Use the Falchion

Way of Kings Prime Full Spoiler Discussion

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I haven't seen this thread yet, so let's start it! Here's the place to discuss The Way of Kings Prime in full. 

IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED THE BOOK, LEAVE NOW AND COME BACK LATER. 

 

Now with that out of the way, what did you all think of the book?

I thought the book was a VERY interesting read. There were things I really liked in this read, and things that I very much didn't.
 
What I liked: Merin - Merin is NOT Kaladin. To me they barely share the same attributes, and if one told me Merin, Shinri, and Renarin's adventures were happening off in the background of TWoK & WoR ala Abed helping a Greendale student give birth in the back of a car in Community, I'd be fine with it. Merin is the typical farmboy-turned-royal, and it was fun to see how Sanderson handled that trope. The early powers of Windrunners were great too. it reminded me a little of the Power in the Wheel of Time, but fantastic enough to be different.
 
What I liked: The plot. Sanderson states that nothing really got done in this book, and I heavily disagree. In some ways, there is more plot in this version The Way of Kings than there is in the Stormlight version. The characters make the plots a little harder to follow, but it also allows for readers to get a good perspective while still keeping the element of mystery.
 
What I liked. That this book DIDN'T come out. That isn't a dig on the book at all, but it is something. I'm sure this book would have done very well had it come out in its original form. Without the Spren, some of the more magical aspects of Shardblades, and less noticeable crazy hair, and 200 pages shorter, this book would have been far more mainstream-ready than the current Stormlight books. But at the same time, it's clear Sanderson wasn't ready to release the book he truly wanted to yet. He needed to write a full saga from start to finish first. He needed to write a true sequel first. He needed to learn how to handle a story with multiple characters over a prolonged time first. And THEN he could stretch himself.
 
What I liked: Ahven. Ahven was probably the most diabolical villain Sanderson's created. Sure other villains were alien, evil, sociopaths, or psychopaths, but Ahven seemed to relish in the cruelty he enacted on others. He was misogynistic, sadistic, and narcissistic. And he was COMPETENT. There weren't very many moments where I felt something akin to pity for the tyrant like I do Taravangian. He isn't supposed to BE pitiful, and that's a strength. 
 
What I liked: Meridas? It's clear Sanderson split Meridas up into Amaram and Sadeas, but I was more impressed with the acumen of this Meridas than I ever was either Amaram or Sadeas in the canon series. Amaram and Sadeas always seemed to resort to skulduggery to get the upper-hand. Meridas here needed none of that although he wasn't above using it. I liked that, but it DID get annoying how often they mentioned that Meridas was hiding something and he was more clever than he appeared while still calling him a flop.
 
What I liked: Renarin creating the Diagram. It was just super cool and sort of creepy.
 
What I liked: Shinri. I did get bored of her towards the middle, I admit, but I liked how she WASN'T Shallan. I don't hate Shallan at all, but I liked seeing a different character too.
 
What I liked: The worldbuilding. This has some of Sanderson's most in-depth worldbuilding I've seen, and I LOVED it. I honestly wish Stormlight had more shoutouts to songs, events, and in-world texts like this book does (I mean, Stormlight has a LOT, but I could always go for more).
 
What I liked: How intimately the powers were tied to stones. It was just cool to see.
 
 
What I didn't like: How the Kholins were treated. I was upset how they were pretty much all dead by the end of the book. It made me sad and felt more like Game of Thrones and their treatment of both the Starks and the Lannisters than it did most things Sanderson. 
 
What I didn't like: Shinri towards the back half. I ended up skimming her chapters towards the middle and only came back around towards the end.
 
What I didn't like: The exposition. This is the downside to so much worldbuilding; someone has to explain what all of this worldbuilding means and that leads to a lot of exposition. Half of this book was exposition. I enjoyed that aspect but it was a problem.
 
 
Other notes: Jasnah and Taln? JASNAH AND TALN? I've seen Jasnah shipped with a variety of people and am a Jasnadin shipper myself. But JASNAH AND TALN??? I'm SUPER interested in seeing what Sanderson does for both characters going forward, together or not
.
Other notes: I'm not sure how I felt about Elhokar this time around. There's a difference between being an ineffective king and an actively bad one, and this version of Elhokar is clearly the latter. I was a little worried about why Dalenar would kill his nephew, but by the end I was clearly rooting for it. And after Oathbringer it's clear why Sanderson had to tone down Elhokar's competency. But still, I'm left torn. 
 
Overall this was a good book. Not a great one, but a very solid entry in Sanderson's portfolio. I'd give it a solid 8/10
 
Lastly, my controversial opinion. If The Way of Kings were to become a live action show, THIS is the version they should adapt. Between the toned down fantastical events, multiple perspectives, and overall grounded nature of the story, this would be FAR easier to adapt into live action than The Stormlight Archive as it is today. It would also give the showrunners the chance to play in a new world without fans worrying about whether or not the adaptation is true to form or accurate to the books, because there's only one.*
This is NOT me saying that I don't want the current Stormlight Archive series adapted. I just think that the current Stormlight series would benefit from an animated show ala Netflix's Castlevania or Avatar: The Last Airbender.
 
And while it might be weird for there to be two adaptations of the same series to exist, it's not unheard of either. How many iterations of the Narnia movies have there been? There's an animated Lord of the Rings show as well as the live action movie,** and there are TWO different anime series for Full Metal Alchemist, both of which are great (although Brotherhood is still the best from what I've heard). Death Note has an anime adaptation, THREE Japanese live action movies, and one American movie. It's possible.
 
The only major flaw for this I can think of is the fact that it'd be confusing for those who don't know about the Cosmere, but that's what social media, branding, and fan communities are for. 
 
I'm probably alone in my opinion, but hey, that's why it's controversial.
 
 
So, WHAT DO YOU ALL THINK OF THIS BOOK? DISCUSS BELOW!!
 
*Sanderson could probably provide an outline of where he thought the story was going to head at the time, but that'd be about it.
**Granted the show came out decades before the movies did, but they still both exist.

 

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11 hours ago, Use the Falchion said:

Other notes: Jasnah and Taln? JASNAH AND TALN? I've seen Jasnah shipped with a variety of people and am a Jasnadin shipper myself. But JASNAH AND TALN??? I'm SUPER interested in seeing what Sanderson does for both characters going forward, together or not

I did not know I needed them but I did.  It is just that simple.  Alright Taln I am backing off.  My celebrity crush is yours.  You are the one man on Roshar who deserves her.

11 hours ago, Use the Falchion said:

Other notes: I'm not sure how I felt about Elhokar this time around. There's a difference between being an ineffective king and an actively bad one, and this version of Elhokar is clearly the latter. I was a little worried about why Dalenar would kill his nephew, but by the end I was clearly rooting for it. And after Oathbringer it's clear why Sanderson had to tone down Elhokar's competency. But still, I'm left torn. 

I also had a lot of different feelings.  I thought their final scene was handled really well.  I am glad that even then Elhokar was more paranoid and imperious then actually evil.

11 hours ago, Use the Falchion said:

The only major flaw for this I can think of is the fact that it'd be confusing for those who don't know about the Cosmere, but that's what social media, branding, and fan communities are for. 

Really?  I think it would make perfect sense.

11 hours ago, Use the Falchion said:

What I liked: Renarin creating the Diagram. It was just super cool and sort of creepy.

Agreed.  I hope we get a Mr T flashback like that.

11 hours ago, Use the Falchion said:
 
What I liked: Meridas? It's clear Sanderson split Meridas up into Amaram and Sadeas, but I was more impressed with the acumen of this Meridas than I ever was either Amaram or Sadeas in the canon series. Amaram and Sadeas always seemed to resort to skulduggery to get the upper-hand. Meridas here needed none of that although he wasn't above using it. I liked that, but it DID get annoying how often they mentioned that Meridas was hiding something and he was more clever than he appeared while still calling him a flop.

Meridas made me feel like I needed to take a shower.  Also I hated that he managed to get the better of Jasnah.  I hope she can arrange for his murder soon.

11 hours ago, Use the Falchion said:

What I liked: Ahven. Ahven was probably the most diabolical villain Sanderson's created. Sure other villains were alien, evil, sociopaths, or psychopaths, but Ahven seemed to relish in the cruelty he enacted on others. He was misogynistic, sadistic, and narcissistic. And he was COMPETENT. There weren't very many moments where I felt something akin to pity for the tyrant like I do Taravangian. He isn't supposed to BE pitiful, and that's a strength. 

I am not sure how I feel about making him deaf.  Still he certainly was evil and scary.

Here is my review.

 

Edited by Karger
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3 hours ago, Karger said:

You made me feel like I needed to take a shower.  Also I hated that he managed to get the better of Jasnah.  I hope she can arrange for his murder soon.

Same, but I felt like he was more...realistic? competent? threatening! than Stormligh!Sadeas ever was. And that's why I liked him. Overall the villains in this book never felt like one-off villains the way the ones in regular Stormlight tend to feel. Meridas is a terrible, atrocious human being in this, but he's like the Token Evil Teammate, and that makes him interesting. He's not Tywin Lannister or Andross Guild levels of "manipulative [insert bad word here]", but he's the closest Sanderson's written. 

