He couldn’t be that man again—he couldn’t erase the scars—but he could learn from that man, as a new squadleader learned from the victorious generals of the past. Kaladin Stormblessed was dead, but Kaladin Bridgeman was of the same blood. A descendant with potential.
After the flashback in the previous chapter which gave us a little bit of background on Kaladin we are back to present day where he is suffering the day-to-day horrors of life as a bridgeman. The chapter opens with the most recent Highstorm winding down and Kaladin leaving the shelter of the barracks to go to the Honor Chasm and jump off the cliff. He’s contemplated this escape before, but now he’s too run down to keep on living. The constant death surrounding him on the bridge runs has worn away at his psyche and he just can’t do it anymore. I’m not sure if I blame him to be honest. The life he’s been living on Bridge Four is horrific if you ask me.
On his way to the cliff Kaladin runs across Gaz tending to a basket of the small glass gemstones used for currency. Leaving them out in a Highstorm revitalizes the light they retain and Gaz doesn’t trust his to stay safe if he doesn’t weather the storm with them. Kaladin has a moment of fleeting respect for Gaz because of Gaz’s willingness to brave the storm, but not enough for the hatred he feels towards the man to subside.
Kaladin spends a good long time standing at the edge of Honor Chasm thinking about his past, the future he could have had, and the failures he believes he’s been a part of during his life. He doesn’t feel like it’s worth staying alive if all he’s going to do is watch young boys die by his side over and over akin to his most recent bridge run. His retrospection complete he puts one foot out over the edge and gets ready to fall.
Then Syl shows up.
Syl, the perky little windspren who we most recently saw leaving Kaladin because he was too depressing has returned, bringing with her a leaf of blackthorn, the poison Kaladin had been carrying in his belt during his journey to the Shattered Plains. She tells him that she went to find it because he was so unhappy and that everything had started going badly after he lost his other leaves. So, she found him a new one in hopes it would cheer him up. Kaladin can’t help but laugh at her sincerity and naiveté. She has no idea what she’s brought him, but he’s touched by the gesture. Syl then tells Kaladin that he might as well give one more try towards helping the men of Bridge Four because what’s the worst that can happen, they die? She figures they are all going to die anyway due to the nature of their job, so what’s the harm in trying.
At that moment something clicks inside Kaladin. Something comes to life and convinces him that yes, he can try just one more time even if they are all likely to die anyways. Instead of jumping into Honor Chasm he heads back to the barracks, throws Gaz to the ground, and tells him that he wants to be the bridge leader. Gaz is stunned and agrees. Kaladin even tells Gaz to take one of every five marks that Kaladin is due as his wages as payment to stay out of Kaladin’s way. Gaz isn’t going to complain, more money for him.
This is the turning point I was waiting for with Kaladin. I don’t know if Syl is going to have a bigger role in the fate of Kaladin down the line, but it sure seems like she’s going to be an important figure at this point. I’m guessing that this change in mentality for Kaladin is going to mean good things for Bridge Four in the immediate future, but might also have a few unintended negative consequences in the long-term. Time to keep reading and find out if I’m right.