Apr 18 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 3 and 4

The Way of Kings Reread Chapters 3 and 4This week’s chapters introduce us to two very important locations along with a major character point of view: Shallan. Shallan’s gives us her virgin view of Kharbranth and Kaladin arrives at the infamous Shattered Plains. Both sections feel all too brief, especially Shallan’s arrival in Kharbranth. In many ways Shallan’s character will have the most chance to surprise us readers as things go. She was definitely the most surprising for me. Kaladin’s path seems straightforward and even Dalinar’s road, though a bit twisty, is discernible, while Shallan could really become anyone.

Chapter 3: City of Bells

Setting: Kharbranth, also known as the City of Bells

Point of View: Shallan Davar

What Happens

After 6 months of sailing with trader and family friend Tozbek aboard his ship Shallan Davar has arrived at the free island city of Kharbranth. She has finally tracked down Jasnah Kholin, sister of the current king of Alethkar and daughter of the late King Gavilar. Shallan hopes to become Jasnah’s ward. She is brought through the city by a guide to the Conclave, where Jasnah has been staying. At the Conclave Shallan is lead inside by a servant to await Jasnah. Shallan laments the death of her father and considers her family’s needs for them to forge a connection with Jasnah in some sort of scheme to save the family name and territory that seems to go beyond simply becoming her ward.

Quote of the Chapter:

One book she’d read claimed that Kharbranth has been founded way back into the shadowdays, years before the Last Desolation. That would make it old indeed. Thousands of years old, created before the terrors of the Hierocracy, long before—even—the Recreance. Back when Voidbringers with bodies of stone were said to have stalked the land.

There are a few important things of note in this passage. First, the Recreance is mentioned without any context, but this turns out to be one of the most important days in the history of Roshar, being the day that the Knights Radiant disbanded, leaving mankind to defend itself. Secondly, the Hierocracy, which was a period of religious zealotry wherein the Vorin church tried to seized complete power over the population and dictate their way of life. Lastly, the Voidbringers are described as having bodies of stone, which does seem to gel with the theory that they are the Parshmen in some form, since they are also described in multiple places as having marble-like skin. It still doesn’t feel that simple to me, though.


To me, of all the main character views, Shallan is actually the most interesting. Sure, Kaladin sees the most action and has a huge amount of emotional ties developed with him. Dalinar’s flashbacks reveal the “true” history of the world. But Shallan’s reasons for being involved in the story stand on their own so well and she is the most adaptable of the three. Dalinar and Kaladin try to live up to their own ideals while Shallan is still figuring out who she is and, beyond that, who she can become. Her story would have been just as enthralling if she had a novel all her own. Above all, her revelations were the most surprising, even beyond those of Dalinar.

Shallan is seemingly lost in the world after chasing Jasnah around, but she has a plan. A plan that as of this moment seems so mundane compared to what she’s actually getting on about. While there are certainly clues that just becoming Jasnah’s ward isn’t all she is up to, at this point the planned theft along with her hidden, ahem, abilities aren’t even a glimmer of a possibility. It is plain to see that she is willing to do anything to save her family. Through the story, she develops from a naive young girl into a woman who will become a force to be reckoned with, especially if Jasnah has anything to say about it. Also, am I the only one that gets a sense that fireworks will ensue when Shallan and Kaladin meet? Those two are the future of this world while Dalinar and Jasnah are trying to unearth the past.

Kharbranth itself is a unique setting and one of the most ancient cities in Roshar. It is very much a trader’s city, welcoming all the races as equals, or at least a close approximation. The city is situated in a rock dugout surrounded a sheer stone cliffs on most sides, which protects it during highstorms. Kharbranth is also known as the City of Bells, as it has bells that were perhaps once used to warn of impending highstorms though this is doubted by Yalb who is accompanying Shallan up to the Conclave. Which makes me wonder, could the highstorms be worsening as the desolation approaches? Were the bells once useful as a warning device, or did they have some other purpose? Could they have been magically enhanced at some point to ward off storms, but the people of Roshar have lost that knowledge as they have lost so much else? Incantation of the Windrunner’s ideals seems to be a step for using their abilities; could these bells be connected to another order of the Knights Radiant? One we haven’t yet seen? If one order uses sound in some way, it stands to reason another could as well. There have been mentions of the Dawnsingers, which seem to be musical in nature too. So why not a physical manifestation of music such as a bell to ward off evil/highstorms?

This brings me to the first mention of the Palanaeum, known as the oldest library in all of Roshar. It is a closely guarded building that few can gain entrance to, without paying a heavy cost. But these fees are used to fund what looks like a very humanitarian effort of paying the costs to run free hospitals on the island. Taravangian is barely mentioned, even though he is the king of Kharbranth. A lot of the instances of Taravangian appearing or being discussed are very limited though, which goes on to support his very mysterious nature.

Shallan encounters many races on the island, some of whom are completely unknown to her, such as men with braided beards that looked rod like. She also sees bluish men from Natanatan who are hardly ever mentioned again. This does show the variety of human life on Roshar, though. She also pays special mind to the parshmen. “Were the Alethi really fighting parshmen out on the Shattered Plains? That seemed so odd to Shallan. Parshmen didn’t fight. They were docile and practically mute. Of course, from what she’d heard, the ones out on the Shattered Plains—the Parshendi, they were called—were physically different from normal Parshmen. Stronger, taller, keener of mind. Perhaps they weren’t really Parshmen at all, but distant relatives of some kind.”

So, just how are the Parshendi related to commonplace Parshmen? The Parshendi could merely be awakened Parshmen who have been given more strength and a couple other attributes that make them better warriors than the normal Parshmen. Or are they a different race? And are one or both related to the Voidbringers? Jasnah theorizes that the Parshmen may be the Voidbringers themselves, but that has never sat right with me. It just seems too mundane. I certainly agree that they could be the vanguard of the Voidbringers, but I have doubts that they themselves are the Voidbringers. If anything it feels like the Parshendi are preparing the Alethi for something larger. Hardening them for the Desolation perhaps?

We also get our first peek at Shallan’s journal images, which are exquisite and help visualize these creatures enough to let our imagination fill in the gaps about this world. The nature of the skyeels themselves is a mystery to Shallan. How do they fly? They are followed by some kind of spren that sailors call luckspren, which could be a byproduct of their flight or the very reason it is possible. Which brings up the idea that the animal life of the world has been changed by whatever magical forces exist, which includes the spren themselves.

The Way of Kings Reread Chapter 3 Shallan's Journal Skyeels

Shallan’s traveling by boat while doing her drawings feels very apropos. Shallan’s journal harken back to something Darwin would have done on his journey aboard the Beagle. We’re entering the age of discovery in Roshar, or at least an age of re-discovery. Jasnah is at the center of that rediscovery and Shallan joins her at a crucial point in her research. Now Shallan just needs to convince Jasnah she needs her.

Now we move on to Kaladin, as one of his dreams comes true at the worst possible time.


Chapter 4: The Shattered Plains

Setting: Tvlakv’s slave caravan near the Shattered Plains

Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens

The windspren following Kaladin around asks him why he doesn’t cry like the other slaves, to which he responds that crying wouldn’t change anything. Kaladin’s slave caravan stops, and the leader Tvlakv and his associates confer about which direction to head based on a map. They are lost, but they think Kaladin might be able to direct them, assuming he had been to the Shattered Plains before when he was with the Alethi army. Tvlakv gives the map to Kaladin, who tears it to pieces. Tvlakv wants to punish Kaladin, but the mercenaries aren’t willing to go after him. Tvlakv and Kaladin then go on to have a discussion concerning Kaladin’s past. Tvlakv seems to know how Kaladin became a slave even though the official story is that he deserted.

As a Highstorm ends the slave wagons are uncovered early to wash off the slaves, as they’ll be brought to market soon and sold to the highest bidder. Kaladin’s windspren continues to chat with him as they go. At the end Kaladin realizes he sees the Alethi army in the distance and that he has finally arrived at the infamous Shattered Plains.

Quote of the Chapter:

“I’m dying, aren’t I? Healer, why do you take my blood? Who is that beside you, with his head of lines? I can see a distant sun, dark and cold, shining in a black sky.”

Right away the epigraph gives us a direct clue about the origin of these quotes, soon after glimpsing their city of origin. Their treacherous nature was given away much earlier than I had initially thought, and mentioning a person with a lined head again is a potential nod towards Taravangian, as he is one of the few “older” people we meet more than once. In fact, the epigraph and its chapter are surrounded by two Shallan chapters connected to Taravangian.


I love this chapter because the natural life on Roshar finally gets to shine.  Sanderson unveils more information about the flora and fauna of Roshar, including a description of farming techniques. I know that sounds dull, but this is such an alien world that I want to know every aspect of life on it. One part of Roshar I couldn’t remember after reading The Way of Kings for the first time was what anyone really ate. Kaladin, for his part eats, mostly slop. Feasts and meals are discussed, but not with much detail, and given the harshness of the continent I kept thinking most were just eating chull and tuber vegetables of some sort. This chapter though describes the grain that seems to be one of the basic foods of Roshar: lavis. Which ends up budding into large polyps that once ripe can be cracked open for the grain inside. It’s also interesting to note the seeds of the lavis must be weighted down by stumpweight sap, which, judging by the name will keep the seeds from flying off during a Highstorm.

Life emerges after the highstorm, with all sorts of crustaceans, insects, and rockbuds bursting forth from their protective habitats. Nearly every type of lifeform seems to have developed armor of a sort to deal with the harshness of living on the land, except for humans. Well, there are also the skyeels from the last chapter, but one would think they can feel a storm coming on like a bird and fly off the other way. Lifespren even come out, which I find to be one of the odder spren since one would think they would surround everybody in Roshar most of the time, not just after a storm.

This chapter is also a continuation of “depressive Kaladin,” but Syl isn’t helping matters much by asking him why he doesn’t cry like the others. If that was supposed to be a comforting question, she failed miserably. It does show her taking a deeper interest in Kaladin instead of just floating around. It is also the first sign of her putting her serious hat on.

To come to the Shattered Plains was once Kaladin’s dream. He wanted to fight a worthy enemy and make a name for himself. To one day save lives. That’s what he wanted. How many shattered dreams can one man have? Kaladin’s life is really a series of unfortunate heartbreaks. There are the heartbreaks over his family, his friends, and his fellow soldiers. Along with the very reasons why Kaladin became a slave and the betrayal that came with it. But he hasn’t reached his last straw, even though he expresses in this chapter that he’s done fighting.

Kaladin’s discussion with Tvlakv is the most interesting thing in the chapter outside of the epigraph. In it we learn Kaladin’s true age: 19. Which makes him quite young by the standards of our world, but in Roshar he was able to join Amaram’s army when he was only 15 years old. At this point in his life he has more than 3 years experience in the military—if you subtract his slave time so far—not an inconsequential length of time, given the life expectancy of troops we later see in the Alethi army, which seems on the low side unless you’ve got Shardplate. Even then, nothing is assured.

Kaladin is, in many ways, the ultimate altruist. Kaladin is so good he even tries to justify the existence of Tvlakv, a slave merchant, and goes so far as to say “I almost find myself liking him.” How anyone can like someone selling you into servitude even a little bit is beyond me. But Kaladin sees the good in almost anyone, without even trying. With Tvlakv, Kaladin appreciates the honesty he is given in their discussion. Kaladin’s true actions which caused him to become a slave may not be common knowledge, but at least they exist in whispers—even if those are just the whispers of other slave merchants. Someone knows, and that’s important to Kaladin down deep. Tvlakv tries in vain to tell Kaladin there is still hope for him to have a life beyond slavery if he gets the right master and does what he’s told. Kaladin is still the dour one though, telling him “I’ll never be free of these brands, Tvlakv.”

Kaladin is truly marked for life. As the story progresses, I wonder if Kaladin will be given a chance for his brands to be removed by Soulcasting or some other magical means and whether he would take it? Somehow I think he’ll keep them and eventually turn them from being a brand of dishonor into a mark of honor for all he has overcome. They’ll be permanent reminders of what he has lost and what he’ll eventually gain. And I still like the theory that the shash mark will/does empower him somehow.


In next week’s post Carl Engle-Laird will be joining the reread by trading off weeks with me. He has a wealth of knowledge about Sanderson’s work, along with many theories. Next week he’ll cover chapters 5 and 6, which are some nice and juicy chapters.

Michael Pye (aka The Mad Hatter) runs The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review where he shares his views on genre books. He can also be found nattering on Twitter or in search of the perfect piece of bacon. He is currently working on an anthology project and is hoping to find a good publishing home for it soon.

1. Sarene
I loved the way these two chapters told us so much more about the world of Roshar! Shallan detailedly describes the people and buildings she sees in the city of Kharbranth, and Kaladin describes the wilderness, the strange (to us) animals and plants as well as the highstorms.

One of the things I really love about Brandon's books is that he's really great at worldbuilding without huge info dumps. He goes pretty much straight to the point in but constantly keeps describing the intricacies of the world(s) through the characters' eyes. He delivers heaps of information in very subtle ways, without exhausting the reader. I remember the first time I read Mistborn, I was sort of confused by this style and for a bit felt like I had no idea what was going on, but since then I've really learned to love it!

Some of my favourite details were the bells in Kharbranth and the way Kaladin described the nature after the highstorm!
2. tasmin
In the chapter 4 epigraph, I hardly think the figure with the "head of lines" is Taravangian. It's more likely a symbolhead/truthspren like those Shallan later sees, described as having heads of a "twisted design full of impossible angles and geometries."
Another clue that supports this is that the epigraph speaker continues with "I can see a distant sun, dark and cold, shining in a black sky." This is undoubtedly Shadesmar, to which truthspren are linked and offer access.
3. HathsinSurvivor
I am fairly certain that the death quote person is talking about the truthspren that Shallan and Elohkar see.
William Carter
4. wcarter
There's a lot I want to learn about Shallan and even by the end of the book, I'm left with far more questions than answers. I look forward to her viewpoints in "Words of Radiance."

The flora and fauna are what really sells this book to me. I am so freaking tired elves, dwarves, men and orcs with all other elements essentially unchanged.
The crustacean nature of well...almost everything including the Parshendi makes Roshar come alive to me. Even the people have truely exocitic eye, skin and hair colors. Violet eyes? two-toned skin? Why not.
5. DarrylG
Thanks for the re-read. I always thought the epigraph in Chapter 4 "
Who is that beside you, with his head of lines?" refered to the symbol head spren.
Sudo Nym
6. Shakerag
Very interested to see where the story goes regarding Taravangian. I was completely blindsided in regards to his reveal at the end of the book.

It's funny, because I figured in my head that the "death quotes" were likely being compiled, but I figured it was happening naturally at hospitals (which were mentioned to be about) or being passed on from witnesses to some centralized death-quote-collection-agency.

I'm curious and concerned about how Taravangian's story will go, because I can see how he justifies his actions, and I really don't want to see him end up as some generic bad guy. Although, given how much I've read of Sanderson's work, I don't think that's a fear that has much weight behind it.

Also really wanting to know the story behind Shallan having a Shardblade. And I want to see Jasnah's reaction when she finds out!

In regards to Kaladin (who keeps making me think of Saladin, which is weird), I'm wondering how the whole "I've got slave brands but now I'm high-rankin' bodyguard for that guy" thing is going to work out. And how long it'll take before Dalinar finds out about Kaladin's abilities.
7. PHubbard
@2 You beat me there! I read this just now and had shivers - those truthspren are so creepy - but yes, it does seem that's what is meant by the 'head of lines', especially given the Shadesmar reference.

r.e. Voidbringers - the first time I read this, I thought they were the modern myth stemming from thunderclasts (in the prelude), and that their 'bodies of stone' were related to them 'ripping themselves out of the rock'. This is probably wrong, given the later discussion between Jasnah and Shallan, but I still remain unconvinced by their 'Voidbringers = Parshmen' theory. Not that it's wrong, but just seems a bit too simple and mundane (as suggested above).

A thought occurred to me just now, which is that the 'voidbringers' could actually be the thing that causes the Parshendi to change from passive to aggressive. Transformation is a huge theme in these books, consider:
-spren connected with change
-measure a spren, no change
-soulcasting = transforming
-parshendi forms (more on this in WoR interlude)
-Kaladin's transformation into a radiant
etc. maybe the voidbringers are some sort of 'evil spren' (this is obviously much too simplistic) that causes a transformation
8. JMBeraldo
The idea of the Parshmen/Parshendi been the voidbringers sounded a bit 'meh' to me. Around half way through the novel I was sure that the Chasmfiends emerge as voidbringers from their chrysalis and that the Parshendi 'harvested' them not for the stone, but to prevent them from becoming voidbringers. So, if the Parshendi are killed, the chasmfiend might return

I still think that's a better twist than the "human-mules are the bad guys" scenario :P
9. Rybal
Remember that the years on Roshar are 500 days, IIRC, meaning that at 19, Kaladin would be equivalent to about 26 years old for us and about 20 when he joined.
Karen Morrell
10. karenm83
what the heck is Shadesmar?! I thought I had read all of Brandon's stuff but you guys seem to have additional info. help please! :)
Flint Timmins
11. Giovanotto
Am I a bad person for not liking Shallan that much? She really bugged me on my initial read. Like Jasnah tells her later, her constant wordplay comes off as insulting and juvenile rather than clever.

The epigraph is definately about Shadesmar, which makes me woneder: do truthspren act as "grim reapers," escorting the dead to Shadesmar, or is this a special case?
Sudo Nym
12. Shakerag
@10 If you type it into Google it's the very first result -_-
Rob Munnelly
13. RobMRobM
@10 - some type of parallel world, visited by Shallan and Jasnah during soulcasting later in the book.
14. Brandiv87
"Also, am I the only one that gets a sense that fireworks will ensue when Shallan and Kaladin meet?"

THIS. I just finished this book the other day for the first time and as soon as I turned the Kindle off I thought "Wait. Shallan's going to the Shattered Plains. Kaladin's there. OMG."

I need Soulcasting/Windrunner (isn't that what Kaladin is?) fireworks.
15. Sarene
Now that I've had time to read through the whole post more carefully...

For some reason, Shallan's viewpoint was actually the least interesting to me for a long time when I first read through this book. I'm not exactly sure why, especially as I find Jasnah a very interesting character, and we learn the most about her through Shallan's chapters.

I usually enjoy Brandon's female characters greatly–Vin is one of my top favourite characters of his–but Shallan just doesn't appeal to me most of the time. Her story in this book does get more interesting towards the end.

Either way, I'm going to tell you all a secret and admit I'm not looking forward to the next book being Shallan's book ;) But I'm sure it will amaze me and I'll end up loving Shallan much more than I do now. I DO look forward to the book as a whole, obviously.

As a random side note, I really love the way Brandon describes clothing–especially women's–in his books. He did that again in this chapter, when Shallan watched Jasnah while she spoke with Taravangian. Overall Brandon seems to pay a lot of attention to how his characters dress, which brings us back to his awesome, detailed worldbuilding!

"I’m dying, aren’t I? Healer, why do you take my blood?"

This line made me go OH. I had paid zero attention to it the first time I read WoK, although I'm sure I'm not the only one because it doesn't make much sense at this point of the book. I agree with the others that the man with a lined head sounds like a truthspren, especially with the description of what sounds like Shadesmar directly following it. (And yeah, truthspren are incredibly creepy.)

I also agree that the look into Rosharan farming techniques was really interesting as well! When I first read the book I read it in a pretty hasty way and never really stopped to think about the descriptions of the flora and fauna, but I'm finding them really intriguing this time around.

I think lifespren appear only after a storm because that's when the nature is most alive. Isn't it said that spren are attracted to change? Life is a pretty constant thing a lot of the time, it either is or isn't, but the storms make living things hide away and lie low. After a highstorm, living things come back out and feast on the water left by the storm. It makes sense to me that this is when lifespren would appear if ever. Another obvious moment for lifespren to appear would be the birth of a living being of course, but as far as I recall that doesn't come up in the book. :)

I love Syl's awkward and curious nature, especially in the beginning when she doesn't yet understand anything very well.
Karen Fox
16. thepupxpert
Shallan made me uncomfortable when I first started reading her POV, I think I wasn't sure if she was a good guy or bad guy given the reason for her trip to become Jasnah's ward. The whole cover your hand with your sleeve thing was so random I just thought "what is that all about?", and also that men do not read, only women do, some of the physical realities of this world were hard for me to get acclimated to.

I love Shallan's drawings and they really are such an intricate part of the book. Do we know anything about the illustrator and have Shallan's notes been translated?
17. Sarene
@16. thepupxpert: What do you mean by translating Shallan's notes?
Sean Dowell
18. qbe_64
I came to around towards the end of ToM in the WoT re-read.
I read the entire re-read from the beginning and came to realize that there was a significant amount of nuance that I had skipped over with my reading technique. It particular there seemed to be a lot of chatter about a sword Rand has found that may or may not have been Arthur Hawking's. I had ZERO recollection of anything to do with this sword that had apparently been in the past two books. (don't worry, there's a point)
Shallan's viewpoints did not make me interested in her as a character until very late in the book, and as such even though I've read and Re-read the entire novel, and am now re-reading along a third time, there was a post either last week or two weeks back about her that I had completely missed.

SHALLAN HAS A SHARDBLADE?!?!?! Granted I paid less attention to her chapters than Dolinar and Kaladin's, but how the hell did I miss that?!?
Jennifer B
19. JennB
I don't think the parshendi are voidbringers either. It just doesn't work for me. They are just people with unknown motivations. The voidbringers seem like something more to me.
I love all the different flora and fauna, but the description of the parshendi bugs me. Why do they have to look like Darth Maul? Of course they have to be bad because they look bad, right?
Sudo Nym
20. Shakerag
@18 Yeah, it was mentioned (or alluded to) more than once, as I recall. Don't have my book with me, so I can't give references.

EDIT: Off the top of my head, one mention was during her and Jasnah's nighttime walkabout, and another was right before she soulcasted the goblet.
21. Sarene
The Parshendi come in more colours than just red and black though, they can have white skin as well and if I remember correctly, some are white/blue (not 100% sure, checking the book now).

I never thought they "look bad", and actually I've never thought of them as inherently bad... Just misunderstood? haha. They have a honour code and overall seem to have a very strong sense of honour in battle, which doesn't sound like evil to me. I'm very eager to learn more about them.

ETA: I can't find the description now and my Kindle's search isn't working for some reason, but anyway; I think it was actually a parshman that was described as having white skin. I'm not sure if Parshendi can have white skin because Szeth describes them as having "red and black marbled skin", however I'm not sure if that refers to his Parshendi masters only or all Parshendi. Now I'm rambling though... I'm positive at least parshmen can have white skin, not 100% sure about the "evil" cousins Parshendi. :)
22. Natenanimous
@18 - I don't have my book to give exact references, but if I recall there's a section in the later part of the story where Shallan feels as though she's in great danger (from the truthspren/symbolheads, I think?), and she puts her hand out and starts counting to ten. That's the exact way to summon a shardblade, but she never gets to ten so we don't see it.

I don't remember if it's exactly alluded to, but I had the idea that the shardblade perhaps belonged to her father, and that she took it when he died and didn't tell anyone. But I could be wrong about that, especially if she has some knowledge of how to use it.
23. AndrewB
What is Shallan's age? When I first read TWoK, I thought that she was 12 0r 13. Now I think she is closer to 17 or 18 years old? Does anybody else agree with my revised age for Shallan?

Also, I think that one of Dalinar's sons will wind up courting Shallan? I do not think Shallan will have any romantic involvment with Kaladin.

Thanks for reading my musings.
(aka the musespren)
Jennifer B
24. JennB
I don't think the parshendi are bad either. That's why I don't think they are the voidbringers. I think that their appearance is meant to be misleading and their actions misunderstood.
I think they are like the Aiel during the Aeil War. Most people did not know or understand their motivations, so they just dismissed their aggression as the actions of savages.
Sean Dowell
25. qbe_64
Goddamnit AndrewB! Just sign-up for a TOR account already!
Or I will NOT read your musings.
26. BrentC
So many good details in Shallan's chapter.

