Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Eighteen

and

Lyn: Greetings and welcome back to the Oathbringer Reread! This week Shallan—I mean, Veil—goes on the hunt for some information and learns a thing or two about hard liquor.

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. If you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Shallan (Veil)
WHERE: Urithiru (Shallan’s quarters, marketplace)
WHEN: 1174.1.3.4 (same day as Dalinar’s sparring match in Ch. 16, the day after her training session with Adolin in Ch. 15)

Shallan dons her Veil persona and heads out into the marketplace, looking for information about the string of murders. She goes to a bar and learns a valuable lesson about hard liquor, then learns a more interesting one about her Stormlight healing—it also heals drunkenness! After getting some information out of a bouncer, she heads deeper into the marketplace, towards a tavern where someone was recently stabbed. After drinking an unhealthy amount of Horneater White, she finds a group of thugs with information about the killing. She proves herself to them in a rather dramatic fashion, then flashes the symbol of the Ghostbloods. The thugs inform her that this murder was a strangulation, not a stabbing—but another person was found the next night, killed in exactly the same fashion.

Threshold of the Storm

Title: Double Vision

Alice: The title isn’t a direct quote from the text this week, but was suggested by the second double murder and the blurred vision of Shallan’s drunky-spree.

L: Drunky-spree is a highly technical term. Very professional, we assure you.

Heralds

A: Shalash graces all four positions this week: patron of Lightweavers, called the Herald of Beauty; divine attributes Creative & Honest, and associated with the role of Artist. I’d call this a mixed bag of straight and ironic representation. Shallan is a Lightweaver (obviously) and is both creative and artistic in this chapter. She’s also deliberately not so beautiful, and totally not honest—either in her appearance, or in her internal issues.

Icon

Pattern, indicating a primarily/solely Shallan chapter

Epigraph

You cannot have a spice described to you, but must taste it for yourself.

–From Oathbringer, preface

L: This is very true. Like trying to describe color to someone who is blind, it’s nearly impossible to describe a taste without some sort of frame of reference. But this quote is clearly not just talking about taste. When in combination with the previous epigraphs (“You must know what I have done, and what those actions cost me. For in this comes the lesson. It is not a lesson I claim to be able to teach.”) the meaning becomes more clear. Dalinar is speaking about the experiences he’s endured, the pain he’s remembered. Grief and guilt are not emotions which can be easily described, like spices. Without having experienced them yourself, any description is the barest trace of the reality. A shadow, without any of the nuances or strength that enduring such an experience imbues. But how does this epigraph correlate to this particular chapter?

A: I think maybe experience is the connection here. Shallan starts out the chapter by taking on the persona of Veil, but she acknowledges that she doesn’t really have the experiences she pretends Veil has. She worries, rightly, that her portrayal will be off somehow, because she’s never “tasted the spice” before and is only guessing at some of the look, attitude, and behavior suitable to this character. Speaking of “tasting the spice”… that Horneater White is definitely a new taste!

Stories & Songs

How had anything ever grown up here? Her breath puffed out in front of her, and coldspren grew around her feet.

A: I don’t know how much of this I realized the first time through, but there are a LOT of hints that Urithiru not only had functional plumbing once upon a time, it had stuff like warm air, irrigation, and increased pressure. On the reread, I’m picking up a lot more of these, and it’s making me intensely curious! Then there’s this bit, where she’s looking out over the Breakaway market area:

Others were actual buildings. Small stone sheds that had been built inside this cavern, here since the days of the Radiants.

A: So of course I want to know what the Radiants used “small stone sheds” for back in the day, here inside this enormous tower full of rooms and hallways and open spaces. Maybe someday these things will be revealed.

Bruised & Broken

There was a simple relief for Shallan’s pain. There was an easy way to hide. Veil hadn’t suffered as Shallan had—and she was tough enough to handle that sort of thing anyway. Becoming her was like setting down a terrible burden.

A: We already knew that she was using her personalities to filter her reactions, but this hurts. Somehow, she’s really making herself into a completely different person, not just a role or an illusion. There’s still some of her left, as in

The part at the back of her mind that was still Shallan worried about this.

but it’s creeping me out. She’s squashing all her knowledge and experience into a tiny little corner of her mind. I’m sure it makes her better at playing other parts, but it’s just so… unhealthy.

