Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Thirteen


Cosmerenauts ahoy! Lo, on the horizon looms another reread post with Lyndsey and Alice! Or something like that. Anyway, welcome back to Oathbringer, as Shallan gets embarrassed (again) and Pattern expands his vocabulary. Also, Adolin refuses to be embarrassed, which is also entertaining.

Lyn: ::crashes through door:: Did someone say Adolin?

Alice: Welcome back, Lyn! Thought you might enjoy this chapter…

L: What, me? Enjoy an Adolin chapter? NEVER. (Because I’m totally not obsessive enough to be cosplaying him most of this weekend at JordanCon or anything…)

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread, and this week we make a tiny reference to the Mistborn trilogy which may spoil a plot point in the original trilogy. If you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer and Mistborn: The Final Empire, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Shallan
WHERE: Urithiru
WHEN: 1174.1.3.3 (Two days after Chapter 12)

We open the chapter with Shallan getting in some Lightweaving practice with her Veil persona. Adolin arrives with some dinner for the both of them, and they engage in some light-hearted banter, including a rather amusing conversation about… ::ahem:: mating. Adolin reveals that he feels as if Shallan is above him in station, and Shallan admits that she’s afraid of messing up their burgeoning relationship. The two share a kiss, and then we’re off to the next chapter…

Threshold of the storm


The title, as becomes hilariously obvious, is based on Pattern’s assigned role during this scene where Shallan and Adolin are (otherwise improperly) alone in her room.

“Pattern, you’re to be our chaperone tonight.”
“What,” Pattern said with a hum, “is a chaperone?”

We’ll get into that answer a bit later.


A: For some reason that isn’t immediately obvious, Ishar holds all four Herald spots this week. He represents the role of Priest, the divine attributes Pious and Guiding, and is the patron of the Bondsmiths. I’m honestly not sure why he’s here.

L: Well.. Ishar’s the Herald of Bondsmiths, right? Adolin and Shallan are bonding in this chapter for sure. They both reveal things to one another that they’ve been worried about regarding their relationship, and grow a little closer because of it. As for the divine attributes of pious and guiding… I suppose it could be Pattern’s influence? He’s “guiding” them to be “pious”…

A: Hah! I like it.


A: Shallan’s “Pattern” icon would tell us that it’s her POV chapter, if anyone on this reread had actually forgotten what a chapter titled “Chaperone” was all about.


I ask only that you read or listen to these words.
—From Oathbringer, preface

Relationships & Romances


L: I do adore this relationship. It’s just… such a healthy one, even though Shallan herself is so broken, emotionally. I think she needed someone with the emotional stability of Adolin to help ground her.

A: Exactly. He’s so good for her: so willing to love her without condition, and to be a rock for her to lean on. And honestly, I think Adolin is one of those guys who is at his best when someone needs him, so she’s good for him too.

Adolin didn’t even have the decency to blush at finding her practically naked.

L: I suppose this raises the question, how experienced is Adolin in matters of love, really? I’d assume that pre-marital sex is frowned on in Alethi society based on Shallan and Pattern’s reactions in this chapter, so we can probably assume that he hasn’t been sleeping around, but… that’s not discounting the possibility of naughty shenanigans with any number of ladies he’s courted. Is he used to seeing ladies with their safe-hands uncovered? Eh? Eh?

A: Well, for what it’s worth, Shallan is Veden rather than Alethi, and I think they have stricter views on such things. Still, I had just assumed that since Adolin never seemed to avoid offending every girl within a week or two of beginning their courtship, he’d never gotten to that point.

L: ::snicker:: I have to admit, I kind of miss him getting slapped by random girls he’s unknowingly wronged.

A: The slapping most definitely had its entertaining aspects! Now that he’s actually betrothed, I suppose they have to stop, though. Anyway, the safehand certainly didn’t phase him here, so maybe he’s just not one to boast of his conquests.

L: He certainly doesn’t seem to be the type to kiss and tell.

“I’d have thought that imitating a woman to catch a glimpse of a young lady in her undergarments was beneath you, Adolin Kholin.”
“Oh, for Damnation’s sake, Shallan. Can I come in now?”

L: I love how he doesn’t put up with her BS. And not only that, he gives it as good as he takes it:

“Back of your left thigh, eh? What’s a girl got to do to sneak a glimpse of that?”
“Knock like a man, apparently.”

A: This entire exchange cracks me up every time. I don’t know how often I’ve read it, and… Every. Single. Time. ::gigglesnort::

Ash’s eyes… he actually thought she was pretty. This wonderful, princely man actually liked being with her. She’d traveled to the ancient city of the Knights Radiant, but compared to Adolin’s affection, all the sights of Urithiru were dun spheres.

L: D’aaawwwwww. Gotta love that honeymoon stage of the relationship.

A: I hope the wonder never fades. I mean, sure, she’ll get used to the fact that he adores her, but given her personality and history, I’m guessing there will always be a tinge of astonishment whenever she thinks about it.

“It wasn’t a lecture, it was a creative application of my tongue to keep you distracted.” Looking at his lips, she could think of some other creative applications for her tongue…

A: It’s a good thing Pattern is being such a useful chaperone, eh?

L: Gotta say, I appreciate the fact that these two have real chemistry. It’s one of the things that always bothered me a bit about the Mistborn trilogy—Elend and Vin’s relationship seemed so flat and lifeless. Now, I’m not implying that Sanderson needs to be putting in sex scenes every ten pages, but it’s really nice to see a character admitting some physical attraction for another in one of these books. Especially since it’s the woman having these thoughts.

“I don’t know. You’re a Radiant, Shallan. Some kind of half-divine being from mythology. And all along I was thinking we were giving you a favorable match.”

L: I guess this would be sort of like learning that your fiancee was a… a mermaid, or something. Or maybe one of Zeus’s long-lost half-human children. Or a Time Lord. I can see why Adolin is suddenly feeling a little overwhelmed. These magical powers she’s manifested are probably as unbelievable to the Alethi as the things I listed above would be to our modern society.

A: It would be a little frightening as well, I’d think, since the Alethi culture has presented the Knights Radiant as betrayers of humanity, and basically anathema. It’s all well and good to say that the times, they are a-changin’—but you don’t just drop everything you believed so easily. Intimidating, at the very least.

L: And yet, Adolin never shows any hint of being afraid of any of his Radiant friends and family. He puts the person first and judges them based on WHO they are, not WHAT they are. We’ve seen this in other aspects too—how he treated the prostitute in book one, and how chummy he is with those who are beneath him in station.

A: I think if you looked in the Alethi dictionary for “unflappable” you might find a picture of Adolin. If things like this bother him, he doesn’t show it much. The only thing we’ve ever seen to make him visibly lose his cool is a direct threat to his family. But I still think it would be a little intimidating.

L: I’d love to quote the entire rest of this chapter because honestly it’s all just so sweet and endearing.

A: I love the bit where he’s brought her his favorite books about the Makabaki and politics, because he noticed that she seemed a bit lost on that subject. Along with that, there’s a nice reminder that yes, despite not being able to read for himself, he actually does have a pretty decent education in the kinds of things highprinces need to know—beyond hitting people with swords.

L: The two of them are so perfect together. Both have their insecurities, their failings, and the other is willing to help them overcome them without malice. Yes, there are secrets they’re keeping from one another. But as we’ll see, when those secrets come out, they respect the reasons the secrets were kept and continue to support one another. It’s so rare to see stable, respectful relationships in fantasy novels.

Bruised & Broken

It was stuck in her mind, and every time she thought about it, the gaping wound flared up with pain again. Shallan had killed her mother. Her father had covered it up, pretended he’d murdered his wife, and the event had destroyed his life—driving him to anger and destruction.
Until eventually Shallan had killed him too.

L: Dayum, Shallan. Girl’s got baggage. No wonder her personality is splintering into shards. This is some pretty heavy stuff for anyone to deal with.

A: I’ve said this about a million times, but I have to say it again. While I can understand that people don’t find it exactly pleasant to read about her fracturing, I’m still glad it happens. If she had simply accepted those truths at the end of WoR and cheerfully moved on, she’d be treading mighty close to Mary Sue-ness. With her past, a good resolution has to be more difficult than simply acknowledging what she did.

She would not hate him. She could hate the sword she’d used to kill her mother, but not him.

L: ::sniff::

A: ::passes tissues::

Stories & Songs

A: Urithiru is still so much of a mystery, even after a whole book of living in it. Who? What? How? Brandon put to rest the theory that it was a spaceship, fortunately. (I never could get behind the idea that it was the ship humans used to travel from Ashyn to Roshar. It just didn’t make sense to me.) ANYWAY:

Her room was ornamented by bright circular patterns of strata on the walls. The stone was smooth to the touch, and a knife couldn’t scratch it.

