Thu
Jul 18 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 21 and 22

The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson Welcome back to the Way of Kings reread on Tor.com. This week I’m covering chapters 21 and 22, which means that after an incredibly long time I get to return to Kaladin’s viewpoint. I hope he’s been doing well in my absence. In addition, Wit barrages us with lame humor, Sadeas pulls a dastardly scheme, Dalinar and I agree on the excesses of Vorin culture, and a certain Queen Mother rears her well-coiffed head. All this and more awaits you, so let’s get to the reread.

Chapter 21: Why Men Lie

Setting: The Shattered Plains

Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Kaladin wakes up intensely sore, but forces himself out of bed and walks out of the Bridge Four barracks, where several bridgemen are watching him. He checks on the wounded from the last run, who haven’t attracted rotspren yet. Leyten is on the edge of death, Hobber is awake and thanks him, and Dabbid is staring catatonically. Kaladin diagnoses him with battle shock. Kaladin knows that without antiseptic the bridgemen are easy prey to infection and death.

Kaladin stretches and then goes to the lumberyard to resume his bridge-carrying exercises. He’s not able to run with the bridge right now, but he jogs when he can and tries to maintain a brisk walk when he can’t. Many bridgemen watch him with open hostility, and none of his own crew joins him.

Syl lands on the plank and tells Kaladin that people are talking about him, speculating that he’s gone mad. They discuss what madness is, whether it’s just noticeable deviation from the mental average. Syl asks why men lie, and whether it’s a kind of madness, but Kaladin doesn’t think so, since everyone lies. Syl says Dalinar has never lied. Kaladin quashes that argument: “He’s a lighteyes. That mean he lies.”

This quiets her for a little while, but after some prompting she mentions hearing talk about a time without lies. Kaladin says there are stories about the Heraldic Epochs and the honor that persisted there, but he thinks that’s just a story people tell to make themselves feel better. He says you can’t trust anyone with power, you can only give it to lighteyes, let it corrupt them, and try to stay as far away as possible. Not exactly advice he’s been able to follow himself.

After his run, Kaladin is accosted by Gaz. He’s received orders from Sadeas by way of Lamaril: Kaladin won’t be strung up, but the wounded bridgemen will be forbidden food or pay so long as they can’t work. Kaladin curses the highprince, but accepts the order not to try to get extra food for the wounded. He tries to come up with a plan to get extra food and antiseptic. Without either, his wounded soldiers will die.

Kaladin returns to Bridge Four, and asks for them to pool their resources to buy medicine and food. Most of them laugh in his face, but afterwards Rock, the huge Horneater, approaches him. He volunteers to give up some food for Hobber, and says that because Kaladin saved his life by switching places with him on the last run and because he can see Syl (a “mafah’liki”), he’s willing to help Kaladin. Bridge Four only lost eight men in the last run, far fewer than most other bridges, and Bridge Four never loses the fewest men.

Suddenly, Kaladin comes up with a plan. He goes to Gaz and requests a duty change, to switch Bridge Four to rock-gathering duty, one of the worst jobs there is. He and Rock recruit Teft to help them, and he begins to lay out his plan. It involves “a reed that grows in small patches outside the camp.”

Quote of the Chapter:

Beside Gaz, Bridge Three’s leader shot Kaladin a scowl. The way the other bridgemen had been treating him suddenly made sense. They were perturbed to see Bridge Four come out of a battle in such good shape. Bridge Four was supposed to be unlucky. Everyone needed someone to look down on—and the other bridge crews could be consoled by the small mercy that they weren’t in Bridge Four. Kaladin had upset that.

This makes me wonder how Bridge Four developed. I see a couple of options. It could be part of Sadeas’ original plan for the bridges, supporting his callous program with a miserable set of scapegoats so that the rest of the bridgemen won’t mutiny or roll over and die. I think this is giving Sadeas too much credit, though. Another option is that his low-level officers dreamed up Bridge Four. This is more likely, since those officers are closer to the bridges, see and understand the bridgemen better, and have the most to lose from a mutiny. I think the most likely situation, however, is that the bridge team’s reputation developed naturally. Bridge Four had a couple terrible runs in a row and started to develop a reputation as the worst of the worst. The lower-level officers realized this and encouraged it by continuing to staff the bridge with the dredges. And so, a legacy of despair began.

Commentary:

I’d like to begin by saying how nice it is to come back to Kaladin at last. I haven’t covered a Kaladin chapter in months! And what’s more, he’s back to trying to lead. Kaladin’s leadership tactics aren’t exactly met with instant acceptance here, but he’s making huge inroads. Rock and Teft are clearly regenerating their personhood quickly through their association with Kaladin. Not only has he gotten them to reject death once again, he also has them caring about each other’s names and accepting goals beyond the limits of their own self-interest.

This may hurt my general Stormlight know-it-all cred, but I have no idea what’s up with Rock. He sees spren when they don’t want him to, which seems to imply an unusual relation between the Horneaters and spren. There’s definitely a culture of respect for spren at play here. I hope we learn more about this sooner rather than later.

Kaladin and Syl’s discussion of madness leaves me scratching my head. Yes, defining madness is psychologically and philosophically difficult, but to claim that being mad just means deviating from the psychic average of your community seems… reductive. Especially from Kaladin, a trained medic who regularly recognizes and diagnoses soldiers with “battle shock.” This ailment is a clear stand-in for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a non-inherited psychological condition with a discernible cause and obvious effects. All that being said, I suppose Kaladin’s weird definition of madness isn’t that out-of-place in a conversation where he also opines that all lighteyes are liars. His heart’s in the right place, but Kaladin is still essentially an angry young man with angry-young-man opinions.

Not that Sadeas isn’t callous lying scum. He totally is! Kaladin nails his psychology here: “He wants the other bridgemen to see the wounded suffer and starve. He wants it to seem like he’s doing a mercy by leaving the wounded behind.” What’s most amazing about this is how Gaz react; by falling silent. He knows! He realizes how low the value is on bridgemen, and he realizes he’s not that high above them himself.

 

Chapter 22: Eyes, Hands, or Spheres?

Setting: The Shattered Plains

Point of View: Dalinar

What Happens: Dalinar and his sons attend a feast in Elhokar’s feasting basin, a lavish artificial lake full of dining islands where lighteyes compete in duels, the men with blades, the women with paintbrushes or songs. Dalinar heads to the men’s segregated dining island, scornful of his class’s frippery and waste.

Wit is perched on a high stool at the entrance to the dining area, insulting each person who walks by, although he gives Dalinar a pass. Dalinar engages with him, and learns that everyone is talking about his talk of abandoning the Vengeance Pact, despite Dalinar’s expectation that he had spoken to the king in confidence. Dalinar thanks him for the warning and turns to go, and Wit resumes his stream of insults, concluding with a name that catches Dalinar totally off guard: “Ah, and is that Lady Navani behind you? How long have you been back at the Plains and how did I not notice the smell?”

Dalinar is shocked. Navani, the king’s mother, his brother’s beautiful widow, is not supposed to be here, and he’s not prepared to face her, or his feelings for her. Society dictates that she now be treated as his sister, and on top of that he feels that loving her is a betrayal of his own wife. “Dead these ten years, wiped by his foolishness from his mind. Even if he couldn’t remember her, he should honor her.”

Dalinar takes refuge at his segregated dining table, and is presented with a dinner of imported peppered chicken. As he eats it he watches the competitions, and sees Navani gathering a group of important women to show them some kind of fabrial. As he observes it, she notices him, and flashes him a smile.

Adolin approaches, concerned by the rumors he’s been hearing. When Dalinar confirms them he groans, but Dalinar asks his son to trust him, and confides that he’s already trying a different strategy: winning the war. Adolin agrees that this is a good plan, but asks him to do something about the rumors. An official refutation isn’t good enough for Adolin; he wants his father to duel their detractors, or failing that to let him duel in his father’s place. Dalinar refuses both options, not just because the Codes forbid it, but because of a lesson from The Way of Kings:

“There’s a passage about the nature of forcing people to follow you as opposed to letting them follow you. We do too much forcing in Alethkar. Dueling someone because they claim I’m a coward doesn’t change their beliefs. It might stop them from making the claims, but it doesn’t change hearts. I know I’m right about this. You’ll just have to trust me on this as well.”

Adolin accepts this, then sees his aunt approaching. Dalinar realizes that he’s critically miscalculated; his dinner has been consumed, and there’s no longer any social boundary preventing Navani from approaching him. She arrives, and they talk about Adolin’s courtship tendencies, to the young man’s chagrin. Adolin hurries away to tell Renarin she’s returned, leaving Dalinar alone with his sister-in-law.

Navani gets a chair set up for her within speaking distance of the king’s table and tells Dalinar they have a lot to discuss. The Vedens have perfected their “half-shard” technology, shields that mimic Shardplate’s ability to stop a Shardblade. She realized that leaving the warcamps had been a political mistake, as the warcamps are more central to the kingdom than the capital, and Elhokar’s wife is more than capable of governing in his absence, which is good, because Navani knows her son isn’t doing a very good job ruling. They argue over this for a while, before Dalinar asks him for her third reason. “She smiled a violet-eyed, red-lipped smile at him. A meaningful smile.” Gulp. Navani asks to talk with Dalinar in private, to get a sense of things in camp. Dalinar feebly protests, but she wears him down.

Then Elhokar makes an announcement: He is appointing Sadeas as Highprince of Information, and tasking him with figuring out who cut his saddle girth. Navani is mostly all right with this, until Dalinar explains that the strap snapped on one of his hunts, while the king was under his protection, and that he had been tasked with investigating it. “‘You still argue he isn’t a bad king?’ Navani whispered. ‘My poor, distracted, oblivious boy.’”

Dalinar confronts Elhokar, asking why he let Sadeas be Highprince of Information but didn’t make Dalinar Highprince of War. Elhokar explains that this is a way to ease the highprinces into the idea. Sadeas said it would be better to start with something less threatening. Yes, Sadeas suggested this appointment, why do you ask, uncle? Elhokar is confident that Sadeas will vindicate Dalinar in his insistence that the king’s in less danger than he claims.

Dalinar is far less convinced that Sadeas is going to vindicate him.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Wit,” Dalinar said, “Do you have to?”

“Two what, Dalinar?” Wit said, eyes twinkling. “Eyes, hands, or spheres? I’d lend you one of the first, but—by definition—a man can have only one I, and if it is given away, who would be Wit then? I’d lend you one of the second, but I fear my simple hands have been digging in the muck far too often to suit one such as you. And if I gave you one of my spheres, what would I spend the remaining one on? I’m quite attached to both of my spheres, you see.” He hesitated. “Or, well, you can’t see. Would you like to?” He stood up off his chair and reached for his belt.

First of all, groan. Second, this is Wit at his very most Shakespearean. This speech could belong to any of Shakespeare’s fools. It’s full of philosophically revelatory puns and stupid body humor.

Now that I’ve read this speech three or four times, though, new depths are revealing themselves to me. In compact succession Wit manages to problematize Dalinar’s sense of self (Eyes/I’s), poke fun at the rigid, caste- and gender-based norms of Dalinar’s society which are so prominently on display in this chapter (Hands used for labor and covered in muck both physical and social not being fit for a highprince), and the extravagance of lighteyes wealth, plus a balls joke for good measure.

Commentary:

Vorin lighteyes culture is so weird, you guys.

In this chapter we learn that Vorin men and women are expected to eat and enjoy different cuisines entirely. Men eat very spicy food, women eat very sweet food, and ne’er the twain shall meet. Not only that, but lighteyes men and women don’t eat at the same table. That is incredibly inconvenient!

What actually weirds me out the most about this is the fact that the male/female cuisine divide persists at Kaladin’s social level. This means that even those who aren’t particularly well-to-do are expected waste hours preparing two separate meals every night. This is another indication of how Vorinism has been structured to ossify the cultural practices of the ruling class.

On top of that we have the incredible extravagance of the ruling class. They made a lake to have parties on! They have art duels! Everyone is dressed in lace in a time of war! They’re even eating chicken! This last may seem mundane, but it isn’t at all. The Shattered Plains are about as far east as people go on Roshar, and chickens only live in Shinovar, on the far western end of the supercontinent.

This chapter introduces us to Navani Kholin, widow to Gavilar, would-be lover of Dalinar, and generally terrifying social presence. I really like Dalinar. He’s maybe my favorite character. And I also really like Navani as a brilliant scientist and powerful social force. There are aspects of their relationship that I’m ambivalent about, however. I like Dalinar’s internal conflict between doing what he knows he wants and honoring what society demands, and I like how that conflict helps reveal the nonsensical nature of those demands. And in a way, I find Navani’s ongoing pursuit of Dalinar to empower her. But I also feel like his perception of her as a predatory force in his life is a problem.

