Mar 28 2013 10:00am

The Way of Kings Reread: Prelude to The Stormlight Archive

The Way of Kings Re-read Introduction Prelude to The Way of KingsThis is the first post for The Way of Kings re-read. Please understand that the very nature of these posts can be and probably is spoilery, especially in the comments area. So BEWARE, unless you’ve read the chapters discussed you’ll be exposed to a lot of the underpinnings to the story. This post will cover the Prelude only, which, I believe, is the shortest chapter in the whole work, but is also filled with hints of many things to come in the series. This is a long haul story and it shows. Sanderson has already admitted it is planned to be at least 10 novels long and it will be 10 to 15 years, at least, before we get to the end.

If you want the full experience of The Way of Kings I suggest finding a copy of the hardcover, as it has some gorgeous end papers containing two maps of the world of Roshar. The first few pages of the book also include a different, more detailed two-page spread map in B & W. Another feature of the book is an emblem unique to each viewpoint character that is shown at the beginning of the chapters. All in all, this is a fine production that shows the fingers prints of Sanderson’s vision throughout. There are other art features that show up in later chapters as well.

Now, with that all out of the way, please summon your Shardblades and let’s jump into the fray!

Time: 4,500 years before the current era

Setting: A large battlefield after the action has ended.

Point(s) of View: Kalak

What Happens

Kalak, one of the ten Heralds, is amazed he lived through the latest incredibly destructive battle where the land has become a shattered ruin and left most for dead. He is searching for the other Heralds and finds their leader Jezrien near a circle of seven swords stuck in the ground. Kalak learns Herald Talenel died during battle, but the rest are alive.

Jezrein informs Kalak that he and the other Heralds are tired of the endless pains they are subjected to between battles and have decided to end their Oathpact and give up their swords and never see each other again. Jezrein says that another Herald called Ishar believes that as long as Talenel is still bound by the Oathpact that it will keep their enemy in check and leave them free.

Kalak finds this difficult to accept, but he can see Jezrein is just as tired as he is of the continual pain they go through between Desolations only briefly broken up when a large battle summons them back to fight an unnamed enemy. This is a process they have been going through for hundreds of years.

Jezrein walks away after slamming his sword into the ground to join the seven others, leaving Kalak alone. After a time Kalak leaves his own sword, but can’t help feel bad about abandoning Talenel.

Quote of the Chapter:

“What do we tell the people, Jezrien?” Kalak asked. “What will they say of this day?”

“It’s simple,” Jezrien said, walking away. “We tell them that they finally won. It’s an easy enough lie. Who knows? Maybe it will turn out to be true.”


Man, those lines feel pretty harsh. Kind of like what I expect politicians to say behind closed doors, which is fitting, given that Jezrien was a king. When I first read the Prelude I was left at a loss. It nearly felt violent to be thrown into such a foreign world with nothing to guide you as we’re clearly at the end of long phase in this world’s history. At the time I even went back to reread the Prelude after reading the Prologue hoping some more things would click into place, which did happen somewhat yet even after having read this novel many of these terms are still left unaddressed or at least unclear.

Many people believe Preludes and Prologues are unnecessary for the majority of novels. “Just get on with the story,” is the main lament. Yet for a work of this scope it is very much needed to set the stage for a story that was truly started thousands of years ago. We begin at a point long enough ago where the reader understands that history can easily turn into legend. And Sanderson loves to play with legends. It certainly whets the appetite about many facets of the world. Though the story is clearly influenced by Wheel of Time the first thing that is apparent with this chapter is that this isn’t Earth. We’re firmly placed on an alien world filled with its own flora and fauna. Not to mention its history.

So right off the bat we get a lot of terms that are sure to be of utmost significance in the long run, but leave us in the dark for now. This is all part of the world-building that Sanderson has become known for.

What are Surgebinders, Dustbringers, and Thunderclasts? Radiants?

What does it mean to be a Herald? What does the Oathpact entail?

As the story progresses we definitely meet at least one, if not two characters that have the power of a Surgebinder. We learn about the Radiants. Dustbringers and Thunderclasts aren’t clearly discussed, but there are definitely some interesting theories. The Oathpact is something that has bothered me since I first read the term. First it seems like a pretentious term. Next why would the Heralds agree to it? Who brokered the deal and did they know about the whole torture thing? People in the military always say they’re willing to give their life for their country, but would they if they knew they’d be tortured for years on end only to be released to fight then go right back?

Which brings me Taln/Talenel. I can’t help but think that Taln is going to be mighty pissed at being left alone in what amounts to a painful hell for seemingly an endless amount of time. If he ever gets out what will he do? What will he have become? The Heralds are/were clearly the champions of humanity and seen as god-like, but if Talenel has already been subjected to “the nightmare” of the time between the Desolations of constant torture and he is then left for 4,500 years he might have easily gone off the deep end.

Duty and honor also make the world of Roshar go round. The Heralds have a duty with the Oathpact. Duty seems especially important to Kalak, even if he sees what he is doing as desertion having already given hundreds of years to the fight. And many other characters echo what they feel is expected of them.

One theme I keep keying into is reincarnation. Are the Heralds, who abandoned their posts still walking the world 4,500 years later? Or are they being reborn? The names Kalak and Kaladin are similar, at least at first blush. If they are still immortal did they retain the rest of their powers after giving up their swords? Are they still trying to influence the world? In coming chapters things are alluded to about the Heralds though nothing seems cut and dry. One brief observation is that 10 seems to be a significant number since there are 10 Heralds. Then again I could be reading too much into that. But hey! This is a re-read after all.

In the same vein as reincarnation is the idea of there being a cyclical nature to this world and its fight against “the enemy” revealed in later chapters as the Voidbringers. Kalak points out that the Heralds come back after a certain period of time from their hell-like situation to battle the Voidbringers yet again and this has all happened numerous times over the millennia. The other people still alive on the field of battle are described as having bronze weapons and being dressed “tanned skins or shoddy leather” suggests things are in a primitive state for the common people, but the proliferation of armor also suggests more technological perhaps magical advancement at some period, which this world is just now regaining.

So all in all an interesting beginning to an incredible world, but the next chapter is where we get to see some action and a glimpse at the magic that is possible.

Michael Pye (aka The Mad Hatter) runs The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review where he shares his views on genre books. He can also be found nattering on Twitter or in search of the perfect piece of bacon. He is currently working on an anthology project and is hoping to find a good publishing home for it soon.

William Carter
1. wcarter
After my first full read through of this book I cam back to this prelude with a new theory: Odium is responsible for torture of the Heralds between battles.
For a god being whose whole m.o. appears to be deep abiding hatred, it would make sense that he would get his revenge on the souls of those who would fight against the destruction he tries to cause.

This prelude also happens to be one of the reasons I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who is too new to fantasy or not an avid reader. I abolutely love it, but it's got one of the steepest curves your likely to find in Epic Fantasy.
2. CrimsonRave
First off, Love your breakdown! I am going to really enjoy this reread. Being that this is the first fantasy epic that I have read from the begginning (release of book) when it was still being written by Sanderson. I was 9 when the Wheel of Time first came out, so little to young to start with that one when it was first released.

One area that I think is interesting is that they explain the heralds weapons are more powerful than a shardblades. Makes you wonder what kind of damage can really be done with one of these things.

I really wonder how Sanderson will use this history. in the Mistborn series he uses it in the begging of each chapter telling a mini story. This just makes me want to learn more about the heralds and their history!

Keep up the great work!

Question? What sections will you be covering for next week, I like to get a little bit of a head start!
Gary Singer
3. AhoyMatey
I agree. I love WoK, and have thoroughly enjoyed it on rereads, but the first time through, I found it really difficult to get into. There's a lot of info.

Whatever Blades these are, they're also way more powerful than Shardblades.
Morgan Anderson
4. white_walker_01
This is the reread

I always thought their oath pact meant they could die and then be reborn again and again to fight against this enemy and in between their life and death cycles they were put into some kind of hell like place. I can't wait to see the theories about the flash back scenes with Dalanar and how they relate to this prelude.
5. Juanito
Woo hoo! It's about time someone got this going instead of re-re-reading Patrick Rothfuss books which, awesome though they are, don't seem to be building up towards anything in particular and are more like "another day in the life of Kvothe." I still like those books, but the Way of Kings, now THIS is a treasure trove of clues and things one could piece together. I can't wait!

Also, I enjoyed the summary/commentary. The Mistborn books have a lot of that "let's get into the heads of the figures of legends and see what's what" juxtaposed on top of the beliefs of everyday schlubs (i.e., the protagonists). This prelude probably shows us a lot of things we're not aware have any mystery to them: the origin of the Shardblades, why it is that only Lighteyes have access to Shardplate or other perks of nobility, the unsteady peace between the "humans" of this world and the Terrismen Parshendi (who, we later find out, have something to do with the Voidbringers).

Also, is it explicitly said (or implied) that the Radiants are being tortured? As in, strapped down and deliberately hurt by a third party? Or is it something intrinsic to the powers they wield? I'll have to crack open my copy, but I wasn't under the impression that it was an important fact to keep in mind when jumping from the Prelude to 4,500 years later. Good catch, though!

Looking forward to more! (moar! MOAR!)
Carl Engle-Laird
7. CarlEngle-Laird
I wonder what it means to be more powerful than a Shardblade. We know that Shardblades cut effortlessly through living flesh (and "burn out souls."), and easily but not effortlessly through inanimate material, such as stone. So, what would a more powerful version of that be? Something that cuts effortlessly through stone? Or something that works entirely differently? Perhaps Honorblades are some kind of weapon that doesn't creepily burn out souls but is still just as effective as Shardblades. I'm looking forward to finding out more.

Also, wcarter, my supposition is that the torture the Heralds experienced between Desolations is equivalent to the terms that Ruin and Preservation established, the term in the Oathpact contract that caused Odium to agree not to just destroy everything.
8. Benn Parrish
I think that it's possible that Brandon Sanderson might have put this chapter at the beginning to scare away casual readers and instead cultivate a following that would be there for all of this series. I love The Way of Kings because he doesn't hold back in fantastical worldbuilding, but over the entire book it is also easy to understand what the world is like. For anyone who can perservere past the overwhelming newness of the Prelude they will glide through all the other 1000 pages. Which is a huge feat, to make something so large, and easy to read.
9. lavinient
So glad you're doing a re-read. I'm really looking forward to the next book, but read The Way of Kings when it first came out, and I'm sure there is tons I've forgotten.

This prelude, though, really stuck in my mind. Though I had no idea what was really going on, I thought it a strong start. It completely caught my attention. I needed to continue reading just so I could read what happened this Talenel fellow.
Ross Newberry
10. rossnewberry
Juanito @5,
"Centuries, perhaps millennia, of torture. It was so hard to keep track. Those fires, those hooks, digging into his flesh anew each day. Searing the skin off his arm, then burning the fat, then driving to the bone. He could smell it. Almighty, he could smell it."
Michael Pye
11. Michael_Pye
@CrimsonRave Next week we'll be covering the Prologue. After that it will be two chapters per post. At least that is the plan.
12. CrimsonRave
Thanks for the reply Michael. I am reading 4 books at once and I really want to stay with the group so thanks for letting me know!
13. bakedleech

fun fact: LASIK eye surgery uses two lasers, one which opens the eye (making you blind, even though your eyelids are taped open) and a second which makes a clicking tattoo-gun sort of noise accompanied by the smell of a hair caught in the heating element of a hair dryer.

It was still easily the best thing I've ever done for myself, but damn was that a weird experience.
Dave West
14. Jhirrad
I remember reading the prelude and being, "WTF?!?" It is a very dense piece of writing, and it's clear that we haven't yet been able to decipher a lot of what is in there. That said, I agree that it's a great way to introduce this world. It allows us as readers to see and understand that this is really what this whole series is going to be about: Whatever conflict the Heralds were involved in is still happening. They didn't "win" and it's all coming back now. We know (or at least strongly believe) that the Voidbringers are the Parshendi, who the humans of Roshar are fighting. So I feel like this prelude was absolutely crucial for setting the stage for what we'll see. Much like the Dragonmount opening to The Eye of the World, which set the stage for what came 14 books later.
Steven Muniz
15. CrimsonRave
@Jhirrad great comment on the Eye of the World intro. I see many similarities.

The good news is that the first reread was posted at 10am and an hour later we already have a pretty good discussion that only covers a handful of pages! This so far seems to be a very active reread.
Jeffrey Johnson
16. johnsonator
WOK is the best fantasy book I've read to date. I am amazed at how Sanderson creates such emotion in the first pages in his book. This Prelude brought so many questions. Like most here, how powerful are these swords? I've only read this book once and it was at a fast pace, can't wait to dive deeper into the masterpiece Sanderson has provided us with.
Jennifer B
17. JennB
I was fine with this chapter and the next, but when I got to the third, I started to get fed up. Luckily the fourth continued the plot from the third or I may have put the book down.
William Carter
18. wcarter
@CarlEngle-Laird 7

I'm not so sure about that. Ruin, for all his scary (to a mortal) purpose wasn't really evil per se. He wanted to create a world and he never tried to flat out kill Preservation. In fact it was Preservation that broke the pact to seal off Ruin.
Odium on the other hand based on what little we know about himseems pretty evil. He has apparently killed at least one other shard so I have a hard time picturing him entering into any sort of pact.
But, I've been wrong plenty of times before...
Flint Timmins
19. Giovanotto
I thought this was a great way to start off such an epic story. It gives a lot of background without feeling like an info-dump. When I first read WoK I kept coming back to this part in a somewhat vain attempt to figure out what was going on
Jordan Hibbits
20. rhandric
Thanks for the reread, we're off to a good start.

One thing I picked up (now, this is only my second time reading the book, so maybe others noticed earlier...) when reading this scene. The feeling I got while reading the description of the battlefield (which you left out) was that where they're fighting becomes what's known as the Shattered Plains later in the book. I might be off the mark on that, but the description seems to line up with how I recall the Shattered Plains being described.
Sean Dowell
21. qbe_64
This is only my second time through. And I don't think my recollection of the books is great.
@1 wcarter mentioned Odium. It sounds vaguely familiar but I can't place it at all. I might need to re-read the entire book over the next two weeks, and then go back and follow chapter by chapter.

Super excited! I feel like this series will lend itself to re-reads very well.
Carl Engle-Laird
22. CarlEngle-Laird
@wcarter I totally agree that Odium is the most evil Shard we've seen so far. My guess is that Odium killed Honor as a result of the end of the Oathpact, that the breaking of the Oathpact gave him the strength to do so. It seems like Honor is (was?) really good at binding things, in contracts or otherwise.The alternative is that the Oathpact was a contract solely between Honor and the Heralds, but if so, what did the two of them gain in exchange for all the torture, and how would Odium have been able to use it to torture them at all? Can't wait to find out.
Birgit F
23. birgit
There seems to be a sequence of people with special swords who become less powerful as time passes: Heralds - Knights Radiant - Shardbearer. What exactly is the difference between them isn't really clear. Maybe it will be explained in later books.
Peter Ahlstrom
24. PeterAhlstrom
I just want to note that speculation on reinarnation is likely to be barking up the wrong tree. The Wheel of Time already covered that angle, and Brandon in many instances wants to avoid things that are too much like the Wheel of Time.

The cyclical things pointed out in the commentary will have to have some explanation other than reincarnation. :)
David W
25. DavidW
If he ever gets out what will he do?

Talenel’Elin was free at the end of the book so it isn't a question of whether or not he will ever get out. This is a re-read so there's no need to dodge these spoilers right?
Nick Hlavacek
26. Nick31
I have a couple theories about the way the Herald's swords could be more powerful than shardblades. One idea is that their swords could do damage on a greater scale, wiping out entire formations of opponents instead of one or two at a time. A magical strike, if you will, with an area of effect greater than the physical reach of a shardblade. (Of course the physical length of these blades doesn't seem to be a constant.) The other thought is that their swords could easily defeat the large /insert creature name here/ that are being hunted by the competing armies while it's clear that even a shardblade isn't a guarantee of victory against one of the creatures. Those two ideas aren't mutually exclusive obviously. Looking forward to the re-read!
Scott Silver
27. hihosilver28
I second qbe_64. Can anyone give a (relatively) succint summary of what we know of Odium from this book? It's been a while for me and keeping Brandon's Cosmere clear in my head is a tad difficult.
28. Confutus
The artwork on the endpapers isn't just decorative. There are important clues embedded in it.

On the border of the first two endpapers, there are ten faces. These faces also appear in the icons at the beginning of each chapter, and they seem to be classical representations (not necessarily portraits) of the ten heralds.

The first one has one version of what is later referred to as an hourglass symbol, composed of ten large and ten smalller interlinked circles. It is noteworth that three of the glyphs, if that is the proper word, als0 appear in the artwork beginning each of the parts.
These, in turn, appear to be decorative representations of swords.
This hourglass symbol is mentioned in several places as having important connections to the religion and mythology of Roshar.

The second, a map of the Silver Kingdoms, has ten kingdoms (probably no coincidence) and it's noteworthy that the names are all palindromes.

In the back endpapers, the map of Shadesmar appears to be almost an inverse image of Roshar, with seas where Roshar has land, and land where it has seas. Shadesmar is mentioned in the text, although not a lot of information is given about it.

On the last endpaper, another version of the hourglass symbol appears, with different (and colored) symbols in the circles. I have not been able to determine what these mean.

One could be suspected of thinking that Brandon, or at least the world of Roshar, is inordinately fond of symmetry.
29. Superben
Thanks for the post!

I love this book, but I love the overarching cosmere story even more. I'm really curious as to why Odium is so scary... And why does he seem to be able to wreak so much havoc? We've seen that ruin/preservation essentially cancelled each other out. So why couldn't Honor stop Odium?

My personal thought is that Odium is a dual-shard, similar to Harmony.

Margot Virzana
30. LuvURphleb
@6 ive always pictured the torture of the Heralds as more akin to the Embrace of Pain that Yuuzhan Vong put Jacen in back in the novel Traitor. I dont know why but to me that would definitely be a horrible place to go back to after fighting a WAR.

So the blades the Heralds leave are not shard blades? I always figured they were since the blades are so hard to find but since there are only ten Heralds i guess it would make sense that they had something better or else the alethi would be constantly killing each other for the ten blades of awesome.

Very excited for this re read. Also, dont forget that similar to mist born there are "quotes" from a bunch of randoms throughout the chapters. All "predeath"
Jeremy Guebert
31. jeremyguebert
What David said @25 re: Taln - He's already out (see the epilogue), and his first words upon human contact were a warning that the Desolation has come.

Re: Odium, for everyone who's been asking. Odium makes the most sense when considered with Brandon's overall Cosmere. This is a world/universe that encapsulates several of his books, including the Mistborn series, Elantris and Warbreaker. A very long time ago, something called Adonalsium was shattered into 16 Shards. We don't have a lot of information about when or how that happened, but we know it did. Each of the 16 Shards has their own powers, and they are controlled by people who begin to take on the aspects of the Shards as time progresses (see Ruin and Preservation in the first Mistborn trilogy). Odium is one such Shard, and is currently the reigning power on Roshar. (For those unfamiliar with the term, odium basically means intense hatred - you probably don't want to be messing with someone whose entire being and powerbase is centered on that...) From the chapter epigraphs, we know that "Three of sixteen ruled, but now Odium reigns", referring to three of the Shards of Adonalsium. To the best of my knowledge, Honor and Cultivation were also Shards on Roshar - nobody is 100% sure whether Odium was the third, or if he is a fourth, invading Shard.

Yes, there is a distinction between the Honorblades (used by the Heralds) and Shardblades (used by modern-day inhabitants of Roshar). I couldn't tell you what the difference is, though.
32. TimCarpenter
I have to say that I loved this chapter it just makes the world feel like it has a long history, so thus makes it feel more real. I can't wait to find out what happens next and why the Heralds were fighting.
David Goldfarb
33. David_Goldfarb
More notes on the endpapers:

The colored symbols on the last endpaper correspond to the gems listed in the Ars Arcanum. If you start from the lower left and move clockwise, you have sapphire (this is a little hard to find because it's colored a sort of variegated purple instead of blue) then smokestone, ruby, diamond, going through emerald in the center, then garnet, zircon, amethyst, topaz, and heliodor in the center again.

Each gem on the first endpaper is connected to either three or four others, and to exactly two of the inner, smaller glyphs. On the second endpaper, the two inner ones (emerald and heliodor) don't connect to the smaller glyphs; so far as I can tell this is the only difference in connections between the two graphs.

The graph on the first endpaper has the same connections as on the last (except as noted above), but is rotated 180 degrees, so that sapphire is in the upper right -- the larger glyphs are colored there. The colors are more subtle, but present; you can see them especially in the red gems (ruby and garnet).

The inner glyphs on both are related. The ones on the first endpaper have mirror symmetry, while the ones in the second have rotational symmetry. However, the corresponding glyphs are mirroring or rotating the same underlying form -- this is easily seen by comparing them on each paper. But you have to compare the right ones, remembering that the two papers are rotated with respect to each other!

The glyphs on the pages saying "Part One", "Part Two", and so on are more obviously stylized swords, and they correspond to the gem glyphs on the first endpaper. I believe that "Part One" is an elaborated and extended version of the sapphire glyph, and "Part Two" is the smokestone, and "Part Three" is the ruby. "Part Four" uses the same as "Part Two", and I suspect this is a mistake, that the book designer accidentally put in the wrong glyph.
34. Seerow

Where is all of that described at? I've read Mistborn, Way of Kings, Elantris, and Warbreaker... while there's been talk of (and even interraction with/ascension to) gods, I've never seen the name Adonalsium that I can remember, much less most of the rest of the information you mentioned.
35. canadianrose
@ 31. jeremyguebert

That is some intense information right there! I've read all of BWS's books (excluding the YA fiction, the Rithmatist & Emperor's Soul) but I never knew any of that about the Shards (although it's awesome how it all fits together like that. Really helps explain how Ruin and Preservation gained physical forms). How/where/when did you learn all of that, anyway? If it was at a book signing, then I'm very very jealous. BWS never comes my way (northern Canada, phaw) so I've never been able to attend one myself. I feel like I've been missing out on so much valuable info about the Cosmere...

