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WoR Ch87


Chaos in Alethkar is, of course, inevitable. Watch carefully, and do not let power in the kingdom solidify. The Blackthorn could become any ally or our greatest foe, depending on whether he takes the path of the warlord or not. If he seems likely to sue for peace, assassinate him expeditiously. The risk of competition is too great.

–From the Diagram, Writings upon the Bedstand Lamp: paragraph 4 (Adrotagia's 3rd translation from the original heiroglyphics)


Point of view: Kaladin, Shallan, Lopen, Moash
Setting: The Shattered Plains, Urithiru, the warcamps

Progression of the Chapter:

Kaladin crosses the twice-Shattered Plains with Syl; they discuss storms, armies, Shardblades, death, Honorblades, and the Nahel bond; Kaladin reunites with Bridge Four, and grieves the losses; bridgemen glowed with Stormlight during the battle, and Kaladin's eyes are pale blue.

... Shallan considers Urithiru and identity; Dalinar and Navani send and receive messages about storms, riots, and disappearing kings; the Oathgate brings Kaladin and Bridge Four; Kaladin reassures them that the assassin is dead and Elhokar is safe.

... Lopen practices with a sphere as his mother scolds the king; Uncle Chilinko brings news of the pending evacuation; Lopen sucks in Stormlight; he glows, and his arm begins to regrow.

... Moash sits gloomily on the back of a cart on the way out of the warcamps; the exodus begins, though not undisputed; Graves plans to rejoin the Diagram, with Moash as his consolation prize; Moash knows he's been played for a fool, though he's not sure how.

Quote of the Chapter:

"I don't feel so hungry, nanha," Elhokar said. His voice was weak, but he'd awoken from his drunken stupor, which was a good sign.

"You’ll eat anyway!" Mother said. "I know what to do when I see a man that pale in the face, and pardon, Your Majesty, but you are pale as a sheet hung out for the sun to bleach! And that's the truth of it. You're going to eat. No complaints."

"I'm the king. I don't take orders from - "

"You're in my home now!" she said, and Lopen mouthed along with the words. "In a Herdazian woman's home, nobody's station means nothing beside her own. I'm not going to have them come and get you and find you not properly fed! I'll not have people saying that, Your Brightship, no I won't! Eat up. I've got soup cooking."

Development of the Chapter:

With majority of the "avalanche" past, the world settles into a brief, uneasy quiet. The battles are fought, the storms have moved on, the new Radiants are revealed, and the climax is over. In the aftermath, there are a number of smaller, but significant, facts and implications.

The Everstorm will hit New Natanatan, and after that they can only guess. The untimely highstorm is on its way across the continent, which will be bad enough by being a surprise. It remains to be seen what will happen if the two storms do follow opposite paths around the world, to crash again over some yet-unknown locale.

Syl doesn't know what will happen, because it's never happened before. The Everstorm is not a normal part of a Desolation - if "normal" even means anything in this context. There's a sense of foreboding, though; everything on Roshar is set up to be protected from westward-moving storms, and people won't take seriously a warning that there's a really bad blow coming from the west ...

Kaladin then finds Bridge Four waiting for him at the Oathgate. His joy is marred by the death of three of their number, and the injuries suffered by others. At the same time, however, there's delight in being alive, and in being together, and in Kaladin's return to his powers. Kaladin is momentarily freaked out by a strange Parshendi (i.e., Rlain) saluting him, because this is his first exposure to the concept of the different forms. At the same time, he seems to jump immediately to Rlain's defense when Sigzil says he's been "pardoned", until Rlain himself explains that the pardon is for being a spy. Teft, ever the observant and blunt sergeant Kaladin needs, says ...

"You can't protect us all, son," Teft said. "You can't stop people from feeling pain, can't stop men from dying."

Kaladin can't quite accept that, but needed to hear it anyway. He will always want to protect his own, but sometimes he won't be able to. Ideals relating to the divine attributes. There's a theory that the Radiants' Ideals relate to the divine attributes associated with the Herald of the Order. While all Orders share the first Ideal, the remaining four are split, two and two, between the two divine attributes. For example, the Windrunners' second and third Ideals have to do with Protecting: "I will protect those who cannot protect themselves ...," and "I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right." According to the theory, then, Kaladin's fourth and fifth Ideals would have to do with Leading.

Kaladin doesn’t know - and doesn't figure out - just what to tell Bridge Four about Moash. There's no pressing need, at the moment, but it will eventually come. He's going to have to deal with that. At long last, Moash realizes that he's been a complete tool, and to 's just a trophy to make up for Graves failing the assigned mission. Worse, he has two useful aspects in Graves's eyes: he has Shards, and he knows Kaladin. Miserable as he is, he doesn't know what to do but go along.

Meanwhile, Shallan has found Urithiru and revealed her biggest secret to all of Alethkar, and now she has to figure out what that means. She is having some difficulty dealing with being a Knight Radiant.

Well, let them see Shallan the Radiant. She could always find freedom later, wearing another face.

Her reaction to everyone watching her is that she can always use her Surges to hide when it gets to be too much pressure. In the previous chapter, Shallan acknowledged what she called "a deep truth": that her spren was her living Shardblade. This gave her an instant means to save the armies.

Still, for now she's willing to be "Brightness Radiant" to everyone, and to freely talk with Pattern about the situation. Oddly, though, she doesn't respond - and mentally changes the subject - when he says that Lightweavers must speak truths.

In and among all this, readers learn that there is very little available by way of natural resources where the cast of characters have been relocated. There's no apparent place for crops, and precious little to burn for firewood. Those at Urithiru will be utterly dependent on Soulcasters for food, and on Shallan and Kaladin for transportation.

Stormwatch:

Day Zero is nearly complete.

Ars Arcanum:

"So they're all spren," he said. "Shardblades."

Syl grew solemn.

"Dead spren," Kaladin added.

"Dead," Syl agreed. "Then they live again a little when someone summons them, syncing a heartbeat to their essence."

"How can something be 'a little' alive?"

"We're spren," Syl said. "We're forces. You can't kill us completely. Just ... sort of."

"That's perfectly clear."

"It's perfectly clear to us," Syl said. "You're the strange ones. Break a rock, and it's still there. Break a spren, and she's still there. Sort of. Break a person, and something leaves. Something changes. What's left is just meat. You're weird."

Is there yet a clear understanding of the Spiritual aspects of spren and rocks. In the Cosmere, do only humanoids have a Spiritual aspect that actually leaves and goes Beyond? All sapient beings? What about sentient beings, horses and chickens and chulls? And what about spren, who originate on the Cognitive Realm and then manifest in the Physical? Do they have a Spiritual aspect too? A rock (or a stick) has a Physical aspect, and a Cognitive aspect of self-perception. (That's how pairing fabrials work; by a split gem which still sees itself as a single gem.) But does a rock or a stick have a Spiritual aspect, or how it works if it does?

Then there are the Honorblades:

"The Honorblades are what we are based on, Kaladin. We're bits of His power, after all, like this sword. Be careful with it. It is a treasure."

"So the assassin wasn't a Radiant."

"No. But Kaladin, you have to understand. With this sword, someone can do what you can, but without the… checks a spren requires." She touched it, then shivered visibly, her form blurring for a second. "This sword gave the assassin power to use Lashings, but it also fed upon his Stormlight. A person who uses this will need far, far more Light than you will. Dangerous levels of it."

Does "imitation" mean that spren always and only match the Surge pairings Honor gifted to the Heralds? Did they first figure out how to grant a single Surge? Could they grant several Surges to one person, before the rules were established? Is there a WoB on this subject?

Also, what does Syl mean by a person needing "dangerous levels" of Stormlight? Is there a danger in holding too much Stormlight, or for too long? Is the danger tempered by a Nahel bond? Or is it that if you run out of Stormlight, the Honorblade will drain your life, or something?

Then again, there is Lopen:

The Lopen sucked in Light.

It happened in an eyeblink, and then there he sat, Stormlight streaming from his skin.

"Ha!" he shouted, leaping to his feet. "Ha! Hey, Chilinko, come back here. I need to stick you to the wall!"

The Light winked out. The Lopen stopped, frowning, and held his hand up in front of him. Gone so fast? What had happened? He hesitated. That tingling ...

He felt at his shoulder, the one where he’d lost his arm so long ago. There, his fingers prodded a new nub of flesh that had begun sprouting from his scar.

