We’re back in The Past, following Kaladin as a child again. I bet you thought that was going to be a once-off thing, didn’t you?
Kaladin (or Kal, here) is talking to a friend called Laral about his dad sending him to Kharbranth to be a surgeon. I have a feeling this will be a clumsy way of explaining Kaladin’s I-must-save-everyone thing.
He and Laral were atop a low ridge of boulders to the east of Hearthstone.
This blog post was sponsored by Activision Blizzard
Laral is a lighteyes and implies that darkeyes like Kaladin can actually become lighteyed, presumably though some sort of pokemon-like evolution. She implies it’s connected with winning a Shardblade somehow. The whole lighteyes/darkeyes thing has such little effect on the plot beyond just being fantasy window dressing I keep forgetting it’s even there.
Kal is at That Age which means it’s time to tackle puberty, a complex and sensitive topic that Branderson handles with the grace of a sledgehammer.
More and more, Kal found that he liked looking at Laral. Kal knew, logically, what was happening to him. His father had explained the process of growing with the precision of a surgeon. But there was so much feeling involved, emotions that his father’s sterile descriptions hadn’t explained. Some of those emotions were about Laral and the other girls of the town.
What is this human emotion you call
Maybe this is just my experience, but did anyone actually need to have the concept of “you are now finding certain people attractive” explained to them? Isn’t that something people just sort of…. know?
Laral tells Kaladin that the Origin (this blog post was sponsored by EA) is out there beyond their town. It’s the place where Highstorms originate and she wants him to man up and be a soldier because they have a noble tradition of being badasses.
Father says we’re here to be a windbreak for more timid lands to the west.” She turned to him. “We’ve got a noble heritage, Kal, darkeyes and light-eyes alike. That’s why the best warriors have always been from Alethkar. Highprince Sadeas, General Amaram…King Gavilar himself.
This is totally how twelve year olds speak, yes indeed.
(I’m just assuming here that “twelve weepings” means twelve years based on the just-hit-puberty thing)
Speaking of which, Kaladin’s desire to go to war and be a soldier is also being fuelled by some very adult-sounding motives:
He felt that by being a soldier, he could change things. Really change them. A part of him dreamed of going to war, of protecting Alethkar, of fighting alongside heroic lighteyes. Of doing good someplace other than a little town that nobody important ever visited.
As opposed to dude I’m gonna get paid to fucking stab people which was about as sophisticated as my motives would have gotten at that age.
Also, he appears to be suffering from chronic depression or something similar. Which sucks, but I really never get the sense that adult Kaladin, even as he’s preparing to hurl himself off a cliff, has anything more than a case of the blues due to how ineptly this thing is written.
Another pal of Kaladin’s named Tien (actually his brother) arrives and after showing Kaladin a glowy fantasy-rock they go off to hunt lurgs. This is what came up on Google image search when I typed in “lurgs”:
Not just the dirtier- the dirtiest.
They manage to find a lurg, which is like a thing, and Kaladin wistfully remembers when this used to be more exciting, burnt out and world-weary old soul that he is. He also talks to Tian like they’re years apart in age even though Tian is ten and Kaladin is twelve.
Laral seems super enthusiastic about the idea of Kaladin becoming a lighteyes, but Kaladin is clueless and doesn’t get why.
There’s some more waffling and fantasy world building bullshit and characters repeating things and eventually, after an age, something happens.
Kaladin and Laral spot some older boys not working in the field like they should and head off to investigate. It turns out one of the things that they harvest grain from isn’t growing properly and sssppsjajsjsjjzzzzzzzz
Sorry, where were we? Okay. The older boys want to know about darkeyes becoming lighteyes, and they resent Kaladin because he’s a rich darkeyes and not like them and gffffhhhuuuggzzzzzzzzz
Woah sorry, here we go. Laral says that anyone who wins a Shardblade becomes lighteyed.
“That’s right,” Laral said. “Everybody knows it. Even a slave could become a lighteyes if he won a Shardblade.”
A slave, you say? Why, isn’t young Kaladin a slave right now in the story’s present?
W h a t a c o i n c i d e n c e
You get a Shardblade by killing it’s bearer. Hey let’s hear some more authentic twelve year old dialogue:
“She’s right, Jost. There weren’t any Shardbearers there—just Reshi raiders who thought they’d take advantage of the new king. They’ve never had any Shardblades. If your father saw one, he must be remembering incorrectly.”
“Er, sure,” Kal said quickly. “I’m not saying he’s lying, Jost. He just might have some trauma-induced hallucinations, or something like that.”
That Branderson is a hell of a writer, let me tell you.
One of the older kids challenges Kaladin to a fight and while he ultimately loses he of course he gets a moment of badassery despite being a scrawny bookworm who literally states that he’s never used a quarterstaff before in his life because it “just feels right”.
Laral walks off and leaves him when he loses and Kaladin begs the boy he was fighting to teach him to fight. The boy refuses and Kaladin’s budding man-emotions are hurt because he man-lost a man-fight and I don’t give a shit about any of this let’s just skip it:
Someone important dies and Kaladin does a lot of moping about His Path and what Path he’ll walk and I guess it’s supposed to be dramatic even though this is a flashback and we fucking know what his Path is going to be because we already read it. Since nothing that’s introduced in this chapter gets resolved (hell, nothing actually happens in it) I’m guessing we’re going to be returning to younger Kaladin at least once more.
17: A Bloody, Red Sunset
Back in The Present, Kaladin is buying medical supplies (oh do you see the bitter irony) for his bridgecrew and it’s really expensive. This takes a very long time and everyone talks a lot.
He now knew about the chrysalises on the plateaus, the gemhearts they contained, and the competition between the highprinces
It’s awfully convenient that Kaladin doesn’t find this out until we do. Hell, it’s almost like the author was just making shit up as he went along!
“People are discord,” Syl said.
Ugh fuck off Syl. We seem to be transitioning straight from one type of annoying personality into another.
“You all act differently and think differently. Nothing else is like that—animals act alike
I don’t think Syl has been around many animals.
All the world does as it is supposed to, except for humans. Maybe that’s why you so often want to kill each other
It’s time to play what’s that fallacy!
I don’t know whether Branderson actually believes this- let’s be charitable and assume he doesn’t- but it’s a common enough theme for would-be philosophers to prattle on about. It’s also complete bullshit.
Any statement about human beings being inherently flawed or not doing what we’re “supposed to” is presupposing a lot of ideas of questionable veracity, chief among them that humans are somehow capable of being “outside” of nature and the natural world.
First off, this is factually inaccurate any way you look at it. We’ve known for a long time now that we come from the exact same place as all other species on the planet- we are in no way separate from or different to rhinos and wasps except that we happen to be better at certain kinds of higher level brain functions. We’re directly related to everything else on the planet. If we invent criteria for how animals “should” act by examining the behavior of animals (and what other method could there be?) then we have to include human behavior as well, since we’re animals just like every other animal, and conclude that using smart phones and playing WoW are normal animal behaviors. The only way Syl’s line of reasoning could make sense is if we had living beings of some completely different nature to compare everything else with, which, barring the discovery of alien life or leprechauns between now and when this post goes up, we don’t.
And what is this “only humans fight” shit, animals do horrible, brutal things to each other out of territorial-ism or jealousy or just for fun all the damn time. Cats routinely kill prey animals just because they’re bored, which in a human would be interpreted as Hannibal Lector-level psychopathy.
……So anyway Syl is wrong about everything all the time.
Kaladin goes over to his bridge bros intending to train, but then a horn sounds to indicate that they have to go and do a run. Since Kaladin is the leader he gets to run in back and suffer less of a chance of being shot to death with arrows.
His was the safest position in the group, though no bridgeman was truly safe. Kaladin was like a moldy crust on a starving man’s plate; not the first bite, but still doomed.
Such excellent prose
During the run Kaladin tries to be an impressive badass by refusing to sit and rest when soldiers cross the bridge and giving a squadleader sass. When they get to the chasm where the assault is happening he predictably decides to take the front position to be all noble and shit.
I’ll say this, these sections with Kaladin and the bridges at least have some tension. If you stripped out everything else in the story you’d have a fairly decent fantasy war novel, at least so far. But it’s buried under so much fat the effect is muted.
While they’re running the archers firing at them become confused and lower their bows after the first volley for some reason. Kaladin helps rescue injured bridge men who took an arrow to the knee, thus establishing that he’s even more of a badass. Of course, this display prompts some of the veteran bridgemen to help him, because I guess no one in the entire history of the war has ever tried to do that before.
One of the injured bridgemen rambles on with one of those quotes we were seeing before at the start of chapters:
“They break the land itself!” he hissed, eyes wild. “They want it, but in their rage they will destroy it. Like the jealous man burns his rich things rather than let them be taken by his enemies! They come!”
Uh-huh. That’s really interesting. No seriously, I’m on the edge of my seat wondering when in the next 7000 pages we’re going to find out what that meant.
“You will not die,” Kaladin muttered. “You will not die!”
DON’T DIE ON ME DAMMIT
I’m not sure why, but Kaladin’s “oh noes I never get used to losing patients” thing really irritates me. It’s just such a trite and shallow bit of characterization. The doctor who works round the clock to save lives but then shrugs his shoulders when he fails and doesn’t want to bother talking to the grieving relatives because it’s too much hassle is a less sympathetic character, but also much more interesting.
(Also, while Kaladin is doing all of this cauterizing and stitching his patients are all conveniently unconscious, thus sidestepping the lack of anesthetic)
Kaladin bribes Gaz to let him bring the wounded bridgemen back with them, and notices that all of his lightbulb money had gone day which I’m messing means either he or Syl is drawing Stormlight from them without realizing it.