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Child of Hodor

"Maclunky!" Szeth Shouted

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I was having a laugh at the latest changes to the Greedo scene in Star Wars and I felt a little pity for George Lucas and then thought "oh I hope Brandon doesn't go any further down this road with the Kaladin - Szeth scene".  

https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-han-shot-first-scene-from-star-wars-has-been-change-1839802913

For the uninitiated, at some point after the release of the original film Lucas thought that Han shooting a guy who was only verbally threatening him was a little too dark of a way to introduce a character that ends up being a good person. So Lucas changed it to have Greedo shoot first and miss and then Han kills him. People didn't like and it's been revised repeatedly since then. 

It's sad because it's never going to work no matter how many revisions they go through and Lucas was still trying in 2012. This makes me think of Brandon's change to WoR having Kaladin cause Szeth's death, but not outright kill him because Brandon felt it wasn't right for Kaladin at that point and he wanted to mitigate all the fake deaths.   

Like Lucas, he'll never be able to "fix it" because Jasnah's fake death hangs over the whole book and you can't change that because, to quote Lucas "it's stylistically designed to be that way". Brandon can only reduce the effects of it. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGRv8Zu1fU8

Having Kaladin cause Szeth to fall a great distance into a superstorm, but not stab him through the torso is a weird morality upgrade "I shoved him into the street, but I didn't run him over."

To be clear I don't mind that he changed it, it's his life's work. I just don't think the change really fixed the issues Brandon perceived and I don't think he can so I hope he never tries and ends up still tinkering with it years later. 

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As far as I am concerned their is not even a difference stylistically.  Kaladin's intent is to kill him either way.  Han Shot First #the truth.  Is different as it changes the character as they are introduced.

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As far as I am concerned their is not even a difference stylistically.  Kaladin's intent is to kill him either way.  Han Shot First #the truth.  Is different as it changes the character as they are introduced.

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10 hours ago, Child of Hodor said:

Having Kaladin cause Szeth to fall a great distance into a superstorm, but not stab him through the torso is a weird morality upgrade "I shoved him into the street, but I didn't run him over."

To be clear I don't mind that he changed it, it's his life's work. I just don't think the change really fixed the issues Brandon perceived and I don't think he can so I hope he never tries and ends up still tinkering with it years later. 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Szeth let go of his Honorblade himself? It's not like "being shoved onto the street" and more like "jumping in front of a car".

Besides, I think there's a difference between killing an enemy immediately as soon as you can, and hesitating to kill the opponent to consider at least for a moment to spare him out of pity. The end result is the same, but the implications for Kaladin's sense of morality are different. The way the scene is written now makes Kaladin less of a cold-blooded killer, it shows that taking someone's life is a difficult choice for Kaladin.

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Running with the analogy, I personally don't see anything wrong with running someone over with a car when that person has been killing people left and right and was just interrupted from trying to kill more. Or that Han, who is supposed to be a scoundrel, might shoot first. Which he did. 

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Brandon did not make any changes to try and mitigate the "fake death" stuff. The change to that fight was purely a Kaladin character bit, and we've been outright told that the. Echanics of the ending in both versions would work on Canon. Szeth dies either way, and he'd have revived via the healing either way. The entire point was about Kaladin's character. 

And I hate it. For two reasons. 

First, and a little less important is for combat reasons. In the new version Kaladin makes a spear thrust. In the middle of that very fast and very short action, he notices that Szeth is not attempting to block and so he tries to redirect the direction of his strike to miss.... And strikes Szeth's hand causing him to drop the Honorblade. 

With a spear thrust the more natural reaction is to just stop the thrust, not redirect, and more importantly it's insanely fast and with stormlight despite their reaction speed being seemingly accelerated so is their physical movement... So in maybe a tenth of a second Kal notices that Szeth isn't going to block his "feint" of a thrust and redirects it unnaturally because he realizes he doesn't actually want to kill Szeth... 

The original ending feels like a more natural flow of combat and would actually have played very well into Kaladin's character with Kaladin feeling conflicted about his actions... 

Which leads me to my second and much much bigger gripe. 

The new ending actively undermines Kaladin's character. It makes Kaladin entirely too perfect in that he somehow can tell that a man who has been a persistent threat, killed the leaders of half the world, attempted to kill Dalinar multiple times, and previously Kaladin is somehow not someone who needs to die when Kaladin literally just saved Dalinar and came upon Szeth mid murder attempt... And the after his somehow psychic decision to spare a man who by all logic he should have killed he (at Syl's urging) chooses to save a weapon over the the man he just decided he shouldn't kill. 

In both endings Szeth chooses to die. In the second ending, Kaladin decides that he shouldn't kill Szeth and then let's him die anyway to save a weapon... How is that in any way better? 

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On 11/13/2019 at 10:09 AM, Calderis said:

Brandon did not make any changes to try and mitigate the "fake death" stuff. The change to that fight was purely a Kaladin character bit, and we've been outright told that the. Echanics of the ending in both versions would work on Canon. Szeth dies either way, and he'd have revived via the healing either way. The entire point was about Kaladin's character. 

 

The__Good__Doctor

Hi Brandon! I wanted to talk about the revised ending of Words of Radiance.

So, it looks like Kaladin won't be actually delivering the killing blow to Szeth any more. I think that Kaladin was entirely justified in doing this, since it was a fight to the death, and Kaladin was protecting not only Dalinar but his entire squad below. Kaladin even seems surprised when he lands the blow, expecting Szeth to block it like he had been doing the entire fight. The killing was not done in vengeance or with malice, unlike what Adolin does later. Having the storm kill Szeth seems like an anti-climatic way to end the scene, since it takes away Szeth's decision to die by the sword, and means we no longer have an example of why the spren Shardblades don't immediately kill people.

Brandon Sanderson

I woud be fine having him do it, though I think killing a foe who has given up was against this thematic plot. But what pushed me over the edge to change was the sense that I was pulling too many fast ones on the reader with people coming back to life. I wanted it clear to readers that Szeth was not dead, so this scene wasn't a fake out, which would weaken Jasnah's arrival later.

Dancingedge

Um, Mr. Sanderson, I don't mean to be disrespectful as you probably have the scene better in your head than I do but how is a man without Stormlight falling from a very large hight, while in the middle of two Highstorms coliding and throwing entire platoos in the air expected to survive? Maybe I don't have the right persective on this given that I saw both Jasnah (the body disapearing is just as much a give away as it never being shown in my book) and Syl (Pattern outright said Sprens can be revived) coming but unless you severly change the fight scene I don't see how being stabbed actually matters for Szeth survival chances.

Brandon Sanderson

The idea is that the reader didn't see him die, so there's a psychological trigger--one that says "Ah, I didn't see a body. He's probably not dead."

Yes, Szeth totally died from that fall--just as the young man that Lift revived had died from what he suffered. We know that Stormlight can fix the body and bring back the dead, so long as very little time has passed.

The import of the tweak to me is allowing some question in the reader's mind, so that the return is not a betrayal.

The__Good__Doctor

That is a lot more understandable. Having too many reveals at the end could be problematic. I agree that Jasnah coming back felt like pulling a fast one right at the end. However, I think the suprise of Szeth coming back was really well done, especially with the reveal of Nin (Nale, Nalan? This dude is so old he has three names!) at the very end with his special sword friend. I feel like that was the real zinger that should have closed the book.

I was a little underwhelmed with Jasnah coming back, not because I dislike her, but because I thought she was well and truly dead. She died so early in the book that I was completely accepting of her death by the end, and her coming back in a 'gotcha' moment felt a little hollow. Perhaps this could have happened about a hundred pages into the next book? I don't know the entire story like you do, of course, but as a reader it felt like Szeth and his rebirth should have been the final closing image.

Brandon Sanderson

This all came about, if you're curious, during the detailed plotting of the second book. Originally, the outline did not call for Jasnah to leave, but I was having real trouble getting Shallan into a place--emotionally and experience-wise--where she could do the things she needed to do while Jasnah was around. I determined that Jasnah needed to pull a Gandalf, and let her ward alone for a while, and I'm glad I did it--the book is much, much stronger for it. However, the side effects of the last-minute change in the plot required Jasnah's reappearance, which sent a few waves through the book. (Szeth's death and survival being the main one.)

 

 

Sorry, not sure of the exact etiquette for quoting WOB's and such. But Brandon has said that the reasoning for the change was a lot about Jasnah and Szeth and not wanting to fake out the reader with resurrections and such as shown in the above WOB.

 

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5 minutes ago, Minimanmax1 said:

Sorry, not sure of the exact etiquette for quoting WOB's and such. But Brandon has said that the reasoning for the change was a lot about Jasnah and Szeth and not wanting to fake out the reader with resurrections and such as shown in the above WOB.

Fair enough, but per Brandon's website in a blog post specifically about the change, the changes were primarily done for the purposes of Kaladin's character. 

Quote

So, in Words of Radiance, I think the scene I worked on the longest both in my head and on the page was the final confrontation between Kaladin and Szeth.

There was something I wanted to do, and took a stab at it in the text, then backed off because I couldn’t make it work. It was important to me that Kaladin refuse to kill Szeth at the end. Kaladin is about protection, not vengeance, and once he realized that Szeth really just wanted to be killed, I wanted Kaladin to hesitate.

It didn’t end up working, and I moved on to a new version and submitted it. But this itched at me, and by the time the book was released, I felt I’d made the wrong choice for that scene. So I’ve taken this chance to roll it back to the previous idea, and written it in a new way, which I like much better.

The events are the same, except for that moment. Szeth is now killed by the storm instead of by Kaladin, which I think is more thematically appropriate.

The question this raises is about Szeth being stabbed by a Shardblade, then being resuscitated. I’m sad to lose this sequence, as it’s an important plot point for the series that dead Shardblades cannot heal the soul, while living ones can. I’m going to have to work this into a later book, though I think it’s something we can sacrifice here for the stronger scene of character for Kaladin and Szeth.

Which makes sense because the scene changes nothing about Szeth's "fake death."

He still dies. He's still resurrected. And the mechanics of the original ending would still have worked. There's no effective change. 

And frankly, I never understood the uproar. Jasnah's return was foreshadowed immediately when the body disappeared, and Szeth was "dead" for a handful of pages. 

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On 11/13/2019 at 10:09 AM, Calderis said:

Brandon did not make any changes to try and mitigate the "fake death" stuff. The change to that fight was purely a Kaladin character bit, and we've been outright told that the. Echanics of the ending in both versions would work on Canon. Szeth dies either way, and he'd have revived via the healing either way. The entire point was about Kaladin's character. 

And I hate it. For two reasons. 

First, and a little less important is for combat reasons. In the new version Kaladin makes a spear thrust. In the middle of that very fast and very short action, he notices that Szeth is not attempting to block and so he tries to redirect the direction of his strike to miss.... And strikes Szeth's hand causing him to drop the Honorblade. 

With a spear thrust the more natural reaction is to just stop the thrust, not redirect, and more importantly it's insanely fast and with stormlight despite their reaction speed being seemingly accelerated so is their physical movement... So in maybe a tenth of a second Kal notices that Szeth isn't going to block his "feint" of a thrust and redirects it unnaturally because he realizes he doesn't actually want to kill Szeth... 

The original ending feels like a more natural flow of combat and would actually have played very well into Kaladin's character with Kaladin feeling conflicted about his actions... 

Which leads me to my second and much much bigger gripe. 

The new ending actively undermines Kaladin's character. It makes Kaladin entirely too perfect in that he somehow can tell that a man who has been a persistent threat, killed the leaders of half the world, attempted to kill Dalinar multiple times, and previously Kaladin is somehow not someone who needs to die when Kaladin literally just saved Dalinar and came upon Szeth mid murder attempt... And the after his somehow psychic decision to spare a man who by all logic he should have killed he (at Syl's urging) chooses to save a weapon over the the man he just decided he shouldn't kill. 

In both endings Szeth chooses to die. In the second ending, Kaladin decides that he shouldn't kill Szeth and then let's him die anyway to save a weapon... How is that in any way better? 

Two comments, I guess:

1) As a matter of fact, in the reworked ending (the only one I've ever read, as it's both my hardbound and Kindle version of WoR), Kaladin changes Syl from a spear into a sword to draw Szeth out of his attack pattern. (I'd be curious to read the "original" if it's available anywhere, though... Is it?)

2) I kind of believe Kaladin's personality would find it hard to kill, more or less in cold blood, someone who's admitted to having murdered while "only following orders" under conditions he evidently now realizes were false. ("It is true. The Knights Radiant have returned. I was never Truthless... My orders... I could have stopped the murders at any time...") and then raised his blade to surrender to a mortal blow.

The specific phrase "pity, perhaps?" line echoed just a bit too much of Bilbo Baggins v. Gollum to me, though no doubt that was an intentional reference by Brandon.

But yeah, if he'd decided he wouldn't be the agent of dealing death to Szeth, how come he didn't save his life? I guess that comes down to Syl being so very insistent that "that Blade" not be lost. And from the way Szeth was falling, with all the Light having left him, perhaps it appeared he was already dead?

 

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12 minutes ago, robardin said:

1) As a matter of fact, in the reworked ending (the only one I've ever read, as it's both my hardbound and Kindle version of WoR), Kaladin changes Syl from a spear into a sword to draw Szeth out of his attack pattern. (I'd be curious to read the "original" if it's available anywhere, though... Is it?)

I may be getting confused on that point... But if anything that makes my point harsher. Redirecting a sword swing is more difficult than trying to turn your wrist aside. 

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26 minutes ago, Calderis said:

I may be getting confused on that point... But if anything that makes my point harsher. Redirecting a sword swing is more difficult than trying to turn your wrist aside. 

But as a shardblade you can just dismiss it at any time no?

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3 minutes ago, Karger said:

But as a shardblade you can just dismiss it at any time no?

Which didn't happen. And still wouldn't address the choice to save the blade over a man he just decided he shouldn't kill. 

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3 hours ago, Calderis said:

Redirecting a sword swing is more difficult than trying to turn your wrist aside. 

Depends on the momentum of the sword.

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Personally I don't find the new version to be as good as the old version, but part of that might be because I read the old version first, though honestly I think the older one flows better and makes more sense in context.  Kaladin's fighting for his life against a known mass-murderer who knows more Windrunner tricks than he does.  That's not the time to hesitate or show mercy even if he thinks that Szeth's surrender is genuine.

I also think a main reason for the change was to eliminate one of the three "fake deaths" in WoR, which are still casting their long shadow over the series.  Unfortunately I think the change doesn't really work in this regard because there's no realistic way that Szeth survives the fall.  Yes, the reader doesn't see the body and maybe I'm biased from having read the old version first, but his resurrection-after-supposed-death still seems fundamentally the same as Jasnah's or Gawx's.

Personally I think that if one were editing WoR, the best way to "undo" one of the three fake deaths would be to undo Jasnah's.  She still has to disappear during the ship scene and Shallan has to believe her dead (too much of the book would need to be rewritten otherwise), but adding a brief interlude scene of her and Ivory fleeing through Shadesmar and explaining why she can't get back sooner would go a long way toward mitigating her fake-out death.  The longer she stays missing, the more the reader wonders if maybe she's really dead after all and the more of a fake-out her sudden return is.  A two- or three-page interlude could largely fix this.

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Agreed, it felt that this change was as unnecessary as

Spoiler

Drile's survival

Spoiler

(except that change freed up Dirin to go to Darkside and so had some plot relevance)

 

and just as heroically neat.

Edited by Honorless
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