Thu
Jul 25 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 23 and 24

Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings Welcome back to the Way of Kings reread here on Tor.com. This week we cover chapters 23 and 24, which are rather quiet for the most part. Kaladin and his new coterie skulk around the Sadeas’ warcamp and reveal much about themselves. Well, at least Rock does. In the second chapter Dalinar plays diplomat with the launching of his daring and unpopular plan of the highprinces joining together for plateau runs. At the end Adolin finally speaks his mind to his father all too clearly for Dalinar’s liking.

Let’s go milk reeds with some crazy airsick lowlanders.

Chapter 23: Many Uses

Setting: The Shattered Plains

Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Having convinced Gaz to change duties for Bridge Four, Kaladin and his group are collecting stones for Soulcasters outside Sadeas’ warcamp. Kaladin, Teft, and Rock are also on the hunt for knobweed reeds, gathering the weed covertly while picking up rocks so as not to rouse suspicions from the guards. After gathering enough into bundles, Kaladin slyly ties them underneath the cart. Syl helps Rock locate knobweed. Rock can inexplicably see her even when she doesn’t want to be seen by others; he claims he can see Syl because “it was something he’d been born with.” Teft is left on his own to find knobweed and is surprised that Rock has found so much more than him.

Kaladin is sorry that some of the bridgemen—like Dunny and Earless Jaks—are upset with him about the stone detail, but it was the only way he could gather knobweed to help the wounded men.

After Rock drops off a large rock and some of the precious reeds Syl directed him to more. She explains to Kaladin that she likes Rock because “He is respectful. Unlike others.” When Kaladin suggests she follow Rock around instead, she claims that he is too respectful, noting that Rock wasn’t even upset when she played a prank on him. This then led into a discussion about the importance of honesty; when Kaladin brought up to Syl playing a joke on Rock was akin to lying Syl saw the two things as very different.

Kaladin laments again that most of the men in the bridge team are still indifferent to their situation. Syl claims they are selfish, but Kaladin thinks they feel hopeless as slaves, going on to say:

“I’ve shown them that we can survive, but that doesn’t mean anything. If those lives aren’t worth living, then they aren’t ever going to care. It’s like I’m offering them piles of spheres, but not giving them anything to spend their wealth on.”

Syl wonders what more he could do about the situation. Kaladin is still unsure, but thinks collecting more reeds could change things somehow.

Later that night Kaladin, Teft, and Rock collect the bundles at the wagonyard as well as bottles fto collect the knobweed sap. Even though there is no official curfew for the slaves, they try to steer away from any soldiers walking around the camp. They head towards the Honor Chasm and begin work squeezing the sap from the reeds while telling stories about themselves.

Teft questions why Kaladin does what he does as bridgeleader. Kaladin simply tells him “They’re my men.”

Rock reveals he was part of an important family from the Horneaters and that their leader—known as an nuatoma—challenged Sadeas for his Shardplate, as none of the Horneaters have Shardplate or Blades. After Rock’s lord was defeated, he and the others from his group became Sadeas’ slaves. Some of them were made soldiers while he became a cook. On Rock’s first night preparing Sadeas’ dinner he applied chull dung to all of the food; after that Rock was sent to be a bridgeman. Kaladin tells him had Rock’s master won, Sadeas wouldn’t have given up his Shardplate. Teft disagrees, as it is “tradition” to give your Shards up if lost in a duel. Kaladin when on:

“Tradition is the blind witness they use to condemn us, Teft,” Kaladin said...“It’s the pretty box they use to wrap up their lies. It makes us serve them.”

Rock then asks Kaladin his story, who explains “I killed a man.” He further states he didn’t become a bridgeman because he is a murderer, but rather because “it turns out that lighteyes don’t react very well when you turn down their gifts.”

Quote of the Chapter:

“Lowlanders. You have too much air here. Makes your minds sick.”

“Too much air?” Kaladin asked.

“Yes,” Rock said.

“How can you have too much air? It’s all around.”

“This thing, it is difficult to explain.” Rock’s Alethi was good, but he sometimes forget to add in common words. Other times, he remembered them, speaking his sentences precisely. The faster he spoke, the more words he forgot to put in.

“You have too much air,” Rock said. “Come to the Peaks. You will see.”

Airsick lowlander. I just love that term. And do I ever want to go to those peaks!

Commentary:

Last week Carl thought Vorin culture was weird which it is, but they don’t have anything on the Horneaters—or Unkalaki as they call themselves. Horneaters get their name from eating the shells of chulls and other shelled creatures of Roshar. They claim eating it makes them strong and given Rock’s size yet somewhat dainty position there does seem to be something to this, though it could be more superstition than anything. But what if eating the shell of a creature that had been out in a highstorm did absorb stormlight or some other essence? There seems to be something like that going on with the chasmfiends at least, but they have the gemhearts while no other creature on Roshar is acknowledged to have this advantage. Another thought is something I brought up earlier regarding the waters brought with a highstorm and how humans let the water sit to settle the crem, but the other creatures don’t seem to hesitate to imbibe the water when they have a chance which help with their growth.

Like the Shin, the Horneaters have seemed quite content for the last few generations to keep to themselves as a group, but only recently they have ventured down in a quest for shards for their people. It’s like they know something is going to happen... Could they have more knowledge about the coming Desolation?

Rock displays a deep connection of some kind with Syl and possibly other spren and again the true name of the Horneaters, Unkalaki, has Kalak right in the middle. Stewards of Kalak in some fashion, perhaps? Another commonality the Horneaters have with the Shin is the downplay on the importance of warriors as it is the fourth son that is destined for war. This also seems at opposition with what Rock says about disputes between different peaks in the Horneater mountains where a set of shards would make one of them king though they seem to prefer to settle their battles with liquor rather than blood, which is a very un-Alethi way of doing things.

It was interesting to see such a detailed breakdown of the Shardblades and Shardplates among the groups of Roshar from Rock.

“My people have no Shardblades,” Rock said in his low, rumbling voice.

“That’s not unusual,” Kaladin said. “Other than Alethkar and Jah Keved, few kingdoms have many Blades.” It was a matter of some pride among the armies.

“This thing is not true,” Rock said. “Thaylenah has five Blades and three full suits of Plate, all held by the royal guards. The Selay have their share of both suits and Blades. Other kingdoms, such as Herdaz, have a single Blade and set of Plate—this is passed down through the royal line. But the Unkalaki, we have not a single Shard.”

And Kaladin is clearly holding out on Rock and Teft, but seems on the edge of being able to unburden himself to them. Teft is another story completely that we don’t get to delve into for a while yet.

 

Chapter 24: The Gallery of Maps

Setting: The Gallery of Maps, The Shattered Plains

Points of View: Dalinar and Adolin

What Happens: Dalinar has requested a meeting with Highprince Roion at the Gallery of Maps. They meet, though Roion doesn’t see the point of it. As they walk they pass the Prime Map, showing the areas of the Shattered Plains that the Alethi have explored and which plateaus are controlled by which highprince. Nearby is also a sheet showing how many gemhearts each of the highprinces has won—Highprince Roion is in last place. Dalinar is drawn to the Prime Map, staring at the plateau called the Tower. The Alethi armies had been rebuffed 27 times there by the Parshendi, as it is close to the Parshendi center of power.

Dalinar brings up that a change in tactics is needed on the Shattered Plains. Roion is wary, suspecting Dalinar only approached him because he is seen as weakest amongst the highprinces and controls the smallest princedom in Alethkar. Roion also thinks their current plan of slowly laying siege to the Parshendi is still a good one. Roion then says “There are some who say the Blackthorn has lost his sting.” However, Dalinar wants to forge a new path in hopes of snuffing out the Parshendi quicker. Roion brings up rumors going around about Dalinar, which he rebuffs saying he wants to go for “an aggressive course from now on.”

Dalinar proposes to him the joining of both their armies on plateau runs against the Parshendi telling him they would split any gemhearts won. Roion seems more concerned with the dispensation of any Shardplates or Shardblades won if they were to combine forces than he is the gemhearts. Dalinar tells him the man who won it would get to keep the Shards. However, Dalinar senses things aren’t going his way and eventually relents telling Roion that he would give the first set of Shards won to Roion, but he would keep the second. This way he could keep his promise to his son Renarin. Roion says he’ll consider, but still seems reluctant and doesn’t seem to want to chance losing any more position than he already has. Roion left Dalinar who was then looking for an order to the plateaus and also the answer pondering what Gavilar figured out months before he died. He is then joined by Adolin.

Dalinar tells Adolin the meeting with Roion didn’t go as well as he hoped and that it seemed doubtful whether Roion would join them on a plateau assaults. Dalinar admits it may have been a mistake to approach the weakest highprince first as Roion seemed “too afraid that I’m trying to maneuver him into a position where I can seize his lands.”

Even though this move didn’t seem to work with Roion he tells Adolin he’ll still press on with his plan and approach other highprinces with the idea. Dalinar asks Adolin who they should approach next, but he is unsure.

Adolin brings a more pressing matter up to Dalinar. Sadeas wants permission as Highprince of Information to come into the Kholin warcamp to interview the grooms who were involved with taking care of Elhokar’s horse during the chasmfiend hunt recently. Adolin fears Sadeas is going to use his new position to move against the Kholin family. Dalinar still insists that they should trust Sadeas and that they would look guilty if they didn’t let Sadeas in. But letting Sadeas investigate may also play into Dalinar’s hand of getting the other highprinces use a Highprince of Information will lead to him being given the title Highprince of War.

Adolin says Dalinar is only following this path because of the vision and that Dalinar shouldn’t trust them. Dalinar tries to end the conversation, but Adolin persists telling him they are being mocked all over the warcamps and that their “reputation diminishes by the day, and you refuse to do anything substantial about it!” Adolin believes Dalinar’s mind is going because of age, but that it is also influenced by the death of Gavilar and his obsessions with the Codes, the visions, and the book The Way of Kings.

Dalinar defends himself by saying he wondered many of the same things, but “I must trust myself. The visions are trying to show me something important. I cannot prove it or explain how I know. But it’s true.”

Adolin expresses how he thinks his father is wrong and that more earthly answers are likely. Dalinar then orders his son away.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Roion, we cannot continue to treat this war as a game.”

“All wars are games. The greatest kind, with the pieces lost real lives, the prizes captured making for real wealth! This is the life for which men exist. To fight, to kill, to win.” He was quoting the Sunmaker, the last Alethi king to unite the highprinces. Gavilar had once revered his name.

“Perhaps,” Dalinar said. “Yet what is the point? We fight to get Shardblades, then use those Shardblades to fight to get more Shardblades. It’s a circle, round and round we go, chasing our tails so we can be better at chasing our tails.”

“We fight to prepare ourselves to reclaim heaven and take back what is ours.”

“Men can train without going to war, and men can fight without it being meaningless. It wasn’t always this way. There were times when our wars meant something.”

The old ways of the Alethi versus what the other princes think of as Dalinar’s new ways, which are really just the very, very old ways of the Alethi. Now that’s cyclical thinking. This also shows how far the Alethi have fallen. They were meant to be the group of warriors to protect humanity, but now most of their time is spent squabbling amongst themselves.

Commentary:

The conversation between Dalinar and Roion shows how stagnant this society has become. Everyone outside of Dalinar is for the status quo. Even though all Alethi consider physical combat the most important thing to themselves along with winning. None are willing to put themselves out there in a way that others have before. This is not an “all for one” group of people. They all want to earn their distinctions separately so much that they aren’t willing to see the larger picture and in one essence the larger danger of the Desolation that is looming over them.

Dalinar is truly a falling star to not only his son Adolin, but most of the Alethi. This is a group that doesn’t seem able to respect others based off their past performance, but all upon what they are doing in the here and now. However, Dalinar is developing too many chinks in his armor at once. Besides his change of heart about the way they fight the Parshendi the visions aren’t just affecting him emotionally. The Alethi see Dalinar’s fits as one of the biggest weaknesses any of them can develop and reason enough for him to no longer be found competent.

It took Adolin much of his courage to confront his father in this fashion, but Dalinar has blinded himself so much. He underestimates the danger he is putting not only himself, but his sons and subjects in. Dalinar wants his people to be good, but they have been corrupted for too long and to expect everyone around him to act with honor just because he does so is the epitome of naivety. Now if Adolin could just find a nice girl to settle down with.

