Thu
Mar 27 2014 11:00am

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 62 and 63

Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings reread

Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread on Tor.com. It’s been kind of a long time since I’ve done this, and the chapters I came back to seem to have driven me slightly insane.

You’re in for a wild ride as I discuss chapters 62 and 63, in which Kaladin becomes an actual for-real war criminal, and I cry softly into my pillow. Oh, also there’s some Stormlight. Enjoy!

Chapter 62: Three Glyphs
Setting: The Shattered Plains
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: While waiting for Sadeas’s army to finish crossing a chasm during a plateau run, Moash interrogates him about the prayer tied to his arm. Kaladin isn’t sure if he believes anymore, but his nostalgia for his mother’s simple faith comforts him. Kaladin and Bridge Four have been run ragged by constant plateau runs and nightly chasm duty. Moash is beginning to make noises about attacking Sadeas, since if they’re going to die anyway they might as well take the highprince down with them. Kaladin quashes this, preparing for a desperate scheme which might lead to his death.

Before their approach on the final chasm between them and the chrysalis, Kaladin goes to get his Parshendi-carapace armor from Lopen. At that moment, a soldier approaches and demands water from Bridge Four’s supply. Kaladin knows that if the man gets his way, not only will the other soldiers drink them dry, he will discover the armor and reveal their plot. To prevent this, Kaladin stares the man down, reminding him that if he compromises a bridge during an assault, he’s the one who will have to replace the missing bridgeman. The soldier backs down.

They reach the final assault, the Parshendi already lined up on the opposite plateau. It’s going to be a bad run. Kaladin tells Rock that he’s going to duck out from under the bridge once they start running, and to take over while he’s gone. The order to run is given, and Kaladin dashes out ahead of the bridges, putting on his makeshift armor quickly. As they see him, the Parshendi archers stop singing, palpably outraged. Parshendi consider it a dire sin to disturb their dead, not even moving them from the battlefield. So, Kaladin charging at them wearing their dead as a hat? It doesn’t go over well.

The archers focus all their attention on Kaladin, shooting as often as they can, not even maintaining coordinated volleys. Kaladin inhales Stormlight and dodges between the missiles, which bounce off his shield and armor. The speed and agility granted to him by the Stormlight feels like a natural capacity that his body had long yearned for. One arrow catches his arm, but the wound leaks Stormlight and begins to heal immediately.

Another flight of arrows threatens to take his life, but he watches in awe as they change course in midair to strike his shield instead. He has Lashed his shield without knowing what he was doing, something that he realizes he must have been doing for years.

Kaladin realizes suddenly that the bridge crews have passed him, and are setting their bridges. None of Bridge Four have been wounded, and the cavalry is now in position to relieve them. The distracted Parshendi offer little resistance. Bridge Four closes on him, astounded by his foolhardy but terrifically effective plan. Kaladin looks to Teft, who wordlessly confirms that no one could see him glowing.

Seeing Matal, Kaladin calls his men to fall into line. He watches as Sadeas rides past, and the bridgemen bow. Sadeas tells Matal that Kaladin looks familiar, and Matal confirms that “He is the one from before.” Sadeas muses on the “‘miracle,’” and backhandedly compliments the man for thinking to send Kaladin forward as a decoy.

Once Sadeas is gone, Matal turns on Kaladin, furious. Kaladin reminds that A) he just got the lighteyes promoted, B) stringing him up never worked before, and C) Matal was unlikely to find any other bridgemen crazy enough to pull that distraction scheme. Matal leaves in a huff.

Kaladin muses on the overwhelming success of their plan. All twenty bridges were set, with hardly any casualties. Kaladin must have drawn almost the entirety of the archers’ attention. Moash exclaims that they have to expand this plan with additional decoys, but Rock’s talk of bones reminds Kaladin of Shen. He goes to find the parshman bridgeman, and finds him sitting far away, his “face a mask of pain.” He apparently sat like that as soon as he saw what Kaladin had done. Kaladin feels guilty, but not enough to overwhelm his sense of victory. He sends the bridgemen out to find and aid the wounded.

Kaladin sees his hand shaking, and realizes that he’s in shock. Teft approaches, concerned, and insists that he take care of himself. His powers don’t make him immortal, and the Stormlight only helps his body heal, it doesn’t do the work for him. Teft insists that he let a few others go out to help him draw fire, and Kaladin consents.

Syl asks him if he still feels cursed, and Kaladin admits that he doesn’t. In a way that makes it worse, though. If he was never cursed, his men died because he failed them. She asks him not to feel guilty, and he’s reminded of his father. Kaladin never got the balance of caring right. He doesn’t know how to balance the necessity to do the impossible with the necessity not to feel guilty when he fails.

Bridge Four brings him a wounded man to tend to, and Kaladin starts teaching them how to do basic first aid. He’s interrupted, however, by Lopen’s desperate cries of “Kaladin!” A cluster of Parshendi archers has broken away from the battle to kill the man who mocked their dead. Kaladin tries to spring into action, but he’s exhausted, and he can see death bearing down when something crashes into the Parshendi line. A Shardbearer in gray plate scythes through them, destroying the squad in seconds. The Shardbearer’s honor guard catches up to him, and he raises his Blade to salute Bridge Four, before rejoining the battle.

The men are astounded. They’d been saved by Dalinar Kholin, although Moash insists that he just took an opportunity. Kaladin is less sure. If it was “just an opportunity taken,” why did Dalinar salute him? He turns his mind back to thoughts of escape.

Quote of the Chapter

Sadeas regarded the battlefield. “Well, luckily for you, it worked. I suppose I’ll have to promote you now.” He shook his head. “Those savages practically ignored the assault force. All twenty bridges set, most with nary a casualty. It seems like a waste, somehow. Consider yourself commended. Most remarkable, the way that boy dodged…”

Dickish indeed are the performance reviews in the Hierarchy of Evil! Also, Sadeas, maybe you want to be just a touch more subtle about how you’re pro-death when it comes to bridgemen? Maybe? No? Not a thing you’re willing to do at all? Okay, cool, we’ll do it your way.

Commentary:

How do we feel about Kaladin’s plan? On the one hand, it worked. On the other hand, it only worked because it exploits the most visceral taboo of the enemy culture and massively desecrates the dead. Kaladin was literally wearing the skin of his enemies into battle, knowing that this would be even more disturbing to them than it could normally be expected to be by thinking humans. Storms, Kal, I know the pressures of command weigh heavy on you, but you are wearing a person suit. Are we okay with the fact that, if this setting had war crimes, our hero would be a war criminal?

The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. Kaladin has distinguished himself by being one of the only characters to actually consider the psychology of the enemy. This has been one of our signs that he and Dalinar are, you know, a little better than the Alethi average, and being willing to consider the Parshendi as something more than faceless enemy aliens to slaughter wholesale seems like a prerequisite for protagonist-status in this series. But Kaladin’s reason for learning about the enemy seems to just be to find the best way to use their culture against them. Is Sanderson trying to set Kaladin up as a study of what desperation and hopelessness will drive otherwise good people to do during a time of war? Or is this less carefully considered?

Meanwhile, on Internet:

Friend: well, don’t all of us have a little war criminal inside of us?

me: What? NO!

Friend: let he who has not committed war crimes cast the first stone

me: OKAY LET ME JUST CHUCK THIS STONE

We see the results in Shen, who is psychologically devastated by this tactic. Kaladin tries to be good to Shen, to keep his men from letting their racial prejudices from overcoming them, but he has done far more damage to Shen than any of them. His treatment of the situation makes me feel queasy.

Speaking of the pressures of leadership, Kaladin sure seems capable of snatching psychological defeat from the jaws of victory. I’ve tread this ground what feels like a thousand times by now, so I’ll just say that he should learn to take solace in what small gains he can make.

Kaladin’s sense that his body had always been meant to fight with Stormlight is interesting, and brings back into question the notion of whether Surgebinding is inherent or earned. I assume it’s some of both.

 

Chapter 63: Fear
Setting: The Shattered Plains
Point of View: War Criminal Kaladin™ by Mattel

What Happens: Back in the chasms, Leyten is carving carapace into armor—yeah, making more armor out of the bones of the dead, that’s still happening. Kaladin smiles because he’s forgotten this is horror-movie stuff and chats about the bridgeman’s background as a atrocity merchant blacksmith’s apprentice. Leyten apparently took the fall when a piece of armor his master had worked broke and let a lighteyes be wounded.

Kaladin strolls down the chasm to where Teft is walking the men through spear drills. Skar and Moash are the most skilled, and Kaladin recognizes a fevered, all-consuming drive to train in Moash from a dark time in his own life. He waves Moash over and reminds him not to work himself ragged, offering to make him one of the decoys. He tries to draw out Moash’s backstory, and the man says he’s hunting vengeance. Kaladin sympathizes, but says that he still has to be careful. You can’t help anyone if you get yourself killed.

Moash agrees, but points out the difference between them. Kaladin wanted to save someone, but Moash just wants to kill somebody. He won’t say whom, yet.

Kaladin looks over the squad, and thinks for a moment that if they get the dodging and armor right, they might stay decently safe. He wonders if running is still a viable option. Rock approaches, detecting his worry, and they discuss the situation. Rock laughs off the idea of sticking around as bridgemen, and Kaladin realizes he’s right. Even if their squad is now much safer than his unit in Amaram’s army had been, he will still lose two or three men a month. The squad as it’s now composed will be dead within a year. Rock promises to talk to Sigzil about ways to avoid pursuit when they run.

The men call for Kaladin to join them in sparring, but he refuses. Teft says it would be good for morale for him to show his skills, but he says he isn’t ready to pick up a spear again. Teft calls out his fear, and hopes that Kaladin will be ready when the time comes.

Quote of the Chapter:

“I wish to sleep. I know now why you do what you do, and I hate you for it. I will not speak of the truths I see.”

A death-saying. Looks like someone doesn’t agree with Taravangian’s program. Oh, and hey, more atrocities. I need some violet wine, people.

Commentary:

Kaladin is getting cold feet, which is to be expected. Apparently losing slaves is the unmanliest thing a lighteyes can do, and therefore pursuit is certain. It seems to me, however, that he long ago passed the point of no return. While he might lose fewer men with this decoy strategy, he’s putting himself at massive risk in every battle, and now that he’s training additional decoys, his best men will be forced to take his place if he dies. He’s basically insured that if he sticks around and gets killed by the unending barrage of arrows, his carefully trained sub-leaders will go down with him, and the bridge will be helpless almost immediately.

Sanderson has done an excellent job of painting Kaladin into a corner. Escape has become the only reasonable option. But Kaladin is an expert ditherer, constantly afraid of his own capacity. He’s not just afraid that he’ll do too little, he’s also afraid of doing too much. At this point I just want him to do something.

Next week, we hurtle towards endgame.


Carl Engle-Laird acquires and edits original fiction for Tor.com, as well as bringing you news and speculation about the Stormlight Archive. You can follow him on Twitter, here. Ten Stormpoints for whoever tweets the Hannibal reference at him first.

58 comments
Jeremy Guebert
1. jeremyguebert
I would still like to know why the Parshendi are so concerned about their dead not even being moved. Maybe I'm just odd, but I really don't care about what happens to my body once I'm done with it. Once I'm dead, it's just an empty shell - if someone wants to suck nutrients out of it, harvest organs for research, or even use my dead limbs as bludgeoning instruments, I don't care all that much.

Yes, Kaladin's insight into the Parshendi culture and physcology allows him to exploit a weakness and help keep his men alive, but I don't really see this as a war crime myself, so much as just good strategy (I think of Mat's story from WoT about the guys who painted their commanders red, for example). I would reserve the term war crime for any number of attrocities being done to people who are still living.
Deana Whitney
2. Braid_Tug
You know, I rather passed over that take on Kaladin's actions. But you are right. He desecrated the bodies of the enemy in order to piss them off. Trying to save people, so in his mind a "Greater good" thing.

.... erase ....Spoiler……

This is hard!

And yes, if we didn’t already see Sadeas as an asshole, his quote in chapter 62 wins him the crown.
Carl Engle-Laird
3. CarlEngle-Laird
@2 I'm pretty sure he just has a bunch of crowns on his head, each balanced on the other.
Shawn P Cooke
4. Shawn P Cooke
I think one of the things that Sanderson does brilliantly in this chapter is to put us into the Alethi mindset, which is that the Parshendi and Not Really Human. It's easy to look from the outside and declare that sentience = human-level-worth, but the Alethi are operating under literally thousands of years of a system of race-based slavery. And what's more, all of the nasty, race-based things that our culture said (only 200 years ago), seem to be scientifically verifiable in this world. It makes sense that Parshmen would appear to be less than human to Alethi eyes.

Now, I'm no slavery apologist. As far as I'm concerned, the way we treat those of lesser capacity than ourselves is more revelatory of character than the way we treat our equals or betters. It's just that this all makes complete cultural sense within the world, and by failing to address the horror of through the POV of the character we empathize with, he is subtly making us complicit in it. Cool stuff.
Kimani Rogers
5. KiManiak
Thanks Carl,

I strongly disagree with your “war crime” scenario. Kaladin and his bridgeman are slaves. They are not soldiers. What’s more, they are essentially cannon-fodder (arrow-fodder?), set up to fail by their own general. The one who is committing the war crimes is clearly Sadeas.

WoR spoilers: He didn’t even let the Parshendi surrender, but brutally killed each one that initially attempted to do so, in plain view of those Parshendi who had retreated.

So as you said, Sadeas is a dick. Kaladin feels bad about what he’s done, but he’s motivated by saving the lives of the living. Kaladin doesn’t “use their culture against them” to win or even to destroy. He does it to survive, and even moreso, to protect.

I think he’s embodying the virtues of a Windrunner, even here.

As for Shen and how he feels, well that requires even more WoR spoilers: Seeing as how Shen/Rlain was a spy and infiltrator, I question the whole “psychological devastation” that he receives. In dullform Shen may not be able to fully appreciate this, but when Rlain is betrayed by Eshonai and the vast majority of his people, he returns back to Bridge Four.

So I challenge the whole “War Criminal Kaladin™ “ thing.
Kimani Rogers
6. KiManiak
@4 – To be extremely careful and not have this thread derail politically at all, I’ll just cite some facts that will clarify the “that our culture said (only 200 years ago)” comment.

Slavery in America ended approximately 150 years ago (13th Amendment passed in 1864)

Brown vs Board of Education (leading to desegregation) was approximately 60 years ago (1954).

The Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965) were passed approximately 50 years ago.

And I totally agree with you that how someone treats someone that is in a more vulnerable/less fortunate position than themselves is more revelatory of character than how they treat someone they perceive as their "equal."
Shawn P Cooke
7. D24g0n
Not sure if this is a spoiler or not,but be warned.

If I remember correctly, the biggest evidence in Kaladin's favor is that Syl does not make great protestations against doing this. If she complained when he harvested the armor, I cannot remember.
John Hill
8. Jwh891
I agree to an extent on the War Criminal label here. But I don't necessarily think that Kal views it that way. I also think he is consumed with keeping his men alive and improving the station of all bridgemen and he sees this as a means to an end.

On another note, I didn't think too much on that when I first read these chapters. All I kept thinking during these scenes where Kaladin is exploiting the Parshendi's culture and using it against them was: ANDREW WIGGINS!!!!!!
Birgit
9. birgit
He has Lashed his shield without knowing what he was doing, something that he realizes he must have been doing for years.

Years is too long, weeks would be more accurate. He made arrows hit the bridge instead of him before. It isn't clear if he already used it to protect his men when he was still a soldier, but even if he did that probably isn't years, only months.
Shawn P Cooke
10. Shawn P Cooke
@6 Thank you for the relevant clarification. Like most things, it's impossible to pick a single date at which a change occurred, and the actual revolution of thought in our culture is demonstrably still taking place today.
Christopher Ballew
11. Rybal
I disagree with the consideration that what he did was a war crime. For one, it wasn't their skin - it was grown on the outside of their skin.

Isn't one of the main strategies in war to do something that will cause your opponent to act in an irrational matter? He's in a war, placed on a firing line, and prohibited weapons. What he did saved potentially hundreds of lives. It's the "Us vs Them" mentality. Sure, he questions it later, but it is still relevant.

We still need to learn WHY they react so strongly, though.
Shawn P Cooke
12. Collotto
I don't think characterizing Kaladin as a war criminal is right. For one thing, a war crime is against living people. At worst he would be in violation of the Geneva convention if Roshar had such a thing, not a war criminal.
Reid cashman
13. hellzie
I too think you're making wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much out of Kaladin's actions to label them 'war crimes'.

'War crimes' are surrounding your own civilians in a blockade and starving them (syria), or shooting civilians of a different religion and burying them in mass graves (balkans, sudan), or gassing minorities (nazis).

Using the materials at hand to keep from getting shot (not even fighting back) is just self defense. And if it offends their precious sensibilities, well let's not forget that they're trying to kill him while he's just trying to survive slavery.
Nadine L.
14. travyl
I also don't think of Kaladin as a war criminal, mainly because I think (but didn't look it up) that a war crime is an offence against (still) living people. As many commenters said above.
You may say, that Kaladin enables the Alethi to kill the Parshendi more easily because they don't even care to defend themselves, while they try killing Kaladin, but I think this doesn't count.
Carl Engle-Laird
15. CarlEngle-Laird
I think you guys are right that I'm playing fast and loose with the definition of war crimes, and that's a disrespectful position for me to take. I'm sorry.

I do, however, think that Kaladin's strategy needs to be deeply interrogated. It's an act of extreme disrespect and psychological aggression, with a demonstrably devastating effect on Shen and, by extrapolation, the enemy forces. I buy the argument that he was forced into this position, but should that make us feel that his actions were an acceptable means to fulfill his ends?
Travis Little
16. tblittle
@13 100% agree

For those of you who think his actions were atrocious, i'd like to hear some other plans? ;)
Jordan Hibbits
17. rhandric
War crime? Far cry from it.

A form of psychological warfare? Almost certainly, but then he did it to protect others (which is likely why Syl had no problem with it). As the saying goes, all's fair in love and war, and Kaladin has no problem taking advantage of a cultural weakness of the enemy.

@8 I thought the same thing. But he's not quite Ender, he doesn't love his enemy (though that might just mean he doesn't fully understand them :p )
Shawn P Cooke
18. Seamus1602
@15

"It's an act of extreme disrespect and psychological aggression, with a demonstrably devastating effect on Shen and, by extrapolation, the enemy forces."

This definition includes all war ever, not just war crimes.
Reid cashman
19. hellzie
15.
I do, however, think that Kaladin's strategy needs to be deeply
interrogated. It's an act of extreme disrespect and psychological
aggression
Is it as disrespectful and aggressive as shooting arrows at someone to try and kill them? Look, kaladin is acting in self-defense. He is literally in a life-or-death situation doing his best to ensure his survival and the survival of those around him that he cares about. Life before death.

Furthermore, those on the other side of the line are soldiers (who have presumably accepted-or at least aknowledged-death as a possible outcome of their actions). So trying to violently butcher them isn't questioned but we need to cast judgement about unarmed meat-sheilds violating their cultural norms? That sounds absurdly naive.

And I'm totally with @16 on needing to hear another alternative before denouncing these actions. Sure it might have a certain level of wrongness to it; many actions do. But until you show an alternative that is less wrong it doesn't really matter.
Kimani Rogers
20. KiManiak
Expanding more upon War Crimes,

What is/not a “war crime” would need to be agreed upon by some type of international body. Conferences are held, conventions are drafted, treaties are signed, etc, etc; it’s a whole big thing.

In our world (my world history was a little fuzzy so I had to lean on Wikipedia for some of this) the concept of “war crime” was codified as international law for the first time via the Hague Conventions. The most commonly known other international laws/rules associated with war crimes is the Geneva Convention (but you’ve probably heard of the Nuremberg Trials/Principles, the International Criminal Court and the Biological Weapons Convention).

Desecration of the dead is most certainly a war crime (spelled out via the Hague Conventions and again by the Geneva Conventions). But so is robbing the dead; the dead cannot be despoiled or pillaged, but must be respected.

So if we’re going to call Kaladin a war criminal, we should have been calling him a war criminal from the moment he scavenged from the dead. Of course, this would apply to every person who looted from the dead; so basically every bridgeman is not only a slave/felon but a war criminal. What a great life!

Of course, we are applying Earth laws to Roshar. Since the High Princes don’t forbid (and instead actively order) the looting of both their and the Parshendi dead, I don’t believe it’s illegal in Roshar to do so.

The Alethi appear to have a different perspective on the value of -and respect for- the dead than the Parshendi do.

Insensitivity to someone else's culture just makes them insensitive, it doesn't make them war criminals in this particular case.
Shawn P Cooke
21. TBGH
Hypothetical scenario here.

If they were fighting the Shen in their homeland and could get the same effect by dancing on a boulder while his people advance on the soil, is that acceptable?

Personally I think most of the reaction here comes from our own cultural beliefs about the proper treatment of the dead rather than respect for the Parshendi. Was Braveheart wrong to moon the English army?

All of these things are disrespectful, and it would be a war crime to force a Parshendi prisoner to wear the bones of the dead or force a Shen (Shennite?) prisoner to march on rock unnecessarily, but you can't expect your enemy to behave based on your own cultural upbringing.
Carl Engle-Laird
22. CarlEngle-Laird
Is it as disrespectful and aggressive as shooting arrows at someone to try and kill them?
I'd argue that the desecration of the dead is far more disrespectful than archery, although less aggressive. Arrows are an acknowledged and expected weapon of war, unlike the corpses of fallen comrades, and the use of arrows does not meaningfully escalate the psychological impact of a battle during wartime.

As for the argument that a valid alternative survival tactic must be provided for us to find a survival tactic morally questionable, I strongly disagree. Practicality is not sufficient for good or just behavior, nor even is necessity. I do not argue that what Kaladin did was necessary to his long-term survival, or the long-term survival of his men. I was hoping to consider whether his actions could be considered good or just.

Journey before destination, equally a tenet of the First Ideal, is fundamentally concerned with just means. We are not operating in a purely consequentialist framework. What Kaladin did matters as much as the results of what he did.

Finally, @19, I think it's unfairly dismissive to suggest that I'm being either absurd or naïve in my interpretation. This discussion is being strengthened by the proliferation of opinions and interpretations, and will keep getting stronger if we try to maintain civility in disagreement.
Jeremy Guebert
23. jeremyguebert
@8, 17 - It's particularly relevant with the NCAA March Madness happening right now, but Andrew Wiggin is Ender the Xenocide and Speaker for the Dead; Andrew WigginS is the college basketball star from Canada. Just sayin'

@21 - I believe the word you're looking for is Shin. Shen is the name of the particular parshman assigned to Bridge 4, whereas Shinovar is the region on the western edge of Roshar, whose residents are called Shin (e.g. Szeth).
Jeremy Guebert
24. jeremyguebert
@Carl - I guess my take on this is similar to my take on them keeping the spheres - once the bodies are dead, nobody's using them anymore, so they're essentially fair game.

It is definitely creepy, and is, admittedly, intentionally and deliberately used to provoke a physcological reaction by the Parshendi. Does that automatically make it evil, or just good tactics? In my mind, concern for the living trumps concern for the dead by far. Is physcological damage to the enemy more evil than simply killing them? Is the use of physcological warfare morally wrong in and of itself, or is it merely another tool, like a Shardblade, capable of being used for good or evil depending on the situation? I myself would lean more towards the latter, but I don't know if I could give a 100% firm statement on the matter. Certainly questions that I hadn't considered before, and might not have if you hadn't brought them up, so thanks for your insight.
Christopher Smith
25. nerdalert
Kaladin = Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs?

There are many scenes in war movies where a soldier pulls a dead body over them to avoid detection by the enemy. They aren't thinking about disrespect, only survival. Bridgemen are doing just that - fighting for survival. All's fair in lo
Shawn P Cooke
27. TBGH
@23

Thanks! So Shinovarian? Anyway, the point still stands. If the psychological warfare involved a taboo that was not present in our society, would we even be having this discussion?

Messing with the dead is creepy (to us), so of course we feel some for the Parshendi. However, would you feel it is ok to intentionally disrepect opposing soldiers if it involved only standing on rocks or displaying a woman's hand? What if it was just shouting insults?

Personally I say it's ok to try to anger an opponent as long as what you're doing is not inherently wrong within your own culture. I do additionally believe in some absolute morals, mainly derived from the ideas you shouldn't mistreat those you have power over and a respect for freedom. By any of those standards I think Kaladin is in the clear, despite OUR culture's view on desecration of the dead.
Reid cashman
28. hellzie
@Carl: My apologies for the incivility that worked it's way into my comment. I get a little worked up when people place other things, in this case respect for the dead, above the value of a living, breathing human, which is what i sense in your argument and see in your comments.
22. I'd argue that the desecration of the dead is far more disrespectful than archery, although less aggressive.
The gist of my comment on this was that while desecrating a corpse shows a level of disrespect for the dead, imho trying to actively kill a person is 100% disrespectful of that human life. As Jeremy@24 said, concern for the living trumps concern for the dead by far. I might not call Kaladin's actions Just, but i'm not going to judge someone's actions as Unjust for trying their best to defend themselves and others when placed in a terrible situation not of their own making. Much less lable them a 'war criminal,' arguably the height of an unjust being in our world.

Re:psycology in war- it's always been an integral part of warfare, all the way back to Sun Tzu's writings and undoubtably before. Central to that is the fear of death, specifically dying before achieving your objective. Slaughtering an enemy isn't the only way for an army/nation to acheive it's objective: if an enemy is so fearful of dying before it can meet its goals and surrenders (or defects/disbands/mutinies) all the better becuase there's a lower loss of life. Even tWoK has a few lines about how close battles are the worst because then each side fights it out longer (believing they can win) and there's heavier losses than if one side or the other is so certain/afraid of dying before achieving their objective that they retreat before taking heavy losses.

So if mortal fear is entangled so thoroughly in war, why should anger be any worse? Also integral is getting the people trying to kill you to make bad decisions. If Kal was a general that got the Parshendi to focus their attacks in the wrong spot through subterfuge i doubt there would be any moral quibbles whatsoever. He's achieving the same results through psycologically manipulating their emotions. And since those emotions are already fair game (fear) I don't see why enraging them should be any more unjust than the act of warface already is.
Leeland Woodard
29. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Chapter 62: Three Glyphs. The three glyphs are the glyphs on the prayer that Kaladin has on his arm during this chapter.

The Herald icons for chapter 62 are Tanat / Vev.

The attributes associated with Tanat are dependable/resourceful. I would say that they're probably here because of Kaladin's innovation in finding a way to get his men armored. He basically saves the whole army. Taln is also classically associated with war, so the battle could be another reason for his presence.

The attributes associated with Vev are loving/healing. Vev appears most often when Kaladin is using his skills as a medic.

More interesting than the herald icons that appear in this chapter, however, is the icon that doesn't. Jez has the attributes protecting/leading, and tends to be featured when Kaladin uses surgebinding, and whenever he's protecting someone in particular. It's interesting to me that, here in the chapter where Kaladin is using stormlight in battle for the first time, Jez isn't featured. I tend to wonder why this is.

Chapter 63 is titled Fear. I didn't catch the reason for the chapter's name in my re-read--maybe someone else caught it.

The herald icons for chapter 63 are Kak/Chach.

Kak is associated with the attributes resolute/builder. I attribute Kak's presence here to the crafting of the armor, and Kaladin's eventual resolve to stick with their plan to flee when they can.

Chach is associated with brave/obedient. I think that Chach is featured here because of the walk-through of the training grounds. His men are obedient to him, and he's obedient to the promise (of escape) that he made to them.
Alice Arneson
30. Wetlandernw
Jeremy @1 – Your first words were exactly what I was thinking as I read this… Why, oh why, are the Parshendi so determined that the dead should not be touched? Is there a history of Voidbringer zombies? (Seriously, I wonder...)

I’m not sure how I feel about the “war crime” label, except… There’s a scene in some book (or possibly movie, or multiples thereof, but I’m not looking it up right now) where the besieging (evil) army load up their siege engines with the severed heads of the defenders killed in an earlier engagement, and throw them into the city. This is pretty much the same thing. Maybe not technically a “war crime” on the order of murdering POWs or the deliberate and wanton destruction of civilians, but it certainly seems to be taunting the enemy with calculated blasphemy, blatantly shoving their deepest religious beliefs in the figurative dung-heap. I have to agree that it should at least be questioned, rather than receiving unchallenged, delighted applause for being such a clever little boy.

Carl @22 – “As for the argument that a valid alternative survival tactic must be provided for us to find a survival tactic morally questionable, I strongly disagree. Practicality is not sufficient for good or just behavior, nor even is necessity.” With you on this, 100%. Sometimes there are no good alternatives; that doesn’t mean you get to call the least evil one “good.” (Whether or not this is the least evil is irrelevant, at this point.)

TBGH @27 – No, just “Shin.”

Also, “Personally I say it's ok to try to anger an opponent as long as what you're doing is not inherently wrong within your own culture.” Ouch. Can’t agree with you there. Not even a little bit.
Leeland Woodard
31. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Also, WoR spoilers:

In chapter 63, we see that Moash wants to kill someone for the first time--we learn in WoR that he wants vengance on Elokhar for what they did to his family. He's training with a spear so that he can kill the king.
Andrew Berenson
32. AndrewHB
I forgot that Dalinar saved Kaladin and the other bridgemen before Kaladin saved Dalinar at the Tower. I beleive Kaladin would have tried to save Dalinar even if Dalinar had not saved him first. But I do not think we can be certain.

The reason I think Kaladin would have saved Dalinar is not be cause Dalinar was said to be an honorable man. Rather, it was that by saving Dalinar, Kaladin could disrupt Saldeas' plans. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Shawn P Cooke
33. Rancho Unicorno
@23 - After that second round performance, I'm not sure I'd call him a star.

I kid, I kid.
John Hill
34. Jwh891
@23 - Right you are lol. Must have been a slip due to watching to much SportsCenter :p
Shawn P Cooke
35. FellKnight
I find it interesting how so many people in this thread are rejecting the "war criminal" label.

In the modern world. descration of the dead is a war crime. Full stop. There is no interpretation.

In world, clearly they do not have any war crimes rules, and we can absolutely debate about the pros and cons of such, but that does not change one iota that we the readers *should* react with revulsion at what lengths Kaladin is willing to go to protect his men.
Shawn P Cooke
36. BenW
I just want to point on that on the whole parshendi skin debate thing two of the ideals of the knight radient are clashing Journey Before Destination says NO to do it, while Life Before Death says TO dot it. My opinion is that while it was not a good thing I cannot feel that calling Kaladin a war criminal, accurate or not, comes on TOO strong, given the situation he was in, and I cannot think of the ohrase "Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged" After all I seriously doubt any of us have been in such a situation. That being said I would not want to use such a technique unless I had no other choice. After all, nesesecary evils aare still evil.

In short BOTH sides need to tone it down, and not just give our kneejerk reactions.
Nadine L.
37. travyl
@15:
I agree that Kaladin's strategy had an extreme psychological aggression. And I agree that the lack of a better solution doesn't give a free pass to commit atrocities.
The reason why I despite all that still find Kaladin's actions acceptable here is that he only has his men's survival in mind. If Kaladin had paraded in his Parshendi-armor before prisoners it would have been unacceptable. - Note how he ordered his men to be as respectful as possible while scavenging. He does have respect for the dead it's just trumped by a greater need.

Re the quote of the Chapter 63
This is one of so, so many great examples, why this book is so rewarding - you can re-read the book several times and always uncover new layers - some easily spotted as this (*), others only when pointed out by more avid readers and quite a few I'm sure will only get understandable with future knowledge. Which means I should probably reread the book, now that I've read WoR ;)

(*) the first time around I didn't understand the quote while now it's obvious.
Ben Wilder
38. BenW
On an unrelated note does anyone know the best way to request reads/rereads? I also want to request a Dune/Expanded Dune read/reread but I'm Not Sure If Michael & Carl would be the best ones to do it.
Kimani Rogers
39. KiManiak
Fellknight@35 – As for how individuals should feel about certain actions in a fantasy novel:

As my post@20 said, desecration of the dead (whether defined as despoiling or even pillaging) is a war crime in our world, according to the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Having said that…

I don’t think it’s fair to expect every (or even the vast majority of) reader's feelings to be so drastically affected as you propose, personally. If happening in our world, it makes sense for the average person to be emotionally affected by certain big ticket items that are universally reviled: murder; senseless slaughter; starvation; rape; slavery; poverty. However, almost every fantasy novel tends to center around at least one (if not a combination) of these events; it’s almost standard. To expect to be emotionally moved due to the basic plot/setting of each fantasy novel read may be asking a bit much.

A basic amount of detachment is generally exercised when reading fantasy (don’t even get me started on the detachment needed to watch your average movie, or even primetime TV show for that matter).

Now, a novel's depictions of certain actions can go beyond even what the average fantasy reader can be comfortable with. A great example is the current reread Chapter in the Malazan reread (Chapter 15 of Dust of Dreams).

But ultimately it’s up to the individual’s personal preference as to how deplorable they find desecration of the dead in comparison to standard Fantasy storytelling.

Then, when factoring the in-world context and circumstances, the reader’s emotional response to the desecration could vary even more.

However, if Kaladin’s wearing of the Parshendi carapace, etc did indeed affect you so strongly, I have some questions:

1) Did you feel the same way towards all bridgemen (and Alethi, by extension) for the practice of looting the dead? Do you consider all Alethi who take part of that guilty of war crimes as well? Up to what level of Alethi (The Highprince? The King?) do you hold responsible? Why?

2) Do you consider the Parshendi guilty of war crimes for firing on non-combatant (or unarmed) bridgemen? Isn’t the deliberate targeting of civilians/non-combatants considered a war crime? Or do you consider the bridgemen combatants? If you consider the bridgemen combatants up to what degree would you allow them to defend/protect themselves and their comrades? Why?

3) What if all of this is legal according to the laws of Roshar? Should our values/morals/beliefs supercede those of Rosharians in this story? Why?
Birgit
40. birgit
Chapter 63 is titled Fear. I didn't catch the reason for the chapter's name in my re-read--maybe someone else caught it.

Kaladin fears to use a spear again at the end of the chapter.

There’s a scene in some book (or possibly movie, or multiples thereof, but I’m not looking it up right now) where the besieging (evil) army load up their siege engines with the severed heads of the defenders killed in an earlier engagement, and throw them into the city.

I think it appears in LotR.

A culture's beliefs about death do matter in how people see the treatment of the dead. If you think the body doesn't matter after you are dead it is irrelevant what you do with it. If a culture thinks that the body must be preserved properly to allow going to an afterlife or specific rituals are necessary to placate the spirit and keep it from haunting the killer it is important how the dead are treated.
Pirmin Schanne
42. Torvald Nom
Regarding the discussion of war crimes, and how they relate to the general state of war (and its potential injustice):
One of the very important things to keep in mind is that wars are expected to end at some point, which means that you have to come to some kind of accord with your enemy (unless you slaughter them all), without further recriminations for waging said war - but war crimes constitute acts committed during the prosecution of a war that the former enemies are not willing to let go unpunished, even though hostilities have ended.
Therefore, when thinking about what might constitute a war crime, I think it's more helpful to consider what acts committed by the enemy unto your people you are willing to let slide by after the war is ended, instead of what your forces did to them - of course, this gets more complicated once you have to take different moralities into account, as you need to put yourself into your enemies' shoes.


On a slightly different point (simply regarding the utilization of human remains): I'd like to point out that that was not always considered sacrilegeous in European history; in fact, there are some pretty impressive examples of artistic use (e.g. this one). So while I do believe that Kaladin's acts deserve close scrutiny from our moral point of view, I can also well believe that they would not constitute an atrocity from the Alethi perspective.
Deana Whitney
43. Braid_Tug
@39: Good questions.

My reactions:
1) Looting of the dead Alethi: I did not see a problem with this. In part, because it was a standard practice of pre-industrial war. Maybe even modern war. The bodies are left, and really cannot be identified.
The equipment is “common property” of each High Prince’s war camp. The money goes back into the HP’s coffers where the soldier was paid from originally.

Yet my guess is that if a soldier back at camp is caught stealing items from a dead man’s bunk, he's punished. This is "looting from the dead."
So they, and I, do not see this scavenging from the dead in the chasms as "looting."

2) Bridgemen as Non-combatant’s: Here’s where there is a culture difference. The Parshendi leave all their non-combatant’s / civilians back at home. Anyone on the battlefield is a combatant. The bridgemen, for all that Sadeas treats them like shit, are an important part of the military campaign. Without the bridgemen, everyone would have Dalinar’s old slow bridges.
So as sad of an affair it is, since they are not protected in any way, they are still a fair military target.

3) So yes, I’m guessing it is all legal according to the laws of Roshar. An each person is still allowed their individual reaction to the actions.

In some countries, it is legal and acceptable for a 12 year old to marry a 40 year old. I’m not okay with that. But if I ever visit one of those countries, I’m not allowed to kill the 40 years olds who marry children.
Leeland Woodard
44. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@40
Ah, thanks, I was leaning towards that but I couldn't remember whether that word was used in that context.

Another thing re: the discussion about crimes of war. I think someone brought up the fact that Syl didn't put up a fight about it, so it couldn't possibly be that bad. I have a counterargument that may have some light WoR spoilers:
Syl is a splinter of Honor, but I wonder whether a splinter of an intent, removed from any external consciousness, is really the best judge. Yes, she can say what's honorable and what isn't, but is it always best to do what is honorable? If you've read Game of Thrones, Ned was being honorable the whole time, but look where that got him. Sometimes mercy is required. I don't think it's necessarily justifiable to do everything necessary in order to protect others. Maybe this is included in the whole "Journey before destination, strength before weakness, life before death," but it still seems like a gray area that Syl might not be the best judge of. After all, we know that Odium was an intent of Adonalsium, and was most likely connected with righteous condemnation, but when seperated from the whole, look what it becomes.
Shawn P Cooke
45. TBGH
@43

Once again though, you're ok with it because of OUR culture's history. I still think the only reason so many people believe Kal did something wrong is our own culture's beliefs about proper treatment of the dead. If he had violated some other taboo that we didn't hold in order to anger the Parshendi and keep his men alive, would you care as much?
@42

MINOR SPOILER AHEAD

By your standard, the act is ok. Shen's behavior in WOK and even moreso in WOR clearly shows that this act would have been forgiven and forgotten. (Roll over to read)


And as the Parshendi's first ever treaty as a people did not concern proper actions in times of war (that we know of), and that they broke said treaty, the war crime moniker is really not applicable.
Nadine L.
46. travyl
Wetlander @30, Birgit @40
In Wheel of Time, TGS (chatper 18) Ituralde and his forces fight against the Trollocs in Saldea (near Maradon). It hails trollocs corpses down on them - then later living Trollocs are dropped to fight the unsuspecting soldiers.
Here "own" corpses which were used against the enemy, it had a similar effect though. I don't remeber the scene in LoTR, but if there is one, it would certainly mean another intentional homage from WoT to LotR.
M G
47. parabola
@46 — The siege of Gondor had the heads of the defenders of Osgiliath catapaulted over the walls.
Kimani Rogers
48. KiManiak
Braid Tug@43 - Thanks. The questions were where my mind went with this discussion and the rather focused view on only Kal's actions, as opposed to the actions of all of the participants.

Clearly I agree about how each person is still allowed their individual reaction to these events (I think I spend about 2 paragraphs of my post @39 arguing that fact).

My comments@39 are in response to the post@35 stating how “we the readers *should* react;” and I often question (and sometimes comment) when told how I or others should feel about something when that perspective appears to be somewhat narrow and/or one-sided.
(Personally, I choose not to apply the label of “war crime” to any of these actions. Different world, different rules)

I do appreciate your answers. I would like to discuss the view that scavenging isn’t looting and therefore isn't despoiling/pillaging the dead.

A few quotes that may challenge how… benign/sanitized this process of scavenging really is:
It’s described as: “…like barrow robbing, only without the barrows…would spend hours walking around, looking for the corpses of the fallen, searching for anything of value.”

Later, Kaladin also thinks, “The fallen deserved some reverence –if that was possible while robbing them,” Then: “…the most grisly task began: searching pockets and pouches for spheres and jewelry.”

Finally, from Kaladin: “Parshendi…Let’s go look. Might have something valuable.” And Rock’s response, “Those weapons they have, yes, very nice. And gemstones in their beards.”
(All quotes from Wok, Chapter 27, Chasm Duty).

They looted/scavenged everything that was valuable from Alethi and Parshendi alike (they actually pull the gemstones from out of the Parshendi’s beards!). And these items weren’t sorted and returned to the respective Highprinces the dead belonged to (nor were the Parshendi items returned to the Parshendi or even left for them somewhere out in the middle of the plains); the Highprince who sent the bridgemen reaped the bounty of all of the dead that were looted.

I would argue the Alethi are quite aware that this is looting the dead. And in our world looting/pillaging from the dead is considered to be despoiling of the dead, which is a war crime according to the Geneva Conventions. (Again, that is only if you apply the rules of our world)

So I think a strong argument could be made that if Kaladin is to be accused of committing war crimes, all of the Alethi who engage in, order, condone, or directly benefit from the pillaging of the dead are also committing war crimes. So basically from the High Princes all the way down the ranks, they would be guilty :-)

Which is why I question whether the reader should apply revulsion to Kaladin’s actions based upon our laws, if that same reader isn’t going to apply the same standard more broadly to other culprits.

Or maybe the reader should question whether to apply Earth's laws to Roshar at all...
Shawn P Cooke
49. exiledjerseyite
A person suit? Or maybe it's more like a human veil?

Either way, it goes over as well for the Parshendi as it did for Bedelia.
M G
50. parabola
... after all this discussion, I'm envisioning Kaladin telling Bridge 4 "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose."
Alice Arneson
52. Wetlandernw
Well, whether you believe it's a war crime or not, it sure got the discussion going...
Pirmin Schanne
53. Torvald Nom
@48: I'm afraid it reads as if you're conflating two separate issues:

You seem to be thinking about whether Kaladin's actions should be court-martialed within the story - apparently, there are no Alethi laws against pillaging the dead, not even bare morals, because not even Dalinar seems to mind.

The other issue, the one Carl was engaging in, is the question why we would root for a character that commits acts that are so contrary to our moral standards, instead of condemning him - and that's something that's well worth examining, because what does that say about us? Would we root for a genocidal maniac just as well? What does it take to detach and distance us from the protagonists of the stories we read (if you've ever read R. Scott Bakker, you might have experienced that already)?
Maiane Bakroeva
54. Isilel
I may be an awful person, but honestly, I'd always prioritize the living over the dead and don't feel that what Kaladin is doing to help his men survive is that terrible. So, yea.

And let me reiterate again that Sadeas and other Highprinces imitating him should have been paying through the nose for these slaves by this point, which makes his disappointment over the lack of carnage all the more stupidly evil.
Also, attrition among the soldiers must be quite problematic as well, because surely soldier squads are losing at least 2-3 men a month, too? No wonder that Alethi never moved farther into the plains - they need to keep their supply route through the Unclaimed Hills (?) open. They may be able to soulcast food and materials they need for equipement, but they can't soulcast new troops.
Deana Whitney
55. Braid_Tug
@48: Good textural examples of Kaladin looking at the whole process with a skeptical eyebrow raised. But if the bridgemen had refused to scavenge, their officers could have punished them.
I don’t like the defense of “I was just following orders”, but if I was in a situation of loot the dead or die, I would loot. He at least tells his men to be respectful.

@53: Good point. Look at GRRM's books.
(not really a spoiler) Arya, a fan favorite is turning into a trained assassin. So she has killed, in the heat of the moment for survival. But is now killing in cold blood, in premeditated ways, because she's told her target.
I think most of us would not be able to do this. But many still root for her.

@45: I have to look at the question though my cultural bias and history. While a student of history, I cannot claim to truly understand any culture and mindset of someone from another culture. I can only try to understand other cultures. But I have not walked those shoes.

I walk in the shoes of a modern Native American from Oklahoma who lives in Texas. I think Andrew Jackson was a asshole, others consider him a hero. I hate the term “Indian Giver” the way others hate more common racial slurs. Because while it was the White Man’s Federal government that gave, then took back or broke promises. Others use the term to imply it was the Native American’s that wanted their “gifts” back.

And on that odd tangent. I hope everyone has a great weekend.
Kimani Rogers
56. KiManiak
Wetlander@52 – Yeah, this definitely got the discussion going. I rarely comment that frequently anymore on here; but the choice of topic and other current circumstances have allowed for me to do so, at least for this particular post. Well done, Carl!

Torvald@53 – Well, I’ve been addressing somewhat different topics in different posts. However I don’t think I’m fusing/mixing the topics for the sake of obscuring the issue, but that I’m addressing the OP that mixed the topics from the beginning.

So as to your 2 points:

1.War crimes. I didn’t bring up the issue of war crimes within the story, Carl does. In the OP, Carl uses the term “war crimes” at least 2 times and the term “war criminal” at least 4 times (3 times in direct reference to Kaladin). He even does it once before the jump to the full post (“Kaladin becomes an actual for-real war criminal”).

This is the point that the bulk of my posts have been discussing: a) were there war crimes; b) what type of war crimes; c) committed by whom; and d) according to whom. I don’t believe I brought up court martial even once in my posts; that’s just something you read that wasn’t there.


2. Why the reader would root for Kaladin. Carl does comment on this, but he connects it to Kaladin being a war criminal. (“How do we feel about Kaladin’s plan?...Are we okay with the fact that, if this setting had war crimes, our hero would be a war criminal”)

Wouldn’t that mean that Carl "conflated the issues" to begin with? (a paraphrasement of that paragraph could be read as: "How do we feel about War Criminal Kaladin™ and his war-crime/morally-questionable actions?") Or better yet, that this just is the general topic of discussion and that I may not have conflated/mixed anything?

Anyway, I’ve mostly addressed separately, in and of itself, how/why I personally feel in regards to Kaladin’s actions (as stated above, I spend more time discussing if the assumption that Kaladin is a war criminal is valid); I mostly address my personal feelings in my post@5. However, my response to the post@35 was to someone telling me “that we the readers *should* react with revulsion” to the events.

I have no problem with Carl feeling how he feels (I just question the term war criminal), with you feeling how you feel, or anyone else feeling how they feel, for that matter. I have stated in multiple posts that I believe it’s up to the individual reader to decide that.

However, I do not condone someone telling me how I should feel, and that’s what I took issue with.


Additionally, I challenge your comparison of Kaladin choosing to protect his men in the only way that he can see possible (by donning the carapace of the people trying to kill him to get them to focus upon him and not his defenseless men) with that of rooting for a genocidal maniac.

But, by your logic, shouldn’t our morals lead us to then condemn any and all actions that lead to the injury or infringement of another? Or do we allow for context/circumstances in how we evaluate those actions? If so, then what circumstances are acceptable? According to whom?

Why not extrapolate further? Hasn’t almost every major "empire” (in fantasy, and also in reality) emerged/grown/continued due to the choices of “maniacs” who engaged in some form of morally repugnant action (theft, assault, murder, or a number of other actions up to and including genocide)? European, Asian, or American? Historical or current?

Isn’t a form of detachment or allowance necessary in order to not be so overwhelmed by negative emotion when learning of all of the atrocities that have occurred? Shouldn't individuals set some type of baseline, factoring in context/circumstances?

Otherwise it could be pretty painful to read almost any story or work, fictional or historical.

(Edits for clarity, grammar, spelling, etc.
This one was a beast folks, and I could probably keep picking at it if I let myself, so I think I'm just gonna take a break for awhile.)
Shawn P Cooke
57. STBLST
I'm glad that Carl and others have such sensitivity to immoral actions during war. However, calling the use of body parts of the enemy for the preservation of the squad a 'war crime' is a bit too severe, I believe. After all, it pales in comparison with bombing enemy cities during war when you know that your bombs will kill and maim civilians, including children. The response that such bombing doesn't contravene the Geneva convention is irrelevant to the issue of morality. Then, too, Kaladin had little choice in the matter since his earlier attempt to protect his men using the side carry technique proved disasterous to other crews. It also helps sooth moral qualms when you can rationalize your behavior with the idea that the enemy isn't human.
Karen Fox
59. thepupxpert
@57 and others - Really great debate on the morality and legality of Kaladin's actions. I agree that we're not looking at this through Alethi eyes but through our own moral compasses, and that the Parshendi are considered aliens, and have their own codes of conduct. These clearly don't jive with Alethi codes of conduct. The whole war was started because the Highprinces couldn’t comprehend why the Parshendi negotiated a treaty and then assassinated the king. Makes no sense, and we haven’t been privy to that reasoning through a Parshendi POV, so as far as I know, we are still asking that question. Further, I don’t believe a Geneva Convention-type code is applicable, as the Parshendi and Alethi didn't negotiate terms prior to the conflict nor had they previously constructed any rules of war.

I would agree with those that believe that collecting armor, spheres and gemstones from corpses long after the battle has been fought does not constitute "pillaging" especially if it is legal by Alethi standards and being mandated by the Alethi nobles. If the penalty for not running a bridge or refusing to do other bridgeman-related work is death, then I think the bridgemen are justified in carrying out their orders.

We also know that this is Kaladin’s challenge, to bring his crew together, make them a team, and keep them alive. I don’t begrudge him what is an ingenious method of achieving that, he’s a bit like Mat in that respect because he rolled the dice and won in this instance. I also think that he did weigh the impact that his actions had on Shen and determined that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one, and took his shot at keeping his men alive. In this instance, it worked out for them.
Shawn P Cooke
60. Neocadet
I'm not sure I'm brave enough to weigh in on such a passionately discussed subject on my very first post. But I have read all your comments keenly.

I'm thrilled I've finally caught up, and impatiently waiting on my husband to finish reading WoR so I can!

I very much enjoy reading your synopses/commentary, Carl, thank you for making it thought provoking and amusing (particularly amused by 'just let me chuck this stone').

And lastly, @50 parabola, lol! Me too now.

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