embisk

Shallan sucks

78 posts in this topic

Ok so opening up I just want to say I recognize the 'appeal' Brandon was going for with her character.  Her feminine strength is something that is lacking in a lot of female protags over the years, and she does have a traumatic backstory.  Her naivete and lightheartedness are both testaments to her character's mental strength and fortitude to remain through all her hardships. 

That being said,  both those traits also make her the most ignorant, detestable, and unbearably annoying character in the entire Archive.  Despite how smart she's supposed to be, and no matter how many times she points out a problem she might run into she still messes up and makes the story miserable. Most of her problems so far (I just finished Oathbringer), are completely caused by her and her own ineptitude to deal with her problems without whining about her daddy and mommy issues.  I don't care if she killed everyone in her hometown with a knife, Hatred itself is invading the world while all the gods are gone and there's a massive power struggle between the major nations of the world.  Suck it up, and quit masking your insecurity with crappy quips. God don't get me started on the quips. Every time this woman opens her mouth, whether its to say something to Pattern privately or to any Brightlord publicly, I wish she never did.  I get it, she's 'clever.'  That shouldn't mean slontzey though.  A smart, clever character can and be written so much better.

To those who still wanna play the "woman strong" card, I'd advise looking at Navani or Jasnah.  Both are extremely clever, strong, and independent despite it being in different ways.  Jasnah's quips are crappy digs but intellectual pokes, tailored to the conversation perfectly.  Navani is perhaps the most powerful woman in Alethkar.  Despite her status as the Queen Regent, she was able to maintain a very powerful position in the Alethi court through her intellectual prowess.  I'd highly advise Shallan to gather her thoughts and return to the story once she quits her crying and slontzeing every second.

 

TL;DR - Shallan is a loser; I wish she wasn't so important to the story; The other women in the story are so much better and should be more important.

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Ouch mate, definitely not the first person to find Shallan annoying though.

I personally don't mind the jokes all that much. But yeah, she's had a fair few questionable moments: there's the boots things, which I have no idea why so many people find funny, and the "thanks for comparing women to peasants, Adolin" moment, which... better not to get me started on that. Whoo there's a lot to unpack there. There's some older threads on here that you might enjoy.

But, imo, there's enough to sympathize with in her character. The recognition of her own trauma but also feeling like she isn't that traumatized, trying to be blasé about it.

She's also not a weak character, she's been trying to find her own agency from when we met her. So I don't think she spends all her time moping and crying. I've seen that complaint about Kaladin, which is a bit unfair but it makes sense to feel that way about his character but I don't think this quite applies to Shallan.

I especially liked her in WoK, where she was like a point of light in Kaladin's dark tale and whatever was happening with the Kholins that I wasn't interested in. WoR was a bit meh, lots of people had problem with her regression there. For me, the problem was mainly the possible romance aspect in the story between her and Kaladin, which I did not like at all. OB was good enough, she had some cool moments there. I liked her in RoW, and hey, you might too (and before anyone says that could be a spoiler, she's literally on the cover of the book!)

Edited by Honorless
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I don't enjoy reading Shallan's chapters. When I do, it's usually because of something that happens around her, like worldbuilding and Jasnah in WoK and her interactions with Adolin and Pattern in WoR. Her quips don't do it for me and her personality issues make her PoVs difficult to read in ways I don't experience with other cosmere characters. 

Still, it's worth recognizing that we're talking opinions here, and other people don't like Dalinar and Kaladin solving problems by "sucking it up and doing things like a manly man." In a series focused on characters going through a journey of self-discovery, different and varying perspectives on that path are a must.

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As far as telling kaladin to suck it up I totally agree he should.  His own self-righeous ideals about shardblades and eye color really hindered his progress throughout his life.  And yes childhood trauma is very tough to overcome but she's had the world handed to her on a silver platter the least she could do is not get her salty ass tears on the plate.  Like I said, Kaladin too.  Being broken is only a reason to not find a purpose.  If one is thrust upon you like these two have had put your petty problems and quarrels aside and sad times and do your duty. Stop making it harder on everyon else.  Also the character discovery and self journey are important, yes.  I just feel like the points that are emphasized are very irksome points and stuff that anyone else that has gone through similar problems as Kaladin and Shallan wouldn't falter where they do, instead finding more purpose than problems in the current events.

Edited by embisk
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Just stepping in quickly to give a general reminder to the room about being respectfully when talking about mental illness, as dismissing or demeaning them is harmful and you never know who might be lurking and being affected by your words. 
 

Otherwise y’all look to be having a great dialogue so far, have at it. :) Kudos to you all for being respectful of each other’s opinions even when they differ. 

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3 minutes ago, LadyLameness said:

Just stepping in quickly to give a general reminder to the room about being respectfully when talking about mental illness, as dismissing or demeaning them is harmful and you never know who might be lurking and being affected by your words. 
 

Otherwise y’all look to be having a great dialogue so far, have at it. :) Kudos to you all for being respectful of each other’s opinions even when they differ. 

Amen.  Understanding and respect are learned behaviors, and we are all teachers.

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I see your points about Sanderson and mental brokenness and illness.  I guess my perception of the story is a little more objective in terms of priority, but your points are valid very much so.  And your right also, whether or not the characters are able to put aside their problems isn't the main issue.  I guess a better way to express my frustration with the situation (kaladin and Shallan), is they're on a journey of self discovery and trying to repair what was broken.  I honestly don't feel like shallan is trying to do that.  She just sits there and wallows in her sadness and grief, while the fate of the world rests on her shoulders. Kaladin, though at the end of oathbringer it seems he's on the path of becoming a man of honor and oaths, doesn't even try to make himself better and repair the wounds done to him by authority until he was forced to accept the healing process and work by Syl holding his powers hostage.  I just don't even get the slightest sense of realistic problem solving and assessment from Shallan.  As someone looking from the outside (trying not to let my own struggles interfere with my assessment), the lack of initiative by both characters, mainly Shallan is perhaps the point I was trying to make.

 

I still stand by the point that despite your own personal demons, when one has the fate of the world resting in their hands one should definitely not be selfish about their own problems because then it's at the expense of everyone else's existence.  Shallan's inability to try to confront her own demons coupled with her intolerable personallity is why I despise her.  Perhaps in the ladder 6 books to be written she figures things out but as of right now her struggles are only made worse by her.

 

I don't mean to demean mental illness, I myself take a cocktail of meds each day.  It is a real problem but I've discovered self-pity gets you nowhere.  These problems don't fix themselves, its something one must do personally.  While this may sound too demanding of these broken characters, I want to remind you that while what broke them wasn't normal events, these two also have had extremely lucky and beneficial things happen to them as well.  Things akin to gaining peak athletic ability, or suddenly being promoted to a fortune 500 CEO.  While this too might cause a burden, the benefits from these far outweigh the negatives.

P.S. Dalinar is by far my favorite character in the series so far.  He is extremely well written and his personality plays off of Nirvani's (probably my favorite supporting cast member)  splendidly.

 

P.P.S.   Despite her mental challenges Shallan is still unfunny and annoying and exremely irksome with her perspective on occuring situations

Edited by embisk
added P.P.S.
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16 hours ago, Bejardin1250 said:

. These cause bad things to happen, but I don’t see how you can blame her for trying her best

I blame her because I feel she doesn't try. She just basks in her depression not confronting the problems, in fact, multiple times she tries to "bury" these painful things to just come back later, and she knows this. 

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2 minutes ago, embisk said:

I blame her because I feel she doesn't try. She just basks in her depression not confronting the problems, in fact, multiple times she tries to "bury" these painful things to just come back later, and she knows this. 

That’s her way of coping. She believes that that is the best thing to do to help Roshar. Does it work? Not in the long term. But she is figuring that out as time goes on; that she needs to deal with this and shoving it away just doesn’t work

I never really saw it indicated that she knew it wouldn’t work, can you elaborate on that?

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On 6/23/2021 at 2:58 PM, Bejardin1250 said:

That’s her way of coping. She believes that that is the best thing to do to help Roshar. Does it work? Not in the long term. But she is figuring that out as time goes on; that she needs to deal with this and shoving it away just doesn’t work

I never really saw it indicated that she knew it wouldn’t work, can you elaborate on that?

In Oathbringer when she finds out about kalladin and Amoram and her brother, she willfully buries it in her mind instead of actually confiding her feelings in her literal bethrothed.

I get she still tells him but she doesn't address how it makes her feel until way later. 

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I don't think Shallan is written as a strong woman archetype.  She's more a child coming of age archetype, think Katniss not Hermione.   Her character has a lot of depth, the inner trauma, the obsession with lies, her art, her romance.  I think she's insane and dangerous, brilliant and beautiful.  She's as likely to end the world as save it, but whatever she does she'll do it with style.  

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Shallan is just annoying, she never actually does anything exciting, and takes time away from the people that are.

I don't mind the jokes but some level of seriousness, some fighting, and some external acomplishments would go a long way to improving her character.

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Layered on top of what Kaymyth mentioned is also that Shallan is particularly unsuited to just deal with it because she's continually thrust into situations which force her to revisit damaging behaviours and headspaces. Someone struggling with dissociative identity disorder being continually forced into new roles and to impersonate other people is kind of like asking someone with a drug addiction to overcome their addiction but still keep taking some every now and then because we really need you to. Plus she has magical abilities that reinforce her mental issues and literally make hallucinations real which is going to make untangling them significantly more difficult.

I didn't kill my parents or have literal magic making my mental health worse and it still took me well into my twenties before I even started to get a grip on my own mental health.

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If you don't want to read about characters dealing with their mental health you might be reading the wrong series. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Shallan, but if you've got a problem with reading about how she deals with her trauma then you've got a problem with the story BS wants to tell about her. It is an essential component of her character arch.

Frankly it doesn't sound like you have a lot of ways you can relate to her, and maybe it's a good thing you're reading about how she deals with her trauma; stories like this are a great tool of empathy for all of us, and the expression "suck it up" can be really toxic. Shallan might have to save the world, but, for example, to a parent with the same issues as Shallan, their child might be their world. Mental health doesn't get to take a back seat no matter what (subjective) amounts of responsibility are on someone. 

Edited: tone

Edited by City of Sauronicon
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I think we can all agree that Shallan's jokes are mostly bad.  It's pointed out by Jasnah "You often seem to say the first passably clever thing that enters your mind"  (WoK Ch. 29 Errorgance (:rolleyes:))

Most of Brandon's funny characters don't work for me (Wayne / Lightsong) or only in small doses (the Lopen). The humor that lands with me is the stuff like Wit and Design where it is more of an odd couple personality clash and less a character trying to make jokes. 

Shallan is real hit or miss with me. I enjoy when she's reading the deep lore in a giant library or inflitrating the Ghostbloods, less so otherwise. 

As a lot of people have said she has a serious mental illness and can't just suck it up. 

 

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While I’m sure some real people do respond to trauma the Shallan does, I found reading her perspective immensely frustrating, like a Sisyphean nightmare. She always seems on the brink of making progress and then looping back around to Square One. It makes for an unpleasant and unsatisfying narrative, especially because the focus on her mental health means that other issues (such as her character flaws, classism, etc.,) are ignored and handwaved by the narrative. 
 

It is to some extent a personal taste issue, because I also didn’t enjoy the more navel gazey Kaladin depression bits. It does feel like SA is torn between being an introspective Russian novel and following a classic fantasy narrative.

Edited by CamilleDesmoulins
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Well I'm going to be honest. I don't have a whole lot I can add to this. I am a man of few words. Its hard for me to get my true thoughts and feelings portrayed accurately sometimes. I have pretty bad social-anxiety, and just anxiety in general, as well as sever ADD, and though I was never diagnosed with OCD, I feel like I am with certain things. I don't struggle with or have mental Illness, though I have a few family members who had had it. I am also only in Highschool and lack confidence when it comes to words. But I just wanted to say that I love Shallans character. I personally kind of enjoy her jokes, even when they become a little too much. I'm not saying that I love her character more than say Kaladins or Dalinars, But she is among my favorites. Dalininar is actually my favorite SA character. He was masterly put together in OB. OB was the book that made The SA my Favorite series ever.(Mistborn a close 2nd). But Shallan though...she's awesome. I don't think she deserves all this criticism. The only problem I had with Shallan was in WoK. I still liked and and found her chapters neccesary but I did find myself longing to get back to Kaladin, and to continue reading about how Bridge Four came to be. And Bridge Four is just about my favorite thing from any all  of Brandon's books. I love the Humor, unity, love, and kinship that is Bridge Four. 

Anyway, sorry for getting tangled in other topics when this is about Shallan. I guess my main point in all of this is that I love Shallan. Shallans awesome and a great character, and anyone who says otherwise will...um...I dunno. Did I mention I'm slow with with words?

Anyways. I am Pro-Shallan!

ps: People were mentioning addiction earlier, and I jus want to say that I love Teft. Seeing him striving to overcome his self-pity and self-loathing caused by his addiction, and learning that it is possible to love himself again was very tender and inspirational. I also love the role of the spren in helping their broken companions overcome their problems and become whole. Phendorana and Sylphrena are stellar examples of this. I think this shows that when struggling with an addiction or some form of mental illness (or any of the other problems mentioned), that it is 100% necessary and essential to have support from loved ones.

pps: Sorry again for not staying completely on topic! When I do manage to get my thoughts down its not always as organized and smooth flowing as I would like. 

ppps: I just want to applaud what @Jash said at the very top. (2nd comment)

Edited by Boomerang Guy
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2 hours ago, Boomerang Guy said:

Well I'm going to be honest. I don't have a whole lot I can add to this. I am a man of few words. Its hard for me to get my true thoughts and feelings portrayed accurately sometimes. I have pretty bad social-anxiety, and just anxiety in general, as well as sever ADD, and though I was never diagnosed with OCD, I feel like I am with certain things. I

Oh, hai there, ADHD/OCD twin!

(My diagnoses are fresh, but I've been dealing with this crem basically my entire life. OCD is annoying.)

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It kinda feels like your issues with her are mostly with her being young and largely unguided. She was suppressed by authority completely as a child, to which created further indulgence in private. And once completely free from authority she got kinda... intoxicated with it.

 

She had a few months with Jasnah before the winds pleasure stuff went down. And after that she had concern about offending some people in some ways at some times.

 

It seems like as she matures, she'll likely stop saying what comes to mind so immediately as often. And be less prone to such bouts of emotion. Though it should be noted that even Jasnah made a quip about Amarans mom being a slut (basically), which she immediately regretted. And she's the most refined character we've seen really. So I wouldn't predict that be gone entirely. 

Personally though.

I can relate to her. She's too real to hate as a character.

I share a lot of backstory with her. I know what it's like to be suppressed so long that it takes a long time to really decide when to quip, how much to drink, or otherwise how or when to indulge in things I never dared think about before. And without guidance it definitely seems to take longer to get a handle on it.

 

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On 8/28/2021 at 8:49 PM, Kaymyth said:

Oh, hai there, ADHD/OCD twin!

(My diagnoses are fresh, but I've been dealing with this crem basically my entire life. OCD is annoying.)

Hey! Glad to see I'm not the only one! :D (Yeah it is...)

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On 6/22/2021 at 11:22 AM, embisk said:

Ok so opening up I just want to say I recognize the 'appeal' Brandon was going for with her character.  Her feminine strength is something that is lacking in a lot of female protags over the years, and she does have a traumatic backstory.  Her naivete and lightheartedness are both testaments to her character's mental strength and fortitude to remain through all her hardships. 

That being said,  both those traits also make her the most ignorant, detestable, and unbearably annoying character in the entire Archive.  Despite how smart she's supposed to be, and no matter how many times she points out a problem she might run into she still messes up and makes the story miserable. Most of her problems so far (I just finished Oathbringer), are completely caused by her and her own ineptitude to deal with her problems without whining about her daddy and mommy issues.  I don't care if she killed everyone in her hometown with a knife, Hatred itself is invading the world while all the gods are gone and there's a massive power struggle between the major nations of the world.  Suck it up, and quit masking your insecurity with crappy quips. God don't get me started on the quips. Every time this woman opens her mouth, whether its to say something to Pattern privately or to any Brightlord publicly, I wish she never did.  I get it, she's 'clever.'  That shouldn't mean slontzey though.  A smart, clever character can and be written so much better.

To those who still wanna play the "woman strong" card, I'd advise looking at Navani or Jasnah.  Both are extremely clever, strong, and independent despite it being in different ways.  Jasnah's quips are crappy digs but intellectual pokes, tailored to the conversation perfectly.  Navani is perhaps the most powerful woman in Alethkar.  Despite her status as the Queen Regent, she was able to maintain a very powerful position in the Alethi court through her intellectual prowess.  I'd highly advise Shallan to gather her thoughts and return to the story once she quits her crying and slontzeing every second.

 

TL;DR - Shallan is a loser; I wish she wasn't so important to the story; The other women in the story are so much better and should be more important.

This opened my eyes. Shallan does have a lot of annoying traits, but i've found her to be an interesting character, although she could be done better. I do not believe that she 'sucks,' but there are definitely some less admirable qualities about her. 

Edited by Sequence
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