The Words of Radiance – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Words of Radiance – TwoMorePages Book Review

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.

Syl!!!

“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.

-Stormfather

“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

**FUCK** -Me

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.”

-Pattern

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?” -Kaladin

“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.”

“Me skipping?”

“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.”

-Kaladin

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…

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!

 

Pattern

“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.

Starting with…

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? đŸ˜„  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.

 

Szeth

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?

No.

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…

Final Thoughts

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. 🙂

Advertisements

The Way of Kings – TwoMorePages Book Review

The Way of Kings – TwoMorePages Book Review

Well, shit. I had just crowned another series as “The Best I’ve Read in 2017”, and yet here I stand, having read 1000 pages in two weeks. That’s the same rate that I read The Expanse books, and we all know how much I *LOVE* the Expanse. I learned too late that Kathleen lead me down the voyage of the damned, since this series has no conclusion and won’t have a conclusion for decades, doh haha.

But it was so worth it. I regret nothing!

My third foray into fantasy was easily my best so far. With Kvoth’s stories in The Kingkiller Chronicles, it took me a bit before I was really immersed in the story, though once immersed, it was super fun. With The Sword of Shannara, halfway in, I still found myself not caring about the characters, and I may have stopped reading halfway through


With The Way of Kings, I was immersed almost immediately. Usually, I struggle with books that don’t define a clear protagonist at the very start, jumping around from character to character to set up context for the world. But I loved the world that was built from the perspectives of side characters to start, and the introduction of Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar as protagonists was seamless.

More than that, one thing this story did an exceptionally good job of was in being unpredictable while still making sense. Every unpredictable story turn or character action made sense in the context of the story, but there was enough mystery there to make it unexpected.

Kaladin is easily the one I identified most with, but then again I’m pretty sure I was the intended audience for his story. I immensely enjoyed his interactions with Syl, and the way his story unfolded kept me guessing the whole way. I guess incorrectly…a lot haha.

Shallan’s story was interesting in her own right, providing a very different perspective from what felt like across the world. I liked how the story set up her character one way in the beginning, only for her to show very different traits as her character grew.

And Dalinar’s story of political intrigue, military maneuvering, and the struggle to do what is right was a very refreshing change of pace. Whereas Kaladin and Shallan had underdog type stories (especially Kaladin), we saw Dalinar’s story unfold from the perspective of a highprince. More than that, we saw it unfold from the perspective of arguably the only “good” highprince, who voluntarily holds himself to a higher standard than his peers.

Okay, so onwards to the section with spoilers! Let’s talk about cool shit that went down in the book!

 

Kaladin

“You used to be vibrant. So many looked up to you, Kaladin. Your squad of soldiers. The enemies you fought. The other slaves. Even some lighteyes.” -Syl

I loved almost everything about Kaladin’s story. But most of all, I loved the pacing of it; you start off with the story of Kaladin the Spearman, revered by his troops, renowned for his fighting skills, but more importantly at his skill in keeping his men alive. And then…the next thing you know, he’s a depressed slave and you have no idea what happened in between.

There are some random hints about him killing someone, and about how much he hates lighteyes, and about how he might possible have won a fight with a shardbearer, but you don’t actually figure out what happened to him in Amaram’s army for about Ÿ’s of the book. My personal theory, which ended up being wrong, was that he had attacked and killed Prince Amaram for…reasons, and that’s why he ended up being labeled a deserter and thus became a slave. The real story was *oh so much worse*.

“Each lighteyes Kaladin had known, whether as a slave or a free man, had shown himself to be corrupt to the core, for all his outward poise and beauty. They were like rotting corpses clothed in beautiful silk.”

One thing we do know about Kaladin as the story progresses is that he is *majorly* prejudiced against lighteyes, and for the longest time, we don’t know why. His flashback chapters are really well written. In them, we see his childhood relationships shape his view on life. He tries to protect the weak as a product of his relationship with his brother Tien. He tries to do the right thing, even when it won’t benefit him because of his father. He hates lighteyes because of the shitty way that Rochone treated his family, but more importantly, because of the betrayal of Amaram.

“It’s all an act?” Kaladin asked. “The honorable brightlord who cares about his men? Lies? All of it?”

Amaram hesitated by the door, resting the blunt edge of the stolen Shardblade on his shoulder. The guilt was still there in his eyes, but he grew hard, covering it. “You are being discharged as a deserter and branded as a slave. But you are spared death by my mercy.”

Brightlord Amaram, one of the only lighteyes that Kaladin looked up to and trusted. Kaladin’s descent into utter racism comes from Brightlord Amaram’s betrayal on two fronts. First, that he put Tien in a position to die when Kaladin only joined to keep his brother safe.

But second, and more importantly, when Kaladin kills a shardbearer and saves Amaram’s life, something that is almost impossible to do, losing 17 of his 22 member spearman group in the process, Amaram…murders Kaladin’s remaining spearmen, brands Kaladin a deserter and slave, and takes the shards and shardblade that were rightfully Kaladin’s. WHAT THE FUCK.

I killed a Shardbearer, he thought again. And then I gave away the Blade and Plate. That single event had to be the most monumentally stupid thing anyone, in any kingdom, in any era, had ever done.

Now, granted, Kaladin had initially refused the shards and shardblade at the battle that ostensibly belonged to him. And I can debate all day about how that was a really piss poor decision, regardless of how he felt about the blade or about lighteyes. So yes, Kaladin, that was monumentally stupid. You could have done a LOT of good with that Shardblade.

But bajeezus, that is exceptionally dark.

“SEE? I TOLD YOU I WAS REALLY SAD” -Kathleen, who introduced me to this book, about learning about Amaram’s betrayal

Well, thanks for bringing me down this journey of sadness Kathleen! 😛 I couldn’t even move on to the next section for half a day. I just kept re-reading the betrayal chapter over and over. đŸ˜„

 

Kaladin’s Relationship with Syl

Syl! She’s my favorite! Mere words cannot describe how much I love Syl’s character. Probably not surprising, since I most easily identify with Kaladin, and she helps him more than anyone else, but nevertheless.

Her interactions with Kaladin are preciously heartwarming:

(paraphrased)

“Here, I brought you this (poisonous) leaf. You were so sad when you lost them last time. I hope you like it; it was so heavy. Will this make you happier?” -Syl

—> later

“ZOMG , I BROUGHT YOU POISON?!?!” -Syl

—> even later

“I don’t like that you lied to me.” -Syl
“That’s how I am. Bringing death and lies wherever I go. Me and the Nightwatcher” -Kaladin
“That was…sarcasm. I know what sarcasm is!” – Syl
Stormfather, Kaladin thought, looking into those gleeful little eyes. *That strikes me as ominous*

This was the first time I fell in love with Syl and Kaladin’s relationship. I knew the chapters would be nonstop fun. Their banter was a breath of fresh air in the most depressing parts of Kaladin’s story:

“You know, talking to you probably doesn’t do anything for my reputation of being insane.” -Kaladin

“I’ll do my best to stop being so interesting.” -Syl

“I feel like I’m remembering things I once knew.” -Syl

“Soon you’ll hardly be a spren at all. You’ll be a little translucent philosopher. We’ll have to send you off to a monastery to spend your time in deep, important thoughts.” -Kaladin

“Yes, like how to best get the ardents there to accidentally drink a mixture that will turn their mouths blue!” -Syl

“I don’t think you’re ready for that yet. Don’t be so risky. If you die, I go stupid again, you know.” -Syl

“I’ll try to keep that in mind. Maybe I’ll remove dying from my list of tasks to do this week.” -Kaladin

How can you NOT love these interactions? They’re so wholesome and cute. Plus, her development from a mindless spren who can’t remember anything to gradually take on more individuality is cool:

“I guess it makes sense to revere the spren. You are kind of odd and magical.” -Kaladin

“I’m not odd!” she said, standing up. “I’m beautiful and articulate.” She planed her hands on her hips, but he could see in her expression that she wasn’t really mad. She seemed to be changing by the hour, growing more and more…

More and more what? Not exactly humanlike. More individual. Smarter.”

While it’s often fun and games with Syl, she also serves as an important guardian angel for Kaladin as well. I loved the description of how she was fighting off the deathspren, and of how she seemed to part the winds when he was exposed to the highstorm:

In those brief moments of light when he dared to look, he thought he saw Syl standing in front of him, her face to the wind, tiny hands forward. As if she were trying to hold back the storm and split the winds as a stone divided the waters of a swift stream.

