Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, we visited Middlefest with Shallan and her poor, broken family. And Hoid. This week, we return to the bridgemen, observing some of Kaladin’s turmoil as he struggles to make sense of his duties and desires.
This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. (Possible references to Elantris and Warbreaker, maybe?) 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 46: Patriots
Point of View: Kaladin
Setting: Dalinar’s warcamp
Symbology: Spears, Talenel, Nalan
IN WHICH Kaladin reviews bridge crews, with mixed results; Hobber serves dinner while Renarin washes the dishes; Lopen has cousins; Kaladin gives Shen a spear and apologizes for earlier fear; Shen starts to speak but is forestalled by the appearance of Moash; Kaladin reluctantly goes out drinking with the guys; chouta is eaten in differing forms; Kaladin is confronted by the imminent possibility of married soldiers; Rock tells of the Horneater Peaks and how his people came there; Moash has arranged a meeting with his associates, and Syl warns Kaladin to be careful; Kaladin is unconvinced, but admits to himself that their arguments are almost too good; he tells Moash to stop meeting with them. Yeah, sure, Kaladin. Just like that.
Quote of the Week
“If a king is destroying his country,” the mercenary said, “is it not the right— the duty— of the people to see him removed?”
“If he were removed,” Moash said, “what would happen? Ask yourself that, Kaladin.”
“Dalinar would probably take the throne,” Kaladin said. Elhokar had a son back in Kholinar, a child, barely a few years old. Even if Dalinar only proclaimed himself regent in the name of the rightful heir, he would rule.
“The kingdom would be far better off with him at the head,” Graves said.
“He practically rules the place anyway,” Kaladin said.
“No,” Danlan said. “Dalinar holds himself back. He knows he should take the throne, but hesitates out of love for his dead brother. The other highprinces interpret this as weakness.”
“We need the Blackthorn,” Graves said, pounding the table. “This kingdom is going to fall otherwise. The death of Elhokar would spur Dalinar to action. We would get back the man we had twenty years ago, the man who unified the highprinces in the first place.”
Oh, the assumptions people make, knowing nothing of another person’s heart and mind… and the lies people tell to convince others of their position. “Patriots” indeed. Most of them are merely foolish and presumptuous (and tools); Graves is a liar and a master manipulator, and I want to pound his face just a little. (Yes. Yes, I do.)
Welp. Clearly Brandon didn’t write this chapter with a poor reread-blogger in mind. There are two completely different revelations in this chapter, and I want to focus on both. But… they’re completely different and unrelated. *sigh* So we’ll tuck Rock’s story into Sprenspotting, because it clearly involves powerful spren and stuff, and here we’ll just look at Kaladin’s interaction with his bridge crews and with Moash’s “patriots.”
In a weird way, it’s nice to see that Kaladin’s training routines are not universally successful. (In the interest of realism, I guess?) Bridge Seventeen has come together as a unit; while they’re still a bit sloppy as soldiers, they have developed a team identity, and they’re good enough to advance to another level of training: limited patrols. So, yay 17! Nineteen looks to be not far behind, so that’s good. Eighteen, though… not so much. They’re still a bunch of sloppy, defensive, discordant individuals. Looks like they need a round of chasm duty.
Back at Bridge Four, Hobber (poor Hobber!!) is serving dinner under Rock’s proud watch, while Renarin is quietly washing dishes; apparently the rest have accepted his presence and this service, finally. Lopen has yet more cousins joining Bridge Four; I remember being more than a little worried about them on my first read! This looked so much like a set-up for betrayal: with all these random Herdazians slipping in, I was sure one of them would be a spy or a traitor. I’m delighted to have been proven wrong. Also, foreshadowing:
Kaladin found Lopen nearby, staring at his hand—which he held before himself in a fist for some reason.
We know what you’re up to with that sphere, dude… Heh.
Perhaps the single best moment in this chapter, though, is the one where Kaladin finds Shen stacking sacks of tallew grain in the storage room.
