Thu
Oct 10 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapter 37

Brandon Sanderson the Way of Kings Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread on Tor.com. Last week we saw a flurry of activity, both on the Shattered Plains and in Kharbranth. Fire and lightning, storms and smoke, noise and excitement all abounded.

Since I think we all need a bit of a breather (hard to breathe a thunderstorm, after all), this week I’ll transport you to Kal’s past, to the quiet town of Hearthstone, where—well, okay, where things are also really bad. Can the damning revelations of Chapter 37 vie with the chapters that preceded it? Read on and find out.

Chapter 37: Sides
Setting:
Hearthstone, five and a half years ago
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Kal is chopping longroots, a cheap but unpleasant root vegetable, with his mother and little brother. Longroots have been all the family has been able to afford recently, since Roshone has been cracking down on them. As they work on the stew, they talk about spren, with Kal expressing skepticism about his mother’s explanations. He says that he “just want[s] everything to make sense,” which his mother claims is a little much to hope for.

Kal sees a carriage out the window, and sets a plan he had previously concocted into motion. He asks to go rinse off his crem-covered hands, volunteering to wash the rest of the roots off as well. Once he’s out the door, however, he races over to where Lirin is waiting for the carriage. Kal knows Lirin is going to speak with Roshone, and demands to be taken along. He wants and needs to see if his father is cowardly or courageous. Lirin grudgingly agrees.

On the ride over they discuss how Lirin has been considering relocating his family. He thinks he could find work as a surgeon in almost any small town, and is skilled enough to become a physician’s assistant in Kholinar. Despite that, it’s hard for him to imagine leaving Hearthstone. It’s his home, and he’s spent his life serving and healing the people there. Kal claims to grudgingly understand, even though he’s still hurt that the villagers would try to steal from them. But Lirin says the village still appreciates him. They’ve been leaving food for them in secret, which is how the family has been able to keep eating.

The carriage arrives at Roshone’s estate, and Lirin and Kal proceed to the citylord’s dining table. Roshone is already eating a meal of spicy meats, vegetables, and flatbread—foods that Lirin’s family hasn’t been able to afford for months. Although he has a servant indicate that Lirin is to set at a table in a sideroom and speak to him from there, Lirin takes a place at Roshone’s table instead; he claims it is his right as an invited guest and citizen of the second nahn. Kal sits as well, eating some food that is spicier than any meal he’s had before. Lirin does not eat.

Roshone and Lirin verbally spar, Roshone trying to pressure the surgeon with his family’s starvation, Lirin calmly rebutting that he would win an inquest, and can leave with his family any time he wants. Roshone accuses Lirin of stealing spheres from Wistiow, although admits that he would probably lose an inquest. Lirin continues to insist that he is not intimidated. Finally, when Roshone offers to leave Lirin 10% of the spheres if he gives up the remainder, Kal butts in. He begins to protest that his father will never take that offer, but Lirin cuts him off, suggesting that he should go to the kitchens and find less spicy food. Children’s food.

Shamed, Kal leaves, fleeing to the kitchen where he is immediately offered a meal fit for a child. Kal feels like a child. He realizes that his plan to run away and join the army is a childish rebellion, and that he deserves the meal he’s being punished with. He is sitting waiting for the flatbread and fruited tallew rice when Rillir Roshone, the citylord’s son, walks into the kitchens, Laral on his arm. Kal’s childhood friend (and potential bride) has grown into a young woman. She received the remainder of her father’s wealth in inheritance and had a large dowry bestowed upon her by Highprince Sadeas in compensation for the loss of her lands.

Kal stands and greets her, but is rewarded with only a faint blush. Rillir, however, notices him, and commands him to fetch them supper. Kal refuses, saying he’s no kitchen servant, but that doesn’t seem to bother Rillir. They go back and forth, Rillir trapping Kal with spurious arguments, until Laral asks him to leave the subject. He humors her, and leads her out of the kitchens.

Lirin collects him, gently chastising him for not eating his meal. After all, it was free. They return to the carriage, where an awkward silence grows. Kal breaks it by telling his father that he wants to be a surgeon, revealing in the process that he had been planning to run away to become a soldier. Now, though, he realizes that he needs to be smarter, needs to be able to think like a lighteyes so that he can “face them and talk back at them. Not fold like…”

Lirin hears the unspoken accusation, and knows that Kal thinks he folded under Roshone’s pressure. He explains that that’s far from the truth. He didn’t accept Roshone’s offer and never intended to. Instead, he gave the appearance of desperation, knowing that this would distract Roshone for a few months. He plans to string Roshone along for as long as he can.

Kal doesn’t understand why his father did this in the first place. He realizes that this game is a distraction, that Lirin is trying to keep Roshone focused on breaking him. Finally, he realizes why Lirin needs Roshone distracted: Lirin did steal the spheres.

Lirin admits that Wistiow was not lucid when he made his last will, although he does not see what he did as theft, but instead as an assurance of promises made. His family had been banking on a betrothal between Laral and Kaladin, and since that was doomed by Wistiow’s illness, other assurance was necessary. Kal doesn’t know what to think, can’t decide if what his father did “was incredibly brave or incredibly wrong,” but he knows he still wants to go to Kharbranth. Even if it means using stolen spheres.

He also knows that he wants to start using his full name. He’s tired of thinking and acting like a child.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Spren appear when something changes—when fear appears, or when it begins to rain. They are the heart of change, and therefore the heart of all things.”

I’m quite sure that this is just folk knowledge on Hesina’s part. Kaladin’s mother is superstitious, believing firmly in glyphwards and the like. In this case, however, I think she’s close to the mark. Many kinds of spren seem to be attracted to changing states. The rest of the questions raised in this section are also worth considering. Do spren live in rocks? Rocks change infrequently. Do you get more spren if you cut up a longroot? Maybe! Or maybe you get different kinds of spren that are attracted to the cutting. I think that Syl suggests that some kinds of spren are individuals, so chopping up a longroot spren into many, smaller longroot spren seems…unlikely. I can answer one question with confidence, though. Dungspren exist. Brandon said so on reddit. You’re welcome, world.

Commentary: The boy becomes a man! Well, not that it’s really that easy. This episode shows Kaladin making some important progress, but he’s still failing to understand something essential about himself. He’s putting aside soldiering as an option in order to pursue surgery. This is the mature choice for him to make, but it’s not the choice that most fully expresses who he is. You can’t understand Kaladin-the-healer without acknowledging Kaladin-the-warrior any better than you can define Kaladin as a common worker or an educated elite. He’s both and neither. We can forgive him for thinking he needs to make a choice, though, and for thinking it’s possible to give up a life of violence. He’s still never held a spear, and doesn’t know how natural battle is to him. All in all, he made the best choice available at this point, and it’s the perfect time for him to accept his full name.

I will miss li’l Kal, though. It was a very convenient shorthand.

Less useful is Kaladin’s obsession with his father’s courage or cowardice. I’m of the opinion that bravery is a totally inappropriate axis on which to judge Lirin. His choices have never been motivated by fear or courage, but rather by a mostly-mechanistic determination of how best to take care of his family. It’s much more useful to consider whether his choices were well-thought-out and well-executed. At some points I think Lirin is unhelpfully motivated by pride, and has his decision-making twisted by his desired self-image. At other points he plays a delicate game with as much skill as can be expected. In fact, his plan to manipulate Roshone and buy more time is good. He has a good understanding of what moves Roshone will make and how to usefully display weakness. He doesn’t, however, have a particularly achievable endgame.

Lirin’s goal, at this point, seems to be to hold out for just long enough that he can spend all the stolen spheres on Kaladin’s education. Where would that leave him? His family would have nothing except a vengeful citylord. He could travel to another city, but that costs money and risks travel through lands wracked by highstorms. His younger son, who is not as talented as Kaladin, is apprenticed to a carpenter, but that’s not going to keep the family alive. Is Lirin’s goal to sacrifice himself and his family to give Kaladin a chance at a better life? Is that noble?

This chapter is an excellent follow-up to Shallan stealing Jasnah’s Soulcaster, I’d just like to say.

Food is huge in this chapter. We see Kaladin’s family scraping by on what I’m pretty sure are fantasyland carrots. They’re too poor to afford meat, let alone gender-differentiated meals. Then we see Roshone, feasting on spicy meats. He may be the poor lord of a poor district, but he can still afford an adjoined dining room to entertain lower-class citizens. And we see Kaladin in the kitchens, surrounded by people dedicated to the production of food, and in danger of being suborned as a food-fetcher to Rillir. Food is presented as necessity, display of power, livelihood, politics, and culture.

Now I’m hungry. Thanks, self.


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

42 comments
Matt Stoumbaugh
1. LazerWulf
Makes you think how well Lirin might do in Daes Dae'mar...
hungry_for_hands
2. hungry_for_hands
I don't know about anyone else, but I found that I liked Lirin more after learning that he stole the spheres. It just makes him feel like a more complex and real character.
Andrew Berenson
3. AndrewHB
IMO, this chapter shows that all things being equal, Laral would (at a minimum) have chosen to continue to be friends with Kaladin. (See her blushing when she first sees him in the kitchen when she enters with Rillir and when she finally gets Rillir to leave the kitchen.) I am not sure if she ever knew that her father intended for her to marry Kaladin.

Lirin can justify his theft all he wants. But the facts are the facts. He stole the spheres. As petty as Roshone is, Roshone is in the right to demand the spheres back. I am not so sure that Roshone would not win an inquest.

Thanks for reading my musings.
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Walker White
4. Walker
Lirin’s goal, at this point, seems to be to hold out for just long enough that he can spend all the stolen spheres on Kaladin’s education. Where would that leave him?
In a position for Kaladin to support him.

This is how it has been for forever and ever with educatable people in poverty. The entire family picks the child that is most likely to succeed, pools their income, and spends every penny to educate that one person. In exchange, it is understood that the child should pull the rest of the family out of poverty once established.

Of course, the bigger question is why would Kaladin succeed making a living when his father did not. But I think the issue here is that Kaladin can set up somewhere more hospitable, whereas the father believes he is too old to pick up and start again.
Walker White
5. Walker
@3
Lirin can justify his theft all he wants. But the facts are the facts. He stole the spheres. As petty as Roshone is, Roshone is in the right to demand the spheres back. I am not so sure that Roshone would not win an inquest.
While he may have stolen, he stole well. He does not just have the spheres; he has signed contracts granting him the spheres. As far as the law is concerned, he has the greatest right to the spheres. Even though he committed fraud, there is no proof of fraud. In the presence of these contracts, the burden is on Roshone to demonstrate fraud.
Adam S.
6. MDNY
Lirin stole, period. Roshone is an asshole, but that does not make Lirin's actions any better.
Laral's abrupt change in attitude toward Kal is disappointing. At the beginning she seemed destined to be his lifelong companion, but now she treats him like scum. Then again, the spheres that Roshone is trying to get should in fact belong to her. I wonder what Roshone and Rillir have been telling her.
I always just use Kal, it's easier to type, and using his full name just because it sounds like a lighteyes name rubs me the wrong way.
Sean Dowell
7. qbe_64
On first read, these flashback sections took me out of the story and I didn't care for them. But on the second time through, I really appreciate the depth of character it adds to Kaladin.

Even though he's in a bad place at the start of the story, he's still pretty effectively bad-ass. Spear master, skilled field medic, working knowledge of plants and herbs. He still has pretty substantial growth and improvement from the start to the end of the book, but the flashbacks give you an additional sense of the entire journey he's taken.

While I don't think the story would have worked if his main storyline started with him in Heartstone, the flashbacks offer you the chance to see the growth that got him to where he started.

Many fantasy books I've read, the person either starts out solid and gets better over the course of the series, but you never get to see how they got to solid in the first place other than some exposition about their childhood. Or they start off useless and improve exponentially in too short a period of time for it to truly be believable*. So it's nice to see both sides of the coin and the total progression of a character.

