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<< WoR Ch. 42: Mere Vapors / WoR Ch. 44: One Form of Justice >>
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And thus were the disturbances in the Revv toparchy quieted, when, upon their ceasing to prosecute their civil dissensions, Nalan'Elin be took himself to finally accept the Skybreakers who had named him their master, when initially he had spurned their advances and, in his own interests, refused to countenance that which he deemed a pursuit of vanity and annoyance; this was the last of the Heralds to admit to such patronage.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 5, page 17

Point of view: Shallan
Setting: Sebarial's warcamp

Progression of the Chapter:

Shallan goes adventuring as a darkeyes, and finds it freeing; she nevertheless manages to make herself conspicuous by behaving in ways inconsistent with her disguise; she sets Pattern to watch her back for anyone following, then leaps in fright when he reports; she successfully finds the meeting place - and a lot of strangeness; despite her nervousness, she manages a few nice bits of snark; she holds a very cautious conversation with a man called Mraize who appears to be the local leader; his companions are a peculiar lot, as are the apparent trophies on display; she receives an assignment for "Tyn": to find out what Amaram is hiding; she is dismissed, and takes Memories of those present on her way out; she is followed by the strangest of the company, and slips her tail by a panicked Lightweaving of a wall; she finally returns to her rooms in Sebarial’s manor, and finds herself flushed with the thrill of her adventure.

Quote of the Chapter:

The guard nodded toward an opening in the wall, and Shallan stared into the blackness there. Steps. Down.

Storms, what am I doing?

Not being timid. That was what she was doing. Shallan glanced at the brutish guard and raised an eyebrow, forcing her voice to sound calm. "You really went all-out on the decor. How long did you have to look to find a den in the Shattered Plains that had a creepy staircase in it?"

The guard actually smiled. It didn’t make him look any less intimidating.


Shallan is so naive at times; she's happy to be inconspicuous, and laughs at herself when she realizes that as a darkeyes, she can’t expect people to get out of her way ... and then she nonchalantly pulls out an emerald mark to pay for something that costs a single clearchip. Oops.

But she is becoming more self-aware:

She had business to be about. Part of her didn’t want to go forward with it, obviously, and her mind was trying to distract her. She was becoming increasingly aware of this defense of hers. She used it, she needed it, but she couldn’t let it control her life.

This is an improvement! In fact, it’s a huge step: recognizing your defense mechanisms and then having enough self-discipline to choose not to do the thing that has been your only mental protection for many years ... it’s huge.

There’s a quick hint here relating to something about the warcamps being built on the ruins of something else. The tenement in which she meets the Ghostbloods has not one, but two basement levels, in a place where most buildings don’t bother with basements eminently able to be flooded. The only question now is whether these cellars are left from the time when this was all part of the nation of Natanatan, or whether they are of more recent construction by the Parshendi.

She handles herself well in this meeting. While she may resemble jello on the inside, the outside impression is a combination of Jasnah's self-confidence and Tyn’s boldness. Most importantly, it works; Mraize (and presumably Iyatil) find her plausible and clever, even though she misjudged their readiness to meet with "Tyn's apprentice." He’d simply agreed to it with the expectation of killing her and then hunting down Tyn, with or without any information she could provide.

And so, having more or less favorably impressed the Ghostbloods, Shallan is allowed to give herself a name and receive a new assignment.

There are a lot of little hints in this chapter, connecting the Ghostbloods to much, much wider Cosmere significance. (So much so, in fact, that they likely don’t care one clearchip about a single person on Roshar, but they do care about the conflict with Odium. The question is, which side are they on?)


Same day as Chapters 31-38, 40-42, and Interludes 5 and 8.


Aside from Pattern, there are only some fearspren wriggling up around Shallan while Mraize tries various ways to induce her to reveal Tyn’s whereabouts. Useless, annoying, traitorous little beasties, some of these spren. Pattern, by contrast, is useful, entertaining, and eminently loyal, if occasionally startling.

Ars Arcanum:

Lightweaving is very useful indeed, especially when one can look like part of the wall. Very handy for getting rid of someone following you, though one wouldn't want to run out of Stormlight in the middle of it. Possibly, the most chancy part of Lightweaving disguises is that one has to carry a small fortune all the time, even when in a disguise that shouldn’t carry more than a pittance. But then, that's likely true for any Surgebinder; it would be chancy to run out of Stormlight when a few hundred feet above the ground, too.

Heraldic Symbolism:

This is an interesting pair: Palah and the Joker. Palah, associated with the role of Scholar and the attributes of Learned and Giving, patron of the Truthwatchers. Are the Ghostbloods aligned, or opposing? And the Joker ... Is that masked face connected with the masked woman in the chapter? She’s a wild card!

The chapter title couldn’t possibly be more obvious.

Words of Radiants:

Nalan might be an arrogant sort. He seems to be so haughty and egocentric, yet ends up with the role of Judge.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]