Standing before the deathspren was a tiny figure of light. Not translucent, as she had always appeared before, but of pure white light. That soft, feminine face had a nobler, more angular cast to it now, like a warrior from a forgotten time. Not childlike at all. She stood guard on his chest, holding a sword made of light.

She’s more than just a funny little tinkerbell sidekick, someone for Kaladin to talk to to keep him sane and bring him back from the brink of despair. Seeing her abilities grow was wonderful to read, and the descriptions of the way she was able to influence the world were beautiful.

Not to mention that…

“You’re not a windspren, are you?”
She hesitated, then shook her head. “No.”
“What are you, then?”
“I don’t know. I bind things.”

—-> Later

“Are windspren attracted to wind? or do they make it? I’ve remembered what kind of Spren I am. I bind things, Kaladin. I am honorspren. Spirit of oaths. Of promises. And of nobility.” -Syl

I wonder where this is going to go. The book doesn’t really mention it much after she reveals this. What’s the difference between honorspren and windspren? Plus, didn’t she say that she binds things? So honorspren bind things? What does honor have to do with binding?

I love everything about this relationship. And yes, of course I wish I had my own little Spren like Syl hanging out with me.

 

Kaladin’s experience with trying to help people

There isn’t ever anything I can do. Stormfather, why can’t I save them? -Kaladin

“If I’m not cursed,” Kaladin said softly, “Then why do I live when others die?”
“Because of us,” Syl said. “This bond. It makes you stronger, Kaladin.”
“Then why can’t it make me strong enough to help the others?”
“I don’t know,” Syl said. Maybe it can.”

One of the things the book did best was in sharing the emotions of the protagonists with us. With Kaladin, the most heartbreaking part was in watching him try to help people, and then have those people always die at the end, despite his efforts.

You’re introduced to it first when he tries to help one of the sickly slaves on the wagon, and you’re given glimpses into how traumatic it was for him in the past. One thing the book constantly referenced, but didn’t talk about for awhile was how his brother Tien died, despite Kaladin’s best efforts. It’s why he tries to look after people like Cenn in the opening chapters, trying to atone for his initial failure. It’s why it hurts so much for him when Dallet is cut down, and then even more than that when his spearmen group are cut down in front of his eyes.

“Kaladin?” a voice whispered. He blinked. Syl was hovering in front of him. “Do you know the Words?”
“All I wanted to do was protect them,” he whispered.
“That’s why I’ve come. The Words, Kaladin.”
“They’re going to die. I can’t save them. I-”
Amaram slaughtered his men in front of him.
A nameless Shardbearer killed Dallet.
A lighteyes killed Tien.
No.

Kaladin tried to squelch the feeling of despair inside him. This Dalinar Kholin was probably just like the others. Like Roschone, like Sadeas, like any number of other lighteyes. Pretending virtue but corrupted inside.

In the climactic battle on the plateau, Kaladin’s thoughts are especially poignant. When I first read the book, I didn’t know if this was a tragedy or not, especially since Kathleen had said that Kaladin’s story was a sad one.

“Something just changed,” Moash whispered, hand up. “Something important.”

Kaladin raised his spear. The powerful light began to subside, retreating. A more subdued glow began to steam off his body. Radiant, like smoke from an ethereal fire.

I was so happy to see that this story was in fact, NOT a tragedy. It’s a testament to the writing that I empathized so well with Kaladin’s emotions in thinking he’d failed his men. Again. That everyone that he cared about would die except him. AGAIN.

I legit texted Kathleen being like “His entire squad is going to die again, aren’t they?”

He promised, Kaladin thought. He promised he would free us from Sadeas.
And yet, where had the promises of lighteyes gotten him in the past?

And another promise dies, Kaladin thought, turning away. In the end, for all his good intentions, this Dalinar Kholin was the same as the others.

“What is a man’s life worth?”-Dalinar
“A life is priceless” – Kaladin
“Coincidentally, that is the exact value of a Shardblade. so today, you and your men sacrificed to buy me 2600 priceless lives. And all I had to repay you with was a single priceless sword. I call that a bargain.” -Dalinar
“You really think it was a good trade, don’t you?” Kaladin said, amazed.

His redemption ark was especially satisfying, where his trust in someone is finally rewarded in Dalinar. I’m intruiged to see where the next book brings his story, assuming this isn’t one of those series that has different protagonists from book to book.

