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WoR I14


Point of view: Taravangian
Setting: Vedenar

Progression of the Interlude:

An aging king awakens and is tested; Vedenar is a heap of rubble and ash; exhausted soldiers cheer the man who engineered the ruin of their nation; an assassin is waiting; soothing lies and reiterated commands send him on his way; speculation and searching ensue; a dying king is visited; a relationship is identified, and an heir designated; a son must kill his father; grief and guilt accumulate.

Quote of the Interlude:

By the light of spheres, Taravangian picked through the tome, poring over translations of his own words written in a language he had invented and then forgotten. Answers. He needed answers.

"Did ever I tell you, Adro, what I asked for?" he whispered as he read.

"Yes."

He was barely listening. "Capacity," he whispered, turning a page. "Capacity to stop what was coming. The capacity to save humankind."

Development of the Interlude:

This is a long interlude, and it is chock-full of information. Not all of it is very nice.

Some trivial notes to start with:

Mrall, Taravangian’s advisor, is a Thaylen with shaved head and eyebrows. Due to the similarity of names and non-traditional hair-styling ... is he associated with Mraize in ways other than country of origin? More to the point, though, just what is it about Mrall that gives him the right to demand that Taravangian undergo his morning testing before breakfast? It’s his duty, but why the phrasing of "It is his right to demand this"? It could be as simple as "I gave him the job of deciding what I’m qualified to do, so he has a right to demand that I test as soon as I wake." And that would probably be reasonable ... but this is Sanderson, and simple and reasonable explanations for anything about a character as mysterious as Taravangian are unacceptable.

There seem to be a lot of people who know all about the Diagram, Taravangian's varying intelligence, and his restrictions. Advisors, stormwardens, sailors, soldiers, etc..

Even so, Taravangian is getting his plans and marching orders on a daily basis from the Diagram he wrote on his most brilliant day, as a "gift" from the Nightwatcher. Readers now know that he's fully aware of the return of the Radiants, and that Jasnah was a Surgebinder. Also, that a great deal of his reputation for compassion is based on a facade. (Although readers learned of that to some extent in The Way of Kings, it's made eminently clear that "being seen as compassionate" is part of Taravangian's directive.) Readers also now know that he’s maneuvering to unite all of Roshar under his own direction. However, just how long has this been going on? Did he confide in Gavilar ... as much as Gavilar had in him?

The whole thing is disturbing. Emotion without intellect, genius without empathy. Either one is a recipe for disaster in the ruler of a nation. The saving grace would be that on most days, he’s relatively balanced. The counter, which makes it less "saving" than it could be, is that no matter what, he’s unequivocally dedicated to carrying out the plan he made when he was supremely brilliant ... and had absolutely no compassion.

Taravangian flat-out admits that the only thing he "worships," the only object of faith for him, is his own super-brilliant self and the things he wrote on that one day. The concern is, of course, compounded by such as this:

Hopefully, Moelach hadn’t decided to slumber again. The Death Rattles had, so far, offered them the best way that they’d found to augment the Diagram.

If Moelach is indeed another of the Unmade, isn't it worrisome that Taravangian’s hope to "save humankind" is being guided by a Splinter of Odium?

Stormwatch:

This interlude takes place sometime prior to the last highstorm before the Weeping, though the exact date is not clear.

Sprenspotting:

There don’t seem to be any normal spren here - or ... rather, no one bothers to note them - but there is one abnormal spren mentioned.

In reference to Nergaoul, whom they assume to be responsible for the Thrill, Taravangian instructs Adrotagia not to spend too much effort trying to find him/it:

"I’m not sure what we would even do if we found the thing." An ancient, evil spren was not something he had the resources to tackle. Not yet at least.

Nergaoul is an Unmade, and Taravangian calls it "an ancient, evil spren." Brandon has confirmed that the Unmade are Splinters of Odium. If they go back to the time of the Desolations, that would easily be old enough to qualify as "ancient."

So, does Moelach fit the same description? Brandon has not confirmed this, but as working theories go, it’s reasonably strong. Moelach is referenced several times, being the instigator of the Death Rattles Taravangian uses to correct his Diagram-directed course.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Jezrien represents the King, while Palah is his wise advisor, Adrotagia. Both could be for Taravangian, however, with Palah representing his raw intellect and Jezrien his kingship.

Just Sayin’:

Mrall could loom over a mountain and intimidate the wind itself.

He was deemed "favored of the winds" for someone extraordinarily lucky. Both phrases are very Rosharan.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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