L: Completely agree. I doubt anyone is a complete stranger to the joys of escapism—vanishing into the pages of a good book, for instance. Many people enjoy shutting out the real world for a few hours, forgetting whatever troubles they might be enduring in order to simply be somewhere (or someone) else. But actually living as another person is so troubling. I’m no master of psychology, but this sounds to me like the beginning of a case of dissociative identity disorder. Shallan hasn’t yet gotten to the stage where her identities are in open conflict, but she’s certainly heading in that direction.

“Well?” Veil asked, turning to the wall, where Pattern hung.

“Mmm…” he said. “Good lie.”

“Thank you.”

“Not like the other.”

“Radiant?”

“You slip in and out of her,” Pattern said, “like the sun behind clouds.”

L: PATTERN. NO. BAD SPREN. Do not enable this!

A: Well, there’s that, for sure! I do find it interesting, though, that he approves of the Veil illusion more than Radiant. Is he just more impressed with the complete change into Veil? Or does he see something dangerous in how easily Shallan can adjust the Shallan/Radiant ratio and be both at once?

“You must speak truths to progress, but you will hate me for making it happen. So I can die, and once done you can—”

“No. No, please don’t leave me.”

“But you hate me.”

“I hate myself too,” she whispered. “Just… please. Don’t go. Don’t die.”

L: Oh, Pattern. He’s too good for this (or any) world. Sweetest little spren. I’ve really gotta feel for Shallan here, too. Pattern’s the only thing she really has left. She hasn’t grown close enough to Adolin yet to fully trust and love him, so Pattern is her only friend and confidante. She can’t lose him too.

A: I seem to remember being really worried for her, if Pattern kept suggesting this. She’s lost so much already!

“Veil is just a face.”

No. Veil was a woman who didn’t giggle when she got drunk, or whine, fanning her mouth when the drink was too hard for her. She never acted like a silly teenager. Veil had never been sheltered, practically locked away, until she went crazy and murdered her own family.

L: Pattern’s got the right of it. I’m really hoping that Shallan eventually comes to realize this either in the time skip between books 3 and 4, or over the course of book 4.

A: This is a really big open-ended question! Part of the point of being a Lightweaver is to create illusions, and Shallan is becoming quite good at disguises. But sanity requires her to recognize them as disguises—as “just a face”—if she’s not going to go completely crackers. My guess is that she’ll make most of that progress between books, with a little work remaining to be done in book 4. (I’m assuming that Sanderson plans the year lapse to take care of a lot of logistics and progress that has to happen, but that would be boring to watch. After the agony of seeing Shallan falling to pieces in Oathbringer, I have to admit I wouldn’t mind if her recovery took place mostly off-screen!)

“My brothers. Pattern, I didn’t kill them, right? … I talked to Balat over spanreed. But… I had Lightweaving then… even if I didn’t fully know it. I could have fabricated that. Every message from him. My own memories….”

“Shallan,” Pattern said, sounding concerned. “No. They live.” … His voice grew smaller. “Can’t you tell?”

L: The fact that she can’t even trust her own memories isn’t entirely surprising, given how much she’s repressed up until now. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s pretty wise of her.

A: It may be wise of her, and I’m glad she can check with Pattern when she doesn’t trust herself. But this freaked me out. She honestly doesn’t seem to know if she killed her brothers, or if she just talked to them: they look like equally probable scenarios, and she doesn’t even know which is true.

Diagrams & Dastardly Designs

L: When Shallan/Veil uses the Ghostblood symbol to intimidate the thugs, it works far, far better than she expected. Why is this? What are they planning? We know that they’ll go to just about any length to accomplish their goals (as evidenced by the fact that they tried to assassinate Jasnah), so the fact that everyone is scared s***less of them makes perfect sense. But now that the “Desolation” they were searching for knowledge about has begun, what are they up to?

A: Shallan and Pattern both mention Mraize a couple of times in this chapter, and Shallan is frighteningly conflicted about the Ghostbloods. I mean, I don’t trust Mraize for a skinny minute, but Shallan still wants very much to stay connected to the organization despite what she knows they’ve done. They Know Things—or at least, they imply they know all the things, and she desperately wants to know too. Every time she thinks about them, I worry that her eagerness to gain information makes her way too easy to manipulate.

Squires & Sidekicks

They chatted a little longer, mostly with Shallan making the odd comment while the bouncer—his name was Jor—went off on various stories with many tangents.

L: Well, hello there, Jory! Jor is a tuckerization of beta reader and JordanCon Blademaster Jory Phillips.

A: Hey, Jory! ::waves:: This was a fun little scene, wasn’t it?

L: I loved Jor hitting on Veil. He seems like he’s a nice guy.

Flora & Fauna

The first moon had risen, violet and proud Salas. She was the least bright of the moons, which meant it was mostly dark out.

L: Let’s take a moment to chat about the moons. Multiple moons isn’t something unique to Roshar (I’m reminded of Dragonlance as well as any number of other fantasy series), but knowing Sanderson, I’m sure there’s more going on here than simply “different planet, multiple moons” and that’s it. So let’s start off with, how many moons are there on Roshar, Alice?

A: There are three moons: violet Salas, big blue Nomon, and little green Mishim. There’s a story about them later, which Sigzil fails to tell properly in chapter 35, and Hoid (of course) succeeds in telling well in chapter 67. We have no way of knowing whether it’s just a story, or whether there’s some grain of truth in it, but we do know that the moons’ orbits are artificial—for whatever that’s worth. The colors seem to be significant, and I wonder if they’re connected somehow to the three Bondsmith spren. Or… to the Shards?

Places & Peoples

No lighteyed woman would be able to prance around so obviously armed. Some mores grew more lax the farther you descended the social ladder.

L: I feel as if I’m constantly harping on the gender issues in Roshar. Apologies if it reads that way from an outsider’s opinion as well—perhaps it’s just a reflection of the times and I’m pushing back against the sexism that I see in so many fandoms in the real world these days. But I find it interesting that Shallan points out that she can’t carry a sword because she’s not a lighteyes, but even so a lighteyed woman wouldn’t be able to carry a weapon at all. The gender restrictions are lessened because she’s darkeyed. She can carry a long knife, but still not a sword. This does tie back into her conversation with Lyn, who’s actively fighting against these restrictions while Shallan simply seems to accept them.

A: Let’s not forget that the whole restriction against women with swords—and probably darkeyes too—ties back to the time just after the Recreance. The men jumped on the artificial gender distinction between one-handed and two-handed skills (incidentally proposed by a woman) so they could eliminate half the competition for the Shardblades; we know that it wasn’t an issue for the Radiants, so it most likely wasn’t an issue in society until that point. Then, once men were holding Blades long enough to make their eyes turn light, they created the artificial distinction (enforced with the same Blades, no doubt) between light- and dark-eyed people, and thus was born the caste system we see now. The lucky families who already had light eyes got carried along into the upper class (quite possibly at the lower dahns, though) and those with the power were at the top.

Incidentally, I wonder if the spren bond changes your DNA so that the light eyes become part of your genetic make-up, and are passed on to your children, or if the ones who held Blades started marrying only light-eyed women so as to support their scheme.

L: I was wondering the same thing regarding genetics and the passing on of the light-eyed “gene,” Alice.

She’d never seen an actual well before—everyone normally used cisterns that refilled with the storms.

L: I’d never thought of this before, but it’s true—what use would a society living where constant storms sweep over the land have for wells? (For this matter, I wonder if Shallan even knew the word/concept before coming to Urithiru!)

A: I’d think the bigger issue is that most of the ground is rock, which makes well-drilling a difficult task, and the water table would probably be way deep. I’m pretty sure the Shin would have wells, but whether Shallan would be aware of those is questionable. Maybe there are a few areas where wells are practical, near rivers or something, in Jah Keved?

The many wells in Urithiru, however, never ran out. The water level didn’t even drop, despite people constantly drawing water from them.

Scribes talked about the possibility of a hidden aquifer in the mountains, but where would the water come from?

L: All right, Sanderson. I know there’s more to this, you sneaky son of a kandra. What secrets are you hiding?

A: There’s definitely something sketchy going on here. I wonder if the various systems supported by Stormlight (the Sibling, I assume) have been slowly shutting down over the last 15 centuries or so, and this is the only one remaining. Or, which I think more likely, perhaps this is one of the few mechanical functions that doesn’t need Stormlight to function. Or maybe there’s a hidden power supply just for the wells, with gemstones positioned to be renewed by every highstorm without human attention. (Okay, I doubt it!) There’s definitely something odd, anyway.

Tight Butts and Coconuts

“I like him,” Pattern said.

“Who?” Veil said.

“The swordsman,” Pattern said. “Mmm. The one you can’t mate with yet.”

L: This joke will never get old.

“Why don’t you marry him, then?”

Pattern buzzed. “Is that—”

“No that’s not an option.”

A: I laughed SO hard over this one!

