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WoR Ch59


I'll address this letter to my "old friend," as I have no idea what name you're using currently.


Point of view: Kaladin
Setting: Kholin warcamp prison

Progression of the Chapter:

Kaladin complains about his too-nice prison cell; he hears a lot of unintelligible shouting down the hall; he considers trying to draw Stormlight from the lamp outside his cell; he also considers the possibility of breaking out; he argues with Syl about Dalinar, Elhokar, and Syl’s statement that it would be different this time; Wit makes snarky remarks from a bench outside the cell; Kaladin is surly about it; Wit begins playing his strange musical instrument, asking Kaladin what he sees; Kaladin finally responds, and Wit builds the story of Fleet around Kaladin’s responses; the interpretation is unclear; Wit leaves.

Quote of the Chapter:

"Dalinar can go rot. He let this happen."

"He tried to - "

"He let it happen!" Kaladin snapped, turning and slamming his hands against the bars. Another storming cage. He was right back where he’d begun! "He’s the same as the others," Kaladin growled.

Syl zipped over to him, coming to rest between the bars, hands on hips. "Say that again."

"He ... " Kaladin turned away. Lying to her was hard. "All right, fine. He’s not. But the king is. Admit it, Syl. Elhokar is a terrible king. At first he lauded me for trying to protect him. Now, at the snap of his fingers, he’s willing to execute me. He’s a child."

"Kaladin, you’re scaring me."

"Am I? You told me to trust you, Syl. When I jumped down into the arena, you said this time things would be different. How is this different?"

She looked away, seeming suddenly very small.

"Even Dalinar admitted that the king had made a big mistake in letting Sadeas wiggle out of the challenge," Kaladin said. "Moash and his friends are right. This kingdom would be better off without Elhokar."

Syl dropped to the floor, head bowed.

It's impossible, now, not to see the beginnings of the broken bond in this argument.

Kaladin keeps blaming everyone else - especially Syl - for the results of his impetuous behavior. Sure, Elhokar did something stupid. But Kaladin did something stupid first, setting up the situation. It's time he admits his own culpability.

Why doesn’t Syl point this out to him? Does she not see it? Or is she not allowed?

Commentary:

Here sits Kaladin, sulking in his cell, convinced that everything is someone else’s fault - the lighteyes, the king, the spren, anyone but himself. He’s a bitter man, and that bitterness is already beginning to work its way out in all manner of downward-spiraling ways. It’s not only making him miserable, it’s making Syl miserable, and it’s eating away at their bond. He’s letting it interfere with the truths he knows about Dalinar, and blocking his ability to see new truth as it is presented. It's surprising that Wit manages to get through to him at all, in this state.

Wit goads Kaladin into making suggestions about the story: he plays his stringed instrument and waits for Kaladin to tell him what the music provokes in his imagination. Each time Kaladin makes a statement, Wit turns it into a versified chant, expanding on it and explaining the background for the suggestion, never actually going beyond what Kaladin said. Then he waits until Kaladin moves the story forward again. So in large part, it’s a story about Kaladin, or at least about Kaladin’s frame of mind.

Essentially, it’s a story about a legendary runner named Fleet, who could outrun anything, even the Herald Chanarach. Eventually, with no one left to challenge, he challenged the highstorm itself, running before the storm across the entire continent. It almost caught him in the central mountains, but then he reached the divide and gained ground. Again, it almost caught him in the mountains guarding Shinovar, but he managed to stay ahead of it, if only just. His strength finally failed and he collapsed ... but the storm was spent as well, and could not pass the point where he fell.

Even though it was (in one sense) his own bad-tempered statement that ended the story there, Kaladin is shocked that Wit agrees with him, that Fleet died. But ... the story isn’t over.

"Upon that land of dirt and soil," Wit shouted, "our hero fell and did not stir! His body spent, his strength undone, Fleet the hero was no more.

"The storm approached and found him there. It stilled and stopped upon its course! The rains they fell, the winds they blew, but forward they could not progress.

"For glory lit, and life alive, for goals unreached and aims to strive. All men must try, the wind did see. It is the test, it is the dream."

Kaladin stepped slowly up to the bars. Even with eyes open, he could see it. Imagine it.

"So in that land of dirt and soil, our hero stopped the storm itself. And while the rain came down like tears, our Fleet refused to end this race. His body dead, but not his will, within those winds his soul did rise.

"It flew upon the day’s last song, to win the race and claim the dawn. Past the sea and past the waves, our Fleet no longer lost his breath. Forever strong, forever fast, forever free to race the wind."

Kaladin (and perhaps the reader) is left wondering what it means, because stories have meaning. But when he asks Wit, the answer is merely that since it’s Kaladin’s story, he must decide what it meant.

"The storm caught him," Kaladin said.

"The storm catches everyone, eventually. Does it matter?"

"I don’t know."

"Good." Wit tipped his sword up toward his forehead, as if in respect. "Then you have something to think about."

He left.

It’s an amazing story for a developing Windrunner, one who can indeed race the wind and win (as long as he doesn’t run out of Stormlight). Sadly, Kaladin is too lost in his own personal frustrations to see the connection, and there's no evidence he actually spent any time thinking further about it.

Stormwatch:

This chapter takes place on Kaladin’s third day in prison - the first being the day of the duel - so there are now 26 days left in the countdown.

Sprenspotting:

Watching Syl droop in this chapter is painful, especially now that it's known where this attitude of Kaladin’s is leading.

There are a couple of other interesting notes, though. Part of Kaladin’s complaint about his cell was the lack of exposure; he missed the wind. The solitude wasn’t an issue, the lack of wind was. Is this significant of his connection to windspren or through his honorspren? Or is it just a general lack-of-fresh-air problem?

Another was this one:

She lifted her chin. "I’m no highspren. Laws don’t matter; what's right matters."

Highspren have been confirmed as the Skybreaker-spren; this highlights a major difference between honorspren highspren ... and therefore, between Windrunners and Skybreakers. There is sometimes a distinction between what is legal and what is moral; there is even, sometimes, a case where moral conduct requires opposition to an unjust law. Roshar seems to have plenty of these cases, from Alethkar to Shinovar.

In the old days, was there frequent conflict between Skybreakers who judged guilt or innocence solely according to law, and Windrunners who judged action according to moral values rather than legal? Where did the other Orders fit along this spectrum, or did they care?

Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?

Lightweaving, Hoid/Wit, or just personal insight and clever stoytelling?

Wit leaned down to tune his instrument, one leg crossed over the other. He hummed softly to himself and nodded. "Perfect pitch," Wit said, "makes this all so much easier than it once was ... ."

Hoid holds at least 200 Breaths. It's possible there are other ways he could have acquired perfect pitch, but this is the sort of thing Brandon throws in for the obsessive, overly detail-oriented, very thorough readers.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Nalan, Judge, Herald of Justice and patron of the Skybreakers. Because Kaladin deserves to be in prison? Because he doesn’t? Because Syl mentions the highspren? The Joker, wild card, jester, Wit. Because of Wit.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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