WoK – Prelude to the Stormlight Archive

Welcome to Reader Be Where!

here! Let’s start things off with a short synopsis of the Prelude to the Stormlight Archive, the 10  book epic fantasy series by one of my favorite writers, Brandon Sanderson.

Let’s start off with a short synopsis of the Prelude from me, with some prompts for  A, and her answers below. In the next post we’ll get into the Prologue and chapters 1 through 5, with the same and possibly slightly altered format. Here we go!

Prologue to the Stormlight Archive

The first person we meet is a man named Kalak, who is standing on a battlefield after a huge cataclysmic event he refers to as a ‘desolation’. He is reflecting on this battle as well as battles long past with terrible giant beasts called ‘thunderclasts’ who have glowing red eyes, bodies made of stone, and hands “as long as a man is tall”. More disturbingly is that poor Kalak talks about being ‘killed by hands like that before.’ Yikes Kalak, sounds like a pretty rough life and/or death.

Kalak meets up with Jezrien, a made who he looks to as a leader or commander, around a ring of glowing swords impaled in the ground. We learn that they are 2 of 10 individuals tasked with fighting these monsters for eternity, returning to a place of fire & torture each time they die in their pursuit to protect humanity. Jezrien tells Kalak that during this desolation, only one of their number has perished, a man called Taln. A fourth of their number, a man they name Ishar, has convinced the others that perhaps the cycle they are trapped in can be halted, freeing them from their promise. Together they agree to abandon their swords and part ways, leaving humanity’s protection to ‘The Knights’ and leaving Taln trapped in the firey hellscape of torture describe earlier on. The two men walk off in opposite directions leaving their swords behind, and the prelude ends, sending us 4,500 years later to the Prologue.

So A,

What are your initial thoughts about the prelude?

Woah. There is *definitely* a lot to unpack here. First, “Kalak” is a palindrome.

How do you feel about a peek so far into the past?

I love how colloquial it is! This doesn’t feel like an excerpt from a Holy Text, nor does it feel like a story that’s been passed down from generation to generation. The “4,500 years later” definitely caught me off guard, as I didn’t anticipate this to be a Beginning to a story. Though, I believe it was stated that the Ten are immortal, so I guess it is the perfect beginning to the story.

Is there anything that stuck out to you while reading?

I simultaneously love and hate that the whole world seems to be entirely foreign. Giants with hands as big as people are cool, but I don’t feel that I have a good mental picture of the actual setting of the place. Clearly “thunderclasts” are things…. but reading further, it seems as though “clasts” might be the real Thing, while “thunder” might be a modifier. Reading further, I’m struck by how everything is named. “Spren”, whether they be windspren, fearspren, flamespren, or musicspren, all seem to be the same sort of ….. something. I get the feeling that I am going to enjoy the Second reading of the book at least as much as the first. (Though that’s not odd; the re-read is typically my favorite).

I do anticipate meeting Kalak again, if not all of the Ten. I want to make some sort prediction in each post, so my very green guess is: Jezrien did not tell the entire truth to Kalak. Obviously Taln did not realize that *this* would be the group’s final brush with death (well, what is “final”, anyway?). But for some reason, Jezrien does not strike me as a protagonist. His willingness to easily lie to “the people”, and his rather abrupt departure suggest to me that he has lost whatever humanity that caused him to “chose this burden”. Of course, after centuries of constant battle, I don’t know that I really blame him. I would like to have a more thorough introduction to Ishar and … any of the others.

I also think I need to start keeping track of character names. I’m so bad at that.

Most importantly: Did they, in fact, End the cycle of Desolations? Is there still some place near the ends of the earth where the thunderclasts have been trapped, but are inches away from bringing the entire world back into constant battle? Hmmm…….

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