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<< WoR Ch. 30: Nature Blushing / WoR Ch. 32: The One Who Hates >>
WoR Ch31


Smokeform for hiding and slipping 'tween men.
A form of power - like Surges of spren.
Do we dare to wear this form again? It spies.
Crafted of gods, this form we fear.
By Unmade touch its curse to bear,
Formed from shadow - and death is near. It lies.

–From the Listener Song of Secrets, 51st stanza


Point of view: Kaladin, Shallan
Setting: Bridge Four's barracks, the caravan

Progression of the Chapter:

An epigraph is ominous; a patrol is cheered, resentment is overcome, stew is eaten: Teft has succeeded! A strange Ardent is shooed away; Kaladin unknowingly senses the highstorm's approach; Shallan learns sleight-of-hand tricks, and is wryly commended not to use colorful metaphors whose meanings are unknown to her; firemoss makes an appearance smoke; Tyn outlines her plans for corrupting Shallan, and again assumes that the resulting blushes are proof of an easy, sheltered life; the warcamps are sighted; Tyn grants a few trickles of information about events in the wider world; and the caravan camps for one last night, awaiting the highstorm.

Quote of the Chapter:

"Back when we were bridgemen." Pitt raised a hand to his head. "Storms, that seems like a different life. I couldn’t think rightly during those times. It’s all hazy. But I remember being glad when your crew was sent out instead of mine. I remember hoping you’d fail, since you dared to walk with your chin up ... I - ."

"It’s all right, Pitt," Kaladin said. "It wasn’t your fault. You can blame Sadeas."

"I suppose." Pitt got a distant look on his face. "He broke us right good, didn’t he, sir?"

"Yes."

"Turns out, though, men can be reforged. I wouldn’t have thought that." Pitt looked over his shoulder. "I’m going to have to go do this for the other lads of Bridge Seventeen, aren’t I?"

"With Teft’s help, yes, but that’s the hope," Kaladin said. "Do you think you can do it?"

"I’ll just have to pretend to be you, sir," Pitt said. He smiled, then moved on, taking a bowl of stew and joining the others.

Commentary:

This chapter has so many little things in it. Nothing really big happens - just lots of small stuff. Loose ends, light references, small set-ups ... so this commentary will probably be the same. Part two is nearly complete and this chapter sets the first few stones rolling.

To begin, back in Chapter 2, Teft was tasked with finding forty men, the best he could find, who could be trained as leaders for the twenty squads of former bridgemen. No one was optimistic about it, but it had to be done, so he did it. Six Rosharan weeks later - thirty days - and he’s done it. Because he’s just that good. Also, Teft seems to have disappeared on this particular evening ... .

Completely unrelated to anything else, a couple of celestial phenomena are noted: Taln's Scar, which is apparently a swath of red stars, and Reya's Tear. Taln is known; it seems reasonable that a cluster of red stars would be named for the Herald who was most prone to death-or-glory battles. Reya, on the other hand, is a complete unknown. Opinion has it that Reya was an important female; belief has it that she was not Cultivation's holder. But she shed a very famous tear, so the brightest star in the night sky is named for it. One wonders, of course, if this is simply one of the other planets in the system, and if there is some connection between Reya and that planet ... but we don’t know yet.

And Kaladin can sense something, mostly a feeling of the air being "too something," which he finally attributes to the approaching highstorm. Does he ever get that sense again before a highstorm, or is there something special about this one?

Meanwhile, Shallan is busy learning to be a con woman, of a sort: she’s trying to swap spheres without making any noise. Does she ever uses this skill later on? Tyn, of course, is working on various ways to use, abuse, and corrupt Shallan, which is not at all amusing.

Here’s what really rankles about Tyn: she assumes that anyone with actual standards must be hopelessly naïve, foolish, inexperienced, and sheltered. As such, from her angle, they are suitable targets for mockery and for either dismissal or corruption, and that it’s entirely her right to go ahead with that corruption if she happens to feel like it. As if she’s somehow doing them a favor by smearing them with her own level of filth. Tyn says things like, “Dear, I’m going to do my very best to corrupt you,” and feels herself vindicated in doing so. Shallan already carries enough guilt for what she’s actually done; she doesn’t need a bunch of petty muck hung around her neck, dragging her down and compromising all the values she has left.

Was Tyn being clever or just petty with the whole "I know something about your country you don’t know" business? Perhaps both; she doles out a lot of dribs and drabs that, for all their surface consequence, turn out to be part of a much, much deeper game than she realizes. The chaos in Jah Keved isn’t just random assassination and petty bickering; it’s all been orchestrated for reasons of Cosmere-level significance, even though the one orchestrating it doesn’t understand the real level of importance.

Sprenspotting:

The only mention of spren is this one:

Some of the stars moved - starspren, nothing to be surprised by ...

Starspren have been described elsewhere as forming patterns between the earth and the clouds (which in that scene were blocking the stars). Starspren, that move around in the night sky. Maybe, like stars, they move around all the time but they can only be seen at night, or maybe they only come out to play at night. It would be cool if they’re the counterpart to highspren as (it has been theorized) windspren are to honorspren and creationspren to Cryptics.

Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?:

He did catch Rock shooing away a lanky man in an ardent’s robe.

"What was that?" Kaladin asked, catching the Horneater as he passed.

"That one," Rock said. "Keeps loitering here with sketchbook. Wants to draw bridgemen. Ha! Because we are famous, you see."

Kaladin frowned. Strange actions for an ardent - but, then, all ardents were strange, to an extent.

This has indeed been confirmed to be Nazh! So this is how he got the drawings he sent to Khriss; the next question is ... why did she want them? What importance is there to the tattoos of a bunch of former slaves-cum-bridgemen-cum-soldiers?

Heraldic Symbolism:

So, here are Vedel and Ishar. Vedel is usually associated with Healing in some way, or with clarity of vision. Perhaps her presence is due to the healing that’s been happening with the bridgemen. Ishar ... ? Pious/guiding, Priest, sinew, Bondsmiths. Maybe the ardent, Nazh?

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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