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WoR Ch16


Nimbleform has a delicate touch.
Gave the gods this form to many,
Tho' once defied, by the gods they were crushed.
This form craves precision and plenty.

–From the Listener Song of Listing, 27th stanza


Point of view: Kaladin
Setting: Lighteyes' sparring grounds

Progression of the Chapter:

Kaladin, Moash, and Drehy discuss their disappointment in the lighteyes’ sparring grounds; an ardent tries and fails to put Kaladin in his place; Kaladin points out that a place full of weapons and Shardblades is, in fact, a dangerous location; the King's Blades are discussed, and Kaladin commits a gaff; Amaram's sins are discussed; Kaladin worries about the writing during the highstorms; Syl tries to cheer up Kaladin, is met with sullen resistance; she very reasonably suggests that Kaladin talk to Dalinar about Amaram, and is shot down immediately; Adolin and Renarin arrive; Kaladin respects the chain of command, which does not include Adolin; no love is lost between the two; Sylphrena makes many cryptic noises about Shardblades; Kaladin spots Zahel and moves to engage; Zahel admits that he is likely to be chosen as Renarin’s swordmaster; Syl insists that she is godly.

Quote of the Chapter:

"You all seem odd to me," Syl said lightly. "Everyone but Rock, who is a complete gentleman."

"He thinks you’re a god. You shouldn’t encourage him."

"Why not? I am a god."

He turned his head, looking at her flatly as she sat on his shoulder. "Syl ... "

"What? I am!" She grinned and held up her fingers, as if pinching something very small. "A little piece of one. Very, very little. You have permission to bow to me now."

  • Syl’s not lying when she claims to be a little piece of a god, which gives more evidence to support the idea that spren are splinters of a broken Shard.

Commentary:

Syl forces Kaladin to admit, in no uncertain terms, that he does trust Dalinar and believes that he’s a good man. He doesn’t suspect Dalinar of being another Amaram, of talking a big game but being capable of massive betrayals. And yet he still drops bitterbombs of this variety: “It’s not a big deal. Dalinar Kholin is friends with one of the worst murderers I’ve ever met. So? Dalinar is lighteyed. He’s probably friends with a lot of murderers.” While it’s true that Dalinar isn’t going to just drop Amaram on the first piece of rumor Kaladin brings him, Dalinar is a tactician and he isn’t prone to throwing away important facts about his enemies or allies just because they’re inconvenient. Several characters in this novel could have made so many better decisions, Kaladin first amongst them.

In the conversation at the beginning of this chapter about the expectations of Moash and Drehy regarding the sparring grounds, there are some issues addressed that even great wealth has some difficulty dressing up. But, as Kaladin points out, the sparring grounds still gain value for the lighteyes by maintaining exclusivity. Even if they’re functionally similar to the darkeyes’ sparring grounds, they aren’t tainted by association. Also, they have baths and cultivated rockbud decorations and a host of ardent sparring partners.

That singular ardent was looking for any reason to pick a fight with Kaladin (after all, what’s the point of a restricted-access clergy directly patronized by the nobility if not to maintain class divisions), but her methods of attack were weak. She attacks his right to be there by his rank, which is clearly labeled on his shoulder, and when that fails she tries to insist that he’s not necessary. There are Shardblades. The literal most dangerous thing. Is she blind to the idea that lighteyes are constrained by some kind of honor code that would prevent them from assassinating another lighteyes during sparring? If so, why? Assassination seems like it’s on page one of the lighteyes' handbook.

The former members of the Cobalt Guard in this chapter respect Kaladin and Bridge Four so absolutely that they want to make them their primary allegiance, but Kaladin is wise enough to make them keep their old Cobalt Guard patches. It’s refreshing to see a few elite soldiers who are actually acting like they believe in meritocracy, in a chapter that is so much about negative class relations.

Sprenspotting:

Sylphrena has been keeping an eye out for weird spren like weird lightning for a while now, but apparently they’re hard to spot. Ominous! Angerspren also make a brief appearance this week, because anger follows Kaladin around.

Ars Arcanum:

Syl’s ongoing hatred of Shardblades continues to drive readers closer to the realization of just what they are. She says that she doesn’t like anyone who carries Shards, and that the Blades are abominations now. However, when the Radiants had them they weren’t abominations. Is Plate equally abominable to Syl and, if so, why? Sadly, this is going to be difficult to discern because Syl typically falls silent whenever this topic goes too far for her.

Cosmere Characters:

Zahel is prominent in this category, but a far more significant character from Sanderson's earlier novel, Warbreaker, which is set on the shardworld Nalthis. His name in that book is Vasher, a.k.a. Kalad, a.k.a. Peacegiver the Blessed, a.k.a. Talaxin, a.k.a. Warbreaker the Peaceful. He kind of hogs titles, but you can’t really blame him considering that he’s one of the Five Scholars[1] and one of the most powerful and clever magic users on that planet. It’s not yet clear just how he got to Roshar or what his plan is there, but his persistent use of literally colorful language and occasional reminiscences about voices in his head (i.e.: Nightblood) make his identity easy enough to guess.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Ishar presides over this chapter, 'tsking' at all the ardents who are failing to be either pious or guiding. He really could’ve taken a more active hand in their religious upbringing, Ishar.

- Paraphrased from Carl Engle-Laird[2]

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