Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 5

You can head over to Tethyan Books to see what everyone else thinks.

This week we read up to the end of Chapter 32.

1. Dalinar made a very dramatic decision at the beginning of this section.  Do you think it was the right one? What do you think will happen to him, Adolin and (and the not-united Alethi) if he follows through?

Although I would love to see everyone unite behind him and become some sort of happy family as they ride off into the sunset, I realize that I am being delusional. It is a great shame, but this decision will at least allow his House to remain strong whilst he wanders away into retirement. It will also give Adolin the space he needs to prove that there is still a strong man to lead the family. I doubt that there is any way to prevent the rumors from continuing, but this will at least reduce the damage that he is doing.

I suspect that Adolin will step into his father’s shoes fairly neatly. He seems like a decent chap and I am quite sure that he will prove to be a worthy successor. I would not be surprised if he continues to use his father as a secret advisor whilst trying to keep him out of the limelight. As for the Alethi: things are going to get much worse before they see sense and start to understand what Dalinar has been trying to say. Even then I am not sure that they will want to change how they do things, which could be disastrous for everyone.

2. We’ve gotten to see a little more of Shinovar with Rysn the apprentice merchant.  In terms of plants and animals, it seems to be pretty much like our world.  How do you think it happened that there’s such an ‘ordinary’ place, or what do you think might have happened to turn the rest of the world so unusual?  Given this and the chapter on Szeth, do you have any more ideas on what the meaning of his "Truthless" title might be?

It is difficult to say which came first: the biology similar to ours or the one adapted to the Highstorms. However, it is undoubtedly cool that such diverse ecosystems exist on the same planet. I loved Rysn’s reactions to the permanent grass and springy turf, particularly her impression of all that lush plant life being dead and empty. Whilst I am not surprised by the myriad details that we encounter in his books, I am increasingly delighted by the variety of cultures that Mr Sanderson has thrown at us. There seemed to be some similarities between the Shin culture and that of the ancient Alethi in Dalinar’s vision. This makes me wonder if the Shin is a much older race than all the others.

Knowing that warriors are the lowest ranked members of society in Shinovar, and that they are all bound to Oathstones seems to make Szeth slightly less unusual. However, I am fairly sure that his magical abilities are very rare, as we saw by his sudden change in ownership. I still have no idea what the title “Truthless” means, but I suspect that it is a due to a very rare form of blasphemy. This seems possible given how his thoughts about the wrongness of walking on stone are beginning to waiver. I cannot say that I am sad to see Makkek dead, but I do worry that Dalinar is on that long list of important people, and possibly Jasnah as well.

3.  Shallan and Jasnah’s story has returned!  Based on Jasnah’s words to Dalinar, and the clues Shallan is picking up, what do you think Jasnah’s project is about?  What do you think she hopes to accomplish? 

I am relieved that we have got back to the library, although it seems that Shallan is running out of time to pull off her heist.

It seems that Dalinar has Jasnah researching the old Kingdom, possibly the one he saw in his vision, plus anything she can find about the Desolations and voidbringers. After learning that nobody had ever recorded meeting the Parshendi before Dalinar encountered them a few years ago, I assume that she is also trying to find any other references to them and their culture. I find it odd that chasmfiends had been seen before, but not the humanoids that live in the same area. I am also concerned that the artist thought that she was drawing a voidbringer, and yet it looks so much like a chasmfiend.

If the Parshendi are indeed voidbringers, or even associated with them, then almost all of Roshar is in great danger. It is obvious that the Parshendi and Parshmen are closely related, so it would mean that the docile slave race could actually be a massive force of potential enemies hiding in plain sight.

4. Concerning Shallan, it’s starting to seem that her drawing ability is a supernatural gift. Do you have any theories on the bizarre figures Shallan accidentally drew behind the king?

Her ability to transfer a mental image to paper is wonderful, and one that I wish I could have myself.

