Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Read-Along: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, Week 9

Only one week left! This week's questions come from Musings on Fantasia, and cover chapters 58-65.  Beware of spoilers below! 

1. Adolin has a change of heart, not only about his father, but about how he views the war. How do you think this will affect the story going forward?

I think Adolin will feel badly for trying to convince his father that he is insane.  I expect that Adolin will take Dalinar more seriously now, and that he will be more of an ally, concerning the visions.  I think it will also change Adolin’s point of view on religion, since he now has a demonstration of the reality of their higher beings and the imminence of the Desolation.  I think his priorities will probably change.

2. Elhokar reveals that he sees figures with symbol heads, which sound suspiciously like the ones Shallan keeps drawing. What do you make of this?

That was quite interesting!  It seems Elhokar’s paranoia comes from the fact that he is see bizarre creatures stalking him, as Shallan does.  I still don’t get what the symbol-heads are, but maybe they are some kind of divine observers, here to see how humanity handles the Desolation?

3. What do you make of Dalinar's most recent vision? Was the king he talked to really Nohadon, author of The Way of Kings? If so, what do you think the timeline is? What happened before and after what Dalinar saw? Were the strange, rock-like corpses really Voidbringers?

I think it was, and I was so blushing with second-hand embarrassment for Dalinar after his suggestion that Nohadon write a book.  I mean, clearly he does write one eventually, but the timing of the suggestion was completely off.  I assume it was after a Desolation, and the corpses were of Voidbringers or some other kind of Void creature. 

The vision seemed designed to illustrate to Dalinar why uniting the highprinces was so crucial. Dalinar saw an Alethela that was distracted by war when a Desolation had come, and 90% of the population had been wiped out. I can only imagine how much worse it will be with the True Desolation.

4. Dalinar and Navani finally share a passionate kiss, and then start conducting a covert romance. What are your impressions of the relationship? Has your opinion of Navani changed at all?

I think it’s sweet, and it makes sense that Navani would be willing to throw caution to the winds and finally go for what she wants, after all these years.  Dalinar doesn’t seem very clear on where he expects this to lead, but I hope they end up publicly declaring their relationship.

On the subject of Navani, I also agree with her that they should start communicating with scholars.  Dalinar’s reputation really couldn’t get any lower right now, so having proof that he is legitimately experiencing visions from a higher power might actually help his standing. 

5. Kaladin's decoy plan works almost miraculously well. How do you see this affecting the story going forward, and in what way? Address the issue both for Kaladin and his men, and for the war at large.

I think it seems like Kaladin will be very, very noticed.  There’s no way the army will not realize how skilled he is, and realize that he is not a simple bridgeman.  I also think that his stormlight sucking will be found out—it would only take one little mistake of sucking in too much power to make him glow in public.  In general, if others also take up these tactics, I think it could make life much better for bridgemen.

In terms of the war at large, I wonder if the desecration of their dead has had some effect on the number of Parshendi that are being committed to a battle.  It’s one thing to fight for gemhearts, but quite another to fight for killing the people who defiled your people's graves.  I would expect there to be some increasingly major battles soon.

6. So Moash wants to kill someone out of vengeance. Any guesses who or why?

My random guess is Sadeas. Perhaps he has his own “lighteyes are evil and now I’m a slave” story.

7. Why do you think Sadeas abandoned Dalinar as he did? Was this done intentionally? Was it planned in advance? What are your thoughts?

It seems planned in advance, but I am very shocked.  I did not pick up the hints that Sadeas was planning to betray him, and it seemed like Dalinar was making a lot of headway in explaining his ideas to him and Elhokar. 

Now, I can only suppose that Sadeas quietly thought that Dalinar was a bad influence on the nation of Alethkar, and wanted to have him removed without causing an internal war.  Maybe the voice in the visions lied.

Other things:

--Dueling is not as objectionable as I had imagined in this world.  From what we’ve seen of the Alethi culture, I assumed it primarily involved frivolously killing people.  In the end, it seems that non-lethal (and even non-harming) duels are standard, and to-the-death duels are probably quite rare. I thought it was a bit weird that Shardbearers always duel in their Shardplate, though.  The pool of people they can realistically duel is quite low (though people can theoretically rent their lord’s Shards). 

--Kaladin had a good point about Dalinar, that protecting his conscience by following behind Sadeas on the bridges did not really make him a better person.  By joining with Sadeas, he did kind of condone the use of bridgemen. There is more to it, of course, since it looked like joining with Sadeas was his only shot at beginning to unify the highprinces.  Still, Dalinar using slave bridges makes me sad.


  1. I also think Navani is trustworthy - but then I also thought Sadeas was going to work out okay! I mean, I didn't trust him originally but I got suckered in with the vision and everything. I was a bit gobsmacked to be honest. At first I thought, no, this must be a mistake - like he's looking for a different angle to come at the Parshendi, but then I remembered suspecting him of having a hand in Gavilar's assassination and then it made me doubt him all over again!
    Lynn :D

    1. I trusted the vision about Sadeas, too, and everything seemed to be going so well, right up to the betrayal :(.

  2. Symbolheads = Divine Observers. Interesting theory. Did you ever see the tv series Fringe? That would make them a lot like the bald-headed Observers. Interesting theory too that the vision was to drive home how crucial it is for Dalinar to unite the princes. Yeah, their dueling rules are kind of interesting, aren't they? Can't wait to keep reading! :D
    My WoK Post

    1. I only saw a few episodes, but I remember those guys. I guess I don't ultimately know what they were up to in Fringe, though :).