|<< WoR Ch. 66: Stormblessings / WoR Ch. 68: Bridges >>|
|“||My path has been chosen very deliberately. Yes, I agree with everything you have said about Rayse, including the severe danger he presents.||”|
Progression of the Chapter:
Dalinar and Navani stroll toward another feast they’d rather not attend; Navani natters about fabrials while Dalinar’s mind wanders to his upcoming expedition; he finally registers that she’s rambling about her work because it takes her mind off Jasnah, at which point she breaks down and cries; they proceed to the feasting basin; Wit has returned; people are behaving oddly, but no one will let Dalinar in on the joke; Amaram arrives, and tells Dalinar that someone has leaked Navani’s accounts of his visions; Navani herself rejoins them, telling Dalinar that they have twisted her reports to make him look foolish; he refuses to be embarrassed, and climbs up on a table to tell them it’s all true; he then spends the rest of the evening confounding their expectations; the evening wraps up in a troubling conversation with Wit.
Quote of the Chapter:
Amaram seemed so earnest. Why didn’t he help your sons? Kaladin’s voice rang in Dalinar’s mind. Amaram had come to him that day, of course, professing his apologies and explaining that - with his appointment as a Radiant - he couldn’t possibly have helped one faction against another. He said he needed to be above the squabbles between Highprinces, even when it pained him.
"And the supposed Herald?" Dalinar asked. "The thing I asked you about?"
"I am still investigating."
There are two separate scenes in this chapter. There’s the one with Dalinar and Navani strolling along, talking about fabrials, Shardblades, and bereavement. Then there’s the one at the feast, with someone trying to discredit Dalinar’s visions, integrity, and authority.
Dalinar’s response is pure gold:
|“||"I am not a youth, nervous at his first feast. Sadeas makes a mistake in believing I will respond to this as he would. Unlike a sword, scorn has only the bite you give it."||”|
Not that it’s quite so easy as all that, but this is really the only appropriate reaction to this scenario. Then, Dalinar climbs onto the food table with the thought that ...
Making a spectacle of oneself in this way was not done in Alethkar. He, however, had already been this evening’s spectacle.
Dalinar takes advantage of the spotlight to let it shine on the truth as he points out the truth of the visions and promises to share any new ones immediately. Then he proceeds to ignore the whole "visions" thing, instead exploiting his position as the center of attention to work people over in support of his up-coming Weeping-time expedition to the center of the Shattered Plains.
He had pointedly ignored the pages with his visions on them, except when asked direct questions about what he’d seen. Instead, he had presented them with a forceful, confident man - the Blackthorn turned politician. Let them chew on that and compare him to the frail madman the falsified transcripts would make him out to be.
The primary drawback is the one he notes at the end of the evening: that he has essentially ignored the structure he and Gavilar claimed to have established, and has taken the reins in his own hands after all. Elhokar may wear the crown and bear the title, but when real action is needed, it’s up to Dalinar to keep the whole thing from falling apart. It’s a lousy dilemma; under normal circumstances he really ought to back off and let Elhokar be king. These are not, however, "normal circumstances," and Elhokar is dismally ill-equipped to lead when the fate of the world is on the line.
These events take place three days after Kaladin’s release from jail; eleven days remain in the countdown.
Sanderson slips an amazing amount of information into what is really a very short conversation about fabrial construction. Since so little is known, any is a lot. Navani muses on how to make fabrial pumps, and on the way readers learn a bit more about using gemstones to attract or repel specific substances.
The big revelation is the part about the Shardblades. This was one of the early hints that the Blades are not fabrials – in the ordinary sense – at all. It involves a captive spren, all right, it’s just not trapped in the gemstone. Why the Blades originally shifted to accept the stones may be the enticement for the sprens' opportunity for some kind of return to sentience, however limited. To forever be trapped in Blade form, only able to be a little bit themselves when someone bonds and summons them, had to be excruciatingly restrictive for the spren.
Haven't We Met Somewhere Before?
Here's everyone’s favorite Worldhopper. Hoid is an absolute gem in this chapter. The snarky remarks to/about Amaram, who has most people fooled, are pretty rich, and definitely reflect Adolin's comments about him in the previous chapter.
Dalinar gave no reply as Navani strode across the short bridge onto their island. Wit started to proclaim an insult, but she swatted him in the face with a stack of papers, giving him barely a glance as she continued on toward Dalinar. Wit watched after, rubbing his cheek, and grinned.
The visualization is priceless.
In their conversation at the end of the chapter, Wit’s acknowledgement of Dalinar’s skill was a nice moment, but the significant piece is in Dalinar’s understanding of the problems inherent in the manner of "unification" he and Gavilar forced on Alethkar. While Wit may say that "it is an era for tyrants" and that "a benevolent tyrant is preferable to the disaster of weak rule," and he may be correct, Dalinar is wise to see the shortcomings of his past actions. The question now is, what effect should that have on his decisions and actions in the coming days? Is this the time to try to deal with the problems?
Then, there’s the wider cosmere view hinted at in this exchange:
Wit smiled. "I am but a man, Dalinar, so much as I wish it were not true at times. I am no Radiant. And while I am your friend, please understand that our goals do not completely align. You must not trust yourself with me. If I have to watch this world crumble and burn to get what I need, I will do so. With tears, yes, but I would let it happen."
"I will do what I can to help," Wit said, "and for that reason, I must go. I cannot risk too much, because if he finds me, then I become nothing - a soul shredded and broken into pieces that cannot be reassembled. What I do here is more dangerous than you could ever know."
He turned to go.
"Wit," Dalinar called.
"If who finds you?"
"The one you fight, Dalinar Kholin. The father of hatred." Wit saluted, then jogged off.
Ishar is here to reflect both the "guiding" aspect of Dalinar’s relationship to Alethkar, and his evening activities. The Joker, as is most common, is associated with Hoid’s presence, but in this case it’s extraordinarily appropriate. He’s the wild card in play.
Dalinar & Navani make readers happy, even when they’re sad. Awkward moments, though, what with Navani’s implicit admission that she didn’t feel terribly bereaved when Gavilar died, and Dalinar’s inability to explain that thinking of his wife isn’t so much painful as, well, impossible. Someday he’s going to have to tell her about that.
- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson