Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapters Forty-Three and Forty-Four

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Welcome back to the Oathbringer reread! This week launches the Moash Novelette, which as you know is something we are just so excited about. To provide a change of perspective, we have a special guest to discuss the (ir)redeemability of the character some of us love to hate so much. We’ll also do a little reconnaissance training with Shallan, and sit in on a meeting of the scholars.

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. As usual for Part 2, there are very minor Cosmere spoilers in the Epigraphs review, but nothing else in the reread itself. (Also as usual, we make no promises about the comments!) But if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

Alice: Before we begin, I’d like y’all to meet Aubree Pham! She’s generously agreed to join us for the Moash novelette discussions. Aubree is another of Sanderson’s beta readers, and where Lyn and I tend to fall in the “no redemption!” camp, Aubree is much more in the “Moash did nothing wrong” camp. But I’ll let her tell you a little about herself, and then we’ll dive into the discussions.

Aubree: Thanks, Alice! I might be a familiar name to some of y’all—I’m mostly active in the fandom as a member of the Board of Directors for JordanCon, where we host a full track of programming for Sanderson fans. That’s actually how I first met Brandon, who has been a long term supporter of ours. Anyway, I wouldn’t say that Moash did nothing wrong, but I definitely think that he gets a raw deal from the fandom. Brandon creates complicated characters, with lots of our “heroes” also having done some really shady stuff. There’s way more to Moash than he’s been given credit for, but we will get to that!

AA: Also, Lyn is taking this week off for a minor medical procedure. She’ll be back next week.

AP: Pretty sure it’s because Lyn Can’t Even with Moash…Lucky her, we get to talk about it more next week too! So for now, I’ll attempt to be Stunt Lyn.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Moash; Shallan
WHERE: The Frostlands; Urithiru marketplace and basement library
WHEN: 1174.1.5.2 (same day as the battle with Re-Shephir); 1174.1.7.3 (two days after Shallan’s last conversation with her soldiers)

Moash shivers with his Diagram traveling companions out in the middle of the Frostlands, missing the camaraderie—and the food—of Bridge Four. With little warning, they are attacked by four Fused; Moash kills one, but his three companions are killed and Moash surrenders. Their Shardblades and Plate are confiscated by the Fused, and Moash himself is airlifted to parts unknown.

Shallan, as Veil, sits in on the espionage training Ishnah is giving to her top three soldiers, hoping to pick up a few tips herself. Then it’s off to a meeting of scholars, where Shallan takes notes and, oddly enough, finds herself coming to Renarin’s defense.

The Singing Storm

Titles: Spearman; The Bright Side

Spearman comes from Moash’s realization that, despite his longing for Shards and his practice once he got them, he’s really a spearman and not a swordsman. It’s one of the few titles that’s not a direct quotation.

The Bright Side is used twice, both in the same exchange between Renarin and Shallan:

“Always look on the bright side.”

“Logically,” Shallan said, “the bright side is the only side you can look on, because the other side is dark.”

Aside from the obvious quotation about the Unmade leading them to find the basement and all it contains, “bright” has multiple meanings and applications throughout the chapter. “Bright” as in “intelligent”—both those who really are, and those who only think they are. “Bright” as in the cleverness of Ishnah’s spy-training, and Vathah’s unexpected aptitude.

Heralds: Chach; Battar

AA: Chach bears the role of Guard, is associated with the attributes of Brave and Obedient, and is the patron Herald of the order of Dustbringers. (At one time I hoped maybe this meant Moash would become a Dustbringer, and I still think he would have fit that order well, but I don’t see him becoming a Radiant any more.) Still, in this chapter he is definitely brave, though not to the point of stupidity; to some extent he’s also obedient to Graves, at least in removing his uniform patches. If we want to look at the possibilities of the inverse… he does spend a moment reflecting on the betrayal of his role as Guard to the Kholins.

For Shallan’s chapter, we’ve got Battar, the Counsellor, patron of the Elsecallers, with the attributes of Wise and Careful. (Thanks for catching that last time, Isilel!) I don’t really see this fitting in with the early part of the chapter, unless Ishnah is acting as a counsellor and teaching them how to be careful. Mostly, I think it reflects Jasnah’s leadership of the meeting, and the way both Shallan and Renarin focus in on her… influences.

Icon: Not Bridge Four; Pattern

AA: Notice that this week we get another new character icon; this one is exclusive to Moash’s novelette and POV, and reflects his actions this week in cutting the Bridge Four patch from his uniform. I’ve personally referred to this as the “Anti-Bridge Four” icon, but I also considered “Void Patch” in light of where Moash ends up.

AP: The not-patch? I like how the “hole” where the patch was also matches up with the hole in Moash’s self-identity at this point. He’s no longer Bridge Four, no longer a darkeyes, but not really a lighteyes either. And now, on the run, not part of Alethi/Vorin society at all.

AA: Yeah, he’s really got a gaping hole right now, doesn’t he? He’s not even truly part of the Diagram, because he doesn’t care about their larger goals.

Epigraph: You have spoken to one who cannot respond. We, instead, will take your communication to us—though we know not how you located us upon this world. We are indeed intrigued, for we thought it well hidden. Insignificant among our many realms.
AA: Bavadin continues with the “we” thing, even while distinguishing between different… aspects… of herself. I’m curious about the “one who cannot respond,” and also which world this particular persona inhabits. So many questions… and I wonder how long we’ll be waiting for answers! My own guess is that “this world” might be First of the Sun, but I’m probably wrong on that, because I’ve got nothing to base it on. Zip. Nada. Zilch. (For now, anyway!)

Stories & Songs

“I have no need for your maps,” Febrth said, folding his arms. “The Passions guide me.”

“The Passions?” Graves said, throwing his hands up. “The Passions? You’re supposed to have abandoned such superstitions. You belong to the Diagram now!”

AA: I’ve really enjoyed Sanderson’s worldbuilding with regard to the varying religions on Roshar. We’ve seen a lot of Vorinism, and can point out a lot of what is correct and incorrect in their teaching—and learning more all the time. In Oathbringer we get increased exposure to other religions, and this week we’ve got another shot at the Thaylen belief in The Passions—even though they are nominally Vorin. This gets really creepy later on when Odium starts claiming to be “all passions” instead of just hatred and wrath.

Oh, and before I forget, it’s worth noting that Graves treats the Diagram as a religion to replace all other belief systems. Appropriate, I suppose.

AP: Oh yeah, I was totally going to bring this up. The fact that the Thaylens believe in “The Passions” is definitely going to come up later.

AA: How much are we going to learn about what that means?

AP: I don’t know! But I suspect it has something to do with a prior connection to Odium. Perhaps in a prior Desolation.

“You,” she said in accented Alethi, “have passion.”

AA: ACK! I forgot it’s hinted at in this very chapter! Right there at the end… the Fused commends Moash for his passion. Yikes.

AP: Yuuupppp…It’s definitely going to tie in later. I’ll come back when it’s time to talk about Thaylenah: Secret History. Also, because I just looked it up, the Passions religion in Thaylen was prior to it joining the Vorin church. And I think the Vorins are total garbage* as a religion/society, so I’m very interested to see where all this goes!

*Aubree note: garbage as in the culture is incredibly well written, but the society described is awful and dehumanizing, and deserves to fail.

These weren’t like the Parshendi he’d seen on the Shattered Plains. They had deep red eyes and red-violet carapace, some of which framed their faces. The one facing him had a swirling pattern to her skin, three different colors mixing. Red, black, white. Dark light, like inverse Stormlight, clung to each of them.

AA: I think maybe this is the first time we’ve seen one of the Parshendi with all three colors. At least, I couldn’t find any mention of it when Kaladin was in Revolar, and I don’t know where else we’d have seen it.

“…And besides, you’re right. This place is one big fabrial.”

“You feel it too? They keep talking about this device or that device, but that’s wrong, isn’t it? That’s like taking the parts of a cart, without realizing you’ve got a cart in the first place.”

“But what does it do?” Shallan asked.

“It does being a city.” He frowned. “Well, I mean, it bees a city.… It does what the city is.…”

AA: This is one of my favorite moments. For all that Shallan has found Renarin kind of creepy before, they come together in this scene to make it all make sense, and they provide mutual support in this scene—which is awesome in itself.. (Also, “It bees a city” is absolutely beautiful. It makes me happy. In fact, I even suggested “Bees” as a possible title for the chapter because it made me so happy.)

Seriously, though, this whole concept pleases me no end, and I believe they’re correct. The entire tower is formed to be one big fabrial, with Stormlight feeding it through multiple gemstones to perform all the different functions it needs. I’m really looking forward to Navani & company digging into this aspect… though I’m pretty sure it won’t function fully until the Sibling gets involved.

AP: I totally agree. I’m really interested to see what the city “bees” when the fabrials are working properly. I’m also quite fond of Renarin, so I’m glad to see him finally stepping out of his comfort zone to attend one of these meetings. It’s a good reminder that the strict gender divisions in Vorin society don’t only constrain the women, but the men as well. Toxic masculinity is bad for everyone, yo. And I absolutely love how Dalinar shows up at the end. It makes me think that there is some glimmer of hope for the Alethi.

Relationships & Romances

She had once tried to avoid Adolin’s former romantic partners, but … well, that was like trying to avoid soldiers on a battlefield. They were just kind of everywhere.

AA: I just … well, this had to be said. That is all.

AP: Seriously. Boy gets around.

Shallan cocked her head as she saw Renarin glance at his father. Dalinar responded with a raised fist.

He came so Renarin wouldn’t feel awkward, Shallan realized. It can’t be improper or feminine for the prince to be here if the storming Blackthorn decides to attend.

She didn’t miss the way that Renarin actually raised his eyes to watch the rest of the proceedings.

AA: I know Dalinar hasn’t always been a good father, especially to Renarin, but this warms my heart all the way to my toes. One of the things I really do love about the Stormlight Archive series is that it deals directly in relationships between parents and their adult children. So much of fantasy requires that the parents be dead, absent, or at least evil, which isn’t realistic—it’s just the easy way to let the young person be the hero all on his/her own. I love seeing the trope tossed in the bin this way.

Bruised & Broken

She was pleased with the work that Veil was doing with the men, but storms, did she have to drink so much?

AP: Shallan, no. It’s all you girl. Don’t bees an alcoholic.

AA: This is such an echo of Veil’s snide comments recently about Shallan being weird and helpless, and if I remember right it begins to come in Veil’s thoughts as well as her words to others. Her personalities are sniping at each other. This just can’t be good.

AP: Yeah, I have a lot of feelings about the Shallan/Veil/Radiant situation. It just keeps getting worse during this stretch of things.

A dozen conversations buzzed through the room: talk about weights and measures, the proper placement of punctuation, and the atmospheric variations in the tower. Once she’d have given anything to be in a room like this. Now she was constantly late to the meetings. What had changed?

As it enveloped her—the ideas, the questions, the logic—she suddenly felt she was drowning. Overwhelmed. Everyone in this room knew so much, and she felt insignificant compared to them.

I need someone who can handle this, she thought. A scholar. Part of me can become a scholar. Not Veil, or Brightness Radiant. But someone—

AA: This just makes me sad. Okay, and more than a little frustrated, too, even though I understand it better than I wish I did. One of the things I loved about Shallan in the first book, for all her flippancy and superficial immaturity, was her hunger to learn. She was within a smidge of blowing off the whole steal-the-soulcaster project just to stay with Jasnah and be a real ward. When the truth all came out and she had the opportunity to openly do just that, she threw herself into it wholeheartedly. By now, though, her first thought is to create another persona to be the scholar, and she goes all muddled about who she really is.

AP: I think the gist of it is:

I know how much of a fraud I am…

Imposter syndrome! She sees everyone else with their specialty and fails to realize that she has her own specialty and thing to contribute. And she needs to have a bit of humility and go all in on being a student again. She’s not ready to graduate yet.

Shallan had always wanted to be a scholar, hadn’t she? She didn’t need another persona to deal with this. Right? … Right?
The moment of anxiety passed, and she breathed out, forcing herself to steady.

AA: Oh, Shallan, you poor dear.

Diagrams & Dastardly Designs

He’d once admired how refined Graves seemed. … his refinement didn’t matter much when they were all eating slop and pissing behind hills.

AA: What do they say? “Never meet your heroes?” Not that Graves was necessarily his hero, but a small company in harsh circumstances will strip off the veneer pretty fast. For all Graves’s vaunted connection to the all-knowing Diagram, here they are. And for all their “invincible Shardbearer” status, Graves will die in seconds. So much for admiration of refinement.

AP: More than that though, Moash is now a lighteyes, and is finding out that the other lighteyes are just…human.

