What to say that Laura hasn’t already?
This story is a week in the life of a minor character, minor in Rothfuss’ other works, that is, and I think that it’s a good example of a writer doing something interesting because he doesn’t feel constrained to follow that larger story. It isn’t trying to be the story of someone who changed the world (though Auri might have, and might yet, just not so as anyone else is likely to notice), it’s not an epic quest, it’s not a clash of great principles or even much of a clash at all. Among all of the things that this story is not, the story takes the freedom to be just what it is.
Auri lives under the library and other parts of the city from Rothfuss’ other novels, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. She was apparently once a magician and now leads a furtive, precarious existence. It’s not clear whether her heightened sense of objects and their belonging is real, whether it’s the result of whatever mishap led to her underground life, or whether that’s a meaningful distinction at all in the context of the story.
Naming, sorting, placing: these are magical tasks, and that is what she spends most of her days and nights doing. There are rituals within her life, and her life as a whole is also a ritual.
Rothfuss says in the afterword, “I let the story develop according to its own desire. I didn’t force it into a different shape or put anything into it just because it was supposed to be there. I decided to let it be itself.” I’m glad that he did, and I’m glad that he has the market clout to get an unusual story like this one into print. I wouldn’t want this off-kilter tale of heightened attention to be the only kind of fantasy book around, but I am glad that it is there and stretching the boundaries of what publishers will print just a little bit.