1100 pages. So much stuff just happened in 1100 pages. I feel like I read three different novels all encapsulated into one. From the development of Shallan’s backstory to her further character development; to Kaladin and Syl’s relationship continuing to evolve; to learning more about the nature of spren; to everyone’s storylines all merging together into one cohesive storyline – SO MUCH HAPPENED.
So much stuff. Too much stuff to vaguely allude to. Spoiler section starts now. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, perhaps this will provide you extra motivation to do so? 😀
This time around, I was actually able to read this book *along* with someone, namely the person who introduced me to the series in the first place (Kathleen!). So I’ve invited her to put her thoughts in to here alongside mine as well in blue.
Let’s do this.
“I’m worried about you, Kaladin. I thought things would be better, once you were free from the bridges.” -Syl
“Things are better. None of my men have been killed since we were freed.” -Kaladin
“But you…I thought you might be like the person you were before. I can remember a man on a field of battle…a man who fought…”
“That man is dead, Syl.”
So it’s no secret that Syl is my favorite character. For the first half of this book, I felt like most of what her character was doing was telling Kaladin to cheer up / stop being a pouty little bitch.
“Has it ever struck you as unfair that spren cannot attract spren? I should really have had some gloryspren of my own there.”
“I saw a woman do it in the market,” Syl said, yanking her hair to the sides again. “It means I’m frustrated. I think it’s supposed to hurt. So…ow? Anyway, it’s not that I don’t want to tell you what I know. I do! I just…I don’t know what i know.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“Well, imagine how frustrating it feels!”
Like, don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed their little quips. Sanderson’s ability to write her personality is amazing. I’d still give almost anything to have my own smartass little spren looking out for me in my life.
“Syl?” Are you allright? You seem…”
Like you were before. When we first met. It made a feeling of dread rise within him to acknowledge it. If his powers were withdrawing, was it beacuse the bond itself was weakening?
Once things started to go down, little hints like the above gave me insight into what could possibly happen, but I didn’t believe them. Didn’t believe it could happen. Syl was almost a main character – nothing could happen to her, right? Nothing permanent anyway…
Syl couldn’t see why his decision was the right one. She was a spren, and had a stupid, simplistic morality. To be human was often to be forced to choose between distasteful options. Life wasn’t clean and neat like she wanted it to be. It was messy, coated with crem.
And then Elhokar had Kaladin imprisoned for helping Adolin. Before that happened, I, like Kaladin, had been on the fence as to whether or not to help Moash assassinate Elhokar for the good of Alekthar. Like yeah, he’s kind of an idiot, and Dalinar would be a better king, but…is it really okay to let someone that you’re guarding get murdered?
But after imprisonment? For helping team Kholin? Pfffft. Sanderson did a great job of making me empathize completely with Kaladin’s actions and decisions. His description of Kaladin’s thoughts and reasoning lined up perfectly with mine.
Not with mine… I was screaming “NOOOOO” at Kaladin the minute he opened his mouth and doomed the Kholin’s whole plan to ensnare Sadeas. Don’t get me wrong, that duel was BEYOND EPIC!! So awesome! But I wanted to beat my head against a wall once he tried to go after Amaram in front of all the lighteyes. Also, I was afraid that if Kaladin made decisions based on vengeance it would lead to him loosing Syl…
Which of course led to…
Syl screamed, a terrified, painful sound that vibrated Kaladins’ very bones. In that moment, he got a breath of Stormlight, life itself.
He crashed into the ground at the bottom of the chasm and all went black.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? The distant voice sounded like rumbling thunder.
Kaladin didn’t remember grabbing her (Shallan) as he fell, but he didn’t remember much of that fall beyond Syl’s scream. That scream…
“Syl. What have I done to her?” -Kaladin
YOU HAVE KILLED HER. IT HAPPENED AS IT ONCE DID. MEN CANNOT BE TRUSTED, CHILD OF TANAVAST. YOU HAVE TAKEN HER FROM ME. MY BELOVED ONE.
“Please! How can I fix it? What can I do?” -Kaladin
IT CANNOT BE FIXED. SHE IS BROKEN. YOU ARE LIKE THE ONES WHO CAME BEFORE, THE ONES WHO KILLED SO MANY OF THOSE I LOVE.” -Stormfather
I’ve never quite been as upset in this book series as I was when Kaladin lost Syl. And when she stayed lost for what felt like an ETERNITY.
For awhile, I couldn’t even figure out why the bridge collapse was the catalyst of Syl disappearing. I was lost for several chapters.
