Honestly, I think this book is wonderful. I was nervous about reading it because of Patrick Rothfuss’ introduction and that it would detract or lesson The King Killer Chronicles story arc. I had nothing to be afraid of.
I have mentioned before that I have the commute from hell and quite often I am tired and upset from work. To lessen the stress that this causes I aim to use the commute as free time and books like this are when I am glad I have a journey of two hours each way. I use this time for reading and listening to podcasts – I would recommend listening to the ‘Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy’ interview with Patrick Rothfuss, it was excellent and a wonderful addition to my commute.
Anyway, I am a bit irritated at myself for having left it so long to write this review, I finished the book a while ago and am now struggling to recall all of my thoughts on it, however, I have some notes to remind me.
First of all, so many lines in this novella feel infused with meaning, I found myself reading the same line over and over to ensure I hadn’t missed anything, that I hadn’t missed some clue as to the nature of the story, to ensure that there isn’t some other meaning which I am missing and thus will render me unable to follow the plot. In other words, typically beautiful Rothfuss writing which makes me despair at my terrible, terrible efforts.
Auri is a wonderful character, so childlike but with a sense of adult knowledge hard won. However she still remains a mystery, there are very few clues to her background and how she ended up in the Underthing; however, it was wonderful to discover and explore more of the Underthing with her. I found myself constantly striving to understand Auri, trying to follow the way her mind runs, the way she makes connections and even though she can seem so foreign I found parts of myself reflected in her. I also at one point tried to find myself trying to diagnose her (because I am such an expert in that field), before realising she is who she is and is nothing more or less than the sum of her parts.
Also, I spent a lot of time wondering if Rothfuss was just making up words, so I used my handy in-built dictionary to check words such as: Frangible, Apetalous, Coruscant, Incarnadine – fun fact, all real words, also I am an idiot.
I mentioned above that I worried that this book would ruin some of Kvothe’s arc, however, what it succeeds in doing is adding more depth to the world that Rothfuss has created. For example, there is a scene in ‘Name of the Wind’, I think, where Kvothe and Elodin are discussing Auri, and Elodin expresses frustration that she won’t take clothes from him. At this point Kvothe explains that she refuses to take second hand clothes. Auri’s reasoning for this is explained in a beautiful and subtle way and leads you to the realisation that Auri will never take a thing that has not been given freely, a thing that was never meant to be hers.
The ending, when it came, was so sudden that initially it seemed unfinished, however, when meditating on it further I discovered how perfect it was, it left a sense of anticipation and couldn’t have been ended any other way.
Rothfuss includes an author’s note at the end about the book, about how it came to be and the initial feedback he received, a friend said “I don’t know what other people will think. They probably won’t like it. But I really enjoyed it”. This, far more succinctly than I could ever put it, sums up how I felt overall about the book. He also makes the statement that “I’ve had person after person tell me that they empathise with Auri. That they know where she is coming from.” That sentence right there, it made me feel like I was part of some unknown, unnamed club, and made me a feel a part of the story. The further I got into the author note, the more I nodded, the thoughts and sentiments expressed I had experienced throughout my reading.
Overall, a solid 5 out of 5 for me! Also, probably a re-reading at some point in the near future.