Monday, August 29, 2011

The Way of Kings Group Read: Week Four

The questions this week come from Kailana (her blog here).  The main blog link is here.
Lord have mercy what an amazing read this part was.  It took everything in my power to stop at the beginning of Part Five and not look ahead.  Of course, I'll probably finish the book tonight, but that's okay...

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?
Religion is a common theme in all of Sanderson's fantasy novels, and it seems like I remember hearing Brandon mention something about how this is an important topic to him in an interview of old.  For tWoK, I'm digging the religious tones.  I love how vague everything is.  The arguments between Jasnah and Shallan were both sound and logical, leaving the Almighty's existence up in the air.  But there is so much more than Vorinism in Roshar, and it seems that these other "religions" have some credence to them, too.  Our minds are inclined to thinking in absolutes and exclusions--there's either one thing or another, but not both--but this doesn't seem the case in Roshar.  And that makes for some excellent plot elements.
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?
Renarin and Adolin are the two that stick out the most.  Both are young and malleable, and I'm intrigued at where they will end up.  Somehow I don't see Renarin staying a sickly, weak lad throughout the whole series.  (In honesty, for some reason I was expecting him to play a trump card after Dalinar's return and somehow be working with Sadeas, and I'm glad that didn't turn out.)  I do love the brothers theme this book has, though, because I have a younger brother, and our relationship is strong, but it could definitely be stronger.  So I enjoy reading the emotions and whatnot felt by these characters relating to their siblings.
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?
I'm assuming it's because Kaladin is the central hero of the series(?), but it could just be that he had more ground he needed to cover in tWoK and won't be as prevalent in subsequent novels. Even so, his parts were definitely the most exciting, and I'm glad he's been in every section.
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?
Agreed.  Syl's development has been fascinating.  The fact that she knows so much stuff and yet cannot remember makes for good storytelling.  And there's no doubt that the spren are heavily involved in the magics and whatnot of Roshar.  It'll be cool to learn more about these quasi-visible creatures and how they fit into the big picture.
And, the big question, what do you think is going to happen in the last section? Any predictions?
This was why I stopped reading before the final section.  I enjoy postulating.  Looking back on the last two week's discussion, I assumed Dalinar would die.  Now I'm no longer certain of this.  Possibly some point down the road he will, but I was honestly expecting it here in the opening volume.  (I'm glad I'm wrong... so far.)  Even so, knowing that Szeth has a hit list of high names, Dalinar could very well be a target on that list, and I wouldn't be too shocked if he dies in the last part, especially since we know Szeth is in the final part.  
I'm hoping Shallan continues her stay with Jasnah, but who knows what'll happen there.  And as for Kaladin and his men, I don't think they'll be staying with Dalinar's troops for too long.  (Well, maybe some bridgemen will, but surely Kaladin will go off for some sort of adventure.)
I can't wait to finish the last forty pages or so and see what kind of cliffhanger Sanderson's gonna leave us with.


Carl V. Anderson said...

I didn't have your self control, Logan. Partially because of our conversations about Dalinar but largely because of the adrenaline rush I was on after finishing Part Four on a long reading binge, I pushed right on through to the end. Can't wait to talk more about Part Five.

Like you I suspect that Dalinar will be around for awhile but also wouldn't be surprised to see him, or frankly anyone, bite it at some point if it serves the story. After all, we have 9 more volumes to go.

I speculated in a comment on my site whether or not Kaladin's prominence in this one might be a template for how future volumes will be structured. Maybe each of the 10 volumes will have a central story line like that but with a different character? Who knows, just a speculation on my part.

I liked Kaladin so much that I wouldn't mind seeing him be a main focus, but it would also be interesting to see other characters get this kind of singular attention in future books.

I too am very pleased with how Sanderson doesn't seem to be advocating a pro or con view about religion in this first novel but is instead showing a more authentic view of society, in which people legitimately have a wide range of beliefs and a wide range of devotion or rejection of the beliefs within their own culture.

TBM said...

Logan I admire that you are playing by the rules. Like Carl, I couldn't stop reading and finished it last week.

I've enjoyed the religious aspect of the novel. There is no clear right way and the wrong way. And so far, there is an amount of tolerance. I agree with you, he has left it open and he can really develop some interesting plot twists.

I hope Renarin finds his voice in the future. I think he has much to offer to the story.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I *might* have waited until this week to read Part Five if I hadn't already admitted that I needed this week to finish up some stuff and prepare for the start of the RIP Challenge. And I say *might* because had that been my intention I still am not sure I could've resisted just pressing on through.

TBM said...

Carl something tells me you would have continued no matter what.

logankstewart said...

@Carl: I think it'd be sweet to have different singular focuses throughout the novels, but I wouldn't be upset if Kaladin gets the most treatment.

@TBM/Carl: Agreed about the religious topic. Sanderson does handle it very realistically and delicately, which is a definite plus here.

Anonymous said...

@Carl I got the unstoppable adrenaline rush in part three, to the point that sleep was pretty low on my list of priorities.

I followed along for the first three weeks at least...

I also thought while reading that Dalinar was going to die. I think that part of it is that he reminds me a bit of Ned Stark from "A Game of Thrones" with his obsession with honor. After reading more though I think that Dalinar has a lot more common sense than Stark did, but even so...

Carl V. Anderson said...


He could still die, of course, but I never got the impression that it would happen in book one, although I was still fearful it might.

For one thing his death would smack too much of copying GRRM and I couldn't imagine Sanderson doing that just because critics would point that out.

For another Dalinar's story got more and more intricate as the novel went on and although the circumstances in Part Four could have been a reasonable place to kill him off, it would really have been poor story telling because Dalinar's story, as told up to that point, would have been a real waste.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are enjoying it. I am currently reading it too. I can't wait to finish it

Shelley said...

I am very much hoping that Renarin is a key figure in the next book, or at least more of a major character. His strengths are so underrated right now, but I feel like they will be significant in the future and I'll be there cheering for him. I hope he doesn't turn out to be a bad guy though--I hadn't thought of that.
Way to go on not finishing. I was at least going to answer the questions for Part 4 before I read on, but I was so weak and kept reading until the end! And I'm still postulating...

TBM said...

Hi Shelley! I'm with you, I would like to see more of Renarin. I like the quiet smart guys. I hadn't thought of the possibility that he might be a bad guy, but that would be a good twist!

I also finished the book. Could not stop!

logankstewart said...

@Shelley: I'm hoping we get more Renarin, too, especially considering how "blessed?" his family is. Perhaps he's got some sort of powers, too? We'll see, eh.