*While WoT is one of my favourite series, the fact that all three mains went from farm boys to rulers of men in about two years is kindof ridiculous if you stop and think about it, like nearly above and beyond the expected level of ridiculous growth you expect in SFF. Hell, Rand becomes Jesus in just two years? It took actual Jesus like twenty! If the gap his timeline in the bible is any indication.
William Carter
8. wcarter
@3 & 5

For all Lirin's talk of inquests, I can promise you he does not want one. Yes the burden of proof would fall on Roshone, and yes in the setting they have with imperfect understandings of psychology and whatnot Lirin would probably win--eventually.

But an inquest could take quite a while, and time really is on Roshone's side. Lirin doesn't have any income and he doesn't have the will to move or change that.
Going by how inquests have traditionally worked in the real world, it would most likely prevent further use of the spheres by either party until its completion (which could potentially take weeks or even months when travel time for arbitrators is included).

Lirin may not like to spend the spheres, and the villages may give them some food, but Roshone is smart enough and vindictive enough that he could make Lirin's family fold economically in the meantime.

I think that's why Lirin keeps bringing one up in a positive manner--it's just another bluff.
Alice Arneson
9. Wetlandernw
@2 - I agree. Lirin is an interesting character, but we only get to see him through his son's perspective, which is guaranteed to be... less than 100% accurate. This scene, though, when the maturing Kaladin sees past the facade... it makes Lirin much more human. Which is appropriate.

Something else just occurred to me: if they actually had packed up and gone to Kharbranth, as Lirin has considered, and if either or both of them got involved in Taravangian's hospitals... What would Lirin's and Kaladin's reactions have been, had they learned what was going on there? About people brought in to die on the off chance that they would have a death rattle? Would they accept the purported necessity of killing some in the attempt to save the many?

And just because I noticed it again, there's this:
He told his son he couldn't practice with the spear and forbade him to think of going to war. Weren't those the actions of a coward?
Kudos to Brandon for pointing this out. It's so very easy to assume that those who object to doing military service could only possibly do so out of cowardice, when in fact there are many other reasons - some of which require much more thought, personal conviction, and courage than going along with the popular opinions.
David Foster
10. ZenBossanova
I think it is more correct to say Lirin committed fraud than theft... there is a difference, right?

In any case, I am concerned with what happens to Kaladin's family in WoR, considering they are in Sadias territory. They may end up having more than just a vindictive citylord to deal with... assuming they are still alive at the end of WoK.
Adam S.
11. MDNY
@10 Ok, it was fraud, but it was fraud to get money, so it's a kind of theft, and I would still call him a thief.
I agree that Kal's family could be in trouble, though I'm not sure Sadeas (or anyone in the shattered plains) knows where exactly Kaladin is from. I am fairly sure we will see Hearthstone again at some point, and what Kal's family is up to.
Nadine L.
12. travyl
I really like this chapter. Kal-/adin “grows up”, decides not to run away but to become a surgeon – and suddenly the story doesn’t fit anymore, because we know that won’t happen.
So the sentiment of "One step, and the world flipped upside down" (quoted form this chapter) fits not just for Kaladin (when he learns about the stolen spheres), but for us readers as well. At least I was pretty confused and curious by this point why he would change his mind again to become a soldier.
Walker White
13. Walker
@6
At the beginning she seemed destined to be his lifelong companion, but now she treats him like scum.
This happens every day in high schools and junior high schools across the nation. Elementary school friends drift appart and even become enemies.
Karen Fox
14. thepupxpert
@4 IIRC, Kaladin is to go to a very prestigious university to learn surgery whereas his father was an apprentice taught by a mentor and had no formal schooling.

@6 This is where all the questions about what is morally right and wrong come in to play, whether we believe Lirin was right or wrong, does he have the moral highground to justify that the spheres were stolen?

@6 Also, Kal and Laral were friends since they were little children but once Laral became more knowledgable of the world of lighteyes and darkeyes, she must have known that there would be no way she could marry Kal if he wasn't able to obtain the shardblade and armor in battle so that his eyes would change. I think she was well aware of where their relationship was going and as she grew older she must have realized that this was a childish dream and that she needed to hitch her wagon to a fellow lighteyes.
David Foster
16. ZenBossanova
@11
I don't think it is remotely safe to assume that Sadias will not be able to track down Kaladin's parents. And in fact, I do know that - spoiler - the guy who actually recruits Kaladin, shows up in WoR, counseling Dalinar, as a friend.
Lirin and his wife may be in danger, and there may not be a lot Kaladin will be able to do about it, for political reasons.
hungry_for_hands
19. Confutus
The herald Icons for this chapter are Vev-Palah.
Vev usually appears when healing is a significant part of the chapter, and both Lirin and Kaladin would qualify. I suppose Palah appears because Kaldin's formal training as a surgeon is being discussed and decided on.

It appears that Lirin did steal the spheres, but he has by now paid a fearsome price for them. His own self respect, much of Kaladin's, Roshone's permanent enmity, and both his sons: Tien dead and Kaladin lost. What are they worth to him now?
Alice Arneson
20. Wetlandernw
Zen @16 - Just out of curiosity, where did you pick up that tidbit?

ETA: Is anyone else going to a signing during Brandon's Steelheart tour? I expect to see him on Monday, and would be glad to take along any questions. I don't seem to have all that many of my own.
hungry_for_hands
21. iamme
@16, @20 It can be deduced. Amaram us on his way to the shattered plains. Amaram will recognise Kaladin. Amaram knows where Kaladin is from. Amaram serves Sadeas. All Sadaeas has to do is ask Amaram. Which Im sure he will once it becomes clear Amaram kniws Kaladin.
Alice Arneson
22. Wetlandernw
@21 - Zen's spoiler comment was a little more specific than that, and his terminology even more so. I was just curious whether he got it from a WoR reading, or... what.

I find it mildly odd that readers so readily assume that Amaram or Sadeas would remember - or care about - one soldier-cum-slave, in all their armies. Yes, we know he's important, and he's becoming a Windrunner, and all that - but they don't know that. Not yet, anyway. Why would Sadeas even ask Amaram about Kaladin? He'd have no reason to know of any association between them. He's also got bigger political things to think about than Kaladin personally; though I expect he's petty enough to take a swipe at Kaladin's family if the opportunity presented itself, I don't see why he would go to any particular effort to do so.

As for Amaram... well, I'm sure he would remember the occasion on which he *ahem* acquired his Shards, but I don't know why he would bother to think about the slave he sold, or consider where he might have ended up. And why, of all his soldiers, would Amaram even vaguely remember where he recruited Kaladin?

Meh. I don't see any plausible rationale for Sadeas to go to the effort of tracking down Kaladin's family, all the way back in some obscure town in Alethkar, just to get back at Kaladin. Far more likely that he'd have his goon squad looking for a chance to take out Kaladin himself, right there on the Shattered Plains.
hungry_for_hands
23. hungry_for_hands
@22 I agree with you that Sadeas probably would not go out of his way to hunt down Kaladin's family. But what if his family came to the shattered plains? This may be a little out there for a theory, but what if Lirin joined the army as a medic in order to either find Kaladin (if he didnt know about his "death") or to get close to Amaram for revenge. Maybe with both of his sons dead, he decides that getting revenge is the last thing he can do.
Matthew B
24. MatthewB
I think people are writing off Lirin's explanation that it was an "assurance of promises made" a little too lightly. Everything we know about Wistiow leads me to believe that he actually had made those promises and intended to send Kaladin for training so that he could take his father's place in serving the village. I'm not sure if it was always Lirin's intention that Kaladin would not come back to the village - if so, that would certainly indicate some fraud, but on its face, the "theft" itself seems neither immoral nor unethical by a reasonable standard.
hungry_for_hands
25. HathsinSurvivor
22. and 20. It comes from a WOR morse code tdibit where Amaram is advising Dalinar.
Alice Arneson
26. Wetlandernw
@25 - Thanks. I figured it was something like that. (Please note - I was not arguing against it; I was just curious where it came from and in what context.)
David Foster
27. ZenBossanova
What HathsinSurvivor said. It was a single line from Reddit, that Brandon put in Morse Code.
David Foster
28. ZenBossanova
@24 I do think people are underappreciating what Wistiow promised. Those promises probably had been made in good faith, with the expectation Kaladin would return and take his fathers place in the villiage. But they didn't have it properly in writing, and forging that was fraud, even if he had promised.
Alice Arneson
29. Wetlandernw
Re: Wistiow & Lirin - The moral ambiguity is part of the point - for Lirin's charcter, Kaladin's character, and decisions to be made much further down the road.

Was it "right" for Wistiow to make promises without setting up the legal means to fulfill those promises? Was it "right" for Lirin to enable the fulfillment of the promises when Wistiow left it too late? Was it "right" for Roshone to try to set aside all agreements made by his predecessor, whether they were legally documented or not?

Remember, Roshone has not a shred of proof that the legal documentation was fraudulent; he really just wants the money. We know, and Lirin and Hesina and Kaladin know, that the will was a fraud; Roshone does not. He only knows that the circumstances were such that it could have been a fraud.

While I can't entirely vindicate Lirin's action, I can certainly understand it and see why he did it. If the new citylord had been someone worthy of respect, who treated his people well, there's every chance that Lirin would have found a way to return the spheres and let the citylord take care of fulfilling the promises Wistiow made. Turns out that he was right not to count on that, eh? What he didn't count on was the level of spitefulness to which Roshone would descend, and Kaladin's level of loyalty to his brother.

Roshone, on the other hand, has no real justification for his actions. He is a greedy, bitter man, angry about the circumstances that resulted in his "exile" to Hearthstone, and taking out his bitterness, anger and greed on the only people he can: the residents of Hearthstone. Even if the spheres hadn't existed, or if there was nothing questionable about the will, I think Lirin would have been a prime target for Roshone. He's the best-educated, highest-ranked citizen of the town, and the one in the best position to influence the townspeople in ways Roshone might not like. Therefore, he's the target.

So, yes, Lirin is technically guilty of fraud, and he knows it, and it haunts him. He also knows that without those spheres, his family doesn't stand a chance.

(I really wonder. Once Lirin & Hesina received word of Tien's death and Kaladin's choice not to return to Hearthstone, did they stay there? Or did they simply pack up and go somewhere that Roshone couldn't touch them?)
Nadine L.
30. travyl
Wetlander @22: I find it mildly odd that readers so readily assume that Amaram or Sadeas would remember - or care about - one soldier-cum-slave, in all their armies
I vehemently disagree ;)
You already answered yourself why Amaram would remeber Kaladin, the man he can thank for surviving and acquiring a most memorable gift (to stay as ambigous as you did).
As for Sadeas: Kaladin caused a major defeat for Sadeas' army, then he refused to be "properly judged" (i.e. die) by the Highstorm and he will foil Sadeas' plan of cleverly murdering another Highprince. Only a very special gift prevents him from exacting vengeance, but I'm sure, he'll remember Kaladin.

I do agree though, that Sadeas likely won't go out of his way to search for Kaladin's family and I also agree Amaram might not remeber from which particular city he had recruited Kaladin from.
I'm also not sure that Lirin still lives there, I would have left that city, after loosing my two kids due to the malice of the citylord.
hungry_for_hands
31. Jasuni
Amaram was told Kaladin's hometown right before he claimed the "memorable gift". There is chance that Amaram will remember because of guilt for what he ordered.

@ 29 and 30 Lirin stated that there is a tie between a man and his home. He also cares for the people there. I don't think that he would leave just because of hardship under one citylord. The memory of losing his sons may be different, but he would at the very least leave a way for Kaladin to find him again. If someone tries to track down Kaladin's parents, he'll be able to succeed once he reaches Hearthstone. Personally, I think that Lirin would commit suicide rather than leave Hearthstone.

On a side note, the spheres likely went to Roshone after (at the latest) Kaladin's failure to return from the military.
David Foster
32. ZenBossanova
In case you wanted to see that spoiler that I mentioned earlier, here it is

EACH TIME YOU ALLOW THIS, AMARAM SAID, IT DRIVES A WEDGE BETWEEN HIM AND THE THRONE. AMARAM TOOK DALINAR BY THE ARM, STOPPING HIM FROM CONTINUING FORWARD. WE HAVE BIGGER PROBLEMS THAN YOU AND SADEAS, MY FRIEND. YES, HE BETRAYED YOU. YES, HE LIKELY WILL AGAIN. BUT WE CAN'T AFFORD TO LET THE TWO OF YOU GO TO WAR. THE VOIDBRINGERS ARE COMING.
hungry_for_hands
33. rider
Wow, adding onto that amaram exerpt (I dont know how to white out so just don't read the next bit)

*SPOILER*
Wow so either Dalinar has convinced some people that the desolations are coming or amaram came to that conclusion himself. Either way it makes you wonder what hapeens in WoR that makes people belive.
*END SPOLIER*

Thank for providing the excerpts
hungry_for_hands
34. RandomNote
Having read ALL of Brandon's books, ALL the reference material currently on the web (wikis, interviews, etc) and ALL of the discussion forums having to do with Brandon Sanderson and his works from when he took over WoT until the present time, I feel that I am qualified to make the following statement: Any theory about 'what is what', or future predictions that I have personally subscribed to, have about as much chance of being right as they would have being drawn out of a hat. There are simply too many ways all of the hints could be resolved. I'm pretty sure it's done like that on purpose.
That said, I'm loving this read-through, and I can't hold back this nagging thought anymore:
*SPOILER*
I think Hoid is secretly one of the names of Odium. What Brandon has said about Kelsier and Hoid, reading 'The Letter' again, having Brandon say that Hoid wasn't interested in the power at the Well in its present form (along with saying that Odium did not want to be corrupted by another shard's 'personality'), and that Odium did not want Preservation and Ruin to be put together in Harmony, makes me feel that Odium was just waiting for one of them to be destroyed before he swooped in. Having the powers combined in Sazed may just be the thing that this entire universe boils down to as Harmony will be the only shard(s) strong enough to stop Odium.
*END SPOILER*
Please prove me wrong if you have evidence. I would love to have some more facts/things Brandon has said added to my list of things to chew on!
Alice Arneson
35. Wetlandernw
Well, Brandon has said unequivocally that Hoid does NOT hold a Shard.
Alice Arneson
36. Wetlandernw
I'll be posting some stuff here (to avoid cluttering the new discussion) from the Seattle Steelheart signing. I don't have time right now to write up the full report, but here are a few things I though many would find fascinating.

We got a lot of new info on the Knights Radiant diagram (the front endpaper). I’ll white it out, in case someone doesn’t actually want this stuff, but I thought it was pretty interesting. There's a diagram posted on the 17th Shard under the "Seattle signing" forum, too.

For those who don't know already (if there's anyone here like that): If you want to match up the surges with the orders, each Order has two Surges, sharing each with one other Order. The Windrunners use Gravity and Pressure, and you can work it out from there.

Knights Radiant Orders, starting from the upper right (landscape format) by Jezrien, moving clockwise:
Windrunner, Skybreaker, Dustbringer, Edgedancer, (unidentified), Lightweaver, Elsecaller, Bondsmith, Stoneward, (unidentified)

Surges, starting just right of top center, moving clockwise:
Gravity, Pressure, Division, Friction, Growth, Light, Transformation, Transportation, (Surface Tension), (unidentified)

The one called (Surface Tension) isn’t formally named yet; he’s using that name for the time being but searching for a better. It allows the Surgebinder to modify certain physical characteristics of a material; for example, he could make a piece of cloth absolutely rigid instead of flexible.

This one is actually a spoiler for WoR, but he gave it out freely at the signing, so here it is: Jasnah is an Elsecaller.

We'll learn one more Order (not on the list) in WoR, along with a member of that Order, and a couple of the Orders we (now) know about will have members identified.

I'll post more later, as I remember things; unfortunately I wasn't recording most of the time, so I can't give you a complete verbatim report. Shardlet from 17th Shard was recording the whole time, though, so he'll have some good stuff posted.

Another thing he gave us that we've talked about here: Whoever it was that first suggested that the Highstorms might be to Honor what the Mists/Well are to Preservation - give yourself a gold star. (I know I've made the theory statement, but I'm pretty sure I got the idea from someone here.)

The Palaneum is indeed named for Palah, as was recently suggested. I asked if the old woman wandering around was indeed Palah; he would not confirm, but said it was a very good theory. More gold stars.

(Edited because I stupidly Previewed my comment and then posted without re-whiting the spoilers.)
David Foster
37. ZenBossanova
Particularly fascinating, WetlanderNW!
Is there any indication where Dalinar will fit in this schema?

Or is there any further explanation for the diagram in the back cover?
Alice Arneson
38. Wetlandernw
ZenBossanova @37 - Re: Dalinar, he's not telling yet. (But I promise you will be stunned.)
Re: the back cover... I keep forgetting to ask. I'm developing a theory, but it's only very, very vague and unsubstantiated, so I'll wait to suggest it until much later.
Nadine L.
39. travyl
Wetlandernw @36 - yes, thank you very much.
Kimani Rogers
40. KiManiak
Wow.

Thanks to Brandon (and Wetlander) for a lot of information! That was... a LOT.

So many questions. So many potential theories.

Immediate one: (spoilers whited out)
Jasnah is an Elsecaller? And that order uses Transportation and Transformation? I'm guessing this explains Jasnah being able to Soulcast from a distance, like she does when she kills those guys in Chapter 36 with the 2 bolts of lightning, turning them into smoke.

But here's the speculation: Is that like a summoner (Elsecaller)? Can she potentially summon things (maybe even through Shadesmar)?
Or,
Can she send things Elsewhere? Maybe she transported those 2 guys to somewhere else (possibly via Shadesmar) and the resulting effect of that displacement was the puffs of smoke we see (and the cracking of her smokestone)?

We've wondered (or at least I have) about how the 2 Knights got to the village in Dalinar's vision (specifically, the Knight who couldn't fly). What if these ElseCallers are the ones who can teleport others around? Literally Call up a connection or pathway or gateway to Elsewhere.

Maybe ElseCallers can even do both: 1) Call up Elsewhere and bring things from there to here; and 2) Call up Elsewhere and send things from here to there.

I love this. This clarifies a little, but leads to so much more speculation.

Looking forward to finding about the other Orders, Surges, etc.

Thanks Brandon, Wetlander, and all of the folks at the signing who got BSW to share.

Edit: The whiteout ability still doesn't always work smoothly for me. Hopefully noone saw what they didn't want to see while I fixed it.
Cheryl Sanders
41. RestlessSpirit
Wetlandernw, thanks! Headed over here after your announcement on this week's (10/17) re-read thread. Thanks again for sharing.
Alice Arneson
42. Wetlandernw
MASSIVE SPOILER WHITED OUT:

KiManiak: I'm not actually going to spoil it for you, but I will tell you that you'll learn something exceedingly cool about Elsecalling in WoR, and even more about Edgedancing. And another order will be revealed. :P
Kimani Rogers
43. KiManiak
Wet@42 - ::Grins:: Once again, I am appreciative for whatever tidbits and previews that Team Brandon provides to us via book signings, interviews, etc.

And thanks to you for conveying the info that Brandon made public at the Seattle signing to all of us here at the reread. :-)

My anticipation and eagerness for WoR has been turned up to eleven! I'll probably have to read WoK a couple of more times before WoR comes out, to get my Stormlight Archive fix.
Alice Arneson
44. Wetlandernw
And hey, if you get through WoK a couple times, go read Warbreaker again. Just because.
Jordan Hibbits
45. rhandric
Wet@44 Yeah, I probably should go reread Warbreaker, it's been a while (probably 3-4 years!).

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