L: This little snippet interests me. A knife couldn’t scratch it, eh? What type of rock could this be, then? Also, this somewhat implies to me that all the stone—despite the striations—is of the same type, despite the differences in color…

A: What interests me is the choice of words. Strata don’t naturally form circular patterns, coils, swirls, spirals, twists, and various other adjectives used in this book. I mentioned this (several times) in the beta, yet here they still are—so I can only conclude that it’s deliberate. This, combined with a scene we’ll get to in Chapter 38, at first led me to suspect that Urithiru was formed by Stonewards. Then I changed that to “someone manipulating the Surge of Tension, so maybe Bondsmiths.” If it was prior to the formation of the Knights Radiant, it could have been someone(s) who could Surgebind Tension. It could have been Ishar and/or Taln who formed it. But right now… I’ll lay a bet on the involvement of an early Bondsmith who was bonded to the Sibling. I’d guess it was a cooperative effort.

I’d also bet the big glass wall is pure silicon dioxide with Invested Cohesion to keep it perfectly clear, unrippled, and unbroken. That might also explain why knives can’t scratch the stone—it’s too Invested with Cohesion. Which would imply the involvement of Stonewards, come to think of it. And now I’m straying deeply into the Speculative Realm, so I’ll drop it!

Tight Butts and Coconuts

L: This whole chapter is just full of gems, but here are some of our favorites:

“In my defense,” Adolin said from outside, “you did invite me in.”

“Isn’t that the sort of thing you do? Strangle rocks, stand on your head, throw boulders around.”
“Yes, I have quite my share of murdered rocks stuffed under my bed.”

“I just realized,” he said, “that this is your bedroom.”
“And my drawing room, and my sitting room, and my dining room, and my ‘Adolin says obvious things room’.”

“Your ego doesn’t count as a separate individual, Shallan.”

L: Oh, Adolin. How little you know.

A: I’m not quite sure whether to laugh or sigh.

Weighty Words

I’m going to put this in here, because it has to do with Shallan’s Lightweaving powers.

She’d started to wonder, how far could she go in changing how things sounded?

L: This is interesting to me. Assuming that Lightweaving is… well, LIGHTweaving, how is she managing to make changes to SOUND? Sound, if I am not mistaken, has to do with air, not light. Right?

A: According to the Ars Arcanum, Illumination is “the Surge of Light, Sound, and Various Waveforms”—whatever all that might include, apparently it’s a lot bigger than its name. So she can manipulate sound as well as light.

L: Can we just pretend that I totally remembered that and was only asking in order to leave you the opening to explain it? ::ahem::

A: Absolutely. It was very gracious of you, too, because it gives me the chance to sound all learned and stuff. Also, this just occurred to me: Did the Lightweavers (or some earlier version of them) manipulate cymatics to create protection for the cities Kabsal tells Shallan about in TWoK, Chapter 33?

Shallan cocked her head. The pattern in the sand looked exactly like Kholinar. He dropped more sand on the plate and then drew the bow across it at another point and the sand rearranged itself. “Vedenar,” he said. She compared again. It was an exact match. “Thaylen City,” he said, repeating the process at another spot. He carefully chose another point on the plate’s edge and bowed it one final time. “Akinah. Shallan, proof of the Almighty’s existence is in the very cities we live in. Look at the perfect symmetry!”

L: Speechless Stickguy Meme

The trick to happiness wasn’t in freezing every momentary pleasure and clinging to each one, but in ensuring one’s life would produce many future moments to anticipate.

L: This is beautiful, and I think it’s something that we in our day to day lives should remember, especially in these days when everyone has a smart phone and the temptation to take photos and videos of every passing moment is so omnipresent. Often I have to remind myself to put down the camera and just live in the moment, but Sanderson takes it one step further, reminding us to actively work to create more of these moments to enjoy. It’s really a powerful sentiment.

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

A: A.k.a. Pattern is hilarious.

L: Case in point:

“Inappropriate?” Pattern said. “Such as… dividing by zero?”