“Patterns are eternal. As is fire, as is the wind. As are all spren.” -Pattern
Syl lived. Syl lived. He still felt euphoric about that. Shouldn’t she be dead? When he’d asked on their flight out, her response had been simple.
I was only as dead as your oaths, Kaladin.
I had to backtrack once I read this passage to figure out that it was only a few pages in the book after Kaladin told Moash that he was A-okay to help him to kill Elhokar that the bridge collapsed and Syl disappeared.
Now I know it had nothing to do with the bridge. It had everything to do with that decision.
The writing setup for this was fantastic. It was right after Kaladin had been wrongfully imprisoned by Elhokar and was furious about it. Hell, *I* was furious about it. I was 100% on board the “MURDER ELHOKAR” train. He was the reason Roshone had gone to Kaladin’s village. His ego and temper were the reasons why Kaladin had to sit in jail for days/weeks after HE HELPED WIN A 2V4 Shardbearer battle, keeping Elhokar’s cousin alive and stabilizing the Alethi Kingdom. Fuck that guy, right?
Well, wrong, I guess. If it means you have to give up your bonded spren. Yep, definitely wrong :p totally not worth it!
The Nature of Spren
“Not ten heartbeats?” he asked.
Not when I’m here with you, ready. The delay is primarily something of the dead. They need to be revived each time.
Which brings us to…the nature of spren, both bonded and unbonded spren. This was one of the giant reveals in the book that Kathleen saw coming, but I didn’t.
Spren can become shardblades. Spren *are* shardblades. More than that, the shardblades that are in use are dead Spren, and that’s why Radiants can’t use them without hearing screaming (poor Renarin).
“I should have practiced more with the sword.”
Oh. That’s right. You probably want me to be a spear, don’t you?
Pattern is a blade! Syl is a blade/spear/hammer/shield combo lol . This is interesting, especially since Kaladin kept refusing Shardblades OVER and OVER. So yay, Kaladin finally gets a blade!
“We’re spren. We’re forces. You can’t kill us completely. Just…sort of.” -Syl
“That’s perfectly clear” -Kaladin
“It’s perfectly clear to us. You’re the strange ones. Break a rock, and it’s still there. Break a spren, and she’s still there. Sort of. Break a person, and something leaves. Something changes. What’s left is just meat. You’re weird.” – Syl
I feel like this exchange will be important in the later books. Plus, it was hilarious and it encapsulates Syl’s personality perfectly. Moreover, it leads into
“The Honorblades are what we are based on, Kaladin. Honor gave these to men, and those men gained powers from them. Spren figured out what He’d done, and we imitated it. We’re bits of His power, after all, like this sword.”
which I think will be extremely important. This touches on the difference between Honorblades and Shardblades, and explicitly states that Spren are little bits of God’s power. This should come into play a lot in the next book, where presumably we’ll be fighting lots of voidspren-bonded Parshendi.
If normal spren can become shardblades, does that mean voidspren can to? And what of shardplate ?
“Really, you can divide spren into two general groups. Those that respond to emotions and those that respond to forces like fire or wind pressure.” -Shallan’s early studies on Spren
“Useless things. They don’t do anything. They flit around and watch, admire,. Most spren have a purpose. These are merely attracted by someone else’s purpose.”
Moreover, this was some information waaay early in the book (Chapter 3?) that got mentioned, then never spoken of again. I thought we’d see a lot more of the difference between the types of Spren. Syl and Pattern are obviously the ones that respond to emotions, right? But then why is Syl, an Honorspren, so closely related to Windspren? Could it be that the latter grow up to be the former? Or do they actually exist as two separate branches of the same tree?
Shallan and Kaladin’s Interactions
“No apologize! Boots!” -Shallan, stealing Kaladin’s boots haha
“I should envy you.” Kaladin said, turning back to her. “My breath needs to be up close to kill, while that face of yours can kill any man from a distance.”
“Any man?” Shallan asked. “Why, it’s not working on you. I guess that’s proof that you’re not much of a man.”
Storylines A and B finally merged! Well, kinda. And Shallan made Kaladin give her his boots, even though they didn’t fit, so whoops lol. Kind of off to a rocky start, but it made for hilarious reading!
But where they really bond is in the chasm after their bridge falls. It was funny when both of them just assumed they had saved the other with stormlight, not knowing that the other could also use stormlight. Although…at this point Syl had just left Kaladin, right? So maybe Shallan actually did save Kaladin?
Their banter is really great character interaction though, from their original antagonistic barbs that they throw at each other
“Don’t lie. You’ve never liked me. Right from the start. And not just because of the boots.” -Shallan
“That’s because I know you’re lying through your smile at everyone you meet. The only time you seem honest is when you’re insulting someone!” -Kaladin
“The only honest things I can say to you are insults.” -Shallan
“Bah! Why is it that being around you makes me want to claw my face off, woman?”
to when Kaladin incorrectly assumes that Shallan’s life has been nothing but fun and roses
“All right. Here it is. I can imagine how the world must appear to someone like you. Growing up pampered, with everything you want. To someone like you, life is wonderful and sunny and worth laughing over. That’s not your fault, and I shouldn’t blame you. You haven’t had to deal with pain or death like I have. Sorrow is not your companion.”
Silence. Shallan didn’t reply. How could she reply to that?
The first time I read this, I found this part of the chapter especially poignant. We, the readers, knew how broken Shallan was from her childhood, but Kaladin didn’t. It was a remarkable juxtaposition between expectations and reality, and a great way to show how misguided Kaladin’s prejudice against *all* lighteyes really is.
“You think I’m too optimistic, don’t you?” -Shallan
“It’s not your fault. I’d rather be like you. I’d rather not have lived the life I have. I would that the world was only full of people like you, Shallan Davar.” -Kaladin
“People who don’t understand pain…the sorry of watching a life crumble? Of struggling to grab it and hold on, but feeling hope become stringy sinew and blood beneath your fingers as everything collapses?
The sensation – it’s not sorrow, but something deeper – of being broken. Of being crushed so often, and so hatefully, that emotion becomes something you can only wish for. If only you could cry, because then you’d feel something. Instead, you feel nothing. Just…haze and smoke inside. Like you’re already dead.
The crushing guilt of being powerless. Of wishing they’d hurt you instead of those around you. Of screaming and scrambling and hating as those you love are ruined, popped like a boil. And you have to watch their joy seeping away while you can’t do anything. They break the ones you love, and not you. And you plead. Can’t you just beat me instead?” -Shallan
“Yes. It would be nice if nobody in the world knew of those things, Kaladin Stormblessed. I agree. With everything I have.” -Shallan
Kaladin had thought his life terrible, but there was one thing he’d had, and perhaps not cherished enough: parents who loved him. Roshone had brought Damnation itself to Hearthstone, but at least Kaladin’s mother and father had always been there to rely upon.
What would he have done, if his father had been like the abusive, hateful man Shallan described? If his mother had died before his own eyes? What would he have done if, instead of living off Tien’s light, he had been required to bring light to the family?
Storms. Why wasn’t this woman broken, truly broken? She described herself that way, but she was no more broken than a spear with a chipped blade – and a spear like that could still be as sharp a weapon as any…marks like those were signs of strength.
Shallan sharing her story and shattering Kaladin’s view of her was amazing to read. Sanderson’s writing style truly conveyed her emotional state. Here’s a girl who has probably *never* told anyone her story; in fact, a girl who has actively repressed most of her childhood to remain functional, and you can feel her emotion in telling Kaladin her life story.
And seeing Kaladin react with genuine kindness and fondness afterwards was a breath of fresh air. He’d spent most of the book up until now basically being angry at everyone and everything, especially anything with light eyes. Having him experience empathy and introspection instead of hatred and vengeance (and freaking out over where Syl was) was refreshing.
Kaladin and Adolin
Kaladin stood, rolling his shoulder in its socket. He met Adolin’s gaze. So condescending. So sure of himself. Arrogant bastard.
Renarin said that Adolin was unfair towards the bridgeman captain, but there was something strange about that man. More than his attitude – the way he always acted like by talking to you, he was doing you a favor. The way he seemed so decidedly gloomy at everything, angry at the world itself. He was unlikable, plain and simple, but Adolin had known plenty of unlikable people.
Speaking of characters that should like each other, but for awhile didn’t… that brings us to Kaladin and Adolin. They start off with quite the antagonistic relationship, and I couldn’t really understand why.
When we left off in book 1, Kaladin had just saved Adolin’s life, plus that of his men, plus that of his father’s…so…why exactly was Adolin acting so petulant towards Kaladin, derisively calling him “Bridgeboy” and generally being a jerk?
Now that I’ve finished The Words of Radiance, I suppose the answer is what Shallan said, that Kaladin’s personality when he’s a big ball of anger and stress is offputting. But meh, they should have been best friends!
“Oddly, I do. Trust you, I mean. It’s a very strange sensation.” -Adolin
“Yeah, well, I’ll try to hold myself back from going skipping across the plateau in joy.” -Kaladin
“I’d pay to see that.”