What I do love is the way the Dalinar/Navani romance plot interfaces with Dalinar’s guilt over forgetting his wife. Dalinar believes he loved her, that he was devoted to her, but that is based entirely on his self-image and the testimony of his family and friends. He doesn’t have any vestige of her to remain loyal to, but he badly wants to. Whether for the sake of his children or for the preservation of his public image, or perhaps simply because he doesn’t want to see himself as someone who would betray her, Dalinar is struggling to maintain his loyalty to a woman whose face is a blank to him, whose name he can’t remember, who no longer has any presence in his mind at all.

Navani does provide us with another glimpse of fabrial technology. Roshar is actually in the middle of something of a scientific renaissance. Vedenar is getting close to reproducing Shardplate, Navani and her cohort are doing incredible things with fabrials, inventing things like spanreeds that enable near-instant communication at a great distance, and all of this before the magic has begun to reenter the world. I wonder whether the powers that Jasnah, Shallan, Kaladin and Dalinar reintroduce will meld with this technological progress or compete with it. With Sanderson, I’m willing to bet on the latter.

Sadeas completely and totally outplayed Dalinar here. True, it isn’t exactly as bad as Dalinar suspects, but it’s nevertheless chilling how easily Sadeas maneuvered Dalinar’s request to his own advantage. And I agree with Dalinar, Highprince of Information is just as threatening a position as Highprince of War.

That’s it for this week, but you should keep an eye out for more exciting Sanderson news and content on Tor.com in the coming week. Until then, I’ll see you all in the comments!


Carl Engle-Laird is the editorial assistant and resident Stormlight Archive correspondent for Tor.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.

31 comments
Leeland Woodard
1. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
I think it's worth noting that we see the half-shards later on, and they're not all they're cracked up to be. Sure, they stop a shardblade--once or twice, and then they break. Not really good enough for a fight...though I suppose manufacturing anything that can provide resistance to a shardblade is an advancement.

I think that Sadeas' move here, and Elhokar's acceptence of it, betrays Elhokar's foolishness. The king ought to know that by putting Sadeas in charge of the investigation, he's weakening his Uncle's already failing reputation. He should have realized that he made it seem like he didn't trust Dalinar. Elhokar strikes me as one of the least compitent people in the book, and he's way over his head. He fakes an assassination attempt to get Dalinar to pay attention to the "threats" to his life, then when Dalinar is in the middle of trying to find out whether there really is something behind the attempt, he goes and gets Sadeas to look instead. And remember, this is for a faked attempt.

And yes, Vorin lighteyes culture is weird.
Carl Engle-Laird
2. CarlEngle-Laird
@1 To be fair, Shardplate itself can only take two strikes in a single place before shattering. It's true that without the additional advancements to strength and speed, Shardplate would be way less useful, but I think that what we see of half-shards puts their protectice capacity at near-equal levels. Still not scary, though, except as a stepping stone to creating full, functional plate.
Tili S.
3. venndiagram
It makes sense to me both that "Information isn't as threatening" would seem like a plausible argument, and that Dalinar wouldn't buy it. The vast majority of information technology belongs to women, and Dalinar is more aware than most lighteyes of how hampered he is by not having access to that power.
Thams
4. Thams
Wild guess as to why Rock can see Syl: Syl is a spren derived from the Honor Shard when it was shattered. I believe Rock and other Horneaters are associated with the Cultivation Shard. I'm thinking spren don't have the same affects/relationships with other entities of other Shards. This is why Syl cannot hide herself from him.
Thams
5. TBGH
So anybody else picture Lwaxana Troi when Navani entered the picture? From the confidence, relentless pursuit of a guy who didn't want to be pursued, flouting social conventions . . . the connection was so strong for me I still can't shake it.
It is funny however, picturing Lwaxana crawling over the stones later to paint the giant sigil.
Leeland Woodard
6. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@2 Carl - I don't know about shardplate only being able to take a couple of hits from a shardblade--I could be wrong, and in all honesty we've only seen shardblades being used against shardplate in a handfull of locations (the ones I can think of off-hand are Szeth fighting Gavilar, Szeth fighting the king of Jah Keved [or, rather, the king's shardbearers], and Adolin dueling another lighteyes), but I seem to recall bigger pieces of shardplate taking more blows to shatter, whereas smaller ones tending ot shatter more easily. In fact, I seem to recall Adolin winning his duel by shattering a smaller piece of shardplate--perhaps for this very reason. The half-shards, being more or less the size of a breastplate, would conceivably be able to take more damage if they were actual "shard-shields".
Aimee Hand
7. achand94
I find it interesting that Wit treats Dalinar, and later Kaladin, differently from everyone else by not seriously insulting them, instead having meaningful conversations and sharing insights. Perhaps Hoid as the cosmere-jumper can tell they have an important part to play here or have greater things in store for them on Roshar. Renarin falls in this category as well.

