Thu
Nov 14 2013 1:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapter 45

Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread here on Tor.com! Again we’ll just be tackling one chapter this week as there is a lot to dip into here. Last week we saw the imbalance of lighteyes versus darkeyes was at an all time high with Roshone hurting Lirin and his family as much as he could. Kaladin stepped-up and joined his young brother Tien in becoming a soldier, and as a result that would cement his future.

This week we follow that major event with another: Shallan’s visit to Shadesmar and the official unveiling of the symbolhead creatures. Get your Shardblades ready as we have a lot to mow down.

Chapter45: Shadesmar
Setting:
Kharbranth, the Conclave
Point of View: Shallan

What Happens: Shallan studies the account of King Gavilar’s first meeting with the Parshendi; it turns out Dalinar was the first to encounter them.

Tomorrow is the day that Tozbek is supposed to pull into port and soon after depart with Shallan aboard.

Shallan creates the pretense of looking for a book referenced in the volume on the Parshendi when she really wants to look for more info on what Jasnah seems so interested in: the Voidbringers. Shallan spends the next couple of hours in the bowels of the Palanaeum after pulling out any book that mentions the Voidbringers.

Some of the tales suggest that the Voidbringers were akin to a spren and that they could invade the soul of person and turn them evil. Even after all the research, Shallan has no conclusions of her own and questions again why Jasnah is so interested in a topic that has no apparent use. Shallan leaves the books where they lay and heads off to get the volume she originally came for only to run into Brother Kabsal.

Shallan comments that she is amazed by how large the Palanaeum is (57 levels) and that it must have been a lot of work to create, but Kabsal explains that the main shaft was present long before the Kharbranthians cut out the rooms for the books. Kabsal also says it was likely the Kharbranth was another city like Kholinar in that it was created by the Almighty. Shallan mentions the Dawnsigners as possible architects, but Kabsal dismisses the idea, saying the Dawnsingers “were healers, kindly spren sent by the Almighty to care for humans once we were forced out of the Tranquiline Halls.” Shallan equates them to the opposite of the Voidbringers, which Kabsal agrees is a somewhat close comparison.

Shallan reveals to Kabsal that Jasnah came to Kharbranth to specifically study the Voidbringers. She presses Kabsal for information about the Voidbringers, but he is reluctant, saying it has to do with the failures Vorinism has been involved in such as the Hierocracy and the fall of the Radiants. He calls them “our shame.” Eventually he goes on to say that the ardents believe the Voidbringer were real and were akin to “a scourge and a plague” that visited horrors upon humanity at least 100 times. “They were creatures of terrible destructive power, forged in Damnation, created from hate.”

This leads to a short discussion on how the Almighty is a force of good, and the Voidbringers exist to balance the scales; it is now up to humanity to increase the good in the cosmere. Kabsal adds that Voidbringers “were an embodiment of evil” and that the Knights Radiant defeated them in the Last Desolation (also known as Aharietiam). After the Heralds won, the Voidbringers went back to the Tranquiline Halls, but the Heralds followed them in hopes of pushing them out of heaven as well. Thus ended the Heraldic Epochs.

Shallan presses for more, and Kabsal theorizes that the only reason Jasnah is studying the Voidbringers is to disprove that they ever existed and thereby weaken the church of Vorinism. Kabsal wishes Jasnah would just leave the ardentia alone, as he feels they are not threat to her (or anyone) because they act in obedience to the citylords and warlords of Roshar.

As they walk, Shallan informs Kabsal that she would be leaving the next day to return to her family. Kabsal seems to believe that her father is ill. He asks if she would sketch him before she leaves, and Shallan realizes she has not sketched Kabsal yet, despite spending so much time together. She grabs his hand and rushes him down the hallway. She realizes what she’s done and hurriedly drops his hand, at which point Kabsal confesses his romantic interest in her.

Shallan panics, realizing that though she is fond of Kabsal, she doesn’t return his love. He even offers to accompany her back to Jah Keved, basically offering to leave the Ardentia for her. But Kabsal can tell from the look on her face that Shallan won’t taking him up on his offer.

Shallan apologizes for being dishonest with Kabsal, but he asks again for the sketch. They finally reach the top of the Palanaeum to the Veil, where Shallan had left her sketch book. Jasnah is there, as is a basket of bread and jam Kabsal had clearly left there.

Shallan quickly sketches Kabsal and gives it to him. He tries to give her a broam for payment, which she refuses. He then insists on paying for a second sketch of them together. She agrees and borrows a mirror from Jasnah to get the Memory framed in her mind properly. As she begins the sketch, her “anxiety about the Soulcaster” comes to the fore of her mind, and she thinks of staying in Kharbranth to continue her studying after giving the Soulcaster to Tozbek to return to her brothers.

As Shallan finishes the drawing she notices that she’s included a figure in the background standing behind Kabsal that has the outline of a body, but some sort of symbol in place of where its head should be. Shallan is upset and feels she is losing her mind. She runs from the room, away from Kabsal and Jasnah. As she waits for the lift to take her down, she takes a memory of Kabsal standing in the doorway looking after her and quickly sketches it, only to see more of the symbolheads above him.

She rushes to the main cavern where she again takes a Memory and begins sketching, only this time she draws five figures with symbols for heads; they seem to be following her. She runs to her room, locks the door behind her, and continues drawing. The creatures are now mere inches away from her. Shallan reaches out and feels something, even though she can’t see anything. She tries to bring out the Soulcaster to use against them, but thinks better of it and remembers her other weapon:

I can’t use that. I promised myself.

She began the process anyway. Ten heartbeats, to bring forth the fruit of her sin, the proceeds of her most horrific act. She was interrupted midway through by a voice, uncanny yet distinct:

What are you?

She answers that she is terrified. Soon after, the room around her changes and she finds herself in a place with a black sky and a small white sun. All around her are beads—a sea of tiny glass beads. She grabs one and hears a voice say “You want me to change?” The voice is different than the one she had heard in her room just moments before, and seems to come from the bead itself.

I’ve been as I am for a great long time, the warm voice said. I sleep so much. I will change. Give me what you have.

“I don’t know what you mean! Please, help me!”

I will change.

Shallan feels extremely cold as if the heat has been pulled out of her. The bead in her hand becomes warm and she drops it. She falls back and finds herself returned to her room. A goblet near her has melted into blood—one of the ten essences. Shallan has just Soulcasted. Startled, she knocks over and breaks a glass water pitcher.