It wasn't until the last third of the book that I began to really appreciate Shallan - probably because of that was revealed with Soulcasting, Shadesmar and the Truthspren. I was so frustrated with her motives early on. Why try to protect the name of her family's house - with her dead father and brothers who don't seem to truly care for her safety?

Also, is it safe to assume she got her shardblade when she killed her father?
David Naylor
27. DavidN
@23, AndrewB
Its been a while since my last reread, but i remember placing her somewhere around 16-18, im not sure if this is actually supported in the text anywhere, or just the feel i got from reading her POV.

I think a Shallan/Kaladin romance would almost be too much what we want to see happen to actually happen. While 2 people on the path to becoming Radiants forming a relationship could be a good solid power base to reforming the order, i think thats probably more Dalinar's role in book 2 or 3.
28. Sarene
@26. BrentC: Personally I don't think Shallan killed her father; she comes off quite sincere and a little too naïve for that. It also doesn't seem to me like she'd kill her father, send her house to almost certain ruin, and then try so hard to save it?

If someone in the family killed their father, I'd say it was one of the brothers and she's protecting him.

Then again I've only read the book once and didn't question things along the way, so we'll see whether my opinion changes during this reread...
Flint Timmins
29. Giovanotto
@23. I think there is a passing reference to her being around 16-17 when she is being "courted" by the ardent later on
Karen Morrell
30. karenm83
@12 WOW I must have really tore through the book the first couple of times I read it because I DO NOT remember any of this :/ Time for another slower re-read lol I probably missed a lot. I need to learn to pace myself a bit
Brent Clouse
31. brentclouse
@28. Change of mind. I'm starting to agree with you. She's too sincere - not to mention too young - to have killed her father. However, she seems to hold herself accountable for his murder. And there's still the shardblade. She had to have killed someone, right? Unless it was "given" to her the way Kaladin tried to give away the blade he won to one of his soldiers.

I'm sure much of this is going to be explained in her flashbacks in Book 2.
William Carter
32. wcarter
I'm surprised no one has brought up the rather ridgid gender segregations of what is and is not appropriate behavior yet. Shallan's first POV is where we get some of the first inklings of just how separate those roles are.

Shallan doesn't just think in passing 'Oh the captain must be able to read' she is mentally disturbed by the possibility. It seems to me the good captain enjoying a book is almost the same to her as a young girl
catching her brother trying on her panties would be IRL.

I would imagine the social stigma runs strongly both ways in Alethi culture, but the only women we've really seen haven't been intersted in trying their hand in the masculine arts of combat so...

In any case, men and women seem to have very specific roles and aspirations in Vorinism right down to what kind of foods are socially acceptable to eat (sweet food for women, spicy for men).
Michael Johnson
33. mjjohnson
I'm really enjoying the re-read! A little too much, since I went ahead and finished the whole book again. I couldn't wait. :)

One correction: the parshmen are described as having marbled skin, not "marble-like" skin. It's patchy and multicolored (red/black or red/white), not hard like stone. (Notwithstanding the carapaces they can grow, which are nothing like stone.) They're not beings of stone the way some of the other monsters we saw in flashbacks were.
34. Sheer_Falacy
@28: She tells the truthspren that she killed her father and they agree that it's true. Her father was abusive toward her brothers, though not to her, and presumably she defended one of them or something like that. Also, the soulcaster was probably cut by the shardblade, though I'm not sure how that would happen.
Jeremy Guebert
35. jeremyguebert
@34/all I would agree that Shallan was the one who killed her father. She tells the truthspren that she killed her father, and they accept her answer. I don't think anecdotal evidence in regards to her character is strong enough to assume that that's not actually the case.
Sean Dowell
36. qbe_64
With regards to Shardblades/plates. I seem to recall Dalinar saying that he won Elhokar plate for him in the first years of the Vegeance Pact. Did Dalinar take Galivar's blade/plate? Or is it MIA since his death?
37. Sarene
@ 34 & 35: Ahh, my apologies--I seem to have completely forgotten all about that. Now I'm thinking about skipping ahead just to read that part again! I want to know how it was worded; if there's no doubt she killed him (literally pushed a knife through his heart or something), or if there's any room to speculate more about it (did she kill him or was it just her fault that he died).

ETA: I found the part in the book but I'm jumping some 66 chapters ahead ;) Well, this is a RE-read so I shouldn't have to worry about spoilers... Anyway, she does say "I'm a murderer. I killed my father." and the truthspren says "Ah, a powerful truth indeed...", which doesn't leave much room for speculation.

It happens in fiction that characters keep saying they've killed someone but later on it turns out they've actually only caused the person's death and are feeling guilty and blaming themselves, but would this pass as a truth to a truthspren? Probably not. We'll find out in the next book I'm sure!
Halvor Hanssen
38. Halhan
I do not believe the Parshendi and the Parshmen are different races, but I think you are on to something when you say that the Parshendi may be "awakened Parshmen". I can't help, but think that the Parshendi is somehow Parshmen of Shadesmar in some way or another.
Robert Dickinson
39. ChocolateRob
As I said in the last post it should be pretty simple for Kaladin to get rid of his slave brands. He did consider utilizing some quick painful knife-work to turn them into a battle scar if he managed to run away but now he has stormlight healing so the wound should close up properly.

Does anyone know of any story where a character gains healing powers after receiving a scar? If old scars do not heal automatically but the person then gets a bigger wound in the same location I would imagine the whole area would heal fully rather than return the original scar, then again with magical healing who can say?

If he does try this technique (ouch) would he need to come up with a good explanation as to how it happened or would he just let it add to his mysteriousness?
Also he may want to keep the Shash glyph, not because it may have mystical properties as many here seem to believe but simply to remind people that he's a badass.

On a completely separate note does anyone want to hazzard a guess as to whether Spren can be harmed with a Shardblade.
40. Confutus
The Herald icons for chapter 3 are Shash-Shash .
The symbol under the arch is Shallan's, and seems to be a depiction of Shadesmar, although that isn't clear at this point in the text.
Shash is associated with the divine attributes creative/honest, and is probably connected with the Herald named Shalash, whose statue was missing in the Prologue. Shallan with her drawing and sketching could count as creative. The honesty is dubious at this point, although the duplicity she is practicing is also not yet spelled out.

For chapter 4 the icons are Tanat-Tanat, which again show up mostly when Kaladin is doing something military. He isn't yet, but he does find the King's army at the Shattered Plains.
Kimani Rogers
41. KiManiak
Thanks, Michael.

Shallan is a fascinating, well-rounded character with realistic virtues and flaws. And I do like how her introduction or exposure to certain aspects of this world parallels the reader’s. I also appreciated the various illustrations; I hope this continues throughout The Stormlight Archive.

Re: Shallan and Kaladin (sitting in a tree) – I can see how the traditional fantasy model would lead to Kaladin and Shallan pairing up and becoming the definitive couple for The Stormlight Archive, but I think we need to remember that Brandon likes to take the traditional model and stand it on its head. Place me in the Kaladin/Jasnah and Shallan/Adolin camp.

Yes, I recognize the commoner/royalty, caste system issue that would need to be overcome. But it seems that BWS is trying to show us that the current societal state of the world (or at least, of Alethi) is incredibly flawed and may need to be seriously adjusted in order for mankind to survive the Desolation. What better way than to start with "acceptable" relationships in society. Plus, we are already presented with one couple that is willing to buck the conventional rules and mores of Alethi society in Dalinar and Navani.

The epigraph: I think the individual with the “head of lines” mentioned may actually be one of the “truthspren,” as opposed to it being Taravangian. Other than that, I think the observation about the epigraph was a good catch. The rereader is rewarded by being shown that early on there was mention of the Healers draining the blood of individuals for insight. I am curious about that “distant sun, dark and cold, shining in a black sky” though.

Kaladin has gone through a lot (and accomplishes a lot in the events of the book) to be 19. I understand that life in Roshar is different, harder in some aspects than what the average (American) reader is used to. But still. To live the life Kaladin has and only be 19? Events at the end of the book become even more impressive.

Re: Shash mark – Yeah, I’m still going to hold on to the theory that the mark plays more of a role in Kaladin’s abilities and development than we are initially aware of, too. Glyphs and symbols play too prominent of a role in this story to just discard the possibility that Kaladin’s mark is more than just a slave brand.
Kimani Rogers
42. KiManiak
tasmin@2 – I see you got there first (and a few other commenters, after), re: the truthspren. I obviously agree with you :-) I didn’t make the connection to Shadesmar, though. I like that possibility.

wcarter@4 – I also like that this world creates new creatures and environments; different than your traditional epic fantasy. I think BWS tries to do that in each of his works. Mistborn, Elantris and Warbreaker all have imaginative new creatures and different types of locales (although Elantris and Warbreaker do seem to have environments fairly similar to Earth).

Shakerag@6 – I also would like to hear about how Shallan acquires the Shardblade. I think the theory that comes easiest to mind would be that she acquired it from her father when she killed him. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a far more complex story than that.

Rybal@9 – Kaladin being 26 in “Earth” years is a good item to point out. Still, that’s a lot to experience and deal with, even at 26.
Qbe_64@18 – it’s subtle, but there is a time where Shallan mentions that a particular action she could do is “ten heartbeats away,” or something like that. Folks theorize that means that she has a shardblade. It’s just a theory (one that I see multiple other commenters like @20 and @22 share).

AndrewB@23 – I prefer Adolin and Shallan, but her and the other son could work, too. :-)

Sarene@28 – She did confess her guilt to a “truthspren,” thus (we believe) creating a bond strong enough to allow her to travel to Shadesmar, like @34 and @35 pointed out.

So I guess the question is: Could Shallan have (knowingly) lied to one of the creatures and they be fooled into believing her? Or, did she not kill him but think she did, and so therefore the creatures accept her belief that she thinks she killed her father as a “powerful truth indeed,” sufficient enough to grant her access to Shadesmar?

To follow up on the second scenario, does the truth that is supplied to the creatures/truthspren have to be "fact?" Or, does the individual who confesses something to them just have to believe that what they confess is true? Do the creatures value honesty, truth or fact?

Hopefully we will find out more about the creatures and what they find acceptable/what they value and why in Shallan's book...
43. Deddinty
@9 - There are 500 days in a year, but the days are shorter, around 20 hours long. This means a Roshar year is only slightly longer than an Ealrth year (something like 1.1 Earth years to a Roshar year) so the difference is not that drastic. Trying to find the original source for this though.

I really hope we don't see a Kaladin/Shallan romance. It's too predicatable; let's just throw two eligible main characters together! Yay romance! Ugh, please no. They don't feel compatible to me either, and I really don't want there to be too much time spent on romance when there's so much other awesome plot to deal with. I would rather see Shallan with Renarin or Adolin.

@36 - Dalinar gave a blade and plate to Elokhar yes, but it was for Elokhar to give to someone he felt worthy of it. Elokhar must have inherited his father's plate and blade, since Dalinar says he got his shardblade at age 20.
44. Freelancer
Chapter Three is so full of foreshadowing nuggets, it boggles the mind. However, before getting into any of those details, this is the point at which I first realized a major piece of the writing which sets The Way of Kings apart from nearly all similar stories. While major plot points are foreshadowed, hinted at, and only revealed in bits and pieces until the "big" reveal, Sanderson does this entire story differently, and wonderfully.

We are introduced to a character in the midst of something happening in their lives, with no pre-amble, and with no info-dumps on why those things are happening, or their importance. Then, over a number of chapters, we get flashback glimpses of what motivates the character toward their "current" activities. This is actually very realistic, for this is how we meet people; first encountering them while doing some common activity, or crossing their path in some mundane way, but if we come to know them better, we learn by bits and pieces of the life which brought them to the place in which we met them.

Some have criticized Brandon for this seemingly haphazard method; I find it refreshing and more interesting than extended travelogue or info-dump chapters.

