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Point of view: Taln
Setting: The Shattered Plains

Progression of the Interlude:

Fires; words; Bordin reports on his trip from Kholinar to the Shattered Plains; fires; Wit; fires; the madman repeats his litany; mistaken (?) assumptions are made; the madman continues his litany; more assumptions are made; questions are asked.

Quote of the Interlude:

"Well, he said that he’d needed, uh, I had this remembered for you. He said, 'I needed an objective frame of reference by which to judge the experience of your company. Somewhere between four and five blows, I place it.' I don’t rightly understand what he meant, sir. I think he was mocking me."

"Safe bet."

Poor Bordin. Traveling with Hoid in one of his moods must have been quite the experience. To say nothing of traveling with Taln, rambling unintelligibly most of the time.


There are more questions than comments on this particular interlude.

First, is this or is this not Talenel-Elin, Herald of War? After The Way of Kings, Brandon seemed to have no problem referring to the dude who showed up at the gates in the Epilogue as Taln, but after Words of Radiance he’s been mighty coy about referring to him only as the one who "calls himself Taln." What’s up with that?

Either this is Taln, or he’s been coached very, very well to believe that he is. He’s got the whole "fires of damnation" thing down pretty well. Given what goes on in his mind, this seems to be the one Herald who held on to his Oathpact for 4500 years.

Second, what was Hoid up to with accompanying Bordin and Taln part of the way, and then suddenly running off into the mountains? About the timing of this episode, it takes place before Wit returns to the Shattered Plains ... which doesn’t say much, because he hasn't been seen since the end of The Way of Kings.

Third, what is the deal with this Blade? In The Way of Kings Epilogue, it seemed obvious that the reason the Blade didn’t vanish when Taln dropped it was that it was an Honorblade, which would only vanish automatically when the true owner was killed. It also seems obvious that the Blade Dalinar references here is not the same as the one in that Epilogue. So again, what’s up?

Some of what the other Heralds typically did when they returned to prepare for a Desolation is revealed in this interlude. Kalak will teach them to cast bronze; Vedel will train the surgeons; Jezrien will teach leadership; Taln will train the soldiers. And he knows about the Knights Radiant.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Just what does this character icon mean? Are those stars? Are they swords? There are only nine stars/swords, not ten. Do they represent the other nine Heralds who abandoned the Oathpact? What's with the mountains?

Oddly, the Heralds icons here are Chanarach and the Joker, and not Taln. The Joker seems as if it should be associated with Wit, but this particular icon signifies not only Hoid/Wit, but also sometimes a deception or wild card. Chana seems here due to the frequent references to fire, but she could also represent her associated attributes of brave/obedient for Taln’s courage and obedience in holding to the Oathpact. On the other hand, the fact that Taln isn't represented as one of the two Herald icons is the thing that begs to question the identity of "the person who calls himself Taln" in this scene.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]