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This week we read up to the end of Chapter 19.
1. After the Chasmfiend attack there were a number of altercations. Two of these that particularly drew my interest were: the little scene where Wit ridiculed Sadeas - which seems to be a dangerous thing to do given that this could result in a dual or assassination - any ideas about why Wit seems to enjoy provoking Sadeas so much and: during the discussion with the King, Dalinar and Adolin - it seemed that the King became fleetingly suspicious - and later in the story the same look of suspicion crossed his features again during conversation with Dalinar. What do you think is going on in the King’s head in relation to Dalinar?
I am very conflicted about Sadeas, as I cannot decide if he is a good guy or not. In last week’s reading it seemed like he was a bit of a douchebag, but this week we have been given a much more rounded view of him. However, it seems like he has a pretty bad temper and does not tolerate teasing of any type, which is probably why Wit finds him such an excellent target. Also, I seem to remember that Wit is charged with being insulting where the King has to be polite, so this could reflect Sadeas’ standing in Elhokar’s eyes. As I expect the situation to be anything but simple, I imagine that there could even be yet another reason for Wit’s behavior. I wait to be enlightened at a time of Mr Sanderson’s choosing.
I have to say that the King is rapidly becoming one of my least favorite characters in this title: even Gaz has better reasons for being horrid. It seems that Elhokar is incredibly paranoid and his fear of assassination has now spread to everyone, including Dalinar. We know that the idea is completely ludicrous because Dalinar is unswervingly loyal to his nephew, but I can see how Elhokar could suspect an attempt to seize the throne: Dalinar would be the next in the line of succession. I also think that the King is confusing loyalty with unquestioning obedience: he should be able to accept his nobles wanting to discuss and question his orders without seeing this as an indication of something dangerous. I fear that he will alienate Dalinar just when he needs him most.
2. We seemed to get a little more insight about why the bridgemen are not given shields of protection - what did you think of the reasoning behind this and what do you make of Sadeas - is he trustworthy or not?
Having spent quite a bit of time last week bemoaning the whole concept of the bridge crews and the lack of real ‘war’, it was very nice to get some logical explanations for the present situation. Although I do not agree with Sadeas’ tactics, I can now understand why he has chosen to adopt them. I cannot help feeling that he could improve the lives of the bridge crews somehow, but I can also understand that he lives in a slave culture, where he sees slaves almost like livestock. We see this attitude all the time with the parshmen, who are almost invisible to everyone. In Sadeas’ mind he is using the slaves to keep his troops alive and so the waste is justified.
I also appreciated the explanation for all the dashing about to gain the gemhearts. Whilst it does make the whole thing feel a little like a video game, it does explain why the ‘war’ has degenerated into a scramble for glory and resources. However, I do see how this competition is unhealthy and will ultimately turn the Highprinces against each other. We have already seen a little of this with the way that Vamah was complaining about the cost of hiring the King’s soulcasters. The whole thing could become an internal dispute, with the Parshendi sitting back to wait for their enemy to destroy itself. At the moment, it seems like Sadeas does not want this to happen, so I trust him a little more than I did last week . . . but not much. His refusal to duel Dalinar was very telling, I think, although his lack of a shardblade could possibly have been the motive behind that decision.
3. Elhokar has suspicions about attempts on his life - is he paranoid or not and, if not, who do you suspect might be responsible?
I am quite sure that he is paranoid, and with fairly good reason considering what happened to his father. However, I am not sure that we actually have conclusive evidence that anyone has tried to kill him. Yes, the leatherworkers said that the saddle girth had been cut, but they presented a good reason why it could have happened accidentally and did not seem to suggest that it was amazingly unlikely.
If there are attempts on his life, I would have to suspect the Highprinces, other than Dalinar, but no particular names jump out at me just yet.
4. Kaladin is a very intriguing character, what did you make of the latest bridge scene where he put himself at the front of the bridge and then his actions following that? Did you think it revealed anything more about him?
