[Since I only did one Way of Kings chapter last time I decided to do the second one today instead of switching to Wizard’s First Rule]
8: Nearer The Flame
Jasnah tells Shallan to get lost. How will our spunky, rebellious, determined heroine react to this setback?
“I’m sorry to have bothered you,” Shallan whispered, clutching her satchel and leaving with as much dignity as she could manage. She barely kept the tears of embarrassment and disappointment from her eyes as she hastened down the hallway, feeling like a complete fool.
Oh. Well, that sure had a point.
After this she huddles over in a stairwell to have a good cry.
Angry people unsettled her. She couldn’t help but think of her father in one of his tirades, couldn’t help but hear screams, bellows, and whimpers. Was she weak because confrontation unsettled her so? She felt that she was.
Okay seriously, I am getting major mixed signals when it comes to this character. I’ve already written about how her personality seems to vacillate between two extremes between paragraphs; I think I’m finding this so jarring because her parts of the story are grounded so heavily in her own voice. It’s not just that she’s being described in contradictory ways, which could be interpreted as a character throwing up a veneer of confidence to hide their actual nature, it’s that she’s describing herself in contradictory ways and the text supports both of these positions at different times.
Also, I can’t help but notice that Shallan is virtually identical to the protagonist of Mistborn, who was also shy, naive and timid apart from occasional moments where the book randomly tried to make her seem like a badass.
Just as the pity party is in full swing a servant comes over to say that Jasnah wants to speak to Shallan again. This is turning into a rather circuitous plot thread.
Earlier Shallan put some of her crystal orb things (which, remember, are used as currency) into a lamp for illumination, which is kind of like stuffing dollar bills into a plug socket to make a lamp work and comes across as one of those ideas Branderson put in just to make his fantasy setting seem cool and unique but okay, whatever. Jasnah just called Shallan in to collect her orb-money, but Shallan asks her to read the letter.
I will allow you to petition me again at a later date, a privilege I have never given any aspiring ward.
And this time she’ll say yes, right? Right?
Unfortunately she expects Shallan to go brush up on the subjects she’s weak at before coming back, which could take years, so Shallan wanders off despondently and runs into the ship captain, Yalb, who brought her to the city.
Yalb has been gambling and can…. see the future? Because of a “sphere” that Shallan gave her? Was this already addressed and I just forgot about it?
“I’m disappointed in you. This is not proper behavior.”
Stop being so fucking boring, Shallan.
Mr. Ship Captain guy is another ROFLwacky character whose dialogue I won’t bother describing because he makes me want to stick my head in an industrial shredder but what it boils down to is that Shallan decides to go and persuade Jasnah. Again.
For this she needs to visit a book shop.
Yalb didn’t enter with her; she’d noticed that many men were uncomfortable around books and reading, even those who weren’t Vorin.
….Which means women must run this society, right? Right? Hello? Is this thing on?
“Ah,” he said, clapping ample hands, “dear young woman. Are you in the market for a nice novel? Some leisure reading to pass the cruel hours while you are separated from a lost love? Or perhaps a book on geography, with details of exotic locations?”
He would handle the money; commerce was a masculine art in most situations.
This doesn’t make any sense
To be fair I don’t think it was explicitly stated that maths is reserved for women, but you’re really telling me men are in charge of commerce even though they can’t read, or need to pretend they can’t in polite society? How have the women in this world not risen up and overthrown these jokers thousands of years ago? Why isn’t the continent of Whatever wall to wall matriarchies right now?
Wait, that sounds like a totally awesome idea for a fantasy series, someone go write that.
Branderson decides that Shallan should transform into her alternate persona now so she suddenly drops the meek and timid stuff and starts running verbal rings around the shopkeeper movie-Mark Zuckerberg style.
It was just what her nurses had warned her about. A young woman had to mind her words.
This culture is so alien and different from our own when it comes to gender norms, yes indeed.
Shallan gets some fancy-pants academic books.
“I have to admit, I’ve never had any of her work read to me. I didn’t realize that there were any Shin philosophers of note.”
This is the (male) shopkeeper speaking. Either his wife or a female servant- in this society where all scholarship is in the hands of women- reads to him, and yet he’s the one who owns the shop and deals with customers. Branderson has managed to create a world where women have all the education and men need to have books read to them as if they were young children and still managed to put the men on top.
A philosopher from distant Shin, where people lived in mud and worshipped rocks?
I’m really going to enjoy any future chapters set in this place, aren’t I?
The man who had killed Jasnah’s father nearly six years before—prompting the war against the Parshendi in Natanatan—had been Shin. The Assassin in White, they called him.
Oh ho ho
So presumably Jasnah is trying to discover the “most important thing a man should know” or whatever instead of his son.
Shallan is almost in the heart-racing scenario of almost only being able to afford some of the books instead of all of them (does this remind anyone of Kvothe’s many monetary adventures?) but then Yalb rushes in and pretends to have a better offer from someone else to make the shopkeeper drop his prices.
After getting the books Shallan gets an alcove back at the big library and puts her plan into effect: user her photographic memory to absorb a whole lot of information in a relatively short amount of time and impress Jasnah!
Be still, my heart.
But just then Jasnah enters! Again!
“Your house has many enemies,” Jasnah continued, “and your father is reclusive. It will be difficult for you to marry well without a tactically sound alliance.”
Or she could get a job. You know, in this world where women oh fuck it
Anyway Jasnah looks through her drawings and decides spur of the moment to take her on as a ward. That only took about two chapter longer than it needed to, I’m impressed with Branderson’s restraint.