I’m not a math person, and even I find this funny. I do find Shallan and Adolin’s reactions to this interesting, though. They both seem confused. I’m wondering how much the peoples of Roshar know about higher level math—or really, any math at all. We know that the women are the ones who are generally the bookkeepers, and some of the ardentia are doing scientific measurements and so forth of spren, but would the Alethi have any concept of algebra of anything higher? Obviously the Cryptics do, but how? Is this knowledge that has been passed down among them? How does it tie into what we know about them already?

A: I would assume that the engineers know maths up through algebra and trigonometry, and probably understand at least the basic functionality of calculus. We just haven’t seen it, because we haven’t been in the right heads for that information. Adolin wouldn’t, of course, and I don’t think Shallan’s studies tended much in that direction. She was more into the natural sciences, art, literature, history, etc. I’d bet Renarin would have understood it, though.

L: And now I really want to see Pattern and Renarin having a fun chat about math.

“Oh!” Pattern said suddenly, bursting up from the bowl to hover in the air. “You were talking about mating! I’m to make sure you don’t accidentally mate, as mating is forbidden by human society until you have first performed appropriate rituals! Yes, yes. Mmmm. Dictates of custom require following certain patterns before you copulate. I’ve been studying this!”

L: Hooboy. Okay so, there’s a lot to laugh at in this (accidentally mate?!), and believe me, I am, but there’s also some interesting parallels to that scene between Syl and Kaladin regarding spren and mating. Alice, I forget, did you and Paige get into spren reproduction at all when you guys discussed that chapter?

A: A little, but not any… ah, practical aspects? Mostly the mental image of Syl making “babies” out of a bunch of windspren, and teaching them to harass Kaladin. Also, Baby Windspren Shardplate.

L: Hmm, okay. So we know that spren are much longer-lived than humans—practically immortal, right? Even if they’re “killed” (as the old Knights’ Radiant spren were) they’re still not really dead, just wandering around Shadesmar all creepy-like?

A: Pretty much, yeah. Syl was relatively young at the time of the Recreance, but most of the other honorspren were much older.

L: I… seem to remember something being mentioned in the Shadesmar travel section about spren children, but it’s been so long.

A: Yeah, it’s there. Paige and I decided to leave the reproduction discussion until we get to that part of the book.

L: Okay, so… how the heck do they reproduce? Is it asexual? Or do… do new ideas or concepts just sort of… coalesce in Shadesmar into spren? I’d assume that if something physical is created, the “marbles” would join together and merge (so say someone made a knife with a wooden handle, the marble for the metal and that for the handle would merge into one) as matter is neither created nor destroyed, but how does this work for ideas and emotions?

A: I think I’ll stand by that decision! It’ll come up again in… oh, a year or so. At that point, I’d love to get into not only how “baby honorspren” are made, but the possibility of new kinds of spren if a truly new concept emerges.

Quality Quotations

You couldn’t balance a book on Veil’s head as she walked, but she’d happily balance one on your face after she knocked you unconscious.

 * * *

“… Sometimes secrets are important.”

Adolin nodded slowly. “Yeah. Yeah, they are.”

 * * *

Perhaps a chaperone who believes basically everything I tell him isn’t going to be the most effective.

 * * *

“Very well, you two,” Pattern said. “No mating. NO MATING.”

 * * *

“Is there anyone who actually is? I mean, is there really someone out there who looks at relationships and thinks, ‘You know what, I’ve got this’? Personally, I rather think we’re all collectively idiots about it.”

 * * *

“Please. You’ve courted, like, half the warcamps.”

Okay, so we could just copy and paste the entire chapter in here, but we’ll stop. Really. But you can share the ones we missed in the comments!

Next week we’ll tackle two chapters. Chapter 14 is a super-short Kaladin chapter, about 3 pages long, and then 15 is a mid-size Shallan chapter returning to this scene. So we’ll take both of them in one week, and then slow down with a much longer Chapter 16 the week after.

Alice is trying hard not to envy everyone going to JordanCon, but she nonetheless hopes they/you all have a fantastic time, and looks forward to hearing the stories and seeing the pictures. Shenanigans, commence!

Lyndsey is excited to be leaving for her first JordanCon tomorrow, where she’ll be helping to judge the Costume Contest! Look for her in various Sanderson cosplays all weekend, in the karaoke room, or at her panel “Making Con-Safe Weapons” on Sunday. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her updates on Facebook or her website.


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