“You happy. You’ve got a face like a storm! I half think you could frighten off a storm.”
“Apologize to Adolin for me. I actually kind of like him. He’s a good man. Not just for a lighteyes. Just…a good person. I’ve never given him the credit he deserves.”
So yay when it finally happened! Bro-mance commence! There was certainly enough reason to. I was annoyed when after Szeth attacked the first time, Adolin soundly got his butt kicked, Kaladin saved the day (again), they were still not getting along. FFS, that was twice now that Kaladin had saved both Kholins’ lives. Once should have been enough for them to be best friends, but twice?
But after the 4v1/2 death match where Kaladin and Adolin fought side by side, I was glad to see them finally getting along. It’ll be interesting to see where this story goes in the next book. The story definitely seemed to be setting them both up to be attracted to Shallan, so that’ll be a weird story arc.
Kaladin and Honor
“Give me a reason why he (Elhokar) doesn’t!” Kaladin yelled, uncaring if the ardents heard. “It might not be his fault, and he might be trying, but he’s still failing.”
Gotta do what you can to stay alive…
It made a twisted, horrible kind of sense. It hadn’t been Tien’s fault. Tien had tried. He’d still failed. So they’d killed him.
The king was Dalinar’s Tien.
The Words, Kaladin! You have to speak the Words! -Syl
“I will protect even those I hate so long as it is right.”
So, Kaladin’s overarching arc in the story is one of honor and protection. The lesson he is supposed to learn in the end is that what is right is more important than any other consideration.
It’s funny to compare that to James Holden’s arc in The Expanse, where he basically has to learn the exact opposite. I suppose this stems from the difference between high fantasy and nitty gritty story.
Holden runs around, thinking that he’s doing the right thing no matter what, and ends up screwing things up for everyone in the process – broadcasting partial conclusions and accidentally sparking a war in the process; refusing to finish/kill his enemies, allowing them to attempt to kill him and his crew again and again.
Billions die as a result of Holden’s naivete. His arc in the Expanse is that sometimes honor is foolish, and gets more people killed than practicality. You should try your best to do what’s right, but sometimes it restricts you from doing what is best for everyone.
So it’s funny that The Words of Radiance has basically the exact opposite message. It surely would be easier for everyone if Elhokar was gone and Dalinar was king. Moash’s colleagues certainly have a point.
I wonder if Syl’s main objection was that Kaladin would be helping to kill someone? OR was it mainly that Kaladin would be helping to kill someone that he swore to protect? Would everything have been fine had Kaldin not taken that original oath? His powers went away / he killed Syl once he made two mutually exclusive oaths, shattering his honor. So which is it? Killing is bad? Or taking two mutually exclusive oaths is bad?
I do not think it is either exactly… I think it is actively making a decision not to protect someone when you knowingly have the ability to protect them. Syl does not seem to have a problem with him killing people per se, they are at war after all, but I think the nature of Windrunners demands that they protect. Period. For example, the second ideal of the Knight’s Radiant as mentioned in The Way of Kings is “to protect those who cannot protect themselves.” So for Kaladin to go directly against that ideal by agreeing to help Moash was the issue I believe. Stupid Kaladin and his desire for vengeance again :p Yes, yes I know, perfectly reasonable and human, but still!
“It is inevitable. You will eventually betray your oaths, breaking my mind, leaving me dead – but the opportunity is worth the cost.” -Pattern
“Sapience. Thought. Life. These are of humans. We are ideas. Ideas that wish to live.” -Pattern
Pattern is…weird. He has the same childlike innocence that Syl displayed when she first started becoming self-aware, but his personality is starkly different. Almost like a savant 5 year old kid.
He’s aware enough to know that Shallan will probably end up killing him, but he’s okay with it. Plus, he is obsessed with lies, which makes for a very different relationship between he and Shallan vs Syl and Kaladin.
Whereas Syl basically teases Kaladin all the time and worries about him like a sister, Pattern is kind of like an idiot savant kid brother. He makes observations about Shallan’s interactions with people, acting like a 3rd party observer making notes.
“No…it is not words that you lack. It is truth.” -Pattern
“You prefer lies.” -Shallan
“Mmm. Yes, and you are a lie. A powerful one. However, what you do is not just lie. It is truth and lie mixed. You must understand both.” -Pattern
“Humans can see the world as it is not. It is why your lies can be so strong. You are able to not admit that they are lies.” -Pattern
His obsession with lies is extremely interesting not only because Shallan’s Radiant power lies with lies/illusions, but because his commentary on the interactions of people is pretty spot on, namely that everyone’s interactions incorporate some weaving of lies and truth. I wonder if we’ll explore that more in the next book, or if this is all we get along this path.
Pattern hummed. “I’m sorry that your mystical, godlike powers do not instantly work as you would like them to.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “I thought you didn’t understand humor.”
“I do. I just explained…” He paused for a moment. “Was I being funny? Sarcasm. I was sarcastic. By accident!” He seemed surprised, even gleeful.
That all being said, by the end, I liked how he had started to get his snark down. Not quite Syl-level snark yet, but getting there. I have high hopes for him. 😀
Shallan – the real star of Book 2
While Kaladin was featured prominently in Book 2 and was obviously the main protagonist in Book 1, The Words of Radiance centered around Shallan’s story.
I loved getting her backstory fleshed out as well as Kaladin’s was in Book 1. Plus, there were so many twists and turns that made sense in retrospect, but that I didn’t see coming.
Now she was sailing toward a city on the edge of the world, betrothed to a powerful Alethi prince, and free to just learn. She was seeing increidble new sights, sketching them during the days, then readin gthrough piles of books in the nights.
She had stumbled into the perfect life, and it was everything she’d wished for.
A body in a thin nightgown, eyes staring sightlessly, blood blossoming from the breast. Jasnah.
“Be sure,” one of the men said.
The other knelt and rammed a long, thin knife right into Jasnah’s chest. Shallan heard it hit the wood of the floor beneath the body.
Wait. WHAT?! I knew when I read the top part that something terrible was going to happen. Nothing sets up trials and tribulations like the protagonist thinking that life is just so grand.
I didn’t see Jasnah’s death coming though.
I thought Shallan’s story was going to be one where she basically worked as a mentee under Jasnah’s tutelage, that she’d learn to harness her soulcasting powers and do cool stuff. Welp, *THAT* went out the window when Jasnah died.
Sanderson again painted a great picture of how the protagonists felt as things happened to them. We’re not told; we’re shown. We thought like the story was going one way because that’s what Shallan thought. It just made sense.
So when everything fell apart in the manner that it did, we felt Shallan’s panic as her world suddenly changed around her in an instant. That’s some damn good writing.
Speaking of twists and turns…
Shallan growled, thrusting her hands forward. Mist twisted and writhed in her hands as a brilliantly silver blade formed there, spearing Tyn through the chest. The woman barely had time to gasp in surprise as her eyes burned in her skull.
“Difficult things,” Shallan growled. “Yes. I believe I told you. I’ve learned that lesson already. Thank you.”
Kudos to Kathleen, who figured out that Shallan had a shardblade way back in like Chapter 3. Whaaaat? I still don’t know what she read that made her think of it. I read it again. I missed it again lol. And Kathleen said their was a hint back when Shallan was soulcasting blood back in Book 1? *Mind blown*.
I definitely didn’t see the above passage coming. I thought her only way out was Pattern rescuing her. Well, now that I’ve finished the book, I guess that’s true, in a way.
Oh this was one of my favorite parts!! “YES YES YES I TOTALLY CALLED IT.” I felt so validated the minute she used her shardblade. 😀 I was waiting and waiting for the shardblade to be used… which really is fantastic writing on Sanderson’s part. So many little clues throughout both books really that when put together had me completely convinced it was only a matter of time before Shallan was revealed to have a shardblade. But the anxiety! and the nerves! when trying to figure out “Is this the moment? Is she going to call it and save herself?! She has to have one, I’m dead certain she has one, all the clues point to it…why isn’t she using it?!” was so frustratingly fun!! I was so enthralled by her story, so much awesomeness!
As for the clues, they went something like this:
Fool. A memory rose unbidden. A silvery sword. A pattern of light. Truths she could not face. She banished them, squeezing her eyes shut.
Ten heartbeats. – Shallan’s thoughts in Book 2, Chapter 3, page 64
It was this quote right here that had me completely convinced Shallan had a shardblade. So much so I sent Edmund a text completely freaking out about it haha. I flashed back to all those references in Book 1 where Shallan would immediately banish her thoughts, when she would not allow herself to think on the past and the traumatic events that she experienced. Several times “ten heartbeats” would be mentioned, and as Book 1 clearly laid out, it takes exactly ten heartbeats to summon a shardblade. So 2 + 2 = 4 in my brain. Ten heartbeats = shardblade, ergo Shallan must have a shardblade! SO, I immediately put Book 2 down (which is an admittedly very hard thing to do, but luckily it was only Chapter 3) and went looking in Book 1 for my proof. And boy did I find some, for example:
She screamed then, jumping to her feet on her bed, dropping the pad, backing against the wall. Before she could consciously think of what she was doing, she was struggling with her sleeve, trying to get the Soulcaster out. It was the only thing she had resembling a weapon. No, that was stupid. She didn’t know how to use it. She was helpless.
Except . . .
Storms! she thought, frantic. I can’t use that. I promised myself.
She began the process anyway. Ten heartbeats, to bring forth the fruit of her sin, the proceeds of her most horrific act. – Shallan’s thoughts, Book 1, Chapter 45, page 799 right before she accidentally soulcasts blood.
It was so obvious to me in hindsight, which is why I think the lightbulb went off like it did…my subconscious was already toying with the idea and I remembered that at some point in Book 1 (or multiple points really, but for sake of conciseness I will forego quoting here) Shallan had been terrified enough to think about doing something that was directly involved with the trauma of her past (and therefore banished behind the best mental blocks she could come up with to remain sane) and at those moments in time “ten heartbeats” would be mentioned by Sanderson. Two little words. Easy to miss over. Easy to ignore. But so very, very significant. Really brilliant writing! So rewarding too, when one figured out!
Shallan and Heleran
“Draw plants,” Heleran said, “and animals. Safe things, Shallan. Don’t dwell on what happened.”
“Don’t go,” she whispered. The words felt like gauze in her mouth. It had been months since she’d last spoken.
Heleran! Seeing her relationship with her family through flashbacks was simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. Especially the parts with Heleran. He’s portrayed through her eyes as the perfect big brother, wanting nothing but to protect and help her and her house.
He magically shows up with a shardblade, and…I made a shot in the dark with Kathleen predicting how I thought that Heleran was the shardbearer that Kaladin killed and…whoops, Kaladin accidentally killed a good guy. It was the only thing that made sense about why a shardbearer was so far away from the Shattered Plains in the first place.
#NailedIt though! Kathleen’s not the only one who can tell the future. 😀 This is my only major claim to plot foretelling that came true, since Brandon Sanderson is so good at twists and turns, so I’m celebrating!
It did open up an entirely new can of worms regarding the story though. I remember thinking at the time “Who is Heleran working for? And we’ve never actually figured out *how* he got a shardblade?”
Kathleen had made a prediction about how she thought Shallan got Heleran’s shardblade on his death, and I had thought our two predictions were mutually exclusive, but nope, we both got a piece of that one. She predicted that Shallan had a shardblade in the first place; and I got that Amaram had Heleran’s shardblade, courtesy of Kaladin.
I wonder if we’ll see more of Amaram in the next book – I thought for sure we’d get more Amaram-Kaladin interaction in this one, but alas it wasn’t nearly what I’d hoped it would be.
Whoops, I’ve gone off on a Kaladin related tangent. Back to our regularly scheduled program of Shallan and her family.
Love is like…
“Love is like a classical melody.” -Balat
“If you end your performance too quickly, your audience is disappointed?” -Shallan
Playing the “love is like…” game with Shallan and her family was so cute. Watching flashback Shallan come out of her shell and tell dirty jokes with her brothers was so endearing. Plus, it was hilarious!
“I’ve carried those for the better part of a year,” Wilkim said softly. “The longer you have them, the more potent the leaves are supposed to become. I don’t feel like I need them any longer (because of you). You can burn them, or whatever. I just thought you should have them.”
“Name for me one reason I should show this man (Jushu) pity.”
“Our mother was murdered,” Shallan said. “That night, as I cried, Jushu held me.”
Her relationship with her brothers was such a nice contrast to her relationship with her father. She tried to watch over Jushu even though he’s an idiot that gambled money he didn’t have; she helped Balat find a girlfriend to curb his more violent tendencies; she helped Wilkim stop being suicidal. It was a nice window into her meek, but very selfless personality.
Shallan and her father
“He let everyone believe that he’d killed her. That he’d murdered his wife and her lover in a rage, when I was the one who had actually killed them. He lied to protect me.
That secret destroyed him. It destroyed our entire family.”
But of course we *do* have to talk about her relationship with her dad. It’s so weird to think about now that I’m done reading the book, what with the big reveal that her dad didn’t kill her mom, like the book had been alluding to literally the entire time. Everyone thinks it – all of her brothers literally say it.
