The Larkin Ledgers

Like an endless chain of half-built houses


FAQ: When does The Slow Regard of Silent Things Take Place?

When additional material is added to a series, finished or ongoing, one of the first things readers want to know is when in relation to the primary work it takes place. Sometimes the author tells you. Sometimes ze does not. Pat wants the reader know, but he also likes to make you work a little.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things takes place between the events of chapter four of The Wise Man’s Fear, “Tar and Tin,” and chapter eleven, “Haven.” The following passage precedes the events of the novella.

“You didn’t bring your lute,” she said after we had finished eating.
“I have to go read tonight,” I said. “But I’ll bring it soon.”
“How soon?”
“Six nights from now,” I said. I’d be finished with admissions then, and more studying would be pointless.
Her tiny face pulled a frown. “Six days isn’t soon,” she said. “Tomorrow is soon.”
“Six days is soon for a stone,” I said.
“Then play for a stone in six days,” she said. “And play for me tomorrow.”
“I think you can be a stone for six days,” I said. “It is better than being a lettuce.”
She grinned at that. “It is.”WMF p35

And the final line of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, “DEEP IN THE UNDERTHING, stones warm beneath her feet, Auri heard a faint, sweet strain of music,” occurs concurrent with this passage.

Auri in Lady Larbor

Auri wasn’t expecting me, but this was the first place I’d met her, and on clear nights she sometimes came out to watch the stars. I checked to make sure the classrooms overlooking the courtyard were dark and empty, then I brought out my lute and began to tune it.
I had been playing for almost an hour when I heard a rustling movement in the overgrown courtyard below. Then Auri appeared, scurrying up the overgrown apple tree and onto the roof.
She ran toward me, her bare feet skipping lightly across the tar, her hair blowing behind her. “I heard you!” she said as she came close. “I heard you all the way down in Vaults!”
“I seem to remember,” I said slowly, “that I was going to play music for someone.”
“Me!” She held both her hands close to her chest, grinning. She moved from foot to foot, almost dancing with her eagerness. “Play for me! I have been as patient as two stones together,” she said. “You are just in time. I could not be as patient as three stones.”WMF 103

She gives him the candle, a kiss, and the offer of a place to stay. All of which she’s been preparing.



Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part XII.ii ASH AND EMBER

It was just as Master Mandrag always said: nine tenths of chemistry was waiting.

The last time she remembered Mandrag she was sealing the pipe in Rubric. That time we didn’t get a direct quote and this time we do. We can expect to see more details, not just her using and appreciating alchemical creations but perhaps making something of her own. And that’s exactly where the text is going.

Last time wan’t exactly free of consequence, though. Even a relatively minor moment of clarity came with acute paranoia and subtle hallucinations. So we should also expect a proportional backlash.

While she’s waiting for her fire, she traipses off to Tree to gather supplies, including the lump of suet she nicked from the barn in the mirror chapter “A QUITE UBCOMMON PLEASANT PLACE.” She also grabs the bowl of nutmegs.

A and E Nutmegs

So strange and rare. So full of faraway. She picked one up and ran her fingertips along its tippled skin.

Out here in the extratextual world, nutmeg was available from only a single island until the nineteenth century. Given the roughly Renaissance setting of The Kingkiller Chronicle, a similar if not identical situation on Temerant probably accounts for the rarity and distance desc.  The choice of “tippled” to describe the outer skin of the seeds is interesting. Casual dictionary delving reveals two definitions, neither of which is really textural.

The first is related to alcohol and its consumption. For a general class of potential intoxicants, this could wit some stretching apply to nutmeg, which can produce myristicin. The other describes a device for overturning freight cars. Again, with a stretch, knowing what’s coming in the text, there’s some reverberation with the end of the chapter. But it’s an odd turn of phrase no matter how one conceives it. And yet it, if you’ve handled nutmeg pits, it seems to saound reasonable.

She retrieves a mortar and pestle from Darkhouse and some other items from Clinks and Tenners. She sets the suet to render and cooks the acorns, also gathered in the paired chapter. After eating them, she grinds the nutmegs in the mortar.

NMortar & Pestleate Taylor created several drawings of the mortar that didn’t make it into the book.  He and Pat were wary of showing too much of Auri, which is why so many of the images feature just her arms or legs. They previewed one such during their Worldbuilders hangout.

Ultimately this one was just too busy. Auri, the mortar, the bowl, the clay cup, the linen sack and the sticks, a bottle, the pot. Two pieces of it survived to become the starker, closer images in the published version.

When she was finished grinding, Auri pulled the copper pot of melted suet off the fire. She stirred. She sieved the dottle off till there was nothing left but hot, sharp tallow.

Dottle is another strange choice of words. There are impurities that separate and rise when rendering that need to be skimmed off. However, dottle appears to refer specifically to “unburned and partially burned tobacco in the bowl of a pipe.” So I’m either not looking in the right place or this is another sidelong glance at intoxicants foreshadowing her upcoming ethnobotanical experience.

She brought the bottle of Esther’s and set it near the fireplace with her tools.

This is Pat reiterating and indulging in the Esther/ester pun from the previous chapter. Esther’s esters will provide the selas scent for her soap. She tries to bring the laurel fruit from her excursion outside since it’s required by the structure of the story, but it won’t fit. For whatever mysterious reason, the Auri won’t be bathing in laurels. Those are for someone else.

It exasperated her, but she knew better than to force the world to bend to her desire.

Oddly enough, she’ll do exactly that with the laurels later. She’ll bend the world just a little for someone else. Like the hair-splitting that allowed her the faerie bread but not the milk, a little reality warping is sometimes justifiable. Just not for herself.

