OATHBRINGER IS HERE!
Okay, forgive the shouting, but this day has been long awaited! Actually, that should probably say “this month,” since we hope you all got your copy last week and have had plenty of time to read it by now. Because we have Things To Discuss! Settle in with your spren and your libation of choice, and let’s get to it.
First, we need to note up front that if you have not yet finished reading Oathbringer, you really shouldn’t be here. This post is basically ALL THE SPOILERS, and you just don’t want to learn things that way. Read the book, then come back.
So. After all the hype and the excitement leading up to this release, we are reasonably confident that the vast majority of readers reached the end of the book in a whirl of excitement, somewhat dazzled and bewildered—and maybe a little bit miffed?—by everything that happened, but flying high on adrenaline. Right?
Now we could talk about it all … but with a book this size, a spoiler review could easily get out of hand. Paige and Alice are working in concert here, and we’re going to attempt to focus on just a few aspects: expectations unfulfilled, expectations fulfilled, and surprises. Let’s go!
It’s natural that we went into this third book with a lot of expectations for what would happen—more so than the second book, perhaps, because we felt we had a better idea of where the story ought to go. Which of those expectations were left unfulfilled? Note that this is not the same thing as ‘disappointing’ or ‘bad’ in any way—it’s mostly just things that didn’t happen. Yet.
Oh My Honor, Is That … Shardplate?!
One of the most obvious of the unmet expectations is that not a single one of our Radiants clearly gained their Shardplate. There are hints that Kaladin, Dalinar, and Jasnah all manifested—or began to manifest—their Shardplate, but we don’t get to actually see it.
What we do see is windspren forming around Kaladin as he falls through the sky, and windspren coming together for him to create a windbreak, enabling a bunch of people to reach shelter. Dalinar appears to gain some kind of linear-shaped protection around his arm during the vision in which he meets Venli. And finally, Adolin sees Jasnah with geometric shapes fading around her, just after a soldier is hurled away from her general direction during the Battle of Thaylen City. (Note that we have seen none of Jasnah’s Ideals spoken, so it’s entirely possible that she’s already spoken her Fourth Ideal and attained her Plate…)
We saw a lot of hints at Shardplate, several tantalizing suggestions…but no full-on, ‘Knight Radiant encased in living Shardplate’ scene that we were frothing at the mouth to see. Oh, you weren’t frothing, you say? Must have been someone else. (It was totally me.—Paige)
Fourth Windrunner Ideal… Not
Another thing most of us expected to see was Kaladin gaining the Fourth Windrunner Ideal…and he was this close, but it didn’t happen. We were pretty stunned by that…what did you guys think?
FWIW, after much thought, we came to the conclusion that subverting this particular trope was a good choice on Sanderson’s part; it’s too formulaic to have the same character level up in every book. (I’m still sad, though.—Paige)
All at the same time, it was agonizing to watch him struggle, fun to speculate on the content of the oath, frustrating to see him continually pull back, and really quite glorious to watch the moment when it didn’t matter any more:
She pulled him tight. “Maybe you don’t have to save anyone, Kaladin. Maybe it’s time for someone to save you.”
(I might or might not have cried here… —Alice)
Along the same lines, many of us expected to see Shallan moving on and being more awesome, since she’d clearly faced her nightmare-worthy memories at the end of Words of Radiance. Instead, she went into an even worse downward spiral, which truth be told, was somewhat disturbing.
Her confrontation with Re-Shephir was amazing, but it reflected a truth she didn’t entirely acknowledge: that she didn’t really know who she was, or who she wanted to be. It’s like she knew she was a Lightweaver, but that’s the only part of her identity she had a firm grasp on.
And that was only Part 1: from there, through almost the end of the book, she was deliberately fragmenting herself, creating different personalities to suit different needs, but none of them could suit all of her situations. Instead of the nicely maturing adult we thought we might get, we saw a regression into multiple personalities; some of them show a certain maturity, but some are extremely childish.
If, like us, you found this behavior disturbing and worrisome, then you might have also been moved by this Part 3 scene with Hoid.
