Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Alice attempted to unravel the mysteries of the Listener songs. This week we’ll deal with two of the interludes, which generally involve grumpy old men talking down to young whippersnappers.
This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion, which includes Warbreaker this week.. 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 I-5: The Rider of Storms
Point of View: Eshonai
Setting: Narak, a Highstorm
Symbology: Eshonai, Taln
IN WHICH Narak prepares for a Highstorm; Eshonai discusses her upcoming meeting with the Blackthorn; she jogs into the storm to test her sister’s crazy theory; that traitor the Rider of Winds, a.k.a. Stormfather, a.k.a. Skyface, shows up to transform her; he seems annoyed and regretful about her choice of spren; Eshonai begins to transform, for what may be the last time.
Quote of the
“Seven days,” Thude said. “The meeting will happen on a neutral plateau.”
What? This chapter is light on dialogue!
Commentary: When he limits himself, Sanderson can pack a lot into a short space. In this miniscule chapter we learn that the meeting with Dalinar is going forward, that only Warform Parshendi have the maddest of jumps, that Parshendi transform by walking face-first into a storm with nothing more than a pokeball and a prayer, and that Skyface is a traitor to their kind. With the transformation we move into the main plot of the book, at last, and put aside notions of human-Parshendi peace for good. All this in the time it would take Kaladin to sigh ponderously three times. Bravo, sir.
Pre-storm Eshonai is one of the more likeable characters in the series, I think. She’s dependable despite her wild past, willing to put the burden of her people on her shoulders. She loves the world she lives in, and has a history of traveling it to discover new lands. She cares for her mother and sister, but doesn’t let their visions of the world overwrite her own. She just… generally has it all together, despite the pressing crush of responsibility that facing attempted genocide will put on a person.
TOO BAD SHE LET THE HURRICANE INSIDE HER SOUL.
aggressive wind noises forever
Sprenspotting: That little red dude with lightning all over probably isn’t an angerspren, Eshonai. You’ve let a stormspren into your body, and there are going to be some changes.
Check this out:
Eshonai preferred a shield. It felt more like facing the Rider straight on. This one, the soul of the storm, was the one the humans called Stormfather—and he was not one of her people’s gods. In fact, the songs named him a traitor—a spren who had chosen to protect humans instead of the listeners.
Skyface gets all high and mighty about how Kaladin is going to betray Syl, which is pretty rich coming from some dude who betrayed all the listeners. Sounds like at least one side of this conflict is practicing extensive propaganda! If Skyface is consistent about anything, it’s his fatalistic disdain for the struggles of mortalkind. According to him, humans and Parshendi alike are going to screw up, and he isn’t going to do a thing to try to stop it. He’s a total deadbeat.
Arc Archanica: During the storm, Eshonai thinks about how “she’d have preferred to wear her Plate, but for some reason having it on interfered with the transformation process.” That’s intriguing. Shardplate must be spren-impermeable, which probably requires it to be constant between the Physical and Spiritual realms. What function do you think that protection served for the Radiants? Are humans in danger of being possessed by Odium-aligned spren? The way we saw Shardplate glow when being worn by active Radiants suggests that it’s not necessarily impermeable to Stormlight, but that might indicate a selective permeability, or a one-way permeability. Tell me more, book!
Stormwatch: Oh yeah, the Everstorm totally approaches.
Heraldic Symbolism: It’s Taln and Taln-alone week. Taln represents Dependable and Resourceful, and he’s also the dude who spent the longest time of all fighting Damnation. If any of the Heralds were to represent Eshonai, I’d think it would be Jezrien, so I assume that Taln’s monopoly on this chapter harkens to the upcoming resumption of the Desolation.
Chapter I-6: Zahel
Point of View: Zahel
Setting: Zahel’s hut
Symbology: Double eye with swords, Ishar
IN WHICH Zahel gets rudely awakened by Kaladin; Kaladin asks to be trained in swords; Zahel sayws no; Kaladin says please; Zahel says grrrrrr; Kaladin says frowns; Zahel says okay fine but now I’m going back to sleep; there is no sword.
Quote of the Other Chapter:
“Kid,” Zahel said, turning back toward him. “Two people live in this room.”
The boy frowned, looking at the single cot.
“The first,” Zahel said, “is a grouchy swordsman who has a soft spot for kids who are in over their heads. He comes out by day. The other is a very, very grouchy swordsman who finds everything and everyone utterly contemptible. He comes out when some fool wakes him at a horrid hour of the night. I suggest you ask the first man and not the second. All right?”
Storms, that quote was basically have the chapter. I think it’s funny that Kaladin has a total non-reaction to this overwrought threat. He peaces out, totally unfazed.
Commentary: My commentary is that this chapter is short, and that once you take a job as a martial instructor at age something-thousand, you don’t get to say “I’m too old for this,” Zahel.
Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before: Spoilers! Zahel is Vasher, who is one of the main characters of Warbreaker. I think we’ve covered this. You can tell by the fact that all his metaphors are totally dumb. “Don’t be green from the ground” is just… I can’t handle that. I have to walk away.
Oh, and it looks like someone misses his old psychotic bladed roommate!
Heraldic Symbolism: Ishar is a pious guide, a patient teacher, and Herald-wise I guess he’s the best approximation of Zahel’s night-grumpies that we can manage.
Shipwatch: Vasher and Nightblood, sitting in a tree. K-I-L-L-I-N-G.
Two short chapters equals one short reread post, friends and readers! Alice will round out the interludes next week, allowing us to return to the main text of the book.