Let’s Read The Way of Kings Interlude 1

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Interludes I-1: Ishikk

Last time on The Way of Kings we arrived at a series of confusingly numbered interludes, so thanks for fucking up my post numbering system Branderson. This one is about Ishikk. Ishikk with two k’s. Ishick-ick. Like many fantasy names I feel certain I’ve seen this one somewhere before, but a google search doesn’t turn up anything not connected to Way of Kings.

 He wore lake sandals on his submerged feet and a pair of knee-length breeches. No shirt. Nu Ralik forbid! A good Purelaker never covered his shoulders when the sun was shining. A man could get sick that way, not getting enough sunlight.

It literally scares me to think that there are segments of the population who consider this good writing.

Only five fish swam in Ishikk’s buckets, and four were of the dullest, most common variety

Ishikk is playing that fishing mini-game from Zelda.

The Purelake is apparently really shallow for, no more than six feet at its deepest point despite being hundreds of miles in diameter. This strikes me as unlikely for some reason, but I don’t know a whole lot about lakeology or whatever so maybe it’s not.

The Purelakers are all chill and laid back, rarely running or moving in any particular hurry. Maybe they’re all stoned or something. And they talk like this:

“Ah, that’s the way of things. Are my foreigners here?”
“Sure are. Over at Maib’s place.”
“Vun Makak send they don’t eat her out of home,” Ishikk said, continuing on his way. “Or infect her with their constant worries.”
“Sun and tides send it!” Thaspic said with a chuckle, continuing on.

Needless to say I’m hoping for a freak tidal wave and/or lake monster attack.

(Also is it just me or is this setting reminding anyone really strongly of Final Fantasy X?)

Besides, it was probably cold there. Ishikk pitied those who had to live in the cold.

Fuck you Ishikk, cold is awesome check this out:


The Purelakers have a deep and richly drawn culture that I’m sure Branderson spent a long time coming up with but since it’s all superfluous window dressing I’m just going to ignore it.

Ishikkk is there to meet some foreigners, who are strange and bewildering.

There were three of them. Two were dark-skinned Makabaki, though they were the strangest Makabaki he’d ever seen. One was thick limbed where most of his kind were small and fine-boned

Racial stereotypes seem to be a really big thing in this word. Do people from different areas never intermingle or something?

One of them is pissed because Ishikkkk is late.

“The day is right, friend,” Grump said. “But we were to meet at noon. Understand?” He generally did most of the talking.

“We’re close to that,” Ishikk said. Honestly. Who paid attention to what hour it was? Foreigners. Always so busy.

Wait is this like a fantasy version of that thing where people from the Caribbean are supposed to be super laid back all the time? Oh god I think it might be

The foreigners wanted Ishikkkkk to sail around looking for a man with “white hair, a clever tongue and an arrowlike face” named Hoid but he couldn’t find anyone matching that description.

The end! Well that was enlightening wasn’t it.

I-2: Nan Balat

Nan Balat, our protagonist for this diversion, likes killing animals. As we join him he’s sitting on the porch of his mansion pulling the legs off of crabs for the lulz.

He didn’t like to talk about his habit. He didn’t even speak of it to Eylita. It was just something he did. You had to keep your sanity somehow.

Sounds like a sterling fellow to me.

He finished with the legs, then stood up, leaning on his cane, looking out over the Davar gardens, which were made up of stonework walls covered with different kinds of vines. They were beautiful, though Shallan had been the only one who truly appreciated them.

Woah it’s Shallan’s

brother? I think? Whatever.

We get some brief descriptions of all the wacky flora and fauna of this part of Brandersonland, mostly consisting of things that sound like Earth things but are actually other things (crab things that sing instead of birds, “axehounds” that are actually carapaced things with antennae instead of dogs, other assorted things).

Most of Shallan’s siblings have been terribly scarred by the experience of growing up with their father, who was apparently a giant douchewaffle, apart from Shallan herself. This makes Balat envious. I’m not entirely sure why we’re cutting to a completely different POV just to provide this information.

but how could you truly hate someone like Shallan? Shy, quiet, delicate.

For fuck’s sake can we please just settle on what Shallan’s personality is supposed to be? I’m getting whiplash here.

One of Balat’s brothers comes running out and announces that they have “a big problem” and then the chapter ends. Oh good, I guess we’ll be getting more of thee characters.

I-3: The Glory of Ignorance

It’s back to Szeth the angsty assassin, who is in a bar getting hammered.

He did not complain. If he looked like a wretch, people treated him as a wretch. One did not ask a wretch to assassinate people.

Couldn’t you just…. say no? Or is there a reason he can’t refuse? I can’t remember, this character is so uninteresting it’s affecting my memory.

Szeth is now a slave or something belonging to someone called Took. Took gets him to do a lot of embarrassing things and cut his arm up, which he does with no hesitation, then orders him to cut his own throat.

“I am forbidden to take my own life,” Szeth said softly in the Bav language. “As Truthless, it is the nature of my suffering to be forbidden the taste of death by my own hand.”

Sweet merciful fucking God.

Szeth always gets sold on because his intelligence and awesomeness makes people nervous.

The moment he summoned his Blade, his eyes would turn from dark green to pale—almost glowing—sapphire, a unique effect of his particular weapon.

-text recovered from Brandon Sanderson’s fifth-year notebook, next to his ballpoint drawing of the Metallica logo

By then, Szeth had stood only in a loincloth. His honor had forced him to discard the white clothing, as it would have made him easier to recognize. He had to preserve himself so that he could suffer.


Anyway Took gets a knife to the throat and the thieves who killed him claim ownership of Szeth. Wheeee.

Next time: yet more new viewpoint characters!






