Good morning everyone, and welcome back to the Oathbringer Reread! This week we’ll be following Sigzil as he goes over some important issues with Kaladin, and see the recruitment of new soldiers into Bridge Four begin.
Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. In this chapter we don’t have any broader Cosmere discussion, but if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.
WHEN: 118.104.22.168 (Same day as the last chapter)
Sigzil awakes and makes his way through the chaos of Bridge Four breakfast in order to report in to Kaladin about a slew of issues—quarters for the married members of the bridgecrew, social reassignment forms, religions, and recruitment. They run into Lyn, who—after a brief misunderstanding—is invited to try out for the bridgecrew. Sigzil continues his conversation with Kaladin regarding even more important matters—chain of command, social structure, and wages. They arrive at their destination and check out the entire royal emerald reserve, which they’ll be using to practice their newfound Knights Radiant powers.
The Singing Storm
Title: First Into the Sky
“I don’t want to be huddled over a ledger when Bridge Four takes to the air. I want to be first into the sky.”
A: Well, that’s fairly obvious! They don’t actually get there this week, but they’re itching to go.
L: For this chapter we’ve got the Joker and Kalak. I’d say it’s pretty obvious as to why the Joker is here—Sigzil was Hoid’s apprentice, after all. But Kalak (divine attributes Resolute and Builder, patron of Willshapers)? Alice, you have any theories?
A: Seems odd, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t it be Jezrien for the Windrunners? But my best guess is that Kalak represents what they’re doing with Bridge Four: building it into a new structure. Sigzil, with his excellent questions about the chain of command, morals, codes of conduct, etc., is setting about the task of building a new way of functioning for this team. They aren’t slaves and they aren’t guards; they’re something new to modern-day Roshar, and he’s doing his best to put it on a solid foundation.
Bridge 4 Uniform Shoulder Patch, denoting a chapter from the POV of someone in Bridge 4.
A: I was so excited to see our second new character icon for this book! Bridge Four has its own icon now, and it marks the beginning of the second novelette in Oathbringer. (The first is Venli’s story.) I know some people weren’t thrilled about how much time was spent on it, but I love every minute of the Bridge Four Story, and I’m delighted that they have their own sequence.
L: The Bridge Four sections were some of my favorite parts of the book! It’s just so nice to see things from a different perspective.
You think yourself so clever, but my eyes are not those of some petty noble, to be clouded by a false nose and some dirt on the cheeks.
L: Interestingly, Hoid does seem to prefer tricking the nobility, doesn’t he? The only exception I can think of right now is his appearance in the original Mistborn trilogy, when he was tricking the rebellion.
Stories & Songs
L: Let’s talk a little about the story that Sigzil tries—and fails—to tell, here. I’m not going to quote it because honestly he does such an awful job (poor thing) that it’ll probably be easier to just paraphrase. The third moon wants to escape the sky, so it tricks the queen of the Natan people into changing places with it—and this is why the Natan people have blue skin. Supposedly it was supposed to be about responsibility. Honestly, I’m just as clueless as Kal, here. Sigzil really, really isn’t a good storyteller.
A: Ain’t that the truth! He’s terrible. Mostly because he didn’t know what he wanted to say, I think, and chose the wrong story as well as telling the story badly. Fortunately, Hoid will tell the story properly when we get to Chapter 67. For now, I’m not even going to guess at how the story was supposed to fit the point he wanted to make. Poor thing.
Bruised & Broken
“You know what Teft has gotten into.”
L: Ah, our first glimpse into the firemoss addiction. Poor Teft. Chemical addiction is so, so hard to break—and I say this as (unfortunately) a cigarette smoker of about 15 years, which is probably one of the least addictive “drugs” out there. (I’m trying to quit, but like Teft, not having such an easy time of it.) We’ll obviously be getting more about Teft later, so I’ll leave it at that unless Alice wants to add anything in.
A: I just remember on the first read being baffled at the hints Sigzil was dropping here, and how much it hurt to find out what “the other thing” was. Teft was clearly having trouble fulfilling his responsibilities to Bridge Four, and that was worrying.
Squires & Sidekicks
He sucked in a breath at the pain, and his sphere winked out. What …
His skin started glowing, letting off a faint luminescent smoke. Oh, right. Kaladin was back.
A: I just had to point this out, because it was not only a clever way of reminding the reader that Kaladin is back, and these are his squires, the wording also made me laugh. “Oh, yeah. THAT.”
In that same section, it’s just sort of slipped in that the men with slave brands who can draw in Stormlight have all lost their brands, and they all keep their tattoos. Kaladin, of course, is just the opposite, having kept his brands but melted off the tattoo.
“Peet is now officially betrothed to the woman he’s been seeing.”
“Ka? That’s wonderful.”
L: These are tuckerizations of Peter Ahlstrom—Sanderson’s assistant—and his wife Karen.
“And then there’s the matter of Drehy…”
“Well, he’s been courting a man, you see…”
Kaladin threw on his coat, chuckling. “I did know about that one. You only now noticed?”
L: I can’t tell you how happy Kaladin’s reaction here made me. This is clearly a complete non-issue for him. One of his men is gay? Cool by him. While it’s important to have literature that deals with the prejudice and violence that the LGBTQIA community has to endure, it’s also nice to see a society that just doesn’t care. Whoever you are, is who you are. Fantasy is, for many of us, an escape—so it’s nice to be able to escape to a place that accepts us for who we are. It seems as though this is a sentiment held by the Alethi in general—we’ll discuss a little bit about the Azir system lower down.
Anyway, this is all aside from the fact that Drehy is awesome. I hope that we see more of him in the next book!
A: It’s funny; only yesterday I was chatting with a friend who is reading Oathbringer for the first time, and he’d just read this chapter. He was puzzled as to why this was included, since, “It’s not like Sanderson to include character details that don’t directly affect the plot.” I couldn’t honestly tell him why, other than that he wanted book-Drehy to reflect real-life-Drehy, and a number of fans were clamoring for representation. I’m still ambivalent about how critical it is for an author to include “representation” (of whatever) if it’s not needed by the plot, but then I’m not the author, so my ambivalence is pretty irrelevant, eh?
L: I think it’s important to the character and the world-building if not the actual plot. We see a lot of social constructs that don’t directly tie into the story, like safe-hands and men not being able to read. Kaladin’s seasonal depression informs who he is as a person, but it doesn’t affect the plot too much (Note: his SEASONAL depression during the Weeping, not the overlying depression he suffers from in addition to that). I could go on… Renarin’s issues. Adolin’s obsession with fashion. So why not this, too?
Kaladin eyed Lyn as they walked. “You’re the one who has been helping my men, right? Lyn, was it?”
L: Well, I promised I would talk about this eventually, so here you go—skip this section if the circumstances behind my tuckerization don’t interest you.
For what it’s worth, I always feel a little self-conscious talking about this, because I know that it was due to an extremely lucky chain of occurrences, and just how many other people would kill to have such an opportunity. I can only say that I understand and wouldn’t blame anyone for being jealous or hating me for it—just know that in return, I have put in a TON of work behind the scenes beta-reading and hunting typos in a desire to repay that which was given to me. (In addition to giving Sanderson cookies every time he visits New England.)
So, story-time. Let’s hope I’m a better storyteller than Sig.
A: You are. Trust.
L: Years and years ago, I was gaining some weird stalkers on Reddit. I decided that it was time to change my username in order to avoid them—and I’d just read this storming fantastic book The Way of Kings. “Kaladin Stormblessed is a great name and I adore him,” I thought, and shockingly no one had taken it yet. So Kaladin_Stormblessed I became. Shortly thereafter, I was invited to be a moderator on the newly minted Stormlight Archive subreddit. Months later, in an AskReddit post, someone asked “If you could live in any fictional world, what would it be?” I replied Roshar: “maybe I could get a chance to fight alongside my namesake.” Imagine my surprise when Brandon REPLIED to my comment and said “I can make that happen for you.” Years later, he told me that someone had sent him a PM linking him to the comment (thank you, whoever you were). Sure enough, Lyn showed up in Words of Radiance—a very brief, blink-you’ll-miss-it mention during the final battle in the end. I was overjoyed. Thrilled. Ecstatic. I got to talk to Shallan. Not really, I know. But I didn’t come down off that high for a long time. I actually got the glyph for Bridge Four tattooed on my upper arm to commemorate this (as well as for other reasons).
I’d assumed that that was it, and I was perfectly happy for it to be so. But then we got the beta for Oathbringer. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried (a lot) when I read how awesome Lyn was in here.
A: And you should have seen the cheering and “shouting” in the beta inputs when Lyn became more a part of Bridge Four! Not to take away from her personal joy in any way, but there is a certain feeling that Lyn is “ours” and it was delightful to watch her character grow. I can only speak for myself, really, but in a way I feel like Lyn is Lyn, and Lyn is also all of the readers. As “one of us,” she … she is us.
L: That makes me feel a little less self-conscious, actually. Someone in the comments on a previous chapter’s reread asked me if Sanderson had used my actual “IRL” personality traits or just my name/appearance, and to be honest? I don’t know. I can tell you that I think he knows me well enough by now to know the type of person I am, and Lyn is very much like me. I’ve always been more at home with “the guys” and would much rather be out fighting with a sword (or a spear) than doing other, more feminine things. I work construction. I swear (a lot). When I read Lyn, I do see myself. Is this just because she so neatly fits the tomboy archetype, and—let’s face it—that’s also me? Or did Sanderson do it on purpose? The only real answer I have is that I thanked him at a signing for “giving me the chance to smash the Rosharan patriarchy” and he smiled and said “I thought you’d like that.”
I’m so thankful to be able to fight with Kaladin and the rest of Bridge Four, and to literally be a part of this great work that I love so much. If he decided to kill Lyn off I’d be completely fine with that (though I would be sad, because I love how she challenges traditional Alethi gender roles). But Stormlight has changed my life for the better, as it has for so many others, and to be a part of that? There’s no feeling in the world like it. I’ll owe Sanderson for it until the day I die.
Okay. I’m done. (Gentle reminder that I am also an epic fantasy writer and hence typing out novels worth of text like this is pretty much a daily occurrence…)
Moash had been the closest to Kaladin, but he wasn’t in Bridge Four any longer. Kaladin hadn’t said what Moash had done, only that he had “removed himself from our fellowship.”
L: Obligatory f*** Moash. (Yes, I’m going to do it every time, and you can’t stop me.)
A: I hated Moash before it was cool. #noredemption (And yes, I do have that on a t-shirt, thank you very much.)
Flora & Fauna
It had come again, a third time, this event proving that that it was even more regular than the highstorms. Right around every nine days.
L: In Ross’s Highstorm article, he theorizes that the Highstorm needs to return to the Origin to recharge before sweeping across Roshar again. However, the Everstorm appears to have a specific constant speed that never varies. Meteorologically and scientifically, this is pretty fascinating. Most storms lose energy as they progress—as that energy is transferred to other things (trees, water, etc…). Is there something going on in the atmosphere that’s keeping the Everstorm so constant, or is it simply due to the magical nature of the storm? What fuels it?
A: That’s a question … and I fear the answer. Whatever fuels it, it’s not good. I mean, the obvious answer is “Odium”—but I think there’s a little more to the “mechanism” that could be frightening. Or I could just be a sucker for symbolism.
Places & Peoples
They wouldn’t last a day in Azir, where queuing in an orderly way wasn’t only expected, it was practically a mark of national pride.
L: Reminds me of similar jokes about the UK.
A: Or Canada.
Everyone in Azir talked about how even the humblest man could become Prime, but the son of a laborer had so little time to study.
L: Does the current Prime prove this to be true, or not?
A: Heh. Well, the nephew of a thief, anyway. It’s a cute little reminder of how bad things had gotten in Azir since Sigzil left, though. When he was there, just becoming a government cleric involved a lot of study, and becoming Prime required eloquence and persuasive rhetoric. That was before a certain king got hold of a certain assassin. This last time, it was going to go to anyone they could pawn it off on—and then there was a miracle that justified choosing a thief. Go figure.
“Drehy hasn’t filled in the proper forms,” Sigzil said. “If he wants to court another man, he needs to apply for social reassignment, right?”
Kaladin rolled his eyes.
“Then how do you apply for social reassignment?”
L: I like that Azir is also apparently fine with homosexuality, provided the people fill out forms. If only it could be so easy to be accepted in our world. Oh, you’re gay? Okay, cool. Sign this piece of paper and no one will bother you about it again.
A: The drawback to the Azir situation is that they really do socially reassign you, as I understand it. You sign that paper, and you are now a woman and will be treated as a woman. Which is kind of bizarre, because what about lesbians? Do they “become men” when they’re reassigned? Or is just one half of each couple designated as the other sex? Or how does that work? Any way you look at it, it’s a little skeevy, and not quite as accepting as it looks on the surface.
Or maybe that’s non-canon, and he’ll clarify in the next book or something. Once can hope.