Presumably, the men in Dalinar’s camp shouldn’t be giant sacks of shit like in Sadeas’s, so he shouldn’t have as many problems with lighteyes anymore, right? Perhaps his lighteyes-darkeyes struggle will center on him assuming the worst of the lighteyes around him in Dalinar’s camp, and that impeding how his men fit in. Or perhaps he’ll have to interact with the shitty Lighteyes from the other camps, especially Sadeas’s. Will we get the Amaram – Kaladin reunion / hate fest that I thought would happen in this book but didn’t?

Shallan’s Story

“I have weighed the facts, child, and I cannot accept you. I’m sorry.”

Six months of chasing, for this. She gripped the rag in frustration, squeezing sooty water between her fingers. She wanted to cry. That was what she probably would have done if she’d been that same child she had been six months ago.

—> later

Was she weak because confrontation unsettled her so? She felt that she was.

Foolish, idiot girl, she thought, a few painspren crawling out of hte wall near her head. What made you think you could do this? You’ve only set foot off your family grounds a half-dozen times during your life. Idiot, idiot, idiot!

I *really* enjoyed how Brandon Sanderson’s writing style conveys the emotions of his protagonists. I could feel Shallan’s desperation in trying to persuade Jasnah to be her ward in the beginning of her story; I could feel her panic when her solutions came up short due to her inexperience.

“It wasn’t an admonition. Simply an observation. I make them on occasion: Those books are musty. The sky is blue today. My ward is a smart-lipped reprobate.” -Jasnah

Her banter with Jasnah was pretty entertaining too. Not cute like Syl and Kaladin’s, but more quippy. Plus, I liked how Shallan grew more and more bold as her confidence increased under Jasnah’s tutelage.

“She’d come to Kharbranth to steal the fabrial, then use it to save her brothers and their house from massive debt and destruction. Yet in the end, this wasn’t why Shallan had stolen the Soulcaster. She’d taken it because she was angry with Jasnah.”

Besides the character development, the thing I enjoyed immensely with Shallan’s story were twists and turns in her story. I remember texting Kathleen immediately when Shallan got Jasnah’s fabrial, being like WHAAAAT?! SHE GOT THE FABRIAL! I was so sure that she would try and then have Jasnah be like “I knew you were going to do that” and stop her, but it was so easy. I wondered where the conflict was going to come from, since she accomplished her goal so early in the story?

“Nobody quite remembers where this ‘Kabsal’ came from…He was playing you, child. The whole time, he was using you to get to me. To spy on what I was doing, to kill me if he could.”

Someone had almost killed her. Not someone, Kabsal. No wonder he’d been so eager to get her to taste the jam!

Just like Shallan, I was blindsided when Kabsal died. I actually really liked the chapters with them flirting. The writing really encapsulated the fun feelings in the beginning of a relationship. It was so innocent and genuine, something that’s often sorely missing in real life.

So for him to end up being A) dead and B) an assassin left me like this O.o

And then for Jasnah to find out that Shallan stole the fabrial because of Kabsal’s actions! And for *that* not even to be the final twist in the story! Whaaaaat?

But the best part is that the clues were all inset in the story along the way. The bread was poison, but jam was the antidote; that way, Kabsal wouldn’t accidentally murder Shallan, but could hurt Jasnah, since Jasnah doesn’t like jam. Jasnah didn’t notice that her fabrial didn’t work for several weeks because she doesn’t need a fabrial to soulcast.

Shallan met her former mistress’s eyes. Was it the fatigue that made her so indifferent to the consequences of confronting this woman? Or was it her knowledge of the truth? “You did all that, Jasnah,” Shallan finished, “with a fake Soulcaster.”

The contrast between Shallan’s last chapters and first chapters is enormous. Her story is one of building confidence in herself, and I love that she had the intelligence, wherewithal, and courage to both put everything together and confront Jasnah at the end. It wasn’t a deus ex machina ending that saves her from her situation – it’s her solving a puzzle at the end that does it. She saves herself.

 

Dalinar’s Story

Unlike Kaladin and Shallan, Dalinar is not some underdog who overcomes things to grow. He is already a highprince, and has very different problems to solve. He has the weight of responsibility on his shoulders, and of trying to reign in his inexperienced nephew king, and of trying to save the kingdom.

