Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 10

I am hosting this final week, so you can head down to the links at the bottom of my post to see what everyone else thinks.

This week we read up to the end of the book.

Before I get to my answers, I just want to apologize to the other participants for my limited involvement in this particular read along. Circumstances have not been ideal, but I thank you for your tolerance and promise to be much more engaged with the next event.

1. Phew! Kal proves to be the honorable hero that we wanted him to be and decides to save Elhokar. Did you agree with his reasoning? Do you think the king can actually improve, or will Lopen’s mother need to beat him with a spoon?

In some ways it was much more important for Kal’s future that he make this decision: I doubt that Syl would have reappeared if he had chosen the less honorable path. However, I do think he made the correct decision to spare Elhokar.

The king is a very weak character and is plagued by self-doubt. Of course, seeing Cryptics in reflective surfaces would not have improved his state of mind, even after they vanished. The very fact that they were observing him makes me think that he is important for some reason. Perhaps he is yet another potential Radiant, which seems even more likely now that we know that three of his close family are all Radiants already. Alternatively, perhaps his potent lying fascinated the Cryptics, although I am not sure what he has to lie about. Whatever the reason for their interest, it marks him out as a significant character and so I am pleased that he has survived at least one more book.

One thing that we have already seen in this series is that characters can reinvent themselves and change. I think most of us were fairly unimpressed by Adolin in The Way of Kings, but he has matured significantly, as has Renarin. I hope that we will see a similar change in Elhokar. Some time amongst the ‘common’ folk will probably do him a world of good, especially with Lopen’s mother berating him at every turn. He needs to learn how to fulfill his role and stop feeling sorry for himself: and she might just give him the kick up the backside that he really needs! :D

2. Dalinar has bonded with a very grumpy Stormfather: I have to admit that I did NOT see that coming! Were you more surprised to find that the Stormfather is a spren or that he would agree to bond with Dalinar?

As with so much of Mr Sanderson’s writing, I can safely say that this surprised me. I had never considered that the Stormfather could be a spren, although we know that the Nightwatcher is one, and that she is also very powerful and godlike in her abilities.

I am intrigued by the increasingly complex world of the spren. It seems that they are all fragments of Honor, Cultivation or even Odium but their variety is fascinating. It seems as if Stormfather is a greater fragment somehow and so he is much more powerful than most of the other spren. He also wields some sort of authority over the other spren derived from Honor, as he has the final say over Kal’s final rise to be a true Radiant. This makes me wonder if the Nightwatcher fulfills a similar role for the spren derived from Cultivation. As always, the complexity and intricacy of the world leaves me amazed.

Syl says that Stormfather is broken somehow, which certainly explains his anger towards the potential Radiants. I am still confused about what happened during the Recreance and how it ‘killed’ so many spren, but it has had a very profound effect on Stormfather’s mind. He now has an instinctual distrust of humans, which is perfectly understandable, but it seems that his hatred of Odium is even greater and can override his despair. He seems very human in his personality problems, so it made perfect sense that he would bond Dalinar if he had to: I look forward to many grumpy discussions in the coming books.

3. Shallan is now a fully recognized Radiant and has saved pretty much everyone we care about. Then we discover that she killed her mother, but that her father took the blame. Were you surprised by this revelation? Does it make you more sympathetic to her father or not?

Damn you, Brandon Sanderson! Just as we seem to have everything sorted out, you manage to turn it upside down again!

I think it was fairly obvious that the final lie/truth that she needed to accept was associated with her mother’s death, but I had assumed that she simply needed to revisit it and accept her father’s actions. I had never thought that she might have been guilty of the killing herself. However, now that we know the circumstances, it does not really change my opinion about her. She was practically a child at the time and so reacted in an instinctive way to protect herself. Her inability to remember the details of what happened are a fairly typical reaction to such a traumatic event, so I can hardly blame her for not taking responsibility for what happened.

I am not sure that this makes her father more sympathetic. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that he lied to protect Shallan and that he always favored her over the boys. However, I think it is much more likely that she simply scared him. He knew that she had killed two people in self defense, which would make him very wary about pushing her to that point himself. I suspect that he was a simple bully, but had just enough self-control to avoid the very real danger that she posed to him.

4. Eshonai has fallen into a chasm and the Parshendi seem to have been defeated on the Shattered Plains. What do you think of their chances for the future? Will the Parshmen rise as an army of Voidbringers because of the Everstorm?

I suspect that we will see Eshonai again. However, I would hope that she begins to listen to that voice screaming inside her head and works to destroy the voidbringers. It would seem that the Parshendi numbers have been significantly reduced by Dalinar’s attack. However, there are an awful lot of Parshmen out there. Somehow I doubt that we will find that the Parshmen remain unchanged and everyone lives happily ever after . . . otherwise they will be very bored in the remaining eight volumes of the series!

5. There were plenty of revelations about plots and plans. Do you have a clearer picture of how it all fits together and who is doing what? Do you think that Moash will survive far into the series?

Perhaps I was reading too quickly, but I am quite confused over all the plots and secret groups. I am not sure that everyone within each group is working to the same goals, which adds to my confusion. However, I think we can safely say that there are plenty of people who are going to be a nuisance in the rest of the series.

