Oct 31 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 42 and 43

Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings Welcome back to the reread of The Way of Kings, your weekly helping of all the Stormlight Archive conversation you can handle. Last week we saw how honest Kaladin’s father could be even when it would benefit him not to be, which is a bit of theme for all of The Way of Kings—that whole honor thing that Sanderson is rightly obsessed with.

This week we’re up to chapter 42 and 43. First up, Shallan hears a mysterious voice and ends up sharing some jam with Kabsal—it isn’t the jam she enjoys so much as the company. Meanwhile Kaladin’s mettle is tested yet again as he meets the new Brightlord in charge of the bridge crews. He also learns some very IMPORTANT words.

Chapter 42: Beggars and Barmaids
Kharbranth, the Conclave
Point of View: Shallan

What Happens: After two weeks of study and contemplation, Shallan finally approaches Jasnah with her research and thoughts regarding Jasnah’s earlier actions. Shallan concludes that although the philosophies suggest what Jasnah did was both legal and “right,” it was neither moral nor ethical.

Shallan is distracted by the Soulcaster Jasnah wears and fears being found out, but apparently Jasnah has either not yet discovered the switch or is covering it up for some reason. Even though Jasnah doesn’t agree with Shallan’s final summation, she feels Shallan has done her diligence in her studies, and can now move on to other subjects—though they will re-approach philosophy at some future point in her education. Jasnah dismisses Shallan for the rest of the day, giving her the first free time she’s had in two weeks.

Shallan quickly returns to her room to again try to use her stolen Soulcaster—she’s recently found a book with a passage that may be a clue to activating it. The book suggests that humming could make a Soulcaster more effective, so Shallan tries different pitches and tones, but none seem to activate her Soulcaster.

Shallan then hears a faint whisper that seems to come from within the room. Startled she shouts “Who is there,” but finds only a maid—who insists she had not spoken—outside the door. Shallan tries to relax, but notices that the maid had come from Jasnah’s room, where no maids are allowed to go. The maid apologizes, but Shallan can’t resist the opportunity to explore Jasnah’s room unencumbered and so orders the maid to go to report to Jasnah immediately. Shallan then heads straight for Jasnah’s notebooks, looking for any information on the Soulcater. The first notebook containes information on the fabled city of Urithiru, and the second looks to be reference quotes on the Voidbringers. The third and final notebook covers Natanatan, the Unclaimed Hills, and the Shattered Plains which were mainly discovered “by hunters, explorers, or tradesmen searching for a river passage to New Natanan.”

The notebook covering the Voidbringers is much larger than the other two, which surprises Shallan. She is perplexed that Jasnah, a staunch skeptic, could be so interested in the Voidbringers. How could she believe in them if she couldn’t believe in the Almighty?

A knock at the door causes Shallan to hurriedly replace the books. She answers the door to find Kabsal, who invites Shallan to share some jam since he heard she had some free time. Despite the desire to explore Jasnah’s chambers, Shallan readily accepts the invitation.

The witty duo heads to the Conclave gardens to share what Kabsal calls “Truthberry jam”—Azish lore said those who ate of the jam would “speak only the truth until the next sunset.” They share a playful discussion on her scholarly aptitude, given her natural desire to be outside rather than stuck in a dusty library. The conversation quickly turns to a more mischievous discussion about how “sweet, colorful, and delicious” Shallan herself is. This seems to please Shallan even through all her blushing. She’s starting to have feelings for Kabsal, and it seems he reciprocates in full—though Shallan knows she’ll have to let him down sooner than later. The conversation then briefly steers to her isolated upbringing and her stern father.

Shallan tells Kabsal he is much too forward for an ardent, but he replies “A man can leave the ardentia, Shallan,” which gives her a start. Shallan, without thinking, quickly blurts out “Jasnah thinks you’re getting close to me because you want her Soulcaster.” Kabsal replies that Shallan is both right and wrong; the ardentia would love to have Jasnah’s Soulcaster in their possession and he thought to ask for it eventually, but the ardentia also fear that Jasnah’s brother King Elhokar may very well go to war over a stolen Soulcaster.

Shallan turns the discussion to how Soulcasters work, and though Kabsal had never used one, he says they’re quite easy to operate. The process just involves pressing the hand that is wearing the Soulcaster against something and then tapping a gemstone in the Soulcaster. Shallan insists that isn’t how Jasnah’s worked, but he can only add that those adept at using a Soulcaster learned to control them better.

Before parting Kabsal again reassures Shallan he won’t involve her in stealing Jasnah’s fabrial, and that he was ordered to look after both her soul and Jasnah’s. He also admits his mouth wanders too freely when he is around her and that some in the ardentia believe he is growing too close to her. As they stand, Shallan notices the king walking in the gardens with another ardent. Kabsal ducks down so as not to be seen and admits that he was supposed to be working at the moment.

Shallan returns to her room where she finds a letter from Captain Tozbek saying he is on his way to pick her up in Kharbranth within a week. This would put Shallan at three weeks since she stole Jasnah’s Soulcaster, and about the time she told her brother she would depart if undiscovered.

Shallan walks to Jasnah’s room and explains that she’d rather study in lieu of relaxing. The next week will be the last time she has to learn from Jasnah, and she wants to make the most of it.

Quote of the Chapter:

“What are you?”

In the comments I’d love to hear from everyone regarding glossing over this line when you first read. I know I did on my first reading, but really this is a momentous occasion for Shallan though little does she realize it. Shallan just attracted the attention of what seems to be her very own spren though an argument could be made that it is Cultivation, but I don’t think Shallan is at that level just yet. Judging from what she was doing at the moment (sketching her ceiling) it could certainly be a creationspren that we’ve heard about before, which just may be Shallan’s version of an honorspren that will lead her to her Radiant order eventually. Now the question that comes up is will this spren like what Shallan has been up to? Given Syl distaste of dishonesty it seems unlikely.

Commentary: Oh, how little Shallan understands that things won’t necessarily go to her own plan. And who knew a sweet jam loosens lips and ardents from their moral centers? So Kabsal stalk much? I know it is just him trying to get in with Shallan in order to get at Jasnah, but he is playing the creeper card pretty heavy. I almost feel sorry for Kabsal in this moment knowing what is to come, but only a little and only very briefly. Kabsal gives us our closest eye into the world of the ardentia, but that lens is colored so much it is difficult to see through.

This is the chapter that also explains that many of the recent epigraphs are from Jasnah’s notes. Shallan’s recent reading also breeds a new interesting lead about Soulcastng:

However, she’d found a book the day before that had offered what seemed like a useful tip. It claimed that humming, of all things, could make a Soulcasting more effective.

Again musicality is mention in relation to magic working on Roshar. This seems likely an angle that will get explored more in-depth in much later books. It seems possible that with Shallan trying to work the Soulcaster with humming might have attracted the attention of a spren and it stuck around for the sketching show.

Jasnah always leaves me guessing. She comes off so cold and calculated. To Shallan the recent philosophy challenge was supposed to help her make sense of what Jasnah did. To Jasnah it comes off as more of instructive lessen to fill-in a gap in Shallan’s education. But should death really be that instructional? Jasnah mentioning she “sometimes wonder[s] if I should accomplish more with my Soulcaster.”

A few new things are briefly glossed over that left my mind all a flutter: nightspren, raspings, and stormwhispers. So nightspren are attracted to particularly dark nights? It is the mention of raspings and stormwhispers that really grab me though. They sound like they are related to the Voidbringers some how. Possibly these are another of the ten deaths such as the Midnight Essence we saw in Dalinar’s flashback.


Chapter 43: The Wretch
The Shattered Plains, Sadeas’s Warcamp
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Kaladin wakes from an uneasy sleep, his mind turning about Sadeas’ statement that Bridgemen are nothing more than bait. Anything he could do would not change this fact. Kaladin leaves the barrack and is met by his Bridgemen, who now sport clean faces or well kempt beards thanks to Rock’s gift.

As Kaladin begins to speak, a lighteyes and his retinue approach—Lamari’s replacement. The new officer’s name is Matal, though it is his wife, Brightness Hashal, who introduces him to the crew as their new captain.

Hashal also says that her husband will be running the bridge crews differently than Lamaril. Kaladin immediately questions how Matal ended “up in this latrine pit of a job?” and is set upon by a guard for insubordination. Kaladin blocks the first blow, but realizes this could escalate quickly into a larger fight. Instead, he takes the next blow to the head and goes down.

Hashal continues, saying that Matal had requested to be placed in charge of the bridgemen given how important they are to Sadeas plateau assaults. She also adds that from now on instead of rotating duties for the bridge crews around camp, each crew will be given a specific assignment. She then calls Gaz and tells him that Matal orders Bridge Four be given permanent chasm duty. Bridge Four is clearly disturbed by this and asks Kaladin what they will do. He simply replies, “We get to work.”

Soon after, Kaladin finds himself looking down a chasm and contemplates jumping in—a place he has been before. He resigns himself to climbing down the chasm the old fashioned way—with a rope ladder along with the rest of Bridge Four. As he climbs down, Syl questions why he isn’t happier to have survived the storm. Kaladin brings up his desire to fight the soldier earlier, and Syl mentions that she remembers helping men kill others in the past; though she has problems with it, she feels it was right.

Once in the chasm, Teft asks Kaladin what they were going to do now. Frustrated, Kaladin says: “I don’t know what to do! If we try to protect ourselves, Sadeas will have us punished! We’re bait, and we’re going to die. There’s nothing I can do about it! It’s hopeless.”

All the men are clearly shocked at what they heard. Teft tries to talk to Kaladin about not giving up hope, and that even if they die at least they tried. He ends saying, “journey before destination,” which leads to a discussion about the Lost Radiants; Sigzil points out Teft’s quote was part of their motto and then recites a few more lines. Sigzil explains that he learned it from some groups in Yulay who vocally waited for the return of the Radiants.

Syl repeats Teft’s phrase, encouraging Kaladin to listen to Teft and not give up. At the same time Skar and Teft argue about the Radiants. Both Skar and Moash bring up Kaladin’s belief that there was no hope for them. Kaladin thinks about all the defeats he has survived when those around him have died.

Kaladin wanders away and starts shifting bodies and collecting weapons and armor, telling Syl again that he can’t save them. Kaladin thinks more on the Radiants’ motto as well as memories of his brother Tien, eventually turning around to face his men. He tells them he had one more plan, though “it will most likely end with us all dead at the hands of our own army.” He proposes training with the weapons they find in the chasm, and that they’d attempt an escape. All the men accept the plan, excepting Rock—he it is beneath him, but he will continue to cook their meals. Some looked scared about doing this, but all went along willingly.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.”

Life before death. Such simple yet inspiring words. Notice how Teft attempted to slyly slip the words in? Though everyone quickly pounced on him for even bringing them up except for Sigzil. These words will lead Kaladin a path that will literally change the world.

Commentary: Kaladin, what are we going to do with you?

Kaladin just went full emo on us again. At least he can’t play The Cure on repeat and there is no dark eyeliner on Roshar. He certainly lived up to the chapter title acting the part of the wretch. His men believe in him so much they are willing to die for him—even if they have to be grumpy about it. Instead of seeing their devotion as respect he keeps taking it on as his burden. Hero complex, much?

I feel Syl is really the one who really made Kaladin come around this time. Sure Teft and Rock are getting there, but Syl has become his anchor to life. Syl brough something interesting up. She remembers helping kill others before. She’s almost at the point of acknowledging her honorspren-ness.

Teft does protest a bit much when it comes to the Knights Radiant. He clearly brought up their words to encourage Kaladin along that path, but he is so secretive. Sigzil meanwhile comes alive and along with Teft brings the legends of the Radiants to the fore for Kaladin—a much needed lesson. I could definitely see Kaladin seeking out those knowledgeable about the Radiants in his future. A road trip with Sigzil to Yulay just might be in order to fill-in more gaps in his Radiant knowledgebase. Maybe with research hounds Shallan or Jasnah by his side...

It is a chapter like this that makes me long for Shallan to come back. Even when bad things happen to or around her there is always a lightness that is not found in most of Kaladin’s point of view. But things will get better for him. He’ll have a militarily trained crew again at his side. And then everything with be coming up Kaladin, right? Right!?!

