The Way of Kings Read Along Part VII

Stout as a bookstand.
Stout as a bookstand.

This week, Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is our host, so make sure to swing by her place.

Here is the SCHEDULE in case you want to jump in and join us. Anyone is welcome.

Chapters 43-50 are covered. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. What did you think of the replacement for the delightful Lamaril, or rather, what did you make of his wife, who seems to do all his work? She assumes that chasm duty is the worst punishment that she can throw at the bridge crew, so were you surprised that Kaladin saw an opportunity in it so quickly?

Well, Lamaril, even though we saw very little of him, seemed quite a dishonorable fellow. I wasn’t too sad to see him lose his head. But, alas, now we have this she-devil of a light eyed woman who is pretty hard-nosed. I don’t think this is a good change for any of the bridge crews. Her husband, Brightlord Matal, seems to be a non-entity, merely a tool for Brightness Hashal to use.

And Kaladin barely kept his temper in check. He knew he could take the guard, maybe several of them. But the outcome would still be a nasty beating for him and possibly for his men. So, instead he took a hit to the head. Yet one more opportunity for brain damage. Haha! Perhaps that is causing his visions? Just kidding.

Chasm duty seems the perfect opportunity to plot and train. Even gather some supplies, if only they had a way to keep them. Once they come up out of the chasm, they are thoroughly strip searched. Orifice searched, if I understand correctly. Ugh….No wonder it is the least desirable duty.

2. Please use this opportunity to list all the imaginative ways that you would like Roshone to suffer for forcing poor little Tien into the army.

Roshone is suffering partly through his own personality and partly through the loss of his son. He hated being assigned to Hearth Stone, seeing it as a backwards ass place not worthy of his care. Basically, he was a pretty unhappy and angry man before losing his son.

But even through that pain, he punishes the surgeon who saved him. Maybe that is part of the reason he is punishing Lirin and his family – because Roshone would rather have died than live to bury his son.

But, yeah, the dude should not be in charge of anything, unless it is a pigsty and his only ‘underling’ is his pitchfork. Even Lord Amaram seemed a bit disgusted with being drawn into Roshone’s little ‘feud’.

3. Finally, somebody is asking questions about the inconstancy of the Parshendi artifacts and how Gavilar changed in the months leading up to his death. What do you make of the accounts that Shallan is reading? Also, what do you think about Shen, the Parshman added to the bridge crew?

We know from a few things now, like the chasm duty scavenging, that the Parshendi have beautifully crafted weapons. Seems pretty sophisticated for ‘barbarian savages’, yes? From Gavilar’s encounters with the Parshendi, we know they have their own language and also religion. So I wonder where are the scholars today that did all this translation for Gavilar & crew while they were hunting with the Parshendi? Are they no longer used? Did they die? What do they think of the current war?

And the Parshendi are confused by the Parshmen. This makes me think that if they are related, they have been separated for some time. Like divergent evolution. And the Parshendi singing? Being in sync even when they are not within earshot? telepathy? Or perhaps they communicate on a lower frequency that more humans can’t hear – like elephants. Yep. I just compared the Parshendi to elephants. But you didn’t see that coming, haha!

I am glad that Kaladin refuses to treat Shen as so much of the army treats the bridgecrews. I am glad he sees that if he behaves the bully towards Shen, then he is really no better than Gaz, or Lamaril or Hashal, etc.

4. Shallan has some seriously bizarre visions or hallucinations. Do you have any new ideas about the nature of the symbol-headed figures: are they good or evil? What about the alternative world and the beads: could that really have been the soul or essence of the goblet that she spoke to before it changed into blood?

I remember a little about this from the first time I read the book. While I we get a little more info in this book (and I won’t spoil anything), we are left with some questions at the end.

The Symbolheads seemed intensely curious about Shallan and her ability to to see them. I wonder how much of our world they can perceive? Can they see her drawings? She said that as they came towards her in a crowd, they went around the people. So that implies that they can see much of our world, and for whatever reason, don’t want to bump into, or go through, people.

