Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 8

You can head over to Caffeinated Life to see what everyone else thinks.

Remember to enter the Massive Giveaway, which still has plenty of time to run.

This week we read up to the end of Chapter 57.

1. What do you think of Dalinar's latest vision concerning the Radiants? Can you make sense of them? Do you think Jasnah will prove or disprove Dalinar's visions? And what did you think of Dalinar and Navani's almost moment? ;)

I really want to know why the Radiants laid down their shards and walked away from the conflict. Was this due to the nine Heralds breaking the Oathpact or something else? Also, I want to know where they went and if their powers faded afterwards, like the glow fading from their shards. Plus, what happened to all those shards: Dalinar realizes that the ones he sees are far more than all the ones known in modern Rosahr. As always, this was an awesome scene, but it left me with many more questions than it answered.

I am certain that Jasnah will prove that the visions are real. They seem far too detailed and pointed to be delusions or random hallucinations. They are obviously trying to communicate important pieces of history to Dalinar for some reason that is not entirely clear at the moment. However, it seems that a Desolation is coming, perhaps the True Desolation that the Radiant in the vision mentioned.

To be quite honest, I could do without the hints at romance that we are seeing between these two. Dalinar has more than enough to deal with and does not need the added complication of all this emotional turmoil as well. I hope that Navani realizes this pretty soon and stops trying to push his buttons.

2. Dalinar proposes a military alliance with Sadeas. Given what we've read of their relationship and of Sadeas' character, did Dalinar make the right move? How long do you think this alliance will last? Has Dalinar finally gotten Sadeas on his side by using Sadeas' interests (gemhearts, the Shardblade, etc.) as incentive or does Dalinar have something else up his sleeve?

I still find it very difficult to trust Sadeas, so I have to believe that Dalinar’s need to trust him has a reason that we cannot see yet. Perhaps it will lead to some important event that is necessary for Dalinar to convince the Highprinces to fight together. However, it makes me uneasy, and Sadeas’ apparent good will over the saddle strap just makes me more suspicious. I am pretty sure that Sadeas will betray Dalinar without a second thought and I was rather hoping that he had been finished off by the Parshendi.

3. This is the first time we've read in detail what it's like to be a Shardbearer fighting with Shardblades in battle through Dalinar. What did you think of it?

As I said last week, it reminded me a great deal of Sauron smashing the ranks of elves and humans and sending them flying with his mace. It also reminded me a little of reading Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, which includes characters fighting in powered suits.

The power that Dalinar displays makes me wonder what the hundreds of Knights Radiant were up against. If they were needed in such numbers, the voidbringers must be truly terrible.

4. We get a big reveal about what's happening with Kaladin this week regarding the Stormlight as well as a revelation regarding Syl's nature. What did you think of it? Given what we know now, what else do you think he is capable of?

This really just confirmed what we have all been piecing together over the last few weeks. It particularly confirmed our suggestions that he had similar abilities to those that we see Szeth use. We definitely saw him ‘lashing’ objects, such as the medical pack and the stone, although he does it in an unconscious way.

Again, I think we had all pretty much decided that Syl was not a normal windspren, if she was one. It now seems that her role in life is to bind to a warrior, attracted by and enhancing his ability to manipulate Stormlight. I suspect that this binding is a fundamental step in the process of becoming a Knight Radiant. Of course, this makes me wonder why Szeth does not have his own spren. We know that Syl is unhappy about the need to kill, so perhaps Szeth’s work as an assassin has made him repellent to her type of spren.

I see no reason why Kal cannot become as skilled as Szeth, perhaps even more so because he has his bond with Syl.

5. Kaladin initially blames his curse as the reason why people around him keep dying. Is there some truth to his claims, that this binding ability has some correlation with the casualty count around him, or is Kaladin simply grieving over recent losses? If the former, do you think this might have any connection to what the Radiants are and whatever happened to them?

No, Kal’s ability has not caused the men around him to die at a higher rate. In fact, they seem to survive much longer because of his skill and ability. However, he has a very skewed view of what has happened because he has survived far more fighting than he should have. A normal soldier would have seen much less death because he would not have Kal’s ability to survive for so long in such dangerous situations.

I think the real problem is that Kal holds himself responsible for everybody else. He has a rather adolescent and arrogant worldview that gives him the duty of caring for everyone. Obviously, this is an impossible task and so he constantly fails to keep them all alive and then he sulks and moans about the unfairness of the world. I know that this sounds rather harsh, but he has not yet learnt the wisdom to allow others to take responsibility for themselves. I think he is almost about to make that break through, and it will give him a great deal of peace to know that he can only do so much.

6. Wit/Hoid is turning out to be more than just the life of the party and a thorn on the sides of the other highprinces. As we've seen, he's not very playful with Dalinar and is quite sober, even ominous, with Kaladin. What did you think of his conversations with Dalinar and with Kaladin? What do you think he's up to? How does he factor in with everything else that's going on at the moment (or what's to come)?

Hoid is a character who can hop between the worlds in the Cosmere, although we do not know how if does this. From some of the things he said to Kal, I got the impression that he had travelled to Roshar in pursuit of Odium, which suggests that he is either another of the Sixteen Shards or a similarly powerful being. He is most certainly not just a wandering bard.

I am fairly sure that he is linked to the visions that both men are receiving. Although I am not sure how he could be involved, it is certainly far too much of a coincidence that he speaks to these two so differently from everyone else. It seemed as if he was waiting to speak to Kal before leaving, which also adds to the impression that he knows something of their fates / destinies.

Other Notes

I was sadly disappointed to find out that my guess was correct: Amaram was a total dirtbag and stole the shards that Kal had won. In some way, I wish he had simply been honest about it rather than making up a pathetic excuse about it being for the good of the army. What a sad specimen of a man! Leaving Kal alive was such a generous action . . . grumble, grumble, grumble . . . grrrr! :(

I loved the interlude with Baxil, but it opened up so many more questions! Why was their mistress so determined to break into houses and smash up works of art? We also got a little more of an idea about the Old Magic and how it works. I was a little surprised to read that the Nightwatcher could be a spren. This suggests that some spren have quite a significant magical ability all of their own. It also seems to answer the questions about what happened to Dalinar’s memories of his wife: although we do not know if that was the curse or the boon.

So, flamespren become fixed once you measure them? Just when I thought that this world could not get any more cool! The fact that they would only do it if you wrote the number down was even more astounding. This suggests that words, or writing, have power in this world so perhaps the burning of prayer glyphs is not so pointless after all.

Poor Szeth! His mind is being totally warped by all this killing, especially when he has to take so many innocent lives. I am beginning to wonder why he does not allow himself to be killed by one of his intended victims so that he can end his suffering.

What is wrong with Renarin: what are his fits of weakness?

I loved the idea of the watch kept over the latrines to make sure that the bridgecrews were not swallowing shards during chasm duty. It also made me feel very sorry for the poor Parshmen who had to check afterwards . . . :(

I am intrigued to learn what Kal has in mind for Shen. It was certainly a shock to see the little Parshman become so agitated about the Parshendi corpses. There is so much more to him than meets the eye.

I was very pleased to see Dalinar finally taking some notice of the Parshedi warriors and asking himself about them and their society. There are so many strange things going on with this war: someone needs to start finding answers!


  1. I'm not sure I entirely want to trust Sadeas yet either. I hope we get more of Baxil as well. I really want to know who their mistress is. And Renarin is an interesting aside as well. I wonder if he has anything to do with the boon and curse Dalinar once received?

    1. I love (and hate) the interludes because they provide so much depth to the world and yet they make me frustrated because they give such brief glimpses of things that I want to know all about ! Grr!

      I wonder if he used to be much worse and Dalinar asked for him to be healed. The only argument I can make against that idea is that Adolin does not seem to know anything about it, which seems strange.

  2. I was really surprised that Sadeas was using the investigation in a way to stop suspicion falling on Dalinar. It did make me feel a little guilty about all the harsh things/thoughts I've been having and saying about him - but, he is pretty mean to the bridgecrew (although I suppose this is purely battle tactics.
    I loved the reveal about Syl - she's such a great character. I really enjoy all her little bits.
    I sincerely hope that Kaladin starts to be a bit more reasonable about his ability to keep EVERYONE alive. He's already helped the bridgecrew a lot more than he seems to realise or give himself credit for. After all - there's a war going on and people do die in these circumstances.
    Lynn :D

    1. I still can't make myself trust Sadeas . . . even now!

      It is laudable that Kal wants to keep everyone alive, but it has a very juvenile quality to it: it is as if he can't accept the world as it truly is.

  3. That's exactly how I feel about Kaladin, too. His insistence on being responsible for everyone around him not only harms his own mental health, but is also extremely self-centered. I don't think he's consciously realized it (and I don't think he is intentionally being arrogant), but his worldview relies on the assumption that only *his* actions and decisions can make a difference. It seems like he's on the verge of truly understanding that other people can take responsibility, too.

    About Renarin, I could be totally off-base, but I assumed he had epilepsy (maybe only invisible seizures though, hence the 'fits of weakness').

    I am also really curious to see what becomes of Shen. It seems like people mostly treat Parshmen like objects, and I hope we get to understand more of what's going on inside his head.

    1. Yep, that's why I feel like he is showing adolescent thought patterns: he needs to mature a bit and realize that he can't control everything. I agree: I don't blame him or see this as him being a bad person, just very young. I keep forgetting that he's only 19 or so, which might explain his rather immature attitude.

      Yeah, I immediately thought epilepsy as well, but who knows with Mr Sanderson? :D

      I thought his reaction to the handling of the dead was very telling: it was as if he suddenly woke up from a sleep of indifference.


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