Alice: Welcome back to this week’s installment of the Oathbringer reread, wherein we launch into Part 2: New Beginnings Sing. What are these new beginnings? Well, let’s find out; the next few months will apparently focus on Shallan, Jasnah, Dalinar, and Bridge Four.
Lyn: YAY BRIDGE FOUR! ::salute::
A: This week, we’re only dealing with those first two, as they come to grips with inevitable changes resulting from Jasnah’s return.
Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. This week includes minor Cosmere effects as we speculate briefly on the author of the first set of epigraphs. There are definitely references to later in the book, so if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.
WHEN: 1188.8.131.52 (the day after chapter 32)
Shallan makes her way to the room where she scared off the Midnight Mother, looking for Jasnah. She finds her and the two have a brief conversation about why Jasnah didn’t contact anyone to let them know she was still alive.
The Singing Storm
Title: A Lecture
This was how their reunion went? A lecture? Fitting.
A: I’ll admit I snickered at this line. The comment accompanying this suggestion was about an initial disappointment at not being shown a tearful or excited reunion—and then realizing that a lecture was far more appropriate to this particular relationship.
All four places are occupied by Vedel, representing the essence Lucentia (Light), and the attributes Loving and Healing. She is patron of the Order of Edgedancers.
A: This seems an odd choice of Herald for the chapter, since it centers around a Lightweaver and an Elsecaller. There’s no visible healing taking place, either physical or mental. The other connections I can try to make involve esoterica like diamond (the order’s gemstone); quartz, glass, and crystal (soulcasting properties); and the eyes (body focus). I’d really love to have Isaac tell us what he was thinking here, but the best I can do is guess that it either has something to do with both women’s perturbed state of mind (which need healing?) or with the gemstone pillar in some way.
L: My spheres are on the pillar.
Dearest Cephandrius, I received your communication, of course.
A: Oh, this is going to be fun. The letters are always fascinating, and they drive so much speculation. This one is a letter to Hoid; Cephandrius is one of the names he’s used elsewhere, and WoB is that it’s the closest we’ve seen to his original name. In that WoB, it’s also noted that he’s been called Topaz. I think it’s worth saying that the word/name Cephas is an Aramaic one, meaning “rock”—and I’m reasonably sure that’s not coincidence.
L: Ah, but who is the letter from? Do we find out over the course of this book? I admit this is my first reread since the beta, and we didn’t have these in the beta version…
A: ::scurries off to look it up:: Oh, yeah, of course, it’s from… We don’t know! It’s clearly from a Shard who is the only one on its planet. Also, one whose planet Hoid has visited—but we have to assume that’s all of them, even if we haven’t seen them. If it’s a Shard we know about already, we can eliminate every one but Edgli (Endowment from Warbreaker); if it’s not her, then it’s one of the six Shards we haven’t learned about yet.
L: What rules out Harmony (Scadrial)? Do the timelines not match up or something?
A: The epigraphs for Part 2 are actually three different letters, and the third one is pretty clearly from Harmony. Fwiw, the second is from Bavadin, Vessel of the Shard Autonomy, but we’ll talk about that more in a couple of months or so when we reach the second letter.
Here’s how it shakes out: It can’t be from any of the splintered Shards (Devotion, Dominion, Ambition, and Honor), so that takes out four. It’s not likely to be from Cultivation or Odium, since they’re right here; that makes six. Ruin and Preservation are combined to Harmony, who like Bavadin is ruled out because of the other two letters, removing another three of the original sixteen for a total of nine. That leaves Edgli, or one of the six still-hidden Shards. This could be Brandon’s way of introducing a new one, which would be cool because he’s spilled nothing about them.
I’m going with Edgli, though.
Stories & Songs
Lately she’d only been doing pages and pages of twisted images.
L: I’m left wondering if this was just an effect of the Midnight Mother’s influence on her, or if it was indicative of a deeper issue within her fracturing psyche. I’m not sure if we see her drawing again anytime soon…
A: Not ones that we get to see. Except for the picture of Urithiru below, which opens Part 2, we don’t see her drawings again until she’s in Kholinar. (I’m assuming that the Urithiru drawing is one she does during this chapter, or close to it; until she booted the Midnight Mother, she wasn’t able to draw the tower at all.) There are a few times coming up where she’s caught doing sketches in meetings, though, so apparently she returns to her normal forms of drawing after this.
In fact… the oppressive feelings she’d felt since they’d arrived at the tower seemed to have evaporated. No more fear, no more formless sense of wrongness. The thing she’d chased away had been its cause.
A: My immediate question about this was whether that sense of wrongness in the whole tower which she’d felt earlier was a matter of proximity, just because Re-Shephir was hanging out in the cellars? Or was it because Re-Shephir was wrapped around that pillar and somehow linked into the fabrialesque infrastructure of the tower?
L: Oh, that’s a good theory. If that pillar does somehow power the tower (heh rhymes), then it would make sense that the corruption of the Unmade seeping into it would resonate through the whole tower!
A: There are a lot of questions about this “wrongness” that are—and may always be—unanswered. How many people really felt it? We talked earlier about how Shallan and Renarin did, but Dalinar didn’t. Are there others who felt it? And if so, why some and not others?
L: Not to mention, is this corruption only present in certain Unmade, or in all of them? There are definitely effects on people who are close to Ashertmarn (the revelers in Kholinar), Nergaoul (the Thrill), and Moelach (the Death Rattles).
A: That… is a very good question. Moelach was apparently present in Kharbranth when Shallan was there, because of the death rattles, but she didn’t notice anything. Of course, her bond with Pattern was pretty dodgy at that point, too. On the other hand, when they reach Kholinar, Shallan does a sketch of the palace that Kaladin thinks is “twisted, with odd angles and distorted walls.” Sound familiar? So… maybe… I have no idea where I’m going with this. Does Shallan see the effect of certain Unmade and not others, or do they just not all have that effect?
L: Well, we don’t know where the Midnight Mother wound up. Maybe she was in Kholinar too and hence creating the same effect on Shallan…
A: Oooh. That would be sort of scary. I was assuming it was either Ashertmarn or Sja-Anat, but I have to admit that we really don’t know how many of them had gathered there.
L: This also makes me wonder how friendly they all are with one another. Would the Midnight Mother have run off to the others to feel more safety in numbers? Do they in-fight, like the Forsaken?
A: I have so many questions! And I’m pretty sure Brandon has no intention of answering them any time soon.
L: SO MANY. ALL the questions!
The crystal pillar at the center really was something incredible. It wasn’t a single gemstone, but a myriad of them fused together: emerald, ruby, topaz, sapphire… All ten varieties seemed to have been melted into a single thick pillar, twenty feet tall.
L: I keep thinking about how much heat it would take to MELT gemstones into one another like that. Is it even possible, scientifically speaking? I’m sure that magic was involved somehow (Stonewards, perhaps?), but we all know how closely Sanderson ties his magic to real science….
A: Yeah, that’s a good point. Using heat to melt them together sounds problematic at best. It’s possible that the Stonewards used Cohesion or Tension (I can never keep those two straight) to alter the molecular structure, but it might be something the Sibling made instead. If the Sibling is indeed the spren of stone, they could probably do this! I keep vacillating between the theory that the Stonewards formed Urithiru, and the theory that the Sibling “grew it” for the Knights Radiant.
L: Other than the science, I like the idea that this pillar is symbolic of all ten of the orders being bound together into a thing of beauty.
“My mother,” Jasnah said, hand still on the pillar, not looking toward Shallan, “thinks this must be some kind of incredibly intricate fabrial.”
A: Personally, I think she’s right… sort of. I guess it’s common speculation now, but I’m almost positive this is either the “power plant” or the control center for the entire tower infrastructure. I’m also confident that the Sibling will need to wake up in order for it to work, and somewhat less confident that it will require someone to bond with them. (I mean, I’d really love to see Navani or Rushu bond with the Sibling, but I also think it would be sort of cool if they returned just to be with the Knights Radiant without necessarily forming a bond.)
L: Why are you so sure that the Sibling needs to be involved? Maybe it’s just that one of each of the orders of Knights Radiant needs to be present.