An excellent example of this is Shallan's ability to blink and capture a "memory". In this chapter, we see her do so from aboard the Wind's Pleasure, taking a Memory of Kharbranth from on the water. Later, we find out that these Memories are incredibly precise, and she can sketch them in great detail and fidelity, at which point she can no longer remember the image. This is definitely a supernatural ability at work, and one can only wonder if it relates to other things we find her able to do.

Another introduction in Chapter Three is the variety of human cultures on Roshar. Tozbek is the first Thaylen we encounter, but beyond the curious difference in their facial hair and his particular loyalty to Shallan's family, there is little to make him stand out. Yalb, on the other hand, is a very amusing character, with a sailor's twisted sense of honor (not bigoted, I'm retired Navy), and his "fond uncle" relationship to Shallan. The banter between them shows us Shallan's sharp and insubordinate wit, and Yalb's rough, uncouth nature.

In Chapter Four we learn more about Kaladin, more about Sylphrena, and more about Roshar. Of Kaladin, the first thing which impressed me is that, even while despondent and seemingly uncaring (uncrying, at least), he remains observant:
The wagons just kept on going, well past noon. Why aren't we stopping for slop?
Surely it isn't the cuisine which creates this question, but the change to an established routine. Kaladin pays attention. It's amazing how often simply paying attention is mistaken for exceptional intelligence.
But Kaladin isn't careful about his life, either. He mocks the slaver, Tvlakv, destroyes his map, mocks him some more, but has no current design on anything but continued slavery. Interestingly, Tvlakv shows some humanity here, suggesting that one as young as Kaladin (Nineteen years old at this point) could still work his way out of "this fate of yours", going as far as to say that he could eventually earn his freedom. Kaladin finds some empathy for the slaver, which surprises Syl. Perhaps once she has gained further sentience, she wouldn't have been surprised, because it is part and parcel of Kaladin's nature, and why she was drawn to him in the first place. Or, did she choose him and infuse greater honor into him? That debate still rages...

This Chapter also provides the first "closeup" of a Highstorm, and the first mention of stormwardens.


Back to Chapter Three, to mention the quote chosen from Shallan's POV, which mentions Voidbringers with bodies of stone. Readers of The Wheel of Time will recognize that stories get corrupted and altered over time, and enough generations will make them completely unrecognizable to anyone who lived through them. From the Prelude, we can assume that the bodies of stone belong to Thunderclasts, whatever those are. I'd always gotten the sense of something conjured from the stone itself by an evil wizard, but there are many aspects of Roshar of which we the readers have yet only begun to glimpse.
Also, from your commentary on that point, you distrust Jasnah's conclusion that the Parshmen/Parshendi are the voidbringers, but I find it very fitting. It makes the almost autistic-seeming Parshmen into the perfect sleepers. When someone flips the right switch, of what treachery will they be capable?

Sarene @1

I wrote all of the above before looking at the comments, so I see that you agree regarding Brandon's method of displaying the world.

tasmin @2, HathsinSurvivor @3

Agreed, the "head of lines" is one of the Shadesmar creatures which Shallan later sketches from her Memories.

Rybal @9

Yes, but the local gravity is only 0.7 of what we experience, which could lessen a body's aging through reduced stress.

karenm83 @10

Shadesmar is the name given to the Cognitive Realm, one of three which make up the Cosmere. It is depicted in the back cover's interior artwork.

thepupxpert @16

Yes. If you visit The 17th Shard, somewhere there is a translation of those notes.

qbe_64 @18

::smile:: Yes, Brandon was fairly subtle about that one. And yet, it is actually mentioned three times throughout Shallan's POV. The first time, only as a secret which is "ten heartbeats away". I almost passed it up the first time, then remembered that there was something important about ten heartbeats, and doublechecked.

Sarene @21

I think it's either White/Red, Black/Red, or Gray/Red.

Sarene @28

The "truth" she tells in order to be passed into Shadesmar is that she killed her father. Throughout her story, it becomes clear that he was very abusive to his sons, while treating his daughter as a treasure to be hidden and protected. She hated that, more that she was treated differently than the abuse itself, but it seems that after a beating of her younger brother, she couldn't take it any more. She definitely took the Shardblade when he died.
David Goldfarb
45. David_Goldfarb
Next question: if Shallan has a Shardblade, why go through this difficult, harebrained scheme to steal Jasnah's Soulcaster...instead of just selling the Shardblade to, say, the king of Jah Keved? In exchange for it they ought to have been able to get all the money and protection they wanted.
46. Deddinty
@David_Goldfarb, 45

That's the million emerald question isn't it? I wondered that as well, but I'm willing to bet Shallan's brothers don't know about the shardblade, and she may not want them to. I'm actually thinking she may have taken the blade even before she killed her father.

It may also be that the shardblade would get them into more trouble than the soulcaster. We don't know who she got it from or how.

(speculation ahead warning!) I imagine hearing about his oldest son's death and the loss of the shardblade and plate the ghostbloods gave him might have set him off somehow. This is supposing the evidence that points to Shallan's oldest brother being the shardbearer Kaladin killed is correct.

*Book 2 reading spoilers* (highlight)
Shallan's father was clearly alive after her mother (presumably step-mother) died, and Shallan calls herself a monster. There's mention of the eyes, her mother's eyes, being horrible. I'm willing to bet that something happened when her mother died, which eventually led to her father trying to kill her brothers and Shallan herself, and thus her father died probably by her hand.

The good thing is, we'll probably get answers to most of these questions in WoR!
Carl Engle-Laird
47. CarlEngle-Laird
I'm with many of you in that I really don't want to see Shallan and Kaladin get together, because it's way too pat. I was talking about this with a friend recently, however, and she brought up another possibility: Shallan will meet Kaladin at the same time that she meets Adolin and Renarin, one of whom is a massive flirt, the other of whom is a shy but very clever boy. There is a lot of potential for more interesting romantic plots through all of that.

@45 I think that if she tried to sell the Shardblade she'd have to explain how she got it. Which might get her arrested for murder and/or treason. So... that would be not the most self-preserving of plans.
48. Youngy
I don't think that the Parshendi are Voidbringers... They seem like creatures of Honour rather than Odium. Just look at the way they behave...
On the flip side, its going to be interesting seeing how others react to the theory that they could be Voidbringers.
Heck, maybe Odium can influence them like Ruin did to those on his planet.
49. Freelancer
David_Goldfarb @45
A female Veden Shardbearer would raise questions that she and her brothers don't want brought up yet. Also, we don't know if her brothers know that she has the blade, or even if they know that she killed their father, so her reasons for keeping the blade secret may be numerous.

Deddinty @46

Shallan hates that she has the Shardblade. That doesn't mean she's stupid enough to give it up, or to announce that she possesses it. But the only way for her to take it from her father before he died is if he set it in stone. Otherwise, anytime it leaves his hand it returns to Shadesmar. So that isn't very likely.

Are you suggesting that the Gold-armored Shardbearer whose Shards Kaladin refused is the eldest Davar heir, Helaran? He was declared dead by their father because he ran away. There is no way to imagine that a family, a business family, in possession of two Shardblades and one set of Plate would need to make nefarious deals in order to subsist. Simply holding those Shards confers virtual nobility on a family. It wouldn't make sense. Even that the father had a Shardblade makes one wonder the same thing as about Shallan: Why not sell it for a massive plot of land and many servants to work it? Much is yet to be revealed.

However, the Shardbearer killed by Kaladin wouldn't have been Veden. It was a purely Alethi border dispute.
Ben McSweeney
50. Inkthinker
The Skyeel's ability to fly is an example of biology evolving in a magic-rich environment. Spren are part of it, but biologically the skyeel contains and excrete lighter-than-air gas through the sacs beneath their wings. Once they expel the gas (say, in a dive upon prey) they are unable to fly again easily until they've had some time to digest. Luckily they can swim quite well in the water, and are fairly fast on the ground (like a snake).

Chull are more fun to speculate upon, since they play a more central role as the major beast of burden, but you're a couple chapters out from that page.
William Carter
51. wcarter
Aside from potential self-incrimination or some misplaced desire to keep a memento of her craptastic dad (assuming the blade was once his), there's another good reason for her not to sell the shardblade:

What's to stop someone from using it to kill you right after you give it to them? Then they have the blade and the money. The kinds of people who their family is in debt to seem to be exactly the kind of people who would come to that conclusion.

Sure maybe she could sell it to the king, or one of the less sleezey high princes and have a fair to middling chance of being compensated, but would someone like Shallan even be allowed to go to the Shattered Plains without publically declaring a reason.

Once she said "Oh hey guys, I totally want to sell you a shard blade" People would be coming out of the woodwork to take it from her before she could get there.
52. JoeH42
1) “I’m dying, aren’t I? Healer, why do you take my blood? Who is that beside you, with his head of lines? I can see a distant sun, dark and cold, shining in a black sky.”
It's funny, I didn't think anything negative about the healer taking his blood because in our world doctors routinely take our blood for good reasons. It wasn't until the re-read that I realized the blood isn't being taken to help him. And "head of lines" probably means the truthspren especially with the next reference to Shadesmar but I initially thought it was a figurative description, that the person he is describing is someone with a very organized mind, a mind full of lists/lines.

Shallan + the shardblade. There's a couple possibilities. She almost certainly got it off of a dead body, it's probably not a gift. She's planning to steal a soulcaster so maybe this isn't the first time she's gotten something valuable in an illegal/wrong manner... I think it's a too-easy assumption and probably wrong that she gets it from her father at all. I would say it's quite possible she got the shardblade before she killed her father and she used it to kill him. This would explain why she can't sell it, shardblades are like a Stradivarius cello, they keep track of who has them, and it doesn't belong to her family AT ALL.

And yeah, her ability to take pictures with the blink of an eye and that ability then being able to show her things she can't see with her natural eyes... totally a Knight Radiant power. What else can she see that others can't?

Syl: Her question about why Kaladin doesn't cry makes a lot of sense really. She is trying to find out what kind of person he is and that's a good question that will help her understand him.

Jasnah: I want to go on the record at this point: I predict that Jasnah and Rock will fall in love! That's right, super serious Jasnah needs a good old Polynesia... I mean Horneater in her life to lighten things up and have some fun! I said this on Brandon's FB page and Peter responded that "it happens in book 6" which I'm PRETTY SURE is just a joke but I'm planning on getting Words of Radiance signed by Brandon with "To Joe, who predicts that Jasnah and Rock will fall in love possibly in book 6." :D
Lynn McDonald
53. meal6225
I'm definitely on team Kaladin/Jasnah. The Kholin bros have a history of
fixating on the same woman so I think Shallan/Adolin/Renarin are going to second gen the Navani/Gavlar/Dalinar triangle of the past. Navani and
Dalinar can certainly see it form at an early stage and try and council before any damage happens--yeah I know where's the fun in reading that?
Hope Navani and Davilar continue to find some happiness together in book 2.
54. Sarene
@41. KiManiak: I'm fine with commoner/royalty caste system being overthrown, but 19-year-old warrior Kaladin and ~35-year-old scholar Jasnah? Nah, I don't think so. Brandon might not always go the most traditional way but I still don't think a woman in her mid-thirties and a 19-year-old boy would be up his alley. :)

I wouldn't mind Shallan being coupled with Kaladin. What's wrong with predictability anyway? :) Personall I'd be much happier if she ended up with Kaladin rather than Adolin or Renarin... Though if I have to choose one of the brothers I certainly hope it's Renarin!

@44. Freelancer: The way Brandon writes is a breath of fresh air, especially in epic fantasy. And info-dumps are not just boring, they're often hard to process for me when I read in books English, which is not my native language. Also, thanks for clearing that up about the Parshendi skin colours!

I'm still wondering if Shallan isn't protecting someone who killed their father, because why else would she go through such hardship in Kharbranth? I don't think she would have voluntarily thrown herself into that by killing their father.

@48. Youngy: I agree, Parshendi seem more like creatures of Honour than Odium. I don't believe they could be Voidbringers, I tend to think they are just misunderstood because they're different from the humans on Roshar. Humans on Roshar are very different from us humans on Earth, but they definitely share one thing with us: prejudice.

@52. JoeH42: Hahaha, I would love to see Rock and Jasnah falling in love.
Alice Arneson
55. Wetlandernw
With apologies for anyone who gets annoyed by observations already made... I'm posting my thoughts re: the blog without reading the comments. I don't do this often, but I need sleep. I'll read all the lovely comments in the morning. (I'll read the not-so-lovely comments, too, of course.)

Shallan is an interesting character. She starts out sounding so naïve, almost the simple country girl – and then she gets a whole lot more complicated. I seem to recall a lot of people calling her annoying and whiny when the book first came out (or maybe it was in the advance-release chapters), but I don’t remember thinking that at all. She’s young and a bit wide-eyed in this chapter, but even here there are hints that there’s something more to her story. Obviously, I’m more aware of those hints on the rereads than I was the first time, though.

I tend to agree with Michael about the Parshendi/parshmen/Voidbringer question; the idea that they are the Voidbringers doesn’t sit right. I’ve begun to wonder if perhaps they are connected; e.g., perhaps the Parshendi were left by the Voidbringers, and their current task is to rip the Alethi (most war-capable nation on Roshar) to bits so that they are already beaten up by the time the Desolation comes. Alternatively, they’re on the same side, and their job is to get the Alethi fighting as a unit so that they can turn together against the Volidbringers when they come. Yeah, flailing in the dark here; but I’m pretty sure that neither the thunderclasts nor the Parshendi are the originals of the Voidbringers.

Okay, more nitpicks. Kharbranth is not an island, nor is it on an island, unless you count the whole of Roshar as an island.

Re: the epigraph on Chapter 4 – While I (obviously) didn’t see this the first time through, now it practically slaps me in the face. “Head of lines” doesn’t sound like an elderly, lined face – it sounds like a truthspren (or "cryptic"). The “distant sun, dark and cold, shining in a black sky” sure sounds like a description of Shadesmar to me. I do agree, though, that this was an early hint at the source of the quotations, with the “Healer, why do you take my blood?”

The behavior of the lifespren seems to lean toward the theory that spren are attracted to (or stimulate) a change of state for their particular affinity. They aren’t floating around everyone and everything all the time, but they go nuts when things start emerging and flourishing in the aftermath of the storm.
Phil Anthrop
56. Isomere
I love your thoughts about the bells. Each magic system has a physical focus, metal for Preservation, color for Endowment, and I believe sound is the focus for Honor. The first time we see soulcasting (chapter 5) there is a sound associated with it. You mentioned the dawnsingers and the Eternal Words of the radiants. Kabsal showed us the dawncities are based on vibration, likely created by the dawnsingers. Indeed, His shattered Shard is essentially a giant sound wave pattern reverberating around Roshar (say hello to a pressure wave called the Stormfront). There is every reason to believe that the bells long ago had a more potent purpose than simple sound.

@52 Shallan is using a power of Cultivation, much like I assume stone shamanism uses. I do not believe it is a knight radiant power, but not enough evidence to know for sure. “When she collected a Memory of a person, she was snipping free a bud of their soul, and she cultivated and grew it on the page. Charcoal for sinew, paper pulp for bone, ink for blood, the paper’s texture for skin. She fell into a rhythm, a cadence, the scratching of her pencil like the sound of breathing from those she depicted.”(from Chapter 7)

Roshar is influenced by at least three shards (Odium, Honor and Cultivation). With two shards in Mistborn we got three magic systems, so I'd anticipate between 3 and 10 types of magic. So far we know about surgebinders (Honor), shardplate/shardblades/honorblades, fabrials ( also likely Honor) the old magic, the thrill (Odium), the stone shamans, shallan's art (Cultivation) and prayers/glyphwards. Unclear if some of these are superstition, or true magics, but so far all of the KR have used surgebinding.

@7 Let's assume (and I'm not totally convinced) that the voidbringers in the previous desolation were parshendi and that they were agents of odium. We know that we can't really trust the legends because they were corrupted, both deliberately during the heirocracy and through a very long game of telephone. Where does that leave us? Well kinda in the dark, which means we can all freely speculate. My take: Voidbringer and Dustbringer are both just terms to describe specific powers of Odium, much like Windrunner and Soulcaster describe powers of Honor. The work that they did well in the prologue was sowing chaos and death on a terrible scale. They may have abilities related to darkness and fire based on rather vague snippets like the chapter 7 intro, or that could just be propaganda against the parshendi.
If some parshendi were voidbringers in the previous desolation fine and good, but will they support the axis or the allies this time around? In fact, it seems the Alethi serve Odium through their obsession with war, competition and the thrill. Backstabbing and murdering to gain advantage is the expected way of life. All the while, the parshendi protect the Honorblades, live a rigid code of conduct and respect their dead and their enemies. Their song may also be connected to Honor is some way. The lines are drawn and the alethi are on the wrong side.

@44 yes I'm worried about the parshmen getting taken over by Odium. They have no music which would be their link to Honor, so something must be able to fill that "void". But I'm equally worried about the Alethi. I think the thrill will work similar to Hemalurgy as a way for odium to influence someone, and eventually take over. The KR implied to Dalinar that the thrill could destroy you, but we are left without enough info to understand how.

@9 So about the years on Roshar. Ten year old boys are old enough to have significant responsibility, but don't care about girls in underwear for a couple more years. (Chapter 10). Also, 15 year olds still are small and frail compared to adults but they fill out by 19. Seems in keeping with earth developmental milestones. I'd agree with a faster planet spin, but similar orbit times to earth.

My real question is, why random seasons and why is there a weeping? I think it's all about quantum physics and standing wave probability equations, but I haven't heard a lot of talk about that on the forums. The remnants of Honor form the wave pattern. The weeping is the node, so no high storms possible. I'm interested to know if the weeping comes for the whole world at the same time, or if it moves from place to place. Would tell us if the wave is contained on the planet or if it reaches out into space and we only see the part affecting Roshar.
Kimani Rogers
57. KiManiak
Sarene@54 - What, you don't believe in a May/December romance for our resident Windrunner and Princess? :-)

How about this one: Kaladin appears to be a rather mature 19. Maybe his disdain and/or lack of automatic deference to Lighteyes will be different enough from the attitude that most folks approach Jasnah with for her to find him intriguing, and ultimately appealing? :-)

As for Shallan and the sons of Dalinar: Well, it makes sense that Renarin and Shallan may be drawn to each other as neither appears to have the "player gene" that Adolin does. However, wouldn't someone like Shallan be the proper foil for Adolin's playeristic ways?

Who knows? It's all fun speculation for now.
58. Freelancer
From Chapter 7:
As always, thinking of her father made her ill, and the pain started to constrict her chest. She raised her freehand to her head, suddenly overwhelmed by the weight of House Davar's situation, her part in it, and the secret she now carried, hidden ten heartbeats away.
The phrase "her part in it" would at first seem to be speaking to her intended malappropriation. On closer examination, it isn't prospective, but reflective, regarding "House Davar's situation". Their situation isn't about her wanting the fabrial; it is about their father's death, the debts and animosity left behind. Her part in that is that she killed her father. The mention of the secret in the same thought more than strongly suggests that the killing of her father is directly responsible for her having that secret, i.e. she got the Shardblade from him.

Everything else we read about Shallan in this volume indicates that she was kept at home, sheltered, and carefully protected. The idea that she would have had an opportunity to kill a Shardbearer other than her father, doesn't fit with anything else in the text. In fact, in Chapter 33, she is considering if she will be able to pull off the theft:
She tried to still her heart. Even as a little child, she'd been this way. She could remember her tears at fights between her parents. She was not good with confrontation.
I'm satisfied that this journey of hers, described as her first trip away from home, is also her first attempt at lawbreaking of any significance. The death of her father was most likely an act of passion.
59. Sarene
I was just thinking about the whole thing and I don't think it sounds plausible that she would have deliberately killed her father and taken his Shardblade, however if it was indeed an act of passion it makes a whole lot more sense! Perhaps her father was about to do something terrible to her or her brothers, and she killed him to protect herself/them, gaining his Shardblade in the process. Now she is perhaps driven by guilt to try to make things right for the House Davar.
Birgit F
60. birgit
In Kaladin's flashbacks there are also farmers.

Lifespren sound like kodama in mononoke hime.

The skyeels eat rats. There do seem to be some mammals on this world.

Overall Brandon seems to pay a lot of attention to how his characters dress

That is probably an influence from WoT.

Next question: if Shallan has a Shardblade, why go through this difficult, harebrained scheme to steal Jasnah's Soulcaster...instead of just selling the Shardblade to, say, the king of Jah Keved? In exchange for it they ought to have been able to get all the money and protection they wanted.

If she sold a Shardblade people would find out about it. Shallan wants to keep her family's troubles quiet.

The Parshendi seem to be connected to music. Do they have something to do with the dawnsingers?
Are the Voidbringers the monsters or do they somehow cause the appearance of the void monsters?
61. PHubbard
Shadesmar is the Cognitive realm (where Shallan travels to to soulcast, with the black beads). However, this is distinct from the Spiritual realm (where shardblades are stored and people go when dead).

All of Brandon's books contain these three concepts - Physcial, Cognitive, Spiritual - sometimes explicitly, more often just dropped into conversation or as underlying principles of the magic. The Emperor's Soul and the interlude with the spren scientists in WoK contain some discussion of this.
62. Soloce
What I think is really good about Jo's reread is her review of things she hadn't thought of in the comments of the prior post, as well as some summary speculative posts. If you could do that here, that would be great. Thanks.
63. Dragonslayer
@58 Freelancer

Could you give a page number for that quote from Chapter 7? I totally missed Shallan's Shardblade on my first readthrough, and I'm trying to find as many mentions of it as I can. I did find this:

"Memories attacked her. Nan Balat bruised, his coat torn. A long, silvery sword in her hand, sharp enough to cut stones as if they were water." Page 132, Chapter 7.

Also, for some reason, the description of Shallan's blade there makes me think of Szeth's Shardblade, although I'm not sure why.
64. AndrewB
I thought that Shallon got the Shardblade from herself. I do not think she killed her father and then took the Shardblade. Rather, she used the Shardblade to kill her father.

I have two possible theories as to how she got the blade: First she was able to summon a "new" Shardblade. IIRC somewhere in the text it mentions that prior to the disappearance of the Kinghts Radiants, there were more Shardblades than currently exist. If that is the case, then some people must develop the ability to summon them or somehow learn. At the very least, it can be learned since characters do not access the Shardblades upon their birth. Second, Shallon inherited the Shardblade from her mother after her mother's death. This is why her father treated Shallon as a treasure. Whereas, on the other hand, he was vicious to his sons.

Here is another wacky theory. What if the Alethi are the decendants of the Voidbringers. Could it be that Dalinar and his brother's planned reunification will unitentionally bring about a new Desolation. Thus, why the king was assinated and why the King of Kharbranth wants Szeth to kill Dalinar at the end of TWoK.

Thanks for reading my musings.
(aka the musespren)
65. Freelancer
Dragonslayer @63

Mea culpa. The POV I quoted is in Chapter 8, while Shallan is leaving the Palanaeum and meets up again with Yalb. (p131) I had still been thinking about the one you quoted, which is from Chapter 7. (Which, BTW, in the US hardcover edition is on p116)
Alice Arneson
66. Wetlandernw
And finally… a chance to interact with the comments. I’m seeing some very interesting twists on the Voidbringer question. This should be fun. (Also… it’s good to see I’m not alone in seeing Shadesmar and a cryptic in that deathquote. In fact, I’m very much not alone. Good.)

PHubbard @7 – I find the idea of an evil spren-like effect very intriguing for the Voidbringers. Sure, it would be more complicated than a mere spren, but it certainly seems to have possibilities at first glance. I think I need to read the rest of the comments….

JMBeraldo @8 – Another interesting possibility, and not without merit. Is there more reason for killing the chasmfiends than merely the gemhearts? More thinking required. (More reading, actually, but we have to wait for WoR for that. Meanwhile… thinking. And rereading.)

karenm83 @10 – In addition to the answers you’ve already gotten, I’ll toss in that Shadesmar is apparently part of “the Cognitive realm” according to Brandon’s “Realmatic Theory.” You’ll see references to the physical, cognitive and spiritual realms; Shadesmar is Cognitive. There’s also a map of it in the back of the book.

