Welcome back to the wide world of Roshar! As we examine the first set of Interludes, our scope once again widens to include parts of the world we haven’t observed, at least recently: the far eastern coast of New Natanatan, the western slopes of the Horneater Peaks, and a chasm near the center of the Shattered Plains. All three center on the aftereffects of the Everstorm.
Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. There’s no specific Cosmere discussion in this week’s post, though we can’t promise what will be in the comments. But if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.
WHO: Puuli, Ellista, Venli
WHERE: Puuli—New Natanatan. Ellista—Jokasha Monastery, on the western slopes of the Horneater Peaks. Venli—The Shattered Plains.
WHEN: All of these interludes are flashbacks, in regards to the timeline of the novel so far. Puuli’s takes place one day before the main events of Oathbringer begin (1188.8.131.52), and Venli’s takes places two days after the main events begin (1184.108.40.206). Ellista’s little chapter happens the same day that Shallan “performs” The Girl Who Looked Up for Pattern (1220.127.116.11).
The day after the first Everstorm, Puuli gathers wood from the wreckage and ponders the words of his Grandfather, who told him to watch for destroyers coming from the Origin on the darkest of nights.
At the Jokasha Monastery, Ellista just wants to find a nice quiet place to read her book. When she finally manages it, she’s interrupted by another ardent with questions about her translation of the Dawnchant.
Venli is hunting in the chasms of the Shattered Plains for her sister Eshonai on the command of Ulim, the Voidspren. However, she discovers that her sister is considerably less alive than she’d expected.
Threshold of the storm
Title: The Rhythm of the Lost
A: It’s worth noting here that in the Interludes, the chapter title is always the name of the POV character, except for the Interludes that make up the running novella. In Oathbringer, we can now observe that this will be Venli’s story, similar to Szeth’s story in The Way of Kings and Eshonai’s in Words of Radiance. If I recall correctly, it always concludes with one or two scenes in Part 5, right?
Patron of the Dustbringers She represents the role of Guard, and is associated with the number chach, the essence Spark, and the divine attributes of Brave and Obedient.
A: I’m going with Guard, Obedient, and possibly Spark and Dustbringer here. Puuli has been watching, and he’s been obediently tending the flame in the lighthouse to guard the ships, but he’s also a little too delighted in the destruction. That was a little creepy.
Ellista: Pailah holds the role of Scholar, and is associated with the essence pulp, and the attributes Learned and Giving. She is patron of the Order of Truthwatchers.
A: The Scholar is pretty obvious, as is Learned, for Ellista. I’m not sure there’s much else to note, is there? Oh, wait… pulp. Pulp fiction. Oh, please, tell me they didn’t do that on purpose! (But of course they did. There are no coincidences.)
Venli: Battar is the Counselor, with the essence Tallow, and the attributes Wisdom and Care. She is patron of the Order of Elsecallers.
A: This is a little harder. Venli refers to Eshonai several times in terms we could easily link to Wisdom and the role of Counselor. They don’t seem to apply much to Venli just yet, though. Given that we’re almost sure the spren Timbre will make Venli a Willshaper, I’m a little surprised not to see Kalak here. Maybe that will come later?
Like the titles, most Interludes use the same icon. It’s got that “Double Eye of the Almighty” symbol that demonstrates Surgebinding in the front cover of TWoK, with the five swords going through it. I’ve never been entirely sure of all the symbolism here, but in practical terms, it’s mostly used for Interludes. Sometimes it’s also on chapters where there are so many things going on that it’s impossible to pick a single character as the primary. The exception, as always, is the running novella.
L: The icon used for Venli’s chapter here is similar to but not quite the same as that used for Eshonai’s POV chapters in WoR. Rather than standing on a cliff in armor looking at a storm, this one is standing on a cliff—facing the other direction—and has what appears to be a spren hovering above her hand.
A: In the Words of Radiance reread, we called Eshonai’s icon “The Listener.” Does that mean we should call Venli’s “The Singer”?
Stories & Songs
Time to add to our running tally of Listener Rhythms—Curiosity, Awe, Peace, Pleading, Skepticism, Appreciation, Anxiety, Consolation, Praise, Reprimand, Mourning, Lost. Rhythm of the Terrors, Craving, Command, Fury, Satisfaction, Derision, Spite
Had the time finally come, that his grandfather had warned of? The time of changes, when the men from the hidden island of the Origin at last came to reclaim Natanan?
They’ll come with Light in their pockets, Grandfather had said. They’ll come to destroy, but you should watch for them anyway. Because they’ll come from the Origin. The sailors lost on an infinite sea. You keep that fire high at night, Puuli. You burn it bright until the day they come.
They’ll arrive when the night is darkest.
