Friday, April 4, 2014

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 1

You can head over to Musings on Fantasia to see what everyone else thinks.

This week we read up to the end of Chapter 8.

1. We basically get the same prologue from the first book except from Jasnah's POV. She tells Gangnah that her father's assassin walked on the wall, and it's ignored. We also see the Parshman leaders immediately take credit for the assassin. What did you make of it all? Insights? Impressions? How will this affect the story going forward?

I have to admit that my first reaction to the very first sentence, where Jasnah thinks about hiring an assassin, was to think that she had hired Szeth! I only thought this for a moment or so, but it is a testament to Mr Sanderson’s unpredictability that I could even contemplate such a thing. Fortunately, I came to my senses pretty soon, but the world was upside-down for a short time! :D

Anyway, back to the question. I really hope that Jasnah told someone else about Szeth walking on the wall because it would be a massive clue to Shallan and Dalinar that he would be a potential Radiant. The Parshendi leaders were very strange in their actions: it felt more as if they were claiming responsibility for something that they had not actually done. This makes me even more convinced that Gavilar’s death was not something that they wanted, but rather a ploy by some third party to trigger the war and its ensuing chaos.

It would have been nice to see someone, anyone, really question the Parshendi about the assassination and their reasons for it. The Alethi seem to be rather emotional and unthinking at times of crisis – killing the leaders was certainly good for revenge, but nothing else.

2. Andolin and Shallan are unofficially engaged. How do you see this relationship panning out?

I have to admit that I did not see this coming, but it put a smile on my face. Shallan’s reaction was unexpectedly girlish as she realized that SHE was possibly going to marry a real, live Prince. I thought that this was rather cute and showed how straightforward and honest she is at heart. I cannot imagine how she will fit in with the Alethi lighteyes on the Shattered Plains, but it should be entertaining to see how they react to her.

I have no idea how Andolin will respond to her presence, or feel about the engagement. He seems to be a bit of a ladies’ man, but has been singularly unsuccessful at relationships so far. Perhaps Shallan is so different from the other women that he has courted that he will find her refreshingly unique.

3. Kaladin wants to keep his Radiant powers a secret for as long as possible. How successful do you think he'll be? How long will he remain hidden? Do you think he'll succeed in training the thousand?

His success in remaining hidden will largely depend on when Szeth arrives to kill Dalinar. Once Szeth makes his attack, Kal will be forced to use all his abilities to stop the assassin: and it will be very obvious to any who see their fight that they are both Radiants of some type. If the number of observers is low, and they are all loyal to Dalinar, the secret may continue to be kept for quite some time, but it cannot remain hidden indefinitely.

When he first tried to rouse the Bridge Four crew it seemed like an impossible task, so I am fairly confident that he can succeed with most of the men in his command. There may be a few that do not respond, because they are too broken, but I think that the majority will respond in a similar way to his first crew.

4. Jasnah thinks Shallan's spren is a Cryptic, as opposed to an Honorspren which is what Syl is. What do you think is the significance of this? What does it mean for Shallan? For Kaladin?

As Pattern is very different in appearance to Syl, it makes sense that it is not an honorspren. It would also make sense that each Order of Radiants was associated with a different spren. If, as Jasnah theorizes, the spren are manifestations of thoughts or ideals, then each Order would represent a different ideal and be linked to a different spren. For a Radiant involved in fighting, an honorspren makes sense, but Shallan’s abilities are not really war-like, so an honorspren would not be appropriate for her.

However, Pattern does seem to share Syl’s lack of memory and increasing awareness of the world, so they obviously share some traits. I was intrigued by Jasnah’s assertion that the Cryptics and Honorspren are involved in some sort of conflict. I wonder if this means that Syl will react very negatively to Shallan’s arrival.

5. How will Kaladin accomplish all of the tasks Dalinar has laid on him? Do you think Dalinar's plan with the duels will work to stave off civil war and help unite the high princes?

I am sure that Kal will find a way by trusting his men to take some of the burden off his shoulders.

At the moment I suspect that assassinating the Highprinces would be the only way to persuade them to cooperate. I am not sure if the dueling will work and they seem to be remarkably unable to trust one another, if Aladar is anything to go by. It looks pretty bleak, but perhaps Dalinar will discover a way to bring them all together.

6. After the incident with the ship, do you think Jasnah is truly dead? Predictions?

I sincerely hope not, but I have no idea how she could be alive. We know that Shallan was able to create an illusion of herself, but Jasnah does not share that particular ability. Perhaps she got herself into Shadesmar and then can repair her body before returning to it. At this point, anything that I try to imagine is probably wildly off target.

7. What are your first thoughts/impressions of Pattern? How do you see his and Shallan's relationship developing?

I think Pattern is really rather adorable, in a mind-bending kind of way. I like the way that he makes Shallan struggle to describe concepts that it finds alien. I do think that the name ‘Pattern’ is a bit rubbish though . . .

I assume that they will develop a similar relationship to that of Kal and Syl, with Pattern guiding Shallan’s development as she discovers her true potential.

Other Notes

I was rather intrigued by Liss and the possibility that she might have a Shardblade of her own (she removes her victims’ eyes because they are burnt out). It seems rather ironic that she used to own Szeth but did not realize that he was an amazing assassin, otherwise she would never have sold him.

I am curious about Shen and his increasingly ‘normal’ persona. If it is associated with his growing loyalty to Kal then it could be a good thing. However, it could be a sign that the Parshmen are becoming more sentient, which could mean that they are more likely to revolt as Jasnah predicts.

I found the personality of the ship rather touching in its brief conversation with Shallan. It is strange to think of it having feelings, but that is what makes me read Mr Sanderson: he always takes me in directions that I could never expect.


  1. Yeah, I too am excited to see how all the relationships will play out when Shallan reaches the Shattered Plains and meets her would-be fiance. Good all about Kaladin showing his powers when Szeth shows up! I figured something would happen sooner or later that would out him, but I wasn't even thinking about Szeth. I'm sure you're right! So excited! :D

  2. Haha! Yes, that opening sentence threw me off too. I figured that if Jasnah had hired Szeth, then she had a damn good reason.

    I wonder if some action of the Parshendi - such as signing a peace agreement with Gavilar - inadvertently triggered his death. Suppose someone else doesn't want the two allied, and the Parshendi know this. That 3rd party could have hired Szeth to do the assassination and the Parshendi may feel some responsibility for that. Or I could be totally off.

    I too am curious about the conflict the spren have among themselves. Do some want the world to stay as it is? Do others see a need for change to combat what is coming (the Everstorm)? So many questions and so many books to go.

    I too thought the name 'Pattern' seemed a bit silly. I mean, it is like calling a cat, 'Cat', etc.

    Liss might have realized what Szeth is and sold him to pay off some large debt....

    While I am enjoying Shen becoming one of the guys, I too worry what that could mean for the Parshmen as a whole. If Jasnah's guess is correct about how they communicate, then Shen's sense of individuality could spread.

    1. Your suggestion about the Parshendi sounds very plausible: the peace treaty would most definitely seem like something that Odium would try to forbid.

      I wonder if the spren conflict is about how they approach change: direct action vs indirect, or something similar?

      If Shen becomes more individual and that spreads, it could be a very good thing . . . or stunningly bad.

      Strangely, I do not feel any less stuffed with questions than at the end of book 1! :D

  3. 1. That was also my first thought! And, yes, I think you make a good point about the Parshendi, it was as though they were quickly taking responsibility - maybe before they changed their mind. Or as though they were compelled to do so and so were just getting a nasty task out of the way.
    2. It's going to be interesting seeing how that pans out!
    3. Yeah, can't say I'm really looking forward to Szeth making an appearance!
    4.The lack of memory between the two spren is interesting. It's almost like they've been reborn.
    5. It's interesting how very quickly Dalinar has placed so much trust in Kaladin. Okay, obviously, Kaladin did rescue Dalinar and his surviving men, but, even so, it's still an awful lot of trust all at once. I like that though, it's almost as though he realises something is different about Kaladin (or maybe he did see him using Stormlight??)
    6. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Jasnah surviving. It just felt too sudden! I can't handle it.
    7. I suppose the name Pattern isn't very original! Maybe it's actually an anagram - apt rent or rapt net LOL
    I never put that together with Liss - OMG!!!!
    Lnn :D


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