Sunday, July 13, 2014

Way of Kings Readalong: Week 4



It's now week 4 of the Way of Kings Readalong! This week we are reading pages 601-810 (up through Chapter 57). The full schedule is below:

Dates
chapters
June 22 – June 28
Finish through Ch12 (page 210)
June 29 – July 5
Finish through Ch28 (page 405)
July 6 – July 12
Finish through Ch42 (page 600)
July 13 – July 19
Finish through Ch57 (page 810)
July 20 – July 26
Finish book (page 1002)

Again, you can tweet your thoughts and updates to me @spidersilksnow and use the hashtag #WoKRA. It's never too late to join! If you're starting late, you can always comment on older posts or link me to your posts whenever you have them up.

What has happened so far (spoilers!):

Dalinar:

Dalinar is torn by his visions and the politics of the highprinces. None of them agree to join him, but he cannot renounce his convictions about following his brother's words. Frustrated, he uses his shardplate and shardblade to help the workers build a latrine. He is ridiculed but it gives him peace. Dalinar decides that he will step down as highprince in favor of Adolin, to Navani's dismay.

Shallan:

Shallan continues her pursuit of learning under Jasnah, and is tormented by the fact that she needs to steal the soulcaster but doesn't want to betray her mentor. She ends up swapping soulcasters right after Jasnah's "philosophy lesson." She plans to leave in a week, but still can't get the soulcaster to work. Strange creatures and scenes are starting to inhabit her drawings.

Kaladin:

Kaladin proposes a new method of carrying bridges - the sidecarry. When implemented in battle, his bridge manages to get ahead of all the others without anyone being injured or killed. Small triumph, but it leads to a total collapse of the Alethi battle strategy. Sadeas punishes Kaladin by leaving him out in a highstorm. He sees a dark figure in the storm, then goes unconscious. Teft discovers that Kaladin is able to use stormlight to heal himself and keeps slipping him spheres to help him heal. Kaladin is revered as a hero by his men, but Gaz and his superiors are getting more and more suspicious and bitter.

We also see more of Kaladin's past - he sees courage in helping people and chooses to be a surgeon after witnessing his father's quiet courage. He is angry with the new lighteyes Roshone for humiliating his father and bringing his family to near-starvation, and frustrated with Laral's treating him like a servant boy. When he finds out his father really did steal the spheres that Roshone accused him of stealing, Kaladin is shocked and betrayed, although Lirin tries to reason with him.

Interludes:
Rysn and her mentor Vstim go to the land of the Shin, where farmers are revered and everyone tries to convince the others of how worthless their goods are. There are no highstorms, the grass is strange, and Rysn doesn't understand the Shin at all. It is also hinted that Vstim once owned Szeth but traded him away.

Axies causes destruction. He can also tweak his body at will, so he is some form of shapeshifter. Axies' goal is to study every form of spren imaginable, but there appear to be patterns to their appearance that he cannot yet understand. He calls himself a Voidbringer, although it's not clear whether it is in jest or not ("I did destroy a temple" p439).

We see Szeth again, picking off people who annoy his master by disturbing his gambling establishment. Then someone who realizes Szeth's full potential and have the ambition to use it appears, saying they have killed Makkek and that Szeth's new mission is to kill the highprinces and king.

My thoughts and Predictions:

Part 3 is the first time I've been able to put a finger on the pre-chapter paragraphs (what do you even call those? epigraphs?). I believe Part 3 is Jasnah's notes about her research on Urithuru. I think I'll go back and read the previous "epigraphs" from Parts 1 and 2 and see if I can make sense of them.

Ok, on to Dalinar. I don't want him to step down, but I'm glad he is able to recognize a lost cause when he sees one. He lives by ideals, and it's unreasonable for him to expect others to follow him in a culture where conquest and taking risks are valued. It's interesting how much he thinks of the common man even though he has been brought up as royalty. His digging the latrine of all things is definitely dropping him in terms of respect.
I'm not sure Adolin is the best choice to replace him, since he seems like the complete opposite of his father so far - impetuous, rash, and completely unconcerned about people lower than him - like the bridgemen. I feel like the sudden flip will wreak havoc on Alethi strategy in the short term, but maybe the responsibility will help Adolin grow? One can hope. Then again, Szeth is coming, so perhaps Adolin won't survive long enough to grow...


