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WoR Ch37


Now, as each order was thus matched to the nature and temperament of the Herald it named patron, there was none more archetypal of this than the Stonewards, who followed after Talenelat' Elin, Stonesinew, Herald of War: they thought it a point of virtue to exemplify resolve, strength, and dependability. Alas, they took less care for imprudent practice of their stubbornness, even in the face of proven error.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 13, page 1


Point of view: Adolin
Setting: The Pinnacle conference chamber

Progression of the Chapter:

A meeting accomplishes about what most work meetings do, which is to say, not much; Adolin has reluctantly agreed to stop wearing his Plate everywhere; worldwide news is rife with assassinations; Adolin fails to remember how he had offended yet another woman he’d once courted; he also fails to maneuver the current champion into a duel, and has to settle for his cousin; he is goaded almost beyond bearing by Relis and then Sadeas, but is prevented from doing something stupid by Amaram (of all people); Amaram appears to be the perfect general, and presents his refusal to take Dalinar's side as a step toward unity, and their differences as a matter of perspective; a gorgeous redhead is spotted, and Adolin is completely smitten.

Quote of the Chapter:

"I’ll have your throat in my hands, Sadeas," Adolin hissed. "I’ll squeeze and squeeze, then I’ll sink my dagger into your gut and twist. A quick death is too good for you."

"Tsk," Sadeas said, smiling. "Careful. It’s a full room. What if someone heard you threatening a highprince."

The Alethi way. You could abandon an ally on the battlefield, and everyone could know it - but an offense in person, well, that just wouldn’t do. Society would frown on that. Nalan’s hand! His father was right about them all.

Adolin turned in a quick motion, reversing out of Sadeas’s grip. His next moves were by instinct, his fingers balling, stepping in preparation to plant a fist in that smiling, self-satisfied face.

Adolin bears injuries from a run-in with Szeth, and Sadeas (who was conveniently distant from said run-in) is being deliberately offensive regarding Dalinar, purposely trying to either provoke or disillusion Adolin.

It’s interesting to note, though, that neither of them think of Adolin’s threat in terms of it being illegal; just that it’s not the done thing to get your own personal hands bloody. "Society would frown on that."

Commentary:

This chapter is mostly made up of Adolin’s fear and frustration. He’s understandably edgy about his complete inability to actually do anything about an assassin who can bend the laws of nature. To compound that, he’s just spent two hours listening to a bunch of Highprinces and their wives yammering futilely about 'doing something!' As if they could do anything, even if they managed to agree on a plan.

He has finally removed his Plate and now wears a normal uniform. Even so, the conference room and nearby strategic locations contain nearly every Alethi Shardbearer in the warcamps. These people are justifiably jumpy, so they do essentially the same thing Adolin was doing, even though the 'Rosharan News Network' makes it clear that no one has been able to stand against the Assassin, no matter how many Shards they had at hand.

It’s rather a relief, then, to see Adolin turning his mind to something he can do: he can proceed with the plan they had in place to acquire all the Alethi Shards. Unfortunately, even the wager of five shards against two isn’t enough to tempt Relis, the current dueling champion, into a bout. Whether it’s really because "it’s all about playing the game right" or merely because he knows there’s a good chance he’d lose, either way, Relis isn’t biting. (Yet.) Elit on the other hand, can’t resist the bait - at least in part because Adolin’s ploy with the Erraniv duel did convince some folks to underestimate him.

This is where this chapter spirals down into the sneering and goading and baiting. While Adolin is quite intelligent, he’s better at a quick comeback with a Blade than with his tongue. He’s shown his cleverness in coming up with plans and schemes to assist his father, and he’s acknowledged as a good military leader as well as a cunning duelist. But when someone gets under his skin, he just doesn’t have the snarky comeback, and it's too revealing of his inabilities when that’s used against him.

Then Sadeas shows up. At the best of times, he makes any reader irritable. At times like this, he makes the reader want to climb into the book and beat him with something large and heavy! (Adolin’s fist would do nicely.) Ironically, it’s that other misbegotten wretch, Amaram, who steps in and keeps Adolin from doing something he’d regret. Which is pretty much the only thing he does here that is in any way positive. He blithers on about how he can bridge the gap between Sadeas and Dalinar by the ways in which each agrees with him, mostly proving that he’s a complete 'slitherer'.

"Sadeas and I agree that the means we choose to reach an honorable goal are allowed to be distasteful. Your father and I agree on what that goal should be - a better Alethkar, a place without all of this squabbling. It is a matter of perspective ... ."

Yeah, but don’t talk about what purpose that "united Alethkar" should serve in the grand scheme, because guess what? The fact that you share an intermediate goal doesn’t exactly make you a trustworthy ally. Dude. I see right through you, you sleaze.

And then, Amaram can be ignored because 'Gorgeous Red Hair' enters the room, and Adolin is distracted from all the politics surrounding him. (Adolin's first reaction is to see, and like, the ways Shallan is different from all the other women he knows: coloring, figure, movement, all are different, and he finds that most intriguing.)

All it takes is for Amaram to recognize that the red hair probably indicates Veden heritage; Adolin puts two and two together and shoves his way, politely, to her side.

Stormwatch:

Same day as Words of Radiance: Chapter 31 through Words of Radiance: Chapter 36, Words of Radiance: Interlude 5 and Words of Radiance: Interlude 8.

Ars Mechanica:

Just what kind of spren is used for a fabrial clock?

Heraldic Symbolism: Nalan: Judge; Just/Confident; Vapor; Exhalation. Those might be relevant here due to Adolin's reaction to the slimy, snide, rude, and totally inappropriate comments about his father. Palah: Scholar; Learned/Giving; Lucentia; Eyes. Something to do with the Truthwatchers?

Words of Radiants:

This epigraph concerns the Stonewards and their relationship to Taln. Apparently, the Radiants in general were either assumed to have or observed to have characteristics which matched their patron Heralds. Is it sad to read that "they thought it a point of virtue to exemplify resolve, strength, and dependability." Sad, partly because the writer’s tone makes it sound like he/she found it less of a virtue than the Stonewards did, and partly because (despite the implied sneer), it was Taln’s "resolve, strength, and dependability" that singlehandedly held off the next desolation for 4500 years. Four and a half millennia of resolve, strength, and dependability is not to be scoffed at. On the other hand, it can be annoying to be around people who are proud of being too stubborn to admit they’re wrong. The thing is, "stubborn" can be annoying but "tenacious" can be admirable ... and they’re exactly the same characteristic. It’s all a matter of perspective.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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