Thu
Apr 4 2013 10:00am

The Way of Kings Reread: Prologue: To Kill

The Way of Kings Reread Prologue To Kill This is where the action begins after a prelude filled with meaning, but little else besides two people jabbering about being tired. Granted, that jabbering was a very important discussion. With the prologue comes the impetus for the main action of the novel, and also one of the most controversial characters in The Way of Kings, namely Szeth, who is very much a conundrum from the onset. Even though he is perhaps the most powerful person we meet in The Way of Kings, most everything he does is at the behest of others, showing little outward will of his own. Don’t be concerned that the “What Happens” part of this post is so short. There is plenty to discuss with this chapter. Also, this is your reminder that spoilers abound below if you haven’t read the book at least once all the way through. You have been forewarned.

Time: 5 years before the current time of the rest of the novel. Approximately 4,500 years after the Heralds abandoned their roles in the Prelude.

Setting: Kholinar, capital city of the kingdom of Alethkar

Point(s) of View: Szeth (Szeth-son-son-Vallano of Shinovar)

What Happens

Szeth, Truthless of Shinovar is on a mission from his masters, the Parshendi, to assassinate Gavilar, the king of Alethkar. This takes place at the end of a celebration of a treaty between the Parshendi and Alethkar. Szeth accomplishes his mission by using his Shardblade, alongside his Stormlight-empowered skills and the three Lashings to defy gravity and hammer his way through the guards to the king. Szeth kills Gavilar after a back-and-forth battle. Gavilar’s last action is to ask Szeth to give a crystal sphere and a message to Dalinar, the king’s brother. Szeth leaves the message written in Gavilar’s blood, but keeps the sphere.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Have you seen me?” the man asked with slurred speech. He laughed, then began to speak in gibberish, reaching for a wineskin. So it was drink after all. Szeth brushed by, continuing past a line of statues depicting the Ten Heralds from ancient Vorin theology. Jezerezeh, Ishi, Kelek, Talenelat. He counted off each one, and realized there were only nine here. One was conspicuously missing. Why had Shalash’s statue been removed?

Is this the first appearance of one of the Heralds? That’s a big YES for me. This is the most blatant appearance of a Herald that I can recall, but I’m sure we’ll see others. Also, notice how the names of the Heralds have changed slightly since the Prelude? This is another device that shows how time has passed in the world, and that language and “known history” can change with time. The legends are real. It is just a matter of perspective.

Commentary

The first thing that pops out in the chapter is that odd epigraph. Excepting the interlude chapters, from here on out all of the chapters start with these somewhat mysterious quotes. A large parcel of these epigraphs are from people on their deathbeds. These were the most beguiling part of The Way of Kings for many, many chapters upon my first read, and once their provenance is revealed these will be the parts you’ll go back to reread to ferret out some context. We’ll discuss the other main types of epigraphs when we come to them.

So, we went from the Prelude, which had no action to speak of, right to some close-quarters combat that displays all the hallmarks of a good Sanderson fight scene and also does a good job of introducing how the magic on this world works. As with all Sanderson’s magic systems, the Lashings make logical sense. You have an energy source, which in this case is Stormlight, which pervades this world during, ahem, storms, that is then pretty much bottled in gems left out in the storm. These storms occur very regularly. The cause of them is so far unknown.

There was a small mention of spren in this chapter. Spren are some of the oddest inhabitants/spirits in the world of Roshar, and the first we’re told about are musicspren. Different spren are brought about by different emotions or actions. If music is played, then musicspren show up. If someone is injured then we get rotspren, and so on. Spren are one of the most inventive, yet oddly annoying aspects of The Way of Kings. As the story progresses we’re introduced to literally dozens of different types that seem to serve no purpose other than as window dressing. Well, except one type which we’ll hit upon in a couple chapters. There has to be some sort of greater purpose to all these spren beyond making the world look different.

I found the explanations of the Lashings weaved in perfectly with the action. Of course, you could just see the explanations of how Lashing works as tedious, but an admirable job was done to describe and illustrate each component well, without being too superfluous. To recap, the three Lashings are:

  • Basic Lashing: Gives the ability to bind an object’s (including a person’s) gravity to another object, in any direction. Think of someone walking on the ceiling.
  • Full Lashing: Binds objects together for as long as the Stormlight lasts, which is very useful to keep a foe in one place for a period of time.
  • Reverse Lashing: Causes an object to draw other things to it like a magnet, which is perfect for directing arrows away from yourself. Unlike the other two, this Lashing requires continual contact to be made with the object.

I have a distinct feeling that the Lashings will be used in even more inventive ways as the story progresses in further volumes. For now, Szeth is our best window into the magic of the world. Shardplate interferes with Lashings in some way having to do with the gemstones that power the armor. This is most likely because performing a Lashing would drain the armor too quickly. Szeth is able to use a Shardblade quite well, though. A sword that won’t cut flesh, but severs your very soul from your body or that can leave a limb useless just brings out the fantasy kid in me.

So, Szeth is a Truthless, the meaning of which is still left open to a lot of interpretation even after reading the whole book. It isn’t even clear if Szeth is a typical Truthless, as there are mentions of him being something of black sheep to his people, but that will come in later. For now all we know is that Szeth must do whatever his masters command. In this case those masters are the Parshendi, who are not to be confused with the Parshmen. Although both the Parshendi and Parshmen share the characteristic skin of black marbled with red.

Many readers seem to have an active distaste for Szeth, but out of all the characters I find his backstory or lack thereof the most interesting. He is clearly highly trained in the ways of magic and mortal combat, yet he takes no pleasure in what he does. In fact, he wishes for an opponent that can best him so that he can die. He lives by a few simple rules that include following the orders of whoever own his Oathstone and not being able to commit suicide to escape his orders. But Szeth isn’t really a bad guy. He isn’t the “enemy” or even the antagonist of the story. He is a tool to make things happen, which is also how his masters treat him. So Sanderson is holding a lot back in regards to Szeth.

Another reason I find Szeth interesting is he also gives us a small look into Shinovar, a culture very remote from where the novel takes place. It seems like they have an Asian influence, and the land in Shinovar different from that of the rest of Roshar. Also, it seems the Shin, or at least the sect Szeth hails from, has access to a lot of lost knowledge, especially since he mentions during his fight in the palace that he is showing the Lashings to the Alethi, a group of people who haven’t seen such use of Stormlight in hundreds if not thousands of years. But why is it profane for the Shin to walk on stone? Could it be some connection to the beasts mentioned in the prologue that tore themselves from the ground? This chapter also has the first official mention of Stormlight in this case being used in a piece of jewelry, which Szeth also considers profane. Man, Szeth seems to find a lot about the Alethi profane.

Yet Szeth shows respect for the Alethi, even commenting that they still give off an air of nobility while they are drunk. Dalinar is briefly spotted, passed-out drunk, which is a very different light than we see him in for the rest of the novel, where is he is a much more heroic figure. So it seems Gavilar’s death will change Dalinar to some degree. It makes me very curious about what Dalinar was like before.

Honor is a big theme for Szeth and The Way of Kings in general, but Sanderson seems to be pushing it beyond the norm even for an epic fantasy. Szeth considers it his duty to do what he does even though he sees no honor in it, but to fail to fulfill his obligations would be tantamount to dishonor. A strange conundrum for a strange man.

Now on to things with even more implications. Why did the Parshendi want to kill Gavilar and start a war after going to the trouble of signing a treaty? Just to get in close? That makes little sense. Clearly Szeth could have gotten into the palace at some other opportunity had they wanted him to. Yet they wanted to make a show out of the regicide by signing the treaty and then committing the ultimate betrayal of said treaty. Are they really in charge, or is someone else pulling their strings, and Szeth’s in turn? The deeper the story goes the more I think the latter.

Most likely, this is all just the start to a new Desolation with the cycle of destruction returning. Which means the Voidbringers. Which means the Heralds are needed, along with the Radiants. At one point Szeth also mentions with some dismay that “the Alethi scholars were said to be close to creating new Shardblades.” So technology is once again advancing, and just when it might be needed most. Or this could be the hand of the Heralds nudging the world again.

After Gavilar is defeated he mentions that Thaidakar, Restares, and Sadeas were too late. Too late for what, though is never revealed, but it does sow a lot of unease in me as a reader, since Thaidakar, Restares, and Sadeas are all Alethi Highprinces. He too is baffled why the Parshhendi ordered his death. After learning this Gavilar, with his dying breath, asks Szeth to take a crystal sphere on a chain to give to his brother, along with the message that he “must find the most important words a man can say.” That simple statement moves Dalinar to action for the rest of the novel. It is mentioned that Szeth’s people always honor dying requests. Strangely, Szeth left the message but not the crystal. I’m not sure, but it feels like something Szeth wants to give Dalinar in person at some point. I smell setup.

In closing the chapter Szeth says “At least you won’t have to watch the world ending with the rest of us.” Questions, questions, questions….


Michael Pye (a.k.a. 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.

131 comments
Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
Has someone figured out the timing of the upcoming desolation? The deathbed statement reports it will come in 1,000 days from a particular year date cited in the header. How long is that from the events in this book?
Jesse Sayers
2. Fluvre
The missing statue is that of a female herald, and the herald of honesty which is interesting considering the betrayal. As someone pointed out in comments from last week in one of the short sections we see later there is a female going around and destroying statues in big estates. I don't have a book in front of me but I think she is probably Shalash.

I don't have a book in front of me but I think the most interesting line is when Szeth says something like "His people said that the voidbringers were a myth, but his honor demanded they existed" It makes me wonder if his being truthless is related to the coming desolation, and if he can prove it then he will have shown himself to not be truthless.
Dylan Sprague
3. Ithilanor
-Yay prologue! Yay Szeth! Yay awesome fight scene!
-The drunk, possibly-a-herald guy didn't stick out to me for a long time, actually. I picked up on Shallash much more easily than him.
-I thought the spren were intriguing, not annoying. On my first read, they were mainly just another interesting part of this very different world. They stick out more in retrospect, but for me it's a case of being an interesting mystery that I think we'll get more info on soon.
-I don't think the issue Szeth has with Surgebinding while in Plate is because it would drain the Plate's gemstones, given that the Knights Radiant could easily Surgebind in Plate. It seems more likely to me that it's related to the extra "glowing-ness" that the Radiants had.
-Given the strict code Szeth follows as a Truthless, the importance of the Oathstone, and the importance of honor and oaths to Kaladin's powers later on...I think the Oathstone somehow contains an honorspren, or binds one, and that's what gives Szeth his powers.
-There are some very interesting theories about the Shin and Shardblades.
-The mention of Thaidakar is curious, but we'll talk about him later.
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
@2. I think the statute destroying woman is named as Shalash in her chapter later on. I didn't recall that her statute is missing here.
exiledjerseyite
5. exiledjerseyite
This is the chapter that really tested my ability to read this book. The Prelude was confusing, but dropping this magic system on the reader's head in this way was a daring choice. I remember sitting in the break room at my job, trying to decide if I liked what was happening and if I wanted to see it through. Of course I made the right decision in continuing to read the book since it all becomes clearer as you get deeper into the world. The Way of Kings now stands as one of my favorite books I've ever read.

This is the first I've read any online critique of the book so I didn't know that Szeth is a controversial character. I find Szeth to be intriguing because I really want to know how he learned to fight if the Shin regard soldiers as the lowest class of society. The disconnect between his badassery and his nearly shattered mental state (especially later on) is a fascinating way to present this kind of character.

Also: Cannot wait for Szeth v. Kaladin.
Orayelle Johnson
6. Orayelle
Gavilar gives Szeth the stone, saying only "You must take this. They must not get it." Not implying he wants Dalinar to have it. Who "they" are, though, is more interesting. Considering he didn't know the Parshendi were going to betray him, he might not mean them. Could he, instead, mean the Alethi?
exiledjerseyite
7. TBGH
My personal theory is that something about the modern shardblades is evil and claiming it killed whatever spren Szeth was bonded to that gave him his powers. That's his crime. Note the aversion Kaladin and his spren have to the shardblades at different points in the book.

I agree maybe the oathstone is/contains the corpse of Szeth's spren and as part of his pennance he is bound to it.

As for the honor quote, I thought that since he became a warrior, his choice is dishonorable to his people unless he has some threat to face on their behalf.

Maybe Szeth will gain more depth later, but to me he was the least interesting of the four main viewpoint characters. As you pointed out, he has no real agency and is facing no obstacles that as a reader I doubted he would overcome. He just seems to be being built up as a super strong guy so that Kaladin (and maybe others) can learn from fighting/defeating him.
exiledjerseyite
8. AndrewB
I may be in the minority, but I do not like the poer of Lashing. I was not a fan of the Matrix movies. Specifically, I did not like the concept of defying gravity in the Matrix illusion world. (I do admit, however, that from a visual perspective, it worked on the screen; I did not like the concept.) Similarly, I do not like how Szeth is able to defy gravity. I think the concept of a Shardblade should have been allowed to stand on its own.