L: Hmm, yes. If we were talking about trans people that would make sense, but otherwise? Not so much. And what about people who are bi? Do they have to choose? I hope that it doesn’t work that way. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess!
“All right, then what’s our chain of command? Do we obey King Elhokar? Are we still his subjects? And what dahn or nahn are we in society? … Who pays the wages of Bridge Four? What about the other bridge crews? If there is a squabble over Dalinar’s lands in Alethkar, can he call you—and Bridge Four—up to fight for him, like a normal liege-vassal relationship? If not, then can we still expect him to pay us?”
L: I LOVE that Sanderson is willing to ask all these questions. I feel like these sorts of things are often overlooked in favor of “omg dragons and swords and cool stuff” in fantasy—and especially in epic fantasy. The little nitty-gritty, the logistics of how a society runs… all of this stuff is so important to the characters, and lends so much realism to Roshar.
A: This was brilliant, IMO. It’s not so much that I enjoy logistics, but I hate it when people pretend it doesn’t matter. It does matter—plus it’s such a perfect thing for our resident Azish dude to think about, and to insist that it get sorted out before it becomes an issue.
Tight Butts and Coconuts
“Say, do you know how to get two armed Herdazians to do what you want?”
“If I did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
L: Lopen… never change.
A: And Sigzil’s reply is gold.
Kaladin grunted. “The fun part of running an army.”
“That was sarcasm, Sig.”
L: I have to admit… as someone who enjoys organization, I get Sigzil here.
“I’m tired of having these here, drawing everyone’s eyes and making me sweat like a spy with too many spren.”
L: This is a great expression. You’ve got to admit, being a spy in Roshar would be insanely difficult, unless there’s some sort of training you can undergo to repress your emotions and hence not draw the spren to you…
A: I always get a kick out of in-world idioms, and especially when they’ve been begging to happen. We’ve seen a handful of times already when spren are inconvenient—letting someone know you’re embarrassed or what have you. “A spy with too many spren” is so perfect. And yes, I’m betting there’s a certain amount of training you can do to control your emotions. I’ll bet Jasnah knows how.
L: If anyone does, it’d definitely be Jasnah!
“I don’t mind if you want to be something like our unit’s ardent,” Kaladin said. “The men like you, Sig, and they put a lot of stock in what you have to say. But you should try to understand what they want out of life, and respect that, rather than projecting onto them what you think they should want out of life.”
L: There are a lot of reasons I love Kaladin, but this right here? This made me love him a million times more.
A: Okay, I have to do this:
Kaladin watched her go, then grunted softly.
Sigzil—without even thinking about it—mumbled, “Did your master teach you to be that insensitive?”
Kaladin eyed him.
“I have a suggestion, sir,” Sigzil continued. “Try to understand what people want out of life, and respect that, rather than projecting onto them what you think they should—”
“Shut it, Sig.”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.”
BAHAHAHAHA! I so much adored Sigzil in that moment. Absolute perfection.
L: It is really funny to see him turn the tables on Kal here.
“Tryouts?” she said. “For real positions? Not just doing accounts? Storms, I’m in.”
A: Somewhere along the line, I remember someone saying they were surprised that Lyn accepted this so readily after Kal’s previous insulting offer and I have to say… for the chance to fly? To be a squire, and maybe someday a Radiant? I’d forgive a whole lot of unintentional insult for that opportunity!
L: Truth. Also, keep in mind that she’s talking to Kaladin Stormblessed. I’m willing to bet that most of the army reveres him. It’s pretty easy to forgive someone for a minor transgression when they’re your hero.
“Well, that wind blew past me years ago, sir.”
A: Just another nice idiom…
L: Next week, we’ll be going over two chapters—36 and 37, since 36 is rather short. As always, thank you for joining us (and putting up with my long-windedness). Please join us in the comments for more theorycrafting!
A: I’d like to take this opportunity to put in the “obligatory occasional reminder” PSA: we’re all here to discuss a book we love, but we all have differing viewpoints. Those differences are what make the discussion worth having, right? In that light, let’s all remember to neither give nor take personal offense at conflicting perspectives. This is a responsibility we all need to share to have a civil society, and it seems in short supply on much of social media. Let’s be better here, because y’all are friends and family!
L: Indeed. Just because someone has a different opinion doesn’t mean that they should be attacked for it. Remember Sig and Kal’s words in this very chapter and take them to heart, and let’s all respect one another. ::bridge four salute::