I've read so many posts and blogs this probably isn't a new idea, apologies out if this has been mentioned before somewhere.
Andrew Berenson
8. AndrewHB
Carl,

I agree with you. I would like to know more about Rock's culture and how he can see Syl. Is seeing honorspren something that all/most of his countrymen can do? Or is that limited to select individuals. At the very least, spren like Syl are well thought of by Rock's countrymen.

I enjoy Wit's character. He is probably my favoirte minor category.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Thams
9. Vauric
There's also the chance that Rock's difference is due to the Horneater's lack of the lighteyes/darkeyes distinction. If Alethkar's dichotomy there is based on, say, Odium corrupting how that distinction used to function in the past, perhaps some peoples were spared being pulled into that mess by lacking the emphasis.
Nadine L.
10. travyl
In many ways Syl still has the mindset of a (very fast developeing) child. And it's really difficult to explain madness to a child, the easiest way would be to point out some "mad" people, to learn from example. So I have no problem accepting Kaladin's difficulty explaining it.

The way Rock phrases it, "I am alaii’iku." I interpreted, that his ability to see Syl is a personal talent, rather then a general "Horneater characteristic."
Robert Dickinson
11. ChocolateRob
I'm looking forward to (or rather hoping for) seeing Kaladin's mother joining up with Navani in the near future. They'll be a great duo, putting the fear of god(s) into the menfolk of all classes with their scathing wit. Navani needs a lady in waiting of her own instead of borrowing them and I can just see them becoming good friends, they'd fit well with each other.
Adam S.
12. MDNY
I got the sense that the horneaters may have some knowledge that will be vital later on, based on Rock's unique talents and knowledge.
This is Wit at his finest, much funnier and more brilliant than Hoid has been in any other Cosmere work, except maybe Warbreaker.
Alethi culture is f---ed up, apparently including culinary gender differentiation.
Leeland Woodard
13. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Another thought, regarding Syl's proclamation that she remembers hearing of a time in the past when nobody lied--first of all, I think this is a memory, rather than something she just "heard" about. I think she's remembering the distant past, during a time when Honor reigned.

That being the case, is anyone else disturbed about that as a possibility? Is it possible that Honor was somehow forcing the people of Roshar to tell the truth all the time, due to his influence?
Thams
14. McKay B
I'm surprised when people list the burgeoning magic-users of Roshar -- Kaladin, Jasnah, Shallan, Dalinar -- and don't include Elhokar on the list. There are several other characters who are interesting candidates to become Radiants as well, but could still go either way. I suspenct Tien would have become one. This week's analysis reminded me that Rock is a good candidate too. And @7 now has me wondering if Renarin will be a Radiant as well, based on how Wit respects him.

Although I think it's also possible that Wit's variable attitude has nothing to do with either a sense of people's "cosmic importance," nor a sense of their magical abilities, but simply that Hoid is very good at reading people, and recognizes that Kaladin, Dalinar, and Renarin are much less concerned with trivial popularity and more open-minded to deep ideas than the other characters we see him interact with.
Thams
15. Confutus
The herald icons for chapter 21 are Tanat-Vev. No suprise here, Kaladin is doing his solder-healer things.

For chapter 22 we have Kak-Mask. The mask icon appears along with Wit/Hoid. I am not sure what to make of Kak, except that this appears to be associated with herald Kalak, who is traditionally associated with the attributes of Resolute/Builder. My guess is that this is due to the presence of Navani in this chapter as a designer of fabrials, but I'm open to other suggestions.
James Briggs
16. traveler
11@ I like the idea of Navani ,Shallon, Jasanah, and kaladins mom at one of the kings partys with Hoid poking fun at the guests that would be cool also.

I think that Rock's abilaty to see Syl is a talent that we will see used in the future,and that it is his and not a race thing.I think that Rock will be able to tellwhin soneone has a spren with them and let Kaladin know so that they will become radiants.
William Carter
17. wcarter
Sadeas.

