Thu
Oct 24 2013 11:00am

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 40 and 41

The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread on Tor.com. Last week we saw Kaladin bedridden after surviving his trial by highstorm. Though he’d come through the hurricane, his wounds and fever kept his men in suspense as to whether he would survive. This week, their fears are relieved as Kaladin emerges into the bright sunlight of the living world once more. But can he find a way to share their joy, or will the twin burdens of the hopeless present and the tragic past bring the wretch back?

In today’s reread I’ll cover chapters 40 and 41. Read on for more of Kaladin’s depression, Lirin’s medical know-how and attempted malpractice, and the beginning of Sigzil’s expositional career.

Chapter 40: Eyes of Red and Blue
Setting:
The Shattered Plains, Sadeas’s warcamp
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Kaladin emerges, blinded and blinking, into the daylight world outside Bridge Four’s barrack. After an unknown time spent tossing and turning in the throes of fever, he is weak and confused. Most bewildering of all, to his mind, is the basic fact of his survival. He goes looking for his men, and is surprised to find them carrying out the rigorous bridge practice regimen he’d set out, even in his absence. When Moash, running at the front of the bridge, notices Kaladin he stumbles to a stop, almost toppling the entire crew. Soon the bridgemen are all walking towards Kaladin, reverent expressions on their faces.

Kaladin breaks the tense mood by pointing out their sloppy response to Moash stopping. When he smiles, they’re on him, laughing and celebrating his return to health. Kaladin tries to join in, but soon loses himself in memories of the highstorm. He remembers Syl in her warrior form, the nearly deadly conditions, the huge, mysterious face, and the deathspren. He asks how long he’d been out, and can’t believe that it’s only been ten days. That’s not nearly enough time for his wounds to have healed.

The men fill him in on what’s happened while he was out, then go back to their celebrations. They now seem to regard Kaladin with something approaching worship. As he ponders what he’s gotten himself into now, knowing that his prediction that he would survive is dangerously like prophecy and that Sadeas would be furious to know he survived, a horn announces a bridge run, and Bridge Four is on duty.

Kaladin, too weak to carry the bridge, joins Lopen and Dabbid on water-carrying duty. When they reach the battle, he watches it instead of resting, trying to figure out Sadeas’s tactics. Now that he knows that “bridgemen aren’t supposed to survive,” things make more sense; there are too many bridges and the Parshendi are too disorganized and rough to realize that they’re being baited. Rock and Sigzil join him, and Kaladin asks why the Parshendi fight. Rock says it’s because they aren’t fond of the idea of being beheaded by vengeance-crazed Alethi, but Sigzil has a more sophisticated answer: They fight because they need the gemhearts, even though their numbers are dwindling from the skirmishes. Therefore, they must have Soulcasters, and must need gemhearts for food.

Kaladin then asks why the bridgemen can’t have shields, and explains that they’re left undefended to draw Parshendi attention. Sigzil calls this a foolish waste of troops, but Kaladin points out that protecting the time and money invested in trained soldiers makes it far from foolish.

Back at the camp that night, Kaladin watches as the men talk and laugh while waiting for Rock’s nightly stew. He can’t share their happiness. He knows that all his previous struggles have been misguided. He could never have convinced Sadeas to value bridgemen as soldiers. It’s insane to try to save bridgemen by carrying bridges well, because carrying a bridge means being marked for death intentionally. His men trust him now, but that only sickens him. He doesn’t want to be their false hope, and doesn’t know how to perform another miracle for them. Kaladin can feel the wretch he left behind rising inside him, fed by the knowledge that he is going to fail his men.

Maps, one of the bridgemen, rises and makes an impromptu speech. He tells the men that it’s a special night, since Kaladin is back, and there’s good food coming, if Rock ever finishes fussing over the meal. Then he surprises the Horneater by tossing him a present: a razor and shaving kit. Rock tears up and flees the campfire, letting the hungry bridgemen descend upon his unguarded stew.

After a moment of consideration, the men crowd the stew pot. Instead of joining the press, Kaladin goes over to Sigzil, the only other man hanging back. Sigzil reveals himself to be an educated man, then tells Kaladin that the men suspect him to secretly be noble-born. After some confusion over terminology (their shared language has no word for “noble” that doesn’t imply “light of eye”) and insistence on Kaladin’s part that he’s just a common man, he presses for Sigzil’s story. Sigzil speaks cryptically, saying that he tried and failed to kill someone, and that he had a master once.

Sigzil says that Kaladin is right about the bridgemen being doomed, and tells him a story of Marabethia. He says that condemned criminals there can choose to be hung over the bay with cut cheeks as bait for greatshells. If they survive for a week they can go free, but none ever do. This has led to an expression, “eyes of red and blue,” which describes men who prefer false hope to reality.

Sigzil praises Kaladin’s work, comparing it to giving medicine to a sick man to ease his death. It’s small comfort for Kaladin. Before he can think more about it, though, Rock bursts out, having shaved his beard into a strange sideburn arrangement. He offers the razor to everyone, and some take him up on his offer, but Kaladin can’t see the point. He sees the world pressing down on him, and knows he’s falling into depression.

Quote of the Chapter:

Sigzil hesitated. “Yes,” he finally said. “Among my people, it is not a sin for a male to be keen of mind.”

“It isn’t a sin for Alethi either.”

“My experience is that you care only about wars and the art of killing.”

“And what have you seen of us besides our army?”

“Not much,” Sigzil admitted.

Is Sigzil wrong? Not entirely. Pursuing fulfillment through the life of the mind is stigmatized for Alethi men, and all stigmas in Alethi society have their roots in religious tradition. However, I read this exchange as a gentle reminder from Sanderson. We are being offered a biased cross-section of Alethi culture. It’s easy enough to forget, when surrounded by violent and ignorant soldiers, that there is more to the Alethi than this. Dalinar manages occasional wisdom and frequent nobility, for example. Kaladin and Lirin both attempt to practice learned arts. The Azish man still isn’t wrong.

Commentary:

Oh hi, depression. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable? We’ve got some big Kaladin-shaped bean bags for you to sink right into.

Kaladin is beset by a lot of strange circumstances in this chapter. First, there’s the fact that he’s not dead, like he should be, but instead has healed his broken ribs in just ten days. Not only did his men keep up their training in his absence, showing that his lessons sunk in, but now they all seem to worship him as a magical miracle man. His men are actually happy, and see hope for the future. But, simultaneously, the scales have fallen away from his eyes and he’s beginning to understand Sadeas’s evil tactics. He knows his plan was doomed from the start.

So, in a way, Kaladin has it worse than ever. He’s earned the respect of his men in circumstances that were totally beyond his control and which he doesn’t know how to replicate. He’s earned the attention of Sadeas. He has no plan. How much more terrible is it for him to be sinking into depression while surrounded by people who have learned how to be happy again from him?

All of this would be bad enough without all Kaladin’s stormlight-related changes. He just can’t deal with the things that are happening to his body!

I like when characters are competent, and this is a chapter of competence. Kaladin displays his ability to analyze the battlefield. Sigzil shows off his ability to tell stories as well as the related talent of analyzing foreign cultures. Seriously, it’s really great to see him examine the Parshendi and come to conclusions based on the premise that they’re rational beings. Rock cooks up a storm, Maps practices speechifying, and the crew in general shows how well it’s doing at forming a coherent unit. I love that they promoted Kaladin to captain when the higher-ups made Rock squadleader.

How great is it to watch Sigzil try to explain the concept of non-lighteyed nobility to Kaladin? You know a culture is committed to an idea when it shapes their very language. The idea that people with dark eyes could be the equals of people with light eyes is practically untranslatable.

In this chapter, Kaladin is willing to assign a huge amount of moral weight to his potential failure to save lives. The next chapter is all about that question.

 

Chapter 41: Of Alds and Milp
Location:
Hearthstone, Five and a Half Years Ago
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Kaladin pushes past a hysterical Laral to join Lirin in the surgery room. Kaladin leaps to assist his father, Hesina and Tien taking auxiliary roles or fleeing, respectively. Roshone and his son Rillir have gotten themselves terribly wounded while hunting whitespines. Rillir has been pierced through the torso, his leg hanging by a few tendons.

Kaladin washes out Rillir’s stomach wound so his father can examine it. Lirin probes the wound, grows even sterner, then turns away to tend to Roshone instead. The citylord protests, but Lirin coldly explains that his son is dead. There is nothing he can do to help him except ease his pain. He has Kaladin doze the furious lighteyes with dazewater, then apply it to Rillir to ease his passing.

The two extract the shards of whitespine tusk from Roshone efficiently, while Lirin complains about the folly of going hunting for such dangerous creatures. As if it weren’t enough to send half the town to the war. Before removing the last shard, Lirin’s scalpel hovers over Roshone’s femoral artery. If he cut it, Roshone would be dead in minutes. He looked up at his son, then pulled back his scalpel, removed the last shard, and began to close the wound. “Behind them, Rillir had stopped breathing.”

Later that day, Kaladin watches the blood-red sunset, thinking about blood, eyes, and nobility. When his father joins him, he tells Lirin that he saw inside a man. Specifically, he saw inside his father, saw a man who would have let Roshone die if Kaladin hadn’t been there. He demands to know why he didn’t let him die, or even kill him.

Lirin says he couldn’t, because he’s not a killer. “Somebody has to start. Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it is right.” He wants to be better than the lighteyes, to reawaken human decency, and for his son to do the same. Kaladin, on the other hand, thinks he should have let Roshone die.

Lirin tells him to go inside and get some rest so he could be ready when Alds and Milp, the darkeyed men who accompanied Roshone’s hunting party, are brought back. Kaladin doubts this will happen; the men are surely dead by now. He thinks about whether he would have killed Roshone, and thinks he wouldn’t. But he doesn’t feel like he had any obligation to help, either. He realizes that his father is wrong about him. He’s nowhere near as gentle or averse to death as his father suspects. He discovers that he could kill, when necessary. “Some people—like a festering finger or a leg shattered beyond repair—just needed to be removed.”

Quote of the Chapter:

“I work under three guidelines, Roshone,” Lirin said, forcibly pressing the lighteyes down against his table. “The guidelines every surgeon uses when choosing between two patients. If the wounds are equal, treat the youngest first.”

“Then see to my son!”

“If the wounds are not equally threatening,” Lirin continued, “Treat the worst wound first.”

“As I’ve been telling you!”

“The third guideline supersedes them both, Roshone,” Lirin said, leaning down. “A surgeon must know when someone is beyond their ability to help. I’m sorry, Roshone. I would save him if I could, I promise you. But I cannot.”

They have formalized rules of triage! I’m going to be over here, swooning. You’ll have to excuse me.

Commentary:

Let me pull out the parallels between these two chapters. First, the dazewater, which seems to be some kind of ether or chloroform. Kaladin gives Rillir what Sigzil said he was giving the bridgemen: a medicine to ease the pain of the dying. I find that linking detail subtle but powerful. Chapter 41 also continues the investigation of lack of action. In the present, when it comes to his men, Kaladin would feel as culpable letting them die as if he were actually killing them himself. But in the past he saw a moral distinction between killing Roshone and letting him bleed out. This might be a contradiction, but I think it’s more likely that Kaladin sees his men as a voluntary obligation he took on. He has the ability to preserve life, and is obligated to preserve the lives of those who he chooses to take care of, but he doesn’t feel an obligation to help those who he morally disapproves of. I’m not totally sure this position is morally tenable.

It’s fascinating that Kaladin discovers his capacity to kill in the context of surgery. More evidence, I believe, for Kaladin’s healing/killing duality.

Finally, let me just say that I love the way this chapter’s name works. It’s named after Alds and Milp, two men who lost their lives because of Roshone’s capriciousness, and the two characters don’t even make it to the surgery. They’re never seen in the text, except as names attached to people who are never coming home.


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

50 comments
William Carter
1. wcarter
Kaladin's family would have been better off in some ways if Roshone had died, but it would have made for a much different book so that was out of the question.
As an aside, I don't think Lirin was lying here. I believe that he would have saved Roshone regardless of Kaladin's presence. He may have been tempted--and he's certainly not a saint--but he still has morals and is strongly opposed to violence.
Robert Dickinson
2. ChocolateRob
I'm thinking that trying to explain the first two rules to Roshone was a bad idea. It works narratively in conveying all the rules to the readers but in the described situation the healer needed to bluntly, firmly and immediately explain that the boy was dying and there was nothing he could do. Giving a speech which starts with the opposite meaning of where it ends is just foolish, especially when delivered to a badly injured man who already hates you.
Adam S.
3. MDNY
The explanation of lighteyes vs non-lighteyes was funny- it's like trying to explain a society where the rich are poorest, to an Alethi.
I fully expect more of Sigzil's story to be revealed at a later time, including who he tried to kill.
Deana Whitney
4. Braid_Tug
Wow, did I miss a couple of weeks of great importance and good comments. But happy to catch up now.

@2, have to agree with you.
Ilmoran
5. Ilmoran
Yeah, explaining the rules that way works for dramatic attention.

Injured, shock-suffering father who wants you to save his son is decidely not the time to go for dramatic tension.
Nadine L.
6. travyl
I like what Brandon did with Chapter 40. On my first read (me being naive) I fully expected that by surviving the Highstorm, Kaladin had reached his low point and that from here on the hero's path would start to go upward. – But Brandon disabuses us of that notion, our hero is still conflicted - which is logical, since being a Bridgeman he really is still in a bad position.
It was painful to read, at least the first time around, when I didn’t know the end.

Brandon recently blog-posted some retrospectives about the Wheel of times, and explained there how he'd wanted to bring Rand even lower, than the reader expected could be achieved (ad RJ had done twice before). - With this chapter I see some similarities, only it's all in the same book.

I too wonder whom Sigzil wanted to kill - if it wasn't a Brightlord, could it have been an ardent? And I agree, that we'll likely learn it eventually.
Sean Dowell
7. qbe_64
So, Kal's a little slow on the uptake eh?
Up to this point you could somewhat argue that things that have happened to him are all just fortuitous coincidence (everyone in the death row dying expect him, arrows missing him by inches, or mild cuts mysteriously healing). But he explicitly states that he's healed WAY FASTER than humanly possible. And still does nothing about it, it barely registers a second though with him. At this point I think it's safe to say that he has some trust in his bridgecrew, you'd think he'd bring it up at the earliest convenience.
I dunno, for a smart guy, Kal's pretty dumb.
Ilmoran
8. McKay B
@7: Actually, I find it VERY believable and realistic that Kaladin, having a bit of instinctual fear about weird things happening to his body and mind, shoves questions about these changes onto the backburner whenever possible. It's kind of the same mental defense mechanism as denial, but not quite as ... deluded. And I think we do it in real life all the time.
David Foster
9. ZenBossanova
In all fairness, everytime something happens that I can't immediately explain, my first thought is not, I must be a Herald. We see that and understand it, but it is very hard to see the forest when you have these trees in front of you, that you have seen all your life.

Also, the guy that Sigzil tried to murder... did that have anything to do with the 17th Shard and Hoid?
Alice Arneson
10. Wetlandernw
“It’s not a sin for a male to be keen of mind.” “Pursuing fulfillment through the life of the mind is stigmatized for Alethi men, and all stigmas in Alethi society have their roots in religious tradition.”
I have to disagree. It’s not stigmatized, unless you count the notion that soldiering is considered the highest calling. The ardents aren’t “stigmatized” and it’s not really considered a pathetic sort of thing to become an ardent. (In addition, there are such things as surgeons, who clearly must have good minds, eh?) Granted that the only way to pursue scholarship for itself is to become an ardent, an intelligent man in other callings is not looked down on just because he’s intelligent. Among the warcamps, there may be a certain stigma; I really don’t think that carries throughout all Alethi society. I will agree, though, that Sanderson is reminding us here that we can’t base our entire evaluation of Alethi culture on the warcamps; it’s a very skewed setting.

Lirin ought to be a Radiant.

Also, dilemmas. Who exactly has the right and responsibility to determine who lives and who dies? What are the criteria by which that decision should be made? It harks back to Jasnah’s “lesson” – according to her lights, it’s okay to kill someone in order to prevent them from doing more harm in the future; according to Lirin’s, it’s not. Where are the lines between rightful punishment, vigilante justice, and preemptive strikes? All things to think about, which Kaladin is only beginning to comprehend. By the end of the book, he’ll be looking a bit differently at the question, “What does it mean to ‘protect’?”

wcarter @1 – I agree that Lirin was telling the truth. Absolutely he was tempted – who wouldn’t be? And there’s no sin in being tempted. The truth of his character won again; he could neither actively kill, nor passively allow to die, someone for whom he had the ability to help. Particularly not if they were already his responsibility in some way. Incidentally, Kaladin thinks here that he for sure would have been able to do either one if it were him, but I wonder. It’s easy to say anything when you really don’t have the choice; what would he really do if it were him?

ChocolateRob @2 (and others) – Well, no one ever said the best doctors also had the best bedside manner… While it’s probably true that it would have been “better” to simply tell Roshone that his son was too far gone, I’m not entirely sure Lirin was capable of that. There are people (naming no names, here!) who can’t simply give the relevant fact without explaining what’s behind it – particularly when they’re focusing on something difficult and only part of their mind is on the explanation, or the feelings of the listener. So I can easily say, “Well, yeah, it would have been dumb of Lirin to explain this, but it was a convenient way for Sanderson to tell us the rules of triage.” But I can just as easily say, “It was dumb of Lirin to explain this, but he’s too obsessive-compulsive to just do the short version.” I choose to err on the side of “realistic character” rather than “author flub.” Either one can be blamed, so I go with the one that blames the character rather than the author. :)

qbe_64 @7 – Another thought on this subject. At this stage, Kaladin hasn’t really looked at any of his life from the angle of, “I survived against very long odds.” He’s stuck in thinking, “Everyone I cared about, everyone I tried to help, has died because I couldn’t protect them.” He still thinks of himself as a failure, not as exceptionally lucky. We can see it, and people around him can see it, but he can’t. Yet.

I also don’t think he knows he used the Stormlight yet. It’s not something he’s ever run into – the ability to use Stormlight deliberately, to consciously breathe it in and use it to do stuff. So it’s not something that would occur to him as a reason to heal. At this point, it’s just another oddity, and it’s overwhelmed by the knowledge that as things stand, there’s nothing he can do to help his crew.
Carl Engle-Laird
11. CarlEngle-Laird
@10 While I don't think becoming an ardent is a stigmatized choice, I do think that men who become ardents are symbolically and socially emasculated in a number of ways. Shallan isn't expected to be chaperoned when in the company of Kabsal, and male ardents are allowed to eat female meals without shame, just as female ardents are allowed to eat male food. Both male and female ardents have their heads shaved, as a distinguishing process but also, I believe, to make it clear that ardent comes before male or femlae in their identities.

Stormwardens, on the other hand, are men who are allowed to do quite complicated scholarly things. If male literacy becomes acceptable in the future, it will probably be through stormwardens rather than male ardents.
David Foster
12. ZenBossanova
@10 I agree with WetlanderNW. I see Lirin just talking (if a bit OCD) as he gets work done. He isn't letting the talking slow him down, but he wants to let Roshone know he honestly can't do it.

@11 Stormwardens..... interesting point
Alice Arneson
13. Wetlandernw
Carl @11 - Maybe I'm just overreacting to the term "stigmatized". It means to identify something as socially unacceptable or undesirable. Or possibly, I'm not equating "keen mind" with "literate." While male literacy is certainly stigamtized outside the ardentia, I don't see that male intelligence is. And I wouldn't say there's a stigma associated with the ardentia, though it is certainly a separate and distinct culture within the larger society.

As for when/how male literacy will become acceptable.... mmm.... nuh-uh. Not going to touch that one for now. But I'd be delighted to have that discussion when you've read WoR.
Carl Engle-Laird
14. CarlEngle-Laird
@13 Oh, that's totally fair. Stigmatized might have been the wrong term. Also, wait, did you read Words of Radiance before me? What is happening here.
Cheryl Sanders
15. RestlessSpirit
"While male literacy is certainly stigamtized outside the ardentia, I don't see that male intelligence is."
Excellent point, Wetlandernw. And I might further add - Odium certainly has a lot to answer for.
Andrew Berenson
16. AndrewHB
At some point during this series, I hope Brandon tells us the back story of Sigzil and Hoid.

Thanks for reading my musings
AndrewHB
(aka the musespren)
Cheryl Sanders
17. RestlessSpirit
Andrew @16: surely Brandon wouldn't have brought them up if we weren't to learn more - of Sigzil at least. I wonder if Sigzil's knowledge would be very valuable, if not crucial, to Jasnah, Navani and the others in the sphere of their influence.
Alice Arneson
18. Wetlandernw
Carl - I had the incredible privilege to be part of the beta team. {Insert happy-dance here} I'm not saying the question will be answered, but there will be much more fuel thereafter, IMO.
William Carter
19. wcarter
@10 and 11

Just another conversation about the complexities of Vorinism and gender based society roles eh?

We as readers have trouble figuring out what men and women are and are not respecitively allowed to do and (doubtless) make false conjectures, so it's no wonder that Sanderson points out that other cultures within the world do the same thing.

One thing I can say with confidence: I would never want to live in a society that forbade men or women from learning/studying whatever field they wanted based on their gender especially literacy itself.
The former reporter in me is terrified of the concept of half a population being incapable of reading records of their own past
Alice Arneson
20. Wetlandernw
It's actually a rather interesting thing to consider. Brandon has really turned our preconceptions upside down and inside out, and we have to figure out how it plays out in the culture. We in our 21st-century mindset most often associate a keen mind with science-related fields of endeavor, and Brandon has given virtually all the hard sciences to the women on Roshar (or at least, in Alethkar), in a clearly intentional inversion.

Does that mean the Alethi men are generally dull of intellect and not often capable of this kind of study? Does it mean that they are merely conditioned not to pursue science? Does it mean that they find it uninteresting? Does this actually only really apply to the lighteyes, or are the darkeyed men also unlikely to engage in scientific pursuits? Or is the slant we see in WoK deeply exaggerated by the warcamp mentality?

It might be interesting to consider what kinds of things non-military men actually do in Alethkar; unfortunately, we don't have just loads of information. And... it's getting too late for my small brain to really wrap around this tonight. I'll let it simmer and see if I can come up with a good argument discussion-starter tomorrow.
Alice Arneson
21. Wetlandernw
wcarter @ 19 - Yeah, the idea of such illiteracy rather freaks me out, too. On the other hand, for a large portion of human history, the majority of the population was illiterate, and we seem to have survived anyway. :) Of course, part of the time that illiteracy has been gender-based, but not (I think) the largest part. It's been far more class-based than gender-based, in our history.

It sometimes feels to us that written history would be more reliable than oral history, but I'm not sure that stands to reason. Any time "history is recorded" by whatever means, it will be biased by the person doing the recording. Whether that's a bard composing an epic poem to tell of great events, or university professors writing papers and books about them, it's always going to be slanted by the perspective of the writer. So maybe, depending on the available means of dissemination of information, a truly illiterate population who pays attention and remembers what they hear might have an actual advantage (at least in terms of knowing their past) over a more literate population who has too much information to remember or care.

Yeah, it's getting late...
Dixon Davis
22. KadesSwordElanor
Wetlander et. al.

Re: Alethi Men

"Alethi men very smart. We cook spicy meat; drink strong things. We also smash things real good. We not litterate cause we care for mother Roshar, and litter not good." ;0)
Matt Stoumbaugh
23. LazerWulf
@22: ^_^

Personally, I couldn't live as an Alethi male. I have a massive sweet tooth and I hate spicy stuff.
Anneke van Staden
24. QueenofDreams
I could not survive as an alethi woman. I love spicy stuff and don't have a sweet tooth at all. Bleurgh.
Jeremy Guebert
25. jeremyguebert
Wow, there's a lot of great discussion to catch up on after you drop off the face of the internet for a month... Thanks all for the thought-provoking reading!

@18 - I am incredibly jealous of Wetlander right now.... (also, thanks for posting that info on the endsheets a couple weeks back, very interesting stuff there!)

@23 - You and me both!

Intelligence and literacy are indeed different things, but I know that I for one have been conditioned to equate the two (i.e. "You can't even read? How dumb are you?").

A somewhat related example from real life would be glasses. If I had been born in a time or a family where corrective lenses weren't invented and/or weren't affordable, I would be half-blind, likely wouldn't have done well in school and generally would have been considered less than bright, simply because I couldn't see properly, despite the fact that in actuality, I have been blessed with a relatively keen mind. Makes me consider all the things that I take for granted.
T C
26. Freelancer
Wolves, Sheep, Shepherds, and Wolfhounds.

Kaladin is a wolfhound, Lirin a shepherd.

At that point of his life, Kaladin saw only the balance of outcomes of Roshone living or dying, as it affected his family. Lirin saw those as well, but more importantly to him, he saw the man lying in his care. To the shepherd, that is the first priority. Save what can be saved, prevent, mitigate, or ameliorate harm whenever possible. To the wolfhound, the first priority is to protect, and that isn't the same.


Along with being the surgeon, Lirin is prone to teaching. Anyone. At any time. So this behavior of explaning a process in progressive steps, even to a badly injured patient, is in character for him. Pleasant? No, but neiter are the duties he's performing, and he, if we recall, has learned to distance himself from the suffering of those on his table.


Wetlandernw @10

Hmm. Do we know anyone who is prone to extensive explanations, verbose elucidations, prolix declarations, compulsively afraid of being misunderstood? Can't think of a one.
Alice Arneson
27. Wetlandernw
jeremy - Welcome back! We've been missing you here. (At least, I have. Can't honestly speak for anyone else.)

It's funny to recognize our own culturally-based preconceptions, isn't it? I'd never thought about the eyesight aspect - someone who couldn't read just because they couldn't see (and no one realized it) would definitely be assumed to be "stupid". Or take someone with severe dyslexia - how often are kids labeled "dumb" because of that one? (I've seen it happen with hearing, too - my brother had a hearing loss that was undiagnosed until he was in his thirties, and everyone always assumed he was just a bit slow. In reality, he's quite bright, but he was always working twice as hard as the rest of the kids, trying to piece together the bits he was hearing and then make sense of it. No wonder it took him longer to process.)

If we so readily make judgements in our own culture, how can we look at another culture and set those prejudices aside? The funny thing is, Sigzil has done exactly the same, here: since Alethi men don't read and study, he thinks of it as "it's a sin here to have a keen mind." He seems to equate intelligence with a certain kind of education, too. Heh.

On the other hand... it seems like it would be really hard to develop critical thinking skills when you can't read, and you have to have everything read to you before you can think about it. But that might be an artifact of the way I personally learn. (Come to think of it, my son learns best by listening, while I learn best by reading. Maybe we'd be good Alethi. He doesn't even get all that thrilled about sweets - except for chocolate. Do they have chocolate on Roshar?)

Freelancer - Ummmm... Nope. Can't think of anyone like that. Nary a one.
Ilmoran
29. Ilmoran
To further clarify: I certainly think it was in character for Lirin to explain the rules as he did; its basically rote repetition and that seems to be how he expects people to learn. It's just not the best people skills for the situation: he didn't need to teach, he needed to explain. The whole rules, in order, was not necessary.

Also: Whichever surgeon wrote the rules should have written them in order of precendence. If rule 3 is the one that matters most, why get through the other two first ;)
T C
30. Freelancer
Ilmoran @29

I understand and accept your point. However, since part of the intent within the writing here was to show the reader that triage was an integral element of an emergency surgeon's process, it had to be presented in that way. If he opened with what in this case is the overriding rule, it would have altered the scene enough to preclude stating the other two. Imagining Roshone's reaction to being informed, even obliquely, that his son was beyond the surgeon's care, would have made it infintely more insensitive for Lirin to continue with the relatively mundane decision-tree thinking of triage. I posit that a scene written so would have resulted in far more reader discomfort, even outrage, than what we have before us.

And, maybe I should quit explaining about now . . .
Nadine L.
31. travyl
Besides the fact, that a father (or for that matter any emotionally involved person) doesn't want a lecture, while watching his son die, it's correct and makes sense, to present the triage rules the way Lirin did.
--> He tells Roshone, that he really would have helped the son, he would have done so, even if it had endangered the father - only there wasn't anything to do.

@14/18: Wet, I bet you regret being a beta-reader (because "WoR-infested" as you are, you can't involve yourself in the discussions as deeply as possible, if you wouldn't have had that knowledge. : )
Deana Whitney
32. Braid_Tug
@ 27&25: Re: glasses
Too true! I started needing glasses in the 2ndgrade, but this was not discovered until the 3rdgrade. And thanks to deftness as a baby (that was corrected by ear tubes), I had all sorts of problems with school.
Now those are fixed and I became an avid reader. With a lingering interest in sign language.
So I often think about the “might haves.” Because without my mom fighting for me in school, I was originally labeled “learning disabled” and dismissed.

I still have a lingering fear of balls flying at my face, so am a crappy athlete.

@26, Free: I really like your wolfhound vs. shepherd comparison. Sums them both up nicely.

@ Wet: did you get to be a beta reader for WoR?

Tangent question: I know emeralds are worth the most because they can create food.
But really, shouldn’t diamonds be worth more than the lowest amount? I figured pure, bright, steady light would be worth a lot to many people. Not just surgeons.

Alethi men, besides Ardent’s are not supposed to be literate. They can be historian’s, but a woman will write for them. Odd, but not uncommon in history.
How is surgeon supposed to study without reading? Or is this structure just an upper class thing?
Much like we mostly agree that Kal’s mom was not making three different dishes for dinner every night.

Maybe all surgeons are from the “dark eyes.” So they are allowed to learn to read, and study. Because you can’t get everything from diagrams and practice.

Still, good on Brandon to throw a trope on its head.
David Foster
33. ZenBossanova
If WetlanderNW is a beta-reader, can we use Hemalurgy on her, to become beta-readers ourselves? Brandon does assure us that Hemalurgy works on all worlds....

Regarding learning, we need to remember just how widely educational methods have varied. Many of our most famous ancient mathematicians, like Pythagorias, didn't even use numbers, much less Zero. When he said A Squared + B Squared = C Squared, he meant actual squares, not numbers or variables.

Many of the great scholars, like Socrates, were largely oral. Socrates, and other Greeks, argued AGAINST writing, because they thought it would make the mind lax and flabby. There are written discussions in ancient Greek and Egyptian debating the pros and cons of using books, instead of just memorizing everything. Honestly, it sounds a lot like people who tell you the Internet will make us all brain-dead.
T C
34. Freelancer
Every "age" has worried that the new technology would lead to laziness. Were they wrong?
Jeremy Guebert
35. jeremyguebert
@27 - Thanks! Nice to be missed :)

@32 - I believe the value associated to the different gems is more strongly tied to their functionality *in Soulcasting*, as opposed to just their light-giving. I don't have the time to go look up what essence diamond is associated to, so I can't really comment on that front. But all gems would give steady light, just at varrying levels of clarity/brightness. There are cheaper ways to get light, too (at least in the short run).

Regarding surgeons - while they aren't fully literate, there is an extensive system of glyphs that surgeons use to identify different body parts, etc. Not quite the same as full language, but they aren't restricted to just diagrams, by any means. That brings up another question - why do glyphs get an exemption from the gender divide in regards to literacy?

@34 - The number of hours in a day hasn't changed, just what we do with them. Everything that gets done automatically is something we're not doing ourselves, and it then becomes up to the individual to chose how else to spend that time. I would argue it's more accurate to say that technology enables laziness as opposed to saying it causes it.
Alice Arneson
36. Wetlandernw
travyl @31 - Well, I wouldn't say I regret being a beta reader... EVER! :) (It was a wonderful experience in itself, regardless of it being WoR; the fact that it was WoR made it that much better!) But it certainly puts a crimp in my participation on certain subjects of discussion. Now that we're done, (yes, the beta is finished, Brandon has been finalizing the revision, and was hoping to get it to his editor earlier this week) I can reset my mind to WoK limits and participate more. I'll just have to review my comments more carefully.
Ilmoran
37. Jasuni
@17 Don't know whether Sigzil's knowledge would be useful to Jasnah (Although he might know a few legends, he did state that he doesn't tell stories). I would be suprised if his knowledge doesn't include the fact the Shin warriors are bound to oathstones, which may be very useful when the Assassin in White starts attacking Dalinar.

@20 Shallan was appalled when she saw the sailor captain reading and she is from Jah Keved (although Vorinism is a dominant culture there). She also suspected that the books merchant could read as well, but that he wouldn't do it in front of his customers. I suspect that men are simply conditioned not to pursue literacy, and that the warcamps aren't exaggerating it. (Although there has to be somewhere in Roshar where educated men are literate. Perhaps Sigzil is literate)
Ilmoran
38. RedHeadEd
@33 Good point on oral vs literate traditions. It's good to note that illiteracy does not equal lack of education. I believe there is research that has shone that illiterate people tend to have a much better memory for what they hear than those that are literate. When you don't have a book to write what you know down in, you have to become better at storing what you know in your head.
I think that brings Dalinar's ability to quote whole passages of the Way of Kings he only had read to him into a more realistic light. Perhaps in that way, the lighteyes are a lot better read than we might expect.

Also, because I imagine male interactions are a lot more dependant on verbal interaction, Alethi males probably have a much keener sense of what they have heard than we would likely grasp. It would be reasonable to suppose they might have more of those critical thinking skills Wetlander talked about than one might suppose because they know how to listen better. Imagine how much quicker a debater an man could be if he could memorize what his opponent was saying as he heard it?

Wit takes many different forms, and limitations often force a person's intelligence to display itself in fascinating ways.
Alice Arneson
39. Wetlandernw
Jasuni @37 - I think it's only in the Vorin kingdoms that men don't learn to read and write. In the rest of the world (the farther west you go) it's not an issue. I could be wrong about that, but I'm pretty sure it's only Alethkar, Jah Keved, Kharbranth and (sort of) Thaylenah.

Again, from our limited perspective, it seems like it would be annoying to study something when you always had to find someone else to read it to you. However, as has been noted above (see @38) memorization skills are probably much higher in their culture; they probably didn't have to have it read again as often as we would expect. And while they might not memorize something word for word, their listening comprehension skills would probably be WAY beyond ours.

Which... is actually a rather interesting thing to reflect on. We as readers of books have every relevant in-book conversation at our fingertips, so we are sometimes known to be highly critical of a character who doesn't seem to remember something that was mentioned in their hearing. Their defenders will say something like, "Yes, but she did have a few other things on her mind, and it was over a year ago!" Generally, this argument silences the "She was there! She heard it!" crowd, and the debate dies down. Now I'm wondering just how good an argument that is. Certainly no one person can realistically be expected to remember every word of every conversation they were even peripherally involved in... but now that I think about it this way, I would bet that in a world without internet, electronic recording devices, or even ubiquitous paper, people would be a lot better at simply remembering. Huh. Something to muse on.
Ilmoran
40. Jasuni
@38 slighty raises the chance that Amaram will remember Kaladin's hometown. Still unlikely.

@39 There actually are people who remember everything in their life.

Iliterate people would be forced to use their memory, which would expand it. Doesn't help society remember stuff, but individuals would benefit.
Alice Arneson
41. Wetlandernw
Jasuni @40 - I know. I'm one of them. But there aren't that many. :)

On the larger scale, though, that's where oral history, story-telling and minstrelsy come in. In a society that doesn't rely on things being written down, the stories are passed down. This puts Roshar (or at least the Vorin kingdoms) in an interesting situation: they do have the ability to record and preserve information, but one half the population (and not the "insignificant peasant" half) can only access it through the other half. This gets a bit twisty after while!
Nadine L.
42. travyl
Considering how often Dalinar has "Way of Kings" (not our version) read to himself, he obviously doesn't trust his memorization skills as much as above suggested. (Despite being able to quote some of the text by heart).

Personally I don't have that good a memory, and I doubt it would be any better without the ability to read. It might train me better, but I doubt I could pretend to be as "intelligent" as I am.
Despite my desire to do so, I seem to have trouble to transfer the gained knowledge from short- to looong time memory. At least I remember where to look up the stuff.
Just yesterday I leaved through a 900-pages textbook and "knew" the section I was looking for must be somewhere in the lower parts of a page - somewhere after a certain chapter - and I did find it!
Ilmoran
43. adaptr
@29, @30:

The first two rules deal with patients who, in the experience of the surgeon, can definitely be saved. It makes perfect sense to only decide immediate life and death after you've ruled out the possibility of surviving.
Those rules are in the right order.
Jeremy Guebert
44. jeremyguebert
@38 - "Wit takes many different forms" - A very true and valid statement. But the specific wording brought about a cosmere-related chuckle.
Eric McCabe
45. Zizoz
@35: Men are allowed to use glyphs because they're supposedly pictographic. It's mentioned somewhere in WOK.

And I too got a chuckle out of that comment about Wit wit.
Ilmoran
46. hungry_for_hands
@42 - I wouldn't necessarily say that he doesn't trust his memorization skills. Even if he had the entire book memorized word for word, there still may be some comfort in having the book read to him. It has probably become part of his daily routine.
Ilmoran
47. WizardofOzzz
Lirin has been training Kaladin for a long time. Probably a lot of his comments in front of all kinds of different patients were actually (partly) meant for Kaladin to teach him. Also today Kaladin wanted to tend to Roshone's son but was called back by Lirin. His recitation of the guidelines were as much for Roshone as for Kaladin in my opinion
Ilmoran
48. BelLancaster
Going out on a limb here, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea myself, but could Hoid be the original holder of adonalsium? There are many pieces I'm trying to put together with this, but a) Hoid has been going around trying to get his hands on pieces of shards aka former bits of him'self' (lerasium bead, probably has a breath, etc.), b) If he wrote the letter (not saying he did), then he exhibits considerable familiarity with certain things/beings, c) Certain things about dismemberment, putting a man back together, and rocks that are said in Chapters 54 and 57, d) Brandon saying that Hoid 'doesn't presently hold a shard' and that a shardholder doesn't necessarily have to die to drop a shard. Anyway, that's my crack-pot theory. Feel free to skip it and move on with your lives :)
Nadine L.
49. travyl
Bel @48
I'm not into theorizing, but you could be onto something. At least you present some good arguments.
I didn't know that Brandon said the second part of d) does this come from a Q&A?
Ilmoran
50. BelLancaster
travyl @49
I want to say that's direct WoB, but I can't find the reference right now. Maybe that's a question to ask Brandon for clarification, "do holders of an adonalsium shard have to die when they drop the shard?" Again, I strongly remember reading it, but I can't find where it was, so I'm hesitant to call it canon.

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