Jul 11 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 19 and 20

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson, Stormlight Archive Welcome back to the reread of The Way of Kings after our brief break for the 4th of July! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. This week we experience one of Dalinar’s visions for the first time, and learn quite a bit about the way things were in ancient Roshar—even if we don’t understand it all just yet. The second chapter is quite short, but focuses on an important event in Kaladin’s young life that sees him face his first failure as a surgeon as he struggles to save the life of a young girl. Kal is a tender soul no matter the age.

Chapter 19: Starfalls

Setting: The Shattered Plains / Dalinar’s vision in ancient Natanatan

Point of View: Dalinar

What Happens: Soon after Dalinar makes it to the barracks of his camp, one of his Highstorm visions incapacitates him. Dalinar awakens and realizes this is yet another vision, now his twelfth. He finds himself not in the barracks but in an unfamiliar barn with a very scared young girl who calls him father. A creature soon breaks in through the wall of the barn. The creature is a mass of black and unlike anything Dalinar has ever seen. Unable to call forth his Shardblade, Dalinar grabs the girl and tries to hide, but the creature sniffs them out. Dalinar distracts monster by tossing a bag of grain at it, and flees the barn with the girl. He discovers they are in a small settlement, and takes shelter with the girl in a nearby house. A woman (Taffa) in the house refers to Dalinar as “Heb,” and is very relieved to see the girl (Seeli) is safe.

The creature crashes through a window of the house, landing on Dalinar and cutting his face. Dalinar calls for light as he pushes the monster off him and reaches for an iron fire poker by the hearth. He immediately takes a pose in the Smokestance style to face off against the creature and for the first time can make out the monster’s appearance: it has six legs and no discernible eyes, and a vicious looking mouth full of sharp teeth. A second creature climbs into the house as Dalinar injures the first; smoke leaks from its wound. Both creatures approach, so Dalinar blocks them with an overturned table and picks up a table leg to use as a secondary weapon. He stabs one creature with the poker, causing it to deflate like a balloon. Dalinar is bitten by the remaining creature, but soon finishes it off.

Dalinar realizes there are more of these creatures approaching the house, so he asks Taffa to lead them towards the river to escape; he feigns confusion from his injuries to cover his ignorance. More of the black creatures set upon them from multiple directions so they take cover behind a large rock formation. Dalinar fights the creatures as best he can, but is soon overwhelmed and finds himself lying on his back. From this position, he sees a star falling. The star lands and is revealed to be a Knight Radiant in brilliant blue armor with glyphs etched all over. The Shardbearer immediately engages the dark creatures, which abandon Dalinar, Taffa, and Seeli in lieu of this new target. Soon, a woman in Shardplate appears next to Dalinar and heals their wounds, regrowing muscle and skin that had been torn out.

The female Shardbearer soon joins her compatriot and fights off the creatures she refers to as “Midnight Essence.” Unable to hold himself back, Dalinar joins their battle. Afterwards, the Knights express surprise at how well Heb (Dalinar) fights; they tell him he should go to the city of Urithiru, where he may find a place within the orders of the Knights Radiant. The male Knight informs Dailnar that the Midnight Essence are a harbingers of a Desolation. Dalinar asks them what year it is and is told that it is the Eighth Epoch, thirty three seven, which Dalinar finds to be an unfamiliar way of describing dates. He then asks where he is, and realizes this is ancient Natanatan—in his time, this is where the Shattered Plains are located. Pressing the female Radiant for more information, he learns that the Knights’ main city is Urithiru, but they live throughout Alethela (the old name for Alethkar) and travel wherever they are needed to protect others. The Knight again mentions that a Desolation is coming and this is according to Harkaylain.

The female Knight then runs off towards a distant scream. Taffa begins speaking, but her voice is that of the man from Dalinar’s other visions. The voice tells Dalinar, “You have to unite them,” which he has heard many times before. He asks for answers that will help him make decisions, specifically whether or not he should trust Sadeas. The voice answers in the affirmative and advises Dalinar, “Act with honor, and honor will aid you.” Dalinar then wakes from his vision and understands that he must bring the highprinces together somehow.

Quote of the Chapter:

“It is our duty and our privilege,” the woman said, “to stay vigilant for the Desolation. One kingdom to study the arts of war so that the others might have peace. We die so that you may live. It has ever been our place.”

Dalinar stood still, sorting through that.

“All who can fight are needed,” the woman said. “And all who have a desire to fight should be compelled to come to Alethela. Fighting, even this fighting against the Ten Death, changes a person. We can teach you so that it will not destroy you. Come to us.”

Dalinar found himself nodding.

“Every pasture needs three things,” the woman said, voice changing, as if she were quoting from memory. “Flocks to grow, herdsmen to tend, and watchers at the rim. We of Alethela are those watchers—the warriors who protect and fight. We maintain the terrible arts of killing, then pass them on to others when the Desolation comes.”

So there in just a few paragraph explains exactly what the Knights Radiant were setup to do. What the Ten Deaths are still isn’t clear. Are the Midnight Essences part of the ten? The language seems ambiguous in that regard, but it seems likely.


Dalinar’s visions were always the sections I paid the most attention to since I was so sure they would explain this world or at least the history of it. I hardly focused on the negative implications of Dalinar’s visions the first go around, and now focusing on the minutia of the whole work I find Dalinar’s sons’ position much more understandable. Witnessing Dalinar in this state had to be shocking and now a large number of people have actually witnessed one of his fits. Sure they are people of his house, but word will spread and it will only weaken his position.

