Jan 23 2014 1:00pm
The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 53 and 54

Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread here at Last week Dalinar and Adolin came back to the forefront of the story with one of the most memorable visions we’ve seen yet.

This week we tackle another sad episode in Kaladin’s life and Dalinar finally gets cleared—well sort of—in the case of the King and the slit girth.

Chapter 53: Dunny
The Shattered Plains
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Bridge Four is out on a bridge run and it is a messy one. The Parshendi continue to sing as they shoot at the bridge teams. An arrow scrapes Kaladin’s face, cutting it. Bridge Twenty falls to the Parshendi arrow onslaught, causing the men behind them to trip over their injured and dead bodies. As the Parshendi directly across from Kaladin aim at his crew, he screams and feels “a strange surge of strength as the arrows were loosed.” Ten arrows strike the bridge near Kaladin’s head, yet none hit him or his men. The Parshendi archers look dumbstruck and lower their bows as they stare at Kaladin.

Bridge Four makes it to the edge of the plateau and lower their bridge. The Parshendi take up their bows again, but even as they fire, Bridge Four slide their burden into place. The men of Bridge Four move nimbly and erratically like a trained soldier should. Kaladin hopes their training doesn’t show too much lest it bring down Gaz or some lighteyes’ wrath upon them.

Kaladin spots Dunny on the far side of the bridge with an Alethi arrow in his shoulder. Soon a second Parshendi arrow hits Dunny and he falls over, bleeding profusely. Kaladin makes to run out to the fallen bridgemen, but is pulled back by Moash. Sadeas’s cavalry overruns the bridge, trampling Dunny. Moash holds Kaladin down and apologizes, saying there was nothing he could have done to save Dunny. Even though Kaladin knows Moash is right, he blames himself for the young man’s death.

Kaladin walks to the edge of the chasm to watch the battle unfold as his men gather around him. Kaladin tries to pay attention to the battle, but he can’t concentrate and walks away. His men follow him over to where Bridge Eight is recuperating from the bridge run.

A member of Bridge Eight with a arrow through his leg crawls toward Kaladin’s group. Kaladin orders his men to start a fire and get the medical supplies to tend to the wound. Rock and some of the other men question why they should help a member of another bridge team; the other groups have never been nice to them and their own supplies are running low. Kaladin explains they must be better than the so-called “noble” lighteyes, and that the only man who truly had honor would help anyone, even those he hated. He then orders his men to work.

Kaladin removes the shaft from the man’s leg and sets about fixing it up. He tells the bridgeman they will carry him back to camp, which causes the man to cry and thank Kaladin. Rock and Moash bring over another wounded man whom Kaladin then tends to.

Teft worries about how many men they can bring back like this. For every answer Kaladin gives, Teft has another objection. Teft is silent for a moment before saying, “Kelek’s breath. It’s true. I never thought...” He asks if Kaladin is still carrying a pouch of spheres. Kaladin assumes there was something wrong with the spheres, as they seem to loose their energy quickly, and thinks it may have happened due to something out on the Shattered Plains. Teft points out they didn’t lose any men on the approach. Kaladin objects, given Dunny’s death, but Teft qualifies that Dunny died after the run.

Rock and his men bring three more injured men to Kaladin. One is too badly injured to save, but the others he fixes up as best he can. Kaladin then checks his own injury only to find that there is no wound under the blood on his face.

Moash approaches Kaladin and begins to speak, “About Dunny...” Kaladin interrupts and tells Moash that he was right to hold Kaladin back, especially as he had probably saved his life. Moash extends his hand to Kaladin, adding, “You’re a fool and an instigator. But you’re an honest one [...] If you get us killed, it won’t be on purpose.”

Quote of the Chapter:

“He must pick it up, the fallen title! The tower, the crown, and the spear!”

This epigraph was a mystery to me upon early readings, but now after all the attention it has to be in reference to Kaladin’s future. Kaladin will be instrumental in saving Dalinar and by extension House Kholin, whose house symbol is represented by a tower and crown. The spear could only be Talenelat’s dropped spear, which we’ll see much, much later. And finally the fallen title would be Knights Radiant or Windrunner though it could be something more specific such as their leader’s title if they have one.

Commentary: Poor, poor Dunny. That was another rough battle for Kaladin, given the death of one of his earliest supporters. Every death seems to hit him just as hard as the first, but if he didn’t take that loss so personally he wouldn’t be the hero Roshar needs. Bridge Four lost their singer, who I would have thought could have made things interesting later on, but alas youthful Dunny wasn’t meant to stick around.

Kaladin is again unconsciously channel Stormlight again Lashing arrows around him like we’ve seen before, but more people are noticing including the Parshendi. Teft really just needs to come out and tell Kaladin what is going on instead of all this beating around the bush he’s been up to for his last few appearances. It is coming, but a little too slowly.

What role will Shen play in the future? The story so far seems to allude that he will betray them somehow, but I don’t see it being that simple. He is working to be one of Bridge Four very hard. What would a Radiant Parshman be like? Or could he simply end up being the bridge between the Alethi and Parshendi?