L: I really wonder about this. It makes me think that this whole thing with Odium is just a presage for the REAL storm coming from the Origin—that there might be an even bigger Evil coming down the line. Maybe this will be what the heroes face in the back five—perhaps the first five books are the fight against Odium, and they win—only to discover something even worse. Which they then have to team up with the Listeners/Fused to survive, of course… /end crackpot theory
A: Well, that’s a frightening thought. Makes a certain amount of sense, because there has to be something different going on in the back five, but… Yikes! That bit about coming “with Light in their pockets” sounds a little like it could just be Knights Radiant with Stormlight, but you’ve just convinced me that it’s probably not. I keep trying to guess, but this is likely our first hint of something yet to come.
At the top, he left out an offering of fruit for Kelek, the Herald who lived in the storm.
L: He’s talking about Kalak, Herald of the Almighty, Patron of the Willshapers. But here’s where I’m confused. Puuli believes that Kelek lives in the storm… which makes sense considering how closely tied the Almighty was to the Stormfather, I suppose. But… in that case, shouldn’t it be the Willshapers who are bonded to the storm? Not the Bondsmiths? Maybe this is just a case of forgotten knowledge and things being attributed to the wrong Heralds over time.
A: I found this interesting, too, but I think it just shows how different peoples understand cosmology in different ways. Not long ago, we were talking about how Shallan thought of the image of Cultivation as “pagan symbols,” and we’ve run into that same idea elsewhere. Given how much information we get directly from the Stormfather, I’m pretty sure Puuli’s people are wrong to identify Kalak with the storm, but the Alethi are also wrong to claim that acknowledging Cultivation’s power is heresy. I think that’s one of the things I love about the Interludes—it reminds us that this world isn’t homogeneous in its beliefs.
“This in-between, weird language is where people started using the Dawnchant script to phonetically transcribe their own language. … In this scrap we have one of the earliest emergence of the proto-Thaylo-Vorin glyphic radicals, and here is one showing a more intermediate Thaylen form.
L: Gotta admit, I’m fascinated by languages and how they evolve, so this is really cool to me. It sort of reminds me of Chinese/Japanese, and how the Japanese took the Chinese symbols combined them with their own phonetic versions of simplified “glyphs,” as Ellista would say. There are also shades of Latin here, in that we’re looking at a “unified scholar’s written language” which was used and understood even when the spoken language of the culture was different.
A: Philology is a fascinating subject, and I love that it’s become an integral part of the worldbuilding. I’m also pleased to see Navani’s work with Dalinar’s visions bearing fruit. I know it’s going to be used in harmful ways, but I have some hope that there will be more good to come.
The old songs spoke of days when humans had hacked apart listener corpses, searching for gemhearts.
L: I can see why they’d be so hesitant to trust humans. Ugh.
A: What struck me was the casual confirmation that yes, the Parsh do have gemhearts, and the humans knew that in the past. Have they just forgotten, or are these gemhearts not all that useful, or what? My best guess is that for some reason, the humans forgot altogether; otherwise, I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t make a practice of removing the gemhearts from their slaves when they die, even if they aren’t extremely useful. (If they were really useful, of course, someone would decided to raise parshmen just for the gemhearts. This makes me grateful that they didn’t know about it, for whatever reason. Slavery is bad enough.) That would, of course, carry over into the War of Reckoning, if they knew about it. I wonder why they forgot?
“Our ancestors?” Demid said. “What do they have to do with this?”
“Everything,” Ulim replied, “seeing as they’re the ones in charge.”
L: Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuun!
A: Merely the first in the series of terrible revelations about Rosharan history….
Bruised & Broken
The good of her people had always been secondary to Venli…
L: UGH. I know that she gets better, but this really makes me hate her. All of this death and destruction, and for what? A selfish desire for power.
A: Hah! I actually love this line, because it means I was right about her all through Words of Radiance. She really was selfish and power-hungry the whole time. It’s hard to believe, given how we (rightly) felt about her at this point, that she’s getting her own redemption arc. She needs some serious redemption, too; in direct opposition to her people’s decisions for centuries, she decided to try to bring back the forms of power and all they entailed. They might have come back without her help, but the fact that she chose to pursue it remains a condemnation.
Eshonai looked exhausted. In fact, she wasn’t moving.
You were the voice of reason, Venli thought. You were the one who argued with me. You… you were supposed to keep me grounded.
What do I do without you?
L: And so begins Venli’s character arc.
Diagrams & Dastardly Designs
“A particular patron of mine has a strict deadline upon [this translation of the Dawnchant]’s delivery.”
L: ::narrows eyes:: I’m suspicious of this.
A: Yes. Almost certainly Taravangian, with his plan for simultaneous “discoveries” of the most damaging aspects of lost history.
