Parallax

Moral Miscalculations of Mr. Sanderson in Oathbringer

165 posts in this topic

2 hours ago, Parallax said:

A big future redemption arc for Dalinar (if it actually happens) doesn't work. It is inconsistent with the whole episode in which the readers were worried about Dalinar killing a single 6-year old. Also a character usually goes through a redemption arc to become a hero not the other way around. 

It is very unclear what you are trying to say here? Of course readers were worried when he thought he might have killed an innocent child. killing one child with your own hands, and giving an order that led to the deaths of innocents including children is a different thing in my point of view.

2 hours ago, Parallax said:

1. A public confession is not the same as redeeming yourself

I am also not suggesting that it is the same. These arguments were raised in response to your following arguments

On 10/4/2019 at 8:09 AM, Parallax said:

There are tiers to this issue: (1) irredeemable, (2) redeemable given proper effort and attitude, (3) Not just redeemable but once forgiven will lead the forces of good. If you are in the second and third categories my question is what has Dalinar done to earn his redemption? You say you tried to fix what you could, Dalinar hasn't told his children what really happened to their mother, and so far as we know none of Knight Radiants know of the extent of the slaughter in Rathalas

which i find are baseless seeing as his children and knights radiants all will know. He is not hiding the facts from anyone. He is writing a whole book telling the world what a monster he was.

2 hours ago, Parallax said:

2. Tanalan is not the only other possible PoV. You can have the PoV of a 11 year old girl trying to rescue her younger brothers from a burning building in the city, failing to do that and passing out from smoke inhalation.

I have already raised this issue earlier. Please read responses carefully. I am again replying you here for your convenience:

As far as adding the pov of some innocent victim from Rathalas people once in the book:

I dont think would have added any extra weight to the narrative. Brandon could have just said everyone died and thats it. But, he is mentioning their cries for help, cries full of terror and pain, over and over again in the book, which i think is sufficient to represent the brutality that is Rathalas Massacre. 

I dont think that readers are finding it easy to forgive Dalinar because the terror of Rathalas is not represented properly. I disagree

2 hours ago, Parallax said:

3. You can't blame Tanalan either, He prepared a calculated trap for Dalinar (who is not a civilian) which he survived. Responding to the trap by slaughtering of tens of thousands of civilians is just monstrous.

Yes i can blame him, he is also responsible as is sadeas. HOwever, putting the blame on other people was again not the argument i was trying to make. My argument was to create "an interesting experiment" where we speculate what other povs brandon could have included in relation of Rathalas massacre. and what would have been the result? Like i argued in my earlier response, i believe there are only two real possibilities:

1) Tanalan: which would have only served to make people hate him and forgiving dalinar would be either unaffected or easier. Because Dalinar spared his life when he was a kid, and unfortunate as it is, there are not many alethkar highprinces who would have done that. In response, he rose against gavilar/dalinar. We know that Gavilar spent years trying to find diplomatic solutions to this rebellion, he offered him deals before, but tanalan would not budge. Dalinar offered him peace, they shook hands and all along tanalan had no intention of honoring it. He betrayed Dalinar while agreeing to the peace offer! Then he put Evi in the prison. I can go on and on. But the point is his pov Brandon could have added to make it easier for readers to forgive dalinar. But he did not do it. 

2) Random innocent person: which as i have stated in an earlier para, is not any more effective than rathalas people and evis cries mentioned ringing in dalinar's head again and again.

3 hours ago, Parallax said:

Here is an interesting hypothetical: Dalinar publishes Oathbringer, sometime later someone shows up in Urithiru, claims to be a survivor of Rathalas who has lost all of her family in the Rift. Thanks Dalinar for confessing to his heinous crime, gives him 10 days to put his affairs in order and then surrender himself so he can be slain by her (this could have been the same PoV character I mention in #2)

This hypothetical situation makes no sense to me. So, you are suggesting that all Odium or Taravangian needs to do is send someone pretending to be a Rathalas Victim, and demand Dalinar's head, and the forces of good, Knights Radiants and his alliance partners and other people around him will just let him commit suicide!! 

You really think no one is going to oppose that. That no one is going to argue on Dalinars behalf. I most certainly would not let Dalinar, the leader of resistance against Odiums forces die in such a useless manner. I do not think it is justice at all. 

3 hours ago, Parallax said:

Brandon Sanderson really messed up the moral calculus here by effectively sweeping under the rug one of the most evil acts we have seen on screen in Stormlight.

  I do not think that making the perpetrators of these crimes write a book about it confessing to all the world, at all amounts to brandon sweeping anything under the rug!

Please tell me what your views are on Venli since we are speaking of one of the most evil acts. Again, war crimes are not as unheard of as you might think. 

3 hours ago, Parallax said:

A war criminal has reformed himself not be a war criminal anymore, and that is enough for us not only to forgive him but also place him at the top of the people fighting Odium?

Sighs. He is not trying to lead anyone, he is just trying to form an alliance of nations and offer them all the help and resources he can. In thaylenah, he is trying to be their leader, he is simply trying to stop the city from getting destroyed. He comes across as the leader of the people fighting Odium because of his actions now. What do you think is the way for Dalinar to redeem himself? Allow some hypothetical victim to kill him. Or do you think he should just commit suicide to earn redemption? Do you have a concrete idea that if Dalinar does this, then he will have earned redemption?

You are saying that a person even if they are trying to redeem themselves, or are trying to reform themselves, since they committed a war crime, no matter how much they regret it, no matter they have totally changed because of it, they have given up weapons and will not fight now, they save an entire city from getting slaughtered without raising any weapon , still they can never ever be the hero, can never be the leader of people on the good side!! 

3 hours ago, Parallax said:

"Why are they forgiving him?" They have no reason whatsoever

because they can see that he is a changed person now. He has transformed his life, his values, his actions. Past can not be changed. They are dead but they can see that He is going to spend his entire lifetime trying to make sure that no such thing ever happens again as much as it is in his power to make that sure.

