Mar 13 2014 12:00pm

Reflections Revealed: More on Words of Radiance

Have you had enough of Words of Radiance yet? No? Didn’t think so. Isn’t it amazing? And so well worth the wait! We’ve been having a blast already in the discussions, and there’s plenty more discussion to be done. Which is good, because we’ve got to find something to do while we’re waiting for the third book

A long, long time ago (well, a couple of weeks, which seems like a long time!) I promised to give you the key to the Reflections of Radiance post. The time has come to reveal the answers, meaning there will be plenty of spoilers ahead!

With no further ado, in the same order of the original post, here is that key—chapter and page references included.

1. Okay, I sure hope someone can decode this, because I’ve tried, and tried, and tried, and I’m clueless. (How’s that for a way to start the list? Cryptographers, prepare! Or possibly, beware.)

The epigraph to Chapter 84, page 1008. This is driving me crazy, because I can’t make heads or tails of it. Someone please, please take pity on me and decrypt it.

915121061534 [Broken up in order to fit on the screen -Ed.]

I tried everything I could think of and haven’t cracked it yet. But I’m pretty sure it’s crackable from the text… I’m also pretty sure Brandon intended to make us work hard for this one.


2. Oh, Teft. You make me so sad. So very, very sad.

Chapter 71, page 841, when Teft reveals what happened to his family and the cult of the Envisagers. (I’ll bet you figured that out, didn’t you?) As a kid, that must have been terrible. These people were killing themselves in their attempt to gain Surgebinding powers, which they didn’t understand at all, so they had no idea they were going about it all wrong. Out of concern for them, this poor child went to the citylord to get them stopped—and so they were tried and executed for killing themselves. Teft has lived with that his entire life: feeling like he had caused their deaths by trying to stop their deaths. I was… very sad.


3. Oh, my. Bravo. That was a fantastic scene. It was perfect, and disturbing, and saddening, and encouraging all at once.

The last section of Chapter 80 (page 966), in which Elhokar comes to see Kaladin.

“How do people know what to do? Why don’t I know what to do? I was born to this office, given the throne by the Almighty himself! Why would he give me the title, but not the capacity? It defies reason. And yet, everyone seems to know things that I do not. My father could rule even the likes of Sadeas—men loved Gavilar, feared him, and served him all at once. I can’t even get a darkeyes to obey a command to come visit the palace! Why doesn’t this work? What do I have to do?”

Kaladin stepped back, shocked at the frankness. “Why are you asking me this, Your Majesty?”

“Because you know the secret,” the king said, still pacing. “I’ve seen how your men regard you; I’ve heard how people speak of you. You’re a hero, bridgeman.” He stopped, then walked up to Kaladin, taking him by the arms. “Can you teach me?”

I loved this. It was so unexpected, so shocking, coming from Elhokar of all people. This in particular, and this whole conversation, make me realize just how little we actually know Elhokar. We have mostly seen him from Dalinar’s eyes, or Adolin’s. Here, for some reason, he opens his soul to Kaladin, and we start to see that he wants to be a good king, he just really, really doesn’t know how. It’s not an imperious “I have the right!” thing—he truly wants to be a good king, a wise leader, the right man, and he knows he’s failing badly. Now I begin to want those same things for him for his own sake, rather than just to stop him from being such an annoying twerp. (And then Kaladin takes his turn at being an annoying twerp. Twerp.)


4. I found it quite painful to read this—his mind flickering between the little flashes of memory, the battle going on around him... and then “Move. Grieve later. Move!”—to the reader, almost as much as to the character—you can’t stop here! And I loved his obedience to his own command. (I was disagreeing with other beta readers here, who felt that we didn’t know enough for this to hurt as much as it should. Obviously I felt I did…)

Chapter 81, page 979—Sureblood:

Adolin screamed something raw, a sound that echoed in his helm. He ignored the shouts of soldiers, the sound of rain, the sudden and unnatural crack behind him. He ran to the body on the ground. Sureblood.

“No, no, no,” Adolin said, skidding to his knees beside the horse. The animal bore a strange, branching burn all down the side of his white coat. Wide, jagged. Sureblood’s dark eyes, open to the rain, did not blink.

Adolin raised his hands, suddenly hesitant to touch the animal.

A youth on an unfamiliar field.

Sureblood wasn’t moving.

More nervous that day than during the duel that won his Blade.

Shouts. Another crack in the air, sharp, immediate.

They pick their rider, son. We fixate on Shards, but any man—courageous or coward—can bond a Blade. Not so here, on this ground. Only the worthy win here…


Grieve later.


Maybe I’m just a sucker for courageous-animal deaths, but this was painful to me. The whole “Ryshadium pick their humans, not the other way around” idea, the knowledge that this wonderful animal had chosen Adolin… to see him dead was agonizing. I think I’d have felt that way even just from what we knew about him in The Way of Kings, though I think maybe Brandon inserted a few more glimpses of their relationship earlier in the book, after the beta discussions.


5. Wow. He was right after all. I still don’t like him, but now I pity him. So many questions answered in two short sentences.

This was for Szeth in Chapter 33 (page 379), when he fought Kaladin and realized that he was a Surgebinder:

They told me I was wrong! …. They named me Truthless!

While there are still things we don’t know about this, it seemed utterly clear from this brief conversation that Szeth had claimed that the Voidbringers and/or the Knights Radiant were returning, and for that his people named him Truthless and set him on this path of obeying whatever horrible orders his master might choose to give him. (Later evidence indicates it was the Voidbringers.) He did all those murders because he was “wrong”—but he was right, and it was all wrong. I pity him because, as miserable as he was following his orders, he now has evidence that he shouldn’t have obeyed the orders at all, and he’s doubly guilty of everything he did. Or something like that.


6. I’m beginning to think that this is the essence of Lightweaving. Amazing concept.

Chapter 36, page 424: “It wasn’t a lie. It was a different truth.” This is when Shallan figures out that the picture she drew of Bluth had changed him, and really makes the connection that she can draw herself differently, and be that different person. In this case, confident and unafraid as she enters the warcamps and prepares to meet Dalinar for the first time. A different truth.


7. Gah. I finally had to quit copying every sentence that gave me a thrill—there are just so many. Oh, so many lovely things happening. (Dalinar) laying down his burden was superb. (Roion) charging was brilliant. (Roion) dying (sad face)—he died well, but how terrifying that death would have been! (Dalinar’s) return was breathtaking. (Kaladin) crashing... (I’m running out of superlatives!) Ah. It was hard to remember to breathe during this chapter.

This is when Szeth shows up on the plateaus in the middle of the battle in Chapter 85 (pages 1017-26). (I used “return” for Dalinar, because everything else I tried gave away too much.) Add to the list:

  • Aladar winning his plateau
  • Renarin writing on the wall. (It was RENARIN!! All that time, I was right to question the easy assumption that it was Dalinar. Hah! IMO, this is confirmed in a later chapter.)
  • His father… his father moved beautifully.”
  • “…the sky and the winds are mine. I claim them…” and Kaladin’s glowing eyes make Szeth’s look dull by comparison.
  • Instead, it was Roion.” I know, I already listed this, but it blew my mind. What a powerful moment that was. And how completely unexpected.


8. Oh, like that’s not going to come back and bite you or anything. This whole conversation was a crazy blend of hilarity and trepidation, thinking about the probable consequences.

This, of course, is Chapter 28 (pages 342-4) with Shallan pretending to be a Horneater princess in her first meeting with Kaladin. And demanding that he give her his boots. Heh.


9. I really need a glyph for ambivalence. I loved so much about this chapter. That’s what was getting boring? LOL! And that reconciliation is made of win. On top of that, he (Adolin) believes (Kaladin), which is very insightful of him. But... I don’t trust (Moash) as far as I can throw a chasmfiend, not with power like that. And just who do you think you are, dude, to decide what’s “best” for the whole storming kingdom? I have a bad feeling about this…

Chapter 66, pages 777-84. I literally laughed out loud when I realized that in Adolin and Shallan’s earlier spanreed conversation (they were texting!?), he was referring to sitting there in prison as “boring.” The discovery that he chose to be imprisoned as long as Kaladin was… oh, I loved that. (Just go read page 779 again. It’s… yeah. All that.) Yet another layer to this man, and I’m really starting to love him—especially when he believed Kaladin about Amaram, and let Kaladin do what he wanted about the Shards he helped to win. But then Kaladin goes and gives Shards—SHARDS!!—to Moash, who is longing to murder the king, and follows that up by agreeing with the plan to do so.

“The room grew strangely still.”

In retrospect, this is a bitter foreshadowing.


10. Dalinar, no! No, no, NO! Oh, wait… … … What? Really? BAHAHAhahahahahah! Oh, yeah! (And there was fist-pumping.)

This was that priceless sequence in Chapter 76, p. 930-1:

Dalinar nodded to himself, as if this were all expected. “I believe an apology is due.”

Kaladin struggled to remain upright, his leg feeling weak. So this would be his final punishment. Apologizing to Amaram in public. A humiliation above all others.

“I—” Kaladin began.

“Not you, son,” Dalinar said softly.

And then Dalinar proceeds to reveal Amaram’s theft and deceit, and compares it to Kaladin’s earlier accusations. He strips Amaram of the Knight Radiant leadership, and a key phrase is uttered by Amaram: “Sometimes, good men must die so that greater goals may be accomplished.” No matter that Amaram thought he was serving the greater good, and (perhaps) honestly regretted the “need” to kill Kaladin’s remaining men, the end does not necessarily (and certainly not according to the Ideals of the Knights Radiant!) justify the means. Sadly, Kaladin still has to learn this; happily, he will—and partly by hearing an echo of these same words applied to the upcoming assassination attempt.


11. I have no words. I’m sitting here shuddering. I’m going to keep reading now... (That was quite literally true. I sat here in this very chair and silently shuddered for about five minutes, posted that comment, and started reading again.)

Chapter 32, pages 368-76, the first time the Assassin in White shows up. I think it was a combination of the fight itself, the way Adolin was taken completely out of commission, Kaladin was injured with a Blade-severed hand, Dalinar was injured and on his knees and he caught the Shardblade—and then Kaladin tackled Szeth and they both fell out the hole in the wall. Wow. Adrenaline rush.


12. I rather like these folks. They’re funny and intelligent.

Sebarial and Palona in Chapter 40 (page 461) when Sebarial first shows up at his home with Shallan in tow. They’re just… funny. And intelligent, though Sebarial usually tries to hide that from other people. I liked them. I’m glad they survived—and they were being funny right up to the last minute!


13. Well, that was a chilling combination of comedy and terror. From the immersive perspective, I’m surprised and sad that it didn’t work. From a more detached perspective, it’s better this way; things don’t come readily and the consequences are severe.

This was in reference to Shallan’s attempt to Soulcast the stick to become fire, pages 142-5 of Chapter 11.

“Sticks need Stormlight. For… things…”

In one sense it was really funny watching her try to figure out how to convince the stick that it would rather be fire. In another sense it was terrifying to watch her getting weaker and weaker in Shadesmar, knowing that she needed that fire, and that if she couldn’t convince the stupid, self-satisfied stick to burn, she was going to be in even worse shape very soon. I thought this scene was extremely well done.


14. YESSSSSSS!!!!!! (Sorry for shouting… No I’m not.) (That was, word for word, what I put in the google-doc. There was also fist-pumping and arm-waving, which I didn’t attempt to document.)

Chapter 33, page 378:

…Kaladin felt the Light working, the tempest within straining and pushing. He gritted his teeth and heaved somehow.

The color returned to his hand, and feeling—cold pain—suddenly flooded his arm, hand, fingers. Light began to stream from his hand.

That was totally unexpected (by Szeth as much as by me, apparently!) and so storming brilliant after the shudder-inducing end of the previous chapter, that I nearly came straight up out of my chair, laptop and all. There was lots of arm-waving going on. He healed a Blade-severed hand!!!


15. Well, he seems to have unexpected depths… (Chapter 20)
And so much for unexpected depths. But I’m glad he died a soldier. That actually made me tear up: “You were a fine way to (restart my collection, Bluth).” (I never, ever would have expected to cry for him.)

Bluth. Of all people, I cried for Bluth. (Chapter 21, page 280)


16. Heh. No wonder they call her a heretic. Outrageous!

The whole quotation from Jasnah’s book in general, and this sentence in particular, as quoted at the beginning of Chapter 65, page 772:

I say that there is no role for women—there is, instead, a role for each woman, and she must make it for herself. For some, it will be the role of scholar, for others it will be the role of wife. For others, it will be both. For yet others, it will be neither.


17. Oh, YES! This has been questioned so, so much. Well, it appears that our questioning was both valid and invalid—valid because it was a good question, and invalid because we simply didn’t know as much as we thought we did. Now we again get it drilled into us how very little we actually know. (Chew on that one for a while. :) Neener neener.)

This was in response to the revelation that, as we have suspected off and on—and even Dalinar mused on in The Way of Kings—there should be, and was, far more to the Radiants and Surgebinding than just the Knights who fought. Chapter 3, page 69:

“…The archetype of Radiants on the battlefield is an exaggeration. From what I’ve read—though records are, unfortunately, untrustworthy—for every Radiant dedicated to battle, there were another three who spent their time on diplomacy, scholarship, or other ways to aid society.”

I thought it was rather cool.


18. Part of me wants to shriek that this is NOT the same man we’ve seen before … but at the same time, I love it. He has actual, multiple layers (as he should, being who he is) but this particular layer completely took me by surprise. I never expected that he would—or even could—make a decision like this. Stunning.

You should have guessed this one by now, especially if you read the pre-released chapters. In Chapter 14, page 224, as Adolin faces Salinor in his first duel of the book, he thinks:

It wasn’t time for a show.

It was time for a beating.

Of course, this side of Adolin comes back around in Chapter 89 with the death of Sadeas, and it leaves us—or me, anyway, wondering what’s going to happen with him. I like him. A lot. But… this is shaky ground.

Also, I see from the comments that I’m not the only one to connect Ironstance with the Herald Kalak, and wonder if Adolin may become a Knight Radiant of the order associated with him. (At this point, we don’t know for sure what order that is, but my money is on Willshapers.)


19. Well, isn’t that a fascinating way to look at speech… No wonder they’re called “Cryptics”—the way they think is completely non-intuitive for a human.

No reason you should have picked this out of several other potential candidates, really, but this was from Chapter 36, page 420:

“Well, keep your ears open, Pattern. I suspect this day is going to only get more interesting.” She walked back toward the tent.

“But, I don’t have ears,” he said. “Ah yes. A metaphor? Such delicious lies. I will remember that idiom.”

Apparently, to a Cryptic anything that is not literally true is a lie of one sort or another. Which… maybe it is, from one angle, but can you imagine how limited speech would be if we couldn’t use figures of speech to communicate? I guess the Cryptics (or at least Pattern, as he currently exists in the physical realm) don’t have a concept of figurative language, so a metaphor becomes “a delicious lie.”


20. “I hate reading books on computer. This is where I should have the satisfaction of chucking several pounds of book across the room. Stupid stupid stupid! Is he ever going to learn to think before he acts?” (This was borrowed from Bob, another beta reader, but it was just too well said. And he spoke for most of us, judging from the comments. I certainly felt the same way!)

Chapter 57, page 764. I think part of the reason this elicited such a strong reaction was the huge excitement and adrenaline rush of that incredible “duel”—Adolin nearly beaten, Renarin coming out (even without his Plate) in the hopes of distracting someone, Kaladin going to aid of both of them—it was SO AMAZING!! And then he pulls this stunt where he tries to ride the wave and ends up with himself and the rest of the good guys thoroughly in the drink. Because he didn’t think through the possible results.

When I got to this section in the beta-read, the Way of Kings reread had just hit the “Side Carry” chapter, and one of the comments there was “I’ve never seen a plan succeed so spectacularly, while at the same time go horribly, horribly wrong.” My first reaction was “Yeah, just wait.” My second was “Kaladin really has a penchant for this, doesn’t he? Kills the Shardbearer and designates one of his men to take it: his men are killed and he’s branded a slave. Side carry saves the bridge crew: ruins the assault. Joins Adolin & Renarin to fight four Shardbearers, wins the match: ruins the whole point of the exercise.” He’s always right—but he’s wrong at the same time. So I end up with really mixed feelings about him. I want a glyph for “Ambivalent.”


21. This brought tears to my eyes. Oh, that was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. (I feel like I should give you more to go on, here, but I can’t think of much to say. It was such a character-defining moment.)

Chapter 71, page 849:

He saw it in her eyes. The anguish, the frustration. The terrible nothing that clawed inside and sought to smother her. She knew. It was there, inside. She had been broken.

Then she smiled. Oh, storms. She smiled anyway.

It was the single most beautiful thing he’d seen in his entire life.

I… don’t really need to say any more, do I?


22. Well, there’s one theory proven right. (I honestly don’t remember if I thought it was valid or not, but I remember thinking that some people were too thoroughly convinced on insufficient evidence.)

Helaran was indeed the Veden Shardbearer killed by Kaladin, as proven by Chapter 52, page 609. Y’all can gloat now and get it over with.


23. I’m sure I must have breathed during the first part of this chapter, but once Shallan started drawing… I can’t guarantee it. I was certainly holding my breath when Jasnah walked in!

As someone recognized in one of the discussion threads, this was when Shallan caught the Memory of (what we later know as) Pattern for the first time, bringing him to “life” in Chapter 3, pages 66-8. I realized I had been holding my breath when Jasnah said, “We have matters to discuss.”


24. Very big grin, small happy dance. I loved this. First the callback to... whenever it was that Shallan asked (Adolin) the same thing, and then the segue to (Adolin) using it elsewhere at the same time. (Also? Nice to have a moment of pure fun tossed into the tenseness—it doesn’t actually break the tension, but it does let the reader grab a gasp of air.)

“Prince Renarin, would you kindly slay this rock for me?”

In Chapter 83, Page 1000, when Shallan finally spots what she realizes must be the portal she’s seeking, she is acting on what she proved earlier (Ch. 68, P. 812) when she asked Adolin to “slay this moss”—that what looks like a lump of rock is actually something covered in thousands of years’ worth of layered and weathered crem. Then in the next sentence we see that Adolin, having also remembered the earlier event, had cut his way into what used to be a building, and is proceeding to make his way through that building to cut back out right behind/beside the singing Parshendi who are summoning the Everstorm. Sweet.


25. “So… (Zahel) is (Vasher). And, ‘Of course, there wasn’t one. Hadn’t been one in years.’ Oh, (Nightblood), what happened to you?” (This is unabashedly borrowed from Eric, another beta reader; I didn’t make this connection at all, and didn’t even believe it at the time. My big question was, “What Heralds are going to be on the chapter icons here?”
Peter, of course, merely said, “That is an excellent question!” Him and his Aes Sedai answers.)

Have y’all sorted this one out yet? Some of you have, anyway, and anyone who’s been following the spoiler thread has picked it up by now. Interlude 6. And now we know where Nightblood has been, too. This was the reason Brandon hasn’t allowed anyone to read “Way of Kings Prime” (the earlier version that he set aside to complete the Wheel of Time)—Vasher was always in the Stormlight Archive, and he didn’t want to spoil the surprise. I still wonder, though whether Zahel/Vasher is also Ishar.


26. No. Just... no. I will not accept this. (I’m not going to give you any more. I’m betting most of you will recognize it when you read it.)

“Syl…What have I done to her?”

YOU HAVE KILLED HER. The voice shook everything. It was as if …as if the shaking of the plateau and his own body made the sounds for the voice.

“No,” Kaladin whispered. “No!”

IT HAPPENED AS IT ONCE DID, the Stormfather said, angry. A human emotion. Kaladin recognized it. MEN CANNOT BE TRUSTED, CHILD OF TANAVAST. YOU HAVE TAKEN HER FROM ME. MY BELOVED ONE.

The face seemed to withdraw, fading.

“Please!” Kaladin screamed. “How can I fix it? What can I do?”


(Chapter 74, page 878) I was stunned that Jasnah was killed, but I could actually accept that—or the possibility that it was faked somehow and she’d be back. Either way, I knew it would be good. Syl hit me way harder. Way, way harder. I just couldn’t accept that she was dead. I think there are several reasons for that reaction: one, that she’s a spren and there’s so much we don’t know about spren yet; two, that I like her so much, and she’s such an innocent in so many ways; three, that (I assume) Kaladin can’t be a Radiant without her. What can the rest of the Archive be without Kaladin developing into a Radiant? The whole idea left me flailing around like Shallan in Shadesmar—nothing solid to hold to.


27. This may be the single most hilarious line in all of fantasy. Or maybe it’s the fact that I was reading way past my bedtime last night. ... ... No, it’s still hilarious this morning, after rereading the conversation. Seriously, though, one of the things I adore about this scene was that it’s a moment of crazy, incongruous humor in the midst of some fairly intense stuff, and yet it still fits perfectly into what’s going on, so in a way it’s not incongruous at all.

“So yes, I, Adolin Kholin—cousin to the king, heir to the Kholin princedom—have shat myself in my Shardplate. Three times, all on purpose.” He downed the rest of his wine. “You are a very strange woman.”

I laughed myself sick over this entire conversation in Chapter 49. Shallan was trying so hard to be a proper Vorin lady, and flirt “the right way” as Adolin would expect, and all of a sudden her innate curiosity overcame her and she asked what she really wanted to know. Adolin’s reaction was priceless.