Arguably, his storyline progresses the overarching storyline for *the world* the most. Whereas Kaladin and Shallan have their own personal struggles, Dalinar’s problems are global. He’s the one seeing visions of the past during highstorms; he’s the one being told to unite Alekthar so that everyone doesn’t die.

His struggle with whether or not to believe those visions is intriguing to read. His struggle of whether or not to step down when everyone else thinks he’s crazy is one that’s heartbreaking, but understandable. When everyone else seems wrong except you…are you truly the one that’s right? I struggle with that question/kanundrum from time to time in real life. It’s interesting to see something similar play out in what is now one of my favorite novels.

Ahead, Dalinar was speaking quietly with Sadeas. Both men wore frowns. They barely tolerated one another, though they had once been friends. That had also changed the night of Gavliar’s death.

But the best part of his story to me was his struggle with Sadeas. Like the other two storylines, this had its fair share of unpredictable twists and turns as well. Like Adolin, I thought *for sure* that Sadeas was making a powerplay when he became the High Prince of Information, that he would implicate Dalinar in Elkohar’s paranoid delusions, and cause Dalinar’s house to fall.

“I had hoped to make this presentation after I’d discovered more concrete proof that you weren’t involved. Unfortunately, pressed as I was, the best I could do was to indicate that it was unlikely you were involved. There will still be rumors, I’m afraid.” -Sadeas

“Wait. You wanted to prove me innocent?” -Dalinar

“Yes, I asked Elkohar for this position to prove you innocent. Is it so storming difficult for you to believe someone else in this army might do something honest?” -Sadeas

I was as confused as Adolin was when Sadeas announced that Dalinar was 100% innocent in that, and when Sadeas told Dalinar that he took the High Prince of Information post to prove Dalinar innocent. Like what? Hmm, okay, maybe everything was overblown, and we’re all just too suspicious of one another. After all, Dalinar and Sadeas used to be friends…

“Well, you do provoke them. Take, for example, the way you refuse to rise to their arguments or insults.” -Sadeas

“Protesting simply draws attention to the issue. The finest defense of character is correct action. Acquaint yourself with virtue, and you can expect proper treatment from those around you.” -Dalinar

“You see, there. Who talks like that?” -Sadeas

But the chapters that brought Dalinar and Sadeas closer together after that were also well written, showing Dalinar trusting his old friend again more and more. You only poke fun at your friends, doubly so if you’re doing it so that way they change a behavior of theirs.

Between the joint assaults, Dalinar saving Sadeas’s life, and the two hanging out together more, I thought a genuine bro-mance was re-forming.

Had it all been an act? Could he really have misjudged Sadeas so completely? What of the investigation clearing Dalinar? What of their plans and reminiscences? All lies?

I saved your life, Sadeas.

Whatever the visions were, they had misled Dalinar in at least one respect. Trusting Sadeas had brought them to doom.

…which made Sadeas’s betrayal all the worse. This book did an amazing job of having the reader experience the same emotions as the protagonists. Absolutely AMAZING.

Like wtf?!?! Who leaves his friend and his army out there to die? Especially when said friend had risked his own life to save yours just a few chapters (weeks in the book?) before! If nothing else, reciprocity should make you not abandon your friend at the first available opportunity, much less set him up to die.

I was so upset at the end when Sadeas basically had nothing bad happen to him as a result of his actions. Who gives a shit if Dalinar’s forces are now outnumbered by Sadeas’s? You have TWO Shardbearers, both with blades and armor, and Sadeas only has armor, so he’s like half a shardbearer. The book has already established that a Shardbearer is basically as good as an entire batallion, so despite your man-disadvantage, you should be at least on even ground. And you’ve already established that Dalinar’s men are better trained and stronger than Sadeas’s!

Plus, why even go to Sadeas’s camp in the first place? Go to Elkohar; explain what happened. Strip Sadeas of his troops and his money. After your troops recuperate / your shardplate is mended, MURDER/DUEL HIM; Take his Shardplate; Give it to Renarim to fulfill your promise.

Anything except what you did, which is march to his camp with your tired army and broken shardplate, say “oh, well shit happens” and give him your shardblade in trade for all the bridgemen. FFS, you could have just taken Kaladin back to your camp so Sadeas couldn’t demand a ransom to get him back. Just dare him to come into your camp to get his bridgemen. No need to give up the Shardblade!

Bah. I surely do hope I get a revenge arc in the next book. This was most unsatisfying.

Final Thoughts and Unresolved Questions

“They watch me. Always. Waiting. I see their faces in mirrors. Symbols, twisted, inhuman…” -Elkohar

Hey wait, is Elkohar seeing the same things that Shallan sees when she draws? This was a passage that was said once, and not referenced again. They definitely sound like the strange shapes that Shallan was seeing. Is he seeing them too?

“Considering what I’ve done before, this is nothing. It wouldn’t be the first time she betrayed someone who trusted her.”

I must know something true about you. Tell me. The stronger the truth, the more hidden it is, the more powerful the bond. Tell me. Tell me. What are you?

“What am I?: Shallan whispered. “Truthfully?” It was a day for confrontation. She felt strangely strong, steady. Time to speak it. “I’m a murderer. I killed my father.”

Ah, the voice whispered. A powerful truth indeed…

Um, did we just gloss over the fact that Shallan said she killed her father…and never talk about it again? The first quote was waaaay back earlier in the book, and I’d actually forgotten about it until I was reviewing my highlights for this book.

It makes much more sense in the context of the second quote, which we find at the very end of the book. You know, just a casual mention of her having killed her dad. No big deal, right?

WAIT. WHAT?!

Life before Death. I’ve failed so often. I’ve been knocked to the ground and trod upon.

Strength before Weakness. This would be death I’d lead my friends to…

Journey before Destination. …death, and what is right.

I loved the words of the Knights Radiant. They were short, but meaningful, and fit within the context of Kaladin’s story very well. Since the next book is called The Words of Radiance, I imagine we’ll learn the others that were referenced, but not specifically said in this one.

Somebody has to start, son. Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it is right. If nobody starts, then others cannot follow. – Kaladin’s dad

I didn’t talk about Kaladin’s relationship with his dad much in this review, even though it was a large part of what shaped his character. It was an unexpected twist that Kaladin’s dad *did indeed* steal the spheres, justifying his behavior as something that should have happened anyway / would have happened if Wistiow was lucid.

Kaladin never did go back to see his parents. To them, he’s been gone what…10 years now? I imagine the books will revisit this subject in the future, but will it be in the next book? or one of the ones that won’t come out until I’m closer to retirement age? (Thanks Kathleen 😛 )

 

Kingkiller Chronicle Trilogy – “The Name of the Wind” “A Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss – TwoMorePages Book Review

Kingkiller Chronicle Trilogy – “The Name of the Wind” “A Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss – TwoMorePages Book Review

2,000 pages. I just read TWO THOUSAND PAGES. What just happened? That’s as much as the first four The Expanse books put together.

So, sorry about the delay since my last book. I’ve been…busy.

In my defense, with the giant tone shifts in between parts of the book, it’s like I read several books, just all squished together into one overarching story. Let’s see, if I list them out, Kvothe’s adventures break down into little sections like this:

A. Life is great with my Edema Ruh family Troupe. I met my buddy Abernathy and he taught be basic sympathy.  It was awesome.

B. OH GOD EVERYONE’S DEAD. The Chandrian killed them all. How will I live? How will I eat? Spoilers: shittily.

C. Woohoo, I got into University. But I barely have any friends and 3 of the professors kind of hate me. On the plus side, I’m actually good at magic/sympathy, and also at music. Let’s get into trouble.

D. Woah, something crazy happened at the town over. I think it’s the Chandrian. Let’s go check it out…and…woah, Denna’s here. Oh shit, a draccus.

E. Shit, got into too much trouble, have to take the semester off. Went to an entirely different continent it seems like. Now I’m playing royal games with nobles.

F. Now I’m leading a mercenary crew. This is…interesting. Let’s go kill some folk. Or you know, try not to die at least.

G. Let’s hang out with Felurian in the Fae lands for awhile. This is kind of great. Well, except the part about the Chtaeh. We’ll just ignore that.

H. Oh shit, I got Tempi in trouble. Let’s try to un-fuck this situation up by going with him to Haert where the Adem mercenaries hang out. Oh, double shit. Well, I’m stuck here now.

I. Woohoo, not dead from the Adem. Double woohoo, I found an Edema Ruh Troupe to hang out with. Hey wait…Ruh don’t have slaves…

J. Got back to the University! I’m the shit; stories are being told about how awesome I am; I’m not poor anymore; I can fight; I can practice sympathy; I’m getting better at naming. Let’s just…finish the story here. No? This is a tragedy? Fuck.

Intertwined in this are side stories about old me in the present, telling this story; adventures antagonizing Ambrose; and me failing at courting Denna because I’m a goddamn idiot. Oh, and loan sharks/student loans – they’re bad, mmmkay? Well, sometimes at least.

Denna’s Plot

Truth be told, I actually really liked the plot lines involving Denna. Later on, I started getting the feeling that that specific plot started bordering on an Idiot Plot, but oh well. In the first book at least, the chapters I enjoyed the most in the book definitely involved Denna. Their playful flirting banter, how he was just so afraid to make a move, about how different their relationship was than any of Kvothe’s relationships to anyone else. I loved it all. I started to get a little more frustrated with it in the 2nd book, because I started truly believing that it was devolving to an idiot plot, but oh well. They were still good reads.

Favorite Subplots

I think my favorite subplot in this is his time in Ademre. I really liked the characters of Penthe and Vashet, and how he trained with them. Penthe especially: I loved the way she tried to learn Athuran with Kvothe and was really the person to be nicest to him in the entire community.

“Vashet told me barbarians have strange rituals with sex. She said I should bring you to some flowers. These are the best I could find this season.” -Penthe

Like how cute is that? haha. Especially when you consider that she could beat him to a pulp super easily. I hope we’ll spend more time with that world in Book 3, you know, if it ever comes out.

Following that, I also really liked the plot in the Fae. It was described well, and there were just enough confusing descriptions to really show how weird the Fae world was compared to our own, and to highlight how little Kvothe remembers of his time in the Fae world. Plus, this is when Kvothe gets to become a man, right? So woot.

Less Favorite Subplots

This is the end of the story, Bast…this is not a dashing romance. This is no fable where folk come back form the dead. It’s not a rousing epic meant to stir the blood. No. We all know what kind of story this is.” -Kvothe

In the opposite vein, I actually didn’t really like getting the main story interrupted by returning to “the present”, where Kvothe is currently struggling. There are so many unanswered questions that aren’t even really hinted at. How come he can’t practice sympathy anymore? Why does he suck at fighting now? Where is his sword, Saicere? Why is Bast his friend and why is Bast so invested in getting him un-depressed? It’s frustrating not knowing the answers to all of these questions, or even getting hints as to what happened.

I know that a large part of this is probably just that this brings the story down to its inevitable end: A Tragedy. And I don’t particularly enjoy tragedies. Truth be told, I probably will dislike a lot of Book 3 when it finally comes out because I’m getting the feeling that Book 2 ends at the apex of good things in Kvothe’s life. Shit has to happen for him to go from being on top of the world to being a depressed innkeeper in the present just waiting to die.

Other than that, I didn’t particularly like the Maer storyline either, to be honest. And perhaps this is just a credit to the author – if I feel frustrated at things that Kvothe is frustrated with, then perhaps the writing is so good that I’ve empathized so well with it. But yeah, he totally gets the shaft in that entire ordeal. He saves the Maer’s freaking life, and nobody can know?!?! Then, on top of that, he has to go and help the Maer woo this girl, which he does successfully, and then he gets cast out because she’s freaking racist? He risked his life multiple times for this; he got totally hosed on that deal, pffft.

Also, I think a little of what bothered me about reading it was the sudden and jarring tone shift. One second, he’s having adventures at the University, fucking with with Ambrose, and flirting with Denna. And then the next, he has to leave and he’s in this new land, with new characters and a totally different culture. It was rather abrupt for my taste, but perhaps that was the intention?

Devi

I obviously really liked Penthe, as you could tell from above, but there are some truly well fleshed out characters in this book.

“Suspect? I beat you like a red-headed stepchild. You were my little sympathy hand puppet!” -Devi

His loan shark / student loan offerer, Devi, for instance was a pretty interesting character. Here, you have a loan shark that doesn’t work on muscle; she works using the threat of malfeasance, and is actually quite nice to Kvothe overall. Well, except when he came and falsely accused her of hurting him, and tried to use sympathy to overpower her.

Her motivations are interesting, in that on the surface, she just wants exorbitant interest from Kvothe. But as you run through the story, you realize she really wants favors. It’s most apparent when Kvothe announces that he’s found a way to sneak into the archives, a place they’ve both been banned from.