I'm very curious about Shallan's unconscious drawings. She began drawing mysterious figures and then drew the scene of what I think is Gavilar's death. Perhaps she too is experiencing visions like Dalinar, but hers are rooted in art? Or is it just her subconscious drawing what she is reading about? It seemed like Shallan was too disturbed and surprised by her drawings for it to simply be a reproduction of what she was studying...

Speaking of art, I want to talk about the way Dalinar and Jasnah were able to communicate, with one person writing or drawing on one end and the same being reproduced miles away. They said it was tricky to reproduce things (like a game of Telephone?), which makes me wonder if the writing or signals from one end are physically traveling through somewhere and can get disrupted or diluted. They said something about traveling across spans? What in the world is a span? I get the feeling this will be important later.

If a span is some parallel universe, I hope it has hobbits!

Another sidenote: In the interlude about Rysn and the Shin, it is said that there are no highstorms and no spren. A connection? Are the spren somehow manifestations of stormlight or only able to inhabit places that are touched by highstorms? Or is this all a coincidence and I'm reading too much into it?

Yet another sidenote: I LOVE THIS LITTLE EXCHANGE - rape culture and victim shaming addressed and called out! (Emphasis is mine: notice how the same words are often used to blame a victim of rape):

"That was horrible," Shallan [said]. "It was one of the most awful things I've ever experienced. You killed four men."
"Four men who were planning to beat, rob, kill, and possibly rape us."
"You tempted them into coming for us!"
"Did I force them to commit any crimes?"
"You showed off your gemstones."
"Can a woman not walk with her possessions down the street of a city?"
"At night?" Shallan asked. "Through a rough area? Displaying wealth? You all but asked for what happened!"
"Does that make it right?" Jasnah said, leaning forward. "Do you condone what the men were planning to do?"
Sanderson has earned so many respect points right there.

And finally....drumroll, please...KALADIN. He has officially survived the impossible! Left out in a highstorm, he survives by draining the stormlight from a sphere, just as he has been draining stormlight to survive the arrows from the Parshendi. Teft knows about people who have that ability, so it's not an isolated occurrence. Teft calls them "the Envisagers" and says they're all dead because of him. TEFT, WHAT DID YOU DO? 

Other stuff to check out:

I'm lazy this week so I just have Tor links for you all - enjoy :)

Interludes - from what I skimmed of this, there seemed to be some theories involving things from later in the book. Nothing particularly spoilerish, but some terms and characters we haven't come across yet.

 Chapters 31 and 32, Chapters 40,41- on Kaladin, past and present. 

The analysis wasn't that interesting for Shallan and Dalinar, so I didn't include those.
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4 comments:

  1. I'm still a week behind you guys, but hopefully I'll catch up! Like you, I am incredibly curious about Shallan's mysterious drawings. I didn't think of her one drawing being a picture of Gavilar's death, though - that's an interesting theory! Although, now that I think about it, didn't she draw a man dead at a table - we saw Gavilar's death and it didn't happen like that. I think it's more likely to be a premonition about something that will happen in the future.

    I'm also very intrigued by Teft and what he did to get rid of the Envisagers (could they be some form of ancestors of the Radiants?). Oh, and I totally agree with you on the exchange between Shallan and Jasnah. In general, I'm intrigued by Shallan's moral quandary when it comes to that whole incident.

    Can't wait to keep reading!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  2. Thanks for sticking with the readalong! Good point about the death at a table - I just assumed that if there was a dead man, it was Gavilar. Visions of the future is even more intriguing!
    Teft seems like such a nice guy, but he's definitely holding something back or carrying a burden. I wonder if he used to be a part of the Envisagers? It seemed like he knew them but wasn't like them, though. Interesting idea about them existing before the Radiants!
    Yessss I love those two. I feel like Jasnah is a little too forgiving with all of Shallan's antics, which is ironic considering how hard it was for Shallan to convince her to make her an apprentice in the first place.

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  3. I'm still a little behind, I'm currently at this point. Boy, this book is getting even better with each chapter! I wonder what will happen with Kaladin now that he survived but fell into another depression.. I really like him as a character. Well you basically summed up my thoughts in your post.
    I also love that exchange between Shallan and Jasnah - I thought about rape culture and victim blaming right away! Sanderson got some respect points from me too :). I was a bit angry with Shallan that she didn't appreciate what Jasnah did, although experiencing that first-hand would be pretty shocking, so I guess I understand her. I wonder how these shenanigans with their soulcasters will turn out. I wonder how much Jasnah knows at this point :).

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  4. I actually meant to say that I thought maybe the Radiants were ancestors of the Envisagers, not the other way around (oops!), but you got my general idea. :-)

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