Also the Jasnah of this book felt too...exposed compared to the Jasnah of Stormlight. It was weird. She wasn't the same character. Here Jasnah was a tactical genius (a trait later given to Dalinar) instead of a philosophical one for the most part. Here she rarely felt like the stoic woman she was described as. Granted, she was in extremely stressful situations, but it was a very noticeable difference. Overall, this Jasnah felt like proto-Jasnah than actual Jasnah...because I guess she actually is proto-Jasnah lol!

3 hours ago, Karger said:

I did not know I needed them but I did.  It is just that simple.  Alright Taln I am backing off.  My celebrity crush is yours.  You are the one man on Roshar who deserves her.

I'm not sure I'm willing to give up my AshxTaln ship (OR my Kaladin/Jasnah ship) for this one just yet, but it was super fascinating to see and eerily possible going forward. 

3 hours ago, Karger said:

Really?  I think it would make perfect sense.

There are already people on Reddit who were a little confused about the different between the canonical The Way of Kings and The Way of Kings Prime. One case was about the audiobook, the other just general confusion.

And having two versions, both of which are titled the same thing but only connects to a broader universe can get confusing. I can already imagine future fans being like "wait, so The Way of Kings that ISN'T live action is related to the Misborn movies? I thought all of the live action movies were connected? So they all are EXCEPT this one? This is too confusing!" (slightly amusing I think, coming from a person who fought for YEARS for the CW shows to be connected to the DC movies like the MCU shows and movies were at the time. ...and then was very happy when they really weren't that connected...).

Not everyone is as entrenched in Sanderson's works as we are, even among fans. That doesn't mean we need to appeal to the least common denominator (despite that often being the case in television), just that we can't all assume they'll pick up on things like we do. 

But they could brand one as Oathshards or something like that and the other as The Stormlight Archive, and then explain how the two came to be, and everything should be fine. Sanderson may even have a frame of reference if he ends up taking a similar approach with Dark One. 

3 hours ago, Karger said:

Here is my review.

I saw it earlier! And while it was surprising, I definitely see the appeal of Prime over the canonical version. 

 

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47 minutes ago, Use the Falchion said:

I saw it earlier! And while it was surprising, I definitely see the appeal of Prime over the canonical version. 

We are after all perhaps 2 out of the maybe 300 people who have now read it.

41 minutes ago, Use the Falchion said:

Same, but I felt like he was more...realistic? competent? threatening! than Stormligh!Sadeas ever was

True.  I am really just ashamed that we will never get to see him get what he deserves.

42 minutes ago, Use the Falchion said:

Overall the villains in this book never felt like one-off villains the way the ones in regular Stormlight tend to feel.

So this is my two cents.  Big name villains come in two types.  The first is the inverse.  The inverse is the mirror image of the hero.  Since you are a DC fan think reverse flash.  Where the hero fights to conquer himself the mirror tries unceasingly to get himself conquered.  This hero can be powerful and threatening but they generally are not able to break the hero the way the second type can.  They are good foils for the hero but they tend to be defeated during the approach to the cave.  The second is the crusher.  The crusher fully understands who and what the hero is but rejects them and what they stand for.  Good DC version of this include Lex Luther(the good ones that fully understand and account for superman's goals and ideology) and Joker(from the nolen movies).  Both really get their opponents yet reject them.  Luther will never be able to act in an interest that does not benefit Luther.  Joker will never stop trying to prove that man is a wolf to man no matter what.  Meridas is the second type.  He gets Jasnah in ways her lower level enemies don't.  However because he defines her by her capacity and goals rather then what she ultimately believes in he will eventually loose.  SA as we have it the Heroes are still learning.  They are still figuring out what they stand for.  None of them are really ready for a crusher.  If Jasnah had been less competent Meridas would not have been nearly as threatening.

55 minutes ago, Use the Falchion said:

Also the Jasnah of this book felt too...exposed compared to the Jasnah of Stormlight. It was weird. She wasn't the same character. Here Jasnah was a tactical genius (a trait later given to Dalinar) instead of a philosophical one for the most part. Here she rarely felt like the stoic woman she was described as. Granted, she was in extremely stressful situations, but it was a very noticeable difference. Overall, this Jasnah felt like proto-Jasnah than actual Jasnah...because I guess she actually is proto-Jasnah lol!

Jasnah's tactical ability is fully evident during SA.  The way she out poisons Kabsal, worked her way out of assassination, traveled through shadesmar, fought during Theylen fields, and deduced both Renarin's abilities as well as what he needed are all clear examples of this. Jasnah is also quite stoic.  Imagine being super out of shape and then going backpacking.  I can tell you from a camping experience that doing so is not fun.  She remains determined to do what is right rather then what she wants to do.  She sounds and acts pretty stoic to me.

1 hour ago, Use the Falchion said:

There are already people on Reddit who were a little confused about the different between the canonical The Way of Kings and The Way of Kings Prime. One case was about the audiobook, the other just general confusion.

I thought you meant they would have trouble reading it. 

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22 minutes ago, Karger said:

Jasnah's tactical ability is fully evident during SA.

I always thought of her as more strategic and paranoid than straight tactical. She out-poison's Kabsal by virtue of not being on the same playing field, and nearly lost Shallan in the process. She outsmarted the assassins (again by not being on the same playing field*), but nearly lost Shallan, the sailors, and her notes in the process. Jasnah is brilliant and calculating, and can play the games, but in the canonical books, Dalinar was the one with the battle plans (post-Adolin's birth). 

Again, I'm not saying this Jasnah is bad, but it's like the Meridas problem. Everyone says that Jasnah is a stoic person, but being in her mindset and her arc in this book made her feel anything but stoic to me. There are elements of tragedy in the "love that can never be," that stubborn determination she always possessed, and there was absolutely the cut-throat, calculating coldness via manipulation that other characters mentioned, but I rarely got stoic out of it. Or maybe it's just that Sanderson was still terrible at writing romance. Meh, it's fine. 

 

28 minutes ago, Karger said:

Since you are a DC fan think reverse flash.

I'm both a Marvel and a DC fan!

 

29 minutes ago, Karger said:

They are still figuring out what they stand for.  None of them are really ready for a crusher.

A "crusher" type of villain is where the heroes forge themselves though. In the Nolan movies are all about Batman learning to become a symbol instead of just a vigilante, and those types of "crusher" villains are what make for good forges for the heroes. It's the loses that Oliver Queen takes when fighting The Dark Archer in Season 1 of Arrow that start him on the path of heroism. It's the battle against Loki that none of the Avengers were prepared for that pushed them towards becoming a family of sorts (and sent Tony down the path of creating Ultron, freaking out about Thanos, and mentoring Peter). 

Inverses make for fun stories, but Crushers are needed for good characters. Meridas here was a Crusher, but one that was politically aligned with the heroes at times, and that made him interesting and almost respectful. Like in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones when

Spoiler

Twyin sort of mentors/bonds with Arya when she's in hiding. Tywin is neither the hero nor the protagonist. Heck, had Arya taken him out then and there, her family may still be more intact. AND THE AUDIENCE KNEW THIS. But at the same time, we almost root for him because he's helping someone we like (which is a pretty easy way to make someone likable), and the current major antagonists are a threat in the moment. 

Also, when compared to Elhokar, Meridas had something resembling honor around him. He kept his word, helped out his promised allies, and overall proved himself to be a useful tool. Was he still an obstacle that should have been removed? Absolutely. But I never once rolled my eyes at him after the big reveal like I did with Sadeas in WoR. 

I guess since this was a more political book, I appreciated the more political villain; and since Stormlight moved out of the Alethi politics super quickly, it felt like a lot of potential was left behind. The scope became too big for the villain, and in turn it made the villain feel too small to be of any significance. And with such an intimate antagonist such as Sadeas, it felt like a shame. 

 

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12 minutes ago, Use the Falchion said:

I guess since this was a more political book, I appreciated the more political villain; and since Stormlight moved out of the Alethi politics super quickly, it felt like a lot of potential was left behind. The scope became too big for the villain, and in turn it made the villain feel too small to be of any significance. And with such an intimate antagonist such as Sadeas, it felt like a shame

This I absolutely agree with.  However

16 minutes ago, Use the Falchion said:

It's the loses that Oliver Queen takes when fighting The Dark Archer in Season 1 of Arrow that start him on the path of heroism.

Yeah except the dark archer is an inverse.  Someone who gave into seeing his enemies like target signs.  Arrow is a much darker character so he needs a much darker villain.  Kaladin is not like that so he needs a more arrogant antagonist.  Someone who reminds him of where he could be and why he should not be there.

18 minutes ago, Use the Falchion said:

. It's the battle against Loki that none of the Avengers were prepared for that pushed them towards becoming a family of sorts (and sent Tony down the path of creating Ultron, freaking out about Thanos, and mentoring Peter). 

Every member of the team(except Widow and Halkeye) was already past that stage from their own movies(and it looks like we will see where Widow got it from in her movie).

21 minutes ago, Use the Falchion said:

Also, when compared to Elhokar, Meridas had something resembling honor around him. He kept his word, helped out his promised allies, and overall proved himself to be a useful tool. Was he still an obstacle that should have been removed? Absolutely. But I never once rolled my eyes at him after the big reveal like I did with Sadeas in WoR. 

Sadeas's reveal during WoKs is actually quite devastating(at least for me).  Meridas did not have exactly personal honor IMO he just knew better then to break his word.

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the name dalenar really really bothers me

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Having read this book, I am glad this didn't end up being the final version because it's clear Brandon evolved as a writer to a much higher level than what was displayed in this book. 

Overall, I liked it but nothing to write home about. It felt a lot like an 80's or early 90's fantasy to me, not sure if anyone felt that way too?

Rambling thoughts (all of them as a comparative to the current Stormlight Archive. I know it might not be a fair comparative to make, but to me it's interesting in realising the improvement of Brandon as an author and why SA works so well for me):

Merin was a bit of a Mary sue compared to Kaladin - not only do we really see Kaladin train to earn his achievements, but his mind is tactical.. soldier-like. Merin just seems to stumble into success most of the time.

I liked this Elokhar and Meridas... though the end of their arcs weren't very satisfying they were adequate antagonists.

I am now scared for the fate of the Kholin brothers and hope that narrative has been completely reworked.

Also I realized how good Brandon has gotten with POVs. In the current SA, I don't need to know who's the POV character because I can tell by the language, the thought structure, the dialogue... it certainly didn't feel that way in the Prime version.

While on the topic of things Brandon has improved on: you can tell how much his prose has been elevated compared to this.

The lore was ok, but it didn't seem that deep. We barely got myths, histories, songs... This makes me value so much more the inclusion of death rattles, epigraphs, book excerpts, songs..etc in the current S.A.

Finally... Jasnah. I am so thankful for the Jasnah we have today rather than the one in this book. I feel like Prime Jasnah was not that smart to be honest. She was controlled, sure. But smart? I feel like the Jasnah we know would have been able to better piece together if Taln told the truth, or a version of it, even with spren out of the equation. Her extensive historical knowledge alone would have been enough to figure out that Taln knew a variety of facts very few people in the world would know... especially people she had never heard of. Also... don't recall ever having seen her reading a book and one of my favourite Jasnah traits is her being a bit of a bookworm. This Jasnah felt too stuck in being a non-believer and her smarts were more told than shown. I do ship her and Taln though, that was a very cute relationship. Low-key hoping for those two crazy kids to get the feels in the back 5.

I am excited to see everyone's theories based on extrapolations of this book. 

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Im also glad that this wasnt the final version.  It was so much darker than any of the other books, and Brandon's writing has improved so much since then.  The inevitable Merin showing up in the nick of time to save the day hurt the story.

Taln's whole arc was very disappointing to me.  Brandon's talked a bunch in his writing lectures about payoff and it just didnt seem like there was much of one for the character.  What do you guys think was going to happen to Taln's body after another day?  Regardless if this continued as a story, I think that Taln would be back.  Even if Ishar broke the Oathpact Taln was still part of it.  

Did anyone spot Hoid?  I thought it was the dude who turned out to be Ishar

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2 hours ago, lordofsoup said:

What do you guys think was going to happen to Taln's body after another day?

Probably it was going to dissolve into smoke, revealing him to be a true Herald.

2 hours ago, lordofsoup said:

Did anyone spot Hoid?  I thought it was the dude who turned out to be Ishar

I don't think I saw him, but I'm also not particularly observant. But since this was written early on, I assume he's probably going to be a very very small reference, and maybe not even by name? Maybe one of the lords at one of the parties?

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6 hours ago, Dalinar'sCroissant said:

Finally... Jasnah. I am so thankful for the Jasnah we have today rather than the one in this book. I feel like Prime Jasnah was not that smart to be honest. She was controlled, sure. But smart? I feel like the Jasnah we know would have been able to better piece together if Taln told the truth, or a version of it, even with spren out of the equation. Her extensive historical knowledge alone would have been enough to figure out that Taln knew a variety of facts very few people in the world would know... especially people she had never heard of. Also... don't recall ever having seen her reading a book and one of my favourite Jasnah traits is her being a bit of a bookworm. This Jasnah felt too stuck in being a non-believer and her smarts were more told than shown. I do ship her and Taln though, that was a very cute relationship. Low-key hoping for those two crazy kids to get the feels in the back 5.

To be fair Jasnah is a tactician not a historian in this version.

21 minutes ago, beewall said:

Probably it was going to dissolve into smoke, revealing him to be a true Herald.

Jasnah did that anyway.  I personally think that he would have gotten back up.

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1 minute ago, Karger said:

Jasnah did that anyway.  I personally think that he would have gotten back up.

Yes, but from the sound of it, she did it very obviously and everyone knew it was Soulcast (sorry, "Awakened"). If he had naturally dissolved, however...

But who knows. I can't imagine he'd be gone for the whole series, so if he didn't return then, he may have later.

Side theory: Nale mentioned that maybe Taln got back by getting an Elsecaller to return him... and "the Elsecaller" was expected to be the key to everything. Perhaps that was part of how he was going to return, or perhaps she was going to bring someone there?

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I am so. Incredibly. Sick. of the word "tenset!" 

That is all. 

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6 hours ago, Karger said:

To be fair Jasnah is a tactician not a historian in this version.

True true. However, this bothers me too. Jasnah is explained to always just have had a natural mind for it which ok, great...but that's not necesarilly how things work? You can be a naturally talented strategist but in order to understand war tactics you need to understand the uses/characteristics of various war elements (formations, strategies, shardplates, swords, towers, terrains...) and that comes from either education or experience. As Jasnah has never been a soldier, I'd assume it was education which would then also include knowledge of war history... at least enough of it to be able to validate many of Taln's stories and strategies.

To be fair, I generally don't like when characters are just amazing at something without trying... which is a gripe I had with this book, yet it's something Sanderson manages so well in the actual SA that I will never cease to be amazed at his skill development. 

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8 hours ago, Dalinar'sCroissant said:

You can be a naturally talented strategist but in order to understand war tactics you need to understand the uses/characteristics of various war elements (formations, strategies, shardplates, swords, towers, terrains...) and that comes from either education or experience. As Jasnah has never been a soldier, I'd assume it was education which would then also include knowledge of war history... at least enough of it to be able to validate many of Taln's stories and strategies

War history from almost a thousand years ago would probably not be super useful to Jasnah.  I doubt she spent much time on it.  Also she knows that he can read.  She would just assume he read some of the same books she did.  Considering she probably did not cover those in great depth they must have been fairly well known works for the most part.

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Well, I finished the book, and I've got a few points of analysis to present.

First is the glimpse into the writer's soul. The best works of art come from their creator's tragedy, unfortunately. The painting after a death of a loved one, the album after the rough breakup. Way of Kings Prime has glimpses of this, of where Brandon was at professionally and emotionally when he wrote this book. He's talked about it before in interviews, that he had attempted and failed to get published (Elantris/Dragonsteel/White Sand Prime), had altered his writing style (Mistborn Prime/Final Empire Prime), and was even abandoning books as he felt himself regressing (Mythwalker). And that's the person who wrote Way of Kings, and the person who shines through in all six of the main characters:

  • Merin, a nobleman in a noble's cloak that's too big for him, thrust unprepared into greatness. The writer Brandon wished himself to be. He gives up his Shards at the end of the book; I see in this an acceptance that Brandon may never make it as a professional author.
  • Dalenar, a man who lives and dies by his ideals. "Act with honor, and honor will guide you" is a phrase that doesn't appear until the 2009 rewrite, but it still describes this Dalenar to a tee. And this was how Brandon wrote this book: trust in yourself, do what you know is write, for its own sake.
  • Jasnah, the stubborn. This is her single most defining character trait; she doesn't want to be married to someone chosen for her, she doesn't want to be forced to live like Awakeners live, she doesn't want to be changed by Awakening. There's another phrase from canon Stormlight, where she talks to Shallan about "The idea of being beholden to another, particularly a man?" It's a big phrase used to advance theories about Jasnah's sexuality; but, ultimately, the key word in there is "beholden." An outright rejection of doing what others want her to do; similar to Dalenar's stubbornness, but outwardly focused instead of inward. Brandon won't mindlessly listen to what others tell him to do to become a successful author.
  • Jek, the powerful warrior without agency of his own. He seeks freedom, and hates the things he has to do. Like an aspiring author who is looking for his one moment to break free and achieve his greatness.
  • Shinri, the fidgety girl who's grown up on the outside but not on the inside. She's covered up her childish behaviors, but when we see through her eyes, she still is overtaken by all these attitudes of immaturity. I see this as Brandon struggling with the core concept of fantasy; can he really make a living off of the dreams of his childhood genre? Her lack of agency also parallel's Jek's struggles, and to the same man.
  • And lastly, Taln. The Herald who nobody believes. Like the author who nobody believes is a true author, who even struggles with himself (similar to Merin's struggle).

I think putting himself and his struggles into all these characters gave this book the potential it has, the reason this book (as it stands in the Prime version) had a contract to be published (and associated amusing amazon reviews from 2007). Most of these characters have changed significantly since then; Jasnah and Dalinar are mostly the same, and Jek is recognizable as Szeth, but the other three look drastically different. And those make sense - the ones who struggle the most internally with accepting their powers and realities either have a different story arc (Taln) or are replaced with new characters altogether (Merin and Shinri), because Brandon did it. He made it. He doesn't need to struggle with whether or not he's really an author; he can celebrate through the stubborn characters that his truth has been validated.

The second is how Brandon has advanced as a writer since then. Six main characters, but the classic "Brandon Trio" is still there. All of Brandon's early books have what I see as the Idealist Prince, the Shrewd Princess, and the Cool Dude. The first two aren't always literal princes and princesses, but they exemplify the ideals of those sorts of characters, and they wind up romantically involved. The third character is the most interesting one, the memorable one who really gives the book its flavor.

  • Elantris: Raoden / Sarene / Hrathen
  • Dragonsteel: Jerick / ??? / Topaz (We have not received any excerpts with a princess, but the other two fit these roles very well)
  • White Sand: Kenton / Khriss / Ais
  • Mythwalker: Devin / Vvenna / Siri
  • Mistborn Prime: Kathin / Rosela / Oresoor
  • Aether of Night: Raeth / D'naa (I don't actually see a Cool Dude in this story; the third most important character, Darro, is more of a Galladon/Baon kind of Key Secondary Character)

And that brings us to Way of Kings, where we have two Idealist Princes (Merin and Taln), two Shrewd Princesses (Jasnah and Shinri), and two Cool Dudes (Jek and Dalenar). The only real romance of the book is Jasnah/Taln, but I wouldn't be surprised if Merin/Shinri had been planned. (Especially since we got hints of it in their replacement characters, Kaladin and Shallan.) These patterns have been pretty evidently broken in more recent books; Idealist Princes and Shrewd Princesses are still there, but they get subverted, and they get relegated to being side characters while the main characters are all Cool Dudes, and they don't all pair off with each other. But even aside from character archetypes, the villains are much improved in canon Stormlight. Ahven, Elhokar, and Meridas are entirely unsympathetic, pure villains. Ahven, especially, wants to conquer the world and is a monster, and that's all there is. Meridas's line about visiting whores is just to grind home that he's wicked and does things just to be hurtful to others. And Elhokar wasn't just a bad king, he was actively undermining his nation out of spite for others. (And he possibly killed his own father. More on that later.) They've all become much more sympathetic characters in their latest versions. Taravangian has noble goals, the ultimate utilitarian; Elhokar is incompetent, but not malicious; Sadeas is ruthless and short-sighted, but he does support Elhokar; and Amaram is a religious zealot, aspiring high instead of aspiring low. The villains have goals that are noble, even if they're only noble in their own mind. I think that adds a lot more depth and a lot more agency to the heroes who face them; Dalinar's abandonment on the Tower isn't "haha take this loser, I hate you"; it's another human who is doing what he thinks is best for his nation, and Dalinar's choices and actions have driven the villain there.

Okay, now on to the content of the book. There are a lot of mysteries in here that we don't get the answers to. From my impressions, there's a lot more revealed here than there was in the canon version of Way of Kings; I remember reading that book for the first (and second and third) time and having no idea whatsoever what the Double Eye in the front of the book was, or what the magic was beyond Lashing and Soulcasting. Here are some of the biggest unanswered questions that I expect hypothetical further Oathshards books would have touched on: 

  • You've got the classic "how does the magic work?" question. I think we could have a decent chance at getting the full notes on the Three Arts (the Sacred Arts, as Jek called them), but I also think it would be an excellent exercise to try and piece them together and figure out how WoKP magic works internally. It would be excellent practice for how to approach the Metallic Arts and the canon Rosharan magics; the opportunity to approach a truly complicated Brandon magic and try to understand it is rare. I plan on going back at some point and trying to do a writeup of what we know, but I'm not even sure what the Three Arts even are. Epellion arts seemed to become Surgebinding (Windrunning, Stonewarding, Onyxseeing, etc), and then you've got Awakening (or the Lhonomists, perhaps). But what's the third? I'm thinking Windrunning/Onyxseeing involves two kinds of magics; one that involves focusing powers through a gem, and one that involves the actual consumption of the gem.
  • The seminal mystery of the book is unanswered. What happened to Renarin's army from the first chapter? I'm pretty sure they were killed by Khothen, who are the Stormshades. But why did they take Blades and Plate from the dead?
  • Meridas is presented as an enigma, having previously owned a Shardblade and commanded armies and all that good stuff. I don't think he can be a Herald, since he spends so much time with Taln, unless there's a version of Lightweaving in this version of the magic. But the way his stance is described as strange reminds me of how Taln basically has his own unique stance. But also, since the Elinrah are an early analogue of the Sons of Honor (being behind Ahven/Taravangian), I wonder if he's tied into them somehow, too.
  • "Taln, who had doubted their course, the  capture of the Magnatah, the formation of the nahel Bond." What is Magnatah? Or who is/are Magnatah?
  • What happened seventeen years ago? It was when Jarnah the Conquerer and the Shin were defeated by Dalinar. It was when Jasnah came into her powers, with her magical illness. (More on that below.) And it was when Merin, Shinri, and Renarin were all born. I suspect it was also when Szeth was exiled as Truthless. But what was it?
  • The lord at the end, who ate and didn't grow fat. Kind of a bizarre hook to throw in there. Is that a proto-Unmade influence?
  • The mystery of not-Gavilar (I don't want to bother typing his name out) and his death. There's just a lot that doesn't add up there, and I don't know if it's clues for something deeper or just ill-conceived and poorly communicated, or if I just wasn't paying enough attention. Why was Pralir involved in the war, why did they defend the Traitor in the first place? Did the Traitor defend himself, or did he take credit for the death of the king? If the Traitor didn't really kill the king, who did? We didn't see the king's cousin once; what info did he have, and why did he have to argue with Elhokar about it? I think a lot of things are pointing towards Elhokar hiring the true assassin (possibly Jek because of the law of conservation of characters), and the Traitor being the only one who could speak against it (which is why Elhokar wanted him dead so bad). But if that were the case, why did the Traitor act like he did?

And, even though Brandon said in the intro that this book isn't canon, I think there are still a lot of things we can learn about canon Stormlight. Stuff in WoKP still happens in canon; Dalinar still takes over, Renarin can still see the future, and humanity still comes to Roshar from somewhere else. The trick is going to be keying in to what's still the same, and what's different. So here are the parallels I saw, both that we already know about and what I suspect we haven't seen yet.

  • In the same introduction, Brandon says that he planned to call the series "Dawnshards." But that's not correct. (It's been a little while, I guess we can forgive him.) "Oathshards" is what he used to call it on his blog, way back in the day. And, while Dawnshard doesn't appear in this book, Oathshard does, but always in the context of the "Oathshard Kings." And that, I think, is because the Oathpact was different from the cycle of returns; the kings of Roshar were the ones who created and were bound to the Oathpact, and it was responsible for the Knights Epellion. I took "Oathshard Kings" to be a contrast to "Oathpact Kings"; once the Oathpact was broken, and the kingdoms of the world broke their alliances and went to war, they were the fragments (shards) of the old alliance (Oathpact). But the cycle of returns, which involved the Heralds and the Khothen, was something else entirely. So... I've still got no idea what the Dawnshards are.
  • In this book, magic always requires a stone (mostly gemstones, but there's also stuff like obsidian) to focus it. The ten polestones. Same as how you always need metal in Mistborn. In the canon version, I will go so far as to say this has moved to spren; every form of magic requries the involvement of spren. Higher spren for Surgebinding, lesser spren for fabrial science. Shardplate is spren, as we got in the latest RoW preview. I think Voidbinding, whatever it will be, will wind up needing the involvement of spren, and I think that the Fused, however they've managed to appropriate Surgebinding, also involves spren.
  • You've got the Khothen as a pretty clear analogue for the singers. They return like the Fused, their bodies are stone (like the thunderclasts) to fit as the natural inhabitants of Roshar (a world of stone), you've got them appearing in the storms (as stormshades or stormwights). You've got humanity coming from another world, Lhar (which I think is also referred to as Lura), which is now gone and seems to be an early version of Ashyn.
  • I really liked Ahven's reveal of his Shardblade. I'd really like to see this scene redone and brought into canon; and Taravangian, now being old and feeble, would be a phenomenal person to do it. Reveal him to have a Shardblade and enough combat training to win a fight and take over another country, Thaylenah or something.
  • The terms ihel and nahel are very interesting; I'm gonna need to take a second pass, but my first impressions are that they were Investiture and Connection. There may be something we can learn about Realmatics from this book; manifesting the nahel seems like a glimpse into the Spiritual Realm. You've also got some neat stuff with Soul Tones, which I think have to do with the Spiritual Realm. (Which is why the Heralds' Bond keeps their Soul Tones from changing.)
  • The tunnels under Kholinar are cool. We don't get to see what's behind that secret door, unforunately, but I wonder if canon Kholinar has something like that, too, and now that the main characters have access to Heralds (maybe) they could go and utilize the secrets of Kholinar to retake it.
  • We know why the Shin consider stone sacred in WoKP. It's because all magic works through stones and gemstones. But why is it sacred in canon? Just because humanity was supposed to remain on the soil in their original agreement with the singers?
  • There's a passage about Shardblades. "Almighty protect the world if they ever found the true power locked within those Blades..." I think that's somewhat carried over into canon with the true power of the Oaths, without Honor to regulate them. We've seen hints about the Surges being dangerous, about how they destroyed Ashyn, so I think the WoKP Shardblades were tied to the destruction of Lhar.
  • Jasnah's illness as a child was the manifestation of her powers, seventeen years prior. I wonder if her canon childhood madness was also tied to the manifestation of her magic; maybe that's when she first started to bond a spren?
  • What's going on with Taln isn't ever really explained, but I bet it has to do with Ishar's betrayal in the Prime version. The canon version? I don't know if Ishar is still a traitor; Nale still listens to him, still works with him, so if he did betray humanity, he has been much more subtle about it. That would give him the motive to steal Taln's blade when he appeared in canon; although I don't know if he had the opportunity, if he was still over in the southwest fighting his holy wars.
  • Taln dies at the end. Hoo boy, there it is. I can totally see that happening again.