He grinned. “This is not exactly going the way it’s supposed to, is it?”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“No,” Adolin said, then his grin widened. “Actually, it’s kind of refreshing. Do you know how many times I’ve told that story about saving the plateau run?”

“I’m sure you were quite brave.”


“Though probably not as brave as the poor men who have to clean your armor.”

Adolin bellowed out a laugh. For the first time it seemed like something genuine—an emotion from him that wasn’t scripted or expected.

I think it was this whole conversation that convinced me they were perfect for each other, in all the right ways.


28. ::stunned silence:: (Seriously. It took me several days to find anything coherent to say about this scene.) Please tell me it’s not true. I don’t know what I dare hope for; it won’t surprise me if it’s true, but I still want it not to be. I’m trying not to hope anything in particular, but this is tough.

Chapter 7, Jasnah’s death. ‘Nuff said.


29. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. OH, YES.
There’s so much vindication here!!! I’m not sure whether that’s applicable to choices, worth, theories, or what—but it’s STUNNING!
(And there was dancing, and fist-pumping, and crying, and then I had to keep reading because it wasn’t over yet.)

He is mine! a feminine voice said. I claim him.

The whole scene in Chapter 84, especially pages 1014-5, where Kaladin chooses to spend his last breaths defending the king, and the argument between Syl & Stormfather, and her return, and… all of it. And then this:

“Stretch forth thy hand!”

He reached out a trembling hand. Moash hesitated.

Wind blew in the opening in the wall, and Syl’s ribbon of light became mist, a form she often took. Silver mist, which grew larger, coalesced before Kaladin, extending into his hand.

Glowing, brilliant, a Shardblade emerged from the mist, vivid blue light shining from swirling patterns along its length.

Kaladin gasped a deep breath as if coming fully awake for the first time. The entire hallway went black as the Stormlight in every lamp down the length of the hall winked out.

For a moment, they stood in darkness.

Then Kaladin exploded with Light.

And there was dancing, and fist-pumping, and crying, and then I had to keep reading because it wasn’t over yet. That Kaladin finally realized that he couldn’t pick and choose who he wanted to protect, that Syl herself became his Blade, that I had actually guessed she would do so… and of course the brilliant writing in this section that pulled you in and whirled you along. All of it combined to bring me to my feet because I just couldn’t hold it in any more. Fortunately there wasn’t anyone else in the house, because I was dancing around like a madwoman, cheering and waving my arms and generally acting like a complete nutcase. And then I sat down and kept reading, because he had to go help Dalinar right now!


30. This whole chapter made me giggle. “You monster.” Lying in wait for grass. And hey—COSPLAY! That would be fun, practical and comfortable. Also “…flapping in the wind, like the Stormfather’s own ears.” ROFL!

You’d better have figured this one out by now. Kaladin meets the horsies in Chapter 25: “Monsters.” Oh, so much fun. The horses stalking the grass, or lying in wait for it, was such a hilarious mental image, I just kept snickering. The cosplay moment was, of course, the clothing worn by the stablemaster (and others, it later turned out):

She wore a traditional Vorin gown, though it wasn’t silk, but something coarser, and was slit up the front and back ankles to thigh. Underneath, she wore a feminine pair of trousers. (page 316)

What more could you ask in a great costume to wear for a signing?


31. Even the second and third time through, this moves me to tears. Maybe especially the second and third time, knowing what the results will be. Oh, you fool. You fool. You fool.

Needless to say, this is Kaladin… Chapter 68, page 801:

Bad choices. Naughty. So, this was because of his promise to Moash that he’d help assassinate the king. Kaladin sighed, continuing forward.

Syl couldn’t see why his decision was the right one. She was a spren. She had a stupid, simplistic morality. She didn’t understand what it was like to be a person. To be human was often to be forced to choose between distasteful options.

Realistic? Maybe, but his inability to recognize the changes in Syl, and to comprehend the relationship between his choices and her changes, was agonizing. And his condescending dismissal of her concerns as being “stupid, simplistic morality” made me want to kick him. Hard.


32. Oh, my. Ohmyohmyohmyohmy. (I know that’s not much to go on, but… All I can do is suggest a visual of extremely wide eyes. This was not a dancing or fist-pumping moment—it was wide eyes and a slack jaw, as something I’d never even imagined… happened. I was all but incoherent.)

Chapter 72, page 862:

“Obligingly, it shrank in her hand to the size of a much shorter sword, really a big knife.”

From my notes at the time:

Her Shardblade just changed its size and shape to suit her need. How did that happen?? I’m guessing (and taking it as confirmation of my own much-earlier theory) that this is her own, original-with-her Radiant Shardblade, as opposed to the kind with the gemstones used to bond them. It kind of fits with Ashir’s researches, where spren change size and shape at will until they’re measured, and then they’re stuck. Does the gemstone in a “normal” Blade lock the spren into keeping the sword a single size and shape, or something? Because up until now, Blades have been completely recognizable, and no one questions that. There was that one statement, a couple chapters ago, that they changed shape to accept the gemstones, but that’s it.

Why can Kaladin handle this Blade? Is it because he’s lost his connection to Syl, or because the Blade is different?

(In context here, the answer to that question, which we learn much later, is absolutely breathtaking. Sweet. He can handle it because it’s a living spren who is willing to let him use it. It’s Pattern, but we won’t know that for quite a few chapters yet.)


33. And… there’s the painting. Sah-weet. (There was much delighted squealing and arm-waving going on when I read this scene. You’ll love it. Promise.)

Okay, that comment might have been a little misleading, because the cover painting (to which I referred) is actually a combination of two scenes. Chapter 85, after Szeth has taken out multiple Shardbearers in various ways, as well as a lot of other soldiers (hence the pile of bodies), and has Lashed Dalinar into the sky:

And then, like a falling star, a blazing fireball of light and motion shot down in front of Dalinar. It crashed into the ground, sending out a ring of Stormlight like white smoke. At the center, a figure in blue crouched with one hand on the stones, the other clutching a glowing Shardblade.

Full of awesome! Arm-waving, fist-pumping and all—but yes, he’s holding a Blade. Which left room for that wonderful moment in Chapter 86:

“I should have practiced more with the sword,” he muttered.

Oh. That’s right. You probably want me to be a spear, don’t you?

The weapon fuzzed to mist, then elongated and grew into the shape of a silvery spear, with glowing, swirling glyphs along the sharpened sides of the spearhead.

Oh, I should have seen this coming, the way Shallan’s Blade changed size in the earlier chapter, but it was totally unexpected. And beautiful. The whole rest of this scene, with Syl changing from blade to spear, to shield, to halberd, to hammer, to knife, anticipating what Kaladin would need, and Kaladin finally simply using his powers instead of thinking about them, was an adrenaline rush from start to finish. The only reason the squealing wasn’t actual shouting is that I was reading way past midnight, and it would have been unkind to wake my husband so rudely…


34. This chapter title was perfect. It gave me shivers. And it’s oddly far more effective here than it would be on the earlier chapter, which is... pretty amazing in itself.

Chapter 34, “Blossoms and Cake”—I found this incredibly powerful. For those who didn’t catch it, it’s a callback to Shallan’s earlier insistence in Chapter 30 that her life hadn’t been so easy, despite Tyn’s condescending assumptions:

“I think you’ll find,” Shallan said, “that my life hasn’t been one of non-stop blossoms and cake.”

“I’m sure you think that,” Tyn said. “Everyone does. Shallan, I like you, I really do. I think you’ve got heaps of potential. But what you’re training for… it will require you to do very difficult things. Things that wrench the soul, rip it apart. You’re going to be in situations that you’ve never been in before.”

“You barely know me,” Shallan said. “How can you be so certain I’ve never done things like this?”

“Because you aren’t broken,” Tyn said, expression distant.

“Perhaps I’m faking.”

“Kid,” Tyn said, “you draw pictures of criminals to turn them into heroes. You dance around in flower patches with a sketchpad, and you blush at the mere hint of something racy. However bad you think you’ve had it, brace yourself. It’s going to get worse. And I honestly don’t know that you’ll be able to handle it.”

That cynical deprecation (to which many readers were also subject in The Way of Kings), blocked any ability to recognize the disconnect between Shallan’s “blossoms and cake” appearance and her “difficult things” reality, and Tyn’s assessment, “Because you aren’t broken,” is deeply ironic. The application of this conversation to the chapter in which she finally summons her Blade in self-defense was, in my opinion, absolutely brilliant.

…[Tyn] advanced, raising her blade. “I’m sorry that you have to learn the lesson this way. Sometimes, we must do things we don’t like, kid. Difficult things.”

Shallan growled, thrusting her hands forward. Mist twisted and writhed in her hands as a brilliantly silver Blade formed there, spearing Tyn through the chest. The woman barely had time to gasp in surprise as her eyes burned in her skull.

Tyn’s corpse slid back off the weapon, collapsing in a heap.

“Difficult things,” Shallan growled. “Yes. I believe I told you. I’ve learned that lesson already. Thank you.” She crawled to her feet, wobbling.


Alice Arneson grew up in Montana, but has now officially lived more than half her life in Washington State. The most devastated scene she’s ever observed was Mount St. Helens a few years after it erupted.

Alice Arneson
1. Wetlandernw
Those of you who have been following along with the Spoiler thread know that #1 has indeed been decoded. Now I can sleep at night.
Chris Chaplain
2. chaplainchris1
No fair stealing the first spot, Alice! (Other than that, this post is made of win.)
Alice Arneson
3. Wetlandernw
Well, I didn't have to read it first, ya know? ;)
Gary Singer
4. AhoyMatey
And brilliant article. :)

In a book with lots of humor, the scatological part was without doubt the funniest. It breaks the whole trope in fantasy and fiction in general that characters never need to take a bathroom break.

I guess I just love potty humor!
Jordan Hibbits
5. rhandric
Excellent! And especially so for 26...and 28.

Have I mentioned I've been teasing a friend with 'Chapter 7'? ;)
6. writelhd
I was off on a lot of them...but hey! I called Blossoms and Cake! Totally called it!
Alice Arneson
7. Wetlandernw
Ahoy @4 - Really? I'd never have guessed... ;)

Yordan @5 - Poor Gina...

writelhd @6 - WOOT! I honestly didn't know if anyone would get that one. It hit me pretty hard - but I'd read the Ch. 30 line about "blossoms & cake" several times before I got to see the chapter titles, so it jumped out at me. Right in the solar plexus. I'm glad someone else thought the same thing.
Keith Buttram
8. Wookster125
Thank you, Wetlander! I have been looking forward to reading this! The original post had me really pumped for the book, which I devoured!

And let me add my voice to those that have congratulated you on getting to be a part of Brandon's process. While I would have so enjoyed doing that myself, I don't think that I would have been nearly as thorough as you probably were!

