Following the conversion of a massive boulder into an equally massive cloud of smoke, Shallan finds herself headed to the massive library of Kharbranth to try one more time to convince Jasnah that she is worthy of being installed as her ward. After the poor reception she’d received from Jasnah at their first meeting Shallan knows that she needs to do something dramatic in order to have a chance at furthering her own plans.
Shallan is getting fleshed out much more solidly as a character in this chapter as well. Sanderson gives us a little more background about her family, showing us that her father had been using an illegal Soulcaster to continuously find new ore deposits that could fund his political motives. Upon his untimely (and still very secreted) death his Soulcaster had fallen into disrepair and was non-functional. So, not only is Shallan intent on stealing the Soulcaster in Jasnah’s possession, she intends to continue down the illegal and questionable path her father had been treading down before her. How incredibly enigmatic if you ask me.
Also, we learn that Shallan has the ability to take what amount to visual snapshots with her mind that she can then later recall in order to paint or draw them with exacting detail. Upon reaching the Kharbranth library she uses this ability to clear her mind and focus her thoughts while she waits for Jasnah to finally arrive. After putting several sketches to paper she writes a letter to Jasnah enumerating the many reasons why after their first discussion she should still be considered worthy of wardship. It’s a long shot, but Shallan is willing to take the chance.
Just as Shallan finishes her letter a young ardent (think priest or monk for comparison) arrives who is also looking to speak with Jasnah. His name is Kabsal and Shallan takes a liking to him almost immediately. The both of them are of the same general disposition: sassy and sarcastic. Let the flirting begin! It’s clear that Shallan is going to be thinking of this young ardent often and that he is going to factor into her further adventures at some point. I find myself smiling at the prospect of the two of them causing a little trouble around Kharbranth in the coming chapters.
At this point Shallan is my favorite character, but I think that is mostly because I know the most about her so far. Once I get a little more background into Kaladin and what drives him as a person I think I’ll start leaning towards him rather heavily. I’m a big fan of the noble warrior looking out for and inspiring his comrades on the battlefield. I’m a guy, it’s sort of my thing I guess. I can feel that Sanderson is ready for us as readers to get to know more in-depth about these two viewpoint characters he’s provided. It’s just a feeling I get when reading the last couple of chapters.
“Parshmen could speak, but they rarely did so.”
“With the fabrial, they’d be able to make new quarries and restore their wealth. They’d be able to make food to feed their house soldiers. With enough wealth in hand to pay off debts and make bribes, they could announce their father’s death and not suffer destruction.”
“Her father had owned exactly eighty-seven books. Shallan had read them all several times over. How much could be contained in seven hundred thousand books? The weight of that much information dazzled her.”