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|“||Our first clue was the Parshendi. Even weeks before they abandoned their pursuit of the gemhearts, their pattern of fighting changed. They lingered on the plateaus after battles, as if waiting for something.||”|
–From the personal journal of Navani Kholin, Jeseses 1174
Progression of the Chapter:
Kaladin breathes; ranks of bridgemen are evaluated and found wanting; a plan for retraining is established; Kaladin insists on his lack of divinity; promotions are awarded; tattoos received, even by Shen; Stormlight proves superior to ink and needle; the purpose of large Unkalaki feet is established, and complaints are thereby quenched; bridgemen are fitted for King's Guard uniforms; Kaladin refuses to admit who he is; and the Cobalt Guard is replaced by the King's Guard (i.e., Bridge Four).
Quote of the Chapter:
|“|| "Freedom," Sigzil said before Kaladin could reply. "The glyph means freedom."
"The smaller ones above," Kaladin said, "say the date you were freed and the one who freed you. Even if you lose your writ of freedom, anyone who tries to imprison you for being a runaway can easily find proof that you are not. They can go to Dalinar Kholin’s scribes, who keep a copy of your writ."
Hobber nodded. "That’s good, but it’s not enough. Add ‘Bridge Four’ to it. Freedom, Bridge Four."
"To imply you were freed from Bridge Four?"
"No, sir. I wasn’t freed from Bridge Four. I was freed by it. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything."
Development of the Chapter:
This is just about all that is necessary to understand the depth and character of Bridge Four’s group spirit. As Kaladin says, Bridge Four was a death trap, and their time in camp Sadeas cost them many friends. Hobber, himself, the first bridgeman whose life Kaladin saved, spent months injured, with Sadeas trying to starve him to death. But it is these hardships that bind them together.
Even so, his is a set-up and reminder chapter. Less than a day has passed since the end of The Way of Kings, but Kaladin doesn’t get much of a break between trying to save Bridge Four’s lives and assuming his duties as Dalinar’s personal bodyguard/captain of a battalion of bridgemen. He has a vastly plural number of problems to solve, and a limited number of resources with which to solve them. As such, most of what happens in this chapter is groundwork and maintenance. Lieutenants must be assigned, training orders given to the bridgemen, uniforms acquired.
Also, in this chapter, Kaladin has a well-earned trust problem. He insists throughout that Dalinar Kholin is the man they have to trust, the only chance they have of staying alive and free, but he’s already refusing to show him what he can actually do.
It’s great to see Bridge Four, independent of Kaladin, taking big steps to maintain their own identity. They decide to tattoo Bridge Four on their foreheads themselves, and reject the label of the Cobalt Guard on their own. This is an important step; anyone who wants Bridge Four to be the Cobalt Guard would have disappointment in their future. Bridge Four is most valuable for its unpredictability. Bridge Four’s commitment to maintaining its identity is more important than any social constructs that might face them, as seen by how they shout down the tattooists objections to marking Shen's freedom. Kaladin remains willing to see things from the perspective of parshmen and the Parshendi, although He might've focused on them both sooner.
|“|| "The ink won’t take!" she said. "I’ve never seen anything like it. When I wipe your forehead, the ink all just comes right off! The tattoo won’t stay."
Kaladin sighed, realizing he had a little Stormlight raging in his veins.
Turns out Stormlight beats tattoos every time. His skin healing just pushes the ink right out of his body. Kaladin’s healing process sees the tattoo as a hostile wound, but leaves the scar behind. You could argue that this is because he’s had the scar for much longer, but Lopen’s miraculous recovery at the end of WoR throws a shadow over that argument.
Stormlight refusing to heal Kaladin’s slave brand is a matter of self-identity. As he looks in the mirror, Kaladin still sees himself as an escaped slave. He still sees himself as shash – dangerous. As such, the wound doesn’t heal.
Heraldic Elements: Talenel, the Herald of getting stuck in Damnation, old Stonesinew’s aspects are Dependable and Resourceful, which describes Bridge Four to a T in this chapter. Talenel may not be Kaladin’s guiding Herald, since that’s probably Jezrien, but they’d likely get along well, if it weren’t for that whole 'broken and insane thing' Taln has going on.
- Paraphrased from Carl Engle-Laird