Thu
Aug 1 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 25 and 26

Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread on Tor.com. This week brings us to chapters 25 and 26, two chapters that explore the Thrill, first from the uninformed perspective of young Kaladin, then during our first view of Dalinar clashing with the Parshendi. The Shardblades are out, and eyes are burning before them in this carnage-filled reread. Let’s get down to it.

Chapter 25: The Butcher

Setting: Hearthstone, Seven Years Ago

Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Kal overhears two women gossiping about his father, saying that “it ain’t right” to be poking around inside human bodies, and claiming that he stole the goblet of spheres from Wistiow. They claim Lirin falsified the will that bequeathed the spheres to him and his family. There was no woman there to scribe a proper testament.

Having heard enough, Kal steps out into sight of the women, glaring at them before stalking home. There he finds his mother, Hesina, clearing stalactites that had formed like icicles on the eaves. He and she discuss how Hearthstone feels about Lirin. Hesina maintains that they don’t hate him, as Kal thinks, but that they do feel uncomfortable around him. They fear his learning, they blame him when he fails, and they resent that his high rank provides him and his family with the potential for social mobility. They may not hate Lirin and his family, but they’ll never accept them as their own. She says this is part of the price of being a surgeon, along with “an uncomfortable responsibility” over others’ lives.

Kal wonders aloud whether he even wants that responsibility, or whether he’d rather have a normal life, where he could have actual friends. Privately, he continues to wonder whether he wants to buck his father’s ambitions and become a soldier, thinking about the charge he felt the first time he picked up a weapon. Since that day, he has been surreptitiously training with a quarterstaff.

Kal’s mother reveals that, in the past, their family had considered the possibility of marrying him to Laral, Wistiow’s daughter, and Kal realizes this might be why she wanted him to go off and be a soldier. As a soldier he would have a chance to become a true Lighteyes, and marry her without her family losing face. His half-guilty musings are interrupted by Lirin, calling to tell him and Hesina that the new citylord’s caravan has arrived.

Lirin, Hesina and Kal join Tien in the town square to watch the caravan arrive. Lirin is anxious, wondering whether Roshone, this new administrator, will bring good luck or calamity. At last, Roshone steps out of his carriage. He is a flabby man, and doesn’t fit the expectations Kal had built up. He had been expecting some great warrior, a hero from the military. Instead he sees this sour man, who looks unhappily at the gathered town and makes to return to his carriage without saying a word. Before that can happen, Lirin calls out to him.

Lirin stepped forward, raising a hand. “Brightlord. Was your trip pleasant? Please, can we show you the town?”

“What is your name?”

“Lirin, Brightlord. Hearthstone’s surgeon.”

“Ah,” Roshone said. “You’re the one who let old Wistiow die.” The brightlord’s expression darkened. “In a way, it’s your fault I’m stuck in this pitiful, miserable quarter of the kingdom.”

With that, Roshone steps back into his carriage and rides away, leaving a susurrus of gossip in his wake. Lirin says that it’s too soon to know what to make of that. There could be good fortune coming with this new citylord, or he could be a disaster.

Quote of the Chapter:

“And if I don’t want that responsibility? What if I just want to be something normal, like a baker, or a farmer, or…” Or a soldier, he added in his mind. He’d picked up a staff a few times in secret, and though he’d never been able to replicate that moment when he’d fought Jost, there was something invigorating about holding a weapon. Something that drew him and excited him.

Li’l Kal is incredibly wrong if he thinks that becoming a soldier is going to absolve him of responsibility for other men’s lives. I read Kaladin’s early experiences with staves and spears very similarly to how I read the thrill. He has some kind of adrenal addiction to fighting, which first flared up in connection to losing control and going much further with a fight than he intended to.

Commentary:

Most of this chapter is devoted to how poorly Kal fits in among the people of Hearthstone. Every conceivable factor is conspiring against him here. His father is a knowledge worker in a community of farmers. He used to enjoy the special favor of the now-dead citylord, and was treated as a near-equal by his daughter. He’s not really her equal; if he were he’d have a small community to belong to. But neither the nobility nor the common folk can accept him. Even if he weren’t deeply awkward and dissatisfied, this would put him at an advantage.

Although you can’t really call the opportunity for social mobility a disadvantage, especially when compared with the crushing hopelessness of the lower nahns, Kal’s in-between position does prevent him from having any meaningful long-term relationships. I can’t help but think this is one of the contributing factors to his inability to decide between being a soldier and training to be a surgeon in Kharbranth. The Alethi army sells itself as an equalizer. Any common soldier supposedly has the chance to win a shard and become a lighteyes. In the meantime, Kaladin would effectively level his status with other darkeyes, giving him a group of soldiers to rely on and be on equal terms with. Going to Kharbranth would send him in the opposite direction. He would maintain his rank, but be even more knowledgeable and skillful than his father, with a better position from which to marry into the lower ranks of nobility.

We see the extent to which Tien is ostracized in this chapter, as well. He has all of Tien’s disadvantages, along with being a second son, a very small child, and a happy child with simple tastes that might be considered slow. We see the boys of the town laugh at him. It doesn’t seem like Tien pays much mind to this, but it really gets under Kal’s skin.

Sanderson spends a lot of time in this chapter setting up the breakneck analogy. Breakneck is a kind of non-predictive gambling game. I don’t think we see enough of the rules to figure out how the game actually works, although if I’m wrong, please tell me in the comments; I might like to try the game out. The important thing about breakneck is that at no point are you betting about will happen in the future, since trying to predict the future is a major heresy in Vorinism.

The last thing to note is that Roshone’s arrival marks one of the points at which Kaladin’s life took a major turn for the worse. We are not going to like you, Roshone. We are not going to be friends.