AA: Good point. As much as he’d hated them as a class, he seems to have still seen them as… different from darkeyes, and … ugh. What’s the word I want? Superior? Despite his antipathy toward lighteyes, he was still sort of honored to be accepted by Graves & co.

AP: It’s part of the systemic oppression of Vorin society. He has internalized the hierarchy to some degree, even though he actively fights against it. But we will get to that! (I seem to be saying that a lot!)

Graves had spoken of these creatures, calling their return merely one of many events predicted by the inscrutable “Diagram.”

AA: “Merely” one of many events. I suppose that’s true, but … well, I was going to suggest that they’re one of the more deadly things it predicted. Now I’m trying to think of anything in the Diagram that’s not deadly.

AP: The Diagram is pretty fascinating. And extremely bleak. I don’t know how much credit to give it. It seems to predict a lot of stuff, but at the same time, the predictions seem to get revised a lot. Is it like Nostradamus where it’s all super vague and you can kinda sorta make the events fit?

AA: It really makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I mean, there are a things that seem awfully specific, but then there’s an “Oh, we didn’t realize it meant THAT!” moment. After a while, you’ve got to get a little skeptical!

Squires & Sidekicks

Moash rolled to his feet, and Kaladin’s training—drilled into him through hours and hours spent at the bottom of a chasm—took over. He danced away, putting his back to the wagon, as his Shardblade fell into his fingers.

AA: I’m going to quote a bunch of this, because I’m fascinated not only by the level of training, but also Moash’s constant thoughts giving Kaladin the credit for so much that he knows. Aubree, do you remember without me going to look it up… how much of a trained soldier was Moash before he got stuffed into the bridge crew?

AP: He didn’t! He volunteered for the army, expecting to be a spearman, and then was forced onto a bridge crew. He believed the propaganda that he could join up, win shards through merit, and then become a lighteyes. He was so optimistic that he could do it! But he was completely discarded by the lighteyes. Kaladin was the first one who invested in him.

AA: Well, that sucks! I’d forgotten that.

This weapon was just too clunky. … Yes, it could cut through anything, but he needed to actually hit for that to matter. It had been much easier to wield the thing wearing Plate.

… something rolled out the back of the wagon, thumping against the stone. A spear.

Moash looked down at his Shardblade, the wealth of nations, the most valuable possession a man could own.

Who am I kidding? he thought. Who did I ever think I was kidding?

AA: I just have to say that I loved this moment of honesty. It’s one of the last times I’ll “love” something Moash does for a long time. (Also, it relates closely to the recent discussion of Jasnah’s skill!)

After all those years dreaming of one of these, he’d finally received one. Kaladin had given it to him. And what good had come of it? He obviously couldn’t be trusted with such a weapon.

AP: He got everything he thought he wanted and it didn’t solve his problems.

AA: It never does, except in romance novels.

He could almost hear Kaladin’s voice. You can’t fear a Shardblade. You can’t fear a lighteyes on horseback. They kill with fear first and the sword second.

Stand your ground.

The Voidbringer came for him, and Moash stood his ground.

AA: Okay, I love this too… but mostly because of the way Moash is drawing on the things he learned from his time in Bridge Four under Kaladin’s leadership.

She pressed her hand against Moash’s chest, and that dark light transferred from her to him. Moash felt himself grow lighter.

Fortunately, Kaladin had tried this on him too.

AA: And again. Take that, you arrogant creature!

He grunted, but hung on, and got his knife up and rammed it into her chest.

… Moash hung on tight and pushed the knife farther.

She didn’t heal, as Kaladin would have. Her eyes stopped glowing, and the dark light vanished.

AA: On a completely different note, did she die of a “normal” mortal wound, or because he accidentally hit her gemheart? Seems like it ought to have something to do with the fact that she’s a Fused.

AP: It may be that the Fused don’t put much effort into healing. When you’ve got a revolving door of resurrections, why bother? It’s inconvenient, but might as well put all the effort you can into killing the enemy instead of defending your vessel. That also shows the lack of respect that the Fused have for the Singers, who are as disposable as a new set of clothes. More, because I really like some of my clothes.

AA: There was a lot of debate last week, stemming from the confrontation between Jasnah and Kaladin about the “ordinary” parshmen. Jasnah insisted that as long as there were more bodies available, they were never going to destroy all the Fused, while Kaladin wanted more than anything to just leave the parshmen out of it altogether. It’s really a horrible dilemma, because while Kaladin is right that most of them just want to be free, the Fused couldn’t care less what they want. You will accept the honor of being a vessel for your gods! Theoretically, they have to be willing to accept the “bonding,” but in the one scene we’ll get, they clearly don’t realize that the Fused only need their bodies, and their souls get chucked into the Beyond. It’s kind of frightening to realize that without the Oathpact to make them return to Braize, the Fused themselves would commit the Singer genocide Kaladin fears, in their effort to bring about a human genocide.

AP: I think that’s legit! Can you fight a just war with intentional civilian casualties? Not that the Alethi are super great about deciding the moral high ground in the best of situations. And anyway, in this case, I don’t think that the goal is to kill all the Fused. That’s short sighted. I think there’s likely some magical solution to work toward. At a minimum, the higher aim would be to get rid of Odium. And if the Singers have to consent to becoming Fused, work on your propaganda campaign.

AA: It’s worth noting that Jasnah’s preferred alternative to genocide was to see if they could get a Herald to return to Braize in the hope that the Fused would be bound by what’s left of the Oathpact, but no one has any idea whether that would work.

And now for something completely different…

“Espionage,” Ishnah continued, “is about the careful gathering of information. Your task is to observe, but to not be observed. You must be likable enough that people talk to you, but not so interesting that they remember you.”

“Well, Gaz is out,” Red said.

“Yeah,” Gaz said, “it’s a curse to be so storming interesting.”

“Would you two shut up?” Vathah said.

AA: We can’t ignore Shallan’s sidekicks, the Marx brothers. Much as I loathed Gaz in the first book and mistrusted Vathah in the second, I’m really coming to have some hopes for these three. (Confession: the way Sanderson can twist me around to have hope for someone I used to despise makes me reluctantly admit that I’ll probably be happy about it if he gives Moash the redemption arc I’m expecting. But I’ll fight it until then!)

AP: See, here’s what’s interesting, I hate Gaz. I think he’s an awful person, who took out petty meanness on others. When we are talking about irredeemable characters, Gaz is way up there for me.

Vathah though … he’d closed his eyes and was reeling off descriptions of everyone in the room to Ishnah. Veil grinned. For as long as she’d known the man, he’d gone about each of his duties as if he had a boulder tied to his back. Slow to move, quick to find a place to sit down and rest. Seeing this enthusiasm from him was encouraging.

AA: I think Vathah just found his niche.

Places & Peoples

It was just that something felt … off about Janala. Like many women at court, her laughter sounded rehearsed, contained. Like they used it as a seasoning, rather than actually feeling it.

AA: I’m only quoting this because of the recent discussions about Vorin women’s conversation. It’s not painful for Shallan the way it was for Evi, because Shallan thrives on verbal sparring. It’s a great observation, though—that even laughter is treated as a useful tool more than it is a genuine expression of amusement. Speaking of laughter, this doesn’t really belong here, but I’m putting it here anyway.

Renarin laughed. It brought to mind how her brothers would laugh at what she said. Maybe not because it was the most hilarious thing ever spoken, but because it was good to laugh.

AA: May we never forget that.

Tight Butts and Coconuts

“Knives are deevy,” Red said.

AA: Since the subject came up just recently, I’ll mention that this is the first of the two conversations where the word “deevy” is used.

“Jasnah?” Pattern asked. “I do not think you are paying attention, Shallan. She is not very empathetic.”

AA: LOL

“I never have liked him,” Shallan whispered. “He acts nice around Dalinar, but he’s quite mean.”

“So which attribute of his are we totaling and how many people are in the sample size?” Pattern asked.

AP: Ha! Math jokes! Seriously though, I’m a super nerd because this made me cackle.

AA: I had to do a double-take, and then cracked up. Math jokes FTW.

“Janala is a fool, just bright enough to be proud of the wits she has, but stupid enough to be unaware of how outmatched they are.”

AA: Buurrnnnn…

“Thank you.”

“For?”

“Defending my honor. When Adolin does that, someone usually gets stabbed. Your way was pleasanter.”

AA: Also somewhat more amusing, despite Jasnah’s displeasure! One of the things I love most about the whole thing is that unlike Navani’s “judicious word,” Shallan’s outburst not only shut Janala up, it created a bond between Renarin and Shallan for the first time ever. That’s worth giving Jasnah a brