Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Adolin held his temper with Sadeas but nearly lost his cool over a new Stormwatch warning. This week, he takes over another of Dalinar’s roles as he goes out to meet with Eshonai about the proposed Parshendi surrender.
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 51: Heirs
Point of View: Adolin
Setting: the Shattered Plains
Symbology: Duelist, Chach, Ishar
IN WHICH Adolin makes Decisions; an Expotition is Planned; Adolin wins an Argument; as a result, he rides out on his father’s horse, wearing his brother’s armor; he and his escort meet Eshonai and her escort, with uneasiness on both sides; Adolin takes a scribe with him to speak with Eshonai between the two groups; pretending to be Dalinar, he opens by suggesting that they discuss her surrender; she seems much different than last time they met, and no longer wishes to parley; she tells him that there will be peace when one side is dead; Adolin returns to the warcamp to find Dalinar already planning a different, much larger Expotition—one which will take the battle to the Parshendi and an ending.
Quote of the Week
“Father!” Adolin snapped. “This is not subject to discussion!”
The room fell silent. Dalinar lowered his hand from the map. Adolin stuck out his jaw, meeting his father’s eyes. Storms, it was difficult to deny Dalinar Kholin. Did his father realize the presence he had, the way he moved people about by sheer force of expectation?
Nobody contradicted him. Dalinar did what he wanted. Fortunately, these days those motives had a noble purpose. But in many ways he was the same man he had been twenty years ago, when he’d conquered a kingdom. He was the Blackthorn, and he got what he wanted.
This rather gives me the shivers. Especially followed, as it is, by Adolin’s argument that the kingdom cannot survive without Dalinar. Anyone else, but not Dalinar, with his visions and his leadership. Dalinar is correct in saying that the kingdom should be able to stand the loss of any one man, but Adolin is right when he points out that Alethkar is just not there yet. And Adolin, supported by Kaladin, wins the debate.
First of all, greetings from Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention! I’m here, and if you’re here, please find me!! (I’ll be at Registration all morning, every morning… except I’m hoping to duck out early on Friday for the Writing Excuses podcast. I will also be at as many of Brandon’s events as I can swing.)
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming, which today involves some heavy-duty foreboding. There’s a perky bit at the beginning, when Adolin has made his decision not to worry about Dalinar’s “disconcerting behavior” during highstorms; since it’s all a package deal, and he’s already concluded that his father’s sanity is just fine, there’s really nothing else to do, and so he pragmatically moves past it.
From there, it goes steadily downhill. The worry about the assassin’s return is always hovering; the worry about Dalinar’s survival is stepped up by the emphasis on how much they need him; everything feels weird about Adolin’s departure to me, but to him it centers around the difference between riding his father’s Ryshadium and his own.
Gallant was a large black animal, bulkier and squatter than Sureblood, Adolin’s horse. Gallant looked like a warhorse even when compared to other Ryshadium. So far as Adolin knew, no man had ever ridden him but Dalinar. Ryshadium were finicky that way. It had taken a lengthy explanation from Dalinar to even get the horse to allow Adolin to hold the reins, let alone climb into the saddle.
It had eventually worked, but Adolin wouldn’t dare ride Gallant into battle; he was pretty sure the beast would throw him off and run away, looking to protect Dalinar. It did feel odd climbing on a horse that wasn’t Sureblood. He kept expecting Gallant to move differently than he did, turn his head at the wrong times. When Adolin patted his neck, the horse’s mane felt off to him in ways he couldn’t explain. He and his Ryshadium were more than simply rider and horse, and he found himself oddly melancholy to be out on a ride without Sureblood.
I’m… not even going to say any more about that. It makes me very sad.
Then things get even more ominous, as Eshonai pretty much repudiates everything she had said earlier to set up this meeting, and further states that it will be over when one side is dead, because they’ve just changed the rules. As Adolin tries to get more understanding of the situation, there’s this:
“King Gavilar,” Eshonai said, as if mulling over the name. “He should not have revealed his plans to us that night. Poor fool. He did not know. He bragged, thinking we would welcome the return of our gods.”
What was Gavilar planning? And how much did he unleash without their knowledge?
These are my burning questions, and I don’t know how many books we’ll have to wait to get the answers.
Perhaps most chilling of all, when Adolin finally reaches the warcamp after this abortive negotiation, Dalinar is well into a plan to assault the Parshendi—too well into it for this to be a new idea. He’s clearly been working on it for some time, and now that they have the negative response from Eshonai, he’s working out the details with his generals. There’s going to be a real war soon, and it’s going to put them out in the middle of the Shattered Plains just as the countdown finishes.
Thirty-one days to go; this takes place on the day after the highstorm of the previous chapter.
All Creatures Shelled and Feathered
Perhaps I should have held the quote about Sureblood and Gallant for this section, but it belonged up there. Here, I shall merely point out that the Ryshadium are definitely not mere horses. Aside from their stature, they’re connected with their riders in a way we clearly don’t understand yet. To quote Brandon (or paraphrase?), “Investiture is involved.” We just don’t know how.
So here we stand with Chach and Ishar for a chapter that primarily involves Adolin and Dalinar. This combination was so frequent in TWoK that I was convinced Adolin would be a Dustbringer. For a more obvious association, though, once again Adolin is guarding his father and Dalinar is guiding his nation.
I’m not entirely sure what “Heirs” references; the word is not used in the chapter. On a guess, it may be Adolin as Dalinar’s heir (both literally, and in the sense of him taking Dalinar’s place in leading the Kholin armies) and Eshonai as being the heir of all that the Parshendi once were (in the worst possible way, now). Please discuss!
Words of Radiants
In short, if any presume Kazilah to be innocent, you must look at the facts and deny them in their entirety; to say that the Radiants were destitute of integrity for this execution of one their own, one who had obviously fraternized with the unwholesome elements, indicates the most slothful of reasoning; for the enemy’s baleful influence demanded vigilance on all occasions, of war and of peace.
—From Words of Radiance, chapter 32, page 17
Well. That just raises a whole boatload of questions. Who was Kazilah? Who/what was he fraternizing with? Why did they execute him? How? We can only speculate, of course, but I find myself assuming that this is related to the “wicked thing of eminence” again.
With regard to things I didn’t address but should have… would someone go do all the research on Teleb and the Oldblood? There are several other worthy topics as well, but y’all will have to go read the chapter to dig them out. I’m wiped.
For what it’s worth, I won’t be joining in on the discussion until much later tonight; by the time this posts, I’ll be at my station over in the Convention Center, and the programming really picks up tomorrow. I hope I make it back in time to get some sleep…
Alice Arneson is a long-time Tor.com commenter and Sanderson beta-reader. Also, SASQUAN!