The Way of Kings Group Read, Part 3

Happy Monday everyone!  For the group members who are involved in the reading of The Way of Kings, it means that this Monday is another fun start to discussing part three of the novel.  And there is so much to discuss.

For those who have not read the novel please note that there will be spoilers in this discussion.

The questions this week were provided my Memory.  If you would like to follow all of the discussions, please visit the Polishing Mud Balls page


1. Part III reunites us with Shallan, who we haven’t seen for a few hundred pages, and separates us from Dalinar and Adolin for a few hundred more. How do you feel about leaving characters behind for such long stretches? Did you lose any of your connection to them during the break?

I can understand why he leaves some characters in the background during some of the parts, but it makes it somewhat difficult for me since when a character reappears I have to refresh my memory as to where we left them.  And I have to remind myself about the minor characters as well like Kabsal.  However, given the size of this novel I can’t blame the writer for my poor memory.  Once I get back into the character’s story I marvel about how well he keeps the story moving and flowing.

Also, I think this tactic heightens the sense of suspense.  For example in Book Two when Dalinar and Jasnah were communicating, Jasnah mentioned that she had a ward complete a drawing for Dalinar to look at.  When I read that I was like, “Oh yeah Shallan is still Jasnah’s ward, I wonder what’s going on with her quest.” This made me want to find out more about her story.   And this kept me reading.

2. So far, how would you compare this to other epic fantasies you’ve read? Does it remind you of any other series?

I haven’t read many epic fantasies so I really can’t compare it.  The only series I’ve read is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and for some reason I have a hard time comparing this work with other authors.  It just doesn’t seem fair to the other authors.  If I was a fantasy author I would hate to always hear, “Well it ain’t The Lord of the Rings.”   However, if all epic fantasies are this well written and entertaining I would be willing to read more of them.

3. How do you feel about the masculine and feminine arts? If you’re female, do you think you’d be content to stick to scholaly pursuits, or would you rather do something physical, like go to war? If you’re male, would you be willing to forgo learning to read, even if there were women around to read to you? What about the food? Does the spicy for men and sweet for women restriction fit your own tastes?

There are parts that I like.  I love that women are scholars and I think I would fit in.  If I could afford it, I would stay in college forever.  I love to learn, explore, think, and challenge my beliefs.  But having my gender decide what employment I could pursue would annoy me.   I’m not big on being told what I should and could do.  Besides I love spicy food.  Don’t get me wrong, sweets are good, but spicy is better.  So far, I am not understanding why there is such a division between men and women.  Why can’t the men read?  Why can’t women have spicy food?  I just don’t get it.  I am curious to find out why.  What happened in their world to create these strict divisions? 

4. What do you think of the flashbacks to Kaladin’s childhood?

I’m enjoying the flashbacks.  There is so much mystery about Kaladin.  These flashbacks help explain his actions.  Also, the flashbacks are quite informative about the lighteyes and Kaladin’s hatred of the lighteyes.  I prefer reading the flashbacks instead of the author just telling us in a couple of lines about certain situations.  I think it rounds out his character in a fun, entertaining, and informative way.  And it keeps me guessing about Kaladin and it keeps me wanting to learn more. 

5. Do you have any theories yet as to where the story is headed? What do you most want to see in the last quarter of the book?

I really don’t have a theory as to where the story is heading.  As of now, I am just enjoying the ride.  The author has so many characters and storylines going that I just can’t figure out what is going to happen.

I am hoping that there will be some resolution and not every aspect will be a cliffhanger since this is a first in the series.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.
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32 Responses to The Way of Kings Group Read, Part 3

  1. For the longest time I’ve been thinking of a way through which we can still continue our Book Club Discussion over at GatheringBooks given the limitations that WordPress brings – and this post of yours has kind of answered some of my burning questions and has given me some insights about how this can still be done/facilitated. I’m not familiar with this book, but now my curiosity is definitely peaked! Will check this out. I love book series.

    • TBM says:

      This has been a great way to have a book discussion. Folks from all different types of blogs can participate. And I’ve been enjoying discussing the works and getting to know other bloggers. Check out the Polishing Mud Balls group read page to see how it all works. And of course, you can check out everyone’s discussions. This is my second group read and I would love to join more.

      This is a great book. I don’t usually read fantasy novels. I am having a hard time putting this book down. I would highly recommend it!

  2. “What happened in their world to create these strict divisions?” Indeed, a great question. And how far back have there been masculine & feminine arts? I somehow think the Radiants abandoning their posts has something to do with this, but it could also be from the religious war thing, too? Whatever it was, I hope we get to understand why.

    Good stuff!

    • TBM says:

      Seriously, why such strict divisions. I like your theory about the Radiants. I hadn’t thought of that. I also hope we will find out. I’m heading over to your blog to read your answers!

      • Grace says:

        That’s an interesting theory. The divisions don’t seem terribly odd to me, considering how our own society had very strict gender divisions until rather recently. At the same time, it seems to me like the gender divisions are an Alethi thing, because we know that Szeth can read. The safehand thing also seems to be a strictly Alethi form of modesty.

  3. TBM says:

    You really don’t think the divisions are odd. Maybe I can understand the warfare division, but the food division and reading…that seems odd to me. Maybe I am only see this through the eyes of someone from the 21st century

    • Grace says:

      A similar sort of division could be observed at the average American bar. While there are no real rules on who can order what, most self-respecting straight men wouldn’t walk into a bar and order a cosmo. At the same time, if a girl orders a shot of whiskey, guys will be like “Woah.” In the story the division is a bit more strict, but I don’t think it’s terribly far-fetched, considering that we do the same things unconsciously.

      • TBM says:

        Great observation Grace! You are right, there are strict rules in American bars. I like how you are thinking about this. The story is stricter but there are those who obviously break the rules. I wonder if Sanderson is creating this division to raise our awareness about how we unconsciously divide ourselves in society. That may seem far-fetched. But I appreciate your take on this. Thanks for pointing that out.

        And if I didn’t hate whiskey I would wander down to my friendly neighborhood bar and order a shot of whiskey.

  4. Carl v. says:

    I have no doubt that we’ll learn more about the whys and wherefores of the gender divisions as the story progresses. Sanderson doesn’t seem to be one to have any idle details.

    The Kaladin flashbacks have been fantastic, especially learning about how his bitterness for lighteyes was born. And I understand, I would be bitter as well. I am seriously loving his story.

    That library that Shallan is/was at is certainly the kind of place that I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave. Even with my imagination I am having a hard time fathoming a place that enormous and filled with books. Which is quite the accomplishment if you think about the fact that you don’t have both genders writing books. Just imagine how much larger it would be if there were volumes from men and from women.

    • TBM says:

      I agree Carl. I don’t think Sanderson would skip over a major aspect of the book. I would be shocked if he did…and he still has nine more books to fill us in.

      I really love the flashbacks. I’m the type who likes to know the who, what, why. And these flashbacks help answer these questions for me. If I was Kaladin I would be as mad as heck! I couldn’t believe it.

      When I read about the library I think back to the library of Alexandria during ancient times. It was massive but unfortunately was burned down. As a history nerd and book lover this loss to humanity breaks my heart.

      I would love to wander around Shallan’s library. Like you, I probably wouldn’t leave.

      And great observation, how many more books would there be?!

      • Grace says:

        I’m curious as to whether writing was always a historically female pursuit in the book. Otherwise, it leaves more questions about the book “The Way of Kings” within the book.

        Shallan’s library does seem quite awesome. I am jealous, and would never leave it.

  5. Carl v. says:

    I am wondering as the story unfolds if we will find male characters who actually do read and their reading actually will play a major part in the story? It is hard telling. I can’t imagine what it would be like for a poorer male who wanted to hear stories, learn history, etc. Its one thing for the highprinces, they can get someone to read to them at a command. But what about the lowly soldier or the peasant? Makes me appreciate the rights we have and appreciate free public libraries even more.

    I’m already loving the things that are subtly being revealed in Part 4.

    • TBM says:

      I wonder that too Carl. I’m guessing average guys don’t have access to a reader. And it is hard to think none of them are curious and want to seek out answers. It would be a nice twist if that happened.

      I love my library. In fact one of the things I need to do today is go to the library to pick up some movies I ordered. I’m spoiled in Boston. The library is massive.

      And so far part 4 rocks! Oh man!

  6. TBM says:

    Grace: It will be interesting to find out if the writing was always left up to the women and if so, what about The Way of Kings. Is Carl’s theory correct that a lone male who broke the rules will change the future for so many.

  7. Caroline says:

    Interesting aspect about the gender divison. Have you read Sheri Tepper, I think the genre is called femisnt sci-fi. Although I though it was rather fantasy. I liked it a lot. She had some interesting gender divsions in The Gate to Women’s Country.

    • TBM says:

      Hi Caroline. I haven’t read Sheri Tepper, but I am quite curious about the gender division in her works. I’ll have to check it out. I finding out that I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy so I’m eager to try more authors. Thanks!

  8. Shelley says:

    I’m horrible with names in books, so when a character comes back that we haven’t seen in a while, I also have to dig deep into my brain (or the book) to figure out who it is. Even so, I still enjoy the structure of it.
    It seems like works of epic fantasy are either accused of not being as good as LOTR, or being too much like it LOTR and they are deemed unoriginal. Like you said, it’s pretty unfair. Luckily Sanderson, and I’m sure a fair amount of others, fits in a place all his own.
    I would also love to stay in college forever! I always tell myself that I can learn on my own without classes, but it’s easier to let other stuff get in the way. This year was going to be my “Civil War Year” and I was going to immerse myself in all things Civil War-related. It’s now August, and I’ve only read about four books, and three of them were childrens/YA. Not quite the “immersion” I envisioned. I might as well be an Alethi man…
    I am also hoping for at least some resolution. I don’t want to be left hanging for such a long time!

