Jun 26 2014 12:00pm

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 2

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance reread! Last week I was on vacation, so I missed the enormous tsunami of comments from you guys, but I’m ready to go back in. Eyes closed, head first, can’t lose! This week I’m covering Chapter Two, in which we are finally reunited with a certain stormblessed sourpuss, and get the hottest tattoo design for summer! (First one to get a Bridge Four tattoo gets points, and also an indelible mark on their body that we take no responsiblity for whatsoever.)

This article will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings and the end of Words of Radiance.

Chapter Two: Bridge Four

Point of View: Captain Kaladin
Setting: The Kholin Warcamp, the Shattered Plains
Symbology: Spears, Talenel

IN WHICH Kaladin breathes; ranks of bridgemen are evaluated and found wanting; a plan for retraining is established; Kaladin insists on his lack of divinity; promotions are awarded; tattoos received, even by Shen; Stormlight proves superior to ink and needle; the purpose of large Unkalaki feet is established, and complaints are thereby quenched; bridgemen are fitted for Cobalt Guard uniforms; Kaladin refuses to admit who he is; and the Cobalt Guard is replaced by Bridge Four.


Quote of the Week:

“Freedom,” Sigzil said before Kaladin could reply. “The glyph means freedom.”

“The smaller ones above,” Kaladin said, “say the date you were freed and the one who freed you. Even if you lose your writ of freedom, anyone who tries to imprison you for being a runaway can easily find proof that you are not. They can go to Dalinar Kholin’s scribes, who keep a copy of your writ.”

Hobber nodded. “That’s good, but it’s not enough. Add ‘Bridge Four’ to it. Freedom, Bridge Four.”

“To imply you were freed from Bridge Four?”

“No, sir. I wasn’t freed from Bridge Four. I was freed by it. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.”

This is just about all you need to know to understand the depth and character of Bridge Four’s group spirit. As Kaladin reminds us, Bridge Four was a death trap, and their time there cost them many friends. Hobber himself, the first bridgeman whose life Kaladin saved, spent months injured, with Sadeas trying to starve him to death. But it is these hardships that bind them together. I’m reminded of the legendary Malazan armies from Steven Erikson’s novels. The Bridgeburners and Bonehunters are all the more fearful because they went through a hellish crucible, and their names evoke that crucible.



Chapter Two is a set-up and reminder chapter. Less than a day has passed since the end of The Way of Kings, but Kaladin doesn’t get much of a break between trying to save Bridge Four’s lives and assuming his duties as Dalinar’s personal bodyguard/captain of a battalion of bridgemen. He has a vastly plural number of problems to solve, and a limited number of resources with which to solve them. As such, most of what happens in this chapter is groundwork and maintenance.  Lieutenants must be assigned, training orders given to the bridgemen, uniforms acquired.

We’re also reminded in this chapter that Kaladin has a well-earned trust problem. He insists throughout that Dalinar is the man they have to trust, the only chance they have of staying alive and free, but he’s already refusing to show him what he can actually do. Sanderson reminds us quickly that depression and trauma aren’t a one-book problem, and Kaladin is irrationally convinced that anything good the Lighteyes see him to possess will be taken away. Surely nothing bad could come of this certainty.


It’s great to see Bridge Four, independent of Kaladin, taking big steps to maintain their own identity. They decide to tattoo Bridge Four on their foreheads themselves, and reject the label of the Cobalt Guard on their own. This is an important step; anyone who wants Bridge Four to be the Cobalt Guard would have disappointment in their future. Bridge Four is most valuable for its unpredictability. Bridge Four’s commitment to maintaining its identity is more important than any social constructs that might face them, as seen by how they shout down the tattooists objections to marking Shen’s freedom. I’m glad Kaladin is still willing to see things from the perspective of parshmen and the Parshendi, although I wish he’d focused on those issues a little bit more.

I love watching Bridge Four pal around. Their banter is sometimes dour, but then you get Rock and his “big Unkalaki feet” coming in to kick various complainers. And it seems that Dalinar’s warcamp is a place where they’ll finally be respected. The few surviving soldiers have picked up the old Bridge Four salute for them, which is heartwarming to see.


Ars Arcanum:

“The ink won’t take!” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. When I wipe your forehead, the ink all just comes right off! The tattoo won’t stay.”

Kaladin sighed, realizing he had a little Stormlight raging in his veins.

Turns out Stormlight beats tattoos every time. His skin healing just pushes the ink right out of his body. Now, I have some questions about whether this is a medically viable situation, but what’s most interesting is the selectivity of the healing process. Kaladin’s healing process sees the tattoo as a hostile wound, but leaves the scar behind. You could argue that this is because he’s had the scar for much longer, but Lopen’s miraculous recovery at the end of the book throws a shadow over that argument.

I’d argue that the Stormlight refusing to heal Kaladin’s slave brand is a matter of self-identity. As we see when he looks in the mirror, Kaladin still sees himself as an escaped slave. He still sees himself as shash – dangerous. As such, the wound doesn’t heal. If that’s the case, this whole magical healing thing is a little touchy-feely for an autonomic process.


Heraldic Symbolism:

This week’s symbols represent Talenel, the Herald of getting his sorry butt stuck in damnation War. Old Stonesinew’s aspects are Dependable and Resourceful, which describes Bridge Four to a T in this chapter. Talenel may not be Kaladin’s guiding Herald, since I’m pretty sure that’s Jezrien, but I bet they’d get along well. You know, if it weren’t for that whole “broken and insane thing” Taln has going on.


Just Sayin’:

Rind, the Kholin quartermaster, is a “tenner,” a lighteyes on the bottom rung above darkeyed status. Apparently tenners live lives that are more similar to rich darkeyes than not.


That’s it for this week! See you all in the comments.

Carl Engle-Laird is an editorial assistant at, where he acquires and edits fiction both for the Originals program and for The Imprint. You can follow him on Twitter here. If you ask nicely he might even tell you how to find his Brooklyn Nine-Nine podcast.

Christopher Ballew
1. Rybal
For the record, Brandon has confirmed that Kaladin's issue with his brands remaining are indeed related to his own self identity.
Leeland Woodard
2. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Talenel, the Herald of getting his sorry butt stuck in damnation War
This was gold.

Regarding Kaladin's identity issues--Word of Brandon comfirms what you said. Stormlight heals someone to the ideal that they cognitively see as themselves. This is another reason that I think that the spiritual realm is the ideal, the cognitive realm is where you attune to an ideal, and the physical realm attunes to the cognitive. The cognitive has to point somewhere in order to change much of anything.

In any case, that the brand doesn't heal and the ink leaks off says volumes about how Kaladin views himself. Freedom literally melting and distorting off of him. Despite his insistence that he doesn't want to reveal himself because he's afraid the lighteyes will somehow take Syl and his powers from him, I think that the real reason Kaladin isn't revealing himself is because he still fundamentally sees himself--and the powers he has been given--as dangerous. Shash. To himself and to those that he cares about. More power means more danger.
Paul Rando
3. SerDragonReborn
I'm wondering if somebody at has seen or can put together a list of what attributes/powers are associated with which Heralds/which Order of the Knights Radiant. I know there's there Ars Arcanum in the back of the books but they don't seem to have that information. Am I reading it wrong? The Re-readers' knowledge of the Heralds just seems more advanced than what the books themselves have revealed.
Leeland Woodard
4. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@3 SerDragonReborn

The numbers in Ars Arcanum (Jes, Nan, Chach, Vev, Palah, Shash, Betab, Kak, Tanat, Ishi) correspond directly to the heralds (Jezrien, Nalan, Chach, Vedeledev, Paliah, Shalash, Battar, Kalak, Talenel, Ishar), so the attributes associated with those numbers are primarily associated with the herald the number is named after.

The page on "Herald" is also informative, and contains links to each one of the Herlads' pages, which has copies of the herald icons associated with each herald as well.
5. Underbelly
I am 98% sure that this isn’t the spot for this question but as the Brandon Sanderson faithful will be here in droves for the next couple of days, I will ask anyway:

What exactly is the deal with Cosmere sequence and is it broken down anywhere to what we currently know about it?

All I know as of now is that most of his works are interconnected in some way and that certain character travel between his books’ realms. Thanks for your help my fellow Torisians!
Nicholas Galvin
6. ngalv003
@5 Underbelly

That's a short question with a very long answer. You can always check The Coppermind, and specifically the Cosmere page, but you have to be very wary of spoilers there if you haven't read all of the Cosmere works.
Andrew Berenson
7. AndrewHB
After reading WoR and learning that Shen was not a Parshman, but rather, a Parshedi spy, I wonder what his motivation was to get the tatoo. I grant you that his getting the tatoo was instrumental in Shen later full acceptance into Bridge 4. That said, I do not think that Bridge 4 would not have thought Shen was still not one of their own if he did not get the tatoo. At this time, She has no clue that the other Parshedi, as he knows them, will transform into Voidbringers.

I would love to get a POV from Shen in the next book clueing the reader into why Shen wanted to get the tatoo.

Also, when Shen was choosen to be a bridgeman was it coincidence that the lighteyes choose a Parshendi spy?

Thanks for reading my musings,
(aka the musespren)
8. Mooglefrooglian
@3: Here you go:

It's from Reddit, and has been confirmed by Sanderson as being correct. Jasnah also explains the chart (which can be seen on the inside cover of TWoK) at the start of WoR. Each Herald is linked to the order it is closest to (Jezrien to the Windrunners, Nalan to the Skybreakers, etc.).

@5: Here's a spoiler-free guide:

If you want an actual guide filled with spoilers, check out the Coppermind and the annotations for all of Sanderson's stories (which are on his website). There's also #cosmere on freenode IRC if you want to discuss things more in depth, and for everything else you could ever want.
Glen V
9. Ways
As Carl points out, this is pretty much a set-up chapter. I can't think of much to comment about right now.

It is interesting to note that Kal and one of the other Bridge 4 guys (Hobber?) have started referring to themselves as a team. I'd call it a high-performance team with a natural-born leader at the helm. Kal scores very high on any list of leadership qualities you might rank him against.
Heather LaCroix
10. Bellaberry
AndrewHB@7 : Those were my questions as well. Did Shen act differently enough being dull-form rather than slave-form to make his previous master uneasy and that's how he became a bridgeman?

I would think he wouldn't want to identify with the men that wore Parshendi as armor.
Heather LaCroix
11. Bellaberry
I like how Unkalaki feet made it into the summary :)

Here are my other thoughts from this chapter:

1) This quote makes me wonder if syl can read Kaladin's mind:
"Can I be this man again? he thought, reaching up, touching his cheek. This man died, didn’t he?Syl landed on his shoulder, joining him in looking into the mirror. “Life before death, Kaladin,” she whispered.”

2) I would love to know what a Western skullbearer is:
“Moash took it. “We going to wear our leather jerkins over these?”
"Ha!” Rind said. “The ones tied with so much bone you looked like some Western skullbearer on feast day?”
Adam S.
12. MDNY
I agree that the start of the chapter is largely set-up and reminder, especially early on. I actually found it a little slow, and thought we didn't need as much recap of Bridge Four's plight. And right away I knew that Kaladin was still going to be depressed and closed off. Groooooan is right.
I see that WOB has confirmed it, but I always figured it was Kaladin's own psyche that determined his inability to heal the wounds. Even after he is free of Sadeas and slavery, he still has HUGE psychological issues to resolve (I wonder if he'll ever get to the point he can heal?)
Rock and the gang are great, as always, providing some lightheartedness in some otherwise depressing Kaladin chapters.
13. DennisLane
@2 TheKingOfCarrotFlowers

It is well established that WoR is primarily is fundamentally about Shallan but I am of the opinion that Kaladin journey and maturation is on a great scale than that of Shallan. His emotional journey is complex.

I agree and quite intrigued by the dichotomy of the physical/cognitive/spiritual realm. Maybe the cognitive is the mental/emotional realm, it provides the link between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. Thoughts?
Glen V
14. Ways
Bellaberry @10
Hashal dumped Shen/Rlain into the Bridge 4 crew as an experiment to determine if Parshmen could be trusted to run Bridges. Perhaps this was due to Sadeas running short of cannon fodder. There's no overt indication that any previous master was uncomfortable with him, but he had bounced between war camps for a while before landing in Bridge 4, so you might be correct on that topic. I'll bet you are also correct about Shen being revolted about being associated with men wearing Parshendi armor. However, he was a spy doing his job and put up with the insult.
15. Jasuni
@7 my guess is that when Hashal discovered about an extra parshmen, she, like other lighteyes, did not complain about having an extra parshmen appear out of nowhere (Shen/Rlail did explain how their spies infiltraited the Alethi). However, from Hashal's viewpoint, there could have been something odd going on, so she placed the parshmen in a bridge crew, where he is likely to die. In this way, she can test the parshmen as potential bridgemen, get rid of a "suspicious" parshmen, and limit potential damage to bridge 4 (their most troublesome bridge crew). Very practical thing for her to do. So yes, this is probably not a coincidence.
Leeland Woodard
16. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
That's basically my thought as well.

I think that we have:
Physical - basically what it seems. Where we physically interact.
Cognitive - Where we think, where ideas are formed
Spiritual - Where the ideal exists

I think that the cognitive aspect of a person attunes itself to an ideal in the spiritual realm, and that can often have a physical consequence.
17. JoeH42
@7 in addition to what others have said; one thing we don't know is how many spies the Parshendi have or had in the war camps and how common parshmen are in the war camps. If there's a decent number of spies mixed in with the parshmen then it might have just been a matter of luck and probability.
I think @15 sounds most likely. Someone finds they have an extra parshman, what to do with him? Hmmm... here's an idea... and then if he dies it's no loss and we don't have to explain where he came for or why we don't have a reciept or whatever for him.
18. Underbelly
I agree that this chapter was mostly a setup/rehash but my biggest take away from it was that of dismay.

Kaladin’s emotional plight was difficult enough during WOK but I felt that his character arch was mostly completed at the end but to find him not only still struggling but at times worse in WOR was downright depressing. In fact, I liked Kaladin’s chapters so much in WOK that I looked at Shallan’s as almost chore like in comparison but it was completely reversed in WOR (except when Kaladin was fighting—those scenes were epic).

That being said, I think that Brandon Sanderson’s biggest improvement in storytelling has been his continuing journey away from static characters (Mistborn’s characters were all very stagnant-IMO). Shallan is a great example of this and Kaladin I suppose is as well—he just took FOREVER to make changes.

I am not saying that I didn’t enjoy Kaladin’s arch in WOR but I feel that from a character perspective the same arch had already been played out in WOK. It’s like he went from (1 being bottom and 10 being top) 9 (in Army Tien alive), 5 (Tien dead), 8 (squad leader), 3 (squad dead/slave), 1 (Bridge 4), 4 (trying to live/lead again), 7 (end of book/freed) in WOK and then began in WOR back at 4 without any explanation.

I don't know that the matter of the tattoo not 'taking' on Kaladin's forehead isn't physical - in this magical manner. As long as he has some stormlight, his healing process is sufficiently rapid that the holes made by the tattoo needle are closed off ostensibly as soon as they appear. When he deliberately releases all of the stormlight, then the process slows markedly and the tattoo appears to 'take'. When he unconsciously breathes in more stormlight, the holes rapidly close and the ink is pushed out. This is not to say that there isn't a symbolic and psychological element at play, but the mechanism is largely physical - even if guided by psychological factors.
Glen V
20. Ways
Underbelly @18
Mistborn’s characters were all very stagnant-IMO.
Wow. For some I would agree, others definitely not. This isn't the right forum for that discussion, though.
21. Confutus
@18 The fact that Kaladin has multiple struggles to deal with, and doesn't deal with all of them at once in one book makes him more interesting. If his growth were over and done with, he would be a static (and boring) superhero. It's not as if there were no such thing as something of a letdown after a huge triumph before the next battle begins, and the struggle to become a true, full Knight Radiant (he still has a couple of ideals to go) is shaping up to be more of a protracted war than a once-and-done battle.

The fact that his struggles are mental and spiritual and not just physical fight scenes is a part of what makes him (to me) worth reading about. In WoK, his struggle was against depression and an overwhelming sense of failure, not that he didn't have some reason for it. In this one, it was against his own class prejudice and hatred, not that he doesn't have grounds for both. In the next, it will probably be something else, but I expect it to involve some of the same weaknesses and flaws we've already seen in him.

I'm very interested to see how his father will react to seeing one of his lost sons return to him as a warrior instead of a healer. What will it do to him if his father whom he so highly respects is unable to accept what he has become?
Alice Arneson
22. Wetlandernw
This is a chapter - and the beginning of a character arc - that makes me realize how much my definition of "good storytelling" has changed over time. There was a time when I would get very irritated with something like this, and wonder why the author couldn't just get on with the story. Thanks in large part, I think, to the discussions on the WoT Reread, I've begun to realize that while it's nice to have the character learn a lesson and move on, the story is less satisfying that way. People don't simply learn a lesson and move on, especially when it's a traumatically life-shaping issue - like, oh, let's see... Wistiow's failure to carry out his promises, Roshone's viscousness and Amaram's betrayal, maybe? Dalinar's act of buying the bridgemen for the price of his Blade was magnificent, but it's not enough to make up for nearly half a lifetime of learning to mistrust any lighteyes - even one with a good reputation. Or especially one with a good reputation.

Which is to say... as much as I might get "frustrated with Kaladin" for his attitude toward Dalinar, anything else (especially full and immediate trust) would invalidate the story completely. IMO.
23. Underbelly
@20 – Fair enough. Full disclaimer: it has been awhile since I read them and my memory might not fully encapsulate reality.

@21 – Agreed that he should have had some type of character arc in WOR but my opinion is just that his arc seemed to mirror too closely to what he experienced in WOK. I am not saying this is unrealistic as a character (as Wetlandernw points out), just that in parts of WOR it borders on tedium where you want to shake him and yell “stop whining and get over it!” Again, I am not saying that a ‘real’ person wouldn’t have the same or even larger difficulties with trust/depression that Kal does after his experiences but sometimes I felt the prose languished with him during these periods a little too long. As an audience we can grasp these realities without having to find ourselves entrapped within them.

I suppose what I am really trying to get at is that Shallan’s development seemed so much more nuanced and subtle (like a knife sliding into the kidneys) whereas Kal’s development felt more overbearing and belabored (like a mace to the skull). My personal cup of chaf is more of the first and less of the second.
Ross Newberry
24. rossnewberry
Once again, I come to the thread too late to make much of a meaningful contribution, so I'll share one of my worries instead.

We've seen plenty of the Physical Realm, and a few scenes of the Cognitive, but absolutely nothing so far in the Cosmere that could be said to take place in the Spiritual, other than maybe a tiny bit at the end of The Hero of Ages. I worry that, when it's finally introduced into the story arc, it's going to hurt my head. A lot.
Stacy Holley
25. sleigh9908
@7 - I believe Rlain/Shen got the tattoo because he respects Kal/Bridge Four. They treat him as an equal (well almost) which is probably unexpected. I suspect his time with Bridge Four has shown him that not all humans regard the Parshmen/Parshendi as subhuman, slaves to be treated with complete disregard. Kaladin even, eventually, provides him woth a spear.

Shen/Rlain is a favorite and I can't wait to see what happens to him.
Rob Campbell
26. rccampbe
I haven't read the post (past the intro) or the comments yet. I just had to immediately ask Carl how to find his Brooklyn Nine Nine podcast because "Eyes closed, head first, can't lose" had me dying.
Carl Engle-Laird
27. CarlEngle-Laird
Glen V
28. Ways
Underbelly @23
Positively agree that there are times when I want to shake him and yell "Get over it!" That's a sign of great character development IMHO, so props to Brandon for that, even if it's incredibly frustrating sometimes. Kal could probably whup me soundly, though, so I'm not going to attempt shaking him vigorously. Wait. Kal isn't real? It's just a story? Oh.
Dixon Davis
29. KadesSwordElanor
IMHO, when one is frustrated with a Character’s progression, and wants to “shake” that Character, rather than the Author, one is emotionally attached and has “bought” into the journey with said Character. Again, just my MHO. This is true for me. It may not be for others.
Chris Chaplain
30. chaplainchris1
Re: Kal's character arc, as someone who struggled with a major bout of depression for about 2 years (and constantly self-monitors since then), I have to say that I really appreciate Brandon's handling of Kaladin. I can understand being frustrated with him and wishing he'd just get over it. I certainly felt that way with myself! It's one of the insidious cyclical things that feed depression - you feel bad; you feel guilty for feeling bad; therefore you feel worse; therefore etc.

A state of depression also doesn't mean you don't feel other things - moments of joy or triumph, brilliant epiphaniesself-realizations - but they don't "take". They don't break the overall state. At least, not until they do, sometime. That was my experience.

Not fun to read about, sure; but to have an epiphany, a moment of triumph, take away all of Kaladin's struggles would have felt artificial and cheap, for me. YMMV, of course.
Chris Chaplain
31. chaplainchris1
Quote of the Week: good pick, but I liked the opening of the chapter.
"Breath. A man's breath was his life. Exhaled, bit by bit, back into the world. Kaladin breathed deeply, eyes closed, and for a time that was all he could hear. His own life. In, out, to the beating of the thunder in his chest."
Which I like because of the multiple references to Stormlight - 'the thunder in his chest', as well as the imagery of life/stormlight excaping when you breathe out. Also, I can't help but think of the Hebrew - ruach, translating as breath, wind, spirit. In Genesis the ruach (the wind or Spirit of God) hovers over Creation; God breathes ruach, breath, life, into the human when he was created. In a literary sense, if no other, I'm guessing Brandon's intentionally using some of those allusions.

And then, a paragraph or two later:
"Breath. The breath of a lighteyes was no different from that of a darkeyes. No more sweet, no more free. The breath of kings and slaves mingled, to be breathed by men again, over and over."
On first reading, I took this as a powerful statement of egalitarianism. I still do, but now, in light of the discussion of Kaladin's mental state, I wonder if there's not also an element of, I don't know, ennui, depression. He's free now, but here he's equating the breath/life of slave and free as if there's no difference. That's not quite celebrating and reveling in newfound freedom, is it?

Stormwatch: is this highstorm that's just ended the same one as at the end of tWoK?

I remember most of the Bridge Four crew well, but...I don't really remember Skar. I feel like I should, since Kal points him and Moash (and himself) as the three real fighters/killers among Bridge Four. But I don't. Did he accomplish anything in tWoK?

Re: Ars Arcanum - between the statements this week about Kaladin's wound and AlisonWonderland's helpful final comment on last week's thread, I now feel much more comfortable with Realmatic theory and the distinctions between Physical/Cognitive/Spiritual. So thanks, all!

More to say, but got to get back to my workshop. Very quickly:

I think the biggest part of Kal's mental problem with healing his scar isn't fear of being dangerous/his powers, or fear of being re-enslaved, though those are elements. I think the biggest part is his unresolved rage with Amaram. That's his near-downfall in this book. We see him, even in this chapter, expressing a liking for Dalinar, and compassion for the lighteyed widows that Sadeas created. (Seeing their grief, the grief of lighteyes for lighteyes, gives him more rage at Sadeas. That's actually a good sign for overcoming his prejudices, I think.) It's his anger at Amaram; his refusal to try and be the man he was before Amaram betrayed him, when Amaram is still unpunished; I think that's his biggest hangup.
Alice Arneson
32. Wetlandernw
Chris @31 - Stormwatch - yes, this is the same highstorm as the one at the end of TWoK. So this is happening pretty much the same time (or a bit earlier in the day) than Chapter 1.

Re: Skar - yes, he was in TWoK and was a relatively significant bridgeman, but not nearly so obvious as Teft, Moash or Rock. He serves mostly as simple encouragement and support to Kaladin - not so knowledgeable as Teft, not so forward as Moash, not so... noticeable as Rock, but he's there all the time, giving quiet support to Kaladin and his crazy notions.
Adam S.
33. MDNY
Skar was mostly noticeable because I remember Kaladin thinking something like "he didn't have any noticeable scars that Kal saw". As Wet said, he was one of the most noticeable bridgemen in the "second tier" after Teft, Rock, Sigzil, Moash, and the Lopen.
David Foster
34. ZenBossanova
The way Kaladin struggled with depression and overcame so gloriously at the end of WoK was what made it resonate so strongly with me. I have struggled with that as well... depression, not theft of shards and slavery.

I think the scene with Rlain/Shen here is highly significant. The introduction of good parshmen is going to make this Desolation very, very different from previous ones.
Jordan Hibbits
35. rhandric
I don't currently have much to add...I just caught up reading the comments from last week's post, and reading this week's, after a vacation. Someone brought up epigraphs last week. Funnily enough, I happen to have compiled them all in one, well-organized spreadsheet.
Chris Chaplain
36. chaplainchris1
One more thought and then some comments on comments.

Moash- we ought to have some cleverly named category for looking out for his fishy behavior. Two things jump out for me on the reread of this chapter. Moash is the *only*member of Bridge Four (apart from Kaladin himself) who doesn't get the tattoo on his forehead. Instead he puts it somewhere it could be concealed. Why? How much has he already planned to betray the Kholins?

Second, of course, Moash is one of the few really skilled killers in the crew. Skilled and up to something...not good.

@20 Ways, @18 Underbelly - yeah, I'd say Elend in particular went through lots of character development, from jester to leader and from idealist to realpolitik; Vin had to over come her isolationist/anti-trusting ways; Sazed had his religious crisis; OreSeur/TenSoon (I can never remember which is the real name) his loyalty to his people's laws; Spook from non-entity to warrior and leader; the crew as a whole from thieves to politicians and generals; etc. But ymmv.

@21 Confutus, re: Kaladin's struggles - exactly right. Like you, I think Kaladin's struggle here is with his prejudice, and esp. with his rage. His scar refusing to heal and the tatoo not taking is indicative of many possibilities, but I favor the idea that, at least so far, he's not *letting* himself heal, b/c the one who inflicted that scar hasn't been made to pay. Keeping the scar keeps his outrage stoked.

I agree with you about Kal's meeting with his parents, by the way. I am intrigued/dreading that.

@23 - fair enough. It does get hard to read sometimes. But I also found this book to be *hilarious* - Shallan's wit, Pattern's adorbs, "you will apology with boots"....For me, it's actually the funniest of Brandon's epic novels, and that's one of the areas where I felt while reading it that he'd improved the most. So the fun and silly def. helped me get through the other stuff.

@several re: Shen's tattoo - maybe it's a test, like his later request of a weapon? Feeling out what Kal and the Bridge crew's real feelings are?

@34, I hope you're right about 'good' Parshmen changing this desolation. Not just for Shen's sake; Eshonai's plight is *awful*.

@35 - you and that are awesome. That is all.
Rob Campbell
37. rccampbe
Chris@31 I'm enjoying reading your thoughts and aspire to more in depth contributions like yours. I also enjoyed the opening of this chapter. The focus on breath (source of life) plus his exit from the darkness of his private room to the exultation of his men strongly suggested rebirth to me. Therefore Kaladin's return to depression is discordant and more striking in contrast to Bridge 4's rebirth.

As some have mentioned, depression is not easily banished and Kaladin seems to look for reasons to stay depressed. I think he latches onto the burden of leadership at this point. Moash, Teft and Skar seem as dour, but Rock saves the day for me with the blunt but light hearted ribbing that makes him essential to Bridge 4. I think Syl loves Rock for this reason, too. It will take consistent uplifting (sometimes in the form of rebuking) by the likes of Rock, the Lopen, Syl and later Shallan to help Kal rid himself of the holds he uses to maintain his depression: prejudice against light eyes, hatred for a couple specific ones, assumption of too much responsibility for other's actions (Moash) and more I might be able to think of if it weren't bed time!

A rough start no doubt but I found it engrossing, realistic and eventually rewarding. And the eventually part didn't seem to take as long as in tWoK, probably just because this book was Shallan's and he didn't get as much screen time.
Glen V
38. Ways
Chris @36
Re: Moash--yes, mention of his fishy-behavior-signals by Carl and Alice seems appropriate. A summary for future reference when it's all said and done would be very cool too--similar to what Patillian posted last week about Shallan and Pattern.

Re: Mistborn character development--I had Vin, Elend, Sazed and Spook in mind @20. Yeah, TenSoon probably belongs also (he killed OreSeur and stole his blessing). As usual, your eloquency is awesome.
Christopher Smith
39. Scipio Smith
@22 I think lumping Wistiow in with all the other Lighteyes who have betrayed Kal is a bit harsh, considering the impression that he would have done everything he said if he hadn't gotten sick and died. Wasn't that Lirin's justification for robbing the spheres, that Wistiow would have given them to him if he hadn't been so far gone mentally.
40. Freelancer
Shen chose to take the Bridge Four tattoo because he truly was Bridge Four. He never expected to be treated with decency or respect by humans, never expected to be acknowledged as anything more than a beast of burden. Who gives a spear to a parshman? He belonged, and knew it. That created a loyalty which, for him, turned out stronger than his spy mission.
Alice Arneson
41. Wetlandernw
Scipio Smith @39 - From our perspective, perhaps. But while Kaladin didn't originally have any negative feelings about Wistiow, learning the truth of the spheres he "left" them was a major blow - Kal learned that his father had been dishonest, driven by promises unkept. The significant lighteyes in his life (Wistiow as citylord, Roshone as replacement citylord, Amaram as commanding officer, and Sadeas as owner/commander) have all failed him (!!) in one way or another. While Wistiow was certainly the least offensive, it was his unfulfilled promise that led to pretty much everything else. The fact that he died unexpectedly doesn't change the fact that he had failed to carry through on his stated intent, even though he'd had ample opportunity to do so.

In completely other thoughts, the current chapter really drives home again how far-reaching the betrayal at the Tower is. At the end of the last book, we had the officers doing final counts to show us the death toll. Here we have further evidence: a gracious plenty of empty barracks for the bridgemen; thousands of widows going about their duties with red eyes; parshmen carrying out heaps and heaps of the personal effects of the dead. Sadeas has spiders in his soul.
Adam S.
42. MDNY
@41 Wet- I don't like to contradict our esteemed reader, but I have issue with your statement about the lighteyes in Kal's life all betraying him. Kaladin certainly feels that way NOW, but it's worth noting that he was a big fan of Amaram right up until the betrayal when Amaram had his men killed and him branded. He even risked his squad and his own life against an enemy shardbearer just to save Amaram. While partly that was due to his innate sense of responsibility and deference to a commanding officer, his early thoughts on Amaram are mostly positive. He never even blamed Amaram for Tien's death until much later- at the time it was the soldiers who had left Tien to be killed as bait that he targeted for his anger and pain.
We'll never know the truth about Wistiow, but while I like to think that he did in fact like Kal's father and valued him and his family (it seems like he was willing to let his daughter marry Kal, unless Kal's childhood memories are skewed in some way), I seriously doubt that he would have left even a fraction of the wealth that Kal's father claimed when he died. While his own daughter was not left destitute, that 1,000 broams is clearly very significent in relation to the rest of the inheritence, or else Roshone wouldn't have gone to such lengths to try to retreive it.
So Roshone was the only lighteyes that legitimately mistreated Kaladin from the get-go, and it wasn't until AFTER Amaram's betrayal that Kaladin suddenly developed a vitriolic hatred of lighteyes in general, one that lasted him through a good book and a half.
Alice Arneson
43. Wetlandernw
MDNY @42 - First, don't ever hesitate to contradict me just because I get the fun of writing the blog. It only means I've wasted spent a lot of time poking around in the books and the Coppermind, so I have a moderately good grasp of what we know as fact. When it comes to opinions, though, mine are neither more nor less valid than anyone else's.

In this particular case, I think my posts didn't accurately reflect all that I was thinking. While I do think that each one of those guys screwed up, and clearly some more than others, Wistiow's failures were unintentional - he honestly did intend to give some or all of those spheres to Lirin for Kaladin's education. He didn't intend to die before he set it up... but that's what happened, and it could have been prevented by simply going ahead with the formal gifting sooner. (Of course, if he really was thinking of marrying Laral to Kaladin, it would be understandable that he didn't feel any great urgency to make the gift of the spheres formal.)

Be that as it may, my original context was Kaladin's ongoing depression and mistrust of lighteyes. As much as he had trusted and admired Amaram at the time, the murder of his men twisted his perception, and IMO colors his current opinion of all lighteyes - even those he had never before found problematic. The fact that Amaram, with his excellent reputation, could be such a scumbag would carry a much more disturbing punch than anything Roshone could do. Roshone was always a petty, viscious little toad, but Amaram was supposed to be better. We all know plenty of toads, so their behavior has less power. It's the betrayal by someone we admired that does the real damage.

Add in Sadeas, a highprince of Alethkar, who just set up and almost perfectly executed the betrayal of another highprince, resulting in the death of thousands of men. IMO, at this point Kaladin has reason (if not justification) to think that the more power a lighteyes has, the less you can trust him - but in any case, you're best off not trusting any lighteyes at all.

Which all comes back around to this: given everything that's happened over the past seven years or so, Kaladin is in a space that doesn't readily admit trust. Dalinar's purchase of the bridgemen, even at the price of his Blade, is amazing; for anyone without Kaladin's bitter history, it's enough to restore their faith. For the reader, it's a little frustrating to have Kaladin continue to wallow in his bitterness, depression, and distrust. If I put myself into his headspace, though, I see it as almost inevitable. He can't (and shouldn't be able to) "get over it" that readily, because he's mentally in a place where every lighteyes who ever had any authority over him betrayed him in one way or another.

tl;dr - I was extrapolating to what I believe to be Kaladin's perspective on lighteyes at this point in time, not necessarily accusing anyone of deliberately mistreating him.
Glen V
44. Ways
Something that jumps out to me is that the time period we pick for a frame-of-reference is critically important in the discussion of Kal's mistrust of some/all Lighteyes. Obivious, right?

MDNY @42
Was it 1,000 or 100 diamond broams? Coppermind didn't yield an answer after poking around for 5 minutes. In the end I don't think it is a huge issue for Lirin, Kal and family since it's a fortune either way. However, it may be a much bigger deal for Roshone (and Laral) if is is 1,000 b/c, as you point out, it may be a significant portion of Laral's inheiritance.

One thing I really respect is Wetlander's ability to insert herself into a character's head space and provide an analysis of the gas-phase chemical content how that character was relating to their environment at that particular moment in time. Well done, Sensei.

A topic, not yet discussed this week, that I want to bring up (in passing?) is Isaac Sterwart's illustration of the Bridge 4 tattoo (p. 83 in the Tor HB). In particular, the annotation by someone named Nazh: “I had to spend hours watching the bridgemen to sketch their stupid forehead glyphs so you could have them, my friend." This could get spoilerific for other Cosmere novels, so I'm going white. We know that Nazh is a worldhopper b/c he also annotated the map of Elendel in Mistborn. We know from Peter that Nazh is a guy, did not write any Ars Arcanum, and is not the tattoist doing the Bridge 4 tattoos. So, who is Nazh? A 17th-Sharder? Why is he interested in Kal/Bridge 4 and the head glyphs tattoos? We can speculate Nazh was masquerading as an ardent (perhaps Hatham's ardent, later in WoR) b/c any other male drawing in public would have been suspicious. Any looney theories y'all?

Edited for spelling
45. silvermonarch
@44 re: Nazh

We have seen Nazh when Rock removes him from the barracks area, but not much is said at the time about who he is. The only conclusion I can come to at the moment is that the person Nazh is writing to is clearly not Alethi since it appears they are unfamiliar with glyphs and their stylization. It also indicates that the drawings were not made for Hoid, who has been speculated and disproved to be the author of the Ars Arcanum, since he would likely be familiar with glyphs from his time in Alethkar, unless we're running into a timeline difference. Does anyone have an idea for whom Nazh was making the drawing?
47. Shard_Rookie
@much above, regarding Shen getting the tattoo, I just assumed that Rlain felt he had to get the tattoo, because "Shen, the obedient parshmen" would simply do what he was told to do. Objecting would have immediately raised suspicions.

So I don't attach much significance to Shen getting the tattoo. I do think the episode is significant for the response of the bridgemen when the tattooist tries to avoid giving one to Shen on the grounds that he is "property." I think that made Rlain wonder about these men and whether they were the type to truly accept a parshman.

Rlain then thinks of a test: will they let me carry a spear? If the answer is no, then he is a slave, property as the tattooist said. It turns out to be a good test given Kaladin's initial reaction (He had a good life, for a parshman, Certainly more freedom than any other of his kind) which just means that Shen is a slightly higher ranking slave. Ultimately of course, Kaladin (and Dalinar) pass the test. The scenes where Rlain returns to Dalinar's army and his interactions with Skar and Rock are among my favorites.

As I wrote this, a question occurred to me. We know that the Parshendi see a relationship between themselves and the parshmen. Do we have any evidence that the opposite is true? Do the parshmen see the Parshendi as distant relatives? At the end of WoK, I thought the answer was yes but that was based on "Shen" reactions to the corpses. Now that I know that it was a Parshendi reacting to Parshendi corpses, that evidence goes out the window.

One final crazy thought where I try to get into BWS' head. Parshendi is Alethi for "parshmen who think." Kaladin names him Shen but is this name a foreshadowing (from the author) that this "parshman" can actually think? Is "shen" Alethi for thinking?
Chris Chaplain
48. chaplainchris1
@37 rccampbe and @38 Ways - thanks much for the kind words. Rccampbe, I love your idea of the image of rebirth there. Ways, thanks for reminding me of TenSoon!

On the subject of Moash-watching, I just noticed one more thing. When Kaladin tells Bridge Four that protecting Dalinar at all costs is their priority (even against the Assassin in White!), we have this:
"They nodded one by one, though those nods were grudging. He didn't blame them. Trusting lighteyes hadn't gotten them far - even Moash, who had once spoken well of Dalinar, now seemed to have lost his fondness for the man. Or any lighteyes." (italics are mine)
I have only the vaguest memory of Moash speaking well of Dalinar. Anybody know where in tWoK that happened? In any case, I find it interesting. Is Sadeas' betrayal enough to sour Moash toward Dalinar, too? Seems odd, since they fought beside Dalinar's men and were saved from slavery and death by him, at the cost of his Shardblade, no less. Makes me wonder a bit at his sincerity, later on, in saying that Dalinar would be king after they kill Elhokar.

@40 Freelancer - if I'm reading your comment correctly, you're citing the incident where Bridge Four gives Shen a spear as an example of how they treated him with respect and earned his loyalty and desire for a B4 tattoo. *Am* I reading you correctly? Because that incident hasn't happened yet, and when Shen first asks for a spear, Kal turns him down. This is why I suggested that Shen is testing the waters here. He's been treated better than he might have expected, up to this point. This is a test of whether Bridge 4 really sees him as one of them. The men of Bridge Four pass with flying colors, here...unlike Kaladin will do later, when he asks for the spear. For me, it's another indication that Kaladin's men have more faith/hope/spirit than Kaladin himself, at this point.

@41 Wetlander, re: Sadeas and "spiders in his soul" - yes, exactly.

@44 Ways and also @Carl, original comment - are we only talking openly about the Stormlight Archives? I understood from last week that all things Cosmere were open for discussion. I do hope that's the case - it'll be hard to talk Worldhoppers if other Cosmere works are verboten. But I also have a horror of spoilers, so I'll certainly respect whatever the intent is. (But the posts @45 and @46 on Nazh and Khriss are Cosmere-specific posts, not just Stormlight Archives.)

Lastly, have we talked about Kaladin's back-up plan that he unveils here (to Moash's enthusiastic endorsement!):
"But if we play along with this for a time, protecting Kholin, we'll be paid handsomely. I'll be able to train you - really train you - as soldiers and officers. Beyond that, we'll be able to teach these others. We could never make it on our own out there as two dozen former bridgemen. But what if we were instead a highly skilled mercenary force of a thousand soldiers, equipped with the finest gear in the warcamps?" not a terrible plan. And a good reason to play for time with the lighteyes, I guess. Being a force that is "hardened and impossible to ignore" sounds like a good way to be a force that is "hunted down and executed by the Highprinces", but maybe that's just me. Certainly it does seem a step up from being former bridgemen. it altogether honorable? Is this Kal's back-up plan, in case things go south...or, at this point, is he toying with it as his *real* plan, with serving Dalinar as the back-up? Hmmm.
@48 Chaplain, Kaladin has been shown thus far to entirely merit his Stormfather designation as Son of Honor. As the model of honorable behavior, he would not take his duty to Dalinar and family lightly, or as a cover for his supposed real goal of creating an army. All his actions and suspicions regarding the safety of the royal family (with the later exception of the king) point to his total focus on their safety. As to Moash, the change from doomed bridgeman (when he spoke of an honorable 'lighteyes') to free royal guardsman lead him to think more seriously of his dream of killing the king in revenge. Such thoughts and rationalizations would be expected to be associated with a greater feeling of hatred towards the ruling class - Dalinar's great gesture, notwithstanding.
Jordan Frandsen
50. jorgecuervos
@42, @43
I think the real reason that Kal is so hateful of lighteyes is due to his own personal history revisionism. He has had a lot of time to sit and think and stew on what got him to where he is. His depression and overall attitude places the blame onto others and as he goes through the lighteyes in his life, he remembers less and less the reasons, good legitimate ones, that he respected them, and he begins to focus more and more on their failings. This is especially true in regards to Wistiow, a good city lord that failed him indirectly, remains respected by Kal during the early days (shown in WOK in the flashbacks), and only later becomes a demon-in-memory and the object of Kaladin's scorn.
It could happen to everyone in life, when things are bad, we remember the worst. This revisionism of personal influences shows the depth of the character as written by Sanderson.
Glen V
51. Ways
Chris @48
I took the safe approach and went white to avoid Cosmere spoilers. Wet and silvermonarch weren't so inhibited (although I'm not certain mentioning Khriss like that would actually be a spoiler in any event).

And I see you're quite right about what Alice said last week:
This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that become relevant.
So no more white! Let the spoilers roll.

Hoid wouldn't need drawings of the glyphs anyway, since he is hanging out on Roshar at least some of the time.
Alice Arneson
52. Wetlandernw
Well, we talked about trying to avoid spoilers for other books, but when it comes to Cosmere connections, how can we discuss without spoilers? It gets too crazy trying to white everything out. The best we can do is point it out in the blog and warn people that there may be discussion of other books. But when you think about it, there's very little that would need to be discussed that would actually have plot spoilers for other books. The connections rarely have anything to do with plot; mostly just tidbits and characters who show up. Like... well, we'll talk about that when we get to Chapter 43. :D
53. cyddenid
@48, I kind of always assumed that kal's 'back up plan' was to satisfy the other bridge men , and he had no intention of raising his own army and deserting/fighting dlinar. That said, it's the kind of thing that could possibly come back to bite him, especially if anyone finds out that he knew about Moash's plans to kill Elhokar long before it happened - and agreed to take part in it.
Adam S.
54. MDNY
@50 jorgecuervos- well said. Part of what is both fascinating and frustrating about Kal is that he does seem to intentionally bias his own thoughts. He initially liked Amaram, and fekt that Tien's death wasn't his fault, but after the betrayal he blames him for everything including Tien. He was so deeply scarred by that betrayal that even now it's unclear if he'll ever truly heal (though I suspect his family may help, despite my fear that something bad has happened to them).
55. Freelancer
RE: Kaladin's view of lighteyes

Kaladin, up to the point of being branded a slave, had no passionately held view of lighteyes either positive or negative. As with many young darkeyes, he wished for the entitlements and adantages of higher status, but he wasn't exactly bitter about not having them. He held Wistiow in respectful esteem, especially upon receiving the "gift". As Wetlandernw has already stated, Roshone was always a bullying crumb from the get-go, his behavior wasn't applied to other lighteyes as a standard by Kaladin.

It was being told by the man whom he most admired, after murdering his squadmen, that it just wouldn't be right to have shards in the hands of a darkeyes, especially with others available to tell who really earned those shards, that corrupted his ability to see persons instead of eye color. Having your life, the life you'd chosen and worked for, the life you believed you were meant for, utterly destroyed by someone telling you it's all because you're not one of them, then being falsely branded and sold into the worst of all lives, this can make one bitter and irrational toward that group of people who, upon reflection, never did anything but cause you pain.

Shard_Rookie @47

Shen was under no pressure or obligation to take the tattoo. Kaladin made it clear that he was Bridge Four with or without it, that nobody would think differently of him (pay attention to that phrase) one way or the other. I disagree with your comment that he "would simply do what he was told to do", since he wasn't told to do so. He got in line with no prompting, it wasn't expected of him by anyone, and Kaladin left him an option just as he did anyone else who felt wrong about the tattoo. When he insisted that he was Bridge Four, the others made it an issue with the tattooist, and threatened her payment.

Kaladin had already insisted that Shen was Bridge Four, and Shen (Rlain) being a warrior led him to take Kaladin to task on that declaration, making the point that if it's true, if he's trusted as a member of the team, he should have a spear. Kaladin isn't wrong to hesitate: He trusts Shen, but he also bears responsibility and cannot make that very unorthodox decision without bringing it before his commander.

chaplainchris1 @48

Yeah, I was just mashing together thoughts about the unprecedented respect and loyalty shown to one who expected none of that; a chronology wasn't presumed, though I can surely see that it looks that way. But, as I commented just above, I don't think Kaladin failed the test, as much as I believe that Kaladin understands the potential for chaos among everyone NOT Bridge Four, if he unilaterally decides to storm all convention yet again, in giving a spear to what everyone else sees as a non-person. He had to weigh it out, then bring it before Dalinar. It's not terribly different than a parent, initially being reluctant to permit a new behavior of their child, until they can consider the ramifications and come to terms with the resulting paradigm shift.
56. Jasuni
@47 parshmen probably do see the Parshendi as relatives, but I can't guarantee it. Sigzil did say that all Parshmen would have that kind of reaction to a person desecrating their dead. (WoK chapter 55)

re: orgins of Kaladin's hatred:
Kaladin's hatred of lighteyes in general existed before Amaram's betrayal. I also don't think that he often thought about Wistiow when his hatred of lighteyes was concerned.

I think that Kaladin's hatred originally was motivated by Roshone, then spread through various experiences in the military (most of which we do not see, but there were definately times when he saw lighteyes acting dishonorably and callously). Some specific events would be Tien's death and Heleran charging through his squad.

And a lengthy quote for evidence:
"These skirmishes were caused by ones like him, greedy minor lighteyes who tried to steal land while the better men were away, fighting the Parshendi. His type had far, far fewer casualties than the spearmen, and so the lives under his command became cheap things.
"More and more over the last few years, each and every one of these petty lighteyes had come to represent Roshone in Kaladin's eyes. Only Amaram himself stood apart. Amaram, who always spoke with respect, even to lowly spearmen. He was like Dalinar and Sadeas. Not this riffraff.
"Of course, Amaram had failed to protect Tien. But so had Kaladin" (WoK chapter 47)

I think that Amaram's betrayal extended the hatred from the numerous petty lighteyes he had seen to all lighteyes (including the ones said to be honorable. I don't know if this applies to Wistiow, as Kaladin does not ever seem to think about Wistiow).

Before Amaram's betrayal, Kaladin blamed Amaram and himself equally for Tien's death, as they both had promised to protect him. Kaladin's views might have changed after Amaram's betrayal.

@48 "Is Sadeas's betrayal enough to sour Moash toward Dalinar, too" No, Moash already knew that Sadeas was a scumbag at that point. Plus, when Dalinar saved the bridgemen from some parshmen archers, Moash said "He just saw a group of undefended archers and took the chance to strike. Lighteyes don't care about us." (WoK chapter 62)

As for Moash speaking well of Dalinar, that is in chapter 55, when Dalinar initially joined with Sadeas in battle.
57. Caien
Coming in a bit late here, I know.

First time poster also, so spoiler warning I guess? I'm not sure what the protocol is for comments in a reread!

Considering some of the comments regarding Kaladin's depression, the discussion seems to focus on his experiences since joining the army and with lighteyes. That's all perfectly valid of course and the issues regarding his hatred/mistrust of lighteyes are undoubtedly interlinked with his mental state, however I disagree with those who feel his arch is repeating itself or are frustrated with his inability to move beyond his depression.

It seems quite clear in WOK that Kaladin's depression stems not from his experience, but is chemical. Obviously his experiences haven't helped matters, but the flashbacks to his childhood make clear that his depression is chronic and quite severe from early adolescence, beginning when he was still living a happy childhood. His depression is also seasonal - its mentioned several times he feels worse during the Weeping, which is in line with modern understanding of seasonal affective disorder and depression in general.

Therefore his 'relapse' in WOR was not surprising to me, I would have been disappointed if his hero's arch in WOK had cured him of something that is almost certainly physiological. From my personal experience of depression, certain parts of his narrative which have been attributed to his anger toward lighteyes are likely due to his illness, for example his irrational anger and irritation when spending time with a very chirpy Adolin and Shallan (which I think was during the Weeping also?), and how dark he became when locked up - isolation and being kept inside for long periods of time are psychologically dangerous for anybody but are major triggers for people with depression.

Seeing Kaladin get past his depression like any other obstacle in his character journey would be incredibly disappointing to me. Personally I hope it is something that he continues to struggle with throughout the entire series, perhaps coming to better moniter and deal with it with the help of others, rather than leaving behind completely.

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