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WoR Ch15


Workform worn for strength and care.
Whispering spren breathe at your ear.
Seek first this form, its mysteries to bear.
Found here is freedom from fear.

–From the Listener Song of Listing, 19th stanza


Point of view: Shallan
Setting: The Frostlands

Progression of the Chapter:

Shoes are withheld to increase dependence; Pattern turns out to be an excellent bug; Shallan’s appearance is deteriorating badly; she takes her courage in one hand and the knowledge picked up by Pattern in the other, confronting Tvlakv in Jasnah-like fashion; an unintentional Illusion proves useful; her feet suddenly feel better; dinner is upended on the cookfire; the potential legitimacy of nearby travelers is dismissed; and a stealthy departure is made.

Quote of the Chapter:

"Deserters ain’t like common bandits," Bluth said. "These men, they’ve given up everything. Oaths. Families. When you desert, it breaks you. It leaves you willing to do anything, because you’ve already given away everything you could have cared about losing."

"Wow," Shallan said, looking over her shoulder.

"I ... Yeah, you spend your whole life with a decision like that, you do. You wish any honor were left for you, but you know you’ve already given it away."

  • Shallan doesn’t make note of it here, and it might never consciously register with her, but these seem to be the words of bitter experience. It’s these little glimpses that make the changes in Bluth so reasonable.

Commentary:

As learned in The Way of Kings, the tower (three pairs) is an outright loss when you’re playing breakneck. Well, Bluth probably wouldn’t really bet on that hand, but it’s a fair hint that gambling losses got the better of him. He’s not gambling on the bandits, though; staying within reach of them would certainly seem to be a losing proposition.

Were it not for the redevelopment of her bond with Pattern, Shallan would be holding similar cards. Out in the Frostlands, alone with a team of slavers, carrying little of value with which to pay her way, perception is now a matter of life or death for her. (Of course, were it not for the redevelopment of her bond with Pattern, Shallan wouldn’t be out here in the first place.)

Anyway, it would be supremely easy for Tvlakv to either kill or simply abandon her, driving off with her trunk and whatever valuables might be in it. He needs incentive to take her to the warcamps; he needs even better incentive to escort her there like a woman of position, rather than a slave, or - at best - an 'objet d’art'.

Either way, Shallan ends up at the Shattered Plains with her betrothed, and Tvlakv ends up with money. But Sanderson did a good job of making it obvious just how important it is, on several levels, that Shallan give the appearance of being in charge of the process instead of letting it happen to her.

It seems like a dubious situation at best, though; very little money, neither a change of clothing nor means to acquire such, no visible means of self-defense; really, nothing but societal expectations to keep her physically safe. However ... this girl has a cause ... and a causal ... and a Cryptic. These are two very good reasons to get to the Shattered Plains, and one very good means of ensuring that it happens.

Stormwatch:

This is the sixth day of Shallan’s travel with Tvlakv and Bluth, which, incidentally, is the same day as Adolin’s duel in the previous chapter. This is really a bit ironic: he wonders if he’ll ever get to meet her, then goes out to the dueling arena and pummels the ever-living snot out of someone else for the sake of politics. Meanwhile, she limps around, with their betrothal as her only means of keeping promises she’s making to deserters and slavers, hoping to arrive in the warcamps in time and in a position to do something to save the whole world. There is rather a symmetry going on here: both are stepping outside their societally-acceptable roles for the sake of something much bigger than themselves.

Sprenspotting:

Other than the painspren for Shallan’s feet and the flamespren that scatter when Bluth dumps the chow on them, it’s all Pattern in this chapter.

Pattern is getting smarter. Along with his growing ability to know when people are straight-up lying, he’s getting quite the education in figures of speech such as, “Go see what he’s saying.”

It's priceless when he comes back and imitates every sound perfectly — the voices, the crackling fire — and Shallan’s first thought is, “This could be very useful.” Yes, indeed. So is his ability to make your dress look majestic instead of tattered.

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

Chulls. More chulls. Large, noisy, slow-moving, oxen-equivalents (if oxen had shells and were vaguely crustacean in nature). Chulls. No horses, which is good news in its own way, for now.

Ars Arcanum:

Lightweaving, ahoy! Instinctive, inadvertent - and timely - illusion! Shallan may not quite know what she did, but we do. At first it seemed so odd that she didn’t even question the glow, the perfect dress, the healing of her feet; this is NOT normal stuff, yet she spends no thought on it, other than to instinctively let the glow fade. This reaction is totally within Shallan's character. Observations are all well and good, but if a thought might lead places she doesn’t want to go, she just ... doesn’t think it. Mighty convenient little trick, that.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Here’s Chana again, with her characteristics of brave/obedient and her essence of fire. Is this for Shallan’s courage in facing down Tvlakv?

Shipping Wars:

The causal is merely a means to an end; it’s the one thing that gives Shallan leverage to keep from being — or at least feeling — not much more than a slave. It seems rather mercenary. She can't be blamed for using anything she has to gain footing, but for the betrothal to become a relationship instead of just a piece of paper will be a feat.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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