Well, there are my initial thoughts. I'll probably try to do a reread and cross-reference the WoBs we've got. There are some things I thought I remembered hearing that I didn't see in the book; somebody dual-wielding Shardblades, and Jasnah actually believing Taln was a Herald and trying to get him back.

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17 hours ago, Pagerunner said:

Epellion arts seemed to become Surgebinding (Windrunning, Stonewarding, Onyxseeing, etc), and then you've got Awakening (or the Lhonomists, perhaps). But what's the third? I'm thinking Windrunning/Onyxseeing involves two kinds of magics; one that involves focusing powers through a gem, and one that involves the actual consumption of the gem.

It seemed to me that there also existed a non-Epellion variant of Onyxseeing, which the Shin Holetatinal (proto Stone Shamans?) practiced, as well as the poor kids exploited by Elinrah. Jek was certainly familiar with it.

 

Quote
  • The seminal mystery of the book is unanswered. What happened to Renarin's army from the first chapter? I'm pretty sure they were killed by Khothen, who are the Stormshades. But why did they take Blades and Plate from the dead?

If Khothen are intelligent and somewhat human-formed, it would only make sense, no? Also, Ishar/Balenar could be working with them and he might have requested it.

 

Quote
  • What happened seventeen years ago? It was when Jarnah the Conquerer and the Shin were defeated by Dalinar.

Well, I am pretty sure that Jarnah just gave up because he had truly believed in the imminent Return and didn't want to keep going with his conquest once he became convinced that he was wrong. He is Vasher, of course. Didn't one of his friends say that "Dalenar is a liar"?

 

Quote
  • It was when Jasnah came into her powers, with her magical illness.

No, it wasn't. Jasnah is still 34 in this version, and she had her illness when she was 7 here. Also, it was explained as the first manifestation of her Awakener powers, so not particularly mysterious.

 

Quote
  •  
  • And it was when Merin, Shinri, and Renarin were all born. I suspect it was also when Szeth was exiled as Truthless. But what was it?

The kids, yes, not sure about Jek. His exile didn't seem connected with the issue of the Returns, nor did his brief thoughts on Jarnah's conquest hint at any personal involvement.

 

Quote
  • The lord at the end, who ate and didn't grow fat. Kind of a bizarre hook to throw in there. Is that a proto-Unmade influence?

Yea, I didn't understand this. I would have suspected him of being a Herald, only Taln didn't recognize him. Not sure about the Unmade, because the effect on him seemed to be purely beneficial and nobody else was affected.

 

Quote
  •  I think a lot of things are pointing towards Elhokar hiring the true assassin (possibly Jek because of the law of conservation of characters), and the Traitor being the only one who could speak against it (which is why Elhokar wanted him dead so bad). But if that were the case, why did the Traitor act like he did?

Ishar/Balenar was obviously the killer, right? He was supposed to be the only witness to the murder. It looks like he likes to push people towards conquering and supports the conquerors.  Beats me why the Prallir would have suicidally defended the "Traitor", though.

 

Quote

. I think Voidbinding, whatever it will be, will wind up needing the involvement of spren, and I think that the Fused, however they've managed to appropriate Surgebinding, also involves spren.

I don't think so, unless the Fused souls already are a combination of a cognitive shadow and a a voidspren. Voidspren seem to have a different dynamic than the Honor/Cultivation ones. For one thing, they don't need a bond to retain their minds in the physical realm. And for the other, there were no spren on Ashyn, but I am pretty sure that there was Voidbinding.

 

Quote
  •  
  • I really liked Ahven's reveal of his Shardblade. I'd really like to see this scene redone and brought into canon; and Taravangian, now being old and feeble, would be a phenomenal person to do it. Reveal him to have a Shardblade and enough combat training to win a fight and take over another country, Thaylenah or something.

Please, no. I like Queen Fen! Besides, it would be absurd if they lost Thaylenah, too, but still managed to bounce back. Would also make the climax of OB feel pointless.

 

Quote
  • Jasnah's illness as a child was the manifestation of her powers, seventeen years prior. I wonder if her canon childhood madness was also tied to the manifestation of her magic; maybe that's when she first started to bond a spren?

But wouldn't it be just a repetition of Shallan's arc in canon, if Jasnah also started bonding a spren as a child (she was 10 in canon during her illness) and then supressed the memory? And as I said above, the incident was 27 years ago in WoK prime.

 

Quote
  • What's going on with Taln isn't ever really explained, but I bet it has to do with Ishar's betrayal in the Prime version. The canon version? I don't know if Ishar is still a traitor;

Ishar may not have been a traitor to humanity yet when he broke the Oathpact in canon, but I very much agree with @Q10fanatic in the RoTW spoiler interlude thread that he is going to be the big bad of the second half of SA. It would finally explain to my satisfaction why the second half of SA will have the Herald focus, when so far it seems that the Heralds have become largely irrelevant and are about to be killed off for the most part.

Yea, proto-Taln's situation is clearly due to the betrayal, but what confuses me is that there is a WoB that he was supposed to be stuck in another man's body, like a Fused, which would have added to the difficulty of him being believed, because people would have recognized him as that other person. But that doesn't seem to be the case here, so was it part of an even earlier draft? Or was it supposed to happen at his "sudden, but inevitable" return from the dead?

 

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  • Taln dies at the end. Hoo boy, there it is. I can totally see that happening again.

He and Renarin are only "mostly dead". It is clear that they would have bounced from their respective predicaments in the future. Isn't there a WoB that if Sanderson had finished SA back then, it would have been a trilogy with Taln as the main protagonist?

 

Quote

 There are some things I thought I remembered hearing that I didn't see in the book; somebody dual-wielding Shardblades, and Jasnah actually believing Taln was a Herald and trying to get him back.

Well, it is very strongly hinted that Jasnah would have brought him back somehow if the series continued, so... Beats me about dual-sharding, though - it is such a silly idea for anybody except canon Nale, IMHO.

P.S. I do think that canon Jasnah is significantly different (and superior) to the proto-version and canon Dalinar is a combination of Dalenar and proto-Taln, with the possible madness angle and the futile attempts to prepare humanity for the Desolation.

The problem with proto-Jasnah is that her supposed talents are all informed attributes, which aren't remotely believable, and she gets Worfed constantly. The first time she got outwitted was impactful and shocking, but then it kept happening again and again and when she does get her way it is mostly because various men indulge her for their own reasons. Her military genius while working exclusively from maps is complete nonsense (it doesn't help that I have just finished Shaara's "Killer Angels", which highlights how essential it was for military commanders to see the ground with their own eyes even in the late 19th century). Ergh. Meanwhile, Ahven does a lot of what she is supposed be good at in a much more plausible manner, even though he is also a Thrawn pastiche.

IMHO, canon Jasnah is also not as good at intrigue and intelligence work as she thinks she is, but it isn't her sole or even main focus. And her curiosity and search for truth are her most appealing qualities, which are totally absent in the Prime.

P.S.S. Thinking about it a bit more, another thing that makes no sense for this proto-Jasnah, who only supposedly cared for her own power and her family's safety, is her publicly avowed atheism, which could only hinder her goals. It just looks like a randomly thrown in trait, without any basis in  the rest of her character and seems to set up an eventual realization of how wrong her position is. 

Edited by Isilel
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That's a good point about the timelines - and on further reflection and a closer analysis of the text, I'm not sure Jasnah is even a Knight Epellion at all. More on that later.

