Topgoon

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17 Noble-Blooded

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  1. In reading your thoughtful post here, I think we define "reactive" in different ways. For me, it's specifically about how a character's decisions interact with the story. Do their choices drive the plot forward, or does the plot drive their decisions? I.e. does Kal choose A because the plot needs him to choose A, or does Kal's A create the plot. In that sense, High Marshall Kaladin is more reactive character than Kaladin the Slave. It's not about the social role the character has to play - a tyrant that holds 100% of decision power, implied to have tons of initiative, and can still be written as a reactive character. The same character going from A to B can feel active or reactive entirely based on the way the author frames that decision against the story. I'm not judging Kaladin the person, but Kaladin the character. For example, in both TWoKs and RoW, Kaladin is faced with a "keep fighting or just give up" choice. IMO, there are subtle writing decisions that make one feel more reactive than the other. TWoK Chasm Choice In Chapter 11, Syl interrupts Kaladin's attempt to jump. She offers an alternative perspective, but the decision to fight one more time is still made by Kaladin deliberately. The alternative (death) was completely acceptable to this version of Kaladin. Kaladin's choice drives the plot for the rest of the book. The entirety of Bridge 4's growth and relationship, Dalinar's survival, are all driven by his character choices. RoW Tower Occupation Choice In Chapter 43, Kaladin's choose to fight in direct response to Singers' actions towards Teft (moments after he chose not to act). It is a choice, but it's much more akin to choosing to dodge a punch. Letting Teft be taken was not really a viable alternative for Kaladin - there's no dilemma at this point. The plot made the choice for him . His choices also doesn't drive the rest of the Tower Occupation plot. Navani's delays, revelations, and activation of the tower all works without Kaladin (albeit with some adjustments to detail). IMO, this is due to Kal's entire tower situation being "plot decided". He's not the sole surviving hope just because of his choice - others have the same means and motivation but were magically removed by plot sleep The thing is, every character reacts. 99% of stories start with an inciting incident that forces the characters to go on a journey and that is not only fine, but needed. In RoW's case, Dalinar "firing" Kaladin - kicked off a very interesting plot point, with Kaladin making an active choice to start helping those with mental trauma. It's really when the assault on the tower starts that a chain of reactivity plagues Kaladin for the rest of the book. I also believe that not every character needs to be active in a story, but a main POV would ideally have more. It makes me question why this specific story was chosen for Kaladin? Why use his POV so much for this plot?
  2. I loved Kaladin in TWoKs and still do, but am one of those people who was disappointed with his progression in the last few books. I'm more critical of his plot/conflict setups (in that he is always challenged the same way), but I do find it bleeding into the character. My issue with him is not the destination of his character, but rather the journey, of how we're getting there. Since the incredible decisions he made in TWoKs (i.e. choosing to try one more time, choosing to go back to save Dalinar), Kaladin has become more and more of a reactive character (not completely, just more). It seems like a lot of his momentums forward in character is driven by others or due to plot demands. For example, looking at the RoW examples above: Kaladin and Syl - while watching their relationship, already one of the best, continue to grow was completely satisfying, the greater understanding between the two seemed to have come from a decision made by Syl, not Kaladin. She made herself into someone that needed help, which was IMO how their bond/understanding continued to grow. Treatment of Mental Health - I think this was the biggest, self-driven step that Kal's taken towards progressing as a character and the best part of the book for him. I'm okay with the plot/Dalinar pushing him here first (because some reactivity is necessary for story). This is kind of why I was harsh on the plot - as it pulled him away from this to something he's already done a million times - punching people in the face. Swearing the Fourth Ideal - this is the biggest "journey" flaw IMO. He gets a divine intervention/vision (albeit a very beautiful one) that recontexualizes his greatest trauma (with information he can never know) projected directly into his brain, instead of having to make the choice that epitomizes the ideal. Instead of accepting that he can't save Lirin and moving on to help others, he jumped - effectively either committing suicide or trying to save the one he can't save - and is deus ex machina out of it. There is some merit to say that all the little pushes from others helped Kaladin accept he vision, but I didn't feel it as a reader because I didn't see the progress after other's input until this snap moment. Interactions with Lirin - IMO, the reconciliation was cheap, especially because of what happened with the 4th ideal. I get that Kaladin's plot is essentially Die-Hard, but we literally got the "estranged family starts to fix their issues due to plot trauma without actually directly addressing the relationship" Hollywood solution. Interactions with Wit - it's a beautiful interaction and Kaladin's realization is powerful. My problem with it, from a "Kaladin's Character" perspective is that the revelation that Kaladin has doesn't seem to stick on any level. I'm okay with him not being able to integrate it (no revelations immediately sticks), but we don't see this helping him progress until the moment of divine intervention. Friendship with Adolin - I love this relationship too, and I give Kaladin a lot of credit for accepting Adolin's help. However, once again I feel like this is driven so much by Adolin instead of Kaladin. On their own, each of these points are fine - every character reacts. But with Kaladin, I feel like whenever I look, wherever I turn, the plot or others are driving him forward instead of himself. The result of all these plot/character forces affecting him is he's become a less relatable character for me. Kaladin's struggle was beautiful in TWoKs because he persisted out of his own choosing, and I feel empowered by that. By RoW, it feels like the corpse of his agency is being dragged across the finish line by the plot and other characters.
