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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson: Read, Part 23 (Chapters 71-73)

Welcome to the second to last segment of our read of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. To catch up or review previous parts, click here.



Chapter 71: Recorded in Blood

Summary: Szeth comes to Kharbranth for the last assassination on his list: King Taravangian. The voices and screams of all those he has killed haunt him now. He hears them coming from the very rafters, though no one is there. When he gets to the chamber where the king resides, he delivers the message he was bidden, and the king reveals that he holds Szeth’s oathstone. The seeming mild and gentle king is the who who ordered Szeth to slaughter.

Szeth is horrified. But it gets worse. Taravangian takes him into a secret chamber, much like a hospital, but this chamber isn’t for healing. It’s for killing. The medical staff drain victims of blood and record the strange things they say right before death, things Taravangian hopes will help them face whatever is coming. Among these victims are children. Szeth almost breaks his oaths then and there to kill Taravangian, but honor stills his hand.

Then he gives Szeth one last person to kill: Dalinar Kholin. Taravangian insists that Dalinar cannot be allowed to unite the Alethi, and Szeth must kill him brutally.

Reader Comments: No! First of all, while I get that Taravangian has this warped idea of saving the world by destroying parts of it, but I’m with Szeth, he needs to die. I want Szeth to do it. And Adolin better kick the hell out of Szeth when he comes after Dalinar. Oh, it’s always interesting when an author pits heroes against each other. I don’t exactly want Szeth dead--I want him redeemed--but I certainly don’t want Dalinar killed. Maybe between Adolin and Kaladin, Szeth can be stopped.

Writer Comments: I never expected Taravangian as a villain. He is the last person in this setting I would have expected. Yet that very fact makes it interesting. Surprising readers can be highly effective. As long as it makes sense within the story, don’t do the expected.

Chapter 72: Veristitalian

Summary: Jasnah shares her notes and discoveries with Shallan, but encourages Shallan to come to her own conclusions about what her collection of quotations means. Jasnah mentions that the legends say that the Voidbringers were cast from the world forever, but she doesn’t think that makes sense.

“But that’s not how humans work. We don’t throw away something we can use.” (Kindle location 17847, hardcover page 979, paperback page 1,225)

And Shallan realizes that humans didn’t drive out all the Voidbringers. They enslaved them. The Parshmen are the Voidbringers.

Reader Comments: Interesting. That’s all I can say right now. We’ll see how this plays out.

Writer Comments: This is a very short chapter. Sanderson could have meshed into with the previous chapter from Shallan’s point-of-view, but he didn’t. Why not? I suspect he chose to keep this chapter separate because the information it give, the turning point for the story, is so crucial. If the events of this chapter had been mixed with another, they might have lost some of their significance amidst other competing plot moments.

Chapter 73: Trust

Summary: Dalinar meets with Kaladin that night. He asks Kaladin to lead the men of Bridge Four as his personal body guard as Dalinar’s guard will be needed for the king since Dalinar and the king are about to do something very dangerous. Too, Dalinar wants all the bridgemen to join his army if they’re willing. Kaladin still isn’t sure he should trust Dalinar, but he agrees to the plan, so long as his men are willing, so long as he answers to no lighteyes except Dalinar, his sons, and the king, and so long as they’re paid the same rate as Dalinar’s usual bodyguard. Dalinar agrees.

Then Kaladin returns to his men. Like every other night, they stay up and enjoy the stew that Rock cooks. The men ask about the Stormlight that Kaladin can wield and determine to run experiments to discover exactly what Kaladin can do and what his limits might be. For Kaladin, though, he’s lost three men and still has no right answers to the questions of life and death and right that he asks. But twenty-seven of his friends are now free and alive. For one, he finally managed to save someone, at least for the moment.

Reader Comments: Oh, this is going to get interesting. So Kaladin will be there when Szeth shows up to murder Dalinar. This could get very interesting.

Writer Comments: We are past the climax of the book. We’re in the resolution phase, and for that, victories must be had. Even if the story is a tragedy, something must be gained. For Kaladin, it’s that he’s finally free, he has finally saved people, and there is finally hope. Perhaps Sanderson will dash it to pieces soon, but he won something. Ensure there is some sort of victory by the end of your book, even if only a moral one.

Thank you for joining me for these chapters of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. We’ll finish this read next Monday, and I’ll announce what book we’ll cover next. Until then, swing back by on Friday for further forays into fiction, the speculative, and life.

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