Giovanotto @11 – No more than not liking anyone makes you a bad person. I’ve always considered it a mark of good storytelling, if a writer can create a character who is sufficiently realistic that their personality annoys some readers but appeals to others. That’s how real people are, right? So if she’s “real” enough that you find her wordplay “insulting and juvenile rather than clever” (which I assume would be the same if you know someone like her IRL), Brandon did a good job of writing a good character, and it’s reasonable that some people would like her – possibly in an annoying-but-likeable-little-sister fashion – while others just wish she’d grow up. The next question will be whether she “grows up” over the course of this book and the next in a way that you find a) believable and b) more appealing. If a) is no, we’ve got trouble. If a) is yes but b) is no, that’s all good too.

Also… truthspren as “grim reapers” is quite a thought. At this point, I just throw up my hands and say “I need more information!” Fortunately, we should learn more in WoR.

qbe_64 @18 – Don’t feel too bad about missing the Shardblade the first time around – it wasn’t supposed to be blatant. :) Just… there. I think it only gets referenced a couple of times, and then only hinted at. It’s “out of context” – you don’t think of a kid like Shallan in connection with warrior-gear. So while the hints are there, it’s not in your face – and I think your reaction is exactly what we’re supposed to do: SHALLAN HAS A SHARDBLADE?!?!?!?!

AndrewB @23 – My guess is that Shallan is about 17, give or take a year. Nan Balat is 23, and it sounds like she’s the youngest child, with two more brothers between herself and Balat. She could be younger, but she’s not likely any older.

Also – I’m with you; if there’s any romantic involvement for Shallan (and I’m not sure there will be) I’d think it more likely to be Adolin or Renarin than Kaladin. Renarin, for preference.

wcarter @32 – It seems we’ve gotten off into discussion of things we can’t resolve yet due to lack of information, and left out some very interesting world-building. I love the way Brandon played with gender roles. There are very definite lines of male/female mores, but they are very, very different from the lines we’re used to. I thought it was quite creative! And it’s very cultural; we’re seeing things mostly from the Alethi/Vorin perspective, but we get hints that in other parts of the world, the rules might be quite different. And then there’s the role of the ardentia – they can cross the lines whenever they want, without censure or stigma, and follow any area of interest they like.

Confutus @40 – You reminded me… when I first read the book, I think I made the connection (eventually) about the different character icons, and realized that this was Shallan’s. Not recognizing what it was, of course, I forgot to wonder; it wasn’t until my full reread that I put it together and realized that it was Shadesmar.

Freelancer @44 – There’s so much here, isn’t there? I think it was about this point that I stopped trying to figure out anything – I just let myself sink into the world and absorb it instead. Nice analysis, though.

However… I still don’t think the Parshmen/Parshendi actually are the Voidbringers; I’m still up in the air as to how they are connected – or even if they are. We’ve been set up to see it that way, and I think Jasnah is probably partially correct. And as you say, what happens when someone flips the switch?

I find myself really wondering about the Parshendi. They’re presented as “the bad guys” fairly quickly –making a treaty with the full intent of violating it as spectacularly as possible, and being “the alien Other” in the subsequent war. They’re strange – they have some sort of hive mind effect, and they grow their own armor. Weird. But… they show a lot of honor in the battles, and they have a viable and interesting culture of their own; when you look at their behavior, they don’t match what I would think of as agents of Odium. (Maybe I’m way off in thinking that the Desolations were originally a battle between the forces of Honor and Odium, but that’s the way I’ve always interpreted it.)

Clearly they were there in the Prelude: the colors of blood (red, orange, and violet) match the blood we see in the rest of the book (human, Parshendi, and chasmfiends respectively) – but the Prelude doesn’t give us any clue as to which races were on which side of the battle. Or were all three fighting against a common enemy? (I tend to doubt it, but it’s possible.) So the big question remains: who or what are the Parshendi, and who or what do they represent?

@ several re: Shallan’s Shardblade – it’s clear she has it. It’s far less clear who it belonged to before her. It’s indicated that she acquired it the night her father died, but not definitely stated that way; from what little we’re given, it’s possible that she had it already and used it to kill her father. I don’t think so, though; she seems to think that killing her father is the worst thing she’s ever done (not that I’d disagree) and elsewhere she thinks of the sword as “the fruit of her sin, the proceeds of her most horrific act.” So it’s probable but not proven that she got it at least as a result of killing her father, whether it was his or not. In any case, selling it would not be a simple matter of putting it up on ebay. The simple fact that she possesses it would raise far too many questions; its background might make it even more complicated.

Freelancer @49 – There’s pretty fair indication in Chapter 51 that the Shardbearer Kaladin killed was Veden, and Amaram believes he was connected with the Ghostbloods. However, I don’t see any reason (other than sheer unfounded speculation) to believe it was Helaran Davar. Well, they’re both dead, I guess. I have a vague recollection of someone asking Brandon about him and getting a RAFO, but I’m not sure where, when, or in what context.

Inkthinker @50 – Love the insights! It’s sure fun to have folks like you here to provide this kind of clarification.

Sarene @54 – At the point where Lord Davar was killed, none of this plan was in effect; Shallan wouldn’t have known what she was throwing herself into. The kids had no idea what kind of stuff their father was up to, or that he had such massive debt, or that their House was in so much trouble. It wasn’t until afterward, when they realized what kind of shenanigans he’d been up to and that the fabrial he’d been using was broken, that they came up with the scheme for Shallan to steal Jasnah’s Soulcaster. In any case, I’m pretty sure that killing her father was not premeditated murder; I would go so far as to suggest that she didn’t actually intend to kill him – just to stop him from abusing her brother.

Isomere @56 – Very interesting idea about Shallan’s Memory-collection being an aspect of Cultivation, and very different than what I’ve been thinking. However, it does create a whole new path of speculation for me. I’ll have to work it out and write it up later.

AndrewB @64 – Well, that’s a thought… RAFO?
67. Freelancer
Drat. All that re-reading, and I missed again that the slain Shardbearer was Veden. Thanks, Wetlandernw. However, my previous objection remains; if House Davar possessed two Shardblades and a set of Plate, they would never have been worried about their fortunes. Just consider how Kaladin reacts in that same Chapter 51 about what it would have meant to take the shards, how rich and powerful he would become.
68. Dragonslayer
@Freelancer 65

Ah, okay, thanks. Found it now.
andrew smith
69. sillyslovene
@Wet and Free on the Veden
IIRC (it's been a long while since I roamed the speculation boards on WoK), the connection for the speculation is: a) the timelines line up fairly well with Shallan's brother going missing and then a little bit later the Veden shardbearer is killed by Kaladin and b) Shallan's father's connection with the Ghostbloods (diamond tattoos) and the connection of the unnamed Veden Shardbearer to them (the thought being that the eldest son was in on his father's dealings and part of the organization he was working with, and thus his 'disappearance/death' is him leaving to take a larger part in their covert efforts). It is a long string of supposition and speculation, but it is founded on the timelines and ghostblood connection.

Another interesting connundrum arises when we consider the facts of Shallan and her father's death, specifically: her obtaining the Blade, her father dying in a pool of blood (i.e. not killed by a shardblade, unless that blade was then used to mutilate the body after his death), and the fabrial being cut by a shardblade while in her father's pocket in the same incident and thus not working. If she killed him by normal means (thus the blood), how did the fabrial get cut? As this seems to be a crime of passion, as described by someone else above, then obtaining the Blade once he's dead and mutilating his body requires going well beyond simply stopping him from beating her brother.

The easy way out is to assume the fabrial was cut before the incident, but there doesn't seem to be any indication that that was the case. Again, it's been a while, and even longer since my last reread, and thus, I don't remember how explicit the connection was that they found the fabrial on his body...I believe it was fairly clearly established, connected with the steward (Luesh?) knowing how to use it, but not since it was cut...
70. Dragonslayer
@sillyslovene 69

Just checking, where are we told that the fabrial was cut by a Shardblade? And good points about the blood–it makes it seem highly unlikely that Shallan killed her father with the Shardblade in a "unexpected emotional outburst" moment. Although, now that I think about it, she could have done so, and then later mutilated the body to hide the fact that it was done with a Shardblade–assuming she somehow obtained the blade before the incident. However, the quote from chapter 7 does make it sound like she could have had the Shardblade before she killed her father (assuming she personally murdered him):

"Memories attacked her. Nan Balat bruised, his coat torn. A long, silvery sword in her hand, sharp enough to cut stones as if they were water."

I could see this as the moment BEFORE she kills her father to save Nan Balat. Just speculation, though.
andrew smith
71. sillyslovene
That is mainly inference from the way that the soulcaster is described as being cut (IIRC); not many things in Roshar can cut metal in such a way. Sorry, don't have a reference on me. I'd have to look later...

As for the quote, it could just as easily be describing two memories that bookend the killing of her father. There is no evidence in any direction for a chronology of the events. As you say, just speculation.
72. Zen
Just a few things, the guy with the head full of lines... look at the last illustration in WoK. It describes the man with lines perfectly, and it is not a truthspren. It looks more like Taln, though I am not quite sure who it is.

And as long as we are shipping, I think a much more natural pairing would be Renarin and Shallan. He was the witty son, of the two.

** Two spoilers from the next book**

Not only did Shallan appearently kill her father accidentally, but it appears she killed her mother while still a small child.

Also, the Parshendi purposely sought the treaty, for the sole purpose of killing Gavilar, after they realized he was starting to keep the Codes. That terrified them for some reason.
73. Dragonslayer
Okay, I just wanted to make sure I hadn't missed an explicit statement that it had been Shardblade-cut. And I agree, it could just as easily be a bookend memory like you said--either way, I'm excited to see what Sanderson does with Shallan's Blade.
Alice Arneson
74. Wetlandernw
If possible, could people who post spoilers from draft materials of WoR please put them in white? I appreciate the "Spoilers Follow" type of warnings, but my eyes take pictures before I read... and then I get stuff that I didn't want. If it's just me, I'll survive, but this may be happening to others as well, and its easier to avoid if you just white-text it.
75. Zen
@56 I was not giving much credence to the idea that Shallan had anything magical in her drawing, until you mentioned
Shallan is using a power of Cultivation, much like I assume stone shamanism uses. I do not believe it is a knight radiant power, but not enough evidence to know for sure. “When she collected a Memory of a person, she was snipping free a bud of their soul, and she cultivated and grew it on the page. Charcoal for sinew, paper pulp for bone, ink for blood, the paper’s texture for skin. She fell into a rhythm, a cadence, the scratching of her pencil like the sound of breathing from those she depicted.”(from Chapter 7)
Sanderson has repeatedly descriped different kinds of cosmere magic in terms of a person's soul, and how the spirit links with the body. In particular, he called Hemalergic spikes, staples on the soul, or something to that effect.
76. Jreengus
@64 I Never thought of Shallan having created a new blade although it fits into my own personal theory about the blades. Not much evidence for this but it goes like this:

When Kaladin swears the first oath of the windrunners he gains the ability to use stormlight more effectively, this made me think there are (IIRC) 3 oaths. If one has an actual effect logically all three should but it wouldn't make sense for the other two oaths to make him even better with stormlight so what are the Radiants known for? Their powers, their blades and their armour. So what if each oath attunes you to one of the three. One oath allows you to use your powers more effectively* Kaladin becomes more effecient when he swears his oath. One oath attunes you Shardplate making it act the way Dalinar sees in his visions.

The last oath attunes you to your Shardblade, but Shardblades don't seem to need any attuning. This made me think about all the missing blades, what if they're missing because they've returned to the spiritual plane. What if that's what's meant to happen to them, the blades aren't truly distinct entities but parts drawn from a pool of power on the spiritual plane, the third oath attunes you to this pool and lets you shape it into a blade** to use. During the recreance the Radiants were influenced by Odium into cutting their blades off from the pool allowing them to leave them behind for men to fight over. Over time a lot of blades have gradually returned to the pool seeming to disappear but some remain behind. This is also why Syl dislikes shardblades, a shardblade is meant to be something deeply personal it's almost like fighting using another mans rotting arm as a weapon. Anyhow if Shallan ended up swearing the right oath it could attune her to the pool allowing her to summon a shardblade properly.

*Sidenote: I just realised Jasnah may have sworn some oath relating to
truth and seeking/upholding it which allows her to soulcast without
visiting shadesmar the way Shallan has to thus explaining some of the times she uses her power which seem like they would be tricky if done whith your mind in another world.

**Or hopefully a spear since Kaladin with a shard spear would be awesome, sure it's unlikely but cool to imagine.
77. Confutus
@72 That's one of the Heralds. He isn't otherwise mentioned in the text, but the list of illustrations right after the contents lists this as "A relief of Nalan'Elin".
78. Confutus
Just as a minor note, the Palanaeum, the library where Shallan is looking for Jasnah, seems to be named for herald Palah, who is classically associated with learning.
79. Connor Hinrichs
Could the voidbringers be Odium's version of Knights Radiant. Like the exact same or similar thing but working/fighting for Odium.
Alice Arneson
80. Wetlandernw
Jreengus @76 – Minor correction: the Knights Radiant had five “Immortal Words” – the first was the same for all ten orders, and the remaining four were specific to each order. The first, same for all ten orders, is “Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.” The second Ideal for the Windrunners is “I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.” So far, none of the other Ideals have been revealed.
81. Freelancer
Jreengus @76

Even were there no other evidence, I would confidently say that Brandon wouldn't have there be Three Oaths for the Radiants. Too much on the nose.
Alice Arneson
82. Wetlandernw
Freelancer @67 – I totally agree. A house in possession of two Shardblades and a set of Plate wouldn’t have any worries about their fortunes. There is, perhaps, some possibility that the Ghostbloods had possession of a Blade-and-Plate set, and Helaran’s task on behalf of the Ghostbloods was to use them for… something. But I don’t get why the Ghostbloods would waste it on a border dispute. The only hint of a reason I can see is that Thaidakar (perhaps associated with the Ghostbloods) and Restares (somehow associated with Amaram), both of whom Gavilar assumed might be behind his assassination, might be at odds with one another, and Thaidakar sent his Shardbearer after Restares. If that’s the case, he went about it badly and failed completely, and lost the Shards in the process. I suppose if that’s the case, it would be likely to have contributed to the problems of House Davar.

I'm still not convinced it was Helaran, though; it's too totally circumstantial. The only connections are that they're both dead, and there's mention/rumor/speculation of Ghostbloods in both their situations.
Alice Arneson
83. Wetlandernw
And now for some random speculation. This is less a theory and more a thinking out loud, but I’m playing with an idea regarding the Knights Radiant and some of the powers and magic systems on Roshar. I’m sure someone else has done this before, but I tend to avoid the big theory debate fora, so I wouldn’t know.

What if… the ten Heralds (with their associated attributes) are representatives/essences of Honor, and the ten Surges are aspects/essences of Cultivation? This would mean that Honor and Cultivation worked together to create the Knights Radiant, presumably in the interests of fighting off Odium. Or at least the Desolations.

If this were the case, given that each order of the Knights Radiant is associated with one Herald and two Surges, each would be associated with one aspect of Honor and two aspects of Cultivation. If, as was proposed @56, Stone Shamanism uses only the powers of Cultivation, this could be the difference between Kaladin and Szeth: they use the same Surges (gravity and pressure), but Kaladin belongs to Honor (Jezrien: protecting/leading) as well as Cultivation. Just in case anyone missed it, Tanavast is the name of the original holder of the Shard Honor, and Kaladin is called “Child of Tanavast” at one point. If Szeth is Cultivation, but Kaladin is Honor + Cultivation... That could have implications, eh?

What about Shallan? If she’s going to become a Lightweaver, as is implied by one of the names considered for “her” book, that would (obviously) make her a Knight Radiant and therefore part of both Honor and Cultivation. I’d suggest that her Honor aspect is Shalash: Creative/Honest, which fits with both her artistic talents and her association with the “truthspren”. Her Cultivation aspects would be Transformation (we already know she’s a Soulcaster) and…. Light? Memory? Vision? Illumination? We don’t know yet what the other Surges are, but one having to do with visual phenomena would be reasonable, IMO.

Lots of speculation, not much no proof. But it’s a fun idea. I mostly posted it so that, on the off chance I’m right, I can say I called it. :)

(Hey, what if the Ghostbloods are sort of like an order of the Knights Radiant, except without Honor? What would that mean?)
84. Sarene
Phew, all this speculation is really quite hard to follow for someone like me who's REALLY new to all this Cosmere stuff! It's all interesting but most of it I just forget right away because I don't understand it well enough, haha.

I'm getting more and more convinced that Shallan killed her father in an act of passion to stop him from beating her brother, and she got the Shardblade that way. The blood is there because she didn't have the Blade before she killed him. It would also make sense that the Shardblades and Plate that Shallan's father and eldest brother (supposedly) possessed were somehow related to the Ghostbloods. Shallan might not have even known her father has a Shardblade; if she did, would she have been too afraid to attack him?

I can't wait for WoR! I do wish that if people post spoilers from WoR they'd white-out the text, as Wetlandernw also suggested.
85. Zizoz
@72, 74: Agreed with Wetlander @74. Or at least, don't say "spoilers follow", then a huge white space, then spoilers -- I only skipped over the white space, thinking there were spoilers in white there.
Charles S
86. Cheese_Ninja
It was pointed out a few times already, but in case anyone missed it, here's how a Roshar year works: 500 days, with 10 months, with each month having 10 weeks, and each week having 5 days, and each day having 20 hours, and an hour on Roshar is a minute or two shorter than an hour on Earth. So it's about 1.1 Earth years in a Roshar year. Kaladin would be about 21.

I'm not a fan of a Kaladin/Shallan pairing, since I think a Shallan/Adolin/Renarin love triangle would be more interesting.

Wetlander's summary in 82 has pretty much all the relevant facts of the Kaladin killed Nan Helaran theory. I believe Helaran was supplied with the Plate and Blade by Ghostbloods to cut through the already dispersed enemy lines and kill Amaram. It's stated in the books that the main way of dealing with a Shardbearer is to let them get bogged down by the bodies of people they've already killed. Kaladin's competency caught everyone off-guard.

Brandon has said in a Q&A that Amaram did eventually find out who it was that Kaladin had killed. I think that will lead to some fun interactions once he meets Shallan on the Shattered Plains, and he'll probably initially suspect her of being a Ghostblood. Plus, Amaram can tell Shallan that Kaladin killed her brother, which sounds dramatic if he leaves out the relevant details.

Oh yeah, the Soulcaster. It's stated that it was found in an interior coat pocket, and that Shallan didn't know her father had it. The reason I believe it was cut by a Shardblade is the usage of the word 'shear', which doesn't seem all that significant, but...

Epub edition, uses of the word 'shear': pg. 30, 35, 216, 220, 222, 317, 397, 398 (through souls, instead of a physical thing), 469, 521 (where it's used to described the Soulcaster), 695, 696, 805, 806, 806 again, 923 (metaphorically, through ranks of Parshendi), and 955 Every instance except on page 521 is explicitly used for a Shardblade's actions. 16/17 times, if you count the Soulcaster, 17/17 100%. 'Shear' is never used in any of Kaladin's surgical scenes, which would be another likely place for it show up, but it doesn't.
87. Shardlet
A few commenters have speculated about the truthspren acting as a sort of grim reaper conducting the souls of the dead to Shadesmar. To me this sounds a little bit too trite. That truthspren may act as conductors into Shadesmar (at least from Roshar) I'll grant you. But I am dubious as to Shadesmar being an underworld of sorts. It is an easy assumption to make given the real world cross-cultural beliefs/legends/myths regarding an underworld being a destination for the dead. But, Brandon, IMO, shies away from easy real-life cultural parallels.

The presence of the truthspren in the epigraph need not indicate that the incident of the Speaker's (capitalized to indicate reference to a single individual exclusively) death was the reason for the spren's presence. After all, we have seen (in later chapters) that there are a number of truthspren in Kharbranth, and that they are apparently attracted to Shallan due to her ability to percieve them. I note that the Speaker in the epigraph is also able to percieve them (even if it may have been only at the point of the Speaker's death). The Speaker's words are curious but not, apparently, alarmed. In contrast, Shallan is very alarmed by her perception of the thruthspren. If they acted as grim reapers in some capacity, it would be expected that some anecdotal knowledge of them would have been available to Shallan through rumor/superstition at least. However, they are clearly absolutely foreign to Shallan. It may well have been the case the the Speaker in the epigraph had at least a similar ability(latent?) to Shallan's.
88. Freelancer
Elhokar sees them as well. They are part of the reason for his paranoia:
“I see their faces in mirrors. Symbols, twisted, inhuman”
There are understandable reasons why some may think that the cryptics are harbingers of death, though I do not. The entire description of them is reminiscent of nothing so much as Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: Black robes, unidentifiable faces, not terribly communicative. Well, what was surely a warning to Ebenezer, in this story are more like observers and conductors.

Discussions I have had recently revolve around the idea that, only on Roshar, the cryptics are the mode by which certain surgebinders can transfer to Shadesmar. It is evident that Hoid and his kind have no need of them to "worldhop". My question is, if Shallan had to consciously interact with a cryptic, and speak a strong truth in order to be transferred to Shadesmar, was the same requirement met by Jasnah? We are given no evidence either way. Also, was it only by going to Shadesmar that Shallan managed to Soulcast the goblet to blood? I don't believe so. Jasnah surely doesn't blip in and out of Shadesmar each time she Soulcasts, and they appear to possess the same ability.

I suspect that there are more connections involving the cryptics than simply Soulcasting (Transformation). In Elhokar's case, I wonder if Jasnah hasn't made a plea for them to look out for her brother. Given the strength of her ability, one could imagine that they gave particular attention to Jasnah.
Charles S
89. Cheese_Ninja
I don't think Jasnah sees the Cryptics, when Shallan shows her the pictures of them that she drew, it throws Jasnah off-guard. I think her initial assumption was that Shallan would be in the same Order as herself, and then she realized that Shallan was in the neighboring Order that also had access to the Soulcasting Surge.
“No, Soulcasting fabrials are real. Quite real. So far as I know, everyone else who does what I—what we—can do uses a fabrial to accomplish it.”

“What of the creatures with the symbol heads?” Shallan asked. She flipped through her sketches, then held up an image of them. “Do you see them too? How are they related?”

Jasnah frowned, taking the image. “You see beings like this? In Shadesmar?”

“They appear in my drawings,” Shallan said. “They’re around me, Jasnah. You don’t see them? Am I—”

Jasnah held up a hand. “These are a type of spren, Shallan. They are related to what you do.” She tapped the desk softly. “Two orders of the Knights Radiant possessed inherent Soulcasting ability; it was based on their powers that the original fabrials were designed, I believe. I had assumed that you… But no, that obviously wouldn’t make sense. I see now.”
Does anyone else wonder if Jasnah starts thinking of Shallan like a foolish little sister near the end of the book?

I'm of the opinion that Soulcasting initially does involve traveling to Shadesmar, but that they can create shortcuts as well, where it is necessary only to supply some Stormlight from the correct type of gem. Shallan notices Jasnah using her Soulcasting in some extremely casual situations later in the book; burning letters onto paper when she runs out of ink and turning wine into crystal when she needs a paperweight. I don't think Jasnah would bother with going to Shadesmar to do those things.
Alice Arneson
90. Wetlandernw
We don't know that the cryptics really are truthspren, right? IIRC, Brandon indicated that the name was good enough for now, but it's not entirely accurate. However, if they really have to do with truth, it might be possible that they form the link between Transformation and Shalash, something like Sylphrena-the-honorspren might link Pressure or Gravitation to Jezrien. Or, more likely, where Syl provides Kaladin's link to Honor via Jezrien and the Windrunners Order, the cryptics/truthspren provide Shallan's link to Honor via Shalash and the Lightweavers. Jasnah, whose link is IMO to Palah (and therefore a different Order from Shallan's, if she's linked to an Order at all) would have contact with a different kind of spren - something to do with learning.

