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<< WoR Ch. 48: No More Weakness / WoR Ch. 50: Uncut Gems >>
WoR Ch49


These Lightweavers, by no coincidence, included many who pursued the arts; namely: writers, artists, musicians, painters, sculptors. Considering the order's general temperament, the tales of their strange and varied mnemonic abilities may have been embellished.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 21, page 10

Point of view: Shallan
Setting: The Kholin warcamp, the Shattered Plains

Progression of the Chapter:

Shallan meets Adolin for their first date, and freaks out realizing that they’re supposed to sit and drink and watch the approach of the highstorm; she is repeatedly dazzled by his smile, his hair, his cologne, his laugh, his eyes; her efforts to play the appropriate part in the courtship game are derailed by her innate curiosity; Adolin responds to her accidental candidness by also becoming more genuine; bodily functions and Shardplate make for an embarrassing mix; everything about the conversation goes askew; the possibility of chasmfiend ranching arises; Shallan takes the excuse to segue into her desire to get out onto the Shattered Plains; Adolin explains current affairs; the Highstorm approaches, and Shallan finds herself mesmerized instead of terrified; they finally duck into shelter with a wasted six-second lead before the storm hits; Shallan retires to the women’s sitting room.

Quote of the Chapter:

"Well," Adolin said, "if you must know, an old adage on the battlefield teaches that it’s better to be embarrassed than dead. You can’t let anything draw your attention from fighting."

"So ... "

"So yes, I, Adolin Kholin - cousin to the king, heir to the Kholin princedom - have shat myself in my Shardplate. Three times, all on purpose." He downed the rest of his wine. "You are a very strange woman."

Commentary:

The thing most compelling in this chapter was a development in Adolin’s character. Prior to this, his character has been seen through the eyes of Kaladin and Dalinar. Adolin's PoVs have primarily focused on either his father or a battle. While this evinces the reader his love, and respect for Dalinar, and is a superb perspective for a battle/duel scene, there’s not a lot about his actual motivation. The primary exception is that seen from the inside that he is intensely loyal, particularly to his father and brother.

So far, the mostly-external perspective of Adolin as a self-confident, even arrogant, Prince is evident; a fighter and duelist preoccupied with fashionable appearances and social acceptability. He’s not one to follow the more stupid versions of "vanity-before-sanity" fashions, but he has a good sense of style and he does the things appropriate to his station in Alethi society. Dalinar thinks of him with great affection, but considers him somewhat hot-headed and overly concerned with the opinions of others; Kaladin merely thinks him spoiled, arrogant, and shallow. In either case, he's not a man of particular depth.

In this chapter, everything for Adolin changes (except that it’s from someone else’s PoV again). At the beginning of the chapter, both he and Shallan are trying to be "proper" about their courtship. The theme is repeated again and again (i.e., the fashion folio, oversized so as not to be mistaken for a woman’s book; references to things they’re "supposed to do.") Act refined, because Adolin will expect sophistication. Act poised, elegant. This winehouse is the latest fad. Courting advice: "get him to talk about himself."

"He looked at her, expectant." " ... feeling as if she were filling an expected role." " ... dutifully looking at him with widened eyes." "He paused ... . " " ... what she hoped was a breathy, adoring voice." "He paused again. She was probably supposed to ask what happened next."

And then it all breaks loose.

"What if you need to poop?" she asked instead.'

He didn’t really care all that much about fashion, and fads, and all the social expectations. He just did what was expected of him (even if it was getting boring), because he had nothing else of great interest to do, no particular desire to rebel, and not much to rebel against anyway. He created an appropriate persona that more or less fit his interests and was suitable for his station, and lived in that persona, acting the part, dutifully following the script ... until Shallan came and knocked him sideways.

"Do you know how many times I’ve told that story about saving the plateau run?"

"I’m sure you were quite brave."

"Quite."

"Though probably not as brave as the poor men who have to clean your armor."

Adolin bellowed out a laugh. For the first time it seemed like something genuine - an emotion from him that wasn’t scripted or expected. He pounded his fist on the table, then waved for more wine, wiping a tear from his eye. The grin he gave her threatened to bring on another blush.

Suddenly, they are in a real conversation. They talk about chasmfiends, and the possible result of the continued hunts; he outright acknowledges that he’s not as dense as he pretends to be. They talk about the Parshendi, and his dueling; she admits that she is terribly ignorant of the politics, because all the information she had from Jasnah was badly outdated. She asks him to tell her some of what is going on ... .

He tells her the whole story: Dalinar's visions, the betrayal by Sadeas, their salvation by the bridge crew, his current quest to win as many Shardblades as possible through dueling. Letting it all out seems to lift a weight from him, and she finds herself wanting desperately to help him. They have each been bearing burdens, for their families and for the world, and they have been acting the parts given them. Finally, here in this unlikely betrothal, they have each discovered a fitting partner: they’ve found someone to laugh with, to relax with; someone with whom they can be open, honest, natural; someone who brings out the best in each of them.

Stormwatch:

This is the same day as Chapter 47. However, there is the stormwall.

A huge sheet of water and debris blown before the storm. In places, it flashed with light from behind, revealing movement and shadows within. Like the skeleton of a hand when light illuminated the flesh, there was something inside this wall of destruction.
Life. Something lived inside that storm, something that no artist had ever drawn, no scholar had ever described.

Sprenspotting:

In conjunction with the aforementioned Stormwatch ...

Windspren zipped in tiny rivers of light overhead.

Pattern is nowhere to be seen - even by Shallan - during their conversation, though she hears him humming as the storm approaches.

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

This was an intriguing excursion into the biology of local fauna. Shallan postulates that chasmfiends, rather than being hunted as they’d always been, are now being essentially harvested, resulting in a decrease in the overall population. Oddly, rather than suggesting that they should stop, she instead draws the conclusion that perhaps the greatshells could be raised like chulls, breeding them and harvesting the gemhearts in entire batches.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Paliah and Chanarach preside over this chapter; the scholar and the guard - or learned/giving and brave/obedient. Why? Because Shallan goes all biology-teacher on Adolin, and his bravery in battle - or perhaps that of his armorers?

Words of Radiants:

This phrase is from the same page as the epigraph of Chapter 47. The tone of this one, combined with what is known of Shallan's own "strange ... mnemonic abilities," leads the reader to think that the narrator may not be completely unbiased.

Shipping Wars:

Shallan and Adolin. Enough said.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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