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(Where I Read) Words of Radiance

Aegis98

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Hail and well met Other Media! I have come to share with you all my journey through Brandon Sanderson's expansive Cosmere, and in this thread I will be reading Words of Radiance, the second book in the Stormlight Archives. I will summarize, highlight, and share my thoughts about each chapter of this simply massive 1310 page book. Thankfully, Sanderson's writing gels with me really well and I like what he has to say so I do not see the length as a bane but a boon!

Before we begin, I will share a link to my thread on The Way of Kings, the first book in the series.

https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?832859-(Where-I-Read)-The-Way-of-Kings

If I had to summarize in a single sentence what The Way of Kings is about, its about a bunch of really damaged people figuring out how deeply messed up the world is and deciding that they should do something about that.

Finally, my policy on spoilers; please do not spoil me on anything that has not been revealed up to this point in the series. If you want to put in a spoiler block for something, please include a description of when it will be okay to go back and read that spoiler. That said, feel free to highlight points of interest in the reading that I should keep in mind for future developments.

So, with all that out of the way, let us begin Words of Radiance!

Prologue, To Question

It is six years ago, the night of the party celebrating the signing of the treaty between Alethkar and the Parshendi. "Jasnah Kholin pretended to enjoy the party, giving no indication that she intended to have one of the guests killed." Jasnah makes her way through the feast hall, her uncle Dalinar is currently making a drunken mess of himself but no one is staring at him. After all, she had just declared heresy and that takes priority over a highprince getting drunk. Which is why she did it. She passes the Parshendi delegation and enters the hall, only to find her shadow pointing towards the light. Sadeas walks right through it, but he is busy talking to another man and doesn't pick up on the oddity. Jasnah's shadow returns to normal, no one noticed, but she notices the shin servant with the Parshendi. She forces herself to be calm and rational about her shadow acting up on her, and then she finds her father Galivar in quiet conference with Amaram. What's he doing here? They talk for a bit, her father rebukes her for thinking herself better than others, and insinuates that he would like to have her marry Amaram. That is not going to happen, and Amaram makes himself scarce. She asks what her father isn't telling her, but he doesn't say. Jasnah worries he might know about her plans with her assassin, but she gets something more immediate to worry about.

Her shadow pulls towards three stormlight lamps. She tells it to stop, and then shadowy, inklike figures emerge. One draws a sword and moves to her. She touches the wall and the palace disintegrates into glass spheres. The figure sheathes its sword. Jasnah begins to drown when she senses that the beads correspond to objects, and she can give "something" to them to make the surrounding beads form that shape. She finds the bead for the palace and gives it all she has, recreating the hallway and allowing her to stand and breathe. The figure draws its sword again, Jasnah grabs a bead and uses it to create a statue to defend herself with, a statue of Talenelat'elin, the Herald of war. The oily figure bows, there are other figures that whisper among themselves, and Shallan is back in the real palace. Shallan realizes she is late for her meeting with her assassin, Liss, and hurries along. She finds her still waiting and takes note of how attractive and striking she is, along with her ability to speak in a variety of accents to disguise just where she comes from exactly. Jasnah is about to give Liss a letter containing her instructions on how her sister-in-law Aesudan is to be killed, but she realizes there's way too much strangeness going on this night. Fortunately, she has another letter containing instructions on how Liss is supposed to watch her. Liss points out the oddity of hiring an assassin to just watch someone, but Jasnah knows what she's about. Liss, as it so happens, is known as the Weeper for her habit of cutting her victims' eyes out, an act which conceals that her methods burn those eyes out.

Jasnah asks about the servant that Liss was going to show off to him, Liss says she got rid of him; that Shin was too good of a servant, it was creepy. Jasnah connects that to the Shin man that she saw with the Parshendi. She returns to the hall and hears a pair of foreign ambassadors talking, not liking how that creature has his lord's blade. Jasnah thinks about investigating, and then the Parshendi drum music stops. The palace shakes. Jasnah goes to investigate, following the trail of destruction left behind by Szeth. She reaches her father's room in time to see him look back at her before the balcony break beneath him. Szeth falls with him, and then falls to the wall at his side. Galivar dies, everything Jasnah did to keep her family safe has come to naught. Three members of the Parshendi council arrive to give her their condolences. Even now in her grief Jasnah has to stop herself being a scholar, going over everything she knows about the Parshendi. They say they hired the assassin, it had to be done, Galivar was going to do something very dangerous. Sadeas arrives and summons the guards. They surround the Parshendi. They are interrogated but reveal nothing more. The assassin and the rest of the Parshendi escape. The cavalry are sent after the Parshendi and are slaughtered. Jasnah interrogates the guards about what they saw of Szeth, Liss herself knew nothing about his powers. Jasnah has seen many impossible things this night, and she is going to find out what it all means.

Thoughts

Turns out the night that Galivar was killed was even busier than we'd previously suspected. Out of everything, I'm most interested in why Jasnah would hire an assassin to go after her sister-in-law. Also, I find the bit where Jasnah has to stop herself internally info-dumping about the Parshendi to be darkly humorous.
 

DarkStarling

Brilliantly Crazed
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That was a very very busy night, fitting since it’s shaped everything that came after.

If I’m remembering right, there are strong hints that some of the guests are far more than they appear.

That’s ONE way to conceal you kill with a shard blade I suppose.

This tells us that, only a few years ago, Jasnah had no idea about any of this magic.

Her shadow bends towards the light sometimes. Just like an Aimian.

And those guys are almost as creepy as Symbol Heads.

Szrth has been passed around a lot hasn’t he.
 

Kakita Kojiro

IL-series Cylon
RPGnet Member
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Your dedication and rate with these WIRs is quite impressive.

... And it seems I've completely forgotten who Aesudan was or what plotline was attached to her. So much to remember!
 

Icarium

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Heh. I love how each book (not really a spoiler) has a prologue telling us more and more about that night. It's just interesting. ;)

And yeah. Lots to unpack and think about here, hmm?
 

Thanaeon

Mostly simulationist
Validated User
So... Could it be that the reason Jasnah never got married wasn't just because she's not very emotional and doesn't want to be tied down, but also because she's more interested in ladies? There are some indications that this might be the case...

Also: wow this came fast! I heartily approve! :)
 

Icarium

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There's an actual twitter comment somewhere by Brandon, actually.

People said that they saw an attraction between Shallan and Jasnah, and wondered if it was written to be. He basically said: Y'know, I didn't plan it that way, but it works. So let's go with it.

I think from what I recall, he said she was bisexual rather than a lesbian, but yeah.
 

DarkStarling

Brilliantly Crazed
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I'm vaguely recalling that as well.

I always love a goo Shrug of God.
Let’s you fill in whatever you want right? Personally I’d ship Jasnah/Shallan all over the place, regardless of the text.

Speculative Spoilers for Oathbringer
Spoiler: Show
Though at the moment my thought is Shallan/Adolin/Kalladin/Jasnah ot4.
 
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Thanaeon

Mostly simulationist
Validated User
Speculative Spoilers for Oathbringer
Spoiler: Show
Though at the moment my thought is Shallan/Adolin/Kalladin/Jasnah ot4.
I have a hard time seeing that last part, personally. Maybe later, after more interaction, but at the moment, I'm really not seeing it.
 

Aegis98

Registered User
Validated User
That was a very very busy night, fitting since it’s shaped everything that came after.

If I’m remembering right, there are strong hints that some of the guests are far more than they appear.

That’s ONE way to conceal you kill with a shard blade I suppose.

This tells us that, only a few years ago, Jasnah had no idea about any of this magic.

Her shadow bends towards the light sometimes. Just like an Aimian.

And those guys are almost as creepy as Symbol Heads.

Szrth has been passed around a lot hasn’t he.
I would not be surprised that anyone who was anyone in Roshar was there that night. Along with a lot of people who are not from Roshar.

If it works, it works. People don't even know that the Weeper is a woman. A woman with a Shardblade. That's two of those we've seen so far.

She got quite the head-first dive into it. Good thing she's such a quick thinker.

Makes me wonder what the Alethkar family tree looks like.

Both the oil guys and the symbol heads would need to be depicted by Junji Ito to have justice done them.

At least now he's got a stable home. For what that's worth.

Your dedication and rate with these WIRs is quite impressive.

... And it seems I've completely forgotten who Aesudan was or what plotline was attached to her. So much to remember!
Thank you. I just have plenty of time on my hands and this is how I've chosen to use it.

These are big books and they have a whole lot happening in them. I can't blame you for that.

Heh. I love how each book (not really a spoiler) has a prologue telling us more and more about that night. It's just interesting. ;)

And yeah. Lots to unpack and think about here, hmm?
I can't help but think that if this keeps going, by the time we get to the fifth its going to get downright silly how many conspiracies and plottings were going on in this one place that very night.

There's an actual twitter comment somewhere by Brandon, actually.

People said that they saw an attraction between Shallan and Jasnah, and wondered if it was written to be. He basically said: Y'know, I didn't plan it that way, but it works. So let's go with it.

I think from what I recall, he said she was bisexual rather than a lesbian, but yeah.
My only point of reservation is that I'm not sure on just how much older Jasnah is than Shallan. If the age difference isn't too big, then I'm all for it!

Chapter 1, Santhid

Before the chapter proper, we have a quotation from Navani's journal dated in the year 1174, saying that she should have seen all the death and destruction coming and should have put a stop to it before it could happen. The chapter proper begins with Shallan on the Thalan boat, sketching what she can remember about Shadesmar. A pattern rises on the paper and starts moving around, startling Shallan. The crew checks on her and helps gather the sheets she dropped. She says she's fine and the ridged pattern is gone. She looks over the side of the ship and sees a large shell emerge from the water and swim alongside the ship; it is a Santhid and they are very rare. No one's seen more than its shell while alive, and when they wash up on beaches their corpses are so decomposed that you can't tell what they looked like before. So Shallan, seeing a once-in-a-lifetime opportuntiy, wants to be lowered into the ocean so she can see what its body looks like under the water. The crew refuses to go along with this. Yes, the santhid is good luck, but that doesn't mean you should dive down next to it, especially when there are other fishies that are known to be dangerous.

Shallan reflects on how the previous book ended for her, and then Jasnah comes up on deck. She takes time to notice how very attractive and alluring Jasnah is, then Jasnah asks why she isn't down in the rooms that she'd paid for. Shallan was supposed to be reading, but she couldn't concentrate, so she came onto deck and sketched all the men working with their shirts off. Because that would help her concentration. Shallan asks about Shadesmar, and Jasnah answers; keeping secrets from young people only encourages them to endanger themselves. Shadesmar is the Cognitive Realm, and the Spren are living ideas that have somehow crossed the cognitive realm into the physical world. Its all pretty complicated stuff, Jasnah's been studying for years and she still doesn't have all the answers. The Spren even have cities in Shadesmar, and they are not always cooperative; they say that there was an ancient betrayal between them and humanity, but they will not discuss it further. Shallan is daunted by this and all that she's been caught up in now, and then she sees the pattern reappear on the ocean. She tries to point it out to Jasnah, but they've already moved past it.

Shallan then begins worrying about her brothers; yes, its important to figure out the Parshmen and make sure that civilization isn't burned to the ground, but this means she can't help save her own family. Fortunately, it turns out Jasnah's taken some action on that. First, she's sent them some cash. Second, she was just in commmunication with her mother Navani who says she should be able to fix the broken soulcaster. In addition, Navani is more than in favor of having Adolin be engaged to Shallan, especially since his latest romantic relationship has come to a sudden and decisive end. Shallan, once she's processed this, is all for it; with her married into the Alethkar royal family, they will have very powerful allies and the Ghostbloods won't be able to touch them! Jasnah is taken aback by this, she'd thought that Shallan would have a problem with all this being decided without her. Shallan says that she'd always expected her father to choose her husband when the time came, she's used to it. Finally, Jasnah teaches Shallan an important lesson on the nature of power; it is an illusion. Sure, some power is real, but there's a lot of it that comes down to you convincing someone else that you do have power over them. Jasnah herself could be a begger woman, but if she could convince the crew she were the king's sister it would amount to the same power.

So Shallan puts this lesson to use right away, convinces the captain to stop the ship, give her a helmet to help her see in the water, and so she gets to see the sandthin swimming along with the ship. The creature looks at her, and she Memorizes the image.

Thoughts

I just really enjoy the dynamic that's going on between Shallan and Jasnah, they just bounce off each other in fascinating ways.
 
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