Thu
Jan 30 2014 1:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapter 55

Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread on Tor.com. Recently we've been relentlessly teasing you with excerpts from Brandon Sanderson's second volume, Words of Radiance. While the excerpts are over, the teasing has only just begun, and I encourage all Stormlight fans to watch Tor.com on Tuesday for a special Words of Radiance opportunity, organized by yours truly.

In the meantime, our journey through The Way of Kings continues. This week I cover Chapter 55, in which Kaladin holds a ridiculous amount of money.

Chapter 55: An Emerald Broam
Setting:
The Shattered Plains
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Kaladin stands on a plateau on the Shattered Plains, watching as Parshendi forces surround Sadeas’s army. He’s sure this will “mean a miserable return trip.” Rock runs up to him and directs his attention to something unexpected: A second army approaching the plateau. The others identify it as the army of Dalinar Kholin, late to the assault because of their slow, mechanical bridges. Kaladin dismisses his bridgemen’s talk of Dalinar’s honor, saying he should tell them the story of Amaram someday.

As they watch, Dalinar’s army joins the battle, and it slowly becomes clear that this is an intentional act of cooperation between the two armies. Kaladin briefly considers whether Adolin Kholin, who he saw defend a whore in Sadeas’s warcamp, could be “genuinely selfless in his defense of the woman,” but he pushes the thought aside. The battle won, the Bridgemen lead the two armies back to the camps.

Later that day, having been assigned chasm duty due to how quickly the assault team returned to camp, Kaladin and his men scour the dead for weapons, boots, and spheres. His team has already made an amazing discovery: An emerald broam, the highest denomination of currency, in the pocket of a lighteyed officer. Also in that corpse’s clothes was a bag of chips and marks worth even more than the one precious broam.

The bridgemen have found a fortune that, without serious ingenuity, they will never be able to spend. Many ideas for how to extract the spheres are brought up  (but what if we ate them???) and discarded (they literally have guards watching the latrines), but for the moment none of them are sufficient.

As Kaladin wracks his brain for ideas, Maps pesters Sigzil to show off his Worldsinging skills. He grudgingly agrees, but most of the bridgemen want to hear folk tales, which is not in his job description. Kaladin asks about the city he saw in his dream vision, which Sigzil identifies as Sesemalex Dar. He tells them all about that city, in fascinating detail, but Kaladin is mostly interested in the fact that what he saw in his visions were real. Something magical is happening to him, and it’s growing more and more difficult to deny.

Sigzil begins talking about how different weapons are valued by the nobles of other cultures. In Emuli, for example, the most noble weapon is the bow and arrow, as it allows its wielder to remove himself as far as possible from the crass act of violence. Kaladin asks if Sigzil knows how to use a bow, and if any were found among the dead, but the answer to both questions is no. He sets the bridgemen to gathering spears, but Teft points out how useless spears will be down in the chasms when it comes time to fight up above.

Syl flies towards Kaladin and tells him that she found a group of Parshendi bodies, and she thinks they have bows among them. Bridge Four heads in that direction, but when Kaladin begins the scavenging, Shen, the Parshman bridgeman, hurtles toward him. Teft puts him in a headlock, but Kaladin asks that he be let go. Apparently Parshmen always react violently to humans handling their dead. Kaladin says that they have to scavenge anyway, but asks them to treat the dead with respect, as Shen is one of them and it’s going to make him upset.

Sigzil locates a horned Parshendi shortbow, and Maps a string, and Kaladin reveals the next step of his plan. He wants to shoot an arrow into the bridge above, with a bag of spheres attached. The problem is, none of the bridgemen profess any skill with the bow. When Teft asks how hard it could be, Rock reveals a surprising amount of knowledge. Kaladin is suspicious, but lets the other bridgemen try to come up with ever worse plans until Rock is goaded into intervening. The Horneater takes the bow, shoots a test arrow, and declares that they will take only five spheres, because any more would be too heavy.

 The jubilant mood of the bridgemen is interrupted when the idea comes over them that any one of them, especially Shen, might sell the rest out to Gaz. Kaladin quashes this line of thought, saying that they had enough to worry about without focusing on paranoia. “We’ve faced death together. We have to trust each other. You can’t run into battle wondering if your companions are going to switch sides suddenly.”