More and more he reminds me of a male version of Elaida from WoT. Not evil per se, but very jacked up. The thing is, he's more clever than he is actually intelligent. And it's that penchant for political maneauvering over actual cooperation that makes him unfit to be in a true leadership position.

Navani is a very interesting character, and her and Dalinar are a romance I actually won't mind reading about in this series assuming they both survive long term.

And again we see the shear level of gender divides in Vorinism. Seriously, different foods, and i couldn't eat jam if I lived in Alethkar 'cuz I'm a dude? Seriously?! That would suck--not as much as say being denied the right to eat bacon--but still, there's no way a guy wouldn't get tired of eating only spicy food or girls only sweet things
Flint Timmins
18. Giovanotto
Poor Dalinar can't catch a break. It's interesting that Kaladin and Dalinar essentially do the same thing but get such different results. Both men act with honor, dignity, and integrity. They live their lives the best they can according to a set of standards radically different from those around them. They're both seen as self-righteous, condescending, and just plain crazy. Kaladin's example inspires those around him to be better and earns him their loyalty and respect. Dalinar just inspires those around him to scheme against and attack him. It's a nice contrast.
Deana Whitney
19. Braid_Tug
Thanks Carl! Really liked your take on Wit this chapter.
And I was happy to see that Kaladin had to work for the trust of Bridge 4. His saving the wounded was a great turning point for the trust of others.

@ 3, vendigram: never thought about the guys seeing “information” as the less threatening because it’s under the women’s role. That’s some good food for thought.

@ 5, TBGH: Thanks for that mental image. Now I can’t get it out of my head!

@ 17, wcarter: I have to agree with you regarding the food. I just don’t see people only eating one style their whole lives.

Nor do I really see a woman with 2 sons & 1 husband making a whole meal just for herself. Aka, Kaladin’s mom. Sure the upper class might think that, but the reality of it would be strange and wasteful of time and resources.

Interesting call on Sadeas being like Elaida. Will be good to see how things playout in in the next book with Dalinar the “Prince of War” after the betrayal.

Where did everyone go? I know I’ve been busy reading Leigh’s current GRRM posts, but there should be more than 20 posts…
Maiane Bakroeva
20. Isilel
Ouch, I posted this on the previous installment thread by mistake, mea Culpa. Attributions are to the comments on the Chapters 19 - 20 of the re-read.

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 a mundane threat? I mean, they are what is driving his paranoia, in addition to Gavilar's murder, right?
And elevating Sadeas at Dalinar's expense... 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 passingly strange that he ought to be more privy to mysteries of their universe, yet is so ignorant about Roschar's magic and his own nascent abilities. Though, I predict that Elokhar is for the chop, personally. He is too flawed to become a Radiant and there is no time to turn him into a non-Radiant surge-binder, IMHO.

TBGH @16 (chapters 19 - 20 re-read):

Yep, I immediately thought that this vision was a recording. However, it was because of a 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 (Chapters 19-20 re-read):

I don't think that Szeth's abilities or plight have anything to do with the Nightwatcher, Didn't he himself think at some point that his punishment was connected to his views on voidbringers? Which, Shinovari culture denies exist(ed) or something?
And he self-identified as a 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.
Thams
21. Zen
I don't think the Heraldic Shardblades (honorblades? dawnblades?) have been discovered.

I suspect they are still where they were left. And all we know is that is somewhere on the eastern side of the continent. I look at the map and there are several places that are marked on the map, that we know nothing about. Personally, I think Mourn's Vault (is that a crypt?) in Sadeas's territory to be interestingly unexplained.

If that last Herald at the end, Talan, is still alive for book 2, then I suspect retrieving those blades will be one of his priorities. I really can't decide if that Herald is dead or not, though.
Leeland Woodard
22. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@21 - Take this as you will, but Brandon confirmed that Honorblades (unlike shardblades) disappear when their carrier dies. If Taln had died at the end of the book, his blade would have disappeared. The fact that it clattered to the floor means that either 1) He's still alive, or 2) He's not Taln, just some shardbearer who dies, and loses his blade.

Also, on a peronal note--whoops, just accidentally finished the book.
Anneke van Staden
23. QueenofDreams
In terms of the food thing, there's actually three different food distinctions as there is separate food for children as well. We know this from the Kaladin flashback scene where he goes with his father to Roshone's manor, and his father sends him to the kitchen to eat children's food. So that would make things even more of a hassle for the average woman, as she'd have to make men's women's and children's food. It just doesn't seem feasible at all for the average family.
Sean Taylor
24. Izzos
Love what Kaladin is doing with Bridge Four. Bridge Four = Dragon Army = fun reading.

@5 interesting comparison. I actually never 'read' this book but rather listened to the audiobook. Michael Kramer's interpretation conjured s completely different image in my mind. It has actually been pretty fun to read these posts and see things in print for the first time. For instance I had no idea how many compound names this world had (ie Chasmfiend as opposed to Chasm fiend). Also having no book to turn back to, I never picked up on how the Heralds names had drifted over time. On the other hand, the fact that Shallan had a shardblade was quite obvious when listening to the reading.

One other thing I have been musing over is the similarity between chulls/chasmfiends and Parshmen/Parshendi (excuse the spelling, not used to seeing these in print). Somewhere in one of the later epilogues they mention how the voidbringers changes suddenly from something passive to something very violent and frightening. I don't know if I really think there is anything to the analogy, but the image of a chull morphing suddenly into a chasm fiend was pretty striking to me.
Sean Taylor
25. Izzos
Sorry, I meant epigraph not epilogue.
Thams
26. Zen
#22 Thanks. I have been trying to puzzle out if he was alive or not. Now we may see some really awkward encounters between him and the other Heralds.

Regarding food, there seems to be a aristicratic ideal, and a peasently reality. We don't see these fancy distinctions in Kaladin's household or villiage. Nor do we see the fancy safehand. We see functional and worklike gloves for actually getting work done.
Sean Dowell
27. qbe_64
Kaladin's arc in this part of the story reminded me very much of Richard Rahl's arc in Terry Goodkind's Faith of the Fallen. Stuck in an impossible position, the hero sticks to his personal morals in the face of corruption in society around him and comes out ahead in the end while winning the respect of members of the society. Now that likely describes 99% of fantasy hero arcs, so what makes it different? Capitalism!!
Kaladin doesn't make nearly as much as Richard does, but it's enough to keep a stable of injured bridgemen in food and medicine for weeks on end. Forget becoming a radiant Kaladin, you should found 10 orders of Rosharian entrepreneurs. I'd bet the invisible hand of the free market could beat Odium in an arm wrestle.
William Carter
28. wcarter
@27 qbe_64

That series is absolute flame bait amonst too many fantasy fans. Personally, I'd avoid drawing too many parallels least you attract the attention of trolls.

That said, the similarity if there is any is only on the surface. Kaladin uses money as a means to an end and uses Gaz's greed against him. Goodkind's books devolved into authorial diatribes (though admittadely I never finished the series for that exact reason).
Sean Dowell
29. qbe_64
@28, yeah he lost me after the 6th book but I still finished the series just because I started it. Hell, I watched 6 seasons of fucking Private Practice just because it was a Grey's Anatomy spin-off, and that show was awful.
I truly enjoyed book 6 though, trolls be damned!
The series goes off the rails in the second half, but I think the battles and the tactics are well written and fun to read. Half the last book is just a Running Man/basketball tournament that's actually pretty enjoyable.

Anyways, my main point is that I find it convenient that there always seems to be a narrow crack of opportunity that only the main character manages to exploit when he/she is usually just one of hundreds in the exact same situation, but they have that one attribute that lets them excel while others cannot. I think it comes up enough that it might even have it's own trope, but I have not done the research.
I suppose I should add that I LOVE IT everytime it comes up as well. A hero alone manipulating the system designed to keep them down?!? Gets me every time.

I suppose it would be counter productive for the epic fantasy genre in general to have a main character who is just a regular, run of mill soldier, with no distinguishing attributes.

Rincewind of Terry Pratchett's discworld novels comes to mind, but he manages to turn ineptitude into a heroic attribute.
Alice Arneson
30. Wetlandernw
“He says you can’t trust anyone with power, you can only give it to lighteyes, let it corrupt them, and try to stay as far away as possible. Not exactly advice he’s been able to follow himself.” I thought a long time about this, and came to the conclusion that what Kaladin has is far less actual “power” and far more sheer leadership. To some extent, you could say that power comes with (or from) leadership; from another angle, though, if you leave out the development of his KR-fu, with all he does throughout the book Kaladin has no actual power – just the trust and loyalty of his men. From our perspective, that is a kind of power, but it’s not the kind Kaladin is thinking about here, nor is it the kind generally true of the “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” adage. It will be interesting to see if he reflects further on the relationship of leadership and power, now that he is actually in an official position of leadership.