“Forty talents. Guild rates. And I will take you to bed.” -Devi

I thought this was both insightful and hilarious when I first read it. This is when you first learn that maybe she wants more than money. She was banned from the University, but still wants to learn things on the down low, and is truly desperate to find a way how. Also, this is when you also learn that she’s nuanced – she can offer you money, she can cajole you, but she also is willing to use her attractiveness as well.

All in all, I think it makes her one of my favorite characters not named Kvothe.

Denna

“Once there was a boy who came to the water. This is the story of a girl who came to the water with the boy. They talked and the boy threw the stones as if casting them away from himself. The girl didn’t have any stones, so the boy gave her some. Then she gave herself to the boy, and he cast her away as he would a stone, unmindful of any falling she might feel.” -Denna

The other character I really liked was Denna. Kvothe spends a huge amount of time in the book struggling with his relationship with her. I think the parts involving Denna are very well written. The flirtatious banter they have is pretty fantastic and fun to read; their adventure together in the first book doubly so; and their serendipitous meetings over and over are fantastic.

I do worry that I only like her because Kvothe likes her so much though. When I think about it, her character isn’t super fleshed out beyond being *the* girl that Kvothe has a crush on. What do we know? She’s super attractive, super flirty, kind of poor, is a good musician, and (like Kvothe) doesn’t have a family.

The only time we really learn anything more about her past is through little snippets like her sad story above, or when she’s helping out the one girl who was just beaten by a guy she skipped town for. Then, we learn that she’s well versed in the art of whoring, and…well, we don’t technically know for sure, but as she stated, “Even the fanciest horse is still a horse. That means sooner or later, you’re going to get ridden.”

As far as I can tell, she probably left home awhile back for some boy, and he broke her heart. And ever since then, she’s been traveling, and trying to make her way on her looks. She would *prefer* to make it on her musical talent, and she’s working towards that, but that’s the state of affairs at the moment.

It’s kind of infuriating to me (and to Kvothe!) that she won’t take his help. We learn from the Chtaeh that her mystery patron beats her, and she thinks that all that she’s good for is being pretty and being beaten. But Kvothe back at the Maer’s place offered a way out of all that. And she said no because…pride? Bah.

Auri

“I have an apple that thinks it is a pear. And a bun that thinks it is a cat. And a lettuce that thinks it is a lettuce.” -Auri

The one character that kind of just exists in her own little world is Auri, the girl who has obviously cracked from being in the University, and who know basically lives a hippie/homeless existence underground. But we know a few things: she’s smart, she’s flighty, and she likes Kvothe.

One of the more touching scenes in the book is when she alone of all his friends comforts Kvothe the most when he’s inconsolable. It helps to show, not tell, how close the two are, even if not in a romantic sense. Also highlighting this well is how happy she is when Kvothe returns from his adventures back to the University.

 

“I know. You have a stone in your heart, and some days it’s so heavy there is nothing to be done. But you don’t have to be alone for it. you should have come to me. I understand.” – Auri

Her childlike innocence is endearing in so many ways. It’s easy to see why Kvothe empathizes with her so much and wants to just take care of her. It’s also interesting to note that Elodin feels the same way. She surely has a bigger part to play going forward. I just wonder what it is?

She has her own little book branched off from the main story apparently. I’ll probably pick it up.

Final Thoughts

When I first started reading this book, I thought it started off really slowly. *Too slowly* even. And I very nearly gave up. But I’m glad that my friend Arielle convinced me to keep going. The storytelling was fun, the different settings kept the story from getting stale, and the book evoked strong emotional responses as I related to Kvothe.

Was everything perfect? No. Sometimes I felt like things were in Kvothe’s way “just because.” For instance, I don’t really get why Hemme hates him so much. Carcaret’s hatred of him was kind of in a similar manner, but at least that’s explained later. But, with that being said, I can take small things like that as plot devices to move the story along, and am happy with the result overall.

Now I get to wait with everyone else who has been waiting since 2011 for the third book in this trilogy that closes the story arc. Or maybe I shouldn’t. I’m not a patient person, and I don’t like tragedy besides.

Can I just pretend this ended with “And then Kvothe lived happily ever after?” Maybe I’ll just do that.