 

Stay tuned next week for a new episode in young Kal’s life, as he meets the new citylord of Hearthstone.


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.

43 comments
Nadine L.
1. travyl
I too love the "airsick lowlander" exclamation.

And I have a Question about this quote:
"Ishi, Herald of Luck be praised”
Going by the ARS Arcanum (the Number 10,) Ishi is associated with "pious/guiding" - any idea how he came to be Lucky?
In this reread, I'm paying special attention to the Heralds and such, but I don't seem to be able to getting anything out of it without help.
Deana Whitney
2. Braid_Tug
Great way of putting it Michael!
Yes, you killed the beast yesterday, but what have you done today that is great?

A whole society that acts like 14 year old boys. I’ll pass.
Andrew Berenson
4. AndrewHB
As I do not have anything of substance to add right now, I will try my best Wit imitation.

What travels in a circle yet is always moving forward? Answer to follow in a subsequent post.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Andrew Berenson
5. AndrewHB
Sorry for the double post (This would not have happened if I was still in the red).

Below is the answer to my question @3 above.











Time

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Jennifer B
6. JennB
The quote above made me think about tails. What kind of animal on Roshar do you think chases its tail. Do axehounds have tails?
Nadine L.
7. travyl
Second thought: I know it fits with Kaladin's worldview to claim, that even if the Horneaters would win themselves a shardblade they wouldn't get it, but I don't think this is true.
Amaram betrayed Kaladin, but he offered him the blade first, and only took it after Kaladin refused, wanted to give it away, and Amaram was sure, that the actual fight against the Shardbearer hadn't been seen by any witnesses (other than the one's he killed). He still had such a bad conscience, that he let Kaladin live (albeit as a slave). -
I guess that if a non-Lighteyes would win a fight and be seen by multiple Alethi Dark- and Light- -eyewitnesses, they really couldn't refuse tradition.
TBGH
8. TBGH
@7 regarding "they really couldn't refuse tradition"

should end in "without an even larger bloodbath."
Flint Timmins
9. Giovanotto
Rock has a good point about family members and servants. If you're going to wait on someone hand and foot, why not have them be someone you love. I would also think the leaders are more inclined to treat their servants, cooks, et. al. better since they're family.

I got the impression that the Horneaters challeng the Alethi to formal duels. If the Horneaters win, they get the Shards. If the Alethi win, they get a bunch of new slaves (and I imagine wealth). In this format it would be unthinkable for a lighteyes to renege the deal. Amaram did what he did because he could. Only a few people knew of Kaladin's victory. If Kaladin had been in a duel situation, I'm confident he would have kept the plate.
TBGH
10. Maximus
Maybe it is just my modern information-age self showing but there seems to be a startling lack of real communication between cultures on Roshar.

My current theory is that all the necessary information, knowledge, tradtions etc for surviving the coming desolation are not lost. They are just found spread out in bits and pieces amongst a sea of mistrust, misunderstanding and misinformation.

A bit of an allegory for the information age actually now that I think about it.
William Carter
11. wcarter
Rock is one of my favorite characters right now--and I'm thinking high nutrient content a la stormwater is the most likely reason for the shell eating to actually be a good thing (supposing it is).

Stormlights all well and good, but what percentage of the population can even make use of it biologically? How would it affect someone who cant if at all?
Maiane Bakroeva
12. Isilel
So, if among the Rockeaters only fourth sons are warriors, how come that the nuatoma can fight well enough that there is even a remote chance of them winning over a Shardbearer?

And, for that matter, why does anybody choose to become a warrior among the Shin? And if their warriors are all people of inferior quality, who didn't manage to become anything else, how comes that their neighbours didn't kick them out of their fertile lands long ago?

Re: Alethi handing out Shards won in duels - I wonder. Shard-bearers are supposed to physically become light-eyes in time, right? Yet, both Szeth and Talanel retain their natural dark eyes. So, was anybody ever really "made" into a light-eyes? Or was it just a self-serving myth all along?
Alice Arneson
13. Wetlandernw
I’m in agreement with whoever said last week that Rock’s ability to see Syl is a personal thing, not common to all Horneaters; otherwise, they wouldn’t have a specific name for those who can do it. However, I also suspect that the ability is more common among the Horneaters than, say, the Alethi – also because they actually have a word for it.

It is indeed interesting that the Unkalaki have Kalak’s name as the center of their name for themselves; it cannot be coincidence. It makes me wonder if there are other groups whose name for themselves reflects a commitment to (or at least special relationship with) one of the Heralds. We haven’t gotten into the other languages yet, much.

It’s also interesting to note that on a first read, Kaladin’s comment about how lighteyes react when you refuse their gifts was still a mystery. Now, knowing the reference, I almost skipped right over it; the first time, though, with nothing more than hints, we really didn’t know what man he had killed or what gift he had refused.

Chapter 24 gives us a nice little foreshadowing of the importance the Tower will play later; I wonder what other significance it may have in another book. I have to think that there are hints that that particular plateau may be important to the Parshendi specifically, and possibly to the chasmfiends – and then I start wondering again just what relationship there might be between the two. For some reason, I can’t help thinking that it may be several books down the line before we find out.

Re: the “Quote of the Chapter” – it really is revealing of the fall of the Alethi, isn’t it? “Chasing our tails so we can be better at chasing our tails” indeed! And I have to say that Roion’s attitude about war being “the greatest kind of game, with the pieces lost real lives and the prizes real wealth” was more than a little sickening to me. Losing real lives – as long as that’s not your own personal life, of course – so that you can gain real personal wealth, and that makes it a great game? **headdesk**

travyl @1 - Ishar & Vedeledev are the Heralds for the Chapter 23 icon: Ishar for the guiding & luck? Your quote is from this chapter; perhaps he was associated with giving guidance to the pious, which over time came to be considered luck? Vedeledev is almost certainly there for the association with the healing sap from the reeds they are gathering, and Kaladin’s efforts to care for the wounded.

Braid_Tug @2 – LOL! That’s about the size of it, all right.

JennB @6 – Searching the ebook for “tail”: chasmfiends, eels and horses are specifically noted to have tails.

travyl @7 – I suspect you’re right and Kaladin is wrong, at least in that if it were a public challenge, publicly accepted, and publicly acknowledged to be “for the Shards”, Sadeas would have givien it up. However, Kaladin is probably right insofar as the challenged lighteyes would try to pull some sort of shenanigans to keep from actually losing. As Giovanotto @9 reminds us, Kaladin’s victory was witnessed only by Amaram and a very few of Kaladin’s men, and even then he had the chance to pick it up himself. Since Kaladin refused the tradition by not picking it up himself, Amaram could convince himself that it was his right, as Kaladin’s commanding officer, to determine who got what Kaladin had refused to take. Kaladin was naïve to think that he could simply say it and assume it would be done; he should have made sure his wishes were carried out on the spot.

Isilel @12 – I’m not sure why anyone among the Shin would freely choose to be a warrior, but in their society, anyone who picks up a weapon automatically becomes a warrior. I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that anyone who uses violence, weapon or no, also automatically becomes a warrior. Lack of self-control would have significant impact on one’s life, in that case…

As for lighteyes/darkeyes… I don’t think we’re supposed to know just yet. Talanel is a special case, because he’s a Herald rather than an ordinary Shardbearer, so we can’t make much out of that. My personal (rather loosely-held) theory is that the light eyes were a result of the way the Knights Radiant used Stormlight. More than merely Surgebinding, which is what Szeth does, and more than merely using a Blade or Plate as the Shardbearers do, it would be a combination of those two and probably at least one more factor. We may (or may not) see this happen with Kaladin in later books. If I’m correct, it would mean that in the times of the Knights Radiant, eye color really did change with the assumption of the Shards, but since that time it’s just been a myth.

Also: the Heralds for Chapter 24 are Jezrien and Chach, which seems to be a combination referring to Dalinar being himself, and Adolin being his mostly-obedient son.
TBGH
14. SmokeyandBooger
I think the eye color thing was important at one time. I believe at one point Wit actually alludes to it. At the end of the book her is musing on the fact that having light eyes has made things easier for him and how it was an odd way to choose leaders, but actually was for a reason though the Althei have forgotten way.

I'm curious if Rock's innate ability to see spren will manifest it self as a talent of a Knight Radiant. I hope we get to go to the Horneater lands at one point to learn more about thier culture
Jennifer B
15. JennB
@13 Kaladin becoming a Lighteyes because of his use of stormlight would be interesting because of his hate for Lighteyes. It would be similar to Nynaeve becoming Aes Sedai. Though his generalizations may change as he gets to know Dalinar.
TBGH
16. Zen
Regarding lighteyes, I expect that we will see more clearly, that eyes glow when stormlight is being used. Are the eyes a light color, or are they glowing eyes?

But about the Shin and their warriors... I think we really need to pay attention to the line about Szeth's honor demanding that the Voidbringers exist. He seems to have had a very serious difference of opinion that left him stuck where he is.
Eric McCabe
17. Zizoz
I didn't get the impression that the Horneaters challenging brightlords for Shards was only a recent thing, but rather that it had been going on for a long time. Did I miss something?

In Interlude 3, it's said that "The moment summoned his Blade, his eyes would turn from dark green to pale--almost glowing--sapphire, a unique effect of his particular weapon." So Szeth's blade is apparently special, but whether normal Shardblades actually work as advertised with respect to eye color has yet to be seen.

On Ishi being the herald of luck, perhaps it's supposed that luck is a result of divine providence, thus associating it with the "pious and guiding" traits.
Nadine L.
18. travyl
Another thing to point out, is that based upon what we know, it actually doesn't make sense that so many nations seem to have blades / shardplates, (as Rock points out).
In Dalinar's vision we saw, when the Radiants left their blades. Supposedly this was in Alethela, but it was in one place, so this nation would get the blades, barring the occasional mercernary from a different country.
How did the other nations get so many blades? I know we saw far more Radiants than we know of blades around at the present time, and I know that there weren't all Radiant orders on the field we saw in the vision, but it still doen't make sense. Either other nationes would have far more blades (if they had a similar event of "blade mass-giving-up's") - or basically non.
Douglas Edwards
19. Horneater_Goldeneyes
@18

Yeah this section was one of the main indications that Shard blades are from Odium. The Horneaters are literally the only group we've met who are not consumed by War and they don't have them. That can't be coincidental. Similarly the Shin treat theirs as a curse to be borne by the Truthless.

I wonder if The Thrill is generated by the shardblades. Or what this could mean for Shallan.

Also I obviously love the Horneaters. Airsick lowlanders indeed.
Douglas Edwards
20. Horneater_Goldeneyes
Also sorry for the DP but yeah the fallout from Taln's eye color is one of the three things I am looking most forward to in WoR
Alice Arneson
21. Wetlandernw
travyl @18 – There are a lot of things to consider here which contribute to the Shards being widespread.

First, we don’t actually know what nation was the location of the particular war Dalinar saw in his Recreance vision – what it was then, which nation it might be now, or anything about it except the name Feverstone Keep.

Second, we don’t know that this was the only place it happened. We don’t have proof from Dalinar’s vision that this was all of the KR; the same thing may have happened in various other locations at a pre-arranged time. In fact, it seems probable that there were only three orders of KR represented at Feverstone Keep: the Stonewards, the Windrunners, and whatever order it is that falls from the sky –unless that’s the Windrunners, and the hundred-or-so who landed a few minutes later just completed the order, in which case this is only two orders. With three hundred Shards here, representing only (at most) three orders, where were the other seven orders?

Third, and carrying on from that, if there were roughly one hundred Knights Radiant per order, there should have been some thousand sets of Shards abandoned – wherever they were at the time.

Fourth, it was a long, long time ago. Not only were hundreds of sets left in unknown places, possibly around the world, but there have been multiple centuries in which those sets could be carried different places, sold, traded, won, surrendered, inherited, moved and otherwise transported to every known inhabited area of the world.