In terms of the witness to not-Gavilar's death, Jezenrosh produced a witness, and later Jasnah said Balenmar had been a witness. I'd remembered the first scene, but forgot the second; it does seem that Ishar was behind the king's death. I wonder if he's destabilizing the nations of the world to 1) make it easier for the Khothen to conquer and 2) keep the Oathpact broken remove the Epellion from the world. I do think the Shin Onyxseers and Ahven's Onyxseers are the same phenomenon as Renarin; the Veden seers were all kids, so none of them predate the 17-year event. And for the Shin... I wonder if they had held to the Oathpact (which didn't bind the Heralds in this version; it bound the Oathpact Kings and their nations, and had the Knights Epellion attributed to it) and kept all the Epellion to themselves, but when they finally broke it in joining with Jarnah and moving against other nations, that somehow opened up the possibility of new Epellion from the other nations.

Also, while I can see where you're coming from with Jarnah = Vasher, that's a pretty big leap. Jarnah didn't give up conquest; per Jasnah, he was slain by Dalinar in "single combat," whereafter his army fell apart. That's why Dalinar's called Tyrantbane; seems like a pretty hard thing to fake. Dalinar lied about something regarding Vasher, sure, but I don't see how you get to him being Jarnah.

Onto the magic. The Sacred Arts / Three Arts. I've been mulling it over and searching through the text. The first problem I encountered was that there appeared to be more than ten Polestones; I counted fourteen. Until it was pointed out to me that amber wasn't referred to as a Polestone; Taln called it the "Sourcestone" of Stonewarding. So, as I see it, we've got ten Sourcestones for Epellion Sourcing (as Taln calls his Stonewarding on more than one occasion), which I see as aligning with aForce. And we've got ten Polestones, all of which I think are mentioned at one point or another in the text, though we don't get definitively how they align with the Essences and Awakening (performed by Lhonomists). I think the third system is hinted at - "Shaping," which Taln contrasts with Epellion Sourcing (" I presume, then, that Shaping is somehow still available to mankind, even if Epellion Sourcing has for some reason diminished?"), and which is responsible for Shardblades. I don't see it on the Double Eye anywhere, although since it uses opals, I'm assuming that Shardblades are only one of ten possible manifestations of it. (Shardplate is referred to as Awakened, so I don't think it's Shaping.) 

So, if I take the Windrunners and put them and Jezrien on the Force of Jez/Wind, and then I line up the other Heralds (and associated Epellion) in the order they're presented when Jasnah lists them all off, here's what I get:5f0ced8935a37_WoKPmagicchart.thumb.JPG.949efa3abdc017d99975e16e43a68fe0.JPG

There are a few things I'm still not sure on, and would like feedback for. There's an Awakener who seems to move without moving; that doesn't really match an Essence to me, it looks like it's savant-ified Movement. I'm also not sure why Awakening has a Force, when it's pretty often made out to be something distinct from Epellion powers. Unless that Awakening, specifically, is what Jasnah's doing? A more powerful version of Lhonomy, accessible only through that Order of Knights Epellion?

Oh, and I've also slotted in Dustbringers with the Force of Decay. That aligns them with someone who looks like a proto-Ash (although we know from the text there is only one female Herald, and based on pronoun usage it can only be Kavezeren, Vedel, or Shalesa; so maybe Shalesa is female, maybe not). Which fits in well with the common Ash = Dustbringer theory.

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On 14.7.2020 at 1:35 AM, Pagerunner said:

 I do think the Shin Onyxseers and Ahven's Onyxseers are the same phenomenon as Renarin; the Veden seers were all kids, so none of them predate the 17-year event.

But the Elinrah also have weaker seers, who aren't frauds - like the crusty old man from whom Renarin swiped his obsidian piece and got some ideas for refining his technique. These aren't Epellion, IMHO. As to the Shin retaining Epellion powers, hm. You'd think that Jek would have had some reaction to Merin using Windrunning on him in such a case, like he had to the Onyxseers. There also weren't any other hints of it in his PoVs.

I do think that you are right about Ishar's motivations - that he thinks that supporting strife somehow keeps stronger powers from manifesting. I also suspect that he was behind the Elinrah support of Ahven and their existence in general.

 

On 14.7.2020 at 1:35 AM, Pagerunner said:

Also, while I can see where you're coming from with Jarnah = Vasher, that's a pretty big leap. Jarnah didn't give up conquest; per Jasnah, he was slain by Dalinar in "single combat," whereafter his army fell apart. That's why Dalinar's called Tyrantbane; seems like a pretty hard thing to fake. Dalinar lied about something regarding Vasher, sure, but I don't see how you get to him being Jarnah.

Well, IMHO Vasher needs to have something in common with his canon self. He is obviously

Spoiler

not a Returned, a genius scholar or one of the founders of the practice of Awakening here, nor is he involved with Nightblood

, so what remains? Also, there is the fact that Dalenar suggested Ehlokar becoming a monk as an alternative resolution to their conflict and this quote about Dalenar from one of Vasher's friends (who are all ex-soldier monks, BTW): "A wise man", Chadrin said quietly, "A liar, but still wise". BTW it suddenly occurred to me that

Spoiler

Vivenna has a lot in common with proto-Jasnah. She is this very controlled princess who thinks that she knows what she is doing, but it turns out that she doesn't, she meets an ancient mythical figure of a man, whom she learns to trust and eventually becomes an Awakener. Oh, and she also tried to protect a younger sibling in a way that came back to bite her.

 

On 14.7.2020 at 1:35 AM, Pagerunner said:

 I think the third system is hinted at - "Shaping," which Taln contrasts with Epellion Sourcing (" I presume, then, that Shaping is somehow still available to mankind, even if Epellion Sourcing has for some reason diminished?"), and which is responsible for Shardblades. I don't see it on the Double Eye anywhere, although since it uses opals, I'm assuming that Shardblades are only one of ten possible manifestations of it. (Shardplate is referred to as Awakened, so I don't think it's Shaping.) 

I am not sure that Shaping is different from Awakening Shardplate. The arts of creation of both shardblades and shardplate are supposedly lost. Which makes me suspect that in this version Jasnah was supposed to rediscover them and make a certain black sword. She is an extraordinarily strong Awakener and her polestone is obsidian, which in WoK prime is used to turn things into smoke - that looks like a foreshadowing of her making a black smoking sword.

Kaza's interlude in OB is a glimpse of prime Jasnah's eventual fate in Proto-SA if her ability had been discovered and all the world-changing stuff hadn't been happening, BTW.

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On 7/13/2020 at 3:58 AM, Pagerunner said:

The mystery of not-Gavilar (I don't want to bother typing his name out) and his death. There's just a lot that doesn't add up there, and I don't know if it's clues for something deeper or just ill-conceived and poorly communicated, or if I just wasn't paying enough attention. Why was Pralir involved in the war, why did they defend the Traitor in the first place? Did the Traitor defend himself, or did he take credit for the death of the king? If the Traitor didn't really kill the king, who did? We didn't see the king's cousin once; what info did he have, and why did he have to argue with Elhokar about it? I think a lot of things are pointing towards Elhokar hiring the true assassin (possibly Jek because of the law of conservation of characters), and the Traitor being the only one who could speak against it (which is why Elhokar wanted him dead so bad). But if that were the case, why did the Traitor act like he did?

After his defection to Ahven, I always had the distinct impression it was Balenmar who killed not-Gavilar. Not-Gavilar did something that Balenmar advised against, and so Balenmar killed him and decided that Elhokar would be a...more willing puppet of a sorts. And it worked for a bit. Maybe The Traitor saw what happened and Balenmar framed him. Maybe The Traitor found out he would be the scapegoat and decided to take the credit and defend himself, because then he could control the narrative if he won. I honestly don't know past that. By the end I thought that Balenmar may even be Ishar, but I think the last lines pointed to someone else I believe, but the clothing distinctions proved me wrong. I can't answer the other questions about it though. 

4 hours ago, Isilel said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

Add in the fact that 

Spoiler

there is a sizable portion of readers who believe that something romantic happened between Vasher and Vivenna, and I'd say you're right on the money. 

 

Edited by Use the Falchion
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Sanderson confirmed on reddit something that was rather obvious:

 
Quote

 

1 point · 10 hours ago
 

Will you be releasing a general over view of what you intended with the cliff hangers?

Also was Taln going to remain dead?

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2 points · 3 hours ago
 

It's been a LONG time, so remembering exactly what I was going to do will be tough. But Taln was going to be proven a Herald, so he wasn't DEAD dead.

 

Nice to have the definitive word on it, though.

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Well, I've finally finished reading this book. 

 

Merin was interesting as a peasant who won shards on the battlefield. But just like he was described as a baby in the majority of the book, I felt the same way, especially when he decided to not use the jade necklace when facing those five Veden shardbearers at the docks. His training as a spearman would have been enough to tell when he needed to cheat. His stupid sense of honor nearly gets him killed. I also liked how Merin arrived at the nick of time to save Alethkar forces. It was a nice, if unintentional callback, to Aragorn's arrival at Minas Tirith aboard the enemy ships to save the city in LOTR.

 

Jasnah was a mixed bag. Yes she was intelligent, she was manipulative, but I liked that she was reprimanded many times to show her her errors. Especially Meridas telling her it was her fault that their "army" would either be killed or be slaves. Just showed that even she could make mistakes and be manipulated herself. The canon Jasnah would have seen many of these errors instantly, but that wouldn't have made as great of a story.    

 

Shinri was pretty one dimemsional. There were some allusions to some trauma she suffered as a child, and her supposedly carefree nature when unrestrained. None of that really is shown on the pages. She was more like Sansa with Jasnah's training, where she has just enough wit to know something is wrong, and yet walking into traps anyways.

 

Aredor = Adolin, not many changes, except when he disobeyed his father. Adolin does that later in WOR, but not in canonical Way of Kings.

Renarin was creepy to say the least. He was probably very depressed. Brandon has said he has grown a lot about handling mental issues. This was his early attempt to write a depressed character, and it shows how inept he was at that time, compared to canonical Way of Kings' treatment of Kaladin.

 

The villains were written very well. I wish Meridas wasn't split up into Sadeas and Amaram in the canon WOK. This Meridas would have been devasating to the current characters of Stormlight. He had enough toxicity to get in people's heads, displayed just enough characterisitcs of nobility to be considered a fop and thus underestimated. And yet, he is just mean spirited, vain and proud enough to betray Dalinar and hamper his efforts to unify Alethkar under him. In my head canon, in today's books, I'll think of Meriddas as the man who failed to get Dalinar killed by Parshendi and then hampered his effort to unify Alethkar. And when all that failed, he betrayed humanity itself to go over to Odium for more power and attacked Thaylenah.

 

Ahven the Idiot king was frighteningly competent. I agree with his assessment that he actually did not make any mistakes, but was defeated because Renarin was the unknown factor his seers couldn't foresee and thus plan against. Without those powers manifesting again, I have no doubt Ahven would have conquered Roshar.

 

Overall, this book is a solid 8/10. I agree with Brandon in that nothing really happened in this book. This was more a historical political thriller with fantastic weapons than the beginning of a big fantasy epic. Compare this book with canon WOK. We know about the parshmen, we know the other more civilized Parshendi. We see how Parshmen are treated. It's finally revealed in the end that the Parshmen might be the voidbringers. This immediately evokes a feeling of dread, for the ubiquitous Parshmen might not be too happy on realizing that they were slaves for so long. But in WOK Prime, we don't know the Khothen, we don't know their motivations, we know nothing. Not at the start of the book, and not even at the end.  We are left with a tantalizing cliffhanger about whether Taln was really a Herald, and about Ishar's betrayal. But really nothing of any substance really happened. Armies fought, some died, some lived, another battle, Others die, final battle, Taln fights, dies, Merin saves the day. I'll class this book as political thriller than a fantasy.

 

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On 7/8/2020 at 11:20 AM, Use the Falchion said:

I haven't seen this thread yet, so let's start it! Here's the place to discuss The Way of Kings Prime in full. 

IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED THE BOOK, LEAVE NOW AND COME BACK LATER. 

 

Now with that out of the way, what did you all think of the book?

I thought the book was a VERY interesting read. There were things I really liked in this read, and things that I very much didn't.
 
What I liked: Merin - Merin is NOT Kaladin. To me they barely share the same attributes, and if one told me Merin, Shinri, and Renarin's adventures were happening off in the background of TWoK & WoR ala Abed helping a Greendale student give birth in the back of a car in Community, I'd be fine with it. Merin is the typical farmboy-turned-royal, and it was fun to see how Sanderson handled that trope. The early powers of Windrunners were great too. it reminded me a little of the Power in the Wheel of Time, but fantastic enough to be different.
 
What I liked: The plot. Sanderson states that nothing really got done in this book, and I heavily disagree. In some ways, there is more plot in this version The Way of Kings than there is in the Stormlight version. The characters make the plots a little harder to follow, but it also allows for readers to get a good perspective while still keeping the element of mystery.
 
What I liked. That this book DIDN'T come out. That isn't a dig on the book at all, but it is something. I'm sure this book would have done very well had it come out in its original form. Without the Spren, some of the more magical aspects of Shardblades, and less noticeable crazy hair, and 200 pages shorter, this book would have been far more mainstream-ready than the current Stormlight books. But at the same time, it's clear Sanderson wasn't ready to release the book he truly wanted to yet. He needed to write a full saga from start to finish first. He needed to write a true sequel first. He needed to learn how to handle a story with multiple characters over a prolonged time first. And THEN he could stretch himself.
 
What I liked: Ahven. Ahven was probably the most diabolical villain Sanderson's created. Sure other villains were alien, evil, sociopaths, or psychopaths, but Ahven seemed to relish in the cruelty he enacted on others. He was misogynistic, sadistic, and narcissistic. And he was COMPETENT. There weren't very many moments where I felt something akin to pity for the tyrant like I do Taravangian. He isn't supposed to BE pitiful, and that's a strength. 
 
What I liked: Meridas? It's clear Sanderson split Meridas up into Amaram and Sadeas, but I was more impressed with the acumen of this Meridas than I ever was either Amaram or Sadeas in the canon series. Amaram and Sadeas always seemed to resort to skulduggery to get the upper-hand. Meridas here needed none of that although he wasn't above using it. I liked that, but it DID get annoying how often they mentioned that Meridas was hiding something and he was more clever than he appeared while still calling him a flop.
 
What I liked: Renarin creating the Diagram. It was just super cool and sort of creepy.
 
What I liked: Shinri. I did get bored of her towards the middle, I admit, but I liked how she WASN'T Shallan. I don't hate Shallan at all, but I liked seeing a different character too.
 
What I liked: The worldbuilding. This has some of Sanderson's most in-depth worldbuilding I've seen, and I LOVED it. I honestly wish Stormlight had more shoutouts to songs, events, and in-world texts like this book does (I mean, Stormlight has a LOT, but I could always go for more).
 
What I liked: How intimately the powers were tied to stones. It was just cool to see.
 
 
What I didn't like: How the Kholins were treated. I was upset how they were pretty much all dead by the end of the book. It made me sad and felt more like Game of Thrones and their treatment of both the Starks and the Lannisters than it did most things Sanderson. 
 
What I didn't like: Shinri towards the back half. I ended up skimming her chapters towards the middle and only came back around towards the end.
 
What I didn't like: The exposition. This is the downside to so much worldbuilding; someone has to explain what all of this worldbuilding means and that leads to a lot of exposition. Half of this book was exposition. I enjoyed that aspect but it was a problem.
 
 
Other notes: Jasnah and Taln? JASNAH AND TALN? I've seen Jasnah shipped with a variety of people and am a Jasnadin shipper myself. But JASNAH AND TALN??? I'm SUPER interested in seeing what Sanderson does for both characters going forward, together or not
.
Other notes: I'm not sure how I felt about Elhokar this time around. There's a difference between being an ineffective king and an actively bad one, and this version of Elhokar is clearly the latter. I was a little worried about why Dalenar would kill his nephew, but by the end I was clearly rooting for it. And after Oathbringer it's clear why Sanderson had to tone down Elhokar's competency. But still, I'm left torn. 
 
Overall this was a good book. Not a great one, but a very solid entry in Sanderson's portfolio. I'd give it a solid 8/10
 
Lastly, my controversial opinion. If The Way of Kings were to become a live action show, THIS is the version they should adapt. Between the toned down fantastical events, multiple perspectives, and overall grounded nature of the story, this would be FAR easier to adapt into live action than The Stormlight Archive as it is today. It would also give the showrunners the chance to play in a new world without fans worrying about whether or not the adaptation is true to form or accurate to the books, because there's only one.*
This is NOT me saying that I don't want the current Stormlight Archive series adapted. I just think that the current Stormlight series would benefit from an animated show ala Netflix's Castlevania or Avatar: The Last Airbender.
 
And while it might be weird for there to be two adaptations of the same series to exist, it's not unheard of either. How many iterations of the Narnia movies have there been? There's an animated Lord of the Rings show as well as the live action movie,** and there are TWO different anime series for Full Metal Alchemist, both of which are great (although Brotherhood is still the best from what I've heard). Death Note has an anime adaptation, THREE Japanese live action movies, and one American movie. It's possible.
 
The only major flaw for this I can think of is the fact that it'd be confusing for those who don't know about the Cosmere, but that's what social media, branding, and fan communities are for. 
 
I'm probably alone in my opinion, but hey, that's why it's controversial.
 
 
So, WHAT DO YOU ALL THINK OF THIS BOOK? DISCUSS BELOW!!
 
*Sanderson could probably provide an outline of where he thought the story was going to head at the time, but that'd be about it.
**Granted the show came out decades before the movies did, but they still both exist.

 

I agree with a lot of what you said here. I loved comparing this version to the canonical one, and seeing how Brandon handled the same or similar aspects differently depending on the version. It was a great read for that reason, though I could see its flaws, and how Brandon improved. The comparison helped me understand a lot for my own writing.

Edited by Valerie Jackson
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Jumping in because I've now finished the book (the recent WoB about why he decided it was okay to release now was the last straw) and oh boy, that was an interesting journey. Figure I'll start with some broad observations and likes/dislikes.

