Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: Week 10

You can head over to On Starships and Dragonwings to see what everyone else thinks.

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

1. Syl's true nature as an honorspren has been revealed! She once again asks the interesting question: are spren attracted to their element or do they create that element? What do you think? Do you think there are more honorspren or is Syl unique?

I am fairly certain that she is not unique and that each Knight Radiant bonded to their own individual spren (honor or otherwise).

We know that there were ten orders of Knights, so it makes sense that they would not all be the same. Also, in Dalinar’s vision, the two Knights were different colors and displayed a difference in healing ability. I have no doubt that Syl was attracted to Kal because of his innate honorableness, but she has magnified that trait as she has bonded to him. He has become an exaggerated version of his original self and far more powerful than he could have been unbonded.

It seems like Shallan and Jasnah are also Surgebinders of some sort, but they have quite different talents from Szeth and Kaladin. This suggests that they would bond to a different type of spren: one more in tune with their innate gifts. This could quite possibly be the symbol-headed figures, which I am pretty sure are spren now that we know that they respond to powerful truths. I look forward to more information on the Knights in book 2, but I suspect the whole truth will only be revealed much later in the series (if at all).

2. The Parshendi had a whole host of reactions to Kaladin's power, mostly including fear and awe, though they also seemed to recognize him or his power. Why do you think that is? How do you think the Parshendi hiring Szeth plays into it?

It suggests that they are more familiar with Surgebinders than everyone else, although the only other one that we have met in Szeth. I had assumed that they did not see Szeth in action before the assassination, but perhaps that is not true. Alternatively, they may have a religious or cultural tradition that teaches them all about the Knights Radiant and what they could do in battle. Just like Teft, they recognize the signs of his powers. This might also provide some answer to the question of why they rush to gather the Gemhearts

I am increasingly convinced that the Parshendi were manipulated as much the Alethi in the creation of this very distracting war. We know that Szeth’s mission to assassinate Gavilar was not organized by Taravangian, but it seems to fit into the overall plan behind his schemes. Removing Gavilar has successfully destabilized Alethkar and allowed increasing unrest in the whole area around the Kingdom.

3. Dalinar makes some pretty intense decisions towards the end of this book, including trading his Shardblade to free the bridgemen and completely changing how he wants to deal with the highprinces. Do you think these were good decisions?

Whilst I am fairly certain that all the other Highprinces will assume that he is crazy for giving up his Shardblade, I think it was a very worthwhile gesture. He is finally accepting his role as a politician and leader, rather than relying on the brute force of his reputation in battle. I hope that this starts to ease the discrimination against the darkeyes, as he starts to judge people on their talents, rather than only on the color of their eyes.

As for making Bridge Four is bodyguard: that is a genius decision. He knows that he can trust them completely and they should be impervious to bribery and corruption. They will also act as a very visible reminder of what any man can do if he is trained and treated with respect. I hope that it causes some dissent on the other war camps as the common men start to realize how much they have been wasted in the previous years of ‘play’ war.

4. A lot of mysteries surrounding Jasnah are finally revealed! Do you think that she is right and that most Soulcasters do work? Why do you think Shallan and Jasnah both happen to have this soulcasting power? What is Shadesmar really?

Assuming that Kabsal had no reason to lie to Shallan about how they are used, I am certain that most Soulcasters do work. The very fact that Jasnah hides her innate talent suggests that she has done a lot of research into fabrials and so she knows how they function. Plus, Navani is one of the leading fabrial engineers in the Kingdom, so I think I now where those fake Soulcasters came from.

I suspect that Shallan’s burgeoning powers are due to the presence, or proximity of the symbol-heads, which are probably attracted by Jasnah. We know that Jasnah is a great one for truth, so it makes sense that these spren would be drawn to her. As with Syl and Kal, their presence has amplified Shallan’s abilities. Also, it makes sense that two women with such similar interests and personalities would have similar Surgebinding abilities, if they had any at all. I would have been much more surprised to find that Shallan had vastly different skills.

I feel as if Shadesmar is a form of alternative reality where everything exists as a separate bead. Each bead is the essence of a thing, or something similar, and can be manipulated if you have sufficient Stormlight and skill. I have no idea why there appears to be a tiny sun though. 

5. Szeth is once again on a mission, but this time we really don't want him to succeed! What do you think is going to happen with him and Dalinar in the next book? Do you think Szeth and Kaladin will recognize each other's power?

Poor Szeth! I am not sure how much more of this he will be able to do before his mind breaks beyond the point of repair. I am impressed by how much sympathy I feel for a man who is a terribly efficient killing machine. I want him to gain his freedom and be able to stop carrying out these dishonorable killings. However, I am not sure how that could happen without him dying. I hope that he will not be able to kill Dalinar, because Bridge Four, and especially Kal, will be a suitable match for him. However, I am not totally confident that Dalinar will survive: Mr Sanderson is quite willing to kill off beloved characters if necessary.