Wit stepped over to Shallan, then quietly folded his arms around her. She trembled, then twisted, burying her face in his shirt.
“You’re not a monster, Shallan,” Wit whispered. “Oh, child. The world is monstrous at times, and there are those who would have you believe that you are terrible by association.”
“No. For you see, it flows the other direction. You are not worse for your association with the world, but it is better for its association with you.”
Hoid would let the world burn to accomplish his goals, but we still love him for this kind of thing.
Who Stabbed Sadeas? Who Cares?
One more major expectation that…well, maybe wasn’t exactly unmet, but turned out to be oddly anti-climactic, was the fallout from Adolin killing Sadeas. Standard speculation was that there would be major damage to his psyche, his relationship with Dalinar, Dalinar’s leadership, his relationship with Shallan, or…something.
It certainly seemed that there ought to be massive repercussions of some sort, anyway. And then, there weren’t. He occasionally reflected on it throughout the book, mostly in terms of whether he should be proud or ashamed, but he didn’t regret it for a skinny minute.
When he finally told Shallan, she thought about it and decided that it was fine because the world was a better place without Torol Sadeas in it. (FTR, we tend to agree with her on this one.) Also, she killed her own parents in self-defense, and in defense of her family, so what grounds does she have for thinking Adolin should have done any different?
When he finally told Dalinar, it was more as a supporting argument against being made king than confession of a crime—and Dalinar just sighed and said, “Well, let’s figure out how to spin this.” Of course, by that time House Sadeas had been completely disgraced, their acting Highprince dead, and Ialai slunk off home. There wasn’t anyone left to care much, so it wasn’t nearly as big an issue as it would have been earlier in the book. But that was certainly not what most of us expected to see.
We’re reasonably sure there are other things you thought you’d see in Oathbringer that weren’t there. Share them in the comments!
With that out of the way, which of our expectations actually were fulfilled? And how did they play out in the book as compared to how we thought they might? In that regard, we have a great deal of wonderfulness to discuss. We’ll start with our favorite darkeyed Captain’s homecoming.
Kaladin Goes Home
After the Everstorm hit Roshar at the end of Words of Radiance, we all worried for Hesina and Lirin, Kaladin’s mother and father back in Hearthstone, in northwestern Alethkar. No sooner had our plucky band of Radiants arrived at Urithiru than Kaladin left, determined to fall all the way home to check on and/or protect them. Dalinar allowed him to go because, well, you give allowances to people who save you from certain, splattery death. Also, scouting mission! We didn’t quite know what to expect out there, what with the Everstorm and rabid bands of Voidbringers running amok.
When Kaladin finally arrived in Hearthstone, later than expected due to exhausting his stormlight (express flights ain’t cheap), he found the town empty and razed by the Everstorm. However, he found the citylord’s manor house quite full.
There, he reunited with his parents, who were blessedly alive and well, and largely unchanged since he and Tien had left to join Amaram’s army. Their reunion was incredibly emotional; so much so that it wouldn’t have been unusual for a reader to, say, bawl their storming head off. (Yeah, that was totally me.—Paige)
Kaladin discovered that Roshone was still citylord and had married Laral, the young lighteyed girl who had once caught Kaladin’s interest. We’ll let you discuss the wonderfulness that was Kaladin greeting Roshone in the comments.
One other tear-jerker of a moment was the discovery of a baby brother. Kaladin met little Oroden and… who turned on the waterworks again? Yeesh.
Dalinar’s flashbacks have been highly anticipated; readers have been speculating for years about his visit to the Nightwatcher and the story behind the missing memories of his wife. What was his boon? What was his curse? Well, despite our hunger to know all the things, we didn’t get the information just dropped in our laps. #NOINFODUMPING
Rather, we got a slow reveal, witnessing memories as they began to return to Dalinar. We saw how utterly distasteful he was in his youth, as he and Torol helped Gavilar conquer the Alethi princedoms. We saw the sway that the Thrill held over him, the way it altered him, the way he seemed…addicted to it. We saw what he did to secure Kholin rule and we were surprised, intrigued, disgusted, revolted. Maybe even a little angry. Angry that our beloved, honorable Dalinar, he who traded his priceless Shardblade for a thousand slaves, had been nothing but a bloodthirsty monster.
Part of what made young Dalinar so revolting was how much he enjoyed the slaughter. The way he unknowingly took out his own men under the influence of the Thrill; and the fact that he almost attacked his own brother. We get a different taste of what The Thrill does to people than we saw in the first two books. It is far from pleasant.
We expect we weren’t the only ones disappointed at Dalinar’s indifference toward his wife and his shoddy parenting, as he repeatedly failed to be a good husband and father. Well, to at least be an adequate husband and father. *sigh* Okay, okay…to not be a terrible husband and father.
We came to adore Evi, who through the flashback chapters, was revealed to be quirky, yet gentle and caring. The polar opposite of Dalinar, she supported him while trying to act as his moral compass. Sweet Evi, who instilled such adoration for their warlord father into her sons’ hearts and minds, that they forgave him everything.
Well, everything they knew about.
Finally, Dalinar’s vengeance on the people of The Rift was…utterly horrific. The fact that he roasted his own wife along with the residents of Rathalas was almost not even a shock anymore, after all we’d learned about him up to that point, but it was still despicable. How do you even express that feeling, when you aren’t even surprised, but you’re absolutely outraged? “You are the worst, Dalinar! The absolute worst.” Some of us used a lot of swears, as well. (And they weren’t all in-world swears like Stormfather! either. Trust.—Alice & Paige)
The Nightwatcher & Cultivation
Dalinar drowned his guilt in drink in the years after Evi’s death, eventually seeking relief through the Old Magic after Gavilar’s assassination. He visited the Nightwatcher to ask a boon of her, at any cost. Fans have been waiting for this tidbit since the first hints, earlier in the series. What had he asked for? Was forgetting Evi his boon or his curse?
The way memories of Evi returned to him, a bit at a time, sparked much speculation about why they were returning to him in snippets. What were your theories early on?
As it turned out, the boon Dalinar sought, to both his surprise and ours, was forgiveness. (Sorry, crying again.—Paige) (Hey, share the tissues!!—Alice) ::much passing of tissues::
Possibly due to the unique nature of his request and the fact that the Nightwatcher wasn’t up to the task, Cultivation herself showed up to handle Dalinar’s boon. And what she granted to him was far more intricate than simply forgetting (emphasis ours):
This will be your boon. I will not make of you the man you can become. I will not give you the aptitude, or the strength, nor will I take from you your compulsions.
But I will give you . . . a pruning. A careful excision to let you grow. The cost will be high.
In doing this, I provide for him a weapon. Dangerous, very dangerous. Yet, all things must be cultivated. What I take from you will grow back eventually. This is part of the cost.
It will do me well to have a part of you, even if you ultimately become his. You were always bound to come to me. I control all things that can be grown, nurtured.
That includes the thorns.
So… Cultivation didn’t take away his memories to spare him pain, but to allow him to grow (and hopefully not go Dark Side and join Odium). Then she fed them back to him, a bit at a time.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
(Especially since her approach totally circumvented what Odium thought he was going to pull at the end… HAH! Take that, you foul monster!—Alice) (+1)
The Bermuda (Akinah?) Triangle
While the shipping fans were dramatically divided between the Shalladin and the Shadolin, and a large number were just happy to munch popcorn and watch, it has at last been resolved…but not before things became even more complicated.
Instead of Shallan merely being torn between the differing attractions of Adolin and Kaladin, we ended up with different versions of Shallan fighting over which one was better. We didn’t see this angle in Words of Radiance; just a few hints that she found Kaladin more interesting than she wanted to admit. As Oathbringer developed and Shallan’s personalities became more and more distinct individuals, we started to see that Veil had a serious case of the hots for Kaladin, Original!Shallan (if there is such a thing) was still very much in love with Adolin, and Radiant would only register an opinion of what might be more expedient.
There are a couple of high-impact scenes near the end that bring it out in the open and wrap it up.
One: Shallan and Adolin are on the wall after the big battle, and she’s exhausted. It starts out looking like a nice loving moment between the two, but then Shallan’s personalities start flickering and Adolin can see that something is wrong… and then out of the flutter he identifies Shallan herself. And it is a Beautiful Thing.
Moments later, though, Kaladin comes up on the wall and Veil takes over, sending Adolin off to get a palanquin she doesn’t even want, and it’s terrifying (unless you’re on Team Shalladin). Then, just before she can do something irrevocable, she remembers: Adolin knows me. And it is Beautiful again. (Seriously, that line absolutely melted me into a puddle of happy tears.—Alice)
Two: Later, near the top of the city, we learn that Adolin was aware of at least some of what happened. He comes upon Shallan (who was looking for him) gazing up at Kaladin on a roof nearby. He declares that he’s going to step aside and let Kaladin have Shallan—which got roughly the same reaction from Shallan as it did from the beta readers, and, most likely, a lot of the fans:
“First off, you don’t get to treat me like some kind of prize. You don’t decide who gets me.”
Poor, self-sacrificing Adolin … he was just trying to do what he thought she wanted most. It’s a funny, touching, and ultimately satisfying scene. Shallan admits that she’s got a problem with her multiple personalities, and when she tries to joke about it, his response still brings tears to some people’s eyes (naming no names, of course). ::sniffles, hands Paige a tissue::
“How do you like that, though? Three betrotheds instead of one. Some men drool over the idea of such debauchery. If you wanted, I could be practically anyone.”
“But that’s the thing, Shallan. I don’t want anyone. I want you.”
And they get married and live happily ever after. Right? Right?
… Except that this is Roshar, and the world is a mess, and the Desolation is not over. But they’ll be as happy as anyone can be, given the circs, right?
Many fans were convinced that Renarin was not a Radiant, though some readers refused to entertain such a thought. He named himself a Truthwatcher, but Ivory outs him.
That is a spren of Odium, Ivory said. Corrupted spren. But… a human, bonded to one? This thing is not.
“It is,” Jasnah whispered. “Somehow.”
Despite Renarin seeming to welcome her strike, she did not let it fall. Instead, she embraced her cousin and reassured him that they would figure things out. This scene gives us hope that despite bonding whatever it was that he bonded, Renarin will still fit in on Team Radiant.
But it makes one wonder: if he bonded a voidspren and can be a good guy, could someone bond an honorspren and be a bad guy? It makes one wonder more to recall Renarin’s thoughts on how Glys was corrupted before the bond, which corroborates Ivory’s comment above. Was Sja-Anat responsible for said corruption, since that’s kind of what she does? It’s likely, and could prove interesting if by corrupting voidspren, they are tamed, for lack of a better word.
Squires and Bridge 4
There is so much fist-pumping wonderfulness involved in this story line, we just can’t include it all here. Bottom line, squires can share a Radiant’s powers when in close proximity to said Radiant. And attract the interest of spren. So…a few highlights.
Teft: Oh, our poor, damaged Teft. His addiction, his rejection of his spren, and finally…his emergence as a Radiant of the Third Ideal! What a heart-wrenching oath. Whoa. What a story arc. Typing that sentence and remembering his arrival at the Battle of Thaylen City elicited goosebumps.
Sigzil: Sig is as organized as ever, seeing to the needs of the crew and keeping Kaladin busy. (Personally, I loved that Sanderson addressed logistics by having Sig worry about it. That was cool. –Alice)
Rock: La familia! Oh, our poor hearts. So much happy for our favorite Unkalaki. And heartbreak at the same time, because he still has to cope with what he sees as a broken vow in using a weapon to save Kaladin’s life.
Lopen: Because they’ll lynch us if we don’t highlight the Lopen…and his little naco. Oh, yeah, Lopen does get the award for Most Ridiculous First Ideal. Congrats, gancho.
Skar: He helps everyone, and finally decides that he’s okay with being the helper instead of becoming a squire…and then discovers he’s glowing.
