It took me a long time to put what my problem is into words, and I also find it difficult to make a case for it, due to the nature of the wrongness. You see, my argument is top down, not bottom up. What I mean by that is that I am not finding clues, and then coming to a realisation based on them.
Instead, I have a sense of evil that is present in virtually every scene with Syl, but is rather formless. The only thing I can do is to point out what seems off every time. However, taken individually, all of these concerns are weak and very easy to accept, explain, or dismiss. What I consider to be the true picture is only apparent if you take all of it together, in context; this is why I name it insidious. Before I get to the point, I have to make two assumptions about the nature of Syl clear.
She is a character in a meaningful way, and she has a level of control over the bond. Everything else is based on this, therefore if I am wrong here, I am wrong in everything. Syl is a character : it is not uncommon in fantasy typical examples include the sidhe and divine beings, like angels and science fiction shackled AI, for instance , that a being is bound by rules, cosmic or otherwise, or their own nature, very, very tightly.
Specific examples would be the Mothers from the Dresden files, or Sazed from the Cosmere. The latter holds two shards, so he should be a force to be taken seriously, yet because those shards are opposites, he finds it hard to act. The point here is that these beings will normally have a personality, yet it is practically irrelevant.
What they are allowed to do and say is controlled to such an extent, that the personality is little more than a coat of paint. These individuals can be recurring, or supporting cast, if used sparingly, but they can't function as a focus for a story. Based on what we know of how spren work, it isn't impossible that they fall in this category, but I doubt it. To say nothing more, it is mentioned that Syl came to our realm despite what her people thought, which clearly shows she has a certain level of freedom, and that not all honourspren will make the same decisions.
Syl's control of the bond : I don't think this is like flipping a switch, or even necessarily deliberate on her part. Furthermore, it seems clear that she can't advance the bond on her own. At the same time, I get the impression that breaking it, or weakening it, is something she can very much do - perhaps through how she views Kaladin. If she strongly disapproves, the bond weakens.
There is no explicit mention of this in the text, but several conversations imply it. For instance, at the duelling grounds when Kaladin attacks Adolin for the second time, and Stormlight leaves him, or at the end when Syl speaks about how spren require checks. Finally, though this is an outside view, if this is not the case, then Syl doesn't have agency, which would significantly reduce her value as a character.
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Back then, Syl was by far my favourite character, and the reveal at the end that she is honourspren fit everything perfectly. In no particular order: 1. She was acting in every way like Kaladin's equal. They had conversations, and they even made some decisions together. She advised him, and helped him, but didn't order, or require. Syl genuinely and passionately cared about Kaladin. Not merely about what he was doing, but about the man himself.
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Her concern for him practically shone through the pages. She 'held off' the highstorm to protect him, and 'fought off' the deathspren. How much practical effect either of those had is irrelevant, the gesture was clear. She had initiative. She was doing things on her own, creatively even. The most obvious example would be fetching the poison leaf for Kaladin. She was considering things, and making decisions.
This is very important. She didn't have knee-jerk reactions. With the bribe for Gaz, for instance, she ended up making the obvious choice, but it was a choice. She was fairly tolerant. When Kaladin explained what was happening with the apothecary she accepted it. Kaladin didn't immediately want to go back to help Dalinar on the Tower. When he hesitated, Syl made her opinion clear, yet didn't mind the fact that he had to think about it for a moment. I think at this point it is fairly obvious what I'm getting at, so I won't pick apart every single scene with Syl in WoR, but I will highlight the most important ones.
There are three primary changes, once again in no particular order all of this is before their bond ever starts to weaken : 1. Life leaves her. She largely stops making observations, comments, decisions. She becomes shockingly passive and numb to what's around her. Example: Kaladin attempts to have a serious conversation with her about what is right, most notably regarding fighting the listeners. Syl has nothing to add. The problem here isn't that she can't come up with a good answer, it's that she ignores the issue completely. Her relationship with Kaladin changes.
She starts to have requirements for Kaladin, without in any way working with him. She declares that he needs to stop being depressed and be happy, yet she doesn't show a fraction of the empathy and understanding she had in the previous book. She doesn't in any way try to help him in this.
She makes her will known, and gets increasingly annoyed when it doesn't magically happen.
Syl Apps, 83, Hall of Famer Who Led Maple Leafs in 40's
Example: She knows exactly what Amaram has done and what Kaladin feels, but never tries to help him get over it. She wants him to stop dwelling on it and not to seek revenge, which is fair enough in and of itself, but she handles is horribly. She offers no alternative, or support. She tells him how things will have to be, and that's that. This is especially worrisome, because even if he managed, by some inhuman effort, to live up to this, that would definitely harm him more than practically anything else before.
Something of a combination of the previous two, yet essential, and deserving special mention. Her passionate concern for Kaladin is gone. She says she is worried, and she says she wants him to be happy, but her actions never back this up. Indeed, she doesn't seem to get nearly as emotional as before. The only time she becomes animated is when she talks of Dalinar. If I wouldn't know better, I could think she is bonded to him, not Kaladin.
Example: Syl insists that Kaladin should tell Dalinar about Amaram, however her priorities are in the wrong place. This isn't important to her because she believes this is the best for him, or that this is their best chance to seek justice, but rather it's about how awesome and great and trustworthy Dalinar is. Even after Dalinar dismisses it and pretty much says to their face that he doesn't believe it, Syl still defends him. She clearly isn't interested in helping Kaladin, she is cheerleading for Dalinar.
Finally, let's talk about what happens when the bond starts to weaken, and then break. There are three possibilities offered for why this happens, and it is never made explicitly clear which is the real reason. It could be any, or a combination of any. Kaladin betrays his oath to protect.
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Kaladin has made two conflicting promises, and will have to break one for sure. Kaladin is acting differently from what his conscience says. Either this is not resolved in any way, since he does break one promise, if we look at it this way; or speaking the Words somehow frees him from this issue. The latter option seems more likely, especially since the idea that conflicting promises are a problem is introduced by Syl, who then uses this to push for speaking the Words. It seems clear that Kaladin made a mistake here, but what is more noteworthy is that Syl immediately jumped on this, and used it as leverage to further pressure him towards speaking the Words, which was her agenda for the entire book.
As for the other two, we have to consider what Kaladin is actually doing first. Up until the duel when he had to help Adolin, Kaladin showed remarkable restraint, both with Amaram and the king. Asking for a boon was stupid and wrong, yet it must be said that he did this after Dalinar apparently failed him, and he was trying to work within the legal system as much as possible. At this point, the king did something incredibly petty and idiotic - as he himself later admits -, which made Kaladin go into brooding overdrive.
In his dark mood, he decided to off the king. At this point the bond starts to break, rapidly. This might sound logical, but it isn't. We need to keep going. Kaladin gets out of prison, tells Moash that he is with them This is the crucial thing to understand. While he was in prison, he was angry enough to seriously consider killing the king, and then made a promise to that effect.
Except you have to remember, Moash is his only friend, and by now, as I pointed out, even Syl is acting all wrong. In hindsight, it's clear he is just blowing off some steam. Consider: he never in any way acts on this.
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He doesn't change guard rotation, doesn't do anything to increase the chance of success of an assassination attempt. More tellingly, he spends the entire rest of the book thinking on this, and trying to rationalise it. It's clear even he knows this is wrong - when Dalinar's force is moving out, and he learns Moash is in charge of the king's guard, he becomes nervous and agitated, and not with anticipation.
This is days before he finally fully decides where he stands, by the way. Now that we know this, let's address 1 and 3. This is pretty straightforward, he has some thoughts that go against it, but it never at any point manifests. It could be argued that even internal wavering is too much, but that's part of the creepiness, and I'll address that scenario later. This is even better. All of his wavering, doubt, and attempts at rationalisation are the work of his conscience. This is exactly what it means to have one.
The statement 'he isn't doing what he thinks is right' is only possible because of all the uncertainty. Syl: I don't want to force you to do anything. You have to do what you think is right. Kaladin: That's what I'm trying to do! Syl: No. I don't think you are. This exchange is nonsense. The operative word is trying. Syl isn't saying what is on the page. What she expects isn't for Kaladin to simply do the right thing, he has to do it without doubt, without thinking through the problem to come to a decision, and with utter conviction. And that is what I wanted to get to.
That is what I find downright scary, and evil. Just look at what Syl is saying. She doesn't want to force him. Forcing him would be wrong, and very similar to what happened to the listeners, but at least it's honest, in a way. No, what is happening here is much worse. His will is being subverted. He has to become fanatical in his compliance with her values, a zealot. He has to be unwaveringly loyal to a set of standards, and it isn't even a rule set he can choose, but rather one that is already determined. With the overall idea in mind, even innocent and supposedly cute scenes become horrifying.
At one point she says she is a god, and Kaladin can bow to her. Then she says, stunningly arrogant, 'I'm not the one we've been waiting on'. And it ends with Kaladin trying to praise her and be nice, which she accepts as 'fact' and 'lets it slide'. They had very similar exchanges in WoK, but because the dynamic of their relationship was completely different, these worked. Here, it just seems awful. Worst of all is when she tells Kaladin, 'That's what they all were, silly. As I said at the start, I know this is wildly different from what most everybody sees, and I recognise my explanation leaves much to be desired, and isn't convincing at all, but this truly is what I've felt throughout the book, and how it reads to me.
As an interesting bit, I have to say, in preparation of writing this post, I reread all the Kaladin bits from WoK, and even now the Syl presented there is my favourite character in the Stormlight Archive. Some final, and rather random, thoughts.
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These are only slightly related to my point, but thinking on Syl in WoR made me think of these: 1. All the spren we see for any length are creepy. Wyndle says 'the Ring said we should choose you. How is that not creepy? The Princeton University graduate played the and seasons in the Maple Leafs organization.
He played with the Leafs top farm affiliate in St. John's, Newfoundland. Grand-daughter Gillian Apps has emerged as one of the top female hockey players in the world , winning Olympic and World Championship gold. Syl Apps passed away on Christmas Day, after a long battle with a neurological disorder that doctors were never able to properly diagnos. Upon his death, former Leafs remembered Apps as one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.
He was a great, great man," said Teeder Kennedy. Every Canadian should know the name Syl Apps. This guy was the real deal. But if anybody in this world had the right to think they were a little bit better than anybody else, Syl Apps did. He was one of us. What a man. Post a Comment. Subscribe To Posts Atom. Comments Atom. Thursday Syl Apps.
Posted by Joe Pelletier at PM. Labels: Syl Apps. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. Search This Blog. There is no syllable 'bras' ;- - mcl, Aug 16, But you did combine those syllables very well! There is a syllable above called "bras" but not "bra. Remaining rescued syllables: B R A S? I cannot spend too many 'words' on answering this, for fear of giving another 'word' away ;- - mcl, Aug 16, And also correct!
Well done! I only got this one, because I was looking over your 'virtual' shoulder, and hice trampa un poco.
I feel a bit piggish.. I didn't say you could not play them all ;- I will come up with a new edition later today. Yes, correct ;- - mcl, Aug 16, The complete sentences again. I am so happy, while bunny is whining ;- - mcl, Aug 16, Feed him soon! Oh, what's that? Your bunny looks hungry again