The figures behind the king were certainly very, very creepy. I can only assume that they are not visible to the normal eye, but that Shallan can perceive them with the special ‘mind’s eye’ that she uses to create a Memory. This only makes them even more creepy, because they must be present all the time but remain invisible. As we have already come across one example of something that is only visible to certain people, or at specific times, I am tempted to say that they are spren. However, this suggests that they are following one individual around, just as Syl follows Kal, and I am not sure who that is.

The king is certainly mysterious enough to perhaps warrant invisible horrors trotting along behind him: I am highly suspicious of all this talk of him being a bit dim, because he seems quite bright to me. He is also a little too nice, which makes me wonder how such a supposedly weak monarch has managed to maintain control of his kingdom. As Jasnah says, there is more to him than meets the eye, which suggests that he is very cunning and also good at acting. This makes me distrust him. Otherwise, the invisible creepy things must be attached to Jasnah or Shallan, which is disturbing.

5. Back to the bridge crews, now that we’ve seen a bit more into Gaz’s perspective, does he seem any more sympathetic?  Why do you think he owes Lamaril money?

I am not sure that he is more sympathetic, but it certainly shows that he is not a stereotypical “evil” character. He has his reasons for being horrible, but I had suspected that anyway because Mr Sanderson is too good with characters to get sloppy. I have no idea why he owes the sleazy Lamaril money, but I suspect that it is a fairly common occurrence in this army. Just when I think that I cannot be more disgusted by Sadeas’ army, we get more insight into how rubbish it is!

6. Kaladin has won over his bridge crew, and enacted a brilliant plan to protect them—which utterly ruined the military strategy. Do you think his plan was a good one, or should he have seen the chaos coming? What do you think will happen to him next?  Also, what do you think he’ll do if he figures out the real reason why bridgemen aren’t allowed shields?

I loved how this played out. We were all so invested in Kal’s attempts to save his men that we were feeling all smug and patting ourselves on the back because he succeeded against all odds . . . and then reality slaps us in the face. Kal’s plan has ruined the battle plan and he will now be personally responsible for many, many deaths. Should he have seen it coming? Perhaps, given his military experience, he should have, but he was so focused on the minutiae of his tiny part of the army that he never even thought about the larger effects of his actions.

I hope that Gaz and Lamaril will carry the majority of the blame for this debacle, just because I want to see them gone (especially Mr sneaky lighteyes). However, I suspect that Kal will be very, very lucky to survive. But we know that he is the Hero and has proven to be very, very lucky in the past, so I have to assume that he will survive whatever they throw at him with a demonstration of superhuman awesomeness. This will lead to his crew thinking of him as a god, but everyone else hating him even more, especially the lighteyes. Unfortunately, I think he will have his role as cannon fodder spelled out to him, so I suspect that he will be back walking the edge of Honor Chasm in the near future. :(

Other Thoughts

How cool are the spanreeds? What a wonderfully neat idea for long distance communication, although I am getting a little tired of the whole “men cannot read” thing. Why does nobody see how totally stupid that rule is?

I loved the Interlude with Axies the Collector. I feel a little boring for saying this, but, YET AGAIN, how cool was it? There was so much packed into that small space, what with the humor of the beggar and his city built of rotten vegetables, the amazing seaspren and Axies’ ability to change his shape and color. As always, I was left wanting so much more detail: damn you, Brandon Sanderson! :D

The new master in Kal’s hometown: I assume that we all hope that he gets a Shardblade in his tender bits very soon. However, I suspect that he will survive to make Kal’s life a total misery and drive his father to even more drinking.

Also, talking of even more coolness: I love the way that you can tell the strength of a drink by its color. Plus: chicken is a wonderful and exotic delicacy! :D