Michael Pye (aka The Mad Hatter) runs The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Reviewwhere he shares his views on genre books. He can also be found nattering onTwitter or in search of the perfect piece of bacon. He is currently working on an anthology project and is hoping to find a good publishing home for it soon.

1. WizardofOzzz
I never thought of those words as: The most important words a man can say. But
“Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.”
just might be them.
Or do these words depend on the Knights Radiant path someone has taken...
On Shallan: Is it her spren? Or was it one of those otherwordly beings she keeps on drawing?
William Carter
2. wcarter
@1 WizardofOzzs Each Order has their own series of oaths (three each maybe? I can't remember right this second) but they all share that same first set.

I dont think Kasbal really was a member of the ardentia.

I think he was just a Ghostblood who infiltrated them (whether or not the two groups are affiliated we simply don't know yet). But later after his final...scene... real brothers and sisters admit to Jasnah that they never really knew much about him or where he came from.

As for creepy stalker? Absolutely, but then his real goal seemed to be one part assasinating Jasnah one part trying to get Shallan away from Jasnah to avoid collateral damage.

At the end of the day, whatever you want to catagorize him as, he was incompetent. Or at least completely out of his depth when going head to head against Jasnah who is probably the most brilliant character we've met so far (unless it's her mother).
Deana Whitney
3. Braid_Tug
As you said, "Emo Kaladin". Least he doesn't last long this time around.

Yes, skipped over the “What are you”. Stood out like a neon sign the second time around.
Didn’t realize her playing with the humming might have attacked it. With your comment on music and spren’s, does anyone feel that the flute Wit gives Kaladin later will become magically important?

“Legal and right” not “moral or ethical”. Wow, would so many people have a hard time wrapping their heads around that one. Love their discussions.
Adam S.
I LOL'd at your commentary on Emo Kaladin- just picturing him listening to The Cure in his darkly lit dormroom is a perfect image. I agree that Doomy Doom Kal sometimes brings this story down for me, but he has mostly moved beyond that by the end of this book. And next we (supposedly) get more Shallan, who always cheers me up too, even when she is down.
Sigzil and Teft between them happening to be near the (soon to be) first Radiant in millenia is almost too much of a coincidence, but I'll give BWS the benefit of the doubt. The 2 of them provide just the right amount of knowledge of the Radiants to nudge Kaladin along in the right direction, in addition to Syl becoming more and more honorspren-like.
Kabsal the fake ardent reads very differently on second (or fourth) reading. I'm not sure how much of his attention to Shallan is genuine. I think he really does care for her, but if his organization was backing her father, and was looking for the soulcaster (and maybe the shardblade?) then maybe he initiated/maintained contact under orders.
Alice Arneson
5. Wetlandernw
@1 & 2 - It's actually not quite that well-defined. This quote is the First Ideal for all the KR Orders; after that, the ideals are unique to each order. They might not necessarily even be oaths; just Ideals. (I think Sigzil calls it "their motto," right?) I'm not even sure there really are five Ideals for each order; we'll have to wait and find out.

(Anyone besides me glad to call them Ideals instead of Oaths? Oaths makes me think of the Aes Sedai and their Three Oaths on the Oath Rod. This is so not the same thing.)
Adam S.
@5 They are ideals, but there is also The Oathpact. We don't have details on what the Oathpact is exactly, but it seems related to both the Heralds and the maybe oaths is an appropriate term too.
7. hungry_for_hands
@5 - I like that the Ideals are unique to each order. It makes me wonder if all of them are similar to the Windrunners in the way in which they are said. For example, Kaladin does his shiny explosion of light after reciting the 2nd Ideal about protecting those who cannot protect themselves. We also see that Shallan has to recite a truth in order to get access to a power. She is not reciting a specific ideal like Kaladin. Could it be that her order (lightweaver? elsecaller?) hold truth as an Ideal? That being able to look deep into oneself and speak truth is equivalent to the Windrunners reciting that line about protecting others?
Walker White
8. Walker
@7 hungry_for_hands

The Lift interlude for Words of Radiance (available in the Steelhunt) answers this question.
Nadine L.
9. travyl
Shallan: "My father paid me plenty of attention. ... a man of passion and virtue. Just never at the same time."
Even if she denies having been "hurt" by her father, I think this supports WonderChimp's thoughts of 2 posts back that she was abused by her father as well.

I'm not sure that Shallan has a spren? As I remeber it she is surrounded by more and more Cryptics, I never noticed there is a leading one, which could be considered hers, but I will pay special attention to this, as we go along.

I never realized the connection between magic and music, but now I agree, and oh, what a great thought BraidTug @3, that Hoid might have handed Kaladin another "weapon".

Michael, I don't understand your comment that: "Teft does protest a bit much when it comes to the Knights Radiant."
He wants to nudge Kaladin along the way, but it's clearly that he doesn't want to be exposed, so he refused to acknowledge why he said what he did. - Fits for me.
Or was your comment about that he protests when Skar accuses that they "helped the other side"? - This still is logical to me: since he knows Kaladin to have the same powers, it's reasonable, that he would want so tell Bridge Four, that the Knights weren't the bad ones.
William Carter
10. wcarter
@9 Travyl

I think Michael was paraphrasing Shakespear "thou dost protest too much" in other words, someone's denial of something is aweful rigourous.

