Sunday, April 27, 2014

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 4

You can head over to Lynn's Book Blog to see what everyone else thinks.

This week we read up to the end of Chapter 39.

1. Sadeas and Amaram are reunited on the battlefield in chapter 29.  Clearly the two are perfectly well aware of each other’s characters - why do you think Amaram has made an appearance at this point in the story?  Any thoughts on how he will affect the politics.  Clearly Kaladin has good reason to hate him - but everybody else thinks he’s wonderful!

My gut instinct is to hate Amaram for what he did to Kal and his men. With that in mind, I tend to have a very jaundiced view of anything he does and see his supposed niceness as some very clever political maneuvering. It seems as if he is trying to play nice with both Dalinar and Sadeas ‘for the good of the kingdom’, but it is difficult for me to accept that at face value.

However, I am willing to believe that he is not the simple two-dimensional bad guy that we see through Kal’s eyes. Just as Gaz has been revealed to be almost decent if given the chance, I suspect that Amaram is equally complex. His actions about taking the Shards were terrible, but I can also see the political reasoning behind his actions. Kal certainly did not make the situation any better by refusing to claim them as his own and Amaram had a much wider view of the world than an eighteen-year-old foot soldier. He might very well be a decent bloke who has had to do some unfortunate things for the greater good, but I still find it difficult to get over my initial impression of him.

2. Tyn - a rather short-lived character to say the least.  Who do you think she was working for and what is their interest in finding the hidden city on the plains?  Looking at the reveal regarding Tyn how did Shallan manage to call a Shardblade to her? I was also curious during this chapter about Shallan’s absent minded drawing - she thought a character she’s sketched looked like Yalb - what did you make of this, fanciful?

I have suspicion that she is working for the same people as Kabsal: the Ghostbloods. I imagine that his failure to kill Jasnah led to the group taking more direct action, although her death at sea could have been made to look like an unfortunate accident, just like the poisoning. I imagine that they are also trying to locate the voidbringers, although I suspect that they have an entirely different agenda for when they make contact. I am fairly sure that they are somehow linked with Taravangian and his scheme to create chaos throughout Roshar so that the world can be rebuilt.

We have not been shown Shallan’s murder of her father yet, but I have to assume that it was an act of desperate self defense, because she certainly put p with a huge amount of abuse before killing him. This suggests that her surge abilities kick in when she is in mortal danger and her subconscious takes over to keep her alive. I would say that Tyn’s actions were going to kill her, so summoning the Shardblade was a natural attempt to live.

I wonder if this means that he is still alive somewhere. I am not entirely certain that Jasnah perished in the assassination attempt, and Shallan did not find any other bodies, so I will live in hope that he will pop back up at some point.

3.  Kaladin’s dream and in particular the stormfather - what is the implication about humans and the spren, the betrayal, more to the point why the stormfather thinks Kaladin will murder Syl?  Why did he warn Kaladin whilst at the same time calling him a little traitor??

I have a sneaking suspicion that when a Radiant reaches the final stage of their journey to becoming a true Knight, they absorb their spren, just as we saw Eshonai join with the stormspren. In a way, this ‘kills’ the spren, because it is no longer a separate individual, but I imagine that it is a mutually agreed action for them to merge. As the Honorspren are a tiny part of him, I can see how the Stormfather would see this as a form of treachery. However, I assume that it is a necessary evil as it will help Kal to fight the forces of Odium.

4.  Finally Szeth makes an appearance and we find out who is actually on his hit list.  Why?  Why Dalinar and not the King?  The other deaths all seem to be Kings and Highprinces.  What did you make of Szeth's confrontation with Kaladin - not only the fight but their conversation?

Taravangian sent Szeth to kill Dalinar because he has a very good chance of actually uniting the Highprinces. This works against Taravangian’s plans and so he wants Dalinar removed. It will also act to destabilize Elhokar’s rule and further weaken the Alethi.

It would seem that Szeth’s designation as ‘Truthless’ is directly linked to his surgebinding abilities. However, his abilities seem to have developed differently from Kal’s. We know that Shinovar has no spren, so Szeth could not have attracted a companion spren like Syl. Also, she claims to be the only honorspren to have returned to Roshar against the express wishes of her people, which makes it even more unlikely that he has a spren that we have not been shown. He also seems to use far more stormlight than Kal and his Shardblade is markedly different from the other ones known by Adolin. All of this suggests that he became a Windrunner by some other method, although I have no idea what that might be.  

His confrontation with Kal has obviously shaken Szeth’s understanding of the world and his role in it. He seems to be genuinely terrified of Kal, and what he represents, and leaves in fear and confusion. I suspect that we will see Szeth question what he has been told about his status and the form of his punishment, especially with regards to the Shardblade. I am not sure if he will be able to break his link to the Oathstone, but he may chose to walk away from Taravangian.

5.  Eshonai - finally succeeds in getting a message to Dalinar with a meeting set up.  How do you think that’s going to play out now she’s released the captive spren - what do you think actually happened during that sequence??

It seems that she has had a major personality change with the shift to Stormform, so I doubt that the meeting will actually go ahead. If it does occur, I suspect that she will use it as an opportunity to try to kill as many Highprinces as possible.

The description of her with the glowing red eyes suggests that she has possibly become a form of voidbringer. Yay! :(

6.  Finally Shallan reaches the plains- what was your reaction to her first meeting with Dalinar and her second meeting with Kaladin?   She’s chosen to stay with Brightlord Sebarial - what are your first instincts about Sebarial??

As I mentioned last week, I have grown to like Shallan, so I was very impressed by the way that she handled her at the war camps. I am pretty sure that Dalinar was impressed by her honesty and directness, and I loved the way that she handled the snotty Highprinces. Sebarial seems rather entertaining and a whole lot more cunning than the others think: I think he and Shallan will be a good match. To be honest, I am quite taken by his rudeness because it makes such a nice change from all the false flattery and politicking that we see elsewhere.

I am a little concerned with the whole Kal-Shallan-Adolin triangle. The reunion between Kal and Shallan was hilarious and felt as if it came straight out of a Romance title. Typically we would expect Shallan to bicker with Kal right up until the moment when they unexpectedly fell into each other’s arms. I seriously hope that we do not go down that path. I loved Adolin’s reaction to her entrance: it reminded me of Cameron Diaz’ entrance in The Mask! :D

Other Notes

Arghhh! The reading this week was so epic! Now I am really worried about how I will cope with the loooong wait until Book Three hits the shelves! :(

Poor Taln: there he is trying to fulfill his role as the Herald of the coming Desolation and everyone simply thinks that he is crazy. I spend so much of this series wanting to slap people who are ignoring really important information! :D


  1. I am with you on Amaram. How can we ever truly trust him? Especially since there seems to be some sort of bond/trust between him and Sadeas? In his mind (Amaram's) he might very well believe that what he is doing is for the greater good.

    I agree that Tyn was most likely working for the Ghostbloods. I am not sure what they want, big picture wise yet. They gave Shallan's father a fabrial, and now want it back. Perhaps they had something to do with Shallan's oldest brother? They ordered Kabsal to try to kill Jasnah. Now it appears they have done so. I wonder what else they are up to?

    Excellent idea about the spren being absorbed by their chosen one as they become a Radiant. I really like this idea and I hope it bears out.

    I too really liked Sebarial's bluntness, even rudeness. He isn't playing the Highprince game, or at least, he plays it his own way, allowing people to think he is a rude idiot.

    So true about Taln! He babbles and he has a Shard, but no one takes the time to listen. Perhaps Navani or Shallan will take the time.

  2. I also really like the spren idea and it makes good sense.
    I must admit that I enjoyed reading the scene between Kaladin and Shallan but like you I would be surprised if Sanderson wrote a love triangle into this! It does feel like they're going to have arguments right up until they fall on top of each other though!
    Lynn :D


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