So why was he such a jerk all the time? Was he just a jerk anyway who just *happened* to do the right thing and protect his daughter? Or were his lifelong outbursts a facet of him dealing with the knowledge that Shallan killed her mother?
Moreover, the knowledge that he never laid a hand on her while growing up can go one of two ways. Either he’s a good father who would never beat his daughter, one who would go to such great lengths to let people think that he killed his wife to protect her. Or…he’s a coward who’s afraid that if he tries to hurt her, he too will get murdered by Shallan’s shardblade.
I wonder which one was a more correct narrative?
What if you need to poop?
He paused again. She was probably supposed to ask what happened next.
“What if you need to poop?” she asked instead.
“I…er…that is not something any woman has ever asked me before.”
“So yes, I, Adolin Kholin – cousin to the king, heir to the Kholin princedom – have shat myself in my Shardplate. Three times, all on purpose….You are a very strange woman.”
Wait, Shallan thought, did that just…work? She was supposed to be acting feminine and delicate, not asking men what it’s like to have to defecate in battle.
But perhaps the most hilarious of all of these entertaining interactions between characters was that of Shallan and Adolin on their first date. I tried to convince Kathleen that she should definitely use this question on her next date, but it seems like that’s a hard sell.
It worked for Shallan; it should work for her too, right? NO, JUST NO
Much like the chapters in The Way of Kings between Shallan and Kabsal, I liked the genuine excitement that Sanderson had the story convey as Shallan and Adolin flirted. There’s something refreshing about the sheer innocence of it all.
Like I mentioned before though, it’ll be interesting to see where Book 3 takes this. She seems very enamored with Adolin and he obviously with her; but Sanderson definitely laid the seeds of attraction between Kaladin and her as well. Will that break up our awesome new bromance? 😥 Nothing like a love triangle to get you rooting for all sides…wonder if this world has polyamory?
Lol Sebarial and Palona
“Woman, you make me the most henpecked man in all of Alethkar-” -Sebarial
“We aren’t in Alekthar.” -Palona
“-and I’m not even storming married!” -Sebarial
“I’m not marrying you, so stop asking!” -Palona
“Winds know, you’re not the first stray he’s brought home. Some of us even end up staying.” -Palona
At first, I thought Sebarial was introduced entirely as comic relief. And he did a great job of it. His interactions with the other highprinces were funny enough, especially when he was poking fun at all the highprinces at the all-highprince OMG Elhokar almost got assassinated- meeting, but anytime he and Palona were in a scene, they basically stole the show.
Sebarial raised a cup of wine toward Dalinar. “Hope you don’t mind,” Sebarial said. “We liberated your stores. They were blowing past at the time, headed for certain doom.”
Dalinar stared at them. Palona even had a novel out and was reading.
“You did this?” Dalinar asked, nodding toward Roion’s army.
“They were making a racket,” Sebarial said. “Wandering around, shouting at one another, weeping and wailing. Very poetic. Figured someone should get them moving.”
It’s still weird to me that Sebarial brought his army out to the plateaus with Dalinar. And the story never talked about if he made that decision on his own, or if Shallan convinced him somehow. Ostensibly, his reason was that he thought something cool would be out there, and he wanted to be close to the action, but that seems too much like a fake reason.
I’m mean, I’m obviously glad for the sake of protagonists that he came and brought his surprisingly well skilled troops with him. But the story showed him to be shrewd and intelligent. Marching his army out there on a giant question mark from his point of view seems unwise to me – something of an outlandish risk honestly.
Perhaps we’ll see more of his machinations in Book 3. Perhaps he’ll have a bigger role. It’ll be disappointing if he truly was just a plot device that was funny when in a scene.
I was not wrong, he thought. I was never Truthless.
(after Szeth and Kaladin’s first encounter)
“Also, I felt even more sorry for Szeth at the end of that epic chapter. I could really feel his agony.” -Kathleen
Kathleen and I read his chapters pretty differently haha. While she was busy feeling sad at how conflicted Szeth was, I was more wondering why, once he learned that he was in fact NOT Truthless, that he wasn’t like “Well FUCK THIS THEN.” We already know he’s haunted by all the people he’s been forced to kill. Why continue doing it when he figures out that maybe he doesn’t have to. In fact, why not just go kill Taravangian? I’d be mad in his shoes. I’d want vengeance with the person who forced me to kill all those people that I didn’t want to.
The only reason he has to listen to his stupid oathstone is because of his religion/the people that brought him up, right? Well, those people were WRONG, so why should he listen to them anymore?!?!
