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I haven’t written anything about the Way of Kings since I started reading it a few days ago. It is taking me a while to read it—as do all books. But I haven’t had to come here to write about it and keep myself interested because it’s so damn good. Brandon Sanderson is masterful and since I have discovered that all of his epic fantasy takes place in the same universe—the cosmere—I have more incentive to keep reading.
I think tonight I read my favorite chapter so far; it is a hard decision because the whole book is so wonderful chapter to chapter. It was called Starfall. One of the prime characters Dalinar suffers from visions during the highstorms. Many say he is insane but he believes he is being given orders. One order in particular states that he should unite them. So far his visions have only been referenced but in this chapter we get to experience one.
Dalinar experiences the vision from the point of view of a farmer in a remote village. He is not sure where or even what point in time he is. All he knows is that pitch black monsters are attacking and killing the villagers. Dalinar fights as the man protecting his wife and child. Eventually they flee seeking stronger shelter but are surrounded by many more of the monsters. As he fights them to his almost certain death, Dalinar is saved by what seem to be stars falling from the sky. In reality, as he discovers, they are Shardbearers who fend off the monsters and reveal themselves as members of the Knights Radiant, a group of valiant heroes famous in Roshar’s past. Dalinar questions the year and confirms that he is witnessing a vision in the past and one of the female Radiants compliments his fighting as she heals both him and the farmer’s wife. She invites him to seek out acceptance into the Radiants and leaves to assist other villagers. The chapter ends with Dalinar questioning the voice that has in past visions told him to unite them. He asks if another Brightlord of questionable intent can be trusted. The voice tells him yes but will not answer anymore questions. The vision fades as the storm dissipates and Dalinar is brought back to the real world.
It is my though the the them the voice wants Dalinar to unite is the current Shardbearers. The Knights Radiant must be reformed to again battle the Last Desolation, the Everstorm. Just a hunch, and I doubt I find out in this book or the next but I assume this is what Mr. Sanderson has planned.
I do not think I can ever remember having read a book that has both a prelude and a prologue. The prologue occurs 4,500 years in the future.
A great party is being had. The Parshendi and the Alethi have signed a treaty. Though the exact reason for the treaty is unknown at this point. One patron a the party is Szeth-son-son-Vallano, a man dressed in all white. Szeth, a Truthless Shin, is a slave to the Parshendi and is sent to the party for one reason. Kill the Alethkar King Gavilar and be seen doing it.
White is a color worn by Parshendi assassins as a way to owe fair warning to their prey before ultimately assassinating them. Making his way through the party, Szeth notices that Gavilar spares no expense in lavishing his feast and environs. He makes special note of the Stormlight gems that line the walls where they meet the floors in the banquet hall.
After leaving the banquet Szeth makes his way through the halls toward King Gavilar and is confronted by two guards that question his reasons for being there. Rather than answer them, the assassin in white inhales deeply and the Stormlight lamp’s power is drawn into his body. Stormlight is a form of power used by Surgebinders and gives them supernatural gifts. Szeth’s gifts are called Lashings, of which there are three types. A Surgebinder who lashes is able to defy the laws of gravity using a Basic Lashing to quickly attach himself to another point whether it be on a wall or ceiling. This aids Szeth by giving him precise movements that are unpredictable for his enemies and allows him to fight fluidly with his short, thin Shardblade summoned over a ten second period of time. Any contact made with a Shardblade does not directly cut a foe but rather renders the area of the body it comes in contact with useless. In the case of the first guard it was his neck. The Shardblade cut out his very soul leaving his eyes blackened, burned pits. The second guard is dispatched in a similar manor with the guard himself being pulled to the ceiling only to fall onto the point of his spear when the Lashing was released.
After making impressive short work of the guards, who had managed in the fight to call for help, Szeth is chased down a hallway by another set of guards. Szeth retreats two a side room where he uses the second form of Lashing. Called Full Lashing, Szeth is able to bind objects together, in this case the binds that hold the door shut from his side and strengthen their hold. It gives him enough time to cut a large chunk of the stone wall he’s seemingly trapped behind and apply a Basic Lashing to it just as the door is busts open. The square chunk slides out of the wall, opening an escape for the assassin, and crashes into the unsuspecting guards.
In the new passageway Szeth knows he has finally arrived at his destination because many fearspren are flooding from behind the blocked doors. Szeth barges through where he is confronted by more guards who all launch their spears at him. But not before he can utilize the third Lashing, the Reverse Lashing. This ability creates a gravitational pull around the object on which it is focused and in this case draws the spears harmlessly away from Szeth. Using his Basic Lashing the guards are quickly dispatched and Szeth notices a figure escaping under cover of another contingent of guards. But before the assassin can give chase he is accosted by a large figure in blue Shardplate armor.
Like the Shardblade, Shardplate armor is supernatural in that it augments its wearers abilities making them stronger, faster, and more formidable. It does not help that the wearer of this armor also has a Shardblade, one much larger than Szeth’s. Hoping to make quick work of the Shardplate warrior, Szeth uses Basic Lashing to outpace his opponent eventually breaking a hole in the side of the armor and injuring its wearer. It is only after he escapes and is halfway down the hall that the assassin realizes the best way to protect a king is under the cover of a brute in Shardplate armor.