The men are placated. Syl lands on Kaladin’s shoulder and asks if he wants her to watch the others anyway. He nods.

Rock shoots the sphere-laden arrow directly towards the bridge, where it lodges and holds fast. The men cheer, and Kaladin claps him on the shoulder, but Rock insists once again that he will not use his skills to fight. Kaladin accepts this, and accepts Lopen’s earlier offer to covertly buy rope from one of his near-infinite supply of cousins. His plan is beginning to come together.

Quote of the Chapter:

He had lost Dallet and the others of his original squad in Amaram’s army. Did he think to compensate for that by training a new group of spearmen? Was this about saving men he’d grown to love, or was it just about proving something to himself?

Ohhhh Kaladin. Even when you’re trying to do right by people you have to constantly question yourself. It’s great that he (and Sanderson) are drilling deep into his motivations, but this time I feel like the guy could cut himself some slack.

Commentary:

I’ll get to the meat of the commentary in a second, but first, let me just say that I sincerely hope Lopen never ever runs out of cousins. He has a cousin for every occasion. He’s basically got a Batman utility belt full of cousins. Cousinman.

So much of this chapter is about trust. Seeing Dalinar and Adolin makes Kaladin whether he could ever trust a lighteys (still no.) Bridge Four is starting to trust each other enough to open up about themselves. Now that Kaladin has shown his men his combat skills, they’re willing to show each other what they can do. Sigzil, Teft, and Rock all show off skills that are deeply connected to their lost lives. And Kaladin intervenes when the trust among his crew is threatening to dissolve. He stops them from thinking they have to police each other, keeps them working as a team with the simple knowledge that, if one of them is going to sell the rest out there’s not really anything they can do to stop that.

And, of course, he doesn’t actually trust them enough to refrain from sicking Syl on them. I think that Kaladin does trust his men, but he also can’t ignore how easy it is to fall back into the worst version of yourself. He can’t trust them to be stronger than he is, and he doesn’t know who they’d be if they broke again.

I love how Sigzil never backs off on telling the Alethi that their Vorin culture is less universal than it seems. The way he adds his intellectual agenda to his infodumps makes them feel much more organic and interesting. I love getting details like the Emuli monotheistic worship of Jezrien out of him.

On that note: Jezrien as Stormfather? Does that mean the guy from the Prelude turned into Skyface?

Rock is the most jovial Bridgeman (except maybe for Lopen), and one of the first to open up emotionally to Kaladin. He’s open about Horneater culture, and firm in his beliefs and taboos. He absolutely refuses to fight in Kaladin’s revolt. But his knowledge of archery, his unwillingness to speak of that shameful facility, hints at a fascinating secret.

I bet that all of you are salivating to figure out why Parshmen and the Parshendi get so ticked off when you  mess with their dead, right? I know I was. Kaladin always steps up when it comes to Shen, pushing his men a step further towards accepting him despite being a Parshman. I think that speaks well of him.

Well, that’s all for this week. Check back next week for Dalinar antics, and don’t forget to look out for a Words of Radiance surprise on Tuesday.


Carl Engle-Laird is the editorial assistant for Tor.com, where he acquires and edits original short fiction. He is also the resident Stormlight Archive correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter here.

49 comments
Deana Whitney
1. Braid_Tug
So will we be getting only one chapter a week from you because of all the other WoK shenanigans?

Then again, this is a major turning point for our Bridge 4.

Edit:
"I bet that all of you are salivating to figure out why Parshmen and the Parshendi get so ticked off when you mess with their dead, right? I know I was."
There you go again, teasing us. "I was." So that means we will find out in WoR. Uhm...

And like @3, love the batman utility belt of cousins comment.
How many are really his cousins? Large family, or maybe people of his culture are all called cousins. Because he's from farther away, right?
Paul Keelan
2. noblehunter
You were excited to know about the Parshendi/Parshmen taboo, eh?

I might hate you in small but significant ways.
Adam S.
3. MDNY
Loved the batman utility belt of cousins comment. The Lopen is clearly the most useful one-armed Herdazian Bridge Four could have asked for.
Kaladin's still a little annoying to me, with his woe is me, curse all lighteyes shtick.
This chapter brings to light some very interesting info on the Bridge 4 crew. Rock clearly has some big secrets, including his ability to use a bow, apparently. I'm sure we'll find out more as the story progresses over 10 books. I wonder if all the crew members, or even just the key members like Teft, Rock, Lopin, Sigzil etc. will end up joining different orders of the radiants based on their personalities and abilities? (Sigzil clearly would go to a scholarly order like Jasnah, while Rock belongs in the order of cooks I guess).
Jasuni
4. Jasuni
I don't think Jezrien is the stormfather, despite what Sigzil said. (traditions change, after all, and Jezrien is already known to be a herald.)

I think Rock may have trained to be a soldier earlier in his life.
Walker White
5. Walker
@4

Rock will not fight because he is a third son, and thirds cannot be spared. Any interesting question to ask is "Was Rock always a third son?"
Alice Arneson
6. Wetlandernw
I wonder what happens in a Horneater family when a first (or second, or third) son dies. Does everyone move up a notch? If the sons were A, B, C, D and E, if A dies, does C now switch to making food, and D moves from warrior to craftsman? (I really have no idea.) But it occurs to me that if one of Rock's older brothers died, he might have originally been a fourth-son-warrior but is now in the position of third-son-craftsman. Perhaps his older brother was his nuatoma. ::shrug:: It's a thought.

(ETA - I see I'm not the only one who thought it.)

The Lopen, he of many cousins. Got a problem? There's a cousin for that... :)
Nadine L.
7. travyl
Isn't it mentioned somewhere that all Herdazians are "cousins"? Maybe I made that up.

Is it really stealing? I know Skar and Kaladin agree on that, but I'm not so sure. It's disobeying their superiors (who forbid that they keep the spheres), but because Gaz / Hashal won't give the money back to the heirs of the dead (I suppose), I don't think it is technically stealing.
Kimani Rogers
8. KiManiak
Thanks Carl! I am eagerly awaiting next Tuesday’s surprise.

Not much to say here. I enjoy that a number of Bridge 4 are having their personalities continue to be fleshed out. The “trust” development is a good observation by Carl; it’s moving along slowly, but realistically given the circumstances our characters find themselves within.

Jezrien = Stormfather = “Skyface?” That is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? I know there are different theories out there about what happened to each of the Heralds. If Jezrien is Stormfather and/or Skyface, the immediate question for me is “How?” followed closely by “Why?”

I would not be surprised in the least if the first 5 book arc for Stormlight Archive revolves around the creation of the Knights and the reestablishment of the 10 Heralds (some originals, some possible replacements); with the second 5 book arc possibly focusing more on the battle against Odium (or whomever the main villain may be) over the fate of Roshar and the resolution of the Shard power struggle (and possible ownership).

Braid_Tug@1 & noblehunter@3 – Yeah, Carl has been teasing us about his knowledge of events in WoR and his word choice (“I was”) is just another way to do so. It’s quite funny in its slightly cruel fashion.

travyl@7 – I also thought that Lopen mentioned his use of “cousin” covered a large group of people, but I can’t recall exactly where in the book he said it; probably when he was gathering supplies for one of the last bridge runs later in the book.
Daniel Robertson
9. danr62
Carl, you don't need to rub it in our faces that you read WoR. That's just cruel.
Jeremy Guebert
10. jeremyguebert
travyl @ 7 - I agree, it doesn't really seem like stealing to me. Nobody is going to be using the spheres that are down in the chasms, realistically. It is going against orders, but that's another thing entirely.

Wetlander @ 6 - I laughed out loud at the "there's a cousin for that" comment.

We know that Jezrien is/was the ruler of the heralds. We don't know that he is Skyface. I had thought that Stormfather might have been a reference to Honor/Tanavast, but with him being dead and seeing Skyface active during the highstorm pretty much puts paid to that theory.

Speculation from released sections of WoR: It's been implied that the Stormfather is actually just a really powerful spren, which would make it more likely that he is the same as Skyface, and less likely that he's Jezrien.

Interesting thoughts on the Horneater family structure. I know Rock says he doesn't fight because he is too valuable to be used in fighting, not because he's unable to. It seems a bit odd to force people to not only deal with the grief of losing a brother, but also learn an entirely new trade at the same time, but stranger cultural norms have happened...
David Foster
11. ZenBossanova
Speaking of that spoiler 10. jeremyguebert
I have wondered if someone could bond with the Stormfather spren. Or perhaps that is why there is the confusion over who is/was.
Jasuni
12. av willis
@6 for that matter, if someone were to be adopted into the horneater families, would it affect the pecking orders? Perhaps that will provide a means to an end to allow Rock to take up arms.
Paul Keelan
13. noblehunter
@8, yes, funny. Ha-, ha-, ha-, ha-tred.

It's interesting that we get to see the diversity of the worldbuilding through the various members of bridge four. Since I no longer believe in coincidence, it makes me suspicious.
Julian Augustus
14. Alisonwonderland
I have strong reservations about Jezrien being Stormfather. Jezrien is a Herald, and though seemingly immortal, he is more or less human. On the other hand, the storms represent vast continent-wide power, and I have difficulty seeing how the face Kaladin sees fronting the storm can be human, as the face is part of the storm itself. As in mistborn where the mists and the ash represent embody the powers of Preservations and Ruin, it likely the storms on Roshar embody Honor's power. While Tanavast (the holder of the Honor shard) may be dead, the power itself remains, and I suspect that what Kaladin is seeing now is the storm as it always has been, with the image of Tanavast fronting it. I would say Stormfather is more likely to be Honor than Jezrien.
Deana Whitney
15. Braid_Tug
@13:
It's interesting that we get to see the diversity of the worldbuilding through the various members of bridge four. Since I no longer believe in coincidence, it makes me suspicious.
We’ve not really seen a ton of ethnic hatred between the human groups, but it could be there. We’ve seen more the “your culture is odd” type thing. But that could be because this group is getting along and are the “bottom” off all the groups. Uhm… will be looking for more information in WoR.

But these conversations are allowing BWS to show that the world is not just one culture, despite all the main charters coming from one culture. So that could be the reason for the diversity, as I think someone said.
Paul Keelan
16. noblehunter
But is the diversity only there for the worldbuilding, or will it serve some other purpose?
Deana Whitney
17. Braid_Tug
@16, Guess we will learn more week of March 4.
Like you, I'm now really wondering.
Walker White
18. Walker
@15
We’ve not really seen a ton of ethnic hatred between the human groups, but it could be there.
The military has long been one of the most racially integrated organizations in the US, even in areas that have had notoriously poor race relations.


It is not that the people in this group are at the bottom, it is that they depend on each other to survive. They had to overcome a lot initial trust issues with each other in the first place, so there is no reason why they have not overcome racial/ethnic issues as well.
Andrew Berenson
19. AndrewHB
Travyl @7 and KiManiak @8. I do not know if Lopen ever admits that it is a cultural thing and he uses the term "cousin" to mean anybody (and not just a familial person).

Even if the book does not state it, I will believe that is what he is doing. To me, Lopen uses the term "cousin" in the same way that Sparhawk (in David Eddings' Elenium series) call everybody he meets "neighbor."

(For those that did not read the Elenium series, Sparhawk calls people he meets "neighbor" as a way of putting them at ease. Further, he does not want to call them "friend" as he does not know if he will be actually be friends with the person he meets.)

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Leeland Woodard
20. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
I've been missing the comments about the Heraldic images at the beginning of the chapter, so I'm going to revive that as a topic of discussion here.

The icons at the beginning of this chapter are Talenelat/Jezrien. Talenelat's attributes are dependable/resourceful, which you could tie into the fact that they're in the chasm trying to find salvage, or to the fact that they find a way to get money out, or even to the fact that Kaladin suggests that they trust one another not to go to the guards about their theft. Jezrien's attributes are protecting/leading. It could be a marker for Kaladin as the leader of the bridgemen, and finding a way to get money to buy supplies for his men, or maybe just a generic "Kaladin is here, being a leader" marker.

The epigraph as well, I think is particularly interesting:
A woman sits and scratches out her own eyes. Daughter of kings and winds, the vandal.
This seems to be a pretty obvious reference to Shalash, who is apparently vandalizing artistic depictions of herself. I wonder at why she's described as "Daughter of kings and winds" though--maybe Shalash is Jezrien's daughter.
Patrick Mosbacker
21. Patillian
As I read, I thought it became fairly obvious that Lopen was referring to many buddies and connections as "cousins." I guess it could be possible that some huge group of related Herdazians was either captured or came to work en masse at the Shattered Plains, but it doesn't seem likely from anything in the text so far.

And I know that Kaladin asked Lopen about the cousins at some point, and he replied something very close to "You can never have enough cousins." So I read Lopen saying "I have a cousin..." much the same as I would a guy with a New York accent saying "I know a guy..."
Anneke van Staden
22. QueenofDreams
@20 yes, it's confirmed that shalash is the daughter of jezrien.
Scott Wallace
23. wallyrocket
I love cousins. I had so many cousins and aunties and uncles during my years living in Hawaii. I was a transplant but was accepted as a cousin and uncle to many good people there.
Cousin is a term of endearment common among the Polynesian islands.
Nadine L.
24. travyl
QueenofDream @22:
Do you know, what in-book facts (if they exist) led to people ask (and get confirmation) that Shalash is Jezriens daughter?
Deana Whitney
25. Braid_Tug
@18, Great point. I’ve been friends with many military brats. Least prejudice people I’ve ever known.
But then I also have some veteran uncles who love their old squad guys, but judge everyone else of the same different skin tones.
Carl Engle-Laird
26. CarlEngle-Laird
Clearly I should dial it back, for my own safety. Although, considering what's coming on Tuesday, I'm guessing it's far too late for that.
Anneke van Staden
29. QueenofDreams
@24 Apparently it was speculation about that very epigraph that caused someone to ask BS if Shalash is the daughter of Jezrien. Th whole 'daughter of kings and winds' bit. I believe it was confirmed by word of Brandon.
Kelly LeBourveau
30. Kikuo
Carl, you tease! What is coming on Tuesday??!?!

@19 AndrewB I agree with you about cousin being a term for just any person that Lopen knows, or does (shady black-market) business with, and I like the parallel with "neighbor" instead of "friend."
Alice Arneson
31. Wetlandernw
@30 - I suspect it's limited to Herdazians, but I also suspect that "cousin" isn't limited to actual first cousins. At the very least, it would include all the second, third, fourth cousins, and all the "removed by" generations. I would guess that they sort of figure all Herdazians are related somehow, and "cousin" gets applied rather freely.
Leeland Woodard
32. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@22

Well, I guess that means that I'm paying attention to the details, at least. Nice to get immediate confirmation on a theory that I just came up with!
Anneke van Staden
33. QueenofDreams
Smintitule, I came up with it last week, posted all excited and found out it was all old hat! I was slightly disappointed, but also quite relieved to get immediate confirmation.
Jasuni
34. LoriJo
There seems to be a lot of speculation about Rock originally being a 4th son but being 'promoted' to 3rd. I think it is more liekly that he was a rebelious child. After all, Kaladin was slated to be a physician, or at least an academic, but he snuck off to learn the spear. Perhaps Rock also rebelled against his social destiny and snuck off to (shamefully) learn to use weapons. Later in life he repented of his youthful rebellion and is now steadfastly a violence-free 3rd son.
Nadine L.
35. travyl
@32 smintitule & Queen of Dreams 29/33.
Shame on me, that although you posted the epigraph and your theory didn't manage to get the message across. I know I've read the fact already, but had never been able to see explanation.
Maybe I should go reread the Epigraphs in one go.
Carl, are we going to to this here, as we did with "the letter"?

@34 LoriJo, I don't think him having been rebellious makes sense, at least I think that then, he wouldn't have refused the opportunity to fight so consistently.
Jasuni
36. Bael
Is there a place (17th shard or otherwise) that has a chart with all the chapter icons listed, categorized and explained?

Thanks!
Nadine L.
37. travyl
There is / was, but it doesn't seem to work right now.
In the "early days" of the re-read, it was provided to us in this Tor's reread, by Confutus and many others...
Jasuni
39. Jasuni
@7, 10 I think that the act of keeping the spheres is equivalent to taking money as it is being made. I don't know the process used to make money, but if someone (an employee) were to hide a completed bill for themselves (rather than give it to the people who have to distribute it), it would definately be stealing.
Jasuni
40. Dangermond
I created a dictionary for re-reads or even first read of new books built off the content of 17thshard-coppermind.net. Completely free if anyone is interested the details are here at Reddit and here on 17thShard forums.
Jasuni
41. Dangermond
Sorry - Thats a Kindle Dictionary - lookups from selecting words and all that.
Rob Campbell
42. rccampbe
Re: Skyface

I always thought Skyface's appearance was a case of someone 'riding the storm'. Kaladin rode the storm and I think his face appeared in the sky and that's how Szeth perceived him in passing. Men ride the storms no longer, because the oathpact was broken (see ch. 46), but perhaps Jezrien aka Stormfather still rides the storms and that is who Kaladin saw.
Rob Campbell
43. rccampbe
@39 Watch your pockets around here. Disobeying the rules/law and taking something that is not yours might be labeled something other than stealing. :)
Birgit
44. birgit
Sounds like tuesday will be a non-spoiler book review.
Jeremy Guebert
45. jeremyguebert
@43 - See, I would define stealing as taking something that actively belongs to someone else. Taking something that belongs to no one (e.g. looting corpses) isn't quite the same thing, semantically. More like scavenging. A less creepy example: if you pick wild berries, you aren't stealing, because they don't actually belong to someone else, but you are technically taking something that doesn't belong to you either.

Of course, if there's some Alethi law that all soldiers' possessions belong to their Highprince, or inheritance laws that say anything that can be recovered is supposed to go to the deceased soldier's realtive(s), then concrete ownership would be (re)established, causing the act to be defined (in my mind, at least) as stealing again.

And as I said in my original comment, whether you call it stealing and whether it's morally acceptable are two separate discussions.
David Foster
46. ZenBossanova
Careful. With discussions like these, Jasnah will swoop in and assign you all a research project to decide if it is moral, ethical and if it is technically stealing or theft.

Do you really want that?
Jeremy Guebert
47. jeremyguebert
ZenBossanova @ 46 - Ack, no! No research projects! Four years of university was more than enough for me, thanks.
Rob Campbell
48. rccampbe
@Zen - Absolutely! Here's my persuasive essay on the technical issue of stealing:

@jeremy - I think a better example than the wild berries would be 'hunting the King's deer in the King's forest'. Does the king own the forest and the deer? Does the high prince own the chasm and spheres in it? They are the source of authority and law, so if they say so, then yes. So while there may not be an applicable Alethi inheritance law, there is certainly a rule for the bridgemen and the spheres they find, which indicates a claim by the high prince. In conclusion...stealing.

(I made this a formal essay for Jasnah by adding a conclusion...bring on the real world lesson!)
Jasuni
49. Palpie
On stealing, the bridgemen are sent down to salvage/loot by their employeer. So taking loot that they should be turning over to the army is stealing. Now it might be like taking home office supplies and as readers we're setup to sympathize with bridge 4's actions. But gaz/hashal/sadeas would certainly view it as theft.
Terrie Rada
50. NightowlKnitter
@42rccampbe: I like this idea about "skyface" cool if Kaladin looked like that to Szeth, and who knows who-else it was (possibly Jezrien) that was looking at Kaladin.

As for Horneater family heirarchy discussed earlier at 4, 5 & 6, I'm pretty sure that Rock told Kaladin and Teft that he was already a cook when their nuatoma made his bid for a shardblade, so he would have had to move up in rank before this event if that's how he learned archery.

My biggest thought on the chapter is this: While Dalinar seems to be struggling to "unite them," Kaladin seems to be doing more than his share in this regard!

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment