Thursday, January 2, 2014

Read-Along: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, Part 1

Here begins the read-along for Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings!  I am sorry to begin by posting this a day late, but I received a New Year’s ‘present’ of a days-long internet service failure. Thanks go to Dab of Darkness for hosting this week’s discussion questions.  
This discussion will include spoilers of Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings through chapter 6!
1) Is this your first Brandon Sanderson experience? Any expectations going into this read along? 
Yes, this is the first novel I’ve read by Brandon Sanderson.  I expect epic fantasy and very thorough world-building. It seems that this series is a story that has been in his mind for a long time, so I expect it to be very well organized and paced.
2) In the Prelude to the Stormlight Archive, we see that Talenel (Taln) died and his sword is unaccounted for. Jerzien and company have decided it is best for 1 to suffer instead of 10. What do you make of this scene?
I believe it’s said later (~4500 years later) that these people are worshipped as gods.  They do mention Taln as one of the gods, so I’m not sure what affect his non-desertion has on the religion.  In terms of the prelude, I guess I didn’t really get why Taln couldn’t just see what happened next battle, and take off to join them.  I’m guessing this scene is probably going to be very important in some way, further on in the story.
3) What did you think of Szeth's fighting abilities and the fight scenes? Any thoughts on the crystalline sphere and King Gavilar Kholin's last words?
That was a pretty neat style of magic, and an extremely long fight scene to kick off the book.  I liked that he used his “gravity” magic in creative ways throughout the fight, and didn’t just repeat the same moves.  I’m not really sure yet whether I should be siding with the Parshendi or the King, so I felt like kind of a disinterested observer during the fight. I’ve got no ideas yet on the sphere or the King’s last words.
4) Each chapter proper starts with a few words from a dying person, their station, and status in life. Any thoughts on what these portend?
The systematic way they are collected ( X seconds before death, location, status, etc.) makes me wonder if they are part of a research project.  Considering that they are the last moments of dying people of all walks of life, one possibility might be that someone is attempting to study the afterlife.  Different sorts of people might see different things, depending on this world’s religion.  I’m not too clear on what their religion is yet, though.  It seems like something a heretic would do, so my completely unsupported guess is that these are excerpts from Jasnah Kholin’s research on the afterlife.
5) Kaladin went from warrior to slave in a matter of the first 2 chapters. Care to speculate on the details of how his life changed so drastically? 
It sounds like he just attacked the wrong person in battle, so they spitefully ruined his life.  So far, Kaladin seems like the typical action hero, who will likely end up being the Chosen One.  He’s definitely got some character flaws already, though, so I’m hoping he will develop in an interesting direction. 
6) Sylphrena (Syl) the Windspren seems attached to Kaladin. Are you enjoying her character? Do you like the Spren in general in the worldbuilding so far? 
So far, I think the spren are a cool addition to the world—it would be very hard to hide your emotions there.  I am a bit confused as to why there are both emotion-spren and elemental-spren.  What is the core that makes a spren?  I hope that will be covered at some point! Also, on the world-building, I liked how ocean-themed the world is, with skyeels and giant crustaceans and everything.  I’m looking forward to seeing more about this world.
In terms of Sylphrena, it was stated that the spren were not sentient, so I am wondering why that premise has already been violated. My first impression is that she reminds me of Link’s fairy companion in the Zelda series.  I haven’t quite decided yet whether I like her character or not.
7) Shallan Davar has finally caught up to Brightness Jasnah Kholin and her soulcaster. Jasnah and the jeweled fabril can change stone to smoke; what else do you think it can do?

I think Shallan said it can change any material into any other material, right?  My guess so far is that she hopes to somehow steal it without getting caught, and then use it to generate money for her family.  I’m guessing it won’t make stormlight, but I think it should be able to make the little globes and gems.  She’d need stormlight for the transformation, though, so I’m not sure where she’d get that.  Actually, I don’t know how one generates stormlight, so I can’t even hazard a guess.  There are so many little details about the world that are yet to be revealed!


  1. 3. - I agree about the fight - I wasn't really sure who's corner I was in at the time!
    4. Excellent thought about Jasnah maybe collecting the snippets of info! I never thought of that but it makes sense.
    Great comparison to Zelda - must tell the husband - he was rather partial to that game!
    Lynn :D

    1. I'm still not really sure whose side I'm on! I hope we learn more about the Kholin/Parshendi situation :).

  2. Yeah, even as a reread, I didn't know if I should side with the Parshendi or the King. So, I ended up rooting for Szeth. because I have a wicked little heart.

    It is true that Syl stands apart from other Spren. Makes me wonder if there have always been sentient Spren, but that by and large they are bored with humans, so they don't bother to interact.

    1. I liked Szeth's fighting style more than the King's, so there was that! Maybe, about the spren. I guess it was also pointed out that only Kaladin could see her, which seems to be not usual for spren. I hope we get more information on that soon!

  3. 1. Thorough is a very good way to describe his writing: I am quite sure that he has every single detail planned out before he commits anything to paper. He also writes incredibly quickly, so I expect this series to be finished relatively quickly, even though it is set to have 10 volumes.

    2. I think that their desertion has possibly stopped the battle cycle, although we have no idea how many years were normally passed between the Desolations: perhaps we are only now approaching the next scheduled one.

    3. I wouldn't be surprised if we do not have a clear separation into good and evil, just two warring factions of grey.

    4. I think there are scholar-priests who attend the dying and collect their words: if they are so sacred you would expect society to have created a system for collecting and recording them.

    6. I also like the slight twist to Earth-based animals and their ecology. However, I think the retractable grass is possibly the coolest natural element that we have seen so far apart form the spren.

    1. 2. Hmm, that is an interesting thought. I assumed the resurrection/battling/suffering was continuous. If we are only just now approaching the next Desolation, then maybe the effects of the desertion will only now come up?

      6. The grass made me think of the ocean, too, actually! It's like those little anemone things that retract when anything passes by.

  4. Oh, I think your question about the spren is a good one! The fact that there are both emotion and elemental spren is really interesting. I love Syl, but I joined the read-a-long after starting the book and am a bit further ahead. I think I may have had more uncertain feelings about her when she first showed up. I also really liek the creative world building. It's so unique!

    1. Thanks! I've been reading the second section, and I think Syl is growing on me.