As she gets into the processes, Rothfuss begins to play a bit with the words.  Birch and Ash “make a medley without melding or meddling,” much like the silences in the Prologues and Epilogues of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. Counterpoints, each existing alone but acting together. Hawthorn is sufficiently apetalous to make her blush. The nutmegs are “a cipher and a mystery.”

They’re a code to be unlocked. Hence the unusual descriptors. The mystery is essential to period appropriate alchemical texts, which buried their practices in allegory and code to throw off both persecution and easy proliferation. It’s a sort of metacommentary on the text. That it’s about a seed is doubly funny.

Anyway, having skimmed the tallow she finds it full of rage. Without, forgiving another pun, “laurel to keep it at bay” she needs to draw the animus out. We finally see some hands on alchemy as she takes the pot to a shaft of moonlight in tumbrel and absorbs the anger with a bead of beeswax.


A and E Wax

As neat a factoring as ever hand of man had managed.

Kvothe is surrounded by alchemists. His best friend, his creditor, his nemesis, and his companionable sewer urchin are all evoking principles and factoring around him and he knows nothing about it. For someone who prides himself on his own cleverness, he’s leaving himself at a distinct disadvantage.

She takes the copper pot to Tree to cool and extracts a clean white disc. Then she puts the wax bead with all the factored fury in a jar. And she places it on a high shelf in Boundary, breaching the door that’s not for her with neither warning nor comment.


Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part XI.iv – THE ANGRY DARK

Laying in bed, Auri finds she cannot sleep. Doing a mental inventory, she decides it’s neither the cold, her bitten hand, or loneliness keeping her awake. It’s her treatment of the blanket, stuffed angrily into the wine rack.

No. She knows it’s because of her anger with and ill treatment of the blanket. Despite it no longer being fit for her bed, it’s still worth folding it properly.

She smoothed it gently out across the table, murmuring an apology. And she was sorry. She knew better. Cruelty never helped the turning of the world.

Here something implicit in the text is made obvious. The difference between compassion and cruelty actually affects the world around her; perhaps around us. The former actually assists the turning of the world.

She places the blanket on the bookshelf in Port. She moves some of the other objects nearer to it, to keep it company. She finds the tears that eluded her earlier. Is it another day because she attempted sleep? Does that bend the structural rules that left her bereft, unable to cry on the previous “day?”

She mentally inventories both Port and Mantle. Everything’s in order and it reads like the early pages of the novella. The order is the same, with the additions, like the brazen gear and the amber ring, that she’s added to her collection.

Despite all of this, she felt unsettled. Here, in her most perfect place.

She’s not clear about exactly what’s wrong, though we, as readers, have clues. She’s still focused inwards, on her space, her sense of self.  Her vanity.

She weeps for an hour and we get a sense of Mantle’s size. I’d imagined it as a relatively small, intimate place, but it’s quite large. Having done so, she remains uncomfortable, She checks Port again. She unloads some of her pockets and sits down.

As she sat on the edge of her bed, Auri realized what was out of place . She was herself in disarray. She’d seen something in Tumbrel and not tended to it.

Of course it’s the three mirrored vanity she’d noticed in the flickering light of her spirit lamp. I’ve commented on it before, but I really like the juxtaposition of her own navel gazing with the fortunately named furniture. And it’s marked with three, with mirrors, just in case the word wasn’t enough of a clue.

Still, she doesn’t want to go fix it.  She’s worn out.  Apparently that doesn’t matter, though. She goes through a bit of self denial and recrimination and resolves to get the job, the mending, done.

So she stood and made her slow way back to Tumbrel. Down Crumbledon. Through Wains. Through circle-perfect Annulet and up the unnamed stair.

Annulet. She made the sitting room right earlier, but its name was never given. Now we get it in passing. Literally, it means “little ring.” Circle perfect. Passing through it quietly, since there’s no eureka moment when we discover its name, might also suggest “annul.” Auri’s self is given over to the task, obliterated as she passes through this time.

She takes her time examining the vanity in the sifting light. She considers it from both sides. From above and below.

She tried not to look in the mirrors, knowing how she must appear. An unwashed, red-eyed, tangled mess. Too thin. Too pale.

A nod to her self consciousness and her deliberate rejection thereof. As she owns both the text acknowledges some of the the flaws of her existence. Life in the Underthing may be something of an adventure, but it’s hardly romanticized.

Simonetti 4 Tumbrel


This is another image from La Musique du Silence. Marc Simonetti’s vision of the Underthing is somewhat more detailed than Nate Taylor’s and Pat had less involvement with those illustrations. I like this image because it grounds the object in place and context.

Because the vanity looms large in the text, it can seem like a construct floating in space waiting for Auri’s intervention. In the French text it’s simply part of a bedroom set in a ruined room, surprisingly intact and yet still disordered. A bit like Auri herself.

She sits before it anestherd determines that the disarray works. The metaphoric connection continues to operate. It only needs a few adjustments. She swaps two drawers and puts away a hairbrush. Then she hides a brooch.

It’s almost right. The only thing remaining out of place is  “a delicate blue bottle with a twisted silver stopper.” She tries righting it.  She tries polishing it. She tries to find a place for it in a drawer. Nothing seems right.

Turning it over in her hands, she saw tiny letters etched across the bottom of the glass. They read: For My Intoxicating Esther.

Amused, Auri pulls the stopper an inhales. It’s perfume and Auri is delighted by the pun. Rather than some sort of Biblical reference, though who knows I guess, it’s a chemical one. Esters are the volatile compounds that make alcohols and fragrances intoxicating.

Of course she pockets it. The vanity is set right and Auri actually laughs all the way home. She places the bottle on the shelf next to what was formerly her, but now just the, blanket and finally heads to bed.

