The following discussion will contain spoilers. I’ll post a spoiler-free review once the groupread is over.
1. Lightsong is beginning to remember his past, or at least, what he thinks is his past. Why do you think this knowledge is coming to him now, after five years as a Returned?
It’s almost like Lightsong is growing up. Lightsong is one of my favorite characters in the book thus far, and I’m loving seeing him come into himself. I think that Lightsong returned because he knew that something was wrong during his former life and will be fulfilled when he is able to rectify it. I think that his mission is related in some way to Siri and the war, which would explain why he wouldn’t have needed his prior knowledge up until this point. I can’t wait to learn more about who he used to be, and I still can’t help but notice similarities between the Returned and the Elantrians from one of Sanderson’s other novels.
2. In this section, Viveenna has learned a lot about herself, and not necessarily to her liking. How do you think the new knowledge will change her going forward?
This is a great question, and it tells me that Sanderson knows a lot about sibling rivalries and loyalties. Vivenna is used accustomed to being important and can’t seem to cope with being normal again. Her disdain for Hallendren is a bit annoying, and I’m glad that she’s finally getting over her prudishness and learning to use the gifts she’s been given. At the same time, I wonder if her somewhat selfish motivations paired with her naivete might cloud her overall mission.
3. From the beginning of the book, both the Idrians and Lightsong have been telling us that the Returned aren’t Gods, and that the Hallendren religion is untrue. Now, though, we’ve had a few other different perspectives: Jewels’ vehement faith in the God King, the God King’s own belief in his divinity, and finally, Hoid’s collection of historical stories. Given the new information, have your ideas about religion in this book changed? How do you view it now?
They aren’t gods in the typical sense, but they are the product of some form of natural process that’s a part of Sanderson’s world. As I mentioned before, they remind me of the Elantrians, who wake up one morning to discover that they are zombie gods. It’s caused by something, we just don’t know what. I’m thinking that an overarching divinity wouldn’t make sense here, but it might be something localized to this particular planet where the Returned serve in a similar way as ghosts who come back to fulfill what they didn’t accomplish in their lives.
4. Denth says, “Every man is a hero in his own story.” What do you make of this, especially given Denth and Vasher’s apparent rivalry, and Vivenna and Siri’s different perspectives of life in Hallendren and the Gods’ court?
I loved this line, because it’s something that I’ve believed for a long time. Everyone acts in the way that makes the most sense to them at any given time based on their own knowledge and limitations. It makes the Denth/Vasher rivalry more interesting because thus far both appear to be sympathetic characters who are working on very different missions. I like Siri better than Vivenna because Vivenna still hasn’t quite lost her judgmental ways and tends to think she knows everything and is better than everybody else. Siri is more open-minded and curious. I’m wondering what will happen when the two of them finally cross paths again.