Thu
May 8 2014 12:00pm

The Way of Kings Reread: Chapters 72 and 73

Welcome back to the Way of Kings reread on Tor.com. This week I’ll cover Chapters 72 and 73. They’re short, but they have their share of shocking reveals and weighty thoughts. Shallan admits to even more crimes against Jasnahnity, Dalinar signs Kaladin’s battle-adoption papers, and Syl completely fails to answer the tough moral questions. Turns out they don’t have Intro to Ethics at Spren State University.

I also announce an exciting reread endgame! We’ve only got two regular posts left after this, but we’ve decided to go out with a bang.

Chapter 72: Veristitalian
Setting:
Kharbranth
Point of View: Shallan

What Happens: Before she gets started with her summer reading list serious scholarly assignment, Shallan asks if Jasnah soulcast her blood. Big yes from the scholar. She remade it again and again to fight the poison. This was easy enough because blood is one of the Essences, despite Jasnah’s lack of skill with organics. Shallan has more questions, curious about fabrials, spren, and more, and Jasnah has some answers. She brings it back to the Knights Radiant, and tells Shallan that she’ll explain more as she trains her, but first they need to talk about Voidbringers.

Shallan asks if Jasnah thinks they’re going to return, admitting that she read her mentor’s notes while trying to figure out Soulcasting. Jasnah admits as much, only moderately disgruntled, and Shallan wonders why Jasnah believes folk tales about Voidbringers, but doesn’t believe in the Almighty.

“It strikes me that religion—in its essence—seeks to take natural events and ascribe supernatural causes to them. I, however, seek to take supernatural events and find the natural meanings behind them. Perhaps that is the final dividing line between science and religion. Opposite sides of a card.”

Swoon!

So, Jasnah thinks the Voidbringers had a “real-world correlate,” and she’s assembled some notes to help Shallan reach the same conclusion. Shallan reads the page, then looks up in shock. The evidence points to an unavoidable conclusion: the Voidbringers were the Parshmen, and they were never destroyed. They were enslaved.

Quote of the Chapter:

Flame and Char. Skin so terrible. Eyes like pits of blackness. Music when they kill.

“We defeated them…” Jasnah said.

Shallan felt a chill.

“…but the legends lie about one thing,” Jasnah continued. “They claim we chased the Voidbringers off the face of Roshar or destroyed them. But that’s not how humans work. We don’t throw away something we can use.”

This last line gives me the shivers. The existence and treatment of the Parshmen is a cataclysmic problem,  and much of Words of Radiance shows the characters who know about the threat struggling to figure out how to handle it.

Commentary:

I previously put forward some theories as to how Soulcasting works, and I think I managed to miss the information in this chapter. The fact that the Essences are easier to create and alter than other things confounds my speculation. How embarrassing! The ease with which Jasnah handles all of Shallan’s questions, though, reveals how freaking much more she knows about the world than we do. I don’t know if we can be allowed into present-Jasnah’s head any time soon. Too many secrets would be unraveled.

For example; how the heck do Soulcasting fabrials work? Do they take you to the Shadesmar? Why don’t I know this?

One thing I love about Jasnah’s scholarship: “We fought so often that men began to speak of the creatures in metaphor. A hundred battles—ten tenfolds…” Jasnah realizes that this nice, neat, symbolically charged number is too messy to be real, but still looks for underlying causes. She uses her skepticism as a scalpel, instead of a blindfold.

 

Chapter 73: Trust
Setting:
The Shattered Plains, Dalinar’s Warcamp
Point of View: Kaladin

What Happens: Kaladin considers his emancipation, and asks Sylphrena whether he should trust the man. Syl says he’s a good man, despite having carried a Shardblade. She can’t say why, but Blades feel wrong to her, and his getting rid of one has made him a better man. Kaladin wonders about his own morals. He attacked the Parshendi Shardbearer from behind, which bothers him. Even though he knows a warrior should only worry about survival, he knows he follows a number of personal tenets that detract from that goal.

Syl found the killing in the battle hurtful, and Kaladin asks her how he can hold to the Radiants’ ideals. He had to kill to save Dalinar, but the rules say he “shouldn’t do terrible things to accomplish great ones.” Syl doesn’t have any answers for him.

Dalinar approaches, and they hash out the terms of his employment. He and the men of Bridge Four will become Dalinar and Elhokar’s bodyguards, to protect them from all the angry lighteyes they’re about to incite. Kaladin will train the rest of the bridgemen who agree to stay as soldiers, who will only be assigned to patrolling and keeping the peace, not plateau runs, since Kaladin finds himself regretting all the dead Parshendi. Kaladin himself will be promoted to captain, and will be entirely outside the normal chain of command, reporting only to Dalinar.

Once all this is settled, Dalinar gives Kaladin the cloak he wore into battle.

“Every man who wears my colors,” Dalinar said, “is of my family, in a way. The cloak is a simple gift, but it is one of the few things I can offer that has any meaning. Accept it with my gratitude, Kaladin Stormblessed.”

Aww, battle dad!

Kaladin heads back to Bridge Four’s new barrack, but finds it empty. Smelling smoke, he tracks down his men, sat around a campfire. They’re listening to Teft’s stories while Rock cooks them a stew. When Kaladin asks why they aren’t inside resting, they say it didn’t feel right to go to bed before taking part in their traditions.

Bridge Four piles questions on Kaladin, and despite his fears, they seem totally enamored of his new and magical powers. Sigzil immediately demands a scientific method, while Lopen focuses on the capacity to use these new powers to impress women. Many want to learn from him how to inhale Stormlight, and they demand a demonstration.

Kaladin looks around his men, all twenty seven of those who’ve survived, and feels some relax inside of him. He has saved his friends.

Quote of the Chapter:

“It kept you alive, gancho,” Lopen said. “The only thing I’d be alarmed about is how irresistible the women would find it. ‘Lopen,’ they’d say, ‘you only have one arm, but I see that you can glow. I think that you should kiss me now.’”

NEVER CHANGE EVER.

Commentary:

This week’s commentary discusses a major theme in Words of Radiance.

Chapter 73 lays out what will be much of the emotional plot of Words of Radiance. Kaladin struggles to trust Dalinar throughout that book, and while it’s a deeply frustrating process to watch, it comes from legitimate sources. He’s been shown again and again how lighteyes use nobility as a veil to disguise corruption and systemic abuse. He’s been burned by trusting the rumors that this lighteyes is the good, honorable, trustworthy one. We know, absolutely, that he can trust Dalinar. We’ve been in Dalinar’s head and seen the utter, crippling lack of deceit. But Kaladin doesn’t know him any better than he knew Amaram.

Let’s examine Kaladin’s experiences of Amaram and Dalinar. In both cases, Kaladin risked his life and the lives of his men to save a brightlord from an enemy Shardbearer. Both men offered him a new life. I believe, really, that Amaram would have let Kaladin have the Plate and Blade if he’d been able to play along with Amaram’s program. Given that, both men also seemed ready to give up something priceless to win his loyalty, although Amaram wasn’t willing to let the Plate and Blade actually pass out of his control.

Kaladin asks an important question: “Would any man trade a Shardblade just to keep up appearances? And if they would, at what point did the appearance become reality?” Dalinar giving away his Shardblade is a commitment. It can’t be taken back. But Kaladin’s concerns about keeping up appearances are extremely relevant to a proper understanding of Dalinar. The purpose of Dalinar’s devotion to the Codes is to keep up appearances of honor and discipline for so long that they become reality. He is not naturally this strictly honorable; we know that before Gavilar died he was a riotous drunk, and had built his reputation on conquest and bloodlust. But following the codes for years has changed him and his sons. Honor and glory may be performative for the Kholin men, but they’re taking place in an instructive performance.

Dalinar gives Kaladin his cloak, welcoming him into the extended family that is his military structure, and that act is both symbolic and real to Dalinar. It’s a battle-adoption. That doesn’t make it real to Kaladin, and it’s no coincidence that he goes straight from that conversation to his bridge squad, the men that are as close to him as family. Kaladin and Dalinar have the same relation to the soldiers under them, a similarity that will eventually unite them, but in this moment that similarity is a barrier. Thankfully, Kaladin is given additional proof that he doesn’t have to worry about keeping secrets from his men. They’ve seen what he can do with Stormlight, and they don’t hate or fear him for it.

So, yeah, it’s a pretty good chapter.

 

We’ve almost reached the end of the Way of Kings reread, loyal Stormlight fans. There are two weeks left of regular updates: Michael will cover chapters 74 and 75 next week, and I’ll cover the Epilogue the week after. After that, we’ve got something special in store. Brandon Sanderson has agreed to answer ten questions about The Way of Kings for us!

Start thinking about your questions now, but hold onto them. Post them in the Epilogue post, two weeks from now, and we’ll select the best ones to send to Brandon. Please note that Brandon fully intends to play the R.A.F.O. card, so we’ll be trying to avoid questions like that while making our selections. We’ll post his answers in three weeks.


Carl Engle-Laird is the editorial assistant for Tor.com, where he acquires and edits original fiction and has been known to correspond about the Stormlight Archive. You can follow him on Twitter here.

25 comments
Deana Whitney
1. Braid_Tug
Ch. 72
“Jasnah realizes that this nice, neat, symbolically charged number is too messy to be real, but still looks for underlying causes. She uses her skepticism as a scalpel, instead of a blindfold”
Hello Homer shout out! Trojan War & Odysseus FTW

Ch. 73
We’re doing WoR comments now?
I know it fits, but minor spoiler?

Oooh… 10 Questions from Brandon…. About WoK only? Or can WoR spoiler stuff be asked?
michelle reed
2. MsBookHangovers
Man this blows! "LIGHT, HELP ME!" WHY AM I JUST NOW FINDING OUT ABOUT THIS REREAD!?!?!
I would join in but I haven't read this book yet. Thank the stars above, a group of us will be this next month. Whew!!!
Happy Reading y'all xoxo
Adam S.
3. MDNY
The whole Parshmen=Voidbringers conclusion seems pretty good, but it's clear from the beginning that there's a lot more going on, and there has to be a larger "big baddie" type enemy (Odium, duh). Unfortunately, Jasnah's skepticism leads her to dismiss certain things that might help her, things about the Heralds or the Almighty that may be important (or maybe not, depending on how thoroughly the Recreance wiped good relevant records).
At this point, I was so glad that Kaladin seems to have finally found an honorable lighteyed commander and future Radiant Brother. All right, I thought, now we can move past Kal's crippling trust issues. Argh! I should have known better.
I want Lopen and Rock as buddies. The Lopen would be hilarious to go barhopping/clubbing with.
Man, how do I think of questions without bringing up WOR? Hmmm...guess another full WOK reread is in order!
Carl Engle-Laird
4. CarlEngle-Laird
@1: I'll mark it as a thematic spoiler. I don't think it reveals any plot events, and I don't think I said anything more explicit than what I said in my non-spoiler review, but I know mileage varies. Sorry.
Mike I
5. MikeyRocks
I dont even know how to ask a question about WoK with WoR in my head. I only have WoR questions... damnnnnnnnnnn
Birgit
9. birgit
WOR spoilers:

Eyes like pits of blackness.

Shouldn't Voidbringers have red eyes?
Jeremy Guebert
10. jeremyguebert
Wow, 10 questions answered, that's great! I'd still like to know what it meant when it said back in chapter 69 (ish) when Dalinar "mentally unlatched his gauntlet".
Aoibheann
11. Aoibheann
So... The trick is to ask the unanswered WoK questions...hrmmm.
Karen Fox
12. thepupxpert
Wow I can't believe we're at the end of this book! I'm actually in the middle of a re-read and I'm going to jump from WOK right into WOR. I'll have a question about Shadesmar that I'll save for the Epilogue. Probably has been answered by all the gurus already but I want to post at least something!

I love the Dalinar/Kaladin resolution in these chapters, seeing Kaladin finally embrace his abilities, love of his men, and start to trust Dalinar. All so very well written!
Andrew Berenson
13. AndrewHB
For my perspective, Jasnah has to get props for taking back Shallnn as a ward. While some of Jasnah's reasoning is because Shallan can Soulcast (and Jasnah wants to keep a closer eye such an individual), I think a greater part is due to the fact (IMO) that Shallan impresses Jasnah in a way that nobody has done before. I beleive that Jasnah sees the potential in Shallan that someday, Shallan may become Jasnah's intellectual and scholarly equal.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Timmothy Frink
14. twiff
@13 : I do think she wants to teach and guide shallan, and yes, affection is a factor. But a good part of it is that SHE wants to be the one guiding her. Because others will if she doesn't.
T C
15. Freelancer
Carl,

When selecting the questions to be submitted, please consider excising any which have clearly been answered in WoR. And, from your commentary I believe that you've read it, but in case you chose to complete the WoK re-read blog posts with no spoilery knowledge of WoR, there are a number of readers here who could perform that task for you. (I'm sure you already know who those are, not trying to sneakily volunteer)


Not accusing anybody who has commented over the past couple of months, but in the earlier days of this re-read, quite a few comments popped up about the "uber-emo" behavior of both Dalinar and Kaladin. I just wanted to respond to such a thought at this point, where both men are expanding their worldview via each other.

Anybody, and I mean anybody, who lived in such "interesting times", with the various forms of trauma that each have faced, would be hard-pressed to not exhibit behaviors that comfortable, disconnected observers might identify as emo. In reality, it's called humanity. Kaladin and Dalinar both have that in great abundance.

Kaladin is dedicated to protecting those for whom he feels responsibility. Yes, this is motivated by a hyper-developed sense of guilt over his failure to protect Tien, and then projected onto his fellow bridgemen, but I defy others who have a strong empathy to claim that they wouldn't respond similarly.

Dalinar's guilt, providing a very similar motivation, stems from his drunken inability to protect his brother the King. It should have occurred to him sometime since then, that the surgebinder who glued men to the ceiling, who walked on walls, and who magically pulled a balcony off of a building, would have had an easy time dispatching him had he been available to fight. But that kind of thinking is rejected by one who feels the need to avenge an assassination.

The good news is, in both cases our good guys end up being driven into better places because of their respective "emo" behaviors, even if the road is a rocky one.
Carl Engle-Laird
16. CarlEngle-Laird
@15 I appreciate the offer! I rather infamously read Words of Radiance long before its release, though, and have gone through the ensuing hatestorm.
Aoibheann
17. Jasuni
response to spoiler:

@9 probably not all of them, but some definately do.
Deana Whitney
18. Braid_Tug
What happened in 6-8? Double posts?

@16, Carl: We still love you. It was your teasing that caused the hatestorm. Prior it was more a sigh of envy. But we still love you.

But seriously, are the questions limited to WoK? That seems... unfair.

All my WoR questions seem to get a RAFO, so trying to think of stuff that won't get that. So want to ask more about the Nightwatcher, but fear those will be RAFO until book 5 from Dalinar's PoV.
Nick Hlavacek
19. Nick31
"book 5 from Dalinar's PoV"?? Do we know who will be featured in books 3 and 4? WoR gave me more questions for everything it did answer, so by the time we do get to book 5 I expect to know nothing at all.
Kathryn Huff
20. Woozle_Mom
@19
I read somewhere (maybe on the 17th Shard in a WoB thread?) that the first five books are, in order, Kaladin, Shallan, Szeth, Eshonai, Dalinar. Also, that Renarin and Lift would each be somewhere in the second arc of five. Somebody correct me if I'm remembering this incorrectly!
Deana Whitney
21. Braid_Tug
@20: That sounds right to me.

Also, learned from Peter - not either book - Renarin is in the Autistic spectrum. So that explains some of his behavior.

For those not reading Wetlander’s Spoiler thread, which is approaching 1200 posts.
Christopher Smith
22. Scipio Smith
Lopen's line quoted up top reads so differently in light of WoR, doesn't it?

21: Could you elaborate on what behaviour you're talking about?

Also, Lift is going to get a central focus book? Awesome!

15: All true, but that doesn't make it necessarily fun to read.
Glen V
23. Ways
Braid_Tug
Carl did say write "...ten questions about The Way Of Kings for us." Seems rather specific, which makes sense in view of the topic of the re-read (but I appreciate what you are trying to do). ;-)

I have a few WoK-specific questions on my list still, no problem.

BTW: "Are the Heralds native to Roshar?" has been RAFO'd at least twice, so forget that one.

MDNY @3
Re: Parshendi=Voidbringers. I too was conviced while reading WoK. Not so much now that I've read WoR. I expect we will have a very lively discussion of that topic when we get to a certain chapter in WoR.

Scipio Smith @22
Renarin fiddling with the box is one of the behaviors.
Sean Arthur
24. wsean
@21 "Also, learned from Peter - not either book - Renarin is in the Autistic spectrum. So that explains some of his behavior."

Huh! I'd just been wondering about that, as I just read a chapter in WoR where Renarin is described as crouched in front of a fire and rocking back and forth in a way that sounded like it might be pointing towards that.
Leeland Woodard
25. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Late to the thread, but not too late to join in! I've posted my chapter title / herald icon interpretations on the past few threads late, because I've been in the process of graduating from college and moving 800 miles (to the Portland area), and starting a full-time 'grown-up' job.

But, as they say, better late than never.

Chapter 72 is titled "Veristitalian," referring to Jasnah's calling as a scholar. A Veristitalian seeks the truth of the myths and legends of the past.

The herald icons for chapter 72 are Palah/Palah. Palah is associated with the divine attributes learned/giving. It's rare to have a double-icon this late in the book, but the chapter is short and it's basically all scholarly work, which easily falls under Palah's domain, "learned."

Chapter 73 is titled "Trust," likely referring to the trust that Kaladin needs to have in Dalinar. Or the trust that Kaldain has for his men.

The herald icons for this chapter are Jez/Vev.

The divine attributes associated with Jez are protecting/leading. This likely refers to Kaladin, and the sense of accomplishment that he feels at having effectively saved 27 of his men. In addition, it also likely refers to him sucking in stormlight in front of his men.

The divine attributes associated with Vev are loving/healing. Usually Vev is used to mark a chapter where some healing is being performed by Kaladin on the field, but here I would say it's probably referring to the "loving" attribute. I think that it probably has to do with the love that Kaladin feels for the men under his command, and possibly also at being accepted into Dalinar's "family."
Leeland Woodard
26. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@15, Yeah I hope that the questions are heavily vetted. I'm sure we'll be answering each other's questions in the thread itself, though, so nobody should have to work super hard to find out what questions have and have not been answered.

@23, I also got RAFO'd personally on the "Are the Heralds native to Roshar" question--he did explain to me, though, that the reason he was RAFOing those was that the Heralds wouldn't be heavily featured until the 2nd arc of 5 books, and he didn't want to start giving info out about them and building a lot of anticipation prior to the release of those books (obviously this is heavily paraphrased).
Alex Dekhtyar
27. email_animal
From a few of the more recent reports, it is clear that questions formulated as "What can you tell us about X?" get better answers than questions of the form "What is the deal with X?" Now - Brandon can always see through the ruse, but I'd consider asking a few questions in the "What can you tell us about...." format.
Deana Whitney
28. Braid_Tug
@22: Some of the behavior I was talking about is a WoR minor spoiler, so I won't say anything about that.
I'm wondering if some of it relates to Renarin's seeming "weakness / illness" in Dalinar's eyes. I was thinking a blood disease, like hemophilia, or epilepsy. But we haven’t heard the last word yet. Just a few more hints.

But again, it wasn't the text that made it clear, just Peter's comment. Since the "Autistic spectrum" is very wide and can mean many different things.

@25: Thank you for the breakdown.
Good luck on the move & new job! Congratulations on the degree!

@27: Good advice.

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