It’s cold. It’s lonely. But she’s done things the proper way.  And that’s something.


Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part XI.i – THE ANGRY DARK

WHEN AURI WOKE on the fourth day, things had changed.

Things are different. It’s not just a fold in the narrative, a turning toward the end, but it is definitely that.  It’s interesting because the ring expands here.  Not only is the chapter parallel to “HOLLOW” in some creative ways, it also nods to “WHAT A LOOK ENTAILS.” Look at the beginnings.  These are the days that begin in darkness. They rhyme. The second day is a turning day

So today was a tapering day. A burning day.

It’s a tapering day not because she makes candles, but because the narrative is narrowing back to its beginning from this point forward. She intended to use a candle, or course.  However, it’s telling that she couldn’t light it. Like an incongruous foot in a line of poetry, it points to a deeper meaning. It’s a burning days because Foxen is “full of mountains” and unusable, unavailable. My best guess is that mountains refer to it’s figurative inaccessibility. She’ll have to rely on flame for light, which will cause a little bit of trouble.

spirit lamp

This chapter begins addressing in earnest something only hinted at so far. Want, desire, is attached to wickedness. It’s somehow fundamentally wrong.

But for half a minute she wished it was a different sort of day, even though she knew that nothing good could come from wanting at the world. Even though she knew it was a wicked thing to do.

She’s nonetheless compelled to behave as though it’s a different sort of day,  Despite being a bad day for doing, she has much to do.  And so she acts as though it’s a doing day.

The world seems to resist. Her matches fail, leaving her to navigate in the dark.  She’s left without soap, which is devastating to her normal routine. And we’ll come to several other minor setbacks and annoyances.

She’s an imperfect creature. She’s come to some unusual understanding of the world, but not herself. This isn’t a complaint. The text, both The Slow Regard of Silent Things and The Kingkiller Chronicle, are explicit about her name being new. This chapter vaguely refers to the time before she had it.

She had been sitting like this, empty as eggshell. Hollow and chest-heavy in the angry dark when she’d first heard him playing. Back before he’d given her her sweet new perfect name.

Not having a name, nor knowing it intimately, Auri’s wants and desires can be mitigated and yet misunderstood at the same time.That’s also the first of two doubled title drops in “THE ANGRY DARK.” It has to carry the burden of “HOLLOW” as well, since the latter was given over to metatextual function.

Auri makes her way in the dark. She passes through both Scaperling and Dunnings, reinforcing the parallels with “WHAT A LOOK ENTAILS,” the only other chapter featuring those areas. New areas of the Underthing in this chapter include The Black Twelve, The Silver Twelve, Emberling, Bakery, Old Ironways, Winnoway, and Draughting.

Damp Early Treeand moldy from Scaperling and sticky with webs from Dunnings, she finally arrives at Tree. In the Worldbulders 2014 Hangout with Nate Taylor, Pat revealed that part of the name for Tree came from a simple riddle.  What kind of tree has food in it?

They also revealed one of the earlier designs for Tree where it looks more like a kitchen with shelves over a a sink-like chill well, hanging pans, and a full body image of Auri.

She finds and lights her spirit lamp. She rinses her hands and face and feet in the chill well. She eats the turnip and the remaining fig.

From there she makes her way to Bakery to replenish her soap. Her stores are missing, eaten by some intrepid rodent. We see her angry for the first time. She denies the rodent’s being, calling it a thing. It’s fairly significant since she tends to allow most objects a rudimentary self.

Reaching out , she took the tuft of fur between her fingers. The gesture was so tight with rage she feared she’d snap and crack the world in two.

It’s unclear here whether she could. Is her fear legitimate.  Or is it the hyperbole of excessive emotion.  While it’s probably the latter, I think the remaining chapters create a context in which Auri sees that kind of unfettered feeling as a catalyst for the incredible misuse of power.

Is there a parallel here to the broken world? Is it this kind of overwhelming desire that engendered so much strife?

She stamped her foot. She hoped the greedy thing shit for a week. She hoped it shit its awful self inside-out and backward, then fell into a crack and lost its name and died alone and hollow-empty in the angry dark.

With the second double drop, Auri wishes her worst moments on the thief. The eater. The thing. While it’s understandable in its way, it’s also somewhat terrifying. So, Auri isn’t all butterflies and flowers. Witnessing her rage prepares us for the reveals in the final chapters.

Her rage turns to disgust and she casts the tuft of fur away. Exasperated, she tries to run her hands through her hair and finds even that difficult. Behaving as though its a doing day when it’s not is contrary.

For a second her hard eyes went all brimful, but she blinked them back.

Because she cried on the third day, she cannot on the fourth. Like the chapter titles, this will come up again. Enraged, she storms back toward Mantle.


Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part IX.ii – A QUITE UNCOMMON PLEASANT PLACE

After her skeletal cosseting and laurel poking, Auri continues to explore the forest.  Eventually she comes across a creek she’s never seen before.  This adventure outside the Underthing clearly isn’t unique, but it’s certainly, as the chapter title suggests, uncommon.  She hasn’t mapped or memorized the surrounding area.

Finally she comes to a farmhouse. How far away from Haven and the University is this place?

On the back porch, near the door, there was a small table. A wooden plate covered with an overturned wooden bowl rested there. Beside it was a bowl of clay, covered with a glazed clay plate.

Auri lifted the wooden bowl and found a piece of fresh brown bread beneath. It held health and heart and hearth. A lovely thing, and full of invitation. She put it in her pocket.

She knew the other bowl held milk, but the plate that covered it faced up. It was not for her. She left it for the faeries.

It’s worth quoting that bit at length because there’s plenty going on. Interestingly, Felurian mentions bread for faeries but not milk.

“many of the darker sort would love to use you for their sport. what keeps these from moonlit trespass? iron, fire, mirror-glass. elm and ash and copper knives, solid-hearted farmer’s wives who know the rules of games we play and give us bread to keep away. but worst of all, my people dread the portion of our power we shed when we set foot on mortal earth.”WMF 671

While Kote singles out ash and rowan in The Wise Man’s Fear, the rhyme quoted in Part IX.i might be a concatenation of two separate traditions, both with specific purposes.  Ash and elm keep the fae at bay, while proper disposal of things demonic requires ash and rowan. Since demon and faen are more or less synonymous in The Four Corners, the distinction between the two traditions elided.

That sort of fictive drift might account for why it’s okay for Auri to swipe the bread but not the milk.  The farmer’s wife inhabiting the house probably left both out for the same purpose. Whether it was for faeries or simply because it was cooler outside is debatable.  However, Auri’s response is specific to the tradition mentioned by Felurian.  The part we don’t see, but can infer, is that the dinnerware is supposed to be placed upright.

As she approaches the barn, she confronts a massive guardian. “There was a strange dog there, all gristle and bay.” It’s a clever bit of wordplay since she acquires both bay (laurel fruit) and gristle (suet) in the chapter. Channeling Snow White and Crocodile Dundee she befriends it and renders it unconscious.

Auri scales the barn and enters through the hayloft.  She grooms a horse, feeds a goat, and ignores a cat.

Auri AQUPP Turnipspent some time there, looking over everything. The grindstone. The quern. The small, well-fitted churn. A bearskin stretched upon a rack to cure. It was a quite uncommon, pleasant place. Everything was tended to and loved. Nothing she could see was useless, lost, or wrong.

Well, nearly nothing. Even the tightest ship lets slip a little water. A single turnip had gone tumbling from its bin to lie abandoned on the floor. Auri put it in her gathersack.

The turnip was featured in another unpublished illustration.

Aside from the embedded chapter title, we get a better sense of what she’s up to with regards to mending.  She’s looking to make use of the useless, find the lost, and right the wrong. Admittedly, it’s unclear to the reader what the rules for her gathering are.

She finds an icebox where everything’s mostly in good order, but some enraged suet is apparently fair game, and she can trade a length of lace for some honeycomb.

Then Auri took the clean white cloth that had held the hollyberry earlier and rubbed it with some butter. Then she broke off a piece of sticky comb the size of her spread hand and wrapped it up as tidy as can be.

She would have loved to have some butter too, as hers was full of knives.

She literally just took some butter. I’m just saying.  Maybe the lace covered it, but the text does not, can not, acknowledge it.  And so Auri’s revealed to be imperfect.  Thieving.  It comes up in her soap in the paired chapter.

Distraught at being unable to justify more butter, she stows her acquisitions and exits the barn. She kisses the dreaming dog. She skips away but catches a farmer’s daughter watching from a window.

What had she seen? Foxen’s green light shining through the slats? Auri’s tiny shape, obscured by hair like thistlepuff, barefoot in the moonlight?

ACrystal Treeside from elm and hawthorn, thistle is one of the words (okay, parts of words) that only appears in this chapter pair. Counting on the missing bread and the eerie alchemical light from the barn to do most of the imaginative work, Auri slips into cavorting faerie drag and cartwheels about. She leaves the crystal from Wains in a knothole in case the spying girl decides to investigate her otherworldly encounter.

It was the perfect thing. This was the perfect place. True, she was no longer in the Underthing. But even so, this was so true it could not be denied.

Proud and pleased, Auri returns to the graveyard and snacks on pine nuts, bread, and honey.

She licked her fingers too, as if she were some tawdry thing, all wicked and unseemly.

Here she uses the subjunctive mood to excuse herself for theft and impersonation.  It’s also wordplay.  The lace she left is tawdry.  Wicked and unseemly score the narrative in too many places to explore here.  And it recalls, by contrast, Kvothe’s impression of her perfect propriety while dining.



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Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part IX.i – A QUITE UNCOMMON PLEASANT PLACE

EVENTUALLY A CLOUD hid the moon. Smug thing. And Auri took the chance to scamper back into the Underthing.

Auri’s not afraid of the moon. She’s shown at various times in The Kingkiller Chronicle to be out when the moon’s phasing and when it’s absent from the sky. She waits for clouds to cross before the moon because the environment darkens. There’s nothing supernatural about her aversion to moonlight. However, she doesn’t want to be seen.

She’s disappointed that Kvothe wasn’t there.  That he wasn’t playing for her.  JohnPoint suggested after the last post that this second day corresponded to chapter six, “Love,” of The Wise Man’s Fear.  So perhaps Kvothe was playing.  Perhaps Auri somehow sensed it.

But she found a large tangle of dry wood in Umbrel, washed down the grates in some forgotten storm. Ash and elm and hawthorn. So much wood it took six trips to carry all of it to Mantle.

This is as good a spot as any to note the telltales of ring composition between A QUITE UNCOMMON PLEASANT PLACE and its paired chapter, ASH AND EMBER.  Heck, it might be the best place. Elm and hawthorn appear only in those two chapters along with acorns and suet. But the craft extends in a different direction that some of the other pairs.

Almost everything Auri picks up in this chapter makes an appearance in the one across the ring.  Much of it goes into or is at least involved in the soap making process.  The rest is eaten or stored. She actually returns to Umbrel with two of the items she finds together later to perform some alchemical factoring. She laughs, for different reasons, at the end of each.