- It's obviously nowhere near as polished as the final book and there are all sorts of things that just feel off, like the lack of spren that are so ubiquitous in the published version. Those I can mostly get used to, though there's a fair amount of 'tell, don't show' that took me out of it at parts. Dalinar got a fair bit of that since it's not until the end of the book that we really get inside his head, and he's just not nearly as interesting without the driving conflict from WoK or the hints of a darker past. But there's a lot of talk about how honorable he is without really showing it, and his decision that ultimately sets him up against Elhokar felt less like he finally was pushing himself to do what his principles demanded and more an angry reaction to what happened to Aredor when we first saw it.

- I wasn't hugely fond of the Merin content; he's just nowhere near as good a character as Kaladin even if it's interesting seeing an early version of the Kaladin/Adolin dynamic come into play a full book earlier. I also got a bit of a vibe from one of Mat's chapters in the WoT books Brandon wrote and am wondering if he had Merin in the back of his head when he wrote it. But yeah, I've been mentally calling him Kaladidn't, as in 'Thank the Almighty Kaladin didn't go this route' and they were probably my least favorite chapters. He did work a lot better than Devin from Mythwalker in the 'classic hero' role though, and I did like his duel with the five Veden Shardbearers and how he figured out what Vasher was really trying to teach him. And 'skepping' was a cool moment and I cheered when he worked it out. Though the way that Radiant Shardblades work mean that it's not gonna be something you have to train at, it would be nice to see some similar stunts in SA. Maybe if Adolin becomes a Radiant, it seems like the kind of trick he'd love...

- Speaking of Vasher, I love any chance we get to see Brandon's early work because it's illuminating to see how his characters and concepts (and writing skills) evolve. Like in this case, the character got transplanted to Nalthis, then back to Roshar but with a new name, and the terms Awakening and Return(ed) moved to Nalthis with him, with a discarded idea from Elantris and a whole lot of Mythwalker thrown into the mix. So WoK Prime was very rewarding in that respect.

- One thing I'm glad that Brandon changed was just how many invented terms got thrown at the reader in SA compared to the original. There was Sheneres, which was both the code of honor and the name of Dalenar's first son, Epellion instead of Radiant and a whole bunch of Shin terms like Shanalakada that I my mind just started glazing over.

- The fact that the Kothen sound much more alien (eyeless heads, weird bone-placement) and are apparently completely absent from Roshar along with the Heralds was interesting and I wonder where Brandon was going with that, since there's no obvious analogue to the parshmen who could be possessed, but Taln suggests that the Heralds are still hiding some shameful secret about humanity's claim to Roshar and we know from his thoughts that they came from another world originally. Same dynamic but with some elements changed.

- I was intrigued by the Silence mentioned in that one book Taln read from and found myself wondering exactly what Renarin did later on: What happened the year he, Shinri and Merin were born that they all had magical powers thought lost for centuries? It was interesting that shortly afterwards we get told that Jarnah's war of conquest happened in that same year, and the Shin were involved. I'll bet that when we get the new explanation for why the Shin attempted to conquer Roshar in the past, it will be something Brandon drew from WoK Prime.

- Meridas made me very much want to see Jasnah turn him into smoke, or crystal or whatever. But yeah, I noticed that the writing tried to have him be both shockingly competent and a fop at the same time and it didn't quite work and we didn't get an explanation for the mystery of the former part of him. At least Jasnah seems to have found a way to get out of being married to the creep, even if it was a case of political and social suicide.

- Shinri's a character I started liking in a 'Oh, she's not Shallan but she's still fun' in the early book and I liked how her former childish behavior came back to help her when things like vases and jades needed to be thrown with precision. Then the later part of the book kind of turned me off since she spends so much time being reactive instead of proactive and jumps into pretty much the same exact problem thrice over.

- That gemstone-covered door beneath Ral Eram is going to haunt me. Given the similarity of names, I wonder if Brandon split off some of his original plans to Ral Elorim while its function as fortress and Oathgate hub got transferred to Urithiru.

- Ishar betraying the other Heralds, hmmm...

- Oh, and on the subject of Taln's death, even setting aside Brandon's confirmation that he wasn't intended to be dead-dead, I figured he was coming back because for whatever reason he was still bound by the mechanics of the Return even if the other Heralds were not, so he'd eventually have either reincarnated naturally or they'd somehow get Shinri the Elsecaller to fetch him, however that works. Jasnah's action at the end really only served to keep the characters in the dark as to whether he was a real Herald rather than rendering him permadead, is how I took it.

- Oh, and speaking of not-dead characters I'm pretty sure Renarin would eventually have bounced back from looking too closely at Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. I also liked how the seeds of Brandon's conception of how futuresight interferes with other applications of it were sown here, as Renarin's very existence helped throw off Ahven's attempts at divining the future to the point that he wasn't prepared for the events at the end of the book. But we never did find out what Renarin was writing, since Merin's the only viewpoint character to look at his scrawlings and couldn't make sense of them. And then in an ironic twist that particular role got moved into the character who Ahven became in SA but Renarin still played the same role in upsetting Taravangian and Odium's futuresight.

On 7/9/2020 at 0:53 PM, Dalinar'sCroissant said:

I am now scared for the fate of the Kholin brothers and hope that narrative has been completely reworked.

I shouldn't worry about that. Renarin I'm pretty sure would have bounced back and his Truthwatcher powers don't seem nearly as dangerous as Onyxseeing is, in that the visions come randomly. While futuresight can still potentially break your brain in the Cosmere, the only way we've seen that really comes close without a Shard directly exposing a mortal to the Spiritual Realm is the duralumin+atium combo. So Renarin's probably safe in that respect at least. Whether he'll be safe more generally once Team Odium realizes what he is and what he can do on the other hand...

And while Aredor is basically Adolin as a person, his character arc has been so completely rewritten that I wouldn't worry about his SA counterpart being in mortal danger just because proto-Adolin didn't make it past the first book. Brandon revised him to be a foil for Dalinar and his new arc (transposed from Prime!Taln) and he's got his relationship with Shallan (not even hinted with Shinri), his position as the most genre-savvy Kholin and maybe becoming the first person to revive a deadeye as ongoing threads that give him plenty of reason to stay around narratively. Plus, he's outlived the person who killed him in Prime so even if he does die before SA ends, it'll be in a completely different context.

On 7/12/2020 at 11:58 AM, Pagerunner said:
  • The seminal mystery of the book is unanswered. What happened to Renarin's army from the first chapter? I'm pretty sure they were killed by Khothen, who are the Stormshades. But why did they take Blades and Plate from the dead
  • The tunnels under Kholinar are cool. We don't get to see what's behind that secret door, unforunately, but I wonder if canon Kholinar has something like that, too, and now that the main characters have access to Heralds (maybe) they could go and utilize the secrets of Kholinar to retake it.
  • What's going on with Taln isn't ever really explained, but I bet it has to do with Ishar's betrayal in the Prime version. The canon version? I don't know if Ishar is still a traitor; Nale still listens to him, still works with him, so if he did betray humanity, he has been much more subtle about it. That would give him the motive to steal Taln's blade when he appeared in canon; although I don't know if he had the opportunity, if he was still over in the southwest fighting his holy wars.

I'm with you on the army. Pretty much everyone other than Dalenar think that the 'old Pralir nobility organizing a secret army' idea is farfetched, while the Kothen (whatever they are) would make more sense. Taln even remembers 'the pain of crushed limbs and ribs' when thinking about them, while everyone assumes the two armies were killed by a formation of heavy infantry because most of the bodies were, wait for it, largely killed by crushing blows. Taln thinks they shouldn't appear until a year after his Return, but if things are weird this time around who's to say a small group didn't arrive around the same time he did?

For the tunnels, some of the oldest cities on Roshar might have them and I'm hoping that Brandon transferred that secret door to Ral Elorim (similar name, the Voidbringer armies during the False Desolation seemed very intent on capturing it) because I want to know what's so special about it too.

I'm not sure that Nale and Ash seeming to trust Ishar is good evidence that he isn't secretly a traitor, since they're both insane and thus not really objective judges. I do agree that if he's a traitor to the others in SA, he's been much more subtle about it. But consider that he is the one who convinced the others that they could safely break the Oathpact by betraying Taln (that he was right and this gave Roshar thousands of years of relative piece notwithstanding) and his advice to Nale has been actively counterproductive in getting Roshar ready to face the Desolation so he's already really suspicious.

And yeah, I figure that a lot of Prime!Taln's issues are due to him dying so early the last time he was around, so he's still bound by the cycle of Returns but his power was still broken by whatever Ishar supposedly did. The discussion of the Silence suggests that all magic suddenly failed right around that same time, so maybe whatever broke it still affects Taln and whatever un-broke the magic seventeen years prior to the start of the story didn't affect the powers unique to the Heralds. Whether Taln got lucky in dying early or whether he was intended to die when he was sent out to that keep he defended, we can't really answer with what we have.

I'm gonna have to take some more time to think about all the other great points you've raised.

Edited by Weltall
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