Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 82

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Dalinar’s forces finally joined battle against the red-eyed Parshendi at the center of the Shattered Plains. This week, Kaladin reaches a difficult decision back at the warcamp, while Dalinar and Adolin continue to press the battle.

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.

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WoR-Arch82

Chapter 82: For Glory Lit

Point of View: Kaladin, Adolin, Dalinar, Kaladin
Setting: the warcamp palace, the center of the Shattered Plains
Symbology: Spears, Chanarach, Nalan

IN WHICH Kaladin hobbles toward the palace, hoping he’s not too late; at the king’s door, he finds two strangers in Bridge Four uniforms; he disables them and enters the king’s chambers, to find Elhokar unmoving on the couch.

… Adolin fights Parshendi by the light of Navani’s fabrials; they are trying to keep him distracted and out of the main battle; he considers the singers and their position against a rock formation; An Idea occurs.

…Dalinar shouts at the Stormfather; the Stormfather answers; the battle goes badly for Roion’s forces; Dalinar calls upon Navani and her fabrials for help; their desperation maneuver succeeds in providing an opening; he hopes it’s not too late.

…Kaladin rouses a drunken Elhokar and attempts to escape; one of the guards has recovered and stabs the king; Kaladin kills him and leads the king away, both bleeding profusely; Moash and Graves catch up with them.

Quote of the Week

“Fleet kept running,” Kaladin growled, getting back under Elhokar’s arm.

“What?”

“He couldn’t win, but he kept running. And when the storm caught him, it didn’t matter that he’d died, because he’d run for all he had.”

“Sure. All right.” The king sounded groggy, though Kaladin couldn’t tell if it was the alcohol or the blood loss.

“We all die in the end, you see,” Kaladin said. The two of them walked down the corridor, Kaladin leaning on his spear to keep them upright. “So I guess what truly matters is just how well you’ve run. And Elhokar, you’ve kept running since your father was killed, even if you screw up all the storming time.”

“Thank you?” the king said, drowsy.

You made it, Kaladin. You woke up. Thank you.

Off the Wall

There is one you will watch. Though all of them have some relevance to precognition, Moelach is one of the most powerful in this regard. His touch seeps into a soul as it breaks apart from the body, creating manifestations powered by the spark of death itself. But no, this is a distraction. Deviation. Kingship. We must discuss the nature of kingship.

—From the Diagram, Book of the 2nd Desk Drawer: paragraph 15

It’s almost like genius Taravangian was giving himself a hint about where to get updates, but if so… it make me even less inclined to trust the Diagram. I just can’t get past the feeling that any information gained through a splinter of Odium might be a bad thing.

One thing I need to note: I don’t (at this point) see Taravangian as “evil” per se; I do question the validity and benevolence of the Diagram.

Commentary

Dalinar, Navani, and Adolin, for all the vital work they’re doing in this chapter, are almost placeholders: they remind us that the battle is still happening out there somewhere, and things are pretty desperate. And for some reason Dalinar can now have waking conversations with the Stormfather.

Okay, that’s not quite all, but it really is the bulk of their sections. Adolin fights like a one-man army, but it becomes apparent that they’re mostly trying to keep him busy, out of the main battle. Being Adolin, once he figures out that they’re trying to divert him from the singers, he immediately sets to work to figure out how to get there. I love me some stubborn, I do.

Meanwhile, Dalinar has a few arguments with the Stormfather, but a messenger brings bad news from the front lines, and he has to get back to being a general. He turns to Navani for a miracle to rescue a large chunk of his army, and… she gives him two. Go, Navani! (See the Ars Mechanica section for more on this subject.)

Now, the main focus of the chapter: Kaladin. The previous chapter gave him the revelation he needed to finally understand what he needed to do about the “Patriots” and their plans. This chapter, he puts it into action, though the wisdom of the path he chooses is… questionable.

Kaladin stumbled into the entryway. No guards at the doors. Bad sign. Should he have raised the alarm? There weren’t any soldiers in camp to help, and if he’d come in force, Graves and his men would know something was wrong. Alone, Kaladin might be able to see the king. His best hope was to get Elhokar to safety quietly.

I can’t help thinking that this was… well, stupid. Obviously it makes for a more satisfying resolution to have Kaladin up here alone, but it really would have made more sense for him to either ask the ardents for help, or send a messenger to the Bridge Four barracks asking for the few left in camp to join him. On the other hand, this is Kaladin we’re talking about. Between his normal stubbornness, his pain, and the effect of his new understanding, he’s not thinking as clearly as could be wished.

Speaking of “satisfying resolutions” though,

But storm it… the king tried. He actually tried. The man was arrogant, perhaps incapable, but he tried. He was sincere.

While I freely acknowledge that sincerity and effort don’t somehow make a bad king into a good one, this piles weight on the side of “You don’t get to kill a man just because he isn’t what you think he should be.” Imperfection—even downright foolishness and incompetence—isn’t adequate justification for murder. Having faced that, he continues to work through the implications of his choice.

