Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, readalong week 5

Banner courtesy of Anya at On Starships And Dragonwings!Banner courtesy of Anya at On Starships And Dragonwings!

Today is week 5 of our readalong of Way of Kings and I have to chuck out there that I love this book (and found it difficult not to just read on this week)  – but I’ve held firm!  This week’s host and provider of questions is Tethyan Books.  The schedule is here and it’s still not too late to join if you want to get in on the blogging fun.  Beware of spoilers below (as Dab of Darkness likes to say) they’re having a party below!

1.Dalinar made a very dramatic decision at the beginning of this section.  Do you think it was the right one? What do you think will happen to him, Adolin and (and the not-united Alethi) if he follows through?

To an extent I’m not surprised by his decision, only because if everyone keeps telling you there’s something wrong or different about you then eventually you may start to believe it.  Also, his endeavours to get the other High Princes all failed and on top of that he’s starting to compare himself to Gavilar.  I wonder if he stays whether his house will fall into shame – or at least I think he believes that.  Also, if he stays might he eventually have the same realisation as Gavilar and end up falling foul of an assassination.  Speaking of which I wonder who is on Szeth’s list?  I think he’s coming to the conclusion that the battles and glory they seek is wrong and using the shardblades for this reason is wrong.  It was very interesting to read the thoughts he was having inbetween pounding rocks.  He could almost have been describing Kaladin – ‘never fight other men except when forced to in war, let your actions defend you not your words, expect honour from those you meet, and give them the chance to live up to it. Whether it’s the right decision or not I don’t really know although I suspect his visions of a peaceful life at the homestead with his slippers and pipe will be far from the reality.

2.We’ve gotten to see a little more of Shinovar with Rysn the apprentice merchant.  In terms of plants and animals, it seems to be pretty much like our world.  How do you think it happened that there’s such an ‘ordinary’ place, or what do you think might have happened to turn the rest of the world so unusual?  Given this and the chapter on Szeth, do you have any more ideas on what the meaning of his “Truthless” title might be?

No, I’m confounded by this.  I suppose if you take our own natural world you could choose a place with a blazing hot desert or thick ice and glaciers and then almost anything in between the two.  Things evolve and adapt to their climate after all.  Still, for a moment there I was scratching my head – it was like one minute I was walking through Middle Earth and the next I was walking through Middlesbrough (well not quite, but,).  Quite bizarre. As to the ‘Truthless’ title I’ve been scratching my head over that.  It does seem like Szeth is being punished, and he also seems incredibly talented, but then, the scratching of the head continues (quite furiously) and… nothing further comes to mind!

3.  Shallan and Jasnah’s story has returned!  Based on Jasnah’s words to Dalinar, and the clues Shallan is picking up, what do you think Jasnah’s project is about?  What do you think she hopes to accomplish? 

I think she’s trying to find out more about the motive behind Gavilar’s assassination and more about what he seemed to have discovered.  Without this knowledge they’re all just warring against each other with no real meaning to it.  I think that somebody has to try and find out more about the Parshendi and what they feared enough from Gavilar to have him killed.

4. Concerning Shallan, it’s starting to seem that her drawing ability is a supernatural gift. Do you have any theories on the bizarre figures Shallan accidentally drew behind the king?

That was a bit freaky wasn’t it.  I have no idea what the figures were.  Except they seemed to be standing almost like bodyguards – a bit like guardian angels.  I really don’t know.  Perhaps she should try that same tactic when she’s drawing others, for example, Jasnah, to see what it reveals in her picture – maybe it somehow pertains to the character and their own behaviour – so, Sadeas, for example – could have a huge rat with big sharp teeth stood behind him – skulking in the shadows LOL.

5. Back to the bridge crews, now that we’ve seen a bit more into Gaz’s perspective, does he seem any more sympathetic?  Why do you think he owes Lamaril money?

No, I still don’t like Gaz, even with his perspective.  He was torn between just wanting Kaladin dead and wanting his spheres!  As to Lamaril – he said it was blackmail so I assume Gaz was caught somewhere he shouldn’t have been or was doing something he shouldn’t.  Unless that was just a slip up – perhaps Gaz has to pay Lamaril money in a sort of protection deal??

6. Kaladin has won over his bridge crew, and enacted a brilliant plan to protect them—which utterly ruined the military strategy. Do you think his plan was a good one, or should he have seen the chaos coming? What do you think will happen to him next?  Also, what do you think he’ll do if he figures out the real reason why bridgemen aren’t allowed shields?

What a disaster!  I’m not surprised he didn’t see what would happen – he was so intent on his own crew he was no longer looking at the bigger military picture.  When you think back to the beginning when we were first introduced he also worked similarly, in an almost lonesome way to protect his men.  Of course, he immediately realised what was happening and what he’d done.   It’s not going to be pretty for him after that – obviously a lot of men died and the battle was lost so there’s going to be one hell of a grumpy Sadeas wanting retribution – he doesn’t care a fig for the bridgemen in the first place and now this has happened, well, eek.  I presume he’s going to realise why they’re not allowed shields after this – sitting ducks and all.  On the flip side maybe this will turn things around, after all, there aren’t many bridgemen left after this affair so perhaps there’ll have to be a rethink!

That’s it for this week.

Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, final week of readalong

I’ve had such a lot of fun doing this readalong!  The thing I love about it is it makes you see things in a different way, opens your eyes a bit more and take a proper look around from another perspective or just plain picks up on little nuances that you’ve missed.  The discussion has been awesome and I’m sort of sad it’s over.  But, moving on.  The questions this week are provided by the lovely Allie at Tethyan books and need I point out that plenty of spoilers will be contained below so if you’ve not yet read this book and are planning to do so then please stop reading now! Go on, scoot!

In Espara…

1. The Republic of Thieves:  It’s the first and final performance!  What did you think of the play?  Were you entertained, or eager to get on with the rest of the story?  Also, how do you feel about how the play fits in the novel, in terms of the story and the characters who play the parts?  Well, on the whole I’ve really enjoyed the whole theatre side of the story but by the time it came time for the first performance I was totally wound up about the whole Bouldazi affair!  So, probably didn’t enjoy the show as much as I should have as I was too busy racing ahead to see how they were going to pull it all off.  I think it’s great that Lynch put this story within the story though – just more of what we’ve come to expect about his attention to detail.

2. The Other Performance:  Of course, the GB and company had another important performance to get through—the one that ensures none of them end up hanged!  What was your favorite part of this scheme?  Do you agree with their plan for dealing with Moncraine’s treachery?  I thought it was inspired that they framed Moncraine for the murder – and totally justified.  He left them hanging after all (or he thought he did)!!  Not sure which part was my favourite – it was all a bit fly by the seat of your pants dangerous, I guess I liked having somebody else dress up as Bouldazi and appear on the stage in his clothes and a mask.  When you’re in on the con and know what’s happening you can’t help thinking it just won’t work but if you were watching all this as an innocent bystander you’d have no reason to doubt.  It was also interesting to see that yet again Sabetha played a pivotal role.  You can’t help thinking that’s why Chains admitted a female to the gang (not for this particular scheme of course) but because they needed to be more all rounded – how very articulately phrased! NOT.  I always sort of wondered if Chains meant to take on a female or not.  He didn’t seem equipped to a certain degree and Sabetha was brought up in this all male environment – which was good for her in terms of competition of course – but led to all sorts of complications when it comes to ramant hormones.  If you look at the schemes in Espara though, without Sabetha, everyone would have been in the dirty creek without a paddle!

In Karthain…

3. The Election:  It seems Lovaris was indeed the final trick, and the election is over.  Are you satisfied with how things turned out? Do you wish that the election had focused more on the political problems of Karthain, or are you satisfied with the mudslinging and pranks that went on between Locke and Sabetha? To be honest I’m not really terribly interested in all the politics – I like that it’s included because I think it makes the whole world building more realistic but if it had been any more in depth I probably would have got a bit ‘meh’ about it.  I thought the pranks and mudslinging were the best parts of the whole competition – it’s what I really get out of these books.  All the different ways that Lynch comes up with new ideas for his cons.  I mean, yeah, some of these were greatly simplified compared to previous books but I still loved them and there was this added feeling of camaraderie because it was between Locke and Jean and Sabetha – it just felt more playful somehow, or perhaps just less tense, especially compared with what was taking place in Espara.  I thought it was great that Locke had a scheme that would make the two sides equal.  Of course it would only work if Sabetha topped the poll with one extra vote but it still made me laugh that he came up with that idea – and I thought Sabetha took it really well.  She felt like she’d won – even if only for a few brief moments.

4. The War: Do you have any speculation on what specific issues might have escalated the two Bondsmagi factions rivalry into this kind of violence?  What do you think the surviving Bondsmagi will do next, with all their gathered money and knowledge?  I don’t mind telling you that this part of the story blew me away!  I was like ‘no way’.  What was the competition about then – I suppose it was all just misdirection really.  I think that the more conservative Bondsmagi feel really threatened by this idea that any great show of magic will bring reprisals and they clearly think the Falconer and his following would draw more attention.  It’s going to be so interesting to see what happens next with this.  Plus there was this whole other reference to the lights in the water again – I think when we were looking back at the Falconer as a younger boy and he was looking into the water at one point?  Anyway, totally intriguing and mysterious.

5. Patience: Given the final revelation that Patience does hate Locke for what he did to the Falconer, what do you make of her behavior towards Locke throughout the book?  Do you think her plan of vengeance is well suited to Locke?  What do you make of the Black Amaranth story now, as well as the prophecy she threw on top? She’s basically a bloody raging hypocrite.  Or at least that’s what I thought at first – I figured she was simply mad at him for butchering her son.  There’s no love lost between her and the Falconer though and she wanted him to die –  so I then figured that she was more pissed off at Locke for NOT killing him but simply rendering him powerless.  She even had her little trapdoor to trap the Falconer when he tried to null the pain – so he would be unable to resist?  You have to hand it to her really.  She salved her conscience by telling the Falconer about her little prediction, which she knew he would scorn.  Then she fixed it so that he’d be incapacitated.  Like I say, I think she was simply massively disappointed that he wasn’t dead and was still her problem.  I think she also sees the fact that Locke and Jean didn’t finish off the Falconer as a weakness and one more reason to despise them both.  I just don’t know what to make of the whole prophecy thing.  Part of me thinks she’s just playing with Locke but then part of me thinks she’s just arrogant enough to give him this prediction thinking that he’ll probably decide to ignore it.  Unwittingly of course she could have given him a really invaluable piece of information that could just end up saving him – she’ll be a bit gutted if that turns out to be the case!  And you know that saying about ‘he who laughs last’…

6. The Epilogue: Speaking of vengeance, do you think the Falconer’s vengeance against his mother was merited or excessively cruel, given the circumstances?  On that note, how do you feel about the Falconer’s transformation and possible status as a continuing villain?  I like that Lynch has resurrected the Falconer as the villain again.  He’s a pretty impressive villain.  I absolutely hate the guy – which is what you want from your villains isn’t it.  No sympathy.  The only thing I don’t understand about the scene with the birds at the end is that it made Patience seem weaker than she had done throughout the novel.  Like, when the attack started why didn’t she do one of her mysterious conjuring tricks and simply disappear.  Or, couldn’t she have used the Falconer’s name to stop him – or is it that she really didn’t know it was him behind the attack.  I think that’s probably the only real scene that I had my doubts about.  I wasn’t surprised that the Falconer took the action he did, I was just surprised that Patience didn’t come back with anything – she had five rings after all plus his secret name.

7. Wrapping up:  Thus ends the third book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence.  How do you think it compares with the first two?  In the end, do you prefer the Espara storyline or the Karthain storyline, or did you like them both equally? I don’t know if I could come up with a favourite out of all the books – they all feel so different to each other.  The first was obviously the introduction to them all and it’s just so clever that it’s brilliant.  The second I loved all the pirates and high jinx out at sea.  And now this with two fairly strong stories running parallel.  So insightful into the background of the gang, plus getting to revisit the twins.  I just can’t decide.  Out of the two storylines from RoT I think I probably liked Espara marginally more – I think simply because it had more tension, we got to spend time with the gang again and it was insightful into the Locke/Sabetha situation.

I have to mention the picture at the end – so Sabetha and the woman with the red hair *wiggles eyebrows suspiciously*

And, I loved that little part in the book where the results of the election come in and Losari pulls his rabbit out of the hat and Sabetha and Locke are debating the merits of the situation – I think it’s Locke who says ‘one for the drunkards and philosophers’ (meaning to mull it over!) – it made me laugh because I was thinking obviously we’ll be chewing the fat over this one.  So which are you – the drunkard or the philosopher (or a bit of both, perhaps you only philosophise when you’re in your cups? Or maybe you only drink when you start philosophising??)

So now we have the wait to find out what happens next.  Not that I’m complaining, my mind can come up with all sorts in the meantime and when the books are this good then it’s worth it – all good things to those who wait.  But, if Mr Lynch needs somebody to read over a thing or two in the meantime – well, I’m just saying.  Whatever I’m doing I’ll drop it in a nanosecond.  Yessiree, I’m your woman.