I have read WoK twice. In connection with this re-read, I am re-reading the novel a thrid time. I missed the details like the appearance of the Heralds (except on the last page of the book). I look forward to this re-read give me a deeper understanding of what is going on vis-a-vis the mythology of Roshar.

(I apologize if this was discussed in last week's post. I did not get a chance to read through the posts after the first few days.)

What was the purpose of the removal of Shalash's statute in the palace (and other places throughout Roshar)? Does the significance change if it was not Shalash herself (or whatever her true name is -- I gather that Shalash is close to, but not the name she was going by 4,500 years ago during the last Desolution)?

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka a musespren)
Orayelle Johnson
9. Orayelle
@5. I am NOT looking forward to Szeth v. Kaladin. THEY ARE GOING TO KILL EACH OTHER! ;)
exiledjerseyite
10. AndrewB
Michael, you commented as follows: "After Gavilar is defeated he mentions that Thaidakar, Restares, and Sadeas were too late. Too late for what, though is never revealed, but it does sow a lot of unease in me as a reader, since Thaidakar, Restares, and Sadeas are all Alethi Highprinces."

After having read the book, I think that Gavilar thinks that one of these 3 Highprinces wanted to assisnnate Gavilar. I may be mistaken, but I recall somebody saying something that historically Alethkar was not typically unified by one ruler. Gavilar was able to coalesce all of the princedoms together and become a true king.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka a musespren)
William Carter
11. wcarter
I totally missed the Herald cameo the first time I read this and possibly the second.

Can't speak for other people, but one of the issues I have with Szeth is how he rationalizes his own actions.

While I am not critising the way Sanderson wrote the character--which I think he did quite well--I have a huge problem with people who have his apparent personality type (Note: this is one of the ways the cultures we grow up in influence us).

Unless there is some magical aspect of Szeth as a Truthless or whatever that physically prevents him from throwing down his sword and saying 'no more' then he is the type of person I simply have no respect for.

Szeth seems to have to have no agency (or else he wants to pretend he doesn't have any) so he just does what ever his masters tell him no matter how evil and it's their fault.

Allowing yourself to be reduced from a person with free will to a knife in someone's hand simply because you think you did something wrong so now your only choice is to keep doing the wrong thing is cowardice.

*edit for weird paragraph spacing
exiledjerseyite
12. Evan M
I think the problem with surge binding and plate is that he would be unable to bind himself in any way, since shardplate protects from directly binding the wearer... Which is a tactic he uses extensively in his fighting.
M K
13. Sarene
I'm enjoying this re-read so much! I have only read the book once so far, having only found out about Brandon Sanderson a year ago, and I understand so much more about, well, *everything* now that I'm reading it for the second time.

I had completely forgotten about plenty of things in this chapter, probably because they didn't make that much sense to me the first time around! I almost gave up on this book when I first read it, but I'm glad I didn't because it's now one of my favourites out of all of Sanderson's books, making it one of my favourite books ever as Sanderson has become my number one favourite author during this year I've known of his works!

Still, I have a love hate relationship with the way Sanderson jumps straight to the point without spending too much time explaining anything, just letting things play out and the reader figure things out on his or her own. (Okay, it's mostly love, but it has left me confused plenty of times when I've read his books for the first time.)

I had no idea people dislike Szeth though. He's one of my favourite characters, maybe even second right after Kaladin. I can't wait to get to know more about him in the upcoming books!

Oh, and I too find the spren to be very intriguing! I never thought they might have any deeper meaning later on, I just thought of them as part of the world. I would love to know more about them though, so I'll be happy if there's some greater purpose to their existence.
Margot Virzana
14. LuvURphleb
I enjoy Szeth simply because he is a tortured soul character that is so depressed and yet unable to end his horrible existence. His thoughts are very existential and yet vague enough that you are curious and afraid to learn more about him. I can see why some people would be annoyed by his personality- i cant stand the pure cowards: i.e the dr from Star Wars Gambit by Karen Miller. But Szeth has yet to annoy me. I guess through the novel Sanderson explains just enough so that when i learned his new mission at the end of the book i was curious and worried. No one TOUCHES my kaladin/ Black Thorn duo.
exiledjerseyite
15. Iarvin
Are Words of Radiance chapters fair game for discussion here as well?

As for the 'Drunken Herald' is there any reason in particular to think of him as a herald? The babble could possibly be Dawn Chant, but given that the guy is drunk it could also be simply babble.

I've also seen it claimed that because the drunk has a beard that he is specifically Ishi - who is described as bearded in the last section.
exiledjerseyite
16. Sebastian Weitzeil
Whenever you guys post a reread of the Way of Kings, I actually reread that chapter before reading your guys' dissection and the comments. Helps me get back into the world.
Peter Ahlstrom
17. PeterAhlstrom
since Thaidakar, Restares, and Sadeas are all Alethi Highprinces
The names of the 10 highprinces can be found on the map on page 20 of the hardcover.

Also, I recommend not discussing here the Words of Radiance readings that there are videos of out there. They're not widely known and not in final form anyway.
T C
18. Freelancer
AndrewB @8

I would note a distinction regarding the magic of Lashings vs the "abilities" of the Matrix movies. When one is inside the Matrix, one is not "defying" gravity, for gravity itself is an illusion one's own mind enforces upon them. There is no spoon. A mind which can accept that physical limitations are non-existent in the virtual theater of the mind, can fly.
Lashing has its own boundaries of physics. However it is conjured, the result is that one object's greatest force of attraction is changed, from the center of the planet's mass to the mass of another object. I find this an eminently reasonable magic.


wcarter @11

I agree with you that a character who rationalizes his own responsibility for doing what he wishes he didn't have to do, is not honorable. But I for now am holding in abeyance any such judgements on Szeth. The anguish in his soul is real; he is completely aware of how strongly his actions oppose his own morality, and sincerely believes that he is bound to follow his orders by a force stronger than his own will. He pines for release from those bonds.
exiledjerseyite
19. towo
[Spoilers, lots.]

My two pet theories:

1.) Shards
I'm assuming there's a connection between the shardblades and the swords of the heralds - or possibly some otherworldy substance.
(I mean... "shard". Of what?)

Shardblades and shardplate stemming from otherworldly origins would clear up the aversion the spren have (seeing as they are sprites of the world and nature, and this foreign matter is an intrusion).

2.) Desolation
I assume the Desolations are something wrought by mankind. As in, man can avoid ever "going there" and giving the circumstances for a Desolation nutritious soil.

I personally think it will have something to do with the advancement of "technology" - in a sense, anyway. Looking ahead toward the end of the book, we know that parshendi are likely related to the voidbringers, aka the Big Bad of the Desolations.

And I assume as soon as new shardblades can be made again (foreshadowing, eh), mankind will rapidly go towards the next Desolation. Possibly just a nuclear arms race metaphor, or just using the idea for good fun.

---

On a Cosmere-related note: We again seem to have forces of creation, destruction and balance. And the Stormlight magic, again, is of the balance side, and neither destructive (yet to see an example for this - possibly the shards?) nor creative (Kaladin, Honorspren, etc.)

Patterns emerge.[tm]
T C
20. Freelancer
Michael, your introductory sentence referred to:
a prologue filled with meaning, but little else besides two people jabbering about being tired.
Assuming you mean Jezrien and Kalak, that would be the Prelude, not the Prologue, yes?
M K
21. Sarene
I completely agree with Freelancer about Szeth. I don't think he is at all a coward such as wcarter describes. To me it seems there is something that compells him to do what he's doing even though he doesn't want to; that he doesn't have a choice but to obey.
Halvor Hanssen
22. Halhan
When I read this prolouge i figured the missing statue was somehow a nudge to Talenel, but seeing as Talenalat is one of the statues Szeth mentiones, and that Szeth says/thinks "Why had Shalash’s statue been removed?"this is obviously wrong. And I certainly never saw the drunk man as a Herald, but I see your point. I can't keep from wondering whether the "gibberish" is the Herald speaking an old language (if he is a Herald, I'm not totally convinced).

If the drunkard is a Herald that's certinaly good foreshadowing and seeing as Sanderson mentioned in an interview how he learned so much about foreshadowing from completing the Wheel of Time books, I'm not all that surprised.

But why is Shalash’s statue actually removed? Did Shalash remove it because he feared people would recognise him, even though it's just a statue? That seems a little wierd to me.

As for Szeth I think he as a character is just fascinating, although he might not be a likeable character in one sense of the word, he is a character to be watched. I found his chapters to be the most interesting of the lot, although he had so few. Anybody here remember which book Sanderson said would feature Szeth as the main guy?(like Kaladin is in Wok, and like Shallan is to be in WoR).
Tyler Sprenger
23. Kappi
Szeth is an interesting character to me because he, for some reason, has no free will, or chooses to allow others to use him. The intrigue is in the why and how: how did he become Truthless? Why does he continue as he is? Is it just his self-honor that keeps him from taking his own life and being used as he is? I see his honor as being the last vestige of his self-identity. Without it, Szeth is lost. I can't wait to see how Szeth deals with his situation as it is at the end of the book. Will this new master push Szeth to the limit where he can no longer hold on to his own honor?

Szeth and Kaladin are interesting parrallels. Both enslaved more or less. Both dealing with strong internal conflicts. As far as Szeth's lack of agency: sometimes stuff just happens that you can't do anything about. It'll be interesting to see why or what is keeping him in this situation.

I enjoyed the magic and the combat scene immensely. It took me a bit to realize that Szeth, in skillset, is very similiar to a Jedi. A different twist or interpretation of those abilities. I enjoy things like that. Things akin to "any sufficiently advanced technology is indisinguishable from magic".

@7 Interesting. I did not think of it that way. People have been wondering if A) bonding with a spren is the only way to get Surgebinding powers, and if so, then B) Where the hell is Szeth's spren? But your theory there binds that nicely with the corrupt shardblades.

RE: The Black Sphere: Waiting to see where this pops up again as well, and it's significance. Obviously it's the start of the series, but plot threads are sprouting up like weeds already. And it's only the second chapter!
William Carter
24. wcarter
@ Freelancer and Sarene

My criticism was more on the broad strokes personality type: I did specify that 'unless there was something magically preventing him from stopping.'
If we find out later that his oathstone is like an adam, then he'll be vindicated in my mind.
However, if the reason he keeps following his masters' orders is just because his culture says so, then he can feel guilty all he wants to but he is just as culpable as they are.
M K
25. Sarene
Michael Pye mentioned it too and it's what I gathered from the book, but Szeth seems to be some sort of a black sheep among his people, and as far as I understand it's because he's a "Thruthless", and that somehow compels him to do whatever his masters say... To me it definitely sounds like there's a lot more at play than just cowardice :)

I'm curious to see how his character will turn out. Since he has such a big role I don't think he's going to be just a cowardly bad guy. But we'll see!
Nadine L.
26. travyl
I never spotted the Herald here. But is "gibberish" clue enough to be sure this is a Herald? I certainly didn't think it blatant.

Regarding Szeth I agree that he is no mere coward. He clearly sees his horrible deeds as punishment, that's why he obeys. I do hope he stops obeying in the future...
Regarding the the "profanity" of walking on stone, I think it has to do with being Shinovar the only land on Roshar, which is covered with not-retreating grass instead of rock. - Again I don't really understand it though.
It seems strange that a Shin would have all this power, when the Highstorms most likely don't blow in Shinovar?
Carl Engle-Laird
27. CarlEngle-Laird
Re: Szeth's cowardice and failure to act, I always read him as compelled to obey by the oathstone, that its power over him was absolute, which is why I don't think I ever considered the idea of him as a moral coward. I loved him the first time I read the series, because he's 1) mysterious and 2) powerful. My second time through I still enjoyed him, and want to learn more about him, but am more concerned about the turn he's taking towards the end of the novel, where he's beginning to hate his victims, rather than his masters and himself, for their failure to kill him. I think this might indicate that Odium is gaining (more?) power over him.

Is there a spren trapped in the Oathstone? That's a cool idea, and might get around Brandon's assertion that Szeth doesn't have a connection to any spren of the sort Kaladin has with Syl. I wonder where he would've gotten it, though? We've been told that there are no spren in Shinovar, although now that I think of it we only know for sure that there are no spren connected to natural phenomena. Maybe honorspren are different?

The "Herald:" Huh! I had never thought of that guy as a Herald, which could help explain why I was coming up short when trying to figure out the Herald cameos. I think it's likely, since he's a bit too cryptic too soon to just be a random drunk. "Have you seen me?" would be a fascinating message to be in Szeth's head right before he sees the depiction of the Heralds. As others said, though, definitely not Shalash, since Shalash is female (unless she has a really convincing fake beard). I wonder why no one replaced Shalash's statue? Maybe she had only just destroyed it? That would be really exciting.
M K
28. Sarene
I'm pretty confused about this whole Herald cameo stuff everyone's talking about. I didn't even know any Heralds are supposed to appear in the book. Where is this information coming from? I mean, I assume that it's from Brandon but is it available online somewhere or is it from, idk, book signings? :)
exiledjerseyite
29. alea_iacta_est
I'm really surprised people actually found Heralds in the book. Until I found my way to places where it was discussed, I just assumed they had died of old age several decades after breaking the Oathpact.

Them being immortal isn't mentioned anywhere, is it?
exiledjerseyite
30. TBGH
@27 Did Sanderson definitely use the present tense when talking about Szeth and spren? If so, that would make me even more suspicious that somehow he caused his spren's death.
Gary Singer
31. AhoyMatey
The theory about the oathstone is pretty interesting.

I think Szeth must have had a teacher. He knows the names of the lashings that were used in distant past.

One thing I'd noticed is that the appendix talks about two primary types of Surgebindings, but three types of lashings. I think the reverse lashing and the basic lashing were in one group, while the full lashing was in the second.

The collection of the epigraphs of people on their deathbeds is from Taravangian. It'll be interesting to eventually find out why he thinks he has to be the one to rule during the Desolation that's about to hit...
B. E.
32. ekcell
Did anyone else think that King Elhokar’s actions are suspicious throughout the entire book?

It starts here in the prologue: “He was in conversation with two men, a dark-skinned Azish man who had an odd patch of pale skin on his cheek and a thinner, Alethi-looking man who kept glancing over his shoulder.”

This “Alethi-looking” man could have been mentioned in the interlude about Ishikk in the purelake when those three guys come in he describes one as: “The third man had light tan skin, like an Alethi.”

“Like an Alethi” and “Alethi-Looking". These guys were looking for Hoid.

People having mysterious conversations, looking over their shoulders, a paranoid king, do you think it’s tied to the secret society we hear only whispers about throughout the book, the ghostbloods?

I think king Elhokar is involved in all this. I think he has ties to this secret combination. Somehow Hoid seems to be of great interest to all of them.

Elhokar is suspiciously absent from the hit list we find out about later on in the book. I think Elhokar, Shallan’s dad, The king of Kharbranth, and possibly others are part of this sect and they are up to something big. After all, if you have enough information to have interest in Hoid, you have to be up to something big.
exiledjerseyite
33. mutantalbinocrocodile
On soil, rock and Shin:

One thing that I am very curious about is wondering if there are some hidden sci-fi elements in Stormlight--specifically, terraforming. Sanderson has put so much work into the biology of Roshar. . .and it's not a biology that could possibly lead to human or other mammalian life. The immense dominance of life on a crustacean body plan argues otherwise. I am also suspicious about the extreme rarity of horses, the only other mammal we hear described.

All this raises the question to me of whether Roshar is a (not particularly effectively) terraformed planet whose inhabitants have lost contact with high technology, and Shin is the one part of it where terraforming was largely successful. It then had to evolve unusual cultural norms to explain its bizarre landscape once collective memory had lost sight of how it got that way.

I swear this is the worst Captcha ever.
exiledjerseyite
34. FlashWrogan
@32: I was just about to comment about those to suspicious figures. Brandon has a reputation of having a Chekov's Armory, and I have learned to pay attention to just about everything that is given a bit of attention. I had always assumed they were either members of the 17th Shard or related to the Heralds, but Ghostbloods are also a distinct possibility.

@Sarene: The extra info does indeed come from interviews and Q&As. There is a whole wealth of info related not only to WoK, but its link to the Cosmere as a whole. You kind find the transcriptions of them at theoryland.com under WoT search (its the interview database for first Robert Jordan, then Brandon, including both WoT and Cosmere books). There is a lot to look through there however. 17thshard.com has some really good discussions where you can find all the relevant quotes brought in by those that are familiar with them. Beware of spoilers from Brandon's other books though :)
M K
35. Sarene
@FlashWrogan: Thank you! I pretty much can't be spoiled--I've read all of Brandon's books, novellas and short stories (that I'm aware of and have found), haha. Since this re-read tackles only one chapter a week, I'll have plenty of time to read the forums at 17thshard before next Thursday!

I feel like I know so very little about the world(s) of Brandon's books even though I've read them all! I have no idea how his brain has enough capacity to hold all these stories AND everything related that he doesn't write in the books.
exiledjerseyite
36. Seerow
@The chapter. I agree with others that this and the prelude were probably the hardest parts to get through my first time picking up the book. Honestly, I took a week on each, plus another week on the first chapter, because shifting between so many one-off viewpoints so quickly gave me all sorts of whiplash as a reader. Going back for my re-reads since then, I've come to appreciate it more... but that first time it was a very real possibility I wouldn't go back to the series.

@The heralds. I didn't catch any of them the first time around either. Even now I have doubts that all of the ones speculated about actually are heralds, though Sanderson's claim of there being 6 in the first book makes it pretty likely.

@Szeth. I never really considered the Oathstone supernatural. I just figured the act of keeping the oath in spite of his conscience was something deeply ingrained into him. It seems like a very big cultural thing. At some point in the book he starts thinking about how walking on stone he barely thinks about anymore, and then chides himself for thinking like that, because if he gives up on Stone Shamanism, then all of his suffering has been for nothing. It gave me the impression that he could walk away from his status at any time, but really does believe that his status as Truthless is deserved. Though theories about the Oathstone being a dead spren are interesting. Especially given other theories I've heard about Shards being formed from spren. It would be interesting if the Oathstone was somehow tied to the next set of words, and was an evolution of the spren, but honestly I doubt it.

@The Shin and Religion. Their religion is Stone Shamanism. It seems like to them, touching stone is profane. Remember the interlude where they spend a bunch of money to get metal that came from non-stone sources, calling it a marvel. This is actually one thing I'm interested to read more about, perhaps finding out what makes the stone so holy to them. I like the idea that it is tied into the Voidbringers somehow.

@The terraforming idea. I personally doubt it's something like that. It seems that Humans are a constant throughout Sanderson's cosmere, but I don't think it's anything as sci-fi as spaceships and terraforming planets. I'm personally thinking it'll be something closer to Feist's Riftwar, where some cataclysm drove humans away from their natural home across a bunch of other random worlds. Alternatively, given Sanderson's religious bent, it could be that Humans don't evolve, but are the great constant as a created sapient race on each world. I expect this is something we won't get any answers to for decades either way.
Rich Bennett
37. Neuralnet
Thanks for the reread. I had completely forgotten about the missing Herald statue and it never occured to me that the drunk might actually be a Herald. This was such a fun chapter to read... I was totally sucked into the book after this and remember being a little dissapointed that we didnt see more of Szeth right away. Nice little touches by Sanderson... like having Szeth write the message in Gavilar's blood with his finger when no men are supposed to be able to read/write etc. I almost hate theorizing about what is going on in the book at this point since it is only book one of 10 but I think the sphere that Gavilar gives Szeth will be a dawnshard. ::shrug:: but who knows
exiledjerseyite
38. Confutus
At the beginning of every chapter (except the prelude) there is an arch figure, which has some obscure significance. There are four faces or icons. The right and left-hand sides of the arch are mirror images, so the upper and lower icons are significant.

In this chapter, they are the same; in others, they are not.
In the Ars Arcanum (in the appendix) there is an "imperfect" listing of traditional Vorin symbolism, associated with the numbers from 1 to 10, and a note that each is traditionally associated with one of the heralds. (It should be noted that the primary and secondary divine atributes for 2- Nan and 5-Palah should be switched; this is a known typo.)

These icons are the same as those bordering the front two endpapers. Asuming that the correspondence of the numbers with the faces begins at the upper left corner going clockwise (which seems to fit with other evidence), I call them herald icons and name them with the Vorin numbers.

From the five Heralds named so far, (4 in the prelude, 1 here) the probable correspondences are: Jezrien = Jes, Shalash = Shash, Kalak = Kak, Talenel = Tanat, and Ishar = Ishi.

The significance of the herald icons is not clear. Possibilities include: The herald appears in the chapter, a virtue or vice associated with the herald appears prominently, some magic associated with the herald appears, or something else.

The herald icons for the prologue are Jes-Jes. This seems to have to do with Gavilar's appearance, or it could refer to the lashings used by Szeth, or something else.

Beneath the arch is another symbol. This is associated with the main POV character for the chapter, which in this case is Szeth.
exiledjerseyite
39. Iarvin
Sarene,
The Coppermind wiki is also a very useful tool. It often has references to quotes stored in the theoryland database, and is associated with the 17th shard community.

http://coppermind.net/wiki/Coppermind:Welcome

Also, I don't have a reference, but I think I've seen somewhere that Brandon actually uses his own personal wiki tool to keep things straight. That may be a different author though.

@ekcell and FlashWrogan,
Peter Ahlstrom has said that the question on
Elhokar’s conversation partners is a very good question over on the 17th shard! I personally think that Elhokar is simply naive - and those gent's are more likely trying to manipulate Elhokar than in cahoots with him. The same argument applies to Tarravangian excluding Elhokar from his list - its possible that he thinks that Elhokar is pretty powerless at this point. Though it actually would be good strategy to kill Elhokar as it would massively destabalize Alethkar, and its unlikely that Dalinar would be able to grab the reigns. And Tarravangian does change his mind on Dalinar's assassination after Dalinar has his 'conversation' with Elhokar, so perhaps Elhokar informed
Tarravangian that Dalinar was going to be a problem. . . but it doesn't strike me as likely.
exiledjerseyite
40. Iarvin
@Seerow, do you have any source for Brandon's claim to there being 6 heralds? That was the same number I'd recalled seeing somewhere, but I can't find a source, beyond Peter Ahlstrom saying that 5 heralds isn't the correct number.
Deana Whitney
41. Braid_Tug
2 cents from a newbie (I’ve only read up to chapter 42, for the first time)

Re: Magic
Sanderson loves his logic systems. Think about Mistborn and the push - pull of the metals. Lashing are just that. But rather than having a metal anchor point to attach to, the user is able to attach or “lash” themselves to almost anything. Thus, they could run on the ceiling. Or “fly” while being pulled to the far wall.

But agree with others that having the big epic fight and learning all this in the first chapters was a bit overwhelming. Especially since we don’t see it again for a long time.

Szeth – holding to a cultural honor belief that is so much stronger than the average American could even begin to understand. The Japanese who threw themselves off their islands as the American GI’s “conquered” their island in WWII. They could understand him much better than I could . Since they were doing so to avoid “dishonor.”

Waiting to see where his character growth goes. I think he would have a hard time killing Kaladin because Kaladin can use Stormlight, just like Szeth can. Not because Kaladin is “all that”, but because that would mean they are related in some way. If they are related, I feel a cultural taboo would kick in and prevent Szeth from harming Kaladin. But yes, this discovery might happen in the middle of a fight. Won’t that be fun?

Still working on my theory about the Alethi’s but I find their culture to be a very interesting commentary on military centric cultures taken to an odd extreme. They have the drive of Spartans, but not the discipline (as a whole). Very Crusader European.

Part of me wonders if the Parshendi have a fatalistic belief system, so they are actively trying to bring about the next “Desolation.” And the act of killing all the chamfiends and their gemhearts is helping to speed the process up. Like with the body of Ruin and Preservation from the Mistborn books.
Niraj Merchant
42. NirajMerchant
Once we see Shinovar, it seems that there is soil over there because the storms dont scour the ground clean. That might be related to why Szeth thinks that walking on stone is profane.

I really like the idea of a Spren trapped in the oathstone as well. Though while I hope that Szeth is compelled to obey the holder of his oathstone, there doesnt seem to be any attempt to physically disobey the commands of his master. Despite hating what he is doing, he uses a lot of creativity and ingenuity to find and kill the king. There definitely doesnt seem to be any mental compulsion, from the oathstone, as he is able to think whatever thoughts he wants. So I think that it is more of an honor thing rather than compulsion that makes him do what he is told.
Jeremy Guebert
43. jeremyguebert
Wow - this post has been up for less than four hours and already a ton of comments. Lots going on in this chapter.

I loved the whole sequence of Szeth fighting. I found it really engaging to have his scenes play out from the perspective of someone who is intimately familiar with his powers. Kaladin mostly uses his gifts instinctively, and it's an incredible contrast to see how those same powers can be used when the user actually knows the theory and techniques behind what he's doing. This skill contrast is actually amplified, in my opinion, after Taravangian takes control of Szeth through the Oathstone. Towards the end of the book, we do see hints of Szeth at least considering rebellion against his master.

Definitely missed that the drunk was a Herald, if that is in fact the case. The names of the Heralds have all been turned into palindromes (taking into account that certain two-letter combinations in English, such as th and sh, are represented by one character in-world), likely due to the Alethi people's fascination with and reverance for symmetry.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as a typical Truthless - in the interlude when Vstim and Rysn go to trade with the Shin, there's mention of a slave that Vstim traded for earlier - I strongly suspect that this slave was Szeth, if that hasn't actually been confirmed, and the Shin trader said something along the lines of hoping that they never saw another in his lifetime. It will be interesting to see, presumably in Szeth's book (currently scheduled as book 3 according to the wiki), what exactly happened for him to become Truthless.

@12 That's the best explanation I've heard as to why Szeth wouldn't want to wear Shardplate. I completely agree with you.

@15 - I would lean towards not bringing those up, as Peter has said. Since it's a re-read of the book, not the series, I don't think it's fair to either spoil it or exclude someone from the discussion since they want to avoid spoilers. Plus, Brandon has been known to say that if it hasn't been published, it's not canon, so speculating on unreleased material probably isn't the greatest idea.

@20 - Yep, prologue and prelude are different things. Lots to keep track of in the opening of this book/series.

@Heralds - It is widely believed that the woman who goes around destroying art in one of the later interludes is Shallash, and that she is deliberately destroying anything supposedly depicting herself (for what reasons we're not entirely sure).

@Shinovar - The homeland of the Shin is protected from the highstorms by an extensive mountain range. As such, the geography, flora and fauna are all a lot less like the rest of Roshar and closer to Earth. We see "stupid" (aka normal) grass, the best horses come from there, and there is actually enough soil that at least some of the people make a point not to walk on bare stone. And for what it's worth, spren aren't nonexistent in Shinovar, just rare.
Nadine L.
44. travyl
Eckcell @32, ..
"The heir’s feasting companions were unimportant"
made me suspicious (on the re-read, not while first-time reading) that we should pay attention to Elhokar's companions.
It would be ironic, if this was these were the same men, who look after Hoid elsewhere - when Hoid spends time with Elhokar.
Alice Arneson
45. Wetlandernw
Comments on the blog, with apologies if someone has already addressed these topics:

Minor nitpick: The storms do not occur regularly, but rather, frequently. They are nearly impossible to predict accurately, so they can’t be regular.

“Shardplate interferes with Lashings in some way having to do with the gemstones that power the armor. This is most likely because performing a Lashing would drain the armor too quickly.” That doesn’t actually make sense, except in the singular case of the one wearing the Plate also doing the Lashings. Who cares if the other guy’s armor is drained? Hardly the attacker! It has to be an artifact of the Shardplate itself – how it was made, what it was made to defend against, etc. It sounds to me like powered-up Shardplate (i.e., Plate with charged gemstones) has, as part of its power, a resistance to Surges.

Clearly, to the Shin both Stone and Stormlight are sacred; those are the only things whose usage by the Alethi he finds profane. Our one later glimpse of Shinovar puts some interesting spins on the Stone aspect; as we learn more about Stormlight later, I can easily understand how they would think it was sacred. At least, it’s easy to see why such casual usage might be considered profane. More on that (if I remember) when we get to the right chapter(s).

By the way, Dalinar is not “passed-out drunk” – he’s “slumped drunken at a small table” but quite well aware of his surroundings, in that he “kept waving away those who tried to encourage him to bed.” It’s not deeply important, but it is a misreading of the text.

I don’t think we actually know who Thaidakar is. There are only two references to him; this, by Gavilar who sees him as a (probable) enemy, and one later where Amaram associates him with the Ghostbloods. We don’t know much about them, either, but they tried to kill Jasnah and they were financing Shallan’s father’s political maneuvering. I don’t think we can safely assume that he is a Highprince of anywhere, and he’s certainly not a Highprince of Alethkar. (We have all their names, and Thaidakar isn’t one of them.)
Alice Arneson
46. Wetlandernw
Miscellaneous comments on the text, also with apologies if I'm covering old ground:

Who are the two men talking with Elhokar? Will they matter, at some point? Do we find out who they are? Szeth overtly dismisses them as unimportant, which sends up a red flag to me.

Shardblades seem to condense out of mist, and IIRC they often give an impression of being wet when they arrive. Talenelat-Elin is also wet when he shows up much later. And frost crystallizes on Szeth’s clothing when he uses a great deal of Stormlight quickly. Are these related?

Also, we see our first description of the Voidbringers here: “…horrors of rock and flame, dozens of feet tall, foes whose eyes burned with hatred… skin as hard as stone itself.” How reliable this is, we don’t know, but it’s the best we have. This is in context of the Shardblades and their purpose – when you’re fighting a huge enemy with skin like stone, ordinary weapons would be useless. Hence, Shardblades, which can cut through stone so easily, but… “when weapons created to fight nightmares were turned against common soldiers, the lives of men became cheap things indeed.” I suspect this is what’s behind the occasional indications that make people think the Shardblades themselves are evil or tainted; they’re actually just fine, but they’re being used for such a wrong purpose that it makes the usage evil. Or at least tainted. I guess we’ll have to read and find out.

Did anyone in the book question the apparent writing-by-Gavilar? Men don’t know how to read or write in this culture; that’s women’s work. Shouldn’t someone have registered that Gavilar couldn’t have written it? Or did they, and I just don’t remember it?
Jordan Hibbits
47. rhandric
Remember that Szeth's beliefs say that not only is walking on stone profane, so is cutting stone.
Another interesting quote from him: "He had heard that the Voidbringers could hold [Stormlight] in perfectly. But then, did they even exist? His punishment declared that they didn't. His honor demanded that they did."
So, if Voidbringers can hold Stormlight perfectly, and we know that crystals can store it - perhaps voidbringers are in some way related to the (stone) thunderclasts introduced in the prelude.
exiledjerseyite
48. TBGH
@46 Dalinar addresses it in an interior monologue. He remembers how he had to get Gavilar's daughter to read it to him and wonder's where Gavilar learned to write and what else he didn't know about him.
exiledjerseyite
49. mutantalbinocrocodile
@36: I like the Feist option as another one; however, I do think we should be a little cautious about making too many assumptions about Sanderson on the "he's a Mormon" ground. Overall his books don't always express a doctrinaire Mormon viewpoint (and he has expressed aims for religion/literature that are a long way from, say, Orson Scott Card's desire to create a distinctive Mormon literature), and there is even room open for some REALLY heretical content (if Adonalsium=Adonai, we are in some very dicey territory theologically). Plus, on this topic, while the majority of Mormons believe in a special creation of man, believing in evolution is not doctrinally forbidden.

And you've still got the horses to cope with. One mammalian species on a crustacean world is easily explained away as divine intervention. Two is tougher.

I know we haven't yet seen sci-fi elements in Sanderson (unless you count "Firstborn"), but he has mentioned that there will eventually be sci-fi content in Mistborn. And we have no clue whatsover what the world(s) was/were like before the shattering.
exiledjerseyite
50. Confutus
Elizabeth Moon recently commented on her Paksworld blog about the distinction between moral ambiguity and moral complexity. According to the distinction she makes, the Way of Kings is not morally ambiguous, (there is a definite moral order on Roshar) but it is morally complex (involving difficult choices such as whether and how much evil is justified in service of a greater good). In this case, the complexity with Szeth is that he is doing things he thinks of as evil (profaning stone, murder) in order to accomplish what he considers a greater good (conforming to some ideal of honor, and what else?)
exiledjerseyite
51. TBGH
@myself
*internal monologue not interior :::facepalm:::
Alice Arneson
52. Wetlandernw
Add one miscellaneous comment, before I comment on the comments: Does anyone have a theory as to why Jezrien is the Herald depicted in the chapter heading? I don't think it specifically has to do with Szeth; Jezrien isn't associated with all his interludes, or anything. It might have to do with Gavilar (Protecting/Leading), or... it might have to do with the Beggar Herald. The only reason I say that is that the "Baxil" interlude shows Shalash as the (sole) Herald in the chapter icon arch, and the only apparent reason for that is the probability that she is "the mistress" Baxil serves. Could this be our small clue that the beggar is Jezrien? Dunno.

Edit to add: Jezrien and Ishar are the only heralds depicted with beards, although Talenelat has this helmet effect that might have a beard behind it...
William Carter
53. wcarter
@Wetlander 46

Oh, Dalinar definitely thinks on it in later chapters--he wavers between mildly scandalized (the survivor's guilt dampens it abit I'm sure) and confused that he didn't know that about just what kind of man his own brother had apparently become.
For all the ways the Dalinar we see later in the books is apparently more like Gallivar shortly before his death than himself, learning to read--even so he can study his favorite book--is one line he has (so far) never crossed.
exiledjerseyite
54. Confutus
@52 The only additional thing I can think of is that in a later chapter, Szeth refers to himself as a Windrunner, and the Windrunners seem to have been the order of Radiant Knights associated with Jezrien. However, Szeth appears to lack the feaures that we learn about later in connection with Kaladin that would link him with this order. Different evidence points in different directions, so this remains an unsolved puzzle.
Rob Munnelly
55. RobMRobM
Re wet blades - I don't have text with me but what is the environment like in Shardsmar, as experienced later by Shal and Jes? Is it damp there? If so, possible that blades are kept "on call" in Shardsmar until they are called for?
Carl Engle-Laird
56. CarlEngle-Laird
@55 I was thinking about this last week. I think that the Shadesmar is not actually wet. It has an "ocean," but that ocean is made of glass spheres. Maybe the blades are stored in the Spiritual realm? They have to be SOMEWHERE.
Alice Arneson
57. Wetlandernw
Comments on the comments:
RobM @1 – I checked the dates on all the deathbed statement reports, and this can’t be a literal prophecy. The last one is dated 1173 1143 1138 days from this first one. Also @4 – Yes, it clearly says that Shalash’s statue is missing from the line-up here. However, she’s never given a name in the “Baxil” interlude; just “the mistress.”

Edited to correct the number of days, as explained below @75. And per @88.

Fluvre @2 – “He had heard that the Voidbringers could hold it in perfectly. But, then, did they even exist? His punishment declared that they didn’t. His honor demanded that they did.” More questions than answers, there.

AndrewB @8 – It’s not so much that Szeth can defy gravity, as he can apply it. It’s one of the “Surges” of this world, and two orders of the Knights Radiant were able to manipulate it. Don’t know if that helps your dislike of it, but there it is.

towo @19 – I kind of like your theory about the Shardblades and Honorblades being rooted in some otherworldly substance; quite possibly, they were created using some of the essence (might not be the right word, there) of the Shard Honor, which is one of the three Shards of Adonalsium which are associated with Roshar. It might indeed be a reason for the spren to have an aversion to them. There’s not enough info for proof – but that’s what theories are for, right?

I don’t think the Desolations are brought about by humans, however. From what little we know of them, the Desolations were times when the Voidbringers attacked Roshar. The coming of a Desolation was always announced by the appearance of the Heralds, and something called “Midnight Essence.” There’s a lot we don’t know, but what we do know doesn’t sound like it is in any way caused by humans.

@several – I’m looking forward to learning more about Szeth. We know so little about his people, even, and not nearly enough to know whether he is held to this path by his own personal convictions/honor, or whether there is a “magical” force requiring him to follow it. He is required to tell anyone who finds it what his Oathstone is, and he’s required to do everything they tell him to do, except to give up his Shardblade or to take his own life. Never that I recall do we get an indication that this is really optional, or that he thinks “maybe this time I won’t do it.” At the same time, he takes each killing as a personal sin, his own sin, even though it was ordered by someone else. I honestly don’t know what to make of him, but I don’t think he’s a coward.

Halhan @22 – FWIW, Shalash is female… And in the interlude I-7, we see “the mistress” going around destroying artworks. Since her associated attributes are Creativity and Honesty… this leads me to think that the speculation from last week might be correct: that, perhaps, the Heralds are running around behaving in ways that are opposite to their original attributes. Also: as far as I know, Brandon hasn’t specified who gets what book for sure beyond Words of Radiance, but there seems to be a fair chance that book 3 will be Dalinar’s and book 4 will be Szeth’s.

travyl @26 – “Gibberish” certainly isn’t enough to identify a Herald the first time through, but… we find out much later that when Dalinar is having his visions, he spouts “gibberish” according to his hearers, but in his own mind he’s having a conversation with…Knights Radiant, people from years ago, and in one case, Tanavast himself. And then there’s Wit’s bit about gibberish/gibletish… In retrospect it becomes much stronger.

ekcell @32 – We know that the men talking to Ishikk are from other worlds, and probably members of the Seventeenth Shard. I, too, wondered if these might be the same men… I hadn’t particularly connected them with the Ghostbloods, though. Might, might not.

TBGH @48 – Thanks. I was pretty sure Dalinar at least had to have noticed, but I couldn’t find it on a quick search and my memory failed me. So… Dalinar just figured that Gavilar wrote it, not that someone else wrote it for him. Hmm.

