Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Way of Kings Group Read (Part Four)

The readalong for The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson continues.  If you want to join in or find other thoughts on the book, check out the Polishing Mud Balls Readalong Page. 
Late again!  I had a book club last night that I had to cram in a couple hundred pages for, so I had put off answering questions and visiting others.  Sad.  But the book club I went to was fabulous, so I guess it's really all good.

Also, I keep forgetting to say this:  Spoilers follow!
I finished up Part 4 on Saturday night, and just had to go on to finish the book.  When you're looking at just 40 more pages (in the hardcover edition), it's really hard to stop.  I will keep from spoiling any of those 40 pages though.
Here are this week's questions, provided by Kailana

1. One thing that I have thinking about during the course of this book is what Brandon Sanderson is trying to say about religion. Jasnah is an atheist. Shallan believes, but is still trying to find herself. Dalinar believes strongly in the ‘Old Ways’. What do you think of this idea?
He hasn't really expressed anything definitive yet (that I can tell), but I find his exploration of religious faith very interesting.  Even though I am a religious person who attends church regularly, I have times that I struggle with faith.  I came into this world a skeptical person, and am constantly questioning everything about everything, religious or not (I think Jasnah would be proud of me--I'm not sure if that's a good thing...).  Because of this, I always try to focus on certain "things" that I know are true, because I need something to serve as an anchor in life. One of those things is that it is good to serve and love others and try to relieve suffering where possible.  The reason I bring this up is because I see each of the main characters in the book doing the same thing--some sort of a guiding principle even if they haven't figured out what to believe in.  Kaladin is unsure about a lot of things, but has a core belief that you save life when possible and you don't leave a man behind.  Dalinar clings to his ideal of honor and integrity through The Codes and what he is learning in The Way of Kings.  Jasnah finds value in knowledge as a source of truth, and that is what guides her life.  Shallan is an exception, because she seems to have the faith in the established religion, but is learning through Jasnah to question her beliefs, not in order to prove them false, but to expand her knowledge and understanding.  I know Jasnah is referred to as an atheist in the book, but she strikes me more as an agnostic.  All in all, I think Sanderson is trying to represent how characters live their lives while they try to figure out questions of faith.

2. The relationship between siblings is an important part of this book. Adolin has always been at the forefront of Dalinar’s two sons, but Renarin is important, too. What did you think of the two brothers? Going back a generation, what do think of Dalinar and our glimpses of his brother? Then there is Kaladin who joins the war to protect his brother and fails. And Jasnah whose brother is King. Or Shallan who puts herself in a dangerous situation to help her brothers out following her fathers’ death. What do you think of these relationships? Did any stick out for you? 
I feel like we've only just scratched the surface of these relationships, with little hints of more drama yet to be revealed, past and present.  I like Adolin, but Renarin intrigues me more.  I would love to find out more about Gavilar, especially since Navani makes a comment that suggests he was not necessarily an honorable man.  

3. Kaladin has been included in every section. Why do you think this was? Did you wish to have a break from him, or did you enjoy knowing he would be explored with every section?
Well, honestly, I have a little crush on Kaladin, so I don't need any breaks from him.  I'm good with the "exploring" and all ;-)  From a more literary stance, the continuity of one character gives such a long book a focal point and ties everything together a bit.

4. One of my favourite characters in the book is Syl. What do you think of her and her development throughout the course of this book?
I think we're far along enough in the book for me to confess that at first she reminded me of Tinkerbell.  This was not a positive thing for me.  Luckily she changed and matured enough to help me to let go of that image of her.  I like her more as she gains more wisdom, but at the same time it's somewhat poignant to see her grasp the dark side of life and of human nature. 

5. And, the big question, what do you think is going to happen in the last section? Any predictions?
I have already finished, but I will predict that I will be happily reading the book again before the next one comes out.


  1. I would also like to know more about Gavilar since there were some strong hints that he wasn't honest. And I would like to know what his last words meant.

    I can see why you have a crush on Kaladin. He seems like the whole package :)

    I loved your comment that the characters are looking for an anchor in life. That is a good observation.

  2. Yes, I have a crush too! :)

    That is so funny we both thought of Tinkerbell.

    I can't wait to explore the sibling thing some more.

  3. Well, you are in good company. I think most of us did that same thing, pressed on until the end. It was just too fantastic at that point to even think about stopping.

    I think the Codes, and the Ideals that Kaladin begins to quote are interesting devices because they can be used honorably, like Dalinar or Kaladin are trying to do or they can be used in the wrong way or just become so routine that they aren't practiced for the right reason anymore, which is I think a good parallel to morals, ethics, the basic tenants of faith, etc in the real world. I am one of those people who believe there are absolutes, regardless of whether a person believes in them or not. It is important that we love each other, serving is important and vital, etc. But those things can become lifeless platitudes over time unless a person approaches them with passion and wisdom. I like how Sanderson is exploring all these things without removing the focus from the characters and their stories.

    I thought a bit of Tinkerbell too, but I like Tinkerbell so that didn't bother me. Glad to see that Syl has become a more dimensional character.

  4. It's kind of sad--I nearly forgot about Gavilar's last words, I guess because they were about 1,000 pages ago, lol! I wonder how many other things are hiding somewhere in my brain. I do remember wondering if the "most important words a man can say" was the motto "Life before death, ..." or if it's something else yet to come.

  5. Glad I'm not the only one crushing! I'm fickle, though. I can see myself possibly moving on to Renarin...

  6. True. But then again pretty much all the characters in Neverland are a bit shallow as they never want to grow up.

  7. Very true. I think most anything can become meaningless over time as we take certain things for granted. And then things happen in our lives that inspire us or sometimes push us to renew our faith or conviction in our ideals. Many of these characters are experiencing some sort of catalyst that is bringing them to that.
    Since you thought of Tinkerbell too, I'm glad you're a fan! She's just a bit too shallow and jealous for me. Hopefully I won't kill her by saying that. Clap, clap, clap.

  8. Great point about Gavilar being less than honorable. I had forgotten about that. Surely his character will become more flushed out throughout the subsequent books.

  9. I'm anxious to find out more about him and many other characters. When I started this book I was afraid to get into a series of ten, long books. Now I am just purely excited and will not mind at all rereading them as each new book comes out (since my memory is so bad.)

  10. Me either. I'm an awful lot like Peter Pan in that sense.

  11. I don't really want to grow up myself. Maybe Tink and I have more in common than I think.

  12. I would think so too. And I had forgotten all about his last words. They were kind of lost in the drama at the end of the book. I imagine those will come into play again at some point.