Welcome to week four of the Way of Kings Readalong! For those of you on the East Coast, hopefully Irene didn’t hit you too hard.
Just as a general housekeeping note, I started this semester’s grad school courses this morning. This means that I may not post quite as often as usual, as classes do take up a good deal of my free time. One of my classes this semester focuses on multiculturalism in libraries, and requires that I read something like 15 books with a multicultural focus (in addition to the novels that are already on the reading list for the course). I plan on blogging about these books, as I find learning about different cultures fascinating. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. Now, back to the readalong!
And the disclaimer… from this point on, this post may contain spoilers from the book.
1. One thing that I have thinking about during the course of this book is what Brandon Sanderson is trying to say about religion. Jasnah is an atheist. Shallan believes, but is still trying to find herself. Dalinar believes strongly in the ‘Old Ways’. What do you think of this idea?
Me: I liked the way Sanderson handles religion. There isn’t any right or wrong religion in the book, but rather they are different ways of viewing the world, and people who are religious aren’t put on a pedestal or a higher moral ground (*cough* Kasbal *cough*). Jasnah may be an atheist, but she struggles with morality the same way that anyone would. I think that perhaps the point that Sanderson might be trying to make is that no matter what religion a person is, people still deal with the same fundamental moral decisions. I especially like what we see with Shallan–she’s religious, but she doesn’t use her beliefs as an excuse to stop thinking for herself or exploring what else is out there.
Mike: I wonder whether Sanderson is devoutly Mormon, if he’s a barebones one, or if he’s just incredibly open minded. As far as the Old Ways… the Old Ways aren’t necessarily a religion. Sanderson’s basically saying that Dalinar believes in Knightly virtues that have been forgotten in his society. The Knightly Virtues in our own society during the Middle Ages were perhaps religiously inspired, but not necessarily. In “The Way of Kings,” they are inspired more by what seems like the wisdom of a particular leader and the experience of the past eras.
Me: As I mentioned a week or two ago, “The Way of Kings” reminds me a lot of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” The Old Ways are more of a philosophical system than a religious one.
2. The relationship between siblings is an important part of this book. Adolin has always been at the forefront of Dalinar’s two sons, but Renarin is important, too. What did you think of the two brothers? Going back a generation, what do think of Dalinar and our glimpses of his brother? Then there is Kaladin who joins the war to protect his brother and fails. And Jasnah whose brother is King. Or Shallan who puts herself in a dangerous situation to help her brothers out following her fathers’ death. What do you think of these relationships? Did any stick out for you?
Mike: Did they stick out? Not really. I have a brother and the thought of protecting him crosses my mind very often so this isn’t really suprising. Feeling jealousy over your brother like Dalinar felt… or even Renarin… that’s understandable too. Now that I think about it, I noticed something. Dalinar seemed intent to give Renarin Shardplate and have the younger child be a shardbearer. I almost wanna say Dalinar sympathizes with Renarin as a younger sibling who lives in the shadow of his brother. Does Sanderson have a brother?
Me: That’s an interesting question. Wikipedia doesn’t say, and neither does his website. As the oldest of four kids, I think that Sanderson got the sibling dynamic down very well. There’s trying to live up to siblings, trying not to disappoint siblings, and trying to protect siblings, and I think that the book portrayed all of those sentiments quite well. I feel bad for Kaladin and his inability to protect Tien. I feel for Shallan, trying to help out her brothers because their family, even though they are taking advantage of her.
3. Kaladin has been included in every section. Why do you think this was? Did you wish to have a break from him, or did you enjoy knowing he would be explored with every section?
Mike: Kaladin was the center of the story, which was already clear. He had flashbacks to his earlier life, and no one else had anything like that at all… not even Dalinar, who alludes to all kinds of things from his past that haunt him. My guess as to why Kaladin got the most of his past revealed is basically so there’s more for other characters in the next book (which I hear is gonna be Shallan focused).
Me: Kaladin is badass. I was happy to see him in every section. When we saw his point of view, I couldn’t help but be sucked in.
4. One of my favourite characters in the book is Syl. What do you think of her and her development throughout the course of this book?
Me: I’ve loved Syl since she was just this spren that Kaladin started talking to and everyone else thought he was going crazy. I love how she’s evolving into something so much more. I wonder how the link between Syl and Kaladin was formed, and if it can happen with other spren.
Mike: Well she’s mostly be the same the book, except until the very end when we discovered she was an honorspren. Why was she acting like a windspren? When did spren learn how to change into human-sized big spren? Anyways she’s a good character and all, but beyond her name, learning what kind of spren she was, and her curious questions, she mostly stays the same.
Me: I think it’s interesting that she can remember the past. I’m wondering if maybe she’ll start remembering things from as far back as Dalinar’s visions or Jasnah’s studies.
5. And, the big question, what do you think is going to happen in the last section? Any predictions?
Me: As with last week, we’re gonna be skipping this one, since we already finished the book. Next week, you can hear our theories on what happens in the next one!