Monday, September 05, 2011

The Way of Kings Group Read: Conclusion

Here we are at the end of the group read.  Well, the relative end.  This was my first experience with a group read, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, though it also caused some undue stress, too.  Perhaps if the tome wasn't so massive that stress part wouldn't be there.  With a twelve-week old daughter in the house, reading was often pushed aside to bedtime throughout the week and a two/three hour stint on the weekend.  Even so, I felt like I was spending too much time in Sanderson's world and not enough in my own, and I think the pace of this group read was too rigorous for me, though honestly the natural breaks in the book made for perfect discussion sections.

Anyway, this week's questions are brought by Suey of It's All About Books.  Like every week, you can also check the main read along page for other blog links.

In addition to the supplied questions, I've thrown up a few of my own at the end, musing aloud.  There are also some supplemental links for any that are interested in such things.

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It seems like every main character had a little wrap up chapter in this section, with each section ending on a bit of a cliff hanger. What do you think? Do you appreciate these cliff hangers or do they make you crazy? Did you predict some of them, or have no idea they were coming? Did one of them stand out as most surprising?
There were enough conclusions to leave me satisfied, and enough cliffhangers to leave me eager.  Cliffhangers don't bother me, and even less so when I think on how productive and meticulous Sanderson is.  
I loved Dalinar's ending to his visions.  He learned that God had been killed, for crying out loud!  What does this mean to the religious people?  And as for the Voidbringers being parshmen and Parshendi... holy cow.  I knew there was something about the parshmen, but I couldn't quite figure out what.  The King's horrible acts were also surprising, though his motivation uninspired.  I did love how it was his notes we'd been reading.  Out of everything, I'm surprised Dalinar is still alive, though there was no doubt that he was on a collision course with Szeth.
Did the book leave you with an overall satisfied feeling, or are you left with too many unanswered questions? If so, what are some of the questions bothering you the most?
I guess I kind of answered this above.  What are the implications of God being dead?  Does that mean that Jasnah's atheism is correct, but also incorrect, too?  And what's the deal with Shadesmar?  (See my thoughts on this at the bottom.)  I'm also wondering why Syl dislikes the Shardblades and how the blades differ from the Dawnshards/Honorblades.  And where the heck is Gaz?
After I finished the book, I immediately re-read the Prelude, and everything made more sense this time around. 
What did you think of the book ending with a Wit chapter? Did you understand what he was trying to say? What does this chapter mean in relation to the rest of the series?
As I've mentioned before, the Hoid phenomenon is of particular fascination.  Thus, I was on edge throughout the entire chapter.  He basically seemed to be speaking in prophecy, telling the men to be ready for the Everstorm (or whatever it's called).  I did find his speech slightly confusing, though, and I'm not sure I fully understand his logical conclusion.  I'm sure he'll show up in latter books.
If someone asked you what this book is about... how would you answer them? In just two or three sentences!
The Way of Kings is a Brandon Sanderson novel.  If you read a lot of fantasy, then you know who Sanderson is.  If not, then you need to get your hands on everything this man's written.  Then I would punch the person in the face for their ignorance...
The Way of Kings is an epic tale that's unlike any epic fantasy you've ever read.  Magic is returning to the world, but with it comes terrible dangers that threaten the very existence of everyone in Roshar.  If you want a story with realistic characters in an unforgettable setting, then this book is for you.
And finally (even though I suspect I know everyone’s answer) will you be reading the rest of this series? Will you be there the day it comes out? Or just whenever? Will you be recommending this to others?
Absolutely.  I'll probably pre-order the Kindle edition and dive in as soon as I can.  Then I'll likely pick up the beautiful hardcovers (when they're cheaper) throw them on the shelf just for completionist's sake.
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Brandon Sanderson has just uploaded the images from the books onto his website.  Looking at these images makes me wonder the significance of the maps, as well as the grids of glyphpairs.  There's no doubt Sanderson has painstakingly crafted a purposeful geography for Roshar, so I've been thinking about them.  What do you all make of the maps/grids?
I'm guessing Shadesmar is the mirror opposite of Roshar.  This makes sense considering symmetry is such an important part (and holy attribute) of Vorinism.  If Roshar exists, then there must be an opposite realm, too, so maybe Shadesmar is un-Roshar?  I'm particularly interested in the names on the Shadesmar map.  The Seas of "Regret, Souls, and Lost Lights."  (Notice that the physical location of these Seas directly correlate to the landmasses of Roshar.  So where there's land in Roshar, there's water in Shadesmar, and we keep the balance.)
I'm equally intrigued about the Nexuses of Truth, Transition, and Imagination.  A nexus is "A connection or series of connections linking two or more things."  Considering what happened with Shallan, she told a Truth and then boom, she was in Shadesmar.  Maybe these three nexuses are the ways into Shadesmar and the ways to Soulcasting.
As for the grids, they must represent the magic system somehow.  Certain glyphpairs stand for certain powers, such as Lashing.  We don't know which ones are what.  What I'm wondering is how the two grids (assuming there are two distinct grids) are related.
Keeping symmetry in mind, I find the existence of a safehand being covered oddly disturbing.  If every woman must keep her safehand covered (look at the illustration of the woman surrounding the maps), then no woman dresses symmetrically.  Does this strike you as peculiar?
I think I may be reading too much into this one, but it still seems odd.  I mean, for the most part, I assume nearly everybody dresses symmetrically (including us!), and throwing on one glove just throws the whole thing out of balance.  It probably doesn't mean anything, but it's just odd considering the Alethi culture.
Brandon did a Q&A session on Goodreads back last year after the book was released.  Reading through the questions generate some avenues of discussion.  Some of my favorites:

  • Does the scene where Shallan is counting heartbeats mean what I think it means?
    • "It means what you think it means."
  • What happened to Gaz? After some character development he just vanishes in chapter 59 without further explanation. Will he be back on the next books?
    • "I'm planning for you to find out what happened to Gaz. There are sufficient clues that you can guess."
  • Will there be flashbacks for a different character in this next book?
    • "Yes.  Each book will explore a different character in flashbacks, though Kaladin will also end up getting another book with flashbacks of his sometime down the line." 

Final thoughts.  If you've not read the Mistborn series, then I think you are missing out here.  There are events of such magnitude that happen between the books that I cannot help but see their relation to one another.  Any of you read the Mistborn trilogy?  If not, I think you should before then next installment comes out for the Stormlight Archive.  Sanderson's not worldbuilding, he's universebuilding...

7 comments:

Carl V. said...

Wow, seeing all the illustrations like that together just reminds me of how much I love that aspect of this book. I certainly hope the publishers keep up that kind of commitment for the other 9 books.

I'm certain Sanderson will continue to throw very interesting ideas at us from the religion and culture perspectives as well as other areas of the books. I'm still not convinced Sanderson is trying to "say" something profound yet about religion and I don't think he needs to in order for the book to continue to be fascinating. I do think these final revelations in this book just open the story up to take so many interesting directions. And I'm loving that.

I'm with you in that, especially at the beginning, it was real work to get this much reading done in just a week's time. I hope, as Sanderson said, that the next books are shorter and I suggest we spread the next group read out over a longer period of time so that everyone can keep up without killing themselves to do so.

I'm thrilled Dalinar did not die and I don't expect Szeth to kill him. Just my opinion, but that all seems like too convenient of a plot line and none of what I read in this book felt like Sanderson was taking those roads often traveled. It would be much more interesting if that collision course did not end in death, in my opinion.

I liked that none of the cliff hangers were so sudden that I felt I was getting cheated out of not having the next book to read, while at the same time they whet my appetite for the next book.

I still like the safe hand concept even though it hasn't been thoroughly explained. I suspect it will be. For right now it, and the food rituals and the reading thing all make this culture rich and interesting and not just another fantasy version of our own past with fantastical elements thrown in. I like it!

Abbie Josephsen said...

wasn't it totally awesome!?!?! I'll have to reread it once the second one comes out, but it was so good :) but glad you finished it so you can spend more time with Avonlea! Thanks for all the good posts about it :)

Memory said...

I agree with Carl: I'm pretty sure Szeth won't succeed in killing Dalinar. It'd feel anticlimactic after everything Sanderson does here. I expect things will be pretty difficult for all involved both before and after Szeth fails, though.

I'm excited to hear about the flashbacks for other characters, too. I especially want to know everything that went down with Dalinar and the old magic. And I must know what's behind Shallan and her counted heartbeats. Did that come about because of her father's death? Is it why she had to kill him? I have so many questions there.

Shelley said...

Well, you've given me more questions than I already had, which I think is great. I expected more about Shadesmar just because of the inclusion of the map at the end. But we only get a glimpse. I didn't even miss Gaz until you pointed it out. There are so many details to remember, and when they do pop up again it is exciting.
I hadn't thought of the asymmetry of the safehand. Now that you mention it, I'm sure it must be significant somehow.
I will be reading Mistborn very soon I hope. Something to keep me busy until Book 2.

logankstewart said...

@Carl: It would seem quite convenient if Szeth killed Dalinar, and yes, it'd definitely be more interesting if their meeting did not end in death. Now we wait...

@Abbie: Aye, totally awesome. I doubt I'll reread, but maybe just go through this Read Along and refresh myself.

@Memory: Agreed. Shallan and the heartbeats subtly sets in motion so many questions! And that's devilish if that's why she had to kill her father.

@Shelley: I hope you enjoy Mistborn! A brilliant series, that.

Carl V. said...

and wait, and wait, and....

:)

TBM said...

Hi Logan. I also thought he wrapped up some stuff nicely and then left enough for me to want more.

I really like the part about the parshmen and the Parshendi. That can be really interesting in upcoming novels.

I'm really looking forward to the next one!