Welcome back to The Way of Kings reread here on Tor.com. Last week we witnessed Kaladin change things up for the better, even if he put himself in even greater danger, which is saying something considering how much he risks his own life at every turn to save his men. This week we cover two (mostly) Dalinar focused chapters following all this Sadeas joint assault business. Let’s just say not everything’s coming up Dalinar.
Things will never be the same for Dalinar after this, and by extension Kaladin and perhaps even Alethi society itself. Well, hopefully Alethi society will change because if it doesn’t nothing but Damnation brought by the Voidbringers awaits them all. Odium would have nothing less.
Note: Commentary is combined for these chapters due to their intertwined-ness and length.
Chapter 64: Man of Extremes
Points of View: Dalinar / Kaladin / Adolin
Setting: The Shattered Plains
What Happens: Dalinar and Navani are strolling around Elhokar’s palace with both their attendants in tow. No one knows that Dalinar and Navani are basically courting one another, but people have started to talk about all the time they seem to be spending together. Neither seems overly concerned that people are talking about them.
They discuss their history. Navani thought that Dalinar hated her ever since she and Gavilar were courting. He tell her he never hated her, just that he knew he couldn’t be with her and so he couldn’t stand to be around her much. Apparently, Dalinar always got out of the way so Gavilar could succeed. He vowed to himself that he would never sit on the throne after briefly contemplating killing Gavilar in the heat of a moment.
Navani brings up Dalinar’s wife and when she speaks her name all Dalinar hears is a sound of soft blowing air; he has no direct memories of her, not even her name. Navani had tried to hate her since she was with Dalinar, but she was too nice. She apparently wasn’t considered a great mind, but was well loved by many and fit Dalinar’s personality well.
Dalinar still seems guilty about the burgeoning relationship with Navani. She know it’s too much for her to ask him to release himself from that guilt, but asks him to “bend” a little for both their sakes. Dalinar is reluctant and tells her that living by the Codes since Gavilar had made him a different man, and he doesn’t want to be who he once was. He says he’ll find a way, but to leave it to him instead of worrying herself about it. Nothing in the Codes forbids them from being with one another. Navani worries more about how her son Elhokar will take the news. Dalinar doesn’t believe he’ll notice given his distractions with the Parshendi and the shadowy people Elhokar believes are trying to kill him. Navani, however, worries Elhokar might see some conspiracy behind their relationship.
Horns sound signaling a chasmfiend has been seen on the infamous Tower plateau. Sadeas had been hoping for a run against the Parshendi there. It would mean much to the other Highprinces if they were to win as no Alethi group have ever won against the Parshendi on the Tower. She tells him he was right about working with Sadeas and “We do need him for our cause. But keep him at arm’s length.” He seems elated at the “we” part of the statement; whatever they are into now they are in it together.
Kaladin hears the horns. A call to the Tower, where he and Bride Four had wreaked havoc to Sadeas battle plans causing the death of many and the reason Kaladin was strung up during a high storm.
Kaladin’s men, all thirty-five including himself, gather in their orange carapace armor along with shields adorned with Parshendi bones in spiral shapes. Over the last ten days Bridge Four went on six bridge runs with the new equipment and perfected their techniques, but this is the first time all of the men have the armor. None had died from the team during this time. As they pick up the bridge to begin their march across the plains the other bridge crews cheer them loudly.
His father is not going mad. As Adolin gets suited-up with his Shardplate he is truly happy. When ready he takes the reins of his Ryshadium and leads him to Dalinar who is conferring with some of his men. They are soon met by Sadeas, who should have been leading his own men to the Tower.
Sadeas tells Dalinar they have to talk. An assault on the Tower is just the chance they were looking for to decimate the forces of the Parshendi. The Parshendi have been known to field up to 10,000 warriors on the Plateau given it is so large. He asks Dalinar to field as many troops as he can. Dalinar says he can commit 8,000 along with Sadeas’s 7,000 that would be a force that could fracture the Parshendi in two so they can destroy all that show their faces today.
Dalinar said he still won’t cross the chasms with Sadeas’s bridges at the same time—even with some bridgemen wearing armor he couldn’t accept the loss of life on his conscience. Sadeas agrees to create a foothold for them to cross unmolested per their normal agreement.
Quote of the Chapter:
As always, when the name of his wife was spoken, it came to him as the sound of softly rushing air, then slipped from his mind immediately. He could not hear, or remember, the name.
“She changed everything,” Navani said. “You truly seemed to love her.”
“I did,” Dalinar said. Surely he had loved her. Hadn’t he? He could remember nothing.
What must it be like to have the memory of someone who was so close to you completely wiped away? I still can’t see this removal as the boon Dalinar would seek from the Nightwatcher. We also haven’t learned the timeline of when Dalinar went to the Nightwatcher or when his wife died. Was it before or after Gavilar’s death? Somehow I think this will remain a mystery until we get to Dalinar’s flashback focused book.
Chapter 65: The Tower
Point of View: Dalinar / Kaladin
Setting: The Shattered Plains: The Tower Plateau
What Happens: Sadeas’s and Dalinar’s forces arrive across from the Tower after a tiring journey. They can see the Parshendi still don’t have the gemheart out so they can still engage them. The only way onto the Tower is by the west and northwestern sides. The other sides are too wide to traverse. It appears the Parshendi are in full force with, as expected, at least 10,000 strong. This will be a huge battle and if the Alethi win it will change the tide of the war. Sadeas’s scouts are crossing to set up on a neighboring plateaus to watch for more Parshendi forces should they happen to try to join the fight and outflank them.
Sadeas again entreats Dalinar to cross and attack at the same time, but Dalinar will not because of the bridgemen. Telling Sadeas: “I’m sorry, old friend. It’s not a judgment of you. It is what I must do.”
Sadeas rides off to venture across the chasm to take the fight to the Parshendi via the northern end. Once the path is cleared Dalinar will cross nearby that point. The plan is to push the Parshendi towards the southeast portion of the plateau in order to divide their forces and leave them with no exit point along with being separated from any supporting forces that could show up.
Dalinar looks on at the one crew of bridgemen that wear strange orange armor and wonders why none of the other men are allowed them. Dalinar and Adolin prepare to cross as Sadeas’s forces near the crossing-point.
Kaladin runs along the chasm trying to distract the Parshendi all while they shoot arrows at him. He has four more of his men out there with him, but the Parshendi focus on him. They’ve lost five bridges already, but the force firing on them is one of the largest he’s encountered. Kaladin’s body, full of Stormlight, spins away from the volleys of arrows while knocking others down with his shield. He hears the Parshendi chanting their song in unison.
Sadeas’s forces make it across and the Parshendi have to engage them even though many still want to go for Kaladin with a few making gestures at him. Kaladin finally releases the storm within. He had never drawn in too much so as not to broadcast to everyone what he could do, but the Parshendi seem to know he’s different.
There is a call for Kaladin which means he has men to attend to. Skar was injured from an arrow in the foot. Moash then brings Teft over who had taken an arrow as well. Kaladin confirms no one else from his group is injured. He has pressure put on Skar’s foot while he works on Teft. Kaladin hesitates before using the fire-hot knife on Teft’s wound as he would inhibit his training with the spear, but he knows it’s for the best.
Dalinar waits for an opening for his men to cross the chasm. Seeing Sadeas’s forces already losing men he orders a bridge into place and crosses along with his Cobalt Guard. They are just in time as Sadeas’s men are beginning to break. Dalinar crashes into the Parshendi with his Shardblade.
Dalinar takes the fight to the Parshendi after his forces arrive on the Tower. He wades through their lines with abandon loosing the Blackthorn from within. Dalinar looks around for a Parshendi Shardbearer to attack to no avail. He feels his armor being hit by something heavy and looks around seeing a group of Parshendi with rock slings from afar aiming at Dalinar. Dalinar runs to their ledge and cuts down those closest with Oathbringer. Once atop he grabs some boulders and hurls them at the slingmen crushing them. He looks out to the battlefield and notes happily that Adolin is doing well. They are winning.
Dalinar rejoins the fight and tells his men to press the Parshendi on all sides. He slams into their lines killing many, but when he comes across a very young Parshendi he hesitates. He tries to stop one of his soldiers from cutting the man down, but isn’t heard above the din.
Dalinar feels sick looking around at the loss of life listening to the Parshendi war chant and even considers if the Parshendi should be part of uniting everyone. Could these visions be caused by the Nightwatcher or some other force? Above anything Dalinar questions his reason for this path of death. Adolin runs up asking what to do. Dalinar, confused, looks across the plateau and sees a large force of Parshendi crossing the chasm. Dalinar looks to where Sadeas forces were and sees that they are retreating along their bridges and taking them along behind, stranding Dalinar’s forces on the Tower between two Parshendi armies.
Quote of the Chapter:
Roshar had been united, once. Had that included the Parshendi?
My answer is: HELL NO! Admittedly this isn’t based on anything specific, but evidence is certainly mounting that the Parshendi are the Voidbringers. This sort of statement shows just how much Dalinar is still trying to find answers after being confronted with more and more questions with each succeeding vision. The one thing Dalinar doesn’t consider is that the Parshendi are the very enemy he is supposed to united against, but he is caught in a moment of weakness. Clearly, Dalinar needs an ancient history book and Kaladin deserves a vacation, but neither is likely to happen.
Commentary: Awwhhh, aren’t Dalinar and Navani a cute couple. Somehow I don’t see an easy road for their relationship in the long term, but hopefully they’ll have some time to enjoy one another. Navani seems so genuine and forthright in these moments that it is hard to think she has ulterior motives, but everyone has their own back story and she is sure to have some skeletons hidden in hers. It was interesting to see that the jealousy flowed both ways with Dalinar and Navani in the past. They may even be a better match than Navani believed Dalinar and his wife were.
Navani spills the most beans to date about Dalinar’s wife “Shshshsh” and we still know precious little except she wasn’t an intellect, but was well liked by all. That’s probably where Adolin got his likeability from, because he certainly didn’t pick up his friendly manners and easy way with people from Dalinar.
It was a interesting narrative choice to divide chapter 64 into three points of view with Dalinar, Adolin, and Kaladin each contributing. Doing so definitely made me appreciate the scope and importance of this battle along with the importance of planning properly even if those plans weren’t made with the best of intentions on a certain Highprince’s part. Plus these chapters are the first true linking of Dalinar and Kaladin we see. Their relationship will only become more entwined from here on out.
Dalinar continues to be rocked deeply with each chapter. His being a “man of extremes” spills out the deeper and longer this war goes on. Hopefully, Navani and Kaladin will be the ones to keep him grounded. Dalinar briefly brings up his own worst moment: contemplating killing his brother Gavilar and taking his crown.
A man who had contemplated murdering his own brother for the throne—and for the woman who had married that brother. But he couldn’t explain that, didn’t dare let Navani know what his desire for her had once almost driven him to do. On that day, Dalinar had sworn that he would never hold the throne himself.
Knowing Dalinar as well as we do now that is so hard pill to swallow. He does so much to tread the “right” path and take care of his family as best he can. But an estranged love can bring out the worst of us. It wasn’t until Gavilar died that Dalinar dedicated himself to the Codes.
During the battle Dalinar falls into the lust of the Thrill, but he soon losses it when confronted with a youthful Parshendi. Instantly the Thrill leaves him when he hesitates with Oathbringer. He doesn’t see something to hate in the boy at that moment. Only the loss of life. Is it perhaps the Shardblade that strengthens his ties to the Thrill? The Thrill is in many of the Alethi warriors, but with Shard wielders it seems magnified. Soon after Dalinar falters is when Sadeas’s plans coalesce.
Damn you Sadeas! Damn you to Oblivion! He planned this so well. Weeks into many plateau assaults he pulls the trigger after getting Dalinar to commit so many of the Kholin troops. I fall in the camp that Sadeas planned this from the beginning instead of just seeing an opportunity. He wanted to leave Dalinar and his men to die to gain more influence and remove a rook that could complicate his life in the future.
Though devastating this loss for Dalinar will have to change him into the man who will help transform the Alethi into the force they need to be.
The Desolation is here whether they realize it or not.
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.