Wed
Jan 8 2014 1:30pm

Read an Excerpt from Words of Radiance: Prologue, Chapters One and Two

Brandon Sanderson The Stormlight Archive Words of Radiance

Tor.com is pleased to offer the following excerpt from Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, book two of The Stormlight Archive.

In The Way of Kings, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a land both alien and magical. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic Parshendi, who have been at war with each other for five years. The war has revealed the worst of humanity to Dalinar Kholin, a powerful general, and Kaladin Stormblessed, a troubled slave. But there is more at stake in this conflict than the fate of the peoples involved. As Jasnah Kholin and her ward Shallan Davar discover, their entire world is rushing towards a cataclysm, one that only a long-lost order called the Knights Radiant could possibly prepare them for.

In Words of Radiance these stories will intertwine and develop in thrilling and unexpected directions. The war with the Parshendi will move into a new, dangerous phase, as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it. Shallan is set on finding the legendary and perhaps mythical city of Urithiru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind’s survival on Roshar. Kaladin struggles to wear the mantle of the Windrunners as his old demons resurface. And the threat of the Voidbringers’ return hangs over them all.

 

 

Words of Radiance Brandon Sanderson excerpt prologue

 

Six Years Ago

 

Jasnah Kholin pretended to enjoy the party, giving no indication that she intended to have one of the guests killed.

She wandered through the crowded feast hall, listening as wine greased tongues and dimmed minds. Her uncle Dalinar was in the full swing of it, rising from the high table to shout for the Parshendi to bring out their drummers. Jasnah’s brother, Elhokar, hurried to shush their uncle—though the Alethi politely ignored Dalinar’s outburst. All save Elhokar’s wife, Aesudan, who snickered primly behind a handkerchief.

Jasnah turned away from the high table and continued through the room. She had an appointment with an assassin, and she was all too glad to be leaving the stuffy room, which stank of too many perfumes mingling. A quartet of women played flutes on a raised platform across from the lively hearth, but the music had long since grown tedious.

Unlike Dalinar, Jasnah drew stares. Like flies to rotten meat those eyes were, constantly following her. Whispers like buzzing wings. If there was one thing the Alethi court enjoyed more than wine, it was gossip. Everyone expected Dalinar to lose himself to wine during a feast—but the king’s daughter, admitting to heresy? That was unprecedented.

Jasnah had spoken of her feelings for precisely that reason.

She passed the Parshendi delegation, which clustered near the high table, talking in their rhythmic language. Though this celebration honored them and the treaty they’d signed with Jasnah’s father, they didn’t look festive or even happy. They looked nervous. Of course, they weren’t human, and the way they reacted was sometimes odd.

Jasnah wanted to speak with them, but her appointment would not wait. She’d intentionally scheduled the meeting for the middle of the feast, as so many would be distracted and drunken. Jasnah headed toward the doors but then stopped in place.

Her shadow was pointing in the wrong direction.

The stuffy, shuffling, chattering room seemed to grow distant. High-prince Sadeas walked right through the shadow, which quite distinctly pointed toward the sphere lamp on the wall nearby. Engaged in conversation with his companion, Sadeas didn’t notice. Jasnah stared at that shadow—skin growing clammy, stomach clenched, the way she felt when she was about to vomit. Not again. She searched for another light source. A reason. Could she find a reason? No.

The shadow languidly melted back toward her, oozing to her feet and then stretching out the other way. Her tension eased. But had anyone else seen?

Blessedly, as she searched the room, she didn’t find any aghast stares. People’s attention had been drawn by the Parshendi drummers, who were clattering through the doorway to set up. Jasnah frowned as she noticed a non-Parshendi servant in loose white clothing helping them. A Shin man? That was unusual.

Jasnah composed herself. What did these episodes of hers mean? Superstitious folktales she’d read said that misbehaving shadows meant you were cursed. She usually dismissed such things as nonsense, but some superstitions were rooted in fact. Her other experiences proved that. She would need to investigate further.

The calm, scholarly thoughts felt like a lie compared to the truth of her cold, clammy skin and the sweat trickling down the back of her neck. But it was important to be rational at all times, not just when calm. She forced herself out through the doors, leaving the muggy room for the quiet hallway. She’d chosen the back exit, commonly used by servants. It was the most direct route, after all.

Here, master-servants dressed in black and white moved on errands from their brightlords or ladies. She had expected that, but had not anticipated the sight of her father standing just ahead, in quiet conference with Brightlord Meridas Amaram. What was the king doing out here?

Gavilar Kholin was shorter than Amaram, yet the latter stooped shallowly in the king’s company. That was common around Gavilar, who would speak with such quiet intensity that you wanted to lean in and listen, to catch every word and implication. He was a handsome man, unlike his brother, with a beard that outlined his strong jaw rather than covering it. He had a personal magnetism and intensity that Jasnah felt no biographer had yet managed to convey.

Tearim, captain of the King’s Guard, loomed behind them. He wore Gavilar’s Shardplate; the king himself had stopped wearing it of late, preferring to entrust it to Tearim, who was known as one of the world’s great duelists. Instead, Gavilar wore robes of a majestic, classical style.

Jasnah glanced back at the feast hall. When had her father slipped out? Sloppy, she accused herself. You should have checked to see if he was still there before leaving.

Ahead, he rested his hand on Amaram’s shoulder and raised a finger, speaking harshly but quietly, the words indistinct to Jasnah.

“Father?” she asked.

He glanced at her. “Ah, Jasnah. Retiring so early?”

“It’s hardly early,” Jasnah said, gliding forward. It seemed obvious to her that Gavilar and Amaram had ducked out to find privacy for their discussion. “This is the tiresome part of the feast, where the conversation grows louder but no smarter, and the company drunken.”

“Many people consider that sort of thing enjoyable.”

“Many people, unfortunately, are idiots.”

Her father smiled. “Is it terribly difficult for you?” he asked softly. “Living with the rest of us, suffering our average wits and simple thoughts? Is it lonely to be so singular in your brilliance, Jasnah?”

She took it as the rebuke it was, and found herself blushing. Even her mother Navani could not do that to her.

“Perhaps if you found pleasant associations,” Gavilar said, “you would enjoy the feasts.” His eyes swung toward Amaram, whom he’d long fancied as a potential match for her.

It would never happen. Amaram met her eyes, then murmured words of parting to her father and hastened away down the corridor.

“What errand did you give him?” Jasnah asked. “What are you about this night, Father?”

“The treaty, of course.”

The treaty. Why did he care so much about it? Others had counseled that he either ignore the Parshendi or conquer them. Gavilar insisted upon an accommodation.

“I should return to the celebration,” Gavilar said, motioning to Tearim. The two moved along the hallway toward the doors Jasnah had left.

“Father?” Jasnah said. “What is it you aren’t telling me?”

He glanced back at her, lingering. Pale green eyes, evidence of his good birth. When had he become so discerning? Storms… she felt as if she hardly knew this man any longer. Such a striking transformation in such a short time.

From the way he inspected her, it almost seemed that he didn’t trust her. Did he know about her meeting with Liss?

He turned away without saying more and pushed back into the party, his guard following.

What is going on in this palace? Jasnah thought. She took a deep breath. She would have to prod further. Hopefully he hadn’t discovered her meetings with assassins—but if he had, she would work with that knowledge. Surely he would see that someone needed to keep watch on the family as he grew increasingly consumed by his fascination with the Parshendi. Jasnah turned and continued on her way, passing a master-servant, who bowed.

After walking a short time in the corridors, Jasnah noticed her shadow behaving oddly again. She sighed in annoyance as it pulled toward the three Stormlight lamps on the walls. Fortunately, she’d passed from the populated area, and no servants were here to see.

“All right,” she snapped. “That’s enough.”

She hadn’t meant to speak aloud. However, as the words slipped out, several distant shadows—originating in an intersection up ahead—stirred to life. Her breath caught. Those shadows lengthened, deepened. Figures formed from them, growing, standing, rising.

Stormfather. I’m going insane.

One took the shape of a man of midnight blackness, though he had a certain reflective cast, as if he were made of oil. No… of some other liquid with a coating of oil floating on the outside, giving him a dark, prismatic quality.

He strode toward her and unsheathed a sword.

Logic, cold and resolute, guided Jasnah. Shouting would not bring help quickly enough, and the inky litheness of this creature bespoke a speed certain to exceed her own.

She stood her ground and met the thing’s glare, causing it to hesitate. Behind it, a small clutch of other creatures had materialized from the darkness. She had sensed those eyes upon her during the previous months.

By now, the entire hallway had darkened, as if it had been submerged and was slowly sinking into lightless depths. Heart racing, breath quickening, Jasnah raised her hand to the granite wall beside her, seeking to touch something solid. Her fingers sank into the stone a fraction, as if the wall had become mud.

Oh, storms. She had to do something. What? What could she possibly do?

The figure before her glanced at the wall. The wall lamp nearest Jasnah went dark. And then…

Then the palace disintegrated.

The entire building shattered into thousands upon thousands of small glass spheres, like beads. Jasnah screamed as she fell backward through a dark sky. She was no longer in the palace; she was somewhere else—another land, another time, another… something.

She was left with the sight of the dark, lustrous figure, hovering in the air above, seeming satisfied as he resheathed his sword.

Jasnah crashed into something—an ocean of the glass beads. Countless others rained around her, clicking like hailstones into the strange sea. She had never seen this place; she could not explain what had happened or what it meant. She thrashed as she sank into what seemed an impossibility. Beads of glass on all sides. She couldn’t see anything beyond them, only felt herself descending through this churning, suffocating, clattering mass.

She was going to die. Leaving work unfinished, leaving her family unprotected!

She would never know the answers.

No.

Jasnah flailed in the darkness, beads rolling across her skin, getting into her clothing, working their way into her nose as she tried to swim. It was no use. She had no buoyancy in this mess. She raised a hand before her mouth and tried to make a pocket of air to use for breathing, and managed to gasp in a small breath. But the beads rolled around her hand, forcing between her fingers. She sank, more slowly now, as through a viscous liquid.

Each bead that touched her gave a faint impression of something. A door. A table. A shoe.

The beads found their way into her mouth. They seemed to move on their own. They would choke her, destroy her. No… no, it was just because they seemed attracted to her. An impression came to her, not as a distinct thought but a feeling. They wanted something from her.

She snatched a bead in her hand; it gave her an impression of a cup. She gave… something… to it? The other beads near her pulled together, connecting, sticking like rocks sealed by mortar. In a moment she was falling not among individual beads, but through large masses of them stuck together into the shape of…

A cup.

Each bead was a pattern, a guide for the others.

She released the one she held, and the beads around her broke apart. She floundered, searching desperately as her air ran out. She needed something she could use, something that would help, some way to survive! Desperate, she swept her arms wide to touch as many beads as she could.

A silver platter. A coat.

A statue.

A lantern.

And then, something ancient.

Something ponderous and slow of thought, yet somehow strong. The palace itself. Frantic, Jasnah seized this sphere and forced her power into it. Her mind blurring, she gave this bead everything she had, and then commanded it to rise.

Beads shifted.

A great crashing sounded as beads met one another, clicking, cracking, rattling. It was almost like the sound of a wave breaking on rocks. Jasnah surged up from the depths, something solid moving beneath her, obeying her command. Beads battered her head, shoulders, arms, until finally she exploded from the surface of the sea of glass, hurling a spray of beads into a dark sky.

She knelt on a platform of glass made up of small beads locked together. She held her hand to the side, uplifted, clutching the sphere that was the guide. Others rolled around her, forming into the shape of a hallway with lanterns on the walls, an intersection ahead. It didn’t look right, of course— the entire thing was made of beads. But it was a fair approximation.

She wasn’t strong enough to form the entire palace. She created only this hallway, without even a roof—but the floor supported her, kept her from sinking. She opened her mouth with a groan, beads falling out to clack against the floor. Then she coughed, drawing in sweet breaths, sweat trickling down the sides of her face and collecting on her chin.

Ahead of her, the dark figure stepped up onto the platform. He again slid his sword from his sheath.

Jasnah held up a second bead, the statue she’d sensed earlier. She gave it power, and other beads collected before her, taking the shape of one of the statues that lined the front of the feast hall—the statue of Talenelat’Elin, Herald of War. A tall, muscular man with a large Shardblade.

It was not alive, but she made it move, lowering its sword of beads. She doubted it could fight. Round beads could not form a sharp sword. Yet the threat made the dark figure hesitate.

Gritting her teeth, Jasnah heaved herself to her feet, beads streaming from her clothing. She would not kneel before this thing, whatever it was. She stepped up beside the bead statue, noting for the first time the strange clouds overhead. They seemed to form a narrow ribbon of highway, straight and long, pointing toward the horizon.

She met the oil figure’s gaze. It regarded her for a moment, then raised two fingers to its forehead and bowed, as if in respect, a cloak flourishing out behind. Others had gathered beyond it, and they turned to each other, exchanging hushed whispers.

The place of beads faded, and Jasnah found herself back in the hallway of the palace. The real one, with real stone, though it had gone dark—the Stormlight dead in the lamps on the walls. The only illumination came from far down the corridor.

She pressed back against the wall, breathing deeply. I, she thought, need to write this experience down.

She would do so, then analyze and consider. Later. Now, she wanted to be away from this place. She hurried away, with no concern for her direction, trying to escape those eyes she still felt watching.

It didn’t work.

Eventually, she composed herself and wiped the sweat from her face with a kerchief. Shadesmar, she thought. That is what it is called in the nursery tales. Shadesmar, the mythological kingdom of the spren. Mythology she’d never believed. Surely she could find something if she searched the histories well enough. Nearly everything that happened had happened before. The grand lesson of history, and…

Storms! Her appointment.

Cursing to herself, she hurried on her way. That experience continued to distract her, but she needed to make her meeting. So she continued down two floors, getting farther from the sounds of the thrumming Parshendi drums until she could hear only the sharpest cracks of their beats.

That music’s complexity had always surprised her, suggesting that the Parshendi were not the uncultured savages many took them for. This far away, the music sounded disturbingly like the beads from the dark place, rattling against one another.

She’d intentionally chosen this out-of-the-way section of the palace for her meeting with Liss. Nobody ever visited this set of guest rooms. A man that Jasnah didn’t know lounged here, outside the proper door. That relieved her. The man would be Liss’s new servant, and his presence meant Liss hadn’t left, despite Jasnah’s tardiness. Composing herself, she nodded to the guard—a Veden brute with red speckling his beard—and pushed into the room.

Liss stood from the table inside the small chamber. She wore a maid’s dress—low cut, of course—and could have been Alethi. Or Veden. Or Bav. Depending on which part of her accent she chose to emphasize. Long dark hair, worn loose, and a plump, attractive figure made her distinctive in all the right ways.

“You’re late, Brightness,” Liss said.

Jasnah gave no reply. She was the employer here, and was not required to give excuses. Instead, she laid something on the table beside Liss. A small envelope, sealed with weevilwax.

Jasnah set two fingers on it, considering.

No. This was too brash. She didn’t know if her father realized what she was doing, but even if he hadn’t, too much was happening in this palace. She did not want to commit to an assassination until she was more certain.

Fortunately, she had prepared a backup plan. She slid a second envelope from the safepouch inside her sleeve and set it on the table instead. She removed her fingers from it, rounding the table and sitting down.

Liss sat back down and made the letter vanish into the bust of her dress. “An odd night, Brightness,” the woman said, “to be engaging in treason.”

“I am hiring you to watch only.”

“Pardon, Brightness. But one does not commonly hire an assassin to watch. Only.”

“You have instructions in the envelope,” Jasnah said. “Along with initial payment. I chose you because you are expert at extended observations. It is what I want. For now.”

Liss smiled, but nodded. “Spying on the wife of the heir to the throne? It will be more expensive this way. You sure you don’t simply want her dead?”

Jasnah drummed her fingers on the table, then realized she was doing it to the beat of the drums above. The music was so unexpectedly complex— precisely like the Parshendi themselves.

Too much is happening, she thought. I need to be very careful. Very subtle.

“I accept the cost,” Jasnah replied. “In one week’s time, I will arrange for one of my sister-in-law’s maids to be released. You will apply for the position, using faked credentials I assume you are capable of producing. You will be hired.

“From there, you watch and report. I will tell you if your other services are needed. You move only if I say. Understood?”

“You’re the one payin’,” Liss said, a faint Bav dialect showing through.

If it showed, it was only because she wished it. Liss was the most skilled assassin Jasnah knew. People called her the Weeper, as she gouged out the eyes of the targets she killed. Although she hadn’t coined the cognomen, it served her purpose well, since she had secrets to hide. For one thing, nobody knew that the Weeper was a woman.

It was said the Weeper gouged the eyes out to proclaim indifference to whether her victims were lighteyed or dark. The truth was that the action hid a second secret—Liss didn’t want anyone to know that the way she killed left corpses with burned-out sockets.

“Our meeting is done, then,” Liss said, standing.

Jasnah nodded absently, mind again on her bizarre interaction with the spren earlier. That glistening skin, colors dancing across a surface the color of tar…

She forced her mind away from that moment. She needed to devote her attention to the task at hand. For now, that was Liss.

Liss hesitated at the door before leaving. “Do you know why I like you, Brightness?”

“I suspect that it has something to do with my pockets and their proverbial depth.”

Liss smiled. “There’s that, ain’t going to deny it, but you’re also different from other lighteyes. When others hire me, they turn up their noses at the entire process. They’re all too eager to use my services, but sneer and wring their hands, as if they hate being forced to do something utterly distasteful.”

“Assassination is distasteful, Liss. So is cleaning out chamber pots. I can respect the one employed for such jobs without admiring the job itself.”

Liss grinned, then cracked the door.

“That new servant of yours outside,” Jasnah said. “Didn’t you say you wanted to show him off for me?”

“Talak?” Liss said, glancing at the Veden man. “Oh, you mean that other one. No, Brightness, I sold that one to a slaver a few weeks ago.” Liss grimaced.

“Really? I thought you said he was the best servant you’d ever had.”

“Too good a servant,” Liss said. “Let’s leave it at that. Storming creepy, that Shin fellow was.” Liss shivered visibly, then slipped out the door.

“Remember our first agreement,” Jasnah said after her.

“Always there in the back o’ my mind, Brightness.” Liss closed the door.

Jasnah settled in her seat, lacing her fingers in front of her. Their “first agreement” was that if anyone should come to Liss and offer a contract on a member of Jasnah’s family, Liss would let Jasnah match the offer in exchange for the name of the one who made it.

Liss would do it. Probably. So would the dozen other assassins Jasnah dealt with. A repeat customer was always more valuable than a one-off contract, and it was in the best interests of a woman like Liss to have a friend in the government. Jasnah’s family was safe from the likes of these. Unless she herself employed the assassins, of course.

Jasnah let out a deep sigh, then rose, trying to shrug off the weight she felt bearing her down.

Wait. Did Liss say her old servant was Shin?

It was probably a coincidence. Shin people weren’t plentiful in the East, but you did see them on occasion. Still, Liss mentioning a Shin man and Jasnah seeing one among the Parshendi… well, there was no harm in checking, even if meant returning to the feast. Something was off about this night, and not just because of her shadow and the spren.

Jasnah left the small chamber in the bowels of the palace and strode out into the hallway. She turned her steps upward. Above, the drums cut off abruptly, like an instrument’s strings suddenly cut. Was the party ending so early? Dalinar hadn’t done something to offend the celebrants, had he? That man and his wine...

Well, the Parshendi had ignored his offenses in the past, so they probably would again. In truth, Jasnah was happy for her father’s sudden focus on a treaty. It meant she would have a chance to study Parshendi traditions and histories at her leisure.

Could it be, she wondered, that scholars have been searching in the wrong ruins all these years?

Words echoed in the hallway, coming from up ahead. “I’m worried about Ash.”

“You’re worried about everything.”

Jasnah hesitated in the hallway.

“She’s getting worse,” the voice continued. “We weren’t supposed to get worse. Am I getting worse? I think I feel worse.”

“Shut up.”

“I don’t like this. What we’ve done was wrong. That creature carries my lord’s own Blade. We shouldn’t have let him keep it. He—”

The two passed through the intersection ahead of Jasnah. They were the ambassadors from the West, including the Azish man with the white birthmark on his cheek. Or was it a scar? The shorter of the two men—he could have been Alethi—cut off when he noticed Jasnah. He let out a squeak, then hurried on his way.

The Azish man, the one dressed in black and silver, stopped and looked her up and down. He frowned.

“Is the feast over already?” Jasnah asked down the hallway. Her brother had invited these two to the celebration along with every other ranking foreign dignitary in Kholinar.

“Yes,” the man said.

His stare made her uncomfortable. She walked forward anyway. I should check further into these two, she thought. She’d investigated their backgrounds, of course, and found nothing of note. Had they been talking about a Shardblade?

“Come on!” the shorter man said, returning and taking the taller man by the arm.