 

Chapter 26: Stillness

Setting: The Shattered Plains

Point of View: Dalinar

What Happens: Dalinar listens as a scribe reads him a section from The Way of Kings, alongside Renarin. Adolin is absent, due to his recent argument with Dalinar. The section compares human lives to candle flames; fragile, beautiful, and each containing the seeds of unspeakable destruction. The passage speaks to Dalinar, who knows how easy it is to let a human flame go out, and has seen the destruction that men can unleash. He wonders, not for the first time, if the words of the ancient text are the cause of his visions. He wonders if he should give up these philosophical pursuits and return to being the dreaded Blackthorn.

Renarin asks if he can help his father, but Dalinar can think of nothing. He asks who to approach next, now that Aladar and Roion have refused his offered alliance, but Renarin changes the subject to Sadeas’s “ploy to destroy [them.]” That rapidly kills the conversation.

Horns sound to announce that the scouts have spotted a chrysalis, and this time it’s well within range of Dalinar’s warcamp. Knowing that his soldiers and his son both need him to do this, he orders his armies to prepare to move out, sends for Adolin, and gets suited up in his Shardplate. Teleb, one of his lieutenants, asks him whether Dalinar has given any thought to his bridge suggestions, using man-carried bridges to carry the chull-bridges across, and only using the heavily armored bridges to cross the final plateau. Dalinar initially declines, then says to give it a try.

The Thrill rises in Dalinar as he prepares for battle, and leads him to race down the hallway and leap into the open. The sight of Renarin, in “his uniform that had never seen battle,” reminds Dalinar that he’s not playing a game, and he settles back to work as the battalions form up around him. Adolin joins him for a brief but heartfelt reconciliation, followed by further Awkward Father Explorations of Adolin’s love life.

An officer approaches them and says that Sadeas has arrived and is demanding to inspect Dalinar’s camp. Dalinar admits him and soon sees him approaching. Despite their insistence that this is a bad time for an inspection, Sadeas remains persistent, but volunteers to perform his duty while they march towards the chrysalis.

They slowly approach the target plateau, hindered by their chull-pulled bridges, giving Sadeas plenty of time to interview soldiers and return to mock Dalinar. He asks if Dalinar still wants to release his pent up emotions, if he still feels the Thrill, and Dalinar admits to both. But he doesn’t let those drives out: “A man’s emotions are what define him, and control is the hallmark of true strength. To lack feeling is to be dead, but to act on every feeling is to be a child.” They bicker further, this time about the Knights Radiant, and Dalinar loses his cool.

Having arrived at the plateau, Dalinar and Adolin charge across to engage the Parshendi and clear a way for their army. Dalinar kills wave after wave of Parshendi, reveling in the violence, letting the Thrill overwhelm him, until he suddenly is overcome by revulsion at all the death he’s caused. A voice in his head chastises him: “Once these weapons meant protecting […] Life before death.” He finds a reason to fight on, dedication to leading his men through the rest of the battle, but the fighting is not the same.

Having won, Adolin remove the gemheart from the chasmfiend chrysalis, while Dalinar wonders what is happening to him. Most of the Parshendi have gotten away, and Dalinar sees their armies retreating, including a distant Parshendi shardbearer who didn’t participate in the battle. It turns and flees back towards the center of the Plains.

Quote of the Chapter:

Dalinar said nothing. Battle was a masculine art. A woman wanting to come to the battlefield was like…well, like a man wanting to read. Unnatural.

Thanks Dalinar! I wanted to feel unnatural today!

This may be my favorite line of my second read of this novel. Yes, I am absolutely serious. The assumption Dalinar makes here, the claim that a man wanting to read is “unnatural,” is so incredibly far away from the readers’ experience that it demands that we more deeply assess all of Dalinar’s premises. How do we judge that a woman wanting to come to the battlefield is any way different from a man wanting to read? Dalinar’s preconceptions are obviously arbitrary, and this is a wonderful way to remind us to question him and his culture.

Commentary:

We see a lot of new things from the Parshendi this chapter. We see them up close and personal—rather than from Kaladin’s distant perspective—fighting in warpairs, tying gemstones into their beards, etc. We see their rage when their dead are disturbed and the way they sing in battle, perhaps as some method of communication. We even see the Parshendi shardbearer, who is going to be a viewpoint character in Words of Radiance. Of course, we see all these things from the point of view of the increasingly messy edge of Dalinar’s sword.

Shardblades are truly terrifying weapons. As cherished as they are for being potential sources of upwards mobility, seeing a Shardblade in battle must be a horrific experience. Even the Alethi, who lionize Shardbearers above all other warriors and treat Shardblades as the most cherished of all prizes, claim that someone who is killed by a Shardblade has their soul burnt out. I’d like to posit that if you’re burning the souls directly out of your enemies, you might be the bad guys. Just a possibility here.

The Thrill is very much the same way, and I don’t think the placement of this chapter right after a chapter in which Kal longs to regain his youthful equivalent of that battlelust can be considered accidental. We later see Syl’s distaste for Shardblades, and I look forward to hearing her describe the Thrill. I think the Thrill is an instinct sent from Odium, and that this revulsion Dalinar is developing is Honor’s way of trying to reclaim him for the good fight. Which is good, I’d much rather have Dalinar become a paladin than remain a berserker.

The chull-pulled bridges sound incredibly slow, but actually quite cool, and clearly demonstrate Dalinar’s attitudes. They’re not only safe, they’re thickly armored, providing shelter for his soldiers. They’re reliable, mechanically sound, and generally seem to be of excellent craftsmanship. They’re much like Dalinar in this way, but, like Dalinar, it’s easy to see why they’re being totally outmaneuvered in the field.

The way that Dalinar and Adolin reconcile warms my heart. Dalinar wins so many personal battles by recognizing that other people might have something worthwhile to contribute, and he really does try to see his way to their perspective. It makes me really wish he could actually get there, instead of always deciding that he was right all along.


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

54 comments
Superben
1. Superben
These chapters got me really excited about the next few books. I want to see Kaladin run into Laral again, and I am really curious whether Dalinar will figure out that the Alethi are the 'bad guys' of the war.
Nadine L.
2. travyl
I don't think that the Alethi belief of the Shardblades "burning the souls out" leads them to think it as bad.
The Shardblade doesn't touch the flesh, but still it kills, so it has to kill a man by other means. Burning a soul out, is better even than destroying it: as I interpret the phrase the soul leaves the body (is burned out of the body, if you will), but still exists - to go wherever Vorin souls go after their death.
T C
3. Freelancer
Poor Lirin, misunderstood by everyone. Well, he brings it upon himself. Acting honorably among those with few principles will put you on the outs every time.

Laral isn't half good enough for Kaladin. I hope that the next time they meet, Kaladin is able to know this truth.
William Carter
4. wcarter
One thing I noticed this time around during Dalinar's POV's in 26 and 27 was the voice --"Life before Death..." The first oath of a Knight Radiant. He specifically wondered where the voice that said that came from.
Not long after he noticed Windspren dancing nearby. Windspren...right...
Superben
5. SmokeyandBooger
I still stick by my old stance that when Dhalinar is being told to "unite them" in his visions, it is not the humans he has to unite, but the humans and the parshendi. I think the parshendi may be the what could ultimately lead to the defeat of the parshmen when the True Desolation comes and the parshmen rise up as the void bringers. After all the parshendi are showing themselves, so far, have having all of the good and advantageous qualities of both races.

They have thier own language and culture, something the Alethi thought impossible. They have weapons that are far superior to anything else produced from thier culture, including shards. Also, we never learn what the parshendi call themselves that I know of. We only know that the Alethi call them parshendi, meaning "parshmen who think." If we ever learn what they call themselves, it may be an important clue.

They have minds connected like span reeds and have the physical prowress that a parshman has. They also adhere to the code of honor that humans are supposed to have.

The Parshendi also seem to have retained some knowledge of the powers of the knights radiant. Whenever Khaladin does something really amazing, they seem to recognize what it is that he is doing. Until now, the only other culture that seems to know about surgebinding are the Shin and the religious group that Teft was once a part of.

Finally, they are actively looking for Dhalinar. Once they had him in thier grasp and confirmed it was him, the parshendi shardbearer doesn't actually try to kill him. He is interrupted from telling him whatever it was he was going to say by the arrival of Khalidin. Why would they be looking for him specifically unless it is for a deeper reason than "you are the uncle of the king, let's kill you"

Anyway, I could be totally off the mark here (and knowing Sanderson I probably am). So if anyone has anything that shows that the parshmen and the parshendi are definitely the same race I would be interested in learning more
Jennifer B
6. JennB
@4
Windspen?? I didn't catch that. It would be cool if we are already seeing another Honorspen. I need to reread this chapter now. Would an Honorspren be attracted to Dalinar while he is using his blade?
andrew smith
7. sillyslovene
I like the thoughts of the Dalinar's bridges as a metaphor for himself. Here are some other thoughts I had while rereading this week:

First chapter: “The Butcher” – rereading this, I had forgotten about the game (is it cards? Or dice?) at the end, and so the whole time was thinking it was a veiled reference to Roshone, perhaps an indication of his identity… either way it is ambiguous, a theme that the chapter ends on: a butcher is both positive (meat handler for a community) and negative (serial killer) potentially- Brandon sometimes likes to play with his chapter titles- naming them something that the reader in no way can know (for instance, ch 68, Eshonai - IIRC, that name is not explained in the chapter)

Connection between the chapters- thematic, specifically these paragraphs:
Hessina’s words to Kal:
“They’ll never actually hate your father—he’s too useful. But he’ll never really be one of them. That’s the price of being a surgeon. Having power over the lives of men is an uncomfortable responsibility.” 444 (all citations are from paperback edition)
and the extended analogy from Way of Kings read to Dalinar:
“A dozen candles burned themselves to death on the shelf before me. Each of my breats made them tremble. To them, I was a behemoth, to frighten and destroy. And yet, if I stayed too close, they could destroy me. My invisible breath, the pulses of life that flowed in and out, could end them freely, while my fingers could not do the same without being repaid in pain. . .
Those candle flames were like the lives of men. So fragile. So deadly. Left alone, they lit and warmed. Let run rampant they would destroy the very things they were meant to illuminate. Embryonic bonfires, each bearing a seed of destruction so potent it could tumble cities and dash kings to their knees. In later years, my mind would return to that calm, silent evening, when I had stared at rows of living lights. And I would understand. To be given loyalty is to be infused like a gemstone, to be granted the frightful license to destroy not only one’s self, but all within one’s care.” 452
The parallels are definitely meant to draw attention to the fact that Surgeons/Healers (and warriors?) have lots in common with Kings. (LoTR connection there).

Second Chapter:
Violet is a very popular dress color for female scribes. Both of them here are wearing it, Jasnah’s wears one when she kills. A fashion fad? Or a hint to connection with Odium? Or at least a literary connection to those dangerous things (e.g. Chasmfiends) that bleed purple?

The voice in Dalinar's head: Kaladin also hears a voice in his head telling him the words to the second ideal. Here it is telling Dalinar the first ideal. What is this voice? In Kaladin’s case, some say it was Syl, but I don’t know if I buy that. . .it seems like something more innate/internal, (analagous to the Holy Spirit or something)
@wcarter- I don't remember seeing a windspren in this chapter, but I caught the same reference.

More directly:
“His Plate gave him a surge of strength as he reached the edge of the chasm.” 465.
This is just amazing to read, hidden in plain sight. ‘Surge’ connected to Surgebinding, anyone? Yup probably. But how can the Plate instinctively know to give it to him? I think it’s more likely that he is doing something subconsciously, the same way Kaladin is.

There are also a couple things that really stand out and that cry out for deeper answers, but as far as I am aware, none of them have been answered. However, they also stand out as something that will potentially become important.

-Kal’s grandparents (Hessina’s parents) –
“Kal listened with curiosity. He’d never met his mother’s parents; they weren’t often spoken of.” 448
This makes me think that we will see Lirin and Hesina again in the future (at least in the flashbacks of Kaladin’s next book of course), but I would like to see them in the present. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding them and potential conflict there between Lirin and Kaladin.

-Herdazians and ‘sparkflickers’? (is that a lighter?) Some hint that Herdazians have some sort of connection with sparks/fire, and thus the herald connected with 3-Chach?

@5, Smokeyandbooger, spoiler for WoR materials: the parshmen and parshendi are confirmed as of the same race, just in different forms (warrior versus servant) in some of the teaser material for WoR (end Spoiler).
(edit to white out spoiler)
David Behrens
8. Windrunner17
@1
Are the Alethi the bad guys, though? I don't want to spoil anything, but one of the readings Brandon's done revealed the Parshendi motivation for killing Gavilar, and it's not one hundred percent certain that it's a good one. Anyway, the Parshendi murdered the Alethi king and then refused to explain themselves or try to make up for it before total war started. The Alethi are justified in their quest to destroy the Parshendi in my opinion, I just don't think that they actually should. If you want to see the reading that reveals the Parshendi motivation, it's here. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cDGlSyePKuiyYb_e0yBHzTYCvvqQgoPweEh_EM3sRlE/edit

@5
We do now know whether the Parshendi are the same race as the parshmen. That reading I linked to above explains it, and there is also a tiny bit more info here, on the Parshendi's wiki page http://coppermind.net/wiki/Parshendi That reading also reveals why they are looking for Dalinar.
Superben
9. Horneater_Goldeneyes
@4

Woah I never noticed that!

You think he's got his own honorspren? That's so cool!

Also I dont think Dalinor always sticks to his guns. He usually arrives at compromise, just leaning his way a bit.
William Carter
10. wcarter
@9 Horneater_Goldeneyes

In chapter 26 we are treated to these two gyms just before the battle. I noticed them for the first time myself last night:

--A few windspren danced past in the air, nearly invisible. Adolin called for his horse but...--

Then just a few lines later:

--Parshman nurse had practically raised Dalinar.
Life before death
What was that voice--

I don't think the two are coincidence they're barely a paragraph apart. As far as Dalinar not always sticking to his guns, I believe his motivations don't waiver but what he considers to be the best course of action does. A leader who isn't willing to question himself and other options at times is not someone you want to follow.
That being said, once a path is chosen it is almost always best to stick with it.

*Edit to remove brackets that were unintentionally hiding text.
Flint Timmins
11. Giovanotto
The people of Hearthstone see Lirin and his family as acting above their station. They are viewed as darkeyed villagers pretending to be lighteyed lords. Because Lirin lives in the village, dresses like everyone else, has a house like everyone else, and is poor like everyone else he is exxpected to act like a darkeyes. His problem comes with his education. He talks like a lighteyes, is educated like a lighteyes, and has plans to marry Kal to a lighteyes, and to top it off he now has the wealth of a dead lighteyes but doesn't use it. To the villagers, this comes off as pride, scorn, greed, haughtiness, and whatever other adjectives you want to throw around. As sad as it is to say, if Lirin lived less like the villagers and more like the lords he wouldn't have half the problems he does. Even sadder, how often do we see this same thing in the real world?
Maiane Bakroeva
12. Isilel
Well, I have to admit that I thought Lirin to be a bit arrogant and rubbing his high-mindedness and holier than though morals in. There is/ was nothing wrong with country doctors who would get payed for their work, but also take on charitable cases.
Lirin wouldn't have needed to steal if he hadn't been so intent on propaganda of communism by example, essentially.

Also, I was always a bit bemused re: medicine/surgery being a "masculine" art in a culture where men are forbidden to read. What are their medical "books" like? Just picture books? This seems counter intuitive.

And - how does intermarriage between light and darkeyes even work? I mean, there do seem to exist very strict boundaries re: what behaviour and standing is acceptable for a darkeyes and darkeyes behaving as a lighteyes is dangerous for them. Wouldn't mixed marriages be forbidden or, at least, a huge step down and humiliation for the light-eyed partner? And given that we are not even talking about some star-crossed loves, but an arranged marriage, for gain? A marriage to which Kal would bring neither material goods of his own, nor social standing? Urgh, Lirin is such a huge hypocrite!
Laral may not be all that, but Lirin's designs on her and her inheritance are kinda repugnant, IMHO. Particularly in conjunction with his oh-so selfless and superior attitude.

And this makes me wonder, yet again, what happens to lighteyes children born to darkeyes? Given what we have seen of their society, and noblemen's behavior there must be quite a lot of those and their life must be quite a social minefield - unless they are automatically taken in by the Ardentia or something.

Good find re: those "wind-spren" that Dalinar sees prior to hearing the voice in his mind!
As to Dalinar's bridges, can't there be some kind of compromise? Like soldiers carrying them on a normal rotation and making the final approach fully armored and protecting themselves with big shields? I mean, gaining gemhearts is a competition, yes, but they are also a vital resource for the army. And having to fight for each and every one because his forces are too slow is bleeding Dalinar's army at a good clip. Yes it is not the inhuman bridgemen system, but his men are still dying.
Jennifer B
13. JennB
@12
I agree with both your assessment of Lirin as well as your comment on children of mixed parentage.

A modest fee would feed his family and not put his patients into poverty. If the farmers charge for food even though people would starve without it, why shouldn't a doctor charge too.

Why is everybody so down on Laral? She is a teenage girl caught up in politics after her father dies. She is interested in Kaladin, but then her father dies and she becomes the ward of the new brightlord who has it in for Kaladin's family. I don't think she has any choice about her new situation.

As far as children of mixed parentage, I really hope Sanderson addresses this. He has already opened the door by introducing prostitutes.
Nadine L.
14. travyl
Re mixed parentage: Sanderson does address it, at least he lets Kaladin think about it in this very chapter:
How would he feel, marrying someone like Laral? He’d never be her equal. Their children would have a chance of being lighteyed or darkeyed, so even his children might outrank him. He knew he’d feel terribly out of place. ...
Obviously only the lighteyes would inherit the mothers noble status.
I don't know what happens to light-eyed children who have two dark-eyed parents though.
Jennifer B
15. JennB
I am specifically talking about little Lighteyed kids running around in Darkeyed villages or growing up in brothels with their Darkeyed mothers. What happens to them?
Flint Timmins
16. Giovanotto
@JennB

I've wondered the same thing. Do lighteyed families adopt lighteyed children from darkeyed parents, and vice versa? One clue the book offers is the nahn and dahn caste system. Lirin is of the second nahn which grants him certain legal rights. Kaladin mentions low-level lighteyed officers who don't rank much higher than some darkeyes. Perhaps the darkeyed children of a brightlord/lady are place into a high nahn and the lighteyed children of a commoner are placed into a low dahn.
Andrew Wilkinson
17. arwilkinson
@Windrunner17 - thanks for the link. VERY interesting!
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Andrew Berenson
18. AndrewHB
Freelancer @3 said "Laral isn't half good enough for Kaladin." I do not believe we have enough knowledge of Laral to make what type of person she is.

Laral could be exactly what JennB @12 says: "a teenage girl caught up in politics after her father dies. She is interested in Kaladin, but then her father dies and she becomes the ward of the new brightlord who has it in for Kaladin's family." Later on when she sees Kaladin in the kitchen, she acts as if she never saw him before and is no better than a servant. Nevertheless, when Roshone's son keeps belittling Kaladin, Laral seems to be embarrased.

I think we need some more screen time for Laral to know her true character. A POV would be preferable, but not necessary. We learn a good deal about Jasnah's character and she has yet to have her own POV chapter.

Moreover, I do not envy Laral. By the end of Kaladin's flashbacks in his birthtown, she is being married of for Roshone's benefit. It probably will not be a happy marriage. (I cannot recall if by this time, Roshone is still married; but if he is not, I would be willing to wager a pretty penny that he forces Laral to marry him.)

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Jennifer B
19. JennB
@ 18

Unfortunatly for her, Laral does end up betrothed Roshone after his son dies. Yuck, yuck, and yuck.

She has no power in her own home and I got the impression that if she defended Kaladin or acknowledged him as her friend it would not have been good for her.
David Behrens
20. Windrunner17
@17
No problem! The rest of the readings that we've collected are here, in case anyone wants to see them. http://www.17thshard.com/forum/topic/3710-words-of-radiance-readings/ The only one missing is a Jasnah POV from the prologue to WoR that has no released recording so far.
David Foster
21. ZenBossanova
I will give Laral the benefit of the doubt for now, but she was acting haughty enough before Roshone came in.

As for who is the bad-guy in this war with the Parshendi, I am not completely sure it is so clear cut. But the Parshendi did START the war, so there is that. I would say more, but some of what I think is colored by a reading that Sanderson did from Words of Radiance.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VzSSSYKK6w
[edit: Ok, I see WindRunner beat me to this]

Also, I was previously posting under the name Zen, but now I am properly registered and that username was already taken.
T C
22. Freelancer
Laral's situation being unenviable is a distinct issue from her character, which stands out quite clearly when she chooses to not act in Kaladin's behalf when she has the chance. While his goals aligned with hers (becoming a soldier, perhaps attaining a Shard and becoming a Lighteyes), she was entirely in his corner. As soon as that was less likely, he discontinued being a person worth her notice.

Oh, she was under the politicized pressure of her station to not act out of line around Roshone. Yes, thus proving her character, and her lack of genuine interest in Kaladin as a person, rather than a vehicle of advancement or prestige.
Maiane Bakroeva
23. Isilel
Freelancer @22:
Yes, thus proving her character, and her lack of genuine interest in Kaladin as a person, rather than a vehicle of advancement or prestige.
Except that Kaladin would have never been that, by virtue of being a darkeyes. If he had done well on the battlefield, won the Shards, she would have avoided social demotion as his wife. That's all.


Her behavior as a friend may have been lacking, but let's not forget that Lirin was railroading her into a disadvantagious and somewhat shameful marriage, entirely for Kal's/his family's benefit. Which, I am sure, Roshone and Co didn't waste any time about explaining to her. It is not like she and Kal were in love with each other - they were friends because their parents were and those parents were cooking this match between them.

I have to say that Laral's situation makes me wonder - don't women have any independant inheritance rights in this society? And where were her blood relatives when she was orphaned?
Anneke van Staden
24. QueenofDreams
The whole issue with Laral really brings back that discussion we seem to have on here quite often, about who has the power in Alethi society. To me it seems that while women have some power because they essentially control information and knowledge, in some ways they are powerless. Look at Laral here, first betrothed to Roshone's son and then to Roshone. And before that, the intended match with Kaladin. Also take into account the references to the fact that Shallan would be able to make a good match by being Jasnah's ward and Navani's comment that because her husband is dead, she has no real place in politics any longer, she's been 'put out to pasture'. It seems to me that even though they have some 'behind the scenes' power, their status in society is still dependant on their husbands. The only exception to this is Jasnah, who doesn't seem to care and deliberately remains single.
William Carter
25. wcarter
@23 and 24

The rights of women independent of men is an excellent question, and one I would like to know too.

We don't really know what the Heirocracy problems did that caused Vorinism to be restructured or how, but it seems to me that the sharply divided gender roles along with the extreme emphasis on competition in all parts of society are deliberatedly set up at least in part to prohibit any one person from gaining too much influence.

A man can be "in charge" but without women, he can't actually run anything since he cant read, write, or do some forms of math (we know at least some forms of accounting are either male or gender neutral arts based on Shalan's incident with the book store owner).

A woman on the other hand holds most if not all the information--and therefore power--but she has no actual authority to use it outside of a male figurehead be it a father, brother, husband, etc.

Only the ardents can be male or female and study a variety of arts, but then they are now considered property and allegedly have harsh restrictions on their actions--again due to the Hierocracy.

No matter how I look at Vorinism, it seems like it was custom built to fractionalize society and keep everyone both extremely dependent on a very small, core group of people, and naturally suspicious of everyone else.

Unite them indeed.
Anthony Pero
26. anthonypero
@dark-eyed children of light-eyed parents:

Assuming that Rosharan genetics work like ours (which is probably idiotic, but oh well) two light-eyed parents CAN'T have a dark-eyed child. They don't carry the genes, because light colored eyes are completely recessive. If you have even 1 brown eyed gene in the 2 pair sequence, you will have brown eyes in our world. You can't be a carrier of brown eyed genes and have blue eyes in our world.

Therefore, according to our genetics, two light-eyed parents would be incapable of producing a dark-eyed child of natural birth.

Taking the inverse, assuming it is as uncommon for a lighteyes to marry a darkeyes as we think it is, its possible that it would be extraordinarily uncommon for two darkeyes to have a light-eyed child.

However, this doesn't take into account extra-marital affairs and illegitimate children. However, its worth noting that BOTH parents would have to have light-eyed ancestors, probably within 4 generations, to produce a light-eyed child.

Not saying its impossible, just that it would be uncommon... but probably not unheard of.

Assuming the genetics work like ours. Which they don't. We know this because there are a LOT of different eye colors that we just don't have in our world. We have no way of knowing how the genetics work.

I still think its LIKELY that there are a few light-eyed children born to dark-eyed parants every generation. But I doubt that the genetics work differently enough that two light-eyed parents would have a dark-eyed child.
Superben
27. McKay B
@26: Even in our world, that's not quite true, because eye color is subtly dependent on more than one gene. If it were dependent on only one, you would be correct.

It's rare, but it DOES happen that children with dark brown eyes are born to parents who both have blue or green eyes.
David Foster
28. ZenBossanova
This eye color question would be a really good one for us to pose to Sanderson.
Superben
29. Natans
@28 Mr. Sanderson, already said that in the next book he will explain the social stigma of the persons with heterochromia (eyes with diferent colors). So, my guess is that we will get the aswer to this question too, soon than later =)
Superben
30. Drailin
I would like to know why a solution to the "Chull bridge problem" isn't merely setting 2 Sadeas bridges side by side and having one set of wheels on each? While the 2 lighter bridges will never be fully parallel they managed to thin out one bridge and still almost caarry the weight. Two bridges that can be even thinner (or even just wheel track bridges rather than full platform) would seem to solve the weight and strength conundrum.
Anthony Pero
31. anthonypero
@27:

According to the article I just read on genetics.com, I was right in principle, but wrong in practice. I was eight about the way it works, but there are two ways that a blue eyed pair can have a brown eyed child:

1) The gene is copied wrong. The gene for blue eyes is only one letter different than brown eyes, and sometimes the gene can be copied wrong to sperm or egg. This can also happen during recombination.

2) some blue eyed parents can actually carry a brown gene, but they're DNA is unable to read the gene for some reason. This means the gene is effectively "off". When passed on to the child, the child's DNA can read the gene, turning it on. This is exceedingly rare.

Both cases are very, very rare however. Oh well.
Birgit
32. birgit
Laral's family were the only lighteyes in the city. Kal and Tien were beneath her, but they were the only high-ranking darkeyes. The other darkeyes were too far beneath her to be considered as a husband. She didn't really have any choice when she considered marrying Kal. When another lighteyes came to the city she suddenly had someone of her own rank and no longer had to marry a darkeyes.
Anneke van Staden
33. QueenofDreams
@25 I agree, society is set up to be fragmented, so this task of uniting them is far harder than Dalinar realises. He's so steeped in this cultural paradigm that he probably doesn't even see this issue. This assumes that the command to unite them refers to the Alethi, which I'll admit I'm doubting more with each reread of the book. When I first read the book, it didn't occur to me to question Dalinar's assumption that he must unite the Alethi highprinces. Now, I'm seeing a few too many problems with this, so waiting eagerly to see what gets revealed in the next few books.
Nadine L.
34. travyl
Anthony @26: Assuming that Rosharan genetics work like ours (which is probably idiotic, but oh well)
Nitpicking here...

Brandons strongly relies on world rules (eg physics, gravitation,...) even for his magic systems (see Mistborn), so I would guess, it's probable that "genetics works" the same, meaning that there are two sets of DNA (one from each parent) for each individual).
However you are right that, even if the mechanisms would be the same, there is no reason why on Roshar eye-color would have do be one-gene defined, or which trait is dominant and which recessive, which gives BWS ample room to do as you choose even within genetics.
Maiane Bakroeva
35. Isilel
Birgit @32:

Laral certainly could have been sent outside of town and/or made ward to a respectable Brightlady, so that she could find a proper match. Or Wistiow could have looked for one himself and invited various yound men of their class to visit.
That Laral and her father were the only lighteyes in town shouldn't have meant that Kaladin was her only marriage option!

It would have been a huge social downgrade for her and it wasn't even the old nobility versus money situation, since money would have had to come from her, too.
She wasn't madly in love with Kaladin either, or at all, really. They weren't even close friends, IIRC, just more or less thrown together because their parents were and because neither had appropriate social circle in town. It wasn't Wuthering Heights or anything like that.

I'd say that Laral was more sinned against than a sinner as regards her relationship with Kaladin's family. Lirin did steal from her and plotted to exploit her for Kaladin's gain.
IMHO, it was quite brilliant, really, when this twist was revealed, _because_ Lirin was a good person in other ways. But he was an arrogant man, who would have used Laral to pay for his high-mindedness and ostensible nobility of spirit.
Superben
36. Random
There was a part of the book where a character had green eyes but they were dark green eyes making that character a dark eyes. In relation to the light eyes and dark eyes and the genetics of each likelihood, I would think there's more to it. Since, in Way of Kings it doesn't mean blue eyes verses brown eyes, it is light colored eyes vs dark colored eyes: so you could have two different characters with green eyes but one could have light green and the other dark green eyes. Also Kaladin assumed his children would outrank him, meaning it's likely a dark eyes and a light eyes would produce light eyed children.
Jennifer B
37. JennB
Genetics for hair color is very different than on earth. Laral has dark Alethi hair with light patches that indicate foreign blood. My husband has dark almost black hair and I have dark blonde. Our two kids sure don't have dark hair with blonde patches.

Also, I assume that the Thaylens, the Horneaters, and the Shin all could care less about eye color. It's only an issue in Alethkar and Jah Keved right?
Anneke van Staden
38. QueenofDreams
@37 good catch on the genetics with the hair thing. I think you're right about the Horneaters and Shin not doing eye colour as rank, but it's stated in one of Shallan's chapters that the Thaylen respect eye colour. I took that to mean they use it to determine social standing as well.
David Foster
39. ZenBossanova
@35 Isilel
Let's not be so harsh on Lirin regarding marriage. He really just wanted what was best for his son. I don't see this as arrogance at all. Of course the issue with the spheres is a whole different story.

But Laral did seem to have some initial attraction for Kaladin. She wanted to see him fight and win against the other boys and was honestly disappointed when he lost.
Jennifer B
40. JennB
@39
It has been a couple months since I last read it, but that was my impression too. Laral is attracted to Kaladin and is flirting with him. He is oblivious to her, but that probably would have changed if things had continued as they were.

Wistiow was different than most Lighteyes we have met. He was content with his position and did not seem to care much about keeping his family "pure". It seemed to me that he taught Laral to be the same way. It will be very interesting to see how she turns out after Roshone has had his hands on her for several years.
Alice Arneson
41. Wetlandernw
General comments about the blog, first:

One of the things I’ve learned about Sanderson (and any good author) is that initial impressions are untrustworthy. Which means, of course, that since the instinct to dislike Roshone on sight was super strong, like Lirin I had to be willing to wait and see how this guy would turn out. And just to keep us on our toes, this first impression turns out to be correct.

I’m not sure why I found this so funny, but I kept doing double-takes while reading a book called The Way of Kings, in which they kept reading from a book called The Way of Kings. I know Sanderson did it deliberately, if not for that reason, but it just sort of triggered an involuntary snigger every time it came up. Still does, I guess.

“A man’s emotions are what define him, and control is the hallmark of true strength. To lack feeling is to be dead, but to act on every feeling is to be a child.” This remains my favorite line of the book, partly because it is so essential to each major character’s development, it reflects the worst failings and best strengths of significant minor characters, and it’s sadly lacking in our own culture. Self-control is a major mark of maturity. (And… I won’t write the rest of that essay here!)

Re: Quote of the Chapter (26) – I’m not so sure we’re supposed to necessarily question Dalinar and his culture here; I think we’re supposed to further understand. Granted that some of the cultural assumptions are now very different than they were historically (to say nothing of being radically different from our own), perhaps we need to understand their culture before we worry too hard about questioning it.

I’d like to posit that if you’re burning the souls directly out of your enemies, you might be the bad guys.” Well, it’s a question… Not that we actually understand what’s going on here. For one thing, they don’t actually know that the souls are burned out of the body – that’s just their traditional concept. For another thing, we don’t know if that destroys the soul or not. All we know is that a Blade kills without actually cutting the flesh. I would suggest that the Blade does something more like stopping the brain’s connection with the cut-off part of the body, so that nerve impulses can no longer get through. That would explain (at least in part) why any body part cut through by a Blade is forever numb and useless, but doesn’t rot and die. If the Blade touches your spinal column (which carries pretty much all the nerves that signal everything in your body, you die. Just because there’s no blood, is it necessarily any different (in terms of the soul) than running a normal blade through someone’s neck? They’re dead either way.

Mechanics aside, there is a certain argument to be made that if you believe you’re destroying someone’s soul, you can’t exactly claim to be the good guy. However, I’m not convinced (yet) that they believe they’re actually destroying the souls eternally; just shearing the soul away from the body.

I am also not convinced that the Thrill originates with Odium, though I’ll grant that he may have found a way to twist it, or that in the absence of Honor it has become twisted on its own. We’ll have to wait and see.

Some interesting ideas to continue considering in the comments… specifically, @5 re: the Parshendi. We know they were on the field in the Prelude, but we don’t know which side they were on. For that matter, we don’t really know which side the chasmfiends (or whatever was shedding the violet blood) were on; we just know they were there. It certainly seems that the Parshendi fight with honor, at least by our lights, so it’s quite possible that they were allies in the past. I wonder how long it will be until we find out.

silllyslovene @7 Re: dress colors – I don’t think you can read too much into it. Some quick checking indicates that violet is the most frequently mentioned dress color for Vorin women, overall; various shades of red come next, then blues, then yellow, then green and black. (There’s also one just described as “flower-embroidered). There’s even one lady who apparently likes to match her dress with her wine. (No orange, though, and no pink.)

re: the voice in Dalinar’s head (and later Kaladin) – I would have to guess that it’s something to do with Honor, or Splinters of Honor. Possibly a spren, though Dalinar doesn’t know he’s got one (if he does). But it has to be Honor-related, I think. Good callout (whoever it was) on Dalinar seeing the windspren, here. Maybe he's attached to one and doesn't know it yet.

wcarter @25 – Good summary. It will indeed be interesting to see how this plays out.

Isilel @23 – “…but let's not forget that Lirin was railroading her into a disadvantagious and somewhat shameful marriage, entirely for Kal's/his family's benefit.” I don’t have a horse in this race, but it seems you’re being a little hard on Lirin. He couldn’t have done any such thing without the active involvement of Wistiow, her father. (Apparently her mother was dead, so we don’t know whether she had any involvement/influence in this question.) It should also be noted that Laral was not pureblood Alethi; that might matter. Or it might not. It’s not quite as simple as we might like to think.

@general – IIRC, the lighteyes/darkeyes thing is specifically Vorin; other religions, and other nations who do not follow Vorinism, are generally indifferent to eye color. They would, obviously, be aware of the difference in social or political standing within the Vorin kingdoms. Since the Thaylen traditionally follow Vorinism, they would probably follow the lighteyes/darkeyes hierarchy to some extent, at least, if not quite as strongly as the Alethi.
T C
42. Freelancer
Wetlandernw @41
. . . I kept doing double-takes while reading a book called The Way of Kings, in which they kept reading from a book called The Way of Kings.
Okay, you asked for it:

Adolin - Get me the book of "The Way of Kings"

Dalinar - Son, can I speak with you a moment? How can there be a book of The Way of Kings? We're still in the middle of it being written!

Adolin - Yes, but there has been a breakthrough in soulcasting.

Dalinar - There has?

Adolin - Yes! Instant Epics. They're available before the volume is finished!

Dalinar - Nah!

Renarin - Here it is, sir - "The Way of Kings"!

Dalinar - Wait! What the storm are we reading? When does this happen?

Adolin - "Now". You're reading "now", sir. Everything that happens now is happening "now" in the book.

Dalinar - And you claim that I'm losing MY mind?
Kimani Rogers
43. KiManiak
Free@42 - The speed with which you provided that little dialogue was almost Ludicrous-esque.
Superben
45. bajan
@42

There was a movie like that. Had Will Farrell in it. Can't remember the name of ot though....
T C
46. Freelancer
KiManiak @43

I had to hold back to avoid Plaid...


not quite, bajan. No Will Ferrell. It's ripped off from Spaceballs. Rick Moranis, Mel Brooks, Bill Pullman...
Superben
47. bajan
There was a movie with Will Farrell (not really a comedy) where some guy started hearing a voice in his head narrating his actions that was actually a book being written wt the same time. I'll have to look up the name.

I vaguely remember spaceballs from my childhood.
Sean Dowell
48. qbe_64
@47 - the movie you're thinking of is stranger than fiction. and yes, he is the character in a book that is currently being written, he's an IRS auditor who falls in love with the owner of a pastry shop he's auditing. Dustin Hoffman is also in it. Decent movie.
Sean Dowell
49. qbe_64
Regarding eye colour:
I thoughtfully just did some research (not really, I just looked at wikipedia) before making the apparently incorrect comment that blue eyes are a recessive gene and you would therefore have a significantly greater chance of being a dark eyed offspring of a mixed marriage. Apparently there's any possibility of eye colour available to children born from parents with the same colour eyes (on Earth anyways, don't know about Roshar). Additionally, the majority (all?) of caucasian children are born with blue eyes, which can then darken over time. So what happens if you're a child of two light eyes, who's born with blue eyes and then when your 1-3 years old you've finally produced enough melanin to have your eyes darken? Do they just throw you in the river at that point?
Sean Dowell
50. qbe_64
Regarding outrage over disturbance of the dead on the battlefield:

This has got to be the single most ineffectual emotion to feel about your comrades bodies being desecrated in the heat of battle. I would need some material on Parshendi beliefs, but in general you would hope that a living being should matter more to you than one that is already dead.
Sacrificing yourself to proctect the living = noble.
Sacrificing yourself to protect the dead = dumb.

Again not much information on Parshendi religion, but in religion the concept of a soul is pretty common, in that the body is just vessel and your entire sense of self is part of an untangible manifestation inside the body. So it seems reckless and irresponsible to sacrifice living vessels to protect dead empty husks.

This ploy obviously isn't new, military minds since the dawn of time have been using enemy dead to illicit poor strategical responses from troops and to instill fear into the rest of the population, and I get the emotional attachment and dismay at seeing people you once loved desecrated like that, but man!, protect the ones you still have left.

Now, when the next book comes out and it turns out that the voidbringers need dead parshmen/parshendi bodies to be animated, well then won't I look like a tool (this isn't a spoiler, pure speculation), but until then it seems like extremely bad tactics to sacrifice the living to protect the dead.
Birgit
51. birgit
Some cultures mummified their dead because they believed that they need a body in the afterlife.
James Briggs
52. traveler
41@Wetlander I like the way you think. I wonder if the Shardblades were created to stop the void bringers, but man has corupted them by killing humans and parshendi and that is why Syl dislikes them now.
I wonder if she will feel the same way about the honor blades?
T C
54. Freelancer
Ahh, "Stranger than Fiction". Well, I can see the connection, that a character was experiencing a story as it was being written. I was going for a parody of a parody, WoK-ing a specific scene from Spaceballs where the bad guys cheat to figure out where the good guys are by actually watching the movie they are in, Mel Brooks breaking the fourth wall as he was so fond of doing.

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