Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last time we were together, Kaladin went out for drinks with the guys and met some decidedly problematic patriots. This week, Shallan continues her researches into Urithiru and Lightweaving, with dubious help from Pattern.
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 47: Feminine Wiles
Point of View: Shallan
Setting: Sebarial’s manor & warcamp
Symbology: Pattern, Paliah, Shalash
IN WHICH there are maps, maps, maps—all showing Urithiru in different places; Pattern reads Dawnchant, because patterns; Vorin name games are weird; connections between the Urithiru legends begin to take shape; Shallan takes a bath; Pattern is disconcertingly curious about human anatomy, especially the private bits; Shallan realizes that she will probably never return to Jah Keved, considers her efforts to communicate with her brothers, and begins to develop plans to bring them to join her instead; she hurriedly prepares to meet her betrothed, wondering how to go about this wooing gig; on her way out, she wonders about Sebarial and Palona, and how such a smart man could have such chaotic ledgers; getting into the carriage, she checks with her soldiers and slaves to see how they are doing—well—and then proceeds to spend the ride playing with Stormlight; after some consideration, she decides not to use illusion as makeup when she meets Adolin.
Quote of the Week
“How do you reach a city if not by roads?” Shallan asked. “Nohadon could walk there, or so he claimed. But others do not speak of riding, or walking, to Urithiru.” True, there were few accounts of people visiting the city. It was a legend. Most modern scholars considered it a myth.
She needed more information. She scrambled over to Jasnah’s trunk, digging out one of her notebooks. “She said that Urithiru wasn’t on the Shattered Plains,” Shallan said, “but what if the pathway to it is here? Not an ordinary pathway, though. Urithiru was the city of Surgebinders. Of ancient wonders, like Shardblades.”
“Mm…” Pattern said softly. “Shardblades are no wonder…”
Shallan found the reference she was searching for. It wasn’t the quote she found curious, but Jasnah’s annotation of it. Another folktale, this one recorded in Among the Darkeyed, by Calinam. Page 102. Stories of instantaneous travel and the Oathgates pervade these tales.
Instantaneous travel. Oathgates.
“That’s what she was coming here for,” Shallan whispered. “She thought she could find a passageway here, on the Plains. But they’re barren stormlands, just stone, crem, and greatshells.” She looked up at Pattern. “We really need to get out there, onto the Shattered Plains.”
Two lovely little bits of foreshadowing here that I just have to point out.
“Shardblades are no wonder…”—not when you’ve been one, I guess. Thanks for the hint, Pattern, but I still didn’t catch on for a long time.
The whole thing of reaching a city not by roads, of a pathway from the Shattered plains, of ancient wonders, of instantaneous travel, of Oathgates… When I first read this, I had no idea how Brandon was going to make this happen. Sometimes I’m really glad I don’t figure these things out from the hints and foreshadows; discovering it along with Shallan was way better than merely having my suspicions confirmed! (On the other hand, I vaguely recall figuring out just enough about the Blades to be completely blown away by a) being right and b) getting a fulfillment so vastly grander than I suspected.)
Research into the location of Urithiru now begins in earnest, as Shallan gets out every map she’s been able to acquire. The antics of cartographers are understandable, if annoying: most of them apparently consider their own land to be the most important, and therefore draw it at a larger scale than the rest of the world. Not quite sure how that works… I guess everything else just gets misshapen. The funny part is that none of them seem to claim that Urithiru is within their borders—it’s always just outside. That still places it all over the where, with no two maps agreeing. Poor Shallan.
Knowing what we know, of course, it makes a lot more sense; no one is quite sure exactly where it is, but each country (of the ten Silver Kingdoms, anyway) had a gateway that could get you there. It would be interesting to see all those maps; did they typically place Urithiru just outside the border nearest the location of their own Oathgate?
I wonder if the next book will show us Navani and Pattern working together to figure out the Dawnchant completely. Pattern is so adorably smug about it:
“You are not as good with patterns. You are abstract. You think in lies and tell them to yourselves. That is fascinating, but it is not good for patterns.”
Oddly enough, this is what segues into the best deduction Shallan has yet made—that Pattern’s way of looking at things, of seeing patterns but not metaphors, is the correct approach to “the pathway to Urithiru.”
Incidentally, I love the way Brandon stuck inconsistencies and general weirdness into the linguistics. Poor Pattern; not only do people have too many names (in this case, Nohadon), but the honorific name the ardents came up with to meet the need for symmetry isn’t symmetrical unless you understand the quirk about the h sound. So apparently, Nohadon would actually be written Nodadon or something like that. (Unfortunately, my computer doesn’t do the diacritical markings… or not without getting into more tomfoolery than I’m up for. I’ll just italicize it, okay?) So a Vorin speaker would see Nodadon, which is all lovely symmetry, and say Nohadon, which is by definition (and by definition only!) symmetrical. Obviously. Poor Pattern. At least he gets her back by recognizing the way in which the various scripts derive from the Dawnchant. Obviously.
Other tidbits: Shallan has set in motion the means to reconnect with her brothers after the loss of her half of their original spanreed, and plans to try to persuade them to leave the family estates and join her instead. Presumably, all this was done with the stipend Sebarial is indeed paying her—along with buying replacements for as many of the lost books as she could find.
Her slaves and soldiers seem to be doing well; the slave En even smiles at her, as he begins to get used to a much more pleasant mistress than he’s had for a long, long time. Vathah is grumpy, as is his habit; I can’t remember off the top of my head what finally shakes him out of it. (If anything.) And it still feels odd to read Gaz as a sympathetic character, given the way he was presented in The Way of Kings. He chuckles, he has an ear for wordplay, he eagerly searches out the books she wants. I still want to know more of his backstory; is this his natural self, and the foul-tempered lout of the previous book merely the effect of the debts? I can’t help thinking there’s more to his story. But it probably doesn’t matter.
This is the next day, after Kaladin’s meet-up with the self-styled “patriots.”
I have to say, Shallan’s bath is much more entertaining than Elayne’s… mostly by virtue of her efforts to convince herself that there’s no need to be embarrassed by Pattern’s presence despite his masculine voice and identification. After all, the tub and the walls had spren, and that wasn’t a problem…
Shallan’s bath was also a lot shorter.
This is rather a breakthrough chapter for Shallan. Not only does she begin to piece together the Urithiru puzzle, she makes progress on her Lightweaving and even figures out how to withdraw the Stormlight from an Illusion and make it go away. Short of draining every sphere in range, anyway, which is pretty much what always happened before.
She does have a block, though, that reminds me very much of the Aes Sedai weaving the One Power: she needs to sketch something in order to create an Illusion. Pattern indicates that it shouldn’t be necessary—which also answers an earlier debate about how someone like Elhokar could become a Lightweaver with no artistic training. Most Lightweavers don’t need to draw before they can create an Illusion. (Or, presumably, do any other creative artwork.) But for Shallan, it’s necessary. For now, at least… though I do have some hope that she’ll get over that as she grows into greater acceptance of who she is. Which reminds me…
“I’m quite good at that (inhaling Stormlight),” Shallan said sourly, “considering how short a time I’ve been doing it.”
“Short time?” Pattern said. “But we first…”
She stopped listening until he was done.
Paliah probably reflects the Scholar, as Shallan digs through all the maps and other information she has available, returning to the search for the way to Urithiru. Shalash, presumably, is the Artist and Lightweaver, as Shallan does a fair amount of both sketching and practicing.
Words of Radiants
Yet, were the orders not disheartened by so great a defeat, for the Lightweavers provided spiritual sustenance; they were enticed by those glorious creations to venture on a second assault.
—From Words of Radiance, chapter 21, page 10
It never ceases to amaze me how much difference a single word can make in the tone of a sentence. “Enticed” makes me deeply distrustful of the Lightweavers in this scenario, whatever it was. Or maybe it’s just that the writer didn’t approve of the second assault. Or trust the Lightweavers. I have to keep reminding myself that the author of the in-book book is not, perhaps, the most reliable of narrators.
Shallan’s thoughts at the end of the chapter are thoroughly endearing, at least to me. Like most girls, she’s been comparing herself to the other women in the vicinity, and comes up short—both literally and figuratively (double meaning intended)—in her own estimation. It’s only reasonable that she would consider using her Lightweaving to just… augment things a little, here and there. Wisely, even though she calls herself foolish for it, she chooses to refrain and meet Adolin unenhanced. Also, this:
She’d have to rely, instead, upon her feminine wiles.
She wished she knew if she had any.
There. That ought to keep us busy until next week, when we again go back in time to the darkening world that is the Davar family estate. Steel yourselves… but for now, head for the comment section and have fun!
Alice Arneson is a long-time Tor.com commenter and Sanderson beta-reader. With Sasquan 2015 a mere four weeks away, it’s still not too late to join 10,000 other fans and become a member—or even join the staff! The Con Suite will be run by another Sanderson beta-reader (small world!), and while the rumors of steak and lobster in the Staff Den remain only rumor, there’s sure to be something good. (Still counting on those bacon chocolate chip cookies…) Look for Wetlander at Registration any morning except Sunday—she’d really like to meet you there!