Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Oathbringer Reread! This week we’ll be delving into the heavy subject of chemical and emotional addiction thanks to a certain downtrodden bridgeman. Thankfully we’ll then be lightening things up as we enter into another vision with Dalinar, in which he gets some unexpected company and backhanded compliments about… his butt?
Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. There are, once again, Cosmere-wide comments in discussion of this week’s epigraphs, though they aren’t really plot spoilers for anything. But if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.
WHO: Teft; Dalinar
WHERE: Urithiru marketplace; Aharietiam vision (again!)
WHEN: 1188.8.131.52 (The day after the Ch. 39 & 40 meeting, six days after the previous Bridge Four chapter)
In Chapter 41, we join Teft in the depths of a firemoss binge. He’s sold his coat for money to buy more of the drug, and is actively spurning the honorspren who’s following him around. Kaladin and Rock find him and carry him back to the barracks, but it’s only a matter of time before he falls prey to the addiction again…
Chapter 42 features Dalinar yanking yet another Rosharan politician into one of his visions—this time Gawx, the Prime of Azir. Lift’s little buddy doesn’t believe Dalinar at first, then when he does, he questions Dalinar’s motives, rightfully bringing up that the Alethi have been awful to the Azish in the past. Just as things are starting to turn around for Dalinar, though, who shows up but Lift! The Stormfather is flabbergasted about how she managed it, but—typically—she doesn’t give a hoot about either of them. She tells Gawx not to trust Dalinar and hauls him unceremoniously out of the vision.
The Singing Storm
Titles: On the Ground Looking Up; Consequences
Storms, but they were good men. Better friends than he deserved. They were all growing into something grand, while Teft … Teft just stayed on the ground, looking up.
A: Sigh. That doesn’t need any further explanation, does it? It pretty well summarizes his chapter. It’s poignant that “looking up” is usually used in a positive light, but for Teft it’s more a matter of hopelessness, because he feels he’ll never get off the ground.
Dalinar met the young man’s eyes. “I’ve lived long enough to see the consequences of what I’ve done.”
A: As we’ll talk about below, one of the consequences of his and his ancestors’ behavior is that no one trusts the Alethi. There are, of course, other consequences as well.
Heralds: Jezrien; Jezrien & Vedel
A: For Teft’s chapter, I suggest that it’s all Jezrien for a couple of reasons. Obviously, he represents the Windrunners, which Teft is, whether he’s progressing or not. Secondarily, Teft is reflecting a lot of the inverse-Jezrien we talked about recently—the Jezrien who cannot protect or lead, because he’s lost his courage and his purpose.
Then for Dalinar’s chapter, it’s pretty easy to guess that Jezrien represents himself, as Dalinar sees him in the vision, and perhaps also Dalinar’s behavior as he protects Gawx during the battle. Vedel almost certainly is here for Lift, her little Edgedancer; perhaps, too, she reflects Lift’s relationship with Gawx.
Bridge Four (for Teft); Kholin Shield (for Dalinar)
Regardless, this is not your concern. You turned your back on divinity. If Rayse becomes an issue, he will be dealt with.
And so will you.
A: That’s rather… final, isn’t it? That’s all of what Edgli has to say in response to Hoid’s request for (presumably) help in dealing with Odium. She’s done.
L: To be fair, if he treats her the same way he does most everyone else, I don’t entirely blame her.
Cephandrius, bearer of the First Gem,
You must know better than to approach us by relying upon presumption of past relationship.
A: And now we start another letter, this one confirmed to be from Bavadin/Autonomy. We know very little about this Shard from the texts; there are a few things in Arcanum Unbounded, but most of what we have comes from WoB and the Stormlight Archive series of letters.
L: Do we know which planet they’re hailing from, at least? (Also, might be good to point out to the non-Cosmere scholars like me that Cephandrius is another of Hoid’s many names.)
A: The first planet that we can associate Bavadin with is Taldain, the world of White Sand. We know from AU that Autonomy is their Shard… and also that there’s a stringent isolation policy for Taldain, making travel to and from the planet very difficult. At the same time, for reasons unknown, Autonomy has no qualms at all about meddling with other planets, whether they “belong” to another Shard or not.
L: What about that First Gem thing? Do we know anything about that or is this the first mention of it?