 

 

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You can't change the past. What matters is the future. People who refuse to learn from their past actions are a problem, and need to be dealt with. People who have learned from their past and taken responsibility for their actions should not be instantly trusted, but they should be given the chance to prove they've changed.

Focusing on what has happened leads to punishments that only reinforce horrible systems and perpetuate poverty, and crime, and repetition. Ostracizing someone for their past is a wonderful way to make sure they repeat it. 

Support and guidance towards rehabilitation are much better options with documented better results. Incarceration should serve the purpose of rehabilitation, and long term incarceration and execution should only be used in the cases of truly unrepentant monsters who refuse or are incapable of changing. 

You cannot change the past. You can shape the future. Looking backwards as anything more than to learn from history is a purely emotional pitfall, and does immeasurable harm in the name of salving outrage, that will never be truly quelled.

Dalinar refuses to let his actions be laid at the feet of anyone or anything other than himself. His confession isn't meant as atonement, but as a lesson to prevent people falling into the same traps he did. It is a warning and a condemnation of the society that called him a hero at the time. 

Journey before Destination. The journey doesn't stop. Deciding what someone else's destination should be because you disagree with where their journey began is... Short sighted and emotionally driven, and ultimately does more harm than good. 

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@Calderis beautifully written. 

Condemning someone and calling their past actions when they are trying so hard to change is very counter-productive. 

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9 hours ago, Ahriman said:

Nobody really gets absolution in this. I had no sympathy for him, but any culpability of his isn't important now. And given that Odium's whole thing is getting into people's heads by having them foist blame onto others, I just don't see a point in assigning blame. Especially with him being dead and all.

Agreed.  Still hate him though.

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11 hours ago, Parallax said:

The argument is not that Dalinar should not be able to summon Honor's perpendicularity because of some in-world mechanic. The point is doing so turns him into the hero of the story without resolving his most horrible crime! Also it is inconsistent with the whole period in which we are left to worry about whether or not he killed the 6-year old Tanalan. So as a reader I am supposed to care for a single child but the killing of tens of thousands of civilians should not bother me and I should cheer when Dalinar is summoning the perpendicularity. 

And the reformation idea holds little appeal to me. A war criminal has reformed himself not be a war criminal anymore, and that is enough for us not only to forgive him but also place him at the top of the people fighting Odium?

If that's your belief, then so be it.  I don't think anyone can change your mind.  I disagree that he is irredeemable or even particularly heinous in terms of successful generals throughout real world history or Rosharan history.  If you're the kind of person who can't forgive someone's past crimes, then you're just going to have to deal with it.  I personally believe that if someone has sincerely changed his or her self such that they will not repeat the crimes of the past then they should be forgiven.  I don't believe that a person who has committed a crime needs to make some kind of restitution before they can be forgiven, but it seems like you do.  I believe they can be required to make amends, but that is separate from forgiveness, reformation, and redemption.

Leaving out the real world, in this fantasy novel we can see that Dalinar would never commit a war crime again because we can see inside his head.  We, as readers, should be able to forgive Dalinar because he has truly changed his ways.  The characters in the story should be (and are definitely shown to be) a lot more hesitant and skeptical.

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14 hours ago, Parallax said:

If the people of the Rift had forgiven Dalinar through some mechanism that would help but then one is tempted to ask "Why are they forgiving him?" They have no reason whatsoever. Evi would have had good reasons, her death was accidental, she loved him, they had children.

So you acknowledge that if hypothetically the people of Rathalas forgave Dalinar, then it is not for you to determine whether he was redeemed or not, nor suffered enough, nor whether it makes sense to you or not. The aggrieved party felt it was enough, and gave him redemption. 

14 hours ago, Parallax said:

The taught experiment meant to teach you the following: the reason you are discounting Dalinar's crime at the Rift is because you don't have any tangible connection (in the form of a PoV) to the victims.

Then your thought experiment has failed in its goals, because it is illogical. Coming up with an arbitrary action that does not fit the character would not color how said character is received because the character would not have taken said action. Again, apply the same rationale to Adolin and answer your question. 

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@Parallax do you believe in redemption, in forgiveness of wrongs done, of mercy measured out with justice? Do you believe that all sins will be forgiven, all men able to do better, to change, to be redeemed if they truly repent and are willing to pay for their crimes? If so, and if others who are not you, who have been wronged but have chosen to forgive the one who wronged them, then regardless of their motives for forgiving the person who committed the crime, a remorseful, broken man who has done what he can to make the truth known far and wide and is willing to do what ever he can to pay back to those who he harmed, or to prevent that same harm from visiting itself upon others, is that person not forgiven?

 

If in the end of the first five books in the Stormlight Archive Dalinar sacrifices himself, or tries to sacrifice himself to prevent those same events from being repeated upon Roshar itself, taking the burden of the Heralds, suffering torture unlike the totality of those at the Rift suffered, pain beyond any pain any of them suffered magnified a thousand fold and carried on for at least a decade, would you not say Dalinar has paid the price?

Edited by Ixthos
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I'm with Ixthos and most others here. I'm very non-religious but one thing many religions (at least certain interpretations of them) have in common that always spoke to me is forgiveness: that no matter how horrible the crime you commit is, you can and will be forgiven, IF you see your wrongdoing as such, if you feel it, if you feel remorse and ask for forgiveness - be it from whatever deity you believe in or from people you wronged.
Also many religious and philosphical approaches tend to say that if you hurt others, you hurt yourself as well. Your mind, your soul etc.

I'm just thinking of Harry Potter right now: Harry at one point asks Dumbledore (or Hermine? I'm not sure) if a person who split their soul to make horcruxes out of the parts could bring those parts back together and mend their soul. The answer is: Yes you can, but it's an immensely painful process where you have to truly feel what you've done.
In this, The Rift is Dalinar's ultimate horcrux. What he did there completely shattered his soul, and as he's trying to mend it, he suffers. A lot.

