1. Lightsong is beginning to remember his past, or at least, what he thinks is his past. Why do you think this knowledge is coming to him now, after five years as a Returned?
Well, for one thing he's actually putting some effort into it. He could have tried doing all that stuff at any time, but it was triggered by a mystery landing in his lap--and now for the first time, he's realized that he might still have his talents. For a minute there I wondered if he wasn't Arsteel in his former life, but I guess probably not, since it's been five years since he Returned. (Surely Denth wouldn't be so sensitive about it after that long?)
Later on, it mentions that Lifeless retain their talents too, so it makes sense that a Returned would too. I bet we'll see more parallels between Returned and Lifeless.
(Speaking of Denth--he has a different name! One just like the Godking's head priest! Oooooo...)
2. In this section, Vivienna has learned a lot about herself, and not necessarily to her liking. How do you think the new knowledge will change her going forward?
Vivienna is a very proud woman, and I don't mean that in a good way. She thought she knew everything and she is being forced to realize that she doesn't have a clue about an awful lot. Other people have points of view that never occurred to her, and she is not as strong and virtuous as she thought. I think that as she learns more and grows, she will become a very important character; watch out for her!
At the moment she may be making a big mistake. She's trying to delay or weaken a war with Idris, and one result is that rumors are flying around about her activities, which are interpreted (obvs.) as official attack. Hallendren appears to fear the Idrians despite their relative weakness, and now there's a faction pushing to start a war and using the sabotage as a reason to do it. Does this mean that the mercenaries have an ulterior motive?
3. From the beginning of the book, both the Idrians and Lightsong have been telling us that the Returned aren't Gods, and that the Hallendren religion is untrue. Now, though, we've had a few other different perspectives: Jewels' vehement faith in the God King, the God King's own belief in his divinity, and finally, Hoid's collection of historical stories. Given the new information, have your ideas about religion in this book changed? How do you view it now?
I'm more inclined to think that Breath isn't as much of a soul thing as I had assumed, but I still think it's really important--whatever it is. I still don't think the Returned are gods, but I sure don't know what the heck they are. And what do the Pahn Kahl believe?
Hoid's story was very informative and highlights how much historical information has been lost; both Hallandren and Idris are missing solid historical knowledge, it looks like. It's only been a few hundred years, but they're operating from legends, not history. They are sibling cultures that have both been taught to resent and fear the other for ancient injustices they don't really understand (which sounds really familiar to Sanderson's co-religionists).
4. Denth says, "Every man is a hero in his own story." What do you make of this, especially given Denth and Vasher's apparent rivalry, and Vivenna and Siri's different perspectives of life in Hallendren and the Gods' court?
It's a true enough statement; we're all the stars of our own stories and the center of our universe. The inevitable result, which Sanderson brings out in every character in this story, is that we can never really know where everyone else is coming from. The more we understand other people's stories, the better we can understand their motives and goals and beliefs, but it's never going to be complete. Vivienna is learning this the hard way because she has always been so encased in her own belief system, but every character illustrates it somehow or other.