Confutus @54 – Ah, yes. I was momentarily forgetting Szeth’s claim to be a Windrunner, which, as you say, is associated with Jezrien. And we definitely see all his Windrunner skillz in action here. Maybe there’s a reason for the “double-Jezrien” icon? ;)

RobM @55 & CarlEngle-Laird @56 – I was being lazy and hoping someone could answer this without me doing the research myself. :) I don’t recall Shadesmar being wet – as you say, it was described as an ocean of glass beads. But I know I’ve read something about where the blades go when they aren’t in use, as well as some speculation on where the Heralds go, and I think the speculation was indeed Shadesmar. Guess I’ll have to do some more searching. But yeah – they have to be somewhere. I’m pretty sure it has to do with “Realmatic Theory” or whatever it’s called, but I can’t remember what!
exiledjerseyite
58. Shumble
I don't find Szeth annoying at all. I find him very intriguing just like many other characters in this series. All of the different things he finds profane (killing to be one of the worst) and yet he has no real control over his life and must do whatever the holders of the Oathstone command. What would happen if he didn't?

I don't think that the old man is a Herald. Just because he is drinking at the same time Szeth goes by the statues of the 10 heralds does not connect him to them in anyway.

One of my favorite quotes of the chapter was when the guard asked Sveth, "What....What are you? Spirit or man?". And Sveth's reply was, "What am I? I am .... sorry." As others have mentioned, it just goes to show his tortured state and the agony that he is in doing tasks which are completely against his nature.

I also liked the explanation of the Lashings. It now makes sense later on when the arrows all go away from Kalahdin during the bridge-run. He was doing a Reverse Lashing and did not even know that he was doing so.

It is strange that nobody seems to understand what the Parshendi are trying to accomplish with the killing of Gavilar. We do know that this action puts the entire country of Alethkar into war for the next 5 years on the Shattered Plains.

Love the book. This reread will be my 3rd time through and I can already see how many things I missed in the first 2 readings so this will be a fun way to pass the time until the Words of Radiance is released.
Alice Arneson
59. Wetlandernw
Okay... After a bit of research (all I have time and energy for, today) it seems that Shadesmar is of the Cognitive Realm. It ties all the worlds of the Cosmere together, and can be used (if you know how, like Hoid) to travel between worlds. But no, it is not wet.

There is speculation, but I can find no proof, that the Shardblades are stored in the Spiritual Realm when not in use. What we do know about the Spiritual Relam is that it is the site of the afterlife for Scadrial, and therefore likely also for all the other worlds. There's a fair probability that the Heralds went to the Spiritual Realm between Desolations, since Kalak thinks about how when they die, they go to "that place" automatically and when they live, they're supposed to go there too (but it's clealy voluntary). If the Spiritual Realm contains the equivalent of Tartarus and the Elysian Fields, it's logical to think that the terrible place the Heralds go is there.

I don't know of any particular reason why the Shardblades should go to the same place as the Heralds "when not in use" but maybe they do. They both seem to come back dripping, anyway.
Phil Vogel
60. PhilV
@22, According to the Coppermind, Szeth's book is tentatively titled "Stones Unhallowed".

http://coppermind.net/wiki/Stones_Unhallowed
exiledjerseyite
61. Helanna
wcarter@11: I'm definitely a little late with this comment, but I tend to agree with you about Szeth and characters like him. Claiming that you're "just a tool" is not an acceptable way to absolve yourself of responsibility. Although it's worth noting that Szeth does *not* consider himself absolved - at one point, I think he says something about how every crime he commits still counts against him and is condemning him to something like hell, but the alternative is ceasing to exist upon his death.

Of course, it's clear that this is really killing him inside, and I'm expecting him to start redeeming himself in a spectacularly badass way in one of the later books (perhaps with Dalinar or Kaladin's influence). I still do rather like him, so here's hoping.

mutantalbinocrocodile@33: About how humans got to Roshar, I'm pretty sure that in Mistborn (spoilers:) humans were created by Ruin and Preservation, whose shardholders were once human, I think? So this might be a similar case. Or maybe humans (and possibly horses) originated in in Szeth's homeland where there are no highstorms and just migrated over.

Also, about sci-fi in Mistborn, I think one of the planned trilogies is going to take place in the far future. So it might end up just being actual science fiction, mixed with real magic.
B. E.
62. ekcell
About my previous statement. I don't think that the man that looks "Like an Alethi" that Ishikk called Thinker is the same "Alethi-Looking" man that is speaking to Elhokar in the prologue. My research on the 17th shard changed my mind.

I do think, however, that Elhokar is still "up to something".

Elhokar just seems more than paranoid and ancy about truthspren, he just seems... off. Sometimes playing it cool, sometimes acting in really strange ways.

The prologue is exactly what I mean. He's having that conversation. What about, why at a party with music and drinking, why with a man that kept looking over his shoulder? Suspicious men speaking to suspicous men.

I guess my general feeling is that these ghostbloods are going to surface again, and have a big impact on the events in Roshar. Maybe Elhokar has something to do with them, maybe nothing at all.
Cheryl Sanders
63. RestlessSpirit
Maybe having Gavilar assassinated was just the first move of Taravangian's end game? That would balance that particular story arc nicely, no? Perhaps Taravangian's prophet-speaking dying people have given him some clue as to what's on the near horizon & he created a diversion with Gavilar's death. Acting ineffectual & slightly dotty is a great cover for someone who could be the secret head of the Ghostbloods. I'm probably talking out the wrong orifice, but ...

i'm very intrigued by Szeth-son-son-Vallano. I feel he's compelled in some way to follow the orders he's given. I offer: not only is his honorspren in his Oathstone but if he doesn't obey his orders, his honorspren dies.

Newbie here, thanks for reading!
exiledjerseyite
64. Jerun
What if Syl was actually Szeth's spren.

Throughout the story she keeps mentioning she is somehow lost... and binding to Kaladin finally makes her who she actually is... an honorspren.

Something might have caused her to detach from Szeth, hence the lapse in her memories.

Just a possibility.
Sean Dowell
65. qbe_64
I think Szeth's oathstone is just a symbolic stone, no magical properties. Szeths honor is what truly binds him.

Also, post 64!! woohoo! People always post #64 and I think they're talking about one of my posts. No confusion this time. (because the numbers are the same and there's nothing in this post to comment on).

Great theories everyone, re-reading in a community really opens up the universe and all the tiny details. I just re-read it straight through for the second time, and now I can go through it chapter by chapter with the re-read.

Edit. DAMN YOU JERUN!!! I took too long typing!
Alice Arneson
66. Wetlandernw
ekcell @62 – I’m conflicted about Elhokar. I’m not sure how much is just paranoia from a young man whose father was assassinated and who now wears his crown; and how much is a young man either slightly unstable or actively involved in… something. Sometimes I lean one way, sometimes the other. I have to admit I loved it when Dalinar taught him that little lesson near the end of the book… and I have hope that between Dalinar and Jasnah they’ll get him straightened out. On the other hand, there’s a distinct possibility that he’s up to something we won’t like AT ALL.

In either case, I fully agree that the Ghostbloods will have a lot to do with what’s coming up. If nothing else, with WoR focusing on Shallan, we have to learn something more about them, right? Yes, I think they have a major role to play – whether for good or ill remains to be seen, but I find them distinctly shady.

64@65... Don’t you hate it when that happens?
exiledjerseyite
67. Tianna
I don't believe that Gavilar told Szeth to give the crystalline sphere to Dalinar. His instructions seemed to be two part: 1) Take this sphere. They must not get it. 2) Tell my brother hie must find the most important words a man can say. I do not think they were related.
exiledjerseyite
68. Jerun
@65: ;)

Just clicked into mind when I read someone mention something about Szeth's spren.

I normally don't follow re-reads but I'll follow this one, because I just finished WoK. Lots of theories flying around... :D

We probably won't be learning much about Szeth's past until Stones Unhallowed. Words of Radiance is Shallan's, I think.
Birgit
69. birgit
He had heard that the Voidbringers could hold it in perfectly. But, then, did they even exist? His punishment declared that they didn’t. His honor demanded that they did.

Maybe Szeth is Truthless because he is a heretic who believes the "lie" about the existence of Voidbringers. He is punished for his belief, but his honor demands that he is right.

Or he is bound with the Oathstone (like damane with the a'dam) because of his dangerous magic that contradicts everything his culture believes in: using Stormlight, cutting stone, killing.

Maybe horses (and humans?) were brought to Roshar by people like Hoid who can travel between the worlds of the Cosmere.
Rob Munnelly
70. RobMRobM
OK - back to my comment @1. Here's what I've been trying to say. The dying person text up front states as of a given month in year 1171 (the month Shash - assume that implies the sixth month) that the "Everstorm" will come in 1,000 days. Not sure we know how many days are in a year. As far as I can tell, the book ends sometime in the year 1173.

Thus, assuming the Roshar year is anywhere close to our 365, we appear to have one year or less to the Everstorm/Desolation - and may be there already if the Epilogue marks the commencement.
a a-p
71. lostinshadow
didn't Wetlander say @57 "RobM @1 – I checked the dates on all the deathbed statement reports, and this can’t be a literal prophecy. The last one is dated 1173 days from this first one." although you seem to be interpreting the 1173 as years rather than days

and while I hate to disagree with a guru like Wetlander I would agree that the 1173 seems to indicate a year since the quote from the progologue is from the year 1171.

I have not made any kind of timeline, my brain really does not work that way and I am always impressed by anyone who figures this kind of stuff out.

FWIW I seem to be under the impression (and I have no idea why) that their week has 5 days in it. and they probably have 10 months - each corresponding to a herald? not sure this helps in any kind of calculation - am sure some guru out there has already done the calculations and has far better thought out theories!
exiledjerseyite
72. Juanito
I dunno... Szeth as a character doesn't inspire too much in the way of resentment. I think his of Oathstone like I thought of the sul'dam in The Wheel of Time. How does this man do things he despises? Magic makes him do it. How do these women have their volition eroded? Magic does it.

It's a dark, evil magic and those responsible for binding him to this Oathstone have unleashed blood and horror onto other nations (albeit indirectly, so it may be akin to creating the h-bomb, a weapon of mass destruction, yet only dangerous in the hands of willful people, so maybe their moral culpability is less than what I'm making out).

But even if he was being punished for doing something awful, this is a shitty way of making him do penance. He's doing more awful things all the time! It's like, we're going to punish Szeth by making him punish entire nations. Short-sighted at best. Evil at worst.

I suppose I liked him in a "Aw come on, emo kid, you can dig your way out of this funk!" sort of way. I didn't want him to succeed in his assassinations, but I liked his commentary along the way. He seemed to know a lot about magic, the magic system, and history concerning the kings, radiants, and various cultures, so his inner thought processes were valuable insights into whatever was going on. I imagine he'll run into Kaladin when he tries to assassinate Dalinar. It would be interesting to see... maybe like the fights between Perrin and Slayer. Not to keep comparing this with Wheel of Time, I'm not saying that this book is "the new WoT" or that Jordan's influence is all that great upon his writing any more than, say, David Eddings or Tolkien or Martin. I simply think the approach of two men with patently unique magical abilities is always a fun scene to play out, especially if it's believeable in its scope.

What a wonderful book...
a a-p
73. lostinshadow
There is a short discussion on the 17th Shard site on the calendar issue
http://www.17thshard.com/forum/topic/2951-calendar-in-roshar/

accordingly apparently "Roshar days are 20 hours long, and the hours are a minute or two shorter than Earth hours. A Roshar Year is approximately 1.1 Earth years." and at least 1000 days have already passed.

according to the coppermind site, "the Rosharan calendar is divided up into ten months, with ten weeks each. Both the months and the weeks are named after the numbers on the Ars Arcanum, and are sometimes combined into abbreviations. Such abbreviations have the full name of the month and two suffixes, for week and day. Each week is five days, so the year in Roshar is estimated at around 500 days, though there may be more or less with the addition of inconsistencies and holidays outside the regular calendar."

Which I guess means the desolations are supposed to start 2 years from the quote. If you follow the links from the 17th Shard site, while apparently some controversy still exists on dating, it appears that slightly over 1000 days have passed since this first quote and the endnote (I am under the impression that Tanatanev is the 9th month while Shash is the 6th month) but really not sure I understood their maths.

still there also seems to be some kind of timeline https://spreadsheets...=CPyvzssM#gid=0

hope it helps, I think I just confused myself - or maybe the desolations have already begun!
a a-p
74. lostinshadow
On Szeth

I actually like this character and at the same time feel sorry for him. Seems to me that he is more bound by culture than some form of magic but I could of course be wrong. I disagree that he is simply whining and not taking responsibility for his actions. Quite the contrary he is very torn up about his actions and accepts the kills as his sins.