Also, confutus & David_Goldfarb, loving the detailed info on the panels. Even after spending hours poring over them I was never able to make much sense out of them... really cool explanations! Yet another facet to the complex and fascinating world of BWS.
36. Confutus
But the Part 5 gyph is the same as the Part 1 glyph, also. Rather than a mistake, I thought it more symmetry. There may be a correspondence to the ketek discussed in the endnote.
Nathanael Schaffer
37. N_Schaffer
@34 Adonalsium is mentioned in the epigraphs of the third Mistborn book, Hero of Ages. Quite a bit of this information is from there, which makes sense considering the source.
Barry T
38. blindillusion
symmetry. Yes. Symmetry plans a rather large role in this series. Recall Kabsal talking to Shallan of how names fold. And best of all...ketek poetry.

Love this book. Its living history. Its characters. Its story. ITS MESSAGE! Life before death. Journey before destination. Strength before weakness. These are the reasons I read fantasy.

Looking forward to this reread. Can't wait for book two.

39. Jon Batchelor

A lot of this information comes from forums that Brandon used to spend a lot of time on, comments he has made at book signings, and other such 'extra' locations.

Brandon has provided a lot of extra information on how he is building up this multi-series / multi-world 'cosmere' and the readers who have gathered the bits and pieces love to discuss and theorize on them.

At least at this point, it's like an extra layer to the multi-verse that isn't as strongly established or easily accessed, and isn't required to access the books that have been published so far, but still allows even more discussion and theories for those that want to try and delve the extra depths ....
Nathanael Schaffer
40. N_Schaffer
@31 Actually, I have to slightly amend my earlier statement. While the name Adonalsium is mentioned in Hero of Ages, there really isn't a lot of information available in the books as of yet. All of it is hints and clues, and only a little of it.
41. AndrewB
Do not have anything of real substance to say. I do love the concept of the Shardeblades and the Heralds' swords.

Thanks for reading my musings,
42. Seerow
Thanks all for the extra information. I figured it had to be something like that, but sort of hoped there was another book out there I just hadn't heard about that went into a lot more depth.

(Though I do remember hearing rumors that after finishing SLA and the Mistborn Trilogy of Trilogies the intent is to make another long series that encompases all of them, which is where I guess most of this information would end up coming into play for more casual readers)
Alice Arneson
43. Wetlandernw
Ten: Ten is clearly an important number in the Stormlight Archive. Ten Heralds, Ten Essences, Ten orders of Knights Radiant, Ten Surges, Ten Fools, Ten months, Ten weeks/month… Exactly how they are all related remains to be seen, though we have some of it in this first book and in external comments from Brandon. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

wcarter @1 – I tend to agree with you, that Odium is responsible for the torture of the Heralds; I think it’s fairly clear that Odium is also the Enemy, and that the Voidbringers are tied to him in some way. Again, we don’t have all that data yet, but it continues to develop.

white_walker_01 @4 – I didn’t get the impression that the Heralds are actually reborn and grow up again each time; I read it to mean that they come to Roshar in essentially the same bodies each time. “Even after all these centuries, Jezrien looked young, like a man barely into his thirtieth year.” I don’t think we actually know, though, now that you mention it.

Juanito @5 – “How long had it been? Centuries, perhaps millennia, of torture. It was so hard to keep track. Those fires, those hooks, digging into his flesh anew each day. Searing the skin off his arm, then burning the fat, then driving to the bone.” (As quoted, I now see, by rossnewberry @10.) Sounds like deliberate torture to me.

wcarter @18 – Odium has actually killed three other Shards, and is described as “the most frightening and terrible of all the Shards.” Sounds pretty nasty to me.

rhandric @20 – I thoughts so too. Which isn’t proof, but… there it is.

Peter @24 – Thanks! I was thinking that, but had no authority on which to base such a statement.

DavidW @25 – No, we can’t dodge spoilers here. There’s too much we’d miss if we tried; we need to be able to note things here that become relevant later, if only so we don’t miss them later! And I can’t wait to find out what comes next with Talenel’Elin and his collapse…

hihosilver28 @27 – (Now that was weird to type…) If you want to know as much as possible about Odium, including theories that may or may not be correct but are clearly delineated as theories, check out the Lots there… It includes things collected from this book as well as from external Q&A and interviews, for what that’s worth to you.

Confutus @28 – The endpapers, for those who are sufficiently OC to care, seem to have a LOT of information. I’m still working it out for myself, though I’m sure there are others who have already done the work. The Heralds, the Essences and the Surges are fairly clear, but beyond that… There’s a whole research project there!!

Superben @29 – FWIW, Brandon has said that Odium refuses to pick up any of the Shards he’s defeated, because he doesn’t want their qualities to influence him.

Seerow @34 – Adonalsium is mentioned all of once, I think, in the books so far. (Maybe twice, by now.) Most of what little we know about it is from Brandon via other sources; some people have read some of his unpublished stuff, talked with him, read his annotations, whatever. Again, I’d highly recommend the wiki for a collection of what we know so far.
44. Gotssclh
Regarding the reincarnation, Brandon already mentioned that more than one Herald appears in the first Book after this chapter not so sure if this would speak for the reincarnation or against it, but cant wait to find out wich of the characters we already met are Heralds
Jordan Hibbits
45. rhandric
Well if you share my thoughts, surely it's true! I know you have an inside look at all things Sanderson (and RJ), I'm on to you! ;)
46. Len Berry
I think The Way of Kings is one of the most imaginative and unique fantasy stories in recent memory. I love it and I'm glad we have this reread going on.

It's gotten me to reread the book and I typically never reread books.
Alice Arneson
47. Wetlandernw
rhandric @45 - "inside look"... yeah, I'm seriously OC! I've been rereading WoK the last few weeks on my own hook, and have ended up poring over the coppermind wiki for HOURS. Also, did you know there's a whole raft of WoK info in the theoryland database? Whee! And of course I pester Brandon mercilessly at signings and by proxy whenever I get stuck on a question. :)
Alice Arneson
48. Wetlandernw
Michael Pye: One thing I thought might be worth noting each week: what Herald(s) are used in the chapter icons, and what else is of note there. Or were you already planning to do that?
Jordan Hibbits
49. rhandric

I know you pester Brandon, and by proxy...remember, I asked him your question! (Well, it was both yours and Free's, but still)
And I've read a lot of that information, I love learning about Brandon's universe.
50. Confutus
The heralds are in some sense immortal, although Kalak mentions both himself and Taln being killed multiple times, and Jezrien mentions "only one of us died this time", implying that there had been other times when more than one of them had died. Whatever form their "reincarnation" takes or took, I don't think it includes rebirth as an infant.

I also noticed that Taln feels something break as he admits that he cannot go back to wherever he goes between Desolations. He observes that Jezrien is broken as well, and concludes that they all were.
Then, he observes that Jezrein acts as if he were the black imitation shadow cast by someone honorable and true.

It is strongly suspected that the heralds are still around, more or less in hiding, and possibly exhibiting vices corresponding to the opposites of the virtues classically associated with them.
51. Bragado
One thing that hasn't been mentioned here, but the hardcover edition I have has an imprint on the cover (under the dust cover) that appears to be a sword, that matches the windrunner essence (if that's the right terminology). This is Kaladin's book and he's developing into a windrunner. I think those are all tied together somehow.

I wonder what may be under the dust cover for book 2 and if it also ties into one of the essences and with Shallon.
52. MasterAlThor
Well as you can see I am a WoT junkie. Looking forward to see how this story breaks down. I think I am going to read along.

Jordan Hibbits
53. rhandric
Oh, and Wetlander@43: don't forget, and 10 books (planned) ;)
Steven Muniz
54. CrimsonRave
What I am wondering is if Brandon will go back and do annotations of the chapters like he has done with his other books. This would go along very well with explaining some of the story lines and how they are intertwined.

I would also be real interested to see if anyone has mad a timeline of the story and what has happened so far. I really do think he will go along and fill some of these sections in in each book. Kind of like a (Book 1 - 4500 years before) (Book 2 - 4300 years before) (an so on)
55. Iarvin
I believe Brandon has confirmed that the heralds are immortal and that we see 6 Heralds in this book. I'm not sure if this includes the three obvious ones, Kalek, Jezrien, and Talenel, but it does include Shalash who probably goes around stealing her own art and breaking statues of herself. We'll see what is probably her handiwork in the next bit we read.

I'm looking forward to this reread a lot!
Houston Armstrong
56. Kalak
This is my 3rd time through this book not to mention numerous other attempts to start reading it which failed due to time constraints but now committed to a re-read and this community I am excited to get back into it. That said, I still feel utterly in the dark every time I read this prologue, not to mention the rest of the book as far more questions are asked then are ever answered. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, I love this book for many reasons and the depth and questions and few answers are just a few of those reasons I love it so. Heck, I joined Tor and took the name Kalak just so I could be a part of this reread. And now as a result I have found many other amazing books and authors produced at Tor so there's that.

As to the Prologue itself, my one complaint it in that we never actually find out who this enemy is, unless I missed something which is quite possible. That is the one thing I would like to know but then again perhaps that is the suspense of it. This was a great breakdown of the prologue though and caused me to think about some things I hadn't before such as who brokered the Oathpact.

I can't help but feel a little bit more lost now than when I first read this book because I feel like there is so much I have forgotten and should know going in but can't seem to recall. There are just so many subtle details that you really have to pay attention as you read and that makes it all the more enjoyable.

I will say right off that Kalak, though not mentioned all that much in the book besides in passing and in the interludes, is one of my favorite characters. He just seems so complex to me. I have to assume that he knew there would be drawbacks to the Oathpack and that it wouldn't always be the best thing for him personally but he did it because he knew it would help other people. Despite the immense honor and personal sacrifice this would have demanded overtime that honor seems to have eroded but he is acutely aware of that as he walks away. He seems to want nothing more than to have that honor and grandeur back but has allowed his fear and dread to overpower him. One may call him and the others quitters and weaklings, and perhaps they are, but I think it would have been just as hard to walk away as it would have been to walk into the pack in the first place. The people say the Heralds deserted them and it is true that they did but in my mind that sets up, hopefully, a scene of eventual triumphant return! Who knows what the next 10-15 years will bring on that note. In the meantime I would prefer to think of the Heralds as how they were and not what the centuries of torture degraded them into. I happen to think the guilt of what they did is probably more of a torture than the actual torture would have been.
Houston Armstrong
57. Kalak
Or maybe what the Heralds did was no different than the cycles before. Perhaps after every desolation they all abandon their calling and the guilt is the torture spoken of. But then they are called back to the fight and there reunited with those that fell during the previous battle. There would have to be some sort of memory loss associated with that scenario but I like that idea because it helps to maintain their integrity in my mind. Whatever the case may be we will find out in time.
William Carter
58. wcarter
@ Wetlander

Three? I had forgotten that.

Yeesh, it kind of makes me worry for the only Shard being readers of Sanderson would know well (Harmony ie Sazed) Note: anyone who hasn't read all of the Mistborn books and doesn't want to be spoiled shouldn't highlight that.

The more I think about this guy, the less I'm able to blame the Harolds for saying "screw it, I'm outta here." It's easy to call out someone for no longer fighting the good fight when you're not in any danger yourself, but I can't imagine choosing to go through what they seem to time and time again.

On the other hand, since Roshar is apparently Grand Central Station for Shards, maybe Hoid can help out Our Heroes by eventually getting one them to come to lay the smack down on Mr. Odium...

*Edit for weird spacing issues
Carl Engle-Laird
59. CarlEngle-Laird
Yeah, I feel like Honor relying on ten human intelligences to undergo thousands of years of torture with their only reprieve being terrible war was fundamentally a bad bet. I could never blame Kalak and Jezrien for failing to withstand all that.
60. Superben
@43 wetlandernw

Yes, I know the quote you're referring to. Odium does indeed not want to take over other shards because he knows they will influence him. My question is: How does he know that? Maybe he used to be 'hatred' and took over a shard, say 'greed' and became odium. He would then know from experience that taking over other shards changes him
61. Neil Sorensen
As for the similarity between Kalak and Kaladin, while I don't believe it was coincidental, I don't think there's any reason to read too much into the similarity. Shallan, for example, was named after Shalash, another herald. I find it highly likely that names based on the heralds would be as common in Vorin territories as "Jesus" is in South American countries, and without much (if any) more meaning.

The question of immortality is an interesting one--what happens to a herald who breaks the oathpact? Either way, as we learn at the very end of the Way of Kings, rebirth for the Heralds did not entail a second childhood--Taln shows up fully grown, just in time to die (apparently permanently this time, since his sword stays around).
Phil Vogel
62. PhilV
If you really want to go down the rabbit hole and explore Brandon's Cosmere, check out his official fansite The Seventeenth Shard:

It has forums, a wiki, and more about the universe tying Brandon's epic fantasy books together.

There's also a fansite specifically for the Stormlight Archive with its own forums:

And lastly a Wikia wiki about the series:

(Disclaimer: I'm only an occasional lurker on these sites and by no means a representative or even much of a participant.)

Jesse Sayers
63. Fluvre
Nice catch on Salash being the herald destroying the statues. I figured it was one of them but didn't connect it to the missing Salash statue Szeth mentions is missing in the Prologe.

I suspect the honor blades are more powerful in part because they can go through shard plate (complete speculation). They are starting to be able to make the shard shields it would make sense that the void bringers might be able to infuse their armor (or carapace) with stormlight to be able to repel shard blades. The parshendi already carry around gems with them in their beards.

@43 - Hoid makes at least one off hand reference to Adonalsium in WOK to see if anyone recognizes the name. I beleive its also mentioned in the letter that is part of the intros (Not all the chapters are prefaced by the last words, some have a sentence or two from a letter that can be put together. The letter seems to be from Hoid)

@60- From part of the letter I just noted it gives the persons name who took up the shard and became Odium (I don't have the book in front of me and can't remember the name). The person is mentioned as being such a good person before the change. Ruin and Preservation also personified their shards, but it didn't immedietly change the person who took up Preservation in the Hero of Ages
64. Utoxin
Can we find out what the next chapters will be, so that we can read them before the post, to be ready, but not get too far ahead?
Jeremy Guebert
66. jeremyguebert
@Seerow: As Wetlander has said, most of what we know of the overall Cosmere, Odium included, is some combination of guesswork, epigraphs and actual comments made by Brandon. The part about Adonalsium being shattered is from epigraphs in Hero of Ages, I believe. The epigraphs in section two of Way of Kings make up a letter, which mentions Odium. Theories abound as to who the letter was written by and who it was written to, but my personal inclination is that it was written by Hoid (a character who has appeared in at least most, if not all, of the Cosmere novels) to someone we don't know yet. Of course, that's just theory, not established cannon, to the best of my knowledge.

Probably the best place to go for summaries of what we actually know about the Cosmere would be the coppermind wiki (

@63 - It's actually Ati (who we assume is the one who became Ruin) who was mentioned as being a good person before the change. Odium, formerely known as Rayse, is called "loathsome, crafty and dangerous".

@64 - I'm fairly certain that Michael mentioned we'd be looking at the prologue next week, and then two chapters per week following that.
67. Utoxin
Ah, I found Michael's earlier reply. Awesome. I'll be ready for next week then. :) Also, thanks Jeremy, for replying as well.
Phil Vogel
68. PhilV
@61 (and OP):

Similarities in names (Shallan/Shalash, Kalak/Kaladin) could also be explained linguistically. We know the language involves glyphs, and I remember the text describing how the surname 'Kholin' comes from the glyphs for 'khokh' and 'linil' (palindromes again).

(These glyphs must be the tower and crown symbols used for the Dalinar chapters.)

By that we could guess that 'Shallan' and 'Shalash' start with the same glyph representing the sound 'sh' or 'sha', and the same with 'k' or 'ka' in Kalak/Kaladin.

@63 - Odium's (former?) name from 'The Letter' is Rayse:
Niraj Merchant
69. NirajMerchant
So something that just occured to me while reading through the comments is that it seems that cultivations influence is mostly in shin, where they are protected from the storms, but for honor, maybe the shard broke up and now binds spirits to natural phenomena leading to the creation of spren
B. E.
70. ekcell
I have a few thoughts on everything. This is just me loving to theorize and ponder, take it for what it's worth.

**Massive spoilers shall follow**

Shardblade vs. Honorblades:

I get the feeling shardblades are, in some way, evil (or at least not good). I remember that Syl felt that Dalanar was better off not having one, and for some reason that even Kaladin didn't understand, he didn't seize his opportunity to get his hands on one.

As far as I can remember we don't have any exposure to an Honorblade actually being used. We do know that when someone dies, their honorblade disappears as per what Kalak says during the prelude. (Did Teln die at the end? His blade was gone). We know shard blades remain. One more thing we know: those 9 Honorblades stuck in the rock 4,500 years ago are somewhere.

Another thing I notices is that Mr. Sanderson often noted that shard blades had a sort of condensation on them whenever they were summoned. He also mentioned that Teln looked as if his skin were wet as he burst through the gates at the end of the book. Some question we could ask are, where do blades go when they are unsummoned? Is it the same place the tortured heralds go? Is this place Shadesmar or how is it related to Shadesmar? How are Shardblades, Soulcasting, and Surgebinding related? Are spren part of it all?

I've probably digressed past the scope of the Prelude, but they were all questions that came to my mind during my readthrough of this chapter.
Sean Dowell
71. qbe_64

and now @66, @62

Next time post a warning when you tell people to go check out coppermind and the other sites. I just came up for air realized that my entire afternoon is blown. Very easy to lose track of time. I realize now that in post @47 Wetlander did make a reference to the hours you can easily spend there. I feel like I need to go back and re-read all his other books now too.
Jeremy Guebert
72. jeremyguebert
@70 - very interesting thoughts about unsommoned Shardblades.
Just looking at the passage with Taln at the end, and it actually says his blade didn't vanish. Since we know Honorblades do vanish when their bearer dies, I suspect that he actually isn't dead.

My thoughts on Shardblades being evil is simply that they're being misused. In several of Dalinar's visions, we see glowing Shardplate, indicative perhaps of how it should look when it's being used properly, by people who've earned it. At the Recreance, however, the armor stops glowing when it is given up and simply taken by whoever is strongest. Judging by the Immortal Words (the creed of the Knights Radiant), domineering over others isn't exactly what it was made for.

@71 - Good point, my bad. I'll keep that in mind in the future.
Flint Timmins
73. Giovanotto
Wow, only Day 1 and look at all the theories!

This is going to be a fun re-read.
Alexandre X. Duchateau Navarrete
74. Lexiel
I've been waiting for an excuse to reread this for a while. Two chapters a week starting with just the prologue ? Will do !
B. E.
75. ekcell
Ah, I actually didn't go re-read the part about Taln, it appears as though I had it backwards.

I think the question of the Knights Radiant VS. the Harolds is interesting in general. I don't have many theories, other than that I believe that there is something significant about where the blades are "stored" when not in use and I think it is connected with the nightmarish place the Harolds are.

Wouldn't it be a mind trip if the Harolds, the Radiant, the blades, and Voranism in general were all from Odium.
Jeanette Donato
76. Djinn
I have just recently finished TWoK and I have to say I was bored for most of it. I found the pace too pandering and slow. And I'd rather not have the argument brought up again to me that this is a 10 book series and Sanderson's just getting start and so on. I don't particularly care that it is a 10 book series; after WoT that doesn't faze me. But I would like to have things move faster than a crem's pace.

Still, I enjoyed the ending enough and it left me with enough questions to read more. I was actually planning to eventually read through the book again because I have no doubt that it'll improve on a reread. And just as I'm thinking that TOR comes through with a reread of its own. Nice work! I look forward to the discussion :)
Cameron Tucker
77. Loialson
To the mulitiple persons recommending Coppermind wiki, thanks, and also: DANG.

It's a massive black hole of fascinating world(universe? Cosmere?) building, as I see qbe_64 also experienced :p!

I even edited some spelling errors that were bugging me on one of the wiki pages to try and give back for time (maybe not well spent, but definitely entertainingly) spent.

This story and community experience looks to be a fun ride.
78. blari345
My personal theory is that when Odium came to destroy Honor Odium was forced in a battle of proxies by Honor. I imagine it as a giant chess
match with both sides starting with equal forces. In WoK we only really
saw Honors side but I imagine that Odium has his equivalent of Heralds
and Knights Radiant as well. Honor seems to work by binding things I can certainly see him realizing that he would lose a direct fight binding
Odium to rules of combat. This could be why Odium hasn't just left or
destroyed everything yet. He hasn't fulfilled the victory conditions
imposed on him by Honor yet and is still bound by them.
79. Ithilanor
This is going to be a lot of fun. I'm glad there's a lot of people digging into the book itself as well as the large Cosmere; it's some very interesting worldbuilding.The Prelude's a somewhat odd way to start the book, but I think it works well. It starts to set the stage on Roshar, and very clearly conveys the feel of the world - stormy, war-torn, and generally harsh. It's also really interesting to come back to after reading the whole book, and see the importance of various details - the Heralds, Surgebinders, the subtle clues that the Parshendi are related to the unnamed enemy.

I've theorized that the death quotes in the epigrams somehow come from Talenel, during his time of torture between the Prelude and the time when TWoK takes place. I know there's a couple that are definitely from his perspective ("The burdens of nine are become mine..."), but a good few seem to be directly from the people speaking, so it's not a very good theory...still, it's an idea. @14 The comparison to the prologue in Eye of the World's a good one; it wouldn't surprise me if that inspired Sanderson directly.

@28, @70 Shadesmar is (part of?) the Cognitive Realm. The cosmere has three components - the Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual. While this had been mentioned in the Mistborn books, this book is the first time we get to see Shadesmar. Shardblades seem to be "stored" in the Spiritual Realm.

@61 I doubt Talenel is dead at the end; his blade's still around, and the Prelude mentions that "if their masters had died, the Blades would have vanished."
80. Confutus
I had thought there might be a correspondence between the first and second hourglass figures and thought of trying to match the symbols on the second with the gemstones, but I missed the 180 degree rotation. Thanks for pointing that out.
81. Seerow
Huh, so much for that idea.

I just recently bought the hardcover copy of this book (I originally got the paperback), and intended to do the reread in time with this reread...

Then the next thing I know I've lost 4 hours, skipped a class, and am about 3 weeks ahead of the re-read. Whoops.
82. Lurking Canadian
@72: My pet theory is that the Recreance happened *because* the Radiants figured out their Blades had been corrupted, probably as a side effect of Odium's gaining power over The Almighty. It's fairly clear, between Kaladin and Syl's revulsion and Dalinar's periodic spasms of guilt that *something* is wrong with Shardblades.
B. E.
83. ekcell
@79 - I did not catch that epigram from the perspective of Taln. I need to ponder what that implies. I wonder just exactly what the death bed quotes even are.

Also more on the fate of the 9 Heralds, there are some who suppose that they wander around immortal, but do not seek each other out. Some have even said that they use Shadesmar to travel to other worlds. Given this information, my wife has a theory that Hoid is one of the original 10 Heralds. He is mentioned in other books by Brandon Sanderson and seems to have made his way around the Cosmere...
84. redwoodz
To the comment about the need for a prelude,I disagree. The lack of background is more "real",as if you were in a new world you knew nothing about. It builds enormous suspense,trying to piece everything together. As for the WOT influence,I do not see that at all.
Alice Arneson
85. Wetlandernw
rhandric @49 – I thought so, but I didn’t go back to check. I love finding questions that Brandon will actually answer (sometimes) that benefit a whole bunch of us.

Confutus @50 – (Minor correction: it was Kalak, not Taln, that felt something break. I know that’s what you meant; your fingers just grabbed the wrong Herald while typing. BTDT.) Yeah, it’s a bit odd how sometimes they die, and sometimes they don’t, but they seem to come back in the same body each time, minus any wounds from the previous round. And I have wondered about the “something broke” business: was there literally something that broke (e.g. the Oathpact) when they made their decision, or was it more metaphorical, like the admission that he couldn’t go back broke his spirit?

About the Heralds… maybe someone here has a clearer answer to this – either they were there, or have asked or overheard a similar question. At the Seattle signing, someone asked Brandon a question that I think may have been about the Heralds, but there’s too much noise on my recording and I was in another conversation at the time. I think they asked something to the effect of whether the Heralds were still wandering around Roshar, if we’d seen any of them, and if Kaladin was one. (It might have been something other than the Heralds, but I did get clearly “whether we’ve seen them.”) Brandon’s answer was that yes, we’ve seen a couple, and no, Kaladin isn’t one of them. IF (big IF there) the question was about the Heralds, that would be food for speculation indeed! Not sure what I think about the idea that they are running around exhibiting the opposing vices, though. (And I see some folks have recollections of Brandon saying something about this; can anyone give a direct quote? The only thing I can find documented is that he said “more than we’d think.” I can see that yet another read-through is in order…)

Bragado @51 – You are correct about the imprint on the dust cover. It is supposed to symbolize the Windrunners, and is somehow a combination of their essence/Herald glyph (Jez, I think) with the glyphs for their surges of gravitation and pressure. My guess re: WoR is the same as yours - it will bear the imprint of another order of the Knights Radiant reflecting Shallan’s powers. (Theory: the related Herald will be Shalash, one of the Surges will be Soulcasting, and… I don’t know enough about the Surges to guess the other one. Primary glyph is the one on the lower left of the front endpage, with the two surge-glyphs linked to it.)

rhandric @53 – Indeed!

qbe_64 @71 – My deepest apologies! I should have warned y’all – it’s as bad as tvtropes up in there, isn’t it? When you hear the slurping sound, you realize it just sucked away another 3 hours… On the bright side, it’s still quicker than doing all the research and correlation yourself. :)
Nadine L.
86. travyl
Thanks everyone for the information (not coming from the books) about the cosmere.
If anybody doesn't own the hardcover book. Brandon posted the illustrations (including endsheets):

83. eckcell I wondered myself, if Hoid isn't one of the Heralds.
The letters (in the chapter beginning) I attributed to Kalak/Kelek - based on no evidence, but they seemed to fit to what we know of him?
edit: I just read the article on the letter on the and it seems i'm wrong on both points.

(edit2: to adress re Wetlander @43:)
you forgot to mention the most obvious example of the importance of ten: "ten heartbeats" needed to summon a shardblade.
87. Steelblaidd
The abandonment of the Honorblades reminds me of a gread observation from Bujold's 'A CivlCampain'. The problem with "death befor dishonor" is given enough time and abrasion all you have left are the dead and dishonored.

Also, ther apeares to be an ebook study guide for WoK availale at B&N for $2.99
88. Ithilanor
@85 The most appropriate quote I could find:
FIRE ARCADIA How many Heralds appear in The Way of Kings?
BRANDON SANDERSON More than you might expect. Some have appeared, some have been mentioned but not appeared.
From There's a few more Q&A's that imply we see Heralds on screen; look through the interviews here.
Rob Munnelly
89. RobMRobM
@87 - So do the Honorblades get to use their bellybuttons as a reset button, like Miles does? LOL.

All others - damn, I guess I need to re-read this to figure out all the stuff I missed on my first go round right when the book came out. This is smelling like a Rothfussian multilevel onion the more I review comments from the committed (maniacal) folk on this re-read.
Tyler Sprenger
90. Kappi
We get a good description of one of the "beasts" they fought. I think we find something else described as having an "arrowhead face" from someone (Shallan?) later in the book, which is why I point this out.

"An enormous stone beast, with riblike protrusions from it’s chest. Vaguely skeletal in shape, with unnaturally long limbs and sprouted from granite shoulders. The eyes are deep red spots on the arrowhead face, as if created by a fire burning deep within the stone. Hand is as long as a man is tall. Can rip themselves free of stone (as in they are created or summoned from the rocks/terrain around the battlefield?)."

We also get all these new words:

But I noticed that we never saw the word "Voidbringer" used to describe anything in this chapter, which is from Kalak's point of view.

There is a difference between Blades and Shardblades. All the Blades are described as swords. "Each unique, each precious." Blades disappear when their masters die. Shardblades don't dissappear when their master dies. If a Shardblade leaves it's master's grip unwillingly, it disappears. Both Blades and Shardblades can be willingly given up, in which case they remain, instead of vanishing. So how do we interpret Talenel's return, where he collapses and his Blade doesn't dissappear?
91. Confutus
Right, I did mean Kalak. I had the metaphorical meaning more in mind, that the admission that he couldn't go back broke his spirit, but on Roshar, there seems to be enough overlap between the metaphorical and the magical that there may be more to it.
The notion that the heralds may be exhibiting vices is more of my own theory, but there is some evidence for it, which I hope to bring up when it comes up.
Cameron Tucker
92. Loialson
Does anyone have proof from Brandon from a Q&A that Talenel'Elin is actually dead? Considering that the Honorswords the Heralds use in the Prelude doesn't disapper except at the death of the Herald (somewhat the opposite of the Shardblades used by the common folk in tWoK), and there was no definitive proof in text that he passed, it may be safe to assume the possibility of him simply being unconscious at the end of the Epilogue.
"The man paused. He raised a hand to his head, wavering....He slumped forward, hitting the rocky ground, Shardblade clattering down behind him. It did not vanish. The guards inched forward. One prodded the man with the butt of his spear.

The man who had named himself a Herald did not move."
That is the only textual reference we have to go on. Wit then proclaims:
"I fear you may be too late, my confused, unfortunate friend."
Ending the book.

Currently it seems he is dead, but there is nothing conclusive as of yet (that I know of), unless Brandon says otherwise.


Here's what Coppermind has to say on it:
"Brandon has said Talenel will be a viewpoint character in later books, so clearly Talenel has not died."
It also provides a link on Talenel'Elin's page to the video where Brandon says Taln/Talenel'Elin will be a PoV character in later books.

That clinches it for me.
Jeremy Guebert
93. jeremyguebert
@82 - Interesting theory about the Recreance, I've never considered it from that angle. The impression that I got was that it was more like what happened here in the Prelude, but on a bigger scale: the Knights Radiant got tired of fighting and essentially just quit. Obviously, since we don't see that from the perspective of the KR themselves, we can only speculate at this point. Totally agree that something's not quite right with the Shardblades.

@Deathbed epigraphs(various) - Interesting theory about them all coming from Taln. It will be interesting to see whether or not we see any more of those in Stormlight 2, now that Taln has Returned (quite colorfully I might add :p ). One thing to note is that while there are at least a few that seem to be the actual individual speaking, most of them do seem to be completely out of character - note especially the one in the endnote, where an illiterate beggar recites a ketek-form poem, which also happens to make up the section headings (albeit with slightly different phrasing). It's interesting to me who appears to speak in character - there's one individual who can see the "figure-heads" seen by Shallan (and Elohkar, if you're paying attention), and another by a Shin. I'm not sure what to make of that, but it does seem noteworthy that these are the people who speak their own minds instead of the prophetic messages being spouted by others.
94. Ithilanor
@83, @86 Hoid definitely isn't one of the Heralds. See question 21 from this interview.
95. BrightStarsFade
On my reread, I always interpreted the more powerful-than-shardblade weapons to be the mythical Dawnshards that Shallan and Jasnah refer to a few times. After all, such powerful weapons are bound to be remembered by humans, even if they were lost/destroyed millenia before.
Alice Arneson
96. Wetlandernw
travyl @86 – Good one! I knew there were more; I just listed the ones I could think of off the top of my head. I wonder how many more we’ll find!

Ithilanor #88 – Thanks; that’s the most specific one I could find, too. At least I didn’t miss something obvious. :) I have an idea about a possible clue that I’ll follow up this afternoon; if it pans out, I’ll share the results here asap.

RobM @89 – Hey! I resemble that remark!

Kappi @90 – My first assumption was that Talenel was dead because his blade didn’t disappear – but that was because I was thinking of the Shardblades and forgetting about the difference in the Herald’s Blades. So I’m pretty sure he’s not actually dead (at the end of the book) but just collapsed. But… what happens next?? So eager to read the next book… (Also? So grateful that Brandon writes really fast and we can expect a third book in a year or so after WoR is out.)

Confutus @91 – I know. :) It was clear from the usage. About the metaphorical vs. literal… I’m really thinking a lot harder about that kind of thing now. My first assumption was the simple metaphor, but again, as I read more and realize just how often apparent metaphors are physical realities on Roshar I’m starting to rethink early assumptions. Thanks to you, this one is seriously on my mind as I read now! Along with my search for clues about the Heralds in WoK, I’ll be watching for antithetical behaviors.

Loialson @92 – From what Brandon has said elsewhere, we can’t actually assume that a character hasn’t died just because we have a viewpoint from them in later books… those flashbacks and stuff, you know. (I think the actual quote may still be on my recorder; my mind is getting fuzzy between what I’ve read and what I’ve heard. *sigh*) Still, I think the fact that his Blade didn’t vanish is proof enough.

BrightStarsFade @95 - Ah, yes. The Dawnshards. Yet another unknown, that may or may not be related to something we already know - or don't know.
Jeremy Guebert
97. jeremyguebert
@94 - Thanks for the link! I hadn't seen those yet, some good info in there.
98. Freelancer
When The Way of Kings was released, many readers stormed through it, then immediately declared that there was too much worldbuilding, not enough action. Of course the relatively tempestuous The Eye of the World became used as a reference point, to suggest that not very much is actually accomplished in this opening volume, compared with that of the The Wheel of Time.

There are myriad reasons why I disagree with that assessement, but none are especially significant alongside the foundational differences in both the authors, and the cosmology within which each worked for their respective epics. A cyclical versus linear temporality; a world where hints of "beyond the fourth wall" legends more than suggest an automatic familiarity versus one almost wholly alien; an itinerate and incomparable scholar of history, legend, myth, culture and personality versus an innate storyteller of original magic and fantasy. Attempting to shoehorn Brandon Sanderson into a mold made, and broken, as the signal craft of Robert Jordan, does service to neither.