  3. I think this is a brilliant theory, especially because it essentially represents Dalinar and Taravangian's argument. If Dalinar kills an innocent child or Gavinor, than he has proven that Taravangian's methods and morality are correct. I was terrified and suspected something like this the moment Odium enforced the words "to the death" in his negotiations with Dalinar. The moment that happened, who the opponent is became something Odium can weaponize as he can hostage a life.
  4. Yes, that's roughly what I'm thinking. Basically, if the blade Shallan used to kill Tyn was Pattern, then she was already at the 3rd ideal at the time and those 2 are the likely truths that got her there. But there's a chance that was Testamentblade (hence the 10 heartbeats), and somehow because of Shallan's previous bond, she doesn't hear the screaming. This revelation is essentially going to lead to another reread lol. I remember being so hyped by Shallan saying "10 heartbeats" in TWoK because of how amazing it'd be if she had a shardblade. Then we learned about Pattern and my head exploded. Now, it's happened again. I suspect chapters like "the Hidden Blade" will have totally new meaning now after RoW.
  5. I assume that we've never seen Shallan summon Testamentblade because she's supposedly hear the screaming - and the blade we've seen since WoR has been Pattern. I'm a little confused as to what ideal Shallan is at now. If she had Pattern during WoR (3rd ideal), is she on her fifth ideal at this point? 4th ideal: murdering her mother and letting her father take the blame - there are theories that Shallan actually had Shardplate in OB during the Battle of Thaylen Field 5th ideal: murdering her spren I personally suspect that she has 1 more ideal to go, since that would likely lead to the absorption of Radiant, and it makes sense narratively (her big climax in book 5). Hence why I feel like I'm losing count.
  6. I agree with this so much. It blows me away when Brandon create such incredible characters and seemingly goes out of his way to deny us key character moments. Agree with all your examples. Oathbringer was where this trend really started worrying me - when it was decided that Jasnah and Navani's reunion will be described as a single sentence in Dalinar's POV. Why is an incredible opportunity for us to see other aspects of Jasnah and Navani's character and relationship not taken? Why do all the work to setup Navani's pain in WoR and deny us the catharsis? It seems to go against the great writing advice he's given personally.
  7. Dual-wielding will only be the start of it. The applications are quite insane IMO. With two living, bonded sprens, Shallan can form: a proper shard bow. One spren as the bow, the other as the arrow. The arrow automatically comes back. a shard sword-and-shield (or net and trident like a gladiator) more far-fetched, but if she can add mass to her light weaving (like in OB), can she form a double wielding the other blade?
  8. Overall: I enjoyed Rhythm of War more than Oathbringer, but less than the first two books. The central conflict in this book was incredibly interesting, but it also felt like this book had more inconsequential plot lines than the previous ones. The expansion into the Cosmere space age was also intriguing, but I felt like the way it was done - with how hard it was pushed - some of the story suffered for it because the stakes we bought into were being shifted too fast. I know they are tradition but I'm not sure if the flash backs added enough to the story to justify the time spent this time around. By Character: Navani's plot and her conflict with Raboniel was brilliant. Definitely the highlight of this book for me. Navani's research was the perfect vehicle to lore dump and worldbuild - it felt natural. Raboniel's one of the best antagonists we've had across all 4 books and I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions, even if I felt like the overall tower plot got dragged on too much. It was nice to get to see more of Navani's character without the biases of a Dalinar POV. I almost wonder if we needed more flash backs for Navani as despite spending so much time with her, we didn't get to learn about her as much as we did Kal, Dalinar, and Shallan. Venli's parts were enjoyable, but with the way the story ended and what she ultimately contributed to the plot, I am truly wondering if we got too much of her? At the very least, I would've been happy to see some of her/Eshonai's flashbacks removed or reduced. Unlike the flash backs in the previous books, they did relatively little to expand our understanding of Venli or improve the emotional impact of her current day choices. We already knew who she was. Alternatively, we needed to see a more impactful and emotional climax from Venli to justify the cost of the time spent with her. The Stormfather's gift to Eshonai was absolutely beautiful though. I quite enjoyed Shallan/Adolin's journey and arcs this book, but felt like an incredible opportunity was wasted in the execution. A bit more time and words devoted to these two could've created some of the best scenes in all of Stormlight IMO. From the overall plot standpoint, I dislike how the choices towards the end of the book (10 days) has the potential to invalidate this entire plotline/journey (unless something changes) The revelation of what happened in the Recreance has massive implications, but a slower burn could've helped the reveal from a story perspective. It was still a good moment, but could've hit harder. Similarly, we're simply told of Shallan's killing of her spren, as opposed to living through it (i.e. flashback). It could've been much more haunting and impactful if we actually got to meet