Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapters Thirty-One and Thirty-Two

and

Lyn: Well, here we are, fellow re-readers, finally at the end of Part One after four months! Seems like we’ve been doing this forever, but also strangely not nearly long enough to get as far through the book as we have. But of course, it’s not over! We’ve got four more parts and roughly NINE HUNDRED more pages to go!

Alice: And Interludes coming next week, for a change of pace.

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. No Cosmere connections or references to spoilers from other books in this reread, but if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Kaladin Stormblessed; Shallan Davar
WHERE: City of Revolar; Urithiru
WHEN: 1174.1.5.2 (five days after Kaladin’s last appearance in Chapter 23); a few hours after the battle against Re-Shephir.

Kaladin arrives at the city of Revolar with his group of parshmen, to find the city conquered and occupied by thousands of parshmen. When a Fused approaches, he realizes that it’s time to go, and flies up into the sky to see an oncoming Highstorm. Looking back down, he sees a group of human captives unprepared for the coming storm. He lands and directs the parshmen guarding them to get them to safety. Unfortunately, the storm overtakes them, and Kaladin somehow uses windspren to create a windbreak to allow a few humans to get to safety. He then rides the Highstorm all the way back to Urithiru.

Meanwhile, Shallan sits in Sebarial’s section of Urithiru and reflects on the Midnight Mother… until, that is, Adolin arrives with the news that Jasnah has returned.

Threshold of the storm

 

Title: Demands of the Storm; Company

WHO ARE YOU TO MAKE DEMANDS OF THE STORM, SON OF HONOR?
The Stormfather was a face as wide as the sky, dominating like a sunrise.

It’s an interesting choice for the title. The Stormfather is rebuking Kaladin for making demands of the storm, but Kaladin (and everyone else) have little choice but to succumb to the demands of the storm, as they always must before this massive natural phenomenon. At the same time, it’s Kaladin’s need to protect people from those demands that leads to the formation of the whatever-it-is made of windspren. To quote Syl, “Wow!”

“Is there anything else I can get you?” Palona asked.

Shallan shook her head, so the Herdazian woman settled herself on a sofa nearby, holding another cup of tea. Shallan sipped, glad for the company. Adolin had wanted her to sleep, but the last thing she wanted was to be alone.

The direct quote is the obvious connection, as Shallan—quite reasonably, IMO!—does NOT want to be alone after what she’s just gone through. Palona seems the perfect company: helpful, undemanding, willing to listen. … And then there’s the unexpected and perhaps less welcome company who walks in at the end.

Heralds

Jezrien is in all four places for Kaladin’s chapter. Obviously the Herald of the Windrunners would be heading this chapter, as Kaladin is displaying some pretty awesome Windrunner abilities and ideals here. As for the next little one, Battar (of the Elsecallers) is in all four places, probably because of the reappearance of Jasnah.

A: I dunno, Lyn, maybe this is our hint that Palona is going to be an Elsecaller! (JK) But I’d really like to know if Battar was a giveaway to any of the readers, making them suspect Jasnah’s return before she walked in. Anyone?

Icon

Kaladin’s spears and cloak; Pattern

Epigraph

If they cannot make you less foolish, at least let them give you hope. For I, of all people, have changed.

—From Oathbringer, preface

L: Possibly relevant that the “let them give you hope” part is heading Kaladin’s chapter (if there’s one person in these books we can always depend on to bring hope to others, it’s Kal), and maybe the “I have changed” bit could be referencing Shallan and her thinking about how she’s finally feeling like an adult, but I’m really reaching for these.

Stories & Songs

“During my time as a slave, barely able to think, I still dreamed.”

L: This is really cool… and horribly sad.

A name from ancient lore, one of the Unmade, princes of the Voidbringers. People sang about Re-Shephir in poetry and epics, describing her as a dark, beautiful figure. Paintings depicted her as a black-clad woman with red eyes and a sultry gaze.

L: Just goes to show you that history and artwork aren’t infallible.

A: Speaking of inaccurate artwork… I’m going to dodge back to last week’s discussion for just a moment to comment on the similarity between the third large mural and the Ishar painting in the endpapers. It occured to me the other day that Shallan recognized at least the Nightwatcher/Cultivation mural as “pagan symbols” it’s probable that some imagery has been passed down for hundreds and thousands of years. Is it possible that over time, the symbols associated with the Sibling and those associated with Ishar became conflated? If Ishar was remembered in association with Bondsmiths, but the existence of the Sibling itself was mostly forgotten as they withdrew from interaction with the world, is it logical that perhaps the Sibling’s symbology morphed into Ishar’s? Just a thought.

There was a deeper mystery behind that, a wisp of something she’d glimpsed while intertwined with Re-Shephir. It made Shallan wonder if this spren wasn’t merely trying to understand humankind, but rather searching for something it itself had lost.

Had this creature—in distant, distant time before memory—once been human?

L: Yikes.

A: It’s almost certain that they were some kind of person, long ago, before they were Unmade. Whether they were human, singer, Aimian, or something else… I can’t venture to guess what they were, but they were unmade from something. It could almost make me pity them. Almost.

“She was captive,” Shallan whispered. “She eventually escaped, but that was centuries ago.”

L: Okay so… if we’re operating under the assumption that she was captured in a perfect gemstone, HOW did she escape? I’d love to hear the story behind that.

A: All I can guess is that it wasn’t quite perfect. But I do hope we get more of this story!

Bruised & Broken

“They’re Voidbringers.

“No, they’re people. And they’re angry, with good reason. … I know that feeling. It burns in you, worms inside your brain until you forget everything but the injustice done to you. It’s how I felt about Elhokar. Sometimes a world of rational explanations can become meaningless in the face of that all-consuming desire to get what you deserve.”

L: It’s nice to see the self-reflection here on Kaladin’s part. He recognizes the flaw in himself—which is, of course, the first step towards overcoming it.

She was kind of an adult. She could deal with a little embarrassment. In fact, she was increasingly certain that between Shallan, Veil, and Radiant, she could deal with anything life could throw at her.

A: In the general badassery that was the fight with Re-Shephir, we had a chance to see Shallan as a Knight Radiant in power. For some reason, this chapter forcefully reminded me that she’s still only seventeen, and a deeply traumatized seventeen at that, having recently had to face things she’s blocked for years. It’s almost heartbreaking to read this, as she’s thinking how much she’s grown and how she can handle so much more. Even though she won, I think the terror she experienced broke her even more deeply, and that this event accelerated her downward spiral into the deeper identity issues she’ll experience later.

She didn’t tell them how near she’d come to breaking, and how terrified she was that she might someday meet that creature again.

IMO, this is both confirmation of what I just said, and also Foreshadowing. The question is, will she be enough stronger for the rematch that she can actually overcome (and maybe recapture) Re-Shephir, or will she break?

Places & Peoples

“Is this what you want, Sah? To conquer the kingdom? Destroy humankind?”

“Storms, I don’t know,” he said. “But I can’t be a slave again, Kal. I won’t let them take Vai and imprison her.”

L: Aside from the rather, ah… topical things we could note (::I will not discuss politics in a reread I will not discuss politics in a reread::), I’ll instead say that I feel for Sah so hard, here. This is such an awful position to be in. I don’t think anyone ever wants to really kill other people (if they do, they’re probably a bit unhinged), so being put in the position of having to do so to protect yourself and your children? Ugh.

A: On a much lighter note…

It was a strangely shaped stone chamber with a loft above—he sometimes put musicians there—and a shallow cavity in the floor, which he kept saying he was going to fill with water and fish.

So what would have been the purpose of this back when Urithiru was formed? Did Sebarial stumble on an idea that matched the original? I can’t quite believe that… but I also can’t figure out what its purpose would have been. Checkov’s hollow?

Tight Butts and Coconuts

He crashed to the ground, sending out a puff of glowing Stormlight that expanded from him in a ring.

L: By the laws of comic book fandom, subsection gif-A, I am legally required to post this.

Weighty Words

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

L: The beginning of his Shardplate?! I know this is the going theory, but I simply can’t imagine it being anything else. We get a lot of hints of this in this chapter…

A few windspren zipped past Kaladin, then began to dance playfully around him.

And…

Windspren accompanied him—he had two dozen now, a spinning and laughing group, each a ribbon of light.

And then, the big one:

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.

The storm raged against him, but he held the point in a formation of windspren that spread from him like wings, diverting the storm.

L: Okay so… aside from the awesomeness that is the possibility of proto-Shardplate, I’d really like to dig into this other ability Kal seems to have discovered. It’s like he created a huge shield of spren. Is this… extending the Plate away from his body? And if so, is this something that all of the Knights Radiant used to be able to do? Imagine the applications! Could they use them to pick things up that were at a distance? Use them to throw back something (or someone) far away? (I’m sort of imagining Force-pushing from Star Wars here.)

A: The thing is, Syl is completely flabbergasted by it. She has no idea what he did with the windspren—which makes me think it’s not something the former Radiants could do.

L: Unless it’s something else that she’s forgotten.

A: That could be, but most of the time she “remembers” once he’s done it. Hard to say. It must be related to Plate, of course.

L: Oh, absolutely.

A: I suspect it’s different than what’s been done before, though, because he’s not limited by expectations. In the past, I’ve bemoaned the fact that the new crop of Knights is having to figure everything out for themselves without benefit of training like the old Knights would have had. This is the first time we see a benefit from that lack of training: Kaladin desperately needs to do this, and he’s able to gather the windspren to do it because he doesn’t know he can’t. And so it is totally awesome: he’s able to use something that will probably become Plate later to protect more than just himself—he protects a whole group of people who would most likely die otherwise.

Of course, the ironic part is that he’s using windspren to divert the wind. That should probably be explored, but it’s just way too meta for me.

Oh. My. Storms. I just realized—Kaladin has seen this before! Back in The Way of Kings, when he was hung out in the highstorm as punishment for the side carry episode:

In those brief moments of light when he dared to look, he thought he saw Syl standing in front of him, her face to the wind, tiny hands forward. As if she were trying to hold back the storm and split the winds as a stone divided the waters of a swift stream.

That’s exactly what he did with the windspren here, except on a larger scale. He subconsciously replicated what he saw her trying to do way back then.

“The bond isn’t about what’s right and wrong, is it, Syl. It’s about what you see as right and wrong.”

“What we see,” she corrected. “And about oaths. You swore to protect Elhokar.”

“Fine. But it’s still about perception.”

L: This is BIG. So… when she says “we,” is she referring to herself and Kaladin, or herself and the other honorspren? If the former, is it possible that a Knight Radiant could do something that went against their oaths provided they could rationalize it to their spren and get them to agree that it was necessary, or that it was actually fulfilling the oaths as they saw it?

A: I’m reasonably confident that “we” means Syl and Kaladin. I have a firm theory that while Kaladin’s conscious mind and emotions were conflicted about Elhokar, his subconscious knew the assassination was wrong. IMO, his bond to Syl requires him to be true to what he knows is right, not what he can rationalize to himself. Kaladin thinks the broken bond was Syl enforcing her morality on him; I think it was the bond enforcing his own morality on him. When he nearly broke the bond, it was actually a matter of choosing his desires over his moral values; it’s restoration came when he reversed that priority.

Is it about perception? Perhaps—but if so, it’s about his own subconscious perception of his oaths and what they require of him.

Meaningful/Moronic/Mundane Motivations

He probably shouldn’t have shown them any of these things; that didn’t stop him from feeling proud as he walked with them, entering the city.

L: Kal just can’t stop himself from leading people.

A: I love that in him, even though it’s going to cause him problems later. ::sniffle::

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

Gloryspren burst up about Kaladin’s head.

Syl took on the form of a person just so she could glower at the little bobbing balls of light. “Mine,” she said, swatting one of them aside.

L: Ha! First of all, her possessiveness is adorable. Secondly, though, I wonder about this. If gloryspren are attracted to Bondsmiths the way windspren are to Windrunners, could Kal also be exhibiting some Bondsmith-traits, which would be why Syl is chasing these gloryspren away?

A: You know, I think you might be onto something there. On a first read, we don’t know about the gloryspren/Bondsmith connection, but in retrospect, you have to wonder. She’s never really paid any attention to other spren that show up around him, except the windspren she refers to as cousins. (Well, and the deathspren back in TWoK, but that’s a bit different!) Now all of a sudden she’s possessive about other spren around Kaladin? I agree—it’s because of their link to Bondsmiths.

“Besides, I’m less a force of nature and more one of the raw powers of creation transformed by collective human imagination into a personification of one of their ideals.”

L: WELL. That’s pretty much the best in-world description of exactly what a higher spren is that we’ve gotten so far.

A: It’s also hilarious. Just sayin’.

L: I rather like this little bit later in the chapter, as it relates to this:

He’s a storm, Kaladin. As people over millenia have imagined him.

L: It’s really cool how belief can shape these creatures. Sort of reminds me of a lot of stories about fae, and how belief (or the lack thereof) by humans affects their powers (or their very existence).

Syl cried out in his mind, a sound like pain and surprise mixed.

L: Hunh. Is she just hurt by Kaladin getting knocked into, or is there something more going on here?

A: It feels like a non sequitur otherwise, so I have to assume that it’s connected to seeing the flying Voidbringers. On a random guess, maybe that’s how her first bondmate was killed? That’s all I’ve got.

I AM THE MEMORY OF A GOD, THE FRAGMENT THAT REMAINS. THE SOUL OF THE STORM AND THE MIND OF ETERNITY.

L: Okay so… if the Stormfather is the fragment that remains of the Almighty… What about the other Siblings? Alice, you’re the Cosmere scholar, help me out with the Shard possibilities going on here. Is he a Shard? Was the Almighty a Shard?

A: Yup. The “Almighty” they refer to was, as far as we know, the Shard Honor. Who started calling him that, or why, we don’t yet know, but the Stormfather now holds much of Honor’s investiture. Taking the title of “Almighty” seems a bit presumptuous, doesn’t it, what with Cultivation sitting right there being just as much a Shard of Adonalsium as Honor! Anyway, Brandon said that the Stormfather’s relationship with Honor (before he was splintered) was pretty much the same as the Nightwatcher’s relationship with Cultivation. A lot of people assume that means the Sibling had a similar relationship with Odium, but we know that’s not true, because Brandon also specified that Odium’s equivalent relationship is the Unmade collectively. It’s quite possible that the reason the Sibling could go to sleep is that they aren’t tied so closely to a Shard. It’s also quite possible that Sibling had some kind of special relationship with Adonalsium himself, since this planet was specifically designed and created by Adonalsium. We don’t know, but I think that last is a cool theory, anyway.

Kaladin. You can’t save them all. … You’ll never be able to do enough to satisfy yourself, Kaladin.

L: Lots of theories that Kaladin’s next ideal is going to revolve around this concept… theories that I personally subscribe to.

A: Likewise.

Quality Quotations

“No matter what you are told, know this: I do not wish to be your enemy.”

L: I like the way he worded this. “I do not WISH to be your enemy.” This implies that if he needs to be, he will—but only if the choice is out of his control.

A: Later, he’s going to find that the choice is never out of his control… and by not choosing, his friends in the Wall Guard, as well as the King he was supposed to protect, all die at the hands of these very people—and these people die at the hands of his friends.

“Do better,” he said to her. “These people are your charge now. You’ve seized the city, taken what you want. If you wish to claim any kind of moral superiority, treat your captives better than they did you.”

L: Yeah! You go, Kaladin! You lead by example and keep being awesome!

I think what you’re doing is like asking fire to please stop being so hot.

A: Good luck with that!

“Just listen to the piece of nature incarnate, okay?”

A: Sounds like a very good plan.

Dalinar had been downright nice to her—instead of being his usual stern rock of a human being.

A: Just because it made me snicker.

At their head was Jasnah Kholin.

L: ::sings:: Cuz she’s BAAAAAACK! Back in the saddle agaaaiiiiin…

For the next re-read, we’ll be digging into all three of the first set of Interludes, as they’re all pretty short. So prepare yourself for some salvage, some in-world Jane Austen, and… and… ::sniffles:: some confirmation that a certain character really did die.

Alice is off to see the wizard …er… Montana again this week! The civilized part this time, though, so she won’t be so out of touch. Meanwhile, y’all go pre-order Skyward, okay? That gamma read has her pumped!

Lyndsey finally found the time to participate in the Skyward gamma read, and she’s got to agree with Alice—this is a great book, and you’re all going to love it. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website.

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