Welcome to week two of the Way of Kings readalong! As with last week, I have included a piece of fan art from this segment of the book. This week’s selection is done by krhart. This week’s reading covers Part Two of “The Way of Kings,” as well as the Interludes. Be sure to check out “The Way of Kings Group Read – Week Two” to read everyone’s posts!
Just as a forewarning, this post may contain spoilers.
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?
Mike: Sanderson’s Interludes are a very nice touch to show his world in Way of Kings. I’m not entirely surprised he did something like this as apparently he spent months creating the world this series takes place in, and what good would it be if we only saw a handful of a couple parts of it? Regardless, he does a good job without making these parts boring while making sure that they are relevant. The parts with Szeth seemed a bit like just catching up with the infamous King-Killer, but then seem to be going in their own direction. Needless to say the interludes make an excellent way to end each book.
Me: Confession time–I haven’t finished the second set of interludes yet. I do like the way that Sanderson uses them to highlight action/characters who are more distant from the central characters. I also enjoy seeing Szeth. He’s interesting.
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?
Me: I like the way that Sanderson uses plants to reveal more about the characters. In the first section, we see Kaladin picking a poisonous plant to try to plan an escape, and then Syl bringing him that same poisonous plant to try to cheer him up. In this section, we see the apothecary making medicine from common plants and selling it for exorbitant prices, until Kaladin starts making the same medicine and demands a price for his silence. There was even a scene describing some rock-like plants that reached toward the sun, revealing Dalinar’s wishes for the behavior of mankind.
Mike: Again Sanderson demonstrates he’s been constructing this setting for quite some time. The way that plants and fauna are described are alien. They operate more like living creatures as many seem to rescind to protect themselves. For a time the way everything was described I started entertaining the thought that nothing in this story even claims that Kaladin, Dalinar, Shallan and company are even human. I kind of enjoyed thinking like that. When plants just like ones we were familiar with were described my thoughts of aliens or non-humans diminished, but I still wonder.
Me: I tended to think of the main characters as human, but I thought of the Parshendi as only vaguely humanoid. They remind me a bit of Star Wars characters, oddly enough. I could picture Parshendi hanging out in Jabba’s palace. I also thought it was interesting when Sanderson describes creatures like the Voidbringers or the Midnight essence, especially since people now don’t even know what they look like. I’m hoping they show up more as the book goes on.
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?
Mike: The Second section is a giant tease, we feel like we’re going somewhere with Dalinar and his dreams, the King and his possible assassin, and Kaladin and his Bridge Four company. Personally upon reading everything here I began to crave reading this book and wanted to finish it and see resolution. Shallan was also overdue for an actual appearance instead of just a reference.
Me: I thought that the Kaladin and Dalinar formed an interesting parallel. Both are somewhat jaded and realize that the people around them are approaching the war in the wrong way, and each is trying very hard to change the attitudes of his peers. I think that Kaladin is able to succeed more than Dalinar, mostly because he is able to show clear results to the men of Bridge Four. I’m not that invested in Shallan, oddly enough, but I do want to see more of Jasnah. I get the feeling that it will be Jasnah rather than Dalinar to figure out what’s really going on with the Parshendi and the old king’s assassination.
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?
Mike: It rather does look like something is trying to make a return based on Dalinar’s visions...
Me: Dalinar’s visions show the world as it once was, and magic seemed to be a lot more powerful then. Shardplate glowed, and there were all manners of dark things that would attack in the night. While the same tools existed as do in the present, they were used defensively against monsters rather than for war between men/humans/humanoids/etc. Dalinar thinks that the Parshendi war isn’t going anywhere, and notices the inconsistencies in the Parshendi tactics. It’s like the Parshendi have the Alethi armies right where they want them, and are baiting them to keep them there. I see more of a comeback of magic when watching Kaladin and his interactions with Syl. Things seem to work out oddly when he’s around, and I’m assuming that he’s known as Stormblessed for good reason.
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?
Mike: What the people said right before they died and the weird conversation excerpts they had in both sections were rather cryptic. I only have the vaguest clues as to what they are about. I’m assuming the death excepts are from some sort of afterlife, and I have no idea what the letter is about.
Me: When we first saw Szeth and he wrote the king’s dying words, it became apparent that the dying words of a man are considered in Sanderson’s world to be sacred. During Part One, we see the dying words of a random individual to open each chapter. In Part Two, we have a letter. Like Mike, I’m not sure who the letter is addressing or what it’s really about, especially since it hints that the person it’s addressing is semi-immortal. I wonder if it has something to do with the characters in the prologue.
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.
Me: This is more of a wildlife thing, but it’s cool imagining people using giant crabs instead of horses. The idea of the gemhearts found in the chasmfiends was intriguing. Since no new shards had been discovered recently, I wonder what their origins are. I wonder if they’re like the gemhearts of the Voidbringers…
Mike: It was also pretty neat that their currency was more than just shiny rocks, and had actual utility. Being able to use them as a primary light source was original.
Me: A bit off topic, but… I’m amused by Rock’s character, specifically in his ability to see Syl without her revealing herself to him. (And his feeding the poop soup to Sadeas may have earned my infinite respect, tehe.) I think there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye.
Mike: Pretty much every secondary character, even the ones we don’t expect, gets some character development. Even people like Gaz are important.
Me: The book “The Way of Kings” that exists within the story reminds me a lot of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” Both take an emphasis on leadership, as well as choosing your battles wisely.
Be sure to join us next week for the discussion of Part III and Interludes!