Shallan wonders if the symbol-head creatures caused her to Soulcast, but she had seen them long before she had the Soulcaster in her possession. She then hears Jasnah’s voice outside her door. Knowing that she doesn’t have time to hide the blood, Shallan hides her drawings and then takes a shard of glass from the broken pitcher and cuts herself. Jasnah barges into the room and calls for help when she sees. Shallan thinks, “This [...] will not end well.”

Quote of the Chapter:

“Suffice it to say that the Almighty’s pure goodness created the Voidbringers, but men may choose good without creating evil because as mortals they have a dual nature. Thus the only way for good to increase in the cosmere is for men to create it—in that way, good may come to outweigh evil.”

Honor anyone?

Commentary: This chapter dropped quite a lot on our heads. It starts innocuous enough with what seems like this was going to be another academic type chapter with Shallan and Jasnah debating only to see it turn into Shallan and Kabsal “breaking up” then again changed into Shallan gaining a few admirers and exploring the cognitive realm of Shadesmar. Like I said, this is quite a packed chapter so let’s try to unpack it a bit.

Right off the bat in the epigraph we get the first mention of Blightwind, which sounds like another of the Ten Deaths. But they are also called the Unmade. The more I read the more convinced I am that the Ten Deaths are the reverse of the ten orders of the Knights Radiant. Then we finally get to a strong lead about the Parshendi. The biggest standout from Shallan reading Gavilar’s account of meeting the Parshendi is: Where is their music?

The Parshendi have no memory of their cousins the Parshmen. They seem to be different forms that are changed by something, which now seems even more likely to be the music that the Parshendi referred to. This music seems to imbue or curse them with a connection to Voidbringers. The song of belonging? The song of the Void anyone?

Shallan questioned why Jasnah assigned her to reading about these events given Jasnah had lived them. Jasnah said it was simply to give it “a fresh perspective” and maybe happen upon “details I’ve missed.” Jasnah seems to be preparing Shallan for a lot and after this chapter she’ll have to accelerate that training. Even at the start of the conversations Shallan was willing to admit to herself that whatever Jasnah was studying, “it was something big.”

Yes, Jasnah is on to something big, but it seems like Shallan will provide that breakthrough at some point. And finally Shallan bluntly asks: “What is Urithiru?”

Which Jasnah easily describes: “Urithiru was said to be the center of the Silver Kingdoms, a city that held ten thrones, one for each king.”

Urithiru was abandoned a long time ago, before even the Radiants disbanded. It was interesting to see Shallan theorize that the city was in Natanatan, but Jasnah was quick to cut that out as a possibility as well as the Shattered Plains. But maybe, just maybe Jasnah is not always right. I still feel Urithiru is/was most likely somewhere in or near the Shattered Plains though Jasnah is very clear she does not believe that is where it is despite the Parshendi having advanced weapons. As of right now I can’t see why Jasnah so sure. Many Alethi mention that the Shattered Plains has never been fully explored by them and that they haven’t even seen where the Parshendi stay in the Shattered Plains. What if that is the enclave that the Parshendi house themselves in? In the very remnants of the Silver Kingdoms and their center of power. It feels right that their is an ancient lost city that probably holds a lot of secrets, which means we’ll hopefully get to explore it at some point in the Archive.

Now we move on to the main event: Shadesmar and the symbol heads. The wildest use of Shallan’s drawing skills seems to come out when she loses herself in thought, which is akin to Kaladin losing himself in a kata. She draws feverishly only to draw the attention of the symbol heads in the Conclave.

It seems clear to me that the symbol heads are some form of spren. When Shallan answered the symbol head’s question with a true statement it seemed to activate something giving her the ability to go to Shadesmar and therefore Soulcast. The symbols on the so called symbolheads themselves—and I’ll bet money on this—are the 10 basic glyphs. Don’t we all wish Jasnah had forced a glyph lesson on Shallan? And it definitely seems likely that these are the same creatures that Elhokar sees at night lurking.

The symbolheads seems to like asking questions and observing. The voice Shallan heard in her room in an earlier chapter seemed to be the same voice that activated Shallan in some way. It gave her a connection to Soulcast in a similar way that Syl seeks out honor (she’s been known to buzz Dalinar as well) the symbol heads seem to be attracted to something as well. It seems possibly that they like the honesty in some way, which is connected to the sixth essences, Shash. Shash consists of two attributes with Creative being the first, which embodies Shallan to a good degree with the secondary being Honest. I should also mention Shash’s body focus is blood, which we see in this chapter—another sign that we’re on the right track. I also want to place an early bet that Jasnah will be part of the Palah essence order of the Radiants.

This would technically be our second visit here after Kaladin’s brief glimpse during the highstorm incident with the giant face. With Shallan we get a more coherent view of Shadesmar and get to find out the purpose of all the beads. First off how panicked would you be if all of a sudden you just feel into a sea of beads? As someone who isn’t a good swimmer I would have freaked and go under within seconds.

The sphere Shallan grabbed and held in Shadesmar wanted to do her bidding. To become what she willed. Now did Shallan miraculous chose a sphere that was the essence of a goblet in her room (unlikely to me) or could she have chosen any beads and used it to change the goblet? My bet would be the latter. Shallan by giving the bead the energy it asked for had to use that energy once she returned from Shadesmar and it merely went into one of the first objects at hand.

Like Kaladin, Shallan only brought one infused sphere with her into Shadesmar. Now what could someone who is properly equipped with a lot more Stormlight do while there?


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.

53 comments
Ilmoran
1. Ilmoran
My thought on the goblet and the beads is that the proximity of the beads when you enter Shadesmar is relative to the proximity of the objects they represent in the physical realm, so I think she did happen to grab the specific bead for the goblet, but that it wasn't particularly miraculous, because there are only so many objects nearby.
Ilmoran
2. thefunnywalk
I can’t use that. I promised myself.
She began the process anyway. Ten heartbeats, to bring forth the fruit of her sin, the proceeds of her most horrific act. She was interrupted midway through by a voice, uncanny yet distinct:
What are you?

Does anyone think that means that Shallan has a shardblade and that she took it from her dad after she killed him somehow?
Drew McCaffrey
3. PallonianFire
Well I believe it's been confirmed through Word of Brandon that Jasnah is an "Elsecaller" and uses the Surges of Transformation and Transportation, if that helps. I don't have the whole chart in front of me (I'm at work), though, so I don't remember if that corresponds to Palah. Wouldn't surprise me, though.

And Shallan is a Lightweaver, on the other hand. Illumination and Transformation.
Nadine L.
4. travyl
The epigraph of the next chapter gives reason to doubt Urithiru is on the Shattered Plains:
Though I was due for dinner in Veden City that night, I insisted upon visiting Kholinar to speak with Tivbet. The tariffs through Urithiru were growing quite unreasonable.
From this I would dare to guess, that Urithiru might not be on any "real" or "physical" place on Roshar. At least it must have existed ways to go there exceptionally fast and equally fast to another location.

(On second reading it could be completely misleading, since I only interpret, that the person intended to go to Kholinar and Veden City at the same day through Urithiru, while it also could mean, that he skipped Vedden to go to Kolinar to there discuss Urithiru's tariffs, without going there).
Merchanter Pride
5. MerchanterPride
Urithuru has to exist somewhere because Nohadon walked there, an extraordinary and almost inconceivable act for his contemporaries who were accustomed to go to Urithuru in some fashion which didn't involve walking. I think the clear implication throughout is that Urithuru was in some weird place but surgebinders, or the Heralds themselves, had somehow wrought a fast-travel system that allowed one to go from a variety of points to Urithuru instantly via some kind of teleportation device enabling non-surgebinders to travel with the instantaneity available to certain orders of surgebinders. (See, for example, the ability of Hoid (and presumably the Thirteenth Shard, including the residents of Sel we see in the Purelake interlude in WoK) to travel throughout the cosmere, presumably via a surgebinder's Transportation power).

This would mean, among other things, that Urithuru was the transportation hub and natural government center of the Silver Kingdoms; and it explains why "the tariffs through Urithuru" were of concern on a trip to Kholinar, as presumably the epigram-author used the fast-travel system to get to Urithuru and then again from Urithuru to Kholinar. It also suggests that the epigram-writer was writing at a time when this transportation system had been co-opted into a revenue-generating network, which probably wasn't the case when it was first developed.

I've often thought, though it conflicts with the business of Nohadon walking, that Urithuru might have been an aerial city of some kind and its falling ruin is what broke the Shattered Plains. (Though of course I also, like many of us, think its quite likely that the Plains were shattered in some way by the death of Honor.)
Drew McCaffrey
6. PallonianFire
I've always thought that Urithiru was in the Purelake. Nohadon could walk there, but most people probably went by boat. Although knowing Sanderson, that's probably WAY too simple an explanation.
Daniel Robertson
7. danr62
"
They seem to be different forms that are changed by something, which now seems even more likely to be the music that the Parshendi referred to. This music seems to imbue or curse them with a connection to Voidbringers. The song of belonging? The song of the Void anyone?"

*WoR Spoiler*
The Parshendi are different forms of the Parshmen, but it is not their song that transforms them. The answer to what causes the transformation has been revealed in some of the Words of Radiance readings that Brandon has done at signings, which you can find transcripts of if you don't mind the spoilers.
*spoiler*
@5 That would be the 17th shard.
Ilmoran
8. Gristleborn
Seems as though Elokhar is possibly being set up as another Radiant, but I wonder what his Surges and corresponsding order would be.

I'm whiting out my rambling text below since it borrows heavily from spoilers leaked about the next book which some people may prefer to avoid:

Symbolheads (truthspren?) have only had a confirmed bond with Shallan so far -- well it's at least in process -- and since they appear to be akin to gatekeepers of Shadesmar in a way, can we make the leap that Jasnah is bonded to a symbolhead/truthspren as well and that her Surges (tranformation/transportation) both tap into the cognitive realm specifically?

Not sure how much was revealed by Sanderson on the topic, but maybe certain surges are congitive based and certain surges are spiritually based. Referring back to the Radiant Order / Surge map posted in the Grimoire section, it would make some sense to me that the five Surges on the right are spiritual, and the five Surges on the left are cognitive, which would leave the two orders in the middle to be hybridized in a way.

Anyway, circling back to Elokhar. Assuming that he is begining a Nahel bond with his own truthspren, maybe he will end up manifesting surges that are more cognitively based. Transformation is obviously a surge derived from the cognitive realm, so Elokhar could potentially be placed in the same order as either Shallan or Jasnah since, or another one altogether depending on which surges have a more cognitive focus.

The more I think about it though, if Kaladin was truly glimpsing Shadesmar when he was tied up during the highstorm, then access to Shadesmar isn't exclusive to truthspren bonds... Ahh... my head is a-spinning now.
Adam S.
9. MDNY
I thought that Urithru was said to be west somewhere, I think the quote was something like "westward, in the place nearest Honor". That rules out the shattered plains for me, since there's nothing East of them.
The ten heartbeats that Shallan contemplates seem to seal the deal that she has a shardblade. I feel that this has to relate to her vision of a man dead in a pool of blood, and likely to her father's death. Perhaps he died from something else, and his hidden shardblade appeared for Shallan? If he'd been killed by a shardblade there wouldn't have been blood. Not enough info to say what killed him, but Shallan certainly seems to blame herself.
Dixon Davis
10. KadesSwordElanor
Might there be some correlation between what Shallan thinks is her first soulcast (goblet to blood) and her vision, relating to her Father, of a man dead in a pool of blood. She may know she caused her Father’s death, but not really be sure how. For example, she could have been in Shadesmar when it happened. Just a thought.
Ilmoran
11. McKay B
As Gristleborn's ramblings hinted, Shadesmar is the Cognitive Realm (or, at least, the region of the Cognitive Realm that corresponds with the planet Roshar). So, like Comment #1, my understanding is that the beads are the cognitive representations of each material object on Roshar. So I agree that the bead Shallan grasped was paired specifically with the goblet; she couldn't have used that bead to transform a different object.

On the other hand, I'm not sure whether proximity of certain beads in Shadesmar is related to their geographic proximity in the Physical Realm. It's possible that their proximity in Shadesmar is instead related to people's thoughts; so the goblet-bead was near Shallan because she had recently seen it and it occupied some small part of her thoughts, but she could have grasped the bead corresponding to some faraway object if it had been prominent in her thoughts.

Although now that I propose that theory, I'll counter-argument it as well. Shallan thinks of Soulcasting as requiring touch (and is startled when Jasnah Soulcasts at a distance -- which I'll bet is a power unique to those who combine Transformation AND Transportation). So that would imply that touching a bead in Shadesmar requires being able to touch the corresponding object in the Physical Realm. Hmmm.

As for teleportation to/from Urithiru being enacted by the same process that Hoid and the other worldhoppers use to travel: it can't be exactly the same method, because most of the worldhoppers use different forms of magic that aren't found on Roshar. (Spoiler example: Hoid became a Mistborn during Well of Ascension, so some of his abilities come from powers that we're familiar with from that series.)

But the worldhoppers' travel is probably somewhat similar to Urithiru teleportation, because Brandon has confirmed that Hoid travels between planets via the Cognitive Realm; and whatever fabrials powered Urithiru obviously would have been based on the Surge of Transportation; and Jasnah (who we believe uses those same Surges) apparently has the ability to navigate the Cognitive Realm.
Maiane Bakroeva
12. Isilel
Is there a reason why Parshendi couldn't have been the Dawnsingers? Since music is so important to them.
I am becoming ever more sceptical of Jasnah's deduction that they are/were the Voidbringers. Perhaps they have the potential to become either?

OTOH, speaking of Voidbringers, didn't we have a cryptic interlude with the... Aimian(?), where a beggar asked him if he was a Herald or a Voidbringer and Aimian answered "Voidbringer. I did, after all, desecrate a temple" or something similar. So, maybe the Voidbringers aren't a racial group at all? Nor just a type of malignant spren.

Speaking of Kabsal, he seems to be pretty pious for a secret agent who is likely not an ardent at all.
And I have to say that I am somewhat confused by his casual mention of an option to leave ardentia. Aren't ardents property of the princes, like very privileged and valuable serfs? And wouldn't it play havoc with inheritances if they could up an and leave ardentia whenever they chose?

Finally, Kaladin's mom mentioned an option of him becoming an ardent - does this mean that they are not eye-color segregated and that a dark-eye can rise as high in ardentia as a light-eye?!
Drew McCaffrey
13. PallonianFire
@11 We don't know for a fact that Hoid is a Mistborn. We know he TOOK the bead of Lerasium, but not what he did with it. On the other hand, Brandon has confirmed that Hoid does use Feruchemy, and that it is involved in his worldhopping.

Even though there's a lot we don't know yet regarding Feruchemy, I think this has something to do with nicrosil, and the ability to store Investiture. Maybe Hoid has Invested a nicrosilmind with the ability to Surgebind Transportation?
Ilmoran
14. Gristleborn
@11 ~Brightlord, I was born a ramblin' man!~

Just realized that my post was slightly off topic and probably would have fit better in the Grimoire comments.
Ilmoran
15. MorindinFan
Aren't ardents property of the princes, like very privileged and valuable and serfs?


No,but to survive they need alms of sorts to feed and clothe themselves.So in a way they are an entourage of sorts.
Ilmoran
16. AlainEsp
Shallan/Her Shardblade
My theory is that she has (born with?) an hemaluric like shardblade. When cut his father/fabrial she absorb the soulcast power (either from her father or from the fabrial). This explains why her father bleed, as
hemaluric is related to blood. This implies her blade is from Odium and open the possibility to some dark control (or dark inclination?) in the future (i hope not). To note is that hemaluric in Roshar maybe is slighty different (here do not exist Ruin and Conservation). Possible Sezth has the same type of shardblade.
Merchanter Pride
17. MerchanterPride
Though, @11, Urithuru probably didn't use fabrials as contemporary Roshar understands them, as fabrial science in general seems to be a sort of brute-force shortcut to simulate the nahel bond, albeit with much reduced effectiveness. This is probably why Syl is so horrified by Shardplate, because absent the nahel bond its function is more akin to the fabrials as they currently exist. Perhaps, though, surgebinders were capable of Investing objects with a kind of echo of their own power, and so could produce Transportation-powered doors, or whatever. Or perhaps the fast-travel system simply took the form of surgebinders manually Transporting individuals or groups with them as they teleported, though that would make it less likely that Urithuru functioned as the transportation hub the epigrams strongly suggest it was.
Alice Arneson
18. Wetlandernw
Re: the symbol-heads (a.k.a. Cryptics) - Pretty sure Shallan didn’t need a glyph lesson from Jasnah, since she told her in Chapter 3, "I know all of the major, minor and topical glyphs and can paint them calligraphically." (To which Jasnah replied, “So can most children.”) These can’t be basic glyphs; if they are glyphs at all, they are much more complex than any others that have been described to us.

Re: “what attracts the symbol heads” - Ah, the answers, they come. They come in March…

FWIW, I don’t believe that Kaladin has seen Shadesmar yet; i.e., I don’t think the episode with the Stormfather was a trip to the Cognitive realm. I’m not quite sure what it was, but I’m almost positive it wasn’t Shadesmar. JMO, though.

Ilmoran @1 – I agree; I think the beads represent nearby objects, and the one she grabbed just happened to be the goblet. She could just as easily have happened to grab the bed, the nightstand, the pitcher, etc. Again, my opinion.

thefunnywalk @2 – Well, it’s pretty clear she has a Shardblade. Where she got it is still up for debate.

Isilel @12 (and MorindinFan @15) – At least some ardents are owned by lighteyes; on a cursory search, I find both Lord Davar and Dalinar mentioned as specifically “owning” ardents. There are other contexts, though, in which it sounds like perhaps some ardents are “owned” only by their devotaries, if anything. I don’t think we know for sure what the rules are. However… the idea of leaving the ardentia sounds like it could indeed be problematic. Perhaps when one enters the ardentia, one abdicates all former rights and allegiances; upon leaving, those rights cannot be regained. Something like that, maybe? It’s the only way I can think of to avoid some near-terminal chaos.
Andrew Berenson
19. AndrewHB
Shallan's thought about ten heartbeats bringing forth the fruit of her sin makes me want to read WoR even more. I hope we get to see this scene where Shallon first acceses to the presumed Shardblade.

Thanks for reading my musings.
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Sent from my smartphone; please excuse any typos
Ilmoran
20. AlainEsp
Nature of Desolation/Knight Radiants

I almost always do not like in high fantasy situations like the Fantastic_Cataclism/Last_Battle/Event_That_Bring_The_Uttermost_Destruction. I think authors manage them in a very "un-epic" and very common form for a lot of books warning about it. A terror cataclysm need (in my opinion) to affect the planet as a hole. So let explain my theory for the desolation/motif of this serie.

Odium will be in a different planet than Roshar. He needs a cosmic event (planets alignment, eclipse, Roshar sun rotation around galaxy...) to attack Roshar (defending by Cultivation and splittered Honor). He will use the help of gravity for example. His attack force will be Big_Rocks/Comets/Meteorites together with monsters (sentient) made of rock (thunderclast). The thunderclast are prepared to survive this kind of travel. Of course Odim have other means to influence Roshar so a form of V Column will attack simultaneously with the thunderclast. Note that thunderclast are described as made of "rock and fire" and this will be when they enter in the atmosphere and air friction heat them up. In Earth ancient civilization can predict very accurately cosmic events but Roshar people can not because for they is forbidden "predict" (Odium?). A week of continue fall of big rocks, fire and explosions following by big monsters of rocks killing the remaining population is pretty terrifying (for our planet too). I call this event without doubt: "The Night of Sorrow. The True Desolation. The Everstorm."

To defend from such attack you need to first "Unite them" all intelligent live in the planet and put the resources of the entire planet on a defending strategy. Note that a big army is of little use (besides of fighting the V Column and the Thunderclast latter when they land). We need a group of highly trained "defenders" (astronauts) that will destroy the meteorites. Well we have the Heralds and Knight Radiants. They have a spacesuit (shardplate), can not need to breath for long periods of times, can fly/teleport and have a big saw (shardblade) that cut rock (here on earth we have saw with industrial diamonds that cut marble and other stones, perhaps Brandon inspire from here?). They are not warriors (Odium changes that?)(Perhaps only to fight thunderclast?). Image how tainted/wrong/terrifying is to use a spacesuit and a saw to kill people (Odium do that or is simple human nature to use tools to kill?). We do not need to image much as they are a lot of terror movies with sociopaths using a motor-saw (i do not know the proper name) to kill. I imagine the battle in the space (the outer-space is void so Voidbringers and Voidbinders?) with the Surgebinder cutting meteorites (note how useful is Lashing to deflect meteorites in the space), some other Radiants class a little far manipulating light to destroy the rocks (laser beams?) and the Dawnsingers in high atmospheric fly pulverizing the remaining rocks with sound waves. How many heroic stories can be tell without killing other live form. Many heroic deaths: someone asphyxiate because he do not return to "charge" stormlight, someone froze as his shardplate broke, someone incinerate as he/she lost control entering in the atmosphere at high speed. Then the Radiants retreat slowly to the planet atmosphere/surface when a lot of thunderclast attack and finish the battle here.

The shardblades probably at first do not kill live forms. We can go a little scientific and say they do not kill carbon-based live forms. Carbon is the base of live because it can form chains (large chains). Other element that can form chains is silicon which can be found in sand and quartz (this is basically stone). So a live form based in silicon (stone) is possible (this is know in science-fiction) and probably the thunderclast are (I think I was excite too much here). So Odium (or the human greed) changed latter the shardblade to kill peolple. On other note the Thrill is (at first) a good think as a help to maintain focus and energy in the space but was also twisted by Odium to enhance kill.

The shardblade will be "stored" in the space or in a moon/planet. So the mist condensation is because they are somehow frozen. To punish the heralds a good way will be to send them to a planet like Mercury (very hot with rivers of melted rocks). Probably do not destroy an immortal human but is very painful.

I think the motif of the serie is a pacific stance. War is so Odium like. Kaladin "kill to protect" is so wrong. I like the idea of the protagonists (the Radiants) not warriors and the fundamental event (defending from the meteorites) not a battle. I read the 3 most important words: "life before death" as to not kill, killing is the last resource, killing is bad, killing is the enemy, is the tool of Odium.

Please Brandon, take this and write a hundred time better story.
Ilmoran
21. puzzle23
@1, @11, @18 Shallan is touching the glass goblet while being in Shadesmar: She put one hand to the side, steadying herself on the nightstand, fingers brushing the large goblet that sat there. "What am I?" she whispered. "I'm terrified."
Alice Arneson
22. Wetlandernw
@20 - Well, it would be an interesting story, but I don't think it's the one Brandon is telling. Personally, given the scope of his imagination, I'm content to read the story he wants to write.
Ilmoran
23. puzzle23
@12, @15, @18 Shallan thinks about what would happen, if Kabsal left the ardentia: " he’d be demoted to thenth dahn, almost as low as a darkeyes. He’d be without money or house, in almost as bad a position as her family."
Ilmoran
24. Wonderchimp
I was struck in this chapter that when Shallan gave the bead her power that it felt warm. I assume she's using stormlight, so in Shadesmar stormlight feels warm, but in the physical world it feels cold.
David Foster
25. ZenBossanova
I don't think #22 is altogether right, but I am still advocating for an astronomical aspect to all of this. But we will see.

And as long as we are all saying where we think Urithiru is, I am going to put my guess as either Shinovar, or some kind of sky city. But I want to know why it was abandoned before the Radiants broke apart. Why would they give that up?

I think it is interesting how passionate our fake ardent is. I suspect that his little cult has some greivances they are trying to right, and at least some of those are legit. I think Kabsal was being utterly honest right there. I am not saying they are good guys, just that not all of their aims are bad, in and of themselves.
Ilmoran
26. AlainEsp
@22 is probably right. What particularly bother me is that almost all readers view the Shardblade/Shardplate as weapons. Could a wise and knowledge group (as the Heralds and Honor/Cultivation appears to be) give humankind weapons of mass destruction? If you need a war to fight Odium then you are losing. I do not imagine a war that does not generate huge hatred.

One theory was that the act of the Heralds broking the Oathpact gives Odium enough strength to kill Honor. Perhaps, on the contrary, an unknown event or the war itself gives Odium the tool to kill Honor. Then the beliefs of the Heralds, without the support of Honor, weaken and this explains why they broke the Oathpact. The Heralds think they win the Desolation but, in reality, they lose.
Robert Dickinson
27. ChocolateRob
I'm assuming that there was a confrontation in the Davar household (probably at dinner, with knives about). Pa Davar went into a rage of some sort, badly beating his son then getting stabbed by Shallan trying to defend him. The moment he died his hidden shardblade popped into the material realm and fell on the soulcaster, neatly severing it, Shallan quickly took the blade and hid it it so her brothers would not see.
Pehaps the confrontation began with Nan Balat discovering about the Soulcaster, explaining how it is in play during the incident. It seems clear enough to me that the shardblade broke the Soulcaster because of how neatly it was damaged. I think I read somewhere that all fabriels have a Spren trapped inside, the blade likely destroyed the Spren which is why it would not work despite being physically repaired.
This all explains, where Shallan got the blade, why there was blood involved, how the Soulcaster was neatly broken but would not work after being repaired, how they knew it was a real fabriel before its beaking and how Nan Balat was crippled. Pure speculation for the most part but the Blade damaging the Soulcaster seems clear enough to me.
Ilmoran
28. AlainEsp
@25 "Urithiru is... some kind of sky city."

In the ENDNOTE we found:
"Above silence, the illuminating storm -dying storms- illuminate the silence above."
"...what the poem may mean by indicating that there is silence both above and below..."

Maybe the silence above is the abandoned Urithiru?
T C
29. Freelancer
Michael,

Don't schedule a trip to Las Vegas anytime soon. ;-)

1. "The symbols on the so called symbolheads themselves—and I’ll bet money on this—are the 10 basic glyphs."
~ Following up on WetlanderNW's comment on this, one partial description we are given of the "heads" of the Cryptics is of "impossible geometries". Not conducive to any written/drawn glyph, definitely not basic ones

2. "I also want to place an early bet that Jasnah will be part of the Palah essence order of the Radiants."
~ A slightly better wager on its face, given that Palah is a herald symbol on many of the chapters which feature Jasnah. Also, the Learned attribute certainly seems to fits her, but none of the rest of the features related to Palah. Also, it is confirmed that her surges are those of Elsecallers, beneath the Herald Battar, with the essence Tallow and the attributes of Wisdom and Caution.

3. "Now did Shallan miraculous chose a sphere that was the essence of a goblet in her room (unlikely to me) or could she have chosen any beads and used it to change the goblet? My bet would be the latter."
~ I agree with some other commentors here that the beads near her belonged to objects near her. The bead she grabbed exhibited a form of sentience and memory. It would be a stretch to think that such "soul" properties would migrate to any random bead post facto.
T C
30. Freelancer
AlainEsp @20

The phrase "Life before Death" does not mean what you think it means. Consider it in the grouped context of the other two portions of that Ideal:

"Strength before weakness. Journey before Destination."

None of these phrases is a moral judgement of any kind. They are guiding principles of focus. Someone too concerned with the destination fails to be enriched by the journey. Someone afraid of being weak is unable to know the many ways in which they are strong. And someone afraid of death cannot truly live.

Your opinion that the phrase means that Kaladin's viewpoint of "killing to protect" being wrong, is misguided. Remember the scene from Dalinar's vision where a band of Radiants joined the townspeople to fight off the midnight creatures. They slew quite readily. Also, after leading him to speak the words, Syl did not try to change Kaladin, and never once expressed any horror, outrage, or even mild displeasure with him killing an enemy. An honor spren who knows the Ideals would, if they fit your supposition. No, the Knights were willing to kill in the name of justice, protection, and preservation of society, so that cannot possibly be the intent of the phrase "Life before death".

Echoing Wetlandernw's response to your plea that Brandon write the story your way, no thanks. Open up your word processor and write a story your way, and we'll see if it's a hundred times better.
Sean Taylor
31. Izzos
Slightly off topic but relevant to last weeks post: I was looking at the map of Roshar and thinking how the continent looks like a hurricane spinning in the ocean. This is likely all wrong, but well what if it really was spinning ? What would the consequences of that be in relation to the Highstorms always coming from the west? Could that help explain the symmetry of the weepings? Or the weird seasons? I wouldn't put it past Brandon
*Mistborn spoiler, roll over to read:



Given how Brandon messed up directionality on Scadrial by literally reshaping the planet




*******end spoiler**********
Maiane Bakroeva
32. Isilel
Puzzle23 @23:

" he’d be demoted to thenth dahn, almost as low as a darkeyes. He’d be
without money or house, in almost as bad a position as her family."

Thanks! So, isn't it jerkish if not actually an insult for him to even offer this to Shallan? Surely, she'd be expected to marry well, since Davars are an ancient family that is perceived to be much richer than it actually is.
And this still makes me wonder how male literacy didn't spread, even if there are few defrocked ardents.

ChocolateRob @27:
Shallan quickly took the blade and hid it it so her brothers would not see.
But why would she want to hide the blade from her brothers in such a case? That's what I don't understand.
Nan Balat was right there, he either saw her kill their father or not, but hiding the blade wouldn't affect what he knew/thought of her act either way. In fact, it seems pretty harmful to Davars, who may have been able to somehow improve their fortune with a shardblade at their disposal. Hm...
Ilmoran
33. AlainEsp
@30 "None of these phrases is a moral judgement of any kind."

I do not agree here. "Journey before Destination." is interpreted in the book as "the end do not justify the means" which is a moral judgement.

"Syl ... never once expressed any horror, outrage, or even mild displeasure with him killing an enemy"

This is not true. In chapter 73 beginings (Kaladin remebering the battle):
"The killing," she said softly. "It hurt me. I have to go."

"Echoing Wetlandernw's response..."
I think i am misunderstand here. It is a way to delete my last coment as it appears to inconvenience people? I am sorry for this.
Alice Arneson
34. Wetlandernw
I think WoR will help us to understand the Ideals more fully - as well as the nature of Voidbringing, Voidbringers, Urithiru, etc. (Not that we'll necessarily understand them fully even then, but we'll get a better idea, and eliminate some possibilities.) This doesn't in any way mean that we shouldn't speculate, or state our current understanding; that's why we're here, right? But I'm absolutely confident that Syl's attitudes toward killing will turn out to be much more complex than "good" or "bad." Given just the quotations covered here, I'd suggest that her attitude may have a lot to do with who, or how, or why; possibly all of those, and perhaps more.

@33 - As for "Please Brandon, take this and write a hundred time better story." You certainly don't need to delete your statement - but you do need to understand that some of us disagree with you. From what I've seen of where Brandon is taking this, I don't think this particular war is coming in the form of an attack from space - but I've also seen enough of his work to be absolutely sure that the story he wants to tell will be one very well worth reading. If it involves extra-Rosharian elements, it will be part of what he's already got planned; if not, he's not going to change directions in the middle and add a space-attack just because it would be cool. It has to fit with the story he's telling.

For what it's worth, he's not exactly ground-bound in his story-telling; along with the short sci-fi he's already written, at least one of his future series will involve space-faring within his established fantasy framework. I just don't think this particular bit (i.e. the first five books of the Stormlight Archive) will involve space invasion. No idea what the other five might involve, though. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they win this bit, and the second half involves taking the battle to the "Tranquiline Halls" in real time... assuming such a place actually exists. There are other planets in this system, after all, so I assume they're there for a reason.
Ilmoran
35. Jasuni
@34 (and others) if there were any aerial battles, there would be severe limitations in the magic limiting what they could do. Space battles may be impossible at this point (but there isn't enough info about the magic to be certain.)

I think that Shallan used the sphere that Kabsal gave her (it was a garnet, by the way, so it is used for blood). Also, Her fingers brushed the goblet just before she soulcast it, and I recall a later quote about Shallan recalling a feeling of beauty and power.

I do wonder where the Parshendi get their weapons - and how old they are. *Spoiler, roll over to read:
the etchings are completely at odds with information in the Eshonai interlude.

About the unmade. What are they and are they real? Jasnah wrote that they were "obviously fabrications of folklore," (this chapter's epigraph) but I think that this statement is completely wrong. There are lots of references to them (see below). Perhaps they are like the Heralds for the Almighty?

I wonder if there is any connection between Yelig-nar's (Blightwind) wails and the voices Szeth is constantly hearing later in the book, when he visits Taranvangian.

References: epigraphs of chapters 45, 58, 67, and 69
ch. 47 (at Cenn's death)
There may be others in the text.
Robert Dickinson
36. ChocolateRob
@32 I am suggesting that Nan Balat was beaten so badly that he was out cold (or at least out of it) when Shallan actually killed their father so he was in no position to see exactly what happened. I'm pretty sure none of her brothers know about it and she seems to feels such shame at having it that she just wants it to remain hidden.
I am also confused as to why she is going through all this to steal a soulcaster when she has a - just as valuable - shardblade already in her hands. I've even posted the question in the headscratchers section of the Way of Kings TV Tropes page. The consensus seems to be that. if done correctly, stealing the soulcaster, using it and giving it back to the people who already know about it will attract less attention to them than trying to sell a Shardblade to, well, anyone. From a detatched point of view that does make sense but I think it more likely that Shallan is simply being less than rational about the whole thing.
Ilmoran
37. wind spren
@32 comments to chocolaterob about hiding the shardblade.
my observation : why would Shallan need to hide the shardblade as soon, as she held it does, that not make it hers , then letting it go would cause it to disappear into the mist? no need to hid it.

spoiler alert : roll over to read whited out text in shallans flashback , her father is carrying her back to her room, away from the site of her murdered mother, her thoughts make us assume the monster is her father , or at least had made me think so, but rereading it makes me realise these could be her thoughts, ( about holding a monster) be about herself? That she is the monster? and what is in the safe that is glowing? Could it be her shardblade glowing like those of the old radiants and it will glow in the safe until she takes it to mist again.
there seem to always more questions .
Ilmoran
38. wind spren
sorry looks like my white out didn't work . may need directions for this in case i need to try this again some time.
Alice Arneson
39. Wetlandernw
@35 - Well, any time someone says "they are obviously fabrications of folklore," I assume they're real. :)

wind spren @38 - I flagged your comment @37 so a moderator can white it out. :) The trick to the white text is that you can't preview your comment after you change the text color. So preview all you want, but then when you're ready to post, select the text, change the text color to white, and hit POST. If you preview it, the color goes back to black.

Also... if you register (free), you can go in and edit your comments after they're posted.

(Psst - Moderator - can you white out wind spren's spoiler @37 for him? Thanks!)
Robert Dickinson
40. ChocolateRob
@37 I meant that she hid it by claiming it and turning it to mist. She seems to hate what it represents and keeping it as mist is akin to pretending it doesn't exist.

I've not read or heard the section described in the whiteout so I can't comment on its relevance to my theory.
Jeremy Guebert
41. jeremyguebert
@34 - "I've also seen enough of his work to be absolutely sure that the story he wants to tell will be one very well worth reading". I love this and I couldn't agree more.

@Chocolate Rob - I wholeheartedly agree with you about Shallan's Shardblade and the scenario surrounding her acquisition thereof. Your theory seems to fit all the established evidence. We'll (hopefully) find out for sure when WoR actually comes out, but your explanation makes quite a bit of sense to me.

@39 - I find it highly amusing that the automatic assumption is that anything labelled as fictitious or unimportant is actually real and important. I don't disagree, necessarily, I just find it ironic that Brandon has built up such a reputation for misdirection that we all (over?)analyze everything, looking for any hints we can find.
Alice Arneson
42. Wetlandernw
jeremy @41 - :) I've found that every time I start second-guessing Brandon, or thinking I know what's going to happen, he does some completely unexpected twist and it gets better. The really crazy thing is that when I go back and look, the twists never actually came out of the blue, and they never feel aritificial. You know, that bit where a less skilled author throws in a twist, and it's just obvious that they stuffed it in as an attempt to be less predictable? I'd rather have it be predictable than lame - and Brandon has never done either one to me. Maybe that's because I'm easily pleased, but at least I have fun!

You're right - it's rather ironic that I have such an immediate "well, then it must be true!" reaction. Heh. One of these times, he'll throw in an important-sounding legend, and it will be exactly that, but we'll all go nuts waiting for Chekhov's gun to be fired. :) Interestingly enough, the fact that it's Jasnah speaking rather affirms it for me; she's a little too ready to write off things that haven't yet fit into her thinking. And of course, the Unmade just sound too good (bad?) to not be true.

One of the things I'm really looking forward to in the upcoming books is the symmetry between the positives and the negatives. We've had hints that Surgebinding powers will have corresponding Voidbringing powers. What about the Ten Deaths? Are they just "evils" or are they direct counterparts to something - the Heralds, the Essences, ...? Wild speculation: perhaps the Ten Fools stand opposite the Heralds in folklore, but the reality might be the Unmade. And maybe the Ten Deaths are opposite the Ten Essences? Meh. Whatever it works out to, I'm usually wrong. :)
Ilmoran
43. Jasuni
Brandon Sanderson's blog today stated that this chapter has the first appearance of Shadesmar, which means that Kaladin didn't visit Shadesmar during the highstorm.
Alice Arneson
44. Wetlandernw
Jasuni @43 - Good catch! I saw that statement, but didn't register it in context of this question. Now we know.
Sean Taylor
45. Izzos
Wet @42 Ever since your disclosure of your elevated access to WOR, I've had a hard time not taking your speculations very seriously!

I've been interested in the symmetry too. Are there orders of Surgebinders in opposition to the KR? Or a group of 10 in opposition to the Heralds?

I also wonder if there will end up being those that can perform all the Surges… rather like a Mistborn.
David Foster
46. ZenBossanova
#45 Izzos, I fully agree! I want to grill Wetlander for details too.

#43 Jesuni, if this will have the first visit to Shadesmar, where did Shallan go, with the sea of beads?
Kimani Rogers
47. KiManiak
Zen@46 - I'm not sure of which trip to Shadesmar you're referencing for Shallan. This is her first time going there, as far as I can recall. She does go there again in Chapter 70 (Sea of Glass).

In both trips she plunges into a sea of beads. In Chapter 45 she manages to stay afloat (well, up until she changes the goblet; then she submerges and is transported back to her room at the same time); in Chapter 70 she feels a force tug her down into the "sea" and (presumably) would have drowned if not for Jasnah pulling her out.

But Chapter 45 is the first time she answers the Cryptics question (or even talks to them directly, as far as we know) and is sent to Shadesmar.

What other time are you referring to?

Edited for clarity
David Foster
48. ZenBossanova
Nevermind, KiManiak

I misread #43 as referring to something in WoR, not this particular chapter in WoK.

But on the subject of Shadesmar, I find it interesting that sea and land are interchanged.
Alice Arneson
49. Wetlandernw
Izzos @45 – I can understand that… :) However…

I’ve been working VERY hard to limit my speculations to things I honestly know nothing about, and to simply refrain from commenting on things where I know more than I should. In the rare cases I do comment on such things, I’m being very, very sure to limit my “knowledge” to what is readily available in WoK and the Coppermind or 17th Shard websites. For one thing, I really, really don’t want to spoil a single thing in WoR – it’s too good to do that to anyone! For another thing, Brandon has done some revisions since I read it, so I know there are a couple of things that I might not “know” any more. So the only things you should infer from my speculations is that a particular aspect of a particular subject is not resolved in WoR; if I seem strangely silent on a subject, that probably means it is addressed in WoR and I don’t want to risk revealing anything at the wrong time. Hope that helps!

The symmetry question is only very lightly touched in WoR, in that some of the things we’ll learn there probably are related to it, if it exists at all. Which is part of why I’m so fascinated by it. There are all these “tens” scattered around; how many of them are supposed to be reflections of each other, and how many are just… tens?

As to the Mistborn-style one-who-can-bind-all-the-Surges… oh, my. I hadn’t even thought of that. Oh, my. (Which tells you that there isn’t one in WoR. Is that a spoiler? ;) )

Zen @46 – If you want to grill me privately and risk spoilers, feel free. I think you’d rather not, though, because the way things are revealed is all part of the thrill of the revelation! :P

About Shadesmar, I think Jasuni’s comment was merely regarding the earlier debate as to whether Kaladin had been in Shadesmar when he saw the Stormfather; this fairly conclusively indicates that he was not. But I guess you figured that out.
Jeremy Guebert
50. jeremyguebert
Jasuni @ 43 - Thanks for pointing that out. It's always nice to have a theory confirmed.

Wetlander @ 49 - I appreciate your restraint, (and the reasoning behind it) and I must say that I have noticed your silence on a handful of topics. Very much looking forward to reading the book for myself.
Jordan Hibbits
51. rhandric
Wetlander @49

You (briefly) touched on a topic that's been "bothering" me since I read WoK the first time: the number 10!

In Mistborn - and, apparently, the cosmere - the number 16 is important. 16 metals, 16 shards of Adonalsium - it's a universal number. Yet when we move to Roshar, the grand number, the most significant number, is 10. As we know, there were 10 Heralds, and all the rest, but...why 10, and not 16?

I've been pondering that question since I first read WoK, because of the significance of 16 in the cosmere. If 16 only had significance on Scadrial, I could pin it on the difference in Shards at each world - but the significance of 16 to the overall cosmere makes me wonder. Inquiring minds want to know!
T C
52. Freelancer
The commentary regarding spoilers and reveals and such reminds me of something Brandon said when he last visited my local SFF bookstore. (not quoting, completely paraphrased) He attempts to write the combination of foreshadowings, twists and reveals of each book in such a way that the core audience for that book is likely to "get" most things just before they are revealed, or at least is speculating along the right lines and the reveal is confirmation of what they are already thinking. Since his different books target different audiences, he "adjusts" the timing and the weight of hints accordingly. As an example, in Steelheart several things happen which, to longtime readers of the genre, more than hint about things. But the target audience may miss it until it's revealed, or just in time for the reveal to be confirmation. Maintaining that sort of balance is intended to maximize the engagement and enthusiasm of the reader.
Terrie Rada
53. NightowlKnitter
If Shallan is working to become a KR, I'm already worried for the order. Think a bit on the two main "proto-radiants" as they have been described. We have Kaladin, who is one of the most honorable men in the book. Yet he had to work his butt off to prove his worthiness to honor before being given the beginnings of his super-powers. On the other hand we have Shallan, who is by far the least truthful person in the book. She only had to tell one teensy-tinsy truth--"I'm terrified" to gain the same kind of access. I just don't see them belonging to the same outfit! Yes, I could see it of Jasnah, Elhokar, Dalinar, or his two sons. But to me, the person who most closely resembles Shallan's character is Saddeus. Their overriding philosophy of life is "look out for numero uno."
I'm going to cast my vote for her to be commander of the opposing forces.
edited to add that I think even Szeth is a more trustworthy person than Shallan is.

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