By Sanderson Brandon
By Sanderson Brandon
Brandon Sanderson is an award-winning author, creative writing teacher, and leader in the epic fantasy genre. But he wasn’t always this way. In junior high, Sanderson had given up on books because, though he loved to read as a kid, the titles suggested to him were almost never to his liking. In junior high, his love for reading was reborn when he discovered genre fiction (especially fantasy and science fiction).
Though Sanderson started college as a biochemistry major, during a two-year sabbatical (which he spent as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Seoul Korea) he discovered he loved writing much more than science. He came back, changing his major to English, and plunged deep into the world of a fantasy writer. He even worked with, and was eventually Editor in Chief of, “The Leading Edge”, his university’s science fiction/fantasy magazine.
After his first book, Elantris, was published with Tor, Sanderson later published his Mistborn trilogy, The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings. The Way of Kings is the first of a proposed ten-volume series of epic fantasy fiction.
Aside from his original works, the list of which keeps on growing from year to year, Sanderson was also entrusted by Robert Jordan’s estate to finish the Wheel of Time series with three final books. In 2009, he released The Gathering Storm; in 2010 he put out Towers of Midnight; and in 2012, we look forward to reading A Memory of Light.
Sanderson has also branched into middle-grade fiction with his Alcatraz series of books. Aside from all his writing work and his teaching position at Brigham Young University, Brandon also co-hosts the award-winning podcast for fiction writers, Writing Excuses.
The Way of Kings is a massive and complex book, replete with characters, settings, and events, not to mention the saturated history of the world the book takes place in. Since it is the first book in a proposed ten-volume series, there are many small plot lines that are merely opened or mentioned but not developed in this massive novel. The various interludes especially give glimpses into parts of the world and story that are so far completely mysterious in their connection with the main plots.
The following are the four main plot lines that are developed in The Way of Kings. Each can be identified by the main character that serves as the protagonist, although at times there are more than a couple of characters that are involved in each arch.
Kaladin’s story is by far the biggest part of The Way of Kings. Not only do we see his past, in the form of flashbacks from his childhood, but we also see his present actions, which have a major impact on the story as a whole.
In Kaladin’s flashbacks, little Kal is the son of a surgeon. He’s being trained as a surgeon, as well, and his father has plans to send him to another city to study medicine. When the citylord of their town dies and Kal’s father comes home with a large amount of spheres (which means money), Kal’s world starts to turn upside down. The new citylord moves in and immediately dislikes Ka’s father, calling him a thief because he doesn’t believe he was given those spheres. In the end, the new citylord sends Kal’s little brother off to war in a mandatory draft. Kal throws away his future to go to war and protect his brother, which he fails in doing.
In the present, Kaladin starts out as a spearman in the army. He kills a shardbearer in order to protect his commanding officer. This makes him the rightful owner of the shardblade and plate of the man he killed, which he flatly turns down. His commanding officer betrays him by killing his friends and branding Kaladin as a slave, all just to take control of the shardblade and plate.
As a slave, Kaladin is eventually sold to Highprince Sadeas’ army to serve as a bridgeman. That means he is to run with a heavy wooden bridge on his shoulder, along with a crew of about thirty men. They use the bridges to cross chasms on the Shattered Plains and get to battles. Bridgemen are used as bait, easy-to-kill targets, as they run ahead of the army and place the bridges on the final chasm before the contested plateau. Kaladin struggles to help his fellow bridgemen, and along the way makes even more enemies than the average slave should have. When he discovers that he has some surgebinding abilities, however, things start to look better.
In the end, Kaladin is instrumental to the survival of Highprince Dalinar. Dalinar then bargains with Sadeas to keep all the bridgemen, including Kaladin and his specific crew. Kaladin is then made a captain and placed as head of the personal guards over Dalinar himself.
Dalinar’s story starts in the Shattered Plains. He and the other nine highprinces, along with the king himself, are there at war with the Parshendi, all part of an oath of vengeance, because the Parshendi ordered the asisnation of the previous king, Dalinar’s own brother. Although Dalinar has a reputation for being a matchless warrior, that reputation is falling apart because of his resent behavior on the Shattered Plains.
Dalinar has been receiving visions during highstorms, in which he is taken to some place in history, seeing things he doesn’t quite understand. A voice tells him to unite the highprinces and prepare for an upcoming great war, called the True Desolation. He tries to do just that, but rumors of his visions cause people to not take him seriously. Even his own son, Adolin, thinks his father may be crazy.
Adding to his lack of popularity, Dalinar has also been obsessed with a certain book, called The Way of Kings. This book talks about the Codes, a kind of code of honor for kings and leaders, which encourages peaceful, compassionate leadership. This is the opposite from what the Alethi currently believe, since they have come to think that warfare and competition is the Alethi way. These codes are really starting to affect Dalinar, since he now feels disgusted by war. He even hints to the king that they should withdraw from the war and go home, so they can rule over their people and make their nation stronger.
Dalinar becomes convinced that the only way to leave the war and strengthen his own people is to become the Highprince of War, a kind of wartime leader over the other highprinces. But support for that is lacking, even from the king himself. Also, his son’s believing that Dalinar is crazy, along with the inense rumors from all ten warcamps, leads Dalinar to consider stepping down as highprince.
In a last effort to unite the highprinces, Dalinar starts going on joint missions with the army of Sadeas, which is unusual since the Alethi highprinces always fight one army at a time. When they get to a climactic battle on one particularly large plateau, however, Dalinar is betrayed and abandoned by Sadeas. He loses most of his army and almost dies himself when Kaladin and his crew bring a single bridge to rescue them. That’s when Dalinar gives Sadeas his shardblade in exchange for all the bridgemen he has, planning to use them as his new army. Dalinar also convinces the king, his nephew, to make him Highprince of War.
Lastly, Dalinar discovers where his visions have been coming from. They are from God, a powerful being that has already been killed by His enemy. God has sent these visions into the future, scheduled to contact someone and warn them just before the True Desolation comes.
While Dalinar’s and Kaladin’s story archs at least coincide towards the climax, Shallan’s story is almost completely separate in this first book. It feels like Shallan’s story could be a book of its own, leaving the reason why the story needs to be told in the first place for the very end of the book.
Shallan travels across the world to find a famous scholar named Jasnah, who happens to also be daughter of the dead king and sister of the current one. She finally manages to convince Jasnah to make her her ward, though Shallan’s true motive is to steal Jasnah’s soulcaster and return it to her family. Her father has died, and her family is nearly bankrupt. Her father had secretly been soulcasting somewhat valuable stones and selling them to give his family wealth, but now that he’s dead and the soulcaster he used is broken, the family is facing ruin.
As Shallan waits for the opportunity to steal Jasnah’s soulcaster and get away with it, she falls in love with her studies. She actually reaches the point that she wishes she could just stay and learn as a real ward and forget about her family’s troubles. At the same time, she makes friends with an Ardent named Kabsal, who keeps coming around because he wants to try and convert Jasnah, who is known as a heretic because she doesn’t believe in God.
Shallan also starts to see strange creatures around her, faceless figures that no one else can see. When she does finally steal the soulcaster, she is put in an impossible situation, in which she is accidentally poisoned by Kabsal. She has to reveal to Jasnah that she has stolen her soulcaster, just so Jasnah can save her life.
At the end of the book, Jasnah and Shallan have made an amazing discovery regarding the true identity of the legendary Voidbringers. They decide they must travel to the Shattered Plains to further investigate the real reason the war between the Alethi and the Parshendi began in the first place.
Szeth’s story arch is the shortest of the book, but it still qualifies as a major plot thread because of the way Szeth affected the lives of so many other characters. In the prologue, Szeth is the one who has been ordered to kill King Gavilar, dressing in white and using his shardblade to kill as many as possible in the process. Though he hates killing others, he is oathbound to do so because he is a slave to whomever holds his oathstone, a symbol of his slavery.
Throughout the book, we look in on Szeth as he is passed on from one owner to the next. When a mysterious party kills the man holding his oathstone, therefore taking control of Szeth, he is given a new list of important people to kill in the same way he assassinated Gavilar.
In the end, Szeth discovers the identity of his mysterious owner. He is also given a new name of someone to kill: Dalinar.
In The Way of Kings, Dalinar comes to see that the war between the Alethi and the Parshendi has lead to nothing, although it has gone on for six years now. All the while, their nation, back home, is falling apart, and Dalinar is convinced that the highprinces must return home and build up their princedoms before they come to complete ruin.
The Alethi vew war as some kind of game, a great competition to achieve greater wealth and gain influence over others. But the point of the war, gaining vengeance for the death of King Gavilar, has all but been forgotten. Therefore, the war seems completely futile. Dalinar is convinced that the only way to get the highprinces to go home is to win the war as quickly as possible. To that end, he demands to be named the Highprince of War.
Shallan faces this issue more than any other in the story. She is on a mission to steal Jasnah’s soulcaster, a wrong action she justifies because her family needs it and Jasnah is a heretic (therefore not deserving of a soulcaster in the first place). Jasnah tries to teach Shallan how to distinguish right from wrong, and she kills some men in the street to prove her point. This event truly shocks Shallan, giving her more justification to steal Jasnah’s soulcaster.
The way Sadeas uses bridgemen as bait also is seen as wrong to many, including Dalinar (a man that sticks close to the Codes and would therefore never send his men to do something that he himself weren’t willing to do) and Kaladin (who is a bridgeman and therefore risks his life to carry the bridges). On the other hand, from a military point of view, the loss of life is acceptable because every bridgeman lost means a soldier that wasn’t shot at by the same arrow.
Kaladin also has to struggle with Syl, a talking spren that befriends him, about why men lie. When Syl sees Kaladin lie, she is shocked, although he sees some lies as necessary and therefore not wrong.
Szeth is bound to kill, something he views as completely wrong. But while he does so, he rationalizes, coming to hate his victims, blaming them for having to die.
Because there are several races in the world of The Way of Kings, prejudice abounds. The Alethi view the Parshmen as doumb animals in humanoid form, creatures that can barely speak. By extension, even though the Parshendi can talk, they are also considered some kind of saveges. It is therefore completely fine for them to be slaughtered in war.
Dalinar comes to wonder how much his people know about these Parshendi. He believes that they fight in pairs because they are husband and wife couples. He starts to see the Parshendi as people, and so he grows sick at the sight of killing them by the dozen.
Other people look upon with prejudice in the book. The horneaters are seen as stupid and savage. One member of Kaladin’s bridge crew continuously makes horneater jokes, even though one of his crew-mates is a horneater.
Jasnah is a Veristitalian, which means she is a scholar who tries to find truth in past events. When Shallan becomes her ward, she is surprised at the things Jasnah studies. She puts Shallan to work reading about Gavilar’s first contact with the Parshendi and his assassination just six years ago. Shallan was expecting to study something farther into the past. Jasnah, on the other hand, is studying the mythological Voidbringers, which Shallan thinks of as creatures of fairy tales. But Jasnah searches for the truth, trying to piece together what real creature may have started the myths and legend that exist down to today.
Dalinar, on the other hand, keeps having visions about the far past, see the effects of the legendary Desolations. He too searchers for the truth that’s hidden in the past. Only his way of searching is very different from Jasnah’s.
Dalinar has become obsessed with being an honorable leader. He reads (or, rather, has read to him, since men don’t read in Roshar) the book The Way of Kings again and again, a book full of moral stories of how a king should act with his people. Dalinar also sticks very close to the Codes, which call for a ruler in wartime to act a certain way and always be honorable.
It’s interesting that the other highprinces view Dalinar as weak because he tries to be honorable, since for them being a good ruler means leading successful hunting parties and bringing home victories and wealth. For them war and rulership is a game. Even during the thick of war, the king has a feast every night, a constant celebration. Dalinar may at time attend these feasts, but he and his men never wear anything but their military uniforms and refuse to drink heavy wine.
Young Kal and his father often talk about the difference between killing and saving. Kal says that you can save someone by killing others, but his father, the virtuous surgeon, insists that this is not possible. As Kaladin grows up, he tries to prove his father wrong, first in the army and later as a bridgeman. He is always trying to save or protect others–his younger brother, his squad, his bridgecrew–and he constantly fails. In the end, me manages to save most of his crew, as well as Dalinar and Adolin and a third of Dalinar’s army. This makes him a hero in many people’s eyes. On top of that, his actions lead to the liberating of hundreds of bridgemen from Sadeas’ control.
The theme of saving others also appears in other parts of the book. Jasnah kills muggers on the street, an action she justifies by saying she has saved the lives of those men’s future victims. King Taravangian sends Szeth to kill rulers and other important people in Roshar, supposedly to prepare the war for an upcoming disaster, so the assassinations are supposedly justified as a way to save countless more lives in the future. Dalinar risks his life to save Sadeas from death on the battlefield, only to be betrayed by him later.
Jasnah is known as a heretic because she does not belong to any devotary or even believe in God. As a scholar, she put rational thought before faith. Throughout the book, Kabsal tries to convert her, but to no avail. Shallan is even shaken by Jasnah’s claims, and in the end she understands why Jasnah refuses to become religious.
Other characters seem to be religious, but only to a certain extent. Kaladin never burns prayers anymore, but he wears one on a particularly major battle. Dalinar and Adolin don’t seem to put much thought into God, although they do follow what the ardents say.
In the end of the book, Dalinar discovers that his visions have come from God, but he also learns that God is dead, long killed by his enemy. God has been sending visions into the uncertain future to warn humans of the dangers to come.
The future is uncertain in The Way of Kings. In fact, it is considered a kind of sin to try to predict the future. It is said that only the almighty should be able to know what will happen. Things like gambling are looked down upon because they involve betting on future outcomes, even if that outcome is the roll of some dice. Stormwardens are people that use mathematical calculations and careful recordings for predict when highstorms will come, but even their work is looked down upon as testing the patience of the almighty.
When Dalinar starts receiving warning about the future in his visions, Adolin is afraid that such a thing will be called a sin. In the end, Dalinar discovers that those warning were indeed coming from God. But God sends visions of an uncertain future. It seems that even He cannot simply look into the future and tell what will happen.
The world of Roshar is a harsh place, the periodic highstorms always threatening to destroy everything civilization can build up. Even the plants and animals are designed to survive intense situations; the plants can recede into a protective shell when threatened, as can the many crab-like animals. Cities are built under the protection of mountains to survive the highstorms.
The several of the characters seem to be focused on survival in the book. Kaladin works to survive in the bridge runs, as he also tries to save others around him. Shallan becomes the ward of Jasnah in order to steal her soulcaster, which she wants to do in order to ensure her families survival. Even the visions Dalinar receives are warning to help the innocent survive the coming True Desolation.
The characters of The Way of Kings are compelled by both their seeming destinies, while at the same time they try to change their fates through the choices they make. Dalinar is chosen to receive these visions from the past, but how he deals with them is his choice. Kaladin chooses to reject a shardblade and plate, only to see his friend killed because of it. He then finds out he has been destined to use surgebinding to save others. Shallan chooses to steal Jasnah’s soulcaster, but then learns that her fate involves Jasnah in a completely different way. Even Szeth seem controlled by others, so his power of choice is taken from him. This forced destiny will put him at odds with other characters in the next book.
In a setting where the future is uncertain even for God, destiny seems even more influenced by choice. The choices these character make change the world around them, perhaps affecting even the destinies of others.
Adolin Kholin is Highprince Dalinar’s son and the older brother of Renarin. He is 23 years old. He has light blue eyes and blonde and black hair. Adolin is infamously strong tempered and quick to act, but he also has an even intelligence about him. He’s known for his short courtships, his girlfriends changing on a regular basis. He is a full shardbearer, having inherited his shardblade and shardplate from his mother
Dalinar is an Alethi Highprince, also known as The Blackthorn because of his prowess in battle. Because he was drunk in a feast the night his brother, Gavilar, was killed, he still blames himself for Gavilar’s death, sure he should have been there to fight against his unknown assassin. He is a full Shardbearer. He is obsessed with the Codes and how to be a good king. Driven by his visions, he is trying to unite Alethkar and bring peace.
Elhokar Kholin is the King of Alethkar, son of Gavilar and Navani, younger brother of Jasnah. He is 27 years old and a Shardbearer. His blade, which is called Sunraiser, is barely seen in this book. Elhokar has an intense fear of assassination, which is reasonable since his father was assassinated in a strange way. His fear is often blown out of the water; he sees trivial things as acts of aggression from unknown enemies. He doubts his ability as a king, something about which his uncle Dalinar constantly tries to reassure him of. Despite being the Alethi king, he is absent from his kingdom and rules from the borders of the Shattered Plains in an attempt to fullfill the Vengeance Pact by killing Parshendi.
The heretic sister of the Alethi king, Elhokar. She is a world-famous scholar, Veristitalian (a historian that looks for truth in the past, and a Soulcaster. Shallan, searches her out to become her ward, which is really part of her plan to steal her soulcaster.
An ardent owned by Taravangian, king of Kharbranth, in his early twenties. He has blue eyes, a shaved head, and a short, square beard. He meets Shallan while waiting to speak with Jasnah Kholin, in an attempt to convert her. From the start, he begins pursuing Shallan, at first as a friend and later as perhaps more. He brings her gifts of jam and bread, which he often serves along with a conversation, saturated in wit and flattery. Closer to the end of the book, he even offers to leave the ardentia for Shallan.
One of the main characters of the Way of Kings, Kaladin starts out as a spearman and ends up a slave and bridgeman. He has been referred to by some as Stormblessed, because of the luck he brings in battle. Much of the story focuses on how Kaladin struggles to help and protect the bridge crew he is assigned with, helped by a unique spren named Syl. In flashback chapters, detailing Kaladin’s young life, he is called Kal.
Brightness Navani the mother of King Elhokar and Jasnah. She had been courted by both Gavilar and Dalinar when she was young, but she eventually chose to marry Gavilar. She is politically skilled and is an engineer and researcher of fabrials.
Shallan Davar is one of the major characters in the The Way of Kings. She is the daughter of the recently deceased Brightlord Davar of Jah Keved, although her family has worked hard to hide the fact that her father has died. Shallan is receiving scholarly training as a ward of Jasnah Kholin, though, from the start, her plan is to steal Jasnah’s soulcaster and use it to save her family’s house.
Syl is a spren who befriends Kaladin. At first it is thought that she is a windspren. But windspren don’t speak or show anything more than the most rudimentary childlike intelligence. Syl seems to be able to think and remember more and more throughout the book. She makes friends with Kaladin and claims that he is somehow the reason she is able to think more than the average spren. Towards the end of the book, it is discovered that she is an honorspren and that she is bound to Kaladin.
Szeth-son-son-Vallano (known also as Szeth-son-Neturo, after his father), Truthless of Shinovar, is an assassin and a slave. He is a surgebinder, which means he has the ability to bind things with stormlight, and he possesses a shardblade, a long and thin blade.
General Amaram is an Alethi brightlord serving under Highprince Sadeas. His role as general is primarily that of settling border disputes with other brightlords while Sadeas is away on the Shattered Plains fighting the Parshendi and fulfilling the Vengeance Pact. Kaladin and his little brother Tien served under Amaram before Tien died and Kaladin was sold into slavery. Amaram was responsible for that last event, betraying Kaladin, killing the rest of his crew, and taking the shardblade Kaladin earned for himself.
Axies the Collector, a Siah Aimian, is a traveling scholar that studies Spren. He often writes his notes on his own body because he’s regularly robbed of everything he owns, including his clothes. He has the ability to cause marks on his skin without needing any kind of tool.
A bridge sergeant overseeing all of the bridgemen crews, including Bridge Four, the crew Kaladin belongs to. He doesn’t like Kaladin and he often treats the crews under him poorly. On the other hand, we see that he is also the lowest of the military officers. He even owes some other officers money, which causes more problems for him. He has only one eye, and he seems to be forced to run bridges by the end of the book.
Originally introduced in the book as the King’s Wit, Hoid is a very mysterious character, which is backed up by the fact that he tells no one his real name. Adding to his mystery, Hoid also seems to be the only one that knows what’s going on in the world. In the epilogue, he is waiting for the dramatic event that changes everything forever, as if he knew when and where it would happen.
Kaladin’s father and the only surgeon in the town of Hearthstone. He has two sons, Kaladin and Tien. His wife’s name is Hesina, a witty and clever woman. His dream is to send his son, Kal, to study as a surgeon, something he plans to pay for with a large amount of Spheres that he supposedly received from the late citylord.
Described by the Alethi as ‘parshmen who can think’, these are the enemies of the Alethi kingdom. Differing from their servantlike cousins, the Parshendi are clever and accomplished warriors. They live in the Shattered Plains, in the east of Roshar. No one knows if they have a central city. In fact little is known about the Shattered Plains because they are almost completely unexplored.
Another Brightprince of Alethkar, the youngest son of Dalinar, younger brother of Adolin. Since childhood, he has suffered an illness that is called “blood weakness.” He has neither shardplate nor shardblade.
A bridgeman in Sadeas’ army. He is a mountainously large Horneater whose full name is Numuhukumakiaki’aialunamor. The name is a description of a type of rock his father found shortly before he was born. For obvious reasons, people just call him Rock. He takes great pride in appearance, especially in his facial hair which he keeps shaved in a unique way that identifies his ethnicity. Rock is a cook with unusual Horneater tastes. He refuses to fight as a soldier.
Teft is an older man with brown eyes and close-cropped hair. When he was young, his family was part of a sect that awaited the return of the Knights Radiant, which they call the Envisagers. He now believes that there might be some out there still, but he doesn’t know how to contact them.
This is the name of the whole world in The Way of Kings. Roshar is a vast and complex place, filled with interesting nations and cultures and landscapes. In The Way of Kings, we see in detail two major locations within Roshar, although other places are seen in passing.
Known also as City of Bells, a city state ruled by King Taravangian. Kharbranth is a center for the academics and scholars of Roshar, due to it’s giant and extensive library, known as the Palaneum. Kharbranth is also well known for its extensive system hospitals, in which no one is turned away. These hospitals are funded by the king from the taxes charged for entry into the Palaneum.
The other major location for most of the book. This is the strange land that borders the Unclaimed Hills to the south and Alethkar to the southeast. These plains are a unique set of rocky, uneven plains or plateaus, separated by deep chasms. Because of these chasms, which seems to shatter the rocky land, the Shattered Plains make for a difficult terrain for conducting a war. In addition to that, there are flashfloods that quickly fill and then drain the chasms, because of the highstorms, and giant chasmfiends that dwell across the land. In order to march out to battle, the Alethi armies have to use movable bridges, carried by bridgemen. The Parshendi are able to leap from plateau to plateau with ease, making them quicker in getting to battle fields.
As any regular reader of Brandon Sanderson’s books probably has come to expect, the magic system in The Way of Kings is fascinating and complex. As usual, it seems that every aspect of the magic system connects or leads back to one source, though that full connection may remain a mystery for some time.
Surgbinding–this is the ability to “breathe in” stormlight from whatever gem or sphere and use it to do various things. Szeth, one character in the book, uses stormlight to bind things in different ways. He can reverse gravity or turn it sideways. Szeth is able to bind things or himself in just about any direction, sending them hurling in that direction as if gravity itself were pulling them, or simply bind something in place so it cannot be moved until the stormlight used to bind it runs out. The only other surgebinder in the book is Kaladin, who learns he has the ability to use stormlight to heal and do other things throughout the course of the book.
Shardblads and armor–Shardblades are special weapons used by shardbearers, those that own them. When a person is bonded to a shardblade, thus becoming a shardbearer, that blade cannot be taken from him as long as he is alive. So, the only way to take someone’s blade, unless he gives it up willingly, is to kill him. These shardblades can disappear and reappear on command, seeming to form out of mist in the shardbearer’s hand precisely ten heartbeats after the mental command is used. These amazing blades can cut through virtually any material, but they pass through living flesh without doing any kind of damage. What they do kill is the soul of that flesh. A man who is “cut” through the arm will have that limb paralyzed forever. If the shardblade passes through the brain or spine, or perhaps another vital organ, then that person or animal dies. Dead flesh is cut by the blade.
Shardplates are sets of armor that are powered by charged gems. They can withstand strikes from shardblades. No one can make a new shardplate or blade. They are said to be gifts from the Heralds.
Fabrials–While shardplates and blades cannot be reproduced, charged gems can be used to make fabrials, which are a form of “magic technology.” Fabrials are used for a variety of tasks, from removing pain to communicating over long distances to giving light or heat. As the war on the Shattered Plains continues year after year and gems become more common, fabrials have become less expensive to make. Therefore, many new fabrial inventions have started appearing all around Roshar.
A very unique fabrial has been designed by the Jah Keved kingdom–special shields that can, to a small extent, withstand shardblade attacks. These fabrial-powered shields are nothing like shardplates, but they are a brave attempt.
Soulcasting–Another unique ability is to soulcast one material into another. Soulcaster is the name of both the person who can do this and the fabrial used to do it. Both organic and inorganic materials can be made, though certain elements are among the principle Essences and are therefore easier to manipulate. In The Way of Kings, it is discovered that some people can actually soulcast without a soulcaster on their hand. Because stormlight is used, this may be related in some way to surgebinding. Shallan is able to soulcast without a fabrial by somehow contacting a place called Shadesmar.
The Old Magic–This is a kind of magic that seems completely unrelated to the others. One can use the Old Magic when he/she travels to see the Nightwatcher. The Nightwatcher will grant one wish to each person in exchange for a curse. Dalinar, for example, visited the Nightwatcher and later was unable to remember any of his late wife. He can’t even hear her name. Because the Ardents are against using the Old Magic, it is considered embarrassing to admit to having gone to the Nightwatcher, even though the penalty for doing so is minimal.
The currency system in The Way of Kings is truly unique. Spheres are made of precious gems, such as emeralds, diamonds and rubies. The value of a sphere depends on the size and the kind of gem it is made of. These spheres are also charged by being left out in highstorms. A charged sphere is worth a little more than a dull (or dun) one. Spheres are also used as lighting in a world in which electricity has not been harnessed by technology.
Spren are small spiritlike creatures that inhabit many things in Roshar. Every location mentioned in The Way of Kings seems to have spren, except Shinover. Each kind of spren has a different color and appearance, and they are named for the thing they are attracted to. When a man is frightened, even when he doesn’t show in any other way, fearspren appear around him. There are spren for a whole array of human emotions, including sadness, anticipation, and even drunkenness. Spren also involve natural elements. There are ground spren and waterspren and windspren. Rotspren appear around wounds that are not kept clean, and deathspren can be seen around people that are close to death.
The origin of spren is unknown (so far in the series). There is even one character in the book that is scientifically studying spren, travelling around Roshar to find more examples of these strange creatures. There is some confusion about whether spren cause effects or are simple attracted to them. Do rotspren cause infections, ro do they simple appear when infection starts? Do groundspren actually cause things to stay attached to the ground (like gravity does for us), or are those unrelated effects?
Two kinds of spren in the book that especially stand out include Syl, the talking spren that befriends Kaladin, and the strange, faceless, creatures that Shallan can see in her own drawings. Syl discovers she is an honorspren during the book, but the other figures are still mysterious for now.
After a great battle, Kalak wanders through rocky plains going, heading towards the place where he’s supposed to meet the other survivors, passing bodies and the carcasses of giant rock monsters. He knows that, now that the battle is over, he will have to go back to a place of pain and torture, awaiting the next desolation. Only one other Herald is waiting for Kalak: Jezrien. There are seven magnificent swords standing from the ground, forming a giant circle, evidence that the Heralds that own them have already gone. Only Jezrien has stayed to wait. Talenel, another Herald, has died in battle. Kalak reveals to Jezrien that he doesn’t want to go bact, and Jezrien agrees, telling him that the other seven have decided not to end the Oathpact. This horrifies Kalak, though he can see that Jezrien, like him, is broken. The Heralds will tell the people that they have won, although this will be a lie.
4,500 years after the events of the Prelude, Szeth is sent by the Parshendi to assassinate King Gavilar in a violent way, wearing a white outfit. Szeth doesn’t understand why the Parshendi want to kill the king on the day they sign a treaty with him, but he is bound by his orders and must obey them. He uses his abilities as a surgebinder, absorbing stormlight from nearby lamps to perform astonishing feats, as well as his shardblade to kill guard after guard, making his way to the king’s chambers. He encounters a shardbearer, a man with shardsword and shardplate, and, after struggling, defeats him, only to discover that the mad behind the shardplate helm is Gavilar. Dying, Gavilar is surprised when Szeth tells him that the assignation was ordered by the Parshendi. The king gives Szeth a black orb and asks him to tell Gavilar’s brother “he must find the most important words a man can say.” Szeth takes the orb and right those words in blood before escaping.
Cenn is a new recruit for Amaram’s army. At the last minute before a battle, he is transferred to Kaladin’s squad. Kaladin is called the Stormblessed because of his luck in battle and skill with a spear. When the battle begins, everything quickly becomes chaos, though Kaladin and his men seem more organized than others. Kaladin gives his squad signals by banging on his shield, and the men fall into different formations. Despite their skill and excellent leadership, some are wounded, and Kaladin leaves a small group to wait for medical help. He charges off to topple a brightlord in plate armor. Meanwhile, Cenn spots a real shardbearer, killing and charging their direction.
Eight months after the events of Chapter 1, Kaladin is a slave in a caravan, locked in a caged wagon with ten other slaves. A little blue windspren seems to follow him around, causing mischief for him. The other slaves in his wagon share how they became slaves, and they ask Kaladin about his story. Kaladin says he killed a lighteyes. Kaladin has a poison leaf that he’s smuggled onto the wagon, called blackbane. He doesn’t yet know what he’ll do with it. One slave in the wagon is sick. When the slave driver checks him out, Kaladin recognizes the disease and knows how to cure him. Instead, the slave drivers kill him, claiming he’d have contaminated the whole lot, making the slaves worthless. In his anger at the situation, Kaladin accidentally crushes his poison leaf. Kaladin give us, feeling defeated, the peculiar windspren still following him.
Shallan arrives as Kharbranth, also known as the City of Bells, having traveled by sea on The Wind’s Pleasure. Shallan has been chasing Jasnah Kholin for six month, arriving to port after port, only for find out she’s already moved on. Shallan wants to become Jasnah’s ward. She talks with the captain and crew of The Wind’s Pleasure before disembarking and meeting Yalb, who will help her find Jasnah in the city. They go together to the Conclave. Inside, she is lead to meet Jasnah, who is considered a heretic. Shallan is nervous, not only about meeting Jasnah, but also about her plan.
Kaladin, still in the slave caravan, heading toward the Shattered Plains, is puzzled when the windspren that had been following him actually speaks to him, asking his why he doesn’t cry like the other slaves. Spren are not known for communicating with people. The lead slave driver, Tvlakv, appears to be a little lost. He asks Kaladin for help, since Kaladin used to be in the army. Kaladin asks for the map, only to rip it up. Amazingly the slave driver doesn’t punish Kaladin. After a highstorm, the slaves are let out in the light rain to get cleaned off. Back in the cages, they head towards distant military camps. The slaves realize that they have made it to the shattered plains.
Shallan meet Jasnah for the first time. Jasnah is with the king, Taravangian. Jasnah asks Shallan to walk with her and talk as they go with the king somewhere. Along the way, Jasnah bombards her with questions, determining her skill and knowledge. Shallan feels unable to answer well, and Jasnah is obviously unimpressed. Shallan discovers that she is the twelfth woman to apply as Jasnah’s ward this year. They arrive in a corridor, where a large stone has fallen from the ceiling, blocking the way to a room beyond, a room that holds several trapped people, including the king’s granddaughter. Jasnah agrees to handle the situation, using her soulcaster to turn the rock into smoke. After that ordeal, Jasnah rejects Shallan as her ward. Shallan knows she can’t give up so easily, since it is her plan to steal Jasnah’s soulcaster.
Kaladin and his caravan are taken to the warcamp of Sadeas, one of the ten highprinces. They are presented to a women, whose job it is to decide is the slaves will be useful for the warcamp. Kaladin tries to convince her that he can fight in the army, hungering for battle again, but the slave driver tells her that he is a slave because he is a deserter. The woman decides not to risk having Kaladin on the battlefield and assigns the slaves to bridge duty instead. Because Kaladin and Gaz, his superior, don’t hit it off well, Gaz assigns him in the worst position on the bridge. They carry the bridge for hours, and since Kaladin doesn’t have a vest or shoes, he is in poor shape when they get to the battle. The Parshendi fire their arrows directly at the bridgemen. Kaladin barely survives. He falls unconscious, but is awakened hours later, after the battle is over, by the windspren from before. She says her name is Syl, and she tells him to get up and help with the bridge, because otherwise he’ll be left behind to die.
Shallan returns to the Palanaeum, hoping to persuade Jasnah to let her be her ward. She knows how critical it is that she do so, since, without her father, her family can’t Soulcast to gain wealth or manipulate others into doing what they want. Shallan can’t get into the Palanaeum without paying large amount of money, but she is allowed to wait for Jasnah in her reading alcove. While she waits, she writes a letter to Jasnah, defending herself, arguing for her reconsideration, then begins to sketch several scenes from the past few hours. Shallan has the ability to remember scenes perfectly, in order to draw them later. She is interrupted by an ardent, a young man who introduces himself as Kabsal. He asks to wait for Jasnah with Shallan, telling her that he is trying to convert Jasnah, the heretic, to Vorinism. When the adent sees her drawing, he praises her, and even helps to lacquer some of them. He then leaves, asking her to let Jasnah know that he was here to speak to her. She agrees, and finishes lacquering her drawings. Just when she is gathering her things to go, planning to leave only the letter for Jasnah, Jasnah appears in the doorway.
Having walked in to find Shallan still here, Jasnah reproves her, telling her that her decision is made. Shallan is embarrassed about disturbing Jasnah again, and so she leaves leaves. Out in the halls, Shallan begins to cry. After a moment, Jasnah calls her back and apologizes about her yelling. Shallan asks Jasnah to read the letter she had left on her desk. Jasnah is impressed, because Shallan is self-taught and enthusiastic. She says she’ll accept Shallan as her ward, but only after she has studied more philosophy and history. Shallan is pleased by this, like a small victory, but she also knows that it won’t be enough to save her house, since she needs. But she doesn’t give up, buying several books on history and philosophy to study. Her plan is to learn enough to impress Jasnah in a short time. Before that, Jasnah finds her studying and finally decides to take her on as ward. Happy that she has succeeded in the first part of her plan, she focuses now on how she’ll get the soulcaster away from Jasnah without getting caught.
Now that Kaladin has been part of the bridge crews for a while, he’s seen the entire original crew he ran with die. Only he and one other man have survived; everyone else is gone and replaced. Kaladin’s mood is somewhat down. Even Syl leaves, unable to endure his depressed state. One new recruit is a young boy that reminds Kaladin of Tien, his younger brother. On a new run, the boy that looks like Tien is killed. Kaladin can do nothing but cry.
The 10 year old Kal walks in on a surgery of a young woman, whose hand has been crushed. Kal sees that the third finger will have to be removed. After the surgery, Liren observes that Kal still has to work on his nerves. He asks where Kal has been. Kal says that he and Tien went to see what Jam had learned from his Father in working with the Quarterstaff. An argument ensues about Kal wanting to become a soldier. Kal asks who tells stories about surgeons and his father answers that the families of the saved do, viewing them as heroes. After a sigh from Liren, he asks his son some questions about sickness, and then tells him that he should go to Kharbranth to learn surgery there.
Kaladin goes out at the end of a highstorm, as soon as it is safe to be out and about. Gaz spots him and starts insulting at him, but is quieted when Kaladin says he is going to the Honor Chasm, meaning he plans to commit suicide. Just when Kaladin is about to throw himself off the cliff’s edge, Syl arrives with Blackbane poison leaf (as he had cared so much for the previous ones he’d crushed in the slave wagon). Syl tries to convince him not to jump, but to help the other bridgemen, instead. Kaladin ignores Syl’s pleas at first, claiming he’s failed everyone he’s tried to help. Syl responds that Kaladin couldn’t fail again, since these bridgemen are going to die anyway. When Gaz sees Kaladin come back, still alive, he calls Kaladin a coward for not following through with it. In response, Kaladin demands to be made bridgeleader and he even bribes Gaz to keep out of his way.
Ishikk is a fisherman in the Purelake, a massive lake that never seems to get very deep. As he return home from a long day of fishing, he meets with Maib, a local woman who wants to marry him. After a talking with Maib, Ishikk goes to meet some foreigners. They ask if he has any new information for them, and Ishikk says that he has been all around the area and no one knows anything about the man the foreigners are looking for, some called Hoid. The foreigners argue a little before leaving.
Nan Balat, Shallan’s brother back home, sits on the front porch of his house, torturing small animals by pulling their little legs off. He thinks about how Shallan is doing so much to for her family. He tells himself that he isn’t a coward for staying at home to manage the estate. He thinks he resents Shallan because she was the only one their father was never really angry with. His thoughts are interrupted by Tet Wikim, another of Shallan’s brothers, who comes to tell him there’s a big problem.
Szeth now works a man named Took, who is using him to get the interest of mine workers in one town after another. To prove his obedience, Szeth must do various things, like jump up and down and cut himself. When he orders Szeth to kill himself, Szeth informs him that he can’t kill himself, because of his oath. As Szeth and Took are leaving own town, Took is killed by some thugs, who consider selling Szeth as a slave. But when one of them picks up Szeth’s Oathstone, and Szeth informs them of his obligation to serve them as long as they hold it, the man with the stone likes the idea of having an every-loyal slave.
Adolin is on the hunt with Dalinar, Renarin, Elhokar, and Sadeas. He worries about Dalinar’s weird behavior during the highstorms. Adolin thinks his father might be going crazy. Sadeas is always teasing Dalinar because he hasn’t captured any gemhearts as of late, a fact that frustrates Adolin. In the meantime, sDalinar tells Elhokar that they need a better vantage point. Elhokar charges off to a rock formation, with Dalinar right behind, and they race to the top of the formation. They watch the soldiers as they cross the next chasm. As Adolin watches them come back from the formation, he gives orders for his men to circle around to various plateaus to secure them. When they are set up to draw out the chasmfiend, it appears in the wrong place, attacking the weakest part of the hunting party.
Dalinar, Adolin, and Elhokar all charge the chasmfiend in an attempt to save the hunting party. Sadeas tries to weaken the monster with his grandbow, a special bow and arrow set designed just for someone in shardplate. Meanwhile Dalinar and Adolin work at cutting through its many legs. Elhokar works at distracting it. When the king’s saddle breaks, throwing him off his steed, Dalinar has to rush in a save him from being crushed. Adolin continues killing legs, which eventually drops the creature. Elhokar summons his shard blade again and kills it, then cutting out the valuable gemstone.
Kaladin gets up before any of the other bridgemen and uses some tough love to get everyone else out of the barracks. Kaladin then tells the group that they will start training every morning instead of sleep in, this being part of a plan for Bridge Four not to lose another man. But when Gaz tells the group they don’t have to listen to Kaladin, they refuse to train. Kaladin goes to Gaz to get his pay for the week minus the one sphere he’s giving Gaz as a bribe. Because Kaladin worries Gaz will try to have him killed, he asks Syl to watch over him while he sleeps. Kaladin spend the rest of the morning training alone. Meanwhile, Syl is becoming aware of strange changes within herself, and she tells Kaladin about them. She’s coming to understand new things every day, things a windspren would normally never even notice.
Some hours after the chamfiend attack, Adolin oversees the cleanup while the group waits for a new bridge crew to come. Adolin notices that other lighteyes are treating his father differently after the fight, with more respect and caution. When Abolin finishes and approaches Elhokar’s pavilion, he hears that Elhokar is teasing Dalinar for not hunting as many gemstones as late. Things get heated as Adolin insults Sadeas and then Sadeas insults Renarin. They barely dodge a duel, until Wit comes and teases Sadeas and praises Renarin. After the drama in the pavilion, Elhokar tells Dalinar about the strap on his saddle, which he believes was cut in an act of sabotage. The king wants Dalinar to discover who was behind this attempt. Here, we also discover why Dalinar hates Sadeas: because Sadeas was the decoy for the king (Elhokar’s deceased father), and so he was running away when the king was killed.
7 1/2 years ago, Kal is talking to Laral about how his father plans for him to become a surgeon. She wants him to become a soldier, instead, since winning a shardblade would make him a lighteyes. Tien interrupts the conversation to give Kal a rock that might make him feel better. They go off to find a lurg, a small spider-like creature that clings to rocks inside a cocoon, waiting for highstorms. They find some other boys that are skipping out on their work in the fields. Kal and one of the boys, Jost, end up in a fight, which Kal loses because he never practices fighting like the other boys. When Kal and Tien go home, they find out that the Citylord, Wistiow, has died. Apparently, the old man left Kal a large amount of spheres for him to go to school and become a surgeon.
Kaladin goes to an apothecary that has set up shop on the plains. He wants to buy some antiseptic, but when he discovers how much the apothecary is charging, he leaves. Just as he gets back to camp, the horns blow and he must run with his crew. Even though his is exhausted, he remains standing at each chasm. When they run their final approach, facing the Parshendi arrows, he volunteers to run in front, putting Rock in the back. Amazingly, he survives the deathline, while all the other that were in front with him are killed. When the bridge is placed, Kaladin runs to help the injured among the bridgemen. Then, against protocol, they manage to carry the wounded back to camp on the bridge.
Adolin takes Janala, a woman he’s courting, on a walk. Along the way, he visits leatherworkers to see about the king’s strap. They say that the strap was almost certainly cut, but it’s uncertain if the cut was on purpose or by accident. Adolin hears horns tell of a chasmfiend that has been spotted in the area, but he’s disappointed when his father does not signal for the hunt, meaning he’s allowing someone else to fight for the gemheart. Meanwhile, Dalinr is working with his scribes to manipulate the other highprinces into following Elhokar. When Renarin walks in, Dalinar pomises him that, if he should capture a new suit of Shardplate and blade, they will be for Renarin to keep. Adolin, later, goes to an Ardent named Kadash to ask about Dalinar’s dreams, but doesn’t like the answer. Dalinar visits Elhokar, asking to be made Highprince of War, to lead the war effort and satisfy the Vengeance Pact sooner. Elhokar promises he’ll think about it. On his way back to camp, Dalinar is caught in a highstorm before being able to get into his private room.
As soon as the storm hits, Dalinar falls into a vision, in which he’s in a barn, defending himself and a little girl from some strange, black creature. They escape from the barn and run into a house, which also has a woman that says she’s Dalinar’s (or of the person he “is” in the vision) wife. The creatures break in, and Dalinar uses his skill as a swordsman to fight them off. They run out of the house and try to escape the creatures. When they’re cornered again by the creatures, and when Dalinar is about to die, some Knights Radiant appear and save them. They identify the creatures and Midnight Essence. Many more Knights fall from the sky and fight the monsters. Dalinar then hears the voice he’s heard in past visions, but before he can get any truly useful information, he wakes up again in the barracks of his camp; the vision is over.
Kal is performing an emergency surgery on a girl from his village. He was close by when the girl was injured. He works hard to stop her bleeding. But just when he thinks he’s succeeded, he realizes that his success was not due to his treatment but only because the girl has died. As her father grieves over her, Kal tries to cope with the fact that he was unable to save her. Kal’s father finds him and tells him that his work was good, and her death wasn’t his fault. He leaves Kal, claiming he’ll have to learn when to care and when to just let go.
Kaladin lies in bed, not wanting to get up. When he finally forces himself up, he notices that everyone else has been waiting for him to get up, wondering if he’ll do his training routine again. Kaladin checks the wounded from the previous day’s run, and sees that one really need antiseptic. He cleans the man’s wounds with water, and then goes out to train. Syl tells him that the men think he’s crazy. She also asks why men lie, a question Kaladin can’t really answer well. Gaz comes up and tells Kaladin that the official order is to not give food or water to the wounded. The idea is to let them die slowly, showing the wisdom to leaving them on the battlefield. Kaladin reacts by asking the men in the bridge crew if they’d share their food with the wounded, a request that’s met with less than enthusiasm. Kaladin requests stone gathering duty for the day, with the secret plan of finding knobweed reeds, which he can use to make an antiseptic.
Dalinar goes to the king’s feast, where Adolin tells him what the leatherworkers had said about the strap. They agree that the king is growing more and more paranoid. When the conversation wanders to Dalinar’s recent episode during the highstorm, he refuses to talk about it. Even Wit comes up and tells Dalinar about the increasing rumors of his weakness. Lady Navani arrives unexpectedly, having just come to the shattered plains. Dalinar is secretly attracted to her, but he tries to hide it. Sadeas is announced as the Highprince of Information, whose first order of business will be to investigate the attempt on the king’s life. Dalinar sees this as a political move against him, a way of sidestepping Dalinar’s own Highprince of War idea.
Kaladin and his crew are collecting rocks outside the camp, but they’re secretly collecting knobweed to extract antiseptic sap from. Syl can lead Rock around to the best bunches of knobweed, since he has this amazing ability to see her. They rig a way to sneak the reeds into the camp. After dark, Kaladin, Rock, and Teft squeeze out sap from the reed. While they make small talk, Rock tells the story of how he came to be a bridge runner. Kaladin also, in a cryptic way, tells that he’s a slave because a lighteyes didn’t like that he refused a gift.
Dalinar waits for Highprince Roion in the king’s Gallary of Maps. In an effort to follow his visions and unite the highprinces, he wants to start working with another prince on joint plateau assaults. Roion is a weak highprince, so Dalinar assumes he’ll be eager to join in. But Roion ends up suspicious, thinking that Dalinar will just trick him and keep any riches from himself, even though Dalinar promises a fair splitting of gemhearts. Roion still is not convinced, and he leaves, saying he’ll think about the offer. Afterward, Adolin comes in and say that Sadeas wants to enter Dalinar’s warcamp for his investigation. Dalinar says he’ll allow it, but this makes Adolin angry, him saying that Sadeas will find a way to make Dalinar look guilty for trying to kill the king. Dalinar sticks to his visions, however, which have told him to trust Sadeas.
7 years ago now, Kal goes and talks to Hesina, his mother, about the dirty rumors around town that Lirin stole the spheres from the old citylord. She tells him not to take gossip seriously and that people are afraid of what they don’t understand. Lirin arrives with news that the new citylord is coming to town now, a man named Brightlord Roshone. Everyone rushes to see him, and Kal is excited to see a real lighteye hero. But when Roshone reveals that he blames Kal’s father for the old citylord’s death, it is unknown if Roshone will be a good citylord or not.
Dalinar listens as one of his scribes reads to him from Gavilar’s copy of “The Way of Kings.” But his arguments with Adolin weighs heavy on his mind. When horns announce that a chasmfiend has been spotted nearby, Dalinar decides to go for it, sending the signal to prepare for battle. While they are preparing to march out, Teleb asks Dalinar about using bridgemen so they can move from one plateau to another faster. Dalinar, sticking to the old codes, cannot allow lives to be lost in such a way, since it is expected that the bridgemen will die. Dalinar does allow a single crew to be trained, however, to be considered later. When they reach the Plateau, the Parshendi are already there. Dalinar and Adolin protect their men by jumping across the expanse, with Shardplate and blade. They begin to kill dozens of Parshendi. The Thrill of battle at first takes Dalinar, but then that Thrill starts to fade as he suddenly feels sickened by death. They manage to continue the fight, but Dalinar is now afraid he’ll lose the Thrill. They also see a Parshendi Sharbearer, who doesn’t engage them, but arrives late and stays back.
Rock and Teft have now started training with Kaladin, and, afterward, Kaladin goes to the apothecary’s shop. He wants to see his knobweed sap, and he now realizes that knobweed is much more common than the apothecaries let on, allowing them to fix a high price to charge the armies for medicine. Therefore, Kaladin is able to get a good price for the sap he and his men squeezed out. When he gets back to camp, Kaladin finds out that his crew, Bridge Four, has been assigned chasm duty, which is considered the worst kind of duty. They go down into nearby chasms to find armor and weapons that have been washed up by the highstorms. Kaladin picks up a spear and, without thinking, practices with it, as way of remembering how it was like to be called “Stormblessed.” When he finishes, the men are amazed at what he can do with the spear. Kaladin tries to dismiss it, and they get back to work. They discover that the Parshendi grow their own armor from their bodies, something they’d never noticed before. Rock mentions to Kaladin that soon the men will all be his, under his leader ship, but Kaladin needs that to happen faster, since the men might be dead in a matter of weeks of bridge runs. But Kaladin has a plan to win the men’s hearts faster, and it involves buying a cooking pot and having Rock, who is a cook, make a delicious stew at night. After the first night’s dinner, most of the men come out train with Kaladin, showing the plan works.
Adolin and Dalinar watch a demonstration of a new bridge design, so that a chull bridge can be taken across a man-carried bridge, but the design doesn’t seem to work, the man-carried bridge nearly collapsing under the weight of the chull-pulled bridge. Adolin and Dalinar talk about how the Alethi may never leave the Shattered Plains,how the warcamps may become cities in the future. But everything is changing. The more gemhearts that are hunted and taken, the more a once rare material is commonly found. Dalinar is thinking about stepping down as highprince and allowing his son, Adolin, to rule in his place. To clear his head, Dalinar uses his Shardplate and war hammer to help dig a latrine. He’s interrupted by Navani, who says he missed an appointment with her. They go together, along with Adolin to communicate with Jashnah via span reed. She asks about their first encounters with the Parshendi, specifically if they had any shardblades. After the discussion, Dalinar reveals to Navani that he wishes to step down as highprince.
Rysn doesn’t like the terrain of the Shin, where she is traveling with her master, Vstim. Vstim is a trader, and Rysn is learning at his side. As opposed to the retreating plants and stone ground elsewhere, this soft soil, and always green plants, is strange to her. Vstim, having traveled here before, is not so impressed. They set up a fabrial that can warn is someone approaches. When some Shin do come, the bartering and negotiating is very strange to Rysn. Both parties try to make their wares seem worthless and lacking of value. When they have traded metal for chickens, and before they leave, Vstim has Rysn take a sample of soil and a plant, so she can practice taking care of it and learn something about people and, therefore, be a better merchant.
Axies the Collector wakes up in an alley, dazed and hurt. He manages his pain and decides he’s okay enough to walk, only to hear a voice demand money for rent (for sleeping the night in the alley). As Axies gets up, this beggar complains that he’s destroying his city. Axies figures out that the “city” the beggar is talking about is actually piles of trash that have been arranged in the alley to form “streets” and “buildings”. Axies uses the strange situation to get a cloth he can use as a wrap, since he’s woken up completely naked. He convinces the beggar that the “sacred cloth” would banash him from the town. Walking out of the alley, cloth wrapped around his waist, Axies comes across a very large and strange spren. Axies, it seems, is conducting experiments to observe and study spren. He is then arrested for indecency, because someone snatches his makeshift wrap from off of him. As he’s hauled away, he thinks of the positive, looking forward to studying “capitivyspren”.
Szeth crouches from a high place in a gambling den, owned by his current master, Makkek, who has used his new slave assassin to become a local crime lord. Makkek calls him down and send him to kill a man named Gavashaw, a man that flaunted Makkek’s monopoly on certain businesses. Szeth approaches the great mansion at the edge of town, the place where Gavashaw is supposed to be. He enters the mansion, using his shardblade and surgebinding abilities, avoiding contact with any guard. Since he wasn’t explicitly told to kills anyone other than Gavashaw, Szeth prefers to avoid taking unnecessary lives. Inside the mansion, Szeth comes to the room he suspects Gavashaw is in, only to find that his target has already been killed, and that there is a stranger waiting for him. This stranger compliments Szeth’s abilities, and then reveals that Makkek is dead. This man has Szeth’s oathstone, making him Szeth’s new master. The man gives the assassin a list of names, powerful people, that Szeth is meant to kill, using the same methods he used to kill Gavilar.
Shallan is talking by spanreed to her brothers. They are happy she’s gaining the trust of Jasnah, and they want to know when she’ll be able to steal her soulcaster. Shallan knows she needs more time, fearing suspicion if she does it too fast, knowing she has to wait for the right moment to make the steal. Later, she is reading with Jasnah, and talks to her teacher about her studies. She doesn’t understand why she is reading recent history, about Gavilar’s death. Shallan also calls the writers of the books she’s been assigned as very arrogant. Jasnah reassures Shallan that there is a good reason why she is studying the topic. Meanwhile, the king walks in and offers to have lunch with the two women. Taravangian seems pleased to spend time with them, and he asks if Shallan would be willing to draw him. She does, but the first time she tries, she accidentally includes a dark figure in the background, someone that wasn’t there in real life. She wads that page up and promises to send the king another version, a better one, afraid to show anyone the crazy thing she drew.
Kaladin takes his men on their morning exercise. Everyone participates, even the last hold-outs from before. Kaladin sees Gaz staring at them from a distance. As Gaz watches the bridge crew, he thinks about his eye and difficult it is to be missing one. He finds Lamaril, his superior, who demands money that Gaz owes him. Gaz gives what he can, and then Lamaril complains about Bridge Four’s insubordination. He says that Kaladin must die on a bridge run, and soon. Kaladin finishes drilling his men with the bridge. But he isn’t happy. No matter what, men can die or be injured. Sadeas won’t allow shields. Talking with Syl, Kaladin has an idea: have the men carried the bridge to the side, perhaps using the thick wood as a shield. He has his mend practice that. When Gaz asks, Kaladin tells him it’s to work different muscles.
Six Years Ago, Kal is with his father in their house. Kal is studying a folio of body parts, while his father drinks violet wine. His father shows regret over the mistakes of his life, namely living in the town he does and making his wife suffer for it. His father wants Kal to go and learn to be a surgeon and never come back. Kal doesn’t understand his father’s viewpoint about what’s happening in the town. Suddenly a thump at the door interrupts their talk. People from the town, wearing masks that don’t actually hide their identity, demand the spheres that came from the citylord. In a dramatic move of boldness, Lirin holds up the spheres, which blind the would-be robbers. Lirin demands that they take the sphere, that they hit him and attack his home. The men, ashamed in the light, turn and leave.
Kaladin’s crew has gotten better at carrying the bridge on its side, but it’s still hard and awkward. A new group of breidgmen are sent in, and Bridge Four gets a small man with one arm, named Lopen. As soon as Lopen is introduced to the group, the horn blows and they are called to march. Kaladin has Lopen follow the bridge and carry some water for the men. When they get to the last plateau, they see that the Parshendi are lined up and waiting for them. To try and save his men, Kaladin orders that they run with the side position, to use the bridge as a giant shield. They succeed in protecting themselves, but they also cause a major loss for the army, as other bridge crews fall and fail to imitate the side run at the last minute. Watching the defeat, Kaladin realizes the reason why bridgemen are used in Sadeas’ army: to be bate, easily killed and replaced.
Shallan is in the library, searching for books. She hides out in a back desk to look over some sketches she’s done of Jasnah soulcasting. She thinks about her mission here, something she finds harder and harder to focus on as of late, the mission to steal Jasnah’s soulcaster and replace is with her late father’s broken one. While down in the depths of the library, Shallan looks for a book she saw Jasnah reading, a collection of fables and ghost stories. Shallan can’t figure out why a famous scholar would study such a thing. When Shallan returns to her room, she sees Kabsal is waiting for her. They have a conversation over bread and jam, and Kabsal says he’s afraid for Shallan’s soul. He then shows Shallan “proof” that there is a god, showing that certain sound frequencies create patterns in dust that fit the blueprints of the word’s oldest and greatest cities. When Jasnah finally arrives, she dismisses such proof.
After Sadeas’ great defeat, Kaladin has realized that bridgemen aren’t meant to survive. They’re bate. As punishment for causing a great failure in battle, as well as the deaths of hundreds of men, Kaladin has been hung upside down on the side of a building. There, the Stormfather will judge if he lives or dies. Of course, no one ever survives hanging in a highstorm. Despite that, Kaladin promises him men that he’ll survive the ordeal. They give him a single sphere for good luck, and then they go inside. The storm comes like a wall, smashing into him.
The storm is horrible, and extremely powerful. Kaladin is flung one way and then another, again and again, by the winds of the storm. But he holds on and endures. When the men come out, after the storm, they see Kaladin’s body like a raw piece of horse meat. They expect that he’d be dead. The sphere they’d given him is with him, drained of all light (although it should be charged after a storm). Suddenly, Kaladin opens his eyes. He’s survived, and now his position as leader of Bridge Four is even stronger with the men, a living miracle.
Shallan is studying in the same room, contemplating how and why she will steal the soulcaster from Jasnah. She asks Jasnah about the start of the problems with the Parshendi, and this leads to a discussion of right and wrong. Jasnah takes Shallan out of the library for a walk. On the street, which is dark because of the late hour, Shallan suddenly doesn’t feel safe, especially as Jasnah tells about recent crimes that have been committed on this very street. As if to confirm Shallan’s fears, men come out and surround the two women, obviously intent on doing them harm. Jasnah pulls out her soulcaster and uses it to kill the men transforming them into elements. When they return to the library, Shallan is disgusted by what she’s witnessed, but Jasnah is hardly phased, claiming it was an important lesson on right and wrong. Was she wrong in killing those men, or was she just saving the lives of future victims, not to mention defending herself? In her sudden hatred over what she saw, Shallan builds up the courage to change out the soulcasters while Jasnah is bathing.
Five and a half years ago. Kal is in his house, talking to his brother, Tien, and his mother. They talk about the mysterious spren that seem to live in everything. Kal’s mother insists that all things have a spren, even food and dung. Kal can’t accept it because he wants everything to make sense. Kal leaves his house and runs to join his father, who is waiting for a ride to take him to the house of the new citylord. While waiting there, they have an interesting conversation about why they live in a town in which everyone seems to hate them. Lirin explains that maybe they should leave, but the people of the town don’t hate them. They also leave food at the house, so Kal’s family can eat. When they finally get that ride to the citylord’s house, Roshone tries to get the spheres back from Lirin. When Lirin seems to give in, Kal gets very angry, and is sent away for it. Kal spends the rest of the time in the kitchen, pouting. When his father comes to get him, he finds out that Lirin never really gave in, but he’s negotiating by pretending to give under pressure. This way, Roshone thinks he’s winning.
In a feverish, delusional state, Kaladin slowly recovers from his injuries. Meanwhile, Teft thinks he knows how Kaladin survived. He brings another charged sphere and puts it into Kaladin’s hand. At first nothing happens, but when Kaladin gasps and the light from the sphere fades to nothing, Teft’s suspicions are confirmed. He calls Kaladin a envisager, someone with the powers of the knights radiant. The glow from the sphere goes into Kaladin’s body and helps him heal just a little bit more. Teft doesn’t know what to do with this information. He doesn’t want to tell the others, and he knows he must tell the envisagers, but the envisagers are long dead, gone from this world. So Teft decides that, for now, there is nothing he can do about what he knows.
Shallan is in her room, drawing the scenes she witnessed that night in the alley. She can’t forget how Jasnah killed those men, even when she didn’t have to. But her horror over the killings only reinforces her guilt over stealing the soulcaster. In three days, Jasnah hasn’t said anything about the soulcaster, although Shallan hasn’t seen her try to soulcast anything. Her brothers contact her from home, via spanreed, and Shallan tells them that she must stay more time with Jasnah, since it would be very suspicious if she were to leave just days before Jasnah realized her soulcaster was a fake. The brothers reluctantly agree to wait longer, but they also urge her to hurry when she can. After the communication, she tries in vain to get the soulcaster to work.
Kaladin is recovering well from his injuries after the highstorm. He stumbles from his barracks for the first time to see the men are continuing with their daily training. They all seem positive, their hope extremely high because their leader has survived a highstorm punishment. They call Kaladin ‘captain.’ At night, they give Rock a razor as a gift, so he can shave himself to his tradition form–a full beard minus the mustache and chin. Kaladin’s hopes are not so high, however. Knowing now that there is no point, that bridgemen are nothing more than bait, he feels now that the joy and family that he’s worked so hard to give to his crew will be for nothing.
Kal, five and a half years ago, joins his father in helping Roshone and his son, who have both been attacked by a wild animal. The scene is horrifying, full or blood and the smell of burnt flesh, a result of Kal’s father trying to cauterize the wounds and control blood loss. After working on Roshone’s son’s large gut wound, Kal’s father finally decides to leave him and focus on Roshone’s more superficial wounds, very much at Rohone’s objections. But, according to Lirin’s own rules of surgery, attention must be focused on those that can be saved. Roshone’s son is beyond help. Afterwards, Kal asks his father why he didn’t just let Roshone die, and Lirin answers that he is not a killer.
Shallan and Jasnah talk about the killings from before. Shallan’s assignment has been to research what philosophers say about right and wrong and make a judgment on if what Jasnah did was correct or not. After sharing her opinions with Jasnah, Shallan is set free to do what she wants for the rest of the day. She ends up eating bread and jam with Kabsal, and they talk. Shallan asks him is he knows how soulcasters work, but he doesn’t. Meanwhile, Shallan hears a strange voice. She’s also made arrangements to be taken back home in a week, although she hasn’t told Kabsal or Jasnah about it.
Bridge Four is assigned chasm duty permanently. This throws Kaladin into even deeper despair, since they will now have no way of getting extra funds through the knobweed they’d been selling. Down in the chasm, collecting washed-up armor and weapons, the men are looking to Kaladin for hope. But Kaladin is determined that they are all going to die sooner or later and that it is impossible to save them. In one last attempt at hope, Kaladin has the idea of helping the men escape. He picks up a spear and says that he can train the men to use them, to fight and escape.
Five years ago, Kaladin is talking with his mother and Tien. Tien has given him a very nice wooden carving, since he is training with the local carpenter. Kal’s father comes up and tells them that there is a gathering in town, that Roshone, the citylord, is going to speak. They all go to find the Roshone is with Amaram, a leader in the army. The army is moving through the city and they are taking on new recruits. They first ask for volunteers, but when there aren’t enough, a list of mandatory recruits is read. Kal is told that there is no need to worry about him getting drafted, since he is training to be a surgeon, and that is too important a job. But everyone is surprised when Tien’s name is at the bottom of the list. Lirin sees this as an attack from Roshone himself. In the moment of tension, Kal also volunteers, so he can watch over his brother.
Shallan is studying the recent history of the Parshendi. She has many questions, and Jasnah tries to help her understand. Later, she is able to talk to Kabsal about the voidbringers, though what he says is very different from what Jasnah says. Shallan admits that she has to leave the next day, and Kabsal seems stricken by this, even asking if he can go with her, if they can be together. Kabsal requests a portrait from Shallan, but when she draws it, there are the strange figures in the background again. She freaks out, and keeps drawing pictures, always with these things there, like they are following her. She begins to hear voices and locks herself in her room. When she accidentally soulcasts a vase into blood (without even having the soulcaster in her hand), she knows she’ll be in trouble, so she feigns a failed suicide attempt just as Jasnah finds her.
In a dream, Kaladin is carried on the front of a highstorm, traveling throughout the entire world, from east to west. As he’s carried along, he sees strange places he’s never even heard of before, filled with exotic people. Interestingly, he even sees a Shin assassin, dressed in white. He also hears a mighty voice talking about the breaking of the Oathpact, something Kaladin doesn’t understand. Someone is called the Child of Tanavast, though it’s unknown if that is meant for Kaladin or someone else. When Kaladin wakes up from his dream, he reacts defensively to what he thinks are two assailants. They turn out to be members of his crew, who were holding him down, since he was trying to sleepwalk out into a highstorm. Now gaining his senses, Kaladin agrees to a shave, taking away his beard for the first time in a long while. As the highstorm clears, they go outside. The crew is given a surprising new member: a Parshman. This is part of an experiment, to see if a Parshman, someone much cheaper than a human slave, can carry a bridge.
One year ago, Kaladin has been in Amaram’s army for four years now, and he was unable to preserve his own brother alive. Instead, he now works to save others in his own squad. He bargains with another squad leader to have a new recruit transferred over to Kaladin’s team. He then pays off the surgeons so that they’ll come for his injured men before any others. During the battle that follows, Kaladin works to keep his squad alive. He seems to be succeeding, when, out of nowhere, a shardbearer rides in and kills several, including the new recruit that reminded Kaladin of his brother, Tien. Recovering from the shock of what happened, Kaladin sees that the shardbearer is attacking Amaram, who does not have a shardsword to use. Kaladin and the remaining men of his squad attack the shardbearer. Most of the men die from the shardblade, but Kaladin manages to kill him. When he’s offered the shardblade that is rightfully his, Kaladin refuses it and walks away.
Shallan wakes up in hospital, under heavy guard because everyone still thinks she attempted suicide. Jasnah visits her, and so does Kabsal. He brings bread and jam, like always. He serves bread for Jasnah and puts the jam, a special kind made from something called a “strawberry,” on the slices for himself and Shallan. Just as they start eating, Kabsal runs out and suffers an attack from an unknown poison. Shallan also goes into shock, while Jasnah doesn’t seem to be hurt at all. Jasnah explains to the dying Shallan that she will soulcast her blood to purify it of the poison. Still in shock, Shallan reveals she has stolen the true soulcaster, giving it to Jasnah to save her own life. She loses consciousness as Jasnah takes the true soulcaster and uses it to cure Shallan.
Kaladin is with his crew in the chasms, looking for salvage. Teft comes upon Kaladin while he’s thinking and asks if Kaladin’s noticed anything strange lately. Kaladin explains that he feels fine, even better than anyone could expect. When the group gathers together, it is time to start training with the spear. Kaladin tells them how they must use their emotions, how they must care, in order to fight right. He also explains that a spearman must know how to stand before he can learn how to use a spear. The group must work first on their stances. Rock explains that he will not be learning how to fight, since he was born to be a cook and fighting is below him. Kaladin sends Rock and Lopen (the man with one arm) to search for salvage while the rest train. Kaladin realizes that the bridgemen are learning very, a result of the hard labor of being a bridgeman.
Shallan wakes up in a private room of the hospital. Jasnah confronts her about stealing the soulcaster, demanding to know what devotary lulled her into doing it. Shallan explains the reason why she needed to steal it. Jasnah then reveals that Kabsal was poisoned by his own weapon. He’d been trying to poison Jasnah, to kill her, but he poisoned himself and Shallan instead, completely be accident. Jasnah is angry with Shallan, but will simply send her home and never see her again.
One year ago, Kaladin is waiting to see Brightlord Amaram. When Amaram enters, he is accompanied by the remaining four members of his squad. Amaram asks why Kaladin gave up the shardblade and plate, but he doesn’t have any good answer. Kaladin is shocked when Amaram’s men kill the members of the squad, allowing Amaram himself to take possession of the shards. Amaram preserves Kaladin alive, as a courtesy to his saving Amaram’s life, but the brightlord brands Kaladin as a slave and will sell him as a deserter.
Baxil and Av are fallowing their mistress around in a palace as she destroys artwork. It seems they have snuck their way in just to vandalize, since they don’t appear to be stealing anything.
Asher and Geranid are in a small stone room. They’re both ardents. Asher, a male, is cooking something on his fabrial hotplate, while Geranid, a female, is studying some minnow from the ocean outside. Asher gives her a sample of what he’s cooking. He says he may want to change his calling, since he doesn’t think there will be a need for a cook in the afterlife. Geranid disagrees.
Szeth attacks the king of Jah Keved in the middle of a feast. He enters the room by killing, hearing screams all around him. The king yells for reinforcements, and Szeth takes care of every man that attacks him. Even when men come in with imitation shard-shields, Szeth’s skill with both his blade and stormlight helps him defeat each guard and soldier. A shardbearer with full plate is even dispelled by Szeth, before he finally kills the king himself. All the while, surrounded by death and fear, Szeth finds himself crying as he fights. He feels a hatred for the king for allowing so many to die before him, a hatred he feels inside him right up to the moment he kills the king.
Dalinar has told Adolin about his decision to step down as highprince, and Adolin is upset about that decision. Dalinar intends to return home and help out with the local people of his town, leaving the big politics to his son. Adolin leaves as a highstorm comes. Dalinar falls into another vision, now serving as a guard along the wall of some town. Though his fellow guards seem bored, and for good reason, Dalinar knows he is never given a boring vision, so he encourages his fellows to be ready for a trap. Dalinar is still suspicious when scouts return with white flags, giving the “all clear.” That’s when a giant force of radiants appear and start running toward the front gate. The men get nervous, lacking the weapons to fight against shardbearers. But the radiants stop, and more of them fall from the sky, until there are hundreds before the fort. They draw their swords and stab them into the ground, leaving them for good. They each take off their shardplate and start to walk away. The knights radiant have given up, leaving their weapons behind. People eventually run out and start fighting over the weapons. Chaos ensues.
During a bridge run, Kaladin seems to be able to cause the arrows to hit the wood of the bridge close to his hands. When the bridge is in place, one of the crew, Dunny, is hit by two arrows, and Kaladin is unable to do anything about it. While they watch the battle across the chasm, Kaladin is struck by the fact that, no matter what he does, men on his crew are going to die. Determined to do something about that, he turns and starts helping anyone he can that has been injured, no matter if they belong to Bridge Four or not, even volunteering to carry them back on the bridge.
Dalinar attends one of the king’s feasts, in his official uniform, as always. He has a strange conversation with Wit about how things are about to change. Wit is uncharacteristically serious, warning Dalinar again before disappearing. Adolin joins his father, as they are aware that Sadeas is planning to reveal something regarding his investigation. Adolin has been fearing this moment, sure that Sadeas will use this as an opportunity to attack Dalinar publically, therefore causing a war between the highprinces. But when Sadeas is forced to give his repot before everyone, he sows that Dalinar was not behind the king’s assassination attempt, but it is sure the someone tried to kill the king.
Kaladin stands before another battle. This time, there was no danger to the bridgemen because they arrived before the Parshendi had time to set up lines. They are surprised to see Dalinar’s army come up on a nearby plateau and join the battle, something unheard of among the highprinces. Later, when the crew is on chasm duty, they find a single Emerald Broam, one of the most valuable spheres around, along with a bad of other spheres that total almost the same amount. He men struggle to find a way to keep the sphere, since they are carefully searched upon returning to the surface. They decide to keep the smaller spheres but turn in the emerald broam, since a bridgeman could never be caught spending something so great. They use an arrow to attach the bad of spheres to the bottom of one of the permanent bridges.
Dalinar springs into battle, killing Parshendi all around him. As he does, he reflects on what it is he is doing and why. He suddenly starts to feel bad for killing them, sick at all the gore. That’s when he realizes that there is a second Parshendi army coming. In an attempt to save Sadeas’ life, he rides straight through the first Parshendi arm, a bold and dangerous move, even for a shardbearer. He blazes in and saves Sadeas, killing Parshendi by the dozen. Adolin comes and helps, just as the battle is dwindling down. The combined forces and Sadeas and Dalinar have won, and Sadeas thanks Dalinar for saving him. Dalinar says that he could never leave a comrade in battle, since that is part of the Codes. Saedeas agrees to look into this book, The Way of Kings, that Dalinar loves to read.
Kaladin is working to save a member of his crew, who dies on the battlefield. Kaladin is sure he’ll fail them all, that everyone he tries to protect will die the same. But the bridge run hasn’t been a complete failure, since they also dropped a log coil of rope down one of the chasms to get later in chasm duty. This will help them smuggle things and possible escape. Back at camp, Teft finally reveals to Kaladin the reason strange things happen around him. Teft surprises Kaladin enough to “inhale” some of the stormlight from a sphere, using the energy to quicken his reflexes. Kaladin blames Syl for this ability he seems to have, which includes being able to bind things to a wall. Later, Kaladin meets Wit, who tells him the story of Wandersail, a ship that once got lost.
Adolin sits around a table with some friends, talking about the strange move Sadeas made before, in the king’s feast. Adolin can’t stay, however, because he has a duel scheduled for later. Meanwhile, Dalinar is sitting with the king and Sadeas, telling them of a passage from the Way of Kings, one in which the king walks from one city to another, just to see what it’s like to be poor. Neither Sadeas nor the king understand or take seriously this story. The three are sitting in a spot to see the duels of the day, waiting for Adolin’s turn. They watch Adolin defeat his dueling enemy with relative ease. Dalinar then admits that he wishes the ten highprinces could return home, though he doesn’t fear battle. Dalinar and Sadeas agree to do another joint assault, this time with Dalinar using some of Sadeas’ bridge crews and coming in just after Sadeas has begun battle.
Kaladin works to make the binding work on demand, but he’s having trouble with the power. Teft shares the first ideal of the Knights Radiant: Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination. Kaladin struggles to understand what that means. Kaladin is then told that, because his crew is so good at surviving bridge runs, they will be on call for bridge duty every day, only to be assigned chasm duty at night. Later, during chasm duty, Kaladin wonders off to think. He tries to use his powers again and fails. He has the idea to use the natural shielding and bones of the Parshendi to make a kind of armor and shield, something that should torture the Parshendi just to see (because of the deep respect they have for the dead). Finally, Kaladin manages to use his abilities to bind stones to the chasm wall and use them like ladder rungs to climb up and attach the rope to a bridge.
Dalinar agrees that he will not abdicate his right as highprince just yet, putting Adolin at ease. He’s talking to Adolin and Navani when he slips right into another vision. He is talking to the writer of The Way of Kings, who is now a young king, confused and uncertain about what he should do. He is tired of war, tired of killing. When Dalinar suggests that the young king should write a book, the man laughs. Dalinar realizes that this man will have to age much more to be ready to write the Way of Kings. When Dalinar wakes up, Navani tells him that he was mumbling words in a dead language. She thinks, in fact, that his visions may help historians better translate that language. This is the first real proof that Dalinar isn’t crazy.
Dalinar and Navani talk about the linguistic proof they’ve received about the visions. Dalinar is sure he saw the man that wrote The War of Kings in his vision, and that was during the aftermath of one of the desolations, he believes. Dalinar also admits to having gone after the “Old Magic” as a young man, but he says that cannot have any connection to his visions now. He’s sure of it. When left alone, Navani and Dalinar continue to talk. When Dalinar realizes that Navani is crying, he is compelled to kiss her, thus starting something they’ve both been trying to prevent, out of respect for Dalinar’s brother (Navani’s late husband).
Kaladin and his crew prepare to run the bridge into another battle, and Dalinar’s army seems to be not far behind, meaning another joint assault. Kaladin prevents soldiers from taking his men’s water, showing how much people fear and respect him. As they make their final charge, Kaladin slips on the Parshendi armor, running beside the bridge. When the Parshendi see him, they are so angered that they fire all their arrows at him. Using the stormlight from the spheres in his pouch, he is able to bind the arrows so that they fly right at his shield. As a result, the bridges are practically ignored. All twenty bridges are placed, leading to Sadeas having a powerful advantage in the battle, with few bridgeman casualties across the board. Sadeas even commends the action.
Things have gotten a bit better for Bridge Four, and Kaladin is using the leverage he’s gained to make Parshendi-corpse armor for the entire crew. One of the group, who has experience making armor, is helping. As long as they’re letting Bridge Four wear armor of any kind, he wants everyone protected. Besides, the shells the Parshendi grow on their skin is almost as strong as metal. Kaladin talks to his men about their continued training and a plan for escape. They know they must still escape somehow, because, even with armor, all the men will eventually be killed. Kaladin continues to train the men, but refuses to take a spear for himself until he needs it to kill.
Dalinar and Navani talk of their relationship and where it should go. They talk of before, when both Dalinar and his brother were in love with the same young woman. They are interrupted by a call to war. A chasmfiend has been spotted on the tower, a particularly large and difficult plateau, one that no highprince has been able to capture. Sadeas intends to go for it, and they are to have a joint venture. Dalinar prepares for battle, as does Bridge Four and Kaladin, now with their full sets of armor. Before marching out, Dalinar and Sadeas make a plan to corner a large Parshendi force on the Tower, thus chopping down their numbers and bringing a quick end to the war.
Dalinar and Sadeas stand on a peak overlooking the tower and find the Parshendi forces. The tower is huge, large enough for massive armies on both sides, the perfect grounds for a major battle. When the final attack march is underway, Kaladin is able to use Stormlight to dodge arrows, since the Parshendi continue to target him above everyone else. After their bridge is set, Kaladin learns that Teft has been shot in the shoulder, and he words to save him. Meanwhile, Dalinar charges across the first of his bridges, seeing that Sadeas’ line is already breaking. When Dalinar and Adolin are in the thick of battle, they realize the Parshendi also sent a second army, one that now encloses around Dalinar’s men.
Kaladin is working to mend Teft when he sees that Sadeas is retreating. Kaladin realizes the Sadeas is betraying Dalinar, leaving his cornered between two great armies. Meanwhile, as Dalinar fights for his life, he realizes the full trearchery of the situation. Sadeas planned this from the beginning as a perfect way to get rid of Dalinar and Adolin, leaving weak and crippled Renarin to take care of everything. Dalinar and Adolin talk, Dalinar showing regret over having allowed this to happen, Adolin negating such regret, telling his father they must be strong. According to the codes, Dalinar knows he must fight proud to death. They both prepare to fight their last hours in the middle of this hopeless deathtrap.
Kaladin and his men are in very low spirits as they flee the battle with Sadeas’ army. As they look back to the slanted top of the tower, they can see Dalinar’s blue army completely surrounded by Parshendi forces. Kaladin convinces his superior that Bridge Four needs rest; they’ll just catch up later. However, Kaladin sees this as a way to escape. They can take the bridge and cross chasms until they get to the edge of the shattered plains. They have supplies and money enough to survive. In the end, however, the men decide to go back, charge the chasm to the tower again, and set up a way of escape for Dalinar and his men. When the bridge is in place, the men fight to defend it from Parshendi until Dalinar as get there. Kaladin has spent all the stormlight he has, but he charges into the army anyway, drawing power from the little glowing gems the Parshendi weave into their beards.
Dalinar and Adolin lead their men in a last-chance assault toward the bridge Kaladin has led back. Kaladin and the bridge crew fight to keep the bridge safe. Everyone is amazed at how Kaladin is able to fight in such a condition, but the stormlight gives him strength. Even the Parshendi are amazed, showing some kind of reverence toward him. Finally, Dalinar breaks through, and Kaladin and the two Shardbearers fight to defend the bridge as Dalinar’s men file through. About a third of Dalinar’s army survives the battle.
Waiting back at camp, Navani sees that Sadeas has arrived just fine, having left Dalinar’s army to be slaughtered. She burns a giant prayer in the ground, and everyone sees it mean justice, just that one word. Her hopes are confirmed when Dalinar arrives with what’s left of his army. He confronts Sadeas about his treachery and gives his shardblade in exchange for every bridgeman Sadeas has. Later, Dalinar confronts the king, nearly killing him just to show that he has no desire to kill him. Dalinar also demands to be named highprince of war, which the king agrees to do.
Shallan lay in her hospital bed, regretting her actions and in shock about Kabsal’s death. She recalls events that do not completely add up to her. She questions why the antidote did not work for Kabsal (who should have known he’d poison himself) and why Jasnah was not poisoned. After all, she had eaten the poisoned bread, too. She finds her sketchpad and draws an impromptu sketch of Jasnah examining the strawberry jam, and she recalls that Jasnah was not repulsed by the smell like everyone else. Then she sketches Jasnah eating the bread, in which it looks like it is melting. Realizing something, she leaves the hospital and walks in the darkness to the Conclave, wearing only her hospital robe. Shallan finds Jasnah and confronts her by saying Shallan knows that Jasnah uses a fake Soulcaster. When Shallan shows Jasnah the drawing she has of Shadesmar. Shallan is convinced that Jasnah never had a working Soulcaster. Jasnah disregards Shallan’s statements as delusions because of fatigue. To prove what she’s saying, Shallan attempts to return to Shadesmar. Holding her partially done sphere she speaks with the twisted symbol headed spren. She begins to drown in the sea but is rescued by Jasnah who reprimands her for going to Shardesmar with only such a weak sphere. Shallan asks Jasnah to keep her on as a ward, to train her to use the ability to soulcast. Jasnah finally agrees and hands Shallan her notes on the Voidbringers to study.
Szeth, now working as a porter, walks along the streets of Kharbranth towards the King’s palace. He’s already killed the other names on the list given him by his mysterious master, and he’s now in Kharbranth to finish his work and kill King Taravangian. He uses his shardblade to cut a hole in the servants’ privy in order to access the part of the palace that belongs to the king. Szeth confronts Taravangian’s guards and easily disposes of them, entering the king’s study. Following the instructions he’s been given, Szeth tells the king that he has killed the other targets on his list and is there to finish the job. But the king reveals himself to be Szeth’s unknown master, having put his name of the list to deflect suspicion in the event that Szeth failed and was killed. They discuss Szeth’s actions. The king says the assassinations are important for building a stronger Roshar in coming years. When Szeth still isn’t sold on why such killing was necessary, the king takes him to his secret hospital. The hospital is filled with dying people their blood being slowly drained to control how fast they die. King shows Szeth that his hands are not clean, either, having drained the blood of many. The King explains that the dying say strange things when they die, showing that they must be seeing something important. Here, they record the words of the dying. The King believes their words may contain the key to everyone’s survival. Szeth is then given a new name to of someone to kill: Dalinar Kholin.
When Shallan is reading Jasnah’s notes about the Voidbrinders, she asks Jasnah how she was able to soulcast her blood, even though Jasnah supposedly has problems soulcasting organic materials. This is obvious because Jasnah was unable to soulcast the strawberry jam into something not edible. Jasnah’s answer is simple: blood is one of the Essences, and so it is easy to soulcast. Even though Shallan has so many more questions about soulcasting, but Jasnah wants to talk more about the Voidbringers. Shallan asks how Jasnah can believe in these myths when so many educated scholars consider the Voidbringers a kind of false legend. Jasnah answers that, as a Veristitalian, she seeks to find natural meanings and absolute truths in supernatural events. Jasnah is sure that something very real caused the legends of the Voidbringers. Referring to her notes, Jasnah helps Shallan see that the Humans on Roshar did not destroy or banish the voidbringers. Instead, they enslaved the voidbringers as the Parshmen.
Kaladin waits at the staging ground of Dalinar’s warcamp. As he waits, he talks with Syl about whether he can trust Dalinar or not. Syl thinks that Dalinar really is honorable, even though he’s a lighteyes. Kaladin feels conflicted about his actions that day. He wonders again whether he could truly save others by killing and whether the three lives lost from his bridge crew were worth the thousands of soldiers and lighteyes they saved. When Dalinar joins Kaladin on the staging ground, they discuss the condition of the bridge crews and how many Kaladin thinks will want to stay in the army. Dalinar wants Kaladin and Bridge Four to replace his honor guard, which had been nearly killed off in the battle of that day. Dalinar also wants the rest of the bridgemen to be trained as spearmen. Kaladin has two conditions: the men must agree to the deal and Kaladin must be made an officer. Dalinar allows him to be made a captain and gives Kaladin his cloak as a symbol of his appreciation. When Kaladin returns to his men, they have already started their nightly tradition of eating strew and having a good time. Kaladin tells them about his abilities and agrees to try and teach them how to do the same. They also want to make some tests to see what exactly Kaladin can do with stormlight. Kaladin also insists on a vow of secrecy with regards to the abilities.
Shallan has finished reading Jasnah’s notes about the Voidbringers. She believes the same as Jasnah about the parshmen being the Voidbringers now enslaved. They talk about what this means for everyone. They decide they need to travel to the Shattered Plains to continue investigating the assassination of King Gavilar. They’re also interested in how the Parshendi became such warriors. When they bring up the Ghostbloods, an organization that seeks the truth about the Voidbringers, and Jasnah shows the secret symbol that they always use. That is when Shallan realizes that her father may have been a Ghostblood member.
It is the next highstorm after the battle on the tower, Dalinar enters a vision and he finds himself in a white rocky landscape with smoky figures rising around him. A voice once again tells Dalinar to “… unite them”. Dalinar demands to know why the voice lied to him by telling him to trust Sadeas. But instead of answering anything Dalinar says, the voice appears in human form and continues exhorting Dalinar to prepare for the Everstorm, displaying for him a wall of darkness approaching a Kholinar that is already in ruins. Dalinar continues asking questions and demands answers, but he quickly realizes that the voice can’t even hear him. In fact, the voice never could and so was never really answering any of his questions before. The voice continues telling Dalinar that this vision is a glimpse into possible future, formed by his fears. The wall of darkness passes and takes everything except the very ground where Dalinar stands. Dalinar is told to lead and rebuild the Knights Radiant. The voice finally says he is God but has been killed by Odium. The Knights Radiant will be the key to facing the True Desolation.
Sansa is dreaming about her childhood in Winterfell when she suddenly wakes up, and realizes that she is not in Winterfell but in her bedchamber in the Eyrie.
She had dreamed of home, and the Eyrie is not that; there was no place to go, and little to do. Aside from her maid, Sansa’s only companion is the sickly Lord Robert Arryn, a boy eight years of age. Lysa’s singer, Marillion, is at the Eyrie as well, and makes Sansa uncomfortable with his inappropriate remarks. Petyr, on the other hand, is rarely at the Eyrie – he spends most of this time meeting with the lords of the Vale, trying to assert his authority as Lord Protector of the Vale over them. Many of House Arryn’s bannermen resent Lysa’s marriage to Petyr – the Vale is not as idyllic as Lady Lysa had made it out to be.
Sansa realizes that she will not be able to go back to sleep so she gets dressed and walks out into the Eyrie’s garden. The garden is covered with snow and dawn is about to come. Sansa starts shaping the snow on the ground, and before she realizes it, she is building a snow castle, and the castle is Winterfell.
When dawn comes, Sansa is still building Winterfell. She is having trouble keeping the bridges from collapsing, but Petyr appears and tells her to pack the snow around a stick. Petyr then joins Sansa in the snow, helping her with the trickier parts of the snow castle. However, after making progress with the snow castle, Petyr pulls Sansa into her arms and kisses her. Sansa yields to the kiss for a moment but then turns her face away and wrenches free. When Sansa asks Petyr his reason for kissing her, he tells her that he is kissing a snow maid and that she is beautiful. When Sansa points out to Petyr that he should be kissing his wife, Petyr says that he has been kissing Lysa and given her no cause for complaint.
As Sansa protests over Petyr’s words, little Lord Robert Arryn enters the garden. The boy is carrying the cloth doll that he carries everywhere. Robert sees the castle and decides that his doll is to be a giant, and proceeds to swing the doll by the legs, knocking the top off one gatehouse tower after another. Sansa tries to stop Robert by grabbing his hand, but she catches the doll instead and the force rips the doll’s head from its body. The boy begins to wail but this soon develops into violent shakes; Petyr rushes to the boy’s aid and calls for Maester Coleman, the Eyrie’s maester. When Maester Coleman finally arrives, he has the guards lead Robert to his chambers in order to be leeched.
Sansa returns to her bedchambers and considers the consequences of her actions. She has no doubts that her aunt Lysa will soon summon her in order to answer for Lord Robert’s fit. Sansa actually hopes that her aunt will banish her, for the Gates of the Moon far below in the valley seemed a more exciting place than the Eyrie. She decides that she will tell her aunt that she had no wish to marry little Lord Robert. She knows that Lysa will banish her for that, but Sansa doesn’t think that a bad thing as she would be getting away from little Lord Robert’s pouts and shaking sickness, from Marillion’s lingering looks and from Petyr’s kisses.
Later that afternoon, Marillion comes to escort Sansa to the High Hall, where her aunt Lysa waits for her. Upon reaching the carved wooden doors of the High Hall, Marillion tells the guards that no one is to be allowed entry as long as Alayne is with Lady Sansa (Marillion only knows Sansa as Alayne, a bastard girl). Marillion then leads Sansa into the High Hall, bars the door shut from the inside, and waits at the foot of the hall, telling Sansa that Lady Lysa is waiting for her at the back of the hall.
Sansa walks all the way to the back of the hall where she finds her aunt Lysa sitting in the high seat. Lysa says that she knows what Sansa has done. Sansa begins apologizing for ripping the head off little Lord Robert’s doll but Lysa stops Sansa from speaking any further and tells Sansa that she is speaking of Sansa kissing Petyr, not Robert’s doll.
Sansa says that it was Petyr who had kissed her to which Lysa expresses her disbelief and demands that Sansa confess that she threw herself at Petyr. Sansa refuses to confess to the falsehood and insists it was Petyr who had kissed her. Lysa gets increasingly angry and says that many others have tried to take Petyr from her, including her father, Jon Arryn, and most of all, Sansa’s mother. Lysa goes on to elaborate, saying that when she and Catelyn had been girls in Riverrun, Catelyn had toyed with Petyr’s feelings, that she had enticed Petyr with her looks and glances but, during a night of dance and song, had pushed him away when he had tried to kiss her. Petyr had been so hurt that he gotten himself drunk and Ser Brynden had to carry him up to his bed. Lysa had then sneaked into Petyr’s bed to provide some comfort to him in the form of lovemaking. Petyr had taken Lysa’s maidenhead but had erroneously called her by Catelyn’s name before he fell back to sleep; despite that, Lysa had stayed with Petyr in his bed until dawn.
Sansa, starting to feel fear in the face of her aunt’s tirade, begs for Lysa’s leave to go, but Lysa denies it.
Lysa then goes on to tell about how her father, Lord Hoster, sent Petyr away once it was revealed that she was pregnant with Petyr’s child. Lord Hoster had forced Lysa to drink a concoction that killed the baby before it could be born. Her father then had her wedded to Jon Arryn, telling her that she was lucky Jon still wanted her as a wife despite Petyr taking her maidenhood, but Lysa says that she knew Jon Arryn only wanted to marry her in order to win her father’s men for Robert’s Rebellion. Lysa then states that she will never let Sansa steal Petyr.
Sansa, having grown increasingly fearful of her aunt’s wrath, decides to say what her aunt wants to hear: that she won’t kiss Petyr again.
Lysa seizes upon Sansa’s words as her admittance that she had indeed enticed Petyr. She grabs Sansa’s arm, calls out to Marillion to play a song titled ‘The False and the Fair’, and proceeds to lead Sansa to the Moon Door, a white weirwood door halfway down the hall, barred firmly close with three heavy bronze bars. Lysa forces Sansa to open the door and Sansa obeys, hoping that her aunt will let her go if she does as ordered.
When Sansa has yanked all three bars loose, the Moon Door flies open and Sansa sees that beyond the door is nothing but white sky and falling snow.
Lysa pushes Sansa forcefully towards the door, mocking her by asking whether Sansa still wants her leave to go. Lysa pushes Sansa so far to the edge until one of Sansa’s feet slipped out over the void. Desperate, Sansa grabs a hold of her aunt’s hair and both women end up teetering on the edge. Sansa can hear the guards pounding on the door with their spears.
Petyr appears suddenly, having come in through the lord’s entrance located behind the high seat. He demands to know what Lysa is doing, which causes Lysa to turn around and loosen her grip on Sansa. Lysa says that she was going to marry Sansa to her son but that Sansa has now proven that she has no gratitude for the marriage to Little Robert. She then says that Petyr cannot love Sansa because Sansa does not love Petyr the way that she does. Lysa goes on to say that she has always loved Petyr.
Petyr takes another step towards Lysa, telling her that he is there for her and that there is no cause for tears. Lysa states that Petyr had not said the same thing in King’s Landing; he had her put the Tears of Lys, a lethal poison that leaves no trace, in Jon’s wine. She had done it for her son’s sake, and for both Petyr and her’s. And she had written to Catelyn to tell her sister that the Lannisters had killed her husband Jon, just as Petyr had asked. Lysa gets more and more hysterical and keeps on asking why Petyr kissed Sansa.
Petyr sighs and tells Lysa that she has to trust him a little more. He then swears that he will never leave her side again. Petyr then pleads with her to unhand Sansa so that both he and Lysa can share a kiss. Lysa does so happily. Petyr hugs her and then kisses her gently, saying that he has only ever loved one woman. Lysa smiles and think Petyr is talking about her – until he says that the woman in question is Catelyn. Petyr then pushes Lysa out of the Moon Door. Marillion is in shock at what Petyr has done but Petyr merely responds by telling Sansa to let the guards in so that they can report that it was Marillion who killed Lysa.
Merrett Frey is riding for Oldstones; he has been charged by Lord Walder Frey to pay the ransom for Petyr Pimple, who has been captured by outlaws after wandering off with a camp follower. The message from the outlaws stated that they would wait in the ruined castle atop Oldstones and release Petyr Pimple once they receive the ransom amount of one hundred gold pieces. Lord Walder’s disdain for Merrett, his ninth son, is such that Merrett had to beg his father to entrust him with the task of paying Petyr’s ransom. Merrett had once been a squire and was supposed to go on to become a knight, but a vicious blow by a mace to his helm had injured him so badly that he had been forced to give up his dreams of knighthood; he had been sent back to the Twins, thus earning Lord Walder’s disdain.
When Lord Bolton married his daughter, Fat Walda, Merrett had hoped that his luck would finally change, since the Bolton alliance is important to House Frey. However, Lord Walder had disabused him of this notion, saying that Lord Roose Bolton had picked Merrett’s Fat Walda not because she is Merrett’s daughter but because she was fat – Lord Walder had promised Roose Bolton his bride’s weight in silver as a dowry.
Merrett had been handed the opportunity to distinguish himself during the Red Wedding but he had failed in his given task: to get Greatjon Umber drunk. With his reputation as the biggest drinker in the Twins, Merrett had thought that it would be an easy task. However, the Greatjon Umber had drunk enough wine to kill any three normal men and still managed to leave two men wounded, one dead and one who lost half his ear to the Greatjon Umber’s teeth.
The reason Merrett volunteered to be the one to deliver Petyr’s ransom to the outlaws is because he wishes to curry favor with Ser Ryman Frey. With Ser Stevron Frey having been killed while campaigning for the late Robb Stark, Ser Ryman now stands to inherit the Twins after Lord Walder’s death. Petyr Pimple is Ser Ryman Frey’s youngest son, so by bringing Petyr back, Merrett hopes that Ser Ryman will see him as a loyal man worth having about when he inherits the Twins.
Merrett arrives at the ruined castle at the appointed time. He spots the singer, Tom Sevenstrings, sitting above a stone sepulcher. Suddenly, the rest of the outlaws step out from the bushes and surround Merrett; he spots at least a dozen men, and there is a woman as well, wearing a hooded cloak three times her size. Lem, a big man wearing a yellow lemon-colored cloak, asks Merrett whether he has brought the ransom; Merrett tells him that the gold is in his saddlebag. One of the outlaws, a one-eyed man, opens the saddlebag, bites into the coin and tells the other outlaws that the gold is real.
Merrett then asks which of the outlaws is Beric Dondarrion; he hopes to speak to Dondarrion, knowing that Dondarrion had been a lord before becoming an outlaw and thus Merrett hopes that Beric is a man of honor. Tom Sevenstrings says that Lord Beric is not with them as he was needed elsewhere. Merrett then asks the outlaws to hand over Petyr to him. Lem tells Merrett that Petyr is in the godswood and offers to take Merrett there. Merrett reluctantly goes along, walking in silence.
When they reach the godswood, Merrett sees Petyr Pimple’s body hanging from the limb of an oak. His first thought is that he had come too late, but he realizes that he had indeed arrived at the appointed time. And then he realizes something else – that the outlaws had just decided to kill Petyr anyway. Before he can think to act, the outlaws have already bound his arms behind his back and tied a rope around his neck.
Realizing that they are about to hang him, Merrett tries to play on their greed by telling them that Lord Walder Frey will pay for his ransom and that he is worth more in ransom than Petyr Pimple. Tom Sevenstrings says that Lord Walder Frey won’t be fooled twice and will next send a hundred men after them instead of a hundred gold coins. Tom then offers Merrett a way out: he says that if Merrett answers a question, he’ll tell the outlaws to let Merrett go. Desperate to save his life, Merrett agrees.
Tom then asks Merrett whether he saw Sandor Clegane at the Red Wedding; the outlaws have been looking for him and they have learned that Sandor had made his way towards the Twins, with a skinny girl of about ten years of age in tow. Merrett gives an honest answer, saying that he did not see Sandor during the wedding. Tom does not release him and Merrett starts to protest, claiming that Tom had promised to let him go after he answered Tom’s question. Tom says that his actual words were that he would tell the other outlaws to let him go, which he then does, but Lem does not comply, to which Tom shrugs indifferently and proceeds to play a song on his woodharp.
Merrett is growing increasingly desperate and tells them that he has children. The one-eyed outlaw says that Robb Stark will never have children. Merrett then realizes that the outlaws are hanging him due to his participation in the Red Wedding; he shouts out that the Red Wedding was not murder, but vengeance, something House Frey had a right to since Robb dishonored them. Merrett then goes on to state that all he did during the Red Wedding was drink. He then brings Lord Beric into the picture by saying that he’s heard that Lord Beric is a just man and wouldn’t kill a man unless something’s been proven against him; Merrett says that the outlaws have no proof against him, that they have no witnesses.
Tom says that they do indeed have a witness and turns to the hooded woman, the one that Merrett had seen earlier. The woman lowers her hood, and to Merrett’s horror, he sees that the woman in the hooded cloak is none other than Catelyn Stark. He wonders how Catelyn Stark can be alive, since Ser Raymund Frey had slit her throat and they had then thrown her dead body into the river. The Catelyn Stark standing amongst the outlaws resembles a drowned corpse more than a living woman, but she stares at Merrett with hate-filled eyes all the same.
Lem says that Catelyn doesn’t speak since Merrett and his kin had slit her throat. But he adds that she does remember. He turns to the dead woman and asks whether Merrett had a part to play in the Red Wedding. The woman that had once been Catelyn nods and the outlaws proceed to hang Merrett Frey.