And WTF? Talking beads? A see of them? And some bigger entity? Somehow that world is connected to ours and Shallan was able to enter it and influence a small piece of her regular world (the goblet). Is this what Soulcasters do all the time? Or is Shallan doing something different that gives the same results?

5. Does Kaladin’s dream / vision seem similar to those that Dalinar has been having? He is called the ‘Child of Tanavast, Child of Honor’ and there is mention of an entity called Odium, who appears to be rather bad. Do you have any speculation about these two beings, how they fit into the world that we have seen so far and why the name Odium makes Syl hiss and fly off?

Kaladin, alight within the storm, can see a symmetry to the Shattered Plains. What does that mean? We’ve heard Kabsal talk about certain cities being symmetrical. Was there once a city on the place now known as the Shattered Plains which was symmetrical? Could that city have been Urithiru? I am totally stretching my imagination at this point and not really answering the questions.

Yes, I think Kaladin’s storm vision is very similar to Dalinar’s visions. I can’t wait for these two to meet, during a highstorm!

I expect that Odium is an odious being causing disgust, abhorrence, and hatred throughout the land. Asshole! And he is the most dangerous of the 16. So there are 16 assholes? I wonder what the others are called – calumny, vilification, obloquy, vituperation?

It is interesting that Syl knows that name in some way. It appeared instinctual, her flying off. I noticed that she didn’t explain herself to Kaladin and I don’t think she would forget so quickly. So it is something she doesn’t want to chat about.

Oh! And during Kaladin’s storm flight, he saw a bald man in white standing over 2 bodies. I think he saw Szeth!And what’s more, it appears that Szeth sensed Kaladin some how. Freaky! If I can’t wait for Dalinar and Kaladin to meet, then I definitely am having trouble waiting for Szeth and Kaladin to meet.

6. We have learnt some more about the events following Cenn’s chapter way back at the beginning of the book. Were you surprised that Kaladin defeated a Shardbearer almost singlehandedly? This still does not explain why he is a slave, but does it bring us closer to guessing?

The first time I read this book, I had guessed that Kaldin had taken his men towards the Shardbearer with the intent to try to take him out. So when we finally get back to that section of his life, I had this little burning hope that he would take out the Shardbearer, but that wouldn’t explain how he ended up a slave. So, I thought perhaps his men made the attempt, failed, and were taken captive and made slaves.

What really happened seems to much worse. Kaladin lost so many of his men and he is heart broken over it. Was I surprised he took out a Shardbearer singlehandedly? Yes. I expected that he needed help, or a horse to have fallen on the Shardbearer, pinning him, or him to be distracted or  something.

7. I think I made it quite clear last week that I did not trust Kabsal, so I (Sue from Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers) am now feeling rather smug. However, I did not guess at the poison in the bread: did it surprise you as well? Can you see any way that Shallan can reconcile with Jasnah now that the theft has been revealed?

I just can’t be smug about knowing that Kabsal had ill intent. I think his character was more than that. We see hints of something deeper going on with him. He talked about the ardents being property, being owned. Who forced him into poisoning the bread? And Kabsal offered to leave with her. I think this was a true offer. Whatever he was directed to do, he was willing to give that up. Perhaps leaving with Shallan would have been fleeing his ardent responsibilities. He once said that he had suggested to his superiors that he steal the Soul Caster and they had prohibited it. Perhaps they did so because they later directed him to poison Jasnah.

And, yes, the first time I read this book, I was surprised that the bread was dusted with poison and that the jam held the antidote. I wonder why the strawberry jam in this case was gross? Did the antidote mix badly with the jam?

I know the answer to the reconciliation question, so I won’t spoil anything. I will say that Jasnah’s reaction to the theft was milder than I expected.

