The Way of Kings Read Along: Week Three

wayofkingsral

…I broke my promise.  I know.  I’m so sorry.  I realized the massive amount of schoolwork I had this week was… a bit insane.  And had to finish it before finishing the reading.  I am more than caught up now, though, so here we go~  SPOILERS FOR CHAPTERS 14 TO 19 ARE BELOW, GUYS. 

1.  After the Chasmfiend attack there were a number of altercations.  Two of these that particularly drew my interest were: the little scene where Wit ridiculed Sadeas – which seems to be a dangerous thing to do given that this could result in a dual or assassination – any ideas about why Wit seems to enjoy provoking Sadeas so much and: during the discussion with the King, Dalinar and Adolin – it seemed that the King became fleetingly suspicious – and later in the story the same look of suspicion crossed his features again during conversation with Dalinar.  What do you think is going on in the King’s head in relation to Dalinar?

I’m pretty sure the whole exchange of dialogue between Wit and Sadeas is due to how absolutely easy and fun it is to make fun of the guy.  If I was in Wit’s position, I would mercilessly make fun of Sadeas too, knowing he is too concerned with his status to worry about an assassination attempt coming back to him.  As for Elhokar’s suspicions… someone is likely pushing such thoughts to him; I doubt it’s his own conclusion.  I don’t believe that someone is Sadeas after the response Dalinar received from the voice in his vision, but it could perhaps be one of the other highprinces or someone else of influence.  I will definitely be watching this situation closely.

2. We seemed to get a little more insight about why the bridgemen are not given shields of protection – what did you think of the reasoning behind this and what do you make of Sadeas – is he trustworthy or not?

Though I do not completely agree with Sadeas’s reasoning, I do understand that he wants to protect his soldiers from as much harm as possible.  Many people wouldn’t care about the deaths of murderers, deserters, and slaves, and obviously he is in that particular camp.  But as Dalinar would say, it’s both wasteful and very much against the Codes, even if they aren’t followed anymore.  Perhaps Alethkar would benefit from a return to them.  As for Sadeas being trustworthy… I’m still on the fence.  He hasn’t committed any acts that would make me feel as though he would betray the king.  It almost would be too obvious.

3.  Elhokar has suspicions about attempts on his life – is he paranoid or not and, if not, who do you suspect might be responsible?

There is definitely some sort of paranoia going on here.  There’s obviously some influence due to how Elhokar’s father was killed, but perhaps there are individuals spreading rumors to specifically reach him or something of the sort to make him more suspicious of the people around him (see question one).

4.  Kaladin is a very intriguing character, what did you make of the latest bridge scene where he put himself at the front of the bridge and then his actions following that?  Did you think it revealed anything more about him?

I think it managed to highlight even more the behavior he exhibited back when he was a squad leader, going to the point where he almost self-sacrificing to help other people.  Really, it both shows his bravery and how much he really cares.  Kaladin is growing quickly into my favorite character of the book, especially because I relate to the fallacies he has.  *hugs at Kaladin*

5.  During Elhokar and Dalinar’s later discussion the king said that Dalinar was becoming more like Gavilar near to his end ‘When he began to act … erratically”  It seems like Dalinar is becoming more like his brother.  Do you think this is significant??

I think it is significant in the sense that it might be foretelling a tragic end to Dalinar’s life if he isn’t careful.  Additionally, he is going to be seen as more and more mad by the people around him, which is quite unfortunate due to the fact that his visions, if the objective realized, will undoubtedly save many lives.  WHY DOES NO ONE EVER LISTEN WHEN THEY HAVE THE CHANCE, GODDAMNIT?!

6.  We finally witness one of Dalinar’s visions.  Do you think there is any significance about the visions always taking place during a storm and what were your feelings about this particular vision?

I loved seeing the basics of how the Knights Radiant operated.  Makes me really want to learn more about them — I’ll need to be patient, I suppose.  The visions make sense taking place during the highstorms, as the seems to be some sort of otherwordly atmosphere coming through during then.  The Essence were quite frightening creatures, and I’m wondering because the setting was during the Desolation Era if we’ll be seeing such monstrosities again soon.  Thus the need to unite against a common enemy….

No extras this time around, as I got behind and then got farther ahead and don’t want to put spoilers for anything farther ahead in here.  I’ll give you some this coming week though~  Thank you for being patient with me!

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The Way of Kings Read Along: Week Two

wayofkingsral

Apologies for being late on the second week!  I finished Chapters 7-13 a couple days ago, but the semester started back up on Wednesday and I found out that my apartment’s internet has decided to go absolutely bonkers.  Haven’t been able to get anything up until today.  Gah.  Anyway!  Onward with the read along~  Spoilers for Chapters 7-13 reside below.

1. Shallan’s determination pays off, but Jasnah Kholin seems to change her mind a bit suddenly, and when Shallan isn’t expecting her to. She mentions knowing of Shallan’s family… Do you think perhaps she knows more than she admits? Or is she really just a bit more soft-hearted than she lets on?

I have a feeling that it’s a mix of both.  I doubt Jasnah realizes Shallan’s true plot, but she probably knows more details about the going-ons of the family than we think.  Perhaps not that Shallan’s father is dead, but maybe she knows about how he used his fabrial or other such secrets.  I believe though that she has to seem, on the surface, tougher to be able to stand the criticism she no doubt gets from being an atheist, which I can respect.  Otherwise she may have been torn down long ago by the opinions of others.

2. Yalb comes to the bargaining rescue as Shallan tries to buy books… Do you think there’s going to be a bigger part in events for him to play?

I really hope so!  Yalb is quite the interesting and resourceful character and I would really like to see his character explored in more detail.  I’m sure he has quite a history; with all those tricks up his sleeves I think there is more behind him than just a simple sailor.  I don’t think he will end up being antagonistic at least.  …I hope.

3. Part One ends with a ray of hope for Kaladin, as he rediscovers a sense of purpose… What did you think of the scene in the Honour Chasm, and then with Gaz afterward?

I think the whole scene in the Honor Chasm just made me love Syl more.  Without Syl, Kaladin would be a mangled mess at the bottom of the chasm and of no use to anyone.  There seems to be some hope that Bridge 4 can become less deadly and, most importantly, united to stand against the dangers they face.  And the whole thing with Gaz afterward… I still don’t trust the guy whatsoever, but boy did it feel nice to see him get back some of what he’s given.

4. We catch up with Szeth for an interlude, and things are very different for him… What do you make of his choice to enslave himself – if it is in fact a choice…?

His status as Truthless goes back well before the assassination, so I can only suppose if it was a choice he is punishing himself for actions he performed in the past.  Possibly much worse than killing the king.  I wonder the extent of the crimes he has committed?  With that sort of power, he certainly has the capability of creating mass chaos.

5. We also meet Dalinar Kholin, Jasnah’s father, and get something of a hint that he’s important where the Radiants are concerned… What do you think Dalinar’s ‘fits’ might mean?

There seems to be some sort of impending calamity that Dalinar’s visions are hinting at.  Perhaps uniting the kingdom will help either stave off this “Everstorm” or at least minimize the damage that happens.  Either way, it seems that no one really wants to listen to him.  No one ever listens to the person who can help it seems…  Then again, it is a bit hard to believe a person who is essentially having hallucinations.  I’m sure there will be a lot of regret later on.

Other fun stuff:

I worry about Elhokar’s behavior.  Such recklessness is going to get him killed if Dalinar or others aren’t around to save him.  And if he dies… things will become quite chaotic, to say the least.

AND I KNEW IT.  THEY BROKE THE DAMN ECONOMY WITH THOSE FABRIALS!  Obviously it’s quite frowned upon if they had to hide this fact, though…

I promise to get the third post up on time!  Thank you for reading, and see you next week~

The Way of Kings Read Along: Week One

wayofkingsral

Week one is here!  I’ve been quite excited to start this read along, as it’s my first.  (Yes, I’m a read along virgin!  Hooray for cherry popping~!)  This should be quite a lot of fun, I think.  This week we’re covering the Prelude through Chapter 6, so warning you now that THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW FOR THIS SECTION.  Early book spoilers, but nonetheless.

1) Is this your first Brandon Sanderson experience? Any expectations going into this read along?

Yes, actually.  Though I do own Elantris and a box set of the Mistborn Trilogy in paperback format, and Steelheart on my kindle… Yes, I know I buy too many books and don’t read enough of them.  (Owning the book is half the battle, right?  Right?)  Because of his presence on the NPR Top 100 Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels as voted by fans, and this book’s presence on that list in particular, I do have some rather high expectations for this novel.  Especially since it’s got over a 4.5 average star rating on Goodreads.  I dislike having expectations of an author going into my first work of theirs, but I suppose it was unavoidable in this case.

2) In the Prelude to the Stormlight Archive, we see that Talenel (Taln) died and his sword is unaccounted for. Jerzien and company have decided it is best for 1 to suffer instead of 10. What do you make of this scene?

Due to the huge time skip (4500 years to the prologue?  Crazy!), I can only assume this plays into the mythology of Sanderson’s world.  We keep hearing mentions of the Radiants, which are revered as practically deities, so perhaps this is the source of the legends.  I do remember reading a part that used names similar to Jerzien, Talenel, etc., though not quite the same, which makes this hypothesis a lot stronger.  I’m quite curious to find out how this plays a role in the larger storyline.

3) What did you think of Szeth’s fighting abilities and the fight scenes? Any thoughts on the crystalline sphere and King Gavilar Kholin’s last words?

It was a bit difficult following along with the fight scenes at first.  I tend to have issues when certain words and phrases get repetitive in text in too short of an interval, which became a slight problem in these scenes to me.  However, with the explanation of the Lashings as the fight went along, while breaking the flow of the narrative to a degree, helped a lot with my understanding of what was going on.  Szeth’s got quite a bit of talent going there… I certainly wouldn’t want to piss him off.

I’m sure the sphere will play some interesting role at some point in the story, as I don’t think it would be mentioned in a prologue if that wasn’t the case.  Same with the last words.  At this point I can’t quite speculate on what sort of role, but I have a feeling the crystalline sphere won’t be in the right hands and will cause some sort of chaos at some point.

4) Each chapter proper starts with a few words from a dying person, their station, and status in life. Any thoughts on what these portend?

It seems as though they’re having some insight to the bigger picture before death, regardless of who they are.  It’s pretty foreboding.  Possibly foretelling a great calamity to happen in the future?  Someone’s obviously trying to figure it out through collecting these samples.  It reminds me of the collective dreams that occur in “The Call of Cthulhu” to some extent.

5) Kaladin went from warrior to slave in a matter of the first 2 chapters. Care to speculate on the details of how his life changed so drastically?

He apparently didn’t kill the right man, as far as I know.  He’s been painted falsely as a deserter, too… I can only assume he pissed off the wrong person.  Probably this Amaram fellow.  Poor Kaladin is suffering dearly, too.  Someone really hates him and hates him a lot to do this to him.  (Or is just a sadistic fucker.)  I really want to give him a hug after all the shit that went down with his first experience in Bridge 4…

6) Sylphrena (Syl) the Windspren seems attached to Kaladin. Are you enjoying her character? Do you like the Spren in general in the worldbuilding so far?

She’s mischievous and fun while caring about Kaladin, so I definitely like her a lot.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of her and watching her character develop.  Spren of the talkative sort are pretty much unheard of, so she has to have something that’s making her unique.  The entire concept of Spren inhabiting the world is pretty interesting, though it seems like it could cause a lot of various issues.  How the hell would you be able to keep emotions to yourself?  Everyone could read what you’re feeling based on the Spren around you, so keeping secrets would be really difficult.  It would drive me crazy…  *shivers*

7) Shallan Davar has finally caught up to Brightness Jasnah Kholin and her soulcaster. Jasnah and the jeweled fabril can change stone to smoke; what else do you think it can do?

Apparently the best of the best fabrial can transmute quite a number of things, from what is mentioned.  I mean, perhaps they could turn stone into rare gemstones or other things of an elemental nature.  Would be a pretty great way to build wealth for the kingdom, though it would REALLY mess up the economic system.  I got slight Fullmetal Alchemist vibes from this Soulcaster business, though I’m certain it’s not quite as extensive as that.  And probably does not have an equivalent exchange principle.  Don’t listen to me on this, really.

Other fun things:

I want to know what this safehand business is about.  Why is covering the left hand necessary?  It’s some sort of modesty thing, but what is it about a hand that requires modesty?  Do they have a special use for their left hand that makes it obscene to look at?  Are they marked in some strange way?  I’m rather confused.

That’s that until next week.  See you next Wednesday for the next installment!

Merry Christmas~!

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and I would like to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!  And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s okay too~ I hope you guys can see your families and friends and have a wonderful time before work and school and all of that gets back into full swing again.

And if you’re getting gifts, I hope you get lots of books!  Or giftcards to buy books with.  Or something.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pop away to read today and maybe write some posts during my free time.  So many things to discuss!

