Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Read-Along: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, Part 6

It’s week six in the read-along of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, and this week’s questions were supplied by There Were Books Involved, so make sure to swing by her place this week!  This week covers Chapters 33-42, and anything in the novel up until that point is fair game to be spoiled in the questions, answers and discussion below!

1. Both Kabsal and Jasnah have spoken to Shallan about stealing the Soulcaster, and both have done so in a pretty lighthearted manner, considering how serious it would actually be to steal it. Do you think Kabsal was telling the truth when he brushed off Shallan’s questions about his plan to steal the Soulcaster? Is he still interested in stealing it? Does he have other, deeper motives??

For the moment, I believe Kabsal’s claim that he is no longer after the Soulcaster. Stealing it would have pretty major political consequences, after all.  I believe his claim that he wanted to steal it, but that his superiors warned him off.  If he found out what Shallan had done, though, I think he would definitely steal it from her.  She’s already covered the tracks with Jasnah for him, so he wouldn’t have to deal with any kind of political repercussions.

I may be wrong, but what I’m sensing from Kabsal is that he’s a man who sees Shallan as a fun conquest.  She’s cute, easily charmed, and he has a reasonably legitimate excuse to hang out with her.  I’m not sure what the devotary celibacy rules are in this world, but I’m getting the uncomfortable feeling that he sees Shallan as a way to get some sex. He may be counting on the fact that she would probably try her hardest to hide it, if it happened, since I think that would ruin her marriage potential.  Then again, maybe he really is romantically interested in her, and I’m just way too suspicious.

2. By the end of the section, Shallan has found out that she'll be able to return home in one week, but she's torn between wanting to continue her studies, and being able to take the stolen Soulcaster home. So far it looks like her theft hasn't been detected, but do you think she’ll be found out before that time? Do you think she should leave, or might decide on her own to stay? Could something else happen to make her stay? 

I’m suspecting her theft has already been found out (see 3).  Personally, I think she should stay, and just let her family deal with itself.  Maybe she’ll end up having waited too long, and something will happen back home that breaks their situation open to the public.

3. How much do you think Jasnah actually knows about the theft of her Soulcaster? Is it even remotely possible that Jasnah is still in the dark about it? If she knows, did she in fact dupe Shallan with a fake, as Shallan theorizes? Or did Jasnah let her steal it? Why??

Right now, I think that the theft has been detected.  That was a pretty timely exercise in morality that Jasnah set her, and one that involved the Soulcaster, too.  Also, are these fabrials mass-produced to be perfectly alike?  If not, Jasnah would likely notice the little marks or dings that were on hers have magically moved or vanished. 

I think Jasnah is just waiting to see what Shallan will do, and there will be serious repercussions if Shallan tries to run off home. I’m not sure if it’s a fake or not, but I think this is an exercise of Jasnah’s to see if Shallan is trustworthy.

4. During the Highstorm, Kaladin experiences a lull during which the wind and rain stop, he feels no more pain, and he sees an enormous “face of blackness, yet faintly traced in the dark”. The face is described as, “Inhuman. Smiling.” Was Kaladin just hallucinating? If not, do you think this being had something to do with recharging the sphere? With Kaladin somehow feeling better before the storm kicked up again? Or could this being be malevolent? Thoughts/theories??

I’m assuming that was the “Stormfather”. I guess he really does judge people that they put out in the highstorms! I wonder if this being is the one that’s trying to get involved with the humans (e.g. Dalinar’s visions) to prepare them for the next desolation.  Also, maybe he is the source of the highstorms’ stormlight?  We’ve already mostly established that Kaladin sucks in stormlight unconsciously (and it’s made more explicit in this section), so I definitely think he was absorbing the Stormfather’s stormlight, and healing himself as much as he could in that limited time.

5. Before Kaladin is forced to endure the Highstorm, he tells his men to come out after the storm is over; he says he’ll open his eyes and look back at them, and they’ll know that he survived. Kaladin obviously survives, and everyone in Bridge Four is really glad about that. But we haven’t yet seen a reaction from anyone other than Kal’s men. Do you think Kaladin’s survival could have a wider impact than just giving his own group of bridgemen hope?

Haha, yes.  They strung him up for the storm because they didn’t want him to be a martyr.  Now he’s something worse—they can’t kill him because the Stormfather has judged him worthy of living.  Pulling off a near-resurrection probably has instilled something deeper than loyalty in his men (Faith? Awe?), so he is much more than just ‘that weird bridgeleader’ now.  If he wanted to start a rebellion, people would follow him, and Sadeas can’t even kill him without making the situation worse. I have no idea how Sadeas and his men will deal with this, but I still hope it involves sending Kaladin off to hang out with Dalinar.

6. We learn quite a bit about Teft in this section… kind of. But pretty much everything we learn just leads to more questions. What do you think about these “Envisagers” Teft mentions? How much do you think Teft knows about Kaladin’s ability to use Stormlight? It seemed like Teft became wary of Kaladin after he recovered – why? Do you think he'll tell Kaladin about what he knows?

Maybe it’s a new religion that we hadn’t heard about yet?  It’s a big world, so it’s possible. It seems like they keep an eye out for people like Szeth and Kaladin.  Maybe some of our earlier speculation was right, and this ability marks them as Radiants reborn or something.  Then, Teft would be pretty scared, because it would seem to imply that a Desolation was coming soon.  I suppose we readers mostly suspect that from all the other information, too, but this might be Teft’s first indication.

Other Notes:

--I thought it was really touching that Syl protected him from the deathspren. It also brings up an interesting question about spren.  Are they attracted by something or do they cause it when they appear?  For instance, it seems like fearspren are just attracted to fear, but Syl’s protection seemed to imply that the deathspren would bring death to Kaladin. 

Maybe spren are attracted by something, and then they amplify that thing?  In that case, fearspren are attracted by fear, and their presence makes people more afraid.  Then with deathspren,  they’re attracted by the nearness of death, and they bring death with them.

--Kaladin’s decision to become a surgeon really made me like young Kaladin.  I was a little irritated with him for letting his parents suffer over the spheres, when he was just going to run off and join the army anyway.  Of course, we know he does end up in the army, somehow, but I really liked that he made the mature decision here.     


  1. Gah, your theory about Kabsal makes me nervous! I love their cute banter, it will break my heart if Kabsal is just using Shallan. :(

    "Maybe she’ll end up having waited too long, and something will happen back home that breaks their situation open to the public." <<--- This is actually what I hope will happen. I just really want Shallan to be able to stay with Jasnah, because she is so obviously loving her studies, and is already feeling awful about stealing the Soulcaster. If she didn't have to go home, that would solve so many problems. I also agree that Shallan's apparent "success" at stealing the Soulcaster is probably something Jasnah allowed to happen, to test her in some way.

    "Then, Teft would be pretty scared, because it would seem to imply that a Desolation was coming soon." <<--- I have to agree with you here, too. Teft seemed pretty wary once he realized Kaladin's ability, and of course he would be -- if he was looking out for someone like Kaladin to appear, and his appearance means Bad Things will happen... =S

    I'm so curious about the spren, too! It seems like the smaller ones are just attracted to whatever they correspond to... but I wonder if there are different 'levels' of spren - harmless ones, vs ones that actually cause/amplify the things they correspond to (rotspren, deathspren, etc).

    1. I'm actually hoping I'm wrong about Kabsal, but I think that the romantic alternative might be pretty bad for both of them as well. Shallan seemed to assume what they had together was harmless flirtation, so that could get painful if he was not on the same page.

      Yeah, I love Shallan's student storyline, and I really hope something happens to keep her with Jasnah! Maybe she'll realize there's no point if she can't use it, and she'll give it back?

      I hope Teft tells him (and us) what these Bad Things are soon!

      Hm, that would be interesting. Maybe there can also be different levels of spren within types, such that Syl is a higher level than most windspren? Or it's possible she's just morphed into a different type of spren altogether.

  2. Maybe Kaladin was near death's door, and the Death Spren could sense that and were attracted to it? I still haven't figured out the details of spren, thought I certainly enjoy pondering them. Oooo! I do like your idea that the spren amplify whatever they are attracted to, there by often being seen as the cause of it.

    I like that Kaladin made an independent decision to become a surgeon, instead of simply going with the flow, the expectations of his parents. He's done enough of it to know he has some ability and satisfaction from healing people. Plus there is that added motivation to learn more about how lighteyes think and act so that he can beat them at their own game.

    1. I hope we get to learn more about the spren throughout the story! I can't help think what a different life Kaladin would have lead, if he hadn't ended up in the army.