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|“||We had never considered that there might be Parshendi spies hiding among our slaves. This is something else I should have seen.||”|
–From the journal of Navani Kholin, Jesesan 1174
Progression of the Chapter:
A chilly Shallan studies her spren; Pattern fails to comprehend the difference between food and destruction; Shallan remembers greenery, far too vividly; Yalb shows off for the 'new kid' and inquires about colors; Pattern and Shallan discuss lies; Shallan luxuriates in scholarship; dun spheres are discovered; Jasnah's exhaustion is observed; Surgebinding, the Ten Essences, and the Ten Orders are pondered; Shallan demands to be included in Jasnah’s struggles; Voidbringers and parshmen are worried about; Urithiru requires finding; the Hierocracy is badmouthed; Shallan is given a copy of Words of Radiance to reread; and sleep is interrupted by screams, shouts, and smoke.
Quote of the Chapter:
|“|| "You like lies?" Shallan asked.
"Good lies," Pattern said. "That lie. Good lie."
"What makes a lie good?" Shallan asked, taking careful notes, recording pattern’s exact words.
"Pattern, those two are opposites."
"Hmmmm ... Light makes shadow. Truth makes lies. Hmmmm.
Light creates shadow in the spaces it is blocked from shining, and truth can make lies in the spaces left out. It sounds like Pattern is describing lies of omission, lies made up of truth with bits left out. The surge of Illumination makes illusions out of real images. Shallan always has an easier time Illuminating after she’s done a sketch, created an image to reify. Pattern also loves abstractions, words and phrases that are truer than they are real.
The Shallan chapters in Words of Radiance are rich and layered. Like with Kaladin in The Way of Kings, her powers are manifesting around her in ways she doesn’t yet understand. More importantly, however, at all times she’s struggling to suppress her past, as Pattern tries to draw it out of her. Readers discover in this chapter that Pattern has been with her for a long time. He was with her back in Jah Keved, which means there has never been a Shallan chapter in which he wasn’t watching. Pattern needs Shallan to remember what happened, but she’s trained herself to recoil in horror from her past.
Shallan’s self-deception is aided by Yalb and the 'new kid'. That Jasnah and Shallan weren't aware Tozbek had brought new crew aboard at Amydlatn is odd. Maybe Jasnah really is too exhausted by her studies. It just seems out of character for the Alethi spymistress to let someone new on board her ship during such an important mission.
It’s sweet and tragic how much Shallan loves becoming a scholar. To her, scholarship was this impossible dream from her childhood, and now she’s living it.
Jasnah has a lot on her mind. She’s worried about convincing the Alethi that their slaves are conspiring to overthrow them; the economic consequences, and not about the possibility that she’ll incite genocide. Eventually Shallan starts thinking about this as well. Unfortunately, Jasnah’s scholarship leads Shallan to incorrect conclusions.
Exhaustionspren and liespren can betray emotions that humans try to hide. These liespren prefer to be called Cryptics. Pattern is suffering from that post-bond amnesia thing that Syl has been seen fighting. What’s more, he’s the only spren - seen as yet - who just can’t be invisible. Liespren: pretty bad at deception, actually? Most interesting is this section:
In her quarters, Pattern moved up the wall beside her, watching without eyes as she searched for a passage she remembered, which mentioned spren that spoke. Not just windspren and riverspren, which would mimic people and make playful comments. Those were a step up from ordinary spren, but there was yet another level of spren, one rarely seen. Spren like Pattern, who had real conversations with people.
The Nightwatcher is obviously one of these, Alai wrote, Shallan copying the passage. The records of conversations with her - and she is definitely female, despite what rural Alethi folktales would have one believe - are numerous and credible. Shubalai herself, intent on providing a firsthand scholarly report, visited the Nightwatcher and recorded her story word for word ... .
Interesting that spren are ranked as superior when they can talk.
Shallan is Illuminating! Pattern pushes her to remember their first encounter, and by doing so Shallan creates an illusion of her garden. It seems like she only turned the boards beneath her green, rather than making a full illusory garden, but that’s a big step in the direction of Illumination. Still, her spheres went dun with the effort.
Shalash is the Herald of Beauty, who is associated with Creativity and Honesty. Shallan is named for Shalash, and she certainly both embodies and depicts creativity in her drawings. Shalash is the Herald for this chapter because she exemplifies and embodies just how creativity and honesty exist in co-productive opposition.
- Paraphrased from Carl Engle-Laird