    • Carl v. says:

      There is also a big trend to try to be as much *not* like Lord of the Rings as possible because there are those who deem LOTR as something less than worthy of its accolades, etc. Which is also unfortunate. I prefer an author’s work to be judged on its own merits. If any comparison is to be made it might be to his/her other novels, although even that comparison can be unfair based on what the author was trying to accomplish with each novel. I see that a lot with authors like Neil Gaiman who seem to make a concerted effort to do something different with each novel. If something cannot be judged on its own merits then perhaps it shouldn’t be judged at all.

      I know exactly what you mean about reading/studying plans. There are so many different kinds of reading binges/immersions I would like to do and time just gets away from me.

      • TBM says:

        Who doesn’t like LOTR? Just kidding. LOL…I was wondering when you would mention Neil Gaiman. I really need to pick up his books. Another friend suggested one of his works to me this past weekend. I’m starting to feel left out.

        It is hard to compare works. How do you compare one book to another? What’s the criteria? I prefer judging each work on its own. Saying that, it is so easy to slip into comparisons and I am guilty of this all of the time.

        And I don’t know how many times I’ve said, only if I had more time I read these works…

    • TBM says:

      Hi Shelley. I’m in the same boat trying to remember everyone. I have to go back and figure out how and why I know certain characters.

      I’ve been doing my best to learn on my own. I enjoy it, but college classes were extremely helpful in outlining certain topics and guiding you in directions to explore. But I also like the freedom to guide myself. The grass is always greener…

      Ah the Civil War. That time period is one of the many that got me into history. Have you read Lincoln by Gore Vidal? It is a work of fiction, but it was fantastic. It’s been years, but I think it was a large book. I like all of Vidal’s books. There are so many wonderful books about the Civil War, fiction and nonfiction.

      It will be tough if Sanderson totally leaves us hanging for the next year!

      • Shelley says:

        The classroom is really such a great place to learn because of the exchange of ideas and discussion, kind of like these great readalongs. I don’t even have my bachelor’s degree, so hopefully more of that is in my future.
        Thanks for the book recommend–I will add that one to my list. One thing that’s holding me up is that before I read a bunch of Civil War fiction, I want to read this huge non-fiction book (It’s actually about the size of The Way of Kings, in fact) first. I’ve had it since February and have yet to crack it open. It may keep me busy until Sanderson’s next installment.

  9. Carl v. says:

    Hey, I don’t mention Gaiman all the time! 😉 LOL.

    At the very least I like to know what an author was *trying* to do with a book. If an author is trying to pay homage to another author or a specific work then I think it is fair to judge him/her by that. If a person doesn’t like that kind of work then to criticize the author without considering whether or not he/she succeeded in his/her goal is wrong to me.

    • TBM says:

      That’s a great point. If an author is paying homage than yes, it is fair game to compare. But I find that many people easily fall into comparing authors without using the criteria you mentioned above and I find that to be quite unfair.

      • Carl v. says:

        Just to make you laugh, let me throw out another Gaiman example. His novel Anansi Boys is considered a sequel of sorts to American Gods, although it really isn’t one. It is set in the same universe and shares a character or two, that is all. Anyway, Gaiman clearly states in the book that he was writing it as an homage to a number of authors, including P.G. Wodehouse. Now I am a big fan of that author and I loved this book. I felt that it embodied much of what I enjoy about British comedies in general while staying true to the mythical/folklorish/fantastical things Gaiman likes to read about. I read criticism, some of it well thought out and some of it wrong simply because it wasn’t being judged against Gaiman’s intentions in writing it, it was being judged against American Gods which was an entirely different kind of book. I don’t think that sort of thing is fair to the author or the audience.

  10. TBM says:

    Carl: LOL…You illustrated your point brilliantly! I haven’t read P.G. Wodehouse but I’m assuming it should be added to my list.

    • Carl V. says:

      Yes, if you like British comedies of manners. And if you don’t know if you like British comedies of manners I suggest checking out a copy of Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories and also watching the first two seasons of the Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie tv adaptations of the Jeeves and Wooster stories. They are brilliant.

      Although my personal favorite Wodehouse story to date is Something Fresh, which is not a Jeeves and Wooster story. It is funny and has some really nice romance in it.

  11. TBM says:

    Hi Shelley I’m curious what Civil War book you want to get through first.

    And I agree that the classroom is a great place to exchange ideas. Only if the classes weren’t so darn expensive.

    • Shelley says:

      It’s Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson. Have you read it?
      Classes are expensive, and from this point on I need to focus on getting my kids through college. I’ll probably squeeze in a few for myself here and there though.

      • TBM says:

        LOL. I had a feeling. That is the same massive book I have about the Civil War but haven’t read yet. Too funny. I hear it is fantastic, but I’ve struggled finding the time.

  12. celawerd says:

    I am currently reading this book. I have not gotten far, but i like what I have read so far.

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