I thought for sure that the story was setting him up for a redemption arc at the end, that Eshonai would be the main antagonist and that Szeth would come save the day. Boyyyy, was I wrong! I wonder where his story will go in Book 3. If he’ll be mostly limited to the interludes like he was in Book 1, or if he’ll be featured prominently like in Book 2.
Szeth swore he could see a small trail of black smoke coming off the metal. Like Stormlight, only dark.
Hello, a cheerful voice said in his mind. Would you like to destroy some evil today?
And now he has some crazy dark shardblade that works off of…anti-stormlight? (lol?) And he works for someone who knows how to kill surgebinders. Great.
And YAY for obscure references to Brandon Sanderson’s other works!! This made me really excited, as there was only one sword I could think of that was so dark, gave off black smoke, and could speak with it’s owner…NIGHTBLOOD from Warbreaker! I have actually only ever read the first chapter of that book, so do not know practically anything about that world, except that Nightblood once released from his sheath can move about on his own and kill people and if that’s not weird enough, can COMMUNICATE IN WORDS with whomever’s holding it (owns it?). But should be exciting! I love when authors combine their worlds a bit, so much fun to be had. Must now read Warbreaker though… oh well! Such a hardship lol.
Unresolved problems – things to look forward to in Book 3
So uh…about your brother…
“Storms…I killed him, didn’t I? The brother she loved. Had he told her about that?
Did she realize? Had she inferred that Kaladin, not Amaram, had been the one to actually kill the shardbearer? She didn’t’ seem to have made that connection.”
So my first thought once the book confirmed that Kaladin had indeed killed Shallan’s brother was “Oh shit. This is going to make it much harder for our protagonists to get along.” Funny that Kaladin’s thoughts immediately went to that as well.
Shallan’s smart – is she going to figure it out in the next book? My money is on yes. So if that’s the case, will she ever forgive him for it? Will the reasoning of “He was trying to kill people I was protecting. He *did* kill Dallet and several of my men!” be enough for Shallan to overlook that Kaladin killed “the best person she’d ever known”.
They did share that moment in the chasm, and they are the only people they’ve shared their stories with.
What about Amaram?
“Amaram’s worse than Sadeas, you know,” Kaladin said. “Everyone knows that Sadeas is a rat. He’s straight with you. ‘You’re a bridgeman’, he told me, ‘and I’m going to use you up until you die.’ Amaram though…he promised to be more, a brightlord like those in the stories. He told me he’d protect Tien. He feigned honor. That’s worse than any depth Sadeas could ever reach.”
One thing I was very much looking forward to in this book was seeing Kaladin and Amaram interact. It didn’t really boil over in this book the way I thought it would. Sure, Kaladin got to publically accuse Amaram of stealing his shards, but then he got immediately arrested for it, so… pffft. And yes, the Kholins believe him now, and no longer trust/work with Amaram, but Dalinar could have executed him!!! Why not?!?!?! Bah.
And now we know that Amaram wants to bring back the Voidbringers? Why? I imagine he’ll be one of the main antagonists in book 3. Oh Kaladin, if only you’d let Heleran kill Amaram…
I still can’t believe how much stuff happened in this book. The story was *so different* at the end. We have a brand new world to explore in Urithiru; Adolin killed Sadeas (O.o YAY!!!); The Knights Radiant have been re-founded; Renarin and Dalinar now have spren!; We never actually *saw* Eshonai die, and there are presumably still some non-stormform Parshendi around; looks like “Veil”‘s associates figured out that she’s Shallan; and JASNAH IS ALIVE!!!
She said that she’s honorspren, Kaladin thought. So why does she still keep up with the act of playing with winds?
He’d have to ask her, assuming she’d answer him. Assuming she even knew the answer.
Are we going to learn more about the nature of spren? What’s the difference between the Spren that respond to emotions and spren that respond to forces? And why do they seem so related?
Can’t wait for Book 3, and I won’t have to wait nearly as long as the people who read Book 2 when it came out. So yay for that. Q4 is going to be great between Oathbringer from the Stormlight Archive coming out in November and Persepolis Rising from The Expanse coming out in December.
It’ll also be interesting to see how many things that Kathleen and I can guess / read into before they happen / are confirmed in Book 3. In Book 1, I guessed almost nothing correctly lol. Kudos to Brandon Sanderson for keeping me on my toes.
In Book 2, I got that Kaladin killed Shallan’s brother; Kathleen got that Shallan had a shardblade AND that Shallan, not her dad, killed her mother. What surprises have we in store in Oathbringer?!
Should be a fun time. See y’all there. 🙂