Today I am hosting the Read Along and I will add links to the other participating blogs at the bottom of the post as they come in.
Remember to enter the Massive Giveaway, which still has plenty of time to run.
This week we read up to the end of Chapter 50.
1. What did you think of the replacement for the delightful Lamaril, or rather, what did you make of his wife, who seems to do all his work? She assumes that chasm duty is the worst punishment that she can throw at the bridge crew, so were you surprised that Kaladin saw an opportunity in it so quickly?
At first I thought that it was very strange that he left his wife to do all his talking, but then I began to wonder if this was a neat way of giving her power. If she is half as efficient as Navani, Jasnah and Shallan then she would be more than capable of organizing the bridge crews. Of course, he might just be lazy and lets her pick up the slack, but I get the feeling that she is the power in the partnership.
I was seriously worried that Kal would wander back into his depression after realizing the true role of the bridge crews. It certainly looked as if he was about to give up all hope again, but then turned this apparently hopeless situation into one that could give the men a sense of achievement. They may only have the tiniest sliver of hope that they will survive, but that seems to be enough to give them something to live for. I think he could easily have descended into despair but he has friends who can help him cope with these bad times.
I found it interesting that he had suffered from these depressive periods every year during the Weeping. Although Tien could help to lift his mood, I wondered if his feeling of weakness was due to the absence of Highstorms at this time. Perhaps he has been subconsciously using or storing Stormlight all his life and we know that it falls (somehow) along with the rain in the storms.
2. Please use this opportunity to list all the imaginative ways that you would like Roshone to suffer for forcing poor little Tien into the army. :(
Every now and again I read characters that I truly, deeply hate and I think that Roshone has now moved into that small but exclusive group. Even though we already knew that Tien had died and that Kal blamed himself for his brother’s death, I did not expect such a truly evil act to send him into danger. The added poignancy of the beautiful little wooden horse had me cursing Roshone and Mr Sanderson as well: Tien was a sweet kid who did not deserve to die so young.
Move over, Joffrey, there is new Most Hated in town! >:(
3. Finally, somebody is asking questions about the inconstancy of the Parshendi artifacts and how Gavilar changed in the months leading up to his death. What do you make of the accounts that Shallan is reading? Also, what do you think about Shen, the Parshman added to the bridge crew?
There is something seriously wrong with the Parshendi culture and their actions since being ‘discovered’ by Gavilar. I am disgusted that such obvious inconsistencies were not a giant red flag when they were first encountered. It seems that the Alethi pursuit of war and little else has led them to become complacent and blinkered. Someone or something has exploited these failings to draw them into a pointless war beyond the edge of their territory and yet they have no suspicion of being manipulated or maneuvered.
The surprising changes in Gavilar’s interests suggest that he had an agenda driven by some knowledge that we are not aware of. He had a good reason to investigate this area and be so interested its inhabitants, things that would have previously been terribly boring to him. However, I now wonder if he was influenced by the same visions as Dalinar or by something work for the opposite ‘side’. Perhaps he was fed whispers by the person who is know controlling Szeth, because this stupid war is certainly a very good way of destabilizing Alethkar.
I cannot decide if this is a good thing or very dangerous. Potentially, he could answer a lot of questions about the Parshendi and their connection to the Parshmen. However, he could become a Parshendi in their midst, or might even be a spy, although these same very unlikely alternatives. He is certainly causing friction in the crew and I doubt that he will be able to act as an effective member of the group because he is ostracized.
4. Shallan has some seriously bizarre visions or hallucinations. Do you have any new ideas about the nature of the symbol-headed figures: are they good or evil? What about the alternative world and the beads: could that really have been the soul or essence of the goblet that she spoke to before it changed into blood?
I was struck by the similarity between these figures and the rainspren that Kal sees during the Weeping. He describes them as looking like blue melting candles with an eye instead of a flame. This makes me even more convinced that Shallan is seeing some type of spren, but I have no idea what they are linked too. The geometric patterns for their heads suggest that they might be attracted to something very intellectual and abstract, but otherwise I am stumped. Somehow I am not sure that they are evil and I felt that their pursuit of Shallan was more out of interest than a desire to harm her. I am pretty sure that they are the source of the voice asking, “What are you?”. I assume that her ability to draw them is fairly unique and so they are confused by her.
The alternative world is probably a parallel world that lies alongside Roshar. We know that Shardblades go somewhere else when they are not in use, and someone speculated that it might be another dimension or parallel world: perhaps it is this one. I am not sure about the identity of the voice, but I think that we can all agree that Shallan certainly did Soulcast the goblet into blood. The whole thing left me with even more questions about this world: and I was beginning to think that could not be possible!
5. Does Kaladin’s dream / vision seem similar to those that Dalinar has been having? He is called the ‘Child of Tanavast, Child of Honor’ and there is mention of an entity called Odium, who appears to be rather bad. Do you have any speculation about these two beings, how they fit into the world that we have seen so far and why the name Odium makes Syl hiss and fly off?
