May 1 2014 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 70 and 71

Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread here on I can’t believe the end is in sight already. We’re in the home stretch, covering the first two chapters of Part 5: The Silence Above.

This week, Shallan deals with the repercussions of her actions up till now, and Szeth finds out who has been pulling his strings—it is quite a surprise for first time readers, and even with repeated readings it is still shocking that a man seen as so kindly could be otherwise. Then again a running theme to The Way of Kings is that nothing is necessarily as clear as it seems. Distance, point of view, and time all distort.

Now it’s time for Columbo—I mean—Shallan the Detective and the case of the melting bread!

Chapter 70: Sea of Glass
Point of View: Shallan

What Happens: Shallan lies in her hospital bed feeling sorry for herself. She especially regrets everything she’s done to Jasnah. The death of Kabsal keeps weighing on her, though considering what he had done, she shouldn’t be bothered. She’s just grown fond of him.

Thinking of Kabsal brings back the memories of the infamous jam and bread—the poisoned bread, which Jasnah had eaten without the anidote-laced jam. Shallan starts in surprise, realizing that Jasnah should be dead. She draws Jasnah inspecting the jam while the strange symbol creatures hover nearby. She continues to ignore them and instead inspects the drawing, noting that Jasnah did stick her finger in the jam jar and sniffed it, but never ate any or told them it had spoiled. She draws another image of Jasnah eating the bread with a distinctly distasteful look upon her face and it seems as if the bread were melting.

Shallan leaves the hospital in just her robe without encountering any interference. She makes her way to the Conclave and Jasnah’s alcove, though Jasnah makes it known Shallan is not welcome and threatens to call the guards. Shallan pointedly tells Jasnah that the Soulcaster Jasnah has is fake and has been all along, unless it was some sort of decoy.

Shallan then shows Jasnah the drawing of the odd place she visited when she first Soulcast. Jasnah is taken aback, and wants to know what book had described that place so well that Shallan could draw it. Shallan explains that it wasn’t from a book, but from her own experience the night she Soulcast her goblet into blood. Shallan then says:

“There is no fabrial, is there, Jasnah? There’s no Soulcaster. There never has been. You use the fake ‘fabrial’ to distract people from the fact that you have the power to Soulcast on your own.”

Jasnah remains quiet while Shallan explains that she can also Soulcast without the aid of a fabrial. She claims Jasnah knew Kabsal was an assassin trying to poison her, but with the jam not the bread. When Jasnah had examined the jam she Soulcast away the antidote. And when Jasnah tried the bread, she Soulcast that as well, which explains why she didn’t get sick. But Jasnah did this without a Soulcaster; Shallan reveals that she stole Jasnah’s Soulcaster the night Jasnah killed the men, which visibly surprises Jasnah.

Jasnah still doesn’t believe her, so Shallan calls upon one of the symbol head creatures. The creature demands a truth in exchange for sending Shallan back to “that place.” Shallan fulfills that request by admitting she killed her father. Suddenly Shallan finds herself falling into a sea of glass beads before being lifted up to a raft Jasnah creates from the beads. Jasnah calls her an “idiot girl” and then pushes her through some sort of flame only to end up back in the alcove. Jasnah, clearly still angry with Shallan, tells her how dangerous it is to go to Shadesmar with just one dim sphere.

Shallan says she wants to join with Jasnah on her research:

“I want to know, Jasnah. I want to be your ward in truth. Whatever the source of this thing you can do, I can do it too. I want you to train me and let me be part of your work.”

Shallan also apologizes for stealing from Jasnah, and insists that she very much cherishes what Jasnah has to offer through her studies. Shallan could be someone Jasnah confides in. She knows she made mistakes and that she’ll make more, but with Jasnah she could learn much and hopefully not make as many.

Jasnah tells Shallan that she must never lie to her or steal from anyone ever again. Shallan promises. Jasnah then shares with Shallan her notes on the Voidbringers.

Quote of the Chapter:

“What am I?” Shallan whispered. “Truthfully?” It was a day for confrontation. She felt strangely strong, steady. Time to speak it. “I’m a murderer. I killed my father.”

As if we needed the confirmation, but it is still rather nice to have. I thought this fact would be held on to for a later volume. Yet what does this truly answer? We don’t know the how or why she killed her father. Presumably with her Shardblade, but thinking about the Shardblade just leads to more questions. And now that we’re talking about her father she doesn’t seem particularly remorseful for having killed her father though she is remorseful that her actions had something to do with the weakness of her family’s position. Yet her father lead the way to the family’s downfall with all the debts. He must have been a horrible, horrible man.


One thing you can say about Shallan is that she doesn’t give up easy. This seems to be a trait common among all of the main points of view. Dalinar is motivated by honor and Kaladin by the appreciation for life. Shallan on the other hand takes the someway more selfish angle to it all. She came to Jasnah because of her family, but she wants to stay for herself. She wants to believe in herself knowing that she’ll make mistakes.

Shallan is certainly a woman of extremes. To prove that Shallan knows about Shadesmar she goes there in front of Jasnah. And as Jasnah intoned that wasn’t the smartest of plans, but it was audacious to say the least.

I don’t think it was that Jasnah didn’t believe that Shallan knew about Shadesmar and Soulcasting without a fabrial. She just saw the danger in admitting what she was and could do. Jasnah is a very guarded person in many respects. and she just survived an assassination attempt. Jasnah doesn’t let people in. Shallan is forcing her way in just like when she first met Jasnah and this time hopefully for keeps.

Now the question comes down to does Shallan appreciate how much Jasnah has changed her life in such a short span of time? Yes, but she’ll only feel more indebted to the worlds Jasnah has revealed to her as she grows.

Unlike Kaladin, Shallan isn’t one to stew to long about her lot in life. She’s become a change maker. An influencer, which is a role that will only broaden for her as the series progresses. Sure Kaladin will change things, but he does so reluctantly. Shallan goes all in more times than not. Now she’s on the trail of the Voidbringers...


Chapter 71: Recorded in Blood
Point of View: Szeth

What Happens: Szeth is in the City of Bells to finish off the last names on his list of targets. He’s working as a porter in order to get the lay of the land and workings of the city. He is to kill king Taravangian, who is well-loved for his acts of charity, including building hospitals and paying to staff them. Szeth is already regretting what is to come.

For this particular mission, Szeth is specifically commanded not to kill anyone else when he confronts Taravangian; he is to kill the king as quietly as possible while delivering a message he has to make sure the king hears. While in the larder of the palace, Szeth obtains permission to go to the privy. Once alone, Szeth uses his Shardblade to cut a hole in the rock floor and uses a half Basic Lashing upwards on the rock so it floats above rather than make any noise. He then jumps on the rock after using a Lashing to change his own weight so he can slowly descend atop the rock. Szeth finds himself in a much fancier privy meant for lighteyes.

Szeth changes into a servant’s outfit and goes into the hallway after dismissing his Shardblade. Szeth knows exactly where the king will be. He approaches a door with two guards and makes quick work of them, but does not kill them. He kicks open the door and finds a man sitting cross-legged on the floor staring out a window in the opposite direction. Szeth delivers his message:

“I have been instructed to tell you that the others are dead. I’ve come to finish the job.”

The man does not acknowledge him at first. Then Taravangian asks him if he killed his guards while also naming Szeth as Szeth-son-son-Vallano. He praises the good job Szeth has done killing so many of Roshar’s leaders and creating chaos, then asks:

“Was this your destiny? Do you wonder? Given that monstrosity of a Shardblade by your people, cast out and absolved of any sin your masters might require of you?”

Szeth insists he isn’t absolved by any means and that he feels each death upon his soul. He kills, but his punishment is to “bear the sins” and be Truthless. Taravangian counters that Szeth knows many more truths than the rest of the Shin. Szeth determines this king isn’t as feeble as most believe—he is cunning. Tarvangian then pulls out Szeth’s Oathstone, revealing himself to be Szeth’s unseen master. Tarvangian had put his own name on the hitlist in case Szeth was captured and the list discovered, but now he orders Szeth to not kill him.

Szeth wants to know if this was all about vengeance. The king says it wasn’t, but was rather about stability. Szeth is bewildered that killing all of these leaders could be considered stabilizing anything. Taravangian indicates these things must be done so that things can be made stronger in the long run.

Taravangian then quotes a Shin proverb in its original language, which shocks Szeth. He leads Szeth down a stairwell to a secret room containing hundreds of beds of the sick and infirm; rather than helping the patients, they are slowly draining the blood from them. The horror of it hits Szeth, and Taravangian says they do this only to the sickest people, but they do occasionally pull in others who won’t be missed. Anger rises in Szeth to the point where he nearly kills Taravangian, but he is reined in by his oath and a word from the king.

Taravangian’s hands aren’t clean; he tells Szeth that he has bled out many people himself over the years. One of the nearby “patients” shouts out something about the Stormfather and then dies. The king explains that they are killing these people to record their death quotes, which began appearing seven years earlier when Gavilar first went to the Shattered Plains. These words, King Taravangian claims, will help save the world.

Szeth calls him a monster, which is a label the King readily accepts, claiming “I am the monster who will save this world.” Taravangian then adds another name to the end of the list: Dalinar Kholin. He says it is to be done “brutally” and soon before Dalinar can unite the Alethi highprinces.

Quote of the Chapter:

“Sometimes,” Taravangian said, “you must tear down a structure to build a new one with stronger walls.”

Somehow I don’t think Taravangian is being as altruistic as he makes himself out to be. He acts as if all this killing was for the greater good. But who’s good? His motivations are far from clear. Right now I’d consider him an agent of Odium. The killing of Roshar’s leaders is one things, but all this blood letting and murder in his own house is too hard to choke down as anything that can be colored in any light other than horrible.


So the mysterious boss that has been pulling Szeth’s strings is none other than Taravangian who I like to affectionately call Mr. T., partly out of humor and partly because I’ve always felt Taravangian is purposely too ostentatious of a name. Sanderson has always been good with naming. He nails the names of the Alethi Brightlords well with them coming off as regal, but not too grandiose, but “Taravangian” seems a bit much.

Really, this chapter made me think of him as a James Bond villain. “No, Mr. Kholin, I expect you to die!” Only he is missing the whole villain laugh. That’s more a Sadeas thing.

Mr. T. unveiled the story behind all the death quotes in the epigraphs, which is all kinds of horrible. He is so forthright with the evil work he does yet defends it saying it will save people without any real explanation as to how. More interesting was the fact they began when Gavilar went out to the Shattered Plains, which coincides with his meeting of the Parshendi. Like when Kaladin uttered the Words this meeting somehow unlocked something in the world. Gavilar knew something or did something while he was there. One fact that has been given little credit is that Gavilar did unite the Alethi already in his own fashion and before the Parshendi decided to assassinate him he was bringing them into the fold as well. What still doesn’t make sense is what the Parshendi’s motivations for killing Gavilar right after a pact was being signed. What was Gavilar planning that turned the Parshendi against him?

Now how many of your wished that Szeth would have taken that swing at Mr. T. when he held himself back? I going to guess most of you. Even on this reading I was hoping Szeth would slice off his head. Would all of his plans and agents fall out of sorts, or is the network trying to prevent anyone from preparing for the Desolation so embedded in society it would merely be a hiccup for them to recover? And now I question whether they are trying to stop people for preparing for the Desolation versus trying to prevent the Desolation in the first place though some loopy logic. Clearly the latter isn’t going to happen since a Herald is only a few chapters away from proclaiming the Desolation has come. Like it or not the Desolation will not be held back. Too much else has already happened.

Szeth seems to be deteriorating mentally; all of these murders are weighing on him (he now hears their screams), yet he still hasn’t reached his real breaking point. Szeth has also grown used to walking on stone, something he considered utter abhorrent when we first met him. Now it is a common—if unpleasant experience for him. But after you killing dozens of people, walking on stone seems a trifle pain to go through. The back and forth about Szeth’s actions being absolved was enlightening as Mr. T. believed Szeth does what he does without anything weighing on his conscience while Szeth said it is the exact opposite. His “punishment” seems not only a heavy price for him to pay, but even larger for those he dispatches. The Shin ideology on this issue seems out of place with what little we know of their society. Szeth had to uncovered something that turned him into a Truthless.

And now Szeth is being sent to the Shattered Plains for Dalinar. Hopefully, Kaladin can be the man the Alethi need to stop him finally.

Michael Pye runs The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review where he shares his views on genre books. He can also be found nattering on Twitter or in search of the perfect piece of bacon.

Robert Dickinson
1. ChocolateRob
Szeth knows many more truths then the rest of the Shin...

Then instead of than? For shame Michael, for shame.
Jeremy Guebert
2. jeremyguebert
Judging from the Quote of the Chapter section on chapter 70, Michael still hasn't read Words of Radiance yet. That is some impressive self-control.
Rich Bennett
3. Neuralnet
good thing Szeth let Taravangian monologue before killing him.... Also bet Mr T was happy he was coherent when Szeth found him.

seriously though, I remember being completed shocked at this ending with Szeth.

The Jasnah/Shallan ending wasnt really that unexpected but it definitely opened up so many possibilities for the next book... kept me wondering for years (which is the sign of a good book IMHO)
Sean Dowell
4. qbe_64
I feel it nearly impossible to comment on Mr. T's chapter while keeping out what we learned in WoR, so I won't even bother trying. Let's just say Mr. T and his associates get some decent screen time in book 2, and what their planning goes from 5% clear to about 50% clear.

As for Shallan, she is bold. Good for her not giving up.
Adam S.
Shallan chapter- not TOO shocking that Jasnah can soulcast on her own, heck, I wouldn't be surprised if that woman can fly or raise the dead. Shallan definitely has bravado, jumping into shadesmar without knowing what the heck she's doing. Not a lot of common sense, though.
Szeth- great reveal. Mr. T- argh I can't call him that without picturing him saying "I pity the fool", which ruins my whole image-Mr. T seems to be doing evil for what he views as the greater good. I really can't comment on him or Shallan too much, as you still somehow have not read WOR, which is an unheard-of feat of self-control. I'll just say that I wouldn't automatically dismiss his sincerity on truly believing that he's acting for the greater good. When someone like Sadeas says that, you know he's lying. When someone like Mr. T (argh!) says it, it seems genuine.
Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
Yes, Michael, the manner of Shallan's father's death is covered in the next book. I was shocked to see this admission here - I didn't remember it as being in this book at all.
Michael Pye
7. Michael_Pye
@ChoclateRob - Fixed

@Jeremyguebert - Sort of. After finishing part 4 I couldn't wait any longer! I officially started WoR just late last week and the answers to the points I brought up in the Quote have not yet been cleared up. Though I have a much better idea of Shallan's motivations in general . I haven't reached talk of her blade (though it seems she's had it a long time) or precisely the events surrounding her father's death just yet. The Eshoni chapters are incredible.
Robert Dickinson
8. ChocolateRob

So you didn't fancy going chapter by chapter than, like the song of ice and fire read by Leigh.

Seriously though, that would drive me nuts.
Jeremy Guebert
9. jeremyguebert
Michael @ 7 - still impressive, if you ask me. Without spoiling any of the actual details, I can say that we do learn a lot more about the situation and motivation surrounding those events.

@ Mr. T - aside from the unfortunate nickname, this kind of character makes me uncomfortable whenever I see them - doing something that they admit themselves is awful, in the name of pursuing a greater good. It's so frightfully easy to slip down that slope at a faster and faster pace until the atrocities become almost insurmountable (cf Star Wars EU Legends and the story of Darth Caedus). I was definitely hoping that Szeth would go ahead and complete his previously assigned mission before Mr. T could order him to stop.
Deana Whitney
10. Braid_Tug
@Michael, good restraint. You held out well.

I know some people found the transition back into these two parts of the story as a "shock" after the Tower fallout. But it was nice to get a break from the Plains and see the fallout in other places.

Rather classic Sanderson Cascade of switching viewpoints nearing the climax. or I guess post climax, since what else can you call the end of Part 4?

Guess it this was an HBO show, the end of Part 4 would be episode 9,
and the wrap up of Part 5 is episode 10.

I can’t remember if the Jasnah reveal was shock or not at this point, but I know Mr.T’s was. (Thank you for that nickname)

I know I was happy that Shallan is an active person. She did not spend 4 chapters waiting around bemoaning her bad luck. If she shared that trait with Kaladin I’d want to throw something at Brandon. Instead she spends one day in bed, then has a “wait a minute” moment and acts on it. I love that about her.
Michael Pye
11. Michael_Pye
@Braid_Tug I hear you. Shallan is not one to wallow too long while Kaladin and Dalinar continually act but somehow moan and wallow while doing so. Shallan just gets on with it always moving forward. Always looking for more answers and new questions to ask. This is only proved more true the deeper into WoR I get.
Nadine L.
12. travyl
I have a question about chapter 70 quote
I wonder if the quotation marks are a mistake. Shallan is speaking / thinking to a Cryptic which was always in italics. The quotationmarks would indicate that she is speaking aloud which would mean Jasnah can hear her. If so she would know.
So mistake or intention?
Alice Arneson
13. Wetlandernw
travyl @12 - In the earlier paragraphs, Shallan "said in her head," "asked," and "thought." In this one, she "whispered." I take that to mean that she really truly whispered it - though, quite possibly, softly enough that Jasnah didn't hear her.

Hey, I can make it work well enough... :D
Andrew Berenson
14. AndrewHB
Shallon sure has a lot of moxie. Confronting Jasnah directly was probably the only way Shallan could convince Jasnah to take Shallan back. Similar in spirit to how she became a ward in the beginning of the book.

Thanks for reading my musings,
(aka the musespren)
Michael, still a WOR innocent? I won't spoil it for you, but the scene where Shallan kills her father is the most dramatic piece that I have read in a long time. Enjoy and be shocked.
16. Jasuni
Chapter 71 quote: I don't think that Taravangian is going to have enough time to build a new "wall". He might be able to get a part of the wall up, but I would be suprised if he is finished building when the storm arrives. Also, his actions are bound to make him vulnerable to Odium's manipulations (especially considering Ruin's actions in the Mistborn trilogy and the things we learn about Taravangian's motivations in WoR). The letter from Hoid describes Odium (Rayse) as "among the most... crafty... individuals I had ever met," (WoK Ch. 18 epigraph) so Odium could very well be acting behind the scenes without Taravangian's realizing it.
17. Freelancer
ChocolateRob @8
So you didn't fancy going chapter by chapter than, like the song of ice and fire read by Leigh.
Did you do that on purpose, after calling Michael out on the reverse mis-usage? Strange. And if we're going to bust on Michael like that, this is a slightly more egregious one:
He acts as if all this killing was for the greater good. But who’s good?
The contraction form of who is doesn't fit the question being asked. Whose good is the possessive form.

And I can't seem to bring up a comment about the contents of these chapters which doesn't include references to WoR. I don't believe Taravangian is an agent of Odium. I believe he is doing evil, while thinking his actions are aimed at a noble purpose. Saving the world, by whatever means, likely isn't an objective Odium would direct.
18. birgit
Just because Taravangian thinks he is doing good doesn't mean he can't be influenced by Odium without knowing it.
Alice Arneson
19. Wetlandernw
Yeah, I can't say anything I want to say about Taravangian without WoR spoilers. I guess we'll discuss all this again when we get there in the WoR reread...
20. Freelancer
It appears as though many have decided to hold out for the re-read to start in on WoR.

Just to get a headstart on the question, what will be the spoiler policy in those threads? At a certain point, it will become necessary to permit any and all cosmere text into the discussions . . .
Nadine L.
21. travyl
I know i won't get an answer for this question bebause it's impossible without WOR spoilers but still.
is it necessary to go to Shadesmar if you want to soulcast without a soulcaster?
And what about the truth Shallan had to say, was this the price to bond the spren or to reach Shadesmar while not properly bonded?
David Goldfarb
22. David_Goldfarb
The implication of this chapter is that all the soulcasting we've seen Jasnah do has been her own power and not the fabrial. Therefore I think that yes, it is possible to soulcast without leaving Roshar.
23. birgit
Shadesmar isn't somewhere else, it is just a different view of the world. Jasnah probably seems to remain where she is from an outsider point of view when she soulcasts but subjectively she enters Shadesmar at least partially.
Don Barkauskas
24. bad_platypus
birgit @23: That's certainly how I've always interpreted it. In neither of the scenes in WoK where Shallan observes Jasnah "using the Soulcaster" (the boulder at the beginning and the lesson with the four thugs) does Jasnah disappear for any noticeable length of time.

Maybe the Transportation surge works via physically entering Shadesmar somehow. It could even be that time works differently (or not at all) there and you have to walk in Shadesmar wherever you need to go, which might explain why Jasnah came back so far away from where she wanted to be (she couldn't last any longer in Shadesmar and had to exit immediately).
Nadine L.
25. travyl
If I remember correctly Jasnwh had a vapid / far away look when she soulcasts, which might mean she had (spiritually) been to Shadesmar. That does raise an interesting question about what she does (differently?) in WoR. Guess this has to wait until we may spoil WoR.
Don Barkauskas
26. bad_platypus
travyl @25: In the scene with the boulder, yes. In the scene with the thugs, not for the first two (there really wasn't time, as one was swinging a knife at her), but for killing the last two simultaneously as they ran, she did close her eyes. So maybe it depends on the difficulty of what she's trying to do.
Deana Whitney
27. Braid_Tug
@ Travyl, your question @21. I think the answer depends on they type of bond you have. So the type of Radian you are. Different group = different rules.
But not 100% sure on that.

Don't think that's a spoiler, but let me know. :-\
Hard, good thing WoK re-read is almost done.
28. Freelancer
Transportation and Transformation are distinctly separate surges. Soulcasting does not require Transporting. I've always been fairly certain that there wasn't a need to visit Shadesmar in order to Soulcast, but that the way Shallan first got the formula together to Soulcast happened when she got pulled into Shadesmar. Correlation does not equal Causation.

Remembering that Shadesmar is the Cognitive Realm, it should not be necessary to Physically go there, but Cognitively influence its activity with one's Intent.
Anthony Bischel
29. abischel06
I feel like I'm the only person who was taken aback when Shallan said "I'm a murderer. I killed my father." I literally said, "Huh? What?" I really didn't think it was that obivous..... As for the comment about Shallan being more eager than Kaladin to accept her lot in life and do something about it.... I feel that she will be over eager and cause major strife at least once in the series.
Alice Arneson
30. Wetlandernw
abischel06 @29 - You know, I honestly don't remember how I reacted to Shallan's declaration the first time through. By the third or fourth reread, and especially after reading WoR, it's "so obvious!" that we just shrug. I have a vague recollection (which I could confirm by going back to the initial spoiler thread) that there was initially a lot of debate about whether she really murdered her father, or only feels responsible for it in some way. Then, of course, there was the related discussion over how she could have caused it indirectly, or how she did it if she really did. So you aren't the only one who felt that way - it's just that by now, we've accepted it and forget what a shock it was at first. :)
Leeland Woodard
31. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Sorry again for bumping an old thread, but like I said in the last one, I wanted to catch up and put my chapter title and herald icon interpretations in the respective threads.

Chapter 70 is titled "Sea of Glass" referring to Shadesmar, which presents itself as a sea of tiny glass beads, each one a representation of the cognitive aspect of an object.

The herald icons for chapter 70 are Shash/Beteb. Their divine attributes are creative/honest and wise/careful respectively, but I would say that their presence at the beginning of this chapter is less because the divine attributes that they represent are featured in the chapter, and more because Shallan and Jasnah are using the powers of their own orders of the Knights Radiant. Shallan is in Shalash's order, whereas Jasnah is in Betab's order.

Chapter 71 is titled "Recorded in Blood," likely a reference to the epigraphs that are recorded by Taravangian's crazy blood-sucking "healers."

The herald icons for chapter 71 are Vev/Nan. The divine attributes associated with Vev are loving/healing, and the attributes associated with Nan are just/confident.

I'd like to present a somewhat controversial interpretation of the icons here, mainly because the thought to do so just occurred to me as I was reading these chapters. We have established that Nan is kind of being used to represent the opposite of its own associated divine attributes. I wonder, then, whether the presence of Nan as a secondary glyph can indicate that the primary glyph is acting as an opposite. I mainly wonder this because of the fact that Vev is most commonly used in scenes where Kaladin is performing as a field medic, where healing is actually taking place. Here it's used in a place where groups of healers are actively killing people in order to harvest the visions that they have as they slip into the spiritual realm. This is obviously a perversion of the divine attributes of Vev, and so I present my opinion that Nan can sometimes be used as a modifier on the primary herald icon.

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