Then there is the extra-textual comparison of aims for the two respective first volumes. The Eye of the World was designed simultaneously as the introductory volume of an extended series, and to stand on its own as a semi-complete story with a beginning, middle and ending. This was considered a necessary hedge to ensure profitable sales for the first book, yet hoping to entice readers to "come along for the ride", for while Jordan was known for his Fallon and Conan novels, The Wheel of Time was a foray into truly unchartered waters in terms of scope of story and cast of characters, so to an extent caution dictated the method. For the Stormlight Archive, Brandon was an already well-established fantasy author, with Elantris, Warbreaker, the Mistborn trilogy and his assumption of the Wheel of Time mantle under his belt. Both he and Tom Doherty felt it a reasonable gamble to open this series with a book which, while humongous in size words-wise, is truly only a beginning, a foundation, and incapable of being viewed as a self-contained story. A bold gamble which has paid off in a remarkable way.

One other distinction seems to me appropriate to be mentioned. In The Eye of the World, from Prologue to conclusion, the reader is faced with an almost continuous stream of dark characters and unnatural beasts impinging upon the nascent heros of that saga, keeping them constantly on the run and under tension, as well as the uncertainty of the conflicted and painful Savior/Destroyer status of the central character. The Way of Kings provides as much intrigue and conflict, but beyond the epic and almost timeless struggle introduced in the Prelude, the sources of suspense and tension are generally more political and mundane, giving the work an overall lighter texture while still dealing with engaging and dangerous plots.

With all of that in mind, the Prelude and Prologue of this volume are essential for setting the stage regarding much that we the readers certainly haven't even a reason to ponder as yet, as well as the details already commented upon here that include self-contained hints. We won't begin to know how much foreshadowing has already taken place until more volumes are published.

And on to the text of the Prelude itself. I, too, was struck with a strong foreboding when the Heralds walked away from what they clearly knew was a duty expected of them, and of empathy for Kalak's guilt. Without being info-dumped about any details, we yet learn some things from this. The Heralds have, for centuries, willingly accepted the pain which accompanies their duties, apparently for the sake of the common people, or at least partly for that. They are honorable entities in themselves, or at least had been prior to this point, because if they always had the angecy to decide to abandon this duty, and did not, they must have believed in what they did and why they did it. Kalak is terribly saddened at Talenel being unwittingly selected to bear the entire burden of the Oathpact, but is too weary to reject the opportunity of some measure of peace, and with the other seven having already left when he meets Jezrien, there is little else he can do.

And that's enough out of me for now, I'll wait awhile longer to comment on comments.
99. Rockisaherald
Has anyone given any thought to how Hoid knew exactly where and when Taln would (re)appear? I'm way too stupid to have any intelligent guesses on the subject but I bet at least a couple of you smart people have some thoughts? AFter giving it considerable thought myself I came up with the brilliant speculation that: I have no freakin clue (because no real clues were given).

But after reading some rereads (especially tNoTW and WMF by Jo Walton) and the associated comments I've thoroughly learned that me not noticing something in a book by no stretch of the imagination means it wasn't there.
Cheryl Sanders
100. RestlessSpirit
Thanks, Michael! I enjoyed your opening salvo in what's going to be a long re-read.
Jeremy Guebert
101. jeremyguebert
@98 - Excellent thoughts in regards to the difference between the two books. I for one found Way of Kings to be thoroughly engrossing and entertaining. I certainly wouldn't want to have to make the same choice that Kalak and the others did in the prelude, especially multiple times, as it seems they have.

@99 - I came to exactly the same conclusion, so it's not just you. He does seem to have a knack for showing up for important events (throughout the Cosmere) though. Until we hear otherwise, I'm basically attributing it to unexplained magic-ness on Hoid's part
Joe Cool
102. stillwaters
@92 Can we trust anything we learn in the prologue about the nature of the swords? Kalak speculates how their abandonment of the Oathpact is going to change things. They left their swords behind. How did that change them?

@82 & @93 I'm not sure there is anything wrong with the shardblades. I can't remember any details from the Recreance, but I've reread far enough to claim that Kaladin and Dalinar's disdain for the shardblades might have more to do with the relatively corrupt purpose they are fulfilling. Instead of protecting the world from Desolation, they are being used in border skirmishes and as tools of oppression rather than of service. Also, I believe the chilling way they kill points to this misuse. They were meant to protect living things, not to be used against them.
103. Confutus
Among other things, the Way of Kings is a morality play, one which explores deep issues of honor versus dishonor, integrity versus expediency, and their personal and social consequences in a way I haven't seen equalled by any other major fantasy author since Tolkein. The struggles of the characters are more internal than external, and more spiritual and moral than physical or social, although there are some of those as well. Those who are bored or irritated by such things and prefer the literary version of a typical Hollywood action flick or the grey goo of depraved or disgusting characters struggling for morally ambiguous ends can be expected to undervalue the Way of Kings.
B. E.
104. ekcell
@102 - The disturbing way people die when they get killed by a shard blade is another thing that points to them being questionable in nature.

I'll give a few facts and a small theory.

We know that the blades have a selective ability to cut. They cut stone just fine but pass through the flesh of a living person to cut the "soul" of that person. When a person is dead, the blade cuts their flesh like it were any ordinary matter. (This concept alone is probably worth exploring more.)

If they were made by the Almighty to protect living things then why didn't he create them with the ablitiy to pass through living things entirely? Thunderclasts are made of stone, so no problem there. I also don't think the Parshendi are voidbringers (they are too honorable). So I think the blades could have been made to just kill the voidbringers.

Theory: Perhaps they were only able to kill voidbringers back when they were glowing, but then the dishonorable actions of both the Radiants and those who would weild them allowed them to be corrupted by Odium. Now they are more his tools then they are Honor's.
Deana Whitney
105. Braid_Tug
There’s something about it that tickles my “Magician” memories with Raymond E Fiest.

So, now I’ve finished reading the first 6 chapters of WoK.
(For the first time.)

Was Brandon actively trying to send readers running?!
The size of the book, the first 4 chapters, and the shear amount of info dump overload!

If it weren’t for the quality of his other works, and knowing some of you from the WoT re-read, I would have stopped.
Shallan’s story is the most interesting to me at the moment.

Yes, I know Kaladin’s is going somewhere, but right now, ugh…

This is a book I need some spoilers on, because I don’t know if I would tackle it on my own.
106. Iarvin
@88, there is also question 1 of
He was apprehensive to say it out loud, but he wrote in my copy of Alloy of Law 'Shallash appears in The Way of Kings'! I shall get a scan of that once i am able, and ill put it up in here. He also said to me 'you'd be surprised at how many of the Heralds appear in the book', so i guess another re-read is in order!
This states specifically that Shallash is in the book, and that we'd be surprised how many heralds are running around in the book.

On Immortality

In this prelude Kalak describes Jezrien as "the immortal king". That seems to be a pretty definite answer to the question of if the Heralds (or at least Jezrien) are immortal.
Alice Arneson
107. Wetlandernw
Braid_Tug @105 - Well, clearly this isn't the book to recommend to someone completely new to fantasy... :)

It's funny, though; individual reactions vary so much. When I started in on this, I don't think I put the book down until I was a good 150 pages in. (And when I did put it down, it was under protest!) The Prelude hooked me in completely; I wanted to know what all those things were, and what effect the abandoning of the Oathpact would have on the world 4500 years later. Then again, I'd read enough of Sanderson's work that I was confident I'd like the book anyway.

In some ways, yes - the prelude is somewhat similar (in relevance and distant-past motif) to Feist's Ashen-Shugar plot. Certainly enough for the reader to make the connection. I think we'll find a lot of differences as we go on through, though. For one thing, instead of dying with one's essence invested in an object which later transforms another person into oneself, there's a certain amount of evidence that these nine Heralds are still wandering around Roshar, alive and... possibly quite weird. Or not. Also, the one who died in the Prelude shows up in the Epilogue, so there's continuity with the main plot(s) throughout even the first book, and promise of it continuing through the series.

I'll admit I was a little frustrated by the shifts from one plot to another; I'd get hooked into what one character was doing, and all of a sudden we'd shift to someone else. But that's true no matter what I'm reading; I get immersed in one arc, and then irked when we leave that hanging to catch up on someone else. And then we do it again, to shift back to the person I didn't want to leave before, and... so on. As near as I can tell, it's a personal artifact of me reading a well-written, complex book! (At least, I distinctly remember the feeling from Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, and the Riftwar Saga (among others) - all of which had more than one plot line going as part of the complete story.) It seems that if a book is written well enough to make me care about the characters quickly, any book in which the main characters are following different plot-line will have this effect on me. Which... I guess tells me that WoK has me drawn in completely. :)

FWIW, I recently finished my first complete cover-to-cover reread, and found SO much that I'd missed the first time through. Aside from the one involved in reading along with this reread, I'm starting a character read-through next, starting with Shallan, and I'm wondering what I'll pick up this time that I missed before.

Anyway... I think you'll enjoy it. Just wait until you meet Navani. :)
108. Freelancer
Hey, no spoilers! (But Navani is awesome)

Well, as usual, I concur with Wetlandernw's assessment in the broad view. I just figured that if one is made aware at the outset that this story would be very long in the telling, with many different "main" characters, then one could either stay away in the knowledge that they didn't want to try and keep the sphere of such a large saga in my mind, or accept that it must begin with more pronounced worldbuilding and foundational development in the opening salvo.
I was disappointed in nothing of what was given us in this volume. Several great stories are begun, with enough action in each to have been worth reading. Some of them intertwine as the threads progress, increasing the sense of satisfaction with "the story so far".

It was worth my effort.
William Carter
109. wcarter
@Braid_Tug 105

There are a number of characters I didn't truly begin to appreciate until I was well into the book. But I think the series shows promise so far.

From what I've heard, the second book is supposed to be more Shalan focused from while the first is somewhat more Kaladin based.

In any case Dalinar, Shalan and Kaladin and Szeth are all very damaged people. I think they become quite a bit more interesting when you've had time to see just who they are.
Alice Arneson
110. Wetlandernw
I'll definitely agree with both Freelancer @ wcarter. "Damaged people" indeed! I really enjoyed the way Brandon played the different characters; it doesn't take long to see Kaladin as "damaged," though it takes most of the book to understand the deeper reasons for it. Other characters look pretty normal on the surface, but as you get to know them, you see the underlying damage and/or dark secrets. Some of them look totally screwed-up on the surface, but turn out to be... not so much. And each is drawn differently.

For newer readers: FWIW, as I understand it, each book is planned to follow several character arcs, but focus on a single character in the flashback sequences. In the first book, all the flashbacks are Kaladin's, giving us greater insight/sympathy for his current situation. In WoR, the flashbacks will be Shallan's. (Can't wait to find out more about her history... ) In future books, we'll see flashbacks for Dalinar (maybe we'll learn his wife's name!), Szeth, and Kaladin, plus other not-yet-identified-to-us characters. I'm betting we'll see Jasnah and Navani, possibly Sadeas and/or Elhokar... maybe even Gavilar. Or someone we haven't met yet. Brandon did say that it's possible that the flashbacks might focus on a character who is already dead - so just because (e.g.) Dalinar's flashback book is yet to come, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll still be alive by that time. And though he didn't say so, there's no reason he couldn't give us a Gavilar-flashback book, just because Gavilar died in the prologue, right?

Also, please understand that my "frustration" with the plot switches in no way lowers my opinion of the book. It is, as I said, an artifact of my investment in what I'm reading at the moment - I momentarily resent being pulled out of one arc, but I enjoy the next part just as much. Hey, I'd also momentarily resent being pulled out for one of my husband's excellent steak dinners, but I'd still unreservedly enjoy the feast. :)
Rob Munnelly
111. RobMRobM
See mine at @89 above. Started re-reading on Saturday. Now at p. 616. Very much enjoying it. Still don't understand anything of what's going on the the Prelude....
Jeremy Guebert
112. jeremyguebert
It might be just because I'm used to epic fantasy and am a moderately quick reader, but I never felt bogged down while reading this. I actually had a harder time getting into Shallan's story the first time around, but she's grown on me on successive readings. Kaladin's always been my favorite.
113. Gristleborn
I had a thought about Adonalsium splitting into 16 shards. The number 16 didn't really bring to mind anything significant until I realized where I heard the number crop up before in the cosmere: Mistborn (the same place where we heard the name "Adonalsium"). The number of people who became sick and were imparted allomantic abilities from Preservation was 16% of the population. Preservation was, keeping to the theory of Adonalsium being the source of the shards, 1/16th of Adonalsium (along with all of the other shards, unless the shards were not divided equally). It's merely an observation, and I'm not sure what kind of speculation can possibly come from it, but I figured I'd bring it up. It would fit more nicely if the percentage of people who became sick in Mistborn was 1/16th (6.25%) and not 16%, but hey: "16".
114. cheem
The beginning of the book reminded me most strongly of the beginning of Memories of Ice. Although the prologue for that book took place on a much larger timescale than WoK and happened in the middle of the series – although we get lots of magical systems thrown at us in this book, at least we get a lot of understanding about these systems in the same book. The Malazan Book of the Fallen didn't really give us much in the way of understanding in the beginning (we got an index with the Houses, but we had no idea what they were all about or even what the Deck of Dragons was about, not to mention all those elder races that people knew about and took for granted (kind of)... at least the smart people in WoK are trying to figure out what the Voidbringers are along with the rest of us).
115. tium
@105 - I do not want to make this sound like I am all up it arms about something like this, but this is the re-read for the book and not a place for general analysis of the quality of the work.

I have some of my own comments both good and not so good about the book, but everyone here obviously enjoyed the book enough to want to spend the time to re-read the entire thing, and discuss the finer points we might have missed, as well as discuss theories and make connections to other works.

Comments question the quality of the book on this forum are sure to illicit responses of trying to convince you it's great too, because we love it so much; this, again is not the purpose of this forum.

This is all just my opinion, I'm definitly not trying to start a flame war, nor am I trying to police the forum as that would make me the biggest hypocrite in the cosmere. If I'm in the wrong then please tell me and I will not bring it up again.

I guess I am just looking forward to this so much that I don't want us to get distracted by other good topics that aren't related to the re-read, as there are so many other places that seem more appropriate a place to discuss those things.
Birgit F
116. birgit
Brandon has said Talenel will be a viewpoint character in later books, so clearly Talenel has not died.

If Heralds come back after they die that doesn't prove anything.

The parshmen and parshendi seem to be like workers and soldiers in an insect state (ants, termites, bees). Maybe the voidbringers are the queens who give birth to something bad.
Rob Munnelly
117. RobMRobM
@89 and 111 - finished my re-read. Now I need to re-read all 100-plus comments.
Rob Munnelly
118. RobMRobM
OK - an observation/question - in the first (?) death quote (from the top of the King G assassination chapter, I think), the speaker references that the "desolation" will occur in 1,000 days. Has anyone done the analysis to figure out (1) what is date at end of book; and (2) at approximately what date will the desolation occur? Happy also to hear thoughts on what the desolation might mean - the Parshman revolution?
Deana Whitney
119. Braid_Tug
@ 115, tium: I think we had an internet miscommunication.
What I meant was that the first 6 chapters of the book were hard “for me”.
Not that the quality was bad. A “gentle” introduction it was not.
I think wetlandernw and wcarter understood my comment @ 105 best.

Yet even with works we love, as a reader you can still have “issues” with choices the author makes. It doesn’t mean we are trying to flame the author, it’s just that we have a different opinion / reaction. Check out the WoT re-read right now, you’ll see what I mean.

I’m now on chapter 28, and well hooked on the story.
Really wondering when the text makes it clear that Kaladin won a set of shardplate armor. Then it was taken from him and thus the whole slave journey began. (At least that’s what I think happened.)
120. Confutus
@119 That would be chapter 47 for the one and 51 for the other.
Trae Ashleigh
121. Trae
I'm looking forward to my reread, but it's not going to happen for some time yet. I'm currently reading the complete WoT series ... for the first time. I'll get back into TWoK shortly before WoR is released. Even so, I love reading everyone's comments and theories. Also, thanks for the links!
122. BrightStarsFade
@113 Wow! I had never thought of that before. 16 % and 1/16. I suppose that losing 16% of men to to the mists seemed more important than just losing about 6% of the men from a writers perspective.
Heather Miller
123. imthemamahere
A week and a half late to the party because I had to carve out some time to start my own re-read before following this one. I've got nothing to add at this late date, beyond a big THANKS to those who posted links to other sites full of info on Sanderson's cosmere. More for me to find time to read, but it looks very much worth it!
124. Wortmauer
Offtopic for The Way of Kings, but hey, discussion moved to the next thread days ago, so I suppose it's OK....

Indeed, Gristleborn@113 and BrightStarsFade@122, 4/25 would be a very strange fraction if you're trying to communicate the number 16 to an arbitrary group of people. It calls 16 to mind only if you're of a culture who thinks in base-10 or base-100. It sure wouldn't have worked on whichever culture (the Sumerians or Babylonians, I might have heard somewhere?) bequeathed us the systems of hours/minutes/seconds and degrees/minutes/seconds, based on fractions of 60 rather than fractions of 100.

In one of the author's annotations (, not linkified because the Tor spam filter usually hates me), he said that the 16% was Preservation trying to leave a clue. Not one of its brighter moves, IMO. Even if people did correctly interpret 4/25 as 16/100 which "OMG has a 16 in it", as the author noted in the same annotation, the clue failed because the number 16 was not known to be significant anyway.
125. Daimon
Brandon Sanderson does this awesome thing, he does it here and he does it in Mistborn, as well as Elantris to a lesser extent. He takes this wonderful Narniaesque fantasy utopia and then he breaks it somehow, and sets a story in the pieces. Generally the goal in these stories is to fix what's broken.

In Mistborn he took the concept just as far as he does here, God is dead in this world. This is qualitatively different in that in the Mistborn universe the death of God was a part of a natural cycle, the characters essentially had to kick the engine to get in started. In the world of Roshar, God is dead, and it was never meant to come to this. The change is fundamental and irrevocable, hope as we understand it, is gone.

The best time to reread the Prelude is right after finishing the book, the despair leaps off the page once it's all put in proper context.
Genhi Whitmer
126. portal_stone
I am just reading WoK, having been recommended to it by Wetlandernw (Thanks btw!). I enjoyed the Prelude - it gripped me. I could sense the world that existed, the excrutiating pain of Kalak and the other Heralds. It made me want to know their story. I also found myself thinking that the Herald doomed to torment while the others walked away would not be too happy with them....The guilt and shame inherent in their act of walking away carries a great burden for everyone.

I am not trying to theorize yet about how they became Heralds or why they did what they did. It's part of the mystery to be revealed.... I think it also makes the Heralds more personal rather than just stories of ancient heroes. Without the Prelude, the latter may be all they are to the reader. For me, the Prelude seems like the real story, the real mystery to be revealed.....

To just comment on some other ideas mentioned about the world building...I am going to give this book a chance; however, I do think that writers who intentionally toss their readers around on a stormfest of viewpoints in the first several chapters are in danger of being viewed as arrogant (such as "if they can't keep up, who needs them") or being viewed as if they are focused so much on their story that they forget to take the readers with them on the journey. I think it would be most ideal to write a book that anyone - new or veteran fantasy reader - could come along for the journey. This is my first foray into a book by Sanderson, after having appreciated his efforts to bring WoT to an ending. And I don't mean this as a criticism at all; I doubt he is arrogant. I'm just expressing an opinion about authors who try too hard to establish mulitple viewpoints without really putting themselves in a reader's shoes. It's tricky business. That said, the Prelude hooked me enough to keep me interested. I am also guessing that the author has created this complex world in his head over a long period of time and is trying to create it on paper for the rest of us; it's not an easy task. There was one comment about the idea that perhaps he and the publisher felt they could get away with it because he's an established author. I hope that's not the case! That would be sloppy writing, in my opinion! I think it's more likely that Sanderson had a definite purpose for doing this.

I also am not one who has traversed the online world when it comes to books. I am surprised at how much is out there. I'm not sure I want to know all the theories. I sort of enjoy coming up with my own and seeing how it goes. I also am not sure what to think about the idea of a series/book needing/requiring an outside presence to explain things, either through questions asked/answered at book signings (since most people don't/can't go to these) or through other forums. My first thought is "shouldn't the book just stand by itself without the need for external explanation?" I'm still thinking about that and philosophizing on the whole concept and how I want to handle it for myself. I don't think it's a bad thing at all if people enjoy it, but it should not be necessary for a reader to "get it." My main reason for finding this online forum was to have someone to share the experience of the ending of the WoT series since the only two people I know offline who read it are my son and daughter! To find an entire online world of people discussing fantasy books is unexpected. I'm intrigued.
Alice Arneson
127. Wetlandernw
portal_stone @126 - Welcome! Also, you're welcome! ;)

I wish I could remember my initial feelings after the Prelude/Prologue/first three chapters, but it's been a while. When I look at it that way, it's a little odd to find five different POVs, and apparently four different plot lines, in five "chapters". I suppose WoT accustomed me to the idea of a prologue that arranges the set but doesn't immediately and obviously connect to the play, so a prelude-to-the-series followed by a prologue-to-the-book followed by the actual book didn't slow me down that I recall. However, it's definitely an odd way to start a book, and for someone new to the author - or to the genre - I can see how it could be really off-putting. If I ever get a chance and remember, I'll have to ask him if his editor gave him grief over this... :)

FWIW, I haven't spent a lot of time on the theory sites; I, too, would rather develop any small theories myself from insights I gain talking things over with friends (like this group). Mostly, though, I enjoy the discussion without too much theory; I want to read the story Brandon is writing, not the story the readers (including me) expect to see. I like the Coppermind wiki for much the same reason I liked the encyclopaedia-wot: it's an easy reference for the stuff I haven't managed to retain in my head just yet. (Who was that guy, again??)

