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WoR Ch1

To be perfectly frank, what has happened these last two months is upon my head. The death, destruction, loss, and pain are my burden. I should have seen it coming. And I should have stopped it.

–From the personal journal of Navani Kholin, Jeseses 1174

Point of view: Shallan
Setting: Aboard the Wind's Pleasure in Longbrows Straits (between The Frostlands and Thaylenah)

Progression of the Chapter:

Seafaring is undertaken; Shadesmar is drawn; an odd Pattern is observed; extinct creatures are not extinct; a great idea is argued but abandoned; the Cognitive Realm is explained; spren are discussed; solutions to House Davar's problems are proposed; the big secret of Power is explained; a great idea is retrieved and enacted; and, Shallan takes a dip.

Quote of the Chapter:

"There is a secret you must learn, child," Jasnah said. "A secret that is even more important than those relating to Shadesmar and spren. Power is an illusion of perception."

Shallan frowned.

"Don’t mistake me," Jasnah continued. "Some kinds of power are real - power to command armies, power to Soulcast. These come into play far less often than you would think. On an individual basis, in most interactions, this thing we call power - authority - exists only as it is perceived.

"You say I have wealth. This is true, but you have also seen that I do not often use it. You say I have authority as the sister of a king. I do. And yet, the men of this ship would treat me exactly the same way if I were a beggar who had convinced them I was the sister to a king. In that case, my authority is not a real thing. It is mere vapors - an illusion. I can create that illusion for them, as can you."

"I’m not convinced, Brightness."

"I know. If you were, you would be doing it already."

Development of the Chapter:

This is an eye-opener for Shallan, as she begins to consciously deal with the importance of perception, and that it doesn’t necessarily match reality. Likely, Jasnah didn't have Lightweaving in mind during this conversation. A large part of this book concerns Shallan’s development, both magical and non-magical, of the illusion of perception.

For Shallan and Jasnah, only a day or two has passed between the events of The Way of Kings. No matter how much the Wind's Pleasure is making good time, rushing them to where they want to go, they have very little to do until they arrive. The journey gives them time to study and prepare, but all they have to work with are the books and notes they brought along. It’s a slower pace.

Except ... not.

The chapter begins with Shallan drawing Shadesmar from her Memories, with some frustration that her drawing doesn’t do them justice. All things exist in the Cognitive Realm in some form, just as all things exist in the Physical Realm. The cognitive part of a person, the unconscious self, experiences the world in the Cognitive Realm, making intuitive leaps of logic, creating art, and so on. To quote Jasnah again ...

"There is an entire world, Shallan," Jasnah said, "of which our minds skim but the surface. A world of deep, profound thought. A world created by deep, profound thoughts. When you see Shadesmar, you enter those depths. It is an alien place to us in some ways, but at the same time we formed it. With some help."

The chapter closes with Shallan using her new understanding of power to make Tozbek stop the Wind's Pleasure and let her look at the santhid.


There are two exciting new spren in this chapter, as well as more explanations of spren in general. There is the "group of strange spren shaped like arrows" which move through the water around the santhid. These might be, in some way, similar to the spren around the chasmfiends, enabling the santhid's great size or movement. There is also Pattern, who scares the living daylights out of Shallan right off the bat.

Spren! Living ideas, elements of the cognitive realm that have leaked into the physical world; concepts that have gained sentience. They are " ... wild in their variety. Some are as clever as humans and create cities. Others are like fish and simply swim in the currents."

They do not trust humans, because of the ancient betrayal, which they won’t discuss. How, why, or what it was remains unknown, but this is the first clear indication that the Radiants betrayed, not primarily mankind, but the spren. It's hinted at in Dalinar's visions: he dashes out amongst the abandoned Blades and is struck with " .. a sense of immense tragedy, of pain and betrayal." Yet again, to quote Jasnah ...

"The old ways are returning, and I don’t see it as a hopeful sign. It’s an act of self-preservation. The spren sense impending danger, and so they return to us."

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

Three new creatures show up here: redwaters and khornaks, both of which are clearly hazardous to humans, and ... the santhid. About the first two, nothing more is described. The santhid, however, is beautiful, in a knotted-grey-blue-mass sort of way. It’s ponderous, and majestic, and alien. And, it looks right at Shallan and sees her in her inspection of it.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Paliah represents the divine attributes of Learned and Giving. She shows up in this chapter because of the learning that goes on. Perhaps, as a secondary note, Paliah represents Jasnah teaching (giving learning to?) Shallan, as well as giving her solutions to some of her more distracting problems.

Just Sayin':

It is a minor but interesting detail, that Navani is unsurprised by Jasnah's questioning about Shallan’s broken Soulcaster; furthermore, she seems to think it may well be fairly easy to fix.

Everything about Jasnah’s arrangements for Shallan’s betrothal pointed out Shallan's lack of wisdom with regard to romantic relationships. There’s real genius here: marry Adolin Kholin to a proto-Radiant, settle him down, and solve much of Shallan’s family’s issues with a high alliance. Jasnah thinks of it with a certain amount of loathing, even though it was her own idea; her view of marriage is ... not entirely positive, it seems. She thinks of it as restrictive, and as being beholden to a man (despite the fact that her mother shows no signs of being a terribly subservient sort of woman).

Shallan, on the other hand, doesn’t have a problem with it; she immediately sees all the advantages, including some that Jasnah doesn’t. She always expected to have her father arrange her marriage, and despite the problems of her home life, she doesn’t see marriage as either restrictive or an interruption to her beloved scholarship. She’s young, relatively poor, and a bit romantic, so being betrothed to the world’s most eligible, young, handsome, wealthy, noble bachelor would be appealing to her. However, why not Renarin? Jasnah answers the question of " ... what do I have to offer?", but she never responds to the question about Renarin.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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