Finally, it seems probable that upwards of nine hundred sets have simply gotten lost. Dalinar can account for something less than one hundred, with at least half of them concentrated in the once closely allied Vorin nations of Alethkar and Jah Keved. I’m far less intrigued by how the other half got scattered out to a half-dozen other kingdoms than by where the remaining nine hundred got to. Do the Parshendi have that many? Are they all somehow hanging out in Shadesmar, waiting to be reclaimed? Are they, somehow, destroyed?
TBGH
22. Zen
I know that the famous sword of Japanese emperors, Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, was supposed lost at sea. But it is still unlikely to imagine that 9/10 shardblades were lost in the ocean depths.

But here is a better question, why do Szeth and Shallan both have shardblades that are not on this national list? Why is Shallan hiding hers, and are others hiding theirs as well? Why would you do that? Do the Shin have a lot of Shardblades hiding at home?
TBGH
23. TBGH
@22 Feeding into one of my pet theories that the shardblades are corrupting and taking it up killed Szeth's linked spren; perhaps the Shin have tried to gather them quietly but never use them to lessen their influence.
andrew smith
24. sillyslovene
Some interesting conversation about the Blades. I tend toward Wet's thoughts as to how they are spread, and what we do and don't know. I think it is too early, and the info we have is too scattered, to make any firm declaration of the Blades as from Odium. We know they were initially given by Honor (perhaps with Cultivation's help), but Odium may have found a way to corrupt them. Though, IMO, the corruption is more from people and their usage of the Blades than directly from Odium. (That doesn't mean Odium isn't getting people to act in ways that then taint the Blades on purpose).

Personally, I am also really intersted in where the rest went. Can they be destroyed? We know Plate can be regrown, but is a Blade indestructable? If you use another Blade on the hilt of another blade, does it destroy it? Or are they all just being hidden somewhere? We have numerous mentions of groups that are in or have been in existence that are secretive, hold back special knowledge, etc. The Ghostbloods seem the most nefarious, but then there is the group that Teft belonged to, the Worldsingers, etc. Could some of those groups be stockpiling Blades/Plate to keep them out of the hands of the corrupt? And then of course are the Parshendi...

Speaking of which, it is noted here in Dalinar's section, that the Tower is about as far as the humans have explored into the Shattered Plains. I have seen elsewhere that many have extrapolated that the Tower is the island that Kaladin, in his stormriding vision, sees as populated. That never jived for me. The Humans would know if the tower were the home of the parshendi. Perhaps that central plateau is within sight of the top of the tower though (no humans ever see beyond it, correct?). So that means that there is some other massive center to the Shattered Plains, where Parshendi civilization is based, with a major population center, including all the lights Kaladin sees in vision.

Other thoughts from this chapter:
other favorite quote:
“Need. The word had strange effects on men. Some ran when you used it. Others grew nervous. Teft seemed to long for it.” (pg 419 in my paperback edition)
Just a really interesting characterization of Teft. How do our other characters respond when they are 'needed'?

On pg 421 (paperback) Syl says she can't carry the bottles to Kaladin to hold the Knobweed sap, because they are "too solid." This seems like an interesting characterization of her, and her ability to interact with the physical realm. One would expect her to say "too heavy" or some such, as we have seen her carry things (blackbane leaf) before, and she seemed to have trouble carrying it (bobbing up and down under the weight).
Does "too solid" tell us anything about Syl or spren in general and how they interact with the physical world? Does that give us a hint about their own aspects? Cognitive? Spiritual?

Also, on 429:
“Syl, Kaladin noticed, was still watching with interest. That was odd for her; normally, her attention wavered quickly.”
This is when they are telling backstories. From a literary perspective, this is Brandon using her as a tell to point out something is important. However, there could easily be more to it, again, wrapped up in Syl's nature and the nature of her bond with Kaladin.
Alice Arneson
25. Wetlandernw
Zen @22 - Rock doesn't give a full list. Dalinar, in a later chapter, gives us this much:
Alethkar owned some twenty Blades, Jah Keved a similar number. If one added up all the rest in the world, there might be enough total to equal the two powerful Vorin kingdoms.
The ones Rock mentions here (just the Blades) are: 5 for the Thaylenah, "their share" for the Selay, and "some" like Herdaz with one apiece. That's maybe 15-ish, and far short of the forty-or-so Dalinar implies; no one in the entire book gives a run-down of every nation that holds Blade or Plate. Obviously the Shin have at least one (it's not Szeth's very own Blade per se, since there is an established tradition that it will be recovered by the Stone Shamans when he dies). We don't know anything about Shallan's Blade yet - whether it's included in the Jah Keved count or not, and where it came from if not.

While we're listing things we don't know about Shardblades, where did they come from in the first place? Were they made by Honor, or Cultivation, or Odium? Were they made by the Heralds? Were the Knights Radiant taught, by the Heralds or the spren, how to make their own? Did they magically draw them out of Shadesmar whole already? Are the other 900 waiting around somewhere to be recovered, or are they truly gone, with new ones to be fashioned by the new Knights Radiant? At this point, it's all guesswork. Maybe we'll learn more about it in WoR, since one of its suggested titles was "Knights Radiant."
Maiane Bakroeva
26. Isilel
Zizoz @17:

The thing is, Szeth had his Shardblade for years, yet his natural eye-color didn't change. Ditto Talenel, who may or may not be a special case. Which makes me think that if/when a darkeyes actually wins the shards, they are quickly eliminated one way or another - certainly before they get the chance to breed.
Of course, a darkeyes behaving like a lighteyes and having to summon a sword/constantly wear armor to prove his right to do so wouldn't lack for duels, probably lethal ones, but I imagine that murder wouldn't be out of question either...

Wetlandernw @21:

Personally, I think and hope that most orders of KR weren't stupid enough to hand their shards over to unworthy humanity, which promptly lost most of them over millenia, but rather hid their equipment when they disbanded.
I mean, humanity is in bad enough straights as is, what with betrayal and abandonment of the Heralds, lack of unity, lack of Radiants and even "normal" surge-binders, to deny it shards would be too much and make eventual victory over Desolation completely unbelievable, IMHO.

I don't want to see shards re-created in the nick of time either - I am all WoTed out on this kind of thing.

