Thu
Dec 5 2013 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapter 47

Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings Welcome back to this week’s installment of The Way of Kings reread here on Tor.com! I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving break. I know I did. Also, be sure to check out Carl’s latest installment to The Stormlight Grimoire on becoming a Windrunner. He’s doing an amazing job getting into many facets of Roshar we’re most interested in.

As we near the last handful of chapters in Part Three of The Way of Kings things are really ramping up. Last week we went on a bit of a windride with Kaladin as he had his first storm vision. This week we take a step back to a scene we’re already familiar with, but from a different perspective. Chapter 47: Stormblessings covers the day that is perhaps Kaladin’s second greatest shame. The first being his loss of Tien, which he even reflects on during the course of Stormblessings, but what we finally see is how exactly Kaladin turned down what everyone else in Alethi society would considered the greatest honor: winning a Shardblade and Shardplate.

Now let’s take our trip in the Stormlight Not So Way Back Machine...

Chapter 47: Stormblessings
Setting:
Amaram’s camp near a battlefield somewhere along the borders of Alethkar, One Year Ago
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: It is now four years after Kaladin first volunteered to join Amaram’s army. Kaladin’s enlistment is up in a few weeks, but he decides to stay with the army; he expects to never go home since he broke his “promise to protect Tien” and can’t face his parents now. Kaladin has risen in the ranks and is now the youngest squadleader in Amaram’s camp. As a darkeyes, in order to be raised higher he must go to the Shattered Plains to further distinguish himself.

Gare, another squadleader approaches Kaladin. Gare seems annoyed that he has to talk to Kaladin, given a battle is about to start. Kaladin wants Cenn, who is currently assigned to Gare’s squad, transferred to his own group. Gare doesn’t want to do it and questions why Kaladin wants all of the untrained young recruits, since they wouldn’t help his squad. Kaladin calls his bluff and tells Gare to accept the payment like everyone else and send Cenn over. Kaladin drops a pouch of spheres on the ground. As he walked away he hears Gare say “can’t blame a man for trying.”

Kaladin passes through the busy camp as soldiers are running to and fro, attending to duties and lining up for their squads. Kaladin walks to the surgeon’s station intending to leave a bribe with Ven, the chief of surgeons, to ensure his men are treated first if any of his squad took injuries in the coming battle. The pouch of spheres sticks to him oddly, but he blames a windspren nearby. The pouch eventually comes free and he tosses it to Ven and walks to his squad where his second in command, Dallet, has them waiting. Standing beside Dallet is the new recruit Cenn, who looks eerily like Tien.

Kaladin’s thoughts turn to the Shattered Plains where “real soldiers” fought for a purpose better than these border squabbles he has fought for the last four years. Kaladin wants to get his team to the Shattered Plains as they’d have to fight in fewer, more important battles and he feels it would be safer for them there. Soon the horns blare and Kaladin and his squad rush in.

Kaladin finds himself in the thick of battle. As he looks around, he spots all of his men except for the young Cenn, who Kaladin at first mistakenly refers to as Tien to himself. Kaladin finally spots Cenn far out of formation and surrounded by the enemy. He races over and blocks a spear that would have surely been the end of Cenn. Kaladin quickly goes on the offensive, pushing all of the men back; he found himself invincible at moments like this, flowing easily from one position to the next as he defended someone. Kaladin feels a wind around him as he settles into a defensive stance. He examines Cenn and bandages his leg. Soon the rest of his squad finishes off the remaining nearby enemy troops and form a circle around Kaladin as he works on Cenn’s leg.

When Kaladin finishes, he orders Cyn and Korater to take Cenn to the surgeon. They should be fine here for the moment as Amaran’s forces were concentrated to this area. Cenn thought he saw a Shardbearer, but Dallet corrects him that it was only a well-armored lighteyes officer.

Kaladin becomes focused on taking the lighteyes officer down. Internally, he feels that that lighteyes represented Roshone and all the other lighteyes, save the few honorable ones like Amaram and Dalinar. All other petty lighteyes were responsible for all the troubles in their warring society and ultimately the death of Kaladin’s brother Tien.

Two subsquads head out with Kaladin, eager to fight. One subsquad draws the attention of the honor guard while the other distracts the lighteyes as Kaladin approached from behind. Kaladin gets a knife into the brightlord’s eye and then finishes him off with his spear easily.

The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson UK GollanczKaladin surveys the area and orders his squad to hold position. He’s about to call for the surgeons and for the captainlord to confirm their kill of a brightlord when he hears a commotion and sees that a true Shardbearer is on the field. The Shardbearer’s armor is gold and he wields a Shardblade shaped like flames. The Shardbearer breaks Amaram’s lines, tramples Cenn, cuts off Dallet’s head, and cuts down even more of Kaladin’s squad.

Kaladin rushes to his fallen men. Cenn is still alive, but dies soon after saying something about a black piper in the night. What’s left of the squad circles around Kaladin again. Kaladin looks up and sees that the Shardbearer headed through them to get at Amaram as directly as possible. He runs towards the Shardbearer with his men close on his heels. As Kaladin approaches, he sees that Amaram’s honor guard fled, as did most of the other soldiers.

The Shardbearer slices through Amaram’s mount, which then falls with Amaram in tow. The Shardbearer dismounts his own horse and is about to finish off Amaram when Kaladin hits his leg, causing the Shardbearer to stumble and split Kaladin’s spear. Ten of his squad team surrounds the Shardbearer, but their hits are ineffective against the Shardplate; with a few quick cuts the Shardbearer kills them all. The Shardbearer then attacks other members of the squad who are standing nearby. Incensed, Kaladin screams and attacks the Shardbearer. Kaladin avoids the Shardblade, but just barely. He backs up and sees Amaram dragging himself away.

Kaladin charges again only to have the head of his spear sliced off by the Shardblade. Kaladin then throws a knife towards the slit of the Shardbearer’s faceplate but misses by a fraction. Kaladin sees a flash and grabs the falling spearhead out of the air; he spins and slams the spearhead into the Shardbearer’s face though the visor. The Shardbearer falls over and drops his Shardblade to the ground. Amaram confirms that the Shardbearer is truly dead, since the sword did not evaporate into mist. Kaladin killed a Shardbearer!

The Shardblade rests stabbed into the ground. Coreb, one of Kaladin’s few remaining squadmates tells him to take it, but Kaladin refuses. Kaladin can’t take up the sword for fear of changing into a lighteyes—something he despises deeply. He also can’t justify taking up the blade that had killed so many of his friends, and so many others in the past.

Amaram is aghast that Kaladin doesn’t take the blade. Kaladin simply says, “I don’t want it. I’m giving it to my men,” then walks away.

 

Quote of the Chapter:

Kaladin stepped forward, dazed, raising his hand toward the hilt of the Blade. He hesitated just an inch away from it.

Everything felt wrong.

If he took that Blade, he’d become one of them. His eyes would even change, if the stories were right. Though the Blade glistened in the light, clean of the murders it had performed, for a moment it seemed red to him. Stained with Dallet’s blood. Toorim’s blood. The blood of the men who had been alive just moments before.

I certainly wouldn’t want the weapon that killed my friends, but the power is so tempting in the heat of battle few have probably ever thought of the implications Kaladin is focused on. By picking up that blade Kaladin would have changed wholly and according to Syl maybe his very soul would have been tainted.

Commentary:

And we’ve come nearly full circle. This is the same battle that we saw from Cenn’s point of view in the very first regular chapter. If Kaladin’s experiences with Roshone growing up weren’t enough for him to dislike lighteyes forever, well this chapter cemented it. Kaladin makes his distrust of lighteyes in general pretty apparently throughout the chapter, but besides Roshone it is all about how they act superior and not honorable except for Kaladin’s precious Amaram.

