Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, readalong week 1

Today marks the start of a 10 week readalong of Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance arranged jointly by Dab of Darkness and Stainless Steel Droppings.  This is a very gentle readalong.  Only roughly 100 pages a week and  it’s going to be awesome so I really hope you’ll all consider joining in – it’s an amazing way to read a book like this in conversation with so many people (schedule here).  Anyway, this week’s questions have come to us via Liesel over at Musings on Fantasia.  I can’t wait, so, here goes:  (Oh, fyi – spoilers below, they’re like spren, if you read this they will pop up all over the place – readingspren!)

1. We basically get the same prologue from the first book except from Jasnah’s POV. She tells Gangnah that her father’s assassin walked on the wall, and it’s ignored. We also see the Parshman leaders immediately take credit for the assassin. What did you make of it all? Insights? Impressions? How will this affect the story going forward?

I thought this was really quite eye opening – it certainly gives the reader a good idea of why Jasnah is so determined to find out about the Parshmen and Szeth.  It’s also interesting that Jasnah’s assertion that Szeth walked on the wall was basically ignored.  These people really have forgotten all about binding!

2. Andolin and Shallan are unofficially engaged. How do you see this relationship panning out?

I have a good feeling about this (so no doubt it’ll all go pear shaped).  I think that Andolin and Shallan could be really good for each other.  Andolin needs something to ground him a little and I think Shallan will do just that.  Also, he concentrates a lot on running around in fairly fickle company with a constantly changing string of partners – although, that being said, I like him and I think he’s changed already since the beginning of the story.  He had a shock about his father and has seen the right in that scenario.  By the same token Shallan hasn’t always been the most straightforward of characters.  I didn’t really like it when she went to work for Jasnah just in order to steal from her.  But, again, I have come to like her and I think the two of them could become a winning team.

3. Kaladin wants to keep his Radiant powers a secret for as long as possible. How successful do you think he’ll be? How long will he remain hidden? Do you think he’ll succeed in training the thousand?

I think that Kaladin will succeed at everything!  Of course I’m having a tiny little Kaladin crush so I could be slightly biased.  I don’t blame him for wanting to keep his powers secret – once word of that gets out it will be ‘a big thing’.  People don’t seem to realise that there’s already Szeth out there with similar powers so Kaladin could almost be looked upon as the ‘first’ one since the Radiants.  It could turn into one of those really terrible moments where everyone chases you out of town with pitchforks and torches or he could be put on a pedestal – neither would be really helpful.  Plus, he’s got rather a terrible history of everything being taken from him to date so it’s no surprise that he wants to hold onto this.

4. Jasnah thinks Shallan’s spren is a Cryptic, as opposed to an Honorspren which is what Syl is. What do you think is the significance of this? What does it mean for Shallan? For Kaladin?

I love this whole spren thing.  It’s just so intriguing and it kind of makes sense that Shallan’s spren is different.  I like the idea of a cryptic spren.  This spren seems to see things in a different way, nothing is simply straightforward.  Although, there is all this talk of one spren thinking that the other spren have been dishonourable so you can’t help thinking that maybe Syl will not like this cryptic spren?  Like maybe the cryptic spren have given something away?  There was mention by Shallan’s spren of  something along the line ‘no lies without truth’, or, I don’t think I’ve phrased that very well, but I think the spren was trying to say if you have one you have the other. Maybe the cryptic spren think that truth is all a matter of perspective.  I also wondered why certain types of spren attach themselves to certain types of people?  Like Syl being a Honorspren attached to Kaladin – who, as we know is full of honour.  Did Shallan attract this Cryptic spren for a reason – she was after all planning on stealing from Jasnah and did tell a few lies along the way, although she had her own justifications??

5. How will Kaladin accomplish all of the tasks Dalinar has laid on him? Do you think Dalinar’s plan with the duels will work to stave off civil war and help unite the high princes?

