.ii BEAUTIFUL AND BROKEN

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We left Auri sitting on the couch contemplating the proper place fro the brazen gear.  She considers Throughbottom.

Perhaps some long-dead hulking mechanata was in desperate need of nine bright teeth and love in its abandoned heart?

Throughbottom has been the focus of some of the most intense speculation about the Underthing. When it first appeared in chapter eighty-seven of The Name of the Wind, Kvothe estimated that it was more than fifty feet below the surface.

Deeper still, we came to Throughbottom, a room like a cathedral, so big that neither Auri’s blue light nor my red one reached the highest peaks of the ceiling. All around us were huge, ancient machines. Some lay in pieces: broken gears taller than a man, leather straps gone brittle with age, great wooden beams that were now explosions of white fungus, huge as hedgerows.NW 678

He noted an iron block as big as a house, deeply rusted; verdigris thick as moss; and a waterwheel three stories in diameter.

I had only the vaguest of ideas as to what any of the machines might have done. I had no guess at all as to why they had lain here for uncounted centuries, deep underground. There didn’t seem—

And it cuts off. Chapter eighty eight is the interlude with the soldier-cum-bandit-cum-shambleman comes in “looking.” Throughbottom never comes up again. We’d really like a count on those centuries.

Running her finger along the broken tooth of the gear, Auri realizes what’s missing from the sitting room.  She peels back the carpet and rests the belt buckle she fished out of The Twelve next to the button there. The room is no longer wrong. It’s perfect, like a circle or a bell. The Kingkiller Chronicle is dense with bell imagery, but it’s much more frequent in The Slow Regard of Silent Things. Now that the room’s complete, Auri’s free to nick the golden ring with the amber setting from the table. She dances.

She grabs the gear and starts to head back.

Auri went as motionless as stone. Silent as the stillness in a heart. It couldn’t be. Not yet. She had days and days. She wasn’t nearly—

This is cool because it’s operating on several levels. From a purely narrative standpoint, it’s interrupting the story.  Auri knew she had seven days and it’s only been three. Could she have been wrong?  She was, of course, but we don’t know that yet. Itself interrupted it reinforces the story’s stutter.

It’s recalling the conversation between Kvothe and Auri.  She’s already being patient as a stone. According to the comments on Part VI.i, this should be the fifth day following that conversation, so even there he’d be a day early.

It pairs silence and stillness.  The heart of the Adem. Two things Kvothe learns, or almost learns, during his time chasing the wind.  He at least learned enough of it to impress the judges during his test at the Latantha.

Finally, though they’re not right together, the sentences juxtaposed recreate the image of Teccam’s secrets of the heart.

Secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become.WMF 487

It’s something Auri seems to understand, whether via instinct or education, earlier in the book. When Kvothe is in the throes of the plum bob and she seeks him out, she says, “I know,” she said. “You have a stone in your heart, and some days it’s so heavy there is nothing to be done.”

She sprints back to Mantle through Faceling, which smells of hot flowers and fear.  She washes, changes clothes, and tires to choose a gift.  She rejects The Book of Secrets (for now), the crystal, the gear, and the ring.  She associated the ring with demons.

This is the third reference to demons surrounding amber rings.  Wil mentions it in his list of wishings and one’s been added to Kvothe’s legend by the time he goes listening in Tarbean. It might be safe to speculate that demon controlling amber rings are a cross-cultural symbol in the Four Corners. A sort of meta-story that we don’t know the origin of.

She settles on the holly berries and bottles them. Later they’ll become part of the gifts she actually gives Kvothe, so the early partial decision is fairly interesting. The berries are “dutiful and true.”

Auri exits through the grate in Applecourt.  We learn that the tree has a name, Lady Larbor. Since she stands beneath its sheltering branches, Larbor is probably L’arbor, “of sheltering branches.” She scampers squirlish up On Top of Things.

She could see the prickly chimbleys of Crucible, and winged Mews all full of flickerlight . To the east she spied the silver line of the Old Stone Road cutting gully-deep into the forest, off to Stonebridge, over the river, and away away away. . . .

Like nekkid, chimbley is a dialectical tic. It’s used in everything from Finnegan’s Wake to Green Eggs and Ham. Considering Neil Gaiman read the latter for last year’s Worldbuilders, it’s possible Pat picked it up there. Also like nekkid it can make Auri seem younger than she is even though she’s looking at the Crucible and detailing her knowledge of the immediate area. It’s curious that she drops the article for Crucible, eliding the difference between calling names and personal pronouns.

On Top of ThingsShe sits in the lee of a tall brick chimney in order to hide from the moon. It’s the same waning crescent that appears on the ALSO BY PATRICK ROTHFUSS page. It’s not a good moon.

There’s no explanation why, though it might be because the waning moon is closer to the moonless night.

And we finally have the stars behind the moon with a character in the shot in a canonical story.  So that’s nice.

Kvothe isn’t here.

He wasn’t coming till the seventh day. She knew. She knew the way of things.

Auri still knows he’s coming on the seventh day, even though he’s really not.  As much as she knows the way of things, the shape of the world, she’s fallible. Unreliable.

Like Auri, Kvothe knows things, knows the shape of the world, but he’s not always right. Neither of them are lying. But they are individual perspectives interpreting the world through biased eyes.

Auri sits.  Auri looks.  Auri waits.

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One thought on “Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part VIII.ii BEAUTIFUL AND BROKEN

  1. Nice. Two things to note:

    1) At this point, we have seen examples of all of the rings on Kvothe’s first hand — Stone, Fela’s ring; Iron, Vintish rings including the Maer’s; Amber, Auri’s new ring; Wood, Meluian’s ring; Bone, Stape’s ring. Whether these are the same rings from the poem or not is another question, but we have specific examples of all five.

    2) The period of time that Auri is on the roof corresponds with the period when Kvothe plays at the Eolian. As I’ve commented elsewhere, I think that his music is the key here (and could resolve the concern about whether they meet during this period or not). She senses or Knows that he’s going to play, and that is why she gets ready and goes on top of things. She happens to be wrong — he is playing in Imre, not for her on Mains — but she’s right that he’s playing.

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