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Oathbringer: Stormlight Archives 3 (Spoilers)

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I feel like Sanderson almost could have put a list in the appendix of his characters' crushes, past hurts, and current moods, laid out just like his magic systems. His characters are that artificial.

But damn was that Wax and Wayne series a fun read, wasn't it! Stick to pulpy characters, world-defining expositions, quick action, and as little internal monologue and teenage banter as possible!

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1 hour ago, Argonath Diver said:

I feel like Sanderson almost could have put a list in the appendix of his characters' crushes, past hurts, and current moods, laid out just like his magic systems. His characters are that artificial.

Wow... that is an excellent encapsulation of the problems in Sanderson's writing. He has a limited repertoire of character traits that he seems to mix and match to create, in the end, minor variations in each of his stories. It really can all be boiled down to an appendix list. Some rare characters do rise above this, but mostly this fits.

I was incredibly frustrated over the whole Shallan being attracted to Kaladin thing too. Especially since it went absolutely nowhere in the end. Why end up doing this to your character if there aren't any real stakes to this? It is almost like he just went through the motions for the heck of it.

What particularly frustrates me is that in this series, Sanderson is writing all his main characters as all having some kind of mental disorder. That can be greatbut Sanderson reduces it almost to a gimmick. Multiple personalities don't just pop up, and you do not have communication between them and control to the level Shallan has. I agree with whoever said that Radiant didn't even seem a real personality, an almost perfect example of a cardboard cutout character.

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7 hours ago, Ninefingers said:

This.

He needs to be reined in, but it may just be at this point he's to big to control. 

MASSIVE amounts of the Dalinar flashbacks could have been pruned. Yes, he did bad things in the past and it haunts him. WE GET IT. It's ok for things to happen off-screen. 

And while I'm complaining, why do Sanderson's female characters have to be torn between being in love with two people? He leans on this trope too hard, and it reduces what should be strong female leads to absurd levels. Men deal with saving the world, women spend their time trying to decide which man they like the best. Ugh.

/rant 

I know what you mean. I created a topic in the general forum about if female readers thought GRRM wrote realistic and relatable female characters. I wouldn't even bother to ask that question of Sanderson because the answer is a fairly straightforward no or a heavily qualified "sometimes." But he's not alone in that regard. It's something that's been getting better in fantasy fiction (at least in young adult stuff), but always room for growth.

I like Jasnah as a character but she hardly got any screen time. And I think as we get a better picture her character we'll probably be disappointed. He's at least implied she isn't interested in men, and that could be very iffy territory for him. I don't like to bring up his religious beliefs too often because that's really personal. It too often shifts from an honest critique of its possible effect on his fiction to criticizing him as a person. But I would gander his upbringing and religious tradition lends itself to how he conceptualizes women. He'll need to stretch his mind and work beyond heteronormative assumptions about sexuality to keep Jasnah as an interesting, dynamic female character.

7 hours ago, Ninefingers said:

Sure, but why saddle her with that trope?

Sanderson struggles with characterization, and this is a tool in his toolbox that's a bad one that he uses too often. His attempt to write sexual tension between Kaladin and Shallan falls miserably flat because it's just "lets have them say mean things to each other because secretly they like each other". What are they, 12 years old? Sheeesh. 

EDIT: Bottom line, it's an unnecessary add that diminishes Shallan and cheapens the story by making it read like fanfic. (If you couldn't tell, I'm not a fan of this.)

Haha, yeah, all that was missing was Kaladin pulling her hair or something. I also didn't really find her marriage to Adolin as something that needed to happen in this book. It felt really rushed. It really wasn't part of anyone's character arc or a part of any plotline.

6 hours ago, baxus said:

I'm not saying that Shallan/Kaladin, or Shallan/Adolin or any other example of sexual tension is done well. As was already stated, writing about romantic relationships is not among Sanderson's strong suits.

Regarding Shallan's attraction to Kaladin and Adolin, I got the impression that was another way of showing Shallan's issues with multiple personalities, not her indecision between the two.

I actually kind of thought she'd end up with Kaladin. They had some intimate moments while trapped in the chasm. I honestly didn't really get the impression she liked Adolin (beyond his looks) all that much until suddenly they were kissing all the time. But you're right, relationships are certainly not his strong suit.

I thought he did a decent job with Dalinar and Navani. Not perfect, but geared in the right direction. The scene in the beginning of the book where she was lounging on his couch started out very intimate. She walked up and she touched Dalinar with her safehand and all that, which gave a subtle (and tasteful) erotic tone. And, being a tad bit of a romantic, I like that Dalinar comments about his attraction to her beauty as well as her tenacity and intelligence. And that he doesn't think her beauty has faded with age. I mean, c'mon that's really sweet. And in flashbacks we see how long he's had feelings for her. I would say that this romantic pair is fairly well done considering it's not a strength of his.

Adolin is a essentially portrayed as a "dumb jock" and the only comments he has about Shallan's intelligence is essentially "Dude! You're, like, smart! That's, like, badass." It bothers me as a portrayal of men... which I don't think I've ever actually made that complaint before! The dumb jock approach to this handsome duelist cheapens his character a bit for me. And the "metrosexual" bits about him being very preoccupied with his clothes and appearance aren't terrible additions, but sometimes seemed a bit silly or absurd. I feel like he's missing a twist of something that would really bring his character to life. Perhaps we learn he used to be an ugly/odd duckling as a kid and we see that his self-esteem is easily shattered by rejection. Or perhaps in his thoughts and actions we get evidence that he is a person dependent on praise and attention to feel secure about himself. The latter would work really well considering his relationship with his father growing up. 

Did anyone else get the impression that he intends to ship Kaladin/Syl? I hadn't really considered it in the other books, but in this one I definitely got that impression several times.

16 hours ago, baxus said:

I quite agree with your thoughts on the rest of the stuff, but this is what sticks out the most. Sadeas' murder seemed like such a big deal at the end of Words of Radiance, and it was almost completely ignored in this book. It could've turned Adolin into a much more interesting character than this vain duelist bored out of his mind. Instead of a serious character development, we get Adolin who talked to his father's Ryshadium horse, finally named his sword and is about to get married. Oh, and he did kill dozens/hundreds of people with his Shardblade though without the Shardplate this time.

The whole Jasnah storyline was disappointing, too. It would be more precise to call it nonexistent, though. I mean, you get the sister of the King, widely regarded as heretic show up after being presumed dead for months at least and you don't give it more than a line at the end of book's part one? I wanted more from her. What did she do all that time? There should be enough material there for a separate story at the level of Edgedancer at least.

Even Shadesmar was treated as more of a hindrance than anything else. We did get some glimpses of that world but it didn't feel like enough. I mean, they did travel for hundreds, if not thousands, of miles (or the equivalent Shadesmar distance) and still managed not to give us a detailed insight of that world.

I'm glad I'm not alone. I read a lot of stuff praising his works and I felt like maybe I'm the only person out there that is less than impressed with some of the elements of his fiction. Clearly there are things I do like or I wouldn't have read Oathbringer.

You're right about the missed opportunity about adding some depth to Adolin to make him more than just a "dumb jock" trope. It's such a simple thing to add too. It's been explored a lot in fiction, so it's not like he'd need to think too far outside the box. Hamlet, The Tell-Tale Heart, etc.

I really like Jasnah as a character. She comes across as a very complicated and nuanced person, much more than many others.  I'm with you: I wanted much, much more from her in this book. It seemed so out of place that everyone just goes back to business as usual. If not her family, then at least her mother should have had a more pronounced reaction. She thought her kid was dead and now she's alive and well! It's another example about how he has an obvious  weakness in writing relationships between characters. The details about her using soulcasting in the final battle scenes were quite badass. I assume there will be a book that focuses on her as the central character and I hope we get more of that kind of thing. But, before then, I hope he grows more as a writer before then to maximize the potential he's built for her.

I found the Shadesmar chapters to be really dull. I could have done without them entirely. Like you, I felt like with the amount of text dedicated to characters in that setting we hardly learned anything useful or interesting. The lighthouse was an awkward scene... he slipped in a weak reason for Kaladin to urge everyone to hurry about and get to Dalinar. In the rest of the book he completely skipped a lot of traveling scenes (which I'm not complaining about) to cut straight to advancing the plot... but the Shadesmar chapters were a long string of traveling sequences that really bogged down the flow. I essentially dread the idea of having to read chapters in future books that take place there.

I also thought that Shadesmar had the sea of beads where land was in the physical realm. I feel like he contradicted himself a bit on that one. They traveled on land to get to the oathgate... which isn't floating in the ocean. I did end up skimming these chapters so I could have misread that part.

Edited by Traverys

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2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

Wow... that is an excellent encapsulation of the problems in Sanderson's writing. He has a limited repertoire of character traits that he seems to mix and match to create, in the end, minor variations in each of his stories. It really can all be boiled down to an appendix list. Some rare characters do rise above this, but mostly this fits.

I was incredibly frustrated over the whole Shallan being attracted to Kaladin thing too. Especially since it went absolutely nowhere in the end. Why end up doing this to your character if there aren't any real stakes to this? It is almost like he just went through the motions for the heck of it.

What particularly frustrates me is that in this series, Sanderson is writing all his main characters as all having some kind of mental disorder. That can be greatbut Sanderson reduces it almost to a gimmick. Multiple personalities don't just pop up, and you do not have communication between them and control to the level Shallan has. I agree with whoever said that Radiant didn't even seem a real personality, an almost perfect example of a cardboard cutout character.

I liked the idea of the fragmented personality but I think it was clumsily handled and/or failed to make an impact. I didn't interpret it as multiple personalities in the clinical sense, but when I think a bout it more I can see some parallels. Especially when it comes to disassociation of the self as a defense mechanism. 

But I took it to mean that while we all use masks to play up how we want the world to perceive us (e.g., Jon Snow and his "lord commander" mask), Shallan can actually change her physical appearance to make a more complete shift or transformation. This confuses her identity, thus her character arc should be an exploration of finding her self/identity. But instead it's just her shifting to Veil when she needs to be cool or brave and engaging in self-loathing about her real Shallan identity and its weaknesses. He probably needed more identities for her to shift to in order to demonstrate the fight for identity; Radiant either needed to be nixed (she didn't even fight with her sword at any point! what was the point?) or edited and further developed. Definitely a cardboard cutout character.

The presence of Veil and Radiant in the final battle was confusing and odd to me. I was expecting a symbolic act of unification of her personalities (holding hands? hugging?) and Shallan becoming a unified person again rather than fragments of traits.

I'm also not sure that the story about the girl and the wall was as profound as Sanderson believed it to be... I mean he told it in detail twice. I honestly can't even remember what the moral of the story was.

In sum, he had something with a lot of literary potential but then dropped the ball. It could have metaphorically been compared to the idea of shards in his cosmere or something like that. But, instead it's mostly just Shallan falling to pieces (pun intended).

Edited by Traverys

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7 hours ago, Traverys said:

I thought he did a decent job with Dalinar and Navani. Not perfect, but geared in the right direction. The scene in the beginning of the book where she was lounging on his couch started out very intimate. She walked up and she touched Dalinar with her safehand and all that, which gave a subtle (and tasteful) erotic tone. And, being a tad bit of a romantic, I like that Dalinar comments about his attraction to her beauty as well as her tenacity and intelligence. And that he doesn't think her beauty has faded with age. I mean, c'mon that's really sweet. And in flashbacks we see how long he's had feelings for her. I would say that this romantic pair is fairly well done considering it's not a strength of his.

Dalinar and Navani are a completely different than Shallan and Adolin/Kaladin. They are much older, more mature and they have waited for years, or decades even, to get together. They are going against the whole tradition and religious norms to be together. On the other hand, Shallan's feeling for Kaladin are nothing more than a teen crush, and not a serious one at that, while Shallan and Adolin are basically an arranged marriage that seems to be turning into something more.

7 hours ago, Traverys said:

Adolin is a essentially portrayed as a "dumb jock" and the only comments he has about Shallan's intelligence is essentially "Dude! You're, like, smart! That's, like, badass." It bothers me as a portrayal of men... which I don't think I've ever actually made that complaint before! The dumb jock approach to this handsome duelist cheapens his character a bit for me. And the "metrosexual" bits about him being very preoccupied with his clothes and appearance aren't terrible additions, but sometimes seemed a bit silly or absurd. I feel like he's missing a twist of something that would really bring his character to life. Perhaps we learn he used to be an ugly/odd duckling as a kid and we see that his self-esteem is easily shattered by rejection. Or perhaps in his thoughts and actions we get evidence that he is a person dependent on praise and attention to feel secure about himself. The latter would work really well considering his relationship with his father growing up.

I quite liked the Adolin as a vain princeling with nothing better to do than fight and duel and date different ladies. That was great for the first book or two, and it fit great into the whole narrative. The problem is that it couldn't last for the entire 10 books, Adolin would either have to die or evolve. This was his chance to evolve and become more than that.

Even worse, letting him off the hook like that is plain stupid. it turns out that killing a Highprince is no big deal and that it's a given Adolin would get a free pass. It could cause a full blown war between Kholin and Sadeas houses and at the very least it could cause some assassination attempts at Kholin family members. Not to mention that Adolin could face trial and lose his station, not to mention causing house Kholin to lose face and/or status.

The way things happened, it gives of an impression that Sanderson just needed Sadeas out of the picture and didn't care about the fallout.

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