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WoR Ch25


Smokeform for hiding and slipping between men.
A form of power, like human Surges.
Bring it 'round again.
Though crafted of gods,
It was by Unmade hand.
Leaves its force to be but one of foe or friend.

–From the Listener Song of Histories, 127th stanza


Point of view: Kaladin
Setting: Dalinar's warcamp

Progression of the Chapter:

Horses stalk grass, dawdle, terrify the bridgemen (except Moash), smell horsey, have equal-opportunity grooms, trick the grass into being eaten, are way too smart for Kaladin’s comfort, meander boringly, and pitch Kaladin on his backside. Also, the stablemaster turns out to be a woman who drops hints about male/female roles in Vorinism, delivers boring lectures, and throws rocks at Adolin; Syl teases Kaladin, who displays no sense of humor whatsoever; Kaladin connects a few dots about the assassination attempt, and tries very hard to ignore some other dots; Adolin taunts Kaladin about riding children’s training mounts; Kaladin decides he needs to ride something more suitable for war but really just more suitable for falling off; Dalinar gives orders for bridgemen to practice riding and use the horses for patrols; Adolin makes small overtures toward Kaladin; and Amaram's presence does more damage to Kaladin’s frame of mind than a dozen horses could do to his body.

Quote of the Chapter:

"This is going to be like back at the lighteyed practice grounds, isn’t it?" Kaladin asked. "I’m going to end up on my back , staring at the sky, feeling like a fool."

"Probably," Syl said lightly. "So why are you doing this? Because of Adolin?"

"Nah," Kaladin said. "The princeling can storm away."

"Then why?"

"Because I’m scared of these things."

Syl looked at him , seeming baffled, but it made perfect sense to Kaladin. Ahead, Dreamstorm — huffing out huge breaths from her run — looked at him. She met his eyes.

"Storms!" Adolin’s voice called from behind. "Bridgeboy, don’t actually do it! Are you mad?"

Well, probably. The ability to magically heal oneself, as well as the ability to magically stick oneself to the saddle could be mitigating factors ... . Then again, "That only meant that instead of being tossed from horseback like a limp cloth, he got whipped back and forth like a limp cloth."

(In passing, why might Adolin's use of "Bridgeboy" be so much more offensive than Kaladin’s "princeling" epithet. They’re both being more than a little condescending.)

Commentary:

This is a Kaladin chapter that’s actually mostly comedy. How Kaladin feels about horses is rather humorous; horse = monster is just not a standard fantasy equation. Horses are a staple of fantasy, almost as much as swords are - but here, they’re set up to be so different from every other animal that the men are actually creeped out by them. They’re just not normal.

The whole thing with the groom was worthy of a big cheesy grin. 'The Great Book of Acceptable Male and Female Activities' missed a few, such as the care and feeding of horses. Aside from the obvious class-difference issue, there’s also a double-edged gender difference to this interchange. Jenet seems to waver between defensive and condescending, for some reason. She sounds like the standard gender restrictions are galling to her, but at the same time she forgets that a darkeyed man not only can’t read, he’s even less likely than a lighteyed man to have someone who can read to him. He doesn’t even know the source of the gender distinctions, much less the details.

There is some plot progression in this chapter. Kaladin realizes the mistake he’s been making in trying to figure out who could've cut the railing, when it finally registers that a highstorm would have made a sabotaged railing really obvious, so it has to have been done after the storm was over. Then he gets whacked with the information that Moash was out on the balcony during much of that critical time. Nevertheless, Kaladin is justified in dismissing any particular suspicion of Moash; up to this point, he’s observed that Moash hates lighteyes, and especially Sadeas, but there’s nothing unusual in that.

Dalinar confirms that the bridgemen will start patrolling the lands to the west of the warcamps, and they’ll do so using horses part of the time (much to Jenet’s dismay). Also, Kaladin finally realizes what a fool he was to turn down Zahel's offer of training.

Sprenspotting:

Few spren show up here; just Syl as a small horse made of light.

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

Bridgemen and horses make for an odd combination. Between Moash wanting to “just slap it over the head with a reed, like you do a chull?”, to Natam being seriously bothered because his horse was warm rather than cool like a chull, and Kaladin in the middle worrying about the possibility that his horse might suddenly decide to take off running and he’d be unable to do anything about it ... yeah, horses are definitely foreign territory for these guys. Further, Ryshadium are really not just horses; they’re definitely something special.

Ars Arcanum:

Kaladin's trick of gluing himself to the saddle with Stormlight was indeed humorous, but not as much as Dreamstorm finally calming down, then tossing him off as soon as the Stormlight wore off. Even so, the Stormlight which Kaladin was holding completely healed his head, but ran out before it finished healing his arm.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Chanarach and Jezrien generally symbolize courage & obedience, leadership & protection. Additionally, Chana's role is that of Guard, while Jezrien’s is that of King. Might Chana be associated with Adolin in this instance or is it more likely that Kaladin is the brave and obedient one, as well as the guard on duty? It’s a toss-up whether Jezrien represents Dalinar or Kaladin.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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