You can follow the links at the bottom of this post to see what everyone else thinks.
This week we read up to the end of Chapter 48.
1. Sebarial and Palona seem to be quite good fun. Do you accept them at face value, or are they playing a much deeper political game? Are you concerned that Jasnah’s intelligence on them seems to have been wrong?
At the moment I am enjoying this pair a great deal: they seem so normal in comparison to all the other highborn Alethi that we have met. I am very impressed by Sebarial’s liberal attitudes to darkeyes, although it is a shame that he cannot actually marry Palona. I assume he has a suitably pale-eyed wife back home that he married for her connections so Palona can only hope to continue as his mistress.
We know that we cannot rely on our first, second or even third impressions of characters in this world, so I am willing to accept that we are only seeing one facet of Sebarial’s personality. However, I am very hopeful that his only deceit is that he pretends to be an obnoxious, lazy slob whilst screwing the other Highprinces for as much money as possible. I am a little concerned about his woeful bookkeeping, but that may be a way to prevent spies, and possibly the Alethi version of the IRS, from seeing how well his plans are working. He certainly seems to have been successful in deceiving the Highprinces and Jasnah. Whilst I am a little disappointed to learn that she is not infallible, Jasnah’s information might have been gathered by spies and so may not indicate any gullibility on her part. It also makes me wonder if Shallan’s abilities, and connection to Pattern, give her an ability to see the truth of any situation.
2. When Kal finally works out how to alter gravity, he sees a shadowy world with a distant sun. Is this Shadesmar, or do you think that there is yet another parallel world in this universe?
I cannot remember if a third world has been mentioned already, but I suppose that it is entirely possible. Let’s face it, this world has people who can reverse gravity and turn boats into stone, so numerous parallel universes would be pretty tame in comparison! Although he seemed to see a similar sky to the one in Shadesmar, there was no suggestion of all the beads that Jasnah and Shallan describe, which makes me think that it could be yet another plane of existence.
Just as this world begins to make sense Mr Sanderson throws in another layer of complexity! :)
3. Renarin has demanded to be trained with the other Bridgecrews. Am I the only one to find him unbearably cute? Do you think that Kal can eventually train him to be partially competent with his Shards?
Renarin is growing into a rather adorable character, in my opinion. He is weak and puny, with glasses and a condition that stops him from following the ‘ideal’ route of being a warrior . . . but he does not allow all of this to defeat him. We have already seen him face-planting the dirt of the practice yard in his Shardplate, so this determination to improve his defensive capability seems entirely in character and very admirable. I suspect that he has been denied the opportunity to do very much because of his epilepsy, so he is quite willing to do the most menial tasks in order to feel useful. He certainly seems to feel a huge weight of responsibility towards his family and the kingdom.
At the moment he has not shown any signs of being a potential Radiant, but I sincerely hope that he is: the poor lad deserves to feel useful. I suspect that he will work very hard at his training, both with and without his Shards. However, I am not sure if he will ever develop sufficient skill or strength to be much use without them. I find it ironic that he has gone to Kal for training and essentially wants to become a member of the Bridgecrew, which is made up of former slaves and people seen as useless and disposable. I suspect that he will earn their respect eventually by being the decent human being that we know him to be.
4. Shallan has learnt how to use her Surgebinding to adopt disguises. What did you think of her meeting with the Ghostbloods? Do you think that she can fool them successfully long enough to discover anything? Any ideas on why they want to remove Amaram?
I was very nervous throughout the whole meeting, and the woman with the strange mask only made things worse. I think that she took a massive risk, and could very easily have ended up dead. However, she was quite right to see the meeting as a unique opportunity to gather information. Unfortunately, she has no idea if their information is any better than hers, or if she will even be able to discover it before they rip her into tiny pieces, but I suppose it is worth the risk.
It seems as if Amaram is trying to smooth the way for Dalinar and Sadeas to reconcile and work together. If so, I can see why the Ghostbloods would want to remove him and maintain the chaos on the Shattered Plains. Other than this, I cannot see any good reason for them to remove him, but I am not too sure that I will be sorry to see him go.
5. Ok, so I was wrong: sorry, Elhokar, for assuming that you had made another rubbish attempt at a fake assassination. Were you surprised that Moash was involved in such an organized conspiracy? Do you agree with the ‘patriots’ and what do you think Kal should do about them?
I think one thing that we can all agree about is that Elhokar is rubbish at being king. He shows no self-control or maturity and I am continually amazed that he is even related to Jasnah, Dalinar and Navani. Even Adolin seems wise and sensible in comparison! However, I was surprised that Moash would feel so strongly about his spineless behavior. It was very clear from his story that it was the wealthy merchant who was the real reason for his grandparents’ deaths, but he has channeled all his hatred at Elhokar, possibly because the King is now accessible.
I suspect that the ‘patriots’ have other, more personal reasons for their determination to kill the King, but have convinced themselves that they are doing it for the common good. Even though Elhokar is mostly useless at the moment, removing him would be the trigger of a massive war between the Highprinces as they scramble to seize control. Whilst I agree that Dalinar would do a much better job as King, there is no guarantee that he would gain overall control, and it could plunge the nation into a protracted conflict just as the Desolation approaches, which I have to assume would be A Very Bad Thing! I am not sure that Kal will do anything in particular, but I seriously doubt that Moash will get to stand guard on Elhokar ever again.
6. We are seeing much more of Shallan’s family life. Can someone explain why nobody has killed her father yet? Also, is anyone concerned about the girl that Nan Balat has his eye on: will he become a wife-beater himself?
I suspect that the children’s lack of action is an indication of how their father’s behavior has conditioned them to be submissive. I was hopeful that we would see some change when the Highprince took an interest into his wife’s death, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. However, we can see how the extreme pressure is building in the household and there is no doubt that Shallan will be completely justified when she finally snaps and kills him. I find it interesting that she is the only one who seems capable of action apart from the eldest brother, although he has simply removed himself from danger and abandoned his siblings. This speaks to her strength of character, and is perhaps an early indication of why she will become a Radiant.
I find Nan Balat very worrying, even though I understand why he exhibits the behavior that he does. I sincerely hope that he will exert more control over himself than their father, but I worry that he will follow the same path. However, he does seem to genuinely love the girl, which might be enough to stay his hand.
7. Any guesses about the identity of the messenger who speaks to Shallan at the fair? Also, what do you make from the sections of the Words of Radiance that are included at the beginning of the chapters?
I am going to stick my neck out here and say that he sounded an awful lot like Wit. Also, we know that he came from the Shattered Plains so it is entirely possible that he could have dropped by whilst travelling on another mission for the King. However, the biggest hint seems to be his familiarity with the Radiants, Shallan’s innate skills and a general air of knowing far more than any normal mortal should. Wit is somehow connected to the Heralds in a very fundamental way and stands in opposition to Odium, so this all seems to fit together. Of course, I am probably wrong! :D
The quotes from the Words of Radiance are so tantalizing that they are irritating me quite a lot. They drop so many hints and suggestions that I feel as if they are revealing far more than I can actually understand at the moment. I suspect that I will finally reread this series once it is all published and spend most of the time slapping my head at the massive clues contained in these snippets. Argh! Mr Sanderson: I love you and hate you in equal measure!