Way of Kings Readalong, Pt. III

Time for Part III of the Way of Kings readalong!  This week’s questions are written by Memory.  The artwork at left is by krhart.

Just as a brief disclaimer, this post may include spoilers from Part III of the book.

1. Part III reunites us with Shallan, who we haven’t seen for a few hundred pages, and separates us from Dalinar and Adolin for a few hundred more. How do you feel about leaving characters behind for such long stretches? Did you lose any of your connection to them during the break?

Mike:  I didn’t lose any connection to them during the break.  I was curious to see what happened to Shallan. I rather enjoyed the break even if I did want to know what happened, as it’s nice to get uninterrupted plot development of one character for a while. I get really annoyed when things unfold for one person and then the story cuts away to the next chapter. This way I feel like it’s less choppy and I’m not reading just because I wanna hurry up and see what happened to “x” instead of “y”.  Anyway, we saw cameos (or more like a reference) to Shallan and Jasnah so I wasn’t completely starved of them.

Me:  I liked the way that Sanderson chose to focus on only a few characters during each book.  This is actually tied to my answer for the next question, but I’ve recently been reading the Song of Ice and Fire series by George Martin.  One of my biggest frustrations with it is that he develops each character for a chapter or so, leaves them in mortal danger, and then doesn’t return to them for another hundred pages.  I prefer some continuity to each character arc.  I missed Shallan, but I was glad that we got to focus on Kaladin, Dalinar, and Adolin.  I knew she’d come back eventually, and I’d rather focus on just a few characters at a time.

2. So far, how would you compare this to other epic fantasies you’ve read? Does it remind you of any other series?

Me:  I’m relatively new to reading epic fantasy that is well-written.  Overall, I think that this may be my favorite epic fantasy thus far.  (Embarrassing confession–I haven’t read LotR.)  I was nervous at first that I would have the same frustrations with Way of Kings that I had with Wheel of Time, but Sanderson is a very good writer and realizes that readers don’t have to be reminded of the same details over and over again.  As I mentioned in the first question, I like the way he structures his story better than the way that George Martin does in Song of Ice and Fire.

Mike:  It does actually remind me of Wheel of Time, but Sanderson is a big fan of Robert Jordan so I’m not surprised.

3. How do you feel about the masculine and feminine arts? If you’re female, do you think you’d be content to stick to scholaly pursuits, or would you rather do something physical, like go to war? If you’re male, would you be willing to forgo learning to read, even if there were women around to read to you? What about the food? Does the spicy for men and sweet for women restriction fit your own tastes?

Mike:  It would bother me to be that dependent on people for anything. I enjoy reading and some of the things I read are fringe acceptable. I’d rather not be outed for heretical readings, ideas or beliefs, and with a clerk reading to me those risks become very possible. Not to mention that reading aloud is far slower than reading in your mind. I wouldn’t be able to power through books at break neck speed or pull all-nighters to finish a book.

Me:  I’m very much the nerd, and would love to be a scholar.  At the same time, the food might be an issue.  I can only do sweet food in small doses.  I don’t even normally take sugar in my tea, and very little sugar in coffee.  Of course, when I eat food that is spicy, I tend to make all sorts of interesting facial expressions.  Things that are “mild” are pleasantly spicy to me.

Mike:  I love spicy food. That’s wrong, I IMMENSELY love spicy food (although it doesn’t love me).  Giving up sweets would be pretty sad, but I could live with it if the spicy food was delicious enough.

4. What do you think of the flashbacks to Kaladin’s childhood?

Me:  I’m undecided on the flashbacks.  On one hand, they reveal a lot about Kaladin’s character and how his past made him who he is today.  On the other hand, I found myself wanting to get back to the present while I was reading them.  They’re not my favorite parts of the book, but they are necessary.

Mike:  I liked the flashbacks a lot.  They told me more about my favorite character in the whole book.  I wanted to know what happened to Tien, I wanted to know how he went from Squad Leader to slave.  Though I wanted to know what happened in the present, young “Kal” and his life was interesting.  His dealings with the village and his secret shame in wanting to be a soldier all fleshed out the character more.  His father the surgeon that wished his son to carry on in his profession revealed how apparently this badass soldier somehow knew about medicine.  Through his father we learn not simply “I want to save people” but also how and why he came to become Kaladin who would try to portect Bridge 4 as if they were his family.  So yes I VEHEMENTLY enoyed the flashbacks.

5. Do you have any theories yet as to where the story is headed? What do you most want to see in the last quarter of the book?

Me:  Since we both finished the book already, we’re just going to ignore this question.  Suffice to say some of our theories while reading were correct, and others were not.

Mike:  Book 3 was pretty good but Book 4…some major developments happen. I’m saving all my big stuff for when we do the questions for that, so you guys are gonna have to wait.


Be sure to join us next week for the discussion on Part IV, and to check out everyone else’s responses at The Way of Kings Group Read–Week Three!

15 thoughts on “Way of Kings Readalong, Pt. III

  1. Again I have to say that I love that you two are doing this together. It is fun to listen to a couple discuss a book that they are reading together. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us.

    Mike I agree with you. I would hate to have to find someone to read me a book. If I’m engrossed in a novel I don’t want to have to wait for the person to continue the book for me. I’ve enjoyed some audio books, but this would be far different than that. And I love the feel of a novel in my hands. I know I probably should try a kindle or something but I don’t know if I can get past having a real book in my hand.

    Grace: I am a nerd as well and would love to be a scholar. But the food would be an issue. Mike and I would get along at a restaurant since I love super spicy food.

    I liked how both of you bailed on the last question. I had started reading part 4 so I didn’t answer the question either. I didn’t want to slip up. You two were more honest in your answer!

  2. As for theories I have been surprised at how early on in Part 4 some things we have been wondering about and talking about are revealed. I have 175 pages left before finishing but I can predict with great certainty that whatever theories we have those will be tested and tried regardless of what the last sections of this book reveals because we have NINE MORE books to read! 😉

    I too am looking forward to discussing the next section.

    The flashbacks have been increasingly enjoyable as they get more detailed and we learn more about the events that created the Kaladin that we see in the present. I suspect that the section in which we see what happened to Cenn from Kaladin’s point of view indicates that we will see more and more revelation about things, like specifics about Tien’s death, as the story unfolds.

    I’m loving the story structure thus far. I feel like we have just enough of a character’s story to feel like we are getting somewhere and yet not so much that we feel overexposed to any one person before getting back to another person. It is very well done. I’m not feeling pressured to “get through” any character’s arc just to get to the next because there are parts of each character’s story that suck me in.

    Sincerely hope we haven’t seen the last of Jasnah and Shallan working together, or at least being in the same story arc together. I enjoyed those parts for what we didn’t see as much as for what we did. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue there and I want to explore more of it.

    1. I was reading Sanderson’s blog this morning and it looks like he’ll start writing the next Stormlight Archive book in November. I can’t wait till it’s done, as I need to know what happens next…

      In the first section, I thought that Shallan’s parts were a lot slower than Kaladin’s. As the story progressed, I found the Shallan/Jasnah dynamic to be very important, and like the way that the two of them are used to explore various questions that are developing on the Shattered Plains.

      Also, Kasbal is such a little twit.

      1. I know he is saying late 2012 or early 2013 for the release of the next book. I’m hoping for 2012 myself!

        And Kabsal is a twit…unless of course, as was suggested by someone else, Jasnah is the one who did something to the jam when she stuck her finger in it and she actually killed Kabsal. In that case Kabsal may have been just what he seemed.

        1. I hope not. I like Jasnah… then again, she’s also of the opinion that the ends justify the means, so I don’t think she’d do it without valid reason.

          1. I like Jasnah too, but she’s demonstrated (as have pretty much all the characters) that they are from from ideal in the morals department and will do what they feel must be done. If this was the case I’m sure Sanderson will have given her a good reason to do so, it won’t just have been out of meanness.

            1. Yeah. It seemed to me like in the scene with the Soulcaster, she was struggling with whether she could do something wrong (ie. murder) to accomplish a greater good and to protect innocents. It’s the same struggle that Kaladin faces when he wants to kill to protect. One of the central paradoxes of this book seems to be whether it is acceptable to take life in order to preserve life.

              1. It is, and as we enter into Part 4 and see more about the First ideal of the Immortal Words I think that paradox will become much more interesting.

              2. Personally I found it a very exciting part of the story. Although in “real life” I would probably have some of the same qualms that Shallan had, in “story life” I find the punishment of people like that to be guiltily satisfying. I think she not only rid the town of some bad eggs but I know she also did it to push Shallan into action of some sort. It is possible she suspected and/or knew of Shallan’s plan to steal the Soulcaster and it is possible she took these and other actions simply to push Shallan to the point of actually doing something about it.

                Someone mentioned that they couldn’t imagine Jasnah not soulcasting for that long and I have to agree. I also find it hard to believe Jasnah was fooled, or if she was fooled it is because she was actually able to make the “broken” soulcaster work.

              3. I think that it was a good teaching tool for Shallan. Carl, I agree that in real life I’d have a lot more qualms about this than I do in the story. In the case of the story, I see it as no different than the path that Kaladin chose. Jasnah knew that those particular men had been harming people in that area, baited them, and killed them. While it seems somewhat cruel, it was necessary because the city’s government was ignoring them by choice, and there was nobody else to protect their future innocent victims.

  3. I have to say that Sanderson’s writing/structure/style is my favorite of any epic fantasy that I’ve recently read (LOtR I read for the first time 25 years ago, and it’s in a category all its own). I would put in GRR Martin as a close second even though I’m taking a long hiatus from #2 (made it halfway) until I grow up a little.
    Reading is the one area that I’m okay with being wrong. It’s way too boring when we know all the answers. I can’t wait to find out what I’m wrong about, so long as I’m right about one or two things…

    1. I don’t mind being wrong either, it is still fun to guess what might happen. It can be fun to guess right, but for the most part I don’t read stories trying to figure out what might happen next, I just go along for the ride. That aspect of my reading has really only come out with these group reads. I am analyzing smaller bits of the story more and I cannot help but have ideas pop into my head about what might be happening down the line.

    2. Sanderson seems to lead people on and throw out a lot of red herrings, from what I’ve read thus far. I like that several times already I’ve thought I’ve guessed what was going to happen and then been wrong.

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