May 2 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapter 7 and Chapter 8

The Way of Kings Reread Brandon Sanderson Stormlight ArchiveShallan graces us with her presence with two chapters this week which is really just one long one with barely a breath between them. I’m only just now realizing how close in time many of Shallan’s chapters are to each other while Kaladin’s have always felt more distant from one another. This changes somewhat as the story progresses with longer gaps, but it does make Shallan’s storyline at least feel a bit quicker to start, while Kaladin’s drags at times towards the beginning. A few exciting things happen in these chapters that were definitely very subtly done, but they show how deeply Sanderson has thought about every little thing in this world. There is also something that is not so subtly done. Spoilers abound and all that.

Jam anyone?

Chapter 7: Anything Reasonable

Setting: The Palanaeum, Kharbranth

Point(s) of View: Shallan

What Happens

Shallan laments that her family needs to regain the ability to Soulcast and the only way to do so is to gain access to Jasnah’s fabrial. Shallan is trying to gain an audience with Jasnah, who is currently inside the Palanaeum after having rescued Taravangian’s granddaughter. Shallan is denied entrance to the Palanaeum itself due to the high admittance fee, but requests to wait inside Jasnah’s reading alcove, which is outside of the collection areas.

To relax, Shallan immerses herself in drawing in her notebook. Afterwards she decides to write a letter to Jasnah using as much logic as she can to again argue for wardship. Soon after finishing the letter Shallan is joined by Brother Kabsal, who is an ardent in the Vorin Church. He is impressed by her illustrations and after some friendly discussion about Shallan’s homeland, Jah Keved, he helps lacquer her drawings to preserve them. Before he leaves Shallan realizes that he has mistaken her for part of Jasnah’s coterie. After explaining the error to Kabsal he leaves, asking her to tell Jasnah of his wish to have an audience with her.

Soon after. Shallan gathers her things to leave and is seen by Jasnah, who looks none to pleased by Shallan’s presence in her alcove.

Quote of the Chapter:

I’m pulling out two this week because they’re pretty important.

It still felt odd to her that she been the one to take charge after… After the incident… After…

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

So Shallan’s presumed Shardblade is not even hinted at but actually shown this early on. At this point if it were your first read this wasn’t necessarily a dead giveaway, but what with that mention of it being sharp enough to cut stone as if they were water it leaves little doubt. The question now is how did Shallan receive the blade? Did she get it from her father or did she somehow materialize it from Shadesmar perhaps?

Shallan had never known enough to be suspicious of that wealth’s origins. Every time the family had exhausted one of its quarries, her father had gone out with his surveyor and discovered a new one. Only after interrogating the surveyor had Shallan and her brothers discovered the truth: Her father, using his forbidden Soulcaster, had been creating new deposits at a careful rate. Not enough to be suspicious. Just enough to give him the money he needed to further his political goals.

Nobody knew where he’d gotten the fabrial, which she now carried in her safepounch. It was unusable, damaged on the same disastrous evening that her father died.

Shallan finally comes out with what her father was up to, at least in regards to her broken Soulcaster. I can’t wait for Words of Radiance so that we can finally get Shallan’s full back-story, as it should fill in most of the events that lead to her father’s death. But why was her father just creating marble? Why not gold? Maybe that would have been too conspicuous if his region wasn’t known for having gold, but they had already been mining marble for generations. And what are were his political goals? It is said time and again how unpopular her father was, so he probably needed more money than usual to grease whatever wheels he was after.


Again, the epigraph seems to support the Voidbringers being related to the Parshendi, “They bring the darkness when they come, and so all you can see is that their skin is aflame.” Parshendi they always have red skin mixed with white or black. We shall see, but there do seem to be a lot of mounting red herrings pointing to them.

We get to explore the Veil portion of the Palanaeum. The Palanaeum always intrigued me. Maybe it is just my fascination with books and libraries, but it is surely a very special and ancient place. At one point it is mentioned that the walls of the Palanaeum, including the area known as the Veil, have been there since before the founding Kharbranth and may have been cast by the Dawnsingers themselves, which places it in—if not before—the era of the Heralds. So it is very old indeed, and most likely an official Dawncity.

It seems likely that, due to the large collection of over 700,000 books, Taravangian may have access to ancient knowledge about past Desolations and the impending one. Whether he is trying to hasten or inhibit its approach is another ball of wax.

Also of interest is the name Palanaeum itself, which would seem to suggest a root name connection to the number 5 and essence Palah. Palah is also one of only a couple essence numbers that is connected to a not-yet-officially-named Herald. For 5 we’ll just call them Palah for now. The Palah essence is also associated in the Ars Arcanum with learning and giving, so again that seems to support the Palanaeum being connected to Palah in some way as it is a place of learning and giving of knowledge. Even if access to that knowledge now costs 1,000 sapphire broams.

This chapter we get to learn a bit more about what Shallan is capable of and what has driven her to Jasnah. Shallan all too briefly explains how her father kept the family wealthy in the years leading up to his demise by Soulcasting marble in local mines he owned. Her father had apparently been up to something and is connected with a secret group who we’ll get into later.

Shallan’s drawings seem almost magical. She is able to pull the essence from people, from the world and imbue it into her art. Is this a natural ability of all those who can naturally Soulcast? Or does this have to do with the second ability of whatever Knights Radiant group she may eventually be part of? The Lightweavers are known to use Soulcasting, but there is always a second ability shared in each group and Shallan’s illustrating skill may be evidence of it. Her art seems to be supernaturally good, as everyone comments on it. The manner in which her drawing of Kharbranth is described as “she had copied her Memory onto the page,” which is very telling. Note that the M in Memory and Memories is capitalized in the text a few times in this chapter, which does show it was given importance. Further, it states “When she collected Memory of a person, she was snipping free a bud of their soul, and she cultivated and grew it on the page.” What else could this power enable Shallan to do? Creationspren are soon seen as well once she gets deep into drawing. Later in the chapter Shallan also takes a “Memory” of Kabsal so that she can later sketch him.

Note it also says Creationspren have a silvery light. This might be a stretch, but the sword Shallan mentions earlier is described as silvery as well. Is this another connection to her possible Knights Radiant group? Some other Shardblades are described as blue, red, or even flamelike, but that’s not clear whether in just form or form and color. But there does seem to be some sort of correspondence of color for each Knights Radiant group.

Also, in an earlier post I discussed the lack of exploration about what would happen were one to touch a spren, but on this I was wrong as was rightly pointed out in the comments. In this chapter Shallan mentions she ignored spren when she was drawing. “They weren’t substantial—if she moved her arm through one, its figure would smear like scattered sand, then re-form. She never felt a thing when touching one.” So spren can be affected by people, but outside of Syl none seem to affect people directly very much.

Another interesting passage came up when Shallan began drawing Jasnah:

Shallan was back in that hallway again, watching something that should not be: a heretic wielding one of the most sacred powers in all the world. The power of change itself, the power by which the Almighty had created Roshar. Elithanathile. He who transforms.

So the creator god—or at least one of the creator gods—of Roshar is given a name: Elithanathile. That seems like a very Latinized or archaic form of the god’s name though. Tanavast is the name of the Shard holder of Honor, and you can kind of pull part of that out of Elithanathile with the “thana” part, but this could be more evidence of knowledge and names being changed over time.

Kabsal seems like so much more of a sleaze looking back. He’s putting on a classic “nice guy act,” but I could just be projecting how I saw him in the end. The question remains whether his intentions from the beginning were merely to gain an audience with Jasnah or gain knowledge of Jasnah through some intermediary such as Shallan. Kabsal mentions visiting Shallan’s homeland of Jah Keved on two occasions, which does move in sync with what we know about Shallan’s father having connections to the Ghostbloods since Kabsal is part of them as well. I believe this is also the first connection to the web of the Ghostbloods, though their mission still is a mystery. Of the few people we’ve heard of connected to the Ghostbloods the two prime examples of Shallan’s father and Kabsal certainly don’t put them in a good light. One a poisoner and the other a violent man who beat his children and was known for his temper. If those are the envoys they employ this is obviously a group not to get on the bad side of. I also have a feeling that the Ghostbloods might have been founded by the Herald Shalash. Firstly, her essence has to do with blood. Secondly, there are a few reference to her or someone who seems to be her defacing statues of Shalash, and hers was the statue missing in Gavilar’s castle at the beginning of the Prologue. Now let’s say she started the Ghostbloods; some would think that would put them on the side of honor, but what if all the Heralds aren’t on the same page after thousands of years and some want the Last Desolation to happen?


Chapter 8: Nearer the Flame

Setting: Kharbranth in the Palanaeum and the city proper

Point(s) of View: Shallan

What Happens

Shallan is confronted by Jasnah for intruding into her reading alcove uninvited. Jasnah sends Shallan away. As Shallan tries to compose herself in the hallway she is summoned back in by one of Jasnah’s helpers. Jasnah apologizes to Shallan for being so brusque with her and motions to the spheres Shallan left, which Shallan had forgotten about. Shallan mentions Brother Kabsal’s visit to Jasnah.