Fortunately, I don't think all the extra-textual stuff (interviews, tweets, etc.) is necessary to read and enjoy the book. Once in a while, someone has asked an illuminating question, and I enjoy those, but they aren't necessary to comprehending the story itself. Everything you need for that is in the book - and you'll probably find most of it by the time you've done four or five rereads... ;)

(Just kidding - but I'm shocked at how much I find when I'm rereading that I simply didn't know would be important!)
Genhi Whitmer
128. portal_stone
Wetlandernw@127: Good points about using the online info as a way to keep track of who is who and what is what! It can be hard to hold all of that in my head. I have been reading sci fi/fantasy since I was a youngster. I am very picky about what I like. So much out there is so predictable. I think Sanderson will be an author I will enjoy if I can just hang in there through the world building. You did give me fair warning! I got WoK at my local library. All of the standalones were checked out, so WoK was all I could choose from as a first-time Sanderson read. I looked upon it as fate! I was meant to start with WoK, if for no other reason than I will have something else to look forward to for the next 15 years (at least in terms of fantasy reading) now that WoT has ended.

I really did like the Prelude and Kalak. I want to know more about him and learn more about the Heralds. So, I'm thinking that Sanderson is gifted enough to take this world building task and really make it work in a way that many authors just could not carry. I still think the style of it - jumping all over - leaves me feeling like I have a bit of whiplash. In some ways, it would have been helpful to have the first book more like EotW with one character focus and then branch out. However, I really don't want to compare the two series. They are completely different and written by different persons with their own joy and frustration to convey.

*reason for edit: spacing
Anthony Pero
129. anthonypero
I seem to be late to this party, but I plan on being a frequent guest once I get caught up!

Since Braid and others have mentioned it, I'll say something as well:

The first time I read this book, I struggled in the beginning getting into it. Only my anticipation of this novel kept me on a relatively decent pace. My anticipation proved to be a double-edged sword. I struggled in the beginning with a growing sense of disapointment. I wasn't enjoying this as much as I enjoyed The Eye of the World. And I desparately wanted to, because the Wheel of Time was ending, and I wanted this to replace it. I finished the book, and I think its fantastic. I eventually stopped being disapointed that I didn't enjoy it as much as tEotW. After all, I've never enjoyed anything as much as tEotW. And I probably never will now that I'm not 13. I doubt I'm capable of such unabashed enjoyment anymore from anything that isn't related to my children.

That being said, this book is difficult to read. No matter how slickly Sanderson handles the insertion of information, there's a ton to process. Character names are similar, because of the linguistics used to create them (they are all close to palindromes), making it harder to separate characters. Five POV characters are used consecutively. The world is completely and totally alien. My brain basically rebelled on first read, finltering out info that just didn't matter. For instance, I didn't even realize that the mounted knights road INSECTS until the end of the book. I probably did subconsciously, but my brain just said ENOUGH! and inserted horse everywhere when they were riding around, until I was sufficiently emmersed in this new world.

Compare this to The Eye of the World, where Jordan rewrote the whole book to make it closer to Tolkien, so the reader wouldn't have to work as hard.

So, yes, The Stormlight Archive is a more difficult read than almost any other fantasy series out there. But it was worth it, and now that all of you can explain to me what I missed on my first read through, I'm sure it will be even better :)
130. Freelancer
portal_stone @126

I'd like to clarify a significant point you raised. The deductions and theorizing of some readers, primarily speaking in terms of The Wheel of Time here, is more about figuring out how things were connected which hadn't been resolved in the story as of a certain point in time. Robert Jordan's genius happened to include leaving some tidbits unresolved, to give readers a reason to continue pondering the story even beyond its written conclusion.

However, while The Way of Kings is chock full of hints, foreshadowings, and teases of what is to come, the less insanely dedicated reader of the series will not lack for the important information just because they choose not to delve into the various online fora. All (or most) will be revealed in due time, in the volumes to come. The more determined (read certifiable) of us simply cannot wait, and begin attempting to piece together any sliver, splinter or shard of information that might be used to construct something more of a whole.

I suspect that, over the years in which Brandon delivers this epic to us, there will be dozens of times when we all find ourselves thinking "How did I not see that before!", and you know what? It's all good, the discovery is a major part of enjoying stories such as this.
Alice Arneson
131. Wetlandernw
Tor? I really, really want a "Like" button for the comments. :)

(Freelancer - I saw that...)
Genhi Whitmer
132. portal_stone
Freelancer @130: You have great points. The more I reflect on it, the more I realize that I am jealous that I don't have the time to really sink my teeth into all of the online forums, the ideas, the theories, etc. There is, also, the dilemma between wanting to engage in the dialogue while also being left to my own devices to figure things out. Oh, a live book club would be divine!
133. Ryvius
Anthony_pero @169. The mounted knights did ride horses. The draft beasts were giant crustaceans called chills who seem to be hermit crabs rather than oxen.
Alice Arneson
134. Wetlandernw
Would you believe... chulls? But yes, they rode horses. Chulls pulled stuff.
Anthony Pero
137. anthonypero
Ah... Well, I feel marginally better about all that then, lol.
Samuel R
138. Talenel
Wow, I am so far behind on this reread, but I'm determined to catch up by next post and read all comments. Great discussion so far with great theories. I'll try to keep my comments focused on the chapter content but some things that were really exciting for me.

@Wetlandernw 43: You've had so many great posts but I was first impressed by how many instances of 10 you came up with, I look forward to seeing what other insighs you have.

@travyl 86: Great catch with the 10 heartbeats!

@Loialson 92: I tend to agree with you, but Brandon saying he will write in the perspective of Talenel doesn't mean that it won't be in the past tense and that Talenel isn't already dead. I do believe he is alive and merely unconcious, but nothing I've personally read "cinches" it for me. The quote I have from the coppermind page says
"Also, Brandon has said Talenel will be a viewpoint character in later books, and this implies that Taln didn't die when he slumped in the Epilogue of The Way of Kings."
This to me strongly implies he's alive, especially saying he's going to appear as a major view point character. And lastly, the sword being specifically listed as not vanishing seems a very Brandon way of saying he's alive. The more I think about it the more I'm convinced that he's alive, but I also expect we're not going to get a real resolution of the end of last book, I can imagine Taln being in a coma or held as a prinsoner or a host of other things that will not bring him into the reader's world for a while.
@Wetlandernw 96: I see you were a step ahead of me!

I'm definitely excited to see where this ends up. Thank you for the journey everyone.
Alice Arneson
139. Wetlandernw
Talenel @138 - Welcome! Join right in - we're not all that far ahead yet. :)

About Taln - I think the evidence that he's alive is pretty convincing. Kalak notes here in the prelude that the Herald's blades vanish when they die, but in the Epilogue his Blade clatters to the ground behind him. So he's not dead.*

(It makes me wonder, though... since normal Shardblades exhibit that behavior when their holder dies, will one of the guards assume that he's dead and decide to pick up his Blade? What happens then?)

*There's one caveat to this... Always before this, the Heralds would come to fight the Desolations, and then they'd be sent back to Damnation (or wherever they went) to be tortured until the next Desolation. Clearly, when this happened, their Blades vanished and would be summoned next time they returned. What would happen if Taln really died? What if the Oathpact were completely broken, and he died a normal death instead of being returned to the waking torment? Would his Blade still vanish, or would it behave like a "normal" blade?

I don't think that happened; I think Brandon gave us the clues specifically to let us figure out that he's alive. But... this is Brandon. He likes to mess with our little minds sometimes. :)
Liz Roberts
140. VocaLizard
Just a little bit late to the party....

I read that this re-read was going to happen long ago, before it actually started. I've never taken part in an active re-read before, and I was quite excited. But time for away from me, and other books interfered. I'm just now reading this book again for the first time since it came out, and I'm cheating: I'm listening to the audio book. :-P What makes it worse is that even though I bought the physical book the day it came out, I returned it because I'd just bought a Kindle, and I wanted this to be the first book I had on it. Surprisingly, though I started reading at the time, and though I've been an avid fan of Sanderson's since "Elantris" came out, I had trouble getting into this one. The epicness of the novel didn't scare me, though I hadn't read "Eye of the World" at the time, but I think rather that I was pulled in too many directions to properly focus on this. I picked it up again a few months later, started again from the beginning, and finished it in an hour... or at least that's what it seemed like. Still, because of that, I don't blame anyone for having trouble getting into it right off the bat.

I'm up to chapter 20 on my re-read, but I'm going to follow these commentaries, and ALL the comments, before I catch up. After reading the comments here... I'm thinking I should read the first twenty again! I'm obviously missing stuff, because I don't remember it too well, and maybe reading it again after reading the posts is the way to go.

Happy to (finally!) be here, and I'll catch up with you all in a bit!
141. Basdr
I wonder if someone will read this. But this is the right part to react to I guess. I've been recenlty rereading The Way of Kings, with the release of Words of Radiance not far of.

I've realised that there are no spren in the prelude. No mention of them anywhere. Considering it's a battlefield Kalak is walking around on shouldn't there be any painspren or fearspren?

Now it could be the case that Sanderson chose not to describe spren in the prelude, althought they're there. But he does describe them a lot in the rest of the book, starting with the prologue.

Does this mean that spren started 'popping up' after the Heralds left?
Deana Whitney
142. Braid_Tug
@141, Basdar:
Saw a comment posted on this old entry.

Very good question. Very good theory.
But to get a better response from people more atuned to Sanderson's world, you might want to post in the current thread. Or send Carl, Michael, or WetlanderNW a direct message.
Carl Engle-Laird
143. CarlEngle-Laird
That being said, sometimes when you speak my name I appear.

I have actually factored this into a theory about the spren only appearing after the Oathpact is broken, but there's not enough evidence yet.
Deana Whitney
144. Braid_Tug
@ Carl - you make me laugh.

Was that theory in any of your Spren discussion threads?
Carl Engle-Laird
145. CarlEngle-Laird
@144 I'm not sure anymore. I don't think I did a theory post on what spren actually are.
Nadine L.
147. travyl
@ 143-144:
I second Braid's sentiment about the joy you bring us. I highly appreciate that you not only give us your considerate Re-Read articles, but also "sometimes appear" in the comments section. Thank you.
148. Blake Jackson
I ordered a copy of the hardcover, but the Roshar endpapee in the front seems to be missing :/ is this normal? I only have the shadesmar endpaper in the back...should I send it back to Amazon?
Jennifer B
149. JennB
Didn't the Heralds and the Knights Radiant co-exist for a while? That would mean that the Spren that make the Nahal bond had to be around back then.

I don't think we see common Spren (such as painspren, flamespren, rotspren, etc.) in the Prelude or in any of Dalinar's visions. I would guess that common Spren only appeared after either the Splintering of Honor or the Recreance.

The Nahal bond Spren, such as Honorspren and Cryptics, have been around much longer though. Most humans just can't see them.
150. Darwin's Greed
Reading this suddenly made me wonder, is Talenel the Stormfather? Abandoned by the other Heralds to face the suffering and hold the Oathpact on his own, his mind snapped by untold years of torture and loneliness? Probably not, but it was an interesting idea. haha.
151. ClintACK
We really need a re-reread post-WoR.

So many questions right here in the prelude.

1) "Many of the bodies around him were human; many were not. Blood mixed. Red. Orange. Violet."

Red's human. Violet's Parshfolk. What has orange blood? Aimians?

2) Kalak uses "Almighty" as his swear word -- so that's not something the Vorin made up later. Did the Heralds mean Tanavast, or Adonalsium??

3) Jezriel says, "We will go our ways, and we will not seek out one another."

And yet, popular fan interpretation has two or three of the Heralds together in the Prologue...

4) Later, we see the Recreance -- when the Radiants walk away from their blades, committing a genocide against the sapient spren. Was this moment -- the breaking of the Oathpact -- what killed Honor?

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