Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 6

You can head over to There Were Books Involved to see what everyone else thinks.

This week we read up to the end of Chapter 42.

1. Both Kabsal and Jasnah have spoken to Shallan about stealing the Soulcaster, and both have done so in a pretty lighthearted manner, considering how serious it would actually be to steal it. Do you think Kabsal was telling the truth when he brushed off Shallan’s questions about his plan to steal the Soulcaster? Is he still interested in stealing it? Does he have other, deeper motives??

He is still very much interested in acquiring the Soulcaster, at least that is what I think. I am pretty certain that he has been pursuing Shallan because she is more open to his approaches than Jasnah herself and more susceptible to the hints of a romantic union. Whilst I doubt that he is physically repelled by Shallan, I find it difficult to believe that an ardent would renounce his Calling for a woman so easily. I suspect that he is a religious zealot, who has decided that taking the Soulcaster is a worthy accomplishment in the face of the impossibility of saving Jasnah’s soul.

His joking attempt to recruit Shallan was very subtle and nicely ambiguous, and I expect him to repeat it fairly soon. If she rebuffs him, I predict that he will make a play for the Soulcaster anyway. As for his deeper motives: I suspect that simply removing a rare and significant religious artifact from the hands of a heretic is reason enough for him.

2. By the end of the section, Shallan has found out that she'll be able to return home in one week, but she's torn between wanting to continue her studies, and being able to take the stolen Soulcaster home. So far it looks like her theft hasn't been detected, but do you think she’ll be found out before that time? Do you think she should leave, or might decide on her own to stay? Could something else happen to make her stay?

There is something rather odd going on with the Soulcaster fabrial. For a start, we have seen Jasnah Soulcast objects at a distance, when she killed the last two attackers, and yet we have been repeatedly told that a Soulcaster must be touching an object to have an effect upon it. This makes me wonder if she is actually Soulcasting in the traditional sense, which leads me to wonder if she is using the fabrial in a different way to other Soulcasters, or not even using it at all. We can see her drain the Stormlight from the gems, but that does not mean that the fabrial itself is working: just that she is using the energy to power her actions. What if her fabrial is just as useless as the one Shallan brought with her? This might explain why she cannot get it to work, even though she is doing everything correctly. It would also explain why Jasnah has not noticed that hers is now broken . . .

I can understand Shallan’s desire to stay and continue her studies. Learning is a process that drives me constantly, so I would chose to stay in her situation. It is a pity that she cannot simply send the fabrial back to her brothers, but that would probably be too dangerous. However, given that it does not seem to work, it might be a wasted journey anyway. I am rather hoping that she will decide to create some kind of family emergency so that she has to go home for a short period and then return to her studies later. This would be a good compromise, but I doubt that it would satisfy her brothers.

As for something making her stay. If the theft is uncovered and she is implicated, then she might have to stay to deflect any suspicion. Also, we do not know how far Kabsal will go to attain his goal. Basically, anything could happen and prevent her from leaving. Of course, there is also the small matter of the voice that she heard. Has she attracted a spren like Syl? If so, why is it invisible? If not, what is talking to her?

3. How much do you think Jasnah actually knows about the theft of her Soulcaster? Is it even remotely possible that Jasnah is still in the dark about it? If she knows, did she in fact dupe Shallan with a fake, as Shallan theorizes? Or did Jasnah let her steal it? Why??

If I am right about the fabrial being a fake, then Jasnah will never know that it has been stolen. I cannot see any really good reason for Jasnah to suspect Shallan’s true motive for becoming her Ward, but she is very smart. However, it seems somewhat out of character for Jasnah to use a deception rather than outright confrontation.

4. During the Highstorm, Kaladin experiences a lull during which the wind and rain stop, he feels no more pain, and he sees an enormous “face of blackness, yet faintly traced in the dark”. The face is described as, “Inhuman. Smiling.” Was Kaladin just hallucinating? If not, do you think this being had something to do with recharging the sphere? With Kaladin somehow feeling better before the storm kicked up again? Or could this being be malevolent? Thoughts/theories??

I cannot help thinking that this was a viewing of the face of whatever malignant force is behind the Desolations, Voidbringers, Highstorms and everything else destructive in this world. In the Mistborn Trilogy the antagonist was named Ruin and was a god-like force that would certainly be powerful enough to create the type of mischief we see here. In the epigraphs in Part Two the writer made several references to someone called Rayse, who appeared to be influencing the world in a way that should be opposed.

The sudden infusion of the gem suggests that this figure is possibly connected to the release of Stormlight during the Highstorms. Perhaps he emits the Stormlight, or it could even be fragments of his being (as we saw with Ruin in Mistborn). Just because the being is malevolent, and it certainly felt that way to me, does not mean that Stormlight is always used for evil: any power source is a neutral thing until it is used by someone who can wield it. The things done using that power will be judged good or evil by the perspective of the observer.

5. Before Kaladin is forced to endure the Highstorm, he tells his men to come out after the storm is over; he says he’ll open his eyes and look back at them, and they’ll know that he survived. Kaladin obviously survives, and everyone in Bridge Four is really glad about that. But we haven’t yet seen a reaction from anyone other than Kal’s men. Do you think Kaladin’s survival could have a wider impact than just giving his own group of bridgemen hope?

Teft worries about the other soldiers coming to marvel at Kal and his survival, so I am quite sure that it is now common knowledge in the camp, and probably spreading throughout the whole army. You would expect the miracle of his survival to have some impact on all of the people who hear about it, but I am not sure what that effect will be. We know that prediction is deemed to be heresy, so it may not be seen as a good thing by everyone.

6. We learn quite a bit about Teft in this section… kind of. But pretty much everything we learn just leads to more questions. What do you think about these “Envisagers” Teft mentions? How much do you think Teft knows about Kaladin’s ability to use Stormlight? It seemed like Teft became wary of Kaladin after he recovered – why? Do you think he'll tell Kaladin about what he knows?

I get the impression that the Envisagers are some sort of secret sect that believed that the Knights Radiant would return in time for the next Desolation. They are trained to recognize the innate ability to use Stormlight that Kal exhibits and possibly help in the reformation of the Orders. However, I have no idea how they could help even if Teft is not the only one that he knows is still alive.

I am pretty certain that Teft will tell Kal what he knows. He has seen irrefutable proof of what Kal can do and it is only a matter of time before someone else sees something similar during a bridge run. I am not sure how much help he can give Kal, but it might be enough to help him master his newfound gifts.


  1. Oooh, you have a much bleaker outlook on Kabsal than I do (or, than I want to, anyway). I'm so suspicious, but I want his and Shallan's banter to be real! lol

    I completely agree about the possibility that Jasnah might be using the Soulcaster differently, or not at all. However it's being used, I think it's probably the case that Jasnah has some innate ability that lets her use it and not Shallan.

    I'm so curious to find out what, if anything, Jasnah knows about the theft. It's interesting that it feels out of character to you, for her to set up a scheme for Shallan. I feel like it would be totally in character! That's really interesting to me!

    I, too, got the vibe that the face in the storm was malevolent, and that it was connected to the Voidbringers! It just seems like, the face is made of darkness... the void is dark (I'm assuming)... We've got the whole "stormlight"/light being used as a force for good (I think, anyway)...

    And I can't wait to learn more about Teft/the Envisagers. It's got to have something to do with the Radiants. Gah. Sanderson is so good at keeping secrets! ;)

    1. Kabsal's comment about stealing the fabrial was way too casual: he has spent a lot of time and effort trying to ingratiate himself with Shallan in a way that is inappropriate. His approach is ideal for a naive young girl . . .

      I am not sure that Mr Sanderson works in Good vs Evil, but more in terms of Order vs Chaos. However, his brain must hurt with all the details he has swirling around in it and he is a master at hints and misdirection. I love it! :D

  2. Your thoughts on Jasnah suddenly gave me a theory: What if Jasnah has the same kind of ability as Szeth and Kaladin, and the fabrial was an attempt on her family's part to cover that up? We've seen that there are female Radiants, so this could be still a Radiant thing. If that's true, Jasnah has certainly figured out how to use her ability much more precisely than Kaladin, but I guess she has had a couple of decades more to figure it out. And in that case, I'd have to agree with you that she has no reason to know or care that Shallan took the soulcaster.

    I didn't really see the storm face as malevolent, but I was assuming it was saving Kaladin's life. I suppose his surviving could have nothing to do with the figure, though, except that it allowed him to absorb some stormlight.

    1. I agree that there is a good chance that Jasnah can manipulate Stormlight in a similar way to Szeth and Kal. However, I am not sure that this is something her family knows about.

      My reaction to the face in the storm was purely instinctive and I didn't even think that it allowed Kal to survive - it just goes to show how 2 people can read the same words and get entirely different 'truths' from them! :D

  3. I came to the same conclusions about Kasbal and Jasnah. It's hard to say exactly what is going on, but I think we can all feel that something is. I also thought along similar lines about the SoulCaster. Maybe it's more of an inborn ability, rather than being contained in the actual device. If that's true, the thing will never work for Shallan. You make a good point about how Jasnah will never realize the switch has been made if that's the case either. I'm excited to learn more about what Teft knows. I hope he and Kaladin have a conversation soon! :D

    1. That Mr Sanderson, he hints and drip-feeds us details in a quite maddening way: it's like Chinese water torture, only enjoyable! :D

  4. You have a lot of great thoughts on Shallan and Jasnah. I remember the broad outlines of their story line, so I won't spoil anything. Lots of good thoughts.

    Teft is such a mystery. And I love how he is so stingy with doling out what he knows. Such tension!

    Sorry I have little to comment this week. I know the answers to many of these questions and I really don't want to spoil anything.

    What did you think of Jasnah's philosophy lesson? Shallan took weeks to consider every angle of killing the men in the alley, except one, I think. If you have the power to stop/prevent wrong (in this case theft and murder) and don't do so (say Jasnah decided not to take a stroll and remove those men from the world of the living), then do you have some responsibility for the final outcome (additional thefts and murders)?

    1. It must be quite good fun reading all the wrong guesses that we are making! :D

      I agree with that moral angle: wasn't Jasnah morally obliged to do something if she could? But I guess that Shallan is confused enough without adding any more possibilities.


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