Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 2

You can head over to Over The Effing Rainbow to see what everyone else thinks.

This week we read up to the end of Chapter 13.

1. Shallan's determination pays off, but Jasnah Kholin seems to change her mind a bit suddenly, and when Shallan isn't expecting her to. She mentions knowing of Shallan's family... Do you think perhaps she knows more than she admits? Or is she really just a bit more soft-hearted than she lets on?

I did not get the feeling that this change of mind was overly abrupt, merely that Shallan had finally shown herself to be somewhat different from the others seeking to be Jasnah’s ward. I get the impression that Jasnah is difficult to impress, but makes decisions very quickly once she has all the data that she deems important. I can completely understand why she finds Shallan more impressive because she is self-taught, but I am quite sure that she was also impressed that Shallan did not resort to an emotional appeal.

If Jashan is aware of Shallan’s father, then she might also know about his reputation for anger and awkwardness. This might also have given her an insight into Shallan’s struggles to educate herself. Somehow, I simply cannot think of Jasnah as softhearted! :D

2. Yalb comes to the bargaining rescue as Shallan tries to buy books... Do you think there's going to be a bigger part in events for him to play?

I was somewhat shocked at the discount that he contrived for her: I wish I could get an 80% discount now and again! However, I am quite sure that her sarcasm had pushed the price up a fair bit, so perhaps the final price was still a decent profit for the obnoxious bookseller. I was a bit confused by the bookseller’s attempt to sell Shallan a slushy Harlequin title: Kharbranth is a center of learning, so why would he assume that she is not a scholar?

I am quite sure that Yalb would like to play a much larger role in Shallan’s life, but he is presumably sailing off into the sunset with the Wind’s Pleasure. Also, although he was rather flirty, I could not see him giving up his life as a sailor for her. I would not be surprised if we saw him again, later in the series, but I do not think that he will play a major role in her life.

3. Part One ends with a ray of hope for Kaladin, as he rediscovers a sense of purpose... What did you think of the scene in the Honour Chasm, and then with Gaz afterward?

Was I the only one who really wanted to cheer at this point? I was seriously worried when Syl decided that she could not stay with him any longer and then he headed to the chasm. I thought that his emotional numbness was frighteningly done, so I really believed that he intended to jump. However, it is pretty obvious that he is one of our main protagonists, so I had a suspicion that something would pull him back from the brink. I was very touched by Syl’s gift: it was amazingly thoughtful and yet it had that wonderful hint of her not having a clue why the leaf was so significant. I also liked the humor in her complaining about its immense weight.

As we speculated last week, it seems that there is some special connection between Kal and Syl that even they do not understand. I am intrigued by the hints that he has somehow drawn her into a more conscious form of existence than the one she had before they met. This makes me even more impressed by him and eager to learn more about what makes him so special. I can only assume that he has a Great Destiny ahead of him.

I thought for a minute that Kal would simply kill Gaz, and I am pretty sure that the horrible little man had his life flash before his eyes. I am not sure if he will submit to Kal’s demands or try to make his life more dangerous, but I suspect that he is now scared snotless.

4. We catch up with Szeth for an interlude, and things are very different for him... What do you make of his choice to enslave himself - if it is in fact a choice...?

As with so many things in this book, I am intrigued about the Szeth’s Oathstone. From the description it seems to be nothing other than a normal piece of stone, which makes me wonder why Szeth is so determined to be bound to it. Of course, this is due to our culture’s emphasis of personal freedom and self-determination. In Szeth’s mind he sees a great deal of freedom in his position as a slave: he is not responsible for any of his actions and he can release himself from the need to make decisions. In some ways, there is a very fatalistic quality to his decision to stand by the side of the road with his Oathstone waiting for a new Master to claim him. It is not something that I could do, but I am massively impressed by someone with that level of honor, belief or whatever it is that drove him to do it.

5. We also meet Dalinar Kholin, Jasnah's father, and get something of a hint that he's important where the Radiants are concerned... What do you think Dalinar's 'fits' might mean?

I suspect that I will become very fond of Dalinar, who reminds me a little of King Théoden in The Lord of the Rings. He was obviously devastated by his brother’s death, especially as he was drunk and so could not come to his aid. I seriously doubt that he could have saved Gavilar from Szeth, but I am equally sure that Dalinar thinks that he could have somehow defeated the assassin. We know that since the assassination he has begun to follow the Alethi Codes of War, which seem to be ancient and somewhat idealistic. I assume that the modern methods of conducting a war are at odds with the Code, which probably seems anachronistic now. I wonder if the Code is what the King was referring to in his final message to Dalinar, because it must have been originally seen as “the most important words a man can say”.

I am not sure if Dalinar is a Knight Radiant, mainly because we know so little about them at the moment, but he is certainly very impressive. There is so much about this world that I want to explore and understand, but I assume that everything will be revealed when Mr Sanderson thinks it appropriate.

It seems that the highstorms release huge amounts of Stormlight, so I have to assume that the visions are linked to that somehow. However, I am not sure if they are being sent by a deity or some supernatural being: perhaps they are just a type of prescience. 

Other Points of Interest:

How cool was the Veil in the Palanaeum? I know that we are all book nerds, so I am sure that we all want to get in their and plunder it for interesting books!

Hoid! If you have not read any of Mr Sanderson’s works before this name will have possibly passed you by as unimportant: he was the man that Ishikk the fisherman was asked to find in the Purelake region in Interlude 1. In fact, I would go as far to suggest that you re-read that particular section because he is bound to be a minor, but significant, character in the series. He appears in almost all of the cosmere titles because he seems to have the ability to jump from one world to another. I would strongly recommend keeping an eye on him.

