Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 4

You can head over to Lunar Rainbows to see what everyone else thinks.

This week we read up to the end of Chapter 27.

1.  We seem to be getting more and more proof that there is some ''luck'' or magic at play when it comes to Kaladin's safety, survival and his skills - especially during those battle scenes.  Even when performing that Kata in the Chasm, there was something incredible about his movements according to the rest of the crew. Initially the blade seemed to be the source of his skills (to me at least), what do you think might be fueling his powers?  Do you think they're getting stronger?

An ‘easy’ explanation for his innate talents is that he is a Knight reincarnated, but I am not sure that we are seeing something as simple as that. Kal obviously feels an instinctive connection with weapons and knows how to use them without being taught. Although we see this quite frequently in those destined to be The Hero, I feel as if there is more at work in this case.

Firstly, we have his link to Syl, which is certainly very unusual. The fact that she, or her movement, became visible whilst he was performing the Kata suggests that she is connected to his ability somehow. Either she was drawn to him because of it or her presence is enhancing it somehow. The very fact that she is normally invisible makes me question Kal’s assumption that she is a windspren, which everyone can see. Perhaps she is some kind of very rare ‘herospren’.

Secondly, we know that he drains spheres of their stormlight whilst in combat. This strongly suggests that he shares at least some form of the talent that we saw Szeth using during the assassination. However, Kal seems to use this power unintentionally, which makes me wonder if he would actually be more powerful than Szeth if he ever trained to make conscious use of it. Again, I think that Syl’s presence is influencing what Kal can do, but I am not sure what exactly is happening.

2. We were introduced to Navani, King Gavilar's widow and the current King Elhokar's mother.  What was your initial impression of her?  There seems to be some complicated history between her and Dalinar, do you think she might end up being an ally or an eventual hindrance?

She seems to have the powerful presence and personality that you would expect of a Queen whose husband had achieved the monumental task of uniting the Highprinces. She was pretty much what I expected of Jasnah’s mother as well: intelligent, forceful and independent. I can see how it would be rather difficult for Elhokar to be seen as King in his own right if she was too involved in ruling the Kingdom.

In some ways I am a little disappointed in the back-story here. Whilst I can completely understand why she would choose the older brother for political reasons, the attempt to reunite now seems a little too much like a Romance trope to me. Maybe I am also influenced by knowing how complex Dalinar’s life is at the moment: a scandalous affair with his sister-in-law, the King’s mother, is not something that he needs to add to his troubles. It could very well be political suicide if Elhokar sees it as an attempt to replace him as King.

However, I am not at all sure, yet, that she will prove to be a threat to Dalinar. At some point Elhokar is going to denounce him as a lunatic, and I am not sure that anything can prevent that. Perhaps Navani will prove to be the perfect accomplice for rebuilding his life and reputation after that happens. Certainly, I hope that Dalinar finds some happiness with her if he chooses that path, because he seems to have had a fairly unhappy life in many ways.

3. What did you make of Sadeas' maneuver against Dalinar to gain the King's favor by being named the High Prince of Information?  How do you reconcile his actions with the advice Dalinar received ''to trust'' Sadeas?

I know that the ‘voice’ told Dalinar to trust Sadeas, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to agree. This seems like a fairly open move to undermine Dalinar, but perhaps Sadeas has some motive that we cannot see yet and that will exonerate Dalinar from any blame for the saddle girth. See: I am trying really hard to give him the benefit of the doubt!

4. Where you surprised when Rock admitted to Kaladin that he was seemingly born being able to see the Spren and therefore could see Syl following Kaladin around? That led to a pivotal point for Kaladin, gaining Rock's favor and then Teft's.  What were your thoughts on that whole scene? Can you speculate as to why some people are able to see the spren when others cannot?

This only adds to my suspicion that she is very rare and, therefore, very significant. I really hope that Rock will have more to say on the subject at some point as I think he might be able to help Syl and Kal to understand what is happening to them. However, he does not seem terrible surprised of her link to Kal and he does not hold Kal in awe because of it, so perhaps this kind of link is relatively common amongst his people.

I enjoyed watching Kal work out how to influence the bridgemen with the few resources that he has available. Perhaps I am just cynical, but I like to see my Hero work for his achievements rather than having everything simply fall into place because he is ‘The One’. This way, I can truly believe that Kal is winning over his men and earning their respect, rather than relying on Fate or Destiny.

5.  We got to see Adolin confront his father Dalinar because of his visions and lay all his cards on the table. Clearly Adolin thinks his father is losing it and his words seemed to shake Dalinar's own convictions as well.  Do you think this will have a lasting effect on Dalinar's belief in his visions? Not to mention his acting on them?  Moreover, do you think Adolin will ever be convinced that there is more to Dalinar's visions any time soon?

I thought this was rather brave of Adolin, if very badly timed, and seemed like a fairly natural reaction to the pressure of thinking that your beloved father is going crazy. However, I do not think that it will have a significant effect on Dalinar’s convictions, mainly because I am sure that the visions are real messages from a being that is trying to influence the course of history. I am pretty sure that something will happen relatively soon that will confirm this to everyone who will listen to reason. For this reason, I also expect Adolin to become a staunch supporter of his father: we have already seen him apologize for his outburst and he truly loves and admires his father.

6.  As if in further indication of Dalinar and Kaladin's collision course towards one another, Dalinar has agreed to train a bridge crew - without putting them directly into assault or harm's way (of course, love these two!!) do you think their joined efforts might be enough to change the way the other High Princes go about things during battle?  Especially Sadeas?

I think that they will unite in a way that changes things much more dramatically than simply altering bridge protocol. It would definitely be far too boring for these two to meet during a training session: they will collide during a highly stressful and dangerous situation when Kal does something totally unexpected. I suspect that one will save the other from certain death, and I would lay bets that Kal rescues Dalinar. The fact that Kal works in Sadeas’ army makes me wonder if he will foil some nastiness aimed at harming Dalinar . . .

Other Thoughts

For those of you who have read any of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series: am I the only one who is seeing a lot of Loial in Rock? Please discuss with much gushing! :D

On a more serious note. Kal makes a few cryptic references to being betrayed by a Lighteyes and how killing a shardbearer does not mean that you will automatically get his sword and armor. I suspect that this refers to how he became a slave: if he killed the shardbearer that we saw right at the end of Cenn’s chapter, but Amaram took the spoils for himself and sold Kal into slavery to keep him quiet. This seems to fit what we know and would certainly explain Kal’s bitter hatred of his former lord and Lighteyes in general.

Was anyone else expecting a chasmfiend to jump out at them during chasm duty? I was on the edge of my seat for the whole chapter!


  1. I can't wait to see what Kaladin and Dalinar accomplish when they finally cross paths. Hopefully it will be epic! I can see Loial in Rock. I wouldn't have thought that, mostly because he's less eloquent than Loial, of course, but he does have many of Loial's attributes. Good call! :D I kinda like him even better now. As for Navani, if she ends up being a love interest for Dalinar, then I'd agree with you that it's a bit of a trope. In a way, I hope she turns out to be more devious than that, an obstacle for Dalinar, because that would be more interesting. Less of a trope, so to speak. :D

    My WoK Post

    1. Yeah, I'm in two minds about Navani as well: she might be very interesting, but so easily could become a bit irritating.

  2. I'm loving the idea of a 'herospren'. Good thinking.
    3. Agreed. I don't see how we can trust Sadeas - he's clearly going to make an attempt to undermine Dalinar and the King is already a bit suspicious. I can't help thinking that the voice intended a different meaning when he told Dalinar to trust Sadeas - I keep thinking I'll go and find that scene and reread it. Perhaps there's an alternative in there but we're simply reading into it the obvious and simple meaning.
    Kaladin is definitely awesome - I love the way he goes at things and I'm glad he's got his purpose back. On the flip side I keep thinking of how Sanderson treated the 'hero' in the Mistborn and it makes me very worried...
    I haven't read the Wheel of Time but I'm still up for a bit of gushing about Rock - I love his character already.
    Lynn :D

    1. I wonder if Dalinar has to trust Sadeas so that he can be betrayed because that is necessary for the greater good? This is the only way I can see this working.

  3. Interesting point about Syl that didn't register with me while reading, for some reason. Kal and his cultural view is that sentient spren like Syl don't exist-- Rock clearly knows Syl is sentient, but doesn't seem surprised. I hope they quiz him further on his communities spren-knowledge!

    That was exactly my theory on Kaladin's enslavement as well! Also, I am not looking forward to Dalinar being renounced as a lunatic. I agree it's probably inevitable, though :(.

    1. I simply cannot imagine that Dalinar can persuade the Highprinces at the moment . . . perhaps some raving in the wilderness will improve his standing somehow?

  4. Right now, I don't really trust Navani. She seems to enjoy power, and enjoy toying with Dalinar. I think he is entertainment out in the wilds of the Shattered Plains. I really want her to be noble as Jasnah is noble, but I am not certain that she has that trait.

    I too like that Kaladin is having to work for everything - every nod of thanks, every acknowledgement of hope, every little scrap. He's doing a good job, but will it be enough? Either way, we have a great story.

    Interesting - Loial = Rock. I had not thought of it until reading your post, but I do see a few similarities. Every hero needs a staunch, peace-loving supporter, right?

    I kind of wanted a little, teensy, tiny chasm fiend to jump out at the crew during chasm duty. It would be interesting to see what Kaladin would do in that case.

    1. I am not at all sure about Navani so far - I hope that she is a decent and honest woman who can give Dalinar some much-needed support, but I would not be awfully surprised if she turned out to be somewhat different.

      Maybe I just have a bit of a thing for gentle giants? :D

      Somehow I think that saving the guys from a rampaging chasm fiend would have been even more impressive than doing the kata really well . . . just saying!


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