Shallan then asks Jasnah about the letter she left, which Jasnah had not seen. Jasnah finally reads the letter Shallan wrote to her to make her case for being taken on as a ward. Jasnah comments that Shallan being self-taught is “remarkable” all on its own, and if Shallan were to study more about history and philosophy Jasnah would most likely take her on as a ward, but at a later date.

Shallan realizes that while this is good news she does not have the months to study and impress Jasnah again as her family is in need now. Shallan leaves the Palanaeum and the Conclave to find Yalb, who had waited for her outside longer than expected. Yalb had been gambling with members of the city guard while he waited and easily winning by cheating. Shallan is preparing to leave Kharbranth to return home. She tells Yalb she tried twice to convince Jasnah. Yalb counters that you must always try three times for something you truly desire. Shallan takes this to heart and comes up with a plan. Yalb finds a bookstore for her at her request. She aims to purchase the books Jasnah mentioned earlier. The bookstore merchant acts condescending to Shallan and she makes it known she isn’t pleased. After Shallan is presented with many books she makes her selections but is taken aback by the cost. Yalb soon enters the store and pretends to be an assistant from a rival bookstore and helps get the costs down for the book considerably, which helps Shallan with her quickly dwindling funds. Shallan meets with Yalb down the street from the bookshop and as thanks gives him the drawing she did of him and also takes a Memory of him now so that she can make another of him to add to her collection.

Shallan returns to the Conclave and the Veil specifically with hopes to immerse herself in the words and try to impress Jasnah before she leaves Kharbranth. She asks for a reading alcove near Jasnah’s so that she can begin studying and hopefully keep on eye on Jasnah. Jasnah soon after visits Shallan telling her she bribed the servants to tell her if she returned. Jasnah guesses at Shallan’s plans and also for the reasons she wants to be her ward. Jasnah believes Shallan wants to become her ward so that she can marry well and help protect her family’s position.

Jasnah looks through Shallan’s belongings and comes across Shallan’s drawings which seem to impress Jasnah. Jasnah appreciates the fact that Shallan goes to the trouble to work on sketches of the plants and animals of Roshar independently and with such detail, saying “You pursue scholarship in your free time for its own sake. It is perhaps the best argument you could make on your own behalf.” And with that Jasnah offers Shallan a room at the conclave and to begin assisting her with her research when Shallan isn’t studying. Shallan feels relief. Yet this is just the first step to her plan to help her family.

Quote of the Chapter:

“So that’s it? You’re going to give up?”

“I did try to persuade her,” Shallan said, blushing. “I went to her a second time, and she rejected me again.”

“Two times, eh? In cards, you always got to try a third hand. It wins the most often.”

“But that’s not really true. The laws of probability and statistics—“

“Don’t know much blustering math,” Yalb said, folding his arms. “But I do know the Passions. You win when you need it most, you see.”

The Passions. Pagan superstition. Of course, Jasnah had referred to glyphwards as superstition too, so perhaps it all came down to perspective.

Try a third time… Shallan shivered to consider Jasnah’s wrath if Shallan bothered her yet again.


An idea sparked in Shallan’s head.

If it were not for Yalb’s intervention, Shallan would have given up on becoming Jasnah’s ward and we’d have a much less interesting story for it. I wish Shallan would have found some way to keep Yalb, my favorite Thaylen, around, perhaps as her personal servant. She certainly could have used the help to make her way in the city later on. Plus, I’m sure it would have lead to a lot of other interesting exchanges between the two.

“The Passions” (note the capital P) seems to mean in your hour of greatest need you’ll win, and Shallan’s need to become a ward is certainly of importance to her and her family. Whether they deserve that saving is still to be determined. Also, this is another mention of glyphwards, which someone like Jasnah has treated as nonsense, but I do wonder if they contain some power, especially if connected to Stormlight. Symbols do seem to have some sort of importance in this world as we will see some Shardplate and Shardblades with glyphs on them.


It is amazing to think that the first four chapters from Shallan’s point of view all occurred in the same day. A very important day in her life, though. This is quite different from Kaladin’s, which are spaced days apart at least. In the end it is Shallan’s hobby of drawing that saves her from going home and leads to her being accepted by Jasnah, along with her tenacity and a nudge from Yalb at just the right moment. Shallan’s sword is again alluded to as being “ten heartbeats away,” which if you weren’t convinced from the last chapter that is some sort of Shardblade this again confirms it.

Shallan’s horrified reaction to Yalb’s gambling antics is now even more surprising, but shows how much she is changing. A proper lady in this society does not think well of swindling a few city guards, but is her stealing Jasnah’s Soulcaster any less wicked than Yalb winning a few spheres? Or do the ends justify the means for her? Shallan is becoming her own little philosophical conundrum.

The society does have some unusual customs, such as women wearing a glove on one hand—their safehand. Then there is the custom where most men cannot read and think it odd if they could, while women are there to be the scholars and readers. But in an odd way this sets men and women up as a team, as demonstrated by the booksellers. The woman handles the reading and finding books while the man negotiates the sales. Women have a large role in government while the men of the Alethi are more interested in the physical acts and strategy or war. As we’ll later see, the Parshendi fight in pairs of a man and a woman. There is a duality to this world. Knights Radiant versus the Voidbringers. Good versus Evil. Each group of Knights Radiant seems to have two types of abilities. Also, there are an equal number of male and female Heralds. There is balance in the world.

What could the “strange collection of maps” from Jah Keved be that Shallan is referring to? Could the maps be the ones of the Shadesmar, or perhaps maps of the old divisions of Roshar seen in the end papers? Shallan already admitted in the bookshop scene that she never knew there were five Vorin Kingdoms as there have been four Kingdoms for hundreds of years. Also, in the bookstore scene Shallan refers to the Shinovar as a place “where people lived in mud and worshipped rocks.” She doesn’t seem to think this in a nice way, and most Alethi seem to think them savages for living in an area where you can grow food such as strawberries. And why do they worship rocks? Is it just the veneration of nature? Or do rocks contain something else?

There is also a mention of Shallan’s brother Helaran who went missing a year ago on some mission related to her father’s work and is presumed dead. I think it is a bit early to presume anyone who died off page dead, so expect him to crop up—that is if he hasn’t already under some other name.

It is little cultural things like the practice of writing down a prayer and then burning it that really help to immerse yourself in the world. But what does burning have to do with having your prayer answered? Is that how the Vorin see their prayers reaching the almighty?

Nomon, the middle moon is mentioned. And this is the first time—I believe—we’re told this world has 3 moons orbiting. The moons are interesting in that each has a different color and one is even green, which begs the question; is their life on any of the moons? Or do they have something to do with Stormlight energy?

Shallan is now in with Jasnah, and will continue to fall deeper into her Veristitalian rabbit hole.


Next week we’ll cover two back-to-back Kaladin chapters.

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

1. exiledjerseyite
There are Thaylen merchants at the Shattered Plains, right? I think they're mentioned in the Outer Market. There is totally a place for Yalb to come back, especially since Shallan is going to the Shattered Plains.

Yalb is one of my favorite minor characters. Something about him is so charming, and I loved his trick with the shopkeeper.

I don't have much more to add since, I'll admit, Shallan's chapters didn't hold my attention as much as Kaladin's or even Dalinar's. I didn't *dislike* them, but, as much as I love reading and books, reading about people reading is less exciting than everything going on at the Shattered Plains. Can't wait for Words of Radiance, though, to see how Shallan develops.
William Carter
2. wcarter
After rereading this section, I'm now really quite curious as to just how finances and the economy are handled in Vorin societies.

Shallan was in charge of several of her father's minor accounts, but she says in the book store that "...commerce is a masculine art in most situations."

And that of course got me thinking on the gold question. Looking at areas I would actually have to reverse the question: Why should Shallan's father want to cast gold regardless of geological makeup of his land?
Is gold even valuable on Roshar? Jewels rather than gold or other "precious metals" are used currency in the local kingdoms. Marble on the other hand is a beautiful and relatively uncommon rock that's fairly durable. I can see it being valued.

**I also liked Brandon's not so subtlely pointing out the classic "try fail cycle" in fiction writing which pretty much demands that your characters are only allowed to achieve their major goals on the third attempt.
Karen Morrell
3. karenm83
I always assumed the capitol M in Memeory just helped us readers tell the difference from a general run-of-the-mill memory and one Shallan took for the purpose of drawing later on.

Didn't Szeth mention in the prologue that his people considered it profane to walk on rocks? I wonder when we'll find out what that's all about.

And does anyone else have a hard time reading Dalinar? It's not so bad later on in the book but I almost dread reading a chapter about him right now. Couldn't tell you why though...
Charles S
4. Cheese_Ninja
Herald headings.
Chapter 7 is Ishar/Ishar
Ishar's attributes are Pious/Guiding
Ishar isn't used very often. It's also used almost exclusively in chapters that feature Kabsal (one exception, chapter 23) or discussion about Kabsal (Chapter 74, Ghostblood). It's not a very strong theory, but I think that Ishar is Thaidakar, and the head of the Ghostbloods. You could also argue that Ishar makes sense for chapters that feature an ardent, but he's not used in any of the others. Also, Kabsal isn't just an ardent.

Chapter 8 is Palah/Palah
Palah is Learned/Giving
Palah gets used a lot, since the main Divine attribute works well for any scholarly chapters, and I think Jasnah belongs to Palah's Order as well. Haven't seen much of the "Giving" aspect so far. I don't think we've seen Palah yet.

I don't think Shalash is associated with the Ghostbloods, but I have nothing to base that on. Just the impression that she wants to stay out of things and be left alone for now.
andrew smith
5. sillyslovene
Just some thoughts:

Moons: the three that are different colors seem to correspond to the three Shards we know are present: Odium (the purple one), Cultivation (the green) and Honor (the blue).

Colors: paying attention to the colors of things seems like a good hint of things to come. Brandon seems to be playing with it greatly. Interestingly, I think there are really only 10 different colors used thorughout the book (in different shades of course). Spren can be classified by their color (whether or not it is useful or telling to do so is a different matter); the KR we see seem to be identifiable by color in Dalina'r visions, etc; it seems significant also that at some points certain colors are associated with differing people, and could be foreshadowing/subtle hints of what is going on. For example: the night of Shallan's "hands-on philosophy lesson" Jasnah wears a purple gown, perhaps connecting her with Odium in this action? She definitely comes off as full of hate at that moment... Just some subtle worldbuilding that may be indicative of things to come.

Glyphs: I'm convinced that glyphs are going to a major part in the development of the series. Specifically, they seem to have connections with the ways symbols and glyphs play out in other books of the cosmere, and their relations to shard power. In connection to what Michael mentioned- burning glyph pairs as prayers and their use as talismans seems like it has its origins in the glowing empowered glyphs of the Knights Radiant. Without a connection to the Almighty's power, the practice has devolved into burning them (setting them alight) as a way to summon/imitate that power.

This seems to me to be representative of one of the most interesting things Brandon is doing in this book: the devolution of societies. Most all of the cultural aspects, in all the cultures from Shin to Alethi to the Horneaters, seem to have evolved, with a little tweaking in different ways, from the original societies based in the time of the Heralds and Knights Radiant, when the entire land was unified. (I wrote a bit about this as relates to the Shin under my name Rew on the stormblessed forums, back when the book first came out:, it's dated, and new info has come out since, specifically on Szeth, but it still seems to hold generally).

Speaking of Szeth- the description of the sword that Shallan has in the memory could match that of Szeth's, and not the description of all of the others that we have seen. Which would raise some interesting questions...or it could just be vague on the description to leave it more subtle...describing her holding a six foot long sword with etched patterns of flame might be a little too much of a cluebat. :)
Eric Wyatt
7. SunDriedRainbow
@3 oh, I can't tolerate any of Dalinar's chapters. Sanderson has a remarkable ability to write self-righteous characters who spend entire books being unbearable (Vivenna, Dalinar, Elend, Sarene to an extent though I can tolerate her because she's at least funny).
Nadine L.
8. travyl
So spren can be affected by people, but outside of Syl none seem to affect people directly very much
I disagree "again": windspren do play tricks, that’s why Kaladin mistook Syl in the beginning. I guess some spren can chose to be able to touch the world or be "untouchable", so trying to trap one the normal way, would be futile.

Re name of the god: Elithanathile
it’s a palindrome. Later we here that in ancient Vorin palindromes where important, and all of the old kingdom names were palindromes, so it seems logical that the creator is as well.
Mahesh Banavar
9. maheshkb
"Shallan’s horrified reaction to Yalb’s gambling antics is now even more surprising, but shows how much she is changing."

I rather thought the reaction was to the cheating, esp. cheating the guards, and not the gambling itself.
Raphael Schweber-Koren
10. raphaelsk
@8: yes.
We see at least two other types of spren that affect people directly:
-Truthspren - tell them a truth, and they take you to Shadesmar
Rotspren possibly do as well - Kaladin believes they cause infection, but a discussion with Syl suggests he may be wrong.

Given the similar descriptions of Szeth's and Shallan's Shardblades, are Shallan's emerging Radiant abilities originating from her (as is the case with Kaladin) or from the sword (as appears to be the case with Szeth)?
Kimani Rogers
11. KiManiak
Thanks Michael,

I’m not ashamed to admit that I think I missed every single hint (even the one delivered via cluebat in Chapter 7) about Shallan’s shardblade in my first read. I think I had to have Shallan’s shardblade spelled out for me in some forum sometime after I had read WoK. In my defense, I think I may have attributed the sword reference here to some other new thing in Roshar that Brandon was introducing us/alluding to. I totally whiffed on that reference.

Good questions about the origin of the blade. I know the default is to think Shallan received it after her father’s death (ergo, it was her father’s blade before Shallan “killed” him), but there are still many possibilities. There’s just so much we don’t know after only one book. I hope that Words of Radiance does fill in a lot of this info for us.

The description of (the lack of knowledge of) the origins of the Palaneum definitely raised some red flags for me in the reread. That, combined with Michael’s questions regarding the bells of the Kharbranth, seems to hint that Kharbranth may have been quite important in previous Desolations; and may be important again for this one.

It is unfortunate that one must either be wealthy or an ardent to gain access to the Palaneum. But, it does appear to be a realistic depiction of that society.

Re: Shallan’s art, I also think that her Memories may be linked to her “proto” Knights Radiant abilities. There is not enough information to speculate whether her art/Memories are linked to Soulcasting yet, though. The only other human Soulcaster we know of to this point is Jasnah; and just because she doesn’t place as much value on the more artistic areas of the feminine arts doesn’t mean she is incapable of drawing that well. And, it was Shallan’s drawings that aided in ultimately persuading Jasnah to take Shallan on as a ward.

Elithanathile just seems like another Vorinized version of a god or demigod’s name (like Talenelat), since it appears that Brandon treats certain consonant pairings like “th” as one letter or character in certain palindrome-type names like Alethela.

Good observation by Michael about the duality of this world constantly being reinforced in subtle ways. I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but male and female “arts” in Alethi society do seem to complement one another, and the Parshendi do seem to fight in pairs, and there are other examples of duality and balance.
(Actually, when Dalinar has one of his visions in Chapter 19, we see that the 2 Knights Radiant that rescue him from the creatures are a male/female pair as well; but we don’t know if them being paired is relevant or not, yet).

wcarter@2 re: value of gold – Good question. It appears that value (as far as currency is concerned) is related to items infused by stormlight (so, all types of gems). As you stated, marble and other materials appear to be valuable for their usage, not for their rarity.

Karenm83@3 – re: reading Dalinar – One thing I like about this reread (and any reread, for that matter) are the different tastes commenters have in the main characters and their sections. I actually like the Dalinar sections; it’s the early Kaladin sections that are difficult for me to read. I do note the parallel where we both find our difficult-to-read-character’s latter sections to be easier to read.

silllyslovene@5 – I like your theory regarding the moons being associated with the 3 Shards. I applaud those who key in on color influences and variations in novels; that’s not often my strength (even when it came to Ajah in WoT). I think some of your mentions may just be coincidence; but then again, who knows? Maybe Brandon was very particular about what he was doing.

As for the glyphs, BSW does indeed show that symbols are important in his works. I still hold on to the theory that Kaladin’s brand may be more important than is initially thought…

Travyl@8 – re: Elithanathile – I obviously agree. As I say above, certain consonant pairings like "th" or "sh" appear to be treated as one letter/character in Roshar.
12. Denise Winters
The reread really has me becoming a bit obsessed with the Vorin kingdoms, particularly the Alethi. Shallan notes her suspicion that the male captain can read, refers to the Shin and the Passions as barbarian/pagan. It leaves me wondering if perhaps society was once either concentrated in the East or the West and spread out from there, beliefs becoming more diluted from an original form as they spread.

I also wonder about Jashnah taking on Shallan. I would think that Shallan's dedication to biology and natural history would make Jasnah second-guess the reason she presumed Shallan would be so dilligent in seeking her out. At the least I wonder if she did guess that Shallan had been over-sheltered most of her life, and if that also factored into her decision.

Also, looking back, it seems to me that Kabsal is dedicated to the Vorin religion, as one of his most sincere moments is when he is gauging Shallan's continued belief later in the book. It especially seems sincere contrasted with his introduction, where he seems grating and superficial on my reread. He almost seems like a male version of Shallan with regards to going out of his way to make witty/shocking remarks.
13. Confutus
@1 Tvlakv, the slave merchant who owns the slave caravan Kaladin is in, is also Thaylen.

