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!