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Nightform predicting what will be,
–From the Listener Song of Secrets, 17th stanza
Progression of the Chapter:
Kaladin races to the palace, where the king is not dead; Elhokar praises Kaladin, to the detriment of every possible relationship in the room; twisted ironwork hangs from the balcony, having demonstrated Elhokar’s upper body strength and command of language decidedly below his station; Kaladin enjoys the heights, to the detriment of Moash's composure; Kaladin and Dalinar agree that the sabotage was done with a Shardblade, involved someone on the inside, and that their knowledge of those facts need not be made known; Kaladin and Dalinar further agree that this was the work of cowards, amateurs, or someone to whom secrecy matters more than success, and that a real assassination attempt from Sadeas or the Assassin in White would be to the serious detriment of multiple lives; Elhokar rants and whines to the further detriment of Kaladin’s opinion of him, and wishes someone would look for the scary things in the mirror.
Quote of the Chapter:
|“||"I eventually want the king being guarded only by men from the bridge crews - men you trust, men who have no part in warcamp politics. Choose carefully. I don’t want to replace potential traitors with former thieves who can be easily bought."||”|
What could possibly go wrong?
Kaladin is genuinely surprised to realize that his protectiveness has somehow extended itself to a bunch of lighteyes. He really thinks it should be reserved for those he leads, but now it seems to also include anyone for whom he has some form of responsibility.
The theme of trust runs strong in this chapter. The king needs to trust his uncle and his bodyguards. Dalinar needs to trust Kaladin. Kaladin needs to trust Dalinar. All of them need to trust one another, and the bridgemen. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely happening, even when it should.
Elhokar can be cut some slack here, at least more than Kaladin can; the railing of his balcony just gave way under him, and he nearly plummeted "a good hundred feet" to his death on the rocks. The fact that he managed to grab and hold on to the railing until someone could pull him in speaks well of his reflexes and his strength, and if he cursed like a caravan worker and is now snarling at everyone in earshot, it’s understandable. And ... there's another hint at something the others consider paranoia, but really isn’t: he wants to know why no one is trying to do anything about the creatures he sees over his shoulder in the mirror. (Are they actually Cryptics?)
Kaladin doesn’t trust Dalinar as much as he reasonably ought. Admittedly, it would have been helpful if Dalinar had assured Kaladin of something more than "I’ll talk to Amaram about it" in the last chapter, because who even believes that Amaram would admit the truth? At the same time, Kaladin could have the smarts to look at what Dalinar has already done for him (and all the bridgemen) and give him the benefit of the doubt about the diligence of his inquiries. Sadly, his mistrust of lighteyes runs deep and strong, and he can’t let go of it and trust Dalinar to do what must be done. Worse, he can’t let go and trust Dalinar with all the information he holds - information, and ability - that would truly help Dalinar.
The painful bit is that Dalinar needs to be able to trust Kaladin, and he does, but he really shouldn’t. As long as Kaladin refuses to trust Dalinar, he himself is somewhat untrustworthy in his particular position. Still, Dalinar places enormous trust in Kaladin despite knowing about the Amaram incident and the resultant deep-seated anger.
So, somebody made a distinctly inept attempt to assassinate the king. They tried to make it look like an accident, but why would anyone believe that a Soulcast railing could be assumed to have merely come apart at a joint, or that iron cleanly cut by a Shardblade could possibly look like it just broke? So either they’re idiots, as Kaladin assumed, or they have some reason to not care if it looks suspicious, as long as they aren’t caught. (Would anyone be stupid enough to think that they were making it look like the Assassin in White was doing a sneak attack? It’s not exactly his modus operandi.) If nothing else, it would at least divert attention to known Shardbearers who might be involved in a sabotage, so there’s that. It gives an unknown Shardbearer a bit of advantage, or something. Maybe?
Jezrien is all over this chapter. Protection and leadership. Little more need be said.
- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson