After Oathbringer: Speculations, Theories, and Expectations for Brandon Sanderson’s Next Stormlight Archive Book

and

Oathbringer is here and has been devoured by most of us (probably multiple times, by some of you). We discussed in the spoiler article which of our expectations were met and which were not … as well as a few things that surprised us.

But it’s too early to start speculating on what might happen in book 4, right? Hahahahaha! It’s never too early to speculate, guys. NEVER. So let’s get on with it, yes?

And maybe you’ll see mention of some things that we intentionally didn’t cover in the spoiler article. Uh-huh … we saw the chastisements. Oh, ye of little faith. *tsk*

 

The State of The Heralds

Jezrien, by Howard Lyon

Jezrien is dead. Maybe.

(Grumbles not-nice things about Moash and the Fused, especially Moash. —Alice)

(Grumbles super-offensive, vulgar things about Moash and the Fused … especially Moash. —Paige)

We’ve been seeing suggestions that Jezrien is actually trapped in the gem on Moash’s knife/dagger/whatever-nasty-thing-it-was-that-they-gave-him-to-do-the-deed.

(I … don’t know what to think about that idea. —Alice)

(I can’t hold out hope, just as I couldn’t with Elhokar. #sadface —Paige)

Shalash, by Dan Dos Santos

Ash and Taln are with Team Radiant and let’s hope they stay there.

Taln was obviously drawn to Dalinar but will he lapse back into delirium with the loss of Jezrien, or will he remain and convince Ash to stay?

Nale is presumably going to ally his Skybreakers with the Fused. That should be fun! #sarcasm

Ishar is insane, and seeks his own death, according to the Stormfather. He’s playing god-priest or cosplaying Mistborn or something. Will we get a big-boss showdown with him and Team Radiant at the end of book 4?

Ishi, by Dan Dos Santos

(I’m jonesing for a sane Taln to confront him … pleaseohplease. —Paige)

(Can I come watch this? Would love …. —Alice)

And that’s half of our Heralds. But what of Chanarach, Vedel, and Pailiah? Where are Battar and Kalak? Hopefully, we’ll learn more of the others when next we visit Roshar. Kalak was hanging out with Nale, but apparently not any more, so where is he now? Pailiah has been seen in Kharbranth, and Taravangian thinks his ardent Dova may be Battar, but we didn’t see her in Oathbringer.

Vedel, by Howard Lyon

(I have a theory that Chana was disguised as Liss the assassin, but no proof for this other than Peter confirming that she’s been seen on screen interacting with at least one person. Buh. I also think that Taravangian is wrong and Dova is actually Vedel. But if that’s the case, where’s Battar? —Alice)

What are your thoughts on possible locations, on-screen appearances, and/or identities of the other Heralds, Sanderfans?

What Of The Unmade, Slivers Of Odium?

Re-Shepir, a.k.a. the Midnight Mother has fled Urithiru. Unfortunately, she is not defeated and we’ll likely see her again. She’s skeery and will be even skeerier once she’s spent some time back in the world and starts creating deadlier critters.

Ashertmarn, the Heart of the Revel who corrupted all of Kholinar, beat feet out of Kholinar (for reasons even Shallan can’t fathom), presumably for someplace with no Radiants. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of Radiant-free space on Roshar at present.

Hessi’s Mythica art, by Miranda Meeks

Nergaoul has been captured and imprisoned in the King’s Drop by Dalinar, and so the Thrill is contained for the nonce. (This actually makes me believe that Team Radiant will eventually capture all of the Unmade and maybe remake them? Or … wait for it … unite them?—Paige) (Oooooh. I’d like that, if they can be remade as not-Odium-things.—Alice)

Sja-Anat, the Taker of Secrets, has corrupted the spren of the Kholinar Oathgate and tried to sweet-talk Shallan. Do we trust her? Yeah, no … we do not. Well, maybe some of you do, let us know your thoughts on that sitch. (I have faint and loosely-held wishes that maybe she’ll turn …. —Alice) (Perhaps she’ll assist Team Radiant with the above-mentioned capture and remaking/unification possibility!—Paige)

Yelig-Nar, the Blightwind. Well, Amaram ate him and turned into … whatever that was. Rock took him/it out with a Shardbow (which was totes cool) and the Unmade fled.

Amaram’s red eyes faded as he died, and Kaladin had the distinct impression of a dark smoke escaping his corpse.

Can these creepy beings even be destroyed? Or perhaps they need to be united?

That makes five of nine Unmade that we’ve met. What of Moelach or Dai-gonarthis, the Black Fisher? Two more Unmade remain unnamed (say that five times, fast) and, as far as we know, unseen.

EDIT: We do have those other two names, thanks to the epigraphs: Chemoarish (the Dustmother) and Ba-Ado-Mishram … but still, so far as we know, we have not yet seen them or their effects. Also, it’s not 100% certain that Dai-gonarthis is one of the Unmade, but we tentatively assume so—and again, we have not yet seen him in action or effect. (Thanks for the catch, WieryWriter! We’re still catching up with the differences between the beta and the final version.—AA)

Is a ‘Dun-dun-DUNNNN’ appropriate here? We do believe it is.

 

Taravangian the Traitor

So Taravangian outed himself to Dalinar, admitting that he’d hired the Assassin in White after Gavilar’s assassination … and Dalinar didn’t kick him bodily out of the coalition. (side-eye for Dalinar) And then the old sneak allied with Odium himself, making a deal to save a portion of the population of Karbranth. Lovely.

Some of us kind of get that King T is trying to save some semblance of humanity and understand his previous actions toward that end. Some people may even be okay with his deal with Odium, because hey … he is saving lives. (*grumpy cat ‘NO!’ —Paige) While others feel that everything he’s done to this point is despicable and unforgivable because his means don’t justify the uncertain end, because really, who trusts Odium to keep to the bargain?

What do you expect to happen with this messy Diagram situation, readers?

 

Hoid Cryptically Rescues Elhokar’s Cryptic

There was a lot of hope during the beta read that Elhokar wasn’t really dead. That he’d gotten out the First Ideal and had been able to heal himself. However, with the appearance of Elhokar’s Shardblade, and then Hoid visiting the palace in Kholinar and absconding with Elhokar’s Cryptic, Brandon seems to have put that theory to bed.

But why did he seek out the poor, confused little scribble, and does he intend to speak the words? Was he simply acting to rescue a Cryptic from Sja-Anat’s corruption? Or was he collecting the spren for someone else? Well, this being Hoid, there’s really no telling, is there? (I ask more questions than I answer … #sorrynotsorry —Paige)

While Hoid can already access a number of magic systems from across the Cosmere, including a form of Lightweaving, there are several really good reasons he might want to join Team Radiant:

  • It takes a live Shardblade or an Honorblade to use the Oathgates. And it seems that only a live Shardblade can unlock one.
  • Lightweavers don’t just get access to Illumination. There’s Transformation, too.
  • A magic, cuts-anything insta-weapon is never shabby. Plate would be the icing on the cake.

And what’s with his vow to be where he’s needed? Is he like the guy from Quantum Leap who gets sucked into a new place and then has to figure out why he’s there? (Please be that. —Paige)

 

Shardplate Teases

Does Jasnah already have Plate? At least one order gets it with their Fourth Ideal, according to an epigraph. Is that true for all? If Nale has sworn the Fifth, why don’t we ever see it from him? Did he merely never feel threatened?

Jasnah

A soldier with red eyes suddenly hurtled through the air overhead. Adolin ducked, worried about Fused, but it was an ordinary soldier. The unfortunate man crashed into a rooftop. What on Roshar?

As they approached the end of the alleyway, another body smashed into the wall right by the opening. Gripping his Shardblade, Adolin peeked around the corner, expecting to find another stone monster like the one that had climbed into the Ancient Ward.

Instead, he found only Jasnah Kholin, looking completely nonplussed. A glow faded around her, different from the smoke of her Stormlight. Like geometric shapes outlining her …

All right then. Jasnah didn’t need help.

So, Jasnah can poof around using Transportation, and transform matter with Soulcasting, but none of that explains how she’d toss one dude on a roof, and punt another half a block. What Radiant power exists that might? Shardplate, baby. (YASSS!! *insert Caesar Flickerman laugh*—Paige) Jasnah also has several years’ practical Radiant experience on most of our main characters, so it’s completely possible she’s already attained the Fourth, or even the Fifth Ideal. If she has, though, why would she keep that information to herself? Other than the fact that it’s a very Jasnah-ish thing to do? (I know something you don’t know!—Jasnah, probably)

Kaladin

Syl spun around him as a ribbon of light, creating a spiral of glowing lines.

Now, this is precious little to go by, but any mention of glowing lines around a surgebinder in this book got us all giddy with the expectation of seeing Shardplate. Then there was this tidbit:

A hundred windspren spun in as lines of light, twisting around his arm, wrapping it like ribbons. They surged with Light, then exploded outward in a blinding sheet, sweeping to Kaladin’s sides and parting the winds around him. a pocket in the storm, creating a calm wake behind him. The storm raged against him, but he held the point in a formation of windspren that spread from him like wings, diverting the storm.

This is not indicative of Plate, necessarily, but Kaladin did something with those windspren and used them to deflect the storm for a time. That was definitely a WOW! moment. Just ask Syl:

Wow, Syl said in his mind. What did you just do? With the storm?

Dalinar

Above, the man in the blue uniform leaped into the chasm. He fell beside the hole’s perimeter, and stretched one hand toward Venli. His other ground against the rock wall, hand scraping the stone. Something flashed around his arm. Lines of light, a framework that covered his body. His fingers didn’t bleed as they scraped the stone.

Was that not Plate forming around Dalinar’s arm, friends? You bet your tight butt, it was. *praise hands* Hopefully, we’ll get to see Dalinar in his full, living Shardplate glory in book 4.

 

The Fourth Windrunner Ideal

What is the Ideal Kaladin was unprepared to speak?

My spren claims that recording this will be good for me, so here I go. Everyone says I will swear the Fourth Ideal soon, and in so doing, earn my armor. I simply don’t think that I can. Am I not supposed to want to help people? —From drawer 10-12, sapphire

The epigraphs in Part 3 all seem to be recorded on stones that match up to their Orders, so this one is from a Windrunner. What does the last sentence mean? The Second and Third Windrunner Ideals focus on protecting others, even those you hate. To me, this is evidence of a Fourth Ideal that acts to limit the people to whom a Windrunner’s protection should apply.

It’s also interesting to note that Kaladin was unable to swear the Fourth Ideal in a situation where he’d risked a number of lives in an attempt to protect Dalinar, who had plainly ordered him not to.

Thus, Alice’s best current guess at the Fourth Windrunner Ideal is: “I will not protect those who do not desire it. I will respect others’ choices.” (Did I say that? Wow. I’m smarter than I thought. —Alice)

Paige leans toward something along the lines of: “I will accept that I am not always able to protect everyone, and forgive myself for my failures.” Or something. (Don’t judge me, it’s a work-in-progress theory that’s subject to change. —Paige)

 

What Did The Old Magic Do To Lift?

How did our favorite, awesome little Radiant enter Dalinar’s vision and then pop Gawx out? When will we learn of her boon and curse? Because we know her boon isn’t quite going as she thought it would. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Cultivation has touched her, rather than the Nightwatcher.

The Stormfather rumbled in frustration. That woman! This is a creation specifically meant to defy my will!

“Woman?” Dalinar asked, shaking his head.

That child is tainted by the Nightwatcher.

“Technically, so am I.”

This is different. This is unnatural. She goes too far.

Stormfather is genuinely upset by this occurrence. Does he know something more about Lift’s experience with the old magic that he’s not sharing with the class? Surely he knew that Dalinar had been touched by Cultivation herself, and not merely the Nightwatcher.

Let’s look at Lift’s chat with Dalinar in Azir:

Lift cocked her head. “Huh. You smell like her.”

“Her?”

“The crazy spren who lives in the forest.”

“You’ve met the Nightwatcher?”

