Monday, August 22, 2011

Group Read - A Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson - Part 3

Brandon Sanderson, widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, begins a grand cycle of his own, with The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.
I am really enjoying Brandon Sanderson's book so far. I was a bit worried that it would go the way of many chunksters I have started over the years, but it is working out really well. This week Memory came up with the questions. For all the information on the read-along, head over to Polishing Mud Balls to read all about it.

1. Part III reunites us with Shallan, who we haven’t seen for a few hundred pages, and separates us from Dalinar and Adolin for a few hundred more. How do you feel about leaving characters behind for such long stretches? Did you lose any of your connection to them during the break?
I was really happy to be reconnected with Shallan. I am really enjoying her storyline, so I was curious what had been happening while the story was concentrating on other characters. There is lots of bookish connections with Shallan, so I enjoy that because I can relate to many aspects of it. I don't mind when the characters are not present in the sections. I know they will be back and the story will progress.

2. So far, how would you compare this to other epic fantasies you’ve read? Does it remind you of any other series?
There are always a few connections that can be made with other stories, but for the most part I am finding this fresh and original. I am really enjoying this series so far, so I have high hopes that it will be a great epic fantasy series as it goes along.

3. How do you feel about the masculine and feminine arts? If you’re female, do you think you’d be content to stick to scholaly pursuits, or would you rather do something physical, like go to war? If you’re male, would you be willing to forgo learning to read, even if there were women around to read to you? What about the food? Does the spicy for men and sweet for women restriction fit your own tastes?
I love to read, but I am not sure I would be content with just scholarly pursuits. I think part of the reason I love fantasy novels is because I like to think about the sword-fighting and magic. It is the aspect of the book that I enjoy. If I am reading a book I do get excited about things like libraries, but what I dream about doing is the more 'exciting' aspects. As to the food, it would never work for me. I am not crazy about sweet food. I am one of those weird people that is not crazy about chocolate. I would rather eat spicy foods.

4. What do you think of the flashbacks to Kaladin’s childhood?
I actually really enjoy the flashbacks to Kaladin's childhood. I am really curious about how he became the person he is in the later years. There is a lot we don't know about him. The book starts with him in an entirely different point of life, so it is interesting to see how he progresses. Things are hinted around about, and we have actually learned a lot in this section, but there is likely more to explore.

5. Do you have any theories yet as to where the story is headed? What do you most want to see in the last quarter of the book?
Well, I am hoping for more from Dalinar and Adolin, of course. We have been away from them and I want to see more. I am also curious about how all the many story-lines are going to be wrapped up and whether they all will be... This is a series, after all. I think I will just enjoy the reading and hope that I continue to love it like I am so far.

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  1. I can also relate to Shallan a bit. I love to learn and study, but only what I choose. I would probably resent Jasnah's assigned reading also, but in the end find it satisfying. The Palanaeum sounds awesome!
    I like chocolate, but given a choice between the two, I would go with spicy.
    I can't wait to see how it all ends.

  2. **Shelley: I can't wait to see how it all ends, either!

  3. I was glad to get back to Shallan's storyline as well, and by the end of her sections in Part Three I felt like I'd been on a roller coaster. Wow, it ended up being really intense. The creatures in her drawings were fascinating and scary and the tension of those scenes made for fast reading and page turning.

    I don't have much to compare it with, but I don't find this much like anything else I've read. Sanderson has his own voice and his own obvious talents and those are shining through.

    I went on a reading binge last night and finished the book. I don't doubt for a second that you are going to love these last two parts of the book. It has been so good and it just keeps getting better.

  4. The creatures in Shallan's drawings were intense and creepy. I would hate to have those thing haunting my art!

  5. **Carl: I am behind. I knew I was going to fall behind with the Memorial Service and everything. At least I managed to get my questions in yesterday, though. :)

    **TBM: I know! That was some creepy aspects to the story!


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