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<< WoR Ch. 33: Burdens / WoR I. 5: The Rider of Storms >>
WoR Ch34


Our gods were born splinters of a soul,
Of one who seeks to take control,
Destroys all lands that he beholds, with spite.
They are his Spren, his gift, his price.
But the nightforms speak of future life,
A challenged champion. A strife even he must requite.

–From the Listener Song of Secrets, final stanza


Point of view: Shallan
Setting: Tyn's tent on The Shattered Plains

Progression of the Chapter:

Tyn and Shallan learn that Highprince Valam is dead, throwing Jah Keved into chaos. Tyn spins plans for their future together as a team of thieves; Shallan contemplates what this means for her family. Bounties for Vathah and his men emerge; Tyn insists on collecting, Shallan on keeping her word. Tyn launches into another one of her speeches on how the world works, bringing up unpleasant memories for Shallan. In the midst of this, the spanreed reports that Tyn’s mission was a success: Jasnah Kholin is dead, but her red-haired ward was named Shallan. Things fall apart; Tyn tries to kill Shallan, but is thwarted by Lightweaving. Shallan’s Shardblade claims another victim; the former bandits show up, see Shallan’s Shardblade; hero worship intensifies. While her followers search the tent, the spanreed sends Shallan another message; Shallan accepts an invitation to meet the Ghostbloods.

Quote of the Chapter:

"I can’t escape," a primal part of her thought. Panic surged within Shallan, bringing with it memories of days spent completely impotent. Her father’s increasingly destructive violence. A family falling apart.

Powerless.

"Can’t run, can’t run, can’t run ..."

"Fight."

It seems that Brandon is trying to put into the words the feeling of being triggered or of having a PTSD moment. Shallan was primed for such an episode when Tyn dropped her wine on the rug, reminding her of the blood staining the carpet when she became a murderer. To back this reading up, consider that Shallan spends the rest of the chapter in an altered state of mind, speaking viciously to Tyn’s corpse and observing her own directions to the deserters as if from outside her body.

Commentary:

So, Tyn isn’t really as great as readers possibly thought she might be. Turns out she’s maybe a hitwoman who kind of got rid of tons of people who Shallan cared for deeply, which is a snag.

Tyn's "Don’t worry, I’ll corrupt you ... " shtick is rather puerile and useless, a way for moderately-worldly but infinitely immature people to snicker at those with different standards of dignity. What bothers about Tyn is how she insists on Shallan’s weakness and unworldliness. Shallan has been through worse than Tyn could possibly imagine, and her coping strategy is to bubble over with innocence and to try to make everyone laugh. She wants to be loved because she’s known hatred, wants people smiling because she’s seen the consequence of anger. It’s not Tyn’s place to intrude on that.

The text punishes Tyn directly. Triggering a woman with a Shardblade just isn’t smart, and by trying to put Shallan away, Tyn ended up enhancing her legend with the men she’d wanted to sell out. Likely, her spine-soul gets burned out of her life-body. That’s a pretty good punishment too. Plus, Shallan wastes no time in stealing her fallen foe’s power and making it her own. Tyn’s corpse isn’t even cool by the time Shallan is taking over her network of contacts and con game style.

Stormwatch:

Same day as Chapter 31, Chapter 32 and Chapter 33.

Sprenspotting:

Pattern is a champ this week. He distracts Tyn by mimicking Jasnah and alerts the deserters that Shallan’s in danger, saving her life. We’re also reminded that, unlike many (most?) spren, Pattern can never be fully invisible. Funny that a liespren can’t fully hide.

Ars Mechanica:

Calm, Shallan told herself. Be calm!

Ten heartbeats ...

But for her, it didn’t have to be ten, did it?

Is this the first hint that Shallan’s Shardblade functions totally differently from other Shardblades? She doesn’t need to wait if she doesn’t want to, and she knows it. Like many other pieces of information, Shallan is hiding this from herself. The way the Blade shows up also seems different:

Shallan growled, thrusting her hands forward. Mist twisted and writhed in her hands as a brilliantly silver Blade formed there, spearing Tyn through the chest.

Shardblades have always been described as dropping into the hands of their Shardbearers, passively. Shallan also twists together out of mists, whereas other blades appear fully-formed.

Ars Arcanum:

She had spheres in her sleeve. As Tyn approached, Shallan breathed in sharply. Stormlight became a raging tempest inside of her and she raised her hand, thrusting out a pulse of Light. She couldn’t form it into anything - she still didn’t know how - but it seemed for a moment to show a rippling image of Shallan, standing proudly like a woman of the court.

Shallan has a long way to go before she’s a capable Lightweaver, but it’s good to see her development. At the moment her main mode seems to be self-insert fanfiction, though.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Shalash is obvious, again. She’s creative and honest, representing the conflict within Shallan over how to wed these two powers. She’s also the patron Herald of Lightweavers, and Shallan is doing her best to become one of those. Nalan? He’s been associated with assassins in a number of ways. Maybe he just likes to show up when people are being nasty.

- Paraphrased from Carl Engle-Laird[1]

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