Characters like Taravangian are intriguing because I think that he genuinely is trying to do the right thing. His methods are deplorable and ruthless, but they do have a certain logic behind them. Of course, we have no idea whether or not Odium influenced his day of inspiration when he drew out the Diagram. His subsequent actions are certainly very questionable, but his intentions could be pure. The same is true of Amaram and all the others that we have encountered.

I think Moash has a good chance of surviving, but only if he abandons his new friends and returns to the honorable life of the Bridgemen. However, I am not sure that he is smart enough to see this.

6. Yay! Syl has returned, and now Kal is a full Radiant. Please discuss the epicness of his transformation and subsequent fight with Szeth.

I love Mr Sanderson’s writings for so many reasons, but his ability to create breath-taking visuals is definitely one of my favorites. Kal’s ‘splash down’ in a wave of stormlight would look so good on the big screen! Of course, I doubt that anyone could really recreate the epicness of the writing to my satisfaction, but I would love to see someone attempt it. I fell in love with this aspect of Mr Sanderson’s writing in Mistborn, and I have to admit that I think that this confrontation was even better. The scale of their battle was awesome, with the emotional context only adding to the tension.

Poor Szeth: his entire worldview was being dismantled before his very eyes. I believe that we learn Szeth’s backstory in the next book, and I look forward to understanding how he came to be the Assassin in White and what we will learn about Shin society.

7. The strange man in black is revealed to be the Herald of Justice. Any comments upon him, his nasty talking sword and his decision to resurrect Szeth?

Oh dear, this was not a good revelation at all. It seems as if Nin is just as crazy as Taln, but in a different way. I assume that he has been wandering the world ever since he and the other Heralds abandoned their oath, which means that he has had plenty of time to go very, very insane. I guess that he is so obsessed with Justice that he sees everything in black and white, ignoring the important shades of grey that exist in reality. We saw this when he killed the cobbler who had been a criminal many years earlier but had since reformed and was now a genuinely good person. This uncaring judgmental attitude is entirely self-righteous and extremely dangerous.

I wonder if his creepy sword is his original one. We know that nine swords were left behind as the Heralds wandered off, but we do not know if the Shin have all of them. Certainly, the sword seemed different from the other Shardblades that we have encountered. On a side note: it seemed very similar to the evil sword Nightblood that we encountered in Warbreaker . . .

I can only assume that Szeth is a suitably amoral person who could help Nin to bring righteous vengeance to the world. Yay! :(

8. Argh! Jasnah is back from the dead! Discuss, with many exclamation marks!!!!

What the heck!???!??!

How? What? Why? Where? When? And, I say again, HOW????

Just when we had all come to terms with her untimely demise, she reappears twice as awesome as she was before. The fact that Wit is there to meet her only confirms my belief that he is some form of godlike entity trying to intervene in the fate of this world. Otherwise, how could he possibly know where she would appear?

I look forward to hearing about her escape, although it seems that she shifted herself into Shadesmar to escape the assassins. How this is possible, I have no idea, but it seems that she has been doing plenty of research by chatting to the spren: typical Jasnah! :D

9. Finally, this book ended with lots of questions. Will killing Sadeas alter Adolin? Why is he called THE Lopen? Why are the other Oathgates locked?

I was shocked that Adolin did this. It is not as if I do not think that Sadeas deserved it, just that Adolin lost control of himself. I am pretty certain that this will bar Adolin from joining the Radiants because of the effect that it will have on his psyche.

That was really strange, as was the hint about the king of the Herdazians showing up at the end. It was great to see him regain his arm, though I am sure he deserves it for putting up with his mother! :D

The only unlocked Oathgate was in the Shattered Plains: how convenient? Of course, this might explain why the Parshendi were in the same place: perhaps they were the remnants of a force left to stop anyone using the gate. But this is only one question in a giant list that need to be answered in the later volumes of the series, so I will let it go for now!


  1. Such an excellent finale!
    Syl! Kal! Adolin - what was that about - did we see a darker side to him there - not that I like Sadeas but that scene was a bit spooky.
    And Jasnah - I kept thinking she wasn't dead. I thought Sanderson brushed over the scene too quickly - I wondered if she had a similar talent to Shallan - the whole creating a fake body like appearance. I don't know how that would work for her because she doesn't draw but it was the only thing I could come up with.
    I'm glad to hear that it's not just me confused with all the plots at the moment. I literally can't wait for the next book!
    Lynn :D

  2. Yes, definitely! Characters have been able to reinvent themselves and it is only Book 2. I wonder what our characters will be like by the end of the series. If Adolin can go from being a playboy clothes horse to the hero we have seen, then there is hope for Elhokar.

    You make a good point about Shallan's father. I too had to question his motivations for 'protecting' Shallan. Perhaps he let people assume he did the deed because the truth would have brought ruin upon his family. And who would believe that a mere girl was a Radiant, or could even summon a Shardblade?

    Good idea about Nin being the one who killed the cobbler. Could he also be 'Death' that Lift met? Or does Death work for Nin? many excellent questions.


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