The connection of the Highstorms and Dalinar’s visions seems to support my earlier theory that the Highstorms are the essence of one of the Gods since the visions are clearly supposed to encourage Dalinar to ready the Alethi. Though the “unite them” might refer to something larger than just the Alethi and may encompass most of the human races against the coming Desolation. The description from the female Knight points to just the people of Alethkar as having the knowledge of warring, but she also mentions that the Knights are meant to ready others when a Desolation comes. Surely the Desolation will harm all the lands of Roshar, so not only will the Alethi have to get their act together, but they’ll have to lead the other kingdoms against the Voidbringers. Also, did anyone catch Taffa’s mention of “Three Gods”? Seems like the ancient people of Roshar knew about the three gods, but that knowledge is now lost. So I wonder if this vision takes place before or after the death of one of the Gods. Calling it Eighth Epoch doesn’t help without some more context or a timeline of some sort. But this vision takes place in an ancient time when Natanatan most likely didn’t contain the Shattered Plains, so it stands to reason this is before one of the gods was killed.

So just how real are Dalinar’s visions? Is he really there juxtaposed in someone’s body from the past, or is it merely a story playing in his mind? He clearly interacts with the vision, so like a time traveler he changes the history somewhat. Heb was surely no warrior like Dalinar and wouldn’t have been able to defend his family as well. The young girl and his wife most likely would have died in the attack from the Midnight Essence, but Dalinar changed that in the vision, at least.

Overall, this was the window into the Knights Radiant we needed at this point. The talk up until this point was about them being a force of good, but that their later actions turned the memory of them sour after they “abandoned the people.” This vision clearly shows them as a group made out to do good through physical intervention and selfless. By the end, the female Radiant makes it clear they need more followers for the upcoming Desolation.

I found it interesting that the Midnight Essences aren’t actually the Voidbringers, though according to the rescuing Radiants they could be one of the Ten Deaths. The Midnight Essence is so different than everything else. In this world nearly everything has developed a hard outer shell while these creatures are basically thick balloons filled with smoke. I wonder if they are created by an order of the Voidbringers. Like the Stonewardens able to make creatures of stone, could there be a version that can create monsters from shadows or smoke? Also, who released them? No clear answers here, and there are no references to these creatures in the rest of The Way of Kings.

Now the Knights Radiant bring up some questions outside of what they have to say. Namely, the fact that having the blades and plate doesn’t seem to effect them the same as they do in Dalinar’s time. First it glows which is easiest to explain since they are channeling Stormlight—which modern wearers don’t do—and also they seem to be able to make their helmets appear and disappear at will, which is handy trick. The biggest thing brought up, though, is the fact that there were female Radiants. This again shows the duality of the Alethi, as she and her partner are clearly a pair. But besides the fact that the Radiants later disbanded, this does nothing to explain why now women are not seen as warriors in society. Even though the female Knight has healing skills, she is still valued as a warrior.

And the male speaker at the end almost is no help at all? Talk about frustrating. It seems likely that the speaker is the fallen God that is hinted about so much.


Chapter 20: Scarlet

Setting: Hearthstone, 7 years ago

Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Only two months since hearthstone lost Brightlord Wistiow, five-year-old Miasal suffers a severe compound fracture, which is causing massive blood loss. Kaladin happens to be nearby when she gets in the accident, and immediately begins to staunch the blood flow. He works to create a tourniquet over the wound to slow the bleeding while he determined which arteries had been torn. Soon, Miasal’s father Harl barrels up through the crowd and screams at Kal for interfering. Some of the other male villagers hold Harl back, as they knew Kal was the son of the town surgeon and could help the ailing girl.

Kal works feverishly to close the arteries and uses a hot knife to cauterize them. However, he realizes that the girl has stopped breathing. Harl begs Kal to do something, but he had already done everything he could for the girl; she had just lost too much blood. Harl pushes Kal away from Miasal and clutches her body closely.

A short time later, Kal is sobbing outside of his father’s operating room anguished over Miasal’s death. Kal’s father comes out after having looked over Miasal and tells Kal he did good work, but Kal calls himself a failure. Lirin tries to comfort him by saying he acted well by not freezing up and reacting reasonably to the injuries at hand. Kal isn’t pleased to hear this and says he doesn’t want to be a surgeon any longer. Lirin gives him important advice about what he’ll need to do to face being a surgeon, but Kal can’t see the sense in it.

Quote of the Chapter:

“You have to learn when to care, son,” Lirin said softly. “And when to let go. You’ll see. I had similar problems when I was younger. You’ll grow calluses.”

And this is a good thing? Kal thought, another tear trickling down his cheek. You have to learn when to care...and when to let go...

This advice, had Kal taken it to heart in the way Lirin intended, would have made a very different Kaladin than what we see on the Shattered Plains. Can you imagine a Kal who was able to detach himself from his emotions completely? I certainly can’t and don’t even try to make me. It is Kaladin’s lack of calluses that make him endearing. The fact that he takes everything as a personal lost only goes on to make him stronger—not weaker, as his father intimates. Kaladin, though well-skilled, is not an uncaring person. He cares too much, but it is that emotion which he draws from to go on a live and hopefully do better next time. Kaladin is vulnerable and I wouldn’t want him any other way.