Testament and experienced her death. Kaladin's plot was a disappointment. He was my favorite character in TWoKs, but with each book I'm losing interest in him more. He continues to be the most "reactive" of all our characters (as in the plot and circumstances tends to dictate what he has to do, rather than what the character wants), and I find that unengaging to read. I was excited when he was initially challenged with something he couldn't punch his way out of. But of course the plot pulls him right back into his same repetitive challenge again. Other main characters are given such diverse, interesting conflicts, whereas Kal's are mostly the same - and always solved by "oath harder, fight harder". His plot lines now look like monster of the week (he literally got a cartoon villain this book with the pursuer). It doesn't help that the plot constantly challenge his strengths instead of his weaknesses - his morality, mentally fortitude, and his fighting capability. Brandon is framing Kal as cosmere superman, but not giving him the good superman conflicts (i.e. a Lex Luthor). I wish we got to see more of the Dalinar/Jasnah/Wit war plot, but I also understand that a lot is already going on, and they were there mainly to facilitate the tower. Because of how straight forward this part was once the fighting started, I wished we got more frontloading of Dalinar/Jasnah pre-departure. This way, we'd get to explore the ramifications of their characters post-OB in everyday situations more. What is Jasnah's rule like? The consequences of her policies? What does the political dynamic between uncle and niece look like? Some Other Thoughts: With more and more characters introduced and thus potential plot lines, I wonder if Brandon needs to reconsider the part5 Sanderlanche structure for certain books. I've loved the way he piles on the misery to build his amazing climaxes, but in a book with such separate plot lines and multiple POVs, it might be better to self-contain and wrap certain sections in earlier parts instead of piling it in the end. For exampIe, I feel like he held back on the Sanderlanch for Shallan/Adolin plot because part 4 needed to be peak dread for part 5 to flip our emotions as much as it did. If we had wrapped the Shallan/Adolin plot in part 3 instead, we don't lose the momentum from part 1/2, and we could've had a more proper climax there, before he went back and appropiate piled on misery in part 4 to prep for the final climax.
  9. I think it'll depend on the time period. If we're talking about post-everstorm, I think the fact that this woman is a Radiant and due to the current needs of the world will override Alethi social conventions. We sort of see it with Azure taking command of Kholinar's wall - despite how "un-womanly" it is for a female to fight, nevermind lead the army. If we're talking about pre-everstorm, I don't think people will believe her, unless they witness the change first hand. As in, because the change is so perfect, they'd probably assume said Brightlord has gone missing, and a previous unaccounted for twin sister is either making a political play for power or have gone crazy from grief. Recall, they didn't really believe in Radiant abilities at this point. I'd suspect class would affect the reactions too. There's a lot of pressure/expectation for high ranking bright-eyes, and I suspect we'd see this "fact" used relentlessly against her in court to discredit her and her family (similar to Dalinar). Although life is rarely better for dark-eyes, I have a feeling it'd be easier for them to get away from it all. At worst, a dark-eyes will probably be made a social pariah, completely ignored (people thinking they're crazy).
  10. Ha, I remember finding myself disengaging with the Moash POV too. I can see why this part is in the book - how it's necessary for the eventual payoff and big moment. But during the process of reading, all I can think of was "didn't we just do this plot line with Kaladin a few chapters ago?" I too quite enjoy the Bridge 4 POVs. They were fresh, short, and impactful. Lots of great character moment, and sort of the reaction to the "new world" I wanted to see more from the main 3. Very interested to see how they follow up the big finish in Oathbringer in RoW too - I wonder if they'll slow it down again.
  11. I have just re-read the series in anticipation for RoW, and I'd probably put WoR at the top of the three. TWoK was fantastic, but it was ultimately a lot of good world building and a simple but cathartic story. It was an absolute joy to read, but I couldn't wait to move on, to see how the story continues to develop again. WoR had so much more story and momentum. Many amazing character interactions and arcs - finally our main characters all meet and interact. Watching how the dynamics of our main characters get establish and changed - i.e. Kaladin/Adolin, Kaladin/Shallan, was by far the best part. My biggest issue with the book mainly how Kaladin's POV went from my favorite to probably the least of the 3 (though still alright). Oathbringer was actually a tough read - and I wanted to skip through a lot of the first part of the book (aside from Shallan's POV and Kaladin in Hearthstone). The momentum built in WoR (plot-wise and character-wise) came to a screeching halt. It wasn't so much the slower pace or expansion of POVs, but the separation in connection of our 3 main characters. It's hard to describe, but after all the revelations from the end of WoR, it felt like we were missing scenes and conversations on our 3 main characters connecting in regards to this changed world, etc. It felt like we skipped past tons of important reactions and drifted right into the mundane. The second part is alright though.