  1. Haha - some good comments here - particularly about the new master of Kal's hometown getting a shardblade to the tender bits!
    I don't think it's a great surprise that Dalinar made this decision. I don't really like it because I want him to try and work it out BUT - everything he does seems to go wrong somehow and nobody is interested in teaming with him so he seems to have little choice. I hope this doesn't make Sadeas think he's running away because he has something to hide - given his new role as Chief of Info (or whatever the title is!)
    Interesting about the king with the creepy bodyguards. Not sure what to make of it at all. I wondered, with all the talk of the king being a bit dim, whether they were manipulating him - or perhaps also giving him visions - but, now you mention it, he didn't come across as particularly dim, just maybe not quite as refined as some would expect from a king.
    Still don't like Gaz - but, I'm hoping to be proved wrong and that he'll come good.
    The final battle scene was terrible wasn't it. I couldn't believe it and just have this sense of impending doom for him now - I can't see Sadeas taking that defeat well. Plus such a loss of lives!
    Lynn :D

    1. I love the way that Mr Sanderson manipulates us so much - normally I find it frustrating, but some authors can get away with it . . . Scott Lynch is another that comes to mind.

      I can't helping that all our guessing and speculation is hopeless, because we will be totally wrong about everything we are sure about!

  2. 1. If Dalinar does really go through with it, I hope he stays in contact with Adolin in some way, as an advisor.
    3. That would be very interesting, if the Parshmen ended up being a dormant form of voidbringer. I think the Alethi would never see it coming if they woke up.
    4. The king did not really seem dim to me, either. I think Jasnah mostly had a good point, that in a different time, he would be considered a wonderful ruler. It's just that everyone' obsessed with starting and fighting in wars these days. Actually, if Szeth is meant to kill all those people to encourage war, and that's also why he was ordered to kill Gavilar, maybe rampant warfare is one of the earliest signs that a desolation is coming.

    I'm getting pretty tired of the gender roles too--women have to get through life with only one hand and eat sweet food, men can't read. I hope we meet a character soon who doesn't accept these things blindly.

    1. I think Dalinar will simply take a back seat and stay close to hand: at least I really hope that is what he will do.

      Because I read a lot of titles set in the Roman Empire I know that one of the most terrifying thing for the Romans was the Slave Revolt led by Spartacus, because it forced them to realize that their slaves had amazing access to them and could kill them very easily if they decided to. I see the same thing here with the Parshmen: nobody even notices that they exist . . .

      I have to assume that the lady Knights Radiant weren't hampered buy the silly one hand rule, so I hope we see society changing ASAP.

  3. The span reeds are definitely cool. As in, I gotta get me one of those! And I forgot about the new leader of Kaladin's village. He was a piece of work, wasn't he? I didn't feel particularly more sympathetic toward Gaz either, though I do like that he seems more human the more we get to know him. And it sounds like everyone was sufficiently creeped out by what Shallan saw. Probably the most intriguing scene in this section. Can't wait to read more. :D

    1. I felt like the creepiest aspect was that she couldn't see them with her normal vision: that would definitely give me brown trousers! :D

  4. Maybe Navani can browbeat the king into putting his games aside and actually doing something constructive. But that would make the plot too simple. Perhaps Dalinar and Navani together could get it done though?

    I get the impression that not many Shin travel, and then not often and not far. So Szeth with his various owners over the years has seen a chunk of the world outside of Shinovar. I like that he is starting to question some Shinovar dogma, such as the inappropriateness of walking on stone when there is nothing but stone to walk upon.

    And I too worry that Dalinar and Jasnah are on that list of people for Szeth to assassinate.

    Yep. You share one of my fears. If the Parshendi and Parshmen are related or able to chit chat through telepathic song, then the Parshmen may be a fighting force hidden in plain sight. Even if they are not great fighters, their sheer numbers and the access they have to powerful people could make them very formidable.

    Yeah, I don't see the king of Karbronth as weak or dim. Jasnah doesn't think so either. He has held power for a long time and kept his people safe when they have little land and few resources. Is he a baddie? I am not sure yet. Perhaps if pushed to it, to protect his people.

    There must be some men, other than Ardents, that decided it was stupid to be unable to read. How else would they know if their women clerks were being honest? And then writing of course would be greatly helpful for anything private. Still cultural norms would dictate they hide the skill. Like men being able to sew on a button or women changing a tire. It just simply isn't done except by those of independent and self-sufficient spirit. ;0

    I loved the spren studier and his crafty escape from the veggie town beggar. That was way cool!


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