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WoR Ch70


Whether this was Tanavast's design or not, millennia have passed without Rayse taking the life of another of the sixteen. While I mourn for the great suffering Rayse has caused, I do not believe we could hope for a better outcome than this.


Point of view: Kaladin, Shallan
Setting: The Chasms

Progression of the Chapter:

Kaladin leads a mad dash through the chasms to escape the beast chasing them. Shallan suddenly goes the other way, forcing Kaladin to follow; she leads them back to where they first fell, distracting the chasmfiend with easy food; Shallan sneaks a peek while it’s feeding. They retreat and walk for hours in the darkness, trying to get as far away as possible. When they finally stop, Shallan draws a map of the chasms and begins the chasmfiend Memory drawing. After a few hours of sleep, they continue on, using her map to correct their direction. They continue their badinage, though with less hostility and more honesty; Shallan solemnly promises Kaladin that she means no harm to Adolin or his family. Sunlight reveals that they’re going the wrong way again.

Quote of the Chapter:

"All right," Kaladin said. "Here it is. I can imagine how the world must appear to someone like you. Growing up pampered, with everything you want. To someone like you, life is wonderful and sunny and worth laughing over. That’s not your fault, and I shouldn’t blame you. You haven’t had to deal with pain or death like I have. Sorrow is not your companion."

Silence. Shallan didn’t reply. How could she reply to that?

"What?" Kaladin finally asked.

"I’m trying to decide how to react," Shallan said. "You see, you just said something very, very funny."

"Then why aren’t you laughing?"

"Well, it isn’t that kind of funny."

Commentary:

There they go, running through the chasms, chased by a nightmare beastie that makes a noise like a thousand horns being blown. Shallan has enough presence of mind to recognize when they’re close to the original landing area, and distracts the fiend with fresh corpses while she gets a good look and a Memory. Kaladin, meanwhile, sticks close to her because he refuses to abandon Adolin’s betrothed, and every time he stands still, he thinks about Syl and how he can’t even feel the Stormlight in the spheres he’s holding.

The shared terror of the chasmfiend chase, and the resulting exhaustion, seems to have a more salutary effect on them than merely sharing impossible survival from a 200-foot drop did. At least, they’ve stopped yelling, and while they’re still sniping at each other, neither of them is going at it wholeheartedly any more.

And really, they do begin to get on better. Their snark gets more ... personal? Over these few hours, the things they say are both more individualized and less hurtful. It’s very, very like the best of the times she had with her brothers in the flashbacks, really, when a smart remark would pop into her head and they’d insist that she say it. Odd, in a way, that Kaladin should be the first person she can play this game with since she left home. She played it a little, with the sailors on the Wind's Pleasure but other than that, she’s really had to watch her tongue most of the time. Now, probably to distract herself, she’s treating Kaladin very much like a brother.

As their morning conversation reveals, Kaladin’s assessment of Shallan has been limited to a) flaky spoiled lighteyed woman or b) clever sneaky impostor threat. Down in the chasms, with her hair frazzled, her dress torn and bedraggled, wearing boots because she put sanity before vanity, toughing it out right alongside him ... he’s finally seeing her as a human being, not just an object of suspicion or class hatred. Shallan's ability to draw out a perfect map of where they’ve been - and the obvious value of that skill - is also a step in Kaladin seeing her as an actual person.

The reverse is also true: as they talk, she realizes that not only is he taciturn, he’s a contradiction. He’s clearly had a good education, demonstrated by the way he thinks and the way he speaks, and that really doesn’t jibe with the slave marks or the shash brand. Even though she continues to make jokes of everything, she does begin to see him as a person, not just "Adolin's grumpy guard captain."

Before the chapter’s over, they’ll get downright honest with each other. He finally tells her point-blank that he doesn’t trust her, and she tells him a little of why she’s actually there, at the Shattered Plains - because of Jasnah's research. Since the guards reported her asking Adolin about getting rid of the parshmen, that comes up too, and further conversation ensues on that subject before it fades back to the snarkfest. And then they have the conversation quoted above, in which Kaladin displays a complete class-based analysis of her character and her past, telling her how wonderful and easy her life has been. The irony ...

Both of them have horrible things in their past, and both of them have legitimate reasons to feel that life has been less than kind to them. The more important question is how they deal with the pain of past tragedy, and in this case Shallan is stronger than Kaladin.

While Shallan has blocked out the first, worst event, she hasn’t blocked out all the years since then - all the years as her father spiraled downward, her brothers went psychotic, her family split, servants were abused, her stepmother was murdered, and she herself killed her father to try to save the rest. Those events are all in her active memory, and she deals with it by maintaining her sense of humor and by choosing to do what she can to fix things. It’s probable that she subconsciously holds herself responsible for all of it, without knowing quite why.

Kaladin, meanwhile, deals with his past by overtly holding all lighteyes responsible for everything bad that’s ever happened to him. It’s totally a realistic behavior, of course - it’s just not entirely valid, either for Kaladin or in real life. Under his surface resentment of lighteyes, he half-unconsciously holds himself responsible for all of the bad things, whether they were really his fault or not.

Stormwatch:

Same night, and into the following day. At the end of this chapter, there are nine days left in the countdown.

Sprenspotting:

"Those spren," Shallan whispered, so soft he could barely hear. "I’ve seen those ... "

They danced around the chasmfiend, and were the source of the light. They looked like small glowing arrows, and they surrounded the beast in schools, though occasionally one would drift away from the others and then vanish like a small plume of smoke rising into the air.

"Skyeels," Shallan whispered. "They follow skyeels too ... "

Referring back to Shallan’s skyeel sketches from The Way of Kings, the sailors call these luckspren, though she doubts that is their true name.

Are they the same as the spren that float away from the carcass of a dead chasmfiend? Those are described like wisps of smoke from a snuffed candle; these are like "small glowing arrows" ... until they drift too far away. Then they sound like the same thing, vanishing like "a small plume of smoke."

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

The chasmfiend gets the title for this chapter; it looks like something from a nightmare, according to Kaladin.

The beast filled the chasm. Long and narrow, it wasn’t bulbous or bulky, like some small cremlings. It was sinuous, sleek, with that arrowlike face and sharp mandibles.

It was also wrong. Wrong in a way difficult to describe. Big creatures were supposed to be slow and docile, like chulls. Yet this enormous beast moved with ease, its legs up on the sides of the chasm, holding it so that its body barely touched the ground. It ate the corpse of a fallen soldier, grasping the body in smaller claws by its mouth, then ripping it in half with a gruesome bite.

That face was like something from a nightmare. Evil, powerful, almost intelligent.

Shallan, of course, turns on her natural-history-scholar mode, and observes that although it eats carrion, it’s got all the equipment to be a predator. What it doesn’t appear to have is a reason to be hanging around the chasms after pupating.

Ars Arcanum:

While there isn't any Lightweaving in this chapter, the effects of Shallan’s bond with Pattern are evident. The only way she kept ahead of the chasmfiend was by using Stormlight for agility, speed, and endurance. The only way they’re getting out alive is by using a map created with her bond-enhanced visual memory.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Chanarach: Brave/Obedient, Guard. Kalak: Resolute/Builder, Maker. What do they have to do with this chapter? These are not Heralds normally associated with either Kaladin or Shallan. Chanarach, the Guard, represents Kaladin, the bodyguard, once in a while, but he’s not on duty here. Except ... he repeatedly thinks of Shallan in terms of "Adolin's betrothed" and, conversely, as a potential threat/spy/infiltrator to the Kholin family. As for Kalak, "Resolute" probably fits their determination to survive.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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