We’re BA-A-A-A-ACK! Greetings to our friends old and new, and welcome to the Oathbringer Reread! We’ve had a lot of fun over the last few months, what with previews, reviews, cosplay, teasers, spoilers, and speculations. The time has come to launch a chapter-by-chapter reread, using knowledge of the endings to inform discussion of the beginnings. This week, we’re just going to introduce ourselves and the plan, and next week we’ll launch into the actual reread.
In the Oathbringer reread, as in other Tor.com rereads, we’ll be going over each chapter in-depth and discussing all sorts of things you might have missed on your initial readthrough (because you devoured it instead of savoring every bite, didn’t you? Or is that just us?), and then opening up a discussion in the comments for you to join in on the conversation!
Those of you who followed the Edgedancer reread are already familiar with the local comedy team; for the rest of you, we’d like to introduce ourselves.
Alice: Hi there! I’m Alice, also known as Wetlander (or WetlanderNW), because I live in the vicinity of Seattle, Washington, and it’s a very wet land indeed. Especially in January. (Yes, it’s raining right now. About half an inch so far today.) You may know me from the old Wheel of Time reread days, where I was a regular participant in the comment discussion. You may also know me from the reread of The Way of Kings, where I did the same thing, or from Words of Radiance, where I joined Carl in writing the reread itself. As you’ll know if you were there, I eventually took over that whole thing when Carl’s duties at Tor.com got too demanding to allow him to continue. Then there was the Warbreaker reread, which was fun, and most recently Edgedancer, which was my first foray into serial team-writing and was a blast.
I’m also a beta- and gamma-reader for Brandon Sanderson whenever I get the chance, and serve as administrator and/or moderator on several Sanderson-focused Facebook groups. Other than that, I’m a so-called “stay-at-home mom”… which is a total joke, given the school, social, and extracurricular ventures of a 14-year-old daughter. I also homeschool my 16-year-old disabled son, which is frequently equal parts frustration, hilarity, amazement, and stress. Heh. Fortunately, my husband is very supportive!
I love music, and participate in whatever musical opportunities present themselves, whether at my church, my daughter’s school, or, you know, Kickstarter projects where you can be part of a virtual choir. I play guitar moderately well (as long as it’s just accompaniment); I also play piano, harp, flute, and tin whistle moderately badly, so mostly I just stick to singing—preferably in a group.
Oh, and did I mention I love to read? Especially fantasy? Especially Sanderson?
Lyndsey: ‘Sup, readers! My Tor.com biography isn’t as lengthy as that of my illustrious colleague, but you might recognize me from the Edgedancer Reread and the How to Cosplay the Stormlight Archive articles. I’m also a moderator of several Cosmere related subreddits (under the name Kaladin_Stormblessed) and a beta and gamma reader for many of Sanderson’s works dating as far back as Words of Radiance. I’m an aspiring author myself to boot, with five full length novels completed so far. In addition to my writing, I’m a bit of a creative jack of all trades. I’m a fire performer with nine years of experience (poi, contact staff, dragon staff, and sword if you’re curious), an actress at a Renaissance Faire, woodworker and leatherworker, and a cosplayer with over fifteen years of experience and too many costumes in my closet to count. Like Alice, I’m also a stay-at-home-mom for the most part, but I dabble in SFX makeup, set construction, photography, and freelance graphic design. (See? Jack of all trades.) As for things specific to what you’ll likely see in this reread, I have an atrocious memory, as you’ll soon see. Sometimes it’s almost like a first-time read rather than a reread for me. I also have a tendency to focus more on character and storytelling elements than worldbuilding or broad Cosmere theorycrafting. I’ve got too much of my own worlds’ lore in my head to memorize all of Sanderson’s, too!
I’m married, have a one year old son named after a Lord of the Rings character and a dog named after a Supernatural character, and my favorite fantasy novels are The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and the Stormlight Archive. I also enjoy anime, horror flicks, comic books (mostly Marvel but I make an exception for Green Lantern), TV, and films, so expect a lot of weird off-beat references and quotes from me.
A: Now that you’ve met the rereaders, let’s introduce the reread.
In the tradition begun on the Words of Radiance reread, we’re going to use a bunch of recurring units to help us track various themes and discussion points as we go. Naturally, they’re customized to the content of Oathbringer, as well as to your hosts. (ahem)
L: Oh! Oh! Is that my cue? Hi!
A: Each week will begin with a brief front-page introduction and the chapter-heading artwork, followed by a bare-bones recap of what happens in the chapter. (Note that this recap will not be a good substitute for an actual reread prior to the release of SA4 in a few years. That kind of detailed recap takes way too much time and effort for a reread, and leaves the writer with no energy for the actual discussion.) The recurring sections will appear only as they are relevant to the chapter at hand, and will not always be in the same order, depending on the importance of the material being discussed.
Threshold of the storm: The title of this unit will change over time; y’all can try to detect the method to our madness. However, it will most likely be the first unit each week, as its purpose is to point out significance in the chapter artwork, title, and epigraphs as they relate to the content of the chapter.
Stories & Songs: This unit will track appearances, rumors, in-world Lore (but not Data—get it? GET IT?), and references to all those “mythological and legendary” critters … or the ones that used to be myths & legends until they started showing up and getting in the way. Heralds, Unmade, Voidbringers, Urithiru’s past, Listener Rhythms, ancient history—all of these will be discussed under this heading.
Relationships & Romances: In the book as in real life, people are involved in a variety of relationships which shape, stress, comfort, or challenge them. There are friendships, like those in Bridge Four; families, like the Kholin crew; and romance, like Dalinar and Navani. As our relationships are important to us, theirs are to them—so let’s take note!
Bruised & Broken: One thing that stands out in The Stormlight Archive, more than any other Cosmere entry thus far, is the direct relevance of physical, mental, and emotional issues of the characters. Mental illness, addiction, physical disability, and various other conditions are not only present, but are in some cases a primary factor in the behaviors and abilities of the characters, so we’re going to make sure we address them and their place in the story-telling. IMO, Sanderson has tackled an aspect of humanity—our disabilities—that is often ignored in fiction, and has done a fine job of researching and reflecting the impacts to create very realistic, hurting people.
L: I’d like to point out that both Alice and I are abled individuals, and recognize that we’re at an advantage in terms of privilege in regards to these matters. We’ll do our best to address them in a sensitive manner, and hope that you will in the comments as well.
Diagrams & Dastardly Designs: What’s that lurking in the background? Why, plots and plans of the characters, of course! Here’s the spot where we’ll chat about all the various machinations going on, either on the page or off, and some of the various groups working behind the scenes.
Squires & Sidekicks: Side characters, am I right? Some we love, some we love to hate, and some we’re just plain ambivalent toward.
Flora & Fauna: The ecology of Roshar is fascinating and unique. From big bug-type critters in place of dogs, to the little shrimp-like cremlings, to grass that retracts into the ground and trees that fall over and stand back up, we’ll pull out our magnifying glasses and really examine the science and biology that makes Roshar tick.
Places & Peoples: More than the preceding two volumes, Oathbringer takes us around the world of Roshar and plunges us into different cultures. The first two books mostly limited this sort of thing to the Interludes. This third one continues to give us glimpses of ordinary people around the world in the Interludes, but the main action also takes place in a variety of locations and societies. We’ll talk about the social differences, the relative geographic positions, the topography—whatever is relevant to the story.
Tight Butts and Coconuts: Before you say it, yes, we know, there are no coconuts on Roshar (that we know of).
A: Nor does it fit the alliteration scheme. But who cares, because it’s funny and this is where we’re going to highlight the great one-liners, in-world curses, and various other fun and games. Comedy FTW!
L: In case you were curious why I immediately thought of coconuts… what can I say? I have a baby and watch a LOT of Disney with him.
Weighty Words: There’s just something about epic words, isn’t there? As Edward Bulwer-Lytton said in 1839, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” And that goes double for spoken words. This section is devoted to rousing speeches, cool in-world sayings, progressing in Oaths, and anything else we might find that fits into the same mold.
Meaningful/Moronic/Mundane Motivations: Sometimes, you want to smack a character upside the head for the reasoning they use to justify their plans. Other times, you’re blown away by their selflessness or cheering for them to find justice for a wrong done to them. Sometimes we may disagree on whether or not someone is justified in their actions, but it’s always fascinating from an empathic standpoint to examine why they do what they do.
Cosmere Connections: On the off chance that you’re reading this and don’t know about the Cosmere, most of Sanderson’s books take place in the same universe, and there are means—magical and mundane—of hopping from world to world. As such, we’ll be pointing out and examining connections to other books/worlds, the people who cross over and their motivations, and even delving into information about the Shards, Sanderson’s overarching magic system/religion that will eventually tie all of the worlds and plots together.
Quality Quotations: This won’t be so much a discussion section as just a list of some of our favorite quotes. For funsies.
Finally, we may or may not conclude with an “everything else we wanted to say that didn’t fit” section; we’ll just have to see how that goes.
L: Well, that’s all for this week. Be sure to join us next week for the first real entry into the reread. We’re both super excited to get started, and hope that you are too!
A: And if you think we missed a major thematic element that we should be including, let us know in the comments. This isn’t carved in stone, just bits.
L: And bobs?
A: I was thinking more bytes than bobs. Or jello, instead of either one.
L: There’s always room for Jello, as I’m sure Lift would attest. Anywho, let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see addressed and we’ll see what we can do!
Alice’s life has been totally bizarre lately, but she is happy to be back here with y’all. If you Facebook and haven’t connected with us yet, be sure to look up the Storm Cellar group. It’s intended to have a core of the people who follow these rereads, where we can talk about other things Sanderson, but also just hang out and be friends.
Lyndsey’s excited to get back into the reread saddle and start picking Oathbringer apart, but she’s also editing one of her own novels and preparing to send it out to a team of beta readers. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her on Facebook and prepare for a lot of D&D jokes and memes.