“At ease, soldier,” Kaladin said softly, stepping up to him. “I spoke to Dalinar Kholin earlier today and asked if I could arm you. He asked if I trusted you. I told him the truth.” Kaladin held out his spear to the parshman. “I do.”
And then the moment that makes me very sad… Shen clearly wants to talk to Kaladin about something, but they’re interrupted by Moash, who wants to drag Kaladin off to meet with his associates. Knowing the truth about Shen now, and (at least some of) the truth about Moash’s “friends,” I wish Moash had just put a sock in it.
He didn’t, of course, so Kaladin decides to act more human than he feels for the sake of his men, and out with the guys he traipses. And he meets Graves, and Danlan, and a couple of mercenaries who all think they’re doing this for the good of Alethkar. They’re convinced that if nasty old king Elhokar was killed – preferably in an “accident” – Dalinar would take the throne and be a real king. The Blackthorn would return, the man who united Alethkar twenty years ago, and everything would be all better.
In a way, I can’t blame the mercenaries; to some extent, they can be justified as patriots in wanting something better for their country than what they’ve got. (Elhokar is doing a terrible job of being king, even though some of his worst excesses have been reined in lately.) Danlan ought to have a little better insight, I think; she’s been in fairly close contact with Dalinar, and it seems she should realize that he’s not the storied Blackthorn of twenty years ago. I realize she can’t know about his vow to never take the throne, so maybe she can be forgiven for thinking that he is merely hesitant because of his love for his dead brother. Still, she doesn’t seem to be thinking for herself very much. Or she’s lying.
Graves, though… As we’ll see later on, he obviously thinks killing Elhokar will be good for Alethkar, but his higher allegiance is to Taravangian and the almighty stinking Diagram, which calls for Dalinar to be killed as well. Honestly, who does he think will lead Alethkar then? Or does he care? Or does he think Taravangian will become king of Alethkar too, and then he’ll fix everything?
Whatever his thoughts on the matter, he’s lying about… pretty much everything. And I do not like him.
Fortunately, neither does Kaladin, and so he says he’ll consider it, hoping that he’ll be able to walk away alive. Unfortunately, and probably due to Moash’s information, Graves knew all the right lines. Despite his orders to Moash to stop meeting them and stop talking about it, Kaladin is more than halfway to thinking they might be right even as he knows what they’re doing is wrong.
This is three days after the events of Kaladin’s previous chapter, when he confirmed that Moash had had something to do with the assassination attempt and agreed to meet with Moash’s “friends.” Thirty-three days remain in the countdown.
It’s like Goldilocks up in here, y’all. Little spren, medium-sized spren, and great big spren.
Syl has seen “more of those red spren” – mostly out of the corner of her eyes, watching her. Creepy. Stormspren? Kaladin certainly ties it to the countdown and the Weeping.
Flamespren… are mostly insignificant. Kaladin is exhausted, and he just wants to sit and eat and watch them dance. I can understand this. (Do we know what they look like in the Cognitive realm? I wonder if it’s relaxing to watch them there. Somehow, I doubt it.)
Sylphrena represents the medium-sized spren today; she’s certainly not small in effect, no matter that at one point she goes completely invisible. She’s turned into quite the little mommy in this chapter – although, come to think of it, she’s been like that a lot as she developed the capacity to understand Kaladin. She scolds him for not taking care of himself, and urges him to be human for a while and go out with the guys. She might have regretted that one, though, because when he goes to meet with Moash’s “patriots” she warns him to be careful, and even he can’t see her. (I wonder… did she go completely invisible because there was someone in that room she knew would be able to see her? If so, who?)
Then there are the great big spren… the ones Rock calls gods in this story, although, yes, he seems to consider all spren (or at least the sentient ones) to be gods.
“These are gods, yes,” Rock said, following Kaladin’s gaze [toward Syl]. “Yes. Some gods, though, they are more powerful than others.”
Given what we know of the Cosmere, and what little we know of Roshar’s ancient history, I’m more than a little bit willing to believe that Rock’s story is, at its bones, the truth. With help from the greater spren, why not? There may also have been help – either disguised as coming from the spren, or directly – from Honor and/or Cultivation. It’s fairly clear that Lunu’anaki was coming out of a Shardpool, and it’s possible that there is more than one up there. I’d really, really like to know more about the Horneater peaks…
At any rate, I believe it’s safe to say that the Unkalaki had Shard assistance to either find or create a habitable space on the peaks; perhaps they were originally intended to be “gatekeepers” of a sort. They’re well-positioned to keep anyone from accidentally falling into the Shardpool(s), as well as to either obstruct or assist those coming from elsewhere.
Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?
Well, well. It’s our old friend Lunu-anaki. A Hoid by any other name is still as snarky.
Having just finished rereading Elantris, the description of Lunu-anaki as a young man with white hair made me wonder if he might be an Elantrian, but too many other things fit specifically with Hoid. So I’ll go with that. For one thing, Rock describes him as “Maybe Alethi, though skin was lighter.” An Elantrian (unless he was disguised) would have silvery skin, not merely lighter than a typical Alethi. Then there’s, “Lunu-anaki cannot hurt man. Is forbidden by other gods.” We’ve seen elsewhere (Elantris and Warbreaker, I think? as well as last week’s “Middlefest” chapter) that Hoid is for some reason constitutionally unable to hurt anyone – physically, anyway. And of course, there’s Sigzil’s reaction to his description, making it fairly clear that he believes this just might be his former tutor.
The clincher just might be the fact that he mocked Rock’s beard and thought his name was funny. That’s a very Hoid thing to do.
You Have to Break a Lot of Rockbuds
Or deep-fried cremling claws… Yum? Eurgh. Apparently chouta can be made with lots of different contents. Horneater-style burritos? I think I’ll pass. I’ll stick with the fried flangria, even if it is Soulcast.
Talenel and Nalan are readily understandable choices for this chapter’s Heralds. Talenel, the Soldier, is what Kaladin is all about on this particular evening. Nalan clearly reflects the “justice” that Moash is seeking, and that the others at least pretend to. I can’t help wondering if he’s got a deeper meaning as well, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Words of Radiants
When Simol was informed of the arrival of the Edgedancers, a concealed consternation and terror, as is common in such cases, fell upon him; although they were not the most demanding of orders, their graceful, limber movements hid a deadliness that was, by this time, quite renowned; also, they were the most articulate and refined of the Radiants.
–From Words of Radiance, chapter 20, page 12
While we’ll probably never know who Simol was (unless he turns out to have been a key part of whatever led to the Recreance), this little snippet gives us a couple of juicy tidbits about the Edgedancers. They were not the most demanding of orders; they were graceful, limber, and deadly; they were articulate and refined. All these combine to make me think that the Edgedancer-spren, whatever they are, would look on Adolin as quite a good candidate.
Maybe Simol was something like Sadeas. That would be poetic.
A note on scheduling: there will be no reread post next week. I’m going on vacation, and there’s just no way I’m getting another chapter done before I leave. And I refuse to bury myself in my computer when I’m in places like this:
(Photo credit to my cousin Leon Kauffman, who takes fantastic pictures of home.)
Fortunately, there seem to be a lot of other Sanderson-related things happening on Tor.com these days, so keep your eyes open for those. We’ll meet again in two weeks, when Shallan and Pattern research maps and old scripts, and conclude mostly that they need more information.
Alice Arneson is a long-time Tor.com commenter and Sanderson beta- and gamma-reader. (Good stuff coming in a few months, I tell you!) With Sasquan 2015 a mere six weeks away, it’s not too late to become a member. Look for Wetlander at Registration – she’d really like to meet you there.