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The Way of Kings: Chapter 43

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<< TWoK Chapter 42: Beggars and Barmaids / TWoK Chapter 44: The Weeping >>
Twok43


They lived out in the wilds, always awaiting the Desolation - or sometimes, a foolish child who took no heed of the night's darkness.


Point of view: Kaladin
Setting: The Shattered Plains, Sadeas's warcamp

Kaladin wakes from an uneasy sleep, his mind turning about Sadeas’s statement that bridgemen are nothing more than bait. Anything he could do would not change this fact. Kaladin leaves the barrack and is met by his bridgemen, who now sport clean faces or well-kept beards thanks to Rock's gift.

As Kaladin begins to speak, a lighteyes and his retinue approach, ostensibly Lamaril's replacement. The new officer’s name is Matal, though it is his wife, Brightness Hashal, who introduces him to the crew as their new captain.

Hashal also says that her husband will be running the bridge crews differently than Lamaril had. Kaladin immediately questions how Matal ended "up in this latrine pit of a job?" and is set upon by a guard for insubordination. Kaladin blocks the first blow, but realizes this could escalate quickly into a larger fight. Instead, he takes the next blow to the head and goes down.

Hashal continues, saying that Matal had requested to be placed in charge of the bridgemen given how important they are to Sadeas's plateau assaults. She also adds that from now on instead of rotating duties for the bridge crews around camp, each crew will be given a specific assignment. She then calls Gaz and tells him that Matal orders Bridge Four to be given permanent chasm duty. Bridge Four is clearly disturbed by this and asks Kaladin what they will do. He simply replies, "We get to work."

Soon after, Kaladin finds himself looking down a chasm and contemplates jumping in - a place he has been before. He resigns himself to climbing down the chasm the old fashioned way (with a rope ladder along with the rest of Bridge Four). As he climbs down, Syl questions why he isn’t happier to have survived the storm. Kaladin brings up his desire to fight the soldier earlier, and Syl mentions that she remembers helping men kill others in the past; though she has problems with it, she feels it was right.

Once in the chasm, Teft asks Kaladin what they were going to do now. Frustrated, Kaladin says: "I don’t know what to do! If we try to protect ourselves, Sadeas will have us punished! We’re bait, and we’re going to die. There’s nothing I can do about it! It’s hopeless."

All the men are clearly shocked at what they heard. Teft tries to talk to Kaladin about not giving up hope, and that even if they die at least they tried. He ends saying, "journey before destination," which leads to a discussion about the Lost Radiants. Sigzil points out that Teft’s quote was part of their motto and then recites a few more lines. Sigzil explains that he learned it from some groups in Yulay who vocally waited for the return of the Radiants.

Syl repeats Teft’s phrase, encouraging Kaladin to listen to Teft and not give up. At the same time Skar and Teft argue about the Radiants. Both Skar and Moash bring up Kaladin’s belief that there was no hope for them. Kaladin thinks about all the defeats he has survived when those around him have died.

Kaladin wanders away and starts shifting bodies and collecting weapons and armor, telling Syl again that he can’t save them. Kaladin thinks more on the Radiants’ motto as well as memories of his brother Tien, eventually turning around to face his men. He tells them he had one more plan, though "it will most likely end with us all dead at the hands of our own army." He proposes training with the weapons they find in the chasm, and that they’d attempt an escape. All the men accept the plan, except Rock, who believes such is beneath him. Still, he will continue to cook their meals. Some looked scared about executing the plan, but all went along willingly.

- by Michael Pye [1]

Quote of the Chapter:

“Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.”

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