Waiting for (Winds of) Winter can get tiring, so I started looking at other book series to keep me busy. I feel dirty for “cheating” on GRRM, but I can’t wait forever 🙂 So I started reading in parallel Sanderson’s “Stormlight Archive” and Rothfuss’s “Kingkiller Chronicles”, trying to decide which one to “pick up” first. I started Stormlight first, and now, about 45% in the book, it is officially a go! I reached the point of no return in the book, that point where you know you won’t, you can’t stop reading until you finish.
In order to slow me down a bit, I am starting this “near-instant reactions” blog post. “Near instant” because a lot of the reading is late at night, and I am not going to write instant reactions at 2am 🙂 These will be mostly raw and unfiltered and unedited thoughts and opinions.
Everything I write below will be based on what I read so far, I won’t write after-the-fact, so there won’t be any future chapter spoilers from where I currently am (since I won’t know what happens next). To keep it as spoiler free as possible, the updates below are in chronological order. Each segment talks up to the point I read. I am reading the Kindle version, so page numbers and percentages are from that.
SPOILERS BELOW if you haven’t read anything yet from the Stormlight Archive books!
PROGRESS REPORT: Finished Book #1!
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Finished Part II and Interludes II-III (page 451)
I just finished Part II, including the Interludes (it ends with the “shopping list”). It looks like perhaps (hopefully) from here on, things get more crazy. Given where things are right now, I need to re-read some of the important earlier chapters (the two prologues, Dolinar’s vision, and such). I suspect the first prologue (Heralds) happened on the Shattered Plains, and that U-place mentioned in Dolinar’s vision is probably somewhere in the Shattered Plains, perhaps in the center plains. Not sure if the Shardblades found by the orange blood Parshen people are the ones left behind by the Heralds? The diagram remotely drawn by Shallan of the Voidbringers that look like clamsfiends is interesting, perhaps through the centuries the clamsfiends achieved “legendary” status, and mythology made them into a lot more than the wild beasts they are?
So far, I found this to be readable and moving along, but a bit slow at times. For example, in Part I, they could have shaved one chapter from each of the two POVs (Shallan, Kaladin). The Kaladin bridge-moving chapters could perhaps have benefited from some compression and merging. Not that any of the chapters are superfluous.
I like the way he is layering in the world-building, so you don’t get hit with waves and waves of places and names and histories. Not that I can recall most of it, but it’s manageable. I am only reading each chapter once and I am afraid to Google things for fear of spoilers (so there will be misspelled names here).
The Interludes are an interesting way to mix in other characters and other locations. More please! The introduction of the spren researcher perhaps suggests there’s more (to be revealed) about that pesky little spren following Kaladin?
Even though this is a magic-infused world, I find comfort that there isn’t “machine God” type of magic. Having said that, the Kaladin and Spren interactions are rather annoying and cliche and fairy-tale-ish; unless it has a big payoff later on.
TIP: I cross-reference the maps on a tablet, so I can zoom in on the them to find the different places, and so I don’t have to jump back and forth while reading on the Kindle. There’s also a free Sanderson sampler ebook that has the Roshar split map included, so you can have that one permanently turned to one map (split Roshar world map) and the regular ebook on another map (eg Alekthar (sp?) map). Better yet, the free sampler is also free on Google Play and other online bookstores, so you can use a different app for each map for even faster access.
Finished Chapter #38: Envisager (Page 558)
Finally! All the teasing and build-up about our two main PoVs is paying off! Shallan finally stole Jasnah’s Soulcaster after Jasnah’s “Crazy Wisdom” Chogyam-style night lessons in the mean streets of K-town. And the hints are no longer hints, Kaladin is “drinking” Stormlight, apparently not unlike the Shin Murderer in White we’ve been following on and off since the beginning of the book.
We are getting 1000~ pages per book, so it may sound ungrateful to complain, but before these two big turning points for the two PoVs, things were going a bit slow. Still though, it is a low intensity complaints, as there isn’t really bloat and such, some of the chapters are fairly small. It’s just that I wished it moved at 1.15x instead of 1x 🙂 As they say, if you don’t complain about it, you probably don’t like it 🙂
Finished Chapter #39 (Kindle page #567)
So now we have more proof that Shallan has special powers too. In an earlier chapter, she drew those two “creatures” next to the K-king, and now, in this chapter, she draws a dead diner. The former reminded me of the Shadows standing next to Mr Moren in Babylon 5 and the latter of the foreshadowing red wedding dreams (GRRM put in two of them before the Red Wedding happened to make sure we didn’t ignore it!). In this case, the dead diner may have already happened? (the one found by the Shin Assassin in White Shen-son-of-someone?)
Finished Part #3 (Kindle page #704)
More progress! Now finished Part #3 of the book, and with it, it looks we have some closure of sorts, Shallan’s Soulcaster theft is exposed and her monk-romance is ruined, and Kaladin’s fall from grace moment is finally revealed. At the writing level, we get an older scene in a more complete form from a different PoV this time (Kaladin’s). We finally learn how he ended up a slave. The reasoning why he didn’t claim the Shardblade seemed a little iffy and a bit illogical (despite the attempted explanation). But Amaram’s decision to claim it and cover it all up was very believable.
Authors love to tease us and torture us, it looks like perhaps Shallan (read: WE) lost the opportunity to get an answer from Jasnah about those mysterious triangle-block-heads that had been appearing in Ms Shallan’s drawings. And she’d been drawing them before stealing the Soulcaster (first when they were seen behind the Kindly King).
The Kindly King of K-town has his own version of Obama Care, and his appears to be a lot more successful and fully funded by market-driven forces. “Lighteyes and darkeyes alike, nobody turned away—not beggar, not whore, not sailor from afar. It’s all paid for by the Palanaeum, you know.”
We also get a little bit of a “House of the Undying” type of a scene, with Kaladin “riding the storm” to the ends of the known world. A chapter that must needs be re-read and re-re-read with all the maps at the ready! That big face in the Storm is a bit too magicy for my liking though. It reminds me a bit of “Who She Must Not Be Named”. Oy vey!
More mythology, this time in Shallan’s drawing, I think we already saw this place, was it the last time we saw the The Truthless when his new devious masters killed his murder subject? “And a dead man in fine clothing, lying face-first on the floor…”
And more mythology and mystery, no one here is who he appears, there’s a lot more to Teft, “The Envisagers were gone. Dead, because of what he had done.” he thinks. Who are they? Who is why? Is he intentionally following/monitoring Kaladin or just happened to be at the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time?
The flashback Kaladin chapters also have very subtle mentions of windspren floating around, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to crackpotize that it was Syl! Speaking of the flashbacks, it looks like perhaps some of this teenage year depressions were because of lack of Storms and Stormlight? Sort of like the 21st century SADs (seasonal affective disorder)? “He actually missed the highstorms, with their rage and vitality. These days were dreary, and he found it difficult to get anything productive done. As if the lack of storms left him without strength”.
The author is also not so subtly touching upon religion, the “Devotary of Sincerity” with its empty book of teaching is an almost Bill Maheresque denunciation of canon-fanatism 🙂
I am probably reading too fast and not re-reading any chapters, so I am probably missing some more clues and missing links! But this book hasn’t earned GRRM-like re-re-re-readings (yet) 🙂
Speaking of re-reads, we finally learn what those short opening notes at each chapter are – Jasnah’s research notes from different books in the mega-library. So I need to re-read them in this light. A Kindle with the physical chapter-change buttons is very handy in this case.
Finished Interlude (Part 3 to 4) (Kindle page #721)
I love the idea of the Interludes but they are too short and we don’t get enough of the various new characters introduced later. Strangely, we get the art destroying lady, then we have two ardents measuring spren (so that’s one magical data point for us to consider), and then we have the most “Legend of the Seeker” chapter of all, Szeth creating his very own red wedding. I cringe at this type of fairy tale magic. Arrggggg! What am I reading? Why am I reading this nonsense? On the plus side, we learn that the King of Jah Keved is dead along with three of his high princes. Which perhaps may suggest that the Alekkthar in the Shattered Plains may be his next targets. There is a King and plenty of highprice targets over there as well.
Finished Chapter #56 – Kindle page #789
The most frustrating thing with the books so far are the battle sequences with the nearly-unbeatable warriors, be it the Assassin In White lashing himself to everything (while jumping over sharks) or Dalinar cutting down hundreds with barely a scratch. It kinda makes the “Legend of the Seeker” TV adaptation fights (people standing around waiting to be knocked out) more realistic. Too much fairy tale magic fighting! Stooooop it!
Crackpot prediction: Dalinar will get killed before the end of Book #1! Not just because he is probably on the assassin’s list but also because of Ned Stark reasons. This was published almost 20 years after Ned Star was beheaded and Dalinar is as close to a classic hero as there is in this story. Having him around and uniting all the other highprinces and fighting a common evil enemy sounds way too cliche for a book published in 2011? (well, I hope!). It’s all about chaos and disorder!
We already got some answers and resolution to some story arcs, but there are many unanswered questions of interest, including:
+ who hired the killer for Dalinar’s brother?
+ the same people who are now making the Assassin in White kill many highprinces?
+ is Shallan’s father and his former associates asking for the Soulcaster connected to that group/conspiracy?
+ what is Jasnah really researching for?
+ who are the blockheads in Shallah’s drawings?
+ who is sending Dalinar all the visions?
+ who is the giant face Kaladin sees in the storms?
+ who is Teft and what’s his purpose?
The whole Teft and Kaladin and Stormlight relation is a great example of how I feel some things are moving slowly in the books. The writing’s on the wall that at some point in time there is going to be a Teft-Kaladin discussion about all that. Why stretch it all out so much?
Finished Chapter #59 – Page #844 – 84% Kindle
Just as I complained, the very next chapter had Kaladin finally realizing his special relation with Stormlight and Teft talking to him about it. Plus, we get more of Wit and learn that his apprentice is apparently one of Kal’s bridgement. Coincidence? Is Wit just a worldsinger or is he part of a bigger thing? I think the latter! And what about the magic flute? Is he trying to turn Kal into the next Bob Dylan? 😉 Or mayhaps the flute can be tracked remotely and this gives him a way to track Kal (crackpot question)? And what of Wit’s open-ended initial comment about Kal “stealing” his Stormlight?
Crackpot theory: now that we got more on both Kal and the Lost Radiants, perhaps this explains why Kal consciously and subconsciously declined to pick up the Shardblade of the Lighteyes he killed in battle earlier on.
Chapter 59 shows us the start of the “Jedi Training” of Jedi Kal. Except he has no Yoda, he has Syl the Mystery Windspren as a teacher.
Finished Book #1 – 100% complete
Success! I finished the 1000~ page book and there are so many questions! Since this is planned to be a 10-book series (from what I recall), it’s funny to think that 1000 pages is just a prologue of sorts 🙂
Part #5 gave us A LOT of answers, which of course, often raise more questions. But we got answers! Assuming of course the ones who give the answer actually know what they are talking about! We also learn that we should not trust kindly men (King Taravangian).
Questions and Crackpots
Q: the Parshmen are the Voidbringers? What about the giant stone creatures we saw in the prologue chapters of this book? After the last/first Dalinar vision, that dust cloud thing looks more “void” bringer than the Parshmen? Unless they are controlled by whoever is behind this? Odium?
Q: is Wit Odium or one of his associates? His tone in the epilogue was tricky to decipher. How did he get there so fast? How did he know the last Herald would get there at that particular point in time? He even timed his little story to end right when Taln died! From what I recall, this was the herald left behind when the others broke the Oath Pact in the prologues?
Q: is Szeth on a collision course with Kaladin? He is sent to kill Dalinar and Kaladin in charge of his safety? Will we get a one on one battle between the two? Will Kaladin be the one who finally puts Szeth out of his misery? The author repeatedly points out Szeth’s wish for a foe strong enough to kill him
Q: who is Taravangian working with? Is Jasnah part of his plans? Is he really trying to save Roshar? How is creating total chaos going to be help? Is he making a big power play?
Q: Jasnah is not sure what Shallan is? “I had assumed that you… But no, that obviously wouldn’t make sense. I see now”
Q: was Kabsal sent to secretly by the Ghostbloods (or her family’s associates) to help Shallan steal the Soulcaster? – in addition to poisoning Jasnah?
Q: will the author get excommunicated if the church leaders read the “G-d is D–d” chapter?
Q: the author gives a detailed description of the Almighty – have we met him before in the earlier chapters or visions?
Q: what does this mean? “your legends say that you won. But the truth is that we lost”
Q: why is Syl hating on Shardblades?
Q: what are the Parshendi doing? what was The Mountain trying to tell Dalinar during their one-on-one? If the Parshendi are so honorable in the matters of fighting, why did they sent their Shardblade Mountain all fresh to attack Dalinar after he was totally worn down? Is that why they didn’t object when Kaladin showed up and disrupted the fight from behind?
Q: more Kaladin heroic foreshadowing, Dalinar tells him/us, “the whole kingdom needs you, perhaps all of Rosher”
Q: what’s going on with Shen, the lone Parshman in Bridge Four?
Q: what happened to the Dawnshards?
Q: who is Odium? have we met him yet in disguise or has been mentioned under other names? Crackpot: is he Wit?
Q: why does the book end with the poem Endnote?
Q: and many more!