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WoR Ch36


And when they were spoken of by the common folk, the Releasers claimed to be misjudged because of the dreadful nature of their power; and when they dealt with others, always were they firm in their claim that other epithets, notably "Dustbringers," often heard in the common speech, were unacceptable substitutions, in particular for their similarity to the word "Voidbringers." They did also exercise anger in great prejudice regarding it, though to many who speak, there was little difference between these two assemblies.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 17, page 11


Point of view: Shallan
Setting: The Shattered Plains

Progression of the Chapter:

Shallan is a new woman; Pattern proves an adept lockpick; the caravan owner bids a dour farewell to Shallan and her men, which Shallan returns with relief; Shallan, feeling moderately skanky, enters the warcamps on the backs of parshmen; a mental list of her tasks is daunting; she discovers that in spite of everything, she still respects Tyn's opinions; something is wrong in the warcamps: there are too many patrols out; Shallan is determined not to be set aside or ignored anymore; sketches prove useful in this regard; she enters the Pinnacle accompanied by Vathah and Gaz; at the top she meets the captain of Dalinar's guards, who does not believe that she is really Adolin's causal-betrothed; Gaz is apprehended by the bridgeman-guards; Shallan and Kaladin both lose their tempers and behave childishly; she is finally allowed into the conference chamber.

Quote of the Chapter:

"Take me to the king, then," Shallan said.

Vathah raised an eyebrow at her. The king of Alethkar was arguably the most powerful man in the world. "You aren’t going to kill him, are you?" Vathah asked softly, leaning down.

"What?"

"I figure it’s one reason a woman would have ... you know." He didn’t meet her eyes. "Get close, summon the thing, have it through a man’s chest before anyone knows what happened."

"I'm not going to kill your king," she said, amused.

"Wouldn't care if you did," Vathah said softly. "Almost hope you would. He's a child wearing his father's clothes, that one is. Everything's gotten worse for Alethkar since he took the throne. But my men, we'd have a hard time getting away if you did something like that. Hard times indeed."

"I will keep my promise."

He nodded, and she let the drapes fall back down over the palanquin window. Stormfather. Give a woman a Shardblade, get her close ... Had anyone ever tried that? They must have, though thinking about it made her sick.

The thought of setting out with that Blade to assassinate someone is repugnant to Shallan. Perhaps it also reflects her sheltered Vorin traditions, where killing people is men’s work. But Vathah is as Vorin as Shallan, and it certainly occurred to him. Then again, he’s more experienced and less law-abiding than she is, at this stage of life.

Commentary:

Shallan is certainly a new woman in some ways. She’s always had a certain practicality, but it’s hardened a bit here. She needs to present herself to Dalinar, Navani and Adolin in a way that will enable her to proceed with her research, and that’s not going to happen wearing rags and tatters ... so she appropriates the belongings of the woman she killed the night before. (Tyn no longer needs her dresses or her makeup.)

Vathah is proving his worth this morning. He really had a complete change of heart when Shallan killed Tyn. He steps up and takes charge of general stuff-that-needs-doing, and comes to Shallan with the stuff with which she’s in a better position to deal, like the burned bones of Tyn and her crew. His insights as a soldier, along with an apparently cast-iron stomach, prepare Shallan - to some extent - for what they find in the warcamps.

Which is ... not exactly chaos, but not exactly confidence and orderliness, either. Two assassins were dealt with in the immediate aftermath of the previous night’s storms; Tyn is dead, but Szeth is still out there somewhere, and the warcamps are nervous. Too many soldiers around, too many patrols ... and Shallan gets to meet Dalinar (and Navani, and Adolin) in the middle of a meeting with too many Highprinces.

First, of course, she’s got to get to Dalinar, which means getting past the Captain of his guard. While Shallan feels a certain need to get the upper hand here (and she really did need those boots) she becomes somewhat irritating in this scene. A brief word of apology, a brief explanation of her need, and a brief promise to replace them would've gone a long way here.

Kaladin got the better of this argument, no matter what either he or Shallan thought at the time. (He certainly got the best one-liner.) But Shallan knew she had the credentials to get in; she could have been at least a little bit gracious about it.

Stormwatch:

This is still the morning after the night of the Highstorm when Eshonai took stormform and the Assassin tried to kill Dalinar, and Kaladin frightened Szeth off with his Surgebinding and Shallan killed Tyn and scared the living daylights out of her men by having a Shardblade. So, a whole lot of stuff happened in just one night. (Chapters 31-34 plus Interludes 5 and 8 all happened on the same day/night.)

Sprenspotting:

Pattern isn't being very forthcoming with advice. Then again, he did well with opening the lock on that trunk. While his communication skills need some work, his assistance with that sketching is pretty awesome.

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

Bye, Macob's chulls.

Ars Arcanum:

The effect of Shallan’s Lightweaving isn't seen in this chapter, but the work of it is seen:

... the crinkled sketch of Bluth as she’d imagined him. A hero instead of a slaver.

"Mmmmm ... " Pattern said from the seat beside her.

"This picture is a lie," Shallan said.

"Yes."

"And yet it isn’t. This is what he became, at the end. To a small degree."

"Yes."

"So what is the lie, and what is the truth?"

Pattern hummed softly to himself, like a contented axehound before the hearth.

As she works feverishly, drawing quickly in a jolting palanquin, Shallan defines what she needs to be today:

It depicted Shallan as a confident young woman standing before Dalinar Kholin, as she imagined him. She’d put him in Shardplate as he, and those around him, studied Shallan with penetrating consternation. She stood strong, hand raised toward them as she spoke with confidence and power. No trembling here. No fear of confrontation.

This is what I would have been, Shallan thought, if I had not been raised in a household of fear. So this is what I will be today.

It wasn’t a lie. It was a different truth.

It’s not exactly the girl she’s been shaped into by her peculiar experiences, but it’s all there within her personality, and the Lightweaving draws out that potential.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Shalash is pretty obvious, being Shallan’s patron Herald, and with the references to Illusion. Chach might be here in her role as Guard, for Kaladin playing Captain of the Guard, and trying to guard Dalinar from opportunists like this 'fake Horneater princess'. Plus, the epigraph for this chapter focuses on Chach’s Order of Radiants, the Dustbringers/Releasers.

Words of Radiants:

Chapter 36 offers a juicy morsel about the Dustbringers: their preferred identification is as Releasers. (In The Way of Kings: Prelude, Kalak thought of them as Dustbringers; his Willshapers are directly opposite them on the map. Might there frequently be conflict between Heralds, Orders, and spren when they’re opposites?)

The common people found them terrible, and maybe as bad as Voidbringers. Their Surges are Division and Abrasion, which do seem like they’d have serious destructive potential, and they can make stone burn (or at least smolder) according to the Prelude.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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