He allowed himself to be pulled away. Jasnah walked to where the corridors crossed, then watched them go.

Where once drums had sounded, screams suddenly rose.

Oh no…

Jasnah turned with alarm, then grabbed her skirt and ran as hard as she could.

A dozen different potential disasters raced through her mind. What else could happen on this broken night, when shadows stood up and her father looked upon her with suspicion? Nerves stretched thin, she reached the steps and started climbing.

It took her far too long. She could hear the screams as she climbed and finally emerged into chaos. Dead bodies in one direction, a demolished wall in the other. How…

The destruction led toward her father’s rooms.

The entire palace shook, and a crunch echoed from that direction.

No, no, no!

She passed Shardblade cuts on the stone walls as she ran.

Please.

Corpses with burned eyes. Bodies littered the floor like discarded bones at the dinner table.

Not this.

A broken doorway. Her father’s quarters. Jasnah stopped in the hallway, gasping.

Control yourself, control…

She couldn’t. Not now. Frantic, she ran into the quarters, though a Shardbearer would kill her with ease. She wasn’t thinking straight. She should get someone who could help. Dalinar? He’d be drunk. Sadeas, then.

The room looked like it had been hit by a highstorm. Furniture in a shambles, splinters everywhere. The balcony doors were broken outward. Someone lurched toward them, a man in her father’s Shardplate. Tearim, the bodyguard?

No. The helm was broken. It was not Tearim, but Gavilar. Someone on the balcony screamed.

“Father!” Jasnah shouted.

Gavilar hesitated as he stepped out onto the balcony, looking back at her.

The balcony broke beneath him.

Jasnah screamed, dashing through the room to the broken balcony, falling to her knees at the edge. Wind tugged locks of hair loose from her bun as she watched two men fall.

Her father, and the Shin man in white from the feast.

The Shin man glowed with a white light. He fell onto the wall. He hit it, rolling, then came to a stop. He stood up, somehow remaining on the outer palace wall and not falling. It defied reason.

He turned, then stalked toward her father.

Jasnah watched, growing cold, helpless as the assassin stepped down to her father and knelt over him.

Tears fell from her chin, and the wind caught them. What was he doing down there? She couldn’t make it out.

When the assassin walked away, he left behind her father’s corpse. Impaled on a length of wood. He was dead—indeed, his Shardblade had appeared beside him, as they all did when their Bearers died.

“I worked so hard…” Jasnah whispered, numb. “Everything I did to protect this family…”

How? Liss. Liss had done this!

No. Jasnah wasn’t thinking straight. That Shin man… she wouldn’t have admitted to owning him in such a case. She’d sold him.

“We are sorry for your loss.”

Jasnah spun, blinking bleary eyes. Three Parshendi, including Klade, stood in the doorway in their distinctive clothing. Neatly stitched cloth wraps for both men and women, sashes at the waist, loose shirts with no sleeves. Hanging vests, open at the sides, woven in bright colors. They didn’t segregate clothing by gender. She thought they did by caste, however, and—

Stop it, she thought at herself. Stop thinking like a scholar for one storming day!

“We take responsibility for his death,” said the foremost Parshendi. Gangnah was female, though with the Parshendi, the gender differences seemed minimal. The clothing hid breasts and hips, neither of which were ever very pronounced. Fortunately, the lack of a beard was a clear indication. All the Parshendi men she’d ever seen had beards, which they wore tied with bits of gemstone, and—

STOP IT.

“What did you say?” Jasnah demanded, forcing herself to her feet. “Why would it be your fault, Gangnah?”

“Because we hired the assassin,” the Parshendi woman said in her heavily accented singsong voice. “We killed your father, Jasnah Kholin.”

“You…”

Emotion suddenly ran cold, like a river freezing in the heights. Jasnah looked from Gangnah to Klade, to Varnali. Elders, all three of them. Members of the Parshendi ruling council.

“Why?” Jasnah whispered.

“Because it had to be done,” Gangnah said.

Why?” Jasnah demanded, stalking forward. “He fought for you! He kept the predators at bay! My father wanted peace, you monsters! Why would you betray us now, of all times?”

Gangnah drew her lips to a line. The song of her voice changed. She seemed almost like a mother, explaining something very difficult to a small child. “Because your father was about to do something very dangerous.”

“Send for Brightlord Dalinar!” a voice outside in the hall shouted. “Storms! Did my orders get to Elhokar? The crown prince must be taken to safety!” Highprince Sadeas stumbled into the room along with a team of soldiers. His bulbous, ruddy face was wet with sweat, and he wore Gavilar’s clothing, the regal robes of office. “What are the savages doing here? Storms! Protect Princess Jasnah. The one who did this—he was in their retinue!”

The soldiers moved to surround the Parshendi. Jasnah ignored them, turning and stepping back to the broken doorway, hand on the wall, looking down at her father splayed on the rocks below, Blade beside him.

“There will be war,” she whispered. “And I will not stand in its way.” “This is understood,” Gangnah said from behind.

“The assassin,” Jasnah said. “He walked on the wall.”

Gangnah said nothing.

In the shattering of her world, Jasnah caught hold of this fragment. She had seen something tonight. Something that should not have been possible. Did it relate to the strange spren? Her experience in that place of glass beads and a dark sky?

These questions became her lifeline for stability. Sadeas demanded answers from the Parshendi leaders. He received none. When he stepped up beside her and saw the wreckage below, he went barreling off, shouting for his guards and running down below to reach the fallen king.

Hours later, it was discovered that the assassination—and the surrender of three of the Parshendi leaders—had covered the flight of the larger portion of their number. They escaped the city quickly, and the cavalry Dalinar sent after them were destroyed. A hundred horses, each nearly priceless, lost along with their riders.

The Parshendi leaders said nothing more and gave no clues, even when they were strung up and hanged for their crimes.

Jasnah ignored all that. Instead, she interrogated the surviving guards on what they had seen. She followed leads about the now-famous assassin’s nature, prying information from Liss. She got almost nothing. Liss had owned him only a short time, and claimed she hadn’t known about his strange powers. Jasnah couldn’t find the previous owner.

Next came the books. A dedicated, frenzied effort to distract her from what she had lost.

That night, Jasnah had seen the impossible.

She would learn what it meant.

 

 

Words of Radiance Brandon Sanderson excerpt chapter 1

 

To be perfectly frank, what has happened these last two months is upon my head. The death, destruction, loss, and pain are my burden. I should have seen it coming. And I should have stopped it.

—From the personal journal of Navani Kholin, Jeseses 1174

 

Shallan pinched the thin charcoal pencil and drew a series of straight lines radiating from a sphere on the horizon. That sphere wasn’t quite the sun, nor was it one of the moons. Clouds outlined in charcoal seemed to stream toward it. And the sea beneath them… A drawing could not convey the bizarre nature of that ocean, made not of water but of small beads of translucent glass.

Shallan shivered, remembering that place. Jasnah knew much more of it than she would speak of to her ward, and Shallan wasn’t certain how to ask. How did one demand answers after a betrayal such as Shallan’s? Only a few days had passed since that event, and Shallan still didn’t know exactly how her relationship with Jasnah would proceed.

The deck rocked as the ship tacked, enormous sails fluttering overhead. Shallan was forced to grab the railing with her clothed safehand to steady herself. Captain Tozbek said that so far, the seas hadn’t been bad for this part of Longbrow’s Straits. However, she might have to go below if the waves and motion got much worse.

Shallan exhaled and tried to relax as the ship settled. A chill wind blew, over the ship, and windspren zipped past on invisible air currents. Every time the sea grew rough, Shallan remembered that day, that alien ocean of glass beads…

She looked down again at what she’d drawn. She had only glimpsed that place, and her sketch was not perfect. It—

She frowned. On her paper, a pattern had risen, like an embossing. What had she done? That pattern was almost as wide as the page, a sequence of complex lines with sharp angles and repeated arrowhead shapes. Was it an effect of drawing that weird place, the place Jasnah said was named Shadesmar? Shallan hesitantly moved her freehand to feel the unnatural ridges on the page.

The pattern moved, sliding across the page like an axehound pup under a bedsheet.

Shallan yelped and leapt from her seat, dropping her sketchpad to the deck. The loose pages slumped to the planks, fluttering and then scattering in the wind. Nearby sailors—Thaylen men with long white eyebrows they combed back over their ears—scrambled to help, snatching sheets from the air before they could blow overboard.

“You all right, young miss?” Tozbek asked, looking over from a conversation with one of his mates. The short, portly Tozbek wore a wide sash and a coat of gold and red matched by the cap on his head. He wore his eyebrows up and stiffened into a fanned shape above his eyes.

“I’m well, Captain,” Shallan said. “I was merely spooked.”

Yalb stepped up to her, proffering the pages. “Your accouterments, my lady.”

Shallan raised an eyebrow. “Accouterments?”

“Sure,” the young sailor said with a grin. “I’m practicing my fancy words. They help a fellow obtain reasonable feminine companionship. You know— the kind of young lady who doesn’t smell too bad an’ has at least a few teeth left.”

“Lovely,” Shallan said, taking the sheets back. “Well, depending on your definition of lovely, at least.” She suppressed further quips, suspiciously regarding the stack of pages in her hand. The picture she’d drawn of Shadesmar was on top, no longer bearing the strange embossed ridges.

“What happened?” Yalb said. “Did a cremling crawl out from under you or something?” As usual, he wore an open-fronted vest and a pair of loose trousers.

“It was nothing,” Shallan said softly, tucking the pages away into her satchel.

Yalb gave her a little salute—she had no idea why he had taken to doing that—and went back to tying rigging with the other sailors. She soon caught bursts of laughter from the men near him, and when she glanced at him, gloryspren danced around his head—they took the shape of little spheres of light. He was apparently very proud of the jape he’d just made.

She smiled. It was indeed fortunate that Tozbek had been delayed in Kharbranth. She liked this crew, and was happy that Jasnah had selected them for their voyage. Shallan sat back down on the box that Captain Tozbek had ordered lashed beside the railing so she could enjoy the sea as they sailed. She had to be wary of the spray, which wasn’t terribly good for her sketches, but so long as the seas weren’t rough, the opportunity to watch the waters was worth the trouble.

The scout atop the rigging let out a shout. Shallan squinted in the direction he pointed. They were within sight of the distant mainland, sailing parallel to it. In fact, they’d docked at port last night to shelter from the highstorm that had blown past. When sailing, you always wanted to be near to port—venturing into open seas when a highstorm could surprise you was suicidal.

The smear of darkness to the north was the Frostlands, a largely uninhabited area along the bottom edge of Roshar. Occasionally, she caught a glimpse of higher cliffs to the south. Thaylenah, the great island kingdom, made another barrier there. The straits passed between the two.

The lookout had spotted something in the waves just north of the ship, a bobbing shape that at first appeared to be a large log. No, it was much larger than that, and wider. Shallan stood, squinting, as it drew closer. It turned out to be a domed brown-green shell, about the size of three rowboats lashed together. As they passed by, the shell came up alongside the ship and somehow managed to keep pace, sticking up out of the water perhaps six or eight feet.

A santhid! Shallan leaned out over the rail, looking down as the sailors jabbered excitedly, several joining her in craning out to see the creature. Santhidyn were so reclusive that some of her books claimed they were extinct and all modern reports of them untrustworthy.

“You are good luck, young miss!” Yalb said to her with a laugh as he passed by with rope. “We ain’t seen a santhid in years.”

“You still aren’t seeing one,” Shallan said. “Only the top of its shell.” To her disappointment, waters hid anything else—save shadows of something in the depths that might have been long arms extending downward. Stories claimed the beasts would sometimes follow ships for days, waiting out in the sea as the vessel went into port, then following them again once the ship left.

“The shell is all you ever see of one,” Yalb said. “Passions, this is a good sign!”

Shallan clutched her satchel. She took a Memory of the creature down there beside the ship by closing her eyes, fixing the image of it in her head so she could draw it with precision.

Draw what, though? she thought. A lump in the water?

An idea started to form in her head. She spoke it aloud before she could think better. “Bring me that rope,” she said, turning to Yalb.

“Brightness?” he asked, stopping in place.

“Tie a loop in one end,” she said, hurriedly setting her satchel on her seat. “I need to get a look at the santhid. I’ve never actually put my head underwater in the ocean. Will the salt make it difficult to see?”

“Underwater?” Yalb said, voice squeaking.

“You’re not tying the rope.”

“Because I’m not a storming fool! Captain will have my head if…”

“Get a friend,” Shallan said, ignoring him and taking the rope to tie one end into a small loop. “You’re going to lower me down over the side, and I’m going get a glimpse of what’s under the shell. Do you realize that nobody has ever produced a drawing of a live santhid? All the ones that have washed up on beaches were badly decomposed. And since sailors consider hunting the things to be bad luck—”

“It is!” Yalb said, voice growing more high pitched. “Ain’t nobody going to kill one.”

Shallan finished the loop and hurried to the side of the ship, her red hair whipping around her face as she leaned out over the rail. The santhid was still there. How did it keep up? She could see no fins.

She looked back at Yalb, who held the rope, grinning. “Ah, Brightness. Is this payback for what I said about your backside to Beznk? That was just in jest, but you got me good! I…” He trailed off as she met his eyes. “Storms. You’re serious.”

“I’ll not have another opportunity like this. Naladan chased these things for most of her life and never got a good look at one.”

“This is insanity!”

“No, this is scholarship! I don’t know what kind of view I can get through the water, but I have to try.”

Yalb sighed. “We have masks. Made from a tortoise shell with glass in hollowed-out holes on the front and bladders along the edges to keep the water out. You can duck your head underwater with one on and see. We use them to check over the hull at dock.”

“Wonderful!”

“Of course, I’d have to go to the captain to get permission to take one.…”

She folded her arms. “Devious of you. Well, get to it.” It was unlikely she’d be able to go through with this without the captain finding out anyway.

Yalb grinned. “What happened to you in Kharbranth? Your first trip with us, you were so timid, you looked like you’d faint at the mere thought of sailing away from your homeland!”

Shallan hesitated, then found herself blushing. “This is a somewhat foolhardy, isn’t it?”

“Hanging from a moving ship and sticking your head in the water?” Yalb said. “Yeah. Kind of a little.”

“Do you think… we could stop the ship?”

Yalb laughed, but went jogging off to speak with the captain, taking her query as an indication she was still determined to go through with her plan. And she was.

What did happen to me? she wondered.

The answer was simple. She’d lost everything. She’d stolen from Jasnah Kholin, one of the most powerful women in the world—and in so doing had not only lost her chance to study as she’d always dreamed, but had also doomed her brothers and her house. She had failed utterly and miserably.

And she’d pulled through it.

She wasn’t unscathed. Her credibility with Jasnah had been severely wounded, and she felt that she had all but abandoned her family. But something about the experience of stealing Jasnah’s Soulcaster—which had turned out to be a fake anyway—then nearly being killed by a man she’d thought was in love with her…

Well, she now had a better idea of how bad things could get. It was as if… once she had feared the darkness, but now she had stepped into it. She had experienced some of the horrors that awaited her there. Terrible as they were, at least she knew.

You always knew, a voice whispered deep inside of her. You grew up with horrors, Shallan. You just won’t let yourself remember them.

“What is this?” Tozbek asked as he came up, his wife, Ashlv, at his side. The diminutive woman did not speak much; she dressed in a skirt and blouse of bright yellow, a headscarf covering all of her hair except the two white eyebrows, which she had curled down beside her cheeks.

“Young miss,” Tozbek said, “you want to go swimming? Can’t you wait until we get into port? I know of some nice areas where the water is not nearly so cold.”

“I won’t be swimming,” Shallan said, blushing further. What would she wear to go swimming with men about? Did people really do that? “I need to get a closer look at our companion.” She gestured toward the sea creature.

“Young miss, you know I can’t allow something so dangerous. Even if we stopped the ship, what if the beast harmed you?”

“They’re said to be harmless.”

“They are so rare, can we really know for certain? Besides, there are other animals in these seas that could harm you. Redwaters hunt this area for certain, and we might be in shallow enough water for khornaks to be a worry.” Tozbek shook his head. “I’m sorry, I just cannot allow it.”

Shallan bit her lip, and found her heart beating traitorously. She wanted to push harder, but that decisive look in his eyes made her wilt. “Very well.”

Tozbek smiled broadly. “I’ll take you to see some shells in the port at Amydlatn when we stop there, young miss. They have quite a collection!”

She didn’t know where that was, but from the jumble of consonants squished together, she assumed it would be on the Thaylen side. Most cities were, this far south. Though Thaylenah was nearly as frigid as the Frostlands, people seemed to enjoy living there.

Of course, Thaylens were all a little off. How else to describe Yalb and the others wearing no shirts despite the chill in the air?

They weren’t the ones contemplating a dip in the ocean, Shallan reminded herself. She looked over the side of the ship again, watching waves break against the shell of the gentle santhid. What was it? A great-shelled beast, like the fearsome chasmfiends of the Shattered Plains? Was it more like a fish under there, or more like a tortoise? The santhidyn were so rare—and the occasions when scholars had seen them in person so infrequent—that the theories all contradicted one another.

She sighed and opened her satchel, then set to organizing her papers, most of which were practice sketches of the sailors in various poses as they worked to maneuver the massive sails overhead, tacking against the wind. Her father would never have allowed her to spend a day sitting and watching a bunch of shirtless darkeyes. How much her life had changed in such a short time.

She was working on a sketch of the santhid’s shell when Jasnah stepped up onto the deck.

Like Shallan, Jasnah wore the havah, a Vorin dress of distinctive design. The hemline was down at her feet and the neckline almost at her chin. Some of the Thaylens—when they thought she wasn’t listening—referred to the clothing as prudish. Shallan disagreed; the havah wasn’t prudish, but elegant. Indeed, the silk hugged the body, particularly through the bust—and the way the sailors gawked at Jasnah indicated they didn’t find the garment unflattering.

Jasnah was pretty. Lush of figure, tan of skin. Immaculate eyebrows, lips painted a deep red, hair up in a fine braid. Though Jasnah was twice Shallan’s age, her mature beauty was something to be admired, even envied. Why did the woman have to be so perfect?

Jasnah ignored the eyes of the sailors. It wasn’t that she didn’t notice men. Jasnah noticed everything and everyone. She simply didn’t seem to care, one way or another, how men perceived her.

No, that’s not true, Shallan thought as Jasnah walked over. She wouldn’t take the time to do her hair, or put on makeup, if she didn’t care how she was perceived. In that, Jasnah was an enigma. On one hand, she seemed to be a scholar concerned only with her research. On the other hand, she cultivated the poise and dignity of a king’s daughter—and, at times, used it like a bludgeon.

“And here you are,” Jasnah said, walking to Shallan. A spray of water from the side of the ship chose that moment to fly up and sprinkle her. She frowned at the drops of water beading on her silk clothing, then looked back to Shallan and raised her eyebrow. “The ship, you may have noticed, has two very fine cabins that I hired out for us at no small expense.”

“Yes, but they’re inside.”

“As rooms usually are.”

“I’ve spent most of my life inside.”

“So you will spend much more of it, if you wish to be a scholar.” Shallan bit her lip, waiting for the order to go below. Curiously, it did not come. Jasnah gestured for Captain Tozbek to approach, and he did so, groveling his way over with cap in hand.

“Yes, Brightness?” he asked.

“I should like another of these… seats,” Jasnah said, regarding Shallan’s box.

Tozbek quickly had one of his men lash a second box in place. As she waited for the seat to be ready, Jasnah waved for Shallan to hand over her sketches. Jasnah inspected the drawing of the santhid, then looked over the side of the ship. “No wonder the sailors were making such a fuss.”

“Luck, Brightness!” one of the sailors said. “It is a good omen for your trip, don’t you think?”

“I shall take any fortune provided me, Nanhel Eltorv,” she said. “Thank you for the seat.”

The sailor bowed awkwardly before retreating.

“You think they’re superstitious fools,” Shallan said softly, watching the sailor leave.

“From what I have observed,” Jasnah said, “these sailors are men who have found a purpose in life and now take simple pleasure in it.” Jasnah looked at the next drawing. “Many people make far less out of life. Captain Tozbek runs a good crew. You were wise in bringing him to my attention.”

Shallan smiled. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“You didn’t ask a question,” Jasnah said. “These sketches are characteristically skillful, Shallan, but weren’t you supposed to be reading?”

“I… had trouble concentrating.”

“So you came up on deck,” Jasnah said, “to sketch pictures of young men working without their shirts on. You expected this to help your concentration?”

Shallan blushed, as Jasnah stopped at one sheet of paper in the stack. Shallan sat patiently—she’d been well trained in that by her father—until Jasnah turned it toward her. The picture of Shadesmar, of course.

“You have respected my command not to peer into this realm again?” Jasnah asked.

“Yes, Brightness. That picture was drawn from a memory of my first… lapse.”

Jasnah lowered the page. Shallan thought she saw a hint of something in the woman’s expression. Was Jasnah wondering if she could trust Shallan’s word?

“I assume this is what is bothering you?” Jasnah asked. “Yes, Brightness.”

“I suppose I should explain it to you, then.”

“Really? You would do this?”

“You needn’t sound so surprised.”

“It seems like powerful information,” Shallan said. “The way you forbade me… I assumed that knowledge of this place was secret, or at least not to be trusted to one of my age.”

Jasnah sniffed. “I’ve found that refusing to explain secrets to young people makes them more prone to get themselves into trouble, not less. Your experimentation proves that you’ve already stumbled face-first into all of this—as I once did myself, I’ll have you know. I know through painful experience how dangerous Shadesmar can be. If I leave you in ignorance, I’ll be to blame if you get yourself killed there.”

“So you’d have explained about it if I’d asked earlier in our trip?”

“Probably not,” Jasnah admitted. “I had to see how willing you were to obey me. This time.”

Shallan wilted, and suppressed the urge to point out that back when she’d been a studious and obedient ward, Jasnah hadn’t divulged nearly as many secrets as she did now. “So what is it? That… place.”

“It’s not truly a location,” Jasnah said. “Not as we usually think of them. Shadesmar is here, all around us, right now. All things exist there in some form, as all things exist here.”

Shallan frowned. “I don’t—”

Jasnah held up a finger to quiet her. “All things have three components: the soul, the body, and the mind. That place you saw, Shadesmar, is what we call the Cognitive Realm—the place of the mind.

“All around us you see the physical world. You can touch it, see it, hear it. This is how your physical body experiences the world. Well, Shadesmar is the way that your cognitive self—your unconscious self—experiences the world. Through your hidden senses touching that realm, you make intuitive leaps in logic and you form hopes. It is likely through those extra senses that you, Shallan, create art.”

Water splashed on the bow of the ship as it crossed a swell. Shallan wiped a drop of salty water from her cheek, trying to think through what Jasnah had just said. “That made almost no sense whatsoever to me, Brightness.”

“I should hope that it didn’t,” Jasnah said. “I’ve spent six years researching Shadesmar, and I still barely know what to make of it. I shall have to accompany you there several times before you can understand, even a little, the true significance of the place.”

Jasnah grimaced at the thought. Shallan was always surprised to see visible emotion from her. Emotion was something relatable, something human—and Shallan’s mental image of Jasnah Kholin was of someone almost divine. It was, upon reflection, an odd way to regard a determined atheist.

“Listen to me,” Jasnah said. “My own words betray my ignorance. I told you that Shadesmar wasn’t a place, and yet I call it one in my next breath. I speak of visiting it, though it is all around us. We simply don’t have the proper terminology to discuss it. Let me try another tactic.”

Jasnah stood up, and Shallan hastened to follow. They walked along the ship’s rail, feeling the deck sway beneath their feet. Sailors made way for Jasnah with quick bows. They regarded her with as much reverence as they would a king. How did she do it? How could she control her surroundings without seeming to do anything at all?

“Look down into the waters,” Jasnah said as they reached the bow. “What do you see?”

Shallan stopped beside the rail and stared down at the blue waters, foaming as they were broken by the ship’s prow. Here at the bow, she could see a deepness to the swells. An unfathomable expanse that extended not just outward, but downward.

“I see eternity,” Shallan said.

“Spoken like an artist,” Jasnah said. “This ship sails across depths we cannot know. Beneath these waves is a bustling, frantic, unseen world.”

Jasnah leaned forward, gripping the rail with one hand unclothed and the other veiled within the safehand sleeve. She looked outward. Not at the depths, and not at the land distantly peeking over both the northern and southern horizons. She looked toward the east. Toward the storms.

“There is an entire world, Shallan,” Jasnah said, “of which our minds skim but the surface. A world of deep, profound thought. A world created by deep, profound thoughts. When you see Shadesmar, you enter those depths. It is an alien place to us in some ways, but at the same time we formed it. With some help.”

“We did what?”

“What are spren?” Jasnah asked.

The question caught Shallan off guard, but by now she was accustomed to challenging questions from Jasnah. She took time to think and consider her answer.

“Nobody knows what spren are,” Shallan said, “though many philosophers have different opinions on—”

“No,” Jasnah said. “What are they?”

“I…” Shallan looked up at a pair of windspren spinning through the air above. They looked like tiny ribbons of light, glowing softly, dancing around one another. “They’re living ideas.”

Jasnah spun on her.

“What?” Shallan said, jumping. “Am I wrong?”

“No,” Jasnah said. “You’re right.” The woman narrowed her eyes. “By my best guess, spren are elements of the Cognitive Realm that have leaked into the physical world. They’re concepts that have gained a fragment of sentience, perhaps because of human intervention.

“Think of a man who gets angry often. Think of how his friends and family might start referring to that anger as a beast, as a thing that possesses him, as something external to him. Humans personify. We speak of the wind as if it has a will of its own.

“Spren are those ideas—the ideas of collective human experience— somehow come alive. Shadesmar is where that first happens, and it is their place. Though we created it, they shaped it. They live there; they rule there, within their own cities.”

Cities?

“Yes,” Jasnah said, looking back out over the ocean. She seemed troubled. “Spren are wild in their variety. Some are as clever as humans and create cities. Others are like fish and simply swim in the currents.”

Shallan nodded. Though in truth she was having trouble grasping any of this, she didn’t want Jasnah to stop talking. This was the sort of knowledge that Shallan needed, the kind of thing she craved. “Does this have to do with what you discovered? About the parshmen, the Voidbringers?”

“I haven’t been able to determine that yet. The spren are not always forthcoming. In some cases, they do not know. In others, they do not trust me because of our ancient betrayal.”

Shallan frowned, looking to her teacher. “Betrayal?”

“They tell me of it,” Jasnah said, “but they won’t say what it was. We broke an oath, and in so doing offended them greatly. I think some of them may have died, though how a concept can die, I do not know.” Jasnah turned to Shallan with a solemn expression. “I realize this is overwhelming. You will have to learn this, all of it, if you are to help me. Are you still willing?”

“Do I have a choice?”

A smile tugged at the edges of Jasnah’s lips. “I doubt it. You Soulcast on your own, without the aid of a fabrial. You are like me.”

Shallan stared out over the waters. Like Jasnah. What did it mean? Why—

She froze, blinking. For a moment, she thought she’d seen the same pattern as before, the one that had made ridges on her sheet of paper. This time it had been in the water, impossibly formed on the surface of a wave.

“Brightness…” she said, resting her fingers on Jasnah’s arm. “I thought I saw something in the water, just now. A pattern of sharp lines, like a maze.”

“Show me where.”

“It was on one of the waves, and we’ve passed it now. But I think I saw it earlier, on one of my pages. Does it mean something?”

“Most certainly. I must admit, Shallan, I find the coincidence of our meeting to be startling. Suspiciously so.”

“Brightness?”

“They were involved,” Jasnah said. “They brought you to me. And they are still watching you, it appears. So no, Shallan, you no longer have a choice. The old ways are returning, and I don’t see it as a hopeful sign. It’s an act of self-preservation. The spren sense impending danger, and so they return to us. Our attention now must turn to the Shattered Plains and the relics of Urithiru. It will be a long, long time before you return to your homeland.”

Shallan nodded mutely.

“This worries you,” Jasnah said.

“Yes, Brightness. My family…”

Shallan felt like a traitor in abandoning her brothers, who had been depending on her for wealth. She’d written to them and explained, without many specifics, that she’d had to return the stolen Soulcaster—and was now required to help Jasnah with her work.

Balat’s reply had been positive, after a fashion. He said he was glad at least one of them had escaped the fate that was coming to the house. He thought that the rest of them—her three brothers and Balat’s betrothed— were doomed.

They might be right. Not only would Father’s debts crush them, but there was the matter of her father’s broken Soulcaster. The group that had given it to him wanted it back.

Unfortunately, Shallan was convinced that Jasnah’s quest was of the utmost importance. The Voidbringers would soon return—indeed, they were not some distant threat from stories. They lived among men, and had for centuries. The gentle, quiet parshmen who worked as perfect servants and slaves were really destroyers.

Stopping the catastrophe of the return of the Voidbringers was a greater duty than even protecting her brothers. It was still painful to admit that.

Jasnah studied her. “With regard to your family, Shallan. I have taken some action.”

“Action?” Shallan said, taking the taller woman’s arm. “You’ve helped my brothers?”

“After a fashion,” Jasnah said. “Wealth would not truly solve this problem, I suspect, though I have arranged for a small gift to be sent. From what you’ve said, your family’s problems really stem from two issues. First, the Ghostbloods desire their Soulcaster—which you have broken—to be returned. Second, your house is without allies and deeply in debt.”

Jasnah proffered a sheet of paper. “This,” she continued, “is from a conversation I had with my mother via spanreed this morning.”

Shallan traced it with her eyes, noting Jasnah’s explanation of the broken Soulcaster and her request for help.

This happens more often than you’d think, Navani had replied. The failing likely has to do with the alignment of the gem housings. Bring me the device, and we shall see.

“My mother,” Jasnah said, “is a renowned artifabrian. I suspect she can make yours function again. We can send it to your brothers, who can return it to its owners.”

“You’d let me do that?” Shallan asked. During their days sailing, Shallan had cautiously pried for more information about the sect, hoping to understand her father and his motives. Jasnah claimed to know very little of them beyond the fact that they wanted her research, and were willing to kill for it.

“I don’t particularly want them having access to such a valuable device,” Jasnah said. “But I don’t have time to protect your family right now directly. This is a workable solution, assuming your brothers can stall a while longer. Have them tell the truth, if they must—that you, knowing I was a scholar, came to me and asked me to fix the Soulcaster. Perhaps that will sate them for now.”

“Thank you, Brightness.” Storms. If she’d just gone to Jasnah in the first place, after being accepted as her ward, how much easier would it have been? Shallan looked down at the paper, noticing that the conversation continued.

As for the other matter, Navani wrote, I’m very fond of this suggestion. I believe I can persuade the boy to at least consider it, as his most recent affair ended quite abruptly—as is common with him—earlier in the week.

“What is this second part?” Shallan asked, looking up from the paper.

“Sating the Ghostbloods alone will not save your house,” Jasnah said. “Your debts are too great, particularly considering your father’s actions in alienating so many. I have therefore arranged a powerful alliance for your house.”

“Alliance? How?”

Jasnah took a deep breath. She seemed reluctant to explain. “I have taken the initial steps in arranging for you to be betrothed to one of my cousins, son of my uncle Dalinar Kholin. The boy’s name is Adolin. He is handsome and well-acquainted with amiable discourse.”

“Betrothed?” Shallan said. “You’ve promised him my hand?”

“I have started the process,” Jasnah said, speaking with uncharacteristic anxiety. “Though at times he lacks foresight, Adolin has a good heart—as good as that of his father, who may be the best man I have ever known. He is considered Alethkar’s most eligible son, and my mother has long wanted him wed.”

“Betrothed,” Shallan repeated.

“Yes. Is that distressing?”

“It’s wonderful!” Shallan exclaimed, grabbing Jasnah’s arm more tightly. “So easy. If I’m married to someone so powerful… Storms! Nobody would dare touch us in Jah Keved. It would solve many of our problems. Brightness Jasnah, you’re a genius!”

Jasnah relaxed visibly. “Yes, well, it did seem a workable solution. I had wondered, however, if you’d be offended.”

“Why on the winds would I be offended?”

“Because of the restriction of freedom implicit in a marriage,” Jasnah said. “And if not that, because the offer was made without consulting you. I had to see if the possibility was even open first. It has proceeded further than I’d expected, as my mother has seized on the idea. Navani has… a tendency toward the overwhelming.”

Shallan had trouble imagining anyone overwhelming Jasnah. “Stormfather! You’re worried I’d be offended? Brightness, I spent my entire life locked in my father’s manor—I grew up assuming he’d pick my husband.”

“But you’re free of your father now.”

“Yes, and I was so perfectly wise in my own pursuit of relationships,” Shallan said. “The first man I chose was not only an ardent, but secretly an assassin.”

“It doesn’t bother you at all?” Jasnah said. “The idea of being beholden to another, particularly a man?”

“It’s not like I’m being sold into slavery,” Shallan said with a laugh.

“No. I suppose not.” Jasnah shook herself, her poise returning. “Well, I will let Navani know you are amenable to the engagement, and we should have a causal in place within the day.”

A causal—a conditional betrothal, in Vorin terminology. She would be, for all intents and purposes, engaged, but would have no legal footing until an official betrothal was signed and verified by the ardents.

“The boy’s father has said he will not force Adolin into anything,” Jasnah explained, “though the boy is recently single, as he has managed to offend yet another young lady. Regardless, Dalinar would rather you two meet before anything more binding is agreed upon. There have been… shifts in the political climate of the Shattered Plains. A great loss to my uncle’s army. Another reason for us to hasten to the Shattered Plains.”

“Adolin Kholin,” Shallan said, listening with half an ear. “A duelist. A fantastic one. And even a Shardbearer.”

“Ah, so you were paying attention to your readings about my father and family.”

“I was—but I knew about your family before that. The Alethi are the center of society! Even girls from rural houses know the names of the Alethi princes.” And she’d be lying if she denied youthful daydreams of meeting one. “But Brightness, are you certain this match will be wise? I mean, I’m hardly the most important of individuals.”

“Well, yes. The daughter of another highprince might have been preferable for Adolin. However, it seems that he has managed to offend each and every one of the eligible women of that rank. The boy is, shall we say, somewhat overeager about relationships. Nothing you can’t work through, I’m sure.”

“Stormfather,” Shallan said, feeling her legs go weak. “He’s heir to a princedom! He’s in line to the throne of Alethkar itself!”

“Third in line,” Jasnah said, “behind my brother’s infant son and Dalinar, my uncle.”

“Brightness, I have to ask. Why Adolin? Why not the younger son? I—I have nothing to offer Adolin, or the house.”

“On the contrary,” Jasnah said, “if you are what I think you are, then you will be able to offer him something nobody else can. Something more important than riches.”

“What is it you think that I am?” Shallan whispered, meeting the older woman’s eyes, finally asking the question that she hadn’t dared.

“Right now, you are but a promise,” Jasnah said. “A chrysalis with the potential for grandeur inside. When once humans and spren bonded, the results were women who danced in the skies and men who could destroy the stones with a touch.”

“The Lost Radiants. Traitors to mankind.” She couldn’t absorb it all. The betrothal, Shadesmar and the spren, and this, her mysterious destiny. She’d known. But speaking it…

She sank down, heedless of getting her dress wet on the deck, and sat with her back against the bulwark. Jasnah allowed her to compose herself before, amazingly, sitting down herself. She did so with far more poise, tucking her dress underneath her legs as she sat sideways. They both drew looks from the sailors.

“They’re going to chew me to pieces,” Shallan said. “The Alethi court. It’s the most ferocious in the world.”

Jasnah snorted. “It’s more bluster than storm, Shallan. I will train you.”

“I’ll never be like you, Brightness. You have power, authority, wealth. Just look how the sailors respond to you.”

“Am I specifically using said power, authority, or wealth right now?” “You paid for this trip.”

“Did you not pay for several trips on this ship?” Jasnah asked. “They did not treat you the same as they do me?”

“No. Oh, they are fond of me. But I don’t have your weight, Jasnah.”

“I will assume that did not have implications toward my girth,” Jasnah said with a hint of a smile. “I understand your argument, Shallan. It is, however, dead wrong.”

Shallan turned to her. Jasnah sat upon the deck of the ship as if it were a throne, back straight, head up, commanding. Shallan sat with her legs against her chest, arms around them below the knees. Even the ways they sat were different. She was nothing like this woman.

“There is a secret you must learn, child,” Jasnah said. “A secret that is even more important than those relating to Shadesmar and spren. Power is an illusion of perception.”

Shallan frowned.

“Don’t mistake me,” Jasnah continued. “Some kinds of power are real— power to command armies, power to Soulcast. These come into play far less often than you would think. On an individual basis, in most interactions, this thing we call power—authority—exists only as it is perceived.

“You say I have wealth. This is true, but you have also seen that I do not often use it. You say I have authority as the sister of a king. I do. And yet, the men of this ship would treat me exactly the same way if I were a beggar who had convinced them I was the sister to a king. In that case, my authority is not a real thing. It is mere vapors—an illusion. I can create that illusion for them, as can you.”

“I’m not convinced, Brightness.”

“I know. If you were, you would be doing it already.” Jasnah stood up, brushing off her skirt. “You will tell me if you see that pattern—the one that appeared on the waves—again?”

“Yes, Brightness,” Shallan said, distracted.

“Then take the rest of the day for your art. I need to consider how to best teach you of Shadesmar.” The older woman retreated, nodding at the bows of sailors as she passed and went back down belowdecks.

Shallan rose, then turned and grabbed the railing, one hand to either side of the bowsprit. The ocean spread before her, rippling waves, a scent of cold freshness. Rhythmic crashing as the sloop pushed through the waves.

Jasnah’s words fought in her mind, like skyeels with only one rat between them. Spren with cities? Shadesmar, a realm that was here, but unseen? Shallan, suddenly betrothed to the single most important bachelor in the world?

She left the bow, walking along the side of the ship, freehand trailing on the railing. How did the sailors regard her? They smiled, they waved. They liked her. Yalb, who hung lazily from the rigging nearby, called to her, telling her that in the next port, there was a statue she had to go visit. “It’s this giant foot, young miss. Just a foot! Never finished the blustering statue…”

She smiled to him and continued. Did she want them to look at her as they looked at Jasnah? Always afraid, always worried that they might do something wrong? Was that power?

When I first sailed from Vedenar, she thought, reaching the place where her box had been tied, the captain kept urging me to go home. He saw my mission as a fool’s errand.

Tozbek had always acted as if he were doing her a favor in conveying her after Jasnah. Should she have had to spend that entire time feeling as if she’d imposed upon him and his crew by hiring them? Yes, he had offered a discount to her because of her father’s business with him in the past—but she’d still been employing him.

The way he’d treated her was probably a thing of Thaylen merchants. If a captain could make you feel like you were imposing on him, you’d pay better. She liked the man, but their relationship left something to be desired. Jasnah would never have stood for being treated in such a way.

That santhid still swam alongside. It was like a tiny, mobile island, its back overgrown with seaweed, small crystals jutting up from the shell.

Shallan turned and walked toward the stern, where Captain Tozbek spoke with one of his mates, pointing at a map covered with glyphs. He nodded to her as she approached. “Just a warning, young miss,” he said. “The ports will soon grow less accommodating. We’ll be leaving Longbrow’s Straits, curving around the eastern edge of the continent, toward New Natanan. There’s nothing of worth between here and the Shallow Crypts—and even that’s not much of a sight. I wouldn’t send my own brother ashore there without guards, and he’s killed seventeen men with his bare hands, he has.”

“I understand, Captain,” Shallan said. “And thank you. I’ve revised my earlier decision. I need you to halt the ship and let me inspect the specimen swimming beside us.”

He sighed, reaching up and running his fingers along one of his stiff, spiked eyebrows—much as other men might play with their mustaches. “Brightness, that’s not advisable. Stormfather! If I dropped you in the ocean…”

“Then I would be wet,” Shallan said. “It is a state I’ve experienced one or two times in my life.”

“No, I simply cannot allow it. Like I said, we’ll take you to see some shells in—”

“Cannot allow it?” Shallan interrupted. She regarded him with what she hoped was a look of puzzlement, hoping he didn’t see how tightly she squeezed her hands closed at her sides. Storms, but she hated confrontation. “I wasn’t aware I had made a request you had the power to allow or disallow, Captain. Stop the ship. Lower me down. That is your order.” She tried to say it as forcefully as Jasnah would. The woman could make it seem easier to resist a full highstorm than to disagree with her.

Tozbek worked his mouth for a moment, no sound coming out, as if his body were trying to continue his earlier objection but his mind had been delayed. “It is my ship…” he finally said.

“Nothing will be done to your ship,” Shallan said. “Let’s be quick about it, Captain. I do not wish to overly delay our arrival in port tonight.”

She left him, walking back to her box, heart thumping, hands trembling. She sat down, partially to calm herself.

Tozbek, sounding profoundly annoyed, began calling orders. The sails were lowered, the ship slowed. Shallan breathed out, feeling a fool.

And yet, what Jasnah said worked. The way Shallan acted created something in the eyes of Tozbek. An illusion? Like the spren themselves, perhaps? Fragments of human expectation, given life?

The santhid slowed with them. Shallan rose, nervous, as sailors approached with rope. They reluctantly tied a loop at the bottom she could put her foot in, then explained that she should hold tightly to the rope as she was lowered. They tied a second, smaller rope securely around her waist—the means by which to haul her, wet and humiliated, back onto the deck. An inevitability, in their eyes.

She took off her shoes, then climbed up over the railing as instructed. Had it been this windy before? She had a moment of vertigo, standing there with socked toes gripping a tiny rim, dress fluttering in the coursing winds. A windspren zipped up to her, then formed into the shape of a face with clouds behind it. Storms, the thing had better not interfere. Was it human imagination that had given windspren their mischievous spark?

She stepped unsteadily into the rope loop as the sailors lowered it down beside her feet, then Yalb handed her the mask he’d told her of.

Jasnah appeared from belowdecks, looking about in confusion. She saw Shallan standing off the side of the ship, and then cocked an eyebrow.

Shallan shrugged, then gestured to the men to lower her.

She refused to let herself feel silly as she inched toward the waters and the reclusive animal bobbing in the waves. The men stopped her a foot or two above the water, and she put on the mask, held by straps, covering most of her face including the nose.

“Lower!” she shouted up at them.

She thought she could feel their reluctance in the lethargic way the rope descended. Her foot hit the water, and a biting cold shot up her leg. Stormfather! But she didn’t have them stop. She let them lower her farther until her legs were submerged in the frigid water. Her skirt ballooned out in a most annoying way, and she actually had to step on the end of it—inside the loop—to prevent it from rising up about her waist and floating on the water's surface as she submerged.

She wrestled with the fabric for a moment, glad the men above couldn’t see her blushing. Once it got wetter, though, it was easier to manage. She finally was able to squat, still holding tightly to the rope, and go down into the water up to her waist.

Then she ducked her head under the water.

Light streamed down from the surface in shimmering, radiant columns. There was life here, furious, amazing life. Tiny fish zipped this way and that, picking at the underside of the shell that shaded a majestic creature. Gnarled like an ancient tree, with rippled and folded skin, the true form of the santhid was a beast with long, drooping blue tendrils, like those of a jellyfish, only far thicker. Those disappeared down into the depths, trailing behind the beast at a slant.

The beast itself was a knotted grey-blue mass underneath the shell. Its ancient-looking folds surrounded one large eye on her side—presumably, would be its twin on the other. It seemed ponderous, yet majestic, with mighty fins moving like oarsmen. A group of strange spren shaped like arrows moved through the water here around the beast.

Schools of fish darted about. Though the depths seemed empty, the area just around the santhid teemed with life, as did the area under the ship. Tiny fish picked at the bottom of the vessel. They’d move between the santhid and the ship, sometimes alone, sometimes in waves. Was this why the creature swam up beside a vessel? Something to do with the fish, and their relationship to it?

She looked upon the creature, and its eye—as big as her head—rolled toward her, focusing, seeing her. In that moment, Shallan’s couldn’t feel the cold. She couldn’t feel embarrassed. She was looking into a world that, so far as she knew, no scholar had ever visited.

She blinked her eyes, taking a Memory of the creature, collecting it for later sketching.

 

 

Words of Radiance Brandon Sanderson excerpt chapter 2

 

Our first clue was the Parshendi. Even weeks before they abandoned their pursuit of the gemhearts, their pattern of fighting changed. They lingered on the plateaus after battles, as if waiting for something.

—From the personal journal of Navani Kholin, Jeseses 1174

 

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.

Breath. His own little storm.

Outside, the rain had stopped. Kaladin remained sitting in the darkness. When kings and wealthy lighteyes died, their bodies weren’t burned like those of common men. Instead, they were Soulcast into statues of stone or metal, forever frozen.

The darkeyes’ bodies were burned. They became smoke, to rise toward the heavens and whatever waited there, like a burned prayer.

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.

Kaladin stood up and opened his eyes. He’d spent the highstorm in the darkness of this small room alongside Bridge Four’s new barrack. Alone. He walked to the door, but stopped. He rested his fingers on a cloak he knew hung from a hook there. In the darkness, he could not make out its deep blue color, nor the Kholin glyph—in the shape of Dalinar’s sigil—on the back.

It seemed that every change in his life had been marked by a storm. This was a big one. He shoved open the door and stepped out into the light as a free man.

He left the cloak, for now.

Bridge Four cheered him as he emerged. They had gone out to bathe and shave in the riddens of the storm, as was their custom. The line was almost done, Rock having shaved each of the men in turn. The large Horn-eater hummed to himself as he worked the razor over Drehy’s balding head. The air smelled wet from the rain, and a washed-out firepit nearby was the only trace of the stew the group had shared the night before.

In many ways, this place wasn’t so different from the lumberyards his men had recently escaped. The long, rectangular stone barracks were much the same—Soulcast rather than having been built by hand, they looked like enormous stone logs. These, however, each had a couple of smaller rooms on the sides for sergeants, with their own doors that opened to the outside. They’d been painted with the symbols of the platoons using them before; Kaladin’s men would have to paint over those.

“Moash,” Kaladin called. “Skar, Teft.”

The three jogged toward him, splashing through puddles left by the storm. They wore the clothing of bridgemen: simple trousers cut off at the knees, and leather vests over bare chests. Skar was up and mobile despite the wound to his foot, and he tried rather obviously not to limp. For now, Kaladin didn’t order him to bed rest. The wound wasn’t too bad, and he needed the man.

“I want to look at what we’ve got,” Kaladin said, leading them away from the barrack. It would house fifty men along with a half-dozen sergeants. More barracks flanked it on either side. Kaladin had been given an entire block of them—twenty buildings—to house his new battalion of former bridgemen.

Twenty buildings. That Dalinar should so easily be able to find a block of twenty buildings for the bridgemen bespoke a terrible truth—the cost of Sadeas’s betrayal. Thousands of men dead. Indeed, female scribes worked near some of the barracks, supervising parshmen who carried out heaps of clothing and other personal effects. The possessions of the deceased.

Not a few of those scribes looked on with red eyes and frazzled composures. Sadeas had just created thousands of new widows in Dalinar’s camp, and likely as many orphans. If Kaladin had needed another reason to hate that man, he found it here, manifest in the suffering of those whose husbands had trusted him on the battlefield.

In Kaladin’s eyes, there was no sin greater than the betrayal of one’s allies in battle. Except, perhaps, for the betrayal of one’s own men—of murdering them after they risked their lives to protect you. Kaladin felt an immediate flare of anger at thoughts of Amaram and what he’d done. His slave brand seemed to burn again on his forehead.

Amaram and Sadeas. Two men in Kaladin’s life who would, at some point, need to pay for the things they’d done. Preferably, that payment would come with severe interest.

Kaladin continued to walk with Teft, Moash, and Skar. These barracks, which were slowly being emptied of personal effects, were also crowded with bridgemen. They looked much like the men of Bridge Four—same vests and knee-trousers. And yet, in some other ways, they couldn’t have looked less like the men of Bridge Four. Shaggy-haired with beards that hadn’t been trimmed in months, they bore hollow eyes that didn’t seem to blink often enough. Slumped backs. Expressionless faces.

Each man among them seemed to sit alone, even when surrounded by his fellows.

“I remember that feeling,” Skar said softly. The short, wiry man had sharp features and silvering hair at the temples, despite being in his early thirties. “I don’t want to, but I do.”

“We’re supposed to turn those into an army?” Moash asked.

“Kaladin did it to Bridge Four, didn’t he?” Teft asked, wagging a finger at Moash. “He’ll do it again.”

“Transforming a few dozen men is different from doing the same for hundreds,” Moash said, kicking aside a fallen branch from the highstorm. Tall and solid, Moash had a scar on his chin but no slave brand on his forehead. He walked straight-backed with his chin up. Save for those dark brown eyes of his, he could have passed for an officer.

Kaladin led the three past barrack after barrack, doing a quick count. Nearly a thousand men, and though he’d told them yesterday that they were now free—and could return to their old lives if they wished—few seemed to want to do anything but sit. Though there had originally been forty bridge crews, many had been slaughtered during the latest assault and others had already been short-manned.

“We’ll combine them into twenty crews,” Kaladin said, “of about fifty each.” Above, Syl fluttered down as a ribbon of light and zipped around him. The men gave no sign of seeing her; she would be invisible to them. “We can’t teach each of these thousand personally, not at first. We’ll want to train the more eager ones among them, then send them back to lead and train their own teams.”

“I suppose,” Teft said, scratching his chin. The oldest of the bridgemen, he was one of the few who retained a beard. Most of the others had shaved theirs off as a mark of pride, something to separate the men of Bridge Four from common slaves. Teft kept his neat for the same reason. It was light brown where it hadn’t gone grey, and he wore it short and square, almost like an ardent’s.

Moash grimaced, looking at the bridgemen. “You assume some of them will be ‘more eager,’ Kaladin. They all look the same level of despondent to me.”

“Some will still have fight in them,” Kaladin said, continuing on back toward Bridge Four. “The ones who joined us at the fire last night, for a start. Teft, I’ll need you to choose others. Organize and combine crews, then pick forty men—two from each team—to be trained first. You’ll be in command of that training. Those forty will be the seed we use to help the rest.”

“I suppose I can do that.”

“Good. I’ll give you a few men to help.”

“A few?” Teft asked. “I could use more than a few.…”

“You’ll have to make do with a few,” Kaladin said, stopping on the path and turning westward, toward the king’s complex beyond the camp wall. It rose on a hillside overlooking the rest of the warcamps. “Most of us are going to be needed to keep Dalinar Kholin alive.”

Moash and the others stopped beside him. Kaladin squinted at the palace. It certainly didn’t look grand enough to house a king—out here, everything was just stone and more stone.

“You are willing to trust Dalinar?” Moash asked.

“He gave up his Shardblade for us,” Kaladin said.

“He owed it to us,” Skar said with a grunt. “We saved his storming life.”

“It could have just been posturing,” Moash said, folding his arms. “Political games, him and Sadeas trying to manipulate each other.”

Syl alighted on Kaladin’s shoulder, taking the form of a young woman with a flowing, filmy dress, all blue-white. She held her hands clasped together as she looked up at the king’s complex, where Dalinar Kholin had gone to plan.

He’d told Kaladin that he was going to do something that would anger a lot of people. I’m going to take away their games.…

“We need to keep that man alive,” Kaladin said, looking back to the others. “I don’t know if I trust him, but he’s the only person on these Plains who has shown even a hint of compassion for bridgemen. If he dies, do you want to guess how long it will take his successor to sell us back to Sadeas?”

Skar snorted in derision. “I’d like to see them try with a Knight Radiant at our head.”

“I’m not a Radiant.”

“Fine, whatever,” Skar said. “Whatever you are, it will be tough for them to take us from you.”

“You think I can fight them all, Skar?” Kaladin said, meeting the older man’s eyes. “Dozens of Shardbearers? Tens of thousands of troops? You think one man could do that?”

“Not one man,” Skar said, stubborn. “You.”

“I’m not a god, Skar,” Kaladin said. “I can’t hold back the weight of ten armies.” He turned to the other two. “We decided to stay here on the Shattered Plains. Why?”

“What good would it do to run?” Teft asked, shrugging. “Even as free men, we’d just end up conscripted into one army or another out there in the hills. Either that, or we’d end up starving.”

Moash nodded. “This is as good a place as any, so long as we’re free.”

“Dalinar Kholin is our best hope for a real life,” Kaladin said. “Bodyguards, not conscripted labor. Free men, despite the brands on our foreheads. Nobody else will give us that. If we want freedom, we need to keep Dalinar Kholin alive.”

“And the Assassin in White?” Skar asked softly.

They’d heard of what the man was doing around the world, slaughtering kings and highprinces in all nations. The news was the buzz of the warcamps, ever since reports had started trickling in through spanreed. The emperor of Azir, dead. Jah Keved in turmoil. A half-dozen other nations left without a ruler.

“He already killed our king,” Kaladin said. “Old Gavilar was the assassin’s first murder. We’ll just have to hope he’s done here. Either way, we protect Dalinar. At all costs.”

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.

In truth, Kaladin was a little surprised at himself and the trust he felt. But, storm it, Syl liked Dalinar. That carried weight.

“We’re weak right now,” Kaladin said, lowering his voice. “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? If worse comes to worst, and we have to abandon the camps, I’d like to do so as a cohesive unit, hardened and impossible to ignore. Give me a year with this thousand, and I can have it done.”

“Now that plan I like,” Moash said. “Do I get to learn to use a sword?”

“We’re still darkeyes, Moash.”

“Not you,” Skar said from his other side. “I saw your eyes during the—”

“Stop!” Kaladin said. He took a deep breath. “Just stop. No more talk of that.”

Skar fell silent.

“I am going to name you officers,” Kaladin said to them. “You three, along with Sigzil and Rock. You’ll be lieutenants.”

“Darkeyed lieutenants?” Skar said. The rank was commonly used for the equivalent of sergeants in companies made up only of lighteyes.

“Dalinar made me a captain,” Kaladin said. “The highest rank he said he dared commission a darkeyes. Well, I need to come up with a full command structure for a thousand men, and we’re going to need something between sergeant and captain. That means appointing you five as lieutenants. I think Dalinar will let me get away with it. We’ll make master sergeants if we need another rank.

“Rock is going to be quartermaster and in charge of food for the thousand. I’ll appoint Lopen his second. Teft, you’ll be in charge of training. Sigzil will be our clerk. He’s the only one who can read glyphs. Moash and Skar…”

He glanced toward the two men. One short, the other tall, they walked the same way, with a smooth gait, dangerous, spears always on their shoulders. They were never without. Of all the men he’d trained in Bridge Four, only these two had instinctively understood. They were killers.

Like Kaladin himself.

“We three,” Kaladin told them, “are each going to focus on watching Dalinar Kholin. Whenever possible, I want one of us three personally guarding him. Often one of the other two will watch his sons, but make no mistake, the Blackthorn is the man we’re going to keep alive. At all costs. He is our only guarantee of freedom for Bridge Four.”

The others nodded.

“Good,” Kaladin said. “Let’s go get the rest of the men. It’s time for the world to see you as I do.”

 

By common agreement, Hobber sat down to get his tattoo first. The gaptoothed man was one of the very first who had believed in Kaladin. Kaladin remembered that day; exhausted after a bridge run, wanting to simply lie down and stare. Instead, he’d chosen to save Hobber rather than letting him die. Kaladin had saved himself that day too.

The rest of Bridge Four stood around Hobber in the tent, watching in silence as the tattooist worked carefully on his forehead, covering up the scar of his slave’s brand with the glyphs Kaladin had provided. Hobber winced now and then at the pain of the tattoo, but he kept a grin on his face.

Kaladin had heard that you could cover a scar with a tattoo, and it ended up working quite well. Once the tattoo ink was injected, the glyphs drew the eye, and you could barely tell that the skin beneath was scarred.

Once the process was finished, the tattooist provided a mirror for Hobber to look into. The bridgeman touched his forehead hesitantly. The skin was red from the needles, but the dark tattoo perfectly covered the slave brand.

“What does it say?” Hobber asked softly, tears in his eyes.

“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.”

It was crazy talk. Bridge Four had been death—scores of men had been slaughtered running that cursed bridge. Even after Kaladin had determined to save the men, he’d lost far too many. Hobber would have been a fool not to take any opportunity to escape.

And yet, he sat stubbornly until Kaladin drew out the proper glyphs for the tattooist—a calm, sturdy darkeyed woman who looked like she could have lifted a bridge all on her own. She settled down on her stool and began adding the two glyphs to Hobber’s forehead, tucked right below the freedom glyph. She spent the process explaining—again—how the tattoo would be sore for days and how Hobber would need to care for it.

He accepted the new tattoos with a grin on his face. Pure foolishness, but the others nodded in agreement, clasping Hobber on the arm. Once Hobber was done, Skar sat quickly, eager, demanding the same full set of tattoos.

Kaladin stepped back, folding his arms and shaking his head. Outside the tent, a bustling marketplace sold and bought. The “warcamp” was really a city, built up inside the craterlike rim of some enormous rock formation. The prolonged war on the Shattered Plains had attracted merchants of all varieties, along with tradesmen, artists, and even families with children.

Moash stood nearby, face troubled, watching the tattooist. He wasn’t the only one in the bridge crew who didn’t have a slave brand. Teft didn’t either. They had been made bridgemen without technically being made slaves first. It happened frequently in Sadeas’s camp, where running bridges was a punishment that one could earn for all manner of infractions.

“If you don’t have a slave’s brand,” Kaladin said loudly to the men, “you don’t need to get the tattoo. You’re still one of us.”

“No,” Rock said. “I will get this thing.” He insisted on sitting down after Skar and getting the tattoo right on his forehead, though he had no slave brand. Indeed, every one of the men without a slave brand—Beld and Teft included—sat down and got the tattoo on their foreheads.

Only Moash abstained, and had the tattoo placed on his upper arm. Good. Unlike most of them, he wouldn’t have to go about with a proclamation of former slavery in plain view.

Moash stood up from the seat, and another took his place. A man with red and black skin in a marbled pattern, like stone. Bridge Four had a lot of variety, but Shen was in a class all his own. A parshman.

“I can’t tattoo him,” the artist said. “He’s property.”

Kaladin opened his mouth to object, but the other bridgemen jumped in first.

“He’s been freed, like us,” Teft said.

“One of the team,” Hobber said. “Give him the tattoo, or you won’t see a sphere from any of us.” He blushed after he said it, glancing at Kaladin— who would be paying for all this, using spheres granted by Dalinar Kholin.

Other bridgemen spoke out, and the tattoo artist finally sighed and gave in. She pulled over her stool and began working on Shen’s forehead.

“You won’t even be able to see it,” she grumbled, though Sigzil’s skin was nearly as dark as Shen’s, and the tattoo showed up fine on him.

Eventually, Shen looked in the mirror, then stood up. He glanced at Kaladin, and nodded. Shen didn’t say much, and Kaladin didn’t know what to make of the man. It was actually easy to forget about him, usually trailing along silently at the back of the group of bridgemen. Invisible. Parshmen were often that way.

Shen finished, only Kaladin himself remained. He sat down next and closed his eyes. The pain of the needles was a lot sharper than he’d anticipated.

After a short time, the tattooist started cursing under her breath.

Kaladin opened his eyes as she wiped a rag on his forehead. “What is it?” he asked.

“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. He hadn’t even noticed drawing it in, but he seemed to be getting better and better at holding it. He frequently took in a little these days while walking about. Holding Stormlight was like filling a wineskin—if you filled it to bursting and unstopped it, it would squirt out quickly, then slow to a trickle. Same with the Light.

He banished it, hoping the tattoo artist didn’t notice when he breathed out a small cloud of glowing smoke. “Try again,” he said as she got out new ink.

This time, the tattoo took. Kaladin sat through the process, teeth clenched against the pain, then looked up as she held the mirror for him. The face that looked back at Kaladin seemed alien. Clean-shaven, hair pulled back from his face for the tattooing, the slave brands covered up and, for the moment, forgotten.

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.

He unconsciously sucked in Stormlight. Just a little, a fraction of a sphere’s worth. It flowed through his veins like a wave of pressure, like winds trapped in a small enclosure.

The tattoo on his forehead melted. His body shoved out the ink, which started to drip down his face. The tattooist cursed again and grabbed her rag. Kaladin was left with the image of those glyphs melting away. Freedom dissolved, and underneath, the violent scars of his captivity. Dominated by a branded glyph.

Shash. Dangerous.

The woman wiped his face. “I don’t know why this is happening! I thought it would stay that time. I—”

“It’s all right,” Kaladin said, taking the rag as he stood, finishing the cleanup. He turned to face the rest of them, bridgemen now soldiers. “The scars haven’t finished with me yet, it appears. I’ll try again another time.”

They nodded. He’d have to explain to them later what was happening; they knew of his abilities.

“Let’s go,” Kaladin said to them, tossing a small bag of spheres to the tattooist, then taking his spear from beside the tent entrance. The others joined him, spears to shoulders. They didn’t need to be armed while in camp, but he wanted them to get used to the idea that they were free to carry weapons now.

The market outside was crowded and vibrant. The tents, of course, would have been taken down and stowed during last night’s highstorm, but they’d already sprung up again. Perhaps because he was thinking about Shen, he noticed the parshmen. He picked out dozens of them with a cursory glance, helping set up a few last tents, carrying purchases for lighteyes, helping shopowners stack their wares.

What do they think of this war on the Shattered Plains? Kaladin wondered. A war to defeat, and perhaps subjugate, the only free parshmen in the world?

Would that he could get an answer out of Shen regarding questions like that. It seemed all he ever got from the parshman were shrugs.

Kaladin led his men through the market, which seemed far friendlier than the one in Sadeas’s camp. Though people stared at the bridgemen, nobody sneered, and the haggling at nearby stands—while energetic—didn’t progress to shouting. There even seemed to be fewer urchins and beggars.

You just want to believe that, Kaladin thought. You want to believe Dalinar is the man everyone says he is. The honorable lighteyes of the stories. But everyone said the same things about Amaram.

As they walked, they did pass some soldiers. Too few. Men who had been on duty back in the camp when the others had gone on the disastrous assault where Sadeas had betrayed Dalinar. As they passed one group patrolling the market, Kaladin caught two men at their front raising their hands before themselves, crossed at the wrist.

How had they learned Bridge Four’s old salute, and so quickly? These men didn’t do it as a full salute, just a small gesture, but they nodded their heads to Kaladin and his men as they passed. Suddenly, the more calm nature of the market took on another cast to Kaladin. Perhaps this wasn’t simply the order and organization of Dalinar’s army.

There was an air of quiet dread over this warcamp. Thousands had been lost to Sadeas’s betrayal. Everyone here had probably known a man who had died out on those plateaus. And everyone probably wondered if the conflict between the two highprinces would escalate.

“It’s nice to be seen as a hero, isn’t it?” Sigzil asked, walking beside Kaladin and watching another group of soldiers pass by.

“How long will the goodwill last, do you think?” Moash asked. “How long before they resent us?”

“Ha!” Rock, towering behind him, clapped Moash on the shoulder. “No complaining today! You do this thing too much. Do not make me kick you. I do not like kicking. It hurts my toes.”

“Kick me?” Moash snorted. “You won’t even carry a spear, Rock.”

“Spears are not for kicking complainers. But big Unkalaki feet like mine—it is what they were made for! Ha! This thing is obvious, yes?”

Kaladin led the men out of the market and to a large rectangular building near the barracks. This one was constructed of worked stone, rather than Soulcast rock, allowing far more finesse in design. Such buildings were becoming more common in the warcamps, as more masons arrived.

Soulcasting was quicker, but also more expensive and less flexible. He didn’t know much about it, only that Soulcasters were limited in what they could do. That was why the barracks were all essentially identical.

Kaladin led his men inside the towering building to the counter, where a grizzled man with a belly that stretched to next week supervised a few parshmen stacking bolts of blue cloth. Rind, the Kholin head quartermaster, to whom Kaladin had sent instructions the night before. Rind was lighteyed, but what was known as a “tenner,” a lowly rank barely above darkeyes.

“Ah!” Rind said, speaking with a high-pitched voice that did not match his girth. “You’re here, finally! I’ve got them all out for you, Captain. Everything I have left.”

“Left?” Moash asked.

“Uniforms of the Cobalt Guard! I’ve commissioned some new ones, but this is what stock remained.” Rind grew more subdued. “Didn’t expect to need so many so soon, you see.” He looked Moash up and down, then handed him a uniform and pointed to a stall for changing.

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? I’ve heard of that. But no, Brightlord Dalinar says you’re each to be outfitted with breastplates, steel caps, new spears. Chain mail for the battlefield, if you need it.”

“For now,” Kaladin said, “uniforms will do.”

“I think I’ll look silly in this,” Moash grumbled, but walked over to change. Rind distributed the uniforms to the men. He gave Shen a strange look, but delivered the parshman a uniform without complaint.

The bridgemen gathered in an eager bunch, jabbering with excitement as they unfolded their uniforms. It had been a long time since any of them had worn anything other than bridgeman leathers or slave wraps. They stopped talking when Moash stepped out.

These were newer uniforms, of a more modern style than Kaladin had worn in his previous military service. Stiff blue trousers and black boots polished to a shine. A buttoned white shirt, only the edges of its collar and cuffs extending beyond the jacket, which came down to the waist and buttoned closed beneath the belt.

“Now, there’s a soldier!” the quartermaster said with a laugh. “Still think you look silly?” He gestured for Moash to inspect his reflection in the mirror on the wall.

Moash fixed his cuffs and actually blushed. Kaladin had rarely seen the man so out of sorts. “No,” Moash said. “I don’t.”

The others moved eagerly and began changing. Some went to the stalls at the side, but most didn’t care. They were bridgemen and slaves; they’d spent most of their recent lives being paraded about in loincloths or little more.

Teft had his on before anyone else, and knew to do up the buttons in the right places. “Been a long time,” he whispered, buckling his belt. “Don’t know that I deserve to wear something like this again.”

“This is what you are, Teft,” Kaladin said. “Don’t let the slave rule you.”

Teft grunted, affixing his combat knife in its place on his belt. “And you, son? When are you going to admit what you are?”

“I have.”

“To us. Not to everyone else.”

“Don’t start this again.”

“I’ll storming start whatever I want,” Teft snapped. He leaned in, speaking softly. “At least until you give me a real answer. You’re a Surgebinder. You’re not a Radiant yet, but you’re going to be one when this is all blown through. The others are right to push you. Why don’t you go have a hike up to that Dalinar fellow, suck in some Stormlight, and make him recognize you as a lighteyes?”

Kaladin glanced at the men in a muddled jumble as they tried to get the uniforms on, an exasperated Rind explaining to them how to do up the coats.

“Everything I’ve ever had, Teft,” Kaladin whispered, “the lighteyes have taken from me. My family, my brother, my friends. More. More than you can imagine. They see what I have, and they take it.” He held up his hand, and could faintly make out a few glowing wisps trailing from his skin, since he knew what to look for. “They’ll take it. If they can find out what I do, they’ll take it.”

“Now, how in Kelek’s breath would they do that?”

“I don’t know,” Kaladin said. “I don’t know, Teft, but I can’t help feeling panic when I think about it. I can’t let them have this, can’t let them take it—or you men—from me. We remain quiet about what I can do. No more talk of it.”

Teft grumbled as the other men finally got themselves sorted out, though Lopen—one armed, with his empty sleeve turned inside out and pushed in so it didn’t hang down—prodded at the patch on his shoulder. “What’s this?”

“It’s the insignia of the Cobalt Guard,” Kaladin said. “Dalinar Kholin’s personal bodyguard.”

“They’re dead, gancho,” Lopen said. “We aren’t them.”

“Yeah,” Skar agreed. To Rind’s horror, he got out his knife and cut the patch free. “We’re Bridge Four.”

“Bridge Four was your prison,” Kaladin protested.

“Doesn’t matter,” Skar said. “We’re Bridge Four.” The others agreed, cutting off the patches, tossing them to the ground.

Teft nodded and did likewise. “We’ll protect the Blackthorn, but we’re not just going to replace what he had before. We’re our own crew.”

Kaladin rubbed his forehead, but this was what he had accomplished in bringing them together, galvanizing them into a cohesive unit. “I’ll draw up a glyphpair insignia for you to use,” he told Rind. “You’ll have to commission new patches.”

The portly man sighed as he gathered up the discarded patches. “I suppose. I’ve got your uniform over there, Captain. A darkeyed captain! Who would have thought it possible? You’ll be the only one in the army. The only one ever, so far as I know!”

He didn’t seem to find it offensive. Kaladin had little experience with low-dahn lighteyes like Rind, though they were very common in the warcamps. In his hometown, there had only been the citylord’s family—of upper middle dahn—and the darkeyes. It hadn’t been until he’d reached Amaram’s army that he’d realized there was an entire spectrum of light-eyes, many of whom worked common jobs and scrambled for money, just like ordinary people.

Kaladin walked over to the last bundle on the counter. His uniform was different. It included a blue waistcoat and a double-breasted blue longcoat, the lining white, the buttons of silver. The longcoat was meant to hang open, despite the rows of buttons down each side.

He’d seen such uniforms frequently. On lighteyes.

“Bridge Four,” he said, cutting the Cobalt Guard insignia from the shoulder and tossing it to the counter with the others.

 


Words of Radiance © Brandon Sanderson, 2014

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189 comments
TBGH
2. TBGH
OMG OMG OMG

Give me more now!!!!!!!!!!!
Scott Silver
4. hihosilver28
Hmm, I really like the re-done cover. It flows a little better for me now. Tor, will we get an article on that process too?
Chris Chaplain
5. chaplainchris1
Oh Dear. Wednesdays are my busiest work day, a really bad day for this to go up, and yet...THANK YOU!!
TBGH
6. Franticturtle
SO GOOD. I want it NOW. Can't tell if I'm happier to know that it's done and will be delivered on time than I would be with vague assurances. Now that I know it's done... mind cannot stop salivating, must have.
Mark Alexander Lindberg
8. Megalodon
Squee... I have my copy ordered already, can't wait.

And I love the new cover. Hoping we get a wallpaper resolution soon.
Glen V
9. Ways
Chris @5
Ha, ha, ha! I'm betting you read it.

Do I want to be spoiled? Ummmm, yep.
TBGH
10. damoose
Please more!!!!!
Alice Arneson
12. Wetlandernw
Oh, yeah. :D

LOVE the scene with fighting her dress to get it to behave in the water. (MikeyRocks - when you get here - that was one.)
Alice Arneson
13. Wetlandernw
Was anyone else as stunned as I was to get this much information on the spren so early in the book? I loved how many questions were answered right here in the first chapters, and yet how much is still to be learned.
Deana Whitney
14. Braid_Tug
Like Chris, busy day, can't read yet. Looking forward to it.

Like @8, loving the new cover art. Think Kaldin's face is younger and the light plays on it better.
But really like how the ground seems to be rippling from a stormlight powered blow of his fist, vs. the pool of gathered stormlight in the first draft.
Alice Arneson
15. Wetlandernw
On the cover art - LOOK AT THE STORMLIGHT STREAMING FROM HIM!!!!!!!

(Okay, I'll pipe down. But I love that addition!)
TBGH
17. Shardholder
Thank You!!

But this is sort of evil as well. Now I want to read the whole book and my mind cant stop thinking about all of the information we have been give in just 3 short chapters!

Maybe just 1 more chapter before the book comes out?
TBGH
18. James Hollis
This is awesome!!!! So thrilled.
Robert Dickinson
19. ChocolateRob
Mind too fogged over with a need for more...
...but how do you use a spanreed on a boat?
TBGH
20. BrandonSandersonIsGod
This is freaking genius. I liked Kaladin's chapter in particular!
Fantastic!
TBGH
21. ChrisC
Absolutely awesome.
Jordan Hibbits
23. rhandric
3 amazing chapters! While it's a nice touch to tide us over for the next 2 months, at the same time, that's 2 months too far!
Thomas Simeroth
24. a smart guy
This was amazing! ...but now waiting will be that much harder. Ah well, great stuff as usual.
TBGH
25. Kylar
Need ....... Need more
Shaun Duquette
26. MorpheusStone
Ugh,now we gotta wait until March.This is gonna be a painful wait.
TBGH
27. Anirudh Singh
Im so pumped for the release :D
Nadine L.
28. travyl
Wow, the new cover looks great - Now Kaladin looks perfect.
And now I'll go read.
Kimani Rogers
29. KiManiak
So many answers.

So many more questions.
Jordan Hibbits
31. rhandric
Some of you are much more observant about the cover art, I had to find the old cover and compare them side by side to see the differences!
Mike I
32. MikeyRocks
WOW! Just stopped working for an hour to read this carefully in a conference room. I take back my dislike for Shallan, can't believe how fast that happened but I think am gonna like this young lady.

The explanation of what spren are completely opens up so many possibilities; my imagination is going crazy right now.

I had chills reading the whole bridge four chapter, the whole chapter. I love them all, I pray and hope that Sanderson doesn't introduce betrayal by one of the men, please Brandon that would be too heart breaking.

I fear that Kaladin still has the slave brand, if the tattoos don't work, can't he brand over it? I hope he doesn't get enslaved again. I understand his fears of revealing his talent but I am sure that situations will force him to (protecting Dalinar???)

I feel really lucky to be a part of the beginning of this series. I wasn't old enough to have started WOT and joined by book 8, after catching up. This is going to be a fantastic series.
TBGH
33. M. Frog
Very nice. But I hate waiting for yummies. Maybe, a few more morsels?
Alice Arneson
34. Wetlandernw
According to Carl Engle-Laird, they will be posting more chapters as the book release approaches. :)

ChocolateRob @19 - I don't think it really matters where the two parts are; a spanread is a conjoined fabrial, as described in the Ars Arcanum. What you do with one will have a parallel action with the other, no matter where the two pieces are or how much you travel around with them. The only limitation appears to be distance.
TBGH
35. hersha
@19 Spanreeds don't work like Sympathy in the Kingkiller Chronicles. Think of them more as obeying physics. All motion is relative so a whole spanreed that is in motion would still act like a spanreed at rest when used. If you throw a ball in a moving train it acts like a regular throw as if your weren't moving. Sanderson likes to make his magic systems be grounded in physics generally speaking. So, Relativity!
Mike I
36. MikeyRocks
Wetlandernw, I don't know how you are able to not blurt out things that are coming. I congratulate Brandon on being able to quickly endear Shallan to reader who may not have cared for her in WOK. This transformation is very reminiscent of Kasa Oolong in the Malazan books.
Carl Engle-Laird
37. CarlEngle-Laird
...Oh, right...

A spanreed on a boat is in motion...

But that motion isn't mimicked in the conjoined reed...

Because...reasons?

Look, my mind is blown over here. I need to pick up the pieces real quick.
Mike I
38. MikeyRocks
Not only am I shocked that the spren was explained so quickly (even though this is just a theory by Jasnah) I am also happy that Shallan was so quickly attached to Adolin, it would have been a distraction thinking about her eventual love interest (although Adolin may bungle it up with shallan eventually)
Carl Engle-Laird
39. CarlEngle-Laird
@38 whut are you talking about adolin is a man of sense he has never bungled romance all will be well 5eva. (but then, I ship ShallaSyl)
Mike I
40. MikeyRocks
Sorry for so many posts guys but I am so geeked right now. I think of a spanreed as a magical typewriter, if you watched the TV show Fringe there was something of that nature. What you type in one occurs to the other regardless of location or even dimension.
Robert Dickinson
41. ChocolateRob
@37 Woo Hoo, we've foxed Mr Reread Archive Ardent.
Alice Arneson
42. Wetlandernw
Mikey @32 and 36 - VERY big grins going on up in here! I'm delighted to hear your reaction to Shallan already - and it gets better, IMO. As for not blurting... I can't count the number of things I've typed and then deleted, but if I ever want another beta gig, I have to prove myself trustworthy, right? ;) Besides, I still have books I want Brandon to sign, and I don't want him to glare at me for spoiling his books when he does it...
Alice Arneson
43. Wetlandernw
Foxed indeed! 5eva?

(Sitting here with silly big grin, loving the ability to write openly about a few things, even if it's just three chapters. I may not stop grinning for several hours...)
Carl Engle-Laird
44. CarlEngle-Laird
@41 I'LL MAKE IT WORK SOMEHOW

When I finally claw get around to writing another Stormlight Grimoire post, it's going to be about fabrials. But this has legitimately thrown a wrench in my understanding. I'm pretty sure I'm getting there, though! The hard part is judging whether my workaround requires knowledge from WoR.
Carl Engle-Laird
45. CarlEngle-Laird
@43 It's for when forever isn't long enough to fulfill your shipping manifest.
Alice Arneson
46. Wetlandernw
Ah. I see. Indeed. Sounds like you need to have a long conversations with Lyndsey Luther on shipping issues. ;)
TBGH
47. hersha
@37 Because Relativity...
TBGH
48. huppel
You can't use a spanread on the ocean from WOK The reed was still for a long moment. Finally, a hurried hand wrote, Praise the Heralds. Oh, Shallan. You’ve done it! You are on your way back to us, then? How can you use the spanreed on the ocean? Are you in port?I haven’t left, Shallan wrote. But they could have been in port that morning Chapter 1 In fact, they’d docked at port last night to shelter from the highstorm that had blown past. When sailing, you always wanted to be near to port—venturing into open seas when a highstorm could surprise you was suicidal.
Carl Engle-Laird
49. CarlEngle-Laird
@48 Now I'm very confused.

@47 I suspect that the answer to this particular problem is more fuzzymagical than scientifimagical. Gotta do some calculations and incantations before I can offer an opinion with confidence, though.
Mike I
51. MikeyRocks
@Carl, Jasnah used the spanreed while the ship was at port the previous night.
Carl Engle-Laird
52. CarlEngle-Laird
...

Okay guys, call off the alarms I raised. If Jasnah sent/received her messages while they were in port, then I think the question has been, if not resolved, then at least delayed. Thank you for riding this roller coaster with me.
TBGH
53. Uspek
Can anyone tell me why they decided Kaladin needed an update on the cover?
TBGH
54. naupathia
Thanks so much for this! Although part of me hates you for making me want the book EVEN MORE.

Can I just say I absolutely LOVE that Shallan wasn't all "EW NO BETROTHAL". From a female perspective, I am so glad she approached it much more adult and not "But where's the romance?!" Not all women have to want a fairy tale dream. I kept dreading the inevitable shock, just like Jasnah, and like Jasnah was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Thanks for the strong writing, Sanderson! Can't wait!
Andrew Berenson
55. AndrewHB
Since there was no mention of Tearim in WoK, is it safe to assume that Szeth killed him in his efforts to kill Gavilar?

I loved the interaction between Jasnah and Shallan. I am also glad that Shallan applied Jasnah's lessons of authority/apparent authority so she was able to go underwater to view the creature.

Very interesting about the effect of Jasnah's shadow in the prologue. I think that her Lost Radiant "powers"/"talents" will be somewhat different from Shallan's (despite the fact that both can access Shadesmar).

I still think Shallan will end up with Renarin rather than Adolin. She is the type of person who can get Renarin to come out of his "shell of shyness." Of course, I think that Shallan has the personality to deal with Adolin.

It would also not surprise me to learn that Elhokar's wife is a Ghostblood.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
Alice Arneson
56. Wetlandernw
Uspek @53 - As I understand it (and this is not authoritative), it was totally Mr. Whelan's decision. He decided it needed some changes, so he made them. Irene Gallo could (and might at some point) probably give you a much better answer.
Robert Dickinson
57. ChocolateRob
@42 I'm all for listening to some really creative lies.
How about that assassination attempt with the spandagger fabrial in chapter 26, there Kaladin was inspecting knives in the armory when one of them leapt off the rack straight for his eye. Luckily he was saved by a nearby (hidden) King's Wit who managed to steel push it off course, the assassin hidden at the back of the room getting yanked into the open by his conjoined weapon.
Mike Dorr
58. Westmarch
@52 Carl

Could a spanreed have a "base station" - perhaps the fabrial with the gem - such that the writing motion is relative to the base versus absolute?
TBGH
59. TBGH
Regarding spanreeds . . .

1) I think we'll find a force exerted on one is exerted on the other. If they were linked in terms of motion they could never be separated because any resistance one felt to the motion would be felt by both and you couldn't move one without the other. Not to mention that since Brandon's cosmere involves spherical worlds reeds at the equator would be moving more than reeds off of it anyway even on dry land.
2) Then I always pictured the receiving quill as suspended from some kind of holder so that it doesn't get pulled away everytime the traveller's wagon/horse/chull/whatever starts moving. Of course the holder would have to be very low friction, maybe just being suspended from a strong string.
3) So theoretically, a ship on VERY still seas going at a constant velocity would allow them to work because the only force on the quill would be that of the writer/artist. But that would be rare, so no contradiction yet from the possibility that it could happen, but people being surprised if it did.
TBGH
61. mrivers
Is it March yet?
Maiane Bakroeva
60. Isilel
Yessss! Thank you, Tor! The wait is going to be painful, I can tell.

So, the question about the long absence of the the Surge-binders is partially answered, just like that! The spren capable of forming a Nahel bond weren't crossing over and attaching themselves to humans. Huh... Didn't expect that, but in a good way. Intriguing, to say the least. Did Recreance kill the spren of ex-Radiants? Somehow, I still think that it was something else and that deaths of the spren, like the Recreance itself, had to do with enslavement of the Parshmen. But we'll see.

Szeth really seems to have one of the Honorblades, right? And who is it, that is "getting worse"? The ex-Heralds? Funny, how Darkness/un-Nalan had Jasnah under his very nose and missed her.

Interesting, that there is a hope of fixing the Davar clan, which, granted, is more than likely to prove futile. Soulcasters can be repaired! Imagine that. Not that Davars could have trusted anybody, even if this had occurred to them.
Oh, and I really hope that the story isn't heading in the obvious direction of Adolin - Shallan - Kaladin triangle!

Awesome scenes with Bridge Four! A bit surprised, that Kaladin didn't accept armor and new weapons, though, given that he intends to start guarding Dalinor at once.
Alice Arneson
62. Wetlandernw
Rob @57 - LOVE IT! What a story that makes. I'll have to check and see if it's hidden in there somewhere... :D
TBGH
63. BenL
I thought I'd comment on the epigraphs. I think they are very interesting.

The second one suggests that the Parshendi are going to change tactics in preparation for some event (that the warning was of), perhaps being pushed into it by desperation as their numbers dwindle.

The first one is dated the same as the second, suggesting that it is also of events that are yet to occur. Death and destruction on a large scale, caused by some upheaval,change or disaster, yet also one that could have been foreseen and prevented, so not any natural disaster, presumably some kind of change in the Parshendi.

I'm seeing big revelations to come. Do we have a current year to suggest when these entries were written?
Alice Arneson
64. Wetlandernw
Re: spanreeds, there's a fairly clear description of how to work one in Chapter 28 of WoK; the gem has different settings to determine when it is sending, receiving, or off. When it's set to receive, you let go of the pen and the fact that the other pen is being held upright is what keeps it upright. FWIW, there are also some requirements for the writing board to be perfectly level, so being still might (or might not) also be an issue.

Another big limitation to spanreeds (other than distance) is that they only come in pairs. If you want to be able to communicate with multiple distant parties, you have to have a spanreed for each party.
Alyson Mahn
65. AyeJaySedai
I am excited to see how the engagement unfolds. In the past Sanderson has favored perfectly arranged marrages, but he also likes to twist things. Personally Adolin would be a fool to screw things up with Shallan, and she has a vested interest in not wandering away like the other women did. If the two do get close then maybe he can secretly teach her how to weild her shardblade.

As for the younger brother (whose name escapes me because he is a bit boring) why does he need a romance to aid his character developement? Why couldn't Shallan help draw him out as a friend or a sister? I think a lot of the developement here could also come from the father-son relationship that has already been established, or even from Hoid if he pops back up again. The worldhopper has obviously got a soft spot for the kid.
Robert Dickinson
66. ChocolateRob
Hmm, if you were really good you could assassinate someone with a normal spanreed. Steal one from someone in contact with your target (obviously the target would have to be a woman if Alethi), activate the spanreed, once your target acknowledges you to begin quickly use the reed to stab them in the eye.
As the Joker would say - Ta Daa!

You just need some research to find out how they sit in relation to their reed when the person on the other end is supposedly writing. If you miss then they're not exactly going to be able to grab you.
Walker White
67. Walker
I assumed a span reed had to be used by a person to work. If so, movement is determined by the reference frame relative to that person, not the reference frame relative to Roshar.
Leeland Woodard
68. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
Oh, man. This is absolutely FANTASTIC!

So, obviously (to me, at least) the "promise" or what have you that humans broke that caused the spren not to trust humanity anymore was probably the Oathpact, right? Breaking the Oathpact would be seen as a profoundly dishonorable action which possibly dangers all three realms.
Anneke van Staden
69. QueenofDreams
Ooooh that was fantastic. I keep getting more and more hyped for this book! I actually started bouncing up and down in my seat when the proposed betrothal was mentioned, although I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be more complicated than we see here. I wouldn't rule out the two brothers repeating history with both falling for Shallan, as Gavilar and Dalinar did with Navani. Also loving the extra information about spren. I don't think the breaking of the Oathpact can be the event which drove the spren away, I think it's more likely to be the recreance, as a) the Heralds were not human and b) we can see from Syl that the bonded spren are very serious about their partner following their oaths, so the radiants forsaking their duty to protect humanity would have been a major breech in the eyes of the spren.
David Foster
71. ZenBossanova
"“The Lost Radiants. Traitors to mankind.” She couldn’t absorb it all. The betrothal, Shadesmar and the spren, and this, her mysterious destiny. She’d known. But speaking it…"

Wait... what does this mean?
TBGH
72. Polarbeart
@55 I was wondering about Tearim myself. My thought today is maybe Gavilar was not the one who fell. It could have been Tearim and have been hidden by Gavilar. He was in an odd mood when Jasanah talked to him.

Suprised like others how quickly the sprens were explained. I can only guess that the spren or voidbringers in Szeth are the pain and cries he hears. Since he causes pain and death the sprens that follow are the same.

So much to think about. So happy reading this today. Really messed up my worked day, but it was so worth it.
Glen V
73. Ways
OH, YEAH!

Oily, black, malevolent (?) Spren: Ooh, ooh!

What was Gavilar about to do that had the Parshendi so upset they hired an assassin?

IIRC, the speculation is that Jasnah is an Elsecaller and the use of 4 Batar icons/avatars in the Prologue header adds creds to the theory. Old news?

The Chapter 1 header has 4 Palah icons = unknown surge. Isn't Shallan destined to be a Lighweaver, though (again, IIRC and just a theory)? Perhaps these chapter icons have more to do with the content of the chapter. Palah's divine attributes are 'learned' and 'giving', which pretty well fits with what is going on (Jasnah). Battar's divine attributes are 'wise' and 'careful'. So maybe the implication is that Jasnah was just being wise and careful in the Prologue.

The Chapter 2 header has 4 Talanalat icons = Stoneward(en) surge. Kaladin is almost certainly a Windrunner. Hmm, Talanalat's attributes are 'dependable' and 'resourceful'. Yep, that's what Kaladin is in this chapter. Works for me.

Great comments and analysis upthread, everyone.

Can't.wait.until.March.
Deana Whitney
74. Braid_Tug
Can't believe someone hasn't said this already:
This is insanity!
No, this is scholarship!
Best line!!!
that is why Shallan is a favorite of mine.

@Wet, if you are the one that told Sanderson about her needing to control the fabric until it was wet enough to drag itself down - great call!

Edit:
Jasnah is rather acting as the Farie Godmother here. "Bidady, bobbidy, boo: we shall fix your broken toy. And here is a prince to marry to fix your family problems! "
So.... This cannot go totally smoothly. But really looking forward to seeing how it does work out.
Michael Corley
75. MathWriter
My own theory on the moving spanreeds:

The key is relative motion. But not motion relative between the two spanreeds/writers/tables, but relative motion between each spanreed and the writer using it and the writing surface. On land, the spanreed is motionless relative to the writer and the surface. This is still true on a ship: Even though the ship is moving, the spanreed, writer, and surface are all motionless relative to each other because they are all experiencing the same rocking motion on the ship. There will still be plenty of smudges and errors and things, but that will be writer error (they are on a ship after all and subject to unexpected changes in motion) but not because of one spanreed compensating for the relative motion of the other.
anthony moore
76. anthony.moore
I am equally as excited as the rest of you. I've just finished reading the WoK's for the second time and have quite a few answers and theories perculating. I'll start a 3rd re-read for the story and post my thoughts. This is one of the BEST Epic fantasy stories I've read in quite some time! Thanks TOR for the excerpts!!!
Alice Arneson
77. Wetlandernw
Braid_Tug @74 - Well, I was the one that got there first, so I can pretend to take some credit, but all the other women were like, "Yeah, that!" He originally had her just going down into the water, with her dress streaming out behind her as it got wet, and I was all "Nuh-uh, no way. Going straight down into the water, it's gonna balloon up around her in the most indecent manner possible." I love the way he rewrote it - it fits Shallan so well, blushing as she tries to make it stay down and behave itself. Because you know that Jasnah would have calmly fixed it before she went in, and Shallan just goes in and then feels really silly trying to fight with her recalcitrant dress, for pity's sake.
TBGH
78. Ellynne
And can we see the irony in Jasnah getting ready to carry out an assassination against a family member while her world is about to get blown apart by someone getting ready to assassinate a member of her family?

What gets me is that the Parshendi weren't willing to explain more. I don't know if it's their alien mindset--maybe they think Jasnah and the rest of the Alethi understand why they're doing what they do--or is that even explaining why would increase the danger?

Also, Jasnah's shadow acted weird, just like that guy in one of the interludes in the first book. Unlike Shallan, she was never able to talk to the spheres or spren. Also, Shallan attracted some really creepy ones, but none of them really seemed ready to kill her. It's disturbing that that's the kind Jasnah got. Does it say something about her or is it just the kind of radiant she is/is becoming?
TBGH
79. Savenra
March is too far away! Adolin & Shallan - I'm squeeing like a Twihard fan girl shipper.
TBGH
80. Fuujin
I think Adolin will somehow REALLY fall in love with Shallan, and this time it will be her to betray him in someway. That would be interesting, and it would somehow make Adolin grow as a character, as he would learn how wrong was what he has been doing to women.

But perhaps that's too predictable. I don't know :C
Tricia Irish
81. Tektonica
This was timely, as I just finished WoK! Thank you, Tor!

I came to finally see hope for Shallan at the end of WoK, and this cemented my like for her. Boy, that took awhile. And although I was always intrigued with Jasnah, she has proven to have even more depth than I expected.

The discussion about spren and Shadowmar being the cognitive plane was very cool. A lot of help!

The Kaladin chapters are always good. His men are so loyal and thankful to him. I'm so looking forward to his further growth.

So much intrigue! Such foreboding! Can't wait!
TBGH
82. dustup
Am I the only who noticed that the picture on the book cover changed
TBGH
83. FellKnight
@63

I also found the epigrapghs very interesting. At the end of tWoK, I'm 99% sure that the year was 1173, so these epigraphs are from the near-term future.

My guess, at this time, is that the Parshendi stopped hunting the chasmfiends because of ecological reasons, that the two armies were killing them to extinction. Brandon did hint durng a Q&A that there may be ecological ramifications to the plateau runs.
TBGH
84. redbronze
Holy muck of a dog this is good.. Thank you tor and Brandon and Harriet for everything. I hope I live long enough to read every word of this series.
David Foster
85. ZenBossanova
#83 There is a reading Sanderson did with a Parshendi point of view. Long story short.... I am guessing that the Parshendi simply have other things on their mind.
David Foster
86. ZenBossanova
Also, I find it interesting that Kaladin can't get the tattoo, yet, the scar remains. It is as if the scar is more his psychological issues and that it will only heal once he heals on the inside.

I notice that Darkness also has an unhealed scar, and he is (probably) a Herald.
Anon ymous
87. Kurkistan
@80

I wouldn't say that Adolin has been "doing (wrong) to women" (sorry for the parentheses, square brackets are a no-no in the comments, apparently).

He is, by all accounts, an extremely subpar boyfriend. He's not a monster or anything, though; he never actually does anything but be unavailable/distracted/not-a-very-good-significant-other.

@86

I think it more likely that it's because the scar is a long-term injury than because of psychological issues. Brandon has talked about healing in the cosmere as generally not being able to fix "chronic" problems; and we see some scarring in other books that remains behind despite magical healing.
David Foster
88. ZenBossanova
#87 re:scar - that could be certainly, but I am going to maintain my suspicions.

re: Adolin
He has never had a good reason to bother to be a good boyfriend. He is the single most eligible bachlor in his country. He can have a new girlfriend by noon if he felt like it. He has an essentially unlimited supply and no reason to make sure the next one lasts. He can always get more.

Not terribly mature when it comes to relationships, but he has not had a reason to try.
Shaun Duquette
89. MorpheusStone
@88 That is not true at all!!He is on the front lines and only officers can have family there.He's burning through them far too fast also.So unless he goes home or somehow has some imported he's gonna end up solo.
Sam Mickel
90. Samadai
The motives of the Parshendi intrigue me. Were/are they the voidbringers? Have they developed enough conscience to understand that it is them that has been the cause of all of the past battles (if they are indeed the voidbringers)? Have they decided to betray the alliance so that humans can learn how to fight the oncoming storm? sacrficing themselves for the greater good? It will be interesting to see how it plays out
TBGH
91. TBGH
SPOILERS FOR MISTBORN SERIES:

Sanderson is great at twisting the expected, but I can't help the feeling that the Parshendi are in some way the Kandra part deux; an entire race that can be enslaved against their will for evil but want to be good. So that way they are the voidbringers, but are also fighting to prevent the desolation.
TBGH
92. idahobob
And now I have to wait until March to read the rest of the book?

Bah!

Bob
III
TBGH
93. MoeT
Ahh....

I am going to sleep now.
Please wake me up when Feburary ends.
TBGH
94. Jasuni
The herald's conversation about Ash (probably Shallash) certainly explains why a herald would be going around destroying art (as in WoK interlude 7)
Dixon Davis
95. KadesSwordElanor
Does my “Man Card” get revoked because I teared up at Moash trying on his uniform for the Cobalt Guard?
TBGH
96. BryTyHokie
@94 Jasuni: That conversation you mentioned is really interesting.

Words echoed in the hallway, coming from up ahead. “I’m worried about Ash.”
“You’re worried about everything.”
Jasnah hesitated in the hallway.
“She’s getting worse,” the voice continued. “We weren’t supposed to get worse. Am I getting worse? I think I feel worse.”
“Shut up.”
“I don’t like this. What we’ve done was wrong. That creature carries my lord’s own Blade. We shouldn’t have let him keep it. He—”

Sounds like two Hearlds are talking about their decision to break the Oathpact and that they are now starting to feel some type of side effect from the oncoming Desolation that they hadn't been feeling the last 4 or so thousand years.

It also sounds like the "creature" they are talking about is Szeth and that the Blade he carries isn't some ordinary shardblade but one of the Hearald's Blades, and maybe Jezrien's, since they mention "my lord's own Blade."

Really interesting conversation Jasnah got to overhear.
Carl Engle-Laird
97. CarlEngle-Laird
@95 Eh, I wouldn't worry. Man Cards have limited purchasing power.
Dixon Davis
98. KadesSwordElanor
ZenBossanova @ 71

I took it to mean the she always knew she was destined for great things. But with Sanderson, there could definitely be a more sinister motive.

BryTyHokie @ 96

I wonder if they are referring to Szeth’s Shardblade?

CarlEngle-Laird

Yeah, when I use mine I usually end up owing more than the worth of what I purchased. :)
David Foster
99. ZenBossanova
@KadesSwordElanor #98
Shallan didn't know she was destined for great things. Going to meet Jasnah was the first time she was out of the house. She was just trying to keep her family from total collapse.
Alice Arneson
100. Wetlandernw
"Ash" is getting worse, etc. - My guess, too, was that they were referring to Shalash. I'm just trying to figure out (based on not much, obviously!) whether this is two Heralds, a Herald and a minion, or... what.

On the assumption that Ash is indeed Shalash, the "we weren't supposed to get worse" comment sure makes it sound like two Heralds talking about the third. I wondered about "my lord's own blade" because why would a Herald refer to anyone as "my lord" - but then again, Jezrien was a king, and may have been considered the leader of the Heralds. (In which case, yes, it certainly sounds like Szeth must be carrying Jezrien's Honorblade. Which is... a bit creepy. Where did he get it? Does he know whose it is? or what it is?)

The other argument against it being two Heralds is that I just don't think of the Heralds as being this... wishy-washy. The "thinner, Alethi-looking man" just doesn't speak with the confidence I'd expect of a Herald. But that's just my expectation. Maybe under "normal" circumstances (for a Herald definition of "normal") he functions just fine, but he's really off balance from 4500 years of living with the knowledge of the broken Oathpact and whatever else he knows. I do like the suggestion that the impending Desolation might be having an effect on them, whether they realize it or not. That would be really cool.

If it is indeed two Heralds, it would have to be some combination of Nalan, Kalak and Ishar. My personal, completely unprovable... guess (not even a theory!)... is that it might be Nalan and Kalak, referring to Szeth carrying Jezrien's sword.

Of course, if they aren't referring to Shalash, all bets are off and I have no idea what they're talking about. :)

ETA - Hey, I got the hunny! Woot!
Carl Engle-Laird
101. CarlEngle-Laird
@100 What I remember of Kalak's viewpoint in the Prelude jives with some of the Heralds being wishy-washy looking. They seem to me like they're just some people who got saddled with more responsibility than they could carry out.
TBGH
102. Rybal
@73

I think that what Gavilar was going to do is directly linked to what Dalinar is currently doing. There is a strong similarity to what the Parshendi said when admitting that they sent Szeth and what Taravingian said right before he sent Szeth after Dalinar. In both cases, it was because of what the two men were in the process of doing.

Here's what I think it is that they are talking about. I think they are both concerned about the possibility of the return of the Knights Radiant. In the case of both Gavilar and Dalinar, they were becoming obsessed with The Way of Kings (which I think is key to the Radiants' return). Change is coming as a result of their actions. Szeth's assination of Gavilar delayed the process, but spren were already beginning to bond and surgebinders were already beginning to reemerge. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.


@86

As for why Kaladin can't get the tattoo, yet his scar remains, you have to remember how Stormlight affects him. Among other things, it accelerates the body's natural healing process. When he initially received the brand, he hadn't yet started taking in Stormlight. Now, however, the brand has finished healing and his body is no longer trying to repair that.

On the other hand, the passage is clear that Kaladin is starting to take in Stormlight much more naturally. The reason that the tattoo won't hold is because he keeps breathing in Stormlight. I would expect that the scar will remain for good.
Dixon Davis
103. KadesSwordElanor
Zen @ 99

I may not have been clear enough and certainly leave room for being totally wrong. Just giving my perspective. I took it to mean “internally”, she knew she was destined for great things. Not like it was a given because of her upbringing or connections. I still may not be explaining it well enough, sorry. And again, taking things at “face value” with Sanderson is usually a mistake, so there’s that.
Dan Schoemaker
104. lilschoe
Wow! Great read, I can't wait to read more!
Alice Arneson
105. Wetlandernw
Carl @101 - You know... abandoning the Oathpact could readily be either the cause or the result of the Heralds losing their confidence. And you're right - Kalak, in particular, seems very conflicted about the whole thing. It's easy to imagine that some were rather pro-active about it: "I'm sick of this and I'm not going to do it any more!" while others were more reactive: "I'm just not sure I can keep going..." Kalak was already feeling like he couldn't go back again, but he probably would have if the rest were waiting for him to all return together. When the rest had already decided to abandon it, he went along pretty readily, if guiltily.

Okay, you talked me into it. The "Alethi-looking" one is Kalak. :D
Nadine L.
106. travyl
@94 /96 / 100
I didn't understand anything of that conversation, but explained like you do, it sounds reasonable, that those two might be two Heralds. It would also mean, that they either know Szeth or that they can sense that he bears the special blade, even if he hasn't summoned it yet. - But we haven't seen any hint that such would be possible.

@77: Shallan being lowered into the water:
my immediate thought was: if you submerge into freezing cold water, would you really still blush from emotion?
Leeland Woodard
107. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@QueenOfDreams, 69

I personally think that the Recreance is a direct result of the breaking of the Oathpact. The Oathpact would have broken, and the spren decided that they didn't trust humanity anymore, and so they abandoned the Knights Radient. The KR, left without their spren, then strip their armor and swords and leave them behind, feeling like they can't do what they were originally supposed to, due to the fact that their spren are gone.

We know (or, at least, can assume) that spren were fundamental to the Knights Radient (think back to the conversation with Nohadon). I think the spren were supposed to put checks and balances on the KR, so that they would use their powers responsibly. When the spren abandoned the KR, the KR ceased to be KR, and left their shards behind.
John Brown
108. Seerow
@91

I really like that speculation. If the Parshendi can be basically mass-mind-controlled during a desolation, and are fully aware of that fact, then it explains a lot. First and foremost, why they assassinated Gavilar (who was in the process of befriending them, which would have spelt instant death for the nation when the Parshendi get mind controlled and run riot. Basically imagine everything Jasnah spelt out at the end of book 1, but coming from the armed and formidable parshendi instead of the parshmen)
TBGH
109. Afterthought
Is it wrong that I've already read this more than once? =/ I'd sworn I wasn't going to read any spoilers because I knew I'd just be too impatient to read the whole thing. Damn my weakness. And damn you Brandon Sanderson and Tor for putting temptation in my way!

(J/k, I love you guys.)

As regards the 'Ash' conversation, I'll try to suggest another angle to look at it from:

Perhaps the 'she's getting worse/I'm getting worse' comments are talking about a bond with a spren. We are led to believe, IIRC, that Kaladin and Syl are somewhat interdependant now that their bond has formed, so presumably if Kaladin or Syl got 'worse' in some way, then the other would too. As such, perhaps something similar is going on here?

My other (slightly off the wall) thought was this:

If they are talking about Szeth as the 'creature', then I can't help but remember that we are told when we are introduced to Szeth that 'his punishment declared that there were no Voidbringers, and yet his honour demanded that there were' (I'm paraphrasing, I'm afraid, haven't got the book to hand).

If whatever Szeth did caused him to be declared Truthless, and if that thing he did was tied up with the Voidbringers, then could these two men also be tied up with the Voidbringers in some way? Could they have been the cause of Szeth being declared Truthless in the first place? Perhaps the 'lord' spoken of is actually (Dum dum dum) a Voidbringer?

(As I said, slightly off the wall! Feel free to tear it to shreds :))
Kerly Luige
110. Celebrinnen
OH MY ...

Kaladin is back! Bridge Four is back! Kaladin is back!!! :D

And I didn't like Shallan much in WoK, but I'm growing fond of her now, only after one chapter.

And I am so happy with the new cover. Now this is a face I can relate to Kaladin. Thank you, Michael Whelan and Tor!
Robert Dickinson
111. ChocolateRob
I've said it before but Kaladin could probably heal his scar by giving himself an even nastier wound over the top of it. If he removed all the scar tissue then used his stormlight it would probably heal smoothly.

Of course... OUCH!
TBGH
112. Avbreaksbad
So i guess that leaves Kaladin and Jasnah sitting in a tree at some point in the future, Huh? That'll be a great match! Also, the Darkness that has been referred to in the comments is who Jasnah encountered in Shadesmar, right? Is it/he/her mentioned anywhere else? If I'm totally missing this, someone fill me in please.
TBGH
113. Avbreaksbad
Also, thanks to all the astute readers that take the time to post comments and not only theorize, but help tie things together. Re: the "Ash" conversation (boy, I better spell that right, eh? That'd be a whole new conversation, horrible pun intended), those are the things that alot of readers may skim past or otherwise overlook. I myself had totally forgot about the Interlude. Lastly, being a novice of the Cosmere, would it be possible for Odium to create a shardblade? If so, maybe that is somehow involved in the conversation.
Jeremy Guebert
114. jeremyguebert
Avbreaksbad @ 112 - There is a character named darkness in another released section of the book (link here). If I'm understanding the discussion correctly, the implication is that the Darkness from the Lift interlude is the same figure that confronts Jasnah in the prologue. I haven't read either of the two sections more than once myself, so I can't really comment on that, but I think that's what's going on.
Walker White
115. Walker
@107
The KR, left without their spren, then strip their armor and swords and leave them behind, feeling like they can't do what they were originally supposed to, due to the fact that their spren are gone.
There is another theory that they still had their spren at the time, and that is the "screaming sound" you hear when they drop their swords. Indeed, combined with Jasnah's comments in Chapter 1, that might have been the act that killed the spren.
TBGH
116. Kesha
I cannot wait! I'm going to start reading the 1st book for the second time so I can get a refresher of the world before this book comes out! These pre-release chapters were amazing!
TBGH
117. Limelleth
This is absolutely awesome!
@100- The thing about my lord's own blade might be referring to Honor. After all, the Heralds served Honor, and their blades were Honorblades... Of course, that would imply that Szeth's sword is in fact an Honorblade.
@116- Might I suggest that you check out the Tor Way of Kings reread? It's a nice companion to a reread.
TBGH
118. SorenPH
@115
There is another theory that they still had their spren at the time, and that is the "screaming sound" you hear when they drop their swords. Indeed, combined with Jasnah's comments in Chapter 1, that might have been the act that killed the spren.

That makes sense with how the KR's armor glowed up until slightly after they dropped it in Dalinar's vision and with how Syl dislikes shardblades.

I wonder how it felt to those Dalinar posessed during his visions.
Taylor Topham
119. Gordianknot
Re: Szeth's Blade

If Szeth is carrying Jezrien's Honorblade, is it possible that the Blade is the source of his power? It would make sense since he is displaying skills tied to Windrunners which are associated with Jezrien. It also would explain his apparent lack of spren and why his powers are slightly different from that of a true Windrunner.

Of course, this would have other implications, such as how did the Shin get ahold of Jezrien's Honorblade? Are they hoarding the other eight as well? If the above theory is correct, those Blades would grant eight of the other levels of sugebinding. They would, of course, be missing the order associated with Taln. This is interesting when seen with the fact that the Shin consider stone sacred, which is the essence tied to Taln. Both the Parshmen/endi and the Shin seem to see something special about stone and the dead (ex. Parshmen leave their dead on slabs of rock; Szeth talks about his body "being given to the stones" after he dies). This seems to have to do with the fact that Taln is the only one of the Heralds that didn't abandon the Oathpact. Thus, souls are committed to his keeping by placing bodies on stones, maybe?

Ah, that was a bit of a jumbled mess, hopefully it mostly makes sense.
TBGH
120. commentor
@119: that is an amazing jumbled mess.
I think you might have a point, as I remember a comment about stone shamans collecting the blade if he were to die.

Something else for the betrayal/Herold discussion: do we know that the herolds aren't human? I think about something along the lines of gollum here, I.e. that the honorblades grant them their power and make them more then human (revival when dying in a desolation for one thing)
Could be totally wrong...

Now I will read this AGAIN. Thanks for an awesome story
Birgit
121. birgit
I don't think Shallan knew from childhood that she was destined for great things. After soulcasting she subconsciously realized that she had Radiant power but only really accepted it when Jasnah said it.
Dixon Davis
122. KadesSwordElanor
birgit @ 121

So, as Zen pointed out, what do you (and others) postulate that Shallan might mean by:

The betrothal, Shadesmar and the spren, and this, her mysterious destiny. She’d known. But speaking it…"

Not disagreeing; I’m legitimately curious of other POVs. As I stated @ 103, it is just the way I interpreted it. Seems like a very ominous statement. Either there is a lot there, or I’m over thinking or missing something, which wouldn’t be the first time and won’t be the last. May/Might(help w/ grammar Wet;)) Shallan have already visited the Nightwatcher?

Edit: Punctuation and to ask if I am really expected to get any work done today with all this new info. & the WOK Reread post on my mind.
Alyson Mahn
123. AyeJaySedai
122. KadesSwordElanor
When could Shallan have visited the Nightwatcher? She never left her father's estate before going in search of Jasnah, and if she had somehow made that sidetrip before the narrative started wouldn't she have used her boon to fix her family problems?
Dixon Davis
124. KadesSwordElanor
AyeJaySedai @ 123

Honestly, no clue. I just think Zen @ 71pointed out something I glossed over, me taking it to mean something innocuous (see Kade's @ 98 & 103). In retrospect, it seems very un-innocuos. The Nightwatcher comment is just my Avatar Monkey throwing darts at a dartboard. Granted we still have a lot to learn about soulcasting, old magic etc.; taking Shallan’s comment literally would mean, to me, she can see the future (Shallan’s comment see Zen @ 71 or excerpt in Santhid). If I am making much-a-do about nothing, someone please tell me. It won’t hurt my feelings.

Also, we know the Knightwatcher is as trixy as thems Snakes & Foxes. So, Shallan using her boon to fix her family problems might not be that straight forward. Again, not saying I think she did, but I would not say it is incomprehensible.

P.S. Is there anyway to get an apostrophe after before the s in Kades.
TBGH
125. Afterthought
@124 - I took it as meaning she knew that the fact she had been to Shadesmar meant that she was special and had a destiny. But I could easily be reading too little into it! :)
Dixon Davis
126. KadesSwordElanor
That is essentially what I was saying also, though I may not have articulated it that way. But it seems others disagree, or I am misunderstanding others. Maybe where I am “missing the boat” is that I was stating that she had known for a while, where as you (Afterthought) are stating it is a new realization. Yeah, OK. In that case, problem solved.
Alice Arneson
127. Wetlandernw
KadesSwordElanor @122 - IMO, "Might" would be better. :)

Some fascinating discussion going on here! I don't actually have any opinions to offer up (bizarre, I know!) but it's fascinating to read.

(Oh, and I don't think tordotcom allows you to put an apostrophe in your username. s'rEDIT usually comments in red, because of exactly that.)
Dixon Davis
128. KadesSwordElanor
Thanks Wet, that is what I was thinking regarding .
TBGH
129. commentor
Three more things:

First about Jasnah's hand sinking into the stone as if it were mud. Something is tingling in my mind there. Not sure what though.

Secondly, are the orders of KR gender specific? Jasnah's comment about men shattering stone and women flying could hint at that.
Plus of the six KR we have seen till now most are from different orders and three are male (Kaladin: windrunner gravity&atmosphere, Elokah: order5 light&growth, Ym the re-grower with the shoes: probably also 5) and three female (jasnah: Elsecaller transformation&transportation, shallan: Lightweaver light&transformation, lift the thief girl: Edgedancer friction&growth). If the shoemaker is in order five and not an Edgedancer it could be true. Guess we have to wait for more information

Third: might the Santhid be using surgebinding? The strange spren and its ability to keep the ship's pace lead me to assume something like that, some friction reduction maybe.
Anastasia Burina
130. Radda
Ahh, it's so good to return to Roshar and the heroes I'm rooting for! Interludes are good but nothing beats a familiar face.

Kaladin seemingly inhales Stormlight out of thin air. He probably
carries some spheres with him but there weren't any mention of them, so I'm really confused.

On the Ash conversation, in the prelude Kalak calls Jezrien by his name, so I don't think he would be the Alethi-looking man or maybe "my lord" is indeed not Jezrien. Or these two weren't heralds. Also, Szeth's shardblade is described as "smaller than the most", while I have the impression that all heralds' blades are really big.

Now I hope every book (or, at least, every book in the first five) will start with the night of Gavilar's killing told from somebody else's perspective. That would be neat! Imagine reading Gavilar's perspective
in one of the later books...

I'm also really interested in the identity of Liss, the assasin, who,
apparently, has a shardblade (it burns eyes out when cutting a man's
spine, as far as I remember). Since we have her servant's name (which is
only one letter different from Kalak's!) and appearance, I'm guessing
she would play a bigger role later.
Alice Arneson
131. Wetlandernw
Radda @130 - "Now I hope every book (or, at least, every book in the first five) will start with the night of Gavilar's killing told from somebody else's perspective." As I understand it, that is indeed Brandon's plan. You win! :D
Matt Spencer
132. Iarvin
Commentor @129

First: That occurence very much reminded me of Leane trapped in the basements of the White Tower when her cell starts melting due to a bubble of evil! I think in this case its more related to Jasnah's ability to SoulCast.

Second: The shoemaker's spren seems more like Syl than like Windle, so I would guess that he's the adjacent order to Lift's, rather than the same order.

Third: I like that - I also wonder if the parshendi could use spren like this to become super swimmer forms.

@130 & 131

Does it strike anyone else that Dalinar's scene may be somewhat boring? He basically just gets drunk. . . of course its possible that we won't see that night from Dalinar's point of view, but who else besides Gavilar and Elokhar is there? Navani? Possibly Elokhar's wife?
Alice Arneson
133. Wetlandernw
Some of the following is whited out, in case there are those here who have not read the interludes about Ym and Lift.

commentor @129 – I’m pretty sure the Orders are not gender specific. If nothing else, IIRC the female KR from Dalinar’s vision in WoK Ch. 19 was implied to be a Stoneward (amber glow), which is the Order associated with Talenel. Additionally: in order for Ym to have the Surge associated with growth/regrowing, he has to belong to either the same order as Lift, or one of the ones next in the circle – and all three of those are associated with female Heralds. I’m not sure what you mean by “Elokah: order 5”; if you are saying that Elhokar is a Knight Radiant of one of the yet-unnamed orders, I’m really curious as to your sources for that. In any case, the fifth order is associated with Palah, who is female.

As for the santhid… I don’t know if Brandon would call it Surgebinding or not. I’m assuming the spren around the santhid are much like the spren around the chasmfiends – something naturally associated with them. Brandon did say that the chasmfiends have a “symbiotic relationship” with their spren which (in part) enables them to grow to their enormous size; whether that’s a form of Surgebinding or not… I really don’t know. It would be interesting to ask.

Iarvin @132 - For starters, I'd suggest one or more of the Parshendi, Gavilar, Navani, Elhokar, Sadeas, Amaram, or one of the Heralds I'm assuming are there in some guise. :) As you say, Dalinar's POV wouldn't be very interesting except for the bits before he got too drunk to pay attention and after he sobered up; I doubt his will be one of the ones used.

FWIW, Brandon did say that he's seeing the Stormlight Archive as two five-book arcs, so maybe only the first five prologues will focus on that night. I don't recall that he said anything about that specifically.
Anastasia Burina
134. Radda
@Wetlandernw

Really? Yay! Please, if you ever get the chance, pass Brandon my thanks and thumbs up.

@Iarvin

There are also Parshendi and (possible) heralds. And for Gavilar this would be the major turning point, so maybe his scene will include more of the morning after than the events of the night itself. Also, he can aaccidentaly notice something major before getting drunk and forget about it later. :)
Anyway, I think that Brandon might use this event only for the first five books, since they should form a complete story arc.
TBGH
135. STBLST
I don't know what to make of the first sentence in the prologue. Taken at face value it makes Jasnah appear to be ruthless, seeking to eliminate family 'enemies' without having determined them to be a clear and present danger to life. After sensing that she doesn't know all that is happening in the palace at the time of the treaty signing, she withholds her letter of instruction to the assassin, Liss, to that effect, and substitutes another instruction that she is only to work as a spy. Considering that the subject is her sister-in-law (Elhokar's wife and the mother of the heir to the Alethi throne), the supposed need to eliminate her is puzzling. After all, she is the one who later effectively rules Alethkar, while the king is occupied with the war on the Shattered Plains. Jasnah, is, apparently, content with that arrangement since she absents herself to pursue her historical investigations in Kharabranth. If her suspicions were allayed by a report from Liss, what made her originally conclude that the sister-in-law had to be eliminated?

I also find the sudden 'unofficial engagement' of Shallan to Adolin to be puzzling. Jasnah knows little of Shallan's family background. Mostly she is impressed with her intelligence, inquisitiveness, artistic talent, and Radiant-like power of soulcasting and visiting Shadesmar. I would have thought that a suggeted match be made, rather than jumping into some kind of engagement. In any case, Adolin's reaction will govern whether or not they become a couple. Why give it a more official designation at this point? It's not as if Shallan can inform her brothers of anything other than a match possibility with the royal Alethi family.

No doubt, Sanderson will be more forthcoming when the book is finally published. Perhaps another released chapter or two prior to March will answer these questions. As it stands, the released chapter on Kaladin starting to work as the captain of the royal guard is the one that best follows the story development of the Way of Kings.
Anneke van Staden
136. QueenofDreams
@120 it's possible they are human actually. I just assumed from the WoK prologue that they weren't. That could well be me misreading it though. @107 What I was getting at though was that the breaking of the oathpact wasn't the cause of the recreance. In fact, I'm pretty sure it isn't. If the spren abandoned the KR due to the heralds breaking the pact, they would have left far sooner than they did. I believe that the KR abandoning their shards and their duty to protect was the betrayal that killed some spren. Although I like the idea that they were no longer KR due to lack of spren, their armour actually only stopped glowing AFTER they'd abandoned the shards, when they first arrive they are still glowing. And then the everlasting question: 'what happened to the other eight orders?' We only see two orders abandoning their position at Feverstone keep - Windrunners and Stonewards I think? Where were the rest?!
Anneke van Staden
138. QueenofDreams
Hang on, who is this shoemaker? have I missed an exerpt somewhere along the line?
Deana Whitney
139. Braid_Tug
Re: Gavilar's death
Dalinar's POV might focus more on the aftermath and his guilt at being drunk, vs. the death fight itself. Or maybe we'll get something from before the feast began.
It would be really nice to learn more about the reasons why Gavilar was killed, but that's more a slow revival / central mystery of the story. So we're not going to get that from one POV of the Parh.

Re: Elokhar's wife's really has not been a player yet. Wondering what we will learn about her come March.
Deana Whitney
140. Braid_Tug
@138: I heard the Shoemaker's POV at WorldCon. Brandon did a reading, but I don't know where it's posted.
Anyone else? I did not see it here on Tor.com
TBGH
141. commentor
@133
Yeah, I meant Elhokar being a member of the fifth order of KR.
Thinking about it, I do not have any confirmation for it, but in the first read of WoK I thought his paranoia might be fueled by seeing the same figures Shallan sometimes "sees".
If I remember correctly he, Elhokar, somewhere said they look at him from mirrors.
As Shallan is in a different Order than Jasnah, but notices these figures in her paintings, I put Elhokar in the Order next to it. That is Nr. 5 lightbending and Growth.
White Text: As I also thought that Ym was not an Edgedancer I put him in the same Order
Sorry for getting his name wrong I should have checked the coppermind

@135: I assume that the "unofficial" engagement is not secret, and therefore might give Shallans family some political protection/weight.
Kimani Rogers
142. KiManiak
@138 & @140 - 17th Shard has a collection of all of the WoR Reading transcriptions and other unofficial releases locatd here.

Clearly, there are a lot of Spoilers.
Anneke van Staden
143. QueenofDreams
I'll have a look on 17th shard, I'm guessing they'll have a link on there. @ whoever asked about the hand sinking into the stone: In WoK when Jasnah soulcasts the rock into smoke it says her hand appears to sink into the stone. Also, The dark figure is her spren that allows her to soulcast isn't it? Same as Shallan and the Cryptics? Seems like Kaladin got lucky getting Syl, Shallan and Jasnah have pretty unpleasant beings bonded to them, and Lift's spren isn't exactly great company either.
Alice Arneson
144. Wetlandernw
STBLST @135 - Re: the "causal" Jasnah & Navani set up, Jasnah has had plenty of time since Shallan arrived (or before, since Shallan spent six months or so trying to catch up with her) to find out whatever she wanted about the Davar family, and I'd bet that she did so. This is Jasnah, after all! Combining that with what she knows from Shallan personally, and her desire to make sure that this promising young woman (for all the reasons given at the end of WoK) continues to work on The Most Important Issue facing her at this time... she has incentive to help Shallan's family, if only to keep Shallan from getting distracted.

The causal, while not as binding as an official betrothal or marriage, is a public statement of intent, which would serve Shallan's family quite well as a means to stave off creditors. Sure, it's still up to Adolin & Shallan to figure out which direction it's going to go, but it's (at least) one step more formalized than all the courting Adolin's been doing, right? That's not nothing.

@ several re: Heralds - Well, we know the Heralds look human, but whether they're native Rosharians... I realized this morning that I don't recall anyone ever asking (or answering) that question. It's on my new list.
Anneke van Staden
146. QueenofDreams
@135 also don't forget in WoK (can't give page number at the moment) when Shallan is trying to persuade Jasnah to accept her as ward, Jasnah seems to know quite a bit about Shallan's family, even knowing the name of her stepmother. So she's fairly well informed really. edit to add: And frankly, from what we know of Jasnah's character, I can't see her meeting a prospective ward without having done some research into her background first!
andrew smith
147. sillyslovene
@several - the hand sinking reminds me of the seals and mortal flesh in The Emperor's Soul - thus, as cosmere related, equates with somehow touching something, not physically, but cognitively (i.e. in Shadesmar)

@others - about the 'causal' - I like what Wet and others have pointed out - I would just add: bear in mind that we are (1) seeing this from the eyes of a teenage girl, giddy about the sudden prospects of being wed to the most eligible bachelor of all time, evah! "OMG! SQUEEE!" *Jumps up and down* etc. (2) Jasnah assumes, based on her internal characterization that Navani can be overbearing/forceful in making people do what she wants them to (based on Jasnah's own experience with her?), that she will successfully persuade Adonlin to like the deal (as Navani says her intent is). However, remember, apparently the last time Navani tried to help out Adolin with his courting (liking the girl named Danlan, giving Adolin her favorites melons, etc) did not pan out as Navani would have liked.

Thus, it is completely in the realm of possibility (more than possibility since this is fiction and fiction is driven by conflict?) that while Shallan, Jasnah, and Navani all look upon this as favorable and therefore official, it will not be that simple. Fiction aside, real life is not usually that simple either... Then again, maybe it will be that simple: Adolin will totally love her, they get hitched.... Then Adolin will die an ignominious death at the hands of Sadeas who he has pissed off one too many times. Or he'll die of dissentary from binging on orange wine because he can't have the stronger stuff. :P

As far as the spren around the santhid and the Chasmfiends - the thought that came to me (in addition to the other things Wet mentioned) is that perhaps this means these "creatures" are a whole lot more intelligent, perhaps sentient, than the others think. Given that this comes right after Jasnah and Shallan's discussion of spren as "living ideas" it may just be that their intelligence helps create these spren that are around them. I'll have to keep my eye out for other sentient life that could potentially create spren... Human's may not be the only ones to have creative crossover in the cognitive realm. And that's not even thinking about the Parshendi...
Anneke van Staden
148. QueenofDreams
@147 I disagree with a bit about Shallan. I think the majority of her excitement is because it's going to save her family - getting engaged to the man who is third in line for the throne and incredibly well known will guarantee her family's safety. No one will dare touch them with her married into the Kholin line. I also think the relationship won't be as smooth as all that. Although this time I think Adolin's going to get a taste of his own medicine when Shallan discovers how well she and Renarin get along! I'm liking your thoughts on the spren though, it definitely makes sense.
Andrew Berenson
149. AndrewHB
IIRC, Jasnah does not know that Shallan can summon a Shardblade. My theory is that somehow in her struggle to kill her father with the Shardblade, Shallan damaged the Soulcaster. When Shallan and Jasnah reach the Shattered Plains and give the broken Soulcaster to Navani to fix, Navani will be unable to fix it. My theory (and no textual support to back this up), is that the damage to Soulcaster caused by a Shardblade is irreversable.

I also theororize that sometime during WoR, those close to Shallan at the Shattered Plains (Jasnah, Navani, Dalinar, Renarin and/or Adolin) will learn of Shallan's Shardblade. Further, Shallan's Shardblade will somehow factor into the confrontation that Kaladin and Szeth have.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
(aka the musespren)
TBGH
150. rovert
So is it possible for the Shards to be created from/with spren
hens the shardblades vanish and the Armor regens and it needs
stormlight
Tricia Irish
151. Tektonica
Thank you Wetlander @ 105! Nice little reveal. ;-)

I just finished the WoK, and I have not yet read all of the Reread chapters here, so I'm probably asking redundent questions. For this I apologize. If someone could either give me a brief summary of the answers to these questions, or point me to the relevent discussion on the Reread, I'd sure appreciate it!.......

I'm really confused about Taravangian....is he a Ghosteater too? And why don't they want the KR to come back to help save the planet from the Desolation/or Voidbringers? Unless they think the KR will NOT help the human cause?

Also: If the two having the conversation that Jasnah observes, about changing, and questioning why they gave "Him The Sword", are talking about Szeth, and Taravangian is Szeths current owner, then are these two "heralds" must be working with Taravangian? To what end? They are hell bent on killing all the leaders, and sowing chaos....Even killing Dalinar....who appears to be humanitys' best hope. ???

The Parshendi seem to have something of the "hive mind", as in Ender's Game, in that they sing in sync with each other over vast distances, and act in concert. Are the Parshmen privy to this communication? Have they been placed in Alethi society until it's time to revolt, suddenly, as Jasnah has postulated? Will Kaladin's kindness towards his Parshman change things?
TBGH
152. commentor
@151: I will try my best to answer.

I think you mean Ghostblood.
As far as I know Taravangian is not one of them.
I understand it as such at the moment, that they and others who want to stop the KR from reappearing believe their presence on Roshar will make the next Desolation come.
no KR present, no Desolation.


Szeth got his sword long before he was owned by Taravagian and stated that one of the two things he is forbindden from doing, even if ordered, is giving up his weapon (the other is taking his life).

Killing Dellinar is planed, because a strong Alethkar would make it harder for someone other then the King of Alethkar, to gather the world under one banner and prepare for the Desolation.

There is a parshmen viewpoint under the link further up (around 130-140 I think). It should answer most of your question
Leeland Woodard
153. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
@141
I think it's worth pointing out that I drew the same conclusion with regards to the order of KR that Elhokar is in as you did, for pretty much the same reasons. Jasnah is an Elsecaller, she can't see the cryptics. Shallan is a Lightweaver, she can see the Cryptics. Elhokar can see the Cryptics, and I would assume that he wouldn't be in the exact same order as Shallan, so that leaves the 5th order, giving him Growth and Illumination, I believe.
TBGH
154. Capt d
The new cover art is awesome and a huge improvement on the previous cover. I hope this is the actual cover for the book. I would wait for a second edition just for the cover. Kaladin looks like a hero instead of some 80's rock star.
TBGH
157. WonderChimp
@154 I agree. I like this cover. I wish they would give us the inside cover art as well. All these readings and Q&A sessions have let us know that those inside cover illustrations are tremendously informative, we just didn't know that they said.

In that vein, I'm calling it now. We know what the greatshells turn into after they leave their chrysalis and it's on the inside of the WoK. There are dragon looking creatures with crablegs.

So happy this next book is coming soon!
Julian Augustus
158. Alisonwonderland
I happen to be re-reading tWoK in preparation for March, and the WoR prologue triggered something I read very recently. Specifically, Jasnah's discovery that Liss had been the immediately previous owner of Szeth, and her resolve to find Szeth's previous owners.

We don't know yet if she has found much success in that research, but we do know Szeth's very first owner after leaving Shinovar. In the Rysn Interlude (tWoK, I-4) where the merchant Vstim visits Shinovar to purchase chickens ...
“You couldn’t trade me a soldier, could you?” Vstim asked as they waited.
“They cannot be sold to an outsider, I am afraid.”
“But there was that one you traded me…”
“It’s been nearly seven years!” Thresh said with a laugh. “And still you ask!”
“You don’t know what I got for him,” Vstim said. “And you gave him to me for practically nothing!”
“He was Truthless,” Thresh said, shrugging. “He wasn’t worth anything at all. You forced me to take something in trade, though to confess, I had to throw your payment into a river. I could not take money for a Truthless.”
“Well, I suppose I can’t take offense at that,” Vstim said, rubbing his chin. “But if you ever have another, let me know. Best servant I ever had. I still regret that I traded him.”
“I will remember, friend,” Thresh said. “But I do not think it likely we will have another like him.” He seemed to grow distracted. “Indeed, I should hope that we never do….”
Well, there you have it. Vstim was Szeth's first master, but as to whether he sold Szeth directly to Liss, we shall (hopefully) soon find out.
Alice Arneson
159. Wetlandernw
Tektonica @151 – You’re welcome! I like to be generous with my speculation. ;)

For most of your questions, we don’t fully know the answers yet. We don’t really know what Taravangian’s deal is, but there’s no solid evidence that he’s a Ghostblood. For that matter, we don’t entirely know what either his or the Ghostbloods’ purpose is, nor their methods of achieving those purposes. (Well, we know Taravangian wants to save the world, but we really don’t know how.)

commentor is correct that Szeth had his sword before Taravangian got hold of him; we don’t entirely know when or why. We do know that he had it before he killed Gavilar, and that was six years ago; he only came to Taravangian in the past year or so (during the course of the main timeline of WoK, anyway). Whether Taravangian had anything to do with him before the Parshendi… we have no information.

There’s also a lot we don’t know about the Parshendi; there’s a lot of speculation, and people sharing speculation as if it were fact, but… We just don’t know how exactly parshmen are related to the Parshendi, why they are where they are (either group!), or anything about what might happen with Shen. We don’t know why the Parshendi can sing together without hearing each other, either.

@several – I’m not saying that Elhokar doesn’t see Cryptics; just that we don’t know for sure what he’s seeing, or why. The extremely limited description we have certainly sounds similar to what Shallan sees, but whether they actually are, we don’t know. If they are, we don’t know if he sees them because he also can become a Radiant, or… for some other undisclosed reason. I just had to point out that we don’t yet have any solid evidence of him Surgebinding, so calling him a Radiant and placing him in an Order is perhaps a trifle premature. Certainly not solid enough to use as evidence for any related argument (such as gender correlation). @153, I’m not sure why you would assume that (if he were a Radiant) he couldn’t be in the same Order as Shallan. Why on earth Roshar shouldn’t he be?

Capt d @154 – Yes, this is the cover art for the first printing. Mr. Whelan had already changed it as of mid-October, and I’m pretty sure they hadn’t printed the covers already… I doubt they’ve printed them even now. (But I agree – I like the new version. I think Mr. Whelan’s decisions re: changes were wonderful. If we can remember that far away, it would be interesting to have a discussion about the relative merits of the two versions, once we get the chance to read the scene depicted. Not sure there will be anything to discuss, but you never know!)
David Foster
160. ZenBossanova
Speaking of the cover art, I can't quite figure out where they are going to put the Shallan picture, if this is the cover art.
Alice Arneson
161. Wetlandernw
Endpapers. (The bit on the inside of the hard cover, where the Surgebinding diagrams are in WoK.)
TBGH
162. Jasuni
The prologue doesn't state outright that Jasnah was planning to kill Ehlokar's wife. She could be aiming for someone close to Ehlokar's wife (although this is unlikely)

@158 Szeth has had many masters, most of whom sold him after a short time. Considering that Thresh said "it's been nearly seven years," I would guess that Vstim sold Szeth at least a year before Gavilar's assasination.
Julian Augustus
163. Alisonwonderland
@162:
While Vstim acquired Szeth "nearly seven years ago", let's not forget that the prologue itself is recounting events from six years ago, so we are talking less than a year between Vstim acquiring Szeth and Gavilar's assasination. In that time, he stayed with Vstim long enough for Vsim to consider him the "best servant I ever had," and Liss also had him long enough to send a message to Jasnah saying Szeth was the best servant she ever had, only selling Szeth "a few weeks ago" because she found him "too good" and "creepy."

I dare say if Jasnah has, indeed, followed up on learning about Szeth from his previous masters, she wouldn't need to interview a lot of folks (perhaps only three or four people outside the Parshendi) to learn as much as she can about him. I suspect that knowledge would come in handy in this book, as both are heading towards Dalinar and the confrontation with Kaladin.
TBGH
164. skaa
"'I’ll take you to see some shells in the port at Amydlatn when we stop there, young miss. They have quite a collection!'
She didn’t know where that was, but from the jumble of consonants squished together, she assumed it would be on the Thaylen side."

How in the world did Shallan know how that name was spelled just by hearing it? Is she somehow related to Skip from "I Hate Dragons"?
Tricia Irish
165. Tektonica
Thanks Wetlander@159. I'm busy reading everything I can find in cyberspace now....
andrew smith
166. sillyslovene
So, given the idea of spren as "living ideas" - check out this from WoK:
Hoid tells Kaladin (when they meet in "Wandersail"):
I began life as a thought, a concept, words on a page. That was another thing I stole. Myself. Another time, I was named for a rock.”
Which has some really interesting implications - we already know Hoid is great at manipulating the Cognitive Realm/Shadesmar - but could he have originated there?

Interesting things are afoot!
TBGH
167. STBLST
@166, the citation about Hoid from his conversation with Kaladin is, to my mind, just an ironic reference to the fact that he is a fictional character. Shadesmar, to my knowledge, has no pages - just representative idea-beads.
@162, In Jasnah's conversation with Liss, Liss argues that killing her (Elhokar's wife) is cheaper than spying. Jasnah, counters that she is willing to absorb the extra expense. Her choice appears to be made simply on the basis of prudence rather than morality. In general, Jasnah in the Way of Kings or in the current excerpt from the Words of Radiance presents as a rather ruthless person. In WOK she eliminates 4 attackers whom she enticed, without qualm. In WOR, she plans on eliminating her brother's wife, apparently without qualm, but relents on the basis of prudence. She is also said to have dealt with a dozen assassins.
@144 (belatedly). You may be correct about the sudden engagement of Shallan with her cousin, Adolin. However, someone as suspicious as Jasnah would be expected to hesitate before instigating a match with her cousin. That does not seem to be overprotective of her family. The counter argument could be that Shallan shows promise as a Knight Radiant candidate, and encouraging her development would take precedence over the usual family considerations. Perhaps Sanderson should have placed more emphasis on Jasnah's desire to develop Shallan's abilities. However, there should be ample opportunity in a large work to develop ideas that are only mentioned briefly in the current excerpts.
F Shelley
168. FSS
re: stormlight in the cover art, above - It's always interesting to me to see someone else's interpretation of how something looks (in art, or on screen in film adaptations). In my mind's eye, I've always pictured Stormlight as something like Artron (regeneration) energy from Doctor Who, but fainter...like the soft glow from a low wattage incandescent light...
Alice Arneson
169. Wetlandernw
STBLST @167 - Re: Jasnah's reason to bind Shallan to the Kholin family - I thought that was obvious. When Shallan expresses her doubt that she has anything to offer to the most eligible bachelor in Alethkar,
“On the contrary,” Jasnah said, “if you are what I think you are, then you will be able to offer him something nobody else can. Something more important than riches.”
At this point, Jasnah knows Shallan is bonded to a spren, and she knows far more than Shallan does about the implications. She also knows that she and Shallan don't have the same kind of spren, right? So they are from different Orders (as we already knew). Jasnah, the ultimate pragmatist, would be absolutely determined to tie Shallan to the family somehow, and a betrothal/marriage is even more binding than the wardship. She's protective of her family, but I don't think the down side of a politically-less-than-desirable match for her younger cousin would outweigh the advantage of seeing him married to a proto-Surgebinder. Especially not when she's expecting the return of the Desolations and the Voidbinders.
andrew smith
170. sillyslovene
@167- while I agree about the ironic bit of 'words on a page', your handwaviness of ignoring his first words - thought and concept (both synonymous with 'idea' - weakens your argument. There is no reason that BWS couldn't be sending two different signals at once, especially when it is so easy to mask one behind the other.
David Foster
171. ZenBossanova
Considering how little we know about how Hoid travels, except that it happens in Shadesmar (Spren-world) this is a very significant excerpt.
andrew smith
172. sillyslovene
Having said that, when I originally posted, I had forgotten about Liar of Parthinel (which includes some of Hoid's back-story on Yolen), so him 'originating' in Shadesmar is not likely. However, still think it is significant usage of him describing himself beginning as such, in light of what we see about the Cognitive Realm....
Matt Spencer
173. Iarvin
@167 and 169 and all the Shallan/Adolin engagement discussion.
At this point, Jasnah knows Shallan is bonded to a spren, and she knows far more than Shallan does about the implications. She also knows that she and Shallan don't have the same kind of spren, right? So they are from different Orders (as we already knew). Jasnah, the ultimate pragmatist, would be absolutely determined to tie Shallan to the family somehow, and a betrothal/marriage is even more binding than the wardship.
I somewhat get Jasnah's motivations - but Navani is no slouch herself and her motives are less clear. Why would she be interested in a minor house from Jah-Kaved?

To speculate on the answer to my own question, all the Kholin's seem to be resigned to Adolin not making a great match, and would possibly be content with just about any reasonable lighteyed woman.

An additional advantage in Navani's mind could be that Shallan would be motivated to marry Adolin in spite of his relational troubles. Shallan is also a scholar of noteworthy talent, which would be attractive to Navani.

But Navani really lacks the evidence that Jasnah has, so it still seems questionable to me that she would be heartily on board with this engagement!

@This topic again, but in relation to Adolin and Shallan

People are expecting Renarin and Shallan to get along better than Adolin and Shallan. This is possible, but I think Shallan is going to have much different expectations from a relationship than all the lighteyes that Adolin has been dallying with so far. Given her relationship with her father and her brothers, Adolin may shine quite brightly in comparison, if he's at all interested.

Renarin on the other hand may have a similar relationship with Shallan as he does with Wit, which is not entirely positive. Shallan does make fun of herself as well though which could ameliorate the tension. Shallan and Wit on the other hand would very much enjoy eachother - if they didn't kill eachother first.
Deana Whitney
174. Braid_Tug
Re: Shallan & Adolin - I don't ever see them as having an "easy" relationship. But upon re-reading Navani talking about her courtships with the elder Kholin Brothers, I do have to wonder about a possible repeat. The younger loves the elder's girlfriend, but does not say anything because he is use to not getting in the elder's way.
I know Dalinar meet Navani first, but Dalinar never declared his intentions.

Different topics:
Last night I re-read the Kaladin - Dalinar interaction chapters. Following that up with seeing Kaladin the next day here? Really a great treat.
Wondering the new battalion breakdown will still be called "Bridge #" because of the team's instance that they are still Bridge 4.

I’m really starting to wonder if Dalinar sought the Nightwatcher in order to seek something for Renarin. So the curse was a “In order to help your son, you must forget his mother.”
TBGH
175. Lewanna
Just a thought.. Kaladins scar is permanent because he wasn't using stormlight to heal himself when he received them. Now he is unable to even get a tattoo because he heals himself. What if he was rebranded, the same brands in the same place, then drew in stormlight. In the past he has healed with no physical indication he was ever harmed in the first place, no scars. I believe this is a way that he would be able to be permanently rid of his brands. Just a thought anyway.
TBGH
176. Afterthought
Re: the Shallan/Adolin conversation, I suspect that Jasnah's recommendation alone supplies a lot of weight. Even the fact that she accepted Shallan as a ward suggests that she holds Shallan in high esteem, given what we know about Jasnah's demanding standards, and what she had told her family.
A new ward? Dalinar thought. It had been years since Jasnah had taken one. She always said she didn't have the time. (p425 UK paperback edition)
We also don't know what Jasnah's said to Navani, of course.

It's not entirely irreversible if they were to find Shallan objectionable, either. Dalinar has insisted upon that.

There is, of course, the partnership between men and women in Alethkar, which makes it advisable for men to be betrothed as soon as possible, especially those in high positions in the society. Men not reading or writing must be a huge hindrance, especially given what we know of the Alethi court. We are told that people think Dalinar should remarry for that very reason.

On a different topic - do we know that Jasnah intended to kill her brother's wife? I read it as she had changed her target completely when she changed her mind. Presumably the name is on the envelope (which is how Liss knew the target without opening it), so when she changed the envelope she changed the target? I grant that her back up plan could just be to have her watched rather than killed, but I don't think that's the only way of reading it.
TBGH
177. Hiponix
Joining the discussion kinda late, but I couldn't help myself after reading (and then reading again...ak, can't wait till march). So, assuming jasnah is correct in the whole Spren as ideas concept, I thought it might change a little the other idea, "honor is dead". Since honorspren are the representations of oaths, once the oathpact was broken, maybe they 'broke' as well, as in, the whole idea of honor is fading an not so important.

Not sure how much sense this makes, or if it makes any difference (honor the shard is dead for sure?) but it's what I thought after reading that part.
David Foster
178. ZenBossanova
Honor, the physical person who picked up the shard, is dead.

Honor, the Shard, is still very much in existence. We also know it was splintered... what ever that means. Does that have something to do with why we see spren? It seems like shards in Elantris were splintered (correct me if I am wrong) and they had spren-like beings, called Aeons.

But the shards in Mistborn were not splintered, and I don't recall any spren-like beings.

I can't remember one way or another about spren or splintering in WarBreaker.

Was the Cultivation Shard splintered?
Alice Arneson
179. Wetlandernw
Cultivation was not splintered; she is still (as of now) alive and kicking.

As for what happens to a Shard when it's splintered... that remains a little unclear. The power of the Shard remains, to some extent, as I understand it; to what extent, I don't know. It no longer has a consciousness to guide the power, though, I'm reasonably sure.

*sigh* This all seems to make so much sense when you're actually talking to Brandon, and then when you try to explain it to someone else later, you realize you still don't understand...
TBGH
180. DE137
In regards to the Adolin and Shallan discussions.... I happen to think they'll get along well. Shallan seems to enjoy, or at least doesn't mind when being flirted with, seen by her interactions with Yalb and Kabsal. As far as Adolin... When he was courting the women, it mentioned that he liked talkative women. Add that to the fact that he likes the King's Wit, and Shallan is often called witty and clever, I think they'lll get along well. I hoped the whole first book that they'd eventually be in a relationship, so I all but danced in joy when I saw that they'd been betrothed.
David Foster
181. ZenBossanova
WetlanderNW,

I was wondering how much splintering has to do with seeing spren-like beings. But we have seen some spren (like Wyndle) that appeared to be Cultivation-spren, so perhaps not.
Alice Arneson
182. Wetlandernw
Zen - This is the sort of thing that makes me wish just a handful of us could sit down with Brandon over a long, long dinner and just talk about how things work. :) There's always too much happening at a signing, even if you stay until he walks out the door.
Leeland Woodard
183. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
We know that the Seons(sp?) from Elantris were splinters, I think I remember Brandon saying that spren were splinters (but don't quote me on that), and we know that the Returned from Warbreaker were given splinters (as their really big Returned breath)...so, not a lot, but enough to make some decent conjecture?

Since Endowment was capable of splintering him/herself at will, it's reasonable to assume that all other shards can. Cultivation could, then, have splinters and still be alive and kicking.
TBGH
184. Anonymoose
My only question is how long until we get the table of contents and chapter/part titles?
TBGH
185. MTB
Maybe Hoid and the others like him have something to do with Legion?
TBGH
186. cageymcleod
He just keeps getting better and better...if this keeps up this series will go down as one of the best
TBGH
187. writelhd
I for one can't wait for a Shallan/Wit encounter. That's going to be an epic battle of...ahem...wits. Although I don't think Shallan would come away from that with pride and dignity fully intact, truthfully. She's quite witty but pretty sensetive too, which I imagine Wit will hone in on right away, and he's just had far longer to practice.

Now that I think of it, a Wit/Jasnah encounter would also be quite the thing to see.
TBGH
188. more_plz
WHEN DO WE GET MORE!!!!!!!!!!
TBGH
190. AxelDaemar
Now that I re-read WoK: Elhokar states "They watch me. Always. Waiting. I see their faces in mirrors. Symbols, twisted, inhuman..." Tell me that doesn't sound like the same things that Shallan was drawing? The king can see spren, but imperfectly, and he states that they are spying on him. Syl also talks about dangerous spren on the Shattered Plains, and Dalinar sees them in a vision in WoR... I think they'll play into the next book a lot more.
TBGH
191. Speed68
Maybe this has been said in someone else's post, but as far as the span reed is concerned: The ship made port the night before to avoid the high storm. So if Jasnah wrote her mother in the morning it stands to reason she was still in port. I am guessing there would be an adequate place in port to use a span reed without motion.
TBGH
192. mshaw
Why no $1.99 audible.com version of this?? TAKE MY MONEY!!!!
TBGH
193. Kayla Lowes
I am really looking forward to the audiobook being available on Audible UK. I'm assuming the same narrators (excellent despite the hiccough between them on the pronunciation of Sadeas). I like to listen to audiobooks while I'm sewing or making jewellery.
TBGH
194. K-Fed
Wow, just WOW. What a treat, cannot wait until this is released!

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