Thu
Feb 6 2014 1:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapter 56

Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread here on Tor.com. Things are moving fast and furious as we are less than a month away from the publication of Words of Radiance (check out the new Glimpses of Radiance feature), but before we reach that destination we need to finish the journey that is The Way of Kings.

This week we tackle just one chapter, though it is quite an important one. Two sides that are warring against each other within Dalinar. On one side is the Alethi Thrill that has been bred into him, which he no longer revels in. On the other is the influence his conscience and the codes have had upon him. Neither side seems to have the upper hand at the moment, but that will change as Dalinar steps into a new role. Only he has to get past Sadeas to do it. And after he saved Sadeas’s storming life!

Chapter 56: That Storming Book
Point of View:
Dalinar
Setting: The Shattered Plains

What Happens: Dalinar finds himself in the thick of battle upon the Shattered Plains atop his horse, Gallant. This is one of his earliest joint plateau attacks with Sadeas’s forces. Both armies seem to complement each other well with Sadeas’s men leading the way and Dalinar’s better trained forces sweeping in behind.

The Thrill is upon Dalinar. He cuts through the Parshendi forces with ease as they fall from beneath his Shardblade’s edge, burning out their eyes as it passes through them.

As Dalinar fights he focuses on the fact that the Parshendi fight in pairs; usually one is bearded while the other is not. Alethi scholars theorize it is a master/apprentice relationship, but after looking at an unbearded Parshendi up-close Dalinar theorizes they fight in male and female—possibly husband and wife—teams, though with the Parshendi’s build and odd carapace shielding it is difficult to tell.

After dispatching many Parshendi, Dalinar sees that the battle near him has ebbed. He dismounts Gallant and sends the horse back behind the lines. Looking again at the pairs of Parshendi, Dalinar decides to have a couple of the Parshendi bodies taken back and examined by his scholars.

Dalinar heads to a more active section of the battlefield. Adolin is in the distance commanding another area while Sadeas’s forces are focused on the chrysalis. Though they could end the battle now by cutting open the chrysalis both Dalinar and Sadeas had decided beforehand to protect, thus it luring more Parshendi into the battle. Their long term plan is to kill as many Parshendi with these sorties as they can in hopes of ending the war sooner.

The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson Even though Dalinar knows he should hate the Parshendi he still respects them for their will to attack a Shardbearer so easily. Most regular soldiers would flee at the sight of a Shardbearer, but the Parshendi go right for them. Dalinar finds himself in the midst of many Parshendi, all of whom he quickly kills. A sudden bout of nausea takes him as he fights against the Thrill. But that doesn’t stop him from slicing through more Parshendi.

In the past Dalinar savored the Thrill, reveling in it during previous campaigns. Once he nearly attacked his brother Gavilar when he was lost deep in it. It was a time not long after Navani had chosen Gavilar over him.

Dalinar notices a second Parshendi army approaching, which had never happened in the past. It appears they are learning from Dalinar and Sadeas’s attacks. He sends runners to inform everyone about the second force. Dalinar runs and climbs up a rock formation for a better look—the army is headed for Sadeas’s side. Dalinar calls for his horse and tells a runner to inform Adolin that he is now in charge of the assault. Dalinar wades through the middle of the Parshendi with his Shardblade twisting around him, clearing him a path forward towards where he had seen Sadeas’s banner fall. Dalinar becomes the Blackthorn in that moment, unleashing himself as he hadn’t in years. “He was a maelstrom of death and steel.”

Dalinar finds Sadeas encircled and being beaten by the Parshendi as he leaks Stormlight from his armor. Dalinar sees the hammer Sadeas must have dropped and picks it up, dispatching many Parshendi. He summons his blade again and finishes those near him. Sadeas’s armor is in bad shape, broken and cracked in many places with the chestplate all but gone, but he lives. More Parshendi come at them, seeing two Shardbearers in their grasp. Dalinar kills them all with the Thrill surging again. Dalinar is in danger of being overrun when Adolin bursts through the ranks from behind, decimating the forces there. Adolin’s men are right behind him. They surround Dalinar and Sadeas and take out the remaining Parshendi.

Adolin expresses his displeasure at his father’s run across the battlefield without any of his soldiers. The plate on Dalinar’s back is a ruin and will require a lot of time and infused gemstones to repair the damage.

Sadeas is removed from his plate by his soldiers and seems to be mostly okay though dazed. He learns they won the battle and the gemheart is being cut now. Sadeas congratulates Dalinar and Adolin. Dalinar makes it clear he was following the Codes to do so. Dalinar departs to check on Gallant. He sees the line of death he caused across the field and seems horrified at what he has done.

Quote of the Chapter:

“You do not abandon your allies on the battlefield. Not unless there’s no recourse. It is one of the Codes.”

Sadeas shook his head. “That honor of yours is going to get you killed, Dalinar.” He seemed bemused.

How right Dalinar is yet how right Sadeas hopes to be. What Sadeas later does is unconscionable after what Dalinar risked to save his life. Someday soon being a Lighteyes may just be a curse on this world. Maybe it already is.

Commentary:

That storming book indeed.

We finally get to see the Blackthorn in all his glory and horror. The Thrill is strong within Dalinar, but something deep inside him fights against it. He no longer wants to lose himself in the Thrill, which is a very un-Alethi thing. It gets so bad be becomes nauseous of what he has done to the Parshendi.

This echoes two things for me. Firstly, the fight and destruction Szeth caused in Jah Keved. Both regret their actions even if they are things that must be done. Szeth’s reasons aren't as virtuous as Dalinar’s, of course. The even greater connection is how similar Dalinar sees things as Kaladin did the first time he saw what a Shardbearer could do in a battle. The massive loss of life in such a short span caused by just one man with a sword that cuts through people’s very souls is a lot to take in if you care about the lives of people. Shardbearers in modern Alethi society seem to think nothing of their actions. They are merely using the tools as they think them designed to work.

Our glimpses into the time of the Knights Radiant and the Codes paints an entirely different picture. A picture that says the Shards weren’t meant to fight men, but a greater evil. The Codes are brought back front and center by Dalinar’s actions. And for the moment Sadeas seems generally interested in them and how they’ve changed Dalinar. This has to be one of Sanderson’s biggest fake-outs revealed in The Way of Kings. Sadeas doesn’t want to change. Sadeas wants to understand how he can utilized whatever weaknesses his adversaries have and in Sadeas’s eyes Dalinar and his codes are a very big weakness. Dalinar still remembers thought that “it is not the destination that matters, but how one arrives there.” And that is another thing that he has in common with Kaladin. Even though both are going through arduous experiences with Kaladin getting the low stick they both find a way to keep moving forward. To do the best they can in that moment whatever it may be.

And maybe, just maybe Dalinar has a piece of Kaladin with him at this moment.

“He felt a breeze through the back of his breastplate. Cooling, terrible, frightening. The cracks were widening. If the breastplate burst . . .”

Could that be our lovely Sylphrena‎ buzzing around Dalinar? It certainly seems likely as she does display an interest in Dalinar, which we’ll see more of in later chapters. But could an honorspren be connected to more than one Radiant? I’ve always thought that a bit inappropriate as the connect Kaladin and Syl doesn’t seem like something that should really be shared. Dalinar needs his own and hopefully he’ll get it in Words of Radiance.

One last word on the epigraph. It seems to be written from Tanavast in the aftermath of his own destruction yet I struggle to see how after he is shattered/broken he would be able to communicate. Still it shows just the kind of destruction Odium is capable of. Let’s get those Radiants back to beat him and restore honor and the Shard of Honor.


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.

39 comments
John Hatteberg
1. Oronis
Is the guy/gal on the cover of Way of Kings Dalinar or the Parshendi general?
Jeremy Guebert
2. jeremyguebert
To quote Adolin: "Sadeas is an eel".