Speaking of Interlude 1: how cool is the idea that the Purelake drains itself for the highstorms?

Gaz hangs his gems outside in a highstorm so that they would be recharged for free. This strikes me as rather hazardous but I applaud his thriftiness.

Was I the only one or do you think that the whole idea of wandering about killing giant monsters during a war seems more than a little stupid? I suppose we now know the significance of those huge chrysalis things that Kal had noticed on the plateaus, but I cannot help thinking that they should be spending more time fighting the enemy . . .


  1. 3. Nope. I wanted to cheer too. And, I was also very upset when Syl left Kaladin! - and yes, to all the other things you said here - which, were what I wanted to say but seemed to have made a mess of it!
    4. I wondered if Szeth (or his race?) were enslaved as some form of punishment that their honor makes them uphold.
    5. Dalinar certainly is a very impressive character. I'm not sure that he could have saved his brother but he does seem to be the most courageous so it's easy to see why he's beating himself up about it.
    The Veil - hah, yes, a day visit to that would be very nice.
    The hunt did seem a bit foolhardy - that being said, for a gem the size of a man's head - and I'm imagining a very big man with a huge head right now (head - head!!! not going into the gutter) - if I had a shardblade perhaps I could be tempted....

    1. 4. I find Szeth very intriguing, but totally believable, and I look forward to exploring his culture much more.

      I guess that I find the hunt strange because I would expect them to spend all their effort on defeating the enemy. It is almost as if the war itself is unimportant, which makes no sense because it is all about revenge for Gavilar's death. I suspect that something odd is going on that we will uncover later.

  2. Good point about Shallan's father's reputation. If she knew anything at all about the Davar family, that probably worked as an unspoken emotional appeal. Shallan's father and brothers seem pretty awful, and she seems relatively decent to have come from the same family.

    Thanks for pointing out the Purelake section. It had completely slipped my mind while writing the answers, probably because it doesn't seem connected to anything else yet. I will pay attention to Hoid!

    Also, hunting for pleasure during a war seems pretty stupid, but this is also not a very ordinary war. It's unclear what they hope to gain from it ("vengeance", I guess, but at what body count is vengeance achieved?), and their tactics seem focused on getting as many people killed on both sides as possible. I hope we learn more about what's going on there.

    1. Just as being self-taught is an important indicator of Shallan's determination, coming from a family dominated by an abusive father would increase the weight of anything that she has achieved. I am not sure what else about the family would persuade Jashan to change her mind.

      There seems to be a major disconnect between he nobles enjoying themselves on hunts and the poor souls dragging the bridges about, that's for sure. It reminds me a great deal of World War I when the commanders were still using outmoded methods and simply using the normal soldiers as cannon fodder.

  3. You make some awesome points here, Sue! Like you, I don't think Jasnah is soft-hearted at all. In fact, she seems to me like the kind of woman who's reasonable, but you definitely wouldn't want her for an enemy. I'll admit I didn't think her change of mind abrupt either, while I was reading. But once I read the question, I could kind of see that it was. I could see it being either way. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    I actually really loved the chasm-fiend scene, but you're totally right! I definitely got the feeling that this war has been going on so long, no one really remembers the original reasons for fighting it anymore, and it's kind of stagnant. Just a day job that they do, but don't really have much passion for. The fact that the king is out killing monsters in the midst of it supports that. The young king, especially, is looking for some adventure. It's very young-man-ish, but obviously, despite being smack dab in the middle of a major war, there really isn't much drama in his life. Lol.
    And this IS the first Sanderson I've read, so I'll definitely go back and read what you suggested, and keep an eye out for that character. Thanx for the tip! :D

    1. I think that the revelation about Shallan being self-taught would make a huge difference, especially if Jasnah was aware of her father's personality.

      You would think that fighting a war would be all the excitement that anyone would need!

      I have no idea if Hoid will return or be significant, so I might be giving too much weight to this tiny scene. However, it was so out of place that I thought some of you might want to know why it was there at all!

  4. I SO wanted to cheer when Syl returned and proved to be a complete game-changer for Kaladin! I really love both their characters and especially their interactions with one another - I can't wait to see what happens next for the Bridge 4 crew! Like you, I've already grown quite fond of Dalinar as well - you're right he does bring to mind Theoden King and you bringing that up will now likely make me love him even more :D I feel like I'm already really invested in of these characters...and we hardly know them with all the world-building and plot-building hehe Anyways GREAT answers ^^

    1. I am not quite sure how he manages it, but Mr Sanderson is very good at creating characters that you care about very quickly.

  5. I don't think Jasnah is soft-hearted either. She seems pretty logical and when presented with new data, she reassesses.

    Perhaps the bookseller prefers the Harlequin slushy books himself and believes everyone should give them a try. Snort.

    Oh yes! I definitely was free run of the Palanaeum. I am sure that is what Jasnah traded for removing that big block of stone for the local King. I think she got the better end of the trade.

    I think Hoid is the Wit in this book. Hurray for Hoid!

    The Purelake and it's residents all sound fascinating. Wait, this entire book is fascinating. But the Purelake, with it's fish and fishermen, and draining for the highstorms. It's amazing how the environment has affected the culture.

  6. Perhaps it is just my own prejudice against Romance titles, but I seriously wanted to punch that bookseller! :D

    Hoid is the Wit . . . something for me to keep my eye on, thanks!

    I would have to agree that everything about this book and the world blows my mind with its total coolness.


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