Which leads to the QOTW, and two further realizations. One, there is something in Elhokar for Kaladin to respect: perseverance. Even though he constantly failed to live up to his father’s standard of charisma and leadership, or his uncle’s standard of military skills and integrity… even while knowing he was failing to live up to the high bar set by his predecessors, he still kept trying to do better. That’s not nothing.

Two, there’s a little more he needs to grasp. He’s now figured out that disliking someone is not adequate reason to let them be murdered, but he knows there’s something more, something missing. He still doesn’t entirely know why he needs to help Elhokar in particular. Fortunately, he’s reached the point where he can act on what he has while trying to figure out the rest, and so when Moash comes to finish the job, Kaladin is actively trying to save the king’s life. That final recognition will have to wait for next week, but he’s only a hair away from everything slipping into place.

Stormwatch

Day Zero continues.

Sprenspotting

One has to assume that the connection Dalinar has with the Stormfather really is his impending Bondsmith-hood; he can now hear the Stormfather while awake and functioning, even though no one else can.

“I am the one left behind,” the voice said. It wasn’t exactly as he’d heard it in the visions; this voice had a depth to it. A density. “I am the sliver of Him that remains. I saw His corpse, saw Him die when Odium murdered Him. And I… I fled. To continue as I always have. The piece of God left in this world, the winds that men must feel.”

While I keep getting mad at him for being so unhelpful, this does rather evoke pity.

Question: is his use of the term “sliver” deliberate and correct? If so, that means he was “a human intelligence who has held all or a very large portion of the power of a Shard and has since released it.” (He doesn’t appear to have entirely released it, but since the Shard has been splintered, maybe that doesn’t matter.) But if he’s now a Sliver, who was he before? Jezrien? Ishar? Someone else?

(By the way, has Brandon confirmed any Herald identities in the books yet?)

It’s also worth noting that Adolin remarks on the absence of the Thrill during this battle. Based on Taravangian’s information, this may be an indication that Nergaoul (presumably the Unmade responsible for the Thrill) has left the Shattered Plains for more interesting conflicts. I don’t recall all the theories floated during the TWOK reread regarding the origin of the Thrill, but according to Taravangian’s Interlude, it is attributable to “an ancient, evil spren.” This does not sound like a positive enhancement.

Ars Mechanica

This chapter sure was Navani’s turn to shine.

Fortunately, the darkness had been pushed back somewhat, as Navani had sent fabrials to bathe the battlefield in an extraordinarily even white light.

They have to be burning through Stormlight at a ferocious pace, but it’s better than fighting in the dark, I expect.

With Roion’s forces in deep trouble, Dalinar demands a miracle from Navani, and she produces one:

He was too distant to see her glare, but he felt it. Fortunately, she waved workers away from her current tarp and began shouting orders to her engineers. The women ran up to the chasm, where a line of rocks was arrayed. They were attached to ropes, Dalinar thought, though he wasn’t sure how this process worked. Navani shouted instructions. …

The engineers backed up at a barked order from Navani, and the workers shoved the line of some forty rocks into the chasm. As the rocks fell, tarps jumped fifty feet into the air, pulled at the front corners and centers. In an instant, a long line of improvised pavilions flanked the chasm.

I love that this is exactly the fabrial we saw her working on way back in Chapter 35, but in a much more practical application—not to mention less energy-intensive—as she raises a bunch of rain shelters, rather than a fighting tower. But this is merely the set-up for the third critical fabrial: the dehumidifier.

“We really should have had more time to test this,” she warned to Dalinar, folding her arms. “Attractors are new inventions. I’m still half afraid this thing will suck the blood out of anyone who touches it.”

It didn’t. Instead, water quickly started to pool around the thing. Storms, it worked! The fabrial was pulling moisture from the air. Roion’s archers removed bowstrings from protected pockets, bending bows and stringing them at the orders of their lieutenants.

Honestly, here in the wetlands there are times I’d sure like to have a dehumidifier that actually worked this quickly and effectively!

Heraldic Symbolism

Chana: Brave, Obedient, Guard

Nalan: Just, Confident, Judge

I think those are both scattered throughout the chapter, but I would suggest that both are primarily reflecting Kaladin’s arc. Chana is his choice to protect Elhokar, to guard him against the Shardbearing assassins no matter how hopeless it looks. Nalan, for all that he’s currently a mess, still represents justice—and Kaladin has finally realized that “I think you’re a bad king” doesn’t justify murder.

Shipping Wars

Okay, this isn’t really part of the wars, but this little line looks both forward and back:

What had Shallan said about these inner plateaus? And the rock formations on them?

Looking back, this reflects the conversation just before the attempted assassination back in Chapter 68—the last conversation Adolin had with Shallan before the bridge collapsed and dropped her into the chasms. Looking forward… Well, we’ll get there soon. I’ll leave it for next week.

Just Sayin’

I think there must have been a good one in here somewhere, but I can’t find it now. Y’all will have to put it in the comments.

That’s it for now; next week, we’ll continue the two battles, as rocks are slain and arguments are… argued.

Alice Arneson is a long-time Tor.com commenter and Sanderson beta-reader. She is, unfortunately, fresh out of clever quips and words of wisdom.

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