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WoR Ch81


The Unmade are a deviation, a flair, a conundrum, that may not be worth your time. You cannot help but think of them. They are fascinating. Many are mindless. Like the spren of human emotions, only much more nasty. I do believe a few can think, however.

–From the Diagram, Book of the 2nd Desk Drawer: paragraph 14.


Point of view: Dalinar, Kaladin, Adolin, Shallan
Setting: Kholin warcamp, the Shattered Plains

Progression of the Chapter:

The Alethi are surrounded by Parshendi with glowing red eyes; Dalinar issues challenges and marching orders to the Highprinces; Navani refuses her orders; the Parshendi begin to sing; the battle plan changes in response.

Kaladin searches out Zahel; he receives an unwanted explanation; he asks about choosing between distasteful options; Zahel gives advice he wishes he'd followed; Kaladin attempts spear practice in the rain; he's clumsy, and nothing works; he yells at the sky, but his words echo other conversations; he realizes that may be too strong a consequence for failed expectation; the King is Dalinar's Tien.

Adolin prepares for the initial attack; he charges, and lightning strikes; Sureblood is down, the world stops; Adolin leaps back into battle, leading his men to rally against the Voidbringer Parshendi.

Shallan draws, mapping the entire Plains according to the pattern; a beta reader scout enters with information on the center plateau; Pattern does not like the distant crashing; Inadara does not like Pattern; the sentiment is returned; Renarin is fascinated by Pattern; Pattern is insulting; he worries about the Voidspren; another scout points out an error on the map; Shallan objects and then realizes that a detail which does not match the pattern is Significant.

Renarin is assigned to watch over and help Shallan; he's uncertain, but goes as ordered; the battle goes poorly against the new Parshendi form; Dalinar adjusts tactics to stop the singing; Shallan and company depart to search for the Oathgate; the Almighty speaks.

Quote of the Chapter:

"That song!" Rlain said. "That song."

"What is it, man?"

"It is death," Rlain whispered. "Brightlord, I have never heard it before, but the rhythm is one of destruction. Of power."

Across the chasm, the Parshendi started to glow. Tiny lines of red sparked around their arms, blinking and shaking, like lightning.

...

"You have to stop it," Rlain said. "Please. Even if you have to kill them. Do not let them finish that song."

Between Rlain’s reaction and the Parshendi glowing with little red lightnings, readers know that it's going to get hazardous. Still, it's fascinating that even without access to the new Rhythms, Rlain recognizes the danger inherent in the singing.

Development of the Chapter:

The increased number of Pov shifts in this chapter informs the reader that he/she is getting close to the climax of the book. Four different Pov characters in one chapter? This is finally the point where everything is happening at once, and the reader needs to be aware that these events are concurrent ... which makes for a very long chapter.

The feeling of pending disaster created by those glowing red eyes is worth it solely for the effect on the other Highprinces. Roion and Aladar nearly come unglued when they realize that Dalinar expected something of this nature. Sebarial, on the other hand, seems as unfazed by the glowing eyes as he is by anything else, despite his open acknowledgement that he's completely useless in a battle. Everyone recognizes this as validation of Dalinar’s visions.

Navani, of course, refuses to be ordered around, telling Dalinar that he'll just have to pretend she's somewhere safe; she's got work to do.

Meanwhile, Kaladin grumbles around the camp. He's so grumpy it even makes him mad when his food tastes good. Just why does Zahel make such a point of explaining the sand washing to him? Is this a metaphor, or just world-building? It is notable that, unlike the rain from highstorm, Weeping-time rain has no crem in it. Why?

One of the best sections of this chapter is the advice Zahel gives Kaladin:

"Have you ever had to choose between two equally distasteful choices?"

"Every day I choose to keep breathing."

"I worry something awful is going to happen," Kaladin said. 'I can prevent it, but the awful thing ... it might be best for everyone if it does happen."

"Huh," Zahel said.

"No advice?" Kaladin asked.

"Choose the option," Zahel said, rearranging his pillow, "that makes it easiest for you to sleep at night." The old ardent closed his eyes and settled back. "That’s what I wish I’d done."

Not only does this give readers another glimpse into Zahel's mind, it sets Kaladin up for something he needs to realize: killing someone because they don’t live up to your expectations is not justifiable. Not only that, but the person whose failure bothers you so much just might be of vital importance to someone else. He's finally reached the point of recognizing that he has neither the authority nor the wisdom to determine whether the King should live or die, but that it's his job to prevent murder.

Adolin’s section is full of small noteworthy items: bridgemen who fight though it's not required, because those opponents aren't Parshendi anymore; leadership, taking the point position because he's the best able to survive as well as to inspire; the loss of his Ryshadium; the lightning used by the Parshendi - and the discovery that they can't actually control it very well. Later on while in his Shardplate, he is directly struck by lightning, yet ... not only is he unharmed, his armor is purring and his helm blocks the lightning exactly without dimming the rest of his field of vision. As he notes, this Plate was created expressly for the purpose of fighting Voidbringers, and it still works.

Most of the interesting parts of Shallan’s Pov are covered below, but her ability to see the pattern in the Plains is critical to her effort to get to the center, yet the final key is recognizing a break in the pattern.

"That's wrong," he said.

Wrong? Her art? Of course it wasn't wrong. "Where?" she asked, exhausted.

"That plateau there," the man said, pointing. "It's not long and thin, as you drew it. It's a perfect circle, with big gaps between it and the plateaus on its east and west."

"That's unlikely," Shallan said. "If it were that way - " She blinked.

If it were that way, it wouldn’t match the pattern.

And her exhaustion almost made her miss it.

Renarin is also in this chapter and he is fascinated with Pattern, which is likely related to his questions about Glys and his own sanity. He also is extremely discomforted with the task he's been given: as a full Shardbearer, he's expected to accompany and protect Shallan. His lack of training makes him unsuitable for the actual battle, but he definitely sees better than Dalinar how his lack of training also makes him an unsuitable guard. Dalinar meant well in giving him Blade and Plate, and Renarin desperately wants to be a soldier, but he's just not suited to the task. On the other hand, as a plot device, this has the advantage of putting him in the right place at the right time to set up a domino sequence of revelations.

Dalinar, meanwhile, keeps busy directing his armies ... until the Stormfather starts talking to him.

Stormwatch:

This is the day of the countdown that he had scribbled on the walls without knowing. The last day.

Sprenspotting:

Three quotes:

He looked across a sea of hopeful eyes. Storms. Were those gloryspren about his head, spinning like golden spheres in the rain?

It's odd to think of gloryspren in this context; Dalinar doesn’t seem to have any particular sense of achievement, just an impassioned speech to his men to embolden them for the fight ahead. Could this be a case where gloryspren are drawn by the honor others bestow on him?

Though these Parshendi soldiers were sleeker and more ferocious-looking than the ones he'd previously fought, their eyes burned just as easily. Then they dropped dead and something wiggled out of their chests - small red spren, like tiny lightning, that zipped into the air and vanished.

The subject of the spren bonded to the Parshendi was brought up in the JordanCon Q&A session with Brandon (4/22-24/16). He refused to address the notion of Parshendi gemhearts; though the question was cleverly phrased to attempt to get him to confirm or deny the idea, he managed to not answer. In answer to another question, he also said that the spren which bond to Parshendi are unaffected by the death of their host, so what readers see here is normal; when they die, the spren leave.

The pops continued outside. "What is that?" she asked softly, finishing another plateau. "They are a variety of Voidspren. It is not good. I feel something very dangerous brewing. Draw more quickly."

He finally blinked his eyes clear enough to get a good look. The whiteness was a horse, fallen to the ground.

Adolin screamed something raw, a sound that echoed in his helm. He ignored the shouts of soldiers, the sound of rain, the sudden and unnatural crack behind him. He ran to the body on the ground. Sureblood.

"No, no, no," Adolin said, skidding to his knees beside the horse. The animal bore a strange, branching burn all down the side of his white coat. Wide, jagged. Sureblood’s dark eyes, open to the rain, did not blink.

Adolin raised his hands, suddenly hesitant to touch the animal.

A youth on an unfamiliar field.

Sureblood wasn’t moving.

More nervous that day than during the duel that won his Blade.

Shouts. Another crack in the air, sharp, immediate.

"They pick their rider, son. We fixate on Shards, but any man - courageous or coward - can bond a Blade. Not so here, on this ground. Only the worthy win here ... "'

Move.

Grieve later.

Move!

Some readers say they never felt invested enough in the Ryshadium - or in Adolin’s bond with Sureblood - for this to be deeply emotional. In any case, the death of Sureblood is a punch in the gut.

You Have to Break a Lot of Rockbuds:

He hadn't found the man, though he had broken down and bought some chouta from a lonely street vendor.

It had tasted good. That hadn’t helped his mood.

A small moment of levity in an otherwise intense chapter?

Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?

Zahel reveals once again that he’s not from around here:

"It’s ridiculously shallow," "Zahel said." "Like an endless bay, mere feet deep. Warm water. Calm breezes. Reminds me of home. Not like this cold, damp, godsforsaken place."

"So why aren’t you there instead of here?"

"Because I can’t stand being reminded of home, idiot."

Home, of course, is Nalthis and, perhaps, particularly the area around T’Telir, which is very like this description of the Purelake climate. One wonders, though ... why does he hate being reminded of home?

He also refers oddly to Hoid, when Kaladin asks if he knows where the King’s Wit is:

"That fool, Dust? Not here, blessedly. Why?"

Does the name, "Dust", come as a result of a peculiar method of storytelling Hoid used in Warbreaker, involving colorful dust, sand, etc.?

One other Worldhopper, who has only recently been recognized, shows up here as well:

"Shim and Felt are scouting those," Lyn said. "Felt should be back soon."

Again, in the Q&A at JordanCon (4/22-24/16), someone asked if the Felt in this scene was the same Felt as the man Elend Venture employed in the original Mistborn books. Brandon confirmed this, leaving readers to wonder who recruited him as a Worldhopper, and just why he’s serving as a Kholin scout.

There’s always another secret.

(The scout, Lyn, is based on one of Brandon’s beta readers; the real-life person is something of a cartographer herself, as well as a writer and a fire artist and several other cool things. She's awesome!)

Heraldic Symbolism:

Ishar: Pious, Guiding; Priest; Bondsmiths; Herald of Luck.

There are multiple possibilities, not least that the Order of Bondsmiths, of which Dalinar is becoming a member.

Chanarach: Brave, Obedient; Guard; Dustbringers; Fire.

She’s often shown on Adolin's Pov chapters, but here he's much more soldier than guard. Kaladin isn’t doing any guarding today, except for the chouta. Rlain and the bridgemen? Seems odd to choose a Herald based on such limited screen time. Renarin? He's doing guard duty over Shallan and company, but it seems more likely readers would see his "patron Herald, Palah."

Otherwise, there is the courage shown by the Highprinces in spite of themselves, and/or the fire the Listeners are using in the form of lightning.

Just Sayin':

"Oh, Almighty!" Roion whispered, looking at those red eyes. "Oh, by the names of God himself. What have you brought us to, Dalinar?"

Very, very Vorin. Profoundly fitting, in context.

"Excellent deduction," Zahel said. "Like fresh blue paint on a wall."

Again with the "colorful metaphors," Zahel. This would be a Nalthian saying, not a Rosharan one, of course.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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