“Scarlet” is one of the briefest chapters in all of The Way of Kings. But its relative small size belies how important of a chapter this is in young Kal’s life. It is emotionally charged for sure. It is perhaps one of the most important turning points in Kal’s upbringing not in regards to what befalls him, but in how he chooses to react to events.

If Kaladin were to sit down with a psychologist in his adult years, this is the episode they would zero in on which developmentally formed who he is today. A giver. A healer. A griever. Someone who wants to be nothing like his father. He does all he can to be a different—though not necessarily better—man than his father. Often Lirin comes off as being somewhat less than good, but he deserves more credit. He truly did what he thought was best for his family at the time. Also, unlike most healers/surgeons, he didn’t expect payment for his services. Sure this comes back to bite him later for a lot of reasons, but if Lirin hadn’t done what he had, Kaladin wouldn’t be the person we know and (most of us) love.

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.

Sean Dowell
1. qbe_64
I was always curious how Dalinar could effect the visions that he was interacting with. His discussion with Honor at the end of the book seems to suggest that he could not, and that while the visions were based on actual events that occured, they were not actual events themselves. In this sense he could manipulate the visions to an extent, but not change the essence of what the vision was trying to convey.
I personally love to see that even out of his plate and without his blade, Dalinar is still out of bubblegum (see Duke Nukem if you don't get the reference). They frequently mention how different battling in/with shards is compared to any other battle tactics, so to be able to switch back to conventional weaponry, especially ill-balanced weaponry, is that much more impressive.

And poor young Kaladin. Man! Does it suck to be a teenager on Roshar (or any agragrian level society). All this kid does is study, and in his daily time off he usually stumbles upon dying people. And, he gets to watch the entire village take the piss out of his dad to please some douchebag brightlord.
They need to build a mall or something. Or hell, just go lay in a field and watch some clouds float by for like 30 seconds.
2. AndrewB
Michael, you brought up one of the biggest questions that I had after finishing TWoK: "why ... women are not seen as warriors in society" during the current timeline?

Presently, Alethi society places a high value on women. They are the ones who read. The men acknowledge that this is a crucial aspect of their society. Yet, women are forbidden from engaging in what Alethi society views as the highest calling: that of the Soldier/Warrior. One wonders whether future books will present a female character who posses as a man to fight (a la Deborah Sampson or Mulan . Even a story/legend of this would be an interesting twist.

I very much want to learn why females have been shunned away from serving as warriors. I wonder if it is just a symptom of the passage of time and a changge of society's morals. Or if there is a longer-term hidden agenda. Some force/group (the Ghostbloods, perhaps) trying to orchestrate a society wide campagin for a nefarious future goal.

Thanks for reading my musings,
(aka the musespren)
Deana Whitney
3. Braid_Tug
Chapter 19 is where I went “rut roh!”
The Alethi reverence of War and battle powers seriously went wrong. From One kingdom “to fight” to them all – more than just the Knight’s Fall messed this system up.
Sudo Nym
4. Shakerag
"Kal thought, another teat trickling down his cheek."
Interesting typo, that.
Kimani Rogers
5. KiManiak
A lot to mention in relation to these chapters (possibly later), but one thing I definitely wanted to put out there -

Re: Midnight Essence – Michael's theory relating it to a group that can do something similar to what he thinks the Stonewardens do is somewhat similar to mine.

My theory comes from the belief that the 10 Heralds have opposites (Yelignar the Blightwind, and other members of the Unmade, maybe?) and that the 10 orders of KR have opposites (unsure of title or makeup at this time, maybe Voidbringers have 10 orders too); therefore the Midnight Essence could be related to an ability of an opposite to a KR order.

With absolutely no solid information regarding the abilities of the various KR orders other than what we can find in interviews, I would propose the possibility that Midnight Essence would be less likely to be the counterpart to the Stonewardens, and instead be the opposite/counterpart to Lightweavers, maybe? If Lightweavers can take and shape light, bend it to their will, maybe their counterparts can take Midnight Essence and shape it to their will?

Purely speculation with very little basis in fact at this time. But I kinda like it at this point in time...

Also, its pretty fortunate that Dalinar isn’t able to summon his Shardblade during these visions. When he “wakes up,” he could end up having caused serious damage otherwise…
Jeremy Guebert
6. jeremyguebert
I've always seen Dalinar's visions as a low-tech/magical equivalent to the holodeck - they're based on real (or at least realistic scenarios), and while he can change what happens within the visions while he's experiencing them, I don't think he can actually change the past.

@ Michael - Wow, good catch on the "Three Gods" thing. I definitely have just skimmed over that on previous re-reads. Extremely interesting to think that the people of ancient Roshar actually knew about Honor, Cultivation and Odium.

qbe_64 @1 - Good point about Dalinar's fighting prowess I didn't really even think that it was odd in any way, which I guess is a testament to just how hard-core Dalinar is.

AndrewB @ 2 - What, no mention of Eowyn?

I'm curious about the female KR's use of Regrowth. Do we know if this is one of the surges, or something else? She mentions that she needs to conserve it - does this just mean conserving the Stormlight that powers it, or is it some sort of potion-type thing?
7. Kerros
When I first read chapter 19 about the “Midnight Essence” being of smoke, I figured they were related to the 10 Essences; Air, Smoke, Fire, Glass, Wood/Plants, blood, Oil, Metal, Rock/Stone, Flesh. We already know that the desolation had creatures made from air and rock, why not smoke and the other Essences as well?

Harry Burger
8. Lightbringer
Read carefully - in all of Dalinar's flashbacks, we never actually see any spren. He assumes fear spren hidden by the darkness at the beginning of this chapter, but never sees them. Nohodan later mentions Surgebinders being dependent on Honor spren, but we never see any.
My theory is that the glowing Radiants come from them holding the energy of all spren. When they fall, we see them abandon Blade and Plate, and the glow stops. That released spren into the world at large.
"Trust to Honor, and Honor will aid you" - Kaladin and his Honor spren came to rescue Dalinar at the Tower. Prophetic pun confusion is a time honored tradition in mythology.
The last vision ends with the speaker saying they are all messages left behind by the Almighty before Odium killed him, or perhaps somehow after. He refers to Cultivation as better than himself at some things, so him being the Honor Shard makes sense.
Harry Burger
9. Lightbringer
Read carefully - in all of Dalinar's flashbacks, we never actually see any spren. He assumes fear spren hidden by the darkness at the beginning of this chapter, but never sees them. Nohodan later mentions Surgebinders being dependent on Honor spren, but we never see any.
My theory is that the glowing Radiants come from them holding the energy of all spren. When they fall, we see them abandon Blade and Plate, and the glow stops. That released spren into the world at large.
"Trust to Honor, and Honor will aid you" - Kaladin and his Honor spren came to rescue Dalinar at the Tower. Prophetic pun confusion is a time honored tradition in mythology.
The last vision ends with the speaker saying they are all messages left behind by the Almighty before Odium killed him, or perhaps somehow after. He refers to Cultivation as better than himself at some things, so him being the Honor Shard makes sense.
Tangentially, I think Cultivation dominates Shinovar, spren and highstorms are of Honor, that's why Shinovar is so different.
10. Humbly_entering
This is my first post on, as I've caught up with this re-read.
Dalinar's vision does reveal differences in that epoch. Even without the tools or the understanding of his character and situation, he's not 'out of place' fighting alongside honorable knights radiant (male and female). Yet at that very time, he's being shamed in his own place in the real world.
From the first person, I enjoy seeing his vision, but I agree that the 3rd person onlookers (or his son) would find watching and hearing him a deeply disturbing experience.
Leeland Woodard
11. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@7 Kerros - I think you're on to something there, that makes a lot of sense when we take into account the lore of the world.

Unrelatedly, I tend to wonder--we see Dalinar do some fighting and stuff in the dream, and there are accounts of Dalinar thrashing about during highstorms (when he's in his visions). Is he actually physically performing all of those same actions back in the barracks? Just sheer curiosity here.
Eric McCabe
12. Zizoz
The Chapter 58 epigraph seems to mention the Midnight Essence:

“Re-Shephir, the Midnight Mother, giving birth to abominations with her essence so dark, so terrible, so consuming. She is here! She watches me die!”

I'm finding I don't like reading Dalinar's visions. The people in them thinking he's someone else makes them really awkward.

@7: Where were the creatures made from air mentioned?

@11: That was my understanding.
13. BryTyHokie
"This again shows the duality of the Alethi, as she and her partner are clearly a pair"

Interesting point Michael makes about the two Radiants possibly being a pair. Does this remind anyone of something? A male and female fighting pair? Very interesting
14. enderjs

Interesting theory in regards to "Trust to Honor, and Honor will aid you". I was thinking he meant be honorable and an honor spren will find and help you. Same as with Kaladin.

I think we learn in the last vision that nothing "The Almight" says is prophetic he is simply stating what I believe are facts on how the world works and what has happened. So I think he is giving aid to who ever is seeing the visions on how to tap into his power.
Jeremy Guebert
15. jeremyguebert
I'd like to point out here that Dalinar's going to be screwed over by thinking the vision is speaking directly to him. See:
"...Should I continue to trust Sadeas?” “Yes,” the being said. “This is important..." Sanderson, Brandon (2010-08-31). The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The) (p. 307). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.
Tanavast/Honor forgot to add in a disclaimer: "This is a pre-recorded message. Please do not interpret it as giving specific advice in regards to your personal situation, which I have no way of knowing about."
16. TBGH
One of the things Sanderson LOVES to use in all his larger series is the misinterpretation of prophecy. I fell for it again here.

What's the earliest anybody caught on to the idea that the vision voice wasn't talking specifically to Dalinar?
Rich Bennett
17. Neuralnet
Loved the Dalinar chapter and it is so intriguing that he could alter the world... it wasnt just a movie. Also, to me at least, it was interesting that the people didnt use stormlight (they used a fire-based lantern)... I wonder if stomlight is only used by the Radiant's in the past... and are there highstorms in the past before the shattered plains? If not, how do they fill their gems. In general, this passage made me think that there is more to the magic of Roshar than we know yet. I hope we find out more about the Radiant's in the next book.
Nadine L.
18. travyl
Idle math exercise, sparked upon this quote (chapter 19):
This would be the twelfth one he’d seen. Only twelve? he thought. It seemed like so many more, but this had only begun happening to him a few months ago.
A few month are at least 2, more likely three month which gives us 100-150 days. We know Highstorms happen every “few” days (I’d judge every 4-7 days because the Weepings with only one storm in 4weeks = 20days is exceptional). – So if we take the careful guess of 7 days interval between Highstorms, this makes still at least 14 – 21 Highstorms in the time, since Dalinar started to experience them. Is my math false, or did Dalinar at first not get the visions with every storm?

About chapter 20: I disagree that Lirin intends for his son to "detach himself from his emotions completely" - but for people who see tragic fates in their professions (doctors certainly among them) - some distance is important. I agree though, that if Kal had managed to even partly "let go", the present-time Kaladin would likely be different.
19. Rancho Unicorno
@2 - Obviously just my opinion, but this is the exact type of situation where a ban on a population group serving in the military makes sense.

Whether informal or formal, women are the members of society that are learned and literate. When only half your populace can read/write/effectively maintain society, it makes sense to keep that half from risking almost certain death (whether formally or informally). This is all the more so in a society that treats war so causally.
Jennifer B
20. JennB
1 year = 10 months
1 month = 10 weeks
1 week = 5 days

Your math looks right to me. Stick a Weeping in there and you could get the number lower. Maybe they did start sporadically. Otherwise it doesn't quite add up. Especially since a "few" implies more than two months.
Ben Lillijord
21. Superben
@7: Good call, I definitely agree
@20: Where did you get the info that there are 10 months in a year and 10 weeks in a month? Good to know...

So that means there are 500 days in a year, eh? Therefore Kaladin more like 27 in Earth years?
Flint Timmins
22. Giovanotto
I love Dalinar's visions. The town in which Dalinar finds himself seems somewhat primitive, but I think its because the people follow a form of stone shamanism. Instead of stormlight they use oil, they have sod and wood structures, and Dalinar's "wife" balks at the idea of cutting a cellar into the stone. IIRC she doesn't think that it is even possible.

The Knights Radiant are pretty great in this chapter (even if they do remind me of the Power Rangers). Any ideas about what the runes on their armor might be? The KR seem to be very advanced. They are able to travel immense distances quickly, able to know exactly where the Midnight Essence attack, and have the knowledge and means to fight the creatures. They don't seem like the type to simply abandon it all.

I'm of the opinion that the visions are "based on a true story." They may not be exactly what happened (especially since Dalinar has free will in the visions) but are accurate recreations of how things were at the time.

@7- Great catch. I think you've got it.
23. Kerros
well, I couldn't find where it's been stated that there were creatures made from air. I did find one of the epigraphs talking about beings made of fire.

Chapter 7 - Anything Reasonable
“They are aflame. They burn. They bring the darkness when they come, and so all you can see is that their skin is aflame. Burn, burn, burn….”
—Collected on Palahishev, 1172, 21 seconds pre-death. Subject was a baker’s apprentice.
Sean Taylor
24. Izzos
Re: KR and stormlight
I am still interested to know how the KR can surgebind while in their Shardplate. Szeth mentions early on that interference with surgebinding is one big reason why he is not interested in plate. I suspect that it ties in with the fact that Shardplate glows when worn by the KR, but am not sure how.

Re: Women in Alethi culture
On the last post there was a great discussion on the power and influence that women potentially wield in this culture. Despite the interesting men-women pairings that we frequently see, I still think that women are considered to be somewhat inferior to men. For instance, when Shallan was buying books, the book keeper was clearly condescending to her, as if she were a woman in our culture walking into an auto repair shop or something. The interesting thing is who else would be going into a bookshop when only the women read? Also, even though Elhokar's wife is doing the king's job in her husband's absence, why did Navani not inherit the throne when Gavilar died? Women are important but it seems that they still play a secondary role in the team. This sort of bias probably plays into why there are no female warriors today. I kind of wonder if there was an equivalent fall from grace for women like the Recreance for the KR and the fall of the Hierocracy for the ardents that resulted in their diminshed role.

Re: the number 10
Its fun to always see this number pop up: 10 essenses, 10 heralds, 10 KR orders, 10 fools, 10 deaths. I like the idea that everything good has its evil counterpart and it makes sense that the math would hold up too. Any idea who/what the 10 fools are?
Nadine L.
25. travyl
@21. superben:
they had the discussion about corresponding age in Roshar vs Earth years over at the 17shard. ( I think the info given there came from P. Ahlstrom but I'm not certain.
- anyway it was discussed that the days are shorter (20h) making the year in "seconds" almost the same in Roshar and Earth. - I leave it up to decide wheter the number of days or the "exact" time spent is the more relevant interval to define one's age...
Leeland Woodard
26. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@21 superben
Yeah, but their days are shorter than ours are, too. It works out to make 19 year old Kaladin pretty much 19 in earth years. Maybe a little older, but not much.
27. Zen
Regarding the Runes, #22, I presumed they were glyphs that corresponded to each order. But are glyphs and runes really the same thing?

Regarding the Midnight Essence, I supposed that was some form of Void-Binding we had not encountered. For that matter, why is it called Void-binding. Kaladin binds things to things because Honor is associated with promises. Does Void-binding bind Nothing to do your will? Kind of how GhostBusters would have ended if Nothing had come for them, instead of giant marshmallows. How do you fight Nothing? Just what does it mean to bind the Void?

And I may have mentioned this before, but what is Dalinar supposed to unite? The princedoms? The Knights? The Kingdoms? The Parshendi and Humans? Dalinar seems to assume it just means the princes, but I am not sure it should been seen so narrowly.
Jennifer B
28. JennB
Sorry, I meant to put that in there. It's from The Coppermind, under Calendar.
Jennifer B
29. JennB
Wasn't the book sellar condescending because of Shallon's age? She's quite young and was asking for some pretty heavy reading.
30. ak28
@7- Very interesting; I completely agree. And what about the Voidbringers? Thanks to Jasnah we know those are the Parshmen. Could that be the essence of flesh or blood? They always come during desolations...
31. Marco.


duke nukem ripped that line off rowdy roddy piper in the movie "they live"
Cameron Tucker
32. Loialson
What I find interesting is that in this vision (at least) the KR we see speaking to Dalinar are fighting in a Male/Female pair. That may just be a coincidence, but the Parshendi do so as well, and they fight with much more honor than the Alethi do.

I'm curious to see how this all plays out. I really don't think that the Parshendi are "evil" any more than most of BS's enemy forces are "evil".

I'm still on the fence with how much Odium has influence upon them....
33. Confutus
The Herald icons for Chapter 19 are Jes-Vev. I presume this has something to do with the Knights that appear in the chapter. My guess is that the male is Windrunner, partly because of the (sapphire?) blue glow of his plate, and partly because his landing resembles something Kaladin does later on.
Vev would be for the lady knight who uses the heliodor-topaz device for Regrowth. I suspect, from the amber glow of her armor, that she is from Ishar's order of Heralds, which indicates that the relationship between a Radiant's powers, the gemstones they use, and their patron is more complex than we have enough information to sort ut.

I also note that the symbol of the Knights Radiant, the sylized double eye, eight spheres connected with two at the center,is mentioned. This is one of the specific mentions that connect the diagrams on the front and back endpapers (in the hardback) with the Knights Radiant. Another version of the double-pupiled eye is seen at the base of the arch that appears at the head of each chapter.

For chapter 20, the Herald icons are Vev-Vev, which seem to have connection with Kaladin's work as a healer's apprentice.
34. Confutus
Or perhaps she was a Stoneward.
Jesse Sayers
35. Fluvre
@lightbringer/ others-
I was under the impression that spren might be parts of honor, or at least some spren were. If Honor hadn't been shatterd yet then the radiants could be getting their power directly from Honor.
That could also partially explain why they gave up their power. Continuing to use their power could of had an affect on the remaining parts of honor.

@ several- I assumed that Honor was telling Dalinar to unite the radiants. All of the visions deal with the radiants, and show them involved some way in fighting the desolations. Kaladin may be a new radiant, but they will need all the orders to succeed. If this is intended to be a 10 book series then each book could focus on an order and it's rise/ being brought into the fold.

I really like the male/female, radiant/parshendi parallel.
Sean Dowell
36. qbe_64
Re: Dalinar acting out his visions in current time exactly how he's acting in past times.
First, that sounds like it would be hilarious to watch.
I'd imagine that his soldiers and family would just find it extremely disturbing. And since he's tied to a chair for later visions, while he may thrash around, I don't think it's a movement for movement situation. (for example it seems like he runs for several miles in this vision and never leaves the barracks)

@31 - I will need to go watch that movie. Who doesn't love a movie with Hot Rod in it.
Adam S.
37. MDNY
Dalinar's flashback here is our first real look at the Radiants, and how different they are from modern perceptions of them. The presence of female warriors was illuminating, though it was already pretty obvious that Alethi gender roles are kind of messed up and likely twisted from what once existed.
@31 Great movie- well, very good movie, at least. I want to find some of those sunglasses!
38. Douglasm
It's interesting to think about what The Almighty actually meant with what he said here, going through this with the knowledge that it's all recorded messages, not a response to Dalinar at all. It seems to me that he's musing aloud to himself, thinking something like "yeah, this part's really important - how to gain the Radiant powers you'll need". The "act with honor, and honor will aid you" part, I think the second 'honor' in that quote should properly be capitalized and refers to the Honor shard, but Dalinar was hearing it verbally and lacks the knowledge to make such an inference. I think The Almighty is referring to bonds such as the one between Kaladin and Syl, and in particular how to gain them - be honorable, and you may attract a magic-giving honorspren.
39. Aussie Nick
Regarding the timing of the "Eighth Epoc, Thirty Three Seven", I'm in the middle of my own re-read and (by coincidence) came across this passage between Shallan and Kasbal in chapter 45 - Shadesmar. "... We fought them off ninety and nine times, led by the Heralds... ...The Heralds follwed to foce them out of heaven as well, and Roshar's Heraldic Epochs ended. Mankind entered the Era of Solitude. The modern era."
I think the "Eighth Epoc, Thirty Three Seven" has something to do with where they are with the amount of desolations, it's just a matter of how many. Dalinar doesn't seem to have gone back to the start of the 9th one this time, so maybe this vision was the Eightieth? and the 33-7 is a measure of time 33(years)-7(desolations) - I.e. They've had 33 years since the 87th desolation - maybe? I'm only thinking this as the next one that we see is the Last Desolation, after everything is said and done.

Or maybe he could have gone back to the lead up to the Ninth desolation.

Eric McCabe
40. Zizoz
Uh, it's three thirty-seven, not thirty-three seven. Also, is there a reference to the ninth epoch?
Nick Brown
41. nabro84
@40 Zizoz, I haven't seen one (yet) referring to the Ninth Epoch, and yes, it is three thirty-seven (I was going by what was written in the re-read above, not what my book says)
This only changes marginally my theroy - the 3-37 is a measure of time 3(desolations)-37(years) - I.e. They've had 37 years since the 83rd desolation.

My edtion: Published in Great Britan, Printed in Australia, 2010. Softcover Edition #2

(btw, I'm Aussie Nick, but forgot to login when posting my main comment)
Eric McCabe
42. Zizoz
Okay. But I think it's simpler to just assume it's year 337 of the eighth epoch.

Also, if each epoch is ten desolations, the eighth epoch would include desolations 71-80, so it would be the 73rd desolation under your system. :p

Finally, Taffa says that a desolation has not occurred in her lifetime. She's described as middle-aged, but her daughter seems to be quite young. My guess was she was about 40... which in Roshar years would be 36, just young enough to have missed a desolation 37 years ago. I bring this up because it provides us a lower limit on how many years pass between desolations (assuming it's at least somewhat consistent).
43. Thams
I think it's interesting Dalinar automatically uses smokestance to combat the midnight essence. Maybe I'm stating the obvious, but the fighting style seems specifically designed to battle the vision's creatures that leak smoke from wounds. This could help inform the theory that both "good' and "evil" sides have opposing/complimenting orders geared to balance one another.

Of course we don't know enough about all of the orders and their details to shore up the connections, but it can't be happenstance that Sanderson describes the battle scene using these details without intending to draw a connection. Again, I might just be explicitly stating what others have already picked up on. Or, I could be totally off base!!
Jeremy Guebert
44. jeremyguebert
@43 - Interesting observation on stance. If memory serves, at least two of the other stances we know of (Windstance and Stonestance) are also named after the ten essences. I don't have access to my book to confirm, but it would be pretty neat if there were actually ten different stances, each associated with one of the ten essences.
45. Thams
“All who can fight are needed,” the woman said. “And all who have a desire to fight should be compelled to come to Alethela. Fighting, even this fighting against the Ten Death, changes a person. We can teach you so that it will not destroy you. Come to us.”

I'm not sure how others interpreted this quote, but to me it sounds like the Radiant is stating that the desire to fight will destroy a person, not the Ten Death. As a result, individuals that cannot control the Thrill will be consumed and destroyed by it unless a Radiant teaches them control. I think this is a significant point of identification within Kaladin and to a lesser extent Dalinar throughout the book.
Leeland Woodard
46. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@44 - As far as I remember, Windstance and Smokestance are the only two stances that are named in the book. I've been reading ahead and paying attention to that specifically, and I've seen no mention of anything other than those.
Adam S.
47. MDNY
@46 Stonestance was also used, in Adolin's duel (by his opponent).
Jeremy Guebert
48. jeremyguebert
@45 - I had interpreted the whole destroying you part of that quote as more of a metaphorical thing - as in, it can destroy who you are as a person, cause you to do things in the heat of combat that you would consider abhorent when not consumed by the Thrill, etc. Although, since this is an epic fantasy, and there's actually something called the Thrill of combat, I don't think we can rule out a more physical interpretation either.

@47 - Thanks for the confirmation, I was pretty sure I'd seen that somewhere, but couldn't quite remember where.
James Briggs
49. traveler
@45 I like to think that the thrill can be controled to a radiants benafit.Ifyou thrill in the killing instead of using the thrill to protect it will destory your soul
50. Thams
@48 - This very well could be. I'm thinking that Sanderson is throwing out hints as to how Radiants of old and modern Alethi differ in their attitude towards war - vengence versus protection; frezy versus control, etc.

My wild guess is that "new world" Radiants (Kaladin) wearing Shardplate will glow and show runes like those seen in Dalinar's visions. I'm thinking the the armor will grant powers such as "teleporting" too. We know that Szeth's eyes glow when he dons his blade (which I think is a Sanderson hint), and I suspect his armor would glow as well if he had any to wear.

By contrast, modern Alethi Shardbearers must artificially paint and adorn their plate to set it apart from other sets since the plate's "natural" color is a dull slate. Although the plate does grant the wearer significant physical advanteges, I think the armor will display its full potential (and glow) when worn by a Radiant.
51. Thams
Also food for thought from a Sanderson interview:
Jay wrote: "Do Szeth and Kaladin both belong to the same order of knights radiant?"

Sanderson wrote: Szeth isn't actually in an order of Knights Radiant. Something different is happening with Szeth that people have already begun to guess. And Kaladin isn't yet a Knight Radiant, but the powers he uses are those of the Windrunners, one of the orders of the Knights Radiant. Szeth is using the same power set. So your phrasing is accurate to that extent.

Another wild guess: Szeth sought the Old Magic of the Nightwatcher to gain the powers of a Radiant. The boon was granted, but the curse of servitude (oathstone) was also given. If Szeth really isn't a Radiant, then he would not (likely) be tied to a spern.
Adam S.
52. MDNY
One other aspect we haven't discussed much is glyphs. I seem to recall that in Dalinar's vision, the radiants' armour glowed with glyphs on it. This would appear to be related to their bonding with a spren in some way, as modern shardbearers have no glow or glyphs, in addition to lacking the fully enhanced powers of a true radiant. Glyphs come up throughout the book, but are usually dismissed as superstition, with no real power or meaning. However, writing has been a way to access power (of a shard) in other Sanderson works, so perhaps there is more about glyphs to be revealed, too.
53. Thams
Also, there are two references to Dalinar's plate glowing while battling the chasmfiend. It loosely supports that Shardplate only shows its true potential to those who use it for protecting and not killing.

"Dalinar held back the claw and matched its strength, a figure in dark, silvery metal that almost seemed to glow."

"Standing beneath the massaive chasmfiend, holding it back from killing his nephew, Plate glowing."

Interesting note about the chasmfiend as well - it leaks tiny "smoke-like" spren from body when freshly killed. Sort of reminds me of the smoke leaking from the ceature in Dalinar's vision.

@ 52 - I think you're absolutely correct. There's no way they're not an integral part of the story. Glyphs play such important parts in all of Sanderson's other stories as well.
Leeland Woodard
54. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@53 - Reading your last sentence kind of bashed me in the head with a cosmere thing. Spoilers for Elantris follow.

Cosmere--especially WoK and Elantris--seems to have a thing with glyphs and with the patterns of a city. In Elantris, magic worked by drawing glyphs--glyphs that were patterned after the landscape. The city of Elantris itself was one big glyph, inseperably connected with the magic itself.

In WoK we don't have any sort of connection between glyphs and magic yet (at least nothing explicit or implicit, that I can tell), but we do have glyphs, and we see them being used on the shardplate of the Knights Radient. We also see cities that are somehow shaped and molded (by the Dawnsingers, who I'm not sure who they are--heralds? Something else?).

In any case, just some parallels. There may be nothing connecting the glyphs and the cities in WoK--and indeed there doesn't seem to be any connection between them at all--but it's something to think on.
Chee Kiam Lim
55. zhiqian
Just had a quick thought... the Knight Radiants are called that probably because they glow in their Shardplates!
Alice Arneson
56. Wetlandernw
(Nothing to add yet; I just need to get this in my conversations list.)
Maiane Bakroeva
57. Isilel
So, this segregated cooking doesn't seem plausible to me at all, not at the lower levels of society, such as Kaladin's family. For one thing, you need to taste what you cook, so, a man would have to make male food... which most commoners couldn't afford to ensure.
Also, natural sweeteners were always very expensive, so I can't see how commoner women would keep themselves in sweet foods. Add to that the inability to finish off scraps, extra work, extra fuel... no, it is completely undoable for commoners, IMHO.

As to aristorcacy, they can do what they wish, of course, but I'd imagine that if they have the same physiology as RL humanity, there would be a veritable epidemy of diabetes among the women?

Segregated seating is a PITA, but many RL cultures manage.

Elokhar does seem to have some natural pre-disposition for surge-binding, he sees the same symbolheads as Shallan, however, he is such an idiot that I just can't see him as a new Radiant. The whole Strapgate is just the height of idiocy, particularly since I can't envision how and why somebody would consider the symbolheads to be mundane threat? I mean, they are what is driving his paranoia, in addition to Gavilar's murder, right?
And elevating Sadeas at Dalinar's epense... Ugh. Do Alethi princes even have a conventional notion of loyalty? I mean, Sadeas was loyal to Gavilar, yes, but Gavilar was a strong and glorious ruler. Is there any logical reason to think that he'd be equally loyal to Elokhar?

OTOH, it is kinda interesting that Cosmere travellers were seemingly consulting with Elokhar on... something. It is kinda strange that he ought to be more privy to mysteries pf their universe, yet is so ignorant about Roschar's magic and hos own nascent abilities. Though, I predict that Elokhar is for the chop, personally. He is too flawed to become a Radoant and there is no time to turn him into a non-Radiant surge-binder, IMHO.

TBGH @16:

Yep, I immediately thought that this vision was a recording. However, it was because of misconception on my part, funnily enough - I didn't know about Cosmere and thought that Storm Archives were completely unconnected to Sanderson's other works.
And it seemed to me to be a science fantasy about a regressed human colony, that didn't manage to complete terraforming (Shinovar) before falling into barbarism and somehow rediscovering magic along the way. With all corresponding tropes, etc.

Thams @51:

I don't think that Szeth's abilities or plight have anything to do with Nightwatcher, Didn't he himself think at some point that his punishment had something to do with his views on voidbringers? Which, Shinovari culture denies exist(ed) or something?
And he self-identified as Surge-binder. IIRC, not all of them were Radiants and it is not even clear if all of them had to bond with spren. Maybe it is not required for the most talented ones and/or those who receive proper training and can put the required time and effort into it.

Or he could be getting it from his sword, which, I suspect, is a Heraldic blade , rather than a common shardblade.
58. Ituralde
A little late to the discussion, but just reading about the paired Radiants in Dalinars vision, just made me realize the connection they have to the Parshendi, that other's have already pointed out in the comments.

Let's go all the way with this though: The Parshendi are the last remnants of the Knight Radiants. What if the Parshendi will actually have to teach the Alethi how to fight honourable again. How to value the lifes of their soldiers again?

But then we have the suspicion of Jasnah that Parshmen and therefore Parshendi are Voidbringers. What if the abandonment of the Knights Radiant was much more and they kind of switched sides or got corrupted during the Last Desolation. So the Parshendi are now both, the last remaining Knights Radiant and the Voidbringers.

Just some idle speculation that popped into my mind while reading this summary, I just had to share it!
59. LWard
I would like to think the Plains got Shattered (e.g., Natanatan got shattered) the moment Honor died. Maybe that's how Odium killed him - that much force. Would match the crevasse created when Aon died in the other world. Maybe that's what he does - Odium drops a big, fat piano on other gods? Maybe he's that creepy killer Toon from the Roger Rabbit movie?
60. Bibliogypsy
Anyone else notice that the Knights' swords also actually cut thru living tissue? Unless they're not living, just "essence". But essence somewhat implies life. Or at least a type of personification. The witching hour is not a friendly hour on Roshar...

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