Szeth goes back and confronts his once opponent again but cannot best him. Eventually Gavilar is able to connect with a punch that nearly kills Szeth and forces him to resort to bringing down the balcony on which they stand with Basic Lashing to win. As the balcony crumbles and plummets, Szeth springs to the side of the palace and watches Gavilar’s descent. At the bottom Szeth removes the breastplate of a very confused but dying Gavilar, he was impaled with debris from the broken balcony. Inhaling the Stormlight that lines the armor Szeth is able to begin healing the wounds he sustained. Gavilar discovers that Szeth is a Parshendi assassin and questions him as to why he would kill him on the night the treaty was signed. With his dying breath Gavilar presses a black stone into Szeth’s hand and asks him to give his brother a grim warning. A warning Szeth writes out in Gavilar’s blood before fleeing.
Whenever one digs into a new fantasy epic, especially one by a touted World-builder like Brandon Sanderson, the first few pages can be quite confusing.
The prelude to the Way of Kings is no different. However, the characters introduced in the prelude are mysterious and intriguing. Kalak and what seems to be his superior (there are eight others who fight with them but are not present) are engaged in a cyclical battle against a supremely evil being that is threatening the existence of the world of Roshar. Predictably, every time, Kalak and crew defeat the menace and end the Desolation. Sometimes they die and are reborn only to wait to fight in the next Desolation but in the end they all end up in the same place between Desolations.
During their down time they are tortured in a very hellish, nightmare place beyond the world itself until the next Desolation calls them to battle once more. They are sworn to an Oathpact; the great testament that calls them to battle during each Desolation. However this time, this Last Desolation, the leader —if he could be called that— Jezrien waits behind for Kalak unsure if he had been killed this time or not. Kalak finds Jezrien and tells him he cannot go back to wherever it is that these ten warriors return because of the torturous conditions. Jezrien returns Kalak’s sentiments and says that seven of the other warriors had agreed to dissolve their involvement with the Oathpact. It is Jezrien’s belief that the one warrior who had died, Talenel, and therefore could not break the Oathpact, would be enough to protect the world should another Desolation occur.
In the end Kalak and Jezrien thrust their Honorblades into the ground opposite of the other’s, nearly finishing a circle with seven of the other warrior’s Honorblades, and walk away from the battlefield. Kalak stops one final time to ponder the empty spot where Talenel’s Honorblade should have been. Something in him feels wrong abandoning a companion to be tortured until what they hope never comes again inevitably does.
This morning I was helping a man roughly my age who, by my best guess, was inebriated in some form or fashion. As always when dealing with this type of person, I did my job and just let him talk all the while nodding and agreeing with what he said in any way I could. Somehow he mentioned that he liked to read, thinking, as his tone suggested, that I might not agree with him. I told him that I loved to read because it was good for your mind. Quickly the man changed the subject and thanked me for reminding him that he had to go to Books-a-Million and get a new book that had come out today. Then he went on a tangent about how it was the second book in a series and that the first book had been really long. He was impressed with himself and I should be impressed too. Then he said Brandon Sanderson.
Now I have never read a Brandon Sanderson novel. I have always wanted to but for one reason or another I have never gotten around to sinking my literary teeth into anything he has written. The closest I have gotten, and the reason I have any modicum of sense as to who Brandon Sanderson is, was the Wheel of Time series written by the late Robert Jordan and finished by Sanderson after Jordan’s passing. However Jordan’s exposition was too much for me to get into and I just could not get to those final three books to read what Sanderson wrote. Though they all sit on my digital bookshelf waiting to be consumed.
I let the inebriated man explain to me a very concise and confusing summary of the book he was so excited to go and procure and after he left my curiosity got the best of me. I loaded up the store website on my kiosk and looked for the book he had mentioned, Words of Radiance. I discovered that the man was indeed telling me the truth and that the book was the second in the series. Upon reading the summary for the second book and the subsequent first book I decided to look on Amazon and see if it might be worth my dollar. It was $3 on Kindle and I wasn’t about to let that deal slip by.
After reading the Prelude I was hooked. However, in order to not burn out like I did with the Wheel of Time, I have decided to blog about each chapter as I finish it. First, it’s going to keep me focused. Second, if I happen to miss a day or two of reading it will help me reacclimatize myself with the material by checking my thoughts. Finally, it’s a good way to connect with a community that, as I’ve discovered this far, is quite large and passionate. I hope that if you’re reading this you might come to enjoy this budding series that, even having two very hefty tomes already, is still in it’s infancy. Please be aware also that, try to be concise as I may, these blogs may contain spoilers.
"I’m gonna pay $100 to chant dead wrestlers names for a guy who bitched because he didn’t want to fake fight his boss." Congratulations, you just proved why wrestlers look at fans like the marks they are.
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