Review: Damselfly by Jennie Bates Bozic

18216396Damselfly — Jennie Bates Bozic
Released: November 11th, 2013 (self-pub)
Series: Damselfly #1
Source: eARC via Netgalley
Rating: ★★★½
Links: Amazon, Smashwords

In 2065, the Lilliput Project created Lina – the first six-inch-tall winged girl – as the solution to a worldwide energy and food crisis. Isolated in a compound amidst the forests of Denmark, Lina has grown up aware of only one purpose: learn how to survive in a world filled with hawks, bumblebees, and loneliness. However, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she discovers that she’s not the only teenager her size. Six ‘Toms’ were created shortly after Lina, and now her creators need to prove to the world that tiny people are the next logical step in human evolution. In other words, they need to prove that reproduction is possible.

Um. No thanks. Lina’s already fallen in love with a boy she met online named Jack. Only he has no idea that thumbelina1847 could literally fit inside his heart.

When her creators threaten to hurt Jack unless she chooses a husband from among the ‘Toms’, Lina agrees to star in a reality TV series. Once the episodes begin to air, the secret of her size is out. Cut off from any contact with the outside world, Lina assumes Jack is no longer interested. After all, what guy would want to date a girl he can’t even kiss?

Slowly, very slowly, she befriends the six young men who see her as their only ticket to happiness. Perhaps she can make just one guy’s dream of love and companionship come true. But her creators have a few more twists in store for her that she never thought possible.

She’s not the only one playing to the cameras.

When I originally read the premise of this book, I was a bit nervous.  While it intrigued me, I wasn’t sure whether this Thumbelina retelling with a Bachelorette component would actually work.  Unique, but maybe almost too much crazy for one book.  Somehow, though, I was proven wrong — it was crazy enough that it actually turned out quite well.  The book was definitely better than I originally expected, and it was a fun, albeit a bit short, ride.

We’ve got Lina, our pocket-sized protagonist, who has spent her entire life inside the Lilliput Project’s compound with only one person there that is even close to a companion, George in charge of the aviary.  The rest of the employees, and especially Dr. Christiansen, the program’s director, see her as little more than a scientific novelty and experiment.  Being isolated like this, it’s not all that surprising she develops a rebellious streak.  Unbeknownst to the director (and this part still confuses me — wouldn’t they notice her suspiciously being gone for hours at a time?) she has obtained a computer and has found an online boyfriend.  It was nice seeing how virtual reality technology was implemented here.  We get segments of the book detailing the dates she goes on with Jack and how their relationship develops, and even though logistically the relationship seems impossible, I was still rooting for this pairing the entire time.  Even when the reality show is forced upon Lina and she has six choices that are a logical choice size-wise.

But there’s no stopping love, is there?  Once that attachment is formed, it’s hard to forget.  Especially when Jack is one of the only people that has ever expressed true worry and care for Lina.  I definitely sympathized with her fierce loyalty to that love throughout much of the show she’s forced to take part of.  How can you blame her?

Still, the Toms are interesting characters in their own right.  While a few of them I didn’t get to see as much of as I would have liked to — Shrike and especially Blue come to mind — Row, Tom #2, was a well-developed character and stood out for his cheerfulness even in such a hopeless situation.  Though I found myself liking him as the book progressed, as Lina found trouble letting go of her feelings for Jack, I had trouble wanting her and one of the Toms to get together.  The forced situation was too troubling to me.

Yet, throughout the show, they begin uncovering secrets behind the project and why they’re being broadcasted to the entire world instead of keeping the entire thing behind closed doors.  There’s quite a number of interesting revelations I didn’t see coming, and Bozic threw in twists that actually had me stunned.  As in, screaming at my kindle “WHAAAAT” stunned.

My main issues with the book, though, were the sparse world-building and the reasoning behind creating Lilliputian-sized people.  It’s hinted at that the world’s been in upheaval and multiple wars and civil wars have taken place, but as to why it’s never told.  I won’t excuse Lina being stuck in the compound her entire life as the reason for the lack of information as she had access to the internet and could have researched this on her own.  This and the proliferation of virtual reality is about all we learn of the state of the Earth well over half a century from now.  Additionally, why would you create people six inches tall to solve world hunger and energy issues instead of more viable solutions like creating off-world colonies or researching alternative sources of fuel?  With small people comes huge problems, such as how humans would drop down the food chain tremendously and would have to worry about a huge host of predators and survival instead of reviving civilization to its height.  It just doesn’t come off as a logical solution.