A: We have one WoB saying that the First Gem is “a topaz, which was associated with [Hoid] for a long time and had some mystical properties.” In one of the early unpublished works, Hoid goes by the nickname “Topaz” as well. There’s some speculation that the First Gem may be connected to the weapon that Shattered Adonalsium and gives Hoid his immortality, but it’s only speculation at this point, based on another WoB. So many speculations, which will not be answered for so many years…
One of the most bizarre things about Bavadin is this “us” pronoun. Turns out that Bavadin manifests in many different ways, according to this WoB:
Bavadin has several male personas, and has often appeared as male for one purpose or another, so it’s not that much of an issue. She has more female personas, but some of the male ones are quite popular.
This won’t be relevant for a long while, but as a service to the community, let me say this: try not to get too hung up on gender, race, or even human appearance where Bavadin is concerned. There are some peoples who worship entire pantheons where every member is actually her.
S/he’s even worse than Shallan, apparently! The whole concept makes me question her sanity, and wonder whether she’s Splintering herself or … what.
L: I think I’ll use they pronouns for them from now on.
A: “They” is probably valid. Brandon has a tendency to use feminine pronouns, but I think that’s more habit than anything. In the realm of total wild guessing, what if Bavadin is a female dragon? Yolen dragons are able to take human form, so is it possible that the forms they can take are not tied to their original sex as a dragon? It’s a fun theory, anyway.
Beyond that, we’ll explore what Bavadin has to say directly in the upcoming weeks, and probably discuss more of the character as well. One last note: from the letter in TWoK, we know that Hoid has a grudge against Bavadin and Rayse.
Stories & Songs
Those monsters of darkness, including one that had looked just like Teft. He’d needed the moss to deal with that.
L: Interesting. I don’t remember any of the other members of Bridge 4, or any other characters, running into Dark versions of themselves—except during the showdown in the pillar room. Is Teft referring to that here, or was the Midnight Mother coming to him specifically?
A: I just assumed that he was referring to the Midnight Mother event, and was more wigged out about seeing the dark version of himself than the others were. I’m thinking of this bit, which sounds to me like what Teft is referencing:
The figures … they look like us, Shallan thought, stepping back, farther from the line of bridgemen. There was one midnight creature that looked like Teft, and another that was a copy of Lopen.
So far as we know, it didn’t bother Lopen, but he didn’t already have the issues Teft has.
Tall and confident, the man was in his thirties, and he wore white and blue. He had an Alethi feel to him, except… not quite. His skin was a shade darker, and something was faintly off about his features.
Yet there was something… familiar about the man.
Storms, Dalinar thought, feeling a chill. This was Jezerezeh’Elin himself, Herald of Kings. The greatest among them.
Wait. Did the king have dark eyes?
L: This is really cool to see. I also find it really interesting that the Herald of the Windrunners was the Herald of kings, given that the Windrunners seem to be one of the lower orders of Knights Radiant. They appeared to be used as scouts and messengers, so I find it really fascinating that their patron (and not, say, the patron of the Bondsmiths) held the highest place of honor.
A: I’ve never quite been able to tell where the leadership of the Heralds landed, between Jezrien and Ishar. Jezrien is the only one we know had actually been a king in “real life” before he became a Herald; other than that, the Stormfather said that Taln was the only one who “was not a king, scholar, or general,” and we don’t know who was what. Still, Jezrien has that impressive, kingly bearing, so he certainly makes a good spokesman here. On a guess, I’ll suggest that this moment happens after his conversation with Kalak from the Prelude—that he goes out from there, after they’ve all left their Honorblades, and tells the people exactly what he told Kalak they should say.
I also think it’s hilarious that Dalinar is shocked by the dark eyes.
One spot they passed had a whole heap of strange cremlings, burned and smoking.
L: Oooooh, a Dysian Amian!
A: I wonder which side he fought for—or if he was fighting at all.
“They say,” Yanagawn whispered, “that when the Sunmaker rode out of the passes and into Azir, he had one unexpected problem. He conquered my people too quickly, and didn’t know what to do with all of his captives. He couldn’t leave a fighting population behind him in the towns. There were thousands upon thousands of men he needed to murder.
“Sometimes he’d simply assign the work to his soldiers. Every man was to kill thirty captives… Before he was struck down with disease by the Heralds, he murdered ten percent of the population of Azir.”