L: I wonder if any of the old Knights Radiant ever fell in love with their spren. My friend who is an adamant Kal/Syl shipper would get a huge kick out of that.

“I didn’t do a good job in there.”

“Of getting drunk? Mmm. You gave it a good effort.”

A: Speaking of the drink… I was amused by the barkeep’s explanation of the drink colors:

“That’s the same stuff, just without the fancy infusions the lighteyes put in theirs.”

A: I believe we have WoB that the Rosharan “wines” aren’t really what we’d think of as wine; they’re various forms of mild to hard liquor, brewed from whatever will ferment. Here we learn that the fancy colors are mostly added artificially; I guess for aesthetics and ease of identification? Seems to me like an enterprising young officer could easily find someone who would take something potent and color it to look like something mild, either as a prank or as a way to look innocuous. Just sayin’…

L: Sort of reminds me of gin, with all the infusions. But I doubt that Roshar’s got Juniper trees.

Weighty Words

The cloud around her mind puffed away, and her vision stopped spinning. In a striking moment, her drunkenness simply vanished.

L: Today on the ‘list of powers I wish I had…’ It’s really interesting the different things that Stormlight can heal. Sort of reminds me of the Flash’s accelerated healing, and how he can’t get drunk because of it.

A: I was amused by Pattern’s evaluation—that the Stormlight healed her of “the poison,” but he assumed she’d be angry because she drank the poison on purpose. Pattern’s efforts to understand human behavior never fail to entertain me.

Murderous Motivations

“That barmaid was strangled the exact same way as Rem, body dropped in the same position. Even had the marks of his ring scraping her chin like Rem did.” Her light brown eyes had a hollow cast to them, like she was staring at the body again, as it had been found. “Exact same marks. Uncanny.”
Another double murder, Veil thought. Storms. What does it mean?

A: This was the whole point of Shallan’s investigation excursion, and she almost missed it.This is when she gets the first hint that she’s not looking for a series of murders all done like the first, but a series of murder-and-copycat-murder episodes.

The tension… builds. (Just read that in your best foreboding-darkness voice, okay?)

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

“Humans… humans don’t care about the dead. You build chairs and doors out of corpses! You eat corpses! You make clothing from the skin of corpses. Corpses are things to you.”

L: I meeeaaaan… he’s not wrong.

A: Technically, no, but his word choice is rather disturbing!

“It is grotesque,” he continued, “but you all must kill and destroy to live. It is the way of the Physical Realm.”

L: Really interesting to see this from an outsider’s perspective. It’s true—and I can see how it would be super creepy to a society that doesn’t work this way. This raises the question, though… do spren need to eat? If so, what do they eat?

A: Ummm… I don’t think they eat? They’re personifications of ideas, so I have this vague notion that all they need is for someone to think them. (This sounds very Peter Pan, doesn’t it? “Do you believe?”) I mean, it’s not entirely true for every single spren, and a little less so for the higher spren, but in general I think they gain their existence from the concepts formed by people, and are maintained the same way. I could, of course, be completely wrong, because I don’t have a shred of supporting evidence. Readers, what say ye?

Quality Quotations

“She’s just enjoying a little free time,” Jor said. “Sure, sure. With eyes like those? I’m sure that’s it.”

* * *

“I’ve seen your type, with that haunted look.”

A: Both barkeepers commented on her look; I assume they were seeing the same thing? What?

The lighteyed woman across from her hushed a jabbering man by touching his lips. She wore the havah, but without a safehand sleeve—instead, she wore a glove with the fingers brazenly cut off at the knuckles.

A: Gasp! The hussy!!

L: So scandalous.

“Look, I see your mark here, in blood. Ur’s seat. I was wrong.” She frowned. “But mine’s here too. Suppose you can sit in my lap, if you want.

 

Next week, we’ll plan to take on Chapter 19, flashing back to the day Young!Dalinar first sees Evi, and also Chapter 20, wherein Kaladin teaches the parshmen survival skills and becomes conflicted. (There’s a surprise.)

Alice is right on the edge of being overwhelmed by all the end-of-school-year and preparation-for-vacation-travel craziness that’s creeping up on her. Still, the sun is shining on Seattle, and that’s not nothing.

Lyndsey is having a blast tormenting the Sheriff of Nottingham at this year’s Robin Hood’s Faire as “Ellen”-a-dale, which is about as close to living in the Robin Hood legend as she’s going to get. No worries, though—she recognizes that the character is just a “face,” unlike Shallan. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website.

63 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!

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.