A: Well, that would certainly make it easier! (I think. Some of the spren don’t seem very cooperative about reviving all the orders, do they?) I have no valid support for my theory, to be frank. It just seems that the Sibling is tied closely to Urithiru, so I make assumptions within that framework. It’s just faintly possible (!) that I’m obsessed with the Sibling, since Brandon won’t tell me anything about it.
“I had to find a transfer point—a place where Shadesmar and our realm touch—which is far, far more difficult than one might assume.”
L: Just pointing this out as it’s going to become awfully important come Part 4.
Relationships & Romances
“That Windrunner. What do you think of him, Shallan? I find him much as I imagined his order, but I have only met him once.”
L: Yes, Shallan. What do you think of that Windrunner? Eh? Eh?
A: Look at this week’s artwork for a tiny hint….
Shallan hesitated in the doorway, feeling much as she had upon seeing Jasnah for the first time in Kharbranth. Insecure, overwhelmed, and—if she was honest—incredibly envious.
A: Jasnah’s return creates a lot of conflict for Shallan. Last time we saw Shallan, she was thinking about how she kind of almost felt like an adult – and there was a fair amount of discussion about the ways in which her reflections showed her immaturity. I think we missed noting that she wasn’t really an adult questioning her ability to act like an adult; she was a teenager feeling like she was all grown up and mature now. All of a sudden, in this chapter, she’s being forcibly returned to the position of “Jasnah’s young ward,” and I think a lot of the reason for her resentment is that she had convinced herself of her own maturity. Of course, there are ways where her resentment is reasonable; she has done some pretty amazing things on her own, and she really ought not to be treated patronizingly.
At the same time, I can relate to Jasnah’s position. Being told that your ward has done some pretty amazing things – which she acknowledges – is very different than seeing them happen and seeing her growth. In the meta-story, it was needful for Jasnah to be out of the picture in order for Shallan to be in a position to do All The Things; in the character, though, it has to be hard for Jasnah to change her understanding of Shallan all in a few minutes. And honestly, Shallan is acting like a sulky teenager, which doesn’t give Jasnah much reason to treat her as not-a-child.
“I feel lost…” Jasnah said. … “For years I was at the very forefront of all this. One short stumble, and I find myself scrambling to stay afloat. These visions that my uncle is having … the refounding of the Radiants in my absence … It has all come so quickly. After years of struggling in the shadows, everything coming to light—and despite my years of study—I understand so very little.”
A: This, naturally, enhances my sympathy. How awful would it be for Jasnah, the one who had been at the leading edge, who had progressed so far through her Ideals while keeping it secret from everyone, who gave her life to researching all of this—and now it seems that everyone is ahead of her. They aren’t, of course; she will show soon enough that her years of practice give her an enormous edge, but these first days must be overwhelming.
Storms. She was perfect. A curvaceous figure, tan Alethi skin, light violet eyes, and not a hint of aberrant color to her jet-black hair. Making Jasnah Kholin as beautiful as she was brilliant was one of the most unfair things the Almighty had ever done.
L: Some people read these types of thoughts as Shallan being bisexual, and Brandon did sort of confirm it in this WoB… kinda. As a bi woman, I absolutely love this.
A: Perspective makes so much difference in our assumptions, doesn’t it? I simply read it as Shallan being envious of Jasnah’s physical “perfections” as opposed to her own perceived shortcomings; she has frequently disparaged her own height, build, hair color, skin color, etc. (I am all too familiar with this kind of self-perception!) I think Brandon likes it when we see ourselves in his work, whether he did it intentionally or not.
Diagrams & Dastardly Designs
“The Ghostbloods will almost certainly start targeting you, now that you’ve begun progressing toward your final Ideals.”
L: Okay so…. If their goal is to find info about the Desolations and parshendi, and they tried to assassinate Jasnah because she was a rival… why would they be coming after Shallan for progressing in Ideals? Maybe Jasnah is just mistaking the Ghostbloods’ motives for the Skybreakers’?
A: It’s possible that Jasnah doesn’t know what the Ghostbloods’ motives are. I’m know I don’t; they haven’t told us much so far. The only thing I’m reasonably sure of is that their motives reach beyond Roshar, and I’m not sure Jasnah was targeted just because she was a rival for information. There’s a whole lot of misinformation floating around; for example, Amaram assumed that the Ghostbloods were behind the Shardbearer who came for him, but we’re reasonably sure that the Shardblade he was carrying belonged to the Skybreakers. So… more questions and uncertainties.
Tight Butts and Coconuts
All she’d done was grope an eldritch spren.
“Of course. An Elsecaller, Brightness. A thing you never explained; a word which no one but the most dedicated scholar of the esoteric would recognize.”
“All Radiants have an attachment to Shadesmar,” Jasnah said. “Our spren originate there, and our bond ties us to them. But my order has special control over moving between realms. I was able to shift into Shadesmar to escape my would-be assassin.”
A: This is a really good reminder that on the whole, we know a LOT more about the Knight Radiant orders than most people in-world. Jasnah knows quite a bit, and the Heralds would know more if they weren’t insane. The spren know a lot, but they mostly aren’t telling. That said, this was a delicious little tidbit.
I don’t know how canonical it’s intended to be, but I think this is worth reading for a little more idea of what Elsecallers can and can’t do.
A Scrupulous Study of Spren
“You capture a spren,” Jasnah said, “and imprison it inside a gemstone crafted for the purpose. Artifabrians have found that the specific stimuli will provoke certain responses in the spren.”
A: Shallan’s reaction to this is much the same as my original reaction to realizing how fabrials work.
A: I’m sure much of that was driven by knowing Syl and other higher, sapient spren, because trapping those spren seems nothing less than slavery. It’s a little hard to think of Shardblades in quite the same way, but it’s not really that much different.
L: The “dead” Shardblades for sure.
A: This forces us to face the question: is it slavery to entrap and manipulate a spren that isn’t at all self-aware, which in the normal course of events would simply be drawn to an event or emotion the way ants are drawn to crumbs? Assuming you could obtain something useful from it, would it be slavery to entrap an ant and get it to do a certain thing by providing it with a grain of sugar? Which is more accurate: Jasnah’s comparison of hitching a chull to a wagon—and Shallan’s extension to locking the chull in a box forever—or my comparison of an ant? Not that anyone here can answer that question, because we really don’t know how self-aware some of these spren are—nor chulls, for that matter!
L: They do seem more like animals—not sapient, that is—so I can follow Jasnah’s explanation. But trapping them inside of gems? Sounds like sticking pokemon into pokeballs to me (which always struck me as a little… unpleasant).
L: I have verification from the artist that the figure in the corner here is meant to be Kaladin. I may or may not have rebuked him for changing the uniform design, since now I have to make another one to match this drawing… -_-
A: Bummer on the uniform design… but I find it moderately hilarious that she’s got this perfect drawing of Urithiru, with all the drafting conventions observed… and then a sketch of Kaladin up in the corner just because.
Jasnah didn’t want to merely prove her points. She wanted to drive them right into your skull, with a flourish and a pithy epigram.
* * *
I … believe I once disparaged the usefulness of your artistic skill. I now find reason to call myself foolish for that presumption.”
A: I just have to point out that Jasnah apologizes to Shallan twice in this chapter: once for her lack of foresight concerning the assassination attempt and its effect on the ship, the crew, and Shallan; and once for underestimating the value of Shallan’s artwork.
It was nice to be reminded that, for all their differences, there were occasional things that she and Jasnah shared.
She just wished that ignorance weren’t at the top of the list.
Next week we’ll be covering chapter 34, which is a bit of a long one, so it’ll be alone. As always, join us in the comments for more theory-crafting (or just happy squee-ing that Jasnah is back).
Alice is so done with road trips for a while, having driven across the state of Washington six times in six weeks. Done. Now she’ll be returning to work on that long-promised article about the Kaladin album, to celebrate release of the physical CDs.
Lyndsey is finally nearing completion on her Star Lord cosplay, and can’t wait to challenge you all to dance-offs at future cons. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website.