Other Tidbits:

Syl talks about helping kill men before. She can barely remember it, and it is a faint memory. Hmmm…..Syl’s a badass in more than one way.

Lost Radiants’ motto: Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination. What do you think? Like it enough to have it tattooed to a public part of your body?

Kaladin and his wretch: Apathy. He calls it a false refuge. I like that he has this inner conflict. He recognizes this wretch, struggles with him, doesn’t like him. But can he win against that part of himself?

Rock, the Horn Eater, sees fighting as beneath him. Interesting. The Shin also see their warriors as a lower caste.

Hesina speaks of a time when men supposedly learned to read. Kaladin is a little scandalized by his mother’s talk. Haha!

The prayers sewn onto sleeves seemed an interesting idea. Laral had a bride’s prayer. And I think this means she’s engaged to Roshone, since his son is now dead. Ugh!! I wonder if Laral was thinking along those lines when she was crying and screaming while Lirin tried to save Rillir.

Ooo! Discussion of the mythical Urithiru! It was the center of the Silver Kingdoms, and had 10 thrones, one for each king. I think it was Book Vulture from last week that pointed out how often 10 shows up in this story.

Kabsal & Shallan have a discussion about the Almighty and how all good has its opposite – hence the Voidbringers. So for every great good the Almighty did, it brought forth the opposite in bad – birthing the Voidbringers. More philosophy. But it makes me wonder in my life for every good I do, does it slight someone else? Pfft….maybe I don’t care that much.

Everyone assumed Shallan was distraught and attempted suicide. I know she didn’t have much time to think, but wasn’t that the perfect opportunity for Shallan to tell Jasnah everything? To show her all the drawings? Oh! I wish she would!

Sigzil’s story about the Babatharnam’s way to rule – the oldest rules, so supposedly, everyone would have a chance to rule sooner or later. But the ruling family makes sure to kill off anyone who gets old enough to possibly be competition. Messed up! The elderly bickering and slitting each other’s throats.

Kaladin briefly met Adolin. Adolin saves a prostitute from a beating by one of Sadeas’s men. After the minor conflict, he flips a sphere to Kaladin to have him run a message. But Kaladin doesn’t run the message. Tsk, tsk. Even Syl chided him for taking the sphere but not running the message. Right? Or wrong?

My Fellow Symbolheads:

Musings on Fantasia

There Were Books Involved

Caffeinated Life

On Starships & Dragonwings

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

Tethyan Books

Over the Effing Rainbow

Book Vulture

Lunar Rainbows

Novel Reflection

Doing Dewey

Lynn’s Book Blog

14 thoughts on “The Way of Kings Read Along Part VII”

  1. Wow, you have a lot of cool ideas this week! I hadn’t thought of Urithiru being in the shattered plains. I really loved Hesina, I hope she shows up in the story again at some point.

    ” But it makes me wonder in my life for every good I do, does it slight someone else? Pfft….maybe I don’t care that much.”
    I think they said that humans are the only beings capable of creating good without evil as a side-product, or something like that.

    I pretty much took the Kabsal reveal as the whole story, but your take sounds much more interesting. That could be why he seemed so willing to give up the ardentia-> he was actually just desperate for a way out.

    Maybe Szeth will recognize through the storm that Kaladin is like him, and seek him out!

    Shallan could touch the symbolheads, so they seem to take up physical space… at least sometimes?

    I also really appreciated that Kaladin treated Shen with respect. I wonder if Shen will change at all due to being treated like a human.

    My answers are here!

    1. That’s right, they did say humans can do good without producing the side product evil. So, I guess my volunteer work this week didn’t inadvertently slight anyone. 🙂

      I really think there is more to Kabsal’s story. And I want to know it. If someone could send Kabsal against Jasnah, they could send another….like perhaps a certain Shardbearer in white.

  2. ”Fellow Symbolheads” haha I love it ♥

    Ok, so the Lost Radiants’ motto is definitely something I could see tattooing on my body – it’s so evocative and I don’t know, it just sort of rings true!

