Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, we revisited the Davar estate, with sixteen-year-old Shallan trying hard to be obedient. This week, it’s back to Kaladin’s prison cell for a fateful conversation.
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 62: The One Who Killed Promises
Point of View: Kaladin
Setting: Kholin warcamp prison
Symbology: Spears, Nalan
IN WHICH Kaladin grumbles at the sameness of the days in prison; Syl has been hiding from him; she speaks of seeing a Cryptic at the fight, and that she recognizes signs that they are looking for someone to bond; Dalinar enters the room, and Kaladin salutes despite himself; Dalinar assures him that he’ll be out in a few more days, but Kaladin expresses doubt, given Elhokar’s history; Dalinar knows immediately that he’s speaking of the silversmiths in Kholinar, and mentions the Roshone affair; Kaladin asks for further information, and Dalinar gives him a brief version; Kaladin phrases his response in terms that fail to allow Dalinar to understand the personal impact Roshone’s exile had on him; Dalinar reminds Kaladin that, however things should work, the way they do work means that challenging Amaram was an ineffective approach to changing them; Dalinar leaves, and Kaladin focuses only on the fact that Elhokar’s poor decision-making inadvertently cost his family their comfortable position in Hearthstone, and decides that it would be best for the kingdom if Elhokar were removed.
Quote of the Week
“I gave you a position no darkeyes has ever held in this army. I let you into conferences with the king, and I listened when you spoke. Do not make me regret those decisions, soldier.”
“You don’t already?” Kaladin asked.
“I’ve come close,” Dalinar said. “I understand, though. If you truly believe what you told me about Amaram … well, if I’d been in your place, I’d have been hard pressed not to do the same thing you did. But storm it, man, you’re still a darkeyes.”
“It shouldn’t matter.”
“Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. You want to change that? Well, you’re not going to do it by screaming like a lunatic and challenging men like Amaram to duels. You’ll do it by distinguishing yourself in the position I gave you. Be the kind of man that others admire, whether they be lighteyed or dark. Convince Elhokar that a darkeyes can lead. That will change the world.”
Hmm. I’d forgotten that Dalinar says this so clearly. “Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.” This is what I keep trying to say: when things don’t work the way they should, by all means you should work to change them – but ignoring the way they work won’t change anything… except changing your status from “free” to “in prison.”
This is really the meat of the chapter, as Dalinar unwittingly fills in the final arc that brings Kaladin’s and Moash’s backstories into a loop.
“The Roshone affair.” I’m reminded of Chapter 37 in The Way of Kings, when Lirin said, “I still don’t know which highlord was behind sending him here to torment us, though I wish I had him for a few moments in a dark room….” Now Kaladin knows, and I suppose with the backdrop of Lirin’s anger at whatever highlord inflicted Roshone on them, it’s no wonder he holds Elhokar partially to blame for what his family suffered from Roshone’s malice.
- Was it a good thing for Kaladin to bring up Elhokar’s past errors? Is his own situation (keeping Dalinar in mind, here) sufficient justification for more or less accusing Elhokar of intending to leave him to die in prison?
- Should he have told Dalinar about his own Roshone connection? Would Dalinar have done anything differently? Would telling the story have changed Kaladin’s perspective? Would it have made any difference in Kaladin’s decision to support Moash’s assassination plans?
- Is this an overuse of the lack-of-communication plot device, or is it a justified use, or is the device irrelevant to the situation? (I.e., lack of communication isn’t really the problem here.)
I, of course, have my own opinions on these things, but I’d really like to hear your discussions.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s worth pointing out now that we’re here. Dalinar’s reaction to Kaladin’s claim that Elhokar “has a history of letting inconvenient people rot in dungeons until they die” should reveal something to Kaladin and to us. That was an isolated incident. While Elhokar does indeed have a real history of taking advice from the wrong people and making truly atrocious leadership decisions, this is not one he repeated. Dalinar instantly knew exactly who Kaladin was talking about: the silversmiths back in Kholinar… meaning it only happened that one time.
Which is not to say that he didn’t have other people unjustly imprisoned, or that he didn’t thoughtlessly make a mess of many lives by doing favors for those who flattered him enough. I’m just saying that clearly someone learned something from that debacle, and either Elhokar was smart enough not to repeat it, or Dalinar (and/or Gavilar) was smart enough to keep a better eye on the crown prince.
Kaladin, of course, only sees that Elhokar’s past foolishness ended with his own family’s maltreatment by Roshone, and connects it with the tantrum Elhokar threw after the big fight and his own imprisonment. As a result – despite Dalinar’s wise words about loyalty and generosity and the flaws of all men – Kaladin decides he’s qualified to determine the course that will be best for the welfare of the kingdom and Dalinar himself.
Just a bit arrogant, m’lad. Just a bit.
Also: if Dalinar’s “I was … away at the time” is referring to his trip to the Nightwatcher, said trip had nothing to do with Gavilar’s death. (I seem to recall recent speculation along that line, right?)
Stormwatch: This is Kaladin’s tenth day in prison.
Sprenspotting: Kaladin sees captivity-spren! Pretty sure that’s what they are, “strange spren like taut wires crossing before him.” I have a theory that Axies never saw them because being imprisoned just never bothered him enough. Could have something to do with the length of the imprisonment, though, I suppose.
In other news, Syl has become very hard to spot – which I assume is largely a matter of her discomfort with Kaladin’s current attitude and the distance he’s put between them. However, she’s still talking to him.
“There was a Cryptic at the fight,” her voice said softly.
“You mentioned those before, didn’t you? A type of spren?”
“A revolting type.” She paused. “But not evil, I don’t think.” She sounded begrudging. “I was going to follow it, as it fled, but you needed me. When I went back to look, it had hidden from me.”
“What does it mean?” Kaladin asked, frowning.
“Cryptics like to plan,” Syl said slowly, as if recalling something long lost. “Yes … I remember. They debate and watch and never do anything. But …”
“What?” Kaladin asked, rising.
“They’re looking for someone,” Syl said. “I’ve seen the signs. Soon, you might not be alone, Kaladin.”
Looking for someone. To choose, like him, as a Surgebinder. What kind of Knight Radiant had been made by a group of spren Syl so obviously detested? It didn’t seem like someone he’d want to get to know.
Oh, storms, Kaladin thought, sitting back down. If they choose Adolin …
The thought should have made him sick. Instead, he found Syl’s revelation oddly comforting. Not being alone, even if it did turn out to be Adolin, made him feel better and drove away some small measure of his gloom.
I’m… just going to leave that there for you to discuss. I can’t seem to phrase my comments coherently, but this conversation seems Significant.
All Creatures Shelled and Feathered
No, this has neither shell nor feather, and in fact isn’t in this chapter at all. I include it anyway, and my reasons are twofold: One, I miss Carl around here. Two, this chapter could seriously use some levity. Or levitation. Either one.
Also: Snuhr. I want some this year!
Heraldic Symbolism: Nalan. I would venture to guess that his presence reflects Kaladin’s conclusion that “justice” requires getting rid of the king, presuming to know what’s best for the kingdom.
There. That ought to keep us depressed until next week, when Shallan gets all clever and outwits a Ghostblood or something. See you in the comments!
Alice Arneson is a long-time Tor.com commenter and Sanderson beta-reader. She is currently up to her ears in Christmas preparations, now that the Calamity proofreading is complete.