OK, Mr Sanderson, you need to give my brain a little down time between these mind-blowing scenes. I am only normal and I am struggling to cope with all the new information, questions, speculation, awe, etc., etc. There is only so much coolness that I can handle in a short space of time. Just saying! :D
I loved the uncertainty of Kal’s out of body experience as he flew over Roshar. At first it could have been a simple flying dream, but then he started to visit areas that we had seen, but he had not. Then, as if to confirm that this was real and not a dream, he saw Szeth standing over two of his kills and the assassin was aware of him! I am not sure if it is a true dream or controlled by the voice that talks to him, but I do wonder if this is the same entity that sends the visions to Dalinar. This dream occurred during a Highstorm and was similar in the physically way that Kal reacted to it, and his attempts to get out into the storm. If the voice represents Tanavast himself in some way or another, then we certainly seem to have identified the Good Guy in this world, and his name is Honor. This suggests that Kal is destined for Great Things as we had guessed already because is some sort of Chosen One on the side of Honor.
Of course we are specifically told that Odium reigns. The word ‘Odium’ means hate or disgust, so I am going to assume that he is not all that nice. In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that he is probably the Big Bad. The fact that he reigns is undoubtedly a Very Bad Thing and suggests that Honor might be a little more dead than we would like. Also, we know that Syl is rather averse to his name, so I am voting for him not being the god-like entity of fluffy bunnies and lollipops.
Now, some of us have read other books set in Mr Sanderson’s Cosmere, so we are familiar with his use of ‘gods’ that are competing personifications of strong emotions. In the Mistborn trilogy, we followed the battle between Preservation and Ruin. The voice refers to the number Sixteen, whilst this whole book has been full of the number ten. Sixteen is the number of these Shards or entities or whatever you want to call them that act as the driving magical forces on the worlds in the Cosmere. Fantasy Faction has quite a good Primer if you want to blow your mind a little at how clever Mr Sanderson really is.
6. We have learnt some more about the events following Cenn’s chapter way back at the beginning of the book. Were you surprised that Kaladin defeated a Shardbearer almost singlehandedly? This still does not explain why he is a slave, but does it bring us closer to guessing?
Strangely, I am so glad that this chapter was postponed until this section of the book. If we had seen this straight after the Cenn chapter I would have been disappointed at the ‘miraculous’ way that Kal takes down a Shardbearer. I would have thought it was sloppy writing and that Mr Sanderson was not living up to my very high expectations. But now I can totally buy into the idea that Kal is capable of this act of tremendous luck and skill. We also get a hint that Syl is already attached to him, although in a much more nebulous form, because I am sure that she is the windspren that makes him trip. It is still incredible, but at this point in the tale I can truly believe it and feel Kal’s despair at the loss of his men.
I had imagined that Amaram had snatched the Shardblade and Shardplate from Kal when he brought them back to camp. However, we now know that Kal actually saved the revolting Lighteye’s life and then got slavery as his reward. My opinion of the Brightlord plummeted when it became clear that he had not kept Tien away from danger at all, even though he promised to use the lad as a runner. Now I am forced to assume that he has the surviving members of Kal’s unit killed and Kal himself sold off as a deserter so that he can keep the Shardblade and Shardplate, probably pretending to have won them himself. :(
Side note: did anyone else see Sauron using his mace to send men and elves flying during the description of the Shardbearer swinging his blade?
7. I think I made it quite clear last week that I did not trust Kabsal, so I am now feeling rather smug. However, I did not guess at the poison in the bread: did it surprise you as well? Can you see any way that Shallan can reconcile with Jasnah now that the theft has been revealed?
Although I suspected that Kabsal might do something drastic, I did not foresee the poisoning, although his persistent attempts to get Jasnah to eat the jam were annoying. His ploy of always having the poison available was certainly dedicated, but I am quite sure that he did not deceive Jasnah for very long. It did show that he was totally uninterested in Shallan, and was quite happy to poison her to get to Jasnah, which makes me question his identity as an ardent. If Jasnah’s research is correct, he might not even be an ardent, but an assassin or agent of some type sent to steal her fabrial.
We might expect Jasnah to send Shallan away or even to have her interned for the next few hundred years. However, I can see Jasnah grilling Shallan until she gets the truth of the situation and then forgiving her. I am pretty sure that Jasnah was not fooled by the cut in the arm and has realized that Shallan can Soulcast. This ability might be the thing that tips the balance in Shallan’s favor: I suspect that Jasnah is, or will be, a Radiant and I doubt that she would pass up the opportunity to teach another natural Soulcaster.
Wow! This week seemed to be stuffed full with important events and information. I wish there had been time to discuss Adolin acting like a gentleman, Teft’s secret military training and Rock’s refusal to fight. I am sure that you have all noticed other extra bits as well, so I look forward to reading them.