"Oh, storms yes! Everybody, give the Lopen your spheres! I have glowing that needs to be done."

This comes not long after Teft's statement that he saw some of the lads glowing with Stormlight just before Kaladin himself showed up at the battle. It's not much guesswork to surmise that neither event could happen while Kaladin's Oaths were non-functioning. The question, though, is whether he needed to speak his third Ideal before it could happen. In other words, if Kaladin had maintained his bond, could this have happened earlier? Or is it always a third-Ideal-gets-a-live-Shardblade-plus-squires deal?

Note, also, the way Lopen's arm immediately starts growing, even though he's not consciously pursuing that. By way of contrast, Kaladin still has his scars. (It was asked of Brandon on Facebook quite some time ago just why Kaladin retains his slave brands even after his transformation. Brandon responded that it depends on how Kaladin envisions himself.)

Ars Mechanica:

On the Oathgate: the members of Bridge Four wanted to return to the Plains and, as part of experimenting with the Oathgate, Shallan took them back. Once there, the bridgemen had to leave the plateau in order for her to return alone to Urithiru.

Also:

One of the pillarlike plateaus nearby flashed. It happened with a wall of light revolving around its perimeter, leaving streaks of blurred afterimage to fade. Someone had activated the Oathgate.

Compare this to the scene in the Epilogue:

The air in front of him blurred, as if heated in a ring near the ground. A streak of light spun about the ring, forming a wall five or six feet high. It faded immediately - really, it was just an afterimage, as if something glowing had spun in the circle very quickly.

The Oathgate obviously uses the Transportation Surge.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Readers actually have to deal with the character symbol as well as the Heralds, this week. Most of the time readers have seen the Double Eye, it's been on Interlude chapters - specifically: Ym, Rysn, Lhan, and Taravangian. The only other times it's been used are Chapter 29, which is a Sadeas PoV, and the Epilogue. Perhaps this is a way to acknowledge the importance of the PoV of someone who doesn't have an icon of their own.

If that's the case, then the other two PoV characters are well-represented by the Heralds of their Orders: Jezrien for the Windrunners, and Shalash for the Lightweavers.

Shipping Wars

First, Shallan and Adolin:

Several scribes passed by, bringing paper to draw out maps of Adolin's exploration. They bobbed quick, uncomfortable bows to Shallan and called her "Brightness Radiant." She still hadn't talked at length with Adolin about what had happened to her.

This implies that they haven't had - or taken - the opportunity for much private conversation; it's quite possible they really haven't talked about it at all beyond the “"ou too?" "Yeah, sorry" exchange from the previous chapter. The delay may have been unhealthy, but it's still the same afternoon they arrived at Urithiru, and there are things that need doing. The army is something less than the original 30,000 soldiers, now, but when one adds in scribes, scholars, ardents, mistresses, etc. ... there are a lot of people to look after.

Second, ... :

Dalinar stepped up beside her and they waited tensely, until a group of figures in blue appeared at the plateau edge and started down the steps. Bridge Four.

"Oh, thank the Almighty," Shallan whispered. It was him, not the assassin.

One of the figures pointed down toward where Dalinar and the rest of them stood. Kaladin separated from his men, dropping off the steps and floating over the army. He landed on the stones in stride, carrying a Shardblade on his shoulder, his long officer's coat unbuttoned and coming down to his knees.

He still has the slave brands, she thought, though his long hair obscured them. His eyes had become a pale blue. They glowed softly.

Some readers will say that the level of detail indicates that she's harboring a deeper interest, while other readers will say that she's simply being observant, like artists often are. In any case, readers were likely relieved that it was Kaladin and not Szeth.

Words of Diagram:

It's impossible to completely recall first epiphanies, once one has read the whole book a dozen times or so. This, however, was a real eye-opener. Naturally, readers haven't exactly been convinced that Taravangian is "good" - not since readers learned he was the one behind Szeth's serial assassination spree. Readers have had reasons to question the Diagram, but at this point, it's obvious: if Dalinar tries to unite Alethkar, he must be assassinated for the Diagram to work. This, naturally and intentionally, strikes a very sour chord with the reader who believes Dalinar is doing the right thing ... which is pretty much everyone.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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