Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Kaladin was released from prison, was awarded a full set of Shards which he promptly gave away, and declared his support for the planned assassination of the king. This week, Dalinar faces an unsubtle attempt to make him look foolish, and turns the tables to render the attack powerless.
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 67: Spit and Bile
Point of View: Dalinar
Setting: The Pinnacle and the Feasting Basin
Symbology: Kholin glyphpair, Ishar, Joker
IN WHICH Dalinar and Navani stroll toward another feast they’d rather not attend; Navani natters about fabrials while Dalinar’s mind wanders to his upcoming expedition; he finally registers that she’s rambling about her work because it takes her mind off Jasnah, at which point she breaks down and cries; they proceed to the feasting basin; Wit has returned; people are behaving oddly, but no one will let Dalinar in on the joke; Amaram arrives, and tells Dalinar that someone has leaked Navani’s accounts of his visions; Navani herself rejoins them, telling Dalinar that they have twisted her reports to make him look foolish; he refuses to be embarrassed, and climbs up on a table to tell them it’s all true; he then spends the rest of the evening confounding their expectations; the evening wraps up in a troubling conversation with Wit.
Quote of the Week
Amaram seemed so earnest. Why didn’t he help your sons? Kaladin’s voice rang in Dalinar’s mind. Amaram had come to him that day, of course, professing his apologies and explaining that— with his appointment as a Radiant—he couldn’t possibly have helped one faction against another. He said he needed to be above the squabbles between highprinces, even when it pained him.
“And the supposed Herald?” Dalinar asked. “The thing I asked you about?”
“I am still investigating.”
Another cryptic little exchange, which will be clarified later. In retrospect, though, it’s almost funny how obvious it is that Dalinar has, however reluctantly, concluded that Amaram is not all he pretends to be.
This feels like two separate chapters, for some reason. There’s the whole scene with Dalinar and Navani strolling along, talking about fabrials, Shardblades, and bereavement. Then there’s the whole scene at the feast, with someone trying to discredit Dalinar’s visions, integrity, and authority.
Dalinar’s response is pure gold:
“I am not a youth, nervous at his first feast. Sadeas makes a mistake in believing I will respond to this as he would. Unlike a sword, scorn has only the bite you give it.”
Not that it’s quite so easy as all that, but this is really the only appropriate reaction to this scenario. I will confess to a gleeful grin when Dalinar climbed onto the food table with the thought that
Making a spectacle of oneself in this way was not done in Alethkar. He, however, had already been this evening’s spectacle.
Might as well take advantage of the spotlight to let it shine on the truth, eh? And he does exactly that, as he points out the truth of the visions and promises to share any new ones immediately. And then… then he proceeds to ignore the whole “visions” thing, instead exploiting his position as the center of attention to work people over in support of his up-coming Weeping-time expedition to the center of the Shattered Plains. Cleverly done, and I do most dearly love to see tables turned on Sadeas.
He had pointedly ignored the pages with his visions on them, except when asked direct questions about what he’d seen. Instead, he had presented them with a forceful, confident man—the Blackthorn turned politician. Let them chew on that and compare him to the frail madman the falsified transcripts would make him out to be.
The primary drawback is the one he notes at the end of the evening: that he has essentially ignored the structure he and Gavilar claimed to have established, and has taken the reins in his own hands after all. Elhokar may wear the crown and bear the title, but when real action is needed, it’s up to Dalinar to keep the whole thing from falling apart. It’s a lousy dilemma; under normal circumstances I’d say he really ought to back off and let Elhokar be king. These are not, however, “normal circumstances,” and Elhokar is dismally ill-equipped to lead when the fate of the world is on the line.
These events take place three days after Kaladin’s release from jail; eleven days remain in the countdown. It comes. It comes!
::cue ominous music::
Politicking is hard work: the only spren in this entire chapter are the exhaustionspren Dalinar draws after an evening spent drumming up support for his Plains excursion.
It always amazes me how much substance Sanderson slips into what is really a very short conversation about fabrial construction. Of course, since we know so little, any is a lot more. Navani muses on how to make fabrial pumps, and on the way by we learn a bit more about using gemstones to attract or repel specific substances.
The big revelation, of course, is the part about the Shardblades; it’s almost funny to look back and realize that when we read this the first time, we didn’t know what Shardblades really were. This was one of the early hints that the Blades are not fabrials – in the ordinary sense – at all, though I know I didn’t register that. In fact, I was thinking that the gemstones must (like all fabrial gemstones) contain a captive spren which was somehow forced to bond with whoever picked up the Blade. And… well… sorta… but not really. It involves a captive spren, all right, it’s just not trapped in the stone.
Someone was wondering why the Blades originally shifted to accept the stones, back in the day; I now suspect that the opportunity for some kind of return to sentience, however limited, was enticement enough. It still makes me hurt to think of all those spren, forever trapped in Blade form, only able to be a little bit themselves when someone bonds and summons them.
You Have to Break a Lot of Rockbuds
I dunno how many rockbuds they broke for this feast, but Dalinar sure didn’t get to eat much. At least his guards got a chance at it.
Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?
And here’s everyone’s favorite Worldhopper. Ain’t that a surprise. For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve begun to think a little less highly of Hoid, but he’s an absolute gem in this chapter. The snarky remarks to/about Amaram, who has most people fooled, are pretty rich, and definitely reflect Adolin’s comments about him in the previous chapter. I have two favorites, though, and the first is this:
Dalinar gave no reply as Navani strode across the short bridge onto their island. Wit started to proclaim an insult, but she swatted him in the face with a stack of papers, giving him barely a glance as she continued on toward Dalinar. Wit watched after, rubbing his cheek, and grinned.
The visualization is priceless, and makes me snicker every single time I read it.
The other is that whole conversation at the end of the chapter. Wit’s acknowledgement of Dalinar’s skill was a nice moment, but the significant piece is in Dalinar’s understanding of the problems inherent in the manner of “unification” he and Gavilar forced on Alethkar. While Wit may say that “it is an era for tyrants” and that “a benevolent tyrant is preferable to the disaster of weak rule,” and he may be correct, Dalinar is wise to see the shortcomings of his past actions. The question now is, what effect should that have on his decisions and actions in the coming days? Is this the time to try to deal with the problems?
Finally, there’s the wider Cosmere view hinted at in this exchange:
Wit smiled. “I am but a man, Dalinar, so much as I wish it were not true at times. I am no Radiant. And while I am your friend, please understand that our goals do not completely align. You must not trust yourself with me. If I have to watch this world crumble and burn to get what I need, I will do so. With tears, yes, but I would let it happen.”
“I will do what I can to help,” Wit said, “and for that reason, I must go. I cannot risk too much, because if he finds me, then I become nothing— a soul shredded and broken into pieces that cannot be reassembled. What I do here is more dangerous than you could ever know.”
He turned to go.
“Wit,” Dalinar called.
“If who finds you?”
“The one you fight, Dalinar Kholin. The father of hatred.” Wit saluted, then jogged off.
I’ll… just leave that there for you. Odium.
I suspect that Ishar is here to reflect both the “guiding” aspect of Dalinar’s relationship to Alethkar, and the evening activities of his Bondsmith-to-be. The Joker, as is most common, is associated with Hoid’s presence, but in this case it’s extraordinarily appropriate. He’s the wild card in play.
Dalinar & Navani make me happy, even when they’re sad. Awkward moments, though, what with Navani’s implicit admission that she didn’t feel terribly bereaved when Gavilar died, and Dalinar’s inability to explain that thinking of his wife isn’t so much painful as, well, impossible. Someday he’s going to have to tell her about that.
Next week… Next week is crazy full. At this point, I’m still planning to do a reread post next week, but that may change. If I don’t, it will be because of activities surrounding the release of The Bands of Mourning.” If I do, we’ll be joining Kaladin, Dalinar, Adolin, and company on a brief excursion out onto the Plains.
Alice Arneson is a long-time Tor.com commenter and Sanderson beta-reader. She eagerly awaits the release of the latest Mistborn story next week. She’s looking forward to the shrieking, to be perfectly honest.