L: This is really cool to see, because up until now—if memory serves—we’ve only seen stories of the Sunmaker from Alethi viewpoints, and they obviously revere him. This is chilling and I can absolutely understand why so many other cultures on Roshar would be hesitant about trusting Dalinar given this history. The same saying should hold true everywhere, not just in the real world—learn from history or be doomed to repeat it.
A: It’s hard to look back and remember my earlier impressions about Sunmaker before we learned this. Just like seeing what a horrible creature Dalinar was under the Thrill, it reminds us of how justified the other nations are in their reluctance to join the coalition. Alethi history has not been… gracious, shall we say?
Relationships & Romances
The young emperor, remarkably, burst into an enormous grin. “Lift! You’re back!” He started climbing up the boulder, heedless of decorum. … Yanagawn finally attained the top of the boulder and gave the younger girl a hug.
A: I just had to include this, because I love their friendship. I suspect she’s the only person in the world he feels he can really trust as himself, and in his position, he needs that someone. While she’s a little more self-sufficient—plus, she has Wyndle—I think she also kind of needs that friend who likes her just for herself.
L: And that’s only going to become more important once people start treating her like a Radiant.
Bruised & Broken
No, he wasn’t just some drunkard. He was far, far worse.
L: Oh, Teft. Teft Teft Teft. I feel such sympathy for you, my friend. It’s almost impossible to explain to people what being addicted to something is like, which leads to a lot of frustration on both sides, at least in my experience. Especially for those who love you, and are trying to help you to get better. They don’t understand why you can’t just stop, even when you know damn well you’re poisoning yourself. It’s a horrible place to be in for everyone involved, and to see Teft this deep makes my heart ache.
Reflected in the waters of the well, a face appeared over his shoulder. A woman with pale white skin, glowing faintly, and hair that hovered around her head like clouds.
“You leave me alone,” he said, slapping his hand into the water. “You just… you just go find someone who cares.”
L: He does care, he pretty much admits so later on. He doesn’t think himself worthy to be a Radiant and that’s why he’s resisting (the call to adventure ImsorryIcanthelpdoingthis).
Teft… she whispered. You’ve spoken oaths…
Foolish, stupid oaths, spoken when he’d hoped that being Radiant would remove the cravings.
L: I don’t blame him for thinking this. First of all, I don’t know anyone who is addicted to something that wouldn’t take a magical chance like that to remove the addiction simply and easily.
A: I just have to interject something here: I can totally see why he’d take the chance… but why would the spren? Clearly she saw something more than an addict in need of healing.
L: Absolutely. Just like Syl saw more than the Wretch, and Pattern saw more than a young abused and broken girl.
But aside from that, it was actually a pretty good bet that it might heal him, given how Stormlight reacts in regards to healing. And I suspect that it might be able to cure that chemical addiction. But I think Teft still sees himself as an addict, much like how Kaladin’s scars won’t heal because deep down he still sees himself as a slave. Much like in the real world, Teft can’t be cured until he truly wants to be cured.
A: To clarify a little, there’s a difference between “wanting the craving to go away” and “wanting to never use the stuff again”? So… Teft doesn’t necessarily want to never use moss again, he just wanted to not need it any more. Ouch.
L: Example. I once managed to quit smoking for over a year. I was perfectly happy not smoking, I didn’t want it all the time, I wasn’t compelled to go buy a pack—until I walked past someone and smelled the smoke on them, and immediately the craving hit again, just as badly as if I had never quit. If someone could just… remove that craving, that need from my life completely? Yeah. I’d do or pay quite a lot for that.
Teft stared at the little bowl, loathing himself. And yet the scent of it made his longing multiply tenfold.
L: All I’m gonna say is that I quit smoking (again) a week and a half ago and this is making me want a cigarette so badly, just because it’s that relatable. Bravo, Sanderson.
Like a man scrambling up wet rocks, he could barely reach where everyone else was standing before he slowly started sliding back down. It wasn’t euphoria he craved anymore; it was the mere capacity to keep going.
L: I’ve never done any hard drugs, but I’ve known people who have (heroin specifically), and this is very much how I’ve heard it described. Building up a resistance means that you need more, more often, in order to reach that same level of normalcy.
Memories of turning in his family as heretics, even though they’d been right all along.
