The Stormlight Archive

When We Last Left Our Heroes: The Way of Kings in Ten Minutes

Words of Radiance comes out in two weeks, and although many fans who have been following along with our Way of Kings reread may feel prepared, there are others who may desire a quick refresher on that first massive volume before tackling the second.

Welcome to The Way of Kings in ten minutes, a brief refresher on where things stood at the end of The Way of Kings. Follow along to find out where every character ended the book! Obviously, this post will spoil you senseless.

Kaladin

Over the course of the book, Kaladin trained Bridge Four from a loose collection of beaten-down slaves into a tight-knit unit. In order to help them escape from Highprince Sadeas’s army, where they were only valued as human bait for the parshendi armies, he brought out their humanity, trained them with weapons, and smuggled money and weapons out of the deep chasms of the Shattered Plains. Kaladin’s outspoken devotion to his men got him strung up during a highstorm and earned him the ongoing wrath of multiple superiors, from the gruff sergeant Gaz to the petty lighteyes Hashal, but he turned every ounce of his medical knowledge to keep as many bridgemen alive as possible.

Notable bridgemen include:

  • Teft: A former soldier who was raised by a cult that worshipped the ancient orders of the Knights Radiant.
  • Moash: The last bridgeman to accept Kaladin’s authority. Although taciturn and surly, he became a staunch defender of Kaladin’s ideas, and something close to a friend.
  • Rock: A Horneater, raised in the Horneater Peaks near Jah Keved, Rock refuses to fight, as it is unfitting for a third son. Instead he cooks hearty meals for the men of Bridge Four. Rock is gifted with the ability to see the mystical spirits called spren.
  • Sigzil: An Azish man who was apprenticed to Hoid as a Worldsinger before falling into slavery. Worldsingers travel Roshar, spreading information about different nations to promote mutual understanding.
  • Lopen: A one-armed Herdazian who joined Bridge Four intentionally, despite it having a reputation as a death trap. Lopen has a seemingly endless supply of cousins.
  • Shen: A Parshman slave who was assigned to Bridge Four by Hashal. Kaladin struggles to convince the other bridgemen to accept Shen, who reminds them of the Parshendi. Shen never seems to speak.

After the highstorm, and as his powers continued to grow, Kaladin grudgingly accepted that his bond with Sylphrena, an honorspren masquerading as a windspren, was changing him. He began trying to understand his ability to inhale stormlight, and the possibility that his powers connected him to the Knights Radiant.

At the battle of the Tower, Kaladin protected his men by drawing Parshendi fire while wearing Parshendi-carapace armor. When Sadeas betrayed Dalinar, Kaladin and Bridge Four had a perfect opportunity to escape. Instead, he rushed into battle to save the Kholin armies, and in so doing so discovered the Second Ideal of the Knights Radiant: “I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

 

Dalinar Kholin

The visions that came to Dalinar during highstorms almost convinced him to abdicate his highprincedom to his son Adolin. He struggled with the possibility that he might be going mad, as rumors spread throughout the warcamps. In the end, however, he decided to trust himself, and to work in good faith to unite the bickering Highprinces, starting with his former friend Sadeas. The newly-minted Highprince of Information had been investigating an apparent assassination attempt on the life of Dalinar’s nephew, king Elhokar Kholin, and Dalinar feared that Sadeas would implicate him. Instead, he was exonerated, and he and Sadeas began making concerted assaults on plateaus in order to bring the war to an end as quickly as possible.

However, when they assaulted the Tower, Sadeas betrayed Dalinar, leaving him surrounded by multiple Parshendi armies. Worn down by waves of footsoldiers, and facing the Parshendi Shardbearer, it seemed like the end. Kaladin intervened, though, having fought a path clear for Adolin to rally the armies to a safe retreat. He fought back Eshonai, and saved Dalinar’s life.

Dalinar returned to the warcamps, where he interrupted Sadeas’s staged grieving with a confrontation. He ended a conversation that seems like it could have erupted into civil war by trading his Shardblade to Sadeas for his entire population of bridgemen. He set all of them free, but offered Kaladin and Bridge Four the command of his personal guards, figuring that he would need people he could trust with his life for what was coming next. He gave his Shardplate to Renarin, his sickly second son, in the hope that the strength-enhancing armor could offset his blood illness and let him train to be a soldier at last.

Dalinar then forced his nephew to admit that he had staged his own assassination attempt, and to name him Highprince of War, while dropping on him the knowledge bomb that Dalinar had decided to accept the advances of Navani, Elhokar’s mother.

In a final vision, Dalinar learned that the voice that had been speaking to him was the voice of Honor, who he had called the Almighty. It hadn’t, however, been addressing him directly when it implied that he should trust Sadeas. The messages were left for whoever was in the best position to unite the nations of Roshar against the Everstorm. And Honor was dead, slain by Odium.

 

Shallan Davar

After spending months as Jasnah Kholin’s ward in Kharbranth, the City of Bells, Shallan finally found an opportunity to steal her Soulcaster. This magical fabrial device, which has the power to transform substances into other substances, had been the center of her scheme to save her indebted family and prevent its ruin in the aftermath of her father’s death. The stress of her plan to rob the woman whose tutoring she had come to cherish so much was augmented by repeatedly seeing mysterious, symbolheaded figures appear in her sketches. When they began to speak to her she inadvertently Soulcast a goblet into blood, in the process travelling to the dangerous Shadesmar. She covered up what she’d done by wounding herself, and the suspicion that she was suicidial gave her the opportunity to safely leave Jasnah’s wardship and return home.

Before she could leave, however, she and Jasnah were approached by Kabsal. This young ardent had been flirting with Shallan for months, and had recently offered to leave the ardentia to be with her. Kabsal was actually a member of a secret society called the Ghostbloods, and on their behalf he attempted to assassinate Jasnah. However, Jasnah Soulcast the antidote, and Shallan was afflicted instead. In order to save her own life, Shallan had to reveal that she had stolen the Soulcaster.

Jasnah arranged to have Shallan sent home in disgrace. However, Shallan realized what Jasnah must have done, and confronted her. She asserts that both she and Jasnah can Soulcast without a Soulcaster, and begs to be admitted into whatever dangerous scholarship Jasnah is undertaking. Jasnah reluctantly relents, and reveals to Shallan that her research leads her to believe that the Parshmen are Voidbringers in waiting.

 

Szeth

The Assassin in White, after having killed king Gavilar of Alethkar, was passed from master to master. Exiled from his homeland of Shinovar, he was bound to an oathstone and forced to do the bidding of whomever held it. He wallowed in guilt and self-hatred. Eventually, his oathstone was passed to king Taravangian of Kharbranth. This apparently kindly, philanthropic king turned out to be a powerful and dangerous force in Roshar. He revealed that his hospitals were a front for a massive research project, which slowly killed terminal patients in order to collect the mysterious words they sometimes cried out in death. He gave Szeth a long list of rulers across Roshar, ordering him to kill them visibly, using his Shardblade and Surgebinding abilities. At the end of that list was the name Dalinar Kholin.

 

Words of Radiance comes out March 4th.


Carl Engle-Laird is the editorial assistant at Tor.com, where he acquires and edits original fiction. His soul belongs to the Stormlight Archive. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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