It's what you might say someone who becomes awefully flustered by an acusation or question--becomes it hits close to the truth-and their denial comes off too harsh rigourous to be trusted as a result.
Alice Arneson
11. Wetlandernw
Walker @8 - I'm not sure what you're trying to say there; what question does the Lift interlude answer?
Alice Arneson
12. Wetlandernw
MDNY @5 - My impression is that the Oathpact is unique to the Heralds, and is only relevant to the KR to the extent that they are connected to the Heralds. I guess we don't know for sure. ::shrug::
Brian Carlson
13. images8dream
I know a lot of people here joke about "emo" Kaladin, but I think it is pretty clear from the text that Kaladin suffers from depression, and has his whole life. I am particularly thinking of some of the flashback scenes where he becomes sad and listless for no apparrent reason. The jokes are fine, but I don't think we should read him as "just" being "emo," and recognize that his emotional pain has more depth than teenage angst.
Brian Carlson
14. images8dream
I know a lot of people here joke about "emo" Kaladin, but I think it is pretty clear from the text that Kaladin suffers from depression, and has his whole life. I am particularly thinking of some of the flashback scenes where he becomes sad and listless for no apparrent reason. The jokes are fine, but I don't think we should read him as "just" being "emo," and recognize that his emotional pain has more depth than teenage angst.
Adam S.
15. MDNY
@images8dream I agree that depression is not a laughing matter, but in a fictional character I don't feel so bad joking about it. And Kaladin really is kinda over-the-top emo in some chapters. Just as psychotic killers in real life are no laughing matter, but I still love Hannibel Lechter's line about liver with fava beans and a nice chianti.
As for the childhood depression, it was also linked to the highstorms, I believe, and to Tien, who was the only one that could pull Kaladin out of his funk. Not sure if child Kaladin's storm-related moodiness signals that he was always meant to be a radiant linked with storms...
Deana Whitney
16. Braid_Tug
@ 13, Images8dream; Yes, emo is a joke word. Kaladin suffers true depression. Sanderson is really good at writing depressed charters that are still active. (Sazed from Mistborn).
Doesn't make it easy to read. Hence why I find the first part of this book so hard to read.
We needed the "brightness" of Shanalla. If book one had only been Kaladin and Dalinar, I don’t know if I’ would be as interested in the story.

Much like when you deal with a depressed person in real life, the short bouts of depression after what you see (as an outsider) as they are lifting up, are almost harder to deal with than the full length depressive bouts.

But many of us are also on the WoT read, where we dealt with “emo Perrin”, but if the same kidnapping happened in real life, we would be very understanding of the type of obsessive focus he had. That type of focus is almost a type of depression, because it’s use to keep “do nothing” depression at bay. Thus, more inclined to use the word.
David Foster
17. ZenBossanova
I have been depressed before, severely, where it seemed I was hanging from a sheer cliff by my fingernails, in the rain, at night. And to me, Kaladin nails it. If he were emo, I would just blown him off as a pretender but he is in a hopeless situation and he presses forward anyway.

And of course, not only does he press forward, but ends up putting an entire army at defiance by himself, and without a shardblade. I hope Dalinar realizes just how significant Kaladin's actions are.
Walker White
18. Walker
@11. Wetlandernw

The question about the effect when a KR says an ideal beyond the first. Lift says the second (or perhaps possibly third) ideal of her order, which is different from Kaladin's.
Anneke van Staden
19. QueenofDreams
hmm, where can I find this 'lift interlude'? sounds intriguing!
Adam S.
20. MDNY
@19 17th shard has links to 9 released sections, including the Lift interlude. Plus a Jasnah prologue (whee!)
21. Diffidentia
The connection between magic and music intrigues me. If I remember correctly, don't the Parishendi sing while fighting?
Alice Arneson
22. Wetlandernw
Walker @18 - Okay. I didn't read that as a question, I guess. IMO, it's not entirely clear if that was the first time Lift spoke that Ideal, or if she's recalling something spoken earlier. Could be either one; we just don't know much about her (or her Order) yet.
Andrew Berenson
23. AndrewHB
Travyl @9 - I think there is something more to Teft's actions. IMO, he is having an "awakening." (This is an inadequate word. I am trying to use something that would be the opposite of a crisis of faith.) Teft used to belong to an organization whose purpose was to wait for the return of the KRs. Sometime before the main timeline of the series, he lost his belief (or he never had it in the first place). Teft then did something that lead to the destruction of the organization. Possibly even the death of all of its members.

Fast forward some time. He is appears to have found a KR. Teft know has to fase the reality that the group's purpose that he foresaked was true. It was Teft who was untrue; not the fellow members of the group. In many ways, Teft's help of Kaladin is his repentence. Nevertheless, at this point, Teft has yet to embrace his repentence.

Thanks for reading my musings.
(Aka the musespren)
Posted on a smartphone; please excuse any typos
Gary Singer
25. AhoyMatey
Great post. "he it is beneath him" should probably be "he thinks it is beneath him" or "says" or remove "he"...
Kimani Rogers
26. KiManiak
@19 & 20 – 17th Shard does have links to the various sections that Brandon has read at signings (transcribed) or has released as teasers/sneak peeks (like the Taravangian interlude he posted on in July). The link to the compiled excerpts are here.

Clearly, these are all SPOILERS for WoR, so if you’re waiting for the book to come out, please avoid.

However, the “Lift interlude” link is just a fragment of the full interlude. In order to read that, you need to have obtained a Steelhunt code and then accessed the Vault. If you are interested in participating in the Steelhunt, Brandon has been releasing/distributing codes amongst his various signings and stops during the Steelheart Signing Tour (and through other avenues). You can check his website for more information.
Anneke van Staden
27. QueenofDreams
Unfortunately if he's doing it at signings it makes it pretty much US exclusive! So no, I don't have any steelhunt codes.
Alice Arneson
28. Wetlandernw
QueenofDreams @27 - Actually, he has figured out a way to make Steelhunt codes available elsewhere, but I think you have to do it through facebook. However, check your shoutbox for more info.
29. Jasuni
@9 I don't think that the flute is weapon as much as it is a tool.

@23 "In Yulay, there are groups of people who talk of the Radiants. And Wish for their return" (Sigzil, this chapter). The organization you mentioned could be one of these groups, although I wouldn't be certain that it was in Yulay.
Probably why a road trip to Yulay would be helpful, but I don't think that Kaladin is going to have the time for any road trips.

I find it interesting that a voice whispers the ideals to Kaladin (in this chapter, and at the end of chapter 67). Might be helpful in identifying the Radiant's ideals for those of you with Steelhunt codes. (I don't have one, so if you have to mention a spoiler from the steelhunt, do warn the rest of us)
Glen V
30. Ways
Time to jump in since I'm only a few chapters away from finishing the book.

I was a bit worried when Kaladin had his second major depression/emo episode (ex-flashbacks). It reminded me of Perrin's PLOD, which I see others have mentioned. Thank the Almighty that Brandon doesn't keep pushing Kaladin down the same path, ala RJ!

