Welcome back to the reread of The Way of Kings on Tor.com. We’re only two short weeks out from the release of Words of Radiance, and things will be ramping up a lot here on Tor.com as we approach the release—so stay tuned all you Roshar fans!
This week we cover chapter 58, which splits the point of view between Adolin and Dalinar again. We only get a few Adolin POV chapters and they’re usually interesting to ferret the inner workings of the camp, as Adolin likes to bop around a lot more than his father. Adolin finally comes to recognize the worth of what his father has done. Took him long enough. Dalinar is meanwhile discussing matters of state and philosophy with Sadeas and Elhokar.
Chapter 58: The Journey
Points of View: Adolin, Dalinar
Setting: The Shattered Plains (Open Market / Dueling Arena)
What Happens: Adolin is relaxing with some yellow wine along with his male friends and their female companions at the Outer Market wine shop. He is accompanied by Danlan, whom it seems he is going to continue courting instead of hopping from woman to woman, as has been his style.
Adolin has been lamenting that he was wrong about his father; every time he starts to see problems in the way Dalinar handles things, Dalinar always ends up doing something heroic like rescuing Sadeas. Adolin questions aloud why Sadeas didn’t make a move against Dalinar and his family, noting that Sadeas gained nothing by admitting Dalinar was not a fault. Even a sly word would have put Dalinar in a bad light—a light that was already badly angled on him.
Danlan thinks Sadeas saying anything could result in war between the two princedoms and he probably wants to avoid that. Toral mentions that the reputation of Adolin’s father hasn’t been “impressive of late,” to which Adolin responds that he has been winning on the plateau quite often lately.
Jakamav says that all that was with Sadeas’ help, but Adolin goes on to say that Dalinar has been doing well the past few months, including saving the king and Sadeas.
Toral has heard enough and tries to derail Adolin by mentioning that this conversation stems from Adolin’s desires to change Dalinar. But Adolin has now reconsidered and doesn’t want his father to change to suit his desires:
“That was before I saw him rescue Sadeas. Every time I start to forget how amazing my father is, he does something to prove me one of the ten fools. It happened when Elhokar was in danger too. It’s like . . . my father only acts like that when he really cares about something.”
Adolin feels very conflicted. He had wanted his father to change to the point where only last week he agreed to take over the family for Dalinar. He is lost in thought, but is pulled back into conversation by a comment about his father’s highstorm episodes suggesting that Dalinar should abdicate to Adolin. Danlan thinks that would be going too far, but that she—like many others—wishes regulations would be lessened so the Kholin men could dress better and be more at one with Alethi society. Adolin tells her he has tried.
Adolin leaves to prepare for a duel against Brightlord Resi of Highprince Thanadal’s house; Thanadal has been saying not nice things about his father. As Adolin walks through the market he keeps thinking of the codes, especially the ones related to dress, and finally realizes what they help accomplishes. They give the common person someone to look up to and they also provide order; you know instantly who is a soldier and can tell their rank and therefore importance. With most upper Lighteyes, including soldiers, dressing however the current fashion dictates means their position isn’t clear without a much closer look, while the soldiers under Dalinar’s command are all easily identifiable. When there is trouble people will look to those soldiers.
Dalinar, Sadeas, and Elhokar are watching the dueling matches as Dalinar awaits his son’s match. Dalinar quotes a story from The Way of Kings about King Nohadon traveling from Abamabar to Urithiru by foot in order to experience what it is like to be a common person traveling such a great distance.
Sadeas is confused as to why a king would walk a great distance when he could at least ride a horse. Dalinar believes it is so that Nohadon could truly go through what other people do, and to prove to himself and his people that nothing is below him. Nohadon had traveled without his family or retinue or even any money. He made his way by working and storytelling to feed and shelter himself. Nohadon felt that no matter the destination, the path a leader takes is more important, as “no good can be achieved of false means.”
Sadeas finds the story ridiculous, stating “He walked all that distance just to make the point that kings should consider the consequences of their commands?” He thinks Dalinar loves the story because he was so “emotional,” which prevents him from levelheaded thinking. All the same Sadeas is glad it led Dalinar to saving his life.
The Way of Kings is made up of forty parables taken from the life of King Nohadon with each trying to convey a lesson of sorts. Dalinar abstains from biting back at the other Highprinces who try to provoke him because he is trying to live by the codes and spread virtue. Elhokar comments that Dalinar sounds like his father when he speaks this way.
Elhokar reveals that Wit has left him, but that he expects him back some day as he has disappeared and returned in the past. Navani soon shows up to watch the duels. Her presence clearly makes Dalinar uncomfortable and his thoughts tumble along as he looks skyward to avoid her. Soon Highprince Vamah arrives below to view the duel whose presence seems to annoy Sadeas. He comments that Vamah’s outfits are terrible and he isn’t fashionable like the other Highprince. Dalinar tries to defend Vamah, but soon falls silent when Sadeas reminds Dalinar of all the times he has commented on what people wear or should wear.
Adolin’s duel is starting and the winner will be whomever shatters a piece of their opponents Shardplate. He is facing Resi though his Highprince Thanadal didn’t attend the match. Both men wear their full Plate and have Shardblades.
The match begins with Resi taking the powerful Stonestance while Adolin goes with the more fluid form Windstance. Elhokar thinks Adolin is even better than his father or Dalinar at dueling and could be a champion. Though in practice Adolin keeps away from ranking matches to keep to the Codes.
Though Adolin and Resi trade blows Adolin controls the match and wins easily by shattering one of Resi’s thigh plates. Dalinar wished there was no war so Adolin could follow his passion. Sadeas asks if he still wants them to abandon the war. Dalinar says he would leave, but that wouldn’t be the end of it.
“It would be because I fear for Alethkar’s stability; leaving this war would help secure our homeland and the loyalty of the highprinces. I would send more envoys and scholars to find out why the Parshendi killed Gavilar. We gave up on that too easily. I still wonder if the assassination was initiated by miscreants or rebels among their own people.”
He also outlines what he would do with the Shattered Plains to bring it into Alethkar and how he would handle the Parshendi. Elhokar thinks it all makes sense and wishes he had explained it so well earlier. Elhokar asks for an update from Sadeas on who could have weakened the gems in his plate, but Sadeas doesn’t have any yet. Elhokar is clearly worried about assassins and says:
“They watch me. Always. Waiting. I see their faces in mirrors. Symbols, twisted, inhuman . . .”
Sadeas and Dalinar are both disturbed by the King’s words. Could he be worse off than they both thought? Worried with paranoia?
Dalinar steers the conversation back to the war wanting to focus on stabilizing and bringing all Alethi together. Discussions turn to the success Dalinar and Sadeas have had on bridge runs. Sadeas wants Dalinar to use his bridgemen so that the Kholin army can join up quicker. Dalinar is reticent, but eventually agrees if his men can still cross later when the bridgemen will not be under constant fire from Parshendi. The king departs to congratulate Adolin on his match. Before Dalinar leaves as well Sadeas asks that he be sent a copy of The Way of Kings so he can have it read to him.
Quote of the Chapter:
“And so, does the destination matter? Or is it the path we take? I declare that no accomplishment has substance nearly as great as the road used to achieve it. We are not creatures of destinations. It is the journey that shapes us. Our callused feet, our backs strong from carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experiences lived.”
This is one of my favorite passages in all of The Way of Kings, albeit it is technically quoted from Nohadon’s The Way of Kings. This statement seems very much at the crux of what Sanderson is trying to accomplish with the series—at least so far. I wonder how far he’ll take it because surely he’s got an ending in mind that he’ll want us all to care about, but we’ve all got a long journey to go before we get there.
It is the experiences that make the person. From the mundane (farming, patching wounds) to the fantastic (magic swords, battles with chasmfiends), but what you do and how you act because of those experiences is what matters.
In the course of this reread I’ve grown to appreciate Adolin for the man he is becoming. He’s not there quite yet, but we’ve seen him grow and learn. This chapter was a big breakthrough for him. He also finally seems ready to make a commitment to a woman, I’m just not sure it will be Danlan in the end, however nice and intelligent she seems. Adolin though seems ready to fully commit himself to his father’s cause.
All this talk about dressing has become tiresome only this chapter it is Adolin and Sadeas who seem so intent on talking about it instead of Dalinar. Dalinar actually tries to defend someone’s outlandish dress and is easily taken aback when he realizes what he’s done. What I wouldn’t give for a Sadeas POV chapter to see just how he plan what is to come.
One thing I haven’t seen considered much is that maybe the gems in Elhokar’s Shardplate were weakened/siphoned off by him. The Kholin family clearly are at the center of it all. Gavilar was but the first to be interested in The Way of Kings and perhaps the resurgence of the Knights Radiant. Dalinar has his visions and Syl is interested in him. Jasnah is a surgebinder and has visited Shadesmar. It seems likely that Adolin is being setup as a Radiant of one stripe or another. So it certainly stands to reason that Elhokar has a connect to this realm as well that goes deep. He admits to seeing the Symbolhead spren that we’ve encountered with Shallan yet he is even more distrustful of them than Shallan seeing them as the assassins though he seems to connect them with the Shin.
Speaking of madness. It is interesting to see Nohadon was also willing to let people think him mad as Dalinar is because they both believed what they were doing was the right thing. Elhokar’s madness—which might be a strong word for what he is going through—seems very different. The death of his father has clearly disturbed him to his core and no one seems willing to tell him. Where is Navani when we need her? Or Jasnah at least. She’d slap some sense into him.
Just a couple last notes. The epigraph seems to be another reference to one of the ten deaths.
“Re-Shephir, the Midnight Mother, giving birth to abominations with her essence so dark, so terrible, so consuming. She is here! She watches me die!”
She at least sounds like the progenitor of the Midnight Essence. And lastly Elhokar shares some words that are portentous:
“Unreliable as Damnation itself, that one.”
C’mon Elhokar. You just wished Damnation kept to a tighter schedule. You reap what you sow sometimes. Damnation be damned.
Michael Pye (aka The Mad Hatter) runs The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review where he shares his views on genre books. He can also be found nattering on Twitter or in search of the perfect piece of bacon.