Rlain: Oddly, given the conflict arising in Oathbringer, we get very little of Rlain’s development. He’s still part of Bridge Four, but clearly feeling out as the only one who doesn’t develop squire abilities…and painfully aware that people can’t help feeling it might be just as well he can’t draw Stormlight.
So many more fulfilled expectations, but we can’t deal with them ALL here. Again, use the comments to add on to the list!
In no particular order, here are a few things that maybe caught us off guard. If you saw any of these coming, bragging rights go in the comments. Some first-read reactions to these happenings might have elicited the following:
- feelings of delight or anger
- What the crem?
- Face-Clutching Moment™ (very often)
- NOOO! NONONONO!
- ::inconsolable sobbing::
- WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
- ::things breaking::
- WHAT DID YOU DO BRANDON?
- whooping and hollering and laughing
- and so on
We won’t lie, we loathed Venli when we she showed up in the chasms, searching for Eshonai. Our shock at Venli finding her sister dead was the first of many emotional hits to the feels of readers everywhere. Seriously, some betas still aren’t over that and we’ve known for quite some time, now. (Is me.—Paige)
We had hoped to see Eshonai form a Nahel bond and become Radiant. That dream abruptly died and we spent several interludes angry with Venli for her part in the whole mess. But then…Venli began to change. A spren was following her about (the same one which had been flirting with Eshonai, if you recall), much as Sylphrena had done to Kaladin once upon a highstorm. And we began to hope again.
And we can’t lie, when she spoke the First Ideal of the Knights Radiant and bonded Timbre, there may have been some delighted, tearful laughing and hollers of fist-pumping triumph and joy. (Yeah. I cheered. So?—Paige) (Me too.—Alice)
How does Brandon do that? (Spoiler alert: it’s all of his awesome.—Paige)
Elhokar: Almost Radiant
Remember that time when we said betas weren’t over Eshonai’s death? Oh, to be that innocent again. Now, not all readers will be or have been much distressed at Elhokar’s death, but some of us were devastated.
He wanted to be a hero, like Kaladin. Think on that for a moment: a lighteyed king, aspiring to be more like a darkeyed bridgeman/soldier. That is rather huge, guys. What’s more heart-wrenching is that he was speaking the words. Guys… he was speaking the words and beginning to storming glow! And the absolute worst? He was holding his child in his arms.
#brbcryingforever (+1) (+∞)
Of course, we wondered about the fate of little Gavinor, and after the Battle of Thaylen City, Kaladin departs on a search and rescue mission. Gav wasn’t the only one left behind in the palace at Kholinar. This was another Face-Clutching Moment™, when Kaladin found Skar and Drehy, and little Gav, alive.
(All The Feels. ALL of them.—Alice) (Overwhelming feels.—Paige)
Can we take a moment to appreciate just how fantastic Fen was? We weren’t sure what to expect from her but she very nearly stole every scene in which she appeared, beginning with the one where she’s only present via spanreed. Love this character!
Though it seemed inevitable, it was still a blow to lose the city. But hey…who else was thrilled yet horrified when the Thunderclast showed up? (And how many were convinced that this was going to be the scene from the cover art? And then it wasn’t!)
Honorblade Also Lost
We can’t say we didn’t see this coming, what with B4 walking about with a storming honorblade for all to see. This might be as good a place as any to comment on the fact that Shallan seriously needs to fess up about the Ghostbloods. These secret societies are wreaking all kinds of havoc and Shallan has knowledge that can help Team Radiant counter some of that.
Traitorous, Treacherous Moash
Many beta readers speculated on what appeared to be a redemption arc happening with Moash while he was a prisoner of the Fused. Not all of us felt this way; some, in fact, were inclined to doubt anything Moash said or did, because, hello…traitor. So it was less surprising to the doubters when he allied with the Fused and joined their ranks to teach the transformed Parshmen how to fight.
Less surprising, but no less disappointing.
And, of course, we knew that if the opportunity presented itself, he would try to kill Elhokar. We just had faith that Kaladin wouldn’t allow that to happen. *ahem*
But the poison cherry on top of the spoiled and sour crem-drizzled sundae that was Moash’s story arc, was Jezrien. He murdered Jezrien. We hates it, precious. We. Hates. It.
(Alice worries that Sanderson will give Moash a redemption arc eventually. He keeps taking characters she despises and making them sympathetic before he kills them. She does not want to be made to feel pity for Moash. NOT.) (Never. Never, ever.—Paige)
Second Ideal Fail, Brightlord Brooding-Eyes
“I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.”—Second Ideal of the Windrunners
So, Kaladin is sworn to protect…those who cannot protect themselves. Oh, right…except when his traitorous old friend—who he had once faced, sprenless and wounded, in defense of none other than the spoiled King of Alethkar, and leveled up as a Radiant in the process—pops into the fray to murder the aforementioned king*. In such a situation, Kaladin will just watch the slaughter and fret.
*as he held his child in his arms—GLOWING—and speaking the storming First Ideal. (I will never not be angry about this, FYI.—Paige)
If ever there was an opportune moment for Kaladin to protect those who could not protect themselves, that had been it. That was the one. It could have been more triumphant than when Syl had returned to him in Words of Radiance.
Much disappoint, Brandon … erm, Kaladin.
Jasnah: Brilliant, Yet Scary
We already knew that she was both, of course, but seeing her fight during the Battle of Thaylen City really kicked up her Radiant Awesome Factor™ (which is totally a thing that Paige just made up). She is quite well-practiced with her Radiant abilities and holy wow, we would not want to cross that woman.
Add to that the fact that she was 100% okay with striking down Renarin, and her scary factor increases. We propose that she would have dispatched Amaram in a Kharbranthian minute.
Ohhh… You Meant ‘Unite The REALMS’
We expected to see the old Blackthorn. We expected to see his visit to the Nightwatcher. We expected to see him display some super-cool Bondsmith abilities, as when he repaired Taln’s temple in Thaylen City.
We may even have expected to see him speak another Ideal. (Hello, Shardplate!)
What we did not expect to see was him uniting the three storming Realms in a column of swirling gloryspren. Just wow, the visual on that! We seriously need some art depicting this scene. Please, oh please.
But what made that scene so glorious was the lead-in: Dalinar, groomed by Odium and addicted to the Thrill. Dalinar, remembering all the horrible things he’d done under its influence. Dalinar, pushed to place the blame for it all on Odium, to accept Odium as his master. Dalinar, crumpled on the ground, hearing Evi weeping, knowing his abject failure.
Inside his fist, he somehow found a golden sphere. A solitary gloryspren.
The most important step a man can take. It’s not the first one, is it?
It’s the next one. Always the next step, Dalinar.
Trembling, bleeding, agonized, Dalinar forced air into his lungs and spoke a single ragged sentence.
“You cannot have my pain.”
Okay, just rereading this sequence elicits tears again. This was gorgeous.
::passes around the tissue box::
And then he goes on, fighting back against Odium’s continued attempts. He takes the responsibility for his own actions and receives Evi’s forgiveness; he brings the Realms together (“I am Unity.”) and forms Honor’s Perpendicularity, which both provided a way home for the Shadesmar wanderers, and supplied enough Stormlight to do what needed to be done next.
For a few minutes, at least, Dalinar seems to Ascend, and Odium’s reaction is quite interesting:
“No!” Odium screamed. He stepped forward. “No, we killed you. WE KILLED YOU!”
Wait… who’s ‘we’? And who’s ‘you’? Did Dalinar desplinter Honor? Or is it bigger than that? Tell us your thoughts!
What’s truly surprising about Dalinar’s Unity is that the Stormfather is stunned by what Dalinar has done, and by the fact that he has infused spheres with Stormlight. It probably goes without saying that anything that wows the Stormfather should probably wow us, too.
And, of course, Dalinar begins writing the in-world book, Oathbringer. Who called it?
Oh Hai, Vivenna
Many beta readers celebrated when we discovered Highmarshal Azure commanding the Wall Guard in Kholinar. To be brief, because that’s how we roll, she is hunting someone who brought a black sword that bleeds smoke to this world. Sounds familiar…we’re sure we’ve seen something like that before. Azure carries a sprenless Shardblade, which is very interesting. She also gets stuck with Kaladin, Shallan, and Adolin in Shadesmar. (Must… not… fangirl… —Alice)
Tiny, But Awesome
Oh, our little Lift. She is something. From her comment about not trusting old guys with tight butts to her unquestioning alliance with Dalinar at the Battle of Thaylen City, this little Radiant continues to surprise and delight. We know we weren’t the only ones who rejoiced when she stepped up beside Dalinar and said, “So…what’s the plan?”
Please to wax poetic on her unwavering awesome in the comments.
A Scout Becomes a Squire
As some of you are aware, Lyn is the tuckerization of author, beta reader, and Tor.com blogger Lyndsey Luther. Introduced as a Kholin scout in Words of Radiance, it was a delight to the beta readers to see her return. Her disappointment at Shallan’s reassurance that a Knight Radiant could still be a proper Vorin lady elicited gales of laughter; Kaladin’s invitation to join Bridge Four —WHOOP— as a scribe —BOOO— turned down —::sniffle::— but then changed to a genuine tryout —WHOOOOOOP!!— got all the reactions. That moment when she decided to keep trying instead of giving up, because she wanted to help instead of waiting for things to happen…and then she finally drew in the Stormlight? Yeah, there was so much fist-pumping and hollering all across the continent. It was pretty cool, y’all. And so very suitable to both the RL Lyn and the in-book Lyn.
Truthless No Longer
We knew that Szeth and his mostly reattached soul had taken up with Nale, whose Skybreakers appear to be an intact order of Radiants, despite the fact that Nale is nutty as a fruitcake. We expected him to bond a spren and some of us were tickled that he landed a spren to grant him Gravitation (Kaladin will just have to play nice and share the sky), but Szeth surprised us enough to warrant mention here.
When given the choice of how to swear his vow, he did not choose to swear to Nale or to the order, not to justice or vengeance. No…he chose to swear to Dalinar.
Aaand he made such an entrance in a scene that he dethroned Kaladin as the previous holder of the coveted Best Scene-Crasher award. EPIC.
To Eat The Unmade
Amaram, guys. Just wow. Discuss, if you please; there is just too much!
Part 4 saw our refugees from the Battle of Kholinar stuck in Shadesmar, unable to return through the corrupted Oathgate. Time to walk, guys.
Okay, you’ve got to admit that Shadesmar is cool. And for our characters to spend the entirety of Part 4 there, looking for a way back, was definitely surprising. But it was sorta fun, in a ‘mad dash to avoid the Fused, escape, and save the world’ kind of way, to get a taste of that Realm: to see the spren as they truly are; to learn about their culture; to meet the dead spren of Adolin’s sword (fangirl flailing over Maya! It’s a right dance party up in here!); to find out that Syl, The Ancient Daughter, has a bounty on her head…wut?
A lot…like, a LOT happened here but we’ll let you talk about it in the comments.
Thus far in the series, all we’ve seen of Shalash, Herald of Beauty and patron of Lightweavers, is her obsession to destroy her likeness all over Roshar. But Oathbringer I-8, Mem, features Mraize telling her where she can find Taln. We don’t see her again until the Battle of Thaylen City when she busts Taln out of Amaram’s war camp.
He regains his wits and asks her how long it’s been. She tells him that it’s been four millennia and he reacts in a completely unexpected way.
“Ash.” he took her hand again. “What a wonderful thing.”
Wonderful? “We left you, Taln.”
“What a gift you gave them! Time to recover, for once, between Desolations. Time to progress. They never had a chance before. But this time … yes, maybe they do.”
“No, Taln. You can’t be like this.”
“A wonderful thing indeed, Ash.”
“You can’t be like this Taln. You have to hate me! Hate me, please.”
And with that short exchange, we instantly loved these characters. (How does he do that?—Alice) (Definitely all the awesome.—Paige)
Speaking of Heralds, did we ever get a surprising amount of information about the Oathpact! That was…painful, actually. They volunteered—went to Honor to offer themselves to stand between humanity and the angry spirits of the Singers. They failed, but…it’s hard to imagine not failing that kind of a bargain. And they did it, anyway.
Until they couldn’t bear to do it any longer and abandoned Taln to carry the burden alone. Which was also both heartbreaking and awesome, because Taln was the only one, in all those centuries, who had never been the one to break. How agonizingly perfect.
The Recreance Revelation
Beware the otherworlders. The traitors. Those with tongues of sweetness, but with minds that lust for blood. Do not take them in. Do not give them succor. Well were they named Voidbringers, for they brought the void. The empty pit that sucks in emotion. A new god. Their god. —From the Eila Stele
So, as it turns out…humans are the storming Voidbringers.
Some of you may have seen this coming, but not everybody did, and it was a Stormfather-sized fist to the gut. It was no wonder that, once they learned they were slaughtering a people who only wanted to preserve their world and their freedom, the Knights Radiant all said, “Umm, nope,” and gave up their blades.
Of course, they killed a ton of spren in the process, which is very not cool. But think on how distraught and horrified they must have been at learning the truth: that they themselves were the abomination they thought they’d been battling.
Were you surprised by this revelation, readers, or did you see it coming? We were so torn about how to reference the reveal that we had to discuss it.
Alice: I’ve seen a lot of responses that matched my initial thought on this: Wow, that’s bad. But…it’s not that bad, is it? Really? To destroy their spren and everything?
Paige: If the Radiants knew that they would kill their spren—and they had to have known—then yeah, kinda bad.
Alice: It seems like an overreaction to something that had happened millennia ago.
Paige: Maybe…but MY horror stemmed from the fact that they’ve demonized the ‘Voidbringers’ so much, and then attached the ugliness of their legends to the listeners/Parshendi. When in actuality, THEY were the monsters who invaded and tried to destroy an entire people. I thought of it in that respect: what if I learned that I was the awful murderous boogeyman I’d feared for so long? What would that do to me? What did it do to them, to learn that THEY were the bad guys?
Alice: That’s a good point. And if they decided that the spren were complicit in the whole thing by their choice to abandon the Singers and bond to the humans, there’s a certain justification to say that the spren deserved it, too.
Alice: By now, though, I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t more to the story than we know yet. Did the humans intentionally bring their god Odium along, or were they fleeing him, and in their flight, opened the way for him to follow? Does it have to be humans against Singers? Could it ever be all-the-sapient-peoples against Odium?
Paige: From your mouth to Honor’s ear. Let’s hope they can get there.
Okay, We’re Done (for now)
If you stuck around, wow…we’re impressed. (Truly.—Paige)
So, was there something you wanted or expected to happen that wasn’t listed here? What surprised you during the course of this book, and what did not?
Would you like to talk about: Shallan’s brothers; the wedding (either); no scores of Radiants entering stage right; the fact that Taravangian is still alive (growl) and now actively allied with Odium; Interludes; Navani’s wonderfulness; anything else?
Are you geeking out over the epigraphs? Because we didn’t even mention the epigraphs. Ain’t nobody got time for that, did you SEE how huge this article was?
Let us know your spoilerific thoughts in the comments!
And keep an eye out for a future discussion, wherein we will muse on the questions left by—or posed by—Oathbringer, speculate on the answers, and consider our expectations for Book 4.
Alice Arneson is a beta reader and re-reader of any Sanderson work she can get her hands on. She is delighted to have these opportunities to share her excitement and her love of all things Cosmere with you, and hopes you’ll stay for the discussion. She lives in Brier, WA, which is a very small town north of Seattle.
Paige Vest spends her ~41 minutes of leisure time a day writing for flash fiction competitions and working on several trunk novels. She’s equally fanatical about reading fantasy and watching Yankees baseball. She lives in Truth or Consequences, NM, which is a real, weird place.