I think that Szeth and Kal will definitely recognize each other as having similar abilities. I hope that Syl’s bond will make Kal stronger and able to overpower Szeth, but I am not sure if that will be enough to release the poor man from the Oathstone.

6. We finally have a better idea where the Parshmen and Parshendi came from! What do you think the real history is there? How did people possibly enslave the Voidbringers and why are the Parshendi now changing?

There is a very obvious connection between the Parshmen and the Parshendi, but I am not sure how one becomes the other. The music seems to be one possible method, but I have no idea hoe that would work. It seems that after the last Desolation, the remaining Parshendi were somehow changed into Parshmen in a form of domestication. The slavery of the conquered is commonplace in human cultures, both modern and historical, but there must have been a very intense breeding program or medical intervention to create this transformation.

However, this might also explain why the Parshendi have suddenly been discovered. Odium, or one of his agents, or even someone like Taravangian who wants to unmake the world, has been able to reverse the change. This suggests that there is simple step from one form to the other so that it can easily be reversed by someone with the knowledge.

7. The last chapter with the Almighty was pretty crazy. What do you think about this vision? What do you think this means for Dalinar's future and the world's (universe's??) future? What is Odium really?

It was quite a revelation to discover that the visions were more like recordings than interactions. It was really rather sad listening to the Almighty and his desperate hope that these visions would guide people to survive the Final Desolation and defeat Odium. However, it does make me wonder what else the Almighty left behind to help mankind. If Syl is an Honorspren, does that mean that the spren are part of the Almighty who is also the Shard known as Honor?

Knowing the origin and form of his visions should make it slightly easier for Dalinar to interpret them and what each one is trying to show. Reliving them repeatedly should allow him to explore them more thoroughly for details. How successful they are at conveying information I cannot guess.

I am confident in saying that Odium is one of the Sixteen Shards in the Cosmere. He is NOT a nice entity!

Other Notes

Kal is so much more powerful now that he is bonded to Syl: this makes me worry about how awesome Szeth could be if he ever stops committing such terrible crimes and attracts an honorspren of his own.

I knew it! Shallan killed her father! I had always suspected that she had some involvement in his death, but now she has admitted it. I assume that it is connected to her possession of a Shardblade somehow, but her memory of him surrounded by blood suggests that he was killed in a more conventional way. Strangely, given what we know of him, I am not terribly bothered by her admission, although I would like to know exactly what happened.

Taravangian: I never saw that coming! I was fairly convinced that he was only playing the kindly, simple, unthreatening King in order to protect the city from aggression and deflect attention, but I did not expect this. So, he is actually a deadly ruthless murderer, gathering all those weird last words that we have been reading in the epigraphs and cutting a swathe through the ruling classes of Roshar. Wow! So far I am not sure whether I should condemn him or see his actions as necessary preparations for the impending Final Desolation.

We now know that the third Shard on Roshar is Cultivation and it sounds as if she allies herself with Honor against Odium. The Almighty says that she is better at viewing the future, which makes me wonder if she is the Nightwatcher, who is connected to the Old Magic. This is an entirely separate magic system from the one we see with the spren and Surgebinding, so it could quite easily be derived from a different Shard. The fact that they are both perceived as female adds to my hunch here.

Hoid greets the Herald Talenel in the Epilogue. That is a huge red flag that the Final Desolation is approaching rapidly. I was rather worried that the poor guy seems completely unhinged, but I suppose that a few thousand years in solitary unending torment might do that to you. I noticed that Hoid called him “old friend” which hints at Hoid’s greater involvement in the events of the Cosmere than we had previously imagined. I wonder if Hoid is actually God?



  1. I think the other potential Radiants would have bonded with other Spren too - and lie you said: honor or otherwise. I wonder if the Parshendi and the King that hired Szeth are not all being manipulated by this Odium being?! That might be way off though...

    I thought all the decisions Dalinar made at the end there were freaking brilliant! It was risky for sure but I think in the long run it will pay off!

    ANd yes that last scene of Dalinar's vision was sad, when you realize he wasn't communicating with the Almighty at all...everything seems so hopeless and lost. Like you though, I wonder what other clues and helpful things the Almighty left behind for our heroes to find!

    That bit about Taravangian blew me away too - I was disgusted by how he went about collecting people's last words. Gah! And the epilogue with Talanel and Hoid? Well,I I'm still reeling.

    Great answers, I'm sad our RAL is over already but I loved chatting with you all about such an amazing book!

    Here's my RAL Post

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows

  2. Your answers have pointed out a lot of things in the wider universe that I hadn't considered! I suppose it makes sense that the symbolheads would be a sort of spren -- truthspren, maybe? So Kaladin attracts honorspren and Jasnah/Shallan attract truthspren. Also, Szeth seems to have a very strict sense of honor towards the rules of his existence. If he can be broken out of that mindset, he may end up with an honorspren of his own.

    I feel pretty sure the ghostbloods and Shallan's family are going to come more into play in the next book (or at least in future books), so I'm excited that we may finally get to see what happened between her and her father.


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