Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Shallan and Navani began their scholarly collaboration, while Kaladin began to take small steps back toward Honor. This week, Shallan gives Dalinar some truth and some defiance, and Parshendi are encountered.
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 78: Contradictions
Point of View: Shallan
Setting: The Shattered Plains
Symbology: Pattern, Ishar, Shalash
IN WHICH Shallan watches the rain while her soldiers watch her; she and Pattern consider and discuss creationspren, art, and lies; Dalinar enters and speaks with her about Jasnah; the time has come to reveal her Surgebinding; Dalinar is awed and encouraged; they are interrupted by news of a Parshendi sighting; Shallan refuses to be told what to do; the dead Parshendi is a new form… and has red eyes; another Parshendi arrives; he is recognized by Bridge Four as their former parshman Shen, and he is here to surrender.
Quote of the Week
“Brightlord Dalinar?” Shallan said. “What if your task wasn’t to refound the Knights Radiant?”
“That is what I just said,” Dalinar replied.
“What if instead, your task was to gather them?”
He looked back to her, waiting. Shallan felt a cold sweat. What was she doing?
I have to tell someone sometime, she thought. I can’t do as Jasnah did, holding it all. This is too important. Was Dalinar Kholin the right person? Well, she certainly couldn’t think of anyone better.
Shallan held out her palm, then breathed in, draining one of her spheres. Then she breathed back out, sending a cloud of shimmering Stormlight into the air between herself and Dalinar. She formed it into a small image of Jasnah, the one she’d just drawn, on top of her palm.
“Almighty above,” Dalinar whispered. A single awespren, like a ring of blue smoke, burst out above him, spreading like the ripple from a stone dropped in a pond. Shallan had seen such a spren only a handful of times in her life.
As much as I love the moment of revelation for itself, the best thing for me is the effect on Dalinar. He’s just had to realize that Amaram was totally not a Knight Radiant, and had his tiny hopes in Kaladin crushed. Then he got word that Jasnah might actually have been one, but she’s dead. Blow after blow, when he’s all too aware of how the Radiants are needed now. Then Shallan gives him a tiny Illusion of Jasnah.
The rekindling of hope is a beautiful thing to see.
Off the Wall
—From the Diagram, Floorboard 17: paragraph 2,
every second letter starting with the first
This epigraph most certainly gives credence to the theory of Szeth + the Honorblade as “the weapon” from last week. “They were left behind,” and “they are with the Shin” pretty much has to mean the Honorblades; in context, it seems rather like Truthless are the only ones required to use them. (Weird.)
This all makes me question: just when did the Diagram come into being? I know the common assumption is that it was after Gavilar’s death, but I’m beginning to doubt that. This almost sounds like Taravangian’s minions were actively influencing Szeth to make him Truthless so that he’d get the Honorblade.
Also: “apricity” is a term for warm sunlight in winter that makes you think it’s almost spring. Literally, it’s a longing for April; this seems relevant to JordanCon folks.
Well, that’s a wide-ranging chapter if ever I saw one!
There are some further interesting notes regarding Shallan’s soldiers at the beginning. Last chapter, she wondered if she should have looked more closely into Gaz’s debts when she was worrying that he might have disappeared. This week, she admits to herself that she had “honestly expected them to run off after gaining their clemency.” So… a little less idealistic than she appeared, and a lot more pragmatic. She was essentially buying a temporary security force with future money, and expected them to take their reward and go. Instead, they are proud to be hers. They probably each have their own reasons for it, but it’s rather fun to watch.
One of my favorite moments is the one shortly after the QOTW, when Dalinar really lets it all sink in:
“It’s amazing,” Dalinar said, his voice so soft she could barely hear it over the pattering rain. “It is wonderful.” He looked up at her, and there were—shockingly—tears in his eyes. “You’re one of them.”
“Maybe, kind of?” Shallan said, feeling awkward. This man, so commanding, so much larger than life, should not be crying in front of her.
“I’m not mad,” he said, more to himself, it seemed. “I had decided that I wasn’t, but that’s not the same as knowing. It’s all true. They’re returning.”
Partly I love the awkwardness for Shallan, just because it’s funny. Mostly, I love the validation it gives Dalinar and the realization of how much he needed the confirmation of something outside his own head.
One of the key events in this chapter is Shallan’s conscious emulation of Jasnah wrt: her autonomy. I personally think her objection to his telling Navani is specious, but the rest of it is an exquisite combination of her innate stubbornness, commitment to her task, practicality, and imitation of Jasnah. Finding Urithiru is not only her personal goal; she’s really the only one who has a prayer of actually finding it, much less making it work. All that, she knows—but she has to stand up for it, against a man 30-some years her senior, the man in charge of the whole operation… really, the one man who might be considered to have the authority to permit or deny her plans.
Well, there are several other things I wanted to talk about, but my brain seems to be losing cohesion. We’ll just have to catch it in the comments!
There are 6… 5… 4 days left in the countdown. We’re now on Day 5 of the expedition; up to now, it’s been pretty uneventful. That’s about to change, perhaps.
Creationspren are odd little beasties, in that they continually change shapes and form images of objects around them. I sure would love to know how they appear in the Cognitive realm. Pattern’s reaction to the ones which had gathered around Shallan while she was drawing is both “funny-haha and funny-peculiar” as my aunt used to say.
He sniffed. “Useless things.”
“They don’t do anything. They flit around and watch, admire. Most spren have a purpose. These are merely attracted by someone else’s purpose.”
I’ve always assumed (lightly) that creationspren are to Cryptics as windspren are to Honorspren, but Pattern seems so contemptuous of them, while Syl constantly referred to windspren as her cousins. I guess the two aren’t mutually exclusive; Pattern could be disdainful of his analog, right?
As for Dalinar’s awespren… it gives me goosebumps. That is all.
All Creatures Shelled and Feathered
I never really intended to use this unit for the Parshendi, but it seems appropriate this week. Mostly, it’s rather amusing to hear the humans speculate about the different Parshendi forms, and mostly get it wrong. “I’ll take ‘Cosmere Looney Theories’ for 1000, Alex.”
The most straightforward answer seems the most likely, this week: Ishar and Shalash represent their Knights-to-be. Not that we knew Dalinar would become a Bondsmith yet, of course, but it still makes sense. That, and Dalinar is following in his footsteps as the one to reorganize the Knights Radiant that Ishar first organized.
There’s been discussion recently, regarding Shallan’s motivation for maintaining her betrothal to Adolin. It seems appropriate, then, to note that Shallan freely acknowledges that Jasnah set up the causal as a means of binding Shallan to the Kholin family. It’s also worth noting that she blushes when she admits it.
(While we’re on the subject, just a comment: Yes, I do prefer the Shallan-Adolin ship to Shallan-Kaladin, and I’ve never pretended otherwise. It doesn’t mean I can’t see where people get their support for the S/K ship, or why they might prefer that pairing. It does, however, mean that I think the S/A ship is more plausible, better supported, more viable, and far more appealing. I’m not blind to the possibilities, but I certainly like one better than the other.)
“Almighty above,” says Dalinar, even though he knows the “Almighty,” at least in the form of Honor, has been killed. Old habits die hard?
Then there’s Bashin: “Shakiest thing I’ve ever seen…” I’m not entirely sure how this fits the world, but it’s a good line. I like it.
My favorite is Skar’s “but storm me for a fool if I’m wrong…”
There. That ought to keep us busy until next week, when Dalinar interviews Rlain about the status of the Parshendi.
Alice Arneson is a long-time Tor.com commenter and Sanderson beta-reader, and now a JordanCon SanderTrack panelist. Wooot!