Feb 27 2014 1:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapter 59

I know as well as you that Words of Radiance comes out on Tuesday, and I can’t wait either. But today, dear friends, is Thursday. That means it’s time for the Way of Kings reread!

Today I’ll cover Chapter 59: An Honor. Kaladin forgets how to breathe, Hashal turns in her Evil Application, Gaz disappears to parts unknown, and Lopen successfully keeps watch. Lopen is the best, guys.

Chapter 59: An Honor
Point of View:
Setting: The Shattered Plains

What Happens: While Bridge Four works on combat formations, Kaladin tries to take in Stormlight, with no success. His methods of getting angry and staring at the spheres while holding his breath prove less than fruitful. Teft offers some unhelpful advice, but insists that what Kaladin did before was real. There’s no way him sticking a bag to the side of a barrel was “a trick of the light.” Nor is it possible that it was a fluke; Teft has observed many other instances of Stormlight-powered impossibilities.

Still, Kaladin has “spent a week staring at spheres” with no perceivable progress, and is starting to get fed up with the exercise. He doesn’t hold much faith in the contradictory stories of the Radiants’ powers, and grumbles that if he’s a Radiant, he’s a Radiant who’s sick of sitting in this room. Teft says he isn’t a Radiant, not yet. First he has to find the Immortal Words.

“Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.” Teft explains the First Ideal of the Knights Radiant, and says that beyond that, each Order had three specific additional Ideals. Kaladin listens to the lecture, but doesn’t believe that anyone would follow those vows. They were just people, pretending to special offices of virtue in order to justify their rule.

Their further discussion is cut short when Lopen signals that someone is coming. Kaladin leaves the barracks and sees Hashal approaching. Since Gaz disappeared a week ago, she and her husband have taken over his duties entirely. Hashal gives Kaladin a backhanded compliment, then informs him that because his band is so efficient, she’s assigning them to bridge duty every day from now on, without releasing them from their daily chasm duties.

Kaladin is chilled. With this schedule, his men will be killed twice as quickly, and they’re so low in numbers that one or two men being wounded might bring the entire bridge down. Moash speculates that Hashal hasn’t been killing them fast enough for Sadeas’s taste. Kaladin is a problematic symbol that Sadeas needs to dispose of without taking overt action. The men ask what Kaladin is going to do, and he says that they’ll go to the chasms. He’s doing something about this today.

Kaladin has Teft take over the formation drills and heads deeper into the chasms. Syl leads him to a dead Parshendi. On the way, he thinks about the Vorin emphasis on soldiers. He wonders if he is regaining his faith, and whether he’s dooming those bridgemen left behind to die in his stead. He remembers what his father said: “He did what he felt was right because someone had to start. Someone had to take the first step.” He closes his eyes, and inhales Stormlight. Energized and proud, he runs and jumps straight onto a wall, collapsing in a heap at the bottom.

Syl takes him to a Parshendi, and he begins to cut the carapace off the corpse. The armor is held on by ligaments, actually fused to the Parshendi’s body. Lopen arrives with an armored leather vest and cap, as well as a shield and some straps. Last he pulls out deep red Parshendi bones. Kaladin ties the Parshendi armor onto the leather garments, then attaches the bones to the shield. Having completed his bizarre task, the next step was for Kaladin to get the heavy bag of armor up to the bridge. An arrow with a rope tied to it might let them haul the bag up to the bridge, but it risked discovery by the eagle-eyed scouts.

Kaladin realizes the solution, and begins Lashing rocks to the chasm wall. He uses these as handholds to climb up the side of the bridge. Once there, he ties the bag to the bridge, and at Syl’s insistence drops the forty feet to the ground. Her argument: he owes her after last week’s insult. Luckily for him, Syl’s instinct is pretty trustworthy, and he totally survives by twisting in the air and landing in a crouch, dispersing the rest of his Stormlight into the ground below him, which cracks. Lopen and the reading public are both duly impressed. Kaladin tells him that on the next assault he should get the armor and hide it. He has a plan.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Life before death,” Teft said, wagging a finger at Kaladin. “The Radiant seeks to defend life, always. He never kills unnecessarily, and never risks his own life for frivolous reasons. Living is harder than dying.”

“Strength before weakness. All men are weak at some time in their lives. The Radiant protects those who are weak, and uses his strength for others. Strength does not make one capable of rule; it makes one capable of service.”

Teft picked up the spheres, putting them in his pouch. He held the last one for a second, then tucked it away too. “Journey before destination. There are always several ways to achieve a goal. Failure is preferable to winning through unjust means. Protecting ten innocents is not worth killing one. In the end, all men die. How you lived will be far more important to the Almighty than what you accomplished.”

Teft unpacks the First Ideal of the Knights Radiant. While I’m not sure his interpretation can be definitively labeled as the canonical interpretation as endorsed by the Knights Radiant, it’s enough to be getting on with.


Bye, Gaz! You were fun while you lasted! No, but actually, you were a miserable jerk.

In this chapter, Kaladin demonstrates the difficulty of learning magic. With our knowledge of how the whole thing works, it’s kind of painful to read him staring at spheres, holding his breath. The thing you have to do is literally breathing, bro. Sadly, he doesn’t know what we know. And it’s not like learning how to do something that’s usually automatic is easy. Try not to think about the process of breathing. It’s not the sort of thing you want to overthink.

He doesn’t do THAT much better when he remembers to breathe, either. Dropkicking a wall isn’t my idea of measured educational progress. But his jury-rigged handhold system is really very clever. Once Kaladin grasps a concept, we can rely on him to figure out clever applications immediately.

Hashal is making a strong run for Biggest Jerk in the World. Check out this evil nastiness: “Your team is just too good. It must be used. You’ll start full-time bridge duty tomorrow. Consider it an… honor.” SHE EVEN PAUSED FOR EVIL EMPHASIS! Who does that? It never becomes clear how direct a puppet Hashal is. My money is on her being a standard evil middle-manager. She wants to have a successful enough evil project, such as the utter destruction of a bunch of helpless bridgemen, in order to secure her promotion in the evil hierarchy.

Whatever her reasons, Hashal has pushed Bridge Four as far as she can, and Kaladin’s reaction is impressive. He snaps quickly past depression, because he had a backup plan. The escape plan was daring enough, but whatever he has cooking down in the chasms, it’s more than daring; it’s desperate. Hopefully it’s not some kind of terrible Parshendi stew. That would be a little too grim for my tastes.

This is the last reread before the release of Words of Radiance! In order to give you guys plenty of time to read, digest, and discuss that long-awaited volume, we’ll be taking a couple of weeks off from the reread. There will still be plenty of regular content to tide you over, though. Enjoy reading the book!

Carl Engle-Laird is ready. ARE YOU READY? You can follow him on Twitter.

Nadine L.
1. travyl
It took me to reach this chapter to realize that in my first read (and the subsequent re-reads prior to the tor-reread and its explanations), I had no idea about surges and so on …
Only now I can appreciate how cleverly Brandon Sanderson introduced us in this chapter to the concept that the different Orders have different sets of powers, a fact, Teft has no clue of, despite the fact that he “belonged to a secret sect that awaited the return of the Radiants”:
“And why,” Kaladin said, “would they need to both walk on walls and fly? If they can fly, why would they bother running up walls?”
Teft said nothing.
“And why bother with either one,” Kaladin added, “if they can just ‘move great distances in a heartbeat’?”
Reading these lines, it’s even more amazing how much (thorough) readers have managed to piece together the information which is given in bits only – and then explaining it to me in a form in which I could understand it and even more appreciate this great story. Thanks.

Aside from that, I wonder who’s behind the “It’s all right” when Kaladin falls down into the chasm. Kaladin’s subconscious? Syl speaking in his mind? The stormfather?
Jennifer B
2. JennB
I wonder how Jasnah would interpret the "Journey Before Destination" ideal? After all, her actions show that she disagrees with Teft's interpretation. She kills three murderer/rapists in order to save unknown numbers of future theater goers.
Deana Whitney
3. Braid_Tug
Carl, why only one again? If Michael keeps his mental promise of not reading until the Re-Read is done, it's going to be June!

Oh well, off to read it now.
Veronika Mantei
4. Puzzle23
Teft speaks of 4 (not 3) other Ideals.

"Protecting ten innocents is not worth killing one." - So, who is innocent?
Jeremy Bruce
5. superjer
@JennB I don't think anyone would consider three murderers/rapists innocents.

Carl... about the reread... we are assuming everyone has read the book and can put forth any theories that may come to them, correct? Why so coy about what Kaladin is doing with the Parshendi carapace?
Adam S.
If "protecting ten innocents is not worth killing one", then how do we justify Kaladin's later explosion of Radiant power when he rescues Dalinar and killed so many Parhendi? Was it just because he spoke the ideal of protection?
I really hope Syl knew what she was doing when she told Kaladin to drop. If she was just fucking with him when she said she couldn't be sure, then fine. But if she really didn't know he would survive, that's a bit far for her to go.
Gaz' disappearance never fooled me for a second. There's no way BWS would build up such a distinctive character with so many mysteries, even letting us in his head, and then let him just disappear to be killed offscreen.
I'm totally picturing Kal as Roshar's version of the human spider, that mountaneer who scales skyscrapers, and it's cracking me up.
7. Hammerlock
@2 - I think Teft was saying its not worth killing one innocent to save 10 others. Killing the "guilty" to save innocents is totally in line with the code, if other means of stopping them don't present themselves.

So while Jasnah was perhaps a bit trigger happy in the justice dispensory unit, she's still in line with the ideal. Though I suspect she doesn't see herself as a New Radiant™
Jon _
8. Werechull
Where does Gaz disappear to? It can't be as simple as getting murdered in his sleep or anything like that. His disappearance seems too significant and mysterious for that. Brandan has said (I heard somewhere) that there's a subtle clue as to what happened to him. Anybody know?
Spoilers below:

I think he's a werewolf. Wait! Come back! Bear with me a moment. Roshar has multiple moons (3?). Who knows what effect that would have on a werewolf. It's very plausible that a werewolf's lunar cycle would be much longer than our 28 day cycle. Maybe all 3 moons have to be full at once. That explains why he hasn't gone missing in the past. Heck, 3 full moons may be a rare enough occurence that he didn't even know he was a werewolf until now.

One problem with this theory: no evidence of wolves on Roshar. So, maybe a Were-chull? Were-axehound?
Cory S.
9. Hungry_For_Hands
@6 - I think it should be read as "protecting 10 innocents is not worth killing one innocent. ". In the case of Kaladin saving Dalinar, he is not killing innocents. Whatever else the Parashendi might be, they are certainly not innocent bystanders.
Walker White
10. Walker

Jasnah herself admits that she is not a Knight Radiant. A surgebinder, yes. But not a Knight.
11. Rybal

Remember, Kaladin said he needed time to think because he wasn't sure that what he did was right. He had to choose whether to save the people who were betrayed and left to die or to be like the betrayers. In that sense, I'd say that saving the betrayed would be easier to contemplate than becoming just like the lighteyes he hates, even if it meant killing Parshendi (who can't be classified as "innocent", though they are certainly honorable).
Adam S.
12. MDNY
@9 I don't have a problem with what Kaladin did, far from it, but if you're going to play semantics, then you can't say that Dalinar is an innocent either, nor Adolin, nor any of the soldiers, so he wasn't protecting an innocent at all.
Michael Veblungsnes
13. Lokipiece
@2 Yes I think Jasnah has a lot of the Alethi "end goal justifies any means" mentality but at the same time I think she'll still surprise us. She placed herself in the position to be attacked but had the thugs not chosen to attack they wouldn't have been destroyed. Personally I thought shallan's discomfort and lengthy musing over it a bit much. Jasnah wanted to protect those who couldn't protect themselves but only did so when attacked and threatened.

The Knights Radiant went to war against the voidbringers and the midnight essences and placed themselves on the front lines. Jasnah did the same only on a smaller scale. Just my two cents and I fully admit that I'm no Jasnah expert.

Great re-read and thanks for all the ones to date. Always makes thursdays a day to look forward to.
Carl Engle-Laird
14. CarlEngle-Laird
Jon _
15. Werechull
@14 Not just any werechull, a one-eyed werechull.
Deana Whitney
16. Braid_Tug
First, there’s a woman who wants you to prove you are sorry. And that you trust her. “You have to drop 40 ft to prove yourself.”

I really like that we hear the First Immortal Words, after Dalinar’s example from the Way of Kings book. Much better than Teft giving the story to explain the words.

Anyone scared that Teft might betray Kaladin? In sort of a “DO has power over me, I had no choice”, type of way? Of course it would be the Ghoastbloods or something, not the Dark One.

@14, Oh, Chasmfriend - I think that deserves a rim shot.
Rich Bennett
17. Neuralnet
It never occured to me that Gaz might not be dead until recently... the first time reading the book, I just assumed he died off screen. (I should have known better)

I like the trial and error of Kaladin figuring out how to use the stormlight... It makes you as the reader really think about how to use stormlight and what the differences may be between the Radiant orders.
18. Rancho Unicorno
Re: No rereads for the next couple weeks.

From a purely selfish perspective, "NOOOO!!!!" I prefer to read books from the library (whre I'm first in line, but don't know when the books arrive), and if I do buy WoR, it will be when Brandon comes to Houston on 3/11. As a result, that's too long to go without the insightful insight from Michael and Carl into the WoK world. I simply must protest.

But, I suppose it makes sense.
Kimani Rogers
19. KiManiak
Thanks Carl,

Unless you’re once again gleefully torturing us with updated knowledge from Words of Radiance, Teft says that each Radiant Order had four more ideals after the shared First Ideal, not three. So each Order has a total of Five Ideals.
(ETA: Like Puzzle23@4 has already said, I see)

Also, this was a pretty clever use of the Full Lashing by Kaladin. Even if you can’t walk on walls, nothing wrong with scaling them, right?

As for Hashal, yeah she probably won’t win the award for nicest slavemaster in Sadeas camp. Although, chances are good that after the events at the Tower, Sadeas gave her her well-earned reward for her actions.

I like the idea of taking off a few weeks for the WoR release; I assume the vast majority of our focus will be on that book for a while.

Lokipiece@13 – That’s an interesting perspective of Jasnah’s actions.

Carl@14 - Yeah, I really NEED to see this now.
Andrew Berenson
20. AndrewHB
“The Radiant seeks to defend life, always. He never kills unnecessarily, ..." This is why Szeth will never be a Knight Radiant.

Thanks for reading my musings,
(aka the musespren)
Leeland Woodard
21. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
The Herald icons for this chapter are Kelek/Jez.

The divine attributes associated with Kelek are Resolute/Builder. I would say that Kelek is probably here because of Kaladin's decision to make the Parshendi armor and protect his bridgemen. He's being resolute and unwavering in his decision to help them.

The divine attributes associated with Jez are protecting/leading. Jez tends to be a featured icon in chapters that deal with Kaladin learning to use stormlight, and I would say that this is why we have Jez in this chapter.
Jon _
22. Werechull
@21 How do you know which Heralds the icons represent? That'd be a handy reference for WoR next week.
Jeremy Guebert
23. jeremyguebert
I've said it before, but I still think that Hashal disposed of Gaz for being unable to get rid of Kaladin. It would be delightfully ironic if this "disposal" took the form of sending him to a bridge crew and he eneded up among the bridgeman that Dalinar bought with his Shardblade.

@5 - That's been my assumption as well - since this is a reread, anything within the book is fair game, although we have been avoiding external stuff (i.e. pre-release content from Words of Radiance).

@12 - Excellent point about innocence.

Also, werechulls - That's going to be the funniest image I've had in my head all day, thanks guys.
Adam S.
24. MDNY
How would new werechulls get made? I'm under the impression that chull are really slow, so I would think it would be easy to avoid being bitten by one. Still a hilarious concept, especially a one-eyed one from Gaz.
Leeland Woodard
25. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@22 Chasmfriend (fantastic handle, by the way)

There is a handy article on the Coppermind wiki that gives the names of the Heralds associated with the icons. The rest is in Ars Arcanum at the end of the book (each Herald has a number, a gemstone, an essence, a body focus, soulcasting properties, and primary/secondary divine attributes).

There's also an additional "herald" icon that I call the masked man, which generally appears where Hoid is particularly featured
Leeland Woodard
26. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@24 werechulls are very slow, so they have to sneak up on people with handicaps. It's especially helpful if their victims only have half of their field of vision, that way they don't see the werechull sneaking up on them.
Jennifer B
27. JennB
Jasnah is my favorite character and I have nothing against her hunting bad guys and using herself as bait. I was just wondering about that interpretation of "journey before destination". I guess Jasnah's example doesn't work when you specify that the one that is being killed to save ten is an innocent as well.

So what would be a good example? All I can think of is a scenario where a car is out of control and the driver has to choose between hitting the ten people in front of him or swerving to hit the one person on the side. I don't think this works as a good example.
Adam S.
28. MDNY
An example of "Journey before destination" is college. What matters is studying and gaining knowledge, rather than getting a degree to hang on your wall and improve your status.
David Foster
29. ZenBossanova
I think the crux of the oath, is doing the honorable thing, and making those difficult, but selfless choices.

I don't think Jasnah was doing this for greed or just to sate her bloodlust, or even for some kind of revenge. She was doing something that needed to be done, to protect people.
Jennifer B
30. JennB
College is an example of "journey before destination", but it is definitely not an example of the interpretation that I am asking about.

"Protecting ten innocents is not worth killing one."

I am am just trying to figure out an example where this could happen. Perhaps a hostage situation would be a good example.
Adam S.
31. MDNY
If you could have killed Hitler, but the only way to do it was with a bomb that killed someone else? Of course, that's more like 10 million innocents...
Jennifer B
32. JennB
I just thought of the perfect in world example! King Tarvangian kills innocent patients at his hospitals in order to gain information that he thinks will help him save the world. I think what he is doing is wrong .

Killing Hitler would probably be worth the collateral damage though if it meant saving millions.
33. erraticallyArting
Edit: I tried to post a were-chull picture, but my computer isn't working properly
Adam S.
34. MDNY
How about a real world organ harvester: kill one man to save 2 from his kidneys, one from his liver, 1 from his heart, etc...
36. Rancho Unicorno
In sacrificing an innocent to die in order to kill Hitler, other than scale, how are you any different?

Even if you are willing to accept that blood on your hands, where is the line? What is the saved innocent ratio that makes killing an innocent worthwhile?
37. RoKet
My theory is, Gaz is bonded to at Spren. Maybe a cryptic. He always sees things out of the corner of his "eye" etc.
38. RoKet
Sorry ment to referance @ 8. Chasmfriend

My theory is, Gaz is bonded to at Spren. Maybe a cryptic. He always sees things out of the corner of his "eye" etc.
Glen V
39. Ways
Chasmfriend @22 and smintitule @ 25
IIRC, the Ars Arcanum table in the 1st ed./1st printing hard-bound book contains errors. Corrections are posted in the 17th Shard forums.
Adam Wright
40. AdmiralSenn
I may be very behind the times, but I wonder at the significance of Kaladin landing, dispersing Stormlight, and cracking the ground.

Might be a clue about the Shattered Plains and their origin.
Jennifer B
41. JennB
Now that is a horrible thought.

Are you asking me that question? How am I different than what? Tarvangian? I am not a murderer.

I do think that if a country is at war with a genocidal maniac who is killing millions of innocent people in death camps that the military of that country may be justified in bombing his location and killing him even if there is a possibility that there is a janitor in the next room mopping the floor. I would expect everything possible be done to minimize collateral damage, but I can understand that it sometimes happen. I will never personally be in the position where I have to make a decision like that, but as part of a mental exercise, I can imagine having to weigh the lives of millions against one.

By the way, telling someone that they are no better than a person who lures terminal patients into hospitals with the promise of care and snatches homeless people off the street, and then slowly drains their blood away until they die is pretty offensive.
Jennifer B
42. JennB
I just reread your post and I really like your interpretation of Jasnah's actions.

(And since I am afraid to post anything without a caveat... No I do not endorse vigilantism. I believe in due process.)
43. Rajani_Isa
@20 I don't know - Szeth kills because he is told to do so - which by his beliefs he must because he is Truthless and his stone holder demands it. When done from his PoV he usually tries to minimize the deaths if his orders allow him to. He also never offered up information about his abilities or blade unless explicitly asked.
John Gale
44. Minion5051
I believe that Gaz was made a bridgman and is now somewhere in Kaladin's regiment. There were plenty of hints that that could be his fate for falling behind on bribes and he always wanted to be a soldier again.
45. randomname
@19 This actually made me wonder something. Will Hashal be punished because Kaladin and Bridge Four went back and rescued Dalinar, or will Hashal be rewarded, because this did after all result in Sadeas getting a Shardblade? It seems like several of the chapters go out of their way to emphasize Sadeas's lust for a Shardblade of his own. Since Hashal is responsible for (in Sadeas's eyes) indirectly getting him a Shardblade and also setting up Dalinar to look like a complete fool to the other highprinces, perhaps Sadeas would at least be willing to sweep the incident under the rug, rather than executing Hashal.
46. Dan man
The whole "can't kill one to save ten" ideal can be described (in my view) as follows:

"It is not appropriate to intentionally and prevantably kill one innocent person, even for a worthy goal, such as to save ten other innocents." "Innocence" is defined with respect to the specific danger being presented to the other innocent people you are trying to save. No human is innocent in the abstract, but a person may be innocent of the specific danger affecting the 10 innocents to be saved.

In other words, the ends cannot justify the means, the means must be considered "just" or fair in and of themselves. By way of example, you cannot kill one person against their will to obtain 10 organs needed to save 10 people waiting for a transplant. That would be murder and is wrong, even if the goal is to save 10 innocent people, and even if the person to be killed for organ harvesting is a "bad person" or a prisoner. This is because the prisoner is "innocent" with respect to the specific danger to the ten innocents, namely the lack of working organs.

On the other hand, if someone is threatening 10 innocents with a bomb, you are justified in taking him out. A Knight Radiant would avoid killing the bomber if possible, but would not hesitate if required. This also means that a Knight radiant could kill 10 assassins trying to take out 1 king. He is defending the right for all people to live a life free from unjustified killing by others, not trying to keep the greatest number of total people alive or anything like that.

To sum up, killing others is both only and always justified where the persons being killed are directly threatening the lives of innocent people, and there is no non-lethal alternative available to resolve the situation. I would expect a Knight Radiant would prefer a prison sentence to the death sentence for criminals that had been captured, unless it was impossible or impractical to imprison them. I also expect that a Knight Radiant would have serious issues with things like "pre-emptive strikes" as they would need a real and direct threat to feel justified in leaping into action.
Deana Whitney
47. Braid_Tug
We can also look at the Epigraph the book gives us:
“I hold the suckling child in my hands, a knife at his throat, and know that all who live wish me to let the blade slip. Spill its blood upon the ground, over my hands, and with it gain us further breath to draw.” Ch. 57
If a group of people are trapped in a cave with limited oxygen, they might resort to killing the one least likely to survive alone. A babe in arms that has no awareness.

If that was my kid, you would have to kill me first. But then, if I had an older child who needed me as well, I just don’t know. Nor do I ever want to know.

Think about the last episode of MASH. (20 year+ spoiler)
Hawkeye was driven over the top of insane because of a memory. The memory of the woman who smoother her baby on the bus to keep everyone safe.
It's a situation no one here ever wants to be. And a situation we can't know how we would behave until it happens.
Jeremy Guebert
48. jeremyguebert
@46 - That is a very well-written expansion on the ideal, and I have to say I agree.
Anneke van Staden
49. QueenofDreams
@ Braid_Tug, thanks for the MASH reference. That little reveal was devastating in the series, considering how he suppressed the truth in his own head up till that point.
50. bestyler
@ 40
my exact thoughts when I first read this to shatter the plains you need something more than just impact, you need storm light. on earth when a meteorite hits the ground it creates A crater. the impact causes debris to fly up and out instead of cracking the earth. I assume that on roshar the physics are similar and impact to create the magnitude of shattered plains would not be done by mere impact but something that also included Stormlight. Could the destruction of Honor or the some other large stormlight infused impact have shattered the plains? It would have needed to be sufficiently powerful in stormlight to create the extent and size seen in the plains. I doubt that a mere knight radiant could have enough storm light to do so. One with much higher powers would have been needed to shatter so much land.
Julian Augustus
51. Alisonwonderland
Ways @39:
IIRC, the Ars Arcanum table in the 1st ed./1st printing hard-bound book contains errors. Corrections are posted in the 17th Shard forums.
You said errors. Plural. If you provide a reference for where on the 17th Shard the errors are posted that would be most helpful.
Glen V
52. Ways
Alisonwonderland @ 51
See coppermindDOTnet/wiki/Ten_Essences
The footnote explains.
I don't recall which forum tipped me off in the first place.
Perhaps you would only consider that to be one error, but I used the plural since 2 sets of divine attrbutes are involved. :-)
Rob Campbell
53. rccampbe
@41 JennB
I don't think @36 Rancho Unicorno was intending any accusation. When I first read his post, I thought he asked a very good question (with the 'you' being a general 'you', not JennB). That question I try to sum up below:

The Ideal of 'journey before destination' can be extrapolated to mean: you "can't kill one innocent to save 10 innocents." But taking that to its logical extreme means that you can't kill one innocent along with Hitler to save the millions he ends up killing. I'm glad I don't have to make decisions like that, but I think that's a defensible sacrifice to make. So, in my mind, there is a point at which the sacrifice is worth making. And Rancho was asking: What is the ratio? Which is a great question. And I have no idea.

I hope I'm not adding fuel to the fire, JennB. I just wanted you to know that I agree with you, but feel like Rancho had a good question which didn't seem insulting to me.

It is very much like the position of the followers of the Way of the Leaf come the time of the Last Battle (or any battle really) in WoT. Their ideal says that you never fight. But I think that sometimes you have to fight, sometimes you have to make sacrifices, and when to do it is the whole reason we've got a brain. But every situation is different and we never have the perfect hindsight like we have now for Hitler. That's why coming up with a ratio is practically impossible, but at the same time our thought exercise demands that there is a line somewhere. The fallacy of the exercise though is the 'perfect hindsight' part. In that time, while contemplating taking out Hitler, you'd never know for sure if there weren't another way you could stop him without shedding an innocent life.
Alice Arneson
54. Wetlandernw
"Strength does not make one capable of rule; it makes one capable of service."

I've always thought that line was going to be a key in this series. How do you use the strength you have, especially if you're a Radiant? Do you use it to rule or to serve? Do you understand how the two are properly the same? It's a pretty profound thought.

I'm also betting that this will matter rather a lot:

"Failure is preferable to winning through unjust means. Protecting ten innocents is not worth killing one. In the end, all men die. How you lived will be far more important to the Almighty than what you accomplished."

There's been a lot of focus on the numbers and where you draw the line, but I think that sentence is the least important in this paragraph.
Jennifer B
55. JennB
It is so true that every situation is different. You could never make a decision based on numbers alone. I just don't think things can ever be so black and white.

I also obviously should not be reading blog comments when I am tired and fighting a headache. While I do think the comment was stating that I am no better than a mass muderer, I should not have taken it so personally. I know better than taking comments from faceless commenters on the internet personally.
Jeremy Guebert
56. jeremyguebert
@54 - I couldn't agree more. One of the things I love about Brandon's writing in general, and the Knights Radiant in particular, is that they are actual heroes. Real people, who honestly make their best effort to do what they believe is right, often for no other reason than that it is right.

Even though they're occasionally wrong about what that is (e.g. in Well of Ascension when they release Ruin), most of his protagonists are people that I can respect, learn from, and even aspire to be like.
Alice Arneson
57. Wetlandernw
As far as the great Hitler debate, consider: "There are always several ways to achieve a goal."

Why pretend that a bomb is the only way, and then make accusations of monstrosity? If a Hitler surrounds himself with frightened children to keep everyone from dropping bombs on him, you find a sniper. Or a frightened child who is not too frightened to slip him some poison. Or... fill in the blanks. There's never "just one way" to accomplish the job. That's part of the point here, I think.
Trae Ashleigh
58. Trae
While I absolutely abhor the Hitler references and debate in a discussion of fantasy fiction, I can't deny the validity of your reply, Wetlandernw. My revulsion is specific to Hitler the psychopath's, murderer's, megalomaniac's actions that caused the deaths of so many people of differing ethnicities, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, and political alliances. Enough said and thanks for accepting my comment in good light.
Alice Arneson
59. Wetlandernw
Trae @58 - Yeah, I'm not a big fan of bringing Hitler into any kind of discussion as a straw man, but he's "useful" in that he's a commonly-known example of a person who was directly responsible for the death of millions, and indirectly for millions more. "No one is so useless that they can't at least serve as a bad example...?"
60. Rancho Unicorno
@41, @53 is right. The question wasn't directed at the specific you, but at the person making such a decision.

If a person were to have killed innocents to stop , how innocents would have been too many? I think most would say a nuke on Berlin would have been excessive. What about the Allied bombing raids or the argument that the nukes in Hiroshima/Nagasaki meant a more rapid surrender, saving countless lives on both sides. That begs the question of what makes those lives any more valuable or meaningful than that of a handful or one.

The main driver of my post was the memory of Jean-Luc Stewart's response to Data's "good of the many" question - "I refuse to let arithmetic decide questions like that." The older I get the more I wonder if any ratio would justify the life of an innocent.

Or, as I reread the thread, what @46 said.
61. Zackary
“What is the saved innocent ratio that makes killing an innocent worthwhile? “

N+1/N, ie if killing 1000 innocents would save 1001 innocents you should do it.

@57 Right and how many are killed by Hitler while you are finding that sniper and sneaking him in? Also sometimes that is the only way, what will you do then?

@60 “I refuse to let arithmetic decide questions like that.”

I doubt that would be much consolation to the ten dead innocents and their loved ones.

The two big forms of ends justify the means ethics are selfish(egoism, think Sadeas) and altruistic(utilitarianism, possibly Taravangian?), I almost always see egoism displayed in books/tv/culture and it would be refreshing to see a utilitarian hero for once. I mean not everyone can be kal/dal/lirin right? Also that we always associate EJM with Sadeas like characters creates a guilt by association that makes people have a negative view of utilitarianism.

Jasnah became much more interesting to me after that chapter, and I would love to see her develop as a good version of EJM, or maybe have Taravangians experiment actually make a significant contribution to saving the world.

The hard part of course is determinging without hindsight what the best action would be, I think Jasnahs actions were clearly good but Taravangians might not be if no useful infomation is learned.
62. Rancho Unicorno
@61 An who gave you (the decider you) the authority to decide why the life of the 1001 innocents was more valuable than that of the 1000. Yes, the 1001, through no fault of their own, were brought into harms way. But you are intentionally bringing 1000 to the harm.

From their perspective, there is nothing to justify their harm but your self-assurance that their harm will protect others. What gives you the right to be so sure that the decision will protect those rescued?
63. TBGH

Just another couple of factors. Do the families of the 1000 seek vengeance on you for killing them? Does the knowledge that people in authority will kill citizens when they've done nothing wrong destabilize the society?

It is inherently damaging to kill innocents. Much more so than to fail to save innocents. Surely we've all read enough sympathetic villains by now to realize that "ends justify the means" is the calling card of someone who has lost their way.

I realize, of course, that there will still be tough decisions and in some circumstances you may cause innocent deaths no matter what you do. The point is simply to live by doing what you feel is right.
64. Zackary
@ 62&63
I'm using a clear cut example to demonstrate the validity of the principle, but yes in the real world there are other complicating factors. That doesn't make EJM wrong, it just makes it complex.

Say a sadist placed a time bomb in a room with 1000 people, and another inactive bomb in a room with one person and you had a controller that would activate the second bomb while shutting off the first would you really not press it? I've been using 1001 vs 1000 because to me even with this ratio, all else being equal, the answer is clear cut(to me).
But if you want to defend the means justifying the ends then you have to agree that the 1000 people dying is a better outcome than the 1 dying, the radiants code claims this as well "Failure is preferable to winning through unjust means." I believe this shows how callous this philosophy is.

@63 My point EJM is always show through villains, this is why it would be nice to have Jasnah step in and be utilitarian hero. She is academic and intellectual which would fit with the profile of a utilitarian and it would make for interesting divergence from the Dalinar/Kaladin virtue ethics.
Kelly LeBourveau
65. Kikuo
Back to the reread now, please? I've finish WoR!!!! Stunning!
66. Mar

"We can also look at the Epigraph the book gives us:
“I hold
the suckling child in my hands, a knife at his throat, and know that all
who live wish me to let the blade slip. Spill its blood upon the
ground, over my hands, and with it gain us further breath to draw.” Ch.
What if this is what Taravangian is doing? What if he believes he is somehow staving off the Desolation by spilling innocent blood? This, of course, in addition to trying to learn something.
Jonathan Bryson
67. Staizer
@64 i dont know that i %100 disagree with you, but beware making falacious arguments.

While EJM as you call it may appear to be opposite of means justifying the end, MJE, this is not always or even necessarily mostly the case.

Take for example your sadist with a bomb scenario.

A room is full of 1000 generic innocents, through no fault of their own, with an active bomb. Another has just 1 innocent with that inactive bomb. Assuming no other possible way to dusable either bomb.

Now, someone using EJM would rationalize that that one man cannot be worth all 1000 other people and would push the button to blow him up.

someone using MJE may well be devastated by the choice but it is either let 1000 people die and live with that on our conscience, or only one person.

lets change the game a little. Say the one guy knows how to disable both bombs. Or he has the cure for cancer, or an infinite energy source, orva myriad other things that could possibly make him appear more valuable (in the future) than 1000 people.

would you still kill him?

@54 wetlanderw. The key to that paragraph btw is not the ratios but this one sentence:

"In the end, all men die."

This is why killing can be acceptable.

Think of it in this order.

Life before death.
Am i throwing away a life (my own or someone elses) frivilously?

Strength before weakness.
Who am i serving by using my strengths?

Journey before destination.
When I have arrived at death will i have won the race against the storm with honor or lost with glory? Or will i have won with INNOCENT blood on my hands or lost in shame?
68. Zackary
@67 Sorry I started reading WoR and forgot about this. People who favor MJE do tend to think it is wrong to kill an innocent even to save the 1000. For them as long as you don't press the button that kills the 1000 you are not reponsible even if you could have prevented it.

In the context of mondern day U.S. if the guy had the cure for cancer and the other 1000 were just randomly selected from around the country then yes I would probably save the 1.
For this it might be better to think of life years than persons saved. Lets say this group is well distributed and is on average 40 years old. Avg lifespan is about 80 for the U.S. so basically about 40000 life years would be lost. I think that the number of life years that would be saved from curing cancer once and for all would be vastly higher than this number, making saving the 1 justified.

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