Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Alice mourned the loss of Bluth and celebrated the impoverishment of Tvlakv. This week, we watch a number of threads plot along, then are surprised by an assassin!
This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. The index for this reread can be found here, and more Stormlight Archive goodies are indexed here. Click on through to join the discussion.
Chapter 22: Lights in the Storm
Point of View: Kaladin
Setting: Elhokar’s Palace, Dalinar’s Warcamp
Symbology: Spears, Nalan, Chach
IN WHICH a storm rages outside the safety of the palace; Kaladin glimpses red eyes; a loose shutter annoys a king; A king annoys everyone else; Adolin yearns for fashion; Renarin explains heating fabrials to Kaladin; Kaladin’s necessity is challenged, upheld; Dalinar emerges from seclusion, saying that there have been no new visions; strategy for duels is discussed, to combat flagging progress; Amaram’s name enters the fray, leaving Kaladin unsettled; Moash and Bisting are dismissed, but Kaladin stays behind to speak with Dalinar; Amaram’s crimes are brought to light, but Dalinar requires more evidence; Kaladin, frustrated, considers seeking his own justice; back among Bridge Four, stew is served; a new Herdazian; Shen lays out the truth: without a spear, he’s Bridge Four’s slave; an assassin strikes.
Quote of the Week:
Kaladin knocked his head back against the stone behind him, staring up at the sky. Storming man. He had a good life, for a parshman. Certainly more freedom than any other of his kind.
And were you satisfied with that? a voice inside him asked. Were you happy to be a well-treated slave? Or did you try to run, fight your way to freedom?
YEAH KALADIN, LISTEN TO KALADIN. HAVING A SLAVE ISN’T COOL. STOP IT. GET TO THE PART WHERE YOU STOP IT.
Commentary: This is the bridgiest bridge chapter that ever bridged in Bridgetown. Every single plot involved is partway done, and none of them get more done by the end. Kaladin talks about catching the numbers phantom, but makes no progress. The dueling is discussed, but the duels have been making no progress. Elhokar’s paranoia is brought up again, but we get no closer to the cause or effects. Dalinar’s visions are stalled out. The red spren are still hanging around doing basically nothing. Dalinar’s still pissed about Amaram, but his emotional state regarding that barely changes. The big exception is that we enter the period in which Dalinar is actively considering Amaram’s virtue.
Kaladin reads Dalinar’s response as a flat rejection, because Kaladin is the most impatient, but that’s not at all what’s happening. Dalinar’s thought processes have always functioned as slow accumulations that eventually topple over and become avalanches of action. He just now heard that there’s anything bad Amaram might ever have done, and Kaladin is disappointed that he’s not already calling for a court-martial and execution.
Okay, at this point I realize that 5% of my salary is devoted to giving Kaladin Stormblessed a hard time. I do understand where he’s coming from. The wounds Amaram gave him never closed. We saw him refuse to tattoo over his unfreedom, saw him keep that scar declaring his grievances. We know he’s never let anyone else share this dreadful past. Dalinar is the first person he trusted with his history, and it seems exactly like he’s being put aside.
Dalinar and Kaladin share a weird mental limitation. They both tend towards moral essentialism, judging people to be all one thing or all another, vicious or virtuous, completely trustworthy or totally shiftless. Dalinar sees Amaram, and knows all the good things he’s done. He can’t treat him cautiously until he clicks all the way over into accepting Kaladin’s story. We’ll see a similar battle play out in Kaladin’s mind about Moash. He wants to give of himself completely or not at all.
Also compounding bad reactions, Kaladin has already been wound tight by spending hours in a locked room with Adolin, Renarin, and Elhokar, three Lighteyes men who he currently has no reason to respect, all of whom grate on his nerves. Elhokar’s pacing, Renarin’s clicking a box open and closed, and Adolin’s browsing GQ. There’s a palpable desire for cathartic action. Adolin must not appreciate Kaladin feeding Elhokar’s paranoia, either, though. Kaladin doesn’t realize what an unstable powder keg Elhokar’s twisty mind is, and the royal cousin would prefer the bridgeboy (ew) not get in the way. It must be hard to see both of the ranking Kholin men praise Kaladin over him.
Stop saying bridgeboy, Adolin. We’ve been over this. I know you can’t read, but get one of your girlfriends to dictate the reread to you. Or just go back to your fashion mag.
Heraldic Symbolism: Interesting Heralds for this week. Nalan is obvious; Kaladin is acting more like a Skybreaker than a Windrunner, and Nalan just loves that noise. Chach throws a wrench in the works. Chach represents Bravery and Obedience, and Kaladin is not being obedient. This is a chapter full to the brim with insubordination. It doesn’t have a ton of bravery either.
Ars Arcanum: Syl names the Skybreakers for the first time, bemoaning Kaladin acting like he’s playing for another team. The Skybreakers seem like tools. This is an important moment for those tracking Syl’s discomfort and Kaladin’s downward slide towards betrayal.
Ars Mechanica: “Kaladin stooped down, inspecting the ruby in the hearth, which was held in place by a wire enclosure. Its strong heat made his face prickle with sweat; storms that ruby was so large that the Light infusing it should have blinded him.”
Invented by Navani, heating fabrials trap either flamespren or heatspren in rubies, then energize them with Stormlight and make them radiate their essential nature. This ruby is enormous, worth a fortune, and it might seem wasteful. Remember that on earth we use gold for wiring and diamonds for drill bits, although in the latter case it’s because the only thing diamonds are good for is cutting other diamonds. Friggin’ diamonds.
Sprenspotting: Stormspren are hanging out in a storm, being stormy, glowing red. Does anyone else find it worrisome that they seem to be entrancing Kaladin?
Minkwatching: BraidTug is the undisputed winner of the Great Mink Challenge of 2014. Let’s all take her example, and start out 2015 on a high note. If we all pull together, we can have more minks this quarter than ever before! Medium points to TheAndyman for naming this section.
This is the last reread of 2014! Since next Thursday is Christmas , and the Thursday after is New Year’s Day, we’re taking advantage of our unexpected Holiday Freedom and giving everyone a couple weeks off. See you in the new year, with assassins and other fun times galore.