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|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
Harth is a swordsman from Alethkar on Roshar. He was Dalinar Kholin's first sword trainer.
Dalinar's father hired Harth to train a young Dalinar in swordsmanship. The Kholin family was not particularly powerful at the time, and had to settle for Harth even though he was young and not recognized as a true swordmaster. He came from "a few towns over" to train Dalinar. Dalinar believes that Harth had a reasonable level of skill for someone of his standing.
Dalinar tells Kadash a tale of Harth insisting that he tie his takama in a specific way, the same way that Harth's master and his master's master had always demanded. Dalinar seeks out the originator of this rule, an old ardent in Kholinar, and realizes that he only tied it that way because he was so short. Dalinar uses this tale to argue that blindly following tradition does not make it worthy.
Tradition? Kadash, did I ever tell you about my first sword trainer?
Back when I was young, our branch of the Kholin family didn't have grand monasteries and beautiful practice grounds. My father found a teacher for me from two towns over. His name was Harth. Young fellow, not a true swordmaster -- but good enough.
He was very focused on proper procedure, and wouldn't let me train until I'd learned how to put on a takama the right way. He wouldn't have stood for me fighting like this. You put on the skirt, then the overshirt, then you wrap your cloth belt around yourself three times and tie it.
I always found that annoying. The belt was too tight, wrapped three times -- you had to pull it hard to get enough slack to tie the knot. The first time I went to duels at a neighboring town, I felt like an idiot. Everyone else had long drooping belt ends at the front of their takamas.
I asked Harth why we did it differently. He said it was the right way, the true way. So, when my travels took me to Harth's hometown, I searched out his master, a man who had trained with the ardents in Kholinar. He insisted that this was the right way to tie a takama, as he'd learned from his master.
I found my master's master's master in Kholinar after we captured it. The ancient, wizened ardent was eating curry and flatbread, completely uncaring of who ruled the city. I asked him. Why tie your belt three times, when everyone else thinks you should do it twice?
The old man laughed and stood up. I was shocked to see that he was terribly short. 'If I only tie it twice,' he exclaimed, 'the ends hang down so low, I trip!'
I love tradition, I've fought for tradition. I make my men follow the codes. I uphold Vorin virtues. But merely being tradition does not make something worthy, Kadash. We can't just assume that because something is old it is right.