Did I mention that I’m very fond of Kaladin?  No??  Well, I think he’s excellent.  I love this character.  And, yes, I think he can accomplish all these tasks. I think he’s the type of character that thrives on responsibility and tasks against the odds.  Plus, it’s an excellent idea to use the bridgemen and infiltrate them into the protection of the King and Dalinar.  After all, they’re going to have their own commitments and bonds and after everything that’s happened they have to start seeing Kaladin as something good.  As to the plans with the duels I was completely taken off guard with that.  It almost seems a bizarre plan – basically looking at using one person to undermine all the highprinces.  Seems tricky not to mention there is always the possibility of Andolin not beating everyone – however, having thought about it, it is quite a cunning plan.  Let’s face it, even if Andolin starts to hold duels and wins a few shardblades people will start to take notice.  Also, there is always a chance that Sadeas will challenge him and it would be so satisfying if Andolin kicked some Sadass butt! (I called him Sadass on purpose!)

6. After the incident with the ship, do you think Jasnah is truly dead? Predictions?

I don’t think she’s dead and I hope that I’m right.  There seemed such a lack of detail – it feels somehow like a foil.  I don’t know how and I’m probably wrong but I’m thinking that maybe Jasnah had somehow conjured that scene.  I’m probably off with the detail but to kill off Jasnah at this point, for no particular reason or moving on of the plot, seems very unSandersonlike.

7. What are your first thoughts/impressions of Pattern? How do you see his and Shallan’s relationship developing?

I can’t dislike Pattern.  It’s a bit like when Shallan first started to draw and then see the cryptics – I just didn’t think they were threatening.  I also think it’s interesting that Jasnah thinks the cryptics have driven Shallan to seek her out and train her.  If they were really bad wouldn’t they try and keep her away from any other influences.  Perhaps they want to help.  I don’t know!!

Looking forward to everyone’s comments which will no doubt put me back on the right track!

Don’t forget to stop over all the others.

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14 Responses to “Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, readalong week 1”

  1. Lisa (@EffingRainbow)

    We agree about Jasnah – something about that scene doesn’t ring true, so to speak. I don’t want her to be gone yet! Much drama! 😉

    The whole spren thing is definitely interesting. I love how magic is used and explored in these books.

    As for Kaladin… I think we’re in agreement again. Ahem. 😀

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I think I’m probably just in denial about Jasnah – although it really didn’t feel right!
      Kaladin – you’ve simply got to love him!
      Lynn 😀

  2. Liesel K. Hill

    1. Agreed! It’s like they passed right over what she said because they couldn’t understand it.
    2. Andolin has grown up somewhat since the beginning, and I’ve liked him more ever since he finally came around to Dalinar’s visions, but I still think Shallan’s intelligence and wit will leave him in the dust. 😀
    3. Here’s to hoping he succeeds at everything!
    4. Interesting theory about why these spren attached themselves to Kaladin and Shallan.
    5. I’d LOVE to see Andolin kick some Sadeas butt! That would be fabulous! 😀
    6. I hope she’s not dead, too. I like her too much!
    7. I’m really loving him too.

    • lynnsbooks

      Well, I was thinking about Jasnah when she was talking about the spren and the way they’re believed to have come about – partly based on ideas and beliefs of people so it just made me wonder if a person’s personality wouldn’t attract a sort of spren if one personality trait was strong enough. Probably crazy!!
      Yes, it would be great if Andolin got sweet revenege on Sadeas – if ever a guy deserved an ass kicking!
      Lynn 😀

  3. jenclair

    I really must read some Sanderson. And quit talking about needing to read some Sanderson.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yep, and I really must read King’s Dark Tower series and stop talking about reading it too!!
      Lynn 😀

  4. nrlymrtl

    I really, really want Adolin to give Shallan sword lessons, and Kaladin to give her Spear lessons, and Shallan to give them both lessons in thinking. 😉

    Maybe the Crypticspren is attracted to Shallan because there are so many mysteries surrounding her, and she is a brainiac. Like there are mysteries she created – such as he deceiving Jasnah for a time, and keeping that bit about her being a murderer pretty unexplained. But I think there are other mysteries, mysteries her father and perhaps her brothers hold keys to that she hasn’t figured out yet.

    Sadass! snort laugh

    • lynnsbooks

      EVERYBODY should have lessons in EVERYTHING! LOL. (to be honest I could do with lessons in thinking!) Good thoughts about the Crypticspren. I can’t wait to read on.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Grace

    I want readingspren to pop up around me when I read.

    I’m curious as to how exactly the Radiants betrayed/killed the spren and why. Up until this point the spren seem helpful and charming. They’re kind of like guardian spirits, and it doesn’t make sense to deliberately destroy that.

    I’m guessing that Jasnah’s truly dead, mostly because of what Navani said at the beginning of the next chapter. 😦

    • lynnsbooks

      There must be readingspren, don’t you thing? I mean, honourspren and crypticspren?
      No, not listening about Jasnah ‘la la la la la la la’. Okay, she’s probably dead and I’m just in denial. But one can but hope.
      Lynn 😀

  6. TBM

    I’m with Grace, I want to know why the Radiants killed the spren. Something tells me that’s a key point to the whole shebang.

    I have hopes that Jasnah isn’t dead, but Navani’s words at the beginning of the next chapter kinda killed my hopes that she’d magically appear. But you never know with Sanderson. Not much is as it first appears.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know, I know, I’m in denial about Jasnah, although I still think that scene was skimmed over very quickly – for such a fundamentally key character. It will definitely be interesting to learn more about the Spren. I think you’re right in that they seem to be key to the whole ‘shebang’.
      Lynn 😀

      P.S. so happy you’re joining in.

  7. suecccp

    1. There are none so blind as those who will not see (or something like that). This kind of thing makes me wonder if we should just let most of the Alethi get killed! 😀

    2. I would agree that Adolin has matured a great deal since we first saw him. Sometimes it is the person we least expect who we end up with . . . perhaps I should say that I despised my husband when I first met him! 😀

    3. Yay: Super Kal! I have no doubt that he will make a valiant effort to train those men, and probably succeed. I suspect that he will need to face off against Szeth, so his ‘coming out’ event will possibly be seen as him protecting the king, which really ought to save him from the pitchforks you would think.

    4. I think you might be on to something there. Pattern seems to be saying that lies are inevitable, and yet I bet that Syl thinks they are a choice that should be avoided. This would be a major philosophical difference between the two groups and could be the too tot all their conflict. It also suggests that the Radiant’s power is almost completely derived from the spren that it attracts – honorspren confer their two powers, whilst cryptics confer two different ones. Certain personality types attract compatible spren and then get given their powers. I wonder what Jasnah’s spren type is and where Szeth’s honorspren is?

    5. Oh yes, Adolin beating the snot out of Sadeas would be very nice, thank you! I bet you didn’t feel any sympathy for him when he was being all grumpy about his newly acquired Shardblade . . . I know I didn’t! 😀

    Given the juvenile way that the Alethi elite are playing at war, the dueling should fit right in to their dumb mindset.

    6. I really hope she isn’t dead because she is a terrific character and I want to see her become a Radiant and be truly accepted as an intellectual badass, because we don’t see enough heroic, world-changing historians in Fantasy literature.

    7. I suspect that all the spren are opposed to Odium in one way or another, so they will always come across as ‘good’ guys. I am not sure how much influence they can have on world events, but Jasnah is quite right to be very suspicious of the coincidence.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yes! I think Kaladin will succeed.
      Yeah, the spren are split by some past event – Syl thinks the cryptic spren lied – but she probably sees things in a very black and white fashion whereas Pattern, being a cryptic seems to think there is a little bit of leeway or artistic license!
      Go Andolin…
      The Alethi are a proper bunch of big kids aren’t they. It makes me wonder how they ever achieved their current status!
      I am keeping everything crossed that Jasnah is still alive. I’m half expecting her not to be – but, that scene just felt wrong somehow. Here’s to hoping.
      Lynn 😀

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