As we barely know anything about his culture and what it even means to be a Truthless, I think it may be a bit early to make snap judgments about him. He seems to come from a culture with a very different (and possibly more comprehensive) understanding of the way the world works than others we have been exposed to (so far) in Roshar.

From the glimpse we have with the trader, obviously he has done something horrible to be declared a Truthless, it might even be more horrible than what he is doing now. I guess we'll have to RAFO.
Alice Arneson
75. Wetlandernw
RobM @70 & lostinshadow @71 - As best I can determine (and yes, I did work out the whole calendar for myself, then checked it on the 17th Shard) there are ten months per year, ten weeks per month, and five days per week. That makes 500 days per year. There are two years, two months, seven weeks and three days from the first deathbed quote to the last. The fact that it's 1173 days AND year 1173 is... probably not coincidence, but not mine. (Well, that's meaningless now, since it's only 1143 1138 days. Correction in bold.)


Edit: to clean up the mess I make using an iPad to comment... And to correct my numbers, since I was going from memory instead of looking at my original calculations.

Another edit: to really correct the date, which sadly removes that cute coincidence but makes the numbers accurate. Something was bothering me about the calculations, and I finally figured it out... I had an extra 5 weeks in there somewhere. *sigh* Don't know why it took a whole day to figure it out!
a a-p
76. lostinshadow
(waves to) Wetlander@75 - I knew you wouldn't have posted without checking things but with the 1173 thing I got a bit confused myself. I actually tried to post links to the 17th Shard for RobM but well hmmm, you'd think I'd have learned by now about how long it takes for posts with links to go up :p
exiledjerseyite
77. Iarvin
If LifeBrother is a herald as some have posited, it could make sense for the VoidBringers and Voidbinders (is there a difference?) to be heretical. A guilty herald could be saying that Voidbinders don't exist in an attempt to ease the conscience by 'changing the truth', especially if the herald was somewhat deranged.
Alice Arneson
78. Wetlandernw
(waves back) Ah, so that's what happened to @73! :)

Yeah, I'm OC. I spent several hours figuring out the calendar - mostly because Brandon said the info to do it was all there if we worked at it a bit. Then, of course, I realized that someone would have not only done that, but of course they'd have posted it... On the bright side, I'd worked it out right, or at least the same way they did. The funny thing is that I didn't even notice that the number of days matched the year until you pointed it out.
William Carter
79. wcarter
The dates thing is intriguing, but trying to do that math to put all of the pieces together is too much like work for me. So I'll leave that to others and just say it looks like Winter the Everstorm is coming.
Carl Engle-Laird
80. CarlEngle-Laird
Hmm, interesting stuff with the chronology. I admit that I'd really like to see a fantasy prophecy that didn't come true. I feel like that's an unmined vein in our beloved genre.

More on Szeth and being "Truthless." I wonder if one of the punishments of the Truthless status is that you have to stop believing in all the truths you knew? That you're cast out of the tenets of Stone Shamanism and made to exist in a philosophically unanchored state? That would explain why he knows about Voidbringers, but is required by his status to believe they don't exist. It's also interesting that part of his punishment involves the Shardblade, which should be unbelievably profane to the Shin. I would think that wielding such a blade would be enough to seriously piss off the Shin, since it seems to be a weapon that is explicitly anti-stone, except that Szeth claims that when he dies the Shin will retrieve the Shardblade for their own purposes. Are they keeping this profane object around just to punish people with?
Alice Arneson
81. Wetlandernw
Well, now. What exactly defines the beginning of the Everstorm? It is associated multiple times with "The Night of Sorrows. The True Desolation." I thought the Heralds had to show up before a Desolation started, but maybe not. Could the whole thing already have started?

Alternatively, do we actually have any indication that the dates (associated with the deathbed sayings) are relevant to the chapter they head? Has anyone asked Brandon about this, perchance?

ETA: Come to think of it, they can't be exactly correlated. The Ch. 1 death-date is less than a month after the Prologue, but we know the events which take place are 5 years later. And the Ch. 2 death-date is a bit more than a month after Ch. 1, but the events are eight months later. And Ch. 4, which takes place only a few days after Ch. 2, has a death-date about 2 1/2 months later.

So... a better question to ask Brandon might be on the order of "In what year do most of the events of WoK take place?" I'm curious as to whether these recordings start from the beginning (about seven years prior to the end of the book, according to Taravangian), or if we jump into the middle, or... what. If this first one was recorded seven years ago, either the Everstorm started somewhere near the time of Gavilar's death, or the "one thousand days" was not related to the current time stream...
Alice Arneson
82. Wetlandernw
Carl @80 - More good questions about Szeth. I've thought around him in so many circles that I'm dizzy, and have (temporarily, I'm sure) given up on figuring out any more about him until I read the next book.

(Unfortunately for my eagerness, his status bar still has the first draft at 55%, and I recall hearing that he had to finish the first draft this month in order to make the November release...)
Jeremy Guebert
83. jeremyguebert
@80 - Have you checked out Brandon's Mistborn series? That's basically the plot summary of the first book: "What would happen if the prophesized hero failed?"
Carl Engle-Laird
84. CarlEngle-Laird
@83 - Yes, I've read Mistborn. But if I remember correctly, in that case the prophecies did mostly come true, but they did so in unexpected and disastrous ways. Still closer to what I'm looking for than average, of course.
Alice Arneson
85. Wetlandernw
Well, the trick is that a real prophecy has to come true - otherwise it's a false prophecy.
Jeremy Guebert
86. jeremyguebert
@84 True enough, at least by the end of the series. I thought it was a very interesting take on how said prophecies can be misinterpreted, and even more so how the meaning can be completely changed by altering very small (but important) parts of it.

@85 Hmm, good point.
exiledjerseyite
87. Wortmauer
CarlEngle-Laird@80: I admit that I'd really like to see a fantasy prophecy that didn't come true. I feel like that's an unmined vein in our beloved genre.
My favorite example of this is Robin Hobb's concept of the Catalyst, whose role is to avert prophecy, in her Tawny Man series. Pretty excellent books, though you do need to start 3 books earlier with the Farseer trilogy. Which are also excellent.
jeremyguebert@83: Have you checked out Brandon's Mistborn series? That's basically the plot summary of the first book: "What would happen if the prophesized hero failed?"
Not really. That's not the plot, that's the backstory. It's a key idea that reportedly sparked the author's interest in developing the story in the first place. But the plot is about Kelsier and Vin and their merry men, not about the prophesied hero who failed to beat the boss monster.
exiledjerseyite
88. Cheese_Ninja
@Wetlander, check your math again, you got the 2 years, 2 months, 7 weeks, and 3 days thing right, but it's 1138 days apart, not 1143, you added an extra week in there. I put dates (and the day of the year) on all the epigraphs an ungodly mess.

As to why Shalash goes around destroying artwork depicting herself, I expect that it's partially boredom and partially because she finds it cathartic to destroy herself over and over again. After all, she and the rest of the Heralds more or less gave up on the rest of humanity and left Taln to suffer. Probably doesn't help that she's supposed to represent "Honesty". I'm really curious why she was at the palace though, could she have been involved in any of the events leading up to Gavilar's assassination?

I have a crackpot theory that the Drunk Beggar is both Ishar and Thaidakar, because Ishar seems to be used a bit much in chapters that feature/mention the Ghostbloods. And Thaidakar is (probably) the leader of the Ghostbloods. It's not based on the beard... or so I claim.

My other theory is that Restares is Taravangian. Because, why not?

My other other theory is that Szeth gets his Windrunner powers from his Shardblade, because his Blade is described differently from all the others in the book, and he states that when he summons it, it turns his eyes 'sapphire', which is the same color/gem associated with Windrunners. I'm a bit divided on whether the Oathstone is completely non-magical, or just slightly magical. He can identify at a glance, but that might just a sign of great familiarity. At the end, he considers killing the man holding his Oathstone, so it obviously doesn't confer absolute obedience. As to Szeth's martial arts training, I think he may have been a Stone Shaman before becoming a Truthless, and I wouldn't be surprised if Stone Shamanism is one of those quirky religions that involves instilling asskicking abilities into their priests.
Charles S
89. Cheese_Ninja
I just registered since I discovered I couldn't edit, so here's a fix in the 1st paragraph of my comment:
@Wetlander, check your math again, you got the 2 years, 2 months, 7 weeks, and 3 days thing right, but it's 1138 days apart, not 1143, you added an extra week in there. I put dates (and the day of the year) on all the epigraphs here. From when Kaladin arrives on the Shattered Plains to the end of the book, only about 75-100 days pass. (1.5-2 Roshar Months)

Edit again: Does the comment system not let you put in two different hyperlinks, and if you do, cuts out everything between the two of them and leave only the last link?
Alice Arneson
90. Wetlandernw
@88 - Yeah, apparently I can't subtract 5 from 9. For some reason my brain went seriously fuzzy working that out...
Nadine L.
91. travyl
Wet @82.
The bar just moved to 62%, but at the same time BWS said it's slow going. And of Course we'll keep him busy at JCon, so he won't write during those days...

CheeseNinja @89.
I admire people who take the time to figure out things like a timeline. And I thank you for sharing the "messy" link, so the more lasy fan can profit without the hard work. I will enjoy looking into it ...
T C
92. Freelancer
CheeseNinja @89

You can theoretically include as many links as you wish in a comment. It isn't wise to try and paste them side-by-side without any intervening text. The code handling of this comment box is not flawless. Also, don't try to use any HTML codes in the comment box, it will remove certain characters of them. Use the link icon at the top, always.


The discussions are already very interesting, and flavorful. My first reading of the book was quick and ruthless, focusing only on the direct action of the text and the nature of the characters. No sleuthing of foreshadowings, no second-guessing at whether any given passage was hinting at connections to others. I just wanted to enjoy the story as presented on the surface. And so of course, many layers of the onion remained unexposed.

During the second reading, the text exploded with connections, questions, and possibilities. But most with no following evidence as yet. It isn't my nature to blindly theorize about things like this. I want the story the author is giving me, not the story I feel must be the truth.

So, for example, while there is certainly an issue between Szeth, the spren, and the shardgear, the precise nature of this dissonant relationship cannot yet be determined, and could be any of myriad possibilities. Were I of a wont to, I could attach to one of those possibilities and debate its merits, hoping it is true. I could also offer up all of the different concepts which seem plausible, and seek a consensus on the preferred theory. But the analyst in me says don't do either; not enough is known for an informed conclusion, and holding to one which turns out wrong may misguide my reading of the next volume(s) until this truth is sorted out. Again, I'm happy to read Brandon's story, not "as presumed by Freelancer".

Instead, I'll end up more often noting provable flaws, impossibilities, or implausibility in suggested theories, as has become my milieu in the WoT re-read, or joining in the theorizing when only one of the available posits seems to share the vector and magnitude of the related story arc. And, an occasional prediction of where one or another plot is headed, when an inductive "view" of such a destination invades my consciousness.

All that to say that for now, comments from me will be limited to impressions of the story and the writing, for the most part. I'll get in the thick of things later regarding what means what, and until then let Wetlandernw and others do the heavy lifting.
exiledjerseyite
93. Minion
Anyone else think that the honor Szeth mentions could be an honor spren?
T C
94. Freelancer
Harking back to previous discussion regarding the cause-effect positioning of the spren, it is worthy of note that the very first mention of spren, the musicspren in the Prologue, could hardly support a causal agency for the creatures. It would be very difficult to construct a scenario wherein they caused the music to be made. Now, in the special case of artistry, there could be a third relationship considered; that of muse. Perhaps they somehow enhance the music, or the musicians.

It could yet be true, or not, that some spren are causal factors. But if any, not all.


Minion @93

If you read the comments from the previous posts, you'll see that such is a widely considered possibility.
exiledjerseyite
95. Youngy
@32 and @34 and anyone since who has mentioned it, those two talking to King Elhokar are 17th Shard. If you continue to the Purelake section there are then three of them looking for Hoid.

If you remember descriptions (or things that happened to, or personality traits) of characters from the other books (particularly Elantris and Mistborn) you will find that you actually know two of the characters there.

Spoilers:
Demoux and Galladon
Alice Arneson
96. Wetlandernw
But has it been confirmed that the two men talking to Elhokar are the same as the men in the Ishikk interlude? The descriptions are similar, but lacking some of the same details: neither of Ishikk's dark-skinned men are noted as having an odd patch of pale skin, and Elhokar's Alethi is not noted as having a scar. There's no reason they can't be, but I'm not entirely convinced that there's reason they must be, either.
exiledjerseyite
97. Iarvin
Freelancer, this is probably not the causal effects you mean, but perhaps you can poke holes in this series of thoughts.

I can't find the scene, but first Syl certainly thinks that she has causal effects on Kaladin of enabling Stormlight usage.

Secondly it could be argued that Syl has the effect of enhancing his honor by rewarding and instigating his honor. For instance prior to the seminal battle at the Tower, Kaladin had decided to leave the Tower, "He turned his back on the Tower", but Syl informs him what kind of spren she is, "I am honorspren. Spirit of oaths. Of promises. And of nobility." Kaladin then proceeds to think and shout, and then decides "We have to go back,".

So, in Syl and Kaladin's case it looks like there is a feedback loop of sorts. How it began isn't very specific, so it doesn't answer if Kaladin's honor attracted Syl, or if Syl attached herself to Kaladin and instigated honor in him, but Syl certainly has a causal role to play once the cycle is established.

Beyond that there's not much evidence, but it seems possible that flamespren do encourage a fire to burn brighter or hotter, regardless of how they were initially attracted.
Alice Arneson
98. Wetlandernw
Just so no one has to go looking for this, I'll quote it here. (It was referenced on the spren thread, but... anyway.) Someone asked Brandon if there were poopspren on Roshar:
Well, it depends on how you're defining spren. In the books, they don't make a distinction, but there are several varieties. At the basic level, everything has an identity--a soul, you might say, but more than that. This is based on how it is viewed, and how long it has been viewed that way. Feces would have this, but wouldn't have a very strong cognitive identity because of its transitional nature.
Other types of spren, the type that characters see and interact with, are cognitive ideals or concepts which have taken on literal personification over time. These are usually related to forces or emotions, and don't relate to this particular topic.
And that's far more than I ever expected to say on this...
So we need to factor in the idea that there are different types of spren, and that their cause/effect functionality will vary. Extrapolating from flamespren to Syl, or from Syl to rainspren, will be problematic at best - especially with the limited knowledge we have.
T C
99. Freelancer
Iarvin @97

Syl is unique in the story as far as the first volume is concerned. There is speculation regarding other similar cases to hers, but no more than that. And because of her sentience, she stands outside of the question regarding sprens' connection to events; that being do they cause them, or simply react to them? Flame, rot, death, anticipation, fear, music, life, creation, etc. are each natural occurrences with which spren are associated.

Kaladin's father, an emminently educated surgeon, believes that keeping rotspren away from a wound will prevent rot of the wound. It is probably more accurate that making the wound unlikely to rot gives the spren no reason to remain, but at this point of the story, nobody can say which is true. Syl's ability to directly communicate, thus influencing Kal's decisions, is entirely unlike the conundrum of cause/effect relationship of other spren. She tells him that she was drawn by his treatment of his men, and their respect for him. So, to her understanding, she didn't cause him to be honorable, but was attracted by his honor, and the honor given him by his soldiers, eventually resulting in a symbiosis with him, whereby she gains and retains consciousness, memory, and will while connected to him, and would lose those if she remained away from him for too long. At least she thinks so.

And, as Wetlandernw says, the behaviors of one set of spren cannot help to deduce the alignment of another set. Maybe some are capable of inducing the phenomena with which they are known, while others are merely animated into being by a related event.
Alice Arneson
101. Wetlandernw
sillyslovene @100 - High-five. ::gigglesnort::
exiledjerseyite
102. Iarvin
Freelancer, the sentience of Syl certainly does give her an unfair advantage in the enhancement of what she's drawn to! Comparing her with other spren is like comparing an apple with an orange, and saying that the orange possibly has crisp white flesh inside because the red apple does. Nothing wrong with the theory until its proven wrong, but nothing particulary convincing about it either.

The quote that Wetlandernw's comment included at 98 reminds me of Jim Butchers Codex Alera series. It makes me wonder if there are mountain spren that Rock and his people know - or what the spren of a three thousand old tree would be like to name a couple.

And hurrah, the thread reached 100.
Birgit
103. birgit
Painspren—like small orange hands with overly long fingers—were crawling around him, reacting to his agony. They began turning away, scurrying in other directions, seeking other wounded. His pain was fading, his leg—his whole body—feeling numb.

This sounds like the painspren leaving comes first and causes the fading pain.
T C
104. Freelancer
That would be yet a different behavior to assign to them. It would mean they were attracted by the pain, but then acted to ameliorate.

Another observation springs from the quoted case. An apparent (but not conclusive) limitation to the density of spren in a given area. In that particular place, the painspren seem to congregate at the place of strongest agony, and once that begins to diminish, are then attracted to the next most acute pain. Else each sufferer would have their own crop of the things.
Ryan Szrama
105. Scarvye
@44

"The heir’s feasting companions were unimportant" made me suspicious (on the re-read, not while first-time reading) that we should pay attention to Elhokar's companions. It would be ironic, if this was these were the same men, who look after Hoid elsewhere - when Hoid spends time with Elhokar.

^^^--- THIS.

I decided to pick the book back up again to go along with the re-read, and having been primed by the post to look at "unimportant" characters in a new light, this quote basically screamed at me. I definitely wouldn't have picked up on such subtleties in my first read through, but I'll be on the lookout now.

Also, this book is awesome. Is there a reading plan somewhere I can use to limit my reading? I accidentally read through chapter three when I meant to just read the prologue. ; )
exiledjerseyite
106. Staizer
I just finished reading The Emperor's Soul, fascinating read btw! Anyway, that book does a very good job of explaining how objects and people interact to create an image for the things in the spirit realm.

it seems to me, and I seem to remember it being mentioned in the book somewhere that the spren are particularly attracted to a change of state. There are no air spren but wind spren, no water spren but rain spren no ocean spren but a giant tidal spren, no painting spren but creation spren, no health spren but rotspren, no beer spren but theoretically drunk spren, no live spren but death spren.

My point being in connection with Brandon's statement that the spren are the physical manifestation in the Physical realm, of change in the spiritual realm of the spirit of the thing that we consider as constant.

we view water as an unchanging thing as a concept, but when it rains we consider it its own entity. Honestly, and I am sorry this is getting so long but my train of thought keeps chugging, consider the weather and the environment of the world itself. It is broken. End of story, the weather is unpredictable.

One day it is warm as a summer's day the next cold as the heart of winter, iirc... I think the spren, (and I think the storm is either a very large spren, or a shard) are a symptom of a broken spiritual or cognitive realm in roshar similar to the rift in elantris.

I think it happens when a shard is broken, but really have nothing atm to support this. Just some thoughts.
T C
107. Freelancer
Staizer @106

Yes, spren are in evidence in relation to various occurrences of change. I suppose it could be said that they find entropy boring.


As to the seasons, they don't change as erratically as daily, but usually last no more than a few weeks (being 5 days each) before changing to another of the seasons, which do not follow a set pattern, and seem completely independent of the frequency and intensity of the highstorms. A Summer period may follow a Winter, which may turn into another Winter. The only constant of the planet is the Weeping, approximately four weeks of continual rain, during which there are no highstorms. The Weeping is used to mark the change of a year.

All that said, there are areas of Roshar, such as the Purelake, with no significant variability in the temperature (though the Purelake does suffer the highstorms and other rains), and Shinovar, where the mountain ranges block the highstorms, permitted uneroded soil, broader varieties of vegetation, and more mammalian and avian species.
Lola Peets
108. IdioticGenius
So does anyone have a quote where it says that Szeth is a Windrunner? I just finished rereading the prolouge for perhaps the fifth or sixth time and I dont recall ever having read that he was. I also believe that BS said somewhere that Szeth wasn't a Knight Radiant, just that he had power over stormlight similar to that of a Windrunner. Therefore, Kaladin will develop powers like Szeth, but go far beyond them.

It also occured to me that while Kaladin actively feels as though wearing Shardplate and using Shardblades are unnatural, Szeth only dislikes Shardplate (and at that, only wearing it himself) because his use of stormlight interferes with the workings of the Shardplate. He does not object to it on others as it is a fuel for his power. This, coupled with Szeth's only discomfort with Shardblades being that of religious beliefs (the "profanity" of them), leads me to believe that Szeth is NOT a Radient.

On another note, does it actually say when the 1000 days begins? Like, on what day the countdown starts from? Because it seems to me the "subjects" are not tied to any particular timeline -- some speak of the last Desolation as if it was happening before their eyes, others of the next one, ext... So is the "darkeyed woman" saying that from year 1171 "it is but a thousand days"? Or from some other point in the character's future? If the former, than the "Everstorm" has come, and perhaps the Desolation with it. If the later, that when will it occur? I am leaning toward the former, however, because of things that Hoid/Wit says in the Epilouge.

I can't wait for Words of Radiance!
exiledjerseyite
109. Confutus
@108
The quote is in chapter I-3, not in the prologue. If the term "Windrunner" is taken to be a specific kind of Surgebinder as well as a name (a nickname?) for an order of Radiants that has that kind of power, it may be possible to be that kind of surgebinder without necessarily belonging to that order. There doesn't seem to be enough evidence yet to say exactly what is going on.
Alice Arneson
110. Wetlandernw
To shed a little further light on the Windrunners question, here’s a quotation for you:
JAY: Do Szeth and Kaladin both belong to the same order of knights radiant?
BRANDON SANDERSON (GOODREADS): Szeth isn't actually in an order of Knights Radiant. Something different is happening with Szeth that people have already begun to guess. And Kaladin isn't yet a Knight Radiant, but the powers he uses are those of the Windrunners, one of the orders of the Knights Radiant. Szeth is using the same power set. So your phrasing is accurate to that extent.
I think what we’ll find out is that Kaladin is becoming a Windrunner, a true Knight Radiant, and Szeth… isn’t. He’s using the same skill set, but he’s using it wrongly; he’s not following the Ideals. As Confutus said @109, in Interlude 3 Szeth thinks of himself as a Windrunner, but that doesn't make him one. It just means that he knows what powers the Windrunners used, and that he is using the same powers.

About the Desolation and the 1000 days, one possibility is that the 1000 days actually started with the first known “death speech” seven years ago, that it is the one quoted here, that the date given in this Prologue is concurrent with Gavilar’s first finding the Parshendi, and that the events of the Prologue are actually the beginning of the Everstorm. The only “supporting evidence” (a very glorified term for what might be coincidence) is in Taravangian’s statement, that “It began seven years ago, about the time when King Gavilar was investigating the Shattered Plains for the first time.” We don’t have a lot of detail in the timeline, but we know it was about two years after that point when he was assassinated, and it’s roughly five years from the assassination to the present time. Sketchy at best, and not much on which to base a theory. (I also have a sneaking suspicion that I read something recently that disproves it, but I can’t find or recall it right now.)

The thing is, we really don’t know very much about the source of these sayings; some of them sound very much like they might come from Talenel, but others clearly do not. Some are obviously significant, some seem less so. In one, the person is clearly seeing Shadesmar. In another, they see the Ten Heralds standing together. In some, the True Desolation, the Everstorm, and the Night of Sorrows are linked, but… are they exactly the same thing? Do they start at the same time? There’s just too much we can’t know yet. Still, I’m leaning toward the idea that the Everstorm, if not the Desolation itself, started with the Prologue.
Charles S
111. Cheese_Ninja
The first epigraph with the 'Everstorm' comment only is given about 2 years before the start of most the book's events, on 1171-6-5-1. We aren't given any exact dates for the events in the book, only that it's taking place in 1173, so that '1000 days' may or may not have already come to pass.

And one epigraph clearly describes an event in the book, "Above the final void...", another probably describes a scene in the book “A woman sits and scratches out her own eyes. Daughter of kings and winds, the vandal.” (We only see one vandal, and she does gouge the eyes out of a bust that is is presumably of herself.)
exiledjerseyite
112. Blackmagic
Some great theorising here, you guys should definately check out 17th Shard's Stormlight Archive forums so you get a look at some more theories and get sucked into the cosmere.
@111
The Heralds namesakes implies that they arrive when the desolation is iminent.
Nadine L.
113. travyl
@CheeseNinja:
We only see one vandal, and she does gouge the eyes out of a bust that is is presumably of herself.
I did find the Death-Quote, but could you tell me, where in the book, we see that event? A quick search in word was to no avail.
exiledjerseyite
114. Patrick R
I agree with @67. The quote from the book is:

"He pulled out a small crystalline sphere tied to a chain. "You must take this. They must not get it"

Gavilar never mentions giving the sphere to Dalinar, he just asks Szeth to take it.
Alice Arneson
115. Wetlandernw
Cheese_Ninja @111 – Can you tell me where it says the events of the book take place in the year 1173? I’d like some evidence other than the dates on the epigraphs. I’m not entirely sure the “Above the final void” quotation is necessarily about the event in the book, though it could certainly be taken that way. The vandal sounds like she’s been at it for a while - she's had four and a half millenia to work on it, so it could be referring to an event anywhere in that time frame, really. And if the theory is correct, she's probably done exactly this a number of times.

travyl @113 – He’s referring to Interlude 7, where Baxil’s mistress is busily defacing artworks. The idea that it is “of herself” is only an inference, based presumably on the idea that Shalash is going around the world destroying all images of herself. Where exactly that idea comes from, I can’t tell you off the top of my head, unless it’s that particular deathquote. In which case, it’s rather circular reasoning, but it wouldn’t be the first theory to start that way. Some of them even turn out to be right.

Patrick R @114 – For what little it’s worth, I agree that Gavilar didn’t really ask Szeth to give the sphere to Dalinar. One wonders, though, what Szeth thought Gavilar was implying that he should do with it. In any case, all he’s done with it so far is hide it in Jah Keved. I have to wonder if he’ll retrieve it and take it along to give/show to Dalinar before he attempts to kill him.
Carl Engle-Laird
116. CarlEngle-Laird
Do we have reason to believe that the death-sayings are temporally related to the moment at which they're spoken? When Honor was speaking to Dalinar in his dream-visions it seemed to me more like he'd recorded a series of messages that Dalinar was receiving after the fact than that he was speaking in response to current events. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the "1000 days until the Everstorm" quotation was spoken by someone during a different time period than when it was received, perhaps closer to the actual Everstorm.
Alice Arneson
117. Wetlandernw
Carl @116 - I'd really, really like an answer to that question...
Karen Fox
118. thepupxpert
Wow I'm finally finished reading all the posts after a short hiatus and this is going way deeper than I even could have imagined. I guess I must have read a different book because it appears I know nothing to even comment on that hasn't already been said and the depth of the discussion is awesome. As far as characters go, Kal is my fav with Szeth being a close second, for all the reasons discussed prevously (moral anguish, etc.). But the backstory, well, I'll just have to catch up on my reading of all the links povided over the last couple of weeks. Thanks everyone, definitely following along at this point.
Genhi Whitmer
119. portal_stone
I like the character of Szeth. It seems that he has an intense sense of honor, yet is bound to someone else who has power over him. He is a slave; a powerful slave, yes, but still a slave of some kind.

I don't know what to think of the spren just yet. I think they are a bit annoying; they remind me too much of fairies at this point, and I'm not a fan of fairies, in general.

I'm most intrigued by the epigraphs and who is capturing these statements just brief moments before someone's death and how they are doing so. This may get covered later in the book, but I am just reading it for the first time now. I think that for all of the world building, Sanderson is using some interesting tools to keep the reader engaged, to build some mystery. The epigraphs are one such tool.
exiledjerseyite
120. Garr
Any one know what happens to Gavilar's Shardblade and Shardplate? Is that the set Adolin gets?
Alice Arneson
121. Wetlandernw
Garr @120 - I don't think we know who has Gavilar's gear; Adolin's was, IIRC, inherited through his mother's side of the family.

ETA: Chapter 12 - Adolin had held his suit, inherited from his mother's side of the family, since his sixteenth birthday (seven years ago).
Carl Engle-Laird
122. CarlEngle-Laird
I'm relatively certain that Elhokar inherited Gavilar's plate and blade.
William Carter
123. wcarter
I'm going to have to side with Carl, Elhokar is the logical assumption for inheriting the shard gear. But I don't think it's the same plate and blade he himself actively uses.

Elhokar's blade is described differently than his father's. Galivar's looked like burning flames. Elhokar's had the 10 essential glyphs etched on it. If Elhokar did get it, there's no telling what he's done with it or who he's given it to in the mean time.
Alice Arneson
124. Wetlandernw
Given that Adolin inherited his Shards at 16 (he's now 23), it seems highly probable that Elhokar (likely in his 30s now) would have had his own Shards long before Gavilar was assassinated. This is made even more probable by the clear distinction between the two swords; Elhokar's Blade is most definitely not the one Gavilar had. While Gavilar's Shards would logically become Elhokar's to bestow as he sees fit, there's nothing in the text to tell us whether, or to whom, they might have been given.
Phil Anthrop
125. Isomere
Shard plate interferes with surge binding but the radiants could wear it and surge bind, why?
Accepting and speaking Immortal Words on the way to radianthood causes you to become a better container for stormlight, similar to how perfectly cutting a gemheart makes it better able to contain stormlight. Taken to an endpoint, the newly graduated radiant would be able to perfectly contain stormlight and would not glow at all unless he wanted to use the power for something. At this point he could function to power his own armor without the use of gems, effectively becoming a gemheart himself. Some have even theorized that part of the process creates your own set of plate and blade. If Szeth tries to use plate, he will drain the gems and be left with dead armor.

@ 46 I believe the horrors of rock and stone are actually thunderclasts, but history has corrupted it from the truth due to the political goals of vorinism. They wanted to create an enemy of the parshmen and eventually enslaved them. We see a similar corruption happen when the voidbringer is drawn as a chasmfiend later in the book. The nobility and code of conduct demonstrated by the parshendi in all the plateau battles leads me to believe they would fight on the side of Honor and against the thunderclasts in a desolation.

Elhokar wanted to keep what I presume to be a dawnshard with an entrapped voidish creature away from the ghostbloods. (See header to chapter 36) hiding it as szeth did seems a great way to fulfill that death wish. If this is correct I am not sure we want to find out what is inside it... Perhaps something related to midnight essence?

@106 I have been playing around with the idea that the storm is the probability wave pattern of Honor's broken shard. (See Wave Particle Duality) There are just so may other references to particle physics in this book, and the nature of the storms being governed by mathematical formulae but still somewhat random fits a bit too well. Lets face it, you can't really destroy God, but you can put him in a state that makes it very hard to interact and affect events. His physical form is completely gone, perhaps because he was forced into and measured as a standing wave pattern and thus locked into that state. (Compare with interlude 8). How do storm wardens relate to this? I there a way to reverse it as they did with the flamespren? Unlikely to find out any time soon.
exiledjerseyite
126. African_Phant
I think the main reason that people dislike Szeth is the 'tutorial battle' feel the chapter has. If it were a video game, there'd be an annoying helpspren telling you to 'Hey, listen!' and 'use the CONTROL STICK to move' and 'HOLD B for a FULL LASHING' and all that stuff.

Basically the infodump is kinda blatant and weakens the writing.
Alice Arneson
127. Wetlandernw
@126 - Nah. People might dislike this chapter for that reason, if they are so inclined, but the character as a whole? I think people dislike Szeth because he does a lot of nasty things just because he's told to, without any apparent coercion other than "that's what a Truthless does."
Samuel R
128. Talenel
Exciting! Just a few (okay, several) comments...

@Ithilanor 3: I'd love to know where you got your information about the Knights Radiant. Based on this paragraph I had always thought that the two were incompatible, as in Shardplate rejects Lashings, Lashings reject Shardplate. Is that from somewhere else in the book that I've forgotten, or information from Brandon?
"Besides, perhaps a Shardbearer could defeat him, kill him and end his miserable life. His Lashings wouldn’t work directly on someone in Shardplate..." Sanderson, Brandon (2010-08-31). The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The) (p. 29). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.
I also don't remember the chronology of Szeth and the Oathstone, but I always felt as if the emergence of his magic is what thrust him into his life as a Truthless.

@Evan M 12: You articulated my last point (see above) very well. Everyone pretend that I said it like that.

@Iarvin 15: I'm inclined to say that he's a Herald based on him saying "Have you seen me?" as opposed to any other phrasing of that question (e.g. "Do you see me") and Brandon's immediate description of the Herald statues right after that. Sounds like foreshadowing but we could always be looking for hints. Brandon has also stated in interviews that we've seen several Heralds (I think 6), this seems like a likely candidate. Don't forget other Heralds have beards, such as Jezrien, though his was described as all black in the prelude not black with grey. Maybe the Heralds are purely immortal? They could possibly age very very slowly...
(@Wetlandernw 52: might find this interesting too)

@RobMRobM 55 and @CarlEngle-Laird 56: What about them coming from someplace very cold and drawing moisture from the air once they enter a warmer place? Or possibly "sweating?"
@Wetlandernw 59: This might conflict your post on coming from the same place as the Heralds. Kalak mentions some fire-based torture which made me think of this place as a genuine hell, unless the fire was not just a natural part of the world and created by his torturers...

@Freelancer 92: I tend to agree with your sentiments. I try not to really assume too much about Szeth. Until Brandon tells me otherwise I'm going to read him as though it's a cultural burden he bears as opposed to a magical one. In either case I don't think I'll judge him, though the theories about honorspren are fascinating... I just don't personally want to pressume to much in that direction.

@Wetlandernw 98: "poopspren"...*gigglesnort*

@100-101 *facepalm*

@Cheese_Ninja 111: Nice. I'll have to keep my eyes open for those scenes.

@CarlEngle-Laird 116: Thank you! I've been thinking that the whole time I've been reading this thread. I definitely want to know the answer to that question. :-)

On the topic of Szeth's culture and apparent enslavement. It reminds me quite a bit of Gai'Shain. Even the culture he aparently comes from (how they feel about stone, their general passion for what is profane etc.) has a very Aiel like feel. I just can't really fault Szeth all that much. I wouldn't choose his path, but I certianly don't find him unlikeable.

*Edited for grammar
Liz Roberts
130. VocaLizard
"This was a Basic Lashing, first of his three kinds of Lashings."

First of -his- Lashings, not -the- Lashings. Are there more kinds of Lashings for full Windrunners? Will we see Kaladin with other Lashings? Simple Lashing, Partial Lashing? How about Negative Lashing?

Also, when Szeth holds Stormlight, it seems as though he leaks smoke. In Chapter 19, when Dalinar-as-Heb slices the flesh of the Midnight Essence, it seems as if they bleed smoke. The Radiants clearly state that the creatures are Midnight Essence and definitely NOT the Voidbringers, but in the prologue, Szeth states that the Voidbringers are supposed to perfectly hold smoke. Syl apparently seems to be made of smoke sometimes, and the Shardblades coalesce out of mist, which is close to smoke.

Why so much smoke? Makes me think of the ever-present mist in the Mistborn books. Is Brandon fixated on the stuff, or is there something we should be noting? Or am I reading to much into this?
exiledjerseyite
131. Coreyartus
Very very late to the party. Apologies, but would still like to add a couple things to think about.

Szeth's sense of being dishonored at not following his Master's bidding is ironic in a way, considering the Heralds felt no dishonor and actually felt justified in breaking the Oathpact. It is a symmetrical reflection of their situation.

I wonder if Szeth's country, and its apparent difference from the rest of Roshar, might support this theory... If the nature of keeping promises and honor was "broken" in the rest of Roshar, it would be easy to see that Szeth's very honor is a trap for him, compounded by his country's (coincidentally isolated) culture... Warriors are disregarded as the lowest in the caste system why? Because warriors broke their promises and blemished honor, possibly? Szeth would, therefore, have no sense of rationalizing away his actions--instead he would have absolutely no free will, bound by his honor which (in his culture) would be highly esteemed and venerated above all else.

And above that, his very thoughts of being disgusted by his actions, the very guilt he experiences is, in essence, blasphemous in itself. The contemplation of alternatives to not following through on his duty and maintaining his honor, to possibly "disobeying", would be completely beyond the scope of his ken. And yet he ponders his actions with disgust despite himself--a dishonorable way of thinking in itself, which makes him feel even more guilty.

Szeth is an incredibly hard character to empathize with. He feels guilt, not victimization. He does not absolve himself. He's aware of what he's doing. The more he starts to feel like a victim of his culture's beliefs and his situational context, the more he dishonors himself.

Which is, in a sense, what happened to the Heralds. Not doing their duty--exercising free will--was dishonorable, and led to their downfall. Szeth cannot go down that path. Perhaps even perceiving it as an alternative is what led to his being "cast out". But was he really cast out? I smell intentional set up...

Incidentally, isn't it interesting the correlations that can be made between the Heralds and some Christian understandings of the Fall of Lucifer and the other Angels? That it can be argued that "free will" and self-awareness, their loss of innocence and feeling of guilt itself, is what cast Adam and Eve out of Eden?

Also, compare Kaladin's perceived moral of Hoid's tale to Szeth's situation. Your actions are ultimately your own, and ascribing blame to others does not equal absolution for yourself. Is Kaladin the symmetrical balance to Szeth? Is Szeth's "truthless-ness" actually a manifestation of his awareness of his guilt, his awareness of free will? Is it his fall from grace? Is his "sin" by his culture's standards, to struggle with his own free will? Is his perpetual punishment the act of being cast out of Shinovar, forever tempted to act on his free will as the Heralds did, else suffer their destiny?
exiledjerseyite
132. Lauranimal
Really enjoying this re-read, though sad that i missed out on the live action. Hopefully i can catch up!

Gavilar thinks that Thaidakar or Restares or Sadeas are the ones who sent Szeth to kill him. Why would he be saying that Thaidakar is too late? It's as if he is saying that he has already put something in motion... or that maybe he was already fated to die or something like that. Too late for what?

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