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Fifth of Daybreak

[OB] Unpopular Opinion: Elhokar

47 posts in this topic

Edit: while the nature of my argument stays the same, I would like you to view this Instead from Elhokar not having earned his Redemption Instead of not deserving it. My original choice of words was poor.

 

Before I start, I want to preface what I'm about to say with the disclaimer that I'm not trying to put down anyone's opinion or anything similar to that nature. If you disagree and enjoy Elhokar as a character and didn't like his arc, I definitely respect that, and look forward to some spirited debate. I just have some thoughts that have been floating around I wanted to put out there and my objective reasons for those feelings. 

Without further pre-amble, here goes:

I think that Elhokar's arc was the perfect ending to a character with very few redeeming qualities, and that Elhokar was not deserving of the redemption arc he was headed towards. 

I'm going to organize my thoughts by first going over Elhokar's flaws before OB, briefly discussing the path he was taking to Radiance and especially how a bond with the cryptics relates to his past, and finally how that combination, for me personally, makes the character not deserving of full redemption, and why his death was very satisfying for me. 

I. Elhokars Past Flaws

Quote

"Elhokar though, he worries about the wrong things. His father wore a simple crown because he needed no reminder of his authority. Elhokar wears a simple crown because he worries that something more lavish might make people look at it, instead of at him. He doesn’t want the competition.”

-Hoid 68 Aim for the Sun

Elhokar's fatal sin is that of Vanity, as Hoid points out earlier in this scene. In his defense, he's grown up with incredibly large expectations thrust upon him. His mother is a renowned artifabrian, his father is the greatest monarch since the Sunmaker, his uncle is the greatest general alive, his cousin is one of the most skilled duelists, his sister is a world renowned scholar. Elhokar is...unimpressive. 

There is nothing innately wrong with being unimpressive. The world thrives on people who understand their place in it and are driven to fulfill that duty well. This is Vorin doctrine through elevation of callings. This was not good enough for Elhokar though, he was not satisfied with taking his calling of leading Alethkar and fulfilling that duty to the best of his ability, he had to be recognized as significant. His goal wasn't to do good, but to be recognized for doing good. It's a common theme for Elhokar. He puts the cart before the horse, recognizing the destination but ignoring the significance of the journey. This is apparent at his father's funeral. 

Quote

“I’ll have vengeance, Mother,” Elhokar whispered. “I’ll have it!” The young king spun toward the gathered lighteyes, standing before his father’s outstretched stone hand. “You’ve each come to me privately to give support. Well, I demand you swear it in public! Today, we make a pact to hunt those who did this. Today, Alethkar goes to war!”

105 Spirit, Mind, and Body

There are several criticisms I have for this. First off, what does he want for vengeance? The leaders of the Parshendi confessed and we're executed, justice was served. What objective is he trying to meet? Genocide? 

No, he reveals what he's truly after in the speech, public support. He wasn't satisfied with them swearing to him privately, he needed an excuse to demand the Highprinces swear to him, then a justification to try to match his father's conquest by invading the Shattered Plains. That he provides no objectives or direction as the war wages is further proof. 

He married Aesudan against Jasnah's advice because he wants her strength to help his reputation, not because of love or because it will help his house.

Quote

“I know that Jasnah says I shouldn’t have married her—that Aesudan was too hungry for power. Jasnah never understood. I needed Aesudan. Someone with strength…”

OB 67

Fast forward a few years to where we catch up to him. On the Shattered Plains, he invents a assassination attempt because he's worried his uncle wants to kill him. This stems, Imo, from his frustration at Dalinar for stepping in so often to fix Elhokar's mistakes.

Quote

"Dalinar was right. Again. I’m so tired of him being right, and me being wrong."

WoR 80 To Fight the Rain

When Elhokar is worried about Dalinar courting Navani, it's not because he's worried about his mother or his uncle, but because of how it could reflect on him. 

Quote

“Good. I had wanted to speak with you. Do you know of these rumors about you and my mother? I realize that nothing untoward could be happening, but I do worry about what people think.

“Honestly, Uncle,” Elhokar said, shaking his head. “I’m growing very intolerant of your reputation in camp. What they are saying reflects poorly on me, you see, and …"

WoK 69 Justice

He seeks out Kaladin for his help because he's jealous of how Kaladin is seen as a hero, not because he wants to fulfill his duty better. 

Quote

“I’ve seen how your men regard you; I’ve heard how people speak of you. You’re a hero, bridgeman.”He stopped, then walked up to Kaladin, taking him by the arms. “Can you teach me?”

Kaladin regarded him, baffled.

“I want to be a king like my father was,”Elhokar said. “I want to lead men, and I want them to respect me.”

WoR 80 

I'm sure there's other examples, but essentially, it's all summed up by what the Stormfather said:

Quote

They go about this backward. Foolish men. They can’t draw in Light and become Radiant; they first must be approaching Radiance, and look for Light to fulfill the promise.

OB 64 Binder of Gods

II. Path to Radiance/Cryptics

The most tragic part of Elhokar's death is it comes just as he achieves the first ideal and overcomes those flaws, cut down just as he starts his path to redemption, but what led him there? 

I'm going to lightly touch on the first ideal, because I know it's a contentious topic, but I think it's central to the topic. From my interpretation, at it's core, the first ideal is an oath to use your strength in service to others. This is something that Elhokar has never done up to this point. His actions were always couched in attempting to make himself look better. By being able to swear the first oath, he overcame that, and was starting on the path to use his position in service to his kingdom.

For the cryptics, we know that they are attracted to lies. 

Quote

“Cryptics are trouble. They enjoy lies, Jasnah. Feast upon them. Speak one word untrue at a gathering, and seven cluster around you. Their humming fills your ears.”

OB 47 So much is Lost.

Quote

“Shallan,”Pattern said, moving closer to her. “I know that you have forgotten much of what once was. Those lies attracted me. But you cannot continue like this; you must admit the truth about me. About what I can do, and what we have done. Mmm . . . More, you must know yourself. And remember.”

WoR 60 Veil Walks

And we also know that they need truth to progress. We know that they have been following Elhokar since WoK

Quote

"They watch me. Always. Waiting. I see their faces in mirrors. Symbols, twisted, inhuman …”

WoK 58 Journey

So, it's pretty easy to speculate that the Cryptics we're attracted by the lies that Elhokar told himself about his motives, that his attempts to increase his respect and reputation disguised by his lies brought him to their attention. Likewise, his transition to sincerely wish to use his power in service, and his ability to finally see himself for his own flaws and understand his own motives allowed him to reach across and bond him. 

That brings us to:

III. No Redemption

So why doesn't he deserve redemption? He's made the transition, his motives have improved, he's finally understood what truly is required of him by his station. Why won't I cut him some slack?

Well, I don't think he would have been irredeemable had the narrative gone another way, but as written in OB, he definitely was. I actually was looking forward to his redemption end of WoR. However, the behavior demonstrated in the first point continued throughout the OB. He has made great strides in self awareness, but his still has a huge blindspot: Aesudan. This is in spite of all evidence pointing to her being the cause of the trouble and along with Jasnah's warning.

Quote

"Aesudan is there; if the rioting is still happening, she’s fighting against it.”

12

“And Aesudan condemned her to death,” Elhokar said. Lit by only a few spheres at the center of their circle, his face was half shadowed. It was a most intriguing effect, and Shallan took a Memory for later sketching.

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“It was the dark spren, obviously, who gave the actual order,” Elhokar said. “The dark spren that is controlling the palace. My wife would never be so imprudent as to publicly execute an ardent during such parlous times.”

62

"Elhokar, this started long before the Everstorm.”

“We can … ask her,” the king said. “Once she is safe. Something must have been wrong. Aesudan was always proud, and always ambitious, but never gluttonous.”

67

He still has trouble admitting it with her in front of his eyes, the city in ruins, his child unwell in his arms. 

Quote

“Oh, Elhokar,” the queen was saying. “You were ever so oblivious. Your father had grand plans, but you … all you ever wanted to do was sit in his shadow. It was for the best that you went off to play war.”

“So you could stay here and … and do this?” Elhokar said, waving toward the palace.

84

It's not until Kaladin reminds him of what's truly at stake, his son, that Elhokar finally admits Aesudan is beyond help and leaves. 

Quote

“Out,” Kaladin said. “But…” The king looked toward his wife.

“Elhokar,” Kaladin said, gripping the king’s shoulder. “Be a hero to the one you can save.”

84

Even then, it takes some of Shallan's transformation magic to fully complete the transformation. 

Quote

Elhokar had fallen to his knees. In one arm he held his terrified son, in the other hand he held … a sheet of paper? A sketch? 

Kaladincould almost hear Elhokar stuttering the words. 

Life… life before death …

84

So let's wrap this all together. Elhokar's past mistakes are beyond egregious. I didn't even touch on Moash's grandparents and their unjust death at his command. His path to Radiance required him to become self aware of his faults and take up his station in service to others, but the reason I feel he didn't deserve redemption was because of when it truly came. It wasn't until his throne was usurped by his uncle, his kingdom had been invaded, his palace shrouded by darkness, his wife consumed by an unmade, his capital fallen to the enemy, his mission to save the city failing, he was pushed along by Lightweaving magic and that he was his son's last line of defense that he finally was able to push past his previous lies and selfishness and achieve Radiance. 

For me, the cost is far too high for his redemption. I do think he could have been written in this book to have been redeemed, but, personally, the way the story played out, this was the only resolution, and it was a fitting one. 

Edited by Ookla the Obtuse
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"....he didn't deserve redemption..."

This is something I struggle with.  I think of Darth Vader, a mass murderer, one who betrayed those who trusted him, blew up planets, etc... and I'm supposed to just forget about all of those things because he finally did something right and stopped the Emporer?  Not going to happen.

The word "redeem" literally means to buy back.  Redemption isn't complete until all wrongs have been righted.  This is literally impossible for us humans to obtain.  But we recognize when people are on the track to righting past wrongs.  We often give the benefit of the doubt to those have started on that path.

In Elhokar's case, he is guilty of murdering innocents, and waging a genocidal war.  Can he right those wrongs?  It would take an extreme amount of change in his life.

In Dalinar's case, he is guilty of murdering innocents, and waging a genocidal war (at the behest of his king).  Can he right those wrongs?  It is still taking a lot of effort on his part, but the fact he keeps standing up and doing better tells me he is trying.

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13 minutes ago, Lightning said:

"....he didn't deserve redemption..."

This is something I struggle with.  I think of Darth Vader, a mass murderer, one who betrayed those who trusted him, blew up planets, etc... and I'm supposed to just forget about all of those things because he finally did something right and stopped the Emporer?  Not going to happen.

The word "redeem" literally means to buy back.  Redemption isn't complete until all wrongs have been righted.  This is literally impossible for us humans to obtain.  But we recognize when people are on the track to righting past wrongs.  We often give the benefit of the doubt to those have started on that path.

In Elhokar's case, he is guilty of murdering innocents, and waging a genocidal war.  Can he right those wrongs?  It would take an extreme amount of change in his life.

In Dalinar's case, he is guilty of murdering innocents, and waging a genocidal war (at the behest of his king).  Can he right those wrongs?  It is still taking a lot of effort on his part, but the fact he keeps standing up and doing better tells me he is trying.

I really enjoy all of what you've said here and I think it adds a lot of great context to my post. 

I also brought the subject up with my brother through text message and he helped me get my thoughts more in order as well, so let me clarify my points just a little bit. 

Mostly, my problem with Elhokar is that it took a disaster or major event every time for him to grow into a better and stronger person. Had he been less vain and more quick to grow, he would have bonded he spren sooner and possibly could have saved the mission. 

 

My biggest problem with Elhokar is that he built his own pyre. You can't wait until your bank account is empty and your credit cards are maxed to get your finances in order. Elhokar's arc was the equivalent of this, and as such,his death was very fitting for me.

Edited by Ookla the Obtuse
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Very Interesting points OP. I do have a counter though.

If we had read the series completely chronologically... Would Dalinar: the woman killer, the child murderer, the worst husband ever, etc have deserved redemption? 

I did not like Elhokar as a character but I did like his arc in Oathbringer. I saw he was trying, and he wanted to do better. He was starting to develop some compassion, and his growth as a character was exciting to me. Part of me really does wish I could have seen where it would have gone. That being said his death does add much more to the story than his life does.

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I defended Elhokar far before Oathbringer (I had some great conversations with maxal on the topic) and so I will defend him now as well. To start with, as you say, Elhokar is the average joe, pretty much. Dalinar, Gavilar, Navani, Adolin, Jasnah, Sadeas... they are all formidable, and he is not. We all know the Alethi, especially the Alethi lighteyes. We know what the ideal looks like. Glory, power and all that jazz. Elhokar isn´t a particularly strong individual. The fact that he was swept along by the current and started wishing for more glory, more power, and more jazz than he already had, is nothing strange. And the fact that he grew up to be weak enough isn´t strange either, and can´t hardly be something we blame him for. Not all people will be strong like Kaladin or Dalinar. And for someone with Elhokars mindset, the jealousy and the fact that he cares a lot about how others see him isn´t particularly surprising. When you add in the strong belief in the Almighty (Elhokar once asks why the Almighty would give him a crown if he is unfit for it), and the knowledge that he keeps on failing, you have a pretty tragic character. 

Then we have the faked assassination attempts. I think you are reading those wrong. Elhokar is paranoid. I don´t know much about paranoia, but I do know a lot about being afraid, and those things are related. Elhokar is legitimately worried for his safety, and wishes to test his allies. I don´t think it has to do with Dalinar being right all the time, and more with the fact that Elhokar is seriously scared.

As for the genocide, we all like Dalinar, and he was in on that as well, until the Almighty himself told him to focus on more important stuff... and remember, the Dalinar who was into the Vengeance Pact was the Dalinar who followed Codes and read The Way of Kings, not the bloodthirsty one. Jasnah and Adolin didn´t see anything wrong with it either, and both are well liked. Elhokar kicked it off, yeah, but the others never told him not to do it, or tried to usher for peace (until the Stormfather started his own cable TV in Dalinars head).

When it comes to being a better king... yes, Elhokar is doing that out of selfish reasons. However, I do think he cares about his people as well, and I doubt he realizes how wrong it is to be focused on personal glory. I also want to point out a small but significant thing: Elhokar gave darkeyes a place in the arena, to watch duels, at the expense of lighteyes. This wasn´t the most popular decision he could have made (to be fair though, he might have done it to be liked by the darkeyes).

When it comes to his actions in Oathbringer... he has realized his faults. I don´t think you can judge him for wanting to help or defend his wife. He simply believes that the Unmade has corrupted her, and that she needs to be saved (and he is kind of right, even though Aesudan might be beyond saving at this point). I wouldn´t blame him too much for trying to stay with Aesudan either, Again, he is shocked and wants to help her, and when he realizes that it won´t work, he leaves. I wouldn´t consider it a biggie.

So, tl;dr, I like Elhokar (I have always been fond of him), and I do think that he had been worthy of a redemption arc. 

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I think it's worth considering what makes a radiant.

You need a broken, damaged soul, one full of cracks for spren to go into. You need to have been a bad person in certain ways often, or to have been horribly abused. You need to be mentally ill and disturbed, often.

This means that a lot of seemingly bad people will become knight radiants. Dalinar say, who burnt to death his own wife and an entire city, and brutally slaughtered his way through countless people. Kaladin, who abandoned his friends to let the forces of evil slaughter them unopposed because he didn't want to offend his friends. Shallan, who slaughtered her family and who stabbed an innocent man for information after stealing his chair, who lies to and deceived all around her.

These are books about the shard of honor, not the shard of being a nice person.

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I said this in the discussion of the part this happened in, and I'll say it again here: I'm sad Elhokar died, but I agree that the story called for it. I don't agree that he did not deserve redemption. To do so would be to say Dalinar* and Szeth** do not deserve to be redeemed.

I'm with @Ookla the Metroid in that I felt like Elhokar was trying very hard in Oathbringer to change. He was bad at it, but change always takes time. He was taking the first few steps, and he was stumbling, and he got cut down before he could finish.

 

*The events at the Rift are *way* worse than anything we know Elhokar did. If Elhokar is not worthy of redemption, neither is Dalinar.

**Szeth's history is a bit cleaner, as he was simply a tool. While Szeth is ultimately the one who did a bunch of the killing, he was following the laws and traditions of his people and ended up in the hands of some unsavory people. But his story is like the people of Uvara from the Wondersail story: he believed he could lay the blame on the Stone Shamans, but in the end, all the killing was his own doing. He could have walked away from the oathstone at any time.

 

This came in while I was writing up my response.

2 minutes ago, Nepene said:

Kaladin, who abandoned his friends to let the forces of evil slaughter them unopposed because he didn't want to offend his friends. Shallan, who slaughtered her family and who stabbed an innocent man for information after stealing his chair, who lies to and deceived all around her.

Neither of those events are what allowed them to bond spren though. And I would argue that the overall actions at the Rift isn't what allowed Dalinar to bond a spren (although, the death of Evi at the Rift is probably the main trigger).

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6 minutes ago, Ookla the Toasted said:

I don´t know much about paranoia, but I do know a lot about being afraid, and those things are related. Elhokar is legitimately worried for his safety, and wishes to test his allies. I don´t think it has to do with Dalinar being right all the time, and more with the fact that Elhokar is seriously scared.

This part of Elhokar always interested me because I feel like we are missing something here. I know Cryptics were viewing him but I wonder if there was also something else shadowy viewing him too. Gaz in WoK mentions how there is something lurking just out of his sight as well and he is super fearful and paranoid as well. Maybe an unmade?

1 hour ago, Ookla the Obtuse said:

He has made great strides in self awareness, but his still has a huge blindspot: Aesudan

I guess I have never found this to be a big negative trait believing the best in your partner so this didnt bug me. But I just had a thought now that you pointed it out, this makes me wish he would have had a redemption arc and became a lightweaver. Imagine when Elhokar has to confront his truths. That Aesudan is a HORRIBLE person. That he was/is a unfit leader. But alas we will never see how he comes to terms with such realizations. :/

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1 minute ago, Govir said:

@Ookla the Metroid

 

This came in while I was writing up my response.

Neither of those events are what allowed them to bond spren though. And I would argue that the overall actions at the Rift isn't what allowed Dalinar to bond a spren (although, the death of Evi at the Rift is probably the main trigger).

If the argument is that becoming a knight's radiant is a redemption arc, then the fact that lots of knights radiants still do bad things after becoming radiant is worth considering.

They're bound to a magical thing with an arbitrary morality. Binding to a random spirit and following its whims doesn't make you a good person.

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53 minutes ago, Ookla the Obtuse said:

Mostly, my problem with Elhokar is that it took a disaster or major event every time for him to grow into a better and stronger person. Had he been less vain and more quick to grow, he would have bonded he spren sooner and possibly could have saved the mission. 

My biggest problem with Elhokar is that he built his own pyre. You can't wait until your bank account is empty and your credit cards are maxed to get your finances in order. Elhokar's arc was the equivalent of this, and as such,his death was very fitting for me.

Well yes, and that is why Elhokar died. And his death is deserved - but it is also tragic. For him to die right at the point when he finally gains self awareness and starts becoming a better person is a tragedy, despite the fact that over the first two books he was more or less a selfish elitist whiny prick.

It is always possible to start being a better person, and everyone deserves the chance to redeem themselves. Elhokar's death was a tragedy precisely because he was so close to becoming a sympathetic character, but I do think the story is better for it.

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I pretty much agree. I don't agree that he wasn't deserving of redemption, because I believe that absolutely anyone is capable of change, but from a storytelling perspective, this ending was the entire reason for his "redemption. He made just enough strides forward to hook the reader for the emotional jerk at his death. 

It was masterfully done. I doubt many would have been outraged at Elhokars death a month ago. 

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1 minute ago, Ookla, the Incalculable said:

It was masterfully done. I doubt many would have been outraged at Elhokars death a month ago. 

Amen, Praise the heralds.

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I feel like Ehlokar's redemption was more about finalizing Moash's betrayal. The story already has 2 epic redemption stories, what it really needed was an archenemy for Kaladin. Batman needs the Joker, Superman needs Lex Luthor, and Kaladin needs Moash.

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12 minutes ago, Messremb said:

I feel like Ehlokar's redemption was more about finalizing Moash's betrayal. The story already has 2 epic redemption stories, what it really needed was an archenemy for Kaladin. Batman needs the Joker, Superman needs Lex Luthor, and Kaladin needs Moash.

Man, every time someone brings up Moash's actions, I just have to comment that I *really* thought he was going to lead Sah and company against the Fused after he helped them pull their sled thingy (I forget what it was exactly). Moash killing Elhokar stung, especially because we see it through Kaladin's eyes. Kaladin doesn't even know Moash's history after leaving the warcamps. In my head, the scene plays out in slow motion as soon as Elhokar starts to say the words. Then I imagine Moash striding in, ignoring everyone else, and just stabbing Elhokar who isn't even fighting at this point. And then he has the gall to nod / salute to Kaladin as if to say "Mission accomplished," turning around and striding out again.

 

@Nepene I messed up the quoting, but you make a fair point. Becoming a Radiant definitely isn't the end of a redemption arc. Look at Malata.

Edited by Govir
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Yes, it is more the way Moash is acting than Elhokar death - this was a possibility from the start on and this was -IIRC- twice mentioned from Elhokar himself.

I too thought Moash were following the steps Kaladin had started but in the end I think he was just using the Parshmen.

He had known that Kaladin was with them and I feel Moash knows Kaladin better than the other way round.

Over all - what other chance was there for Moash against a full Knight Radiant?

I think the decicion to bind these people to himself, to send them into the fight was from the beginning Moash's plan to paralyse Kaladin.

There was so much wrong with the salute....

 

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3 hours ago, Ookla, the Incalculable said:

I don't agree that he wasn't deserving of redemption, because I believe that absolutely anyone is capable of change, but from a storytelling perspective, this ending was the entire reason for his "redemption.

Honestly, I think you did a better job of summarizing what my feelings are here than I did. 

 

My original phrase, that he doesn't deserve redemption, in retrospect with the other posts here, was poorly chosen. I was looking forward to his redemption prior to this book, but he failed to learn and grow quickly enough to have earned his redemption before his time came.

 

Edited by Ookla the Obtuse
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1 minute ago, Ookla the Obtuse said:

My original choice of words, that he doesn't deserve redemption, in retrospect with the other posts here, were poorly chosen. I was looking forward to his redemption prior to this book, but he failed to learn and grow quickly enough to have earned his redemption before his time came

I can get behind this. Elhokar wasn't redeemed yet. He was beginning his journey to be redeemed, and got cut down before he could complete it.

 

And yeah, @Ookla, the Incalculable definitely put into words my opinion on Elhokar's death better than I could (not being a story writer myself). I definitely got the feeling that the point of us liking Elhokar more was specifically so we'd kind of care when he died. (Side note: I remembered about half way through this part that a main character was going to die. And I figured It was either Elhokar or Adolin. Elhokar pained me, but Adolin would have destroyed me; because it would have destroyed Shallan).

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Where Elhokar's journey was going or not going, anyone deserving redemption is an oxymoron. The entire point of redemption is that if you're getting it, you don't deserve it. Whether or not someone should be allowed to try to atone is another conversation entirely. Personally, I think most everyone should be allowed the option, if they feel so strongly that they want to do better and if possible to undo what they're done. It doesn't mean anyone has to accept their good actions, or think of them as canceling out bad actions! But they certainly ought to be able to make the attempt.

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I'm just glad we got real dead people of significance in this book. I know that sounds horrible but I did not want to see another important character get killed but not really. Heck I didn't even believe Sadeas was really dead until we saw his cold dead body in OB.

I liked Elhokar's arc a lot and this book was the only time I cared at all for him as a character at all. It was tragic yet fitting and represented to me what happens when you wait to long for to follow the path of redemption. Wait until Adolin gets to tell lil Gav his dad spent his last breath protecting him. 

 

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I think that this argument can be summed up by a Kaladin quote, "Fine. But it's still about perception...Storms, I'd hoped...I'd Hoped you could tell me, give me an absolute right." (Sanderson, Oathbringer chapter 31) Everything is about what perspective you are in. From one point of view Elhokar is not redeemable from another he is, and so far I have not seen anyone look at this from Elhokar's perspective

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You are probably right. I have never cared much for Elhokar, he always did bad decision after bad decision. He always only cared about image, not about honor, or morality or what is right. He always ignored all chances to better himself. Until the end. At the end he might have started pulling his weight, and even if it was only when his back was to the wall he started growing. Which is what gave us the shock at his death, if Elhokar from end of WoR had died most people would have shrugged at most.

At the same time, even if Elhokar had grown, he was unfortunately unlikely to ever be the best or even one of the best at anything. He might have been an adequate king, but nowhere near as stunning as Jasnah will likely be. He might have been an alright lightweaver, but always overshadowed by Shallan. At the end of the day his death was probably for the best. Both for the story and for his character. Its entirely possible he might have reached a peak then gone down again in a spiral of jaleousy, or simply that his doing an "adequate job" while the world is ending would not have been enough, not when what you need then is doing "a great job" to save the world. Elhokar died a hero, and gave us all an emotional punch, but sadly I don't think his character had enough awesome chips for the position he was in.

30 minutes ago, StormingTexan said:

Wait until Adolin gets to tell lil Gav his dad spent his last breath protecting him. 

The fact that Elhokar died protecting his son is what makes his death at Moash's hands so egregious. Killing someone protecting a child is probably the worst action I can imagine. Unfortunately, little Gav was 3-4 years old, so he is likely going to remember his father's death with no help needed. I'd bet he already has a cracked spirit web. Only way for children to not remember is to be under 1.5 years, maybe 2. Over 2 years he will definetely have scars, even if not memories. And over 3-4 years he will have memories of memories, specially if it is of a traumatic or memorable event. His father's death definetely counts as traumatic and memorable.

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39 minutes ago, WhiteLeeopard said:

The fact that Elhokar died protecting his son is what makes his death at Moash's hands so egregious. Killing someone protecting a child is probably the worst action I can imagine. Unfortunately, little Gav was 3-4 years old, so he is likely going to remember his father's death with no help needed. I'd bet he already has a cracked spirit web. Only way for children to not remember is to be under 1.5 years, maybe 2. Over 2 years he will definetely have scars, even if not memories. And over 3-4 years he will have memories of memories, specially if it is of a traumatic or memorable event. His father's death definetely counts as traumatic and memorable.

Yeah but it didn’t seem like he knew his father. Had they even meet before this? I can’t remember. He will remember the event for sure but not sure how damaging that will be to him without someone else providing more context. 

Edited by StormingTexan
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I kinda felt he would be a good fit with a Cryptic because I imagined him following Shallan's path of multiple personas (which tbh, I didn't really enjoy reading).

But I totally understand your perspective here. His blind faith in Aesudan was disturbing, the fact he didn't believe she was the center tipped me off he was in for a rude awakening. Especially when we had the ardent's POV in WoR we knew she was not stable. I know and accept my wife's flaws, he knew his wife's flaws and denied them. Never including a plan for if she was taken in was a major oversight, which he seems to do a lot. This is a lack of imagination, perception and highlights his poor leadership. I guess the real issue here is he's a King and that's his tragic flaw. If he wasn't king he wouldn't even be worth mentioning in the story.

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I've got some more time so I'm going to try to reply in more specifics. (I'm working today and posting between ambulance runs, op took me about 6 hours of interruptions to get done haha.)

 

@Ookla the Metroid with Dalinar, it's harder for me to lay the blame completely at his feet with the knowledge that he's been under the effect of a splinter of Odium for most of his life. If the chronological read includes the understanding of the Unmade, then I credit Dalinar far more than Elhokar. As far as I know, Elhokar's faults were completely his own, Dalinar was being groomed by the Shard of Hatred.

@Ookla the Toasted for your first point, I don't think we disagree on anything you're saying. I don't fault Elhokar for being average, for wanting to be more, for his faith, and I agree his character eventually turns tragic, especially in the classic sense of the word when his ultimate goal is to become a hero for his son and he fails in that. Ultimately, I fault him for allowing his pride to blind him to reality with catastrophic consequences. There's nothing wrong with being unexceptionable, I do my best not to judge people for things beyond their control. There is something wrong with not accepting your own limitations and causing undue harm to others because of that refusal, which is where I criticise Elhokar. 

I think we might need to agree to disagree on the assassinations. He doesn't just test his allies, he implicates his family in an attempt to kill him. He has to have a reason for his suspicions of Dalinar, I personally believe it's because of how often Dalinar has had to step in to fix his mistakes. I definitely disagree with leaving it just at him wanting to test allies from fear though. Dalinar was more than that. 

Dalinar was the least in on the Vengeance Pact than anyone as proven by his GemHearts record. He initially approves of it because it will provide unity, then he uses it as an excuse to seek out the old magic and become a better father. The start of the vengeance pact is the start of Dalinar's redemption arc.

Jasnah has spoken out before, to the point where Elhokar feels self conscious enough to eye Adolin when he preemptively defends himself. Dalinar notes that the timeline doesn't line up before he leaves, as does Shallan when receiving information at Adolin's tailor. Elhokar had all of the information available, he was lying to himself. Whether or not it's understandable is secondary to the fact that he actively ignored these signs to lie to himself about her. Jasnah thought she was dangerous enough she almost had her assassinated before Gavilar's death. I'm guessing there were quite a few red flags.

Don't let anything, and I mean anything, I say stop you from liking a character you like though :D

@Calyx I definitely agree it's a tragedy. I mostly wanted to write this thread because I've seen the odd comment here or there that his death was unfair or that Brandon framed it this way just to hurt people. After having experienced OB, I can think of no other ending for Elhokar that fits as well and it was honestly one of my favorite scenes from the book.

2 hours ago, Govir said:

And then he has the gall to nod / salute to Kaladin as if to say "Mission accomplished," turning around and striding out again.

Is it weird that I absolutely loved this part? Probably a little weird. Idk, I love Moash's story. He's 1000x more interesting this book than he was last book.

 

2 hours ago, hypatia said:

I think the decicion to bind these people to himself, to send them into the fight was from the beginning Moash's plan to paralyse Kaladin

I hadn't thought about that. If that's true, I have more  and less respect for him at the same time. More respect for his foresight, less for his character overall. I find unlikely that he would stick up for them and teach them only to use them as cannon fodder though. I think he's gone full Kaladin for Odium. Humanity is broken, he fights for the Singers.

@Ookla the Grey I like everything you're putting down.

1 hour ago, NightFrost said:

so far I have not seen anyone look at this from Elhokar's perspective

I mean you can try, but keep in mind "Most days, Elhokar has trouble saving face, let alone cities.”

@WhiteLeeopard Little Gav growing up I think is going to be extensively more tragic than Elhokar's death. I can only imagine what kind of scenes between him and Dalinar are going to have me bawling after the long break in the second half of the series.

@StormingTexan Hooray for dead characters (who aren't Adolin):ph34r:

 

1 hour ago, Naurock said:

I guess the real issue here is he's a King and that's his tragic flaw. If he wasn't king he wouldn't even be worth mentioning in the story.

That's probably the most true thing posted on this thread. 

(Ignore the spoiler tag. Mobile problems.)

Spoiler

 

 

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4 hours ago, Ookla the Obtuse said:

There are several criticisms I have for this. First off, what does he want for vengeance? The leaders of the Parshendi confessed and we're executed, justice was served. What objective is he trying to meet? Genocide?

I think this was more of a stab at keeping all the highprinces pointed in the same direction. That said, I always found this odd in WoK, when Dalinar attempts to figure out different reparations the Parshendi have to make to be forgiven. One of them is 'maybe their king, delivered to us for execution?' Dalinar, you already hanged the Parshendi leaders in retribution, did you forget?

3 hours ago, Nepene said:

Kaladin, who abandoned his friends to let the forces of evil slaughter them unopposed because he didn't want to offend his friends. Shallan, who slaughtered her family and who stabbed an innocent man for information after stealing his chair, who lies to and deceived all around her.

I don't agree with these two statements at al. Yes, technically the events here you describe happened, but you seem to view them through the most negative light possible. People more knowledgeable than me in psychology have discussed this, but Kaladin had a very human (flight, fight, freeze) response that actually happens to soldiers (Tukks even talked about it during one of Kaladin's flashbacks). Combined with his depression, and his stormlight running out, all the circumstances were against him.

Shallan killed her mother in self-defense. Her father had just killed her stepmother, and nearly killed her brother. Saying she 'slaughtered' her parents is very inaccurate.

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