Thu
Apr 10 2014 11:00am

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 66 and 67

Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread on Tor.com. Since we last saw each other, I appeared on Tor.com’s own Rocket Talk podcast! Thanks again to Justin Landon for having me on, it was great to be able to discuss the Stormlight Archive on air.

This week, the battle for the Tower rages ever on! I’m doing two chapters, and by the end of them Kaladin will have explosively leveled up. Get some videogame soundtracks ready! It’s time for Chapters 66 and 67.

Chapter 66: Codes
Points of View: Kaladin / Dalinar
Setting: The Tower

What Happens: Kaladin inspects Skar’s wound mid-battle, reminding him not to put any weight on it until it’s healed, while Teft tries to resist being treated as an invalid. The battle for the Tower rages behind them, but Kaladin is almost too exhausted by his overuse of Stormlight to pay attention to it. When he turns to examine the fighting, though, he’s shocked to see Sadeas retreating. He orders the men into bridge positions, discussing with Moash why the Highprince could be leaving a battle that was going well. He wonders if Sadeas might have been badly injured or even killed, but then sees Sadeas crossing the chasm, his armor’s paint unscratched. Kaladin sees the second Parshendi army surrounding Dalinar and realizes that Sadeas has betrayed his ally. He rushes to Sadeas, wanting to confirm that the traitor is unwounded, and hears his last words to Dalinar: “I told you, old friend… I said that honor of yours would get you killed someday.”

On the plateau, Dalinar and Adolin fight a desperate battle. Their armor is cracked in countless places, leaking Stormlight and growing heavier, slowly but surely. Adolin bellows that he warned his father not to trust Sadeas, that they walked right into it, and Dalinar knows he’s right. He wonders how he could have been wrong about Sadeas the entire time. When the Parshendi swarm and Dalinar sees his guard begin to buckle, he orders them to pull back.

He and Adolin take a much needed breather. Dalinar tells Adolin that he should come out and say that he’d led them to destruction. Adolin surprises him by saying that no, it’s not Dalinar’s fault. Adolin wouldn’t have asked him to stop trying to make Alethkar better, to become like Sadeas. He wishes they hadn’t let Sadeas trick them, but he doesn’t blame Dalinar for Sadeas’s betrayal. Dalinar realizes that, at last, his son has accepted the Codes.

With that knowledge, Dalinar’s guilt evaporates, and he finds himself at peace. He thanks his son, and tries to rally his men. He delivers a rousing speech, emphasizing that they follow the Codes because of who they are, and that by doing so they have become better people, even if they are about to die. That in dying well they will have lived gloriously. The men don’t cheer, but they regain resolve, and Dalinar charges back into battle, thinking only how sorry he is to have left Renarin to rule house Kholin alone.

Quote of the Chapter:

“It is time for us to fight,” he said, voice growing louder. “And we do so not because we seek the glory of men, but because the other options are worse. We follow the codes not because they bring gain, but because we loathe the people we would otherwise become. We stand here on this battlefield alone because of who we are.”

[…]

“Death is the end of all men!” Dalinar bellowed. “What is the measure of him once he is gone? The wealth he accumulated and left for his heirs to squabble over? The glory he obtained, only to be passed on to those who slew him? The lofty positions he held through happenstance?

“No. We fight here because we understand. The end is the same. It is the path that separates men. When we taste that end, we will do so with our heads held high, eyes to the sun.”

He held out a hand, summoning Oathbringer. “I am not ashamed of what I have become,” he shouted, and found it to be true. It felt so strange to be free of guilt. “Other men may debase themselves to destroy me. Let them have their glory. For I will retain mine!”

I’m sorry, I’ll just be over here in a corner wrapped up in a cloak of feelings.

He’s so stalwart it gives me goosebumps.

That being said, Dalinar, don’t tell your soldiers to stare at the sun. Bad plan.

Commentary:

This chapter is holding its breath, waiting for the next, and I won’t keep you waiting long. I think it’s a great capsule reminder, though, of who our heroes actually are, and what they care about when presented with an incomprehensible event. Kaladin is driven to verify the depth of Sadeas’s betrayal. Dalinar is pushed to question his ethics, which have led him and his men to the edge of destruction. But by questioning, Dalinar reaffirms what he believes in. He knows that he was doing what he did for the right reason, no matter what result it got.

Ugh, the feels are back. LET’S JUST GO TO THE FIGHTING.

 

Chapter 67: Words
Points of View:
Kaladin / Li’l Kaladin / Dalinar
Setting: The Tower / The Past

What Happens: Bridge Four trails behind Sadeas’s retreating army, held back by the wounded. The rest of the army is crossing ahead of them, and Kaladin watches, sickened by Sadeas’s betrayal. He wonders if there’s no hope for men, imagining the world as a pustule. They reach the chasm, where the men Kaladin had sent ahead wait for him. Seeing the crossing, Kaladin tells his men not to set the bridge, but to carry it across on one of the others once the soldiers have finished crossing, knowing that they’d only slow the retreat down otherwise. Matal allows it.

The bridgemen watch Dalinar’s army fighting hopelessly on the plateau. While they wait, Kaladin hatches a plan, and when it’s time for them to cross he asks to be left behind. They’ll catch up on their own, and if they continue as they are they’ll only slow down Sadeas’s entire army. Matal, hoping that the Parshendi will catch and slaughter them, again allows this.

Kaladin tells his men that they’re free. They just need to gather some armor and take their bridge to the edge. Everyone will assume them killed by Parshendi, and they won’t even be chased. He, however, will have to go back to save the wounded. Bridge Four, understandably, is unwilling to leave without their fearless leader, but he orders them to start gathering salvage.

As they do so, he turns to see Syl in a form she’s never used before. She’s taken the shape and size of a regular-sized woman, and is watching the battle on the Tower in horror. Kaladin watches as well, and is twisted inside. His men surround him, asking if there’s anything they can do, and Kaladin says there is. They would have to run an assault, set the bridge, and survive long enough for the Kholin army to cross and escape. It would be suicide, and it would sacrifice their chance at freedom. Kaladin wants not to do this. He wants to leave the lighteyes to his fate. But he knows that thousands of darkeyed soldiers will die with him. Then Syl speaks, saying that she now knows what she is. She’s an honorspren.

The sound of battle and death surround Kaladin, and he remembers all the times he’s stepped up, and been smacked back down. He remembers his father, telling him that someone has to start. He remembers the First Ideal. He realizes they have to go back. With Bridge Four’s agreement, he leads a charge to save the Kholin army.

Dalinar is beginning to succumb to fatigue, his armor getting heavier, when he sees Bridge Four assaulting the Tower. He calls Adolin to see, and his son asks whether it’s some kind of trap. Dalinar thinks it’s a chance, and when there’s no other hope available, a slim chance is worth fighting for. He rallies his men to press towards the chasm.

Kaladin approaches the Tower, the Parshendi massed against them. Despite knowing that they’re running towards a disaster, at least he knows this time that it’s his own choice. Kaladin is once more out in front of the bridge, trying to draw fire, but this time the Parshendi are adapting. A group of Parshendi leap the chasm and prepare to fire on the undefended bridge from the side. Instinctively, Kaladin cries out for Bridge Four to “side carry right,” and the bridge falls into place, blocking the wave of arrows. This leaves them exposed to another volley from the main force, and Kaladin cries out. He infuses a massive amount of Stormlight into his shield, and every arrow is drawn to it, knocking him into his men, but saving them. The Parshendi who see this flee.

Kaladin is in shock, and the men who aren’t carrying the bridge take him away to recover. He asks Syl if there’s anything she can do to make him stronger, but she says no, and he’s left alone to think about all the people he tried and failed to save. He’s brought back to the worst day of his life.

He’s back in Amaram’s army, his third battle, looking desperately for Tien. Despite Amaram’s promise, Tien was transferred from message-carrying to active combat quickly. The battle is going terribly, and Kaladin needs to find his brother. Eventually he locates the man whose squad absorbed the young messengers, and sees his little brother on the front line. As he watches, Tien’s squad breaks, and Kaladin is stabbed in the leg. He twists wildly to defend himself, and without thinking kills his attacker.

When he pulls himself to his feet, he can see Tien, and cries out to him. Tien turns, sees him, and smiles as the rest of his squad pulls back. He and two other untrained boys are left exposed. The enemy soldiers advance, and Tien is slain.

Kaladin stumbles blindly forward, and hears the thunderous hooves of Amaram’s cavalry charge, sweeping through the enemy lines. Senseless to this, Kaladin finds his brother’s body. Tien’s squadleader stands nearby, watching Amaram, and when Kaladin accuses him of letting his brother die he only says that you have to turn liabilities into advantages to survive. Kaladin holds his brother’s body and weeps for the rest of the battle.

Blinking, Kaladin returns to the present, where it seems he’s just in time to watch more people he loves die. Syl asks him if he knows the words, and Kaladin is overwhelmed by his desire to protect Bridge Four. Defiance against their deaths surges in him, and he sees a spear nearby. Seizing it, he runs towards the bridge and leaps off it towards the waiting Parshendi. Seeing the gemstones woven through their beards, he inhales, swelling with Stormlight, and a voice speaks directly, urgently, into his mind, asking for the Words.

“I will protect those who cannot protect themselves,” he whispered.

The Second Ideal of the Knights Radiant.

There’s a clap of thunder, and Kaladin explodes with energy and light. A wave of white smoke bursts from him, knocking back the Parshendi, and Bridge Four watches in wonder as their leader charges, radiant, like a living storm.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Are windspren attracted to the wind,” she asked softly, “or do they make it?”

“I don’t know,” Kaladin said. “Does it matter?”

“Perhaps not. You see, I’ve remembered what kind of spren I am.”

“Is this the time for it, Syl?”

“I bind things, Kaladin,” she said, turning and meeting his eyes. “I am honorspren. Spirit of oaths. Of promises. And of nobility.”

Wow, Kaladin, not only did you say that our long-running debate about whether spren cause or are drawn to things is irrelevant, you are a terrible boyfriend to Syl. This is why I don’t ship you two. (ShallaSyl 5eva)

Commentary:

Oof.

I have spent many commentaries complaining about Kaladin in one way or another, and all of that was BEFORE I infamously accused him of being a war criminal. I’ve done more than my fair share of whining about how whiny he is, and moping about how he won’t stop moping. But this chapter makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that Kaladin isn’t just down in the dumps. He has serious PTSD. His experiences on the battlefield and as a slave have broken him inside, and it’s easy for him to be pulled back into unhealthy cycles of thought.

At any given time, Kaladin is only barely holding it together. That’s uncomfortable, and as readers I think it’s easy to want Sanderson to provide us with a magical fix to the problem. Sanderson’s proposed fix, the ideals of the Knights Radiant and their gigantic flashy level-ups is surprisingly satisfying to this purpose. To move forward and make greater accomplishments, Kaladin has to accept a new and positive truth into his life. Side note: I wish that my character growth could be accompanied by a Diablo 3 style explosion of light and sound that defeats my enemies.

Actually, you know what? That sounds incredibly inconvenient. I TAKE IT BACK, MONKEY’S PAW!

It’s excellent that Sanderson forces Kaladin and Bridge Four make a real choice between saving Dalinar and having near-certain freedom. We all want them to save Dalinar, and it seems like a pretty obvious solution, but clarifying the risks allows for a moment of real conflict.

The flashback in this chapter is excellent. Sanderson made clear rules for how he was going to reveal Kaladin’s backstory. Separate chapters, clearly labeled, moving smoothly forward in time. Then, here, with the missing piece, he breaks all of those rules. This scene happened BEFORE the last one we saw. It’s in the middle of the chapter, separated only by a section break, and intrudes directly on Kaladin’s mind. It’s not safe the way the other chapters were, it’s not here for our elucidation. It’s something happening to Kaladin’s mind that he’s incapable of resisting.

Really this is just another way that Sanderson makes his characters helpless in preparation for their empowerment. At the end of this chapter will be more powerful than he’s been in his entire life, but before that he loses control of his body and his mind, he loses his ability to protect his men, he loses his chance at freedom. Meanwhile, Dalinar is completely dependent on Kaladin. He can choose to try to accept his help, which is at least a step up from deciding how to die.

Anyway, this got dark. Come back next week for heroic rescues! Until then, maybe look at fluffy things. I’m not here to tell you how to live your lives.


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.

35 comments
Jeremy Guebert
1. jeremyguebert
There's no other scene in this entire book for which I have a greater desire to see on-screen. Kaladin leaping from the partially extended bridge, spear in hand, inhaling Stormlight as he lands, speaking the Second Ideal. It's all just so well-crafted, it gives me chills.

I also love Bridge 4's loyalty to their leader, not to mention the recurring theme of doing what is right simply because it is right. And Dalinar's speech is just all kinds of awesome.
Walker White
2. Walker
The Kaladin scene is extremely powerful. Unfortunately, I also think it set up false expectations for WOR. Many readers thought his trials were over, and that he was now going to be a traditional power fantasy.
exiledjerseyite
3. exiledjerseyite
I don't have any insightful commentary on these chapters. But, like jeremyguebert above me, I do need to praise the scene of Kaladin jumping the chasm. Holy crap that is a well-done moment.

Kaladin's my favorite character because of his brokenness and his competency, and this scene makes me grin every time I think about it.
Andrew Berenson
4. AndrewHB
Carl, I agree with you. Dalinar's speech was exceptional.

I think that Kaldin and Bridge Four were dillusional if they thought they could escape and be free. Assuming they could have survived out in the Shattered Plains long enough to reach the edge, were would they go. had they escaped, they would have still been legally slaves. I imagine that Vorin society is much like the US South ante-bellum when it comes to attitudes of runaway slaves. If I am correct, then most people would try to capture Bridge Four and return them to the war camps. For the salves like Kaladin who are branded, it would be even tougher.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Karen Fox
5. thepupxpert
@4 AndrewHB - I think Bridge Four is well aware that their chances of survival are slim to none, but they all agreed with Kaladin's plan previously that escape was preferable to slavery/death and were planning on this already. Their loyalty to Kaladin is amazing and the fact that not a single bridgeman opted to go back or flee, and that they all stayed together to engage the Parshendi to save Daliner and his army, is a testament to how powerful these ideals and Kaladin as a person really are.
Leeland Woodard
6. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Chapter 66 is titled "Codes" likely in reference to the speech that Dalinar gives in the chapter that Carl highlighted.

The herald icons are Vev/Nan. The divine attributes associated with Vev are loving/healing. Vev appears most often when Kaladin is performing his duties as a surgeon. We discussed Nan (attributes just/confident) last week, and I would say that Nan's presence here is to hammer in the injustice of Sadeas deserting Dalinar, this time mostly from Kaladin's perspective.

Chapter 67 is titled "Words" for reasons that are extremely obvious given the content of the chapter. The herald icons are Jez/Jez (attributes protecting/leading), again for very obvious reasons (Kaladin is protecting Dalinar, he's leading his men, he says his 2nd ideal, he uses a metric crapton of stormlight--all things associated with Jezrien and the Windrunners).
exiledjerseyite
7. TBGH
This was so awesome it hurt.

And at this point I was REALLY worried for Dalinar. He'd had his big speech; his son (also a viewpoint character) was growing up and following in his footsteps. It just felt like the build up to him sacrificing himself for his army. And anyone who's read Sanderson knows that while main characters are safe during the first two thirds of a book, they'd better watch out once stuff hits the fan.
exiledjerseyite
8. Porphyrogenitus
I apologize, I cannot help myself.

End of chapter 65 - Sadeas: "Execute Chapter 66!" Queue his troops abandoning Dalinar and his army to their doom
Brian Carlson
9. images8dream
@2: I think you are correct about people's expectations. A lot of people complained about Kaladin's "emo-ness", which I find insulting as a person who suffers from depression and anxiety as a result of trauma. Given that Kaladin has suffered so much trauma, his overall negativeness is incredibly realistic. It takes years of hard work to get over all the horrible things that happen to you. In this book, Kaladin overcomes a small part of his overall problem, and in WOR he overcomes another part. Furthermore, I think the flashbacks make it pretty clear that Kaladin already suffers from some depression, e.g. his hatred of the weeeping and the dark moods that only Tien can make go away. It's awesome to have heroes with ongoing mental health problem; it really inspires me.
Nadine L.
11. travyl
I agree the scenes in these chapters are truely powerful.
I think I've asked before but still: Who talks in Kaladin's mind right before he utters the second Ideal of the Knight Radiants?
it says "A voice", which indicates to me it can't mean Syl, because he'd recognize her voice.
So who? His subconsciousness? The Stormfather?
Robert Dickinson
12. ChocolateRob
Be glad it was only a Monkey Paw, it could have been the Wish Dolly.
Carl Engle-Laird
13. CarlEngle-Laird
@11 Due to his confusion, and the fact that Syl doesn't normally speak directly into his head, I'm prone to suspect that the voice in his head was indeed Syl.
David Foster
14. ZenBossanova
I find the depression that Kaladin went through highly realistic. It feels like things I have been though, minus the whole slavery, life and death bit.

In any case, it makes this Second Ideal scene so unbelieveably powerful, that I wonder if we are going to see its equal in the rest of the series. It definitely gave us unrealistic expectations for WoR.
Leeland Woodard
15. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
WoR stuff:

I wonder if the voice he hears might be the Stormfather, since he seems to be directly connected with accepting the Ideals as they're spoken.
Jonathan Purcell
16. Lomeon
>Diablo 3 style explosion of light and sound

The first time my character leveled up in Diablo, I thought to myself, "That's exactly what I imagined it looked like when Kaladin stated the second ideal." I'm so glad I'm not the only person to notice this. GLORIOUS!
Jonathan Purcell
17. Lomeon
@ 1. jeremyguebert

>There's no other scene in this entire book for which I have a greater desire to see on-screen. Kaladin leaping from the partially extended bridge, spear in hand, inhaling Stormlight as he lands, speaking the Second Ideal. It's all just so well-crafted, it gives me chills.

This scene was ALMOST to the level of (MISTBORN spoiler) Vin taking on thirteen inquisitors by herself to try to draw in the mists. I don't think I had read anything to match the cenematic potential of that scene until the climax of WoR.
Joseph Haines
18. IamJoseph
You can get a hint of Kaladin's conflict in the next book from his reasoning on why he should go back. He doesn't care that the lighteyes who walked into the trap would die, he cares instead that the darkeyed common soldiers would die with them.
Jeremy Guebert
19. jeremyguebert
@8 - That's awful and hilarious at the same time. Well played.

Regarding the WoR stuff: I think it's more likely to be Syl than the Stormfather, since it's so insistent. Syl wants Kaladin to succeed/grow in his oaths, whereas both instances we saw of the Stormfather were an almost-grudging acceptance.
exiledjerseyite
20. Mar
A first, I thought the voice was Syl, but it could be the Stormfather.
exiledjerseyite
21. MAR
Spoiler:

At this point in time, the Stormfather was not angry with Kal for his actions in WoR.
exiledjerseyite
22. Gristleborn
@21 - I guess that the possibility can't be discounted, but (WoR spoilers ahead, roll over to read): I got the impression in WoR that the Stormfather resented the Radiants for bringing about the Recreance, which he may have viewed as a spren genocide of sorts. This resentment seems even stronger toward the Windrunners in particular since they "killed off" their honorspren (I REALLY hope we get more background on the Recreance in the next book!). That being said, the Stormfather probably disliked Kaladin -- or was at least distrustful of him -- from the start.
exiledjerseyite
23. Gristleborn
Egad, I thought I changed the text color for the WoR spoilers in my last post! Apologies. I don't seem to have the ability to edit the post, so would someone mind fixing that?
Leeland Woodard
24. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Those of you following the Words of Radiance spoiler review thread will have already read this comment, but I figured I'd post it here, too, for exposure's sake. There are some whited out portions, since they have to do with a specific event in Words of Radiance.

I approached Brandon after the creative writing class today and had the following exchange with him that you all might be interested in:
Me: Some of us have been paying attention to the herald icons at the beginning of the chapters, and it seems like, where most heralds have their icons displayed in chapters that feature their divine attributes, Nan is displayed where something particularly unjust is occurring. Is there a reason that Nan in particular is opposite?

BWS: Yes.

Me: Any chance you wouldn't RAFO me for asking why this is?

BWS: (chuckling) No.

Me: Okay, second sort-of question. The TOR rereaders fora are looking for a name to identify themselves. One of the things we've been talking about has been The Storm Cellar.

BWS: That's a fine name.

Me: Yeah--we were, however, wondering whether there was a name for the cafe where Adolin and Shallan went on their date, the one that you would see the approach of the storm from.

BWS: I'm not sure if we have anything canonized--email me, and we'll see.
So, there's that. I shot an e-mail off to Brandon regarding the Storm Cellar only minutes ago. Hoping to hear back soon.
Mike I
25. MikeyRocks
I love the way Brandon reveals Tien's death. He lets us get to know Kaladin, feel for him, hope for him, then once we reach that climax of feeling like we're one with Kal, he breaks all our collective hearts by showing us how his heart was broken, without any warning, because sudden deaths have no warnings.
On a different note, I hope the third book has a reunion with Kal and his father. Brandon completely has my heart in his hands with that potential scene, if he goes the "what happened to Tien Kal?" route, I a grown ass man, may just bust out in tears.
Jeremy Guebert
26. jeremyguebert
Gristleborn - For future reference, one of the quirks of Tor.com is that if you preview your comment before posting, the font change doesn't stick. You have to either re-apply the whiting out after previewing, or just use Quick Reply. I've flagged your comment for a moderator to re white-out the WoR spoilers.
exiledjerseyite
27. Gristleborn
@jeremyguebert - That is definitely a good thing to know. Thanks for your help!
T C
28. Freelancer
@11, 13, 15, 19

It would be inconsistent for the voice Kaladin hears to be either Syl or the Stormfather. There is no example where a spren provides the words to be said.

To all appearances, the Ideals spring from the heart of the speaker.

ETA: I tried to post a WoR spoiler regarding this, but for some reason my browser is not sending text in white, so I couldn't "hide" it.
exiledjerseyite
29. philanor
This is the one part in WoK that I have read over and over and over again.

My shock of Sylphrena's revelation of her true identity combined with Kaladin's final decision and triumphant transformation - the sheer excitement and various emtions I felt cannot be put into simple words!

And I find myself keep coming back to this very chapter to relive those memories :)

Thank you Carl, thank you so much for this re-read; and that Diablo 3 level up comparions ... Priceless!!
Alice Arneson
30. Wetlandernw
I'm commenting just to get this on my Conversations. These chapters are SO hard to take just two at a time! I went back and read the end of Ch. 67 to see what the exact text of the "voice in his mind" bit said... and I almost couldn't stop!
T C
31. Freelancer
Regarding my comment @28, "to all appearances", I wanted to clarify that's surely not what I believe. It would be fairly crazy to suppose that no outside agent is involved in bringing those words into Kaladin's heart. But I also cannot accept that it is Syl's direct doing, since her attitude is so . . . anticipatory. She's waiting for him to "get there", as it were.
Deana Whitney
32. Braid_Tug
So, at JordanCon this year they announced a Stormlight track for next year. Not just one panel.

Carl, any chance you and Michael will be attending next year as panelist?
Or you WetlanderNW?
Alice Arneson
33. Wetlandernw
Oh, don't I wish...!

But a whole Stormlight track? That's awesome!!
Deana Whitney
34. Braid_Tug
Well, maybe it was a Sanderson track, but really, I see Stormlight dominating that. :-)
Little tired and fuzzy brained still.

Did get that:
The use of spren in fabrials was "tangentially" a factor in the Recreance.
WoB in his Reading panel Q&A.
Nadine L.
35. travyl
New post is about to be up, so I guess I won't bother too many with my nitpicking.
There were some "typos" in these chapters in my ebook:

- ch. 66 (kindle pos. 16447): gather some men to carry Moash and Teft (Skar is wounded not Moash)
- ch 67 (kindle pos. 16627): he thought could see Dalinar Kholin's banner.

- ch 67 (kindle pos. 16605): his years as a slave
Kaladin hasn't spent "years" as a slave. At least, the day he is branded a slave (chapter 51) is labeled "one year ago".

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