Shallan's dislike of the duplicity of her own scheme to steal Jasnah's soulcaster, as well as her near abandonment of the "lie composed of truths" she puts in her written appeal says something about her basic honesty, as does her being horrified by Yalb's gambling. She seems to think her end of saving the family from financial ruin does indeed justify the means she is using. As we will see later, the instruction she gets from Jasnah in moral philosophy increases her awareness of and discomfort with what she is doing.

I liked the scene where Shallan reveals to Kabsal that she is self-taught in drawing.
"You learned this from a book"?
"I need to read more."

I notice that Sanderson upsets a romantic convention or two with Kabsal. This is something he does repeatedly and well. He sets up a standard trope, and then before it finishes playing out, does a sudden left turn, one is nevertheless credible because it had been subtly foreshadowed well in advance. The ending of Mistborn :Hero of Ages is one, and so is the courtship of Wax in the Alloy of Law.

I also liked the entire bookselling scene. Along with Shallan's observations on the usefulness of being discriminating in one's reading material, I thought this exchange delightful:
"Surely he you wouldn't patronize someone so crass as to send a servant into someone else's shop to steal his customers!"
"Perhaps I would. At least he didn't insult my intelligence."
Karen Morrell
14. karenm83
SunDriedRainbow@7 Glad I'm not the only one, and now that you mention it that may be my hangup with him, that and how naive he seems to be in regards to Sadeas.

KiManic@11 It took me a bit to get through the first couple of Kaladin chapters after he became a slave too. Dalinar is a much bigger stumbling block for me though. I was reading WoK last night and actually put my book down when I got to one of his chapters, I'm an avid reader and that goes completely against my nature. I don't normally stop until I'm to tired to keep my eyes open lol
Alice Arneson
15. Wetlandernw
Actual observations later this afternoon. For now, my personal favorite quote from Chapter 8:
"Brightness... I believe you stray into sarcasm."
"Funny. I thought I'd run straight into it, screaming at the top of my lungs."
David Goldfarb
16. David_Goldfarb
In re "th" and "sh", consider that these are really one sound. The only reason that we think of them as a consonant pair is that that's how we represent them in our writing system today. There's nothing universal about that: in Hungarian, our "sh" sound is one letter and our "s" sound is two. For that matter, "th" was a single letter in English up until a few hundred years ago.
17. SmokeyandBooger
I found Shallan the hardest to get through the first time I read this book until the end when all of the Truthspren came about and when I finally realized she had a Shardblade.

I agree that her art seems to be part of her ability as a possible Radiant. When describing taking a Memory, she talks about how the images are perfect in her mind until she puts them on paper, and then it is as if they are erased as they are drawn.

Also, with regards to the Ghostbloods, there are at least two other important times that I can remember them being mentioned outside of Shallan's arc. When Khaladin has just killed the shardbearer and is in Amaram's tent, as Amaram and the stormwarden are walking in they are talking about if the shardbearer's presence might be connected to the Ghostbloods

The second time is speculation on my part, but there is a scene at the King's feast when Wit looks at Dhalinar with intensity and says a word that Dhalniar had never heard of, expecting him to understand it. I think it may have been a secret greeting like what Mason's use.
Phil Vogel
18. PhilV
@17 - the word Wit says to Dalinar is "Adonalsium", which has a larger meaning in Brandon's universe (the Cosmere).
If you are curious, and not afraid of spoilers to Brandon's other books, check out the 17th Shard website and the Coppermind wiki.
19. Abba Zaba
Hmm Kabsal is described as having a faint Herdazian accent. Do we know any other important Herdazians that could be involved in the Ghostblood scheme?
Deana Whitney
20. Braid_Tug
Thanks Michael! Good review.
Suspect Yalb will show up again. Too much color to waste him. Maybe like Uno in WoT, he’ll just keep showing up at unexpected times.

Count me one of the (seems few) people who liked Shallan’s POV more than the others. Maybe because I didn’t know where it was going. Maybe because I can relate best to her.

The Money:
I found it funny, yet fitting, that the value of the gems reflects the rarity of the gems in RL.

Diamonds are actually pretty common on Earth. Emeralds? Not very common, hence 95% of them in jewelry stores are lab created.
Man, I would love to read by the light of a diamond powered lamp.

Brandon brought the money up at the right time. He really does have a knack for giving us the world building tidbits as they are needed, not just dumped all at once. Plus it’s nice to see a world that doesn’t have gold and silver coins.

The Moons:
Guessing some of the moons have to have gas atmospheres, like some of Saturn’s and Jupiter’s. Our moon is white because it is bare rock reflecting the sun's light. Since their sun produces the same light as ours, gases on the moons have to account for the different colors. Well, that’s the logic leap I take.

@ Cheese_Ninja – wow… I’m impressed with how you keep track of the Herald headings. I so didn’t pay attention to them.

@ Wetlandernw, 15: Love, love that quote!
Rob Munnelly
21. RobMRobM
Really enjoy Shallan in these chapters. Bursting to the seam with one liners. I agree Wetlander's is probably the best.

I too am one who missed the shardblade implications on my first read (and actually on my first reread as well). Thank goodness for my fellow posters here.

Query - how many types of spren actually talk to people. Honor, truth - any others? Rot, death, wind, all probably not.

The Dalinar chapters are hard to read by design. The Alethi culture is out of balance with sound principles in many ways. Hard for honorable people to live within it, unless you have some Wit.
22. Halibulu
@17 SmokeyandBooger:
Your mention of Shallan "releasing" the Memories she keeps of people/tihngs once she's sketched them strikes me as faintly similar (but I suppose opposite) to the scholar we see later in an Interlude who almost seems to capture the identity/physical being of a spren when she writes down their physical size. I'm guessing the two aren't at all related, but the one certainly makes my mind harken back to the other.
23. AndrewB
Braid_Tug @20. I agree. Shallon's POV was my favorite (during my initial read and all subsequent re-reads).

Every time I re-read TWoK, I cannot wait to learn more of Shallon's back story. On the other hand, I did not find Kaladin's back story very interesting. From the beginning, he is set up as somebody who as something (or more than one somethings) bad happen to him. It is this something(s) that influence his dislike/distrust against all lighteyes. Maybe it is because I am a white male who grew up in a cosmopolitan Judeo-Christian suburb in America and who has not been subject to outright prejudice because of my race, gender, religion or sexual preference -- but I could not relate to Kaladin. Further, I did not really look forward to findinig out his back story when I first read the book.

I wanted (and still do in subsequent re-reads) to learn more about Shallon's and Dalinor's back stories. I wonder if Dalinor's back story was included in TWoK instead of Kaladin's would I feel the same indifference to learning about Kaladin's backstory. I suspect I would. But that is based upon what I find most interesting about Shallon and Dalinor.

That said, I think BWS made right decision to include Kaladin's back story in TWoK. Even though Kaladin is not my favorite character, he is the moral compass of TWoK. He is the driving force behind the plot of this first book. As such, his back story had to be presented before any of the other characters.

Thanks for reading my musings,
(aka the musespren)
24. Dragonslayer
Just a thought about "Elithanathile," and some other palindromic names. First, I do agree that it is a palindrome, due to the "th" being a single sound, and I think somewhere on the 17th Shard forums someone mentioned that in Alethi script it is indeed one symbol. I'd propose, as a theory, that the names such as "Elithanathile" and "Urithiru" and "Talenelat," ect., are actually ketek acronyms–along with possible "ketek" itself. The ketek is described as a "holy" poetic form, which denotes it is of some significance. I also find it interesting that Rock says "On the Peaks, everyone's name is a poem." Perhaps the concept of a name being a poem is not just confined to Horneater tradition.

@5sillyslovene I'm kind of inclined to think that Shallan's Shardblade is of the same type as Szeth's, although there isn't a ton of evidence for that position yet.
25. SmokeyandBooger
@22 That's a great piont about that ardent's research with the spren being kind of like what Shallan's doing with the Memories she takes. I never thought of that before, but I think it would be really cool if those things end up having an important correlation

@18 I keep hearing about those other wikis but never check it out because I'm afraid I will look around and realize that I just misplaced a whole day without realizing it! Thanks for the word though, I couldn't have remembered it if you waved a wad of cash at me
26. BranoftheWeirwoods
random note, ketek in the Indonesian language is slang for armpit
Charles S
27. Cheese_Ninja
@20 (Braid_Tug) It's not like I have all the headings memorized. There's a list here:
Confutus and I both think they are easily overlooked, so that makes them worth mentioning. I didn't notice them at all on my first readthrough. They usually hint at major themes in each chapter. (By way of the Divine attributes associated with each Herald.) But sometimes they seem to more related to the Heralds themselves or their associated Order of Knights Radiants.

Sometimes I have no idea why a particular Herald is used. Nalan is Just/Confident, but he seems to be used for the grimmest of the chapters, involving death and suffering, and only small amounts of justice.
Alice Arneson
28. Wetlandernw
(Mostly off topic of these chapters...)

Cheese_Ninja @27 - Tentatively, I'd put forward the idea that Nalan is used when the question of "killing to protect" comes up. Often in "his" chapters, Kaladin is recalling his father's words about "two kinds of people - those who save lives, and those who take lives" (or however it goes), and his own idea that sometimes you kill to protect lives. Some other common events in those chapters are Kaladin in despair over his inability to protect, or an attempt to protect that goes wrong (e.g. Side Carry). There are only two Shallan chapters with the Nalan figure: The Lesson, and Burned Into Her, when Jasnah kills the criminal types, and when Shallan relives the events through her drawings, trying to decide what to think about Jasnah's lesson.

Exactly what this has to do with "Just/Confident" I can't quite articulate, but it deals more with questions of justice than with actual just doings.
29. Confutus
I've considered the possibility that an icon may appear when the opposite of a trait is particularly prominent; for instance, Nan may appear when there is a gross injustice being committed. However, I prefer to discuss them along with the chapter they appear in. I didn't mention them this time, because Cheese-Ninja beat me to it, and I have nothing to add.
Pirmin Schanne
30. Torvald_Nom
Braid_Tug@20:Guessing some of the moons have to have gas atmospheres, like some of Saturn’s and Jupiter’s. Our moon is white because it is bare rock reflecting the sun's light. Since their sun produces the same light as ours, gases on the moons have to account for the different colors. Well, that’s the logic leap I take.
I'm not sure about that; rock colour might explain that as well (after all, Mars is not the Red Planet for its atmosphere).
31. Juanito
I gotta say I totally blocked all clues to Shallan's shardblade. To be quite honest, it might be because I sorta skimmed her chapters. Not because I thought Shallan was boring, but mostly because of Jasnah. I dunno... I found her difficult to like or want to listen to. It's like... this happens sometimes in speculative fiction where the intellectuals whose end product is simply ideas actually ends up being a positive force in the world and has all the wealth and pomp that, say, a successful head to a corporation might experience. This kinda happens in the real world, I guess, when you look at some linguists or sociologists who have put themselves forward as commentators on politics, theology, or other controversial subjects that are distinctly outside their narrow area of expertise.

BUT! I find Jasnah's haughtiness hard to accept because, in the end, she's not researching anything that's obviously all that important to the world at large. This isn't a shot at the author. There are plenty of people who don't know that their formidable knowledge of whatever topic are, on the whole, impressive to a narrow band of individuals. So sure, we know her research is important as the readers of this ever expanding drama, but why would her conceptual work on Voidbringers and the Desolation appeal to anyone else? Sure, Taravingian is a crazy person, but Jasnah seems to have earned the repute of everyone in town and, what's more, she has this unshakeable confidence in her own awesomeness.

Wtf, lady? You're the niece of the Dead Hero King! That's why everyone's kissing your ass!

I dunno... I skimmed over it mostly because of my innate hatred of the eternal graduate student, but also because I'm a Dumb Fanboy wanting to see The Guy with the Thpearth and the Thwordth...

I do recall the line about the silvery sword. I just didn't make the connection. I guess I was imagining her with a rapier or a sword like Needle (a la Arya Stark) and the thought of her with a seven-foot shardblade didn't ken. She's described as small, isn't she?

Anyways, Jasnah can go choke on her Pop-Tarts...
Rob Munnelly
32. RobMRobM
@31 - to contrary, there is very little more important than what Jasnah is searching. And I'm a big fan on the Shallan-Jasnah interactions, which are endlessly entertaining.
Jamie Watkins
33. Treesinger
One thing that always struck me was why Jasnah doesn't seem to have any servants or body guards? You would think that a princess would have, at least, four body guards with her at all times. especially since there have been attempts on her life.
By the way, I totally missed Shallan's shard blade until the re-read too.
William Carter
34. wcarter
@33 Treesinger

That's a good question.
My guess is that the people most likely in a position to order her to have bodyguards (Navani and Elhokar) have some point the past that she rarely if ever needs them--probably by displaying her handiwork after a previous failed attempt on her life.

She's demonstrated that she is perfectly capable and willing to soulcast criminals into statues. So you might say her ability to defend herself is taken for granite. ::Ducks::

Beyond that, she's a scholar usually surrounded by a fair number of people. There probably aren't that many easy opportunites to make an attempt on her, and she probably isn't as high priority a target as her uncle or brother in the first place (although that will probably change with her arrival at the Shattered Plains).
Rich Bennett
35. Neuralnet
I love the Shallan storylines in this book... it made the book for me. I like Kaladin too, but to me at least, his storyline seemed predictable. Shallan was really intriguing since I had no idea how it was going to play out until the very end. Shallan is such an interesting character... I am surprised most people seem to think she will end up being a Radiant. We will see I guess, but she seems to be a morally ambigous character to me... she walked the line between hero/villian throughout the book and I think if Kabsal had given her the opportunity she might have worked with him to kill Jasnah. At the end she seems to be heading down the right path, but we dont know yet what is really going on with her and shardsmear or what happened with Shallan's father/family. A little push might send her back toward being a villian in the series rather than a heroine. Also, After this reread I am wondering if the bread was poisoned from the very beginning... hadnt thought of that before...

ugh 9 more books (and probably 15 years) before we read the end of this series... how did I get sucked into one of these series with no end in sight again? LOL
James Briggs
36. traveler
Well, that was great.I happen to think that the study that Jasnah is working on is of vital importance. She and Shallon found out that during the coming desolation parsh men and parshendiwill band together against everyone else. What will be interesting will be to see who will listen to her findings or , will it take them turning on their masters to make people wake up.
I also liked the caracters and the way that Brandon has set up the main people for the next book . I cant wait to see the next one .
Sean Dowell
37. qbe_64
A couple things regarding the shardblade - Did we know at this point in the book that shardblades:
A) were summoned in ten heartbeats
B) could cut rock
I feel that it must've come up in the prologue with the fight between Galinar and Szeth, but I don't recall. Also, who has Galinar's plate and blade?
Sean Dowell
38. qbe_64
I also completely missed Shallan's blade on the first read AND my first re-read. Hell I probably would have missed it again if I didn't read this before going home and reading the chapters (I've fallen behind on all my re-read follows).

Interestingly enough, I went back and re-read the Mistborn series recently. I can't recall what I thought (if anything) abot Vin's earring on the first read through. But I wouldn't be suprised if it was something along the lines of "Holy crap Brandon, shut the fuck up about her stupid earring!, next thing you know she'll braid her hair so she can tug on it". On the re-read I was surprised at the sheer volume of mentions (in hindsight now obvious) that the earring got. I'm curious as to what will become retroactively obvious later in this series.
Sean Dowell
39. qbe_64
@18, on the topic of the cosmere and my recent mistborn re-read(@38 not @18). My hero of ages book has the name as Adonasium (no L), in Sazed's chapter headings. Also, the allomancy wheel has Atium and Malatium in place of Cadmium and Cerrobend. I'm guessing it's like this on all his printings, but I thought maybe my book would be worth something. And then my dog chewed up the cover so I hope it wasn't.
Deana Whitney
40. Braid_Tug
@ qbe_64: My thought on the earring was that it would give her away as "Not from a good home."
Because how man nobles would have an earring like that?

Never thought about it's true meaning - got hit like many others.
41. Shadesmar
@11: well, you just made me spawn a Loony Theory. What if....

Parshendi are the fallen KR?

Only pros- fighting in male/female pairs, no one knows exactly where the KR went. Also, my other loony theory that the KR tainted their plates and blades when they abandoned humanity. The only evidence I have for that is that the plate no longer glows and Kaladin and Syl's apparent distaste for the blades.
Phil Vogel
42. PhilV
@25, you're welcome! And you can definitely sink large amounts of time into the wiki if you're not careful. But there's lots of fascinating stuff there.

@39, Brandon has acknowledged that "Adonasium" with no "L" was a typo in HoA.
43. jayturner341
@41: I was wondering the same thing in the Chapter 1 and 2 comments. I believe the Parshendi are the decendents of the Knights Radiant, and the main reason is because Jasnah is almost certain the Parshendi are the Voidbringers. It's a classic mis-direction on Brandon's part. He likes to make you think one thing and then flip it around to something totally different. For example: How many of us were POSITIVE Vin was the Hero of Ages?

As such, I'm totally onboard with the Parshendi being the remnants of the KR.

I also think Shallan is going to bring somebody back from the dead by using her ability to remove a portion of somebody's soul. Maybe we'll see this in book 8 or 9. ;)
James Briggs
44. traveler
JUST A OPINION; the knights radiant gave up their because they were no longer living by the codes that the hearlds had enforced , so they stopped using them and gave them to mankind because they were told that it was the last war since they had won. In Dalinars vision noadone was telling them that passage througs the KR area was getting more and more costly. so the KR were giving in to their human nature.
I think Kaladin will will be the first to get a hearlds armor and blade becaus they arnt tainted by missuse !
James Briggs
45. traveler
The blades and plate were made to protect life and the KR were no longer living up to that calling
Scott Ranger
46. syncap8
"Shallan already admitted in the bookshop scene that she never knew there were five Vorin Kingdoms as there have been four Kingdoms for hundreds of years."

