Reminder, there are spoilers of The Way of Kings through Chapter 13 in the questions and answers below!
1. Shallan's determination pays off, but Jasnah Kholin seems to change her mind a bit suddenly, and when Shallan isn't expecting her to. She mentions knowing of Shallan's family... Do you think perhaps she knows more than she admits? Or is she really just a bit more soft-hearted than she lets on?
Right now, I don’t think Jasnah knows anything more than she’s mentioned about Shallan’s situation. I think that Shallan’s letter, persistence, and sketch book helped quite a bit to make her stand out as an applicant. It’s easy enough to reject the young, uneducated lady who wants to use you to climb into a better social position (Jasnah’s first impression). It’s a little more difficult to reject a motivated, self-educated, young woman who seems to think that having you as a teacher would be the best thing that could ever happen to her.
Is Jasnah soft-hearted? I’m not sure that’s how I would put it, but she doesn’t seem hard-hearted. She seems to value treating people with respect, and she seems willing to re-evaluate her own decisions. I think her decision was partially swayed by the new information she gained about Shallan, from the letter and sketch book. However, I think the flattery of Shallan’s attitude towards her and Jasnah’s guilt at having yelled at her also played a part.
I really hate that Shallan is planning to rob her. Maybe she’ll give up on the scheme and just be a student! The rest of the Davar family seems pretty awful, so maybe she can just use Jasnah as a lifeboat while the rest of them sink.
2. Yalb comes to the bargaining rescue as Shallan tries to buy books... Do you think there's going to be a bigger part in events for him to play?
I’m betting that there will be. He would make a good companion for Shallan, providing the practical knowledge she’s missed out on while locked away in the Davar home. Also, I really enjoyed his trick—and the fact that he bargained successfully while having no idea what the books were worth! That is a skill I wish I had.
3. Part One ends with a ray of hope for Kaladin, as he rediscovers a sense of purpose... What did you think of the scene in the Honour Chasm, and then with Gaz afterward?
I suppose there is some power in realizing there’s no way to go but upwards. He doesn’t have to worry about getting the bridgemen killed, because they’re going to die anyway. There’s nothing he can do to make his situation worse. I’m betting Bridge 4 will become his new squad. He had already started thinking of simple ways to dramatically reduce the loss of life, so I think he can build them into a team of survivors! Maybe that feat will make the army notice him, and he’ll end up a soldier after all.
4. We catch up with Szeth for an interlude, and things are very different for him... What do you make of his choice to enslave himself - if it is in fact a choice...?
I get the impression that it is a punishment, but one he believes he deserves. He refers to himself as “Truthless” which I’m guessing has something to do with this punishment. Also, I thought he was already enslaved when he was ordered to kill the king, and his masters just discarded his stone of ownership after the assassination. He seems to like being used for trivial stuff more than fighting with Shardblades, so he must have done something to really make him hate himself.
5. We also meet Dalinar Kholin, Jasnah's father, and get something of a hint that he's important where the Radiants are concerned... What do you think Dalinar's 'fits' might mean?
Probably some deity trying to get him to unite the people to face dangers to come, or something. It's awfully embarrassing for his son, but I suppose adults are meant to embarrass their children from time to time! I'm betting it will be a Noah-type story, where no one laughs at him anymore once the wisdom of his visions is becomes clear.