Flora & Fauna
L: The Everstorm doesn’t count as Flora or Fauna, but it IS a natural (sort of) occurrence, so I’m putting discussion regarding it here.
“Two data points to make a coincidence, three to make a sequence. The Everstorm travels at a consistent speed, unlike the highstorm.”
A: Works for me. What I want to know is why this is so significant. It obviously is, but why?
Places & Peoples
Here, one of the foreigner captains—with long eyebrows and tan skin, rather than the proper blue skin—was trying to make sense of her ruined ship.
A: We’ve talked before about how the Horneaters and Herdazians have Parshendi blood, so obviously cross-race mating is viable. Here’s our evidence that Aimians and humans were also able to mate, as the people of Natanatan have Aimian blood.
Here, at the central home for the Devotary of the Mind, she was supposed to be able to just read.
L: We don’t really know a whole lot about the inner workings of the ardentia, so this little snippet interests me. From this I would assume that they have several different Devotaries—areas of study?
A: We’ve picked up little snippets about the devotaries along the way, but we don’t know much about them. There doesn’t seem to be a standard naming protocol: for example, Shallan belongs to the Devotary of Purity, and Dalinar to the Devotary of Talenelat. We’ve also heard of Denial, Insight, Sincerity, and here The Mind. As near as I can tell, they each have goals or ideals that they follow, and overall they’re responsible to teach people morality—but not to enforce it. It seems that everyone in Vorinism follows some devotary, not just the ardents. I’ve never been able to tell that it makes much difference, though.
For what it’s worth, I like the Devotary of the Mind. It seems to encourage reading of all genres, not merely scholarship. Between that and not having to bother with her hair, I think Ellista’s onto something here.
“I shall be away, to the Shattered Plains, and you shall not again suffer the torment of my presence.”
L: I find this interesting to note because it gives a pretty clear indication that this novel she’s reading is modern. The war on the Shattered Plains is a fairly recent development, so this book must have been written in the past six years, since the war began. Also interesting to note that Urv calls the book an “Alethi epic.” They’ve got an interesting definition of epic…
A: Epic romance! Wheeee! Or something.
Also, Ellista specifically notes that Urv, the ardent who seeks her out, is Siln; I had to go look that up. Silnasen turns out to be a city in Jah Keved which is not ethnically Veden. They seem to be a very pragmatic people, given that their “battles” tend to involve a lot of boasting and posturing, and very little actual fighting; that would be wasteful of perfectly good hunters. I’m not sure if Ellista is implying that Urv is less boastful than most Siln ardents, or just less obnoxious in general.
Tight Butts and Coconuts
L: I just have to take a moment to appreciate the comic buildup of Ellista’s chapter. We’re made to believe for the whole beginning that she’s looking for a place to get serious work done—and then it’s revealed that she just wants a place to read what’s essentially a trashy romance novel. Well played, Sanderson. Well played.
A: Absolutely. The first quote from her book was a complete stunner.
L: (Also, the language used in the in-world novel is very good, and immediately reminded me of Jane Austen.) Ellista talking to the book is fantastic, too. (Not that I’ve ever done that. Nope. Never. Not at all. ::sits on book::)
A: (Anyone who has ever seen the beta comments might just suspect that Sanderson was poking a little fun at us.)
“Brightlord Vadam? You little whore!”
L: I laughed aloud here.
A: You were not alone.
“What was that you were studying?” he asked.
“Important works,” Ellista said, then sat on the book.
L: She’s adorable.
“She is elevated to courtly attention and has to choose between a strapping naval officer, a Thaylen
bakerbanker, and the King’s Wit.”
L: Oh NOOOOOOOO. ::can’t help imagining Hoid in a book like this and the absolute havoc he’d wreak on everyone::
A: Which… is probably exactly what’s intended, given that as you pointed out, this is a contemporary novel. Clearly the in-world author doesn’t know Hoid at all. (Or… perhaps the author knows Hoid quite well? Either one works, depending on the author’s intent!)
I must quote the next lines, just in case anyone missed the cut text:
“Wait. There are three different men this time?”
“Sequels always have to be bigger,” he said.
L: Putting this one here, since it has to do with Plate:
“Plate looks completely drained. Broken along the back, I see. Well, it’s said to regrow on its own, even now that is it separated from its master from so long ago.”
L: Proof (as if we needed it) that the Plate is somehow organic, like the Blades are.
“Your sister,” Ulim said, “didn’t undergo the transformation properly. She resisted, and we’d have eventually lost her.”
L: That’s cool to know that even if you give in and bond the Voidspren, there’s still a chance of redemption, of coming back.
A: I’m also happy to know that Eshonai would have escaped the Voidspren, had she survived long enough. It wasn’t irreversible.
A Scrupulous Study of Spren
The spren usually took the form of rolling lightning, moving across surfaces. At the bottom, he formed from lightning into a human shape with odd eyes. … She wasn’t sure why a spren sent by Odium himself would look human.
L: Thank you for hanging that particular lampshade, Sanderson, because we’ve been wondering the same thing.
A: IMO, it reveals that the Parsh currently don’t understand that they weren’t always Team Odium; their old songs are truer than they know. Spren from Odium would logically look human—and specifically Shin; I just wonder why more of the native spren don’t look Parsh. Or why we haven’t seen any that do.
…a form of power was what she had always wanted. And she’d achieved one, capturing a spren in the storm within herself. That hadn’t been one of Ulim’s species, of course—lesser spren were used for changing forms. She could occasionally feel the pulsing, deep within, of the one she’d bonded.
L: Lesser Voidpsren… interesting. If they follow the same rules as regular spren, I wonder what sorts of beliefs or ideas they embody?
A: I read this as the lesser natural spren, though I don’t really have anything to back that up. Words of Radiance tells us that a Listener who bonded with a creationspren would gain artform. Maybe passionspren are needed to develop mateform? I haven’t worked at it very hard to figure out which spren would give them nimbleform, or workform, or warform. According to that theory, though, I still have no idea if the spren who can give them the forms of power are natural Rosharan spren, or if they are imports from Braize or someplace and really are Voidspren. They were obviously available on Roshar before the Everstorm, but I don’t know what that proves.
“Do you know how to lead armies, Venli? True armies? Supply troops across a battlefront that spans hundreds of miles? Do you have memories and experiences that span eons?”
She glared at him.
“Our leaders,” Ulim said, “know exactly what they’re doing. Them I obey.”
L: I don’t know about that whole “know exactly what they’re doing” bit. They freed the parshmen, then left them to meander across a harsh country alone, with no information (such as Kaladin gave) on how to survive. That’s not good leadership.
A: And as we’ll discover later, many of them are completely mad. I suppose at this point, Ulim either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about that; he’s more interested in making Venli & Co. follow the orders he’s received from the coherent leaders.
“But I am the one who escaped, the spren of redemption. I don’t have to listen to you.”
L: Spren of redemption, eh? And “escaped…” escaped from who, or what?
A: Escaped from Braize, I’ve always assumed, since that’s where they were supposed to be trapped until the Heralds gave in to the torture. If that’s the case, though, how did he escape before Taln broke?
She turned to go, but paused as she saw something. What was that small spren that had crept out from beneath Eshonai’s corpse? It looked like a small ball of white fire; it gave off little rings of light and trailed a streak behind it. Like a comet.
L: So many theories as to what this little guy is. A Radiant spren that Eshonai had begun bonding? A Voidspren of some sort? Or even Eshonai’s spirit, perhaps? Personally I hold to the first theory.
A: We’ll end up talking about this a lot more in later Interludes, but I think it’s pretty clear that this spren had been in the process of forming a bond with Eshonai before she accepted the stormform. One prevalent theory is that this is a Lightspren, the one they call Reachers in Shadesmar, though Brandon won’t confirm it.
Old Navani Kholin, in Alethkar, had somehow cracked the Dawnchant.
A: This just killed me, and shows just how young—or younger than me!—Ellista is. “Old Navani Kholin”? I mean… really? She’s only fifty-something.
Decorum seemed a vain thing to her now, lost upon the sea that was her need to feel Sterling’s touch. She rushed to him, and upon his arm pressed her ensleeved hand, which she then lifted to caress his sturdy jaw.
L: So, I’ve always held that Sanderson’s one biggest flaw is romance. This is most obvious in Mistborn (the chemistry between Vin and Elend is practically non-existent), but he’s definitely been making advancements in this. Keep in mind that I’m not saying he needs to be writing overt sex scenes like GRRM or Stephen King, but there’s way more to a believable romance than sex. This scene in particular, though written almost as satire and in a completely different style, proves that he can do it. If he chooses to. ;)
A: I seem to recall someone accusing him of getting Mary Robinette Kowal to write this for him. He didn’t, of course, but it was funny at the time.
L: I remember asking if she’d helped with it.
A: Maybe that’s what I remember. But it was funny. And that’s just about enough out of us, eh?
Next week we’ll begin Part Two with Chapter 33. While it’s a relatively short chapter, the next one is pretty long, so we’ll just concentrate on that one alone for this week. As always, see you in the comment section!
Alice is so ready to be done traveling for a bit. Too bad she’s not actually done. However, she would like everyone to be aware that the Skyward proofread is complete, and it’s on its way to publication. Also, the Kaladin album physical CDs are almost ready for shipping!
Lyndsey is up to her eyeballs in craziness and can’t come up with anything witty here at the moment. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website.