I think there are only four kingdoms, the bookseller was saying five to gauge Shallan's knowlege, and therefore, how much he could rip her off. Notice that right after she doesn't correct him on the number, he gets a gleam in his eye and starts to act more confident again ...
Alice Arneson
47. Wetlandernw
Neuralnet @35 – ROFL! Did autocorrect get you on Shadesmar?… “shardsmear” cracked me up. Also… it’s extra-textual, but knowing that one of the potential titles for “Shallan’s book” (WoR) was “Knights Radiant” and that Brandon said it was “a little too on-the-nose” to be a good title in his mind… (His comparison was choosing “Kvothe Has Sex” as the title for “Wise Man’s Fear”…) Well, if Shallan’s book is all about Knights Radiant, it’s not much of a stretch to suppose that she just might turn out to be one. I expect that part of the book will involve seeing Kaladin develop as a KR, and possibly Dalinar as well (maybe others?), so there’s no real necessity for the flashback character to be one of the becoming-a-KR characters, but the possibility is there, no?

qbe_64 @37 – re: shardblades, yes, we learned in the Prologue that they (or at least Szeth’s) came in 10 heartbeats, and how it cuts easily through inanimate objects but not through flesh. And we don’t know what happened to Gavilar’s Plate and Blade. There’s plenty of speculation, but nothing is said about it – at least, not that I can find, and I’ve searched…

Ditto @38 – Yes, like you and many others, I too completely missed both Shallan-has-a-Blade references in these two chapters. On my first FULL reread, I caught it; on the first read, I registered the sword but not the cutting-through-rock-so-it’s-a-Shardblade cue. *sigh*”Retroactively obvious” is a real thing for Sanderson, I think… I just recently read one of his short stories, and I was really surprised at how much foreshadowing he put in even something like that. Little things that you didn’t quite notice the first time through, but by the time you got to the end, you realized that it had been hinted…

Various odd thoughts spawned by the chapter:

1) When Shallan says that her Memory fades as she transfers it to the paper, does that mean she can no longer remember it, or that she no longer has the ability to do another exact copy of it, or that she doesn’t retain the exact detailed image? I don’t know that it matters; I’d assume the second and third might be true, but I wouldn’t think the first would be.

2) Is there something significant/mystical about Shallan’s idea of “collecting souls?” She talked about taking a bud of their soul and cultivating it on paper, and she talks about her collection as though she has a little part of the person. Does she? Really? (I’d appreciate thoughts on this, even though I know its sheer speculation at this point. I see this has been touched on @43.)

3) Does the fact that Shallan has never seen logicspren mean anything? Is she not sufficiently good at logic? Or has she never had to use it at a level which would draw the spren? I wonder if Jasnah has ever seen them. (Okay, that’s total trivia, but I was curious.)

4) I note that, in thinking about the creationspren, she specifically thinks that skill seems to make a difference. We talked about this before: who defines “skill” in this case? I would suspect it has something to do with the ability to accurately reproduce what you have in your head, rather than a matter of individual style.

5) I’ve postulated in the past (last week?) that perhaps the Surges are aspects of Cultivation, while the Heralds (with associations) are aspects of Honor. If this is true, it would mean that the Knights Radiant are the result of cooperation between Honor and Cultivation. Is it possible that the Knights Radiant began their fall when Odium Splintered Honor? And that the reason the Shards are no longer “good” (if that’s true) is that Honor no longer empowers them? That could also explain Sylphrena’s aversion to them; they still work the same way but there is no Honor in them. Further questions result: Was Odium able to Splinter Honor because the Heralds abandoned the Oathpact? If so, was the Splintering affected or in any way mitigated by Talenel’s continued support (however involuntary) of the Oathpact?
Alice Arneson
48. Wetlandernw
And... a bit of a ramble. Just because I can.

I think I’m one of the lucky ones; I’m generally happy to read the story written instead of needing to skip character arcs I don’t like. Which is not to say that there aren’t characters I dislike, but I also tend to like the people I’m expected to like, and dislike the ones who are written to be disliked. (Elaida, anyone?) As I said, I think this makes me one of the lucky ones, but I always find myself a bit taken aback by people who dislike or skip over an entire character arc; if nothing else, there’s going to be information critical to the story in there!

Dalinar? I like him – he starts out as a conflicted character who feels guilty about his past failures and is trying to make up for them, progresses into questioning his own sanity and motivation, and grows into someone who sees the desperate need of his people and the expectation of the coming Desolation, and is willing to risk himself (and all his family, for that matter) to do what needs to be done to prepare them. All along, he sees some of the problems of the Alethi, and recognizes that he, too was just like that for most of his life; he starts out just changing his own code of honor, extending that to his family and his armies. Eventually he has to realize that his mere example isn’t going to change anything – and he realizes that change must happen, or they’re all going to be dead when the Desolation comes. I can see how some people might think him “self-righteous” – most of the people in the book do – but if you get inside his head, he really isn’t at all. He’s riddled with guilt over his past mistakes, and he’s trying hard to make up for them – or at least not make them again – by his present behavior. And he starts to learn the difference between wisdom and tradition – where they are the same, and where they aren’t.

Jasnah? (who, by the way, is the daughter, not niece, of the “Dead Hero King” Gavilar and sister of the present King Elhokar - @31) She’s definitely a haughty one – and why shouldn’t she be? She’s extremely intelligent, has a well-earned reputation as a top-notch scholar, and she’s a princess. What do you expect? No, she’s not a fairy-tale gentle-and-sweet princess – this is Sanderson, not 1960s Disney. She’s a strong character, and a little grating in her self-confidence, but she’s realistic. Add to that her current subject of research – which, we should remember, is not common knowledge – and she knows she doesn’t have time to waste. Is it any wonder she’s initially a bit dismissive of Shallan? It’s not like she hasn’t had plenty of applicants for ward-ship; it’s part of being a recognized scholar with a high social position. And she was clear (later in the book, Dalinar thinks about it) that she had no intention of cluttering up her work with silly wards. I’m betting she rather hoped Shallan would give up much earlier, but having gotten this far she had to at least make a show of following the expected forms. And, given her mostly-secret research, it’s actually a bit surprising that she accepts Shallan at all. No, I don’t like the way she decided to teach “The Lesson” later – but it fits her character. And I don’t think I’d likely be best friends with her – but she’s the right character for this world.

Well, I don’t really need to write Hadrian’s Wall trying to defend each character someone else dislikes; suffice it to say that if you try to see them as “real people” with real personalities and motivations, you might still dislike them (much as we all know real people we dislike due to personality issues) but you should be able to see their validity within the story. And really – if you skip or scan the chapters about people you don’t like, you’re going to miss a lot of the story. There may be multiple character arcs, but they are all part of the same story, and if you leave one out you’re going to be lacking critical information somewhere down the line.
William Carter
49. wcarter
My guess on Shallan's memories is she takes a mental "photograph" of the exact scene in her mind, then can draw it out with a high degree of fidelity afterwhich she cannot recall the exact details of the scene.

Think of it like loading pictures from a digital camera's memory card onto your computer's harddrive then formating the card. You still have the picture, it's just not on the card anymore so there's room for something new.
Kimani Rogers
50. KiManiak
Re: Parshendi = Knights Radiant descendants –

I can’t get behind this theory presently. I respect that Brandon likes to give the reader a standard Fantasy trope or setup and then turn it on its head. It would be a clever storytelling process to present the Parshendi as “the enemy,” only to find out that they are actually descendants of the Knights Radiant. But there are a few strong in-book examples of why they couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be:

1) Dalinar’s Vision of 2 Knights Radiant in Chapter 19
Dalinar meets members of the Knights Radiant at least twice in his visions. In this vision, Dalinar (and his vision-family) are rescued by 2 Knights Radiant –male and female- and then Dalinar proceeds to fight against creatures (labeled Midnight Essence, I believe) with the 2 KR.

Dalinar remarks when both KR have their helms temporarily withdrawn from their faces, as Dalinar doesn’t note them manually removing them (which hints that KR can possibly manipulate their Shardplate more than the current Shardbearers know how, but I digress :-) ). However, Dalinar does see the features of the 2 KR and he remarks on their eyes. He does not remark on them having marbled black and red skin, or resembling Parshendi or Parshmen.

2) Dalinar’s Vision of Day of Recreance in Chapter 52
Dalinar sees 300 Knights Radiant approach Feverstone Keep, although they only represent 2 of the KR orders (Stonewards and Windrunners).

He sees them discard their Shardblades and Shardplate. Dalinar is close enough to identify at least one of them –“handsome head with blond hair and pale skin, light as that of a man from Shinovar” –and notes the others being not too far behind. He questions another one (“his skin was tan and his hair dark, like an Alethi”).

He runs into the crowd and sees all types of nationalities of the various kingdoms of Roshar. At no time does Dalinar remark that any remind him of Parshmen.

I’m sure that when we get there in the reread we can discuss what happened to all of these former Knights Radiant (I’m leaning towards them heading towards Shinovar, personally). But, there is definitely a lack of any identifiers that would be comparable to those of the Parshendi.

I don't think the Parshendi are the descendants of the disbanded Knights Radiant.

Wet@48 – Nice rambling, but I thought you were a fan of Elaida’s? :-)
Alice Arneson
51. Wetlandernw
wcarter @49 – It just seems to me that there may be something more “magical” going on. Consider:
The city took shape beneath her fingers. She coaxed it free, line by line, scratch by scratch. What would she do without this? Tension bled from her body, as if released from her fingertips into the pencil.

Before too long, she had copied her Memory onto the page. She held up the sheet, satisfied, relaxed, her mind clear. The memorized image of Kharbranth was gone from her head; she had released it into her sketch. There was a sense of relaxation to that, too. As if her mind was put under tension holding Memories until they could be used.
I don’t know; there’s no proof. It just sounds to me like there’s something more to it than merely using memory and then releasing it to be used for something else. The bit I bolded gives me an itch. :)

KiManiak @50 – You are not alone in your resistance to the KR-become-Parshendi theory. Dalinar actually gives physical descriptions of the two KR with whom he fights the Midnight Essence. The man is described as “eyes of such bright blue, they were almost white…. His skin was dark brown, like a Makabaki, and he had short black curly hair.” Then the woman: “Unlike her companion, she had light skin – not pale like someone from Shinovar, but a natural light tan, like an Alethi.”

Unless they change their physical forms dramatically, neither of those descriptions works with the marbled red-and-white or red-and-black skin of the Parshendi. You already filled in the description of the KR Dalinar saw at the Day of Recreance – none of which shows any link to the Parshendi.

The only thing even close to a similarity I can see is that the KR seem to be able to manipulate their Plate with thought, and it almost looks like they can dismiss parts of it (maybe to the spiritual realm, like the Blades?) at will; the Parshendi seem to grow their own armor. However, those aren’t really very similar; the Parshendi armor is physically part of them, almost (or altogether) an exoskeleton effect. The KR can apparently dismiss and recall their helms, at least, instantaneously.

Re: Elaida… Thhbbtt.
(Yes, I do know people like her – and no, I don’t tend to like them, or like to be around them, any more than I like her or would want to hang out with her.)
52. Shadesmar
@43 Yay! Please join my Loony Tunes Club!!!

@44 yes- I totally agree.

@46 I got the impression somewhere that the Shattered Plains were the missing kingdom. Isn't there a reference somewhere that Natanatan isn't where it was in antiquity- or am I misremembering and it's an ancient kingdom that is gone? In my mind while I was reading (and on subsequent retreads) I've decided Natanatan was the Shattered Plains, without really examining it.

@50,51 Aw, c'mon guys- it's been a few thousand years- dontcha think they could have changed- perhaps magically? Like most conspiracy theorists, I'm going to stick with this until long after I've been proven wrong :D Also, I will point out that I prefaced with a flashing Loony Theory disclaimer- I mean, if this is BS's WOT, we've got plenty of room for lots of loony theories- therein lies the fun.
Alice Arneson
53. Wetlandernw
No problem with looney theories - but if you post 'em, you have to expect people to shoot them down when there's such great ammunition handy. :) Also, FWIW, there's an indication that the Parshendi were on the battlefield in the Prelude: "Many of the bodies around him were human; many were not. Blood mixed. Red. Orange. Violet." We'll see those three in the book: human, Parshendi, chasmfiend. Such a transformation would require the KR to become something other than human. Not saying Brandon couldn't do it, but I don't think he's likely to.
54. Shadesmar
Aw, rats. Totally forgot about that. I live in hope of vindication on some of my other theories- contrary to my above post, I do bow in the face of evidence.

So where did the KR go? I was going to say they became light eyes, but anyone who picks up a shard blade gets light eyes, so there goes that. Did they just go home? I would think that the light eyes would be a dead give away to everyone else, so they couldn't necessarily go home- are they hiding? Are they in Shadesmar? Did they just die out? Are they controlling the Parshendi- taught them a twisted "honor" and to fight in pairs?
Alice Arneson
55. Wetlandernw
Shadesmar @54 - So where did the KR go? I have no idea... :(

Seriously? I've thought about this, and I really don't have a good theory other than that they simply faded into society somehow.

My first assumption was that they became the ancestors of the Alethi, and that may yet be the case to some extent. But ... wouldn't everyone know it? And yet every good Vorin, including the Alethi, "knows" that the KR betrayed them all - to the point that everything remotely associated with them is deeply suspect. So that doesn't really fit what we know (or think we know) about the world. Maybe they scattered throughout the Ten Kingdoms, with perhaps a higher concentration in the eastern regions, and really did simply blend back into society, with the possible exception that most of the lighteyes probably are descended from them.

I wonder if Dalinar is done with the visions, or if we'll get to see any more ancient history in the next book...
Birgit F
56. birgit
Shallan's drawings sound like Copperminds. She stores a Memory in them and then forgets it.
William Carter
57. wcarter
@Wetlander 51 & birgit 56

I think we're probably all three right to some extent. Her talent is probably at least partially magical, but I think the use she's putting it to is more or less completely mundane i.e. there's nothing magical about the drawings themselves.
Now what would happen if she puts that photographic memory to use in conjunction with soul casting?
James Briggs
58. traveler
I agree withwetlander #47 I must be lucky to . I find that if you dont read all of the parts you miss lots of information. And i enjoy all of it as it makes me feel the way Brandon intendedfor each charcter.I like comradship, confrontation,empathy,ECT. It makes this story great.
Nadine L.
59. travyl
I'm not one to theorize normally but in response to the Knight Radiants: when they left their Shards, they were no longer Knight Radiants. So I guess they faded into society, I'm sure most of them were only known by their title (KR), rather than as a person.
Maybe their eyes only glowed because they were using a tini bit of Stormlight all the time, and they could decide to stop doing that - and look like normal people again.
60. SmokeyandBooger
@57...I've never considered what could happen if Shallan uses her abilities with Memories with Soulcasting. That could make for some really cool battle scenes

I agree with a lot of posters about the Parshendi probably not being the KR, although I do also wonder where did they get those weapons while they live in huts made of stone and crem.

My crazy theory that probably won't hold much water in the next book is that the Parshendi would be the natural allies of human kind if when the Parshmen rise up during the desolation. When Dhalinar keeps being told in his visions to "unite them" maybe he isn't being told to unite the human armies as much as he is being told to unite the humans and the Parshendi in preparation against the Parshmen.

Afterall, they are described by Khaladin as having a strong moral code and sense of honor lacking in the human armies he is encountering. Maybe that is a big hint with thier role in the future.
Jennifer B
61. JennB
If Shallan could Soulcast from her memories, she could make exact copies of an object. I wonder if that would include working Shards or even clones of people. That is a very interesting idea.
Phil Anthrop
62. Isomere
@56: Very good connection there between Copperminds and Shallan's Memories.

@61, 57: I absolutely love the idea of Soulcasting a Memory. Clones of people sounds like a far fetched idea, but think about this quote (emphasis mine):
“When she collected a Memory of a person, she was snipping free a bud of their soul, and she cultivated and grew it on the page. Charcoal for sinew, paper pulp for bone, ink for blood, the paper’s texture for skin. She fell into a rhythm, a cadence, the scratching of her pencil like the sound of breathing from those she depicted.”(from Chapter 7)
My gut tells me Soul-Cast objects won't have sentience, but this idea of cultivating a new soul makes you take a second look. The tip-off to the Shard of Cultivation is actually pretty heavy handed, referring to it by name. Seems a good hunch Memory is a surge of the Knights Radiant mostly associated with the power of Cultivation.
63. WonderChimp
@62 That's a really intresting concept. Perhaps the Parshmen are mostly souless soulcast copies of Parshendi. You get a living being, but no true soul or life.
James Briggs
64. traveler
@61 I like the idea that shallon might be aable to sole cast shards and plate when she learns more. Take that a step further and could she create both from her imagination. ,and that is how they eould all be slightly different because shallon takes a part ov their soul to create indavidule plate. GREAT THOUGHT JENNB
65. Kd7sov
It occurs to me that "He who transforms" sounds more like Cultivation than like Honor. Though I think Tanavast's recording refers to Cultivation as female, which may say something about past Vorin gender-role ideas.
66. NotInventedHere
Mostly off-topic, but...
@20: Regarding diamonds vs. emeralds, this is actually a bit of an increasingly popular misconception that is only sort of true. Emeralds and natural gem-quality diamonds are actually produced at very similar rates, roughly 5-6,000 kg/year. Of course, approximately 24,000 kg/year of natural industrial-grade diamonds (and 100,000 kg/year of synthetic industrial diamonds - no idea for synthetic gem-quality diamonds) are also produced per year. The "diamond" mineral designation covers stones with the same basic structure but a wide variety of inclusions that produce different colors, clarity, etc; an industrial diamond looks very little like the gemstone diamonds we think of, or the ones portrayed in the book. In contrast, emeralds are a subset of the mineral beryl with a specific color and transparency (traditionally limited to a single type of inclusion that produces a specific shade, although that definition has been loosened in some regions to include a second type of inclusion that gives a slightly different color).

The point is that while it's true that diamond prices are ridiculously overinflated, it isn't actually true that they are abundant in comparison to other gemstones if you similarly constrain your definition to gem-quality diamonds (basically what's done to arrive at a definition for emeralds). This just popped out at me as I've seen this idea more and more lately as people seem to conflate all diamonds with gem-quality diamonds (which would be the only relevant ones when speaking of the stormlight-containing gems in WoK).

Anyway, I just finished WoK for the first time last weekend and came across this re-read today, slowly making my way through the comments. Not too much to add at the moment. I'll have to go find some more of Sanderson's books, I enjoyed this one immensely (like many others I was introduced to him through Wheel of Time, but for some reason hadn't gotten around to actually reading his other stuff even though everyone's been saying it's really good for ages. So of course I pick up the one that now looks like it's part one of a 30-year-long series).
67. Achilles44
I'm tired of Shallan and Kaladin, Shallan and Kaladin, Shallan and Kaladin, Jeez, what about other characters like Szeth. I actually find him enigmatic and quite interesting. Pity, much attention wasn't given to him.
Jeremy Guebert
69. jeremyguebert
@Achilles: Well, for one thing, we haven't talked about him much because he hasn't been in the story yet for the chapters we've covered. For another, Brandon intends to do an entire book focused on him (in much the same way that WoK was focused on Kaladin). I really enjoyed Szeth as well - don't worry, he will get his time in the spotlight in due time.
70. Shardlet
Sorry for being off topic, but I missed the chapter 5 and 6 reread until after the commenting had tapered off. In the quote that Carl cited as the quote of the chapter, Shallan indicates that she has read the complete works of Nohadon. This may betray some ignorance of mine on the issue but, isn't Nohadon (author of "the Way of Kings" internal to WoK) considered very obscure outside of Gavilar's and Dalinar's interest in it?

What may be the significance of Shallan's father presumably owning a copy (since her father's library is the source of most of Shallan's reading material) of "the Way of Kings"?

I assume, based Jasnah's lack of note of Shallan's comment about reading Nohadon, in addition to Shallan saying "and—of course—Nohadon" I am off base, but I will have to consider this as I re-read.
Jeremy Guebert
71. jeremyguebert
@70: I could be wrong, but I suspect that it's less obscure than it is unpopular - while there are mentions of the work falling out of favour due primarily to its notions of servant leadership, it would still be recognized as a historical work of value. And even if most people haven't read it (or had it read to them, as the case may be), they would still know of it - much like most people haven't actually read much of Plato or Aristotle's work themselves, but they would still recognize the names as being notable philosophers of the past.

There's also the fact that Shallan is studying to become a scholar, whereas most Alethi we meet are more heavily involved in warfare. I don't personally ascribe much significance to her father having the work in his library - he needn't have read it himself necessarily, and he may have simply wanted to provide good reading material for his precious daughter.

That's all mostly speculation on my part, though, so take it for what it's worth.
72. JosepAbenza
I think no one has mentioned it, but it's very possible that Shallan sees one of the illustrations on the inside covers before entering the Veil:

"Shallan couldn’t help but admire the beauty of the doors; their exterior was carved in an intricate geometric pattern with circles and lines and glyphs. It was some kind of chart, half on each door. There was no time to study the details, unfortunately, and she passed them by."

From the description, it looks like the hourglass symbol from the first endpaper.
73. Shardlet
@71 I agree with you about 'out of favor' v. 'obscure'. As I said, I may well have been in error in the thought. Upon further reflection, I am more inclined to lean towards 'out of favor'. As far as it being in her father's library, I am more hesitant to acede to your thoughts.

Reason being, the way it is thought of by most suggests that it has been out of favor for quite some time, especially since it conflicts with many present Alethi ideals and customs. The changes resulting in these ideals and customs don't appear to be a new thing. Gavilar was and Dalinar is now working to change things that have a great deal of momentum in their society. In other words these ideals and customs seem to have been the norm for many generations.

To make a long story short (too late) I think it unlikely to be found in someone's library (even in Jah Keved) without it having particular significance to the person, whether that interest be personal or scholarly. It doesn't seem like a book that would have been provided specifically to Shallan for her education when so many other areas of her education were found sorely lacking.

However, to temper that opinion Shallan does say "and-of course-Nohadon". This may be interpretted to suggest that the writings of Nohadon were considered to be standard works of scholarship. But the way the book is regarded may suggest that such a consideration would not extend to The Way of Kings.
Jeremy Guebert
74. jeremyguebert
@72: Good catch! That definitely does sound like one of the end papers.

@73: Hmm, good thoughts. It could also be something that Shallan's father inherited, kind of like a family library that gets passed down as part of the estate - in that case, it could have been originally obtained by an ancestor of his, before the book fell out of favour. In any event, I don't think we can know for certain at the moment, but I suspect that if there is some special significance to it being there, we'll get to it in the story eventually (likely in Shallan's book, Words of Radiance, aka Stormlight 2).
75. Lindsey Bargnoffle
Something that keeps coming up with my boyfirend and I when we discuss Way of Kings is reincarnation. Michael Pye toyed with a bit in the rereads (during the prelude) talking about how Kalak and Kaladin were awful similar. If you wanted to play with that theory in regards to the main characters we know are turning out to be in the Knights Randiant, Shallan (based soley on her name) is pretty similar to Shalash. What makes that even more fun is that it's a proper Vorin palindrome. It would be even more delightful if you think Shalash is the cause of the Ghostbloods because so far our two known Ghostblood members are very close to her.

Regardless of that she's one of the Radiants. Which brings me to the thought that maybe the shardblade is just her own. An inherent thing she summoned during a time of distress, fear, and need. It would make sense. We know already that Szeth, who is a windrunner, can't give up his shardblade. Maybe because it's a part of him? To me it seems unlikely that Shallan's so-called uncontrolable father would be able to have such a terrible weapon and contain it.
Colin Ludeman
76. Mister_Fawx
I'm coming in late to all the discussion here, but I thought I'd still throw in my two cents.

I just finished my second read of WoK and I STILL missed that Shallan has a Shardblade until reading these articles and all the attached comments. And I realized why just a few minutes ago.

The 'ten heartbeats = Shardblade' connection isn't hammered in until Dalinar is introduced, which doesn't happen until well after this first scene with Shallan. The later reference to it in the scene with Jasnah murdering some brigands totally skipped my view due to Sanderson's masterful ability to downplay important points. Which I absolutely love, by the way.
Laura Taylor
77. Lauranimal
Thanks to all of those who are participating in this re-read. I'm really enjoying all of your insights! Doing my best to catch up so that I can take part in real time!!!

"Shallan couldn’t help but admire the beauty of the doors; their exterior was carved in an intricate geometric pattern with circles and lines and glyphs. It was some kind of chart, half on each door. There was no time to study the details, unfortunately, and she passed them by."

72. JosepAbenza , mentioned that this may be one of the charts that was shown in illustrations in the inside surface of the Hardcover book. I had that thought, too. But even more, I wondered why she just passed it bye? It was worth noting and for her... all she had to do was take a picture and 'blink' it into her Memory to draw and consider later.

Well, she also is spending more time at the Palanium and may still have the chance to study it more carefully. Perhaps it will come up in WoR. It just struck me odd that there would be anything anywhere that she couldn't just take a snapshot of and then study it. She's had a number of opportunities to go back to it and look at it more carefully, too. Is she just immersed in assisting Jasnah and her studies? Will it take her or Jasnah coming across some compelling piece of research that sparks a connection and makes her go back to look at it?

Just wondering this one outloud, though I know the conversation has moved on long ago.
78. Alerie Corbray
Hello all, my first post here.
Thanks Michael for the excellent job on these chapters. I completely missed that Shallan is a Shardblade wielder. I am joining the discussion very late, but caught something that is note worthy.

You state that we do not know exactly what Shallan's father's political goals were. Actually, she tells us on page 992/1002 at the end of chapter 74. There it says that the Ghostbloods had been funding her father as he attempted to become high prince.
79. Amoron D
Even later to the discussion. Just finished second read of words of radiance, and doing #3 on WoK. Shallan's blade actually seems inconsistent here, as her father did not die by one. Am I misreading that?
Alice Arneson
80. Wetlandernw
Best guess is that she's conflating the two events. It's not like she ever lets herself really think about either one, right?

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