<< WoR Ch. 39: Heterochromatic / WoR Ch. 41: Scars >>
WoR Ch40

That they responded immediately and with great consternation is undeniable, as these were primary among those who would forswear and abandon their oaths. The term Recreance was not then applied, but has since become a popular title by which this event is named.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 38, page 6

Point of view: Shallan
Setting: Sebarial's warcamp

Progression of the Chapter:

Shallan proceeds with Sebarial to his warcamp, complete with promised badinage; she observes that his warcamp is more like a well-planned city; Jasnah's notes prove insightful, completely inadequate and outdated; Sebarial has built a thriving economy out here in nowhere; Palona greets them at the manor with more wit and humor; Sebarial gives a breezy account of Shallan’s presence, and Shallan provides an only slightly more complete one; Palona welcomes her anyway; Shallan blanks out again; arrangements are made for appropriate servants, wages, and so on; Shallan falls asleep in a bed made apparently of air and wishes.

Quote of the Chapter:

" ... I have the most complete force of tailors, artisans, and cooks in the camps. Already, I’ve set up twelve manufactories - textiles, shoes, ceramics, several mills. I control the glassblowers as well."

Shallan turned back toward him. That pride in his voice didn’t at all match what Jasnah had written of the man. Of course, most of her notes and knowledge of the highprinces came from infrequent visits to the Shattered Plains, and none had been recent.

"From what I’ve heard," Shallan said, "your forces are among the least successful in the war against the Parshendi."

Sebarial got a twinkle in his eyes. "The others hunt quick income from gemhearts, but what will they spend their money on?"

Sebarial is not your typical Alethi lighteyes. He has pride in his accomplishments, and they’re genuinely his accomplishments. He hires capable people, listens to their input, decides what to implement, and lets them do their jobs (well, except for the cook), all the while directing the activity toward his own goals. He achieves a unique power by providing what everyone else needs but does not value, while the other Highprinces are pursuing things they value but don’t need.


Sebarial is such a likeable character, and when Palona enters the scene, it just gets better.

Following is the description of Sebarial’s banner:

It bore the glyphs sebes and laial stylized into a skyeel, deep gold on a black field combined.

A page or so later, Shallan reacts to learning of his undertakings:

"You sly eel," Shallan said. "While the others fight a war, you’ve been building an economy."

It's fitting. His description of war - especially this war - is too true: it’s a lot of work, soldiers die, their families have to be paid, and it’s useless all around. So he pays the fines to skip most of his assigned plateau runs, and puts his resources to work positioning himself to gain most of the actual profit from the gemhearts. At that, though, he’s got one of the best-trained armies on the Shattered Plains, because whatever he’s doing, he hires the best people to do the job and lets them do it.

This chapter sets up an excellent working relationship between Sebarial, Shallan, and Palona.

"Bah!" Sebarial said. "Woman, you make me the most henpecked man in all of Alethkar!"

"We aren’t in Alethkar."

" - and I’m not even storming married!"

"I’m not marrying you, so stop asking," Palona said, folding her arms, looking Shallan up and down speculatively. "She’s far too young for you."

Sebarial grinned. "I used that line already. On Ruthar. It was delightful - he sputtered so much, you could have mistaken him for a storm."

It was unexpectedly kind of Sebarial to point out to Shallan that as much as he enjoys her non-traditional court manners, she does need to be careful where she aims her wit. She’s playing for much higher stakes now than she ever has before, and retribution for insult here would not only be swift, it might well doom the world.

Anyway, Palona not only assures Shallan that she will get the stipend implied, she also - without any sentiment - simply, completely, and matter-of-factly makes her welcome. Shallan gets a little excited about running water, which she saw for the first time in Kharbranth (and which reveals a little about the state of development in rural Jah Keved); Palona’s response is as follows:

Welcome to civilization. I trust you left your club and loincloth at the door.

Civilization. On the Shattered Plains. ?


Same day as Chapters 31-38, Interludes 5 and 8.

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

Hogs. Just a reminder; Roshar does have bacon. And Sebarial farms the hogs to provide real, un-Soulcast bacon to the armies.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.