As the battle continues Kaladin witnesses a Shardblade in action for the first time. He sees exactly what havoc and death is so offhandedly committed by them and is horrified to his core. His well trained team was decimated with a few quick strokes. And when the opportunity came for Kaladin to pick-up the blade that he earned he turns his back on it. He can’t take becoming not only a lighteyes, but someone who has such disregard for the lives of others. Kaladin now simply sees Shardbearers as butchers with pretty eyes. Kaladin’s dislike of lighteyes becomes outright hatred by the end this day though that incident is still to come in an upcoming chapter.

Since joining Amaram’s army Kaladin has been destined to live the ideals of the Knight Radiant. If only he had learned the important words sooner or if only Syl came into her own quicker Kaladin’s destiny might have been a bit less harsh.

Syl up to her old tricks. She was even less circumspect than I remember. A few thoughts came up in regards to Syl that bear closer examination. Firstly, was Syl’s early trick in the chapter with the bag of spheres meant more to help Kaladin keep infused sphere nears by for him to draw upon during battle or just her playing around? I like to think it was very deliberate on her part, even if she didn’t realize why she was doing it at the time. Near the end of the battle with the Shardbearer Kaladin is clearly on the cusp of becoming a Windrunner. He’s only missing the words though he feels them in his heart.

The other key thing that I think involved Syl is the miraculous spearhead catch by Kaladin. Though when in the thick of a battle scene Sanderson’s writing is clear the timing of the action is always swift and Kaladin moves very fluidly from one stance/action to the next that it is possible the spearhead stayed aloft all its own while he took the time to throw a knife it seems very doubtful. The wording also suggest this spearhead wasn’t merely taking its sweet time falling to the ground after being chopped off, but that Syl herself intervened. The “Something flashed in the air beside him” line is the cincher for me. Syl does love to get flashy sometimes.

Kaladin truly is a risk taker and this has only grown in his time as a soldier. Even back then Kaladin was too smart and he thought too much for a spearman though his superiors were able to overlook it at the time due to his abilities with a spear. Kaladin even went so far as to break—not bend—rules as he saw fit to help his men. Bribes are definitely not free and he was quick to spread them around camp for weak recruits and to ensure his men were first in line behind the lighteyes when a medic is needed.

Speaking of needing a medic Cenn had a very interesting death quote:

Cenn stopped wheezing. He convulsed once, eyes still open. “He watches!” the boy hissed. “The black piper in the night. He holds us in his palm... playing a tune that no man can hear!”

A reference perhaps to Odium playing a song that changes the Parshmen into Parshendi perhaps? Hopefully, time will reveal all.

Tune in next week when Carl will be covering the next Shallan chapter.


Michael Pye (aka The Mad Hatter) runs The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review where he shares his views on genre books. He can also be found nattering on Twitter 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.

27 comments
Cory S.
1. Hungry_For_Hands
I never really saw the spearhead as Syl intervening. In my mind I always pictured it like this. Kaladin slides under the shardblade swing, which hits the top of his spear, sending the spearhead spinning up into the air. Kaladin throws his knife just about the same time as he is sliding under the swing and the spearhead is just tumbling up in the air. Then as his throw misses, the spearhead is finally on its descent and the sun glints off the falling spearhead. At which point he grabs it mid-air and kills the shardbearer.

I may have to go back and re-read the passage, but that is always what I pictured in my mind: that this whole thing was a matter of 5 seconds or so.
Nadine L.
2. travyl
I had the same thought as you, Michael: that in this Re-Read Syl's trick with the coin pouch was more blatant than I remebered, and I like your interpretation, that she might have done it so Kaladin would have shperes nearby. Especially considering the following:
I'm still not sure if Kaladin can use stormlight by this time, but the followning quote from this chapter might suggest it?
"He could not be stopped, not when he felt like this. When he had the energy of defending the fallen, the power of standing to protect one of his men"
Secondly I agree with Hungry for Hands @1 as well: I didn't see the spearhead as Syl's intervention, but it's great that B.Sanderson describes the scene so ambiguous, that we can find clues that indeed hint at it.
Andrew Berenson
3. AndrewHB
Kaladin is far morally superior person tham I am. Had a killed a Shardbearer, I would have claimed the ShardPlate armor and the Shardblade.

Is Cenn's death rant the oldest example of a character making such deathbed statements?

Does anybody have a theory (valid or otehrwise) as to why the Shardbearer was on the battlefield in the first place? Who was his intended target?

Thanks for reading my musings.
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Jordan Hibbits
4. rhandric
Are we certain that the coin pouch sticking to him was actually the work of Syl? One thing that crossed my mind rereading this scene was that it was actually Kaladin unconsiously binding it to himself - and possibly, the same goes for the scene when he first "meets" Syl, in the back of the slaver's wagon, when the bowl sticks to his hand. Yes, Syl is present in both cases, so the argument could go either way. Just a thought I had rereading this scene.
Cory S.
5. Hungry_For_Hands
@3. I don't have the book in front of me, but if I recall correctly, I thought there was a quote that indicated Amaram knew who did it. It was something like "I can't believe they would be so bold". I always got the impression that Amaram was the target and that maybe it was that same organization that is linked to Shallan's dad.

I will try to find the quote I am thinking of and edit my comment
andrew smith
8. sillyslovene
So, haven't had or seen this thought anywhere- but the black piper possibly is Hoid/Wit? -wearing black, with his black pipe/flute, in the night, watching people (on all the worlds) but also pulling strings in interesting ways and making people dance to a tune they can't hear...

Seems almost too close. I like it though, because if so, it casts Hoid as a much more sinister (or at least complex) character than most imagine or see him as - casting him as the puppet master instead of the altruistic helpful soul who is fighting for the underdog and/or attempting to do something to make things better after the shattering of Adonalsium, resisting Odium, running from those who are trying to stop him, etc...(at least that is the feeling that I get most of the fandom has with regard to Hoid). Then again, there is nothing that can't says he can't be seen as both, depending on a persons POV...

Might need to go read that scene with Wit/Hoid in the dark with Kaladin...
Gristleborn
9. Gristleborn
I believe the Nightwatcher is usually described as female, but the fact that this black piper "watches" in the "night" could possibly indicate a correlation. Knowing how Sanderson is, it's hard to let these word choices go as merely coincidental.
David Foster
10. ZenBossanova
There was some speculation that the Shardbearer was a Ghostblood, and Shallan's brother in particular. I am not convinced either way, but that was the speculation.

I think we should also do a week where we look at nothing but those creepy death utterances. There is some seriously strange stuff there.
Walker White
11. Walker
@10

The shardbearer's identity is one of the most discussed topics of speculation. The evidence that it is a Ghostblood is very, very strong. In the next flashback chapter, the discussion between Amaram and Restares (overheard by Kaladin) is that the entire attack was a Ghostblood offensive.

The speculation that it is Shallan's brother is weaker. The evidence is simply that (1) her father is a Ghostblood, (2) the brother went missing, (3) at roughly the same time.
Robert Dickinson
12. ChocolateRob
In the tent later Amaram mentions the name Thaidakar, the same person that Ghavilar first blamed when he spoke to Szeth. (G's next guess was Sadeas)

@3 It is mentioned, by Navani maybe, that the death quotes started around the same time that Ghavilar was slain so this one by Cenn is only the earliest that we have heard so far. Less than a year ago.
Gristleborn
13. Gristleborn
@12 It may have been mentioned by Navani at some point in the book as well, but I'm fairly certain that Taravangian explained that the death quotes started sometime after one of Gavilar's initial excursions into either the Unclaimed Hills or Shattered Plains -- so presumably right after he first made contact with the Parshendi. He told this to Szeth after revealing himself as Szeth's current master.
Adam S.
14. MDNY
So much to see in this chapter, especially knowing Kaladin's future path (and Syl's importance). She has clearly been following him and forming some sort of bond for a while before she started talking and becoming more honorspren-like, and clearly Kaladin is already faster and stronger and more formidable a warrior thanks to her.
Amaram is still likeable here- even Kaladin does not direct any of his anger at lighteyes toward Amaram, who plays the part of the perfect brightlord until the shardblade/plate tempt him later in the day.
Gristleborn
15. jasuni
@3 The shardbearer may have been trying to acquire battle experience rather than kill a specific target. Or he may have been trying to make a political statement. There isn't any evidence for either of these possibilities, though.

@8 I don't see how Hoid would hold everyone in his palm.

I personally think that the black piper is one of the Unmade. Unfortunately, his name was not capitalized, so there is a decent chance I'm wrong.
andrew smith
16. sillyslovene
@15 - that may depend on what his long-term game is, what his goal is, and how he will go about doing it. It is clear that he is up to something big . . . the metaphor can be applied in a lot of different ways.

I don't think there is enough information to really tell who it is. The image is just too perfect a match for the scene with Kaladin. The image of a piper matches nothing else that we know about Odium, and there are no other connections that I can think of in WoK or the cosmere more generally. The thought that he is in the midst of creation ("playing") also plays into this figure not being Odium.

The thought of the Unmade is similarly problematic since we know almost next to nothing about any of them either. The only connection to any of the potentially possible ones (Re-Shephir or Dai-gonarthis) is that Re-Shephir is watching someone die. But this fails in that all of these (including Yelig-nar) are described as "consuming" in the death quotes they are referenced in. That seems fairly important, yet is missing here with the description of the black piper. He holds, watches, plays, etc but does not consume.

Again, there is no way to know for sure at the moment...
Gristleborn
17. abomb227
I imagine the Ghostblood s were trying to spread chaos. Having a foreign shardbearer attacking your troops while all of your shardbearers are away would be rather chaotic.
Dixon Davis
18. KadesSwordElanor
Did Kaladin’s thought you can’t kill to protect possibly have anything to do with the pouch of sphere’s lashing?

It definitely seems apparent to me after rereading the chapter that the current Shardblades are somehow flawed. Or, it could be that a Shardblade is somewhat proprietary to an Order.
Nick Hlavacek
19. Nick31
I wonder, if shardblades are so corrupting, what is the one Shallan carries doing to her? Will she have to give it up at some point?
Sean Taylor
20. Izzos
Walker@11
Don't we learn next chapter that the Shardbearer is also Vedan? I also recall reading somewhere that Brandon had confirmed that we had seen Shallan's brother in WOK, which has fueled the speculation regarding this Shardbearer.
Nadine L.
21. travyl
sillyslovene @16:
Re-Shephir, Dai-gonarthis, Yelig-nar ...
I'm feeling like I've not read the same book. I didn't remember any of those names, though my kindle search indeed finds Yelignar (referenced twice), Re-Shephir and Daigonarthis (once each). So thanks.
Alice Arneson
22. Wetlandernw
FWIW, very little is confirmed about the Unmade. I personally like the speculation that they are the counterparts to the Heralds, but that really is mere speculation. In any case, the only confirmed Unmade is Yelig-nar - and that is only "confirmed" by implication. Whether the "black piper" is of the Unmade... well, it does make a certain amount of sense, but so equally do a few others. We just don't know enough - from either angle (the piper or the Unmade).

Here's a weird thought. Way back in the beginning, we talked about the possibility of the nine living Heralds all wearing "negative" images of themselves; i.e., characters that are the exact opposite of themselves. (IIRC, this was based on the line about Jezrien in the Prelude: "He seemed so cold. Like a shadow caused by heat and light falling on someone honorable and true, casting this black imitation behind.") What if the legends of the Unmade came from the "shadow Heralds" - the inverse characters they became? I don't know how this fits with the idea that Yelig-nar is one of the Unmade, because he was clearly around prior to even the founding of the Radiants, much less the Aharietam, but perhaps his name has merely become associated with the Unmade through legend, and he really wasn't one.

Ah, well. That is total speculation, and probably won't stand up to casual inspection, much less close scrutiny. It's just that there's so very much legend that's based in history, but the legend and the history are so often very different. I guess if it matters, we'll find out eventually.
Jeremy Guebert
23. jeremyguebert
I've always loved this scene. One of the ones I'd most like to see done on screen. I can just picture Kaladin slamming the spearhead through the visor. So much win.

I was going to point out that this isn't where Kaladin's hatred of lighteyes solidifies (I would say it's not until Amaram's betrayal in the following flashback chapter), but then I noticed that Michael had actually mentioned that.

Very cool to see evidence of Kaladin's bond with Syl here already, seems even more obvious coming back to it again.

@18 - I'm not sure whether Shardblades are proprietary to an order or to a specific owner. I don't know if we have enough evidence to conclusively say one way or another, but my theory is that a blade is acquired/created as part of the process of becoming a KR, and trying to use someone else's is at least part of what causes the revulsion that Our Heroes (Kaladin, Dalinar and Sylphrena) feel towards existing blades.
andrew smith
24. sillyslovene
@21 Travyl, just to be clear, I didn't remember the names either (just that there was one semi-confirmed Unmade, and a couple other probables/possibles in some of the epigraphs). That's what the CoppermindWiki is for :)
Gristleborn
25. Wonderchimp
@18 I've been thinking about the Shardblades and Syl's dislike. We know from one of the interludes that defining a spren can force it into specific configurations. I wonder if the Shardblades are that. Someone uses that ability to define a spren, probably with some additional magic, to create Shardblades. Do we have any point where Syl makes comments about a Soulcaster? I wonder if she would have similar feelings about trapped spren.

I still think we might have Shallan as an abuse victim, but a few more crazy ideas have been kicking around. If Shardblades aren't spren, perhaps they are human souls/spirits that have been forced like a spren to take on the configuration. This then could be what Shallan did to her father.

Either of these would be reasons for the KR to give up their plate and blades. I'm convince that the KR did not betray mankind, but instead had some key peice of information revealed to them and they decided the means (plate/blades) were not worth the ends (fighting desolations).
Dixon Davis
26. KadesSwordElanor
@ 23 & 25

Guess we don’t have enough info yet to draw a conclusion. Both your ideas sound plausible and interesting. I like blade is acquired/created as part of the process of becoming a KR as a reason for current revulsion/wrongness. Makes Shardblades very personal.

P.S. Lift excerpt almost made my head explode. Answers to questions always seem to leave more questions than answers. :)
Jeremy Guebert
27. jeremyguebert
@26 - that's half the fun of speculating - seeing what different ideas and explanations people come up with. Very interesting for sure.

And yeah, the Lift interlude was pretty epic. Wyndle trying to explain to Lift how everything works felt like a tiny bit of fanservice to the hardcore fans who have been theorizing for ages. Still tons we don't know, though.

@25 - defining spren and therefore trapping them has all sorts of implications. In fact, it makes me quite nervous about how Bridge 4 is trying to "help" Kaladin discover his abilities towards the end of the book - I'm concerned that if they make any notation of how well things work / how fast he can go with Stormlight, etc., those could become artificial limitations for him.
Gristleborn
28. jaerynn
'Black piper in the night ... playing a tune..." Makes me think of Hoid when Kaladin finds him that night on the shattered plains. I'm sure it has nothing to do with it since i'm seeing Hoid as a more helpfull rather than sinister figure, but the similarity is there.
Leslie C
29. bubblegum_and_cigarettes
I realize I'm late to the party, but I thought the "black piper in the night" was kind of a shout-out to Lovecraft. I'm not seeing a Hoid connection at all.

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