@13:

If among the Shin only people with low impulse control become warriors, it still results in really low quality of warriors, no? I wonder how the Shin were able to keep other peoples from taking their rather desirable lands away from them or even their own warriors from usurping them.
I guess, trained surge-binders are probably the answer. It certainly seems that Szeth used to belong to the elite, until whatever it was resulted in his outlandish punishment. And, presumably, normal rules don't apply to them.
William Carter
27. wcarter
@24 Sillyslovene

Good catch on the "too solid" quote. That is interesting. Two things come to mind for me personally:

1. By "too solid" she simply meant too dense. Leaves are increadibly thin and light because they are designed to capture light, and even then she had trouble.

2. When we consider a world where Soulcasting one substance into another entirely different one is possible we get into the possibility that she meant that the bottles' forms were too stable--in other words they are very much what they are (does that make any sense?)--Since Soulcasting has a lot to do with Shadesmar and so do spren, there could be a connection.

In any case I want to know more about the spren.
Nadine L.
28. travyl
As Isilel said I think it's far more "probable" (un-based assumption) that the other orders Radiants hid their blades in a secret cavern - more probable anyway than that the other orders also publicly left their blades and still 9 out of 10, very valuable, highly useful blades were "just" lost over time.

Of course wetlandernw is still right that even the up to 300 blades we will be witnessing as given up, are far more than the Blades that are accounted for in present time.
I know no nation holds warfare as highly as Alethkar, but still, that about 1/2 of Blades got lost, and the remaining one's are so "widely" spread on Roshar (Half in 2 countries, other half in the rest) isn't explained IMO. (Note that in my post @18 I did say "supposedly Alethela", because it really doesn't matter in which place Keep Feversone actually had been - the people who retrieved the blades then, should have treasured them, which would mean less likelihood of spreading them.

What acutally could explain the missing > 100 Blades, is that some people of Keep Feverstone belonged to a secret organisation (eg. what developed into the Ghostbloods), hid a huge part of the blades for themselves, and cleverly manipulated knowledge of how many Blades had been left behind by the Knight Radiants. (Again there is absolutely no basis for something like this in the text I'm aware of, just some idle speculations).
Alice Arneson
29. Wetlandernw
Isilel @26 – Indeed, I can imagine plenty of scenarios that would make the question of “do his eyes really turn light?” rather a moot point. As you say, they have to live long enough for it to matter. It’s also pretty likely that not too many of his old friends get much chance to see him under normal circumstances any more – he’s going to be playing a different role as a Shardbearer than he did as a common soldier, so who would know? Or care? Around his old mates, all he has to do is act like a lighteyes and not take off his helm, and the myth lives on.

Re: the old Shards - It’s quite possible that the KR squirreled them away somewhere; I fully agree that there’s no way to survive (much less win) the coming Desolation without them. And I agree that simply giving them to untrained humanity is a rather odd thing to do, as proven by the continual struggle for possession of the remaining few. However…

It all depends on where the Blades (and Plate) come from, and/or where their power comes from. If they are existing artifacts which can be picked up and properly used by a new Knight Radiant (e.g. Kaladin), then it makes sense that the old ones are hidden and will be found in time, somehow. (And I agree, simply reinventing them at this stage, a la the Veden Half-Shards, would be a stretch.) If, on the other hand, each KR somehow creates his own Plate and Blade in the process of (or as a result of) becoming a Knight, then it makes more sense that the old ones are simply gone. New ones, proper ones that glow for the true owner and allow/require Surgebinding during use, as Dalinar saw in his visions, would be created as the new Knights Radiant are raised.

If the latter is the direction Sanderson is going with this, Shallan may be our clue – if she “invented” her own Blade when she needed it, to protect her brother from their father’s rage, then it’s not so much a matter of Shards being re-created in the nick of time, as the Knights Radiant re-forming prior to the Desolation. Isn’t that what happened before, in ancient history? There were a few who kept the arts of war alive, and then built up the orders when the cues indicated an on-coming Desolation – something like that, anyway. In this case, the cues are a little different, but we’ve seen a couple of them. This time around looks like it might be more “in the nick of time” than the past, when the KR were doing their job and the Desolations came more frequently, but it’s still not really a matter of “Oh, aren’t we lucky to rediscover this clever thing just in time.” Depending on your perspective, of course.

travyl - I know. There's so much of the history that we just don't know yet. We can speculate and throw out likely scenarios, but Sanderson is sufficiently inventive that I don't have a real expectations of figuring out very much of it prior to the actual reading. But it's fun to think about, in the meantime. :)
Irene Gallo
30. Irene
Sorry, Art Department jumping in for a sec: I’m looking at a great shot of Michael Whelan in costume...and some other things....might need to share tomorrow.
Sean Taylor
32. Izzos
wetlandernw @ 13 Re relationship between Parshendi and chasmfiends. I was listening a bit ahead in Chapter 43. Bridge Four is arguing about the KR, and Scar says to Teft: "I can't believe you are arguing about this, Teft. What next? Shall we let the Voidbringers steal our hearts?" I found this intriguing in light of Jasnah's theory that Parshendi=Voidbringers and the fact that the current war seems to center around winning (or stealing?) of gem hearts. I don't think it is mentioned anywhere else, but is part of the legend of the Voidbringers that they steal people's hearts? If Parshendi and chasmfiends are indeed related as has been theorized on these boards, then this could be an interesting turnaround. A Parshendi Vengeance Pact against the Alethi so to speak?

Also, Micahel says in his post above: "There seems to be something like that going on with the chasmfiends at least, but they have the gemhearts while no other creature on Roshar is acknowledged to have this advantage." I actually recall someone mentioning that chulls have gemhearts too, but not as big or useful as those in chasmfiends. I only have the audio mp3, so perhaps someone else can find a proper reference to confirm? I got the impression that all the crustecean-like species had gem hearts of some sort.

Wetlandernw @ 25 Re Stone Shamans reclaiming Shardblade. I found that concept to be interesting. I imagine the Shin having a distinct disdain for violence. I always assumed that Szeth's position as Truthless came about as punishement for some violent act that he committed. But having a rule that can't give the Blade up and having a 'committee' so to speak in charge of reclaiming the blade should he die seems to indicate that they gave it to him after the fact...that owning it is part of his punishment? Also, I imagine that the Shamans would have to be fairly skilled warriors themselves if they are to reclaim a Shardblade from someone who managed to kill Szeth. What will they be armed with to enforce the reclamation I wonder?
Maiane Bakroeva
33. Isilel
having a 'committee' so to speak in charge of reclaiming the blade should he die seems to indicate that they gave it to him after the fact...that owning it is part of his punishment?
Personally, I really don't think so. It takes time and a lot of training to become as good as Szeth is. Also, there is every indication that Szeth used to be somebody rather important, IMHO.
He even ruminates about it himself - how he is a surge-binder and how he talks like a light-eyes, etc. I doubt that even in Shinovar just anybody has Szeth's education and skills.
Also, didn't that Shin with whom Kaladin's slave caravan master traded admit that as an outcast/slave Szeth was one of a kind and hopefully there would never be another?

All of this speaks against Shin handing out shardswords for the sake of punishment, IMHO. It is far more likely that he already was given the sword before his disgrace and tradition decreed that he should have it until his death.
The retrieval party for the sword upon Szeth's demise would have to be capable of overpowering a shardbearer and therefore would have to consist of Szeth's fellow surge-binders, likely also armed with shardblades.
James Briggs
34. traveler
32,33 If you look at the print a few chapters back that shows the codes of the alethi, check out the pictures around the edges(sorry I dont know the page I dont have my book with me) anyway ,if you look at them you will see a man suspended in the air while a blade passes through him . I think that this is a exanple of how a (?Stone Shamon) is able to retain his soul even if the Shardblade passes through ttheir body. So mabe Sethhad a teacher with this ability that can defeat the student.
I agree that Seth had the blade at some point during the training, or that it might have been given to him whe the masters thought he was ready to have the shardbladewhen he reached a high level of proficiency.
As to why he is truthless I have no idea but i cant wait to find out. I CANT WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK!!!!!!
Sean Taylor
35. Izzos
Isilel @ 33. You are probably right, it would be very strange to hand out awesome shardblades as punishment, but the idea was intruiging. We know so little about Stone Shamanism, but already there seem to be some fascinating contradictions. The society reveres farmers and considers warriors to hold inferior callings. Yet it would appear that the priests or whoever have power amongst the Shamans would have to be skilled with the same sort of Shardblade that Szeth has and are possibly/likely also surge-binders. Perhaps Szeth used to be among their numbers and was trained by them. He certainly appears to have been devout to their faith. It also makes you wonder if there are elements reminiscant of the asian martial arts...something along the lines that many Shin commonly learn the Shaman martial arts as a philosophy/art form (of which the high stone shamans are masters) and only very evil people would use it as a form of aggression?

briggs2 @ 34. That is interesting. I've been listening to the audio book so I never saw that illustration, but that could tie in well to my musings above (which are probably all wrong but fun for me to speculate nonethless.)
Leeland Woodard
36. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@32 - I definitely remember some talk about creatures other than the chasmfiends having gemhearts, only ones that aren't as large as the gemhearts that chasmfiends have. Specifically, I think I remember something in the Purelake interlude about gemhearts in some kind of fish or something. Not sure exactly, but it's tugging at my mind right now.

Also, this is just a thought, but do we have any indication that all of the orders of the Knights Radient had/used the Plate and Blade? We know that at least 2 orders did (perhaps 3, if the healer-woman we saw in Dalinar's vision was of another oder, and 4 if the Knights that joined in at Feverstone Keep were from yet another order)--but we don't have any solid proof that ALL of the Knights Radient had shards (unless I'm missing something). I mean, it stands to reason that they probably did have shardplate and shardblades, but if they didn't, there's a chance that what we saw at Feverstone keep was every existant set of shardplate, and all shardblades, being abandoned.
Alice Arneson
37. Wetlandernw
Izzos @32 – That’s an interesting point I had forgotten… Is there a legend of “stealing hearts” on Roshar? I’ll have to search on that a bit.

FWIW, I couldn’t find anything saying that chulls have gemhearts; we know that chasmfiends do, and that the Lanceryn (also greatshells, now extinct or very rare) also did; from the previews of WoR we also know that the Tai-na (giant island-sized greatshells) also do. I can’t find anything else. I wouldn’t think chulls do, or they wouldn’t be used so casually for anything and everything, right?

You ask another question I’ve been rather curious about, as well: “What will they (the Stone Shamans) be armed with to enforce the reclamation I wonder?” I hope we get to find out more about them, though I don’t really expect it until Szeth’s book. I, too, have guessed that he was given the Blade as part of his punishment, though I really don’t know. (For that matter, I don’t really know why I think that, and would have to go research it again to see what gave me the idea.) But we’re almost certain to get something more on Szeth in the next book, so we’ll just have to see what answers we find!

Isilel @33 – Szeth actually thinks of himself as a Windrunner, although Brandon said elsewhere that he really isn’t; he’s just using the same skill set, but without being a Knight Radiant. So he’s a Surgebinder and Shardbearer, as opposed to a Knight Radiant… for whatever that’s worth. The Shin merchant who traded with Vstim & Rysn didn’t think it likely there would be another soon, and hoped there never would be. And yes, Szeth was extremely well-educated in comparison to the kind of people who held his oathstone during the intervening five years, though a decent education seems to be not uncommon among the Shin. All in all, it’s a set-up that triggers lots of questions, with very few answers available yet. In any case, it’s a fair assumption that, Blade or no, he was already training as a Surgebinder before he became Truthless.

@ several - Sheer speculation here: perhaps the Stone Shamans retain much of the Surgebinding lore of earlier days, but without enough knowledge to take the step to Knights Radiant; or perhaps they choose not to take that next step because of the Recreance. If Szeth was a Stone Shaman (full or in training), maybe he used his Lashings to kill someone, moving him from the top of the heap (Shaman) to the bottom (warrior). Would having committed that “greatest sin” (killing) with something that was supposed to be sacred (Surgebinding) be enough to earn him the Truthless designation? It does seem odd that he would be given something as powerful as a Shardblade as part of his punishment, but what good is a Blade to anyone but a warrior? And why would a warrior receive such an education as he seems to have had?

The other thing in favor (in a weird way) of the Blade being part of the punishment is the fact that, apparently, it is his honor that holds him to all the requirements of his Truthless status. If they can rely on his honor to the extent that he obediently commits all the worst sins in the book, knowing there will be no absolution and that he will bear the eternal punishment (or however they see it) for those sins, but he will continue to do so because the last, worst thing would be to abandon his oath… Well, what greater punishment could you inflict on someone who was supposed to be “good” than to make it possible for them to commit the most damning possible sins, and require them to do so? It makes a rather hideous sort of sense.

(If this is true… Sanderson, you give me the creeps sometimes!! That's downright twisted!)

smintitule @36 – I don’t know if we have proof that all the Orders used Plate and Blade; there are certainly hints, but most of what we “know” about them is legend. Even so, Dalinar saw at least three hundred sets there…

Edit: because I forgot to white-out the WoR spoiler, just in case.
Leeland Woodard
38. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Wetlander @37 - Szeth says at one point that he would be damned for the sins that he commits, but that if he were to abandon his oaths, he would no longer exist in the world to come. His thought process is that it's better to exist as a tortured being in agony than no longer to exist at all. I think there's going to be a breaking point eventually where Szeth will decide that it's been enough, and that he'd rather not exist than have to bear the sins of which he is guilty. Then he will abandon his oath either by killing himself, or by not recognizing the oath stone as binding anymore and being his own man.
Alice Arneson
39. Wetlandernw
smintitule @38 - I think that is highly probable. I suspect the latter, myself, but it could go a couple of directions.
Nadine L.
40. travyl
@32 & 37.) RE beasts with gemhearts: wetlander probably mentioned them (I saw those beast-names for the first time, so I am not sure) but as far as I can remember Sigzil gives us the only mention of an "animal" other than the chasmfiends in WoK, when he tells about the Criminals beeing eaten by them in Marabethia (chapter 40): "a particular species of greatshell ... of course they have gemhearts. Not nearly as large as the ones in these chasmfiends, but still nice."
Because there is no mention that the Alethi slaughter the chulls once they are old / big enough to have large gemhearts, I would suspect they don't have any.

Izzos @35: if you're interested in the pics, Brandon kindly published the WoK illustrations on his website!
Leeland Woodard
41. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@40 - Even if chulls do have gemhearts, it wouldn't necessarily make sense for the Alethi to slaughter the chulls and get the gemhearts once they have them. The Alethi go after Chasmfiends because they're a significant challenge. Chulls are just like cattle--they live, they're livestock, and one day they die. It'd be easy enough to collect the gemheart from a chull when it dies that you might as well work it for its whole life, then harvest the gemheart when the chull dies. You might even end up with a bigger gemheart that way (this is assuming that the gemheart continues to grow throughout life).
Sean Taylor
42. Izzos
travyl @ 40 - That is the reference I was thinking of, thanks for finding that. In my mind, it seems that chasmfiends/greatshells are not too distantly related to the chulls, and are very similar in appearance save for size and temperment, but perhaps I'm off on that. Supposing I'm right, then it seems to make sense that all the related species have gemhearts of some sort. The gemhearts in the chasmfiends are particuarly desirable because they are very large (as big as a man's head in the one Elhokar slew, but that was a particularly big speciman). I think I understood that they are of a type that is especially useful for soulcasting. Also, the fact that you either have to hunt a mature beast or fight an army of Parshendi to get one I think would make them especially appealing to the Alethi.

By that logic, if a chull had a gemheart, it would likely be quite small. Assuming that chasmfiend gemhearts might be fist size on average, then I would assume that a chull's heart might be pebble or gravel sized. Chulls are valuable and expensive in their own right, so it probably wouldn't make any monetary sense to harvest them for gemhearts anyway. Also, it is possible that a chull gemheart isn't particuarly useful for soulcasting...maybe for making speheres. Finally, as smintitule @ 41 says, there isn't any glory in killing a chull, they are valuble and useful, so why bother. If it has something useful just wait until it dies. I wonder what kremlings and axehounds have, if anything.

A tangential thought along these lines. Dhalinar says that the gemhearts compeletely changed the strategy of the war. He wasn't counting on them, but I wonder a) did they not know chasmfiends had gemhearts; b) did they not know chasmfiends were so abundant here; or c) they just realized how easy it was to get gemhearts from a pupating chasmfiend and they got to off a bunch of Parshendi in the process. We know (c) is right. I think we know that (b) is wrong, but don't know the reference. I think we also know that (a) is wrong, because isn't that why Dhalinar and Gavilar were exploring around in Natanatan in the first place? If they knew that chasmfiends had gemhearts, then is it because of legend or because that's just the anatomy of these kinds of species: all crustacean thingies have gemhearts, so a great big crustacean thing has a great big gemheart.

Also, thanks to travyl @ 40 for the link to the illustrations!
TBGH
43. Joshuashadow
Just a quick thought on creating shardplate. I think that the whole reason that the parshendi hate the fact of their dead being moved and abhor what kaladin does with thier shells is that when used by surgebinders or one of the other orders powers and regularly infused with stormlight, the parshendi shells become shardplate. It would make sense why they need to add gemhearts to them to continually infuse them with stormlight and not just when the surgebinder or windrunners uses their powers.
loving this reread and the comments btw. What a wonderful way to fully enjoy a great book .
TBGH
44. Daniel J
This is very interesting. I agree with Joshua's thoughts about the sources of shardplate. Infused carapace of some sort. I also had a thought regarding shardblades. They blur when they touch flesh. It is noted earlier in the book that creation spren would also blur if Shalan touched them.

Combine this information with the flame spren observations in the Garanid interlude, and I think we may have the source of shard blades. A form of spren forced to hold the form of a blade, like the flame spren are forced to be a certain size once measured.

Perhaps shard blades kill other spren and that is how they cut? This would also explain Syl's dislike for them. As per the longroot conversation with Kal's mother, everything contains spren.

Perhaps spren are the soul of the almighty, and as noted in that conversation people have a soul instead of spren, it would explain how shard blades sever the souls themselves. Seemed like a good forum for throwing out theories. Can't wait until March 4th! Book 2!

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