Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Way of Kings Group Read (Part One)

 Another readalong!  I love it.  Readalongs are one of the main reasons I keep up with this somewhat sporadic blog.  If you would like to join in or read other reactions to the book, check out the Polishing Mud Balls Readalong Page.

What a promising beginning for The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson! I had very few expectations, and have never read anything by him before.  So far it has been quite a visual feast, both in the actual maps and illustrations, and in the vivid descriptions of the different ethnic groups, the physical manifestations of emotions seen in the "spren," and the brilliance I picture in the Stormlight and the Soulcasting.  I also love Kaladin.  I know that main characters don't necessarily have to be likeable to make a book worth reading, but I sure like it when I do latch on to someone so loveable.
Here are the readalong questions for Part One, provided by Deanna of Polishing Mud Balls.  My answers are somewhat spoilerish, but really not so much as this is only the first fifth of the book.

1. Before I started reading The Way of Kings, I did have some thoughts on how I would like this story; did you? If you did, how is The Way of Kings actually comparing to those thoughts?

My main thought going into this book was wondering what I may be getting myself into with a ten book series.  I mean, I've only read through Book Two of the Wheel of Time.  But I suppose I'll have plenty of time between the publishing of Sanderson's books to read Jordan's (and technically, more of Sanderson's).  But I also know that if it's good, I will be thrilled that there will be nine more.  So far, it's looking that way.

2. What do you think of the pace of this story so far?  And what do you think of the prose? Do you think the prose is too descriptive? Not descriptive enough?  Give me your thoughts on the writing thus far.
The pacing is good for me.  I can tell he's taking his time telling the story and not leaving any detail out, but I am enjoying that aspect about it.  It's a fast read, which has been a relief since I've been short on time.  I know it's a pretty basic format, but I love the switching from one character's story to another.  I like how each major character has their own graphic at the head of each chapter.  I'm very curious about the statements from people before death.  Is it Kaladin's father who records these?  Does it have anything to do with the one who was abandoned in the prologue? 

3. What was your favorite part of this first section? 

I always love it when someone is successful in overcoming an obstacle so of course I wanted to cheer when Shallan is accepted as Jasnah's ward and when Kaladin reclaims his will to live (not to mention giving Gaz what he deserved).
4. Which character(s) do you find most interesting and why?
Both Kaladin and Shallan are interesting of course, but a minor character I was intrigued by was Shallan's brother, Nan Balat.  He seems like a nice enough guy, but he likes to kill animals.  What part will he play in the rest of the novel, if any?  I also feel for Szeth, who hates to kill, but must obey any orders.  Will he ever be free of this power over him?

5.  All right, what I really want to know is... what do you think of this book overall? so far.  Are you finding the story easy to follow? Are you fascinated, interested? Is the book holding your attention? Are you Bored? Indifferent? Please share your overall thoughts.

I really like it so far. I can't be specific, really. It's just one of those books that I like the way it makes me feel. I can get a little lost in the world that has been created, and feel invested in the fortunes of the main characters. I'm I love that I have lots of questions. I'm curious about the different classifications and gender roles that the different areas have and what role they will play in the story.
If I'm being nit-picky, I would complain about a couple of minor things. First of all, I felt as though Cenn would be a main character because we see that battle scene from his perspective. And then he died. Did the scene have to be centered on him? It shows us Kaladin's character and all, but I wonder why Sanderson chose to present it that way. The other thing (and I realize this is rather silly), is that I would like to see a little more variety in the swear words. Everything is "Storm" this and "Storm" that. I need a little variety in my fantasy-world profanity!

I have not yet had time to watch the interview yet. I'm hoping to do that tomorrow and also visit other readers. For now, it's bedtime, and I will try my hardest to "curl up" with my massive hardcover copy of The Way of Kings...


  1. I actually really liked the revelation of Kaladin as a character told through the experiences of Cenn. I thought it was an uncommon way to do this and thought it worked brilliantly, especially because of the emotions it brought about when we found out that Cenn didn't make it. I think it also set the tone early for the idea that bad things do happen and not all characters will be unscathed. I don't expect Sanderson to necessarily be as ruthless with his characters as GRRM is, but it was good to see him set up the idea that there will be some dark days for the characters ahead.

    I hope you enjoy the interview. I thought it was really nice to hear that much from the author and it makes me feel even more of a fan listening to him talk about his work, his work ethic, and other things.

    I hadn't thought about all the "storm" comments, but you are correct. I don't mind them simply because it works, but anything can get redundant and this one certainly could very quickly. Thinking of it reminds me of a book by Asimov, I believe (although I cannot quite recall which one) in which they used the word "space" a lot as an epithet.

    I'm glad we are both enjoying the book so much given our reluctance to start what is going to be a long journey of waiting followed by huge chunks of reading followed by more waiting. So far I feel very rewarded for having decided to join in this though as the book is great and the conversation about it has been really fun.

  2. This is why I love these readalongs--I still don't know that I like what he did here with Cenn, but after reading other discussions and your comment here, I can at least see why Sanderson chose to write it that way. It did indeed make the revelation in the next chapter that Cenn was dead and Kaladin was a slave all the more shocking and dramatic.
    I still need to get to that interview...

  3. Hi Shelley. Like you I was a bit hesitant to start a ten book series. But so far I have no regrets.

    I'm curious about Shallan's family. I could not like Nan Balat since he liked torturing animals. I hated reading about the tearing off the legs. I don't know if I will like the family since their goal is to steal the Soulcaster. Seems a crooked way to stay in power.

  4. Okay, so do we REALLY know Cenn is dead, or does Kaladin just THINK he is dead? I keep thinking that perhaps things are not as they appear, you know? I guess we'll see.

    I agree about the fantasy curse words! Let's have some variety! :)

    I'm almost done with Week #2 and it has flown by. Love it when that happens.

  5. I don't know, I seem to recall reading that Kaladin does believe he is dead and I would imagine that is because of whatever happened that caused him to be a deserter. I suppose it is possible that he is not dead, but I think it is more likely that something terrible happened that lead Kaladin to become what he was and that we'll learn more about it as time goes on.

  6. Yes, I'm hoping that their plans for the Soulcaster are temporary until they can dig themselves out of the hole their deceased father has put them in. So many questions still in that story line.

  7. I think if someone was alive that we think is dead, I would hope that it would be Kal's brother Tien. I was so hopeful during the scene when he thought he did see Tien, and then he realized he was mistaken. That broke my heart a little.
    I'm just starting week two. Starting to see some anxietyspren appearing...