Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Read-Along: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, Part 7

Welcome to another week of Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings. This week's section is chapters 43-50, and the questions were provided by Sue of Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers.  Make sure to head over to her blog as well! Be warned that there are spoilers of the book through chapter 50 ahead!

It seems like this is the week that everything happened, and it is so far my favorite section of the book.  We finally get to see that elusive piece of Kaladin's past, and he finally forms a concrete plan out of servitude.  Shallan's story comes to a very dramatic point--magically, romantically and politically.  It was really hard to stop reading this week!

1.What did you think of the replacement for the delightful Lamaril, or rather, what did you make of his wife, who seems to do all his work? She assumes that chasm duty is the worst punishment that she can throw at the bridge crew, so were you surprised that Kaladin saw an opportunity in it so quickly?

He (and she) seem like pretty horrible people, but that seems standard for most high-ranking Alethi (yes, I agree with Kaladin on this one).  I’m not sure yet if they’re incompetent, or if they’re just abnormally cruel.  Choosing not to give more men to Bridge Four makes their bridge likely to fall.  Their new managers could either be plotting to have them all die in battle, or they could just be stupidly spiteful.

I don’t think Lamaril’s replacements are clever enough to even consider the dangerous plan that Kaladin has hatched.  I think it would be easier if the bridge crew could sneak out through the chasms, but somehow I don’t think it will be that simple.  I think Kaladin’s “new recruits” will see combat before they escape.  Wouldn’t it be cool if they ended up as a kind of vigilante ‘Robin Hood’ type gang?

2. Please use this opportunity to list all the imaginative ways that you would like Roshone to suffer for forcing poor little Tien into the army. :(

I guess I can just say that Roshone deserved to have to bury his own son.  I can’t think of anything meaner to say, so I’ll just leave it at that.  I would have been more sympathetic to his situation if: a) his son hadn’t died due a frivolous hunt, where they abandoned several darkeyes to die alone, b) he hadn’t decided to try to ruin Kaladin’s family, including forcing their children into situations where they would likely die, c) he hadn't decided to marry the teenage girl that he was grooming to be his son's wife. 

I’m also not too happy about Amaram in this scene.  He did a lot of wringing his hands and saying, “I’m sorry, but that’s the law.”  I’m pretty sure that if the law had anything in that was mildly annoying to Amaram or the other lighteyes, it would suddenly lose its inviolability.  Also, it appears that Amaram went back on his promise to make Tien a runner, therefore basically ensuring his death.

3. Finally, somebody is asking questions about the inconstancy of the Parshendi artifacts and how Gavilar changed in the months leading up to his death. What do you make of the accounts that Shallan is reading? Also, what do you think about Shen, the Parshman added to the bridge crew?

I found it all very fascinating!  It sounds almost like the Parshendi were a created people, with their more sophisticated objects given to them by their creator.  Perhaps they are the people of Odium?  Alternatively, they could have been a group of Parshmen that were magically influenced by some ancient ruins, causing their differentiation.  Then perhaps they got their stuff from the ancient ruins.

As for Gavilar, my suspicion is that he started having visions around then, which is why his interest perked up.  It’s possible the vision-giver also had a way of increasing his curiosity towards the Parshendi, to guide him towards the truth.

I don’t quite know what to think of Shen yet.  I am curious to see what he will do at the next bridge run, when he hears the battle ‘music’ of the Parshendi.   

4. Shallan has some seriously bizarre visions or hallucinations. Do you have any new ideas about the nature of the symbol-headed figures: are they good or evil? What about the alternative world and the beads: could that really have been the soul or essence of the goblet that she spoke to before it changed into blood?

I’m leaning towards good.  None of them hurt her, despite the fact that they were all around her.  When she was in the hospital, it was almost like they were trying not to freak her out, by staying far away from her (but still watching her).  I get the feeling they don’t quite no what to make of Shallan, either, but that maybe they want to communicate.  I think Shallan soulcast the goblet, and with that knowledge, the term ‘soulcasting’ suddenly makes sense!

5. Does Kaladin’s dream / vision seem similar to those that Dalinar has been having? He is called the ‘Child of Tanavast, Child of Hope’ and there is mention of an entity called Odium, who appears to be rather bad. Do you have any speculation about these two beings, how they fit into the world that we have seen so far and why the name Odium makes Syl hiss and fly off?

It may be similar.  I was assuming it was a vision of modern-day, though, but just far away.  It’s quite annoying that Syl won’t answer his question, since she clearly seems to know this ‘Odium’ fellow.  I guess he’s odious?  Maybe he’s the one that takes over before Desolations, or the one who brings them about.

6. We have learnt some more about the events following Cenn’s chapter way back at the beginning of the book. Were you surprised that Kaladin defeated a Shardbearer almost singlehandedly? This still does not explain why he is a slave, but does it bring us closer to guessing?

Not surprised, no.  I figured that’s what prompted Kaladin’s enslavement, one way or another.  I was surprised, but impressed, that Kaladin didn’t take up the armor and blade himself.  I think that Amaram is going to claim Kaladin can’t give it to his men, and that he has to either claim it himself or give it to Amaram.  That would cause Kaladin to pitch a very justified fit, after which he would end up enslaved.

7. I think I made it quite clear last week that I did not trust Kabsal, so I am now feeling rather smug. However, I did not guess at the poison in the bread: did it surprise you as well? Can you see any way that Shallan can reconcile with Jasnah now that the theft has been revealed?

I didn’t trust him either, but I didn’t suspect he was plotting murder.  I feel quite sad for Shallan, for that and other reasons.  I was pretty disappointed to find that Jasnah was completely oblivious.  It looks like I overestimated her.

I think Jasnah is already being very kind by sending Shallan home and not having her arrested or executed.  She’s been blacklisted in high society, but she’s probably going to be sold into slavery soon, anyway, so I don’t suppose that makes much of a difference.  I wish Jasnah could forgive her and decide to keep her as a ward, but I think that’s extremely unlikely.


  1. Interesting way to put it that the Parshendi are a "created" people. I wonder if it--growing armor and all--have anything to do with Soulcasting? I'm hoping we'll soon begin to see how all these story lines intersect!

    1. That's an interesting thought. They have Shards and they hunt gemhearts, so maybe they know more about soulcasting than the Alethi? I hope we get to learn more about all these things before the end of this book!

  2. I think these were my favourite sections so far as well.
    1. I like your suggestion about a Robin Hood style gang. I keep kind of hoping that Kaladin will find this mysterious City and I hope it's in the chasms!
    2. I agree - Amaram came across weak in that chapter. And he didn't end up protecting Tien which was very disappointing. These light eyes are certainly not coming out in a good way.
    I'm also curious about Shen - the difference between the two is so weird!
    4. These strange people in Shallan's pictures - I also thought they didn't seem as though they wanted to hurt her. I think she's in the same boat as Dalinar and Kaladin - I think that these are her version of having visions maybe?
    7. I was totally surprised with Kabsal - I never saw that coming at all.
    Lynn :D

    1. 1. Maybe they can be a Robin Hood gang based in the mysterious city? :D I guess it is a little out of the way for that, though. It would be hard for them to do anything in Alethi society from there.

      2. Yeah, not at all in a good way! I still think Dalinar and some of his family are decent people, but I think most of them need some kind of wake-up call to stop being awful. It seems like Amaram is much more into appearances than actual integrity.

  3. I can totally see Kaladin and Bridge 4 turning into vigilantes....if they ever escape the war camps.

    Interesting to think that the Parshendi, and perhaps Parshmen, may be a created people. I don't know if you have read Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, but that is one aspect that is used in that series.

    That would suck in so many ways if Shallan was sold into slavery. On the other hand, it might make it more likely that she and Kaladin would meet.

    1. I haven't read the Mistborn trilogy, but it's interesting to hear that's an idea he's used before.

      It would be nice for Shallan and Kaladin to meet... but I don't want Shallan to have to be a bridgewoman! I suppose she would be a very useful ally in his escape, though, since she has a Shardblade. Anyway, I hope things don't go quite that terribly for Shallan. I'm still hoping Jasnah will keep her on, even though that seems very unlikely at this point.

  4. Yep - this was a very packed week, which is good in some ways, but bad in others: my poor brain was struggling to cope! :D

    1. The Alethi are so stale and complacent in their attitudes: their society is stagnant and this irritates me because they do such stupid, meaningless things without really thinking about them.

    2. Yes, I am not sure how Tien died, or why Kal didn't blame Amaram for it, but I can't help feeling that he made a promise that he couldn't keep.

    3. I fear that you might be correct about the Parshendi being created or at least altered by Odium. We have seen Mr Sanderson do this before in his books, so it would not be a huge surprise. It would also answer a lot of questions about them and make me rather worried about letting a Parshman loose on the battlefield.

    4. I can see how it might be difficult to communicate if your very appearance tends to make people freak out and run away! :D

    5. I guess that at this stage Syl may not know why she has that reaction to his name. Hopefully, she will remember and tell Kal what she knows.

    6. I wasn't surprised either, giving what we know about him now, but I still am not sure how this ends up with him as a slave . . . though I suspect that Amaram is not going to come out of it smelling of Roses.

    7. I think that Shallan's new-found ability to Soulcast might prove to be the important point in her favor, although I am not sure.

    1. 1. That is a very good description of one reason they get under my skin so much. I'm really hoping Dalinar will be able to change society in the future, though I think that might be too ambitious for the first novel of the series.

      2. I get the feeling Kal blamed himself for not being able to protect Tien, when he swore he would, and that his self-hatred was trumping his disappointment with Amaram. I think it's about impossible to be a 100% effective guard when you're in a battle, though, especially since Kaladin was an inexperienced soldier as well. I hope he is able to forgive himself.

      3. Susan also mentioned that this was a thing in the Mistborn series. I am getting more curious about his other books :).

      5. I hope so, because I'm really curious!

      7. That, or maybe her drawing-visions. Maybe something like that could persuade Jasnah to keep her on?