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<< WoR Ch. 37: A Matter of Perspective / WoR Ch. 39: Heterochromatic >>
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Now, as the Windrunners were thus engaged, arose the event which has hitherto been referenced: namely, that discovery of some wicked thing of eminence, though whether it be some rogueries among the Radiants' adherents or of some external origin, Avena would not suggest.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 38, page 6

Point of view: Shallan
Setting: Elhokar's conference chamber on the Shattered Plains

Progression of the Chapter:

Shallan relays her grievous news as she tells Dalinar and Navani the whole story, with the alteration of having set the ship on fire instead of Soulcasting it to water; she makes the case for pardoning her men, and Dalinar agrees; they turn to Adolin, and Shallan forgets all the overt advantages of the match in contemplation of his grin; Shallan is frank with Dalinar regarding her status, and Dalinar agrees to maintain the causal, for now; Shallan uses Jasnah's notes to sort out the various people in attendance; clearly, the political alignments have shifted, and the major factions become clear; Shallan concentrates on understanding the subtext of the meeting, until she becomes the subject of it; she recalls her Lightweaving and deflects the attempts to bid on her presence by claiming an offer from Sebarial; he 'confirms' it by pretending a family relationship; Dalinar declares his intention to make peace with the Parshendi, either by parley or by a final defeat; Sadeas tries to needle Dalinar, but it only works on Adolin; Dalinar reveals the message just received from the Parshendi, but points out the similarity to events six years ago; Shallan finishes her duties of telling Elhokar about Jasnah and obtaining the writ of pardon for her men, then prepares to depart with Sebarial to his warcamp.

Quote of the Chapter:

"Um ... " Was she? Oh, right. She took the wine. "Yes?"

"Adolin Kholin," he said. "I am sorry to hear of your hardships. We will need to speak to the king of his sister. I can spare you that task, if I might go in your place."

"Thank you," Shallan said. “But I would prefer to see him myself."

"Of course," Adolin said. "As for our ... involvement. It did make a lot more sense when you were Jasnah’s ward, didn’t it?"


"Though, now that you’re here, perhaps we should go for a walk and just see how things feel."

"I like to walk," Shallan said. Stupid! Quick, say something witty. "Um. Your hair is nice."

A part of her - the part trained by Tyn - groaned.

"My hair?" Adolin said, touching it.

"Yes," Shallan said, trying to get her sluggish brain working again. "Blond hair isn’t often seen in Jah Keved."

"Some people see it as a mark of my bloodline being impure."

"Funny. They say the same about me because of my hair." She smiled at him. That seemed the right move, since he smiled back. Her verbal recovery hadn’t been the deftest of her career, but she couldn’t be doing too poorly, so long as he was smiling."


This chapter has a lot of stuff in it! It begins with the exact same words (as spoken) that ended the previous chapter. Shallan discovers that, even though she had grieved for Jasnah over the previous several weeks, she finds it painful all over again as she is required to burden someone else with her knowledge.

Navani doesn’t take it well. When Shallan says she set the ship on fire, Navani blames her for Jasnah’s death, because it’s simply unthinkable that Jasnah could actually have been murdered. It's going to take Navani a while to reconcile herself to this one.

Its fascinating to see everyone on the Plains through Shallan’s eyes, as she connects Jasnah’s notes and her own expectations with the physical realities of the people in this room. Navani is an older, motherly version of Jasnah. Dalinar is intimidating; he also looks like the only one in the room who knows anything about combat; he is bruised, and his face is "a tad unfortunate." The other Highprinces are, apparently, readily identifiable from Jasnah’s descriptions, but her information on alliances is acutely outdated.

As it turns out, there are three factions in the room: the Kholin group, the Sadeas-Aladar-Ruthar group, and "the peacemakers"; (Hatham, Roion, Vamah, Thanadal, and Bethab) who are maintaining some kind of neutrality between the other two. And here is the reason for the chapter title, as Shallan observes Dalinar and Sadeas having a quiet stare-down:

The two watched each other, Dalinar with a neutral expression, Sadeas with a faint smile. It seemed innocent enough until you saw their eyes. Locked on to one another, rarely blinking.

There was a storm in this room. A silent one.

So the meeting, though ostensibly about the Assassin, is mostly a political exercise, with the Kholin and Sadeas factions each trying to sway the neutral Highprinces to each their sides. It becomes clear that much of the friction comes, not from Elhokar’s rules, but from whether the Highprinces are willing to accept his authority to set rules.

Then there’s Sebarial. He's annoying to the other Highprinces, but he's likeable. In any case, he and Shallan are a perfect fit for the situation; her brand of repartee matches his sense of humor. It could be worse.

It was startling to realize that all of the Alethi assume Szeth is still working for the Parshendi. They have no reason to think otherwise, of course, but readers have known better for so long. That assumption makes the timing look less like a coincidence and more like a sinister plot when Dalinar reveals that, the same day as the assassination attempt, he received a message from the Parshendi asking to discuss the possibility of peace. It’s sad to realize just how true Roion’s words are, though the basis is inaccurate:

"Maybe they’re desperate," Roion said, hunkering down in his chair. "One faction among them sues for peace while the other does whatever it can to destroy us."

So Dalinar reveals his plan to obtain peace with the Parshendi: whether by treaty or by conquest, he’s going to finish this war. Oddly, he also reveals in so many words that Adolin is out to win everyone else’s Shards via dueling. Why?


Same day as Chapters 31-37, Interludes 5 and 8.


Pattern is hiding on Shallan’s dress, looking like part of the fabric, and Adolin draws angerspren when Sadeas tries to taunt Dalinar about the Tower betrayal. That’s it. Everyone else must be keeping their emotions under control.

Ars Arcanum:

Lightweaving alert! Notice how Shallan, while presumably displaying a certain amount of outward Illusion, also consciously uses the image she’d drawn earlier as a focus for her speech and actions when she becomes the center of attention.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Once again, there are multiple reasons for Shalash to grace this chapter. Just to name a few: Shallan, Lightweaving, artistry, and lies. Battar is a little trickier; likely, she is here because of Jasnah - and because, ironically, while Shallan is explaining to Navani how Jasnah is inarguably dead, the Herald of Elsecallers may be a subtle clue that Jasnah is instead merely ... elsewhere.

Words of Radiants:

This chapter's epigraph concerns the Windrunners, sort of.

Just who is Avena?

This is clearly referring to "the event" that triggered the Recreance.

Shipping Wars:

Dalinar nodded slowly. "We will maintain the causal for now,, he said. "The reason I agreed to it in the first place still stands - I want Adolin to be seen as unavailable to those who would manipulate him for political gain. If you can somehow persuade me, Brightness Navani, and of course the lad himself, we can progress the causal to a full betrothal."

So it rather looks like a whole lot of people have a whole lot of different reasons for this causal. It seems Adolin is the hapless rope in a many-sided tug-of-war for power and influence, and most of the time he’s only faintly aware of it.

Weren’t they enemies? She’d read that they often squabbled over lands. Well, that was obviously a broken stone, for they seemed united as they regarded Dalinar.

From context, it seems that "a broken stone" refers to something presumed to be true but which turns out to be dead wrong. I wonder what the Shin think of that saying.

Along with last week’s mild curses, Sebarial asks, "Dalinar, what in Damnation's eleventh name are you on about?" So, just why does the Almighty have ten names, but Damnation has eleven?

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]