Carl - I have to say I agree with your analysis of Bridge Four. While the first two are possible, the third is far more probable. And how convenient, to have a place to put all the misfits – they’re the “miscellaneous category” for slaves and miscreants. It’s also a terribly human thing to do: people like Gaz are so often bullies by nature, and while they can bully any bridge crew, they also need the crews to be functional. Since it’s always fun (for a certain perverse definition of “fun”) to have a specific bottom-of-the-barrel person or group to kick around, Bridge Four serves multiple purposes: they can be sneered at by the other bridge crews; they provide a dumping ground for the dregs; and they can be bullied with impunity by Gaz and his ilk.

Miscellaneous remarks brought on by various comments, which I’m too lazy to go through and attribute properly:

Agreed that Sadeas is very clever but not very smart; he’s too short-sighted for real leadership. That said, Elhokar is doing a fairly miserable job of leadership too, which makes a very… fertile setting for Sadeas’s style of political manipulation. (Speaking of which… did anyone not have to go look up the meaning of “bescumber” here?) This is where I want to reach in and smack them both upside the head. I totally agree with Navani: Elhokar is a lousy king. He may be the rightful king, and supporting him may be the right thing to do, but he’s doing a lousy job and he needs to be smacked. (Fortunately, Dalinar figures that out eventually… One of my favorite scenes in the whole book.)

I’m not sure whether Elhokar is stupid, distracted, or just naïve; either way, it’s completely nuts that he doesn’t realize that a) Dalinar is his best ally and b) he just stabbed that ally in the back. Of course, if he does realize that, he’s (at best) too egotistical to comprehend just how much he really, really needs Dalinar.

Food: the men’s food/women’s food seems pretty strange, but at least one could get around it by becoming an ardent… if it was that important. I have to doubt that the women’s food is completely sugary, though; there are plenty of ways to do sweet-and-savory food that tastes good without being spicy, just as there are plenty of ways to do spicier foods without giving everyone heartburn. In any case, both sides seem to get plenty of protein as well as their fruit/vegetable balance. I have to admit that it would be kind of a pain to have to prepare the same food two different ways, but it wouldn’t really be a matter of preparing two completely different meals. Not if you were any kind of creative, anyway.

Wit is definitely Shakespearian here – his jibes range from body humor to elegant word-play. Like someone else mentioned, I don’t really think he’s being nice to the “people of cosmic importance;” I think he recognizes honor and intelligence vs. arrogance and cleverness. He treats with respect (for a certain definition) those who deserve it, and he mocks those who deserve it – at least, according to his lights, which mostly coincide with ours. So Dalinar, Renarin and Kaladin are treated relatively well, as is Navani, more or less, while the other Highprinces and hangers-on are mocked. Sometime I’m going to go through and see how he treats Adolin.

Isilel @20 – Is there confirmation that Elhokar’s dinner companions in the Prelude (I assume that was your reference?) are indeed the same people as those talking to Ishiik? Or other confirmation that they are, at least, outworlders? While I agree it’s a possibility, I’d love to have confirmation; otherwise, the only one we know of is Wit/Hoid.
Thams
31. SmokeyandBooger
I agree with earlier comments that it is interesting seeing the juxtaposition of how people react to Khaladin and Dhalinar's leadership style. I think a lot of it has to do with how Khaladin later describes his men to Dhalinar in the book. The men that Khaladin are around are simple soldiers who are happy with having survived, friendship, and a filling meal. The people that Dhalinar are constantly jockeying for position using subtle and not so subtle politcal manuevers and could care less about the simple things in life becuase they have never been denied them.

I think also a part of it has to do with the preconceived notions of the people around them as well from past history. Dhalinar was, after all, the Blackthorn. He was the embodiment of the Alethi male ideal. Then out of nowhere he flips a 180 on the nobility and they think that it is all either an act or becuase he is old and going crazy. Khaladin doesn't fight against his old image when he is intergrated into Bridge Four. Yes, he has to earn the bridgemen's respect and show them that he is for real, and not just trying to be a "lordling", but there is no past history between Khaladin and those he ends up leading tying him down. This allows him to more easily reinvent himself into a leader who understands that he is there to serve the bridgemen, not the other way around. Conversly, Dhalinar is dealing with a bunch of selfish and powerful people who still see him as the Blackthorn, just an old crazy one.

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