L: Well, this is an interesting little tidbit squirreled away in here. Alice, is this the first time Teft’s mentioned this?
A: It’s not, and the backstory really explains a lot. It first comes up in his POV in TWoK, Chapter 58 (Envisager) when he’s watching Kaladin after his highstorm punishment. He thinks of “the Envisagers” as people who followed stories and legends, and who are now dead because of “what he had done.”
L: Oh yeah! I remember that now!
A: In WoR Chapter 71 (Vigil), while he and Sigzil are waiting for Kaladin to come back from his fall into the chasm, he spills the whole story. His parents were Envisagers: a sect of people who were trying to return the Knights Radiant. They would put themselves in mortal danger, on the theory that powers would be more likely to manifest in that situation. Teft’s mother died in one of those experiments, and eventually Teft turned the whole group in to the citylord. Big trial commenced, and in the end they were all executed… for risking suicide. He saw his father hanged for the crime of trying to bring back the Knights Radiant. The punishment made no sense to young Teft, but he’s spent the rest of his life feeling personally responsible for the death of his father, probably other family members, and many friends.
L: No wonder he turned to hard drugs. Jeez.
Teft made the proper noises, the ones they expected. Apologies, promises he would tell them if he was feeling the need again. Promises that he’d let them help him.
L: I know these proper noises all too well. It’s not so bad when those friends are always with you, but… the minute they’re gone…
Squires & Sidekicks
“Oh, I know it’s not a dream,” Yanagawn said. “As I am a Prime raised to the throne miraculously, the Heralds may choose to speak through me!”
L: ::eyeroll:: Good thing he’s got Lift around to bring him back down to ground, because it sure seems like everyone else around him is inflating his sense of ego.
A: Heh. I’m a little surprised to see him buying into his own press, but maybe he was longing for some kind of confirmation that he deserved the position? Definite eyeroll, though. Oy.
Places & Peoples
“Alethkar is one of the most cultured kingdoms on Roshar!”
“Your code of law is barely thirty years old!”
L: I meeeeaaaaaan he’s got a point.
“They call you Blackthorn, but you’re really more like… Dark-tan-thorn. Gawx is more black than you are, and even he’s pretty brownish.”
L: I’d just like to take a second to point out this canon verification of skin tones. Often people have a tendency, when reading fiction, to assume that the characters are the same nationality as they ourselves are (or people just assume everyone is white, because that’s the standard), and when presented with text that conflicts with that, they can skim over it and not really notice. I’ve been a victim of this myself in the past. So… here. Actual in-text (and not Word of Brandon) verification that yes, the Alethi are dark-skinned.
A: Also, that the Makabaki (Azish & the surrounding nations) are even more so—though we already knew that, of course. Look up the description of Sigzil.
“What happened in Yeddaw?” Yanagawn asked, eager.
L: If you’re not sure what he’s referring to, go read (or reread) Edgedancer!
A: And if you need a little more entertainment, go read the reread. It was fun, too. Especially the pancakes.
She had long dark hair, pale white eyes, and tan skin, though she likely wasn’t Alethi—the face was too round.
L: Wait a second. WHITE eyes?! That’s new.
A: Not just me, then? I totally don’t remember this! But it makes sense, I guess, if it’s a result of becoming an Edgedancer, right? Don’t their eyes turn the color of their order’s gemstone? So Kaladin’s eyes went blue for sapphire, and Lift’s are white for diamond. (The ones who already had light eyes don’t seem to be changing, though. What’s with that?)
L: But wouldn’t they only be doing that if she was using her powers? Kal’s only go blue when he’s summoned Syl, unless I’m mistaken…?
A: Ummm…. I thought at this point they go blue either when he’s using Stormlight or when he summons Syl, and then they fade back to dark over a couple of hours. However, I can’t find a single instance of the former. Well, when they’re in Kholinar, he summons Syl several times a day to keep his eyes light, so we know that much for sure.
L: This brings up an interesting question though… Is this a clue that in order to invade the vision she’s had to use her powers (or summon Wyndle)?
A: I wish I knew. It makes sense to me, but… that’s so far from proof that it’s not even in the same room. Does she need Wyndle to be there? We don’t see him, but maybe she does.
Tight Butts and Coconuts
“I’ve lived long enough to see the consequences of what I’ve done.”
L: A very heavy, somber statement followed immediately by:
“Yeah,” a voice piped up. “You’re old.”
L: And so Lift Awesomes her way into Oathbringer!
A: Bahahahahahahaha! That is all.
L: And, of course, we have the quote which inspired the title of this section:
“He’s trying to convince me I should trust him,” Yanagawn said, pointing at Dalinar.
“Don’t,” she said. “He’d got too nice a butt.”
Dalinar cleared his throat. “What?”
“Your butt is too nice. Old guys shouldn’t have tight butts. It means you spend waaay too much time swinging a sword or punching people. You should have an old flabby butt. Then I’d trust you.”
L: Okay so… I mean… despite the utter hilarity, she’s… got a point.
A: I dunno. If he’s spent all his time swinging swords, he hasn’t spent that time learning to be devious, right? It’s the guys with the flabby butts who sit around writing diagrams that worry me.
“If someone thinks I’m strange for talking about butts, it’s usually because they’re jealous, ‘cuz I’m the only one without something rammed up mine.”
L: I want this on a t-shirt.
This is not possible, the Stormfather said in Dalinar’s mind. How did she come here?
L: Thing 1: I think this is the first time we’ve seen a spren speak directly into another character’s mind. Earlier in the reread we questioned whether or not the spren have any sort of psychic link with their counterparts, and determined that they always spoke out loud—but Dalinar and the Stormfather seem to be the exception, seeing as how the Stormfather is rarely actually physically present.
A: I think it may have happened before but we didn’t realize it at the time; it would explain why there are times when the Stormfather talks in ALL CAPS and other times in italics, which has happened off and on for quite a while without me noticing it. (Yikes.) But it’s interesting to note that so far, at least, Kaladin and Shallan both have to whisper to their spren, and like visibility, there seems to be a difference in audibility. Only Kaladin hears Syl speak, but everyone hears Pattern when he hums, and Adolin most certainly heard the entire conversation about the purpose of a chaperone! We don’t know much about Jasnah or Renarin yet, or what form their communication with their respective spren looks like.
L: Thing 2:
“You didn’t bring her in?” Dalinar said softly.
No. This is not possible! How…?
L: Here we go again, with Lift mysteriously doing things that she really shouldn’t be able to do.
A: I can’t help thinking that this is somehow connected with her ability to see into the Cognitive realm. I also have to wonder if she needed to be in the highstorm area to access it.
L: She did say that she was almost back in Azir so that would make sense.
That woman! This is a creation specifically meant to defy my will!
“Woman?” Dalinar said, shaking his head.
That child is tainted by the Nightwatcher.
“Technically, so am I.”
This is different. This is unnatural. She goes too far.
L: Hmm. Interesting. Unnatural? Too far? Lift just has so many secrets swirling around her!
A: There’s always another secret.
“We fought together,” Yanagawn said.
“How else could we have resisted?” Dalinar said. “To fight the Desolation alone would be madness.”
A: Long ago, all the human nations fought together. Much more recently, they fought one another as the Alethi tried to take over the world. They need to return to the mentality of history so ancient it’s nearly forgotten. We know that, and Dalinar knows that… but the other monarchs don’t know that. Recent history is much stronger in shaping motivation than something that’s not much more than legend.
“I sold it,” Teft admitted, squeezing his eyes shut against the shamespren that drifted down around him, in the shape of flower petals. “I sold my own storming coat.”
A: This isn’t so much a favorite as it is just a note that this will turn out to be Significant later.
“I will lead the charge for the Tranquiline Halls,” the man shouted. “You will not see me again,… You have won your peace. … Carry with you the light of your Herald king’s words. We are victorious, at long last, over evil!”
A: Wow, is that ever full of lies! One after another. No Tranquiline Halls, they’ll see him hanging around Kholinar as a drunk beggar, the peace is now gone, the Herald king’s words are darkness, and they are not victorious over evil. Not yet.
“But—” Dalinar said, raising his hand.
“See, you’re learning.” She grinned at him.
Next week is Moash’s chapter (::siiiiiiiiiigh::). We’ll be covering that (do we have to?) perhaps with a special guest, and also Chapter 43, to get the bad taste of burgeoning betrayal out of our mouths. As always, join us in the comments for more discussion!
Alice is fighting a cold and also on the verge of back-to-school. That’s literally all she’s got to say for herself. ::sniffle::
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