    Hesina really struck me as an incredible character in this section – even more so than she did before! Like you, I was also dying for more information on Urithiru – I want all the details of what it looks like and what secrets it contains!

    As usually the Kaladin bits where my favorite. I think you’re right and he saw Szeth in his ‘storm-dream’! Wow :O I just wish he could have seen the good in Adolin when they met…and I think he should have delivered Adolin’s message. Ugh!

    Oh and like you, I feel like there was more to Kabsal’s ”betrayal” than it seemed. He almost seemed surprised, or even confused for a moment there when he was insisting Shallan try some jam. Like he wasn’t entirely acting of his own volition. I’m going to need more details before condemning him entirely…so I hope Jasnah investigates further 😉

    1. I have been contemplating a tattoo for some time and I am thinking a literary tattoo could be just the thing. A cool artist could stylize it with Shardblades and chulls.

      I think we can count on Jasnah to investigate further, especially once her anger with Shallan fades a bit. She didn’t really get satisfactory answers from Shallan about her motivations…and she is already investigating Kabsal.

  3. I wonder if some in the Ardentia are plotting to gain more power, if Kabsal was controlled in such a way? I am very curious now…

    And you gave me a tattoo idea. I want a literary tattoo badly and this seems like a pretty good candidate, though I don’t have tattoos in easily visible areas, haha.

    I am happy to be a fellow Symbolhead. 😀 <3

    1. I only have one tattoo so far (my wedding ring) and I have been toying with the idea of another. I can see me falling deeply, and permanently, in love with literary tattoos.

  4. Yeah, I never thought about that but Kabsal was probably being made to deliver the poison. He was pretty keen to leave it all and go with Shallan so it does make sense. Also he did say that the ardents are not free. I was wondering why he didn’t just say no and leave – but, maybe he didn’t want to leave Shallan there, perhaps he thought she might get hurt? I was very surprised when he died I must admit.
    I also thought that Kaladin was seeing Szeth – not sure if that was a future glimpse or from the present – it was pretty spooky that Szeth could see him back – I wonder what that signifies?
    My link:

    1. I teensy part of me hopes that Jasnah lied about Kabsal dying. But we haven’t seen her lie yet. But she is angry with Shallan for her theft, so she could be lying out of a mix of anger, and perhaps, wanting to protect her from any further involvement with Kabsal. But that is most likely all silliness because Kabsal is dead, right?

  5. 1. I can’t help thinking that Matal is just a convenient excuse for his wife to use her management skills, which does make me deplore a system where a woman would need to do this.

    3. There are so many unanswered questions about the Parshendi, and yet the army just goes along happily with their war / hunting expedition, without any idea who they are fighting or why the assassination ever occurred.

    4. Yes, they seemed intrigued by her ability to draw them, which makes me think that most people can’t see them at all. I hope that Shallan discusses this with a convenient Soulcaster . . . like Jasnah for example.

    5. Oh, I hadn’t thought that the Shattered Plains could be the site of Urithiru, but the symmetry is certainly significant (like everything else). The Sixteen are the various god-like thingies in the cosemere, and they are good and evil: like Preservation and Ruin in Mistborn. I suspect that Honor is the good one on Roshar.

    6. In many ways, I think that Kal was helped by the Shardbearer’s disbelief that anyone would attack him, plus I suspect that Syl had a hand in that spear head being in the right place at the right time.

    7. Whilst I wasn’t surprised that he turned out to be untrustworthy, I was surprised by the poison. I suspect that he was actually the agent of some conspiracy in a similar way to how Szeth is being used.

    1. I to am pretty sure the Shardbearer felt himself invincible in that battle, as there were no other Shardbearers nearby (or even in the battle?).

      I like your idea that Odium is paired with Honor.

Comments are always appreciated, so don't be shy!