I don't know, but I feel that if the whole concept of "doing wrong --> regret --> change --> doing right" seems so far off the scale to someone, then maybe SA aren't the right books? Because I'm pretty sure this theme's going to come up again in later books.

Other example: Kaladin and Amaram in WoR. I guess most of us agree on Amaram being a hideous person with his head so far up his *** that he was never able to even question his own actions. Kaladin hates him. He HATES him and wants him dead, he plans on killing him, knowing that no one would ever find out if he would. That's revenge he wants, and we all know what good it did him: it ate at his soul for weeks on end, until he all but betrayed his Oaths over his hatred for Amaram and lighteyes in general. So if he had killed Amaram, what good would it have done him? We see the answer in Moash: none. Killing out of pure revenge never feels like one thought it would.

That's why Kaladin's fight against Amaram during the OB climax is on a completely diffierent level: Kaladin doesn't fight Amaram because he wants to kill but out of necessity. Amaram needed to be killed because he wasn't going to stop. It didn't even truly feel like Kaladin still hated the guy anymore

Dalinar doesn't need to be killed: he is no longer at risk to go off and burn down a city. The Blackthorn would have gone and destroy Kharbranth after learning about Taravangian's scheming. He doesn't. So whatever "irredeemable" means - maybe he is, but it doesn't change the fact that any kind of punishment would simply amount to nothing.

One of my favorite book quotes comes from Warm Bodies, a zombie love story (!!!). The protagonists are a male zombie and a human girl. The zombie kills her boyfriend and eats his brain and over the course of the book gets to know her and begins to turn back into a human again. They fall in love with each other and of course she eventually finds out that he was the one who ate her boyfriend.
It's been like seven or eight years so I don't really remember much but eventually this dialogue happens:
"I'm sorry."
"I forgive you."
"Thank you."

And that's it. No more accusations, no ill feelings. Just peace of mind, for both of them.

Edited by Winds Alight
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@Parallax, the morality of Stormlight characters is a divisive issue. I can see that you've had the chance to listen to the opinions of people who've disagreed with you on whether or not Dalinar *should* be forgiven.

Going forward, know that this post is being written (well, typed, whatever!) by someone who can't bring themselves to hate Amaram or Moash, all the while bawling like a baby while reading Kaladin chapters.

To begin with, I do not quite think that Sanderson's views on morality were eye-popping/eye-opening/revelatory but his attitude towards various issues and actually visibly *moving forwards*, like representation of females and LGBT in fantasy are commendable, especially when so many authors just make excuses (only 10% people are gay!, homosexuality doesn't add anything to the plot! or strong female characters exist on other continents where the story isn't set!). I'm comfortable with extending my trust towards him, hoping that he will incorporate in his writings characters who are of different sexualities and religious beliefs (thank you for Jasnah) and do it well. I'm also ready to withdraw that trust if that doesn't happen (sorry Ranette and Drehy are just side characters). It's all right, Dalinar's actions are questionable and if he is simply forgiven in the next book, there would be real-world consequences. For now though, Brandon has done nothing for me to not trust his handling of sensitive issues.

Yes, Dalinar burned an entire city alive, no one survived (unprecedented in our world, I believe) and has so far only promised to do better. It's perfectly reasonable to resent him and in fact, never like him again regardless of his actions going forwards (mass murder via setting people on fire is quite a line to draw). There are schools of thought on this very issue that exist: consequencialism and deontological ethics. Jasnah had, in book 1, briefly gone over them with Shallan, which makes me think that yes, Dalinar is going to have a lot to answer for, going forwards. It won't just be swept under the rug for plot convenience. Furthermore this seems to be the theme of the Stormlight Archives: becoming a better person

I have similar issues with Amaram and Moash: I don't hate them. I can't. I disliked Elhokar, though not to the point of stabbing him through the heart! This is another notable thing about Sanderson's writing: I thought I was desensitized to violence in fantasy, but this book made my cold, dead heart beat in the Rhythm of Sympathy again. Amaram is best described by Jasnah: pitiably seeking self-validation at all costs. And Moash... oh Moash, please come back to Kaladin, you're hurting him, can't you see that? 

Then there is Shallan... no Shallan, you can't say that getting to disguise yourself as a darkeyes is a good thing and then be horrified that they might be able to disguise themselves as lighteyes! No, comparing peasants to women doesn't degrade anyone. There are women who are peasants, what about them Shallan? Shallan, I'm so sorry, I didn't know what you had to do, your parents were messed up, you do deserve love and happiness and a chance to live and grow!

Yeah, Stormlight characters are like that. Going forwards, you do have people in this community who felt Dalinar's actions as a slight, a betrayal. He isn't a clear-cut character. I'm bored of clear-cut characters. Let's take the time to ask ourselves the questions raised by this book rather than just losing ourselves into the storms of Roshar. We don't have to make up our minds now, the story isn't over yet. Even when it is, I'm sure I'll revisit it and find that my opinions have changed.

tl;dr: I agree, Dalinar did something horrible and reprehensible. I'm with you in looking forwards on whether or not he redeems himself (or if certain actions can cross the line into being irredeemable, which would be my personal views on ethics, something that this book has successfully made me question). I am ready to change my mind on either count, and I hope you will stay with us on this journey (and that of Dalinar's)

Edited by Honorless
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On 10/10/2019 at 11:47 PM, Calderis said:

False. Punishment should be used to teach. The focus should be to change future behavior not alter the past. 

Sure some would. I wouldn't. The situation would not be changed. It would be just as complicated on Dalinar's end. The feelings on the part of the survivor would not change my feelings for him no matter how much I empathize with her. 

Regardless of her demeanor, she'd be no less wrong than Kaladin. 

1. Nobody needs teaching that murder is wrong, should we stop punishing murderers? At any rate you have a particular theory of punishment which many people don't share. In fact most people have a retributive theory of punishment which is backward looking. 

2. I have a hard time imagining someone who would not feel differently if we had a PoV character from the Rift as I described.

3. Amaram's crime against Kaladin and his crew is nothing compared to what Dalinar did to Rathalas. 

On 10/11/2019 at 0:07 AM, Karger said:

I do not understand this at all.  Sure we worried Dalinar killed a 6 year old.  He did not.  We were glad.  Annnd?  How does the fact that he previously was not an infanticide mean that he is now not currently redeemed.

As a reader we were made to worry about Dalinar killing a 6-year old but later we are supposed to sweep the burning of tens of thousands of civilians under the rug? This criticism is about the author and how he tells the story to his audience. Making the reader anxious by withholding information (Dalinar didn't kill the boy) and then ignoring Dalinar's war crimes are inconsistent.

On 10/11/2019 at 0:07 AM, Karger said:

I can and do blame Tanalan.  Once Dalinar survived I was hoping that he would get his in a verry bad way.  The fact that Dalinar is a civilian is immaterial.  Some actions in warfare are unjustifiable.  Tanalan endangered his own people via rebelling.  He did not have to do so Gavilar offered him several deals.  He then refused a duel which would have settled things personally.  He then was offered several deals by Dalinar which he refused.  He then took advantage of the fact that the enemy general wanted to help him to set up and betray him.  This means that he is violating his word on several accounts.  He is betraying Dalinar personally.  He kills several battalions of people whose lives were entrusted to his honor and then he has the audacity to try and fight after he knows his plan has failed and has been warned that he can't win.  Even in our world his actions prior to Dalinar burning down the Rift would have earned him and his severe punishment.

Nobody has any issues with Dalinar killing Tanalan once he survives the assassination attempt. But you can't argue that what Tanalan did justifies Dalinar's slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians in any way

On 10/11/2019 at 0:07 AM, Karger said:

I am prepared to take Dalinar's side in this. R = rift survivor D=Dalinar J=Jasnah

R: in order

D: Kind of in the middle of something.  The world is ending.  You sure this can't wait.

R: You have confessed and deserve execution.

D: If I am not around to stop this we all die so maybe no?

R: But you deserve it!

J: Define deserve.  Dalinar is under no legal obligation.  If you are referring to moral obligation that is a matter of some debate and as most of humanity is not suicidal I think it best that Dalinar sticks around.  Besides.  What possible good will Dalinar's death do?

Why not have this conflict on screen? It would make for an interesting arc and I don't see why Dalinar's death necessarily results in Odium's victory. But the problem is much deeper than that Brandon put Dalinar where he is (the leader of the forces opposing Odium) it is his choice and I am criticizing him for it. 

On 10/11/2019 at 0:11 AM, Ahriman said:

1. I think we can all agree that there is no objective measure of self-redemption. Given that, many, if not most people find repentance to be the most important part of it. That's clearly present.

2. A scene from the perspective of a victim during the fire wouldn't have worked with the flashback format, since we were reading things as Dalinar was remembering them, and he wouldn't have anyone else's memories. And many people, including me, were disturbed by his actions, but those don't immediately disqualify him from changing. I'm curious what you think the line is between redeemable and irredeemable. I know that's a loaded question, and probably impossible to answer, but what's the worst possible thing that you would be willing to forgive him for having done instead of that, assuming everything else from the books was the same?

3. No arguments here, shifting the blame means nothing. The whole point is that it was his failt.

4. As people have already said, plenty of readers would be against executing Dalinar. I would be, for several reasons. That would be nothing but revenge, and it would be incredibly shortsighted to even attempt. Dalinar is the head of the good guys because he's the only one who can lead them. Sanderson didn't sweep anything under the rug, we've seen the feelings of other leaders and soldiers who were with him at the Rift, and we'll likely see reactions in the next book. But Dalinar is bonded to the Stormfather, knows how to run a war, and at this point basically exists to unify people. None of his allies in their right minds would want him removed, and definitely not executed. More importantly, he doesn't see himself as redeemed or completely absolved. Someone would, in your hypothetical, probably have to talk him out of submitting to the execution, because he would feel compelled to atone directly and that would cripple the war effort. The good guys don't have to be perfect, or even that good. They just have to be the people that are needed right now, doing the things that are needed. And I certainly wouldn't say Sanderson messed anything up by doing it this way. He's going to write his books however he wants. I don't think the parts I disagree with are mistakes.

1. It would work if you had the Survivor of Rathalas as a flashback character in a future book, she could even bond a Highspren and become a Skybreaker before meeting Dalinar ...

2. You are assuming Dalinar is indispensable but that is up to Brandon, if he wanted to, he could do a rewrite in which Dalinar dies in the middle of Stormlight 4. And claiming a character is essentially "too big to jail" would merit some discussion, as it currently stands the burning of the Rift is basically forgotten.

3. Over more than three thousand pages we have delved into much smaller crimes and how they reflect on the person who committed them but once we get to what is arguably the most serious atrocity of the series there are no consequences to speak of. I have repeated the point several times but it bears repeating: by deliberately withholding information Brandon made us worry about whether Dalinar had killed a boy or not, but after he burns down a whole city full of people we are supposed to pretend like nothing happened? 

Edited by Parallax
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4 minutes ago, Parallax said:

But after he burns down a whole city full of people we are supposed to pretend like nothing happened? 

We aren't. Not in the least.

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@Parallax If I may, and if I've missed where you addressed this please let me know, but what is your opinion on Dalinar taking up the burden of the Heralds later in the series, and so suffering the same pain he inflicted on those in the Rift, only many times more intense and over a longer period, all to prevent those same events being repeated on Roshar? Would that be an attonment?

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I feel like we are just going round and round circles here and not making any headway here. 

I don’t think @Parallax that anyone can change your mind right now. You are entitled to hoping that dalinar dies in the next book. Who knows may be Brandon will oblige you. Keep your fingers crossed. 

But I sure as hell hope that if he has to die, let it be in SA5 climax and in a way that does some real harm to odiums forces. 

The guy deserves atleast this much. 

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1 hour ago, Parallax said:

1. Nobody needs teaching that murder is wrong, should we stop punishing murderers? At any rate you have a particular theory of punishment which many people don't share. In fact most people have a retributive theory of punishment which is backward looking. 

Because people let emotion rule. Punishment changes nothing. I never said we should never punish anyone. I specifically said that punishment should be used for reformation, or for the removal of those who can't be reformed. 

What people want is irrelevant. People regularly want things that are not good for them. 

1 hour ago, Parallax said:

2. I have a hard time imagining someone who would not feel differently if we had a PoV character from the Rift as I described.

Why should it change how I feel about Dalinar? Whatever I feel for the victim is a separate thing entirely from him. 

1 hour ago, Parallax said:

3. Amaram's crime against Kaladin and his crew is nothing compared to what Dalinar did to Rathalas.

The magnitude of the crime is irrelevant. Dalinar feels remorse and is actively working to prevent actions like his from occurring in the future. 

Amaram believed that what he did was right. 

In both instances, revenge does not change the past it just perpetuates a cycle of anger. People who care for the victim of the revenge will seek to punish the perpetrator and so on and so forth. 

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. 

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I think a very large part of this argument unconsciously comes from our theological beliefs and its reaffirmation in literature and other forms of media

This includes the belief that there are some things worse than death. It is a statement either believed to be true or at least assumed to be a good moral stance (such thoughts probably contributed to the idea of painless methods of execution rather than endlessly torturing and humiliating criminals or painfully executing them). This idea affects how death itself is perceived: that there are worse things that can be done to people than ending their existence (I find this very arguable)

I think many of Sanderson's readers come from a religious or at least spiritual background (by which I mean that they are not strictly practicing organized religion but have a less strict belief in an abstract, deeply personal God). Many probably believe in an afterlife, consequently many also probably believe that, in the Cosmere, there exists something for the deceased in the Beyond. It feels more wholesome.

It can be, in that form difficult to weigh between (A): someone (or many someones) who are gone and no longer suffering, and (B) someone who is clearly and unarguably suffering. (A) being the people of Rathalas and (B) being Dalinar. Clearly (A)'s suffering has ended while (B)'s hasn't. (B) is genuinely trying to change themselves so that they never become that person who could do something like what was done to (A).

Also, forgiveness itself is a defining component of Christianity.

Trigger Warning ⚠ Existentialism, Atheistic Philosophy, Consciousness/Self/"Soul"

But what if there is no afterlife? What if we are just a collection of neurons, hormones, blood and bone. What if the answer to the question of "what happens to us after we die?" is like asking, "what happens to a flame after it has been extinguished?" The answer is nothing. The flame is gone. It no longer exists. Fire is just a chemical reaction and now it has ended. What if existence is just a process that will come to end?

The above viewpoint seriously affects how someone would perceive death.

A large part of the audience probably believe in some form of afterlife and that affects whether or not they believe that killing can be forgiven, and if atonement for the killer is possible.

That the people of Rathalas are at peace somewhere and capable of forgiving what was done to them.

 

Obviously, we don't know what happens after death. Dalinar doesn't either. But for the people of Rathalas, their journey has ended. They can't voice their opinions. Dalinar seems to be capable of moving forwards. There were children in Rathalas who'll never know adolescence. If it were a different book, it could very well have a survivor of Rathalas as a viewpoint character, watching in horror as the person who ordered the massacre of their home says that they're very sorry and then getting rewarded with mystical powers.

It is a very valid stance to not be moved by Dalinar's story. It is valid to be concerned and/or disgusted.

 

Sanderson has taken a different stance before, in Mistborn. Vin killed many soldiers of Cett but then spared Cett himself. Reen was cruel, he crushed Vin's spirit.. but he also sacrificed his life for her, in more ways than one. He could've left her but he only did so at the very end, leading the Inquisitors away from her but getting himself caught and tortured. He never revealed Vin's existence, stopping the Inquisitors' hunt. Vin still refused to forgive him for never really being there for her. He felt obligated to keep her safe, yeah, but she never felt loved. She moved on. (ironically Ruin probably helped by mimicking Reen's voice).

 

Not everyone has to be moved by Dalinar's Ideal. Sanderson himself seems very open to different opinions on morality. It is simply an exploration of the theme of 'becoming better people'. It's perfectly acceptable to balk at the idea of forgiving Dalinar's actions. Oathbringer seems an experiment in morality, this is just the one that people would have to agree to disagree on.

I have mentioned this before but real-life people who have committed massacres against a group have been forgiven by remaining members of that group. [Why I forgave the man who killed my children - Rwandan genocide survivor - BBC Africa].

On the other side, I recently read the story of a man who joined some elite military unit to chase down the officer who was responsible for his hometown's destruction (Eliahu Itzkovitz). I couldn't not cheer him on. There are so many WW 2 stories like this and possibly (and probably very controversially) Vietnam War stories too.

It is a controversial topic

We're discussing a fictional rather than a real life incident. You are not hurting anyone by taking a stance. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and free to express themselves as long as they're not hurting anyone.

I hope you've found the discussion you've started fruitful, @Parallax. And feel free to tell people off if you start to feel that they are trying to convert your stance on morality rather than speaking on the point you raised. You have my support.

Edited by Honorless
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2 hours ago, Parallax said:

1. It would work if you had the Survivor of Rathalas as a flashback character in a future book, she could even bond a Highspren and become a Skybreaker before meeting Dalinar ...

2. You are assuming Dalinar is indispensable but that is up to Brandon, if he wanted to, he could do a rewrite in which Dalinar dies in the middle of Stormlight 4. And claiming a character is essentially "too big to jail" would merit some discussion, as it currently stands the burning of the Rift is basically forgotten.

3. Over more than three thousand pages we have delved into much smaller crimes and how they reflect on the person who committed them but once we get to what is arguably the most serious atrocity of the series there are no consequences to speak of. I have repeated the point several times but it bears repeating: by deliberately withholding information Brandon made us worry about whether Dalinar had killed a boy or not, but after he burns down a whole city full of people we are supposed to pretend like nothing happened? 

You could hypothetically have a survivor as a main character later, but there are already a lot of main characters, and I'm pretty sure there's a plan for each flashback sequence already. And it doesn't need the perspective of a victim to make readers feel that it was a horrible crime. I know you've said you feel like it's being completely ignored, but plenty of people here have shared their reactions to it and pointed out that it isn't being ignored, and the next book will likely deal with major consequences of it. Why judge a story before it's done?

You keep bringing up Dalinar not killing the kid, almost like it was wrong of Sanderson to not tell the audience. Maybe I'm just misinterpreting you, but I don't see where you're coming from on that. It's just Sanderson being good at suspense, and it has an impact when we find out the truth. Part of that impact is to make his massacre more intense. And again, nobody is ignoring it. I have a hard time believing it will be treated as lightly as Adolin's murder of Sadeas. I'm still not sure why you're making judgements based on a plot that has yet to be resolved.

As far as Dalinar being indispensable, he is. Whether or not the author could turn around and kill him off is irrelevant, and being indespensable to the war effort doesn't mean he can't die anyway, but there would be very few people who wanted to win against Odium who would sanction any action against him. I could see Taravangian manufacturing a survivor and presenting the same situation you have, as a way to try to turn them against him and undermine the alliance. Keeping him around wouldn't be a decision based on morality, but on practicality, since not being destroyed by a vengeful god is more important than enacting punishment on one man. Dalinar is the only one of them who seems to really understand the struggle against Odium, because he's the only one who's met him. Besides, putting him in the position he has doesn't mean he's considered exceptionally moral, it just means his current values align more with a specific Shard. Shards aren't necessarily good or evil, so why should anyone being a Shard's champion inherently involve a moral assessment of their character?

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11 minutes ago, Ahriman said:

Besides, putting him in the position he has doesn't mean he's considered exceptionally moral, it just means his current values align more with a specific Shard. Shards aren't necessarily good or evil, so why should anyone being a Shard's champion inherently involve a moral assessment of their character?

I agree with you totally here. Dalinar need not be seen as leading forces of good, 

essentially he is leading forces of honor against that of odium. And the intent of honor does not necessarily mean that it is good. Honor cares more about oaths and the keeping of the oaths, whether the oaths were inherently good or not was probably irrelevant to the shard honor. Therefore, dalinar can be the champion of the shard honor, he may even become the vessel of honor Which need not mean that he has got a good morality character certificate. 

Also note that the society of alethkar has been based on the religion started by tanavast and it is hardly an ideal society. It is pretty messed up. Honor as a concept is not inherently good. A war general leading his armies to victory is considered honourable by them even if he caused total annihilation of enemy cities and forces. 

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4 hours ago, Parallax said:

. In fact most people have a retributive theory of punishment which is backward looking.

That is terrible and I do not want to believe it.  It also seems wrong to me morally.

4 hours ago, Parallax said:

Nobody needs teaching that murder is wrong, should we stop punishing murderers

That is complete mischaracterization of the point.  We punish murders by imprisonment to keep an ordered society.  We all want to live in a world were we feel safe from being murdered and when murderers are kept out of the general population and their actions are shown to be wrong this benefits us all.  Plenty of people are stupid enough to feel justified killing someone else.  These people do need to be shown the error of their ways.

4 hours ago, Parallax said:

2. I have a hard time imagining someone who would not feel differently if we had a PoV character from the Rift as I described.

To use a somewhat inflammatory example that would never actually happen.  If Hitler had survived the 2nd world war and spent the rest of his life speaking out against genocide, war, hatred, antisemitism, and totalitarian government while saving the world from a zombie apocalypse I would be somewhat inclined to root for him despite being a member of one of the groups he tried to exterminate.

4 hours ago, Parallax said:

3. Amaram's crime against Kaladin and his crew is nothing compared to what Dalinar did to Rathalas. 

Amaram was never truly repentant of his crime.  He never leaned from his mistakes.  And judging scale in horrible crimes is the sort of useless exercise only humans would come up with.  It is like judging pain.  I broke my collar bone you shattered every bone in your body.  Does this make my pain better because it is less then yours?  Of course not.  Also Amaram's actions were a betrayal of people whose loyalty he had been given Dalinar's were a response to betrayal. 

4 hours ago, Parallax said:

Nobody has any issues with Dalinar killing Tanalan once he survives the assassination attempt. But you can't argue that what Tanalan did justifies Dalinar's slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians in any way

I was not and never will.  Still glad that Tanalan is dead.

4 hours ago, Parallax said:

Why not have this conflict on screen?

Because it would be contrived.  What are the actual odds someone could survive the Rift identify themselves and actually get into a conversation with Dalinar?  Brandon likes to keep things somewhat realistic in his writing.

4 hours ago, Parallax said:

1. It would work if you had the Survivor of Rathalas as a flashback character in a future book, she could even bond a Highspren and become a Skybreaker before meeting Dalinar ...

This would be interesting but Brandon has a lot to do in these books.  Just because an interesting character concept exists does not mean that he is morally obligated to use it.

4 hours ago, Parallax said:

2. You are assuming Dalinar is indispensable but that is up to Brandon, if he wanted to, he could do a rewrite in which Dalinar dies in the middle of Stormlight 4. And claiming a character is essentially "too big to jail" would merit some discussion, as it currently stands the burning of the Rift is basically forgotten.

As things currently stand Dalinar is indispensable.  Without a bondsmith(specifically the Stormfather as he has Honor's CS) the Radiant chances of wining are considerably lower.  Also he just won a round with Odium.

4 hours ago, Parallax said:

3. Over more than three thousand pages we have delved into much smaller crimes and how they reflect on the person who committed them but once we get to what is arguably the most serious atrocity of the series there are no consequences to speak of. I have repeated the point several times but it bears repeating: by deliberately withholding information Brandon made us worry about whether Dalinar had killed a boy or not, but after he burns down a whole city full of people we are supposed to pretend like nothing happened? 

Is some crazy group of people pretending the Rift never happened? 

Edited by Karger
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@Honorless you seem to be painting the idea if forgiveness as religious. I hope that wasn't your intention.

One, I'm an athiest and I believe my stance here is clear. Two, within every belief system opinions differ 

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@Calderis

I'm not pointing fingers.

No, I'm not painting the idea of forgiveness as being inherently religious. I wrote an entire monstrosity on the correlation between the two concepts, that's it.

But I can include a tl;dr:

That the complicated question of morality posed by Oathbringer can not be answered by referencing and explaining Dalinar's deeds towards rectification. I'm with the OP on feeling revolted, and that makes the very idea of the next books exciting.

I'm willing to trust the author to not trivialize the issue and that enough people read his works who will be affected by his handling of the Dalinar issue if it isn't done satisfactorily.

I also mentioned some real life examples of forgiving extreme atrocities. As well as one of vengeance and noted my feelings on the topic.

Edited by Honorless
Didn't mean to leave you hanging, just forgot to ping you
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@Honorless no worries. I didn't mean to imply that's what you were saying, it's just the way that it read to me, hence the question.

I think where the line is for me, and why this is so divisive, is that people seem to take me saying Dalinar shouldn't be punished somehow excuses his past... Which isn't the case. Dalinar doesn't even do that himself. 

Of course I was horrified by his past actions. They were horrific. But Dalinar isn't that man anymore. Nothing will excuse his past, just as no punishment will undo what was done. 

I don't expect anyone to agree with me on this, and frankly I've been surprised at the support I've received every time this topic comes up, because in society, I know my view is atypical.

I happen to agree with @Parallax on one point. If this weren't Dalinar, and we didn't have the perspective of him that we do, I don't think my opinion would have the support that it does, though it wouldn't change.

I'm not trying to point fingers at anyone either. I want this to remain civil. I just want to avoid confusion as well. 

Edited by Calderis
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On 10/13/2019 at 4:40 AM, Parallax said:

 1. Nobody needs teaching that murder is wrong, should we stop punishing murderers? At any rate you have a particular theory of punishment which many people don't share. In fact most people have a retributive theory of punishment which is backward looking. 

I just have to point out that this is total assumption on your part, and I think it's wrong. Maybe in terms of personal conflict lots of people think of punishment as just retributive, but almost ALL modern criminal justice systems are formed around rehabilitation and NOT retribution. We aren't the Romans (though perhaps their reasoning wasn't retribution either, but just deterrence).

What, exactly, do you find so important or meaningful about punishment anyway? It doesn't fix mistakes, on any scale. The "an eye for an eye" paradigm only works when it's actually possible to exact an equal punishment, but obviously Dalinar can't atone for millions of deaths.
He can trade his own life for exactly one, so is anything more irredeemable to you? And how does that work for minor sins that can't be undone? I can't just replace my spouse's favorite mug they made in 7th grade pottery class that got them through dad's cancer diagnosis that I shattered one day in a rage, so what's my redeemability? If being sorry, and regretting past choices, and wanting to move forward differently isn't enough, then what is?
This is a childish example, but what I'm getting at is that your "he's irredeemable" mentality isn't meaningful if it only extends to "he can't/hasn't paid for what he's done". Unless you can draw a specific line regarding what makes someone irredeemable and why one side of that line is definitively different than the other, I don't see the argument holding water. Without that, I don't think a point of no return exists, ergo, Dalinar is still redeemable. My own definition of a point of no return lies in their decision to not be sorry, regret it, or want to change, and obviously that doesn't apply to Dalinar. He changed.

Lastly, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but you seem to be blaming Brandon for creating a character who did horrible things and got off scot-free (although I would argue that he didn't) and then making us as readers sympathize for him. I don't understand this frustration. Other than it being a work of fiction that Brandon is entitled to design however he likes, people get out paying for their crimes all the time. It's just a reality that life isn't fair, bad people get away with stuff, etc, etc. Lots of stories have a terrible person as the protagonist (plus, they stay terrible, but we love and justify them anyway). Can you explain why this bothers you so much?

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10 hours ago, Stormlightning said:

I just have to point out that this is total assumption on your part, and I think it's wrong. Maybe in terms of personal conflict lots of people think of punishment as just retributive, but almost ALL modern criminal justice systems are formed around rehabilitation and NOT retribution. We aren't the Romans (though perhaps their reasoning wasn't retribution either, but just deterrence).

What, exactly, do you find so important or meaningful about punishment anyway? It doesn't fix mistakes, on any scale. The "an eye for an eye" paradigm only works when it's actually possible to exact an equal punishment, but obviously Dalinar can't atone for millions of deaths.
He can trade his own life for exactly one, so is anything more irredeemable to you? And how does that work for minor sins that can't be undone? I can't just replace my spouse's favorite mug they made in 7th grade pottery class that got them through dad's cancer diagnosis that I shattered one day in a rage, so what's my redeemability? If being sorry, and regretting past choices, and wanting to move forward differently isn't enough, then what is?
This is a childish example, but what I'm getting at is that your "he's irredeemable" mentality isn't meaningful if it only extends to "he can't/hasn't paid for what he's done". Unless you can draw a specific line regarding what makes someone irredeemable and why one side of that line is definitively different than the other, I don't see the argument holding water. Without that, I don't think a point of no return exists, ergo, Dalinar is still redeemable. My own definition of a point of no return lies in their decision to not be sorry, regret it, or want to change, and obviously that doesn't apply to Dalinar. He changed.

Lastly, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but you seem to be blaming Brandon for creating a character who did horrible things and got off scot-free (although I would argue that he didn't) and then making us as readers sympathize for him. I don't understand this frustration. Other than it being a work of fiction that Brandon is entitled to design however he likes, people get out paying for their crimes all the time. It's just a reality that life isn't fair, bad people get away with stuff, etc, etc. Lots of stories have a terrible person as the protagonist (plus, they stay terrible, but we love and justify them anyway). Can you explain why this bothers you so much?

I agree. I feel there is a far leap between saying:

I do not feel Dalinar was redeemed by his actions and no longer enjoy the character

versus

Dalinar cannot be redeemed by his actions, and Brandon messed up because of it. 

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I believe Wit/Hoid brings up a compelling argument about Dalinar. In WOR When Dalinar asks if he is a tyrant, Wit replies with 

"Do not Sorrow, It is an era for Tyrants. I doubt this place is ready for anything more, and a benevolent tyrant is preferable to the disaster of weak rule. Perhaps in another place and time, I'd have denounced you with spit and bile. Here, today, I praise you as what this world needs."

And while it may not be in direct connection with the incident at Rathalas I think it is a worthy thing to consider here, and have seen others touch on the idea in this thread. The world needs Dalinar. In a different place, in a different time, Dalinar's punishment/redemption may very well have been much different then what we see take place due to the context of world events. 

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On 10/11/2019 at 3:57 PM, Ixthos said:

@Parallax do you believe in redemption, in forgiveness of wrongs done, of mercy measured out with justice?

There are several tiers to my argument:

1. I believe in redemption and forgiveness but not for every action, definitely not for the mass murder of tens of thousands of civilians.

2. Someone might disagree, they might say anyone can be redeemed. Which is a fine position to have but then the question is what did Dalinar do redeem himself? As I have said before the promise of a future public confession is not the same as redeeming yourself. 

3. It is something to forgive someone, it is an entirely another thing to have that person lead the forces of good.

4. On top of all that we have not even talked about who has to forgive Dalinar. 

These are problems with Dalinar's arc which is deliberately constructed by the author. Now when you put that along the whole ambiguity regarding Dalinar killing the young Tanalan it really sticks out like a sore thumb. 

On 10/13/2019 at 7:08 AM, Ixthos said:

@Parallax If I may, and if I've missed where you addressed this please let me know, but what is your opinion on Dalinar taking up the burden of the Heralds later in the series, and so suffering the same pain he inflicted on those in the Rift, only many times more intense and over a longer period, all to prevent those same events being repeated on Roshar? Would that be an attonment?

Whatever Dalinar had to do to atone for the Rift should have happened before he summoned Honor's Perpendicularity. Right now Dalinar is the hero of Stormlight Archive and is leading the forces fighting Odium and at the same time he is responsible for the worst crime we have seen on screen in this series. 

On 10/13/2019 at 7:51 AM, The traveller said:

I don’t think @Parallax that anyone can change your mind right now. You are entitled to hoping that dalinar dies in the next book. Who knows may be Brandon will oblige you. Keep your fingers crossed. 

I don't hope for Dalinar's death. From my point of view the only proper fix is to rewrite Oathbringer so that Dalinar is not responsible for the burning down of the Rift. If that is not going to happen the next best option would be a confrontation based on Dalinar's crimes on screen. 

On 10/13/2019 at 9:33 AM, Ahriman said:

You could hypothetically have a survivor as a main character later, but there are already a lot of main characters, and I'm pretty sure there's a plan for each flashback sequence already. And it doesn't need the perspective of a victim to make readers feel that it was a horrible crime. I know you've said you feel like it's being completely ignored, but plenty of people here have shared their reactions to it and pointed out that it isn't being ignored, and the next book will likely deal with major consequences of it. Why judge a story before it's done?

You keep bringing up Dalinar not killing the kid, almost like it was wrong of Sanderson to not tell the audience. Maybe I'm just misinterpreting you, but I don't see where you're coming from on that. It's just Sanderson being good at suspense, and it has an impact when we find out the truth. Part of that impact is to make his massacre more intense. And again, nobody is ignoring it. I have a hard time believing it will be treated as lightly as Adolin's murder of Sadeas. I'm still not sure why you're making judgements based on a plot that has yet to be resolved.

As far as Dalinar being indispensable, he is. Whether or not the author could turn around and kill him off is irrelevant, and being indespensable to the war effort doesn't mean he can't die anyway, but there would be very few people who wanted to win against Odium who would sanction any action against him. I could see Taravangian manufacturing a survivor and presenting the same situation you have, as a way to try to turn them against him and undermine the alliance. Keeping him around wouldn't be a decision based on morality, but on practicality, since not being destroyed by a vengeful god is more important than enacting punishment on one man. Dalinar is the only one of them who seems to really understand the struggle against Odium, because he's the only one who's met him. Besides, putting him in the position he has doesn't mean he's considered exceptionally moral, it just means his current values align more with a specific Shard. Shards aren't necessarily good or evil, so why should anyone being a Shard's champion inherently involve a moral assessment of their character?

1. Within the story itself the victims are totally ignored. 

2. Sanderson is not wrong to create that suspense, the problem is what he does with the burning down of the Rift. What does withholding the fate of the 6-year old do? We worry that Dalinar actually killed him for the blade. That is also the author signalling that this would be something the reader ought to worry about. This is all great and I actually like that Dalinar's act of mercy actually means another revolt in the Rift. This is all great storytelling, the problem arises from Dalinar committing a crime many orders of magnitude worse than the original killing of the young Tanalan and there is no real discussion of it. If this is treated so lightly why was I supposed to worry about Dalinar killing a single 6-year old boy??

3.1. Dalinar being indispensable is entirely up to the author, he could do whatever he wants with him.

3.2. I want to point out how unpersuasive this line of reasoning is. The author has a character that commits a horrible act, makes said character a hero and the leader of the forces of good with no resolution or even discussion of the crime. Responding to someone who points out the crime is being ignored with "He is the hero, he is indispensable!" doesn't work. This entire thing is a construct of the author and I am criticizing the author. 

On 10/13/2019 at 11:11 AM, Karger said:

I was not and never will.  Still glad that Tanalan is dead.

So why did you bring up Tanalan? Nobody, certainly not me, has had an issue with Dalinar killing Tanalan. The problem has been the tens of thousands of innocent civilians that burned to death. 

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