Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com

Words of Radiance Reread: Interludes 7 and 8

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Carl viewed the storm and the hammock with their respective curmudgeonly occupants and cheeky whippersnappers. This week, we see the outcome of two incomprehensible experiences and their respective forms of madness.

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.

 

Interlude 7: Taln

Point of View: the-person-who-calls-himself-Taln
Setting: the Shattered Plains
Symbology: Nine Falling Stars, Chanarach, Joker

 

IN WHICH fires; words; Bordin reports on his trip from Kholinar to the Shattered Plains; fires; Wit; fires; the madman repeats his litany; mistaken (?) assumptions are made; the madman continues his litany; more assumptions are made; questions are asked.

Quote of the Week:

“Well, he said that he’d needed, uh, I had this remembered for you. He said, ‘I needed an objective frame of reference by which to judge the experience of your company. Somewhere between four and five blows, I place it.’ I don’t rightly understand what he meant, sir. I think he was mocking me.”

“Safe bet.”

Poor Bordin. Traveling with Hoid in one of his moods must have been quite the experience. To say nothing of traveling with the-person-who-calls-himself-Taln, rambling unintelligibly most of the time.

Commentary: I have more questions than comments on this particular interlude.

First, is this or is this not Talenel-Elin, Herald of War? After TWoK, Brandon seemed to have no problem referring to the dude who showed up at the gates in the Epilogue as “Taln”—but after WoR, he’s been mighty coy about referring to him only as the one who “calls himself Taln.” What’s up with that?

I have to think that either this is Taln, or he’s been coached very, very well to believe that he is. He’s got that whole “fires of damnation” thing down pretty well, I’d say. Reading what goes on in his mind, I have no trouble believing that this is the one Herald who held on to his Oathpact for 4500 years.

Second, what was Hoid up to with accompanying Bordin and “Taln” part of the way, and then suddenly running off into the mountains? All I can say about the timing of this episode is that it takes place before Wit returns to the Shattered Plains… which doesn’t say much, because we haven’t seen him since the end of TWoK.

Third, what is the deal with this Blade? In the TWoK Epilogue, it seemed obvious that the reason the Blade didn’t vanish when Taln dropped it is that it was an Honorblade, which we already knew would only vanish automatically when the true owner was killed. It also seems obvious that the Blade Dalinar references here, the one he will use to trap Amaram, is not the same as the one we saw in that Epilogue. So I say again, what’s up?

Comments, though: we do (or do we?) learn a bit about some of the other Heralds and what they typically did when they returned to prepare for a Desolation. Kalak will teach them to cast bronze; Vedel will train the surgeons; Jezrien will teach leadership; Taln will train the soldiers. And he knows about the Knights Radiant.

“I think… I think I am late… this time…”
How long had it been?
How long had it been?
How long had it been?
How long had it been?
How long had it been?
How long had it been?
How long had it been?

Too long.

 

Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?: Well? Have we, or have we not?

 

Heraldic Symbolism: I’m not sure what this character icon means. Are those stars? Or swords? What’s with the mountains? My first thought was that it represented the Heralds—but there are only nine stars, not ten. Thoughts?

Oddly, the Heralds icons here are Chach and the Joker, and not Taln. I always associated the Joker with Wit, but I’m reliably informed that this particular icon signifies not only Hoid/Wit, but also sometimes a deception or wild card (hence, the Joker). Chach, I suspect, is here due to the frequent references to fire, but she could also represent her associated attributes of brave/obedient for Taln’s courage and obedience in holding to the Oathpact. On the other hand, the fact that we don’t see Taln as one of the two Herald icons is the thing that makes me most question the identity of “the person who calls himself Taln” in this scene.

 

Interlude 8: A Form of Power

Point of View: Eshonai-Stormform
Setting: Narak
Symbology: Listener, Nalan

 

IN WHICH Eshonai returns to her people, bearing a new form; she displays new skills as well as a different armor (and new hair); she feels the wind writhe around her, and knows that she controls it now; she sees everything clearly with her new red eyes; Venli is in awe that the experiment worked; Eshonai can feel a new storm beyond the Rhythms; she pointedly ignores the voice deep inside her, screaming in horror.

Quote of the Week:

“Cast aside despair and sing to the Rhythm of Joy! I have looked into the depths of the Storm Rider’s eyes, and I have seen his betrayal. I know his mind, and have seen his intent to help the humans against us. But my sister has discovered salvation! With this form we can stand on our own, independent, and we can sweep our enemies from this land like leaves before the tempest!”

This just hurts. Oh, the lies. “We can stand on our own, independent.” Or, you know, not so much. More like, “We can be controlled by the old gods, slaves to their will. But hey, at least we’re really strong slaves.”

 

Commentary: The last sentence of this interlude almost broke my heart. The real Eshonai, the one we were coming to know and like, is trapped deep inside this form-of-power Eshonai; that Eshonai knows what is happening, and knows it’s bad, bad badbadbadbad.

We’ve speculated before, I think, that perhaps Venli had actually held this form previously; from her reaction here, though, I don’t think so. I still think she might have discovered another form—maybe Scholarform—that was another “form of power” subject to the old gods, but I think this one is new to her. Pretty sure she knew it would be controlled by the gods, however, and was all in favor of that minor detail.

It’s so sad to read this. Thude sees Eshonai’s red eyes, and is as worried as the old Eshonai would have been; now, she brushes aside his concern as “it’s a representation of what I’ve become.” (Girl, I think that was his point…) She also feels the Everstorm, lurking beyond the Rhythms. Does this mean it will be summoned from the Cognitive Realm, or perhaps the Spiritual Realm, when it comes? Speculate!

 

Stormwatch: This is the morning after the highstorm, the same one we’ve been seeing from different angles for several weeks now. It’s day 31 of the book; 38 days remaining in the countdown.

 

Sprenspotting: I’m not sure how active the spren itself is in this form, but we sure do see a lot of red lightning around Eshonai in this form. Here, it’s just emanating from her fingers if she makes a sudden fist, and running up her legs as they absorb the impact of landing after jumping the chasm; IIRC, we’ll see other manifestations later.

 

Heraldic Symbolism: The Listener icon is obvious, as it’s the one we always get for Eshonai’s POVs. Why do we have Nalan for the sole Herald? Confidence? Judgment? Or is he now in the same camp as the old gods?

 

Well. That was… a weird set of Interludes. Much, much more directly involved in the current plot arc than the ones we saw back in TWoK! Join us now in the Storm Cellar to hide from the storm talk about the Interludes. And of course come back next week, when Carl will dive into Part 3 with Adolin, Navani and a lot of big words.


Alice Arneson is a long-time Tor.com commenter and Sanderson beta-reader. She’s currently trying desperately to obey the beta-reading rules and make comments as she goes instead of just racing to the end of the latest marvelous book. She’s not succeeding very well.

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