Monday, August 15, 2011

The Way of Kings Readalong: Part Two Questions

This week for our buddy read along we read Part Two of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. This brings me to page 563 in my mass market paperback. It's cool to see the progress! I am loving the book so far, the pages fly by and the huge length of it no longer freaks me out. I'm so glad I decided to participate!

Now, for the discussion questions which this week are provided by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings:

1. In a recent interview Brandon Sanderson mentioned that the interludes are meant to show us parts of the larger world since much of the action is focused in one or two places. What do you think of the first two sets of interludes? Any characters or situations stand out to you?

I'm loving the interludes, which actually surprises me because you'd think it would be annoying to switch to a brand new character and get all re-established, kind of like starting a new book or something. However, that's not happening with me, and I feel like I jump right into this new little short story of sorts and end up wishing that we actually get more of the character later on. Of course, both interlude bits had Szeth's story and this is the interlude character that most stands out for me. He is fascinating! And that last one with him, just as our assignment for this past week ended?! Oh my word! This is getting intense!

2. In small increments Brandon Sanderson is revealing the geology and ecology of Roshar. What are your thoughts on what has been revealed thus far?

It seems like a harsh, yet fascinating place. I found it interesting that we learned that the Shin area appears to be a more familiar (to us) place, yet the visitors felt like it was totally foreign and extremely bizarre, with grass and dirt and trees! I'm starting to understand the Shattered Plains a bit more than I did during the first part, I suppose since we spent quite a bit of time there this go around. It makes me think of the Arches and Bryce Canyon area we have here in Utah, and what it may have been like thousands of years ago before it was worn down to the cool formations we have today.

3. This second section of The Way of Kings featured two distinct story lines, those of Dalinar and of Kaladin. How do you feel this section of the book compares with the first section and what are your thoughts on either or both of these story lines?

Well, I'm still drawn to Kaladin the most. Dalinar's sections were interesting, but each time I was glad when it was Kaladin's turn again. And now that we are going into the third part, I'm excited to see Shallan back. With Dalinar section we are getting much more of the political end of the story, which was only touched upon in last week's first part. It's all very interesting to me, but with Kaladin we seem to be getting a more "human interest" story, and I'm loving it. I love the flashbacks too, where we are getting the insight to his background that I was yearning for back in part one.

4. In the interview set out earlier in the week Sanderson talked about the Stormlight Archive being a series about the return of magic. What are your thoughts on this, particularly in relation to the visions Dalinar is having during the highstorms?

I'm not sure I "get" this yet, so I look forward to what the rest of you have to say. It seems like the Shardblades and Plate are magic and all, so what does he mean by the return of magic? I don't know.

5. There has been a change in this second section of the nature of the quotes prior to the beginning of each chapter. What are your thoughts on the opening lines featured in both sections of the book to this point?

Interesting! I loved the quotes at the beginning of the first part chapters.... people's dying words. Very intriguing and I want to know more. The stuff at the beginning of the second part chapters was more confusing to me. I know it was a letter and would probably make more sense if I go back and read it all at once together... but I haven't done that yet.

6. In the questions for these first two sections we've talked about characters and the story lines and the world that Sanderson has created, but there are a lot of interesting flourishes and touches to The Way of Kings thus far (shardplate, spren, the actual Way of Kings book, highstorms, etc.). Talk about some of the non-character/non-setting things that you are finding either fascinating or annoying (or both) in the book thus far.

I think most of all this extra stuff is wonderfully interesting. The spren especially, what they mean exactly, who can see them and when, and which emotions have a spren and which do not. The storms are also really fascinating, and at first I thought, ah, they don't sound THAT bad, but it sounds like they really ARE that bad. Perhaps we'll get caught out in one before it's over and find out what they are really like. It is cool to see how the whole system-- people, plants and animals-- has adapted to the storms.

So, did you understand that whole communications gadget? I couldn't quite visualize it.

Okay, I think I'm done for now! Thanks for some fun questions Carl! Now off to start the next bit!


  1. I haven't had a chance to do my post yet. Great answers, though!

  2. The communicator thing was interesting, especially since the men don't write. That means that there's really no way for men to privately communicate over a distance without at least a scribe overhearing.

  3. K, see, this is what bugs me, not just about Sanderson, but with any author. They create this world and it's an awesome idea but they become obsessed about telling us ALL about it! You know I have not, nor do I plan on, reading this book, but it sounds like, once again, Sanderson has become obsessed with this world he created. Sigh! I'm just sore cause the book I'm reading now is doing the same thing. I don't want background I want the dang story!!!

    PS Are we going to do fun posts and questions when we read Under the Dome or just read it together?

  4. Kailana: I'll be on the lookout for yours!

    Books: Yes, you are right! Interesting thought. This men not reading thing is kinda creepy.

    Jenny: See, that's the thing! We ARE getting lots of great story and learning about the world through the story, there's no long boring background stuff... just right into the story with this really fascinating world surrounding it, which we are learning about bit by bit.

    And yes, I'm good with doing questions and discussing Under the Dome as we go along. You want to? Maybe we'll even get someone to join us that way...

  5. Great thoughts. At first I thought the spanreed thing was kind of corny and dull, but it's grown on me. It's like two people have a piece of paper, quill, and inkwell placed on a table. One person writes on their page and magically the other quill begins writing on the linked page. This goes back and forth. How it works, I don't think we know enough yet. Interesting stuff, for sure.

  6. I'd have to disagree with you Jenny. I don't think Sanderson is obsessed at all with telling us ALL about this world. If anything his obsession is with telling us the stories of various characters and in doing such is very expertly weaving in all kinds of wonderful details about the world. He does it in a way that is not distracting from the stories being told but instead enhances it. It may seem from our conversations and questions that that obsession with detail is there but that is because WE the readers are obsessing about it. We are loving all the little details thrown in and rather than just talk about the characters or the stories being told we can't help but talk about how interesting this world is. Just my opinion, but if you are having that sort of trouble with other books you've read you might want to actually try this out as it sounds like an alternative to the kind of book you are reading.

    As for the interludes, I am a big fan of short stories and I think that predisposes me somewhat to liking the interludes. Having admitted that I still think they are very well done and add so much to the overall story. I like seeing what is going on in different parts of the world. Even if for some reason we never see any of those characters again I like the idea. It fleshes out the world and gives the reader the impression that this is a lively and active and inhabited world.

    Kaladin is also my favorite of the "main" characters. I am happy to see us getting back to following Shallan around for awhile and I am hoping to continue liking her story as much as I did in the first part. And I may be the odd man out in this but the incidental characters are also really capturing my heart: Ishikk, Yalb, Rock. They may not be in the book much and at some point we may never see them again but I think one of Sanderson's strengths is making me care about these small roles.

    Based on his interview he is defining the 'return of magic' as the opposite of what Tolkien did in LOTR. When we enter the story in Fellowship the elves are leaving for the undying lands and essentially magic is fading from Middle-earth. The fourth age, the age of men, which comes about after Aragorn is crowned king, is an age without elves and all that beauty and magic fades from the earth. What Sanderson seems to be wanting to do is show that while magic has faded to some degree in this world it is now returning and perhaps returning with a vengeance. It wasn't that it entirely went away, but it appears when we see Dalinar's visions that there was much more power and prevalence of magic in ancient times and it is working its way back into prominence.

    I don't know that I understand the whole communications thing, as far as how it works, but I was able to visualize it. It almost seems science fiction like. Sanderson talked a bit in that interview about blending magic with science and this communication device, as well as the soulcasters, seem to be a blending of the two on some level.

  7. I love the comparison to Bryce and Arches. I love both of those places! I'll have that picture in my mind now as I read.
    Is it bad that I didn't miss Shallan at all? I didn't dislike her or anything, I just was okay with her being gone for a while.
    Like you, I didn't like the second chapter intros as much as the first part. I think because it seems like one letter broken up, whereas the statements in part one were kind of each their own.

  8. Logan: Yeah, how DOES that work? Well, however, it does, it's pretty cool, but sad for the guys, don't you think?

    Carl: Thanks for helping me convince Jenny to see the light! :)If we can get get her to read a Sanderson book, it will be a miracle!

    I'm really liking the interludes, which as I said, kind of surprises me. I'm loving these side characters too, including the ones in the main story as you mentioned, especially Rock. He is awesome.

    Thanks for further explaining the magic thing! I'm rooting for it to make its triumphant return!

    Shelley: Yes, while at those parks, they explain that the formations happened after a big huge plateau got carved full of chasms, which got bigger and bigger and bigger, and then these cool arches and hoodoos and Fiery Furnaces full of fins formed. (Sorry, got carried away with alliteration!)

    I didn't miss Shallan too much either, but am happy to got back to seeing what she is up to now.

  9. No problem, I imagine Jenny is quite correct in her assessment of the books she has had/is having issues with, but I don't think that assertion holds true with this book at all.

  10. It took me until this interlude to start grasping the landscape better. I found Rysn's reaction to the grass and soil to be very intersting...intriguing. I really loved the description in her chapter.

    I understand what you mean about Dalinar because I felt similar in the beginng of this section BUT by the end of this section, I am very intrigued by him. There is much going on and I do not know what it is? There is a mystery about him. I think the polical aspect is working well with his character.
    Kaladin, of course, remains my favorite. I admire that character and whoa...he is 19. I keep forgetting that...better start remembering. :)

    As far as the communication thing - I think it is very neat. And, what is more, I do not have to understand just has to make sense to me in the context of the story. This makes sense to me for the story so while I do not understand, I go with it.

    I agree with carl and you too Suey...Jenny, Sanderson is not at all obssessed with his world over his characters. The story is rocking! And the great thing about is how the worldbuilding is happening right along with the lives of his characters and the story that is being told. Love it.

    I do hope that I can get into Shallan's story. I did not miss her but I am curious. I hope to see more of Rysn...I liked her for the little we were told.



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