Bah. More speculation with little foundation. FWIW, Jasnah is clearly familiar with Shadesmar, but I agree that she doesn't have to take her mind there every time she Soulcasts any more, if she ever did.
Birgit F
91. birgit
The deathspren Kaladin sees are different from the symbolheads. It would be strange if there were two different kinds of deathspren. The symbolheads must be something else.
Kimani Rogers
92. KiManiak
I agree that we know very little of the creatures, and that it may not be such a good idea to presume so much about them (although I am often the one to state that speculation can be fun). However, we are basically using sections from a couple of pages in a book of over a thousand pages to theorize on who these creatures are, what they do and (to a degree) why they do what they do. We have nowhere near the information on them that we do on Syl.

I still think we need to take a step back and see what it is that the creatures actually do. They ask for a hidden truth (“the stronger the truth, the more hidden it is, the more powerful the bond”), but I don’t know if that qualifies them as truthspren. We know that they told Shallan that they needed to bond with her in order to send her to Shadesmar, and that the information that Shallan gave them was sufficient for that bond.

I still have questions regarding the specifics of the “truth” they need, as well as whether telling the truth to them is something that is only required to initiate the bond, or if it is necessary to continue to be truthful in order to maintain/develop the bond. Does Shallan need to exhibit the qualities of being truthful to continue to develop her Knights Radiant abilities, similar to Kaladin needing to exhibit “honorable” actions over and over again (such as returning to save Dalinar and his army, and in the process protecting the crew of Bridge 4) to continue to develop his abilities (or at least, magically “know” the Words of the Second Ideal of the Knights Radiant, and subsequently explode with even more Stormlight energy)?

Again, are we even sure we know what the creatures value? They say they want a strong truth about Shallan, but do they just require the person they bond with to be honest about themselves?

You can be honest and not tell the whole truth (Quick and Dirty Example#1: “I had dinner with the President in October,”); tell the whole truth, but not necessarily state fact (QaDE#2: “I was one of many people who attended a dinner with the President in October,”); or state a fact as objectively as you know it (QaDE#3: “I was one of 300 people who attended a fundraising dinner for the President in October, but I didn’t sit with him or get to speak with him beyond 'nice to meet you,'”). Mediocre –and untrue, by the way- examples, I know, but it (hopefully) gets the distinction across.

We still don’t know if Shallan was just being honest with the creatures about herself (she clearly wasn’t telling the entire truth, as there is definitely more to her story). Also, it’s unclear whether she is actually being factual (that she actually is the murderer and she killed her father) or if she just thinks she’s telling the truth (maybe there’s a factor that she’s unaware of that played more of a role in his death then she did?) about herself.

Anyway, there’s just too much (about these creatures, their motivations, what they require of Shallan and what they can offer in return) that we don’t know yet.

Here’s some more quick questions:
Did Shallan bond with all of the creatures she “saw” following her, some of them, or just one? Does it make a difference?
If she didn't bond with all of them, will each creature require a strong “truth” about herself in order to bond with her?
Will bonding with each of the different creatures convey a separate and different ability in (or even outside of) Shadesmar?
Will lying negatively impact the bond?
Will Shallan find herself being drawn to being more truthful now (like Kaladin found himself being drawn to being more honorable, or at least feeling “wrong” when he contemplates not doing the honorable thing)?
How will carrying her Shardblade impact her bond with the creatures?
Will not being truthful about having a Shardblade be an issue, if the creatures value being truthful? Or does lying (not being truthful) by omission about wielding a Shardblade matter to the creatures.

So many potential questions, so much to learn…
Deana Whitney
93. Braid_Tug
Oh boy! We get to Shallan, while I’m at Jordan Con and totally miss the discussion.

But one thing from JCon, we might want to keep an eye out for any shaggy horses that pop up in book 2 or 3. A WoT fan asked Brandon to bring Bela to the Stormlight Archives. No promises were made, but a mad gleam entered his eyes!

So I’m one that likes Shallan. She was the first non-depressing viewpoint. The one that caught my attention, making me ask where he was going with the book. I’d already heard of Kaladin being linked to Ben-Hur, so I knew where his story was going. Shallan, was different. Plus I admire people who can draw, because I can’t.

And I would love to go the Palanaeum.

Have to say that the truthspren are the creepiest spren we’ve meet. Most just seem like bugs or sprites, these guys are what nightmares are made from. Or the King’s paranoia.
94. Shan
I'm thinking that the "truthspren" are actually "revelation-spren," where their power comes forth more by the reveal than the truth itself. Syl, an honorspren, appeared to be nothing more than a windspren until mighty works of honor were done around her, and I think that these revelation-spren are simply observers until a powerful secret becomes apparent around them, and the revelation awakens their power.
95. Freelancer
"Truthspren" is a name coined in order to avoid the too-mundane sounding "symbolhead". And it is taken from their requirement of Shallan for a truth, in order to comply with her request to go back to Shadesmar. Brandon sticks to calling them cryptics. Since Jasnah declares them a type of spren, we have to accept that, unless later textual revelation proves her in error.

Cheese_Ninja @89

I have to say that Jasnah must have seen them at least once, or else how could she speak about them at all? I think that what threw Jasnah for a loop was that Shallan had seen something which she believed to be unique to herself. Even the line you quoted ("...everyone else who does what I--what we-- can do...") shows that she had, until that moment thought herself alone in the ability to Soulcast unaided.

This creates the unmitigated distinction between them and Soulcasting via fabrial. Certainly there are many who use them, and there would have been a record of encounters with the cryptics by now if they were involved in ALL Soulcasting.

Now, back to the 'truth' aspect. I'm with Shan @94 in considering it more significant that the truth revealed has potency, great import to the person revealing it. Yes, they want something which is true, because a seemingly momentous thing which was fabricated would have no power. This is very much like knowing someone's True Name, and we've all read witch tales which refer to a foolish supplicant wanting a boon, and being willing to give up an important piece of themself, their best-kept secret, in exchange for a desire. (Somewhat like The Old Magic, eh?) It is the inherent VALUE of the thing revealed which satisfies the cryptics, not simply a mundane truth.

However, Shan, I can't agree with the entirety of your comments about Syl. She had been following Kaladin for some several months before she showed herself to him as anything other than a windspren, and he did many powerfully honorable things in that time. It seems, as KiManiak said about the cryptics, that at a certain point we need to hold back and wait for more information to process.
96. Shan
Yeah, it is true that Kaladin had been honorable most of the time around Syl, but I thought she came around during the time of Kaladin's slavery, and he did not have much fight left in him by the time we encounter him in the slave caravan. Was she around during the Stormblessed era? I would have thought she'd have awakened a lot earlier if she were. I am only a fan though, not a diehard expert, so I could be wrong on that fact...
97. Freelancer
Yes, she was. She was first attracted to him by the way he'd take in and try to care for the untrained and the weak. She saw him slay the Shardbearer to save Amaram. She was glad that he didn't take the Shards.
98. Shan
Oh, ok, thanks for the correction! Yes, I do remember her telling Kaladin that she was glad he didn't take the Shards. I do wonder why she didn't awaken to him at that time then? He was mightily honorable indeed!
99. QueenofDreams
@ Shan I think she was already attracted to him, but I think she has a 'developmental arc'. She gradually becomes more aware. At the time Kaladin was still in the army, she was still fairly mindless, not really aware. It's taken months for her to become more aware and individual. Bear in mind, she always seems like she's learning stuff about herself all the way through the book. In short, I think she had begun to awaken to him, but this is a process rather than a change made in an instant
Deana Whitney
100. Braid_Tug
Just re-read Shallan's chapter and saw the Shardblade reference.
Slid right pass me the first time around.
Re: Romance for Shallan –
I see it being one of the Dalinar’s sons. There’s several references to her making a “good marriage” by being ward to Jasnah. So it’s either foreshadowing, or a false hint.

Edit - Winnie the Pooh... I see the Hunny!
101. McKay B
To get in on the "shipping" ... I really don't see Shallan/Adolin, personality wise. (Nor Shallan/Kaladin, like others have been saying.) By contrast, Shallan/Renarin could be quite charming.

I actually kinda hope Adolin sticks with the last girl he courts in TWoK. Although I forget her name after all the others. :) I think it's cute how Navani has become a fan of this particular girlfriend -- and with Aunt Navani's help/meddling, Adolin may actually manage to avoid some of his habitual mistakes that make his relationships end quickly.

As far as Kaladin goes ... while he definitely deserves to end up happy with someone, I think he needs a few months or years of emotional healing before he'll be ready for that. He's too young for Jasnah. Assuming that Syl doesn't end up pulling a Julia-Roberts-Tinkerbell transformation into a viable romantic partner, I don't think we've met Kaladin's eventual love connection yet. (Although there are some very vague references to someone he courted in the months after Tien's death, which I imagine will get explored more when we get Kaladin's other flashback book. Depending on how that relationship ended, it could be interesting to see it re-kindled.)
102. BubbaCoop
Kharbranth is an island? I don't get that at all from the map, and don't remember it from the text
William Carter
103. wcarter
@101 McKayB

I'm absolutely shipping Kaladin/Syl (even if it's more along the lines of a Doctor/Tardis relationship than a truly romantic one).

In any case I wouldn't be surprised if we see her turn into the clingy (pun intended), jealous ex-girlfriend type if he ever does start dating someone for real. That could be amusing to read about...
Alice Arneson
104. Wetlandernw
Bubba @102 - No, Kharbranth is not an island, nor is it on an island. Since Michael hasn't commented on it, I have to assume that it was simply his impression while reading and he didn't check the map. Not everyone has a map-fetish. Who knew? :)

(Yes, I'm one of those people who has to flip back to the map every time a new location pops up and figure out exactly where it is in relation to everything else. I'm given to understand that not all fantasy readers do this. Weird, man. But Kingkiller probably doesn't drive them crazy that way...)
Karen Morrell
105. karenm83
I have what is probably a stupid question: How do people know which Heralds are represented in the beginning of chapters?

@Wetlanernw 104- I do the same thing. Glad I'm not the only one lol
Alice Arneson
106. Wetlandernw
karenm83 @105 - Yeah, some of us are map freaks... :)

I don't know about others, but I referred to the illustrations included on the Heralds page of the coppermind wiki to figure them out. If you don't have your computer handy when you're reading, though, look at the inside front cover, opposite the map. Starting in the upper right corner and moving clockwise, the same drawings are shown; they match the numbers given in the Ars Arcanum. For a quick list (in case you don't feel like flipping back and forth right now), they are in order:

They all have other names/variations of names associated with them at various times and places; I have no idea (other than Kalak, Jezrien, Talenel and Ishar) what their names were originally. I tend to use the names listed in the coppermind.
Karen Morrell
107. karenm83
@ Wetlandernw thanks! You don't realize how much you don't know about it until people start throwing around names and terms. I just spent the last 1/2 hour trying to brush up. I don't like not knowing lol
Alice Arneson
108. Wetlandernw
With you there, my friend. I don't even want to think about how much time I've spent in the coppermind wiki... It's a bit scary. I like doing my own research a lot of the time, but I sure don't mind springboarding off all the work others have already done and documented!
109. Freelancer
Not to mention that many of the tidbits discussed among the severely dedicated cosmere fans as "known facts" spring not from the text of any book, but interviews given by Brandon where he has expounded upon shard-related topics. You'll have to depend upon places like the Coppermind Wiki, found at the 17th Shard, or Theoryland for those.

Fear not, it has been more than hinted at that the Dragonsteel volumes will reveal much.
110. Cartith
I don't see Kaladin and Shallan being together. To me, Kaladin doesn't seem like the type of character to have a love interest. The depth of his character just doesn't go that way. I think that Adolin, who is mentioned several times as flitting from girl to girl, will meet with Shallan when Jasnah and Dalinar reunite, and there will be sparks.
Antoni Ivanov
111. tonka
Sorry posted in the wrong forum

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