Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Alice braced for the storm. This week, the storm hits, and I take advantage of the din to talk about something almost completely unrelated. Again.
This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. This week’s post also contains mild spoilers for Beowulf. 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 32: The One Who Hates
Point of View: Kaladin, Shallan
Setting: A Storm, Elhokar’s Warcamp, Shallan’s carriage
Symbology: Spears, Chanarach, Jezrien
IN WHICH Kaladin is a storm; Skyvoice interrogates him about his intentions towards Syl; Kaladin denies that he will betray and kill her; A second storm rises on the horizon, and Skyvoices announces that HE COMES; Kaladin wakes up, still on guard duty; Ominous feelings cause him to open the shutter to the storm; In her carriage, Shallan watches pattern, who is whimpering of bad things; Syl runs into the storm, and announces that he’s coming, the one who hates is watching; Kaladin demands to relocate the king; Dalinar trusts his captain’s intuition, for now; Half of Kaladin’s advance squad dies, and the Alethi confront the Assassin in White; Elhokar escapes, and battle is joined, but the Assassin is here for Dalinar; Ceilings are trod upon in most undignified fashion; Despite his magical speed and strength, things get out of hand (geddit?) for Kaladin when he takes a Shardblade to the arm; Szeth swings to kill Dalinar, but the highprince catches the blade between his hands; Kaladin tackles Szeth, and they both tumble out a hole in the castle, into open air.
Quote of the Week:
Syl spun around, twisting this way, then that. Her small eyes opened wide. “He’s coming.”
“Who? The storm?”
“The one who hates,” she whispered. “The darkness inside. Kaladin, he’s watching. Something’s going to happen. Something bad.”
There’s this guy you might have heard of, name of Beowulf. Wrestlemaster, excellent swimmer, fought a dragon one time, the whole deal. He’s one of my personal heroes, my favorite early superhero, because he’s basically the most badass version of Aquaman ever. Dude can hold his breath forever. At one point he travels underwater for most of a day:
After these words the Weder-Geat lord
boldly hastened, biding never
answer at all: the ocean floods
closed o’er the hero. Long while of the day
fled ere he felt the floor of the sea.
All the while he’s wearing a breastplate and carrying a sword, and he’s still got enough energy left to kill Grendel’s mother in her own house. He’s great! But by now you’re clamoring for me to get to the point. Beowulf’s name translates to “the wolf of bees.” Wolf here means “enemy,” and the enemy of bees, in Germanic tradition, is a punning way of saying “bear,” without actually saying “bear.” Anglo-Saxons preferred not to mention bears, because what if the bears heard? They might show up, and then you’re bear dinner.
This steadfast avoidance can lead to wonderful poetry, and is part of the backbone of the kenning tradition, in which more and more fanciful ways of saying simple things were invented. (E.g., “unlock your word-hoard” means “tell us the damn story, Carl.”) Something similar seems to be happening with Skyface and Syl, here. Neither of them can say “Odium, that guy who broke me into bits, is sending a dude with a sword to murder you.” Instead, they are super ominous and only moderately helpful.
They also say things that are so entangled that they presage three things at once. “He’s coming […] The one who hates. The darkness inside. Kaladin, he’s watching.” Who’s coming? Odium, and also Szeth. Who hates? Szeth, but mostly Odium. Who has darkness inside? Szeth! Odium has darkness outside, presumably. Who’s watching? Probably Odium, Szeth is too busy stabbing.
“The one who hates”? Really? You might as well be talking about Moash, Syl.
Commentary: Kaladin, if you hurt Syl, I swear to Tor that I will reach inside your book and shake you. Yes I know it’s already written down, yes I know I’ve already read it, no I’m not going to let any of that stop me. Skyface, you’re not off the hook either! Sure, all men are traitors, I’m down with that message, but you could give him a little bit more of a roadmap than “Thou shalt, but though really shouldn’t.” TELL HIM HOW HE MIGHT HURT HER. SHE’S YOUR DAUGHTER. HE IS MORTAL AND CHANGEABLE. Gods.
I dig how much faith Dalinar puts in Kaladin’s instincts. He doesn’t know much about the young soldier, but he must have heard that his men call him Stormblessed, and they do happen to be in the middle of a storm. If there’s ever a time to trust a guy named Stormblessed, well, this might be it. Also, if there’s anyone who ought to forgive Kaladin for snoozing on the job during a highstorm, it’s Dalinar.
Speaking of Dalinar, how awesome is it that he caught that blade in mid-air? Will his list of amazing things caught between his hands continue to grow, book by book? In The Way of Kings he caught a falling chasmfiend claw, and now he’s nabbing Honorblades that want to kill him. What’s more, he’s doing so bare-handed! I’ve heard speculation that this fantastic ability to intercept blows is part of his Radiant skillset, along with his preternatural capacity with plate and blade. Maybe! I want more data points, though.
Chapter 32 marks a turning point in Adolin’s paranoia about surgebinders. Seeing Szeth in action, and seeing Kaladin come way closer to kicking his ass than any non-Shardbearer should, will cement his belief that there’s something really spooky going on with the bridgeboy (gross). Meanwhile, he continues to ignore magical developments in his kid brother. Typical.
Finally, let’s pour one out for Beld. We hardly knew ye, Beld. Seriously, who’s Beld? His name is mentioned twice before this chapter, once as “other bridgeman without slave mark.” It seems like a lot of previously-unnamed members of Bridge Four showed up to pad the ranks after The Way of Kings, and that’s all well and good, but you can’t kill off people we don’t know and expect us to care. Although, having said that, I realize I sound a little sociopathic.
Stormwatch: Kaladin lays eyes on the Everstorm in his dream. So, in some ways, it’s already here!
Sprenspotting: We very loudly fail to spot any spren in orbit around Szeth, because he’s too much of a jerk to merit one. We hear the voice of Skyface, the spren of being a face in the sky. We don’t see the red-eyed spren, but their malice is heavy in the air.
Ars Arcanum: Kaladin’s Stormlight makes him strong, fast, agile, and preternaturally intuitive about battle, but it isn’t yet enough to match Szeth, who has full control of the Lashings. For more information on Szeth’s bag of tricks, check out this old Grimoire post. Faced with the as-yet-superior Windrunner, Kaladin finds himself losing access to his arm, which will spur him to take his Stormlight skills to the next level. That won’t happen this chapter, though.
Heraldic Symbolism: Chanarach, Brave and Obedient, is an odd match for this chapter. Szeth is pretty obedient, although not by choice, and is in fact mostly driven to obedience by moral cowardice. Jezrien I’m equally unsure of. Maybe he’s here because Skyface is here? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments.
That’s it for this week. Next week, Alice will watch Kaladin fall. While you’re waiting for the next thrilling installment of the Words of Radiance reread, why not read Beowulf? It’s pretty great.