I love how Dalinar's revulsion is momentarily subued and forgotten when he goes to rescues Sadeas. I think this chapter is a great illustration of how important the reason or purpose of fighting is. When he's fighting just to slaughter as many Parshendi as possible, he is so disgusted that he becomes physically ill; conversely, when he's fighting to protect an endangered ally (a laudable goal, despite my personal distaste for this particular ally), he is empowered to fight even more devastatingly than before, without any of the associated guilt. Both instances are killing, but the why matters quite a bit.
Jeremy Guebert
3. jeremyguebert
Oronis @ 1 - That's Dalinar. There was a discussion about it on one of the posts on the artwork a while back.
John Hatteberg
4. Oronis
@3 - Oh ok! Thank you. I was wondering because IIRC Dalinar wore blue and the Parshendi general wore red. I need to go back and relisten to the audiobook before Words of Radiance comes out.
Jeremy Guebert
5. jeremyguebert
Also, about the "breeze through the back of his breastplate": while I strongly doubt that this is Syl with Dalinar here, I would be unsurprised to discover that this is a different spren who is in the process of investigating Dalinar for a potential bond. It could be as simple as an illustration of how badly cracked/damaged the Shardplate is, too.
TBGH
6. TBGH
I may be about to kick a hornet's nest here, but why are Szeth's reasons as virtuous as Dalinar's?

Dalinar is working toward creating a more peaceful future for Alethkar with High Princes not warring against each other. Or alternatively working toward the survival of Alethkar against a future threat.

Szeth is holding onto a tradition to satisfy what's left of his own personal honor without benefit to anyone outside of himself. (And his owner sometimes, but he's not working to help his owner, he's obeying his owner to satisfy his personal honor)
To me the first is much more virtuous than the second.
Alice Arneson
7. Wetlandernw
TBGH @6 - I agree. From Szeth's perspective, he's being virtuous by obeying his master in every detail, as his "honor" demands, but I can't buy into the idea that personal responsibility can be so easily set aside. Granted that Szeth thinks it's all on his own head as well, and so he's being "selfless" in taking on all that guilt, from my (clearly non-Shin!) perspective it would be better to bear the guilt of a broken vow than the guilt of ending hundreds of (sometimes) innocent lives.
Andrew Berenson
8. AndrewHB
Generally speaking, how big an area (in square footage) are the plateaus in which the Alethi and the Parshendi engage each other over gemhearts? Based on the various scenes of the plateaus battles we have read, they must be fairly large.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Jeremy Guebert
9. jeremyguebert
Wetlander, TBGH - I honestly thought that might have been a typo when I read it. "Szeth's reasons aren't as virtuous as Dalinar's, of course" reads a lot more easily to me.

ETA: And, of course, I make a typo while commenting on the possibility of a typo. *facepalm*
Adam S.
10. MDNY
We talk about spren bonding humans, granting them enhanced abilities (like Kaladin, Shallan and Jasnah) but I've wondered about Tanavast's visions. Why did they end up touching Dalinar and his brother? If Syl chose Kaladin based on some level of honor she saw in him, what was it that led Dalinar and Gavilar to be ccontacted by Honor?
I also disagree that Szeth is as honorable as Dalinar. Szeth hides behind his oathstone, refusing to take responsibility. He believes that what he does is evil and hates doing it, but he tries to absolve himself of full guilt by having no choice.
Alice Arneson
11. Wetlandernw
jeremy @9 - That's entirely possible, and an easy enough typo to miss when checking it over; the brain tends to see what it expects to see/what you meant to say, not necessarily what's there. And, of course, it's not something that anyone else can "correct" unless they know for sure what you meant. It would definitely make more sense to me. :)
Walker White
12. Walker
@9

I disagree that Seth hides behind the oathstone. I think there is some actual compulsion involved. But this is based upon revelations in the Words of Radiance excerpts.
Joseph Haines
13. IamJoseph
I just realized how Dalinar's statement led directly to Sadeas's betrayal. Normally a shardplate wearer would have been able to escape Sadeas's trap. The shardplate enables them to jump the chasms, so catching them this way would be impossible. Now Sadeas knows that Dalinar would never abandon an ally. Dalinar wouldn't leave his troops behind just to escape himself.
Michael Pye
14. Michael_Pye
jeremyguebert is right. That was a typo. Aren't it should have read. The post has been corrected.
TBGH
15. Jasuni
I think Szeth's position as truthless may be related to an ancient Israelite tradition (where a goat would be given the iniquites of the Israelites and then be released in the wilderness to carry them into another land). If so, then Szeth can't hide behind his oathstone nor can he refuse to take responsibility.
And Szeth is not under any form of compulsion. He could choose to disobey orders (he almost did so at the end of the book), but his beliefs likely include some severe consequences.
Karen Fox
16. thepupxpert
@12 - Agreed, there may be some deep magic at work here that compels him to act this way, even at the same time that he recognizes it and abhors it.
Leeland Woodard
17. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@15 That's an interesting possibility--Szeth as a scapegoat for the Shin people.

Re-reading this, you really get a view of how terrible Sadeas really is when he eventually betrays Dalinar. This was definitely set-up for that. We see Dalinar as this hero of a man, who will put himself in great danger defending an ally, then later Sadeas up and leaves in the middle of battle, directly putting Dalinar in great danger. It's an interesting reversal.
Alice Arneson
18. Wetlandernw
Michael @14 - Ahhh. I feel so much better now!! :)
Michael Pye
19. Michael_Pye
Gah! A copy of Words of Radiance just landed on my doorstep. Don't know if I can hold out to my pledge of not reading it until after I'm done with the re-read of WoK.
Peter Ahlstrom
20. PeterAhlstrom
Just write all your remaining reread posts, then open the box. That fulfills your pledge, right?
Michael Pye
21. Michael_Pye
@PeterAhlstrom That would work, but that's a lot of posts left to do. I'm shooting for 2 chapters each for the rest of my posts so that should speed things up again.
Jeremy Guebert
22. jeremyguebert
I seriously doubt I would be able to hold off if I had a copy on my doorstep. If you're able to successfully do it, you have far more self-control than I do.
Adam S.
23. MDNY
@19 Michael, I'd be happy to take it off your hands till you're ready for it.
John Hatteberg
24. Oronis
Man, if I had the book right now I would be reading it so hard. SO HARD.
Cory S.
25. Hungry_For_Hands
@19 - I certainly wouldn't fault you for breaking that pledge.
READ IT!!!
Walker White
26. Walker
@15
And Szeth is not under any form of compulsion. He could choose to disobey orders (he almost did so at the end of the book), but his beliefs likely include some severe consequences
It is not just beliefs. There is something very special about his blade.
David Foster
27. ZenBossanova
I asked Brandon at the Phoenix Comicon about this, and he said there Szeth is not being magically compelled. But others have reported things differently, so it may be Brandon is wording things very carefully. We will see.

We know that Shards are over-whelming to their hosts. Perhaps Honor imbued part of himself in that blade, so when Szeth holds it, he clings even tighter to his (erroneous) idea of honor. It does appear to be an honorblade. (we will see)

edited for carelessly revealing WoR in a WoK thread. Thanks Travyl.
Dan
28. silvermonarch
I'd like to move the discussion in another direction. I don't know if it's been discussed before, but this last time I read through WoK I really noticed how special the ryshadium horses are. There is a comment at one point that no person can select a ryshadium to bear them, rather the horse chooses the rider. With knowing that spren choose who to bond (a vision of Dalinar's when speaking with a radiant and when speaking with Nohadon; Sylphrena & Kaladin), is there some connection between the ryshadium and spren? Something special that comes from "bonding" a ryshadium?
TBGH
29. wolfcharmer
Dear AndrewHB, Maybe this will help. Roman battle formations generally gave each legionaire three feet of fighting space to the side (each legionaire three feet from the next man) in lines six feet apart front to back. Therefore five thousand man could fit in a block 750 yds wide by 12 yds deep. These would all be heavy infantry (Alethi spearman) Horse and light troops would be more spread out. Archers and slingman, if any, would usually be deployed behind the infantry perhaps even staying on the plateau one back from the one actually being fought on by the infantry.
Leeland Woodard
30. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Oh, I had forgotten to say this:

The icon chapters for 56 are Jes and Chach.

Jes is associated with the divine attributes of protecting and leading. This is fairly obvious given the content of the chapter--Dalinar puts Sadeas' safety above his own, and protects him.

Chach is associated with the divine attributes brave and obedient. This is also almost definitely associated with Dalinar's charge through the entire Parshendi army to get to Sadeas.
Matt Stoumbaugh
31. LazerWulf
I'm curious as to why the Parshendi don't seem to fear the Shardblade. What exactly is the Alethi view of what happens when a Shardblade "cuts the soul"? Is it simply severed? Destroyed? Eaten?

Maybe the Parshendi don't view it as such. Maybe they view it as the soul being "released" or something...

@1/4: I always thought that the scene on the cover was the scene where Dalinar was saluting the Parshendi Shardbearer, meaning that was Dalinar in the foreground and the Parshendi in the background. Though, now that I take a closer look, the background character is only holding a spear, so I guess that's Kaladin? IDK. It's definitely Dalinar in the foreground, though. The cloak is red, but the armor is uncolored (which is what Dalinar wears. Adolin wears the blue armor).
Adrian Abraham
32. Nazrax
It seems Wit's story of "Derethil and the Wandersail" could apply to Szeth just as well as it does to Kaladin.
Nadine L.
33. travyl
Zen @27: I'd advise some caution with what you say here. ASAIK we wanted to keep the WOK re-reread pretty WOR-spoiler free...

Re the quote of the chapter: I agree it's even more cruel and painful to know how Sadeas betrays Dalinar with this fresh on our mind.
Deana Whitney
34. Braid_Tug
Chapter: Oh the chills this chapter created on a Re-Read!!! yet I do remember a vague, "This is going to come up again" feeling when I first read the book.

@ Michael: I applaud you for wanting to wait. Since by not reading, your commentary can remain more free form speculation. And you won’t have to edit yourself as much.
That being said: Oh, the temptation!
Because it will be sometime in late April before the Re-Read is finished. (If 2 chapters are covered per week.)

@28, Silvermonarch: your theory on the ryshadium horses is an interesting one. I’m trying to think how that plays into the world BWS has already established about spren.
But your theory made me think about Mercedes Lackey’s Herald series. Not the Companion horses, but the Shin’a’in’s super smart special horses. Bread to be extra special, but not human intelligent, like the Companions.

@1, The figures are Dalinar and Kaladin, but does not represent any one scene from the book. They talk about the process in the link below:
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/03/micahel-whelans-cover-for-brandon-sanders-the-way-of-kings
Matt Stoumbaugh
35. LazerWulf
@34: The rest of the re-read should be interesting, if Michael succeeds in refraining from reading WoR, because Carl has already read it.

I do realize that it's hard to do because some chapters are longer than others, but looking back, there have been 17 single chapter reviews, including this one. If those had been 2 chapter reviews instead, we could be done with the re-read by the time WoR comes out (officially, I mean. ARCs be damned). Alas, it seems like it's not meant to be, as to do that now would mean to review one chapter a day, including Saturdays, but not Sundays.

Now that that has been said, is anyone actually going to wait until the end of the reread before reading WoR?
Dixon Davis
36. KadesSwordElanor
LazerWulf

Given that I have read all available excerpts and have signed up to receive the daily “Glimpses of Radiance” starting on Feb. 11; there is no way I have the discipline or testicular fortitude to wait. So no, I will not be waiting for the end to the WOK reread. But I do have the utmost respect and awe for anyone who does. :)
Lindy Brown
37. lbrown
@35- Heck to the no. I actually broke away from the reread in order to finish WOK before the release of WOR. But I'm still reading it and because of that haven't read any of the WOR preview chapters yet.
TBGH
38. Tbone
I know the duality of Roshar has been touched on throughout these posts, and Dalinar touches on it when he notes that it may be a male/female warpair. This makes me think about his vision where he fights the midnight essence and the two Radiants, one male and one female, come to save him.
Then of course there is the Alethi culture, how the male/female responsibilities are split up. I wonder if this is possibly a perversion of what the Radiants did. If it is always a male/female pairing, I can see training for that being that you train each other, working together as a pair, a team; teaching each other. Through the years, this practice may have grown father and farther from the original concept and became what is is today, males are meant to do one thing, and females another, with neither really learning from each other.
David Foster
39. ZenBossanova
Very interesting, 38. Tbone
Is this the influence of Cultivation?

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