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Golden Knife

The fourfold symmetry of saving a lighteyes

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Did anyone else notice the four-fold symmetry of Kaladin's "save a lighteyes from a shardbearer" episodes?

 

I really liked how the parallel situations played out in Way of Kings, considering the Vorin emphasis on symmetry and not-quite-perfect reflections but Words of Radiance gave us two more similar situations, with more permutations, which I thought was a cool play on the four-fold symmetric glyphs and cymatics and suchlike.

 

1st time: Saving Amaram from an unknown and unexpected shardbearing assassin, with an audience of allies, enemy shardbearer dies and Amaram lives; Kaladin is betrayed by the one he saved, his men are killed to contain the truth, Kaladin loses his freedom.

 

2nd time: Saving Dalinar from the mostly unexpected Parshendi shardbearer, with an audience of the enemy, enemy shardbearer and Dalinar both live; Kaladin is NOT betrayed by the one he saved, his men (and the other bridgemen!) are saved, Kaladin gains his freedom from Sadeas.

 

3rd time: Saving Adolin and Renarin from the expected/unexpected four shardbearers duel, with a huge audience of enemies and allies, and everyone lives; Kaladin is betrayed by his own rage/ignorance of the dueling codes/Elhokar, his men are still okay, Kaladin loses his freedom temporarily.

 

4th time: Saving Elhokar from the expected assassins, with no audience but those involved, unnamed enemies die, main threat lives, king lives; Kaladin is betrayed by Moash, but regains Syl and his powers, (enabling him to save Dalinar and his men in Old Stormseat) Kaladin regains the freedom of the skies, but must publicly accept the mantle of Knight Radiant

 

I made a little chart to help me keep track of this, but my BBcode is not ninja enough to reproduce it here. The main points are: who is getting saved? was the attack expected? was there an audience for this awesomeness? who lives and dies as a direct result? was there a betrayal and by whom? status of Kaladin's men afterward? and does Kaladin gain or lose his freedom as a result? And aside from the consistent Victim Lives line item, the results are different but still forming a pattern. I have to assume that this level of plotting was by design, because B'Sanderson does love his outlines. :wub:

 

Note: I didn't include the fights with Szeth because I anticipate that Kaladin might have to fight him two more times, for another set of not-quite-perfect permutations on a theme. For the record, In the first fight vs Szeth, Kaladin saves Dalinar by falling, and in the second he saves Dalinar from falling.

 

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It's an interesting pattern, but I'm not really sure that there's a particular underlying symmetry there. I felt that the main symmetry for WoK was that Amaram kills Kaladin's men for the Shardblade, while Dalinar gives up his Shardblade to save Kaladin's men.

 

In particular I'm not really sure #2 is a good instance, since based on what Eshonai says, there seems to be a good chance that Dalinar's life wasn't necessarily threatened at the time (admittedly, I don't know how that quite works given the rest of his army is being slaughtered, but it seems clear Eshonai could have killed Dalinar easily given the motivation).

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For somebody who hates lighteyes, Kaladin sure is doing a whole lot of saving them...

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For somebody who hates lighteyes, Kaladin sure is doing a whole lot of saving them...

And let's not forget that he'll be having self-image problems now, too. 

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For somebody who hates lighteyes, Kaladin sure is doing a whole lot of saving them...

"I will protect even those I hate"

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"I will protect even those I hate"

Hating lighteyes on principle is no better than the other way around. Hopefully Kaladin will grow out of that.
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Hating the upper class on principle is a recurring theme through Brandon's works. Kelsier hates the nobles, Vivenna hates the Hallandren, and Kaladin hates the lighteyes. Getting over their prejudices is a big part of the Sandersonian flavor of the Hero's Journey. If you don't get over your prejudices, you end up a villain, like Dilaf from Elantris. Though, at the time of the novel, it could be argued that Dilaf's hatred wasn't of the upper class, but the lower class, and not even Brandon is skilled enough to make someone who irrationally hates the poor come off as sympathetic...

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Hating lighteyes on principle is no better than the other way around. Hopefully Kaladin will grow out of that.

 

Hating lighteyes on principle is no better than the other way around. Hopefully Kaladin will glow out of that.

 

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