Although I applaud his decision to lead from the front, I would rather that he did not do it because it is very trying on my nerves! His work with the wounded men made me wonder how many hundreds of bridgemen had been left to die when they could have been treated and patched up instead. Surely they could be still useful in camp, even if they could no longer do bridge duty.
However, I think the most important aspect of this encounter was the revelation that Kal was somehow draining the stormlight from his gems. I assume that he was using this to help protect him from the arrows in the final assault or possibly to aid the healing of the fallen men. It would seem that this is a new feature of Kal’s ‘luck’ in battle, so it may have something to do with his developing bond with Syl.
5. During Elhokar and Dalinar’s later discussion the king said that Dalinar was becoming more like Gavilar near to his end ‘When he began to act … erratically” It seems like Dalinar is becoming more like his brother. Do you think this is significant??
It seems that some entity is trying to communicate with Dalinar, so perhaps it had already tried to do the same with Gavilar. Indeed, as Gavilar united the formerly warring Highprinces into a single Kingdom of Alethkar, it is possible that this attempt to unify the people against the coming Desolation has been in progress for a long time. If so, perhaps Gavilar had similar visions that drove him to try to unite the people. This might explain his growing obsession with the old Codes of War and it would certainly give the Parshendi a possible reason for the assassination if they are the agents of the other side in this eternal cycle of conflict.
This would suggest that the entity has switched to communicating with Dalinar now that Gavilar is dead, so it is very significant.
6. We finally witness one of Dalinar’s visions. Do you think there is any significance about the visions always taking place during a storm and what were your feelings about this particular vision?
Before discussing the chapter itself, I want to very quickly mention the epigraph at the beginning, which strongly suggests that a group of individuals have a nonintervention attitude to something. I doubt that this is insignificant, so I assume that the group has promised not to intervene in the progression of the Desolation cycle on this planet. It also strongly suggests that the writer is determined to ignore this promise. This makes me think that the writer is the person communicating with Dalinar, or that he is at least aware that some communication or prophecy is occurring.
So far we have very little information about what causes the storms and what happens during them. However, we do know that gems left outside during a storm will become infused with stormlight. This suggests that the whole area under the stormfront must be infused with stormlight, which must allow Dalinar to access some internal prophetic power or become open to receiving visions from some unknown location. Having seen the Knights Radiant in this vision, it seems likely that they had powers that are now lost to modern humans, so why not the ability to produce visions?
However, this was more of a shared experience from history, rather than a simple vision because Dalinar was an active participant and possibly even changed the fate of the woman and little girl. How this is achieved, I have no idea. But, to be honesty, there is a great deal about this world that I have not a single clue about!
My immediate response to this vision, as well as to so much about this title, was to be blown away by the total coolness. Bizarre, bag-like, snakey, multi-legged, evil smoke-beasties attacking at night was cool enough . . . but then we had the Knights Radiant falling from the sky like angels of vengeance . . . wow! The fact that the smoke-beasties are identified as Midnight Essence by the Knights makes them seem even more evil and alien. It would appear that they are part of the ‘other side’ in the Desolation, or allied to it in some way, as we are told that a Desolation is approaching at the time that the vision occurs.
Although I am not sure if the woman and girl have any historical significance, this vision communicates a great deal to Dalinar. It shows him some of the things that can be expected to herald the approach of the next Desolation and how to fight them. It also shows the working of the Knights Radiant in a small way – and I hope that the inclusion of a female Knight is taken as a significant hint that women can be warriors as well. Somehow, I can see Jasnah fighting quite efficiently . . . The Knights’ role in guarding the people is also significant, as is their use of shardblades and shardplate. Perhaps the ones that are inherited or found in the modern world are actually ones left behind by the Knights.
It would seem that the entity behind the vision wants to show Dalinar what the world will face and possible ways to counteract it. It seems like a very broad hint that reinstating the Knights Radiant would be an excellent idea, as would trying to rediscover some of the talents they display, such as falling from and to space, healing and even knowing when they are needed. It also makes a very good case for putting aside any petty bickering and uniting to fight off the bad guys.