Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Way of Kings Group Read (Part Two)

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.

This week's questions were provided by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings. Of course, spoilers follow:

1.  In a recent interview Brandon Sanderson mentioned that the interludes are meant to show us parts of the larger world since much of the action is focused in one or two places.  What do you think of the first two sets of interludes?  Any characters or situations stand out to you?
I appreciate the interludes both in terms of breaking up the larger story and in the actual content.  In terms of geography, it feels like adding pieces to a puzzle to get a bigger picture of Roshar.  I love that we find out more about Szeth's place of origin through Rysn and that we get a picture of Shallan's homefront from her brother's part.  I also like the contrast between the Alethis who glorify warfare, and the Shin, who give most respect to the farmers--those who "add" rather than take away.  And the chapter about Axies the Collector was just hilarious!  It was perfect placement for a chapter like that.

2.  In small increments Brandon Sanderson is revealing the geology and ecology of Roshar.  What are your thoughts on what has been revealed thus far?
I haven't had many thoughts about this, so I look forward to reading everyone else's :-).

3.  This second section of The Way of Kings featured two distinct story lines, those of Dalinar and of Kaladin.  How do you feel this section of the book compares with the first section and what are your thoughts on either or both of these story lines?
Well, I really liked Part One, and I really, really like Part Two, and I may really, really, really like Part Three (fingers crossed).  Random thoughts:
I yearn for someone to trust in Dalinar's visions, and I'm curious about why he wiped his memory of his wife.  
Wit seems to have jumped right out of a Shakespearean play.
I love the concept of the ten heartbeats to summon a Shardblade.  
I have enjoyed reading about Kaladin's efforts to bring some humanity and dignity back into an almost hopeless situation, and the fact that he never gives up.  Syl's effect on Kal is very similar to Tien's effect on him in his youth.  I'm wondering about the relationship there.

4.  In the interview set out earlier in the week Sanderson talked about the Stormlight Archive being a series about the return of magic.  What are your thoughts on this, particularly in relation to the visions Dalinar is having during the highstorms?
I like that concept.  It seems like the magic is already there, but in a dormant state, much like the vegetation (okay, maybe I do have a thought on the ecology).  Syl seems to be a manifestation of the magic coming back to life.

5.  There has been a change in this second section of the nature of the quotes prior to the beginning of each chapter.  What are your thoughts on the opening lines featured in both sections of the book to this point?
I've spent way too much time pondering what they mean and going back to string them together so much that I almost wish they weren't there.  I should just skim and move on!  I liked how we got to actually see someone in the main storyline making one of those before-death statements that we saw in Part One, but I still don't understand their significance. 

6.  In the questions for these first two sections we've talked about characters and the story lines and the world that Sanderson has created, but there are a lot of interesting flourishes and touches to The Way of Kings thus far (shardplate, spren, the actual Way of Kings book, highstorms, etc.).  Talk about some of the non-character/non-setting things that you are finding either fascinating or annoying (or both) in the book thus far.
I think Sanderson mentions this in the interview, but I like the relationship being set up between science and magic.  The decayspren are analogous to bacteria, and I always think of endorphins when the gloryspren emerge.  The Way of Kings book that they refer to seems very Confucian to me in its ideas.  A lot seems to hinge on the highstorms.  They're destructive and yet bring light and power.

Overall, isn't it great to be about halfway?  The huge hardcover is now more balanced between my hands and I think I can throw in a few triceps presses now and then.


  1. Their distrust certainly makes him more intriguing. It's interesting to me that Elhokar has the right to just kill him if he doesn't like what he says. And yet he just keeps saying it all anyway.

  2. I, like you, liked how the Shin are much different thatn the Alethis as to who they give respect. Interesting.

    I am sooo curious as to why Dalinar's wife was wiped from his memory. What happened? By the send of the second section, I found myself very intrigued byt Dalinar.

    Oh yeah...the 10 heartbeats to summon the shardblade is very cool. And this one of the many reasons why I am liking this book so much. Sanderson seems to be adding so many neat twists into his story. Really keeping me on my reading toes.

    Haha... my biceps are improving. :)

  3. I wish I had head about this sooner and I would have taken part. I have not read these books yet and I really want to.

  4. I really liked the Shin philosophy that we saw presented in that interlude, it was an interesting contrast to the culture we've seen elsewhere in the world.

    I was very leery of Wit when he first came on the scene. Wasn't sure I wanted to see a court jester type character, but he is actually written in a very interesting way and is more of an intelligent purveyor of wit than a fool which helps me be more disposed to the character. I cannot help wondering if there is much more there than initially meets the eye.

    I hadn't thought about Syl necessarily being another manifestation of a return to magic but that is a good observation.

    It is funny because I like the idea of all the opening quotes but other than being briefly intrigued by them I haven't even considered trying to make sense of them. I suspect that sense will come some day and so I just enjoy them for what they are.

    It is really nice to be at the halfway point (actually just hit the halfway point a few minutes ago). Feels like we are accomplishing something and enjoying it at the same time.

  5. Yes, it does feel great to be just about half way. I haven't read much this week yet and need to get going!

    I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the before chapter things, so I found it fun that you "stressed" over them! If you have a sudden clue about what they mean, be sure to let us know! :)

    By the end of the book we'll all really, really, really, really, really like it! Right? I think so.

  6. I actually really like Wit. I found his comments pretty insightful to what life was like for the highprinces at court.

    Like the others, I didn't pay too much attention to the opening quotes. But after this last discussion I have started to pay closer attention. I don't know if I'll figure anything out, but I'll try.

  7. The reading of the quotes at the beginning is pure compulsion for me. I am really compulsive about reading everything in a book, like footnotes and such. I'm working on getting over it, especially when it seems counterproductive.

  8. Cela, if you have any time available, it might not be impossible to still join. It's pretty quick reading and quite page turner. But if not, I hope you get to it someday. So far it is great.

  9. Wit seems to have a gut instinct about the true nature of the characters he mocks. I loved that he recognized the intelligence of Renarin.

  10. Suey, I haven't even started Part 3 yet! Hopefully I'll have some chunks of time this weekend. Despite my microscopic study of the quotes, I got nothin'. :-)

  11. Is it bad that the other characters' distrust of Wit made me like him more? He seems to be the loveable rogue archetype.