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WoR Ch41


This act of great villainy went beyond the impudence which had hitherto been ascribed to the orders; as the fighting was particularly intense at this time, many attributed this act to a sense of inherent betrayal; and after they withdrew, about two thousand made assault upon them, destroying much of the membership; but this was only nine of the ten, as one said they would not abandon their arms and flee, but instead entertained great subterfuge at the expense of the other nine.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 38, page 20


Point of view: Kaladin
Setting: The chasms of the Shattered Plains

Progression of the Chapter:

Kaladin finds the chasms homey; Bridge Seventeen begins chasm training; Syl challenges Kaladin to reconsider his purpose; he keeps his boots dry; Sigzil, Rock, and Lopen ask questions; Kaladin falls flat on his back; Syl is charmingly impertinent and gives Sigzil the fantods; the men discuss the severed-railing event; Kaladin performs a Basic Lashing; he figures out his "purpose," then falls off the wall, but only gets a soft clap from Rock because it didn’t include falling on his face; they return to discussing the railing, and Kaladin begins to see the truth; Renarin seeks to join Bridge Four; Kaladin knows a little too much about epilepsy for "field medicine" purposes; Moash drops a few more hints that all is not well with him; the lieutenants go out for the evening; Kaladin is far too dismissive of Syl.

Quote of the Chapter:

Lopen and Rock whooped below in excitement. Kaladin stared outward at the blue sky. "I have to know," he whispered.

"Know?"

"You ask me why I protect Dalinar. I have to know if he really is what he seems, Syl. I have to know if one of them lives up to his reputation. That will tell me - "

"Tell you?" she asked, becoming the image of a full-size young woman standing on the wall before him. She was nearly as tall as he was, her dress fading to mist. "Tell you what?"

"If honor is dead," Kaladin whispered.

"He is," Syl said. "But he lives on in men. And in me."

Kaladin goes on to promise that if Dalinar really is who he seems to be, he will get his Knights Radiant; Kaladin will reveal what he can do and trust him to somehow not take it away.

Commentary:

This chapter covers a lot of ground, including some vertical runs.

Kaladin’s bridgeman training project enters phase two: having trained the sergeants, it’s now time to start training the units. Into the chasms with them! It works, because it somehow makes the Bridgeman see themselves as a unit, rather than a bunch of individual grunts. Right up front, Kaladin’s thoughts reveal that while some of them were purchased as slaves specifically for the bridge crews, plenty of them had been soldiers who broke some rule or other and got sentenced to bridge duty for it. Training, then, is not so much a matter of learning basic skills, but retraining the mind to be a responsible member of a cohesive unit.

Of course, the real news of the chapter is that Kaladin finally, consciously, deliberately performs a Basic Lashing (and only falls three times in the process). He also sees Shadesmar here, but doesn’t enter it; he only just gets a faint look at it, but that momentary connection with the Cognitive gives him the last little zip needed to make it work. He runs up the side of the chasm.

Sadly, he spoils his own moment with his suspicion, his mistrust, and his unconscionably arrogant and dismissive attitude toward Syl.

Renarin's desire to join Bridge Four, and Kaladin’s decision to let him, is a good thing.

"I will obey your commands," Renarin said. "Treat me like a new recruit. When I’m here, I’m not a prince’s son, I’m not a lighteyes. I’m just another soldier. Please. I want to be part of it. When Adolin was young, my father made him serve in a spearman squad for two months."

"He did?" Kaladin asked, genuinely surprised.

"Father said every officer should serve in the shoes of his men," Renarin said. "I have Shards now. I’m going to be in war, but I’ve never felt what it’s like to really be a soldier. I think this is the closest I’ll be able to get. Please."

Kaladin folded his arms, looking the youth over. Renarin looked anxious. Very anxious. He’d formed his hands to fists, though Kaladin could see no sign of the box Renarin often fiddled with when nervous. He’d begun breathing deeply, but had set his jaw, and kept his eyes forward.

Coming to see Kaladin, to ask this of him, terrified the young man for some reason. He’d done it anyway. Could one ask anything more of a recruit?

There’s a lot of juiciness here, but the last part is a curiosity. Why was Renarin so terrified of asking Kaladin if he could join Bridge Four? And what was the impetus that drove him to do so despite his fear? It’s these little glimpses of a sensitive soul and an amazing self-control that truly builds respect for Renarin in this book.

For the first time in forever, Kaladin sets aside his anti-lighteyes fervor and considers this young man as an actual human being. Moash ...

"He doesn’t act right, Kal. The way he talks, the way he looks at people. He’s strange."

Stormwatch:

Same day as Chapters 31-38, 40 and Interludes 5 and 8.

Sprenspotting:

Syl executes all manner of activity in this chapter. She pokes Kaladin in the neck to get his attention, she takes the form of a fully sized woman to confront Kaladin; she allows Sigzil to see her, and then makes her face look exactly like his ... amongst other activities. She also dances with a flamespren for some reason. Regarding other spren, though, there’s this:

He passed piles of bones and wood, overgrown with moss. On one pile, rotspren and lifespren spun about one another, little motes of red and green glowing around the vines that sprouted incongruously from the mass of death.

Just what might this look like in the Cognitive Realm?.

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

Kurls, crabs, tortoises, chasmfiends. Kurls apparently assign the job of protecting the eggs to the male of the species, and look like a cross between a crab and a tortoise - incidentally implying they have crabs and tortoises on Roshar. Just to prove it, Rock picks up a crab for a snack.

As for the chasmfiend ... well, its not seen in this chapter, but there is unequivocal evidence that it has been through here very recently.

Heraldic Symbolism:

The Heralds are obvious: Jezrien reflects the Windrunning Kaladin finally achieves, along with the leading and protecting functions he maintains. Vedel, as she did in The Way of Kings, almost always graces any chapter which references Kaladin’s early training with his father; in this case, the discussion of Renarin’s supposed epilepsy.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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