10 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Way of Kings Interlude 1

  1. Kris

    What a strange book this is. I’ve no idea what the plot is about, or really, no inkling as to where any of the PoV’s are leading. Even their beginning doesn’t make any sense to me in the sense that I don’t see why any of the characters are relevant to the story. There is not an action, character or event that seems related to any plot.

    Even in Goodkind’s book, while it’s clear it has some major flaws, it’s still understandable what’s going on and what is likely going to happen. I get who the characters are and kinda what they are about. In way of the kings I have absolutely no idea and it mystifies me that after these 10+ chapters I neither know any of the main characters or what they are moving towards. I’m sitting here trying to remember a single characters name, but I’m just coming up blank.

    Anyway, looking forward to the rest of this 1000 page book.

    1. Gdbsjdv

      It seems as if you guys have never read a long fantasy book. Wait until you get to the end before complaining. He’s not going to show you the reason a characters in the book right in the beginning. You have to wait. And his world building is phenomenal.

  2. Signatus

    I’ve yet to read interludes 2 and 3 (really? I mean, WTF? I thought we were getting somewhere already), so I’ll give a better comment somewhere tomorrow.
    Unfortunately, I’m getting the same negative vibes I got when George RR Martin started tossing characters back and forth (like Quentin, heir of Dorne, who was as useful for the plot as a freezer in antarctica). Seems like the book started on some weak idea, and Sanderson just began writing from there.
    Or he was playing Oblivion and thought NPC lives must be amazing, and has made it his life quest to present us with every friggin dude in this world.

    Just… I don’t know, stop or something. Don’t understand why fantasy authors can’t stick to a region and stay there, they have to toss their fantasy world down our throats as if saying; “BEHOLD! The rich and astounding world I, THE AUTHOR, have created!!!!”
    Really, don’t care. Would rather have this whole thing downloaded into XII century Croatia if, by doing so, the characters would start growing a personality. Worlds are not all that compelling if the people we’re supposed to be living them through are as lifeless as a chunk of sandstone.

    1. ronanwills Post author

      I can sort of understand the desire for Rich Worldbuilding and all that bollocks, but what mystifies me is that so often in fantasy the worlds authors build *aren’t* actually rich or compelling. They’re a lot of vague nonsense thrown onto a map.

      That’s why I’ve always been an advocate for stories with smaller settings- set your fantasy series in a single country, or a single city, or a single building even, and really make that one location come alive. When you’ve done that and you have a nice firm foundation to stand on you can start branching out and thinking about extraneous stuff- what’s over the horizon? What’s the next town over like? What’s the neighboring country like? Is this the only [castle/military base/school/enchanted bakery] in this world? If there are others, what are they like?

      But no, as usual fantasy authors think they can do everything all at once and so the plot twists itself into a pretzel trying to come up with a justification for the characters to travel all over the place or for there to be fifty POVs.

      1. Signatus

        I think Rowling made a great job at rich worldbuilding. Through the characters, we were introduced to different parts of her world, and they stood out not because they were this alien world with crabs instead of dogs, and deepsea plants, but because she brought them alive.

        Tossing stuff just for the sake of it to look smart, that’s some pretty shitty worldbuilding. If it behaves like a dog, it is a dog. Covering it with a quitin shell and naming it somethinng fancy does not make it less of a dog if it is behaving like a dog, and to be honest, there are some very concrete reaons why they have evolved to behave in a certain way.

        Something that works about Elder Scrolls, (aside from being video game and thus visually stunning), is that when I explore a ruin, I am left wondering about the people who lived there. Who were they? Why did they leave? What happened to them? How did they live? What did they like? Etc.
        I don’t have that with Sanderson. I couldn’t care less about these people. Was intrigued in the prologue but that feeling has long left. It is the same with ASOIAF, but what Martin managed in 4 books, Sanderson has managed in less than 10 chapters, that’s a record.

        Anyways, you can’t do worldbuilding when you barely understand your world at all, and that is the problem with most fantasy authors. People like Agatha Christie specialize in a single area and work from it.
        Fantasy authors want to cover everything. They want to cover a political system when they don’t understand how their world’s politics works. They want to make religious system without understanding how they come to be and succeed. They throw in bits of cardboard cut cultural cliches and have refused to understand where our own cultured evolved from.
        In the past, I have spent months reading about african cultures like the Masai because I wanted to understand how tribal cultures viewed the world.
        Right now I’m headfirst into Mech’s (a wolf expert) brick of a book, for a sotry about ecology I want to write somewhere during this year, and wolves are not even going to exist in this world. (yes, I’m using fantasy setting as metaphorical background).

        Their worlds fall apart because they believe it is unnecesary to research about basic topics like politics, religion, culture, and they turn out as unbelievable, dry and lifeless books.

  3. Chackludwig

    Well there’s a lake where I live that’s like 320 square kilometers and literally shallow enough to walk through (Lake Neusiedl) so the lake bit isn’t as dumb as it sounds. Although we do have a hearty laugh about calling it “not-a-lake” whenever it comes up

  4. Cecilia

    I’ve still no idea what the plot of this book actually is yet. Think there’s any chance Branderson is going to pick one and stick with it?

    1. Reveen

      Oh god, white fantasy authors trying to name non-white cultures and characters kills me. Ishik, Makabaki, Wakanakadikkidoo. Please, for god’s sake people, just crack open a book and get the names from the actual cultures you’re “inspired” by. I mean, that depends on whether you consider it cultural appropriation. But atleast you would get shit like Abercrombie giving his brown people nation a name one letter away from a Team America joke.

      Fuck you Ishikk, cold is awesome check this out:

      Yeah, and this!



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