Kaladin finally mentioned his father and in a much better light than I had been expecting.

“The lighteyes talk about honor. They spout empty claims about their nobility. Well, I’ve only known one man in my life who was a true man of honor. He was a surgeon who would help anyone, even those who hated him. Especially those who hated him. Well, we’re going to show Gaz, and Sadeas, Hashal, and any other sodden fool who cares to watch, what he taught me. Now go to work and stop complaining!”

With a child’s eyes Lirin probably appeared very weak, but now that Kaladin knows the value of life and healing he has no better role model. The warriors he so looked up to when he was young have turned out to be the worst thing that has come into his life. The lighteyed warriors failed him while his father helped build him into the man he is today. Kaladin’s actions today with the bridgemen that weren’t his own only cement his legend further.

Brandon Sanderson Way of Kings UK cover Chapter 54: Gibletish
The King’s Feasting Island, The Shattered Plains
Point of View: Dalinar

What Happens: Dalinar is late to a dinner on the king’s feasting island. Upon arrival he notices a new type of fabrial that gives off heat. He passes by Navani, who turns away when he looks her way. Wit is missing from his usual station on a pedestal to greet incomers. All of the other highprinces are accounted for on the island; they give Dalinar a wide berth ever since he asked each of them to join him on plateau runs.

Dalinar sits at a table and orders food. Most others have already finished and are mingling. Dalinar has been waiting to hear Jasnah’s thoughts on his visions and Navani’s plan to verify some of the facts from them, but thus far his niece has been silent. He worried that Navani would use his visions against him some way, but realizes she cares for him—however, he doesn’t think her affections are properly placed. He doesn’t have many friends after inadvertently alienating all the highprinces with his talk of the codes and banding together. With Sadeas taking over and investigating Dalinar regarding the king’s saddle, he has even a wider gap between himself and everyone else.

A hooded Wit sits down next to Dalinar silently. Wit starts speaking about a whirlwind and how they are all a part of it, but don’t notice it. Dalinar doesn’t know what he is getting on about and says as much. Wit then asks him if he has heard of the term Adonalsium, which he had not. Wit goes on to say it was a nonsense word and then goes on a tear about pulling a man apart bit-by-bit and then putting him back together like a Dysian Aimian. Wit says you should call such a man like that Gibletish.

Dalinar wonders aloud if that is Wit’s real name, but Wit says he has given up his real name, though he can be called Wit or Hoid. He also mentions that Sadeas is planning on some sort of revelation tonight. Wit then tells Dalinar he’s leaving and he’ll be back if he lives, and maybe even if he doesn’t. He leaves Dalinar with these words:

“Watch yourself, Dalinar. Life becomes dangerous, and you’re at the center of it.

Dalinar sends an order for Adolin to join him. When Dalinar tells him the news about Sadeas, Adolin wants him to leave immediately, but Dalinar says to instead prepare for the worst and get some of his guards on the island. Adolin does so while also mentioning many of the King’s Guard are also loyal to Dalinar. Dalinar passes the time by joining a group speaking with Highprince Hatham. With him are some lesser lighteyes as well as an ardent and a Natan man named Au-nak. Hatham brings up the conflict between the Tukari and Emuli. Dalinar describes it as a religious conflict, but Au-nak said it’s more economically motivated and if anything religion was a justification, but it was related to money all the same. Au-nak says the was really about Sesemalex Dar as it is a trade city controlled by the Emuli that the Tukari want. He also adds that Sesemalex Dar must be one of the Dawncities. Dalinar asks if any had heard of Feverstone Keep, which none had. Hatham asks what devotary Dalinar was part of. The Order of Talenelat is his answer, which Hatham thinks fitting given Dalinar’s dislike of talk of religion. This leads to the ardent questioning the vehemence of Au-nak’s devotion to the Vorin religion, if he only follows it when around his Alethi friends for trade reasons. Au-nak takes offense and leaves. Hatham quickly follows and the ardent reveals Hatham asked him to offend the Natan in order to get a trade agreement done quickly. The ardent tells this to Dalinar to show that he has goodwill towards Dalinar and that they will speak again in the future.

The ardent leaves and Dalinar is joined by Adolin who confirms their soldiers are in place in case anything should happen. Dalinar decides to confront Sadeas. He walks up to Elhokar and Sadeas and asks for an update on the investigation into the King’s saddle and cut girth. Sadeas at first hesitates, but with the King’s urging he reveals his findings as the Highprince of Information. The separate leather workers said it had been cut, and not by accident. Sadeas then brings forth Fin, a groom who works for the king. Sadeas brings up that eight of the infused sapphires in the king’s Shardplate had broken during the battle, which was very unusual. It is common to lose a few stones during a battle, but not eight. Fin explains that he had prepared the saddle the day of the hunt, but when he saw the horse later it was wearing a different saddle, which could have only been done in the King’s complex. That should rule out Dalinar and his men as suspects.

Sadeas’s concludes that someone was trying to frame Dalinar for attempting to kill the king, and may also have been responsible for putting flawed gemstones in the king’s Shardplate. Sadeas reaffirms his belief that Dalinar could not have done any of this, though the real culprit may be someone Dalinar has offended.

Dalinar thanks Sadeas for his findings. Sadeas says he was trying to prove him innocent all along and no matter what people would still talk about Dalinar as a suspect. Sadeas says he still thinks there is someone trying to kill Elhokar and that the same people might be responsible for the chasmfiend showing up when it did. He can’t accept eight gems breaking during one battle as a coincident. Dalinar again says he owes Sadeas and that he was sorry how he treated him the last six years. Sadeas asks if he is still trying to abandon the Vengeance Pact. Dalinar says he had given that up, but that he is tired of fighting and wants to beat the Parshendi for good. Dalinar asks Sadeas to join him on a plateau run. Sadeas isn’t interested at first, but Dalinar promises the first Shardblade to him with the first Shardplate to go to Renarian, but that any gemhearts would be split with two-thirds going to Sadeas. Sadeas eventually agrees and tells him to send details by a messenger.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Ally with me,” Dalinar said after him.

Sadeas froze.

“You know I’m not going to betray you, Sadeas,” Dalinar said. “You trust me as the others never can. Try what I’ve been trying to get the other highprinces to agree to. Jointly assault plateaus with me.”

NO! Dalinar don’t do it! D’oh!

Commentary: Dalinar narrowly avoided one pit of snakes only to situate himself with the Highprince of Snakes, Sadeas. We all know how that is going to come back to bite him. So Dalinar is a devotee of Talenelat, which makes all kinds of sense. The epigraph to the chapter also seems to be a reference to Talenelat. Dalinar definitely embodies the essence Talenelat is associated with being so dependable and resourceful though it seems Dalinar has focused on the former instead of the latter.

Wit was quite interesting this go around, but he always seems to be. Point blank Wit asks Dalinar if he knows about Adonalsium. It seems he wanted to test Dalinar’s knowledge though he had none on this subject. Yet Wit does seem to know about Dalinar’s visions in some fashion with all the talk of foolishness of men who care, but is Wit part of the group exploiting people in the first group? In a fashion that does make sense as Wit knows more about what is going on than probably a few others on Roshar. It does seems convenient that tonight is when Wit, now fully revealed to be Hoid, is leaving the side of Elhokar and it makes me think he had a part in the slitting of the girth, especially in light of Sadeas figuring out the changing the saddles could only of happened in the king’s compound. Though the only reason I can think he did it was to pay someone back for something. Still I think the likelihood of Hoid wanting to do harm to Elhokar are unlikely, but him wanting to make the situation more complicated for his own purposes? Absolutely.

Wit mentioned the Dysian Aimian, a race alluded to earlier that we will have to see at some point that sound like some crazy looking shapeshifters. He also mentions the cosmere as he is leaving though that is an accepted term on this world. I think this is one of the few times in my life I’d enjoy a long theology discussion, but it would have to be with Jasnah, Wit, or a fairly open ardent.

Speaking of ardents the one Dalinar encounters is definitely up to something. My first guess is he is with the Ghostbloods or perhaps with whatever group Kabsal was part of, if they weren’t in fact the Ghostbloods. This man surely has some sort of interest in Dalinar that won’t end here.

Throughout The Way of Kings we have mentions of old fabrials such as the Soulcaster and even the Regrowth related one Dalinar sees in one of his visions, but it seems that this world is at the crux of its own technological revolution with fabrials. There are the proximity alarms seen in an early Interlude as well as the heat fabrials seen in this chapter in addition to the biggest military entrant: the so-called half-shard shields first seen in Szeth’s bloody run in Jah Keved. I can’t wait to see what else is yet to be revealed with these wondrous devices.

Join us next week when Carl will be back to tackle the next Kaladin 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.

Deana Whitney
1. Braid_Tug
Props given to Dad. Something every parent could want from their child during all the years the kid thought "You don't understand!" And saving the others is one more example of Kaladin becoming pro-active.

Never thought about the ardent coming back, but it's a good call. Also helps with the whole “conservation of charters” ruling.

Love Wit/Hoid

Edit: Yeah for 1st post!
Welcome @2 prizm.
That's the think about honor, there are so many way to define what is "honorable". Considering everything Kaladin has seen. His father acting as a surgeon first, self-interest a distance third, would be honor to him. All the other “honorable” Lighteyes have acted in their own self-interest first. Just my thoughts.
Sarah A.
2. prizm
Hi everyone, this is my first post (gulp!) although I've been lurking and avidly following this re-read alongside you guys, and this will be my third re-read of the novel, which I just simply love. I've decided to take the plunge and join the conversation :)

Thank you Michael and Carl for all the posts. Great commentary as usual.

I do have a concern regarding Kaladin's definition of honor. He says that he's "only known one man in my life who was a true man of honor. He was a surgeon who would help anyone, even those who hated him." Throughout the book there have been a couple of references (that I can't recall but feel are out there) he makes to honor that I disagree. Namely, that he often confuses honor with altruism, with the quote above being the most blatant example. This may be controversial, but my idea of honor means integrity (you will do what you say you do), respect from others (keeping within the relative ideals of the community you are in), and keeping your word. I'm sure I'm missing more, but what I meant is that honor is not an objective definition of being good, or putting the needs of others above your own. This is why you can have honor among thieves, or honor in a war-like broken society.

I agree that the ardent with Highprince Hatham will appear again sometime. His brief appearance in this chapter seems a bit too significant to be mere background noise.

Also, I just love how Sanderson built a world that is progressing in technology. Most novels (even epic ones) seem frozen in time, and seem completely oblivious to progress or innovation or invention. It's just neat to see things getting invented.
Adam S.
Thanks for another fascinating read. The Kaladin chapter was actually fun for a Kaladin chapter, compared to most of his chapters of despair. The death speech heading is very interesting. The tower and crown is obvious, the spear not so much to me. It could signify Kaladin working with Dalinar (the tower and crown), or something else entirely. The fallen title, however, is something else entirely. I just wish I knew what. I don't think we've encountered any mention of a leader for the radiants, but it could be that...I even had a way-out-there thought that the fallen title could be the Heralds (other than good old Taln), since they were the ones who first quit their positions. Maybe they have to accept their duties again, or else someone else has to do it? But that doesn't seem quite right.
Hoid is in fine form in the chapter, but his mention of adonalsium seems to be out of left field. I can only assume that he must have some inkling of Dalinar's current issues, especially that Dalinar has been touched by a shard-bearer in some ways (his visions), and he is testing to see how extensive that touch is and how much Dalinar knows. We don't know what Hoid's ultimate goal is through all the various books I've seen him in, but clearly it relates to adonalsium and its shards, so it seems very convenient that he just happens to mention the mythical substance adonalsium to Dalinar, a man who is obviously no scholar and would seem to be the last person in the world to ask about it.
Oh, and that ardent is definitely up to something, but it may not necessarily be evil. Just because one (fake) ardent was a ghostblood doesn't mean that the real ones work for them too. It's possible he is a ghostblood, but it is also possible that some of the deep secrets of the ardentia, things they still know but don't speak of since the recreance, will come out in the future, and the ardent with Dalinar in this chapter wasn't being secretive due to some evil plan.
Screw Sadeas, that is all. With a shardblade.
@2 Welcome!

I think you're technically correct (the BEST kind of correct) about honor; but I think it's understood that most people present themselves as being caring, good people, and therefore have to act with altruism to have honor.

Also agree about the technology. For a long time I lamented that so many fantasy novels took place when magic was dying out or the typical middle age type setting. There seem to have been a lot more novels recently taking place during Renaissance-like periods of growth and I approve.
Matt Stoumbaugh
5. LazerWulf
I would LOVE to see a conversation about Theology between Jasnah and Hoid.
Daniel Robertson
6. danr62
I believe Sanderson stated somewhere that part of his thinking behind the Stormlight Archive was that he wanted a setting where something like The Age of Legends (from WoT) was just beggining.
Mike I
7. MikeyRocks
Is it possible that Hoid notices Dalinar's spren which we (or dalinar) are yet to see? Is it also possible that Hoid has his own spren, of what nature I don't know? Which order of the radiants would someone of hoid's particular skills be from?

The shen storyline is very interesting to me. If the parshmen are really the voidbringers in some way and the parshendi are their cousins, what the hell is shen then, what will he turn into if he starts developing "talents" like kaladin? Can't wait to find out.

Also was there ever an explanation on why the parshendi do not jostle the dead, I have tiny theory.
8. Tarcanus
In response to the comments about loving technological advancements within a series, that is a fine line to walk as an author, if you think about it.

If ANY of the new tech winds up being critical to solving a problem in the plot, the author can't just plop it down randomly and blame it on advancements in technology. It has to be done slowly.

For instance, if the heat-providing fabrials wind up being plot essential, Sanderson has already done the work of mentioning them in an aside to let the reader know they exist. So if they become important later, there is precedent.

Just throwing tech out there will wind up being deus ex machina-like and detracts from the quality of the story.
Deana Whitney
9. Braid_Tug
@8: now I’m suddenly wondering how important the ardents "discovery" of cataloging the spren is going to be. And if Shallan is able to see Sly, then draws her, will Sly be stuck in that form?
Kimani Rogers
10. KiManiak
Thanks Michael,

I am unaware of Talenelat’s dropped spear you reference. Taln does drop his Honorblade (we assume, although Hoid describes it as a Shardblade) at the end of the epilogue, but it doesn’t appear to be a spear; moreso a sword that was, “long, narrow and straight, shaped like an enormous spike.” Are you referencing something else?

Dunny’s death did suck, but I did like how Kaladin admitted to Moash that Moash had done the right thing in restraining Kaladin. Good, competent leaders admit mistakes and commend their troops.

I also agree that Teft could have confessed a bit earlier about Kaladin’s special abilities. And the speculation about Shen… well, there does indeed seem to be hints that maybe there is more to his role amongst Bridge Four.

Wit’s reference to Adonalsium led to my scrutinizing every little thing he said (I think “Gibletish” could possibly be rather important in the future). I do also like that Wit directly comes out and says his name is Hoid.

(Also, just a reminder that Wit didn’t cut Elhokar’s saddle; Elhokar himself confesses to doing that. Wit may have given him advice to do something along those lines, though…)

Sadeas demonstrates (not for the first time, not for the last time) that he is a much better politician then Dalinar (or Elhokar for that matter) when giving the findings of his investigation. It’s unfortunate that neither of them could see through him at this point in time; but I think it rather realistic as our previous relationships and our hopes often cloud our perception of crafty, manipulative people that are somewhat close to us.

prizm@2 – Glad you joined us. Welcome!

LazerWulf@5 – I totally agree about the discussion with Jasnah and Hoid. Especially with Hoid’s extensive knowledge of the cosmere, Shards, and even Honor/Cultivation.
David Foster
11. ZenBossanova
One thing, Hoid is certainly not speaking nonsense. One of those nonsense words is an anagram for Shardblade. But so far, that has been the only one decyphered.

Regarding the spear - the only major character who uses a spear is Kaladin. I had never applied the epigraph to Kaladin and House Kholin, but it makes a lot of sense. But, once again, what is the fallen title? My best guess, is that it pertains to the Radiants and re-establishing them.
Dixon Davis
12. KadesSwordElanor
Haven’t seen this mentioned (Think I’ve read all Stormlight related posts?), so I apologize if it is redundant, and hope it is not considered a spoiler. Might Dalinar be the reason for the failed sapphires in Elhokar’s Shardplate?
Adam S.
14. MDNY
@13 Treesinger: Adonalsium has not been further explained, and is not mentioned elsewhere in this book. It is mentioned at the end of Hero of Ages (the third Mistborn book), and is apparently what was shattered into the shards that are the source of each god's power in the cosmere (e.g. Honor, Odium, Cultivation, Ruin, Preservation, etc...) This is mostly stuff from other books, and especially from BWS statements you can find online, not from this book itself.
15. LoriJo
A comment on honor vs. altruism: Szeth is very honorable.
16. LoriJo
@12 Maybe Elhokar is the reason for the failed saphires in his own shardplate. Spoiler alert!!! Elhokar has been seeing strange creatures (spren) very similar to the Criptics that Sallan sees, and it is likely that he is a proto-radiant as well. So I think it is likely he is (unconciously?) using stormlight just like Kaladin.
17. RedHeadEd
@2 Honor is an interesting concept. On one hand it is a word that has positive connotations as prizm mentioned. (acting with integrity, keeping one's word). Honor is often praised as a virtue.
But honor has another far more subjective usage. What I mean is that honor often has meant, "I have a reputation to uphold. Actions or words that besmirch said pubic image must be expunged via forced apology or if worst come to worst a duel." In other words, when personal honor is challenged, violence and/or repression become a permissable way in which to resolve the issue. Note that whether a person is objectively honorable doesn't matter. What's important is the person's subjective view of the image he wants to maintain.

One of the things I find interesting in WoK is that Sanderson is playing off both meanings of the word. The Alethi act in accordance to the idea of 'personal honor' yet act without true honor. They duel over small affronts to their sense of self-image, yet they do not keep their word and often act without integrity.
Adam S.
18. MDNY
@16 I find that unlikely. The radiants wore shardplate, so it seems kinda stupid for them to be able to crack their own plate by drawing on the gems inside. Of course, maybe the orders that see cryptics don't use shardplate, and he did weaken his own, but I'll believe something sinister is going on until proven otherwise.
Sarah A.
19. prizm
@7 MikeyRocks: I'm curious as to your theory about why the Parshendi don't touch their corpses...

@9 Braid_Tug: Yes, the ardents discovery that spren can be frozen (when measured) has some worrisome implications on what effect Shallan's drawing of Syl can do. One theory I have is that Syl has "crossed over" from the Cognitive Realm by binding to Kaladin, and by doing that is now immune to the laws that affect other normal spren. This cross over could be what wipes out a spren's memory apparently.

@16 LoriJo: I too believe that Elhokar's failed sapphires seem to indicate he is a potential Knight Radiant or proto-radiant, especially since he can see the truthspren/cryptics that Shallan has been seeing. I would be a bit disappointed if that happens since Elhokar so far hasn't shown any qualities to deserve that distinction. He's whiny and immature, and just doesn't seem to have the gravity or presence to pull off such a role. Maybe he will change.

@17 RedHeadEd: I agree, you can actually be both evil and honorable (like LoriJo said about Szeth in @15). Honor by itself has nothing to do with good and evil. It is rather about integrity within your set of values. I think it's possible logically to be a badass and honorable guy like Szeth. Kaladin however seems to think honor only belongs to those who subscribe to a sense of good. But that's inaccurate. Honor is distinct from alignment, it is a neutral term that can be applied to both good and bad guys.
20. Porphyrogenitus
Regarding the nature of honor, there are some historical examples one can use to examine the problem.

1 - Samurai were a very honor-bound culture. They valued their word and personal integrity and reputation, as well as service to their lord with unbreakable loyalty. This led to some decidedly unpleasant behaviors, like ritual suicide, revenge killings, treating those not of the honorable class as sub-human, and willingness to follow evil orders simply because one has pledged loyalty to a ruler.

2 - Late-medieval European notions of honor grew during later centuries and culminated in the dueling culture of the 1800s and ultimately contributed to the horrors of the first world war. This kind of honor shared some attributes with Samurai-style honor, but tended to be both more personal (such things as debt became matters of honor to the point of suicide if it could not be payed, insults became matters of life and death, etc.) and more institutional (nothing was more honorable for the nation and the army than a straight-up charge, even in the face of machine guns and artillery).

3 - Christian honor, when taken as distinct from pagan Roman (if you were raped or taken prisoner you'd best kill yourself) and, later, secular European understandings (see 2 above), tends to see honorable behavior more as a reflection of the holiness expected of a believer. It is informed by concepts such as let your Yes be Yes and your No be No, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, etc. It sees honor more as holding to the ideals of a truly holy life and less a matter of public reputation or loyalty to specific people or institutions. Give to others what is their due, and more, act with generosity and mercy even to your enemies, as that is only just considering what God has done on your behalf. Honor is the answer to the question of, if God has done so much for us, can we do any less for our fellow man?

Naturally there are many parallels between all the understandings of what honor means (especially ideas about honesty and loyalty), but I'd say the Alethi understanding errs in much the same way as late medieval European honor does, Szeth errs in the same way as the Samurai did, and Kaladin gets it right by following the higher understanding offered by Christianity.

TLDR - Honor has often been understood to be an analog to loyalty or to personal reputation, similar to how the Alethi see it, but Kaladin understands it to be about adherence to a higher code of conduct.
David Foster
21. ZenBossanova
I would just add in, there are lots of ways to do Honor right, and lots of ways to do it wrong. Ie. there are many good examples and bad examples in all of the above, even if I do agree with your general idea, if not every detail of that idea, Porphyrogenitus.
22. RedHeadEd
@ 20
Exactly what I was hinting at. I like the historical examples. Especially that you tie the Alethi to European honor (which i would suggest continues into the 20th century to a lesser extent in the American South).
Roman honor and bushido have certain similarities don't you think?

Your ideas on the type of honor Christian are supposed to live by is also paralleled by Dalinar. Christians(and Jews) are supposed to live by a code summarized in the 10 commandments(and more succintly in the 2 greatest commandments: Love God. Love your neighbor)
Dalinar's code is the Way of Kings. His Bible persay.
Sarah A.
23. prizm
@20 - very interesting comparison of the three examples on Earth, and as it relates to Kaladin, Szeth, and the Alethi.
Walker White
24. Walker
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why do you think Kaladin is picking up a spear from Taln?

First of all, Taln's dropped sword is a sword, it is not a spear. Yes, it is shaped like a spike, but it is still a sword.

Second, Taln is not dead. If he was dead, his sword would disappear (as was mentioned in the prelude, Honor Blades are the opposite of shardblades in that regard). So he would probably be unhappy if Kaladin took it from him.
Andrew Berenson
25. AndrewHB
Michael, in your comments you said "Or could he [Shen] simply end up being the bridge between the Alethi and Parshendi?"

Nice pun.

I did not realize until just now that Wit told Dalinar that Wit's name was Hoid. Interesting.

Thanks for reading my musings,
(aka the musespren)
Alice Arneson
26. Wetlandernw
prizm @2 – Welcome to the zoo! Stay with us – the ride is only getting better. :)

@several – The idea that Elhokar was subconsciously using Stormlight has been tossed around quite a bit, but there’s no evidence either way. (My personal opinion is that he was not, but that's just my opinion.) One suggestion that I haven’t seen here (not original with me, though) is that before the chasmfiend fight, Elhokar and Dalinar did a bunch of horsing around, which included Elhokar jumping off a 40-foot rock formation: “Elhokar landed with an audible crack, throwing up chips of stone and a large puff of Stormlight.” We know that Plate uses the Stormlight from the embedded gems to repair itself, and we saw a whole bunch of that Stormlight diffused all at once, right there. Why does no one blame the broken gemstones on overuse, rather than flawed gems? (“No one” seems to include the characters, as well as the readers.)
David Foster
27. ZenBossanova
Appearently that is in the parameters of "normal" useage.
Kyle Kinnear
28. Xaelun
Unless I'm very much mistaken, Elhokar cut his own saddle girth because he didn't think Dalinar was taking the threat to his life seriously. He outright says it in the chapter near the end where Dalinar assaults him. The speculation is that the gems in his plate cracked because either he was surgebinding (and we know he's seeing some sort of spren; symbolheads?) or because Dalinar was when he saved him.
Dixon Davis
29. KadesSwordElanor

That is what I was alluding to @ 12. But MDNY @ 18 made a good point regarding this possibility. I plan to read the section again tomorrow (book at work). I guess it could be possible that, as others have postulated about Shardblades, to work at peak performance, Shardplate could be proprietary to the wearer. Therefore, Elhokar or Dalinar could be using the stormlight because the Shardplate is not made for them. Not saying I believe this (yet), but I think it in the realm of possibility, given what we think we might know. :)
Nadine L.
30. travyl
I disagree with the notion that "Honor by itself has nothing to do with good and evil"
IMO honor is a good / positive attribute, but it doesn't mean, that the person with honor, has to be pure "good" and certainly not altruistic.
Just that in a specific aspect of their actions (e.g. thieves not betraying each others, someone paying back their debt...) they do what is "generally" expected to be right. -
This ties back to Jasnah's claim, that people actually know what would be right, even without god / religion telling them.
Maiane Bakroeva
31. Isilel
Eh, I guess that enormities perpetrated by Roshone, Amaram, Sadeas and Other people who have owned him caused Lirin's own dishonorable actions to pale in Kaladin's eyes?
Such as theft of the spheres, which was the root of family's persecution by Roshone in the first place and ultimately lead to Tien's impressment into the army and death? Or sleazy designs on Laral, so that her money could repair family's fortune, seeing how Lirin's high-mindedness left them destitute?
Oh, well. Lirin the healer was honorable. Lirin the private person - not so much. IMHO, YMMV.
Naturally, Kaladin looks back at him with rose-colored glasses, particularly since he didn't appreciate Lirin the healer enough back in the day and is still tormented by his inability to save Tien.

Anyway, Kaladin reaches another level on his way to Radiancy here, by helping the wounded from a different bridge team. Teft being so cryptic was rather daft in such a situation, though - what if Kaladin didn't listen to him about keeping enough charged spheres on his person? I mean, without understanding the background it would have been easy enough to disregard his advice in the face of their acute need for bandages, medecine, etc.

It was never made clear what made Elokhar's gems crack, was it? If fall from a horse couldn't cause it, what did? Dalinar drawing stormlight from them when he was saving the king? Adolin did notice him briefly glowing, so he may have drained the stones, but why did they crack? And so many at once at that?
Interestingly enough, Jasnah also cracked a gem when fighting those thugs in an alley, but Kaladin never did, even when using stormlight pretty extensively. Hm...

Oh, and Dalinar follows Herald Talenel in his religious devotions! The very same, who is going to appear at Kholinar. What an interesting coincidence. Will he be the only new Radiant tutored in his abilities by an actual Herald? Is this why he didn't progress very far on his own, yet?

Oh, and that ardent telling Dalinar that he is a part of some shadowy "we" who ostensibly bear him good will and are going to "talk (with him) again" at some point. Dum-dum-dum....
Kelly LeBourveau
32. Kikuo
@25 AndrewB you said "I did not realize until just now that Wit told Dalinar that Wit's name was Hoid. Interesting."

Hold up - when did that happen?

And a question for everyone - I know it has been mentioned before that Hoid appears in other Sanderson novels. Which ones? I feel lost because I don't know who Hoid is in the larger context. I also remember an earlier post mentioning that other characters were searching for Hoid (one of the interludes in the lake I think?). Someone please fill me in!

Re: Kaladin's honor - he's amazing. But he does tend to feel responsible for everyone around him.

Re: Dalinar and Sadeas' joint plateau assault - my stomach is in knots! Even though I already know what happens I just cringe at the thought of rereading it. Sadeas is seriously evil, for real.
David Foster
33. ZenBossanova
#32 Kikuo Don't feel bad about not noticing him. Until this book, I always had to have others point him out. His parts in other books just a few lines, if that. He appears in Warbreaker (as a storyteller), in Mistborn 1 & 3 (as in informant), and in Elantris (as a begger, I think). He was mentioned in The Emperor's Soul as the Emperor's Fool, or some similar position.

Hoid is up to something - it appears he is gathering bits of each shard. It is suspected he is trying to recreate Adolusium, though considering we don't know what that is, we really don't know what that will do. But there is a shadowy group called The 17th Shard, who is trying to hunt him down, and stop him.
Kelly LeBourveau
34. Kikuo
@33 Thanks for the update! In the other books I must have just gone right past him without realizing. :)
Cory S.
35. Hungry_For_Hands
@34 - I don't have the link in front of me, but there is a site called the coppermind wiki (google it) which is basically a wikipedia for Sanderson's Cosmere. I warn you though that it may make you lose several hours of your life.

You can look up Hoid there and find all kinds of fun information!
Alice Arneson
36. Wetlandernw
Try this:

Much good stuff, some spoilers (but mostly marked), and yes, serious time suckage.
Julian Augustus
37. Alisonwonderland
Isilel @ 31
It was never made clear what made Elokhar's gems crack, was it? If fall from a horse couldn't cause it, what did? Dalinar drawing stormlight from them when he was saving the king? Adolin did notice him briefly glowing, so he may have drained the stones, but why did they crack? And so many at once at that?
I think you hit the nail on the head right there with the bolded part. I haven't seen any other explanation that makes sense. Perhaps a gemstone cracks when stormlight is withdrawn from it very rapidly and by a method other than by inhalation? If Jezrien is, indeed, the Herald associated with Windrunners, then we know their body focus would be Inhalation. So we see both Kaladin and Szeth simply breathe in humogous quantities of stormlight very rapidly without disturbing the gems. But if another proto-radiant whose whose body focus is not Inhalation draws in stormlight, how do they do it? Dalinar is apparently a Bondsmith and Jasnah is confirmed as an Elsecaller. The Heralds associated with those two orders are likely Batar and Kalak, respectively, and the corresponding body foci are Oil and The Nails, also respectively. So how do Bondsmiths and Elsecallers draw in stormlight? We don't know yet, but I suspect that could explain the cracked gems when both Dalinar and Jasnah channeled the stormlight so rapidly.
38. Karen Ahlstrom
I think you guys are missing a possible definition for title in the epigraph. In the Book of Mormon, Captain Moroni--held up as one of the most honorable and valiant people in the history of the world--tore off his cloak and wrote on it, turning it into a battle flag for his people to rally around. He called it the Title of Liberty. Do an image search for Title of Liberty, and you'll get plenty of depictions of it.

I was surprised today when I went looking that I couldn't find a dictionary that has Title defined as a banner or standard or battle flag, so it's possible that Brandon doesn't realize that it's not a common meaning either.

Having someone say to pick up the fallen title, then describe the symbols on the banner Dalinar's army rallys around, the meaning seems pretty obvious from my point of view.

I am not saying this out of any special knowledge I have from reading ahead or talking with Brandon. It's just my opinion.
Alice Arneson
39. Wetlandernw
Hi, Karen! Wow - that's something I really, really did not know. And it makes a lot of sense.
David Foster
40. ZenBossanova
Captain Moroni is a great example of a Book of Mormon version of Herald! Well, no magic powers, but a very exceptional guy.

He not only rallied the people at a moment of severe crisis, (with the aforementioned Title of Liberty) but he also helped the people prepare physically and spiritually. He did not delight in war, but in the defending of his people, and in freedom. He was so exceptional, that it says, if all men were like him, the very powers of Hell would be shaken forever.

Come to think of it, he fought overwhelming odds, complete with treason, enormous battles, winning in surprising and original ways. He introduced armor, surprising his enemies and changing the way battle worked.

And considering how we discussed if the Parshendi were Voidbringers, there were a group of his enemies, who swore to never fight again. Eventually, (partly because of this group) these enemies became far better and more faithful people than the "good guys".

I am going to have to think about this. I think it works better than I initially thought.
Walker White
41. Walker
Will he be the only new Radiant tutored in his abilities by an actual Herald?
Taln leads the Stonewardens. It has been essentially confirmed in the back of the book blurb for Words of Radiance that Dalinar is going to be a Bondsmith.
Rob Campbell
42. rccampbe
Right after mentioning Adonalsium: Wit goes on to say it was a nonsense word and then goes on a tear about pulling a man apart bit-by-bit (emotion by emotion) and then putting him back together like a Dysian Aimian.

I know it has been theorized, but this is the first in-text hint I've seen at Hoid's motives. It sounds like a pretty strong hint that Hoid is trying to reassemble Adonalsium. But what will it look like after being reassembled?
Deana Whitney
43. Braid_Tug
@42: Almost makes me want to read the unpublished books housed at BYU that is Hoid's main story.

According to the Coppermind Wiki, BWS will rewrite those stories to improve them, but not for a long time. Could give us a better idea of who he is and what he is up to. But since they are such early works, much may change.
Leeland Woodard
44. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@43 Braid_Tug

The only unpublished Sanderson novel at BYU is Dragonsteel. It isn't Hoid's main story (that one is unwritten, and may never be finished, and is called the Liar of Partinel), but it takes place on Yolen, and Hoid (there called Topaz) is a character in the book.

I recommend reading it--there's stuff there about the cognitive, spiritual, and physical realms that I haven't seen outside of quotes from Sanderson at signings. In addition, the letter in the epigraphs from part 2 (I think that's where the letter is...I forget) has been confirmed as being from Hoid to a character from Dragonsteel.
Donovan Paas
45. Khyrindor

I think that Hoid is hinting (since he has time bending abilities) that Dalinar will be the one to put Adonalsium back together. note his particular words, "If you ever put a man back together, name him gibberish, after me." I strongly believe that sometime, Dalinar will become God, or put him back together.

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