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WoR Ch44


But as for the Bondsmiths, they had members only three, which number was not uncommon for them; nor did they seek to increase this by great bounds, for during the times of Madasa, only one of their order was in continual accompaniment of Urithiru and its thrones. Their spren was understood to be specific, and to persuade them to grow to the magnitude of the other orders was seen as seditious.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 16, page 14


Point of view: Kaladin
Setting: Dalinar's warcamp

Progression of the Chapter:

Kaladin feels out of place; Zahel uses colorful metaphors and stones; Renarin eats lunch; Shardblade training begins for some members of Bridge Four, including Moash, Teft and Yake; Adolin gives his implicit approval. Shallan shows up on the training ground; Kaladin and Adolin get into a verbal sparring match, resulting in a draw; Shallan offhandedly bests them both and wanders off to sketch, but not before berating Sister Nall for her sketches of royal Shardplate and Shardblades. Adolin has his arrogance handed to him on a platter and seems to enjoy it; Kaladin is baffled. Moash reveals his bitter backstory and reluctantly agrees to back off his involvement with the assassins if Kaladin will agree to meet with them once. Kaladin attempts to return to practice, but mostly stews about unfathomable questions of life, society and theology; he learns what a lastclap is and why not to practice it.

Quote of the Chapter:

"What is she doing here?" Kaladin asked.

"Come to watch me while I spar, presumably," Adolin said. "I usually have to kick them out."

"Them?"

"You know. Girls who want to gawk at me while I fight. I wouldn’t mind, but if we allowed it, they’d clog the entire grounds every time I came. Nobody would be able to get any sparring done."

Kaladin raised an eyebrow at him.

[ ... ] (This bit left out is Adolin catching himself explaining to Kaladin why he let himself get betrothed to someone he’d never met.)

Adolin reached Shallan, who - humming to herself - passed him right by without looking. Adolin raised a hand, mouth opened to speak, as he turned and watched her walk farther across the courtyard. Her eyes were on Nall, head ardent of the practice grounds. Shallan bowed to her in reverence.

Adolin scowled, turning to jog after Shallan, passing Kaladin, who smirked at him.

"Come to watch you, I see," Kaladin said. "Completely fascinated by you, obviously."

"Shut up," Adolin growled.

Commentary:

Lots of interesting tidbits in this chapter.

First, a demonstration of just how much difference being an Ardent makes in Vorin gender expectations; Zahel turns Kaladin and his men over to another Ardent, Ivis, to go through sword forms and sparring moves and Ivis is a woman. She keeps her hand gloved, but beyond that she simply wears the standard Ardent's flowing clothing and shaved head, and she’s apparently quite well versed in sword-fighting, up to and including Shardblade-fighting. Kaladin thinks it’s odd to see a woman holding a sword, but no one else seems to notice or care; she’s an Ardent, and this is her task, so it’s all cool.

Once he gets over thinking about a woman with a sword, Kaladin finally manages to learn something. He may not like swords, but he does realize that practicing with them and learning the stances will still help when he has to fight someone who is using a sword, no matter what weapon he himself is carrying. Seems obvious, but maybe it isn’t ... or Kaladin needs to practice getting over himself so he can learn other things, too!

Then, Shallan shows up.

At this point, Kaladin can see Ivis as a female ardent, but Shallan is just a lighteyes. Period. Kaladin really has a blind spot with Shallan though; it doesn’t even occur to him, until Teft points it out, that Shallan is perfectly positioned to be a most effective assassin.

Another tidbit: Moash’s grandparents were of the second nahn, which is coincidentally the same as Lirin and Kaladin. Was Moash himself also second nahn? However, since he wasn’t actually apprenticed to his grandparents, only Kaladin had the second nahn ranking because he was the surgeon’s apprentice. Tien was third nahn. Moash might also have been third, and that’s a stable rank.

Stormwatch:

It’s the next day, finally! A whole new day!

Sprenspotting:

The much-debated gloryspren fades into existence near Moash’s head when he first picks up the Shardblade. In this instance, it seems drawn to his feelings of elation at actually doing something he had dreamed of, and never imagined he’d ever be allowed to do.

Once again, Syl and Kaladin are talking at cross-purposes and not making much progress. She doesn’t ask Kaladin not to pick up the Blade, but she does thank him for not doing so. She seems to agree with the men who are giving Kaladin a hard time about taking himself and his job too seriously, but then she’s distracted at the wrong time.

Kaladin sighed, turning to grab his sword, and came face-to-face with Syl hovering behind him. Her tiny eyes had gone wide, hands as fists to her sides.

"What did you just do?" she demanded. "I only heard the last part."

"Moash was involved," Kaladin whispered. "I need to follow this through, Syl. If someone is trying to kill the king, it’s my job to investigate them."

"Oh." She frowned. "I felt something. Something else." She shook her head. "Kaladin, this is dangerous. We should go to Dalinar."

Just what did Syl feel? Kaladin agreeing to meet with Moash’s associates? His impulse to tell Dalinar about Moash? His feeling of defeat when he had to decide which course was right, and decided that Bridge Four loyalty was more important than telling his superior officer the truth?

The worst part comes next, when he gets wound around the axle on the conflicts between social expectations and pseudo-theological contradictions, cycling around to the central conflict of his own life - whether it’s possible to kill in order to protect, or whether it’s possible to protect without killing, and what is the right thing to do. The more he thrashes around in this mess, the more miserable he makes both himself and Syl. He excels at creating false dichotomies, and also at refusing to listen to Syl when she says things he doesn’t want to hear.

Haven't we met somewhere before?:

Zahel is mostly disgusted that Vorin society has built-in restrictions on who can learn sword-fighting based on their birth. Unlike Vorin tradition, Zahel considers a sword, however valuable, to be just a tool. Did he always feel that way?

Heraldic Symbolism:

Chach, as the Guard, makes perfect sense for this chapter’s general content, which focuses on the preparation of Kaladin and his men to best guard Dalinar and his family. Nalan, as the Judge, makes sense for the conversations between Moash and Kaladin and between Kaladin and Syl, and reflects the chapter title as well. What’s most interesting is the conflict between the two; Moash’s attitude toward Elhokar is set as a blatant parallel to Kaladin’s attitude toward Amaram, and Kaladin claims that killing Amaram would be "one form of justice." Moash brushes it off, claiming that their job - as Honor guard - is only to keep Dalinar alive, but Kaladin knows perfectly well that their job is to protect Dalinar, and Elhokar, and Adolin, and Renarin, and Navani ... and so the Heralds clash.

This one sparks as many questions as it solves. Typical. There were traditionally very few Bondsmiths, and that apparently at least one Bondsmith was generally in Urithiru during the old days. Were all the Bondsmiths bonded to the Stormfather, or was each individual bonded to a different superspren? In theory, all of them were bonded to the Stormfather:

Their spren was understood to be specific ... .

Just who was Madasa?

Shipping Wars:

Adolin and Shallan! She throws him for a loop doing what he expects, but then, not what he expects, and he loves it. Shallan simply can’t behave like a proper Vorin lady, and that very difference is what repeatedly takes Adolin off guard and makes him see her as a real, and very interesting, person.

Just Sayin':

Their eyes followed that Blade as they’d follow a gorgeous woman taking off her glove.

Aside from an obviously darkeyes mentality, because Lighteyes|lighteyes]] would be appalled at her wearing a glove in the first place, this is ... ?

There are a couple of those Herald curses: "Kelek's breath" and "Nalan's hand" - and is there supposed to be any significance about the Herald and the breath/hand/eye?

Then, of course, there’s "You've got red on your ears" - which isn’t actually a Rosharan saying; it’s apparently Nalthean. This indicates a person with something to prove, spoiling for a fight, angry at everything and everyone. Even though Zahel was speaking specifically to Kaladin, Moash was the one who said, "Can you blame us?"

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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