|<< WoR Ch. 19: Safe Things / WoR Ch. 21: Ashes >>|
Artform applied for beauty and hue.
–From the Listener Song of Listing, 90th stanza
Progression of the Chapter:
Night falls; Shallan’s caravan approaches smoke and finds wreckage, survivors; their subtle scouting is immediately discovered; Shallan negotiates alliance with a second caravan; bandits are ahead, deserters behind; arrows fall; Shallan commands resistance; Shallan parleys with the deserters; things seem more than they are; better natures are summoned; Gaz leads a heroic charge; Pattern appreciates Shallan’s lies.
Quote of the Chapter:
|“|| "Would you protect instead of kill, if you had the choice?" Shallan asked. "Would you rescue instead of rob if you could do it over again? Good people are dying as we speak here. You can stop it."
Those dark eyes of his seemed dead. "We can’t change the past."
"I can change your future."
Shallan’s first proposal, imploring the deserters to protect others and find glory, sounds exactly like she’s recruiting for the Windrunners. It seems a set of instincts are taking over that go beyond her sudden facility with magic.
Old “friends” and new “friends” abound in this chapter! In the wait between The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the question of what happened to Gaz grew more and more pressing. Brandon coyly pointed out at signings and readings that Gaz mysteriously vanished most of the way through The Way of Kings, and further inquiries were met with a solid RAFO. Now he’s returned, surrounded by bandit deserter scum, and he’s ... suddenly a pretty good guy. It’s he who leads the charge into battle, when Vathah refuses to be moved by Shallan’s oratory. It's unlikely that anyone would have suspected the Gaz of The Way of Kings - cowardly, bitter, petty and cruel - of leading any charge into anything, especially not into superior forces in defense of a pair of helpless caravans that he’d been planning to rob.
To recall, the few chapters from Gaz’s point of view suggested that he was haunted by paranoia induced by his missing eye, and that said paranoia felt like it was on the edge between magical and psychological. But he seems particularly vulnerable to Shallan’s persuasion, to her proto-Radiant recruitment speak. Gaz is not necessarily a good candidate for Radiance, but he does have to be broken to be rebuilt.
The lighteyed woman with the long coat and sword is introduced, though her name isn't given. She is instantly amused by Shallan, probably because she sees through what’s happening. The onslaught of bandits keeps any deeper analysis at bay, but she still deftly deflects Shallan’s initial power play:
|“|| "I offer you my protection," Shallan found herself saying.
"Your protection?" the woman said, turning back to Shallan, sounding baffled.
"You may accept me and mine into your camp," Shallan said. "I will see to your safety tonight. I will need your service after that to convey me to the Shattered Plains."
The woman laughed. “You are gutsy, whoever you are. You can join our camp, but you’ll die there with the rest of us!”
Shallan falls back on the first trick she learned from Jasnah, establishing a social order with her at the top, but Tyn is too in tune with the pragmatic reality to accept that this "Brightlady’s" so-called "protection" is worth anything in the middle of a fight.
In this chapter, Brandon used the breakneck pace of his writing to mask the signs of Shallan’s Surgebinding. The chapter moves fast, so it’s easy to miss this as the reader is pulled forward:
She took a deep breath. Bluth raised his sphere, looking at her, and grunted as if surprised.
She’s inhaled Stormlight, but Brandon doesn’t say that. Because Shallan doesn’t know what she’s doing, Brandon made it subtle.
This chapter reminds the reader that Roshar has multiple moons! Whether that’s relevant to anything, since this supercontinent-dominated world probably doesn’t care quite as much about tidal forces as some other planets might, is up for grabs.
All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:
A little like the mink wandering into the whitespine's den and asking when dinner is ... .
Roshar has minks?!
- Paraphrased from Carl Engle-Laird