I believe Wit/Hoid intentionally maneuvered Sigzil (and maybe even Teft) into proximity with Kaladin. Again, I haven't quite finished WoK, so that theory may explode before I do finish.

Diffidentia @21
Yes, and they have at least 3 different songs depending on the occasion (general battle, mourning dead, contempt or outright hatred for Kaladin's tactics later).
Sean Taylor
31. Izzos
I remember picking up on the humming/parshendi connection my second time around and was wating for this reread post to comment on it. A few posts back we were talking about cymatics and wondering if the ancient cities could literally have been formed using cymatic waves. I liked that idea and now I wonder if that doesn't also tie into this notion of magical singing. I haven't read any WOR spoilers, but I'm curious if one of the Radiant orders aren't singers. I'm also intriguied by the notion of the flute being magical.

@4 I had similar thoughts about Kabsal. As I listened to this chapter again, knowing that Kabsal was part of Shallan's fathers 'organization' it seemed an awful lot like he is fishing for information about him. He does it again in a few chapters when Shallan tells him that she is leaving.

One other topic: Having listened to the epigraph quotes again and Shallan's readings of Jasnah's notebook, I'm still left unsatisfied with the conclusion that the Parshmen or Parshendi are the Voidbringers. I'm not saying that it is obviously wrong, I'm just a bit underwhelmed by the evidence that I have seen for Jasnah's theory, but perhaps I am missing or overlooking some big points. If someone has time, I would enjoy a good summary of what the evidence is that leads us to that conclusion.

(Edited for spelling)
Helen Cousins
32. naath.sedai
I can't remember if the first time I read it I noticed at all that simultaneously Jasnah's soulcaster doesn't work for Shallan and Shallan observes that Jasnah has yet to complain about Shallan's broken soulcaster not working.

Are we supposed to conclude here that Jasnah's soulcaster was only ever a prop to conceal Jasnah's skill with fabriel-free soulcasting? Or is Shallan just missing something about how to use it?
Adam S.
33. MDNY
@32 The logical conclusion is that Jasnah does not use a fabrial to soulcast. She has always been secretive about where she got her "soulcaster" (like the first time we saw her, when King Taravangian asked her to use it to free his granddaughter). She constructed a fake fabrial to conceal her soulcasting abilities, which is why Shallan was unable to use Jasnah's soulcaster when she stole it. It's actually rather funny, that Shallan stole a fake soulcaster to replace her broken one.
Deana Whitney
34. Braid_Tug
@33, So I know Shallan's family is keeping the fact that her father had a soulcaster secret.
But can the broken one even be fixed? Someone makes them, so someone has to be able to fix them. Seems like they should be able to find someone to bribe to fix the original.

Then again, if I think to hard about twisted bits of metal and charged crystals turning rock to smoke, the more it seems internal soulcasting should be the norm.
Adam S.
35. MDNY
@34 Braid_Tug I think soulcasters are old technology that the Ardentia has held on to, rather than newly-made fabrials. I thought they were like shardblades, things that people can no longer make.
Sean Taylor
36. Izzos
Given Shallan's abilities how do we know her fathers was real either?
Alice Arneson
37. Wetlandernw
I concur with MDNY; while there is current research on fabrial making, and new things are being invented, they don't currently know how to make soul-caster fabrials. (IMO) The ones they have are old tech, somehow retained since the days of the KR when they knew how to make these and more. I have some suspicions as to why these in particular are so difficult, but nothing I can communicate sensibly at this stage.

As far as whether it's possible to repair the one Shallan's father had, I also suspect it's not - but I don't have anything to back that up. Just suspicion. At the very minimum, it would take a skilled artifabrian to even determine what was wrong, much less how/whether it could be fixed. I suppose if Shallan were to take the broken one along to the Shattered Plains when she and Jasnah leave, and give it to Navani to check out, she might learn something. It doesn't seem like she'd be willing to do that, though.

Speaking of fabrials, there was apparently a breakable "code" to Navani's notes in the illustrations, and it proved to contain some very, very interesting information about the construction of fabrials. For a translation, check this out. (and we'll see if my link works...)

This is part of what's going on in my head about the soulcasting fabrials.
Alice Arneson
38. Wetlandernw
Izzos @36 - But wasn't it Luesh who actually used the fabrial? At least, there are multiple mentions that he was the one trained to use it, the only one they could trust who knew how it worked, etc. That said, of course, we only assume that Luesh and Lord Davar were telling the truth about that; I don't recall that Shallan or her brothers ever talked about watching him use it.
Adam S.
39. MDNY
@36 The Ghostbloods are asking for the fabrial back, which implies that it is real, rather than Luesh and/or Shallan's father soulcasting without a fabrial.
Sean Taylor
40. Izzos
@38 &39
Yeah, I was just thinking out loud. Luesh would have been the only one in a position to know if it worked or not and he could have had his own agenda I suppose. Luesh said it was easier to show how to use one than to explain it. But Kabsal's explanation on how to use one seemed easy enough, which makes me wonder.

The Ghostbloods are a problem though. Unless they knew about self- soul casting too and were more interested in that ability than the actual fabrial....but that starts to get complicated and even more speculative.
Deana Whitney
41. Braid_Tug
@37: thanks for the link. Seeing the cut stones brings another aspect of this world to mind. My husbad does lapidary work has a hobby.
Faceting stones are hard & labor intensive using technology from the 11th - 16th century. Which is roughly where my mental process has this world. (fabrials being outside of this). They have book printing, but many other things of a “industrial” world are missing.

So, this makes me think that in gem cutting, this soicty has to have a higher level of tech. Or a fabrial that makes it easier. Or a HUGE poplulation of gem cutters.

Others, thanks for the thoughts on the broken fabrial.
Kimani Rogers
42. KiManiak
MDNY@39 & others – Are we sure that the Ghostbloods are asking for the soulcaster? It appears that Shallan and Nan Balat and the rest think it’s the soulcaster, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is what the Ghostbloods are trying to reclaim. I don’t recall that the strange gentleman ever asked for the item by name (I could be mistaken as I haven’t looked at that section in a while, but I think we only get the strangers’ visit and request/demands secondhand).

If Shallan acquired her Shardblade from her father, then it appears that Brightlord Davar had at least two relatively priceless items in his possession that the general public (and even his family) did not know about. I believe an argument could be made that the Ghostbloods could be seeking to recover either.

I do believe that the soulcaster was a real one, though. There is enough evidence to suggest that it’s authentic; and little evidence to suggest otherwise.
Jeremy Guebert
43. jeremyguebert
@32 - Covered somewhat by others, but yes, I believe Jasnah wears her "Soulcaster" to cover up the fact that she can do it on her own - this is perhaps most clearly evidenced by the fact that she was able to Soulcast Shallan's blood to save her from poison closer to the end of the book (at work, so I don't have the exact reference atm). It's worth noting that the process does use Stormlight (see the philosophy lesson from last week, where the gems dimmed and one even cracked), which is another convenient reason for her to wear the Soulcaster - it keeps her from having to explain why she would carry around infused gemstones all the time.

@several - re: Ghostbloods - They are an organization that is intentionally left somewhat obscured, and we don't know a ton about their overall motivations as a group at the moment. I am quite curious about them.
Nadine L.
44. travyl
KiManiak @42: I don't think Shallan inherited the Blade from her father, though that is just a theory. If it had been in the posession of her father, I think Nan Balat would have taken the blade, even if Shallan killed her father, and it would be rightly hers. I believe (no textual reference again), that she aquired it similar to her soulcasting-abilities, due to some obscure thing. - Which means, that the Ghostblood wouldn't know about it.

Wetlander @37: thanks for the link, I'll go read it, and will be back here in a few hours :)
Edit to add: Wow, someone figured out how to translate the Alethi script? That is utterly amazing. How sure are we, that the translation is correct? Was it confirmed by BWS/PA?
Kimani Rogers
45. KiManiak
Travyl@44 – There are a few different theories about how Shallan acquired the Blade. One of the more popular ones is that she did indeed “inherit” it (so to speak) from her father after his death. Versions of this theory include Shallan killing her father to protect her brother, including the possibility that her brother was incapacitated at the time. In other words, Nan Balat probably wouldn’t know that his father (and then Shallan) would have a Shardblade anyway. So, in that scenario, he didn’t know of the Blade and couldn’t take the Blade.

I admit that this theory seems the most likely to me at this time, but I am in no means convinced it happened this way. My comment@42 only allows for the possibility that Lord Davar (and now Shallan) had a Shardblade, which may have originated from the Ghostbloods. It is then as likely that the intimidating men who were most likely Ghostbloods could have been implying to Nan Balat that they knew of Lord Davar’s Shardblade as they could have been a Soulcaster, and Nan Balat would have no idea that there were two possible things they could have been alluding to.
(Also wouldn't it be "funny" if Balat were to hand over the Soulcaster; see shock, amusement and then anger on the men's faces; and then be told that the soulcaster is a nice bribe, but where is the Shardblade?)

A few other tidbits:
a)When Shallan reflects on her Blade, she associates it with “her shame,” or penance or something along those lines (I have to doublecheck the wording again). It seems likely that it is linked to a painful memory or occurrence, and the text is hinting at her being present/involved with her father’s mysterious death. That seems more likely of a negative event for her to associate her Shardblade with than anything else we’ve been provided so far (except maybe her mother’s death).

b) Shallan was essentially housebound and tutored her entire life; this doesn’t lead to too many obscure incidences when she could have acquired a Shardblade. Barring the time when she is attempting to track down Jasnah to become her ward, when would she have had an opportunity to discover or win a Shardblade? And for that to remain a secret to everyone else?

c) Shallan’s soulcasting abilities manifested in an accidental way. It appears to be more like something that happened to Shallan moreso than her obtaining a Shardblade, which is something that she would deliberately have had to reach down, pick up and acquire.

As I said, the “Shardblade-acquired-from-her-father” theory seems more likely, especially when you couple a secret Shardblade with a secret soulcaster (and the mysterious disappearance of a brother who many speculate was the Shardbearer that attempted to kill BL Amaram; and Amaram seems to connect that Shardbearer with the Ghostbloods) and see that Brightlord Davar is far more than the general public believes him to be.

As for Nan Balat mistaking the Ghostbloods requesting the Shardblade as compared to the soulcaster, well, that’s just the kind of “curveball” that an accomplished author like Sanderson would try to ease past his audience. He’s very skilled.

Having said all of that, I’d be interested in hearing more about your theory about how Shallan acquired her Blade. Right now, everything I’ve written above is all speculation, and I think we should explore any and all possibilities. I'd like to hear more of your theory, if you're willing to share...
Alice Arneson
46. Wetlandernw
travyl @44 - "Wow, someone figured out how to translate the Alethi script?" - My thoughts exactly!! :) It's funny - it never actually occurred to me that Isaac/Brandon would have come up with an actual script to be used in Navani's notebook. When someone mentioned recently that we knew about the spren/fabrial connection, I was all, "Wait, what? When did we learn that?" Then, to be told that someone had actually decoded the script and translated the notebook stuff, and that it was all true, and all right there in front of me in WoK... Wow, did I ever feel silly. Never even crossed my mind until that moment.

I believe it's been confirmed to be correct. The essence of it is, anyway.

ETA: I, too, would be interested in hearing your theory on Shallan's Shardblade.
Nadine L.
47. travyl
Ki @45
re: a) Shallan definitely sees the Blade (her having it) as negative but: that Shallan associates the Blade with "her shame", could be because she killed her father with the Shardblade (which would mean, that she had it before she killed her father) - this would explain why the soulcaster broke: she was fighting her father with the Shardblade.

I also have only speculation (and I'm not the theorizing type, that's why they are not fleshed out. The one reason, why I think that maybe Shallan hasn't gotten her Blade from her father is the broken soulcaster.
If you accept the theory that she inherited the Blade from her father: how did the Soulcaster break? Was this explained in the book and I just don't remember it?
I thought that it was implied that the Soulcaster was cut by the Shardblade, but maybe I invented that "fact", because I wanted to believe that an ancient artifact wouldn't just break by a common cause?

Edit to add: so my "theory" is a string of some speculations:
Why would Shallan wield the Blade against the fabrial, if not in the fight against her father? - We saw that she is extremely reluctant to "get it out." -
So from: my assumtion the Soulcaster was broken by the Shardblade, I went to Shallan must have done it -> Shallan must have had the Blade in the fight with her father -> so she must have had it before he died - so maybe she aquired it another way (which I have no idea how.).

Of course it could be that her father broke the soulcaster with "his" Shardblade and Shallan killed him with a normal knife and took the Shardblade... Hm.
David Foster
48. ZenBossanova
Come to think of it, are we completely sure soulcasting fabrials.... are real?
What if all of them are fakes, and soulcasting is kept top-secret because it really is an internal ability, like Shallan or Jasnah has? I am not sure I can prove they are real - we simply have not seen enough of them.
Nadine L.
49. travyl
it's implied that they should be real, because of Shallans' (now) broken soulcaster: before the incident (which we don't know much about), Luesh,
"had been trained to use the device, and he could no longer make it function" (quote from Ch 7). Of course his affiliation with the ghostbloods makes him unreliable.
Jeremy Guebert
50. jeremyguebert
@44 and onwards Re: Shardblades and Soulcasters -

First of all, very good observation that the Ghostbloods don't explicitly say that they're looking for a Soulcaster. For them to actually be looking for the Shardblade would be a nice twist.

I don't have the book with me, so I can't give an exact quote, but my memory has Shallan thinking of the Shardblade as "the fruit of her sin" or something along those lines. That would imply that she didn't have the Blade until after having killed her father (I personally subscribe to the "accidentally killed him defending her brother(s)" theory). In any event, she couldn't have killed him with the Shardblade itself if she didn't have it yet.

And I agree that Soulcasting fabrials are actually genuine, as travyl pointed out @49.
Nadine L.
51. travyl
I "always" have that book with me (in my smartphone), but a search for fruit, sin and shame brought nothing. I guess, this could be the quote:
thinking of her father made her feel ill, and the pain started to constrict her chest. ... overwhelmed by the weight of House Davar’s situation, her part in it, and the secret she now carried, hidden ten heartbeats away. (ch8)
And less relevant:
She carried a concealed weapon that she hadn’t used. She felt foolish for not even thinking of getting it out that night. But she wasn’t accustomed to— (ch39)
Thus, I agree, that Shallan acquired her Blade quite "recently." The way it is written, the killing of her father ("her part in it") came before she got the Balde, but it's only hinted at - and it could still be that BWS tries to trick us by the conclusions we draw...
Alice Arneson
52. Wetlandernw
I think it was this one:

"Ten heartbeats, to bring forth the fruit of her sin, the proceeds of her most horrific act."

(Chapter 45, Shadesmar)
Jeremy Guebert
53. jeremyguebert
Thanks Wetlander, that's the one I was looking for.

I'm assuming that Shallan's flashback sequences in WoR deal with this at least somewhat, but that quote is enough proof of the point for me.
Nadine L.
54. travyl
Thanks, strange, that I didn't find the quote myself.
And yes (though I had to look up proceeds in the dictionary, to be sure) it seems quite clear now. - I should definitely stop theorizing (or at least keep them to myself :)
55. tryitearp
I'm curious if anyone else picked up on the conversation Kabsal and Shallan had after they ate the truthberry jam? It seems to me that they both get significantly more forward towards each other than they were before, and Shallan privately confronts her own true feelings for the 'ardent' for the first time. Could this possibly be due to the effects of the truthberry? To me, it's a sign that Kabsal, despite being a loyal GB, truly does care for Shallan, which is later evidenced by his actions with the poison at the end of the book. It also made me read her comments here about her father with extra weight..."My father is a man of passion and virtue. Just never at the same time"--returns my mind to some of the earlier conversations in this reread of abuse. Hope BWS doesn't go there but it seems possible.
Glen V
56. Ways
KiManiak @45
I like that theory (and the coherent way in which you presented it).

travyl @47
I think it's reasonable to believe that the Soulcaster had an encounter with a Shardblade, and lost. As to who was wielding which device at the time...hmmm, possibilities abound.
Jeremy Guebert
57. jeremyguebert
@54 - Don't stop theorizing! Even if not every piece of a theory is 100% accurate, it still makes for some great discussion!

@56 - I agree that the Soulcaster was most likely cut by a Shardblade - again, I don't have the book on me, but I believe the Soulcaster was described as being cut in a way that seemed consistent with a Shardblade.

If that's the case, then that might help to explain why the Soulcaster stopped working, and why it couldn't be fixed simply by repairing the superficial damage. We know that Shardblades cut through living things and essentially destroy the "soul" of them (for lack of a better word), whether that's lifeless limbs or burned out eyes, etc. If the Soulcaster works in part by capturing/binding a spren, then I suspect that when it was cut by the Shardblade, then its spren was killed/destroyed as well. Repairing the physical Soulcaster wouldn't restore the spren that was its heart; thus it wouldn't start working again just because of the physical repairs.
Alice Arneson
58. Wetlandernw
travyl @54 - I agree with Jeremy - Don't Stop Theorizing! :) At least half the good of putting a theory out there is to get people digging for stuff that will either support or refute it, and that makes for a lot of fun in the discussion. At this stage, of course, we really don't have enough information to prove anything - but we have enough to make reasonable guesses. (Being Brandon, we can assume that most of our guesses will be wrong, but they'll still probably have bits of truth in them anyway.)

Now about that soulcaster... Based on the "Navani's notebook" information and the way Jasnah "uses" hers, I have a couple of ideas. (The fact that Jasnah's isn't a real soulcaster might make this completely invalid, of course.)

It seems that there might be two kinds of gemstones involved in a soulcaster: one, the kind we see Jasnah using, the ones that are simply infused with stormlight, that provide the requisite energy; and two, the fabrial itself, the one that contains the captured spren. Jasnah certainly thinks nothing of popping out a shattered gem and replacing it with a new one, so if there are two kinds of stones involved, it would only be the destruction of the fabrial-stone itself that would actually destroy the machine; the other stones would be (relatively) expendable.

If, on the other hand, Jasnah's casual replacement of the stones is misleading because she is merely using them as a Stormlight battery, and in a real soulcaster fabrial those stones are the ones containing the spren, then the destruction of those stones would (I think) either release or kill the spren. If that's the case, it seems like anything that destroyed one of the gems would "break" the machine; it could only be repaired by a combination of replacing the gem with a new spren-bonded gem and (possibly) an artifabrian who could recreate the connections. This, then, begs the question of what it takes to destroy one of those gems. Does it take simple impact? Does it take a Blade? Or would destruction be as simple as disrupting the "circuitry" between the bonded stones? Oh, there's so much we don't know!

Incidentally, if the visible stones on the soulcaster really are the fabrial-stones that contain the spren, that would imply capturing multiple spren to create a single soulcaster. This could lead to some interesting speculation about the different levels and limitations of soulcasting we talked about earlier, too, couldn't it? As in, a given soulcaster fabrial could only be used to soulcast into the Essences represented by the gems it contains - smokestone to smoke/dust/fog; ruby to fire, garnet to blood, etc.

I sure wish I'd caught on to Navani's notebook pages sooner...
Glen V
59. Ways
jeremyguebert @57 and Wet @58
A few minutes ago I was about 98% of the way through composing a long comment with respect to what you both are proposing. Then the cat who lives with us jumped off my lap and randomly managed to hit the power button for the computer. Storming cat!! (She is my BFF, but nevertheless...)

To reconstruct:
I like what you are both proposing about Soulcasters (real ones) being powered by gems with spren somehow bonded to them. What rankles my moral event horizon just a bit is if gem/spren pairs are routinely destroyed during use and then ever so casually replaced. That's because I'm assuming at least some spren are sentient life forms. Of course we don't have evidence to conclude they are yet, it's only my supposition based on Kaladin's interaction with Syl. Neither do we have solid evidence about Soulcaster gems being routinely destroyed during use, other than what occurs with Jasnah (IIRC), or that the spren in gem/spren pairs are of the sentient variety. So, I may be barking up the wrong Chasmfiend. I like elegant solutions and the thought of routinely throwing away a sentient life form just doesn't comform. That was the gist of my comment that disappeared at the touch of a paw.

For once I would have several questions for Brandon if he were touring around this part of the country now.
- Are spren sentient? All or just some?
- How many spren does one person get (if that is the correct word) in a lifetime?
- Do visits to Shadesmar confer special abilities?
I'll have to check some of the WoK resources on-line for theories or answers.
"Being Brandon, we can assume that most of our guesses will be wrong, but they'll still probably have bits of truth in them anyway."
Jeremy Guebert
60. jeremyguebert
@58 - Hmm, either of those could explain some things. My thought is that Jasnah is just using her "Soulcaster" as a Stormlight battery, but I'm not sure whether one stone or all of them would need to have bonded spren in a real one.

I believe that any Soulcaster can be used for any Essence - Shallan has an internal monologue where she's glad she can use it to create new marble deposits, despite the fact that the Soulcaster is stronger or better at using certain other Essences. What exactly "stronger" means in this context, I'm not quite sure. My first thought would be that it would take less Stormlight for a correctly-aligned gem to perform a given transformation, but that's pure speculation. Any other thoughts on that front?

@59 - Yeah, the thought of casually tossing out sentient life in order to charge your magic toys is a bit stomach-turning. My conscience hopes that the trapped/bonded spren are of the non-sentient variety, but I don't think we have any way of knowing that at present.
Jeremy Guebert
61. jeremyguebert
A quote to support my point above:
It seemed that this Soulcaster was attuned to three Essences in particular: Vapor, Spark, and Lucentia. But it should be able to create any of the Ten Essences, from Zephyr to Talus. That last one was the most important to Shallan, as Talus included stone and earth. She could create new mineral deposits for her family to exploit. Sanderson, Brandon (2010-08-31). The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The) (p. 501). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.
Again, I'm not sure exactly what "attuned" means in this context, but it doesn't appear like the Soulcaster is limited. Of course, that could just be because it's actually Jasnah doing the Soulcasting, and actual fabrials are limited in that way - Shallan's earlier thoughts in regards to the values of different spheres seems to contradict this line of argument:
Emeralds were the most valuable, for they could be used by Soulcasters to create food. Sanderson, Brandon (2010-08-31). The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The) (p. 69). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.
That implies that only emeralds can be used to create food, although at this point Shallan isn't an expert on Soulcasting, so I don't know if this is 100% accurate information or merely hearsay.

Lastly, a tidbit from a conversation between Jasnah and Shallan, in regards to some discussion earlier about whether Soulcasting fabrials are genuine:
“And the ardents,” Shallan said. “Those who Soulcast? Do they actually use fabrials, or is it all a hoax?” “No, Soulcasting fabrials are real. Quite real. So far as I know, everyone else who does what I— what we— can do uses a fabrial to accomplish it.” Sanderson, Brandon (2010-08-31). The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The) (p. 978). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.
Sorry for rambling a bit, finally had a chance to sit down and search through the book for relevant quotes.
Birgit F
62. birgit
Maybe a soulcaster can do any kind of transformation but needs the right kind of battery stone and those are the ones that are used up while the part with the spren is not damaged by using it.
Jordan Hibbits
63. rhandric
It seems likely, to me, that the type of spren determines the type of transformation available, though it might just determine the "attunement" of the fabrial. Consider, though, that (it appears) each type of KR has a different type of spren associated with/Nahal bonded to them. If the spren type determines the KR type/availability of powers, it would follow that the bound spren in fabrials determine the function/capability of the fabrial. Further, I would posit that the fabrial in question (Jasnah's, per jeremyguebert@61) has 3 (allegedly) spren-prison gems, though as it's a false fabrial, they likely don't actually imprison spren.
Sean Taylor
64. Izzos
@59 & @60. If a spren-bound gemstone breaks does that kill the spren or just release it?
65. Jasuni
@61 In the Ars Arcanum at the back of the book is a table that includes soulcasting properties. Seems to me that each gemstone has a specific essence that it would turns stuff anything into. I don't know how they could create something not of the ten essences, but anything that is one of the essences (like pulp) would be easy to create.

Note that Sinew is not between Zephyr and Talus. I'm not certain if this would prevent regular soulcasters from creating meat.

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