The particular woods are noteworthy as well. Ash and elm feature prominently in The Name of the Wind in two distinct contexts. The first is the nursery ryhme about disposing demons. It appears in the frame…

“Let me tell you what to do.
Dig a pit that’s ten by two.
Ash and elm and rowan too—”
NW 39

… and the narrative:

The mayor nodded eagerly and singsonged, “Dig a pit that’s ten by two. Ash and elm and rowan too.” He cleared his throat.NW 646

There are all kinds of hints littered throughout The Slow Regard of Silent Things that Auri is only a former student despite Kvothe’s “moon fae” diminutive.  Auri interacts unremarkably with iron.  Her abilities are eschewed rather than limited.  And she has no trouble with ash and elm, even though both are mentioned right along with iron and fire by Felurian.

They’re also involved in a minor naming controversy.

“Fine,” I said, as I fished the leaf out of my mouth. It was yellow, shaped like a spearhead. “The wind has decided for us. Master Ash.”
“Are you sure it isn’t Master Elm?” she asked, eyeing the leaf. “It’s a common mistake.”
“Tastes like an ash,” I said. “Besides, elm is feminine.”
She nodded seriously, though her eyes were dancing. “Ash it is then.”
NW 558

I don’t think I’d noticed until now that ash and elm simultaneously recall something and point directly away from it. At any rate, both are hardwoods ideal for making lye, or “caustic lies,” which dovetails in the paired chapter and might suggest something about Denna’s patron.  The ash/elm mistake comes up gain when Kvothe reconnects with her in chapter sixty-four of The Wise Man’s Fear.

After gathering the wood, Auri washes.AQUPP Haven  She changes back into the dress with more pockets and shoulders her gather sack.  She heads out of the Underthing.

She took the final piece of Mandril more by memory than sight, stepping carefully until she stood behind the upright runoff grate that looked out onto nothing much except the bottom of a gully. Auri moved to stand next to the heavy bars . From there she saw the bulk of Haven up upon the hill, a shadow looming large against the starry sky.

The accompanying image here didn’t make it into the final version of the book.  It’s Nate’s initial drawing of the exit from Mandril which was deemed too busy and maybe too revealing.  It’s not exactly canon, but it gives a decent sense of what Haven might look like.

Auri waits again for the clouds to obscure the moon and dim its light so she can move without being seen.  If Kvothe’s right about her, and Elodin seems to agree, avoiding Haven is probably a top priority.

The image that appears in the book is more spare, leaving much more to the imagination but retaining the mood of the rejected drawing.AQUPP 1Auri disappears into the woods.  She finds a small forgotten graveyard while gathering pinecones.  And we get a textual clarification about why she avoids the moon.

The moon was out again, but she was lower now, and bashful. Auri smiled at her, glad for the company now that she was no longer On Top of Things and Haven was far gone behind.

It’s only a threat because it reveals her to prying eyes. Once she’s alone and isolated, when nobody can see her on top of a University roof or skulking about the Rookery starved and half naked, it’s no big deal.  The light’s actually kind of handy.

Here on the edge of the clearing the moon showed acorns scattered on the ground. Auri spent a few minutes picking up the ones with perfect hats and tucking them into her gathersack.

In the paired chapter, she makes a meal of these. Perfect hats rang a bell and I tracked it down in Rogues. In another faen parallel, Bast demands similar acorns from Pem and Wilk.

“I also need twenty-one perfect acorns,” he said. “No holes, with all their little hats intact…”“The Lightning Tree”

Grave TreeShe finds an lonely laurus nobilis, odd in this forgotten place. Inhaling the aroma of bay leaves, she sees a gap between the roots, perfect for disposing of human remains.

Nodding, Auri reached into her gathersack and brought out the bone that she had found the day before . She bent down and tucked it deep inside the dark and hollow space beneath the tree.

Satisfied, she gathers a couple handfuls of laurel berries.  They’ll themselves be the source of some consternation in the later chapter. And we’ll finish this one on Friday.


Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part VI.i – THE FAR BELOW BOTTOM OF THINGS

WHEN AURI WOKE, she knew that she had seven days.

As first lines go, this one wasn’t much of a surprise.  We’d known about it since February of last year when Pat posted in on Facebook without any explanation.  A lot of people mistowhen auri woke, she knew that she had seven daysok it as a line from the tentatively titled The Doors of Stone, but a few folks figured out from context that it was probably from “The Weight of Her Desire,” a short story he’d been working on for Rogues.

It is, however, a kind of catnip for fans.  Auri.  Seven.  An alternative PoV.

And nerds.  It’s in iambic hexameter.  Simple sentences in blank verse aren’t necessarily unusual, but The Slow Regard of Silent Things gets a lot of its power from persistent iambs.  A fan tweeted just yesterday that that was intentional and Rothfuss responded.


Shakespeare’s common folk spoke in unrhymed iambic.  Heck, English speech is mostly iambic.  And arguably natural writing is as well.  We just don’t see it often in literature ’cause it can monotonous.  In most cases, the oddly metered sentence is the more interesting one.  So the effect here is novel.

Yes. She was quite sure of it. He would come for a visit on the seventh day.

With the second paragraph, we’ve already established the nature of the point of view, the relationship of the novella to The Kingkiller Chronicle, and the motivation of this particular story.  We’re essentially inside Auri’s mind.  We know what she knows.  We feel what she feels.  We understand what she understands.

We’re inside the told narrative of The Wise Man’s Fear.  We come in after the events of “Tar and Tin” and before those of “Haven.”