“Yeah … you?”

He nodded.

Of course, we now know that while Dalinar did indeed meet the Nightwatcher, she wasn’t the one who pruned his memories. That was done by Cultivation. So it stands to reason that Lift recognizes Cultivation’s smell on Dalinar because she has also been touched by her. Altered by her. What did Cultivation do to her? (Sometimes, RAFO is the debil.—Paige) Let us know all of your Lift theories in the comments.

Oh, yes—can’t forget to mention that Lift and Szeth are a fantastic team.

 

Dalinar is … Unity?

Odium had plans for Dalinar to become his champion but thanks to Cultivation’s clever pruning, Dalinar is stronger than even Odium believes. Dalinar resists him and … ascends?

“I am Unity.”

He slammed both hands together. And combined three realms into one.

“No!” Odium screamed. He stepped forward. “No, we killed you. WE KILLED YOU!”

Dalinar stood within a pillar of light and spinning gloryspren, one hand to each side, clutching the realms that made up reality.

Forgiven. The pain he’d so recently insisted that he would keep started to fade away on its own.

These Words … are accepted, the Stormfather said, sounding stunned. How? What have you done?

Okay, a couple of things here right off the bat: Stormfather accepted the words, so was Dalinar’s proclamation an Ideal? Also, who is the “we” that killed “you”—and who is “you” again? We have a Word of Brandon that while Odium has some kind of alliance with Bavadin/Autonomy, he also has other allies. Other Shards? Other powerful groups or individuals? We don’t know, but Alice believes that’s who the “we” represents, as opposed to merely Odium, the Unmade, and/or the Parsh ancestors. Some have speculated that Cultivation herself may be one of these allies; what do you think?

We discussed this in the spoiler article but we feel it deserves additional speculation. People are theorizing right and left about who or what Unity was and what this possible ascension means for Dalinar. Was Unity a Shard? Is Dalinar supposed to restore Honor? Or maybe Adonalsium? Tell us your theories in the comments.

 

Will The Real Shallan Davar Please Stand Up?

So a lot of readers hate Shallan’s story arc in Oathbringer. Her fractured identity was a bit much for some. During the beta read, we were mostly just super worried about her as she worsened, so it’s slightly off-putting to see so many horribly negative comments about how annoying or tiresome she was.

Granted, it’s understandable how bizarre her condition might seem and how uncomfortable it is to read about it. One shouldn’t expect her lifelong-trauma-induced mental illness to just disappear after a heart-to-heart with Wit, however. Her disorder may take a very long time to heal completely, if ever. But regardless, Adolin will be very good for her as she journeys toward her destination of becoming a whole person.

Whatever the consensus on issues such as this, Kaladin’s depression, and Teft’s addiction, it’s plain to see that Brandon is extraordinary at writing about the suffering of his characters.

How did you feel about Shallan’s Dissociative Identity Disorder and what do you expect from her in the future?

 

Wake Up, Little Maya, Wake Up

Hey—we left this out of the spoiler article on purpose, because everything we wanted to say included too much guessing and wondering. So, let’s talk about it, yes?

Speculation is all over the place with Adolin and his dead sword. Well, his mostly dead sword. He met Mayalaran in Shadesmar and she was a very disconcerting deadeye spren. Happily, she seemed to warm to him while they journeyed to Thaylen City.

Then she protected him by attacking a Fused.

Then she communicated her name to him.

Then it only took seven heartbeats for him to summon her as a Blade during the Battle of Thaylen City. SEVEN!

It seems evident that Maya will eventually waken, but what does that mean for Adolin? Perhaps he’s not yet broken enough to form a Nahel bond. (Not yet, IMO.—Paige) (I don’t think we know enough about what “broken” looks like to say who is or isn’t adequately broken.—Alice)

But when he learns the truth of his mother’s death, will that do the trick? Is it even possible, as we’ve seen people discussing, that Adolin could wield Maya as a living Shardblade without forming a bond and becoming Radiant? WE MUST KNOW!

(I certainly hope not; I want to see Adolin as an Edgedancer … he remembers those who have been forgotten. *heart eyes*—Paige) (As much as I’d adore seeing Adolin as an Edgedancer, I’d also really love to see him and Maya become something new and unique. ‘Twould be coolness.—Alice)

What do you see happening with Adolin and Maya, Sanderfans? Tell us all of your theories!

 

Liar or Truthwatcher?

Ivory outs Glys to Jasnah as a corrupted spren who should not be bonded to Renarin.

A spren is, Ivory said. The wrong spren is.

Renarin Kholin was a liar. He was no Truthwatcher.

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.”

So Renarin bonded a corrupted voidspren? We’re leaning toward the theory that Glys was corrupted by Sja-anat, because that’s kind of what she does. And somehow, the corruption made Glys a good guy? Alternatively, Glys was originally a normal Truthwatcher-type spren, corrupted by Sja-anat, but not really of Odium because Sja-anat isn’t interested in turning them any longer and didn’t do the job properly? Still, how is it that Renarin has access to Truthwatcher surges if he’s not a legit Truthwatcher. Is it because of the corruption? Or is voidspren-Glys a cousin to the high spren who would create a Truthwatcher Radiant?

What do you think, Sanderfans? What is the deal here, and do you trust Renarin and Glys to stay true to Team Radiant?

 

Listeners, Radiants

Venli has progressed quite far along her redemption arc and we have great hope for her in book 4. Said hope relates both to her place on Team Radiant, and what we expect will be her mission of freeing her people from Odium’s influence. How might she do the latter, do you think?

Additionally, we are nigh frothing at the mouth to see Rlain speak the words. His abbreviated appearance in Oathbringer was frustrating for a great many readers (Team Beta included) and needless to say, we anticipate more Rlain in book 4. (And Thude …?)

Again … more Rlain in book 4. KTHXBAI!

 

Vivenna, Vasher, and Nightblood, Oh My!

We knew that Vasher and Nightblood had made their ways to Roshar, though they’re no longer together. Now Vivenna shows up with a shiny new-to-us sword, calling herself Azure and hunting Vasher. The band broke up, but why? What’s going on with these three?

Hopefully, we’ll get more info on the trio from Nalthis in the next installment of the Archive. In the meantime, talk to us about what you think happened to the Dream Team pre-Worldhop?

 

Chiri-Chiri, Eater of Stormlight

There you go. We mentioned her … happy? Just kidding, we adore her, too! And we want to know more about her and her fully awesome ability to drain scary Fused of their Stormlight. We also want to know if she’s just going to keep getting bigger as she does so. Maybe Rysn will be able to ride her one day. (I’m kidding. Mostly. —Paige) But …

The Reshi named her a larkin, and though she was the size of a large cremling, she had the snout, carapace, and build of a creature far more grand.

Mmm-hmm …. (pointed look).

We know that Rysn is okay after the attack in the vault, who thinks she might attract a spren and heal? Or not, and sail to the Origin? But if we’re being serious, Chiri-Chiri would be a valuable resource when battling Fused. Show your love for our little larkin in the comments.

 

Shadesmar

So what did you think of Shadesmar? Spren cities and cultures, a captain with a missing daughter (Timbre, anyone?), honorspren locking up Syl … all kinds of interesting stuff happened to Kaladin and Company while they were in this realm. Do you think we’ll revisit this unusual place?

 

The Sea of Lost Lights, by Isaac Stewart

Shadesmar Spren, by Ben McSweeney

 

Can Navani Jumpstart Urithiru, Already?

As it turns out, Alice has a theory. (A fairly awesome theory! —Paige) Take it away, Alice!


I have a whole bunch of theories, actually, which could hang together nicely but aren’t really dependent on one another. And it all has to do with Urithiru and the Bondsmiths.

There are, by all accounts, three spren capable of forming a Bondsmith bond. One is obviously the Stormfather, and the second is implied to be the Nightwatcher. When Dalinar presses the Stormfather about “other spren like you, or the Nightwatcher? Spren that are shadows of gods?” he admits this much:

Urithiru, by Ben McSweeney

There is … a third sibling. They are not with us.

“In hiding?”

No. Slumbering.

“Tell me more.”

No.

“But—”

No! Leave them alone. You hurt them enough.

It’s worth noting that the term sibling (or elsewhere, Sibling) is always used in the singular, implying one entity, but the pronoun the Stormfather uses is plural. Is this to indicate a “not male nor female” entity, or to indicate an entity which exists in multiple … beings? It could be either, but I’m going to go with the latter.

We know that the Nightwatcher is to Cultivation what the Stormfather is to Honor (except that now Honor is splintered). The Unmade, collectively, have something of the same relationship to Odium—or at least that’s what I understood to be the case.

Detour time: For something to be Unmade, did it once exist as something else? It’s possible that “Unmade” has a different meaning altogether, but I’m going with what Sja-anat told Shallan: “We were made, then unmade …” They were something, and then they were unmade, becoming aspects of Odium.

So here’s the theory, including some leaps I could explain but won’t, because something-something brevity: I propose that the Sibling originally existed as the spren of the land, as Nightwatcher was the spren of life/living/growing things and Stormfather was the spren of the highstorms. As spren of the land, the Sibling had many aspects—the mountains, the plains, the rocks, all that geography out there, and was thus Many as well as One. When Odium reached Roshar, he may or may not have attempted to attach himself to this Many-spren.

Where do the Unmade come from? It is possible that Odium was eventually able to “unmake” some of these spren-aspects, co-opting them for his own purposes. Another very disturbing possibility is that the Unmade were originally Bondsmiths who were unaware of Odium’s attempt to attach to the Sibling, and were therefore vulnerable to his corruption.

In either of those cases, the Sibling may have chosen to withdraw in order to diminish Odium’s power, whether by making themself inaccessible to further attempts, or by removing their corrupted self.

They may even have done so as part of the process of imprisoning Odium. How wild would that be?—the Sibling lets itself be made a Splinter of Odium, then goes into a deep coma so that power can’t be used or removed.

Okay, to recap: the Sibling is the spren of the land, and the Unmade are pieces of them (or former Bondsmiths) who were twisted by Odium to his own purposes.

Moving on, it seems highly probable that the Sibling is needed to make Urithiru function. The epigraphs hint that the tower once had an artificially elevated temperature and pressure, as well as all other things needful to make the plumbing, gardening, lighting, etc. function to support independent life. It may or may not have been necessary for the Sibling to be bonded in the past; they may have simply loved the Knights Radiant well enough to keep the city going with or without a bond. In the present time, though, the Sibling would have to be reawakened, and I suspect bonded, in order to activate the tower’s functionality. I could be wrong, but if anyone is to do it, I think Navani is a prime candidate. Symmetry might be better served by her bonding with the Nightwatcher, but as an engineer (even if only wannabe), the Sibling seems a perfect match. (I know, I know, too many Kholins are Radiants, blah blah blah. Who else would fit so well, though? Well, okay. Rushu would be equally perfect.)

TL;DR—The Sibling is the spren of the land, the Unmade are pieces torn from the Sibling and twisted by Odium, the Sibling is the only one who can power Urithiru, and they will be bonded by either Navani or Rushu.

One more thing, back to the tower of Urithiru itself … my personal belief at this time is that it was built, or rather shaped, by Stonewards. Probably they worked in conjunction with other Orders, especially a Bondsmith, to get all the details working, but the way things are described was eerily similar to what the Stoneward did in Dalinar’s vision when he climbed up the cliff and made a ladder down for Dalinar & Co.


(Toldja it was awesome.—Paige)

What do you all think of Alice’s theory? Agree, disagree, and share your own thoughts in the comments!

 

And That’s About Enough of That

We’re just kidding. Is it ever enough, really? (Spoiler alert: no, it is not.—Alice & Paige)

Be sure to tell us your thoughts, your hopes, your theories, your demands (HAHAHAHA!!) in the comments. Tell us what we missed (because we know you’re going to!) and what you agree or disagree with. We want to discuss all the things while we wait 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.

251 Comments

Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in Tor.com's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? Tor.com members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!