I have enjoyed your posts on WoR and usually find myself agreeing with your take on things here and in the comments on the WoT re-read, as well.

Keep up the good work!
9. Haresh
wow, thats amazing description..i felt the same way for some of the mentioned topics.
But somehow i liked WOK more than WOR. In WOK there are many chapters i wanted to read it again and when Kal was down powerless and watching the bridge 4 fighting, when he was stung up in the stromwall etc..
Maybe since i havent read the WOR again i am feeling this way.
Cory S.
10. Hungry_For_Hands
For #32, the line that absolutely sealed the deal for me that Pattern was her shardblade was on pg 860 "She needed to be close to the fighting for the illusion to work. Better if she'd been able to send them on Pattern, but that was problematic because..."

Right there is where it finally clicked and I thought "Oh she couldn't use pattern because he is in shardblade form!!!!"
Jordan Hibbits
11. rhandric
@7: She gets a lot of RAFO's from me too :p
Karen Oaks
12. Keleric
Thanks, Wetlander! Really enjoyed following this thread and seeing everyone's guesses. :) So I actually had a couple of the moments right, just paired up with the wrong reflection. Pretty cool!

I did catch Nightblood, but I totally missed Vasher. I felt like there was something I should have caught there. Had I read Warbreaker... (fully intended to, but with work and finishing my re-read of WoK I ran out of time).
13. Freelancer
Plenty to think about, but at this moment, one demands a response. #19.

Cryptics (or at least Pattern, no idea how faithfully he represents all such spren), perceive metaphors and other non-precise colloquialisms as lies, but "true" lies. This immediately brings to mind the conditional nature of the Aes Sedai's first Oath; to speak no word that is not true. Subterfuge comes in many forms, and "true" words can deceive, while "false" words can be honest.

A few cryptics would have made a shambles of the White Tower, eh? As far as the Fourth Wall is concerned, though, this behavior treads a fine line. Language is always a fluid and fungible thing. It seems plain that cryptics can read the intent of a speaker, regardless the words they choose. So the gray area of truth vs lies is blurry indeed when one's point is clear, though using metaphorical terms. Still, it's a wonderful device (out of frame) for making the reader think about the use of words themselves.

Thanks, Alice.
14. Afterthought
Thanks Wetlander - have really enjoyed reading your articles!
Julia S
15. TwistedDream
Yesssss I was waiting for this! I finished the book last night, and made sure I read your original post, so I could guess at some of the scenes.

Thanks, Alice.

(Also, thanks to my husband for explaining bits and pieces along the way, so when I read your reactions I picked up on more than I thought I would!)
16. Ginachu
rhandric is always torturing me. Between RAFO's and Chapter 7's, I'm almost scared to move on to WoR!
Jordan Hibbits
17. rhandric
Gina, you need to HURRY UP AND FINISH WoK FIRST! ;)
Heim Kirin Grewal
18. kei_rin
Part of me is wondering if Warbreaker happens after the Stormlight Archive Series. I'm part way through a re-read of Warbreaker now and Vasher/Zahel talks about how he's been away too long but couldn't come back until now. Is that because he's on Roshar? Trying to keep an even bigger war from breaking out? Or he could be taking a vacation from stopping wars by sitting in the middle of one?

I'm also wondering how Vasher is getting enough Breath to survive? Doesn't he need one Breath per week? Do Rosharen weeks equal Halandran weeks? Unless he's not Returned yet, which give crediance to the SA (StormlightArchives) happening before Warbreaker. But then again there could be a connection between Breath and Stormlight; so maybe Stormlight can keep him alive as well as Breath can....

For selfish reasons, I hope Warbreaker happened before Vasher goes to Rosher. By the end of Warbeaker, Vivian became one of my favorite characters given her growth through out the book. I'd love to see her again as an Awakener who's grown into her powers. I liked the thought of her and Vasher going around stopping wars and bring peace to world. So if Vasher is in Roshar and Vivian isn't, I hope it's only because Warbreaker didn't happen yet and they haven't met.
Chris Chaplain
19. chaplainchris1
@3 - Actually, I didn't read it first either. I posted that it was made of win, and then went back to read it, fully confident that I was right. And I was! Preparing my wall of text to follow!

ETA: Gina @16! This thread is not safe for you! Shoo! Go read!
Cory S.
20. Hungry_For_Hands
@18 - My assumption is that stormlight works as a replacement for Breath to survive. I don't have the quote in front of me, but I believe Wetlander posted a Brandon quote that hinted at this the other day.

When you think about it, stormlight and breath are both energy of a sort which can be used for "magic" . They might not be exactly the same form, but they both come from shards of Adonalsium.

Also, this would make it convenient for Szeth to unsheath Nightblood and use it. Because if you remember in Warbreaker, when it was unsheathed it would feed off of the breath of the weilder. Well, Szeth has no Breath, so.....
Alice Arneson
21. Wetlandernw
And it's all Investiture of one form or another... I think...
Jordan Hibbits
22. rhandric
Chris @19: You and your walls of text! :)

HFH@20: Both are forms of Investiture, which could potentially mean they're interchangable - and, with Nightblood's presence, that would *need* to be true.

Edit: @21 And Alice beat me to it!
Birgit F
23. birgit
8 Does Brandon have some obsession with boots? First Mat's stupid boot jokes in WoT and now again Shallan in WoR.

12 I first thought that but then the spoiler post convinced me it was about Lopen's family.

14 I thought that was very cool, too.

26 I always thought Syl would be back because of the way Pattern talked about the difference between humans and spren/objects breaking.
Deana Whitney
24. Braid_Tug
You are so good and on-point with everything! Thank you Alice! And thank you for having her write all these great reviews.

#1: Someone already solved it! Crazy how fast some people are at code breaking.

#2: Mistborn Spoilers: Well if they were on a different Cosmere world, that would work…

#14: Was really worried his hand was “dead”, then when he healed it, was jumping for joy like you Alice. But then the question of: What part of the body does the Shard Blade have to cut to kill a man?

#16: I agree. Read that quote and was happy. Wondered if Leigh Butler has read the books yet. There was recent discussion on the Read of ASoIaF about the Feminist viewpoints. So many need to read that section.
And to be fair, it applies to men too. In both book world and real world.
This culture that frowns on men reading is just wrong.

#17: liked the proportions. 1:3, Fighter: Other

#21: LOVE THAT PART! “She smiled Anyway.” Cheers for the people who have gone through HELL, but can still smile!

#30: Will have to get on that… Can I use Shallan’s dress in the Endpapers as a reference?
Chris Chaplain
25. chaplainchris1
I’ve just realized how LONG your post is and that I can’t (well...shouldn’t) try to respond to everything at once. But this is still a Wall of Text Warning!

As you know, Wet, I finally finished WoR Monday, with much breathlessness. I’m currently working through comments on the Spoiler thread, having made it to about 200 – it keeps growing, though! I hope to make it through and be able to join that discussion later today.

Re: your reactions, wow, I didn’t get many! Even as I was reading, and certainly not predicting in advance (which I really didn’t try to do).

#1 - I didn’t even try to figure out the code. My eyes crossed even looking at those number epigraphs. I glanced at it, said “ow” and went onward!

#2 - Yeah...that one, at least, I recognized. Poor Teft. From his thoughts in WoK, I assumed he’d actively betrayed the cult somehow. To find instead that he’d just been a brave, scared little boy who wanted to save his family...who then were murdered (“executed”, right) anyway, instead of helped? Oh, Teft. How are you not so, so broken yourself?

#3 - I’m not sure I had a candidate for anything that fit this scene...but I did love it. I think I’ve had a little more sympathy than others seem to have had for Elhokar, ever since Dalinar put the fear of the Almighty into him at the end of WoK. Sympathy borne of the fact that the hugely paranoid and incompetent Elhokar got a beatdown (verbal and otherwise) from his uncle, and *he accepted it*.

Of course, Elhokar squandered most of my good will by ordering Kaladin’s execution; but he did come around on that, too. But yes, this scene, where he’s so raw, so in-over-his-head, and so desperate for help...yeah, so sad for him. I was so angry at Kaladin for being so lost in his own issues that he doesn’t respond to this cry for help.

(I understand it, having had my own struggles with depression – sometimes you just literally *can’t* be your best self, or even a recognizably good self. Still...twerp.)

#4 - I admit to not having thought about the Ryshadium much, so I didn’t have a “Bela” moment here with you and Adolin. The Ryshadium choosing their riders was interesting – reminds me of the Ranhyn, from Stephen R. Donaldson.

#5 - I haven’t thought much of Szeth’s moral code, which allows ‘honor’ to trump ‘murder’ – but I certainly pitied him here. His whole world collapsing – what an existential crisis. I am *not* excited to see what Nalan makes of him.

#6 - I kept trying to figure out what scene was the essence of Lightweaving, and never did. I wasn’t thinking at all in terms of Shallan magically altering Bluth or any of the others – “just” that she was giving them a visual to go with the new hope that she was offering. Offering hope to people that have lost it. I didn’t think it was magical any more than I thought her smile for Kaladin was magical. It was profound, real, and profoundly human.

Everyone else seems to have taken it for something related to the magic – so I guess I’m wrong, but I *don’t* like that concept. I prefer it to be real and human, related to courage and bravery and imagination and not to a Surge.

No, Breeze never convinced me that emotional Allomancy was ok, either.

#7 - This made me laugh, b/c as you know on Facebook, both in public and in private threads, I kept quoting things. Funny things, heartwrenching things...not just from this chapter but all through the book. (I need to go back through those threads and compile those reactions for my own journal.)

It was indeed a touchingly beautiful moment when Dalinar realized he could let go of his guilt over Gavilar.

So, yeah, I completely misunderstood this line: “(Dalinar’s) return was breathtaking.”

For whatever reason, I didn’t understand that all these statements were from the same chapter – there were thrilling sentences through the whole book. So the comment of yours I speculated on the most was, “Who’s return is breathtaking?” Who is missing who could return in a breathtaking way? And my answer was: JASNAH! Because (I’ll say more about this when I catch up on the spoiler thread) I never quite accepted her death. Mostly because we’d never learned her second Surgebinding ability, but she clearly knew what it was. I figured she’d escaped somehow and (because of Shallan’s dream) that she’d Soulcast a lifeless body. (I missed the body having disappeared.)

Anyway, it’d be much too strong to say I KNEW Jasnah would return. I hoped it, and saw reason for hope. But I admit, as the book went on, I had less and less hope – and then we had Syl’s return, and it was *breathtaking*. I decided *that* was the return you meant, after all. So you befuddled me twice.

(And kudos to Brandon for leaving me enough clues that I hoped for Jasnah’s return – but waiting long enough to do it that I’d pretty much abandoned hope by the time it happened. Thus he surprised me twice – once by knocking off Jasnah, and again by bringing her back after I’d given up on her coming back!)

The line about Dalinar moving beautifully was beautiful. And Kal claimed the winds - in much in the same way that Syl claimed him?.

#8 - Oh, gosh, THIS! “You will apology with boots.” Bwah hah hah hah hah. Oh, I cracked up and stayed cracked up. Too funny. And yet...I just knew Kaladin was going to decide she was an assassin. This was one of several instances of deceit that I thought were going to derail Our Heroes...but mostly turned out ok, because they mostly ‘fessed up to each other or communicated with each other eventually. Because we’re in Roshar, NOT Randland. :)

More to come. Here endeth this portion of the Wall o’ Text! Fret not, Yordan, twill be MOAR!
Leeland Woodard
27. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@24 Braid_Tug

I believe it's been said that if a shardblade cuts you through your core (meaning, like, your spine) then you die. Or if it "cuts" your head off. Though thinking on it, perhaps if the cut is low enough on the spine, you'd just be parapalegic.
Lauren Hartman
28. naupathia
#27 OMG YES!!! I cracked up laughing SO HARD. The best part was Adolin's double take after he proceeds with the conversation:

He paused again. She was probably supposed to ask what happened next.

"What if you need to poop?" she asked instead.

"Well, I put my back to the chasm and laid about me with my sword, intending to... Wait. What did you say?"

"Poop," Shallan said.

OMG I almost DIED.

And #4 was also incredibly sad for me as well.

Edit for typos :)
29. Arameus
Chapter 84 cracked!
As decoded by Darmad on the 17th shard forum. Highlight below here for the answer:
Hold the secret that broke the Knights Radiant. You may need it to destroy the new orders when they return.

If you're interested in the solution see the reddit thread:
Walker White
30. Walker
At this point, we don’t know for sure what order that is, but my money is on Willshapers
Based on Adolins actions at the end of the book, and an oblique Brandon comment at signing, the current theory is that Adolin will be a Dustbringer if he is a Radiant at all.
Jeremy Guebert
31. jeremyguebert
#21 and #29 were some of my favorite scenes.

I personally thought some of the lines in the chasms (particularly: well, the chasmfiend did succeed in eating you) were funnier than the whole poop in your armor scene (although, granted, that was still pretty funny).

And #3 was incredibly well done. Made me feel a lot more sympathy for a character who spent most of the first book being paranoid and/or annoying.

I can't recall if it was in the same chapter as #29 or not, but I also really liked the line "Elhokar was Dalinar's Tien" - cool to see Kaladin realize that everyone is important to somebody.
Jennifer B
32. JennB
Wow! I am only 15% into my reread of Warbreaker, but this post really makes me want to abandon it and reread WoR. Such a great book!
Jordan Hibbits
33. rhandric
JennB @32. Ahh, but see, rereading Warbreaker will make your reread of WoR that much better! ;)
Robert Dickinson
34. ChocolateRob
13 "I am a stick"

In reward to his determined state of stickiness I've added an entry for him to the stormlight archive's character page on tv tropes.

How long until someone with no sense of humour deletes it?
Maybe I should milk it a bit more first, what tropes have I missed?
Jennifer B
35. JennB
Count me as another who thought that Shallon's pictures of the deserters did not affect them magically. It never occurred to me that it might be magic as I was reading and I still don't think it was magic. They were responsible for the changes in themselves because they wanted to be better people. Shallan's pictures and her trust gave them something to strive for. I will not believe that she took away their free will and magically transformed them.
Michael Arnett
36. Darmad
Per Brandon, Warbreaker comes before Stormlight Archive. Which makes sense when you consider the problems Zahel/Vasher has with avoiding "color" metaphors in Alethi.

@21 Wetlander
(Thanks for the great posts, btw.) Yes stormlight is investiture, but can Szeth still Surgebind? Since he was previously using an Honorblade which enables a non-surgebinder to surgebind, what will Nightblood due to him if he doesn't have any stormlight?

Love the reactions. I'm especially with you on #10.
37. WoozleMom
Chaplainchris1 @25 and JennB @35

Regarding the essence of Lightweaving and Shallan's drawings of Bluth and Gaz, I think agree with you. My personal sense is that it is *both.* I don't think she somehow magically *actually changed* Bluth and Gaz by drawing them as they could be. I think they chose to change based on the, as you said, new hope that she offered them. But I do think Shallan's Surge gave her the tools she needed to envision and depict these men as something more than what they currently were. Does that make sense?
Alice Arneson
38. Wetlandernw
Thank you all! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this; I really had a lot of fun with it. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to write these things, and I have to say – Bridget and the team at Tor are an absolute delight to work with. My last three weeks have been… unusual, to say the least, but they took everything in stride and made it all work. Kudos to them!!

A few miscellaneous random responses…

Chris @25 – I’m not 100% sure that the effect on Bluth and Gaz was Lightweaving, although I’m not sure it wasn’t. I am sure of the effect on Shallan, that she could change herself via Lightweaving – and that’s what I was getting at. A “different truth” about herself.

Also re: Dalinar’s “return” – my first two or three word choices got vetoed because they gave away too much, so I settled for “return”… because he did return from being slung up into the sky, right? :)

Walker @30 – Releasers/Dustbringers has been my runner-up Order for Adolin. I haven’t had the chance to follow all the threads about Brandon’s comments at signings yet. ::sigh::

Rob @34 – LOL! He deserves his own character page.

Darmad @36 – I shudder to think what effect Nightblood will have on Szeth, frankly.

Also: Congratulations on solving #1. Well done! Also also, THANK YOU.
Bridget McGovern
39. BMcGovern
@Wetlandernw: Well, we couldn't have done this without you, Alice! You've done such a wonderful, wonderful job discussing all things Stormlight, Carl and I are just going to keep bugging you for more :) You certainly deserve to take a bow, here--congratulations!
Alice Arneson
40. Wetlandernw

::grins sheepishly::

Just tell me what you want!! I'm having way too much fun to stop now. :)
41. Freelancer
kei_rin @18

Vasher was never God King like Susebron. He is a Returned, like Lightsong. Only the God King requires a Breath each week.
Alice Arneson
42. Wetlandernw
But didn't Lightsong need a breath each week? Usually someone to whom the payment for it would really help their economic situation? It's been a while, but that's my recollection.
Robert Dickinson
43. ChocolateRob
All the Returned needed one breath per week but the God King was given several so he could stockpile them.
44. WoozleMom
@41, 42

I've been rereading Warbreaker ever since I finished WoR on Saturday, so this is fresh in my mind. Lightsong (and the other "regular" Returned) needs one Breath per week. Susebron gets two Breaths a week.
Alice Arneson
45. Wetlandernw
You know, that system always creeps me out. Every last one of those "gods" has to get another Breath every week in order to keep going. How many people per week give up their Breath and become drab for the rest of their lives? How are there enough people in Hallandren willing to do this? ::shudder::
46. Freelancer
Gah, true enough. All Returned need the Breath each week. It was the two per week for the God King that is different, and had me thinking the difference larger. My bad.

Here's the thing. The Returned spend a Breath each week being Returned. So they need to acquire one Breath each week to avoid the consumption of their Divine Breath, which is what keeps them alive in their Returned state. Vasher has far more than one Breath handy, so he's in no immediate danger of dying that way, even if Stormlight is not an appropriate substitute (and I doubt that it is).

But Vasher is special in more than one way, and I'm not completely sure if the Breath rules fully apply to him. Didn't he go about for a time as a drab? A Returned can alter their appearance to seem to be a normal person, but they cannot be without Breath. Either way, he knows much more than we've been shown, and knows how to use that extra information.

The main events of Warbreaker definitely happen prior to the "present" on Roshar. Zahel refers to the expectation of a voice in his head (Nightblood) that hasn't been there for years.
Leeland Woodard
47. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
It's also possible--and I subscribe to this theory--that Vasher was a Herald before he went to Nalthis. I think that he world hopped there, did all his stuff, made Nightblood as an imitation shardblade to replace the one back on Roshar (obviously that didn't work out super well for him), and now he's back on Roshar after a long time on Nalthis.

He told the people there that he was Returned, because that's the handiest explanation for his immortality.
48. haggis
I'm an idiot.

How did I never figure out that Renarin? Granted they didn't really mention it in the last half of the book. Between the jail time, Kal and Shallan getting stranded, and just how much they had to fit in, it was never brought up again, but still.

Now that it said so obvious. Hindsight 20/20 I guess.
Ben McSweeney
49. Inkthinker
The additional nice thing about cosplaying the dress described in (30) is that you have a fine image reference... it's the same outfit Shallan's wearing on the inside of the front cover.
Jennifer B
50. JennB
Do we have any information on where the Heralds are originally from? I have often wondered if they are from Roshar at all. They are from an advanced civilization. So either they are from another world or the original civilization on Roshar had time to become very advanced before the first Desolation.
Alice Arneson
51. Wetlandernw
JennB @50 - I've wondered about that too. I don't think we have any information...
Julian Augustus
52. Alisonwonderland
I totally mis-identified #11 as referring to the Jasnah incident in chapter 7, because what you describe is close to the reaction I had reading that scene. Perhaps it is because Jasnah was probably my favourite character in WoK, and to see her so brutally murdered at the very beginning of this book simply threw me for a loop. As a matter of fact, I put the book down after that chapter and didn't pick it up again for a whole day, it had that much effect on me. I spent the rest of the book gradually reconciling myself to her death, only for Brandon to pull out the rug from under me again at the end.

I still haven't yet made up my mind whether I or not I like that development. I remember at the end of tFoH, when Moiraine apparently 'sacrificed' herself to take out Lanfear, I actually shed real tears when Rand read her last letter ('You will do well'), and then I felt somewhat let down when Jordan couldn't let that powerful emotion stand and brought her back.
Don Barkauskas
53. bad_platypus
Braid_Tug @24: As smintitule @27 said, cutting the spine kills a man. From the Prologue to TWoK (Szeth's PoV):
If the Blade touched a man’s spine, he died, eyes burning. If it cut through the core of a limb, it killed that limb.
We also see Shallan kill Tyn with a Blade to the heart, and presumably a head-shot would kill as well.
Bonnie Andrews
54. misfortuona
Wetlander. I am in awe, as always, of your insights and concise commentary. Tor could not have picked a better person for this, and you know I have been squeeing ever since I heard you were a beta reader.

I have read your commentary, and realize that I obviously need to read this again. One of the drawbacks of audiobooks.... BTW the code at #1 is really crazy in audio.

Thank you for doing this for us.

Mis-sing way to many details and heading off to read again.
Alice Arneson
55. Wetlandernw
misfortuona - Hugz! Been mis-sing YOU around here. :)
Birgit F
56. birgit
Yesterday I reread the part where Shallan converts the deserters and Pattern says she used the transformation surge.
Michael Arnett
57. Darmad
Wetlandernw: Your welcome back. :)
I got so into the decoding that it actually brought me back into active participation on a forum for the first time since...well to be honest its been more years than I like to think about. The last time I was truly active was r.a.sf.w.r-j.

I really hope there is redemption for Szeth sometime in the future. But I have a bad feeling he hasn't reached bottom yet.
Michael Arnett
58. Darmad
There is definitely a lot more to the magic system in Warbreaker than Brandon has shown us yet.

Am I correct in thinking that in Warbreaker every single person has the capability to perform magic, but only a few can afford the cost? (It's been a while since I read the book. One more for the reread pile.) In all the other stories so far only a subset of people can invest, but if in Warbreaker everyone can, then I wonder if a drab is really just an ordinary human.
Gary Singer
59. AhoyMatey
I was under the impression that Vasher does not need a Breath each week because he has a way to supress his Returned Breath. That's why he can become a Drab.
John Massey
60. subwoofer
I think you missed the best:
"No, no, Your Majesty," she said, words thickly accent, using the same stern tone she used with the axehounds. " You roll the whole thing up and eat it. You can't pick it apart like that."
"I don't feel so hungry, nanha," Elhokar said. His voice was weak , but he'd awoken from his drunken stupor, whick was a good sign.
"You'll eat anyway!" Mother said. " I know what to do when I see a man that pale in the face, and pardon, Your Majesty," but you are pale as a sheet hung out for the sun to bleach! And that's the truth of it. You're going to eat. No complaints."
"I'm the king. I don't take orders from-"
"You're in my home now!" she said, and Lopen mouthed along with the words. " In a Herdazian woman's home, nobody's station means nothing beside her own. I'm not going to have them come and get you and find you not properly fed! I'll not have people saying that, Your Brightship, no I won't! Eat up! I've got soup cooking."
Truth to donairs being a hangover food and a mom not taking any guff from a king. And I'd just like to say that donairs are not made from "mystery meat".

Kelly LeBourveau
61. Kikuo
All I have to say is, I tried to read this as fast as I could, I'm sure I missed a ton, but overall it is was just FANTASTIC, BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, AMAZING!!!!!! I mean so much is happening, there were times when my heart was about to burst.

I literally gasped in response to the epilogue (my husband was like, wth are you doing over there?) - I was getting so excited, and while there was plenty of foreshadowing that JASNAH couldn't possibly be dead, and nobody believed she was, it was just stunning to see her come back. And also, thank stormfather that Kaladin got his powers back! That was such an awesome moment, Syl fighting the Stormfather for him, and him FINALLY realizing what the right thing to do was, and sucking back in all of the stormlight, and Moash running like hell! I was like, hahahah yes!!!!! Thanks also Dalinar for finally realizing Amaram is a total dick. Oh, and The LOPEN becoming a Radiant?!?!? Lastly, I was getting totally suspicious that an affair might start between Kaladin and Shallan because of their bodies being pressed against each other during the highstorm, and him wanting her to look over and see him. Hmmm. But she seems totally into Adolin because, well, he's hot.

So, now that I've finished I feel so happy, overwhelmed, and a bit lost because it's over, and I don't know how I'm going to survive until the next one comes out!!!

Edited because ARGH I couldn't get the spoilers to stay whited out. I give up.
62. Afterthought
@ 56, if memory serves she used the transformation surge on herself. Pretty sure one of the caravan she saved comments on her changed appearance the next day.
Alice Arneson
63. Wetlandernw
birgit @56 - Now I have to go read that bit again. (shucks anyway...)

Darmad @57 - I'm glad you came out of retirement. Once it's explained, it's so simple... but I probably never would have guessed it.

Kikuo @61 - No need to white out spoilers in this thread. It's ALL spoilers.

@many - I think I need to go reread Warbreaker too. Too many new questions, now!
Leeland Woodard
64. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@50 & 51, where the Heralds are from

I was at the midnight signing at BYU, and I asked Brandon specifically whether the Heralds were ever mortal, or where they came from. He RAFO'd me, and essentially said that he didn't really want to discuss that particular bit mostly because it dives into stuff that won't really be super relevant until the 2nd arc of 5 books. I told him that I imagine, then, that we're going to get a lot of stuff centered on the Heralds in that arc, and he more or less confirmed that.
65. Freelancer
Darmad @58

Yes, anyone who has enough Breath, and who learns the Command technique properly, can become an Awakener. The Coppermind Wiki says that the number of Breaths required depends upon the object being Awakened, but the quality and complexity of the Command is also a factor. A clearly issued, well visualized, simple Command given to an accurately portrayed object takes fewer Breaths. A properly prepared corpse can be Awakened (rendering it a Lifeless) with a single Breath, ala Clod (Arsteel).

Also, increased Heightenings effectively level up one's skill in Awakening, reducing the number of Breaths required.

Oh, the final bit of proof that anyone could become an Awakener, is that the method of transferring Breath to another uses the same technique: You must be touching the recipient, and speak a clear Command, "My life to yours, my Breath become yours". The color for the event is taken directly from the giver, part of why they are called Drab.
Michelle Higoy
66. MitchSedai2010
Finally finished the storming book!

Imagine what the Alethi will think of Kaladin when he returns to Alethkar: a lighteyes with slave brand and carrying a spear isntead of a sword... and what awaits him in Kholinar? Hmm...
Birgit F
67. birgit
@62 Changing hear looks is lightweaving, but she also used transformation to change other people's self-perception and turn them from deserters into heros.
Nadine L.
68. travyl
#13: "the stupid, self-satisfied stick"
this was fun, despite the tragic and desperate situation Shallan was in.
@34 ChocolateRob: I hope you got the characterization right? Or did you just write the stick stuck to being a stick? (Props to the word-pun about stickiness, I borrowed from you.)
Besides the "fun" I was really happy that Shallan had to struggle with her ability. Her using lightweaving later on, almost felt to easy to master.

Darmad, respect for decoding the numbers. This was super smart. Luckily you retained your "compassion": Thanks for sharing the solution with us.
Nadine L.
69. travyl
Wetlander @63: Once it's explained, it's so simple...
Even knowing the solution, I still find it incredible that it's been decoded, not simple at all.
There are no spaces between the numbers. How would anyone figure out that 111 is Ho and not Oh ... and from there to go through the whole code...
Now I'm even more amazed that someone (Darmad!!!) managed it, and in such a short time no less. Wow.
How did you even have the idea to use the epigraph of chapter 83?
Michael Arnett
70. Darmad
@69 travyl: I spent most of 2 evenings just reading through the ideas that had been tried on 17thShard. They had talked about using different epigraph as a key, but there wasn't a lot of discussion on the chapter 83 epigraph. Knowing there was a key in the book from Peter, I just latched on to the fact that both epigraphs came from the same part of the room, 2nd ceiling rotation. Pattern 15 was a code, but pattern 1 was not. Why? Honestly it was a hunch that worked out. But I had a lot of help.

As for HO vs OH, one gives HOLD while the other gives OHLD. :)
Michael Arnett
71. Darmad
@65 Freelander: Thanks, I had forgotten about the basic command for individuals to give their breath away. So everyone is a potential awakener, unlike in Elantris and Mistborn where magic is limited to a subgroup of individuals.

Like Alice, I really need to do a re-read of Warbreaker. And Elantris, too, come to think of it. But knowing that Vasher and Nightblood were in early drafts of Stormlight before Warbreaker was written, I'll defintely be starting with Warbreaker.
72. AmaCal
In chapter 50:

"Adolin summoned his Blade, then dismissed it, then summoned it again. A nervous habit. The white fog appeared- manifesting as little vines sprouting in the air- before snapping into the form of a Shardblade, ..."

I don't remember any other discription of people summoning Shardblades that included "little vines". Does anyine know if there is any significance to Adolin having vines appear, instead of just the usual mist? Or am I reading too much into it. Sorry if this has been discussed already, its getting late =)
Birgit F
73. birgit
Maybe Adolin's Blade is a spren like Lift's spren.
Jennifer B
74. JennB
Just finished Warbreaker last night. I noticed that the woman who created Nightblood had a very similar name to the vandal Herald. There is also a letter Shash on both worlds. The woman who created Nightblood is dead though. The name similarities don't seem to mean anything (yet), but they sure did jump out at me.
Jennifer B
75. JennB
Tor should do a reread of Warbreaker. Wetlandernw, you said you needed to reread it didn't you? Hint. Hint.

(I keep trying to figure out if I would be up to something like that. It would be fun, but a big commitment. Plus I have no idea how these blogs work behind the scenes.)
Alice Arneson
76. Wetlandernw
JennB @75 - check your outbox. :) I'm thinking about it now...

In other news... I just came across one of the (many) other Reflections I didn't include:

Chapter 76, P. 927:
Suddenly, all of Aladar’s vehement arguments— at the forefront of the faction against Dalinar— took on a different cast. He was arguing to convince himself, Dalinar thought. He was worried all along that I was right.
My reaction: "Aladar. This was wonderful. You just took a really annoying man, and with one flash of insight gave both Dalinar and the reader a 180."

I probably don't really need to expound on this much, but I was impressed all over again at how quickly Brandon turned my expectations on their head.
Jennifer B
77. JennB
I think you would do a great job.
Alerie Corbray
78. AlerieCorbray
Hello Wetlandernw. I loved your review, and I am so glad that you shared what you were reacting to ...
I had found most of them as I listened to the audio book, but I did miss a few. I am now reading my hardcopy and it just gets better and better. It would appear that my reactions are very close to yours. I hope that you continue to share your thoughts on stuff. It is worth haunting the TOR site to follow your observations. Thanks for being there.
Alerie Corbray
79. AlerieCorbray
@65 Freelancer: Where in Warbreaker does it state that Clod is Arsteel? I ask because I have read the novel three or four times and thought that I knew it fairly well.
Alice Arneson
80. Wetlandernw
JennB & Alerie - Thank you! It's a privilege to be here and have so much fun talking about these books with other fans. :D

Alerie @79 - I'm not sure the book makes it all that clear. What does make it crystal clear is Brandon's annotations:
They're well worth reading, IMO.
Alerie Corbray
81. AlerieCorbray
@80 Wetlandernw: this is wonderful and I am glad that there will be more. Warbreaker was such a neat story and I wanted to follow Vasher on to his next stop. I love that they have brought him back as Zahel. Yes, I can see where he could be a herald. It was fun to see an old friend on the sparring grounds.
By the way, if a reread of Warbreaker starts up, I guess I will see it in the TOR announcements?. And it looks like I need to get more familiar with BTS's website, such a wealth of information.

Any who time for me to get back to it. I found listening to the audio book was like watching a movie, very exciting, but I missed stuff that I normally would have caught had I been reading. So now, I am playing catch up.

Thanks for all of your help.
82. Yogdog
Just finished the book this morning, and til now had been avoiding the Internet.

What an awesome book.

Just wanted to come here and say that I GOT SOMETHING RIGHT! Forgot what else I may have guessed right, but I remember feeling very confident about my guess of Jasnah's appareant death. It's why I stopped attempting to guess the rest of it.

Although when I read her "death" which appeared pretty definitive, I kept thinking the rest of the book "oh well, at least I got half of it right." But then she comes back from Shadesmar in the end and I was like HELL YEAH GANDALF!
Rob Munnelly
83. RobMRobM
Re Vasher/Zahel - any reason to believe or not that Vivienna came over with him to Roshar?
Alice Arneson
84. Wetlandernw
RobM @83 - I've seen no strong indicators either way, for what little that's worth.
Rob Munnelly
85. RobMRobM
I thnk someone in the other thread pointed to a bald female ardent that could be a candidate - wouldn't that be fun.
86. Freelancer
Last anyone saw of Vivenna, as she and Vasher (and Nightblood) walked off into the sunset, she was trying to rename him Wartlover the Ugly. It hadn't been terribly long before that that he'd told her for the umpteenth time (as did everyone else who met her) that she was more trouble than she was worth.
87. harveysbc
(Hi, what happened to the WoR Spoiler thread? It had like 300 comments last week which I was working my way through, and today it appears to have been cut off at 120 or so?) First, I loved the book! So much action in such a big book!

Anyway, I have a few (spoilery) observations I haven't seen elsewhere yet:

-Mraize and his babsk: I think they are Sebarial and Palona. Mraize somehow ended up at Urithiru, meaning he was traveling with one of the four armies with Dalinar. He could've been hiding as a soldier, but because he had a "cultured" attitude, I think he'd probably be in the nobility. Does that make him a Lightweaver? They also could have searched her belongings at Sebarial's mansion and figured out she was Veil.

-Uritihiru: The overhead view seems to be the symbol of the Knights Radiant- ten circles surrounding an incomplete circle (half of an 8?). I think that the other half is/was in the cognitive realm.

-The embossed symbol on the cover: I first took the book jacket off and saw the symbol when I was reading the part with Dalinar's vision with the (tall, fluted) ebony tower in the middle of the purelake, so I've always associated it with that. Not sure if that's related to the tower in my point above?

Thanks for reading.
Alerie Corbray
88. AlerieCorbray
@83 RobMRobM: I do not know if this helps, but someone on the 17th shard has thrown together a time line of the Cosmere worlds. Vivenna's main limitation in worldhopping is that she is still human, albeit with return blood.. I am not certain How that might increase her lifespan, one can only guess.
@85 RobMRobM: I just reread the section that introduces her - Rushu. Page 413, chapter 35. She does not IMO sound very much like Vivenna, who impressed me as being very much a control freak. If she were an ardent she would have been very much involved with Navani and the testing process. Actually Distraction was more typical of her sister Siri in the beginning of the story.
Alice Arneson
89. Wetlandernw
At some point, someone also suggested a female ardent who was involved in training the swordsmen; her name was Ivis. Which... is closer to Vivenna than "Rushu" - and perhaps more in character for Vivenna too, though I don't remember her being a swordfighter in Warbreaker.

Okay, someone ask Brandon if Vivenna is on Roshar as well!
Alerie Corbray
90. AlerieCorbray
@87 harveysbc: to me the embossing almost looks like a spear, although it also with the rays looks like a torch. Maybe it is Syl's symbol to signify that Kaladin finally made it as a windrunner. Or it could be the symbol of the Knight's Radiant refounded. By the way, do not forget that there is a fairly significant tower in Uritihiru.
Don Barkauskas
91. bad_platypus
travyl @69: If you're interested in code-breaking, a really good not-too-technical book on the subject is The Code Book by Simon Singh. It presents an overview of code-breaking with some really cool historical examples.

(I say not-too-technical but take that with a grain of salt. There's definitely some math in there, and I have Ph.D.'s each in mathematics and statistics, so I sometimes have trouble evaluating how mathematically involved things are for non-specialists. Even if your eyes glaze over at the mathematics, though, the historical tidbits should still be pretty interesting.)
Rob Munnelly
92. RobMRobM
I like the Sebarial/Paloma theory! Should be a fairly limited pool of people who got to the castle - who else would make dramatic sense? Some unknown foot soldier ...or Sebarial, who makes a last minute decision to join in when he realizes big doings are about to happen and he needs to be on the scene. He may even have gotten his advanced economics and architecture knowledge from other worlds and cultures.
Rob Munnelly
93. RobMRobM
Wet - my memory is that V and V were about to hit the road in tandem, so should have opportunities for her to develop sword skills.

I'd broaden/anti-spoil the question to ask if anyone with Warbreaker royal blood is on Roshar.
Alerie Corbray
94. AlerieCorbray
@89 Wetlandernw: Ivis is introduced on page 503. After Zahel introduces the four bridge men to being attacked by a shard blade, he hands them over to Ivis, so that he can return to training Prince Renarin.

Okay, I got out the old laptop and was able to change the font to white. What follows is a spoiler for Warbreaker.

Vivenna was given a sword by Vasher and he taught her how to hold it in the beginning of a battle. As in she might fool an attacker briefly that she knew what she was doing. Then he took off on a mission of his own to the Court of the Gods. When he didn't return, she eventually found Nightblood surround by bodies, and then with the sword's help found Vasher being held by Denth, whom she fooled long enough to cut Vasher down, getting stabbed by Denth's blade in the process.

It makes sense, if she spent enough time with Vasher, he would have taught her more about how to use the sword.
Alice Arneson
95. Wetlandernw
More reflections... (I'm rereading it again, can you tell?)
“Tomorrow is the last day of the countdown,” Dalinar said. “Scribbled on the walls during highstorms. What ever it is, what ever it was, we meet it tomorrow— and you are my backup plan, Shallan Davar. You will find this portal, and you will make it work. If the evil overwhelms us, your pathway will be our escape. You may be the only chance that our armies— and indeed, Alethkar itself — have for survival.”
But hey, no pressure or anything, Shallan.
Alerie Corbray
96. AlerieCorbray
@95 Wetlandernw: LOL!

I am on page 490 in my reread(with the first read being an audio book, and the second a hardcopy). Shallan is about to meet the Ghostbloods for the first time in the War Camp.
Alice Arneson
97. Wetlandernw
The Ghostbloods give me the creeps, singly or en masse.

Alerie Corbray
99. AlerieCorbray
@97 Wet!andernw: especially now that they have Shallan's brothers. On the other hand, they are bringing her brothers to her as a gift, according to Mraize and offering her up information on her older brother. Personally, I am thinking that he also has been revived by Nalan, as part of an joining ritual maybe for the skybreakers. He seems to want his recruits dead, and then revived, and likely soulless.
100. Freelancer
Going back through yet again, and it's still difficult to keep the factions separated. The flashbacks sure make it seem like Helaran could have been involved with the Ghostbloods, but of course he couldn't work with the same group as his father.

Speaking of whom, I've read an interesting bit of real venom aimed at Shallan's father. Yes, he became an extremely unpleasant and unstable person, which is sad. But the truth is that he was simply too weak to maintain himself while keeping the lies necessary to protect Shallan, as he saw it. He let people, including his own sons, whom he loved dearly up to this point, believe him to have murdered his wife and her lover, when neither of those ideas is factual. The hatred, distrust, and fear that resulted from his immediately family tore him apart, and led him down a terrible hole. The one thing he remain constant about was his sheltering of his daughter. Even that twisted upon itself into a thing it should not have been.

I cannot hate him. I can only pity him.
101. Freelancer

Cruising through your reactions one more time, and got held up short by this in #10:
No matter that Amaram thought he was serving the greater good, and (perhaps) honestly regretted the “need” to kill Kaladin’s remaining men, the end does not necessarily (and certainly not according to the Ideals of the Knights Radiant!) justify the means.
The First Ideal clearly leaves no room for anyone to think that the end EVER justifies the means. Amaram's remorse (especially before the fact) carries no weight. I had this debate at the bookstore while waiting for Brandon to show up. I said that a nice thing about good fantasy stories is that anytime someone justifies doing shady things "for the greater good", you know you're reading about a bad guy. Several others there stood up for Taravangian, adamantly accepting his reasoning for collecting death rattles as trying to save more people than he was killing. To myself I couldn't believe that people completely miss that important a part of the story they're reading, but to them I said that we'll just have to wait and see, but nobody is ever a good guy who puts some people to death who didn't need to die, regardless of their intended goals.
Alice Arneson
102. Wetlandernw
Freelancer @100 - Needless to say, I agree. Lin Davar breaks my heart.

ditto @101 - I keep trying to think of a situation where I can honestly say that the end justifies the means, because I'm reluctant to say "never" - but I really can't. I do feel a niggling bit of sympathy for Taravangian, but only because of the times he feels bad about what he's doing. And it's only a very, very little bit: the man has made a god out of the person he was on the one day where he had most intelligence and least compassion. That's just wrong.

The death rattles were a bit weird to start with, but I could understand collecting them from people who were dying anyway. When he crossed the line into killing the "unwanted", though... Nope. Just... no.
David Foster
103. ZenBossanova
Noticing and collecting the Death Rattles was brilliant and important.

The real problem with those who insist that the end justifies the means, is that they are never willing to take what they themselves dish out. Now, if we get to the end, and Taravangian accepts a fate worse than death, to stop it all, I may revise what I think of him. Until then, he is killing a lot of people for what he just happens to think is best. It does not justify it.
104. jta068
Thanks for all of your work surrounding this series @Wetlandernw. It has kept my excitement going throught the run up to the release, and through the aftermath of finishing a tome of this size. I always feel sad when I finish something that I invested this much time and energy into.

@100 Freelancer: In regards to Halaran and Lin both working with the Ghostbloods, I had assumed it was a situation where they (the Ghostbloods) sent the fabrial to the Davar's to provide for his (Halaran's) siblings while he was away fighting for them. There's something about the Ghostbloods that I am drawn to, but I can't quite put my finger on it yet.
Rob Munnelly
105. RobMRobM
Ends justifying the means - I can think of some. Classic example is terrorist cell hiding in the middle of a slum and there is no easy way to get them captured or killed without collateral harm - injuries or death - to the innocents around them. The end goal (meaning, the terrorist cell can't go out and kill hundreds or thousands in future attacks) outweighs the harms caused by the means (eliminating the cell by violence, with collateral damage ensuing). That doesn't mean it is pleasant from the point of view of the decisionmaker and it doesn't absolve the decisionmaker of responsibility to use the means best targeted to achieving the goal while minimizing collateral damage. In story, same principles apply to Kal fighting and killing the Parshendi.

Re Taravangian - far from clear that he could meet a real ends justifying the means test. Is the incremental benefit of a single death rattle worth killing off an innocent individual? Really? Or is his thinking that saving some portion of humanity worth killing off anything thing and everything that exceeds said portion of humanity plus one?
Alice Arneson
106. Wetlandernw
jta068 @104 - You're welcome! I so know what you mean about being sad when you finish something like this; that's why I love tordotcom. We can join together in raising our excitement levels - and then it doesn't have to be over, because we're all here, and we can talk about it to our hearts' content. (This is especially valuable for those of us who don't have close friends/family who also read it!) I don't know about you, but I get so much more out of it - insight, fun, comprehension, wild theories - when I can talk with others about it, and especially when it's a book this size. There's just so much there.

Glad you joined us! :D
107. Freelancer
ZenBossanova @103

Noticing and collecting incidental death rattles is study, and neutral in terms of judgement. Inducing them from human beings who otherwise would not be dying is monstrous. Murder is murder, no matter what you think the positive aim might be.

Were I to rate characters in this story "so far" according to their evil, Taravangian tops the list. Assassinations to create a power vacuum for himself, because he knows best? Fomenting a civil war for the same purpose? Destroying nations and tens of thousands of lives, because he believes that centralizing power over the entire world in his own hands will allow him to prevent, or survive, the next Desolation. Tell me that Sadeas is worse, or Amaram, or Lin Davar, or Darkness.


I disagree that your analogy is a description of "the ends justify the means". Such a situation is, in terms of ethical situations, "the lesser of two evils", which involves an imperfect human judgement about the best possible result where no "good" results are likely.

In the terrorist scenario, you know with no uncertainty that you aren't trying to, or wanting to, harm anyone but the combat enemy, but have made the tactical decision that since prevention of harm to innocents cannot be guaranteed, choose the method with greatest mitigation.

Everytime someone strays into "ends justify the means" territory, they are knowingly harming someone or something who is not an enemy, for the advancement of a personal goal. This is true for the guy who ducks out of paying the check in a restaurant, or a paid assassin, or a man who thinks he is so smart that any method he chooses to support a vision, will take him to the desirable end of that vision.
Nadine L.
108. travyl
@105 RobMRobM.
If the same terrorists don't hide in a slum but in a well-attended high class hotel, with lots of rich and influential guests who might be the collateral ... would your answer still be the same?
I do have the feeling that it wouldn't happen with the same ... fatalism.
Rob Munnelly
109. RobMRobM
Travyl - same analysis would apply, as far as I am concerned.
matei tugui
110. matei
Vasher and Ishar do sound pretty similar...
But we can only wonder until we r.a.f.o :)
111. McKay B
@107: I'd argue Sadeas is more evil than Taravangian - he's even more willing to kill innocents to advance his own well-being. He just hasn't thought to do so on as grand a scale as Taravangian. So he's not as *skilled* at being evil as Taravangian, but I'd still rate him lower on a moral rubric.

Jury's still out on Darkness; we don't know enough about his motivations, his mental cupability, or the scale of his killings.

But I agree that Taravangian is more evil than Amaram or Lin Davar. Even though IMO he's more likeable than either of them.

IMO the problem with "the ends justify the means" is, quite simply, that humans as a rule are pretty terrible at judging what the ends ARE, in two ways.

First, we tend to be pretty selective about which "ends" we consider and which ones we ignore. Intelligent-Taravangian doesn't spend much time thinking about the suffering of the families of his hospitals' victims, or about the moral damage that is done to his own or Szeth's souls as a result of their crimes.

Second, humans tend to see death as an ultimate tragedy, rather than "the beginning of the next part of your journey" like Dumbledore or Gandalf would suggest. Hard to blame them -- it's survival instinct. But that doesn't change the fact that Taravangian's judgment is marred by his inability to consider that all of Roshar dying to a Desolation might be a better outcome than saving them, at the cost of turning them into an evil and miserable society.
Julian Augustus
112. Alisonwonderland
Wetlander and Freelancer,
On the question of if killing (or letting die) some innocents, with the expectation that it will help save even more innocents, is ever justified.

I will agree with you that, in almost all cases, morally, the answer should always be, never! However, there is one case I read about, a true story, I understand, that makes me pause. Let me offer it up for discussion.

As I understand it, it happened during the second world war. The British had broken the German codes and learned that a certain English town was the next target of the bombing. The question was, should they evacuate the town, which would alert the Germans that the Allies could decrypt their messages, and thus leading them to change their encryption techniques, or to pretend that they knew nothing and let the Germans bomb the town, killing numerous townspeople?

As I understand it, Churchill chose the latter option, and allowed many innocents in the town to be killed, in the expectation that his pretense of ignorance of the codes would allow the allies to learn more vital secrets that would help them win the war.

Was that choice morally right? This is one instance of "the greater good" defence that I have struggled with for years. I would be interested in how you see it.
Alice Arneson
114. Wetlandernw
Alisonwonderland @112 - I have no good answers for the Coventry dilemma, but some thoughts. First, it's apparently not entirely clear whether Churchill did indeed know the target, or if that was a manufactured factoid from someone trying to sell a book. There's some indication that they knew a raid was coming, but thought it was going to hit London. Second, Coventry was historically a viable military target due to its munitions manufacturing, and had been bombed several times already. Anyone living there knew they were a target. If people wanted to evacuate for that reason, they should/would have done so already.

If it were me, if I knew that we'd broken the code for sure and that there was no doubt about the target, I think I'd send word to get to the shelters; I don't think I'd try to organize a full-scale evacuation. But since I never have been, and likely never will be, in that position, I can't say for sure.
David Foster
115. ZenBossanova
This is mathematically equivalent to the dilemma where you have 5 people walking on train tracks in a tight canyon. You see the train approaching them and can divert it, but that will mean hitting another person.

Is hitting the one person worth saving the 5? Were more lives saved if Churchhill did know?

Hard questions.
116. Freelancer
The only "correct" answer to any such dilemma is pray you never find it necessary to make such a decision.

And it isn't necessary to wander into the anecdotal, when Truman made the largest such decision ever. Dropping the a-bombs ended the war in the Pacific. Thousands died instantly. Was it "right"? It's easy to say no, but it isn't necessarily honest. The burden of leadership in wartime doesn't permit one to hedge. His responsibility was to save as many American lives as possible. With the repeated refusal of the Japanese to come to any possible terms of peace short of the conquest of the U.S., the matter becomes clear to use all means available to end the conflict. Given the close parity in conventional material and tactics across the lines up to that point, refusing to use a game-changer would have meant an extended and arduous war of attrition, one which many analysts believe would have cost both sides many times the deaths from the a-bombs, before a conclusion was reached.

In any case, Kaladin's dilemma does not match any of these historical references. He has sworn to guard the royal family of Alethkar. He would betray that oath in permitting one of them to be assassinated. There is no gray area, and it is only his personal emotional trauma which he uses to justify abetting this crime.

Likewise, it is outside of his authority to personally seek retribution against Amaram for what was done to him. Amaram certainly deserves to be punished in the extreme, but the society has law, there is recourse within that law, and personal vengeance is not permitted.

I think that Adolin will find this out soon enough. However much Sadeas deserved to die for his treachery, the words for which Adolin slew him did not justify the act. Does killing Sadeas save lives? In all likelihood, but that is not a consideration of the law.
Rob Munnelly
117. RobMRobM
Free - Paul Fussell's Essay "Thank God for the Bomb" lays out the case pretty well as I recall. Fussell was in the Pacific theater as a soldier heading for a ground attack on Japan at the time.

Also, agree on Kal's option. If we didn't believe he could ethically protect the King, he should have resigned or assigned another member of the team active responsibility for protecting the King. Can't say you are protecting but don't (or, even worse, help by keeping known traitor Moash in the team around the King).
118. Freelancer
The variety of forces at play in the minds of the characters is a terrific study. Both Moash and Kaladin have been wronged in the extreme vis-a-vis the loss of beloved family members (and the murder of Kaladin's squadmembers) to the selfish/greedy/thoughtless behaviors of those who presume to be better on the basis of their eyes. Both feel an extra personal anguish at having been unable (or unavailable) to prevent those losses. Both have internalized that anguish, and converted it into a rage-fueled need to avenge, and feel justified to carry out that vengeance as righteous.
Kaladin's frustration is magnified when the only lighteyes he has permitted himself to consider a good person, Dalinar, turns out to be a close friend of his personal demon, Amaram.

Through the combined forces of his duty, his (imperfect but hopeful) respect for Dalinar, and Sylphrena's admonitions, Kaladin retains control and takes no direct action against Amaram. He does finally report the wrong done to him to Dalinar, which appears to be dismissed, leaving him feeling once again treated unjustly by a lighteyes.

All of this boils free after the mosh-pit duel, with Kaladin's ill-considered accusation/challenge of Amaram in front of most of the Alethi nobility. And once again, in spite of having done no crime, Kaladin is treated as a criminal.

At the same time, Moash has been harboring quite similar wishes to personally avenge his grandparents' death, considering Elhokar to be the guilty party. Kaladin empathizes with Moash, and though initially firm about such action being directly contrary to their duty, he is swayed by a relativistic argument of "the greater good" to not oppose the King's assassination.

The combination of his own desire for retribution, his intense sense of loyalty to and empathy with men under his command, and the larger ingrained prejudice against lighteyes, eventually outweighs Kaladin's morality, and he chooses the unethical path, to stand down from his primary responsibility, and betray his oath. Being a reasonably good person, he finds it necessary to perform mental gymnastics to convince himself that this isn't an illegal and traitorous act. He has blinded himself so that he doesn't see Moash as a traitor, but someone like himself who wants to repay an old wrong.

I consider that very, very few people would do better under equivalent circumstances. The combined strain on his personal honor is more than anyone could reasonably be expected to bear. Without the "conscience" of Syl's inputs, how much sooner would he have completely broken down, doing something more foolish or unrighteous than he has?

And yet, honor permits no consideration of such mitigations. He swore a duty, and personal differences have no weight in evading that duty. The right always remains the right, and in any society with laws, it is not in the hands of the individual to select how the right is carried out.
Alex Dekhtyar
119. email_animal
@107, @113: In my view Sadeas is a more horrible human being who is doing less damage than Taravagnian.

Taravagnian is a extremely interesting case in this series so far. Brandon seems intent on creating non-trivial tragic personnae in SA, and Taravagnian at this point tops my list beating Szeth by a few hairs. The key word to describe Taravagnian in the series so far is "desperate". No one is more desperate than he is.

I am a fan of Chris Nolan's Memento, where the main character has to reassess his identity every 15 mins. Because of this, I am completely fascinated by Taravagnian's boon (? curse? both?) from the Nightwatcher. Having to wake up every day and reassess your intelligence; being able to either understand what he is doing OR asses the totall horror of it (but never both) - it is an incredible part of the story.

Unfortunately, this is like watching a plane flying into a very tall building on live television. It is mesmerizing, but it is going to cost so many lives and bring so much harm.....

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