“You didn’t bring your lute,” she said after we had finished eating.
“I have to go read tonight,” I said. “But I’ll bring it soon.”
“How soon?”
“Six nights from now,” I said. I’d be finished with admissions then, and more studying would be pointless.
Her tiny face pulled a frown. “Six days isn’t soon,” she said. “Tomorrow is soon.”
“Six days is soon for a stone,” I said.
“Then play for a stone in six days,” she said. “And play for me tomorrow.”
“I think you can be a stone for six days,” I said. “It is better than being a lettuce.”
She grinned at that. “It is.”WMF p35

But why seven?  Well, Auri knows a lot of things, but she doesn’t know that a third person limited narrative allows for subjective unreality.  In other words, the novella isn’t entirely reliable.  Just like Kvothe occasionally knows things in first person that are not true, so Auri does in third.  The situation corrects itself by the end of the book.

A long time. Long for waiting. But not so long for everything that needed to be done. Not if she were careful. Not if she wanted to be ready.

And now we have a plot, such as it is.  It’s easy to forget as we travel through the story, but Auri’s getting ready for a visit and she has a goal.  It’s not action packed and it isn’t direct.  But something happens.

Opening her eyes, Auri saw a whisper of dim light. A rare thing, as she was tucked tidily away in Mantle, her privatest of places. It was a white day, then. A deep day. A finding day.

There are finding days, turning days, burning days, calling, sending, making, and mending days.  This is a finding day.  On finding days she seeks.  It’s a white day because of the whisper of light.  It’s a deep day because she’s going diving in The Twelve.  On finding days she dives three times and retrieves three objects from the water there.

There was just enough light to see the pale shape of her arm as her fingers found the dropper bottle on her bedshelf. She unscrewed it and let a single drip fall into Foxen’s dish. After a moment he slowly brightened into a faint gloaming blue.

I imagine this will drive speculation for awhile.  What exactly is Foxen?  What’s in the bottle?  Is it magic?  What kind?  That’s all well and good.  I don’t have a lot to offer on the subject.  Alchemical light source?  I’ll go with that.

I wanna point out that he drops a word like gloaming early.  This is gonna be a book with unusual words, some real, some not so much.  Remember the foreword: “If you love words…”  Pat does and he’s demonstrating that.


The third illustration depicts this scene.  Note Nate’s use of shadow and her too thin arms.  The book has already received a fair amount of praise from folks who find the depiction of mental illness accurate and relatable, but he conveys hunger, even starvation, well, too.  The shock of recognition was unsettling.

Then he sat proudly in his dish, looking like a blue-green ember slightly larger than a coin.

Here the careful reader realizes ze’s seen Foxen before, through Kvothe’s eyes: “She carried the bottle and held aloft something the size of a coin that gave off a gentle greenish light.”WMF 34  This is just a page before the discussion about when he’ll play next. It’s a sort of meta-marker for the story’s position within the parent text.  There’s already been some concern about the timelines not lining up correctly in the comments here and on the Tor Reread.  My passion for the Timeline has waned a little, but those concerns bear some more attention.

There were three ways out of Mantle. There was a hallway, and a doorway, and a door. The last of these was not for her.

Just a few pages in and we have a second mystery.  What’s behind the door?  Why isn’t it for here.  When the ring closes in THE HIDDEN HEART OF THINGS, we’ll have answers to both.  The doorway leads to Port.  The hallway leads to Tree.  In the first chapter, we glimpse more of the Underthing than we have or, probably, will in The Kingkiller Chronicle.

MantleThe Far Below Bottom of Things
The Twelve
Black Door
Sit Twice

Just as she did in Mantle, Auri checks the items there and adjusts them in what seems like a whimsical manner.  Her care with the blanket casts a shadow or compulsion over that whimsy.  However, we’ll come to understand that she has a deeper understanding of “Nothing was nothing else. Nothing was anything it shouldn’t be.”  Is it whimsy?  Is she cracke?.  Or is it something else?  Is she actually listening to these objects and treating them accordingly?  I think it’s a combination of the latter two.  Like Pat said in his tweet, seeing the shape of things doesn’t preclude insanity.  Elodin seemed pretty confident in Alder Whin despite his erratic behavior.

After checking her things in Port and herself in Van, after washing her face and hands and feet, something we’ll see a lot of, in Mantle, Auri travels to The Yellow Twelve.  This is something else we’ve seen before.

We made our way down three spiral staircases made of black wrought iron to reach the Grey Twelve. It was like standing in the bottom of a canyon. Looking up I could see faint moonlight filtering in through drain grates far overhead.NW 678

Auri, or the limited PoV explains the color change.  Sometimes The Twelve is simply The Twelve.  Sometimes it’s grey, yellow, or even black; depending on the type of light filtering down from the grate.  Anything but the last is relatively safe.

The Twelve was one of the rare changing places of the Underthing. It was wise enough to know itself, and brave enough to be itself, and wild enough to change itself while somehow staying altogether true. It was nearly unique in this regard, and while it was not always safe or kind, Auri could not help but feel a fondness for it.

The chapter title appears in the text on page six right before the illustration above in what’s known as a title drop.  This occurs in every proper chapter save one.  It’s something that occasionally happened in The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, but not consistently enough to find a pattern.  There’s a pretty good reason when it doesn’t happen in the novella, which I’ll discuss when we come to it.

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FAQ: Where is Severen?

Of the, maybe, eleven cities on the map included in The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe has visited less than half of them so far.  Despite spending a sizable portion of the second book in Severen, we’re never told precisely where it is.  It’s in Vintas.  It’s four or five days walk from The Eld.  And it has docks.

With the money I’d accumulated, I spent the next several hours on the docks and found a ship leaving the next day for Junpui.WMF 928

So Severen needs to be on a river or a lake, preferably in Western Vintas near, but not too near, The Eld.  Pat did a Q&A on A Forum of Ice and Fire a few months after The Wise Man’s Fear was published.  He provided a little more information.

Will you tell us where Severen is located on your map?

It’s north of Renere. South of Tinue.

Based on all of the above, the location targeted in red is the longstanding best guess for the location of Severen.  It could pretty easily be anywhere in or near the larger circle.



A more detailed map was the $600,000 stretch goal for Worldbuilders 2013.  It was supposed to be drawn by Nate Taylor and posted on the website.  The page for Vintas has been available for months, but as we head into Worldbuilders 2014, we still haven’t heard anything about it.  We’ve yet to see several stretch goals from 2012 and 2013, so there’s no way of knowing when it’ll go live.

One of the lingering questions is how Kvothe would have gotten there by sea from Tarbean.

MY ROUTE WAS A simple one. I would head downriver to Tarbean, through the Refting Strait, down the coast toward Junpui, then up the Arrand River.WMF 365

Only two sea rivers appear to empty into the Centhe Sea from Vintas.  One appears to form the northwestern border of Vintas and travel through the Small Kingdoms, something Kvothe was keen to avoid.  The other forms the southeastern border and connects all the way to the northern most lake via river routes.

Both are marked in yellow on the map below.  I’m incline to think the southern river is the more likely.



Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part III – The Table of Contents

I’m gonna go ahead and skip the TITLE PAGE and COPYRIGHT.  I’d planned to skip the Contents as well, but the title of chapter seven, “ASH AND EMBER,” jumps out immediately.  It’s part of the rhyme Bast recites in the frame narrative of The Wise Man’s Fear.

Maple. Maypole.
Catch and carry.
Ash and Ember.
(WMF 4, 991)

He recites it twice.  First in chapter one, “Apple and Elderberry;” and in chapter one hundred fifty-two, “Elderberry.”  In fact, it’s one of the phrases that pairs those chapters in what anthropologist Mary Douglas called ring composition.

The minimum criterion for a ring composition is for the ending to join up with the beginning… A ring is a framing device. The linking up of starting point and end creates an envelope that contains everything between the opening phrases and the conclusion… There has to be a well-marked point at which the ring turns, preparatory to working back to the beginning, and the whole series of stanzas from the beginning to the middle should be in parallel with the other series going from the middle back to the start. Each section on the second side of the ring corresponds to a matching section on the first side… It comes in many sizes, from a few lines to a whole book enclosed in its macro-envelope, arranged throughout in intricately corresponding parallelisms. (Thinking in Circles)

The Wise Man’s Fear is constructed this way.  The Prologue and Epilogue are nearly identical, providing a solid frame.  Within that frame, chapters one through seventy-six, and seventy-seven through one hundred fifty-two mirror one another in a variety of ways.  One of the primary ways is the restriction of particular words or phrases only to the chapters in parallel, like “Ash and Ember” in the first and last chapters.  I explained a little bit about how chapters two, “Holly,” and one hundred fifty-one, “Locks,” were related during the Tor Reread.

This is all a long way of saying that I sort of suspected The Slow Regard of Silent Things might be a ring as well.  Based on a chapter title.  I’ll show how that might be the case when I get into the actual text.  The fact that the narrative is framed by an AUTHOR’S FOREWORD and an AUTHOR’S ENDNOTE is also a strong clue.

The rest of the chapter titles weren’t so glaringly obvious in their relationship to the parent text.  At least not to me.  But I figured it might be worth noting whether they evoked anything.

Here’s what the Contents look like in the Kindle edition:

Contents (not actually listed in the contents)

Anyway, here goes.

THE FAR BELOW BOTTOM OF THINGS only appears in The Slow Regard of Silent Things.  It refers to the pool in The Twelve, the only place in the Underthing (that we’re exposed to) with a changing name.  There’s a title drop on page 6 followed by this image.

WHAT A LOOK ENTAILS includes a word that hasn’t appeared in Rothfuss before.  It’s worth considering its various nuances.  But think about what’s tied up in looking and seeing in The Kingkiller Chronicle.  Puppet comes to mind.  As does this line from Felurian:

“these old name-knowers moved smoothly through the world. they knew the fox and they knew the hare, and they knew the space between the two.” (WMF 669)

BEAUTIFUL AND BROKEN immediately calls to mind Kvothe’s meditations on and descriptions of Auri. Chapter titles like “The Broken Binding,” “A Beautiful Game,” and “The Broken Road” show a fondness for the words which appear frequently.  And, of course, there’s the bit from Kvothe’s introductory boast:

The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it’s spoken, can mean “The Flame,” “The Thunder,” or “The Broken Tree.” (NW 57)

A QUITE UNCOMMON PLEASANT PLACE sounds like a decent description of the Underthing, but seems deliberately unspecific.  Nothing really comes to mind.

HOLLOW also leaps out.  It’s the “hollow, echoing quiet” of the first silence in the Prologue of The Name of the Wind and both Epilogues.  It’s also Hollows, home of admissions and the horns.  Hollow is how Kote looks to Graham.

While it might not be relevant, it also reminds me of the Hollow Gods featured in the Modegan Pairs deck designed by Shane Tyree.  They’re the “gods all around us” sworn by Sovoy and Bredon.

THE ANGRY DARK suggests both Kvothe and Lanre as well as Adem mojo, but little else.

ASH AND EMBER I’ve already covered.  Ash is also the elephant in the room: Denna’s patron.  The only chapter to mention is The Name of the Wind chapter eighty-two, “Ash and Elm…”

ALL TO HER DESIRE was something I was sure I’d seen before, but it turns out it’s only a common form without an exact match.  The closest is the secret ritual of the Edema Ruh that Kvothe reveals in his story about Faeriniel and later exploited by Alleg.

The man at his elbow smiled. “Then have water and wine, each to your desire.” And saying so he brought the beggar to their water barrel. (WMF 283)

Bast uses similar phrasing when describing the fae to Kostrel in “The Lightning Tree.”

There are many types of fae, many courts and houses. And all of them are ruled according to their own desires …” (Rogues)

THE GRACEFUL WAY TO MOVE brings to mind Kvothe’s hands, Denna, Felurian, and Cinder.  It also provides a nice lead in to the scene in chapter eleven of The Wise Man’s Fear, “Haven,” that the novella is leading toward.

I turned in time to see Auri scurry across the roof toward us, her arms full. She stopped a short distance away, eyeing us both, before coming the rest of the way, stepping carefully as a dancer until she was back where she originally stood. Then she sat down lightly on the roof, crossing her legs beneath herself. Elodin and I sat as well, though not nearly as gracefully. (WMF 107)

THE HIDDEN HEART OF THINGS repeats the “of things” from the first chapter, another sign that the story’s probably a ring.  It also suggests a secret, perhaps in the Underthing and perhaps within its inhabitant.  We can’t forget our Teccam, either.

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)

CODA provides what Douglas calls a latch, which further ties the beginning and end of the story.  It also ties the story into The Wise Man’s Fear.  In a way, The Slow Regard of Silent Things becomes an inner ring within the larger ring of that book.

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Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part II – Also By Patrick Rothfuss

ALSO BY PATRICK ROTHFUSS features the first of Nate Taylor’s illustrations and even it tells us something.  It depicts a portion of starry sky and a waning crescent moon within the circle of which the stars are visible.  This isn’t entirely new.

We’ve seen it beforStarse in the Lee Moyer’s (NSFW) illustration of Felurian for the 2013 Worldbuilders calendar and the Name of the Wind playing cards by Albino Dragon.  However, what this illustration does is end any querying speculation about whether these images are canon.  Elodin asks “Where does the moon go when it is no longer in our sky?” (WMF 88)

Felurian reiterates the concept (WMF 670)

Felurian’s eyes were black in the dim light. “the moon has our two worlds beguiled, like parents clutching at a child, pulling at her, to and fro, neither willing to let go.”

She stepped away, and we stood as far apart as we could, the stone gripped in our hands. “when she is torn, half in your sky, you see how far apart we lie.” Felurian reached toward me with her free hand making futile grasping gestures in the empty water. “no matter how we long to kiss, the space between us is not ripe for this.”

But there were occasional expressions of lingering doubt.  It’s a fantasy world.  One of it’s signature features is the ever moving moon.

The text on the page lists the first two books of the trilogy, so it’s only those books also published by DAW.

The Kingkiller Chronicle:

The full list of books and contributions by Patrick Rothfuss looks more like the following.

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future 18 edited by Algis BudrysThe Road to Levenshir” by Patrick Rothfuss illustrated by Jason Pastrana (Mass Market Paperback)

August 16, 2002


Galaxy Press (CA)

Your Annotated, Illustrated College Survival Guide by Patrick Rothfuss illustrated by Brett Hiorns (Paperback)

January 28, 2005


Cornerstone Press Chicago

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Hardcover)

March 27, 2007


DAW Hardcover

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Mass Market Paperback)

April 1, 2008



Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy edited by William Schafer“The Road to Levinshir” by Patrick Rothfuss (Hardcover)

July 31, 2008


Subterranean Press

The Order of the Stick: War and XPs by Rich Burlew”Foreword by Pat Rothfuss” by Patrick Rothfuss

August 27, 2008


Giant in the Playground

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2009 Edition edited by Rich Horton”The Road to Levinshir” by Patrick Rothfuss (Paperback)

March 15, 2009


Prime Books

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Trade Paperback)

April 7, 2009


DAW Trade

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed by Patrick Rothfuss illustrated byNate Taylor (Hardcover)

June 21, 2010


Subterranean Press

Clash of the Geeks edited by Wil Wheaton and John Scalzi”The Lay of the Eastern King” by Patrick Rothfuss (eBook)

September 20, 2010

Subterranean Press

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (Hardcover)

March 1, 2011


DAW Hardcover

Be Good, Little Puppy: A Penny Arcade Book by Jerry Holkins illustrated by Mike Krahulik”Foreword” by Patrick Rothfuss (Paperback)

June 28, 2011


Del Rey

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (Trade Paperback)

March 6, 2012


DAW Trade

Epic: Legends of Fantasy edited by John Joseph Adams”The Road to Levinshir” by Patrick Rothfuss (Paperback)

October 5, 2012


Tachyon Publications

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed by Patrick Rothfuss illustrated by Nate Taylor (Paperback)

December 18, 2012


Sea Lion Books

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (Mass Market Paperback)

April 2, 2013



Unfettered edited by Shawn Speakman ”Foreword by Patrick Rothfuss; ”How Old Holly Came to Be by Patrick Rothfuss (Hardcover)

June 21, 2013


Grim Oak Press

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below by Patrick Rothfuss illustrated by Nate Taylor (Hardcover)

November 30, 2013


Subterranean Press

Sword and Laser Anthology edited by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt“Foreword” by Patrick Rothfuss (Hardcover and ePub )

April 6, 2014


Sword and Laser LLC

Rogues edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner R. Dozois”The Lightning Tree by Patrick Rothfuss (Hardcover)

June 17, 2014



The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss illustrated by Nate Taylor (Hardcover)

October 28, 2014


DAW Hardcover

The Doors of Stone (Working Title) by Patrick Rothfuss

no release date

DAW Hardcover

The Tale of Laniel Young Again (Working Title) by Patrick Rothfuss (Hardcover)

no release date

DAW Hardcover