Regardless of these particular problems, the plot and my enjoyment of the characters and romance still had me glued to Damselfly throughout its entirety.  If you’re looking for something different and don’t mind crazy reality show antics, then you should definitely pick this one up.  It’s a whole lot of fun!

Short Story Friday: “Poison Dance” by Livia Blackburne

18369168“Poison Dance”Livia Blackburne
Published: September 12, 2013 by Lion’s Quill Press
Series: Midnight Thief 0.5
Source: From Author for Review
Rating: ★★★★☆
Link: Amazon

James is skilled, efficient, and deadly, a hired blade navigating the shifting alliances of a deteriorating Assassin’s Guild. Then he meets Thalia, an alluring but troubled dancing girl who offers him a way out—if he’ll help her kill a powerful nobleman. With the Guild falling apart, it just might be worth the risk. But when you live, breathe, and love in a world that’s forever flirting with death, the slightest misstep can be poison.

…I know it’s not Friday.  For some of you it’s even Sunday!  Just pretend you’re a Time Lord and the discrepancy shouldn’t bother you, right?  Right??

First of all, I would like to thank Livia Blackburne for giving me a chance to read this novella and get a taste of the excitement to come in Midnight Thief next summer.  If your interest has been perked by reading that book’s synopsis, I definitely recommend diving into the prequel “Poison Dance” so you can get a taste of the world she has created.

An interesting world it is too, for certain.  We’ve got traveling caravans, illegal substances being smuggled into the city due to a corrupt economic system, a city guard to fear called the Red Shields, and most notably nobles so fittingly called “wallhuggers” as they live close to the Palace wall.  The Assassin’s Guild is shown to be a shadow of its former glory, with funds tight, infighting rampant, and respect (or perhaps fear) from the general public dwindling.  Enough to keep the story from falling too deeply into the folds of stereotypical medieval type setting used in stories like this, I think.  Though we get such a limited time with this world, the scaffolding for city politics and workings is already strong, which probably caught my attention the most.    I’m a sucker for well-written politics and social problems.

James is to be one of the more central characters to the plot of Midnight Thief, our badass assassin who agrees to teach Thalia the best way to kill a certain nobleman.  He’s cool and edgy without being annoyingly so, a badass I can get behind.  Hell, in general our two main leads here are strong and well developed, with a connection that slowly grows over time in a realistic fashion.  It was nice to see the beginnings of romance blossom without having to suspend disbelief due to shoddily written insta-love.

DID YOU HEAR THAT GUYS?  NO INSTA-LOVE.  ACTUALLY REALISTIC THINGS.  Is nice, you know.

Unfortunately getting deeper into the plot than that would give too many spoilers, so I apologize.  Though I found several points kind of predictable, it was still definitely entertaining.  And the way the ending is written, while maybe not as satisfying for some people, befit the atmosphere of an assassin story.

By the way, favorite quote of the whole novella:

Risk is everywhere.  Only the nobles have the luxury of a long easy life.  Justice, vengeance, the ability to carve out your own fate instead of being herded like an animal.  Sometimes it’s worth dying for.”

Can Midnight Thief be released yet?  I’m going to be incredibly impatient for about half a year.  Forgive any whining as I try and wait.

Regarding the unexpected absence…

I wanted to apologize for basically disappearing from my blog for the last month.

I had a wonderful schedule for Sci-Fi Month and was so excited to be writing about a genre that I love.  But unfortunately, life got in the way.  I had complications after a minor procedure that I went through on Halloween.  I’ve been having terrible stomach problems for the last several months and I finally found out that I have gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) as well as erosions.  They also found a polyp in my stomach, but thankfully it was benign.  All these issues are stress-related for reasons that I’ll only go into privately.

The main issue was that after the EGD I could not eat without getting incredibly sick, which ended up culminating in an ER visit in mid-November.  I got put on a new medication I have to take before eating anything and it’s been so incredibly helpful.  However, I ended up contracting a nasty cold after the fact, and it’s just been a month of sickness and medication.  I missed a lot of class due to appointments and such, so I had to catch up on school work as finals are next week.  And since my education has to come before my blog, I have been unable to do much up until now.

But soon finals shall come to an end, I’ll have about three weeks of free time, and that means lots of reading and time to catch up with blogging again!  I’ve been active on Twitter still and check everyone’s blogs, though I don’t really have a lot of time to comment.  I’m excited to be getting back to being active soon.  I’ve really missed blogging and writing but everything’s been put on the back burner because of illness.

I apologize profusely, but I hope you can understand. >__<;; I can’t wait to be posting regularly again!