Back to Kaladin, who is busy discovering the fact that War is Hell. It’s kind of funny that he never realized that in all of his days as a professional soldier, apparently going through multiple battles with the idea of war as a heroic adventure full of glory and courage intact. Take a look at some of the poetry that came out of World War I for a vivid reminder of how quickly that opinion tends to disintegrate in real life.
average bridge crews often lost one-third to one-half of their number on a single run.
I’m still convinced that there would surely be a more efficient way to do this. And where the hell are they even getting replacements for all the guys who get shot full of arrows during every battle?
“Kaladin?” Syl asked, floating down and landing on his leg, holding the girlish form with the long dress flowing into mist.
The book keeps mentioning that Syl can take different forms, but as far as I can tell every form is more or less the same.
Kaladin wallows in self-pity some more. We’re clearly supposed to feel bad for him, and his situation is indeed horrific, so I don’t know why I just get annoyed by this. I think it’s because Branderson is trying just a bit too hard; I quickly get impatient when authors keep telling me what to feel about a situation instead of just letting me come to my own conclusion.
The old Kaladin might have wondered why the armies didn’t work harder to defend the bridges. There’s something wrong here! a voice inside him said. You’re missing part of the puzzle. They waste resources and bridgeman lives. They don’t seem to care about pushing inward and assaulting the Parshendi. They just fight pitched battles on plateaus, then come back to the camps and celebrate. Why? WHY?
Yes, why indeed. Let’s have more of this instead of Kaladin being a sad woobie panda.
Syl mentions that she used to “watch him fight”, which is impossible since she only met him after he was enslaved. But Kaladin only wonders about this for a second, because there’s more wallowing to be done.
Eventually even Syl gets fed up with him and flies off, saying that she might come back at some point.
Anyway more bridge runs, more people get killed, Kaladin wants ti protect everyone but BUT HE CAN’T OH WOE IS HIM.
Blood dripped from the tip of an arrow sticking out his back. It fell, one ruby drop at a time, splattering on the boy’s open, lifeless eye. A little trail of red ran from the eye down the side of his face. Like crimson tears.
Okay, we get it, now can we please get to the point where Kaladin decides to do something?
10: Stories of Surgeons
That’s a weird title. Maybe Kaladin becomes a field medic or something?
NINE YEARS AGO
It’s time to find out all about ten year old Kaladin (reminding me once again how unrealistic it is that this dude is supposed to be only nineteen in the present).
Kaladin’s dad is a surgeon and is about to operate on a woman who’s been drugged with some sort of old-timey anesthetic. Kaladin is there to watch for some reason. Maybe his dad wants him to follow in his footsteps or something.
She wore only a white cotton shift, her safehand exposed. Older boys in the town sniggered about the chances they’d had—or claimed to have had—at seeing girls in their shifts, but Kal didn’t understand what the excitement was all about. He was worried about Sani, though. He always worried when someone was wounded.
Because Kaladin cares about people you see, unlike those uncouth non-protagonists who like to ogle girls.
Come on Branderson, let your characters be human and drop this super-special pure hearted nonsense.
While Kaladin is washing his hands he and his dad sit around telling each other things they already know in order to fill in some of what happened after the Oath guys stopped Oathing: they had formed an order of knights called the Radiants, who turned on humanity after they left.
The woman they’re operating on had her hand mangled somehow, and Kaladin’s dad amputates a finger. The whole spren thing gets a slightly interesting angle here, as it turns out people in this world know that soap and water prevents infection because it “scares away” rotspren. They don’t know the actual underlying mechanism of infection and believe that the spren themselves are causing it.
Caring too much can be a problem? Kal thought back at his father.
It can be a problem when it turns you into a moody bastard later in life.
Kaladn says he wants to be a soldier and a short soldiers vs surgeons argument ensues. Kaladin’s dad comes across as by far the more sensible of the two until he dismisses wholesale the idea that it might ever be necessary to kill people in order to save lives. Essentially you have boilerplate fantasy hero “I must be a manly man and protect people” (how much of a virtuous snowflake is Kaladin that he was already obsessed with saving people as a child) contrasted with overly-idealistic pacifism, both of which are pretty shallow and pointless ways of looking at things.
Kaladin’s dad announces that he’s been saving money for years so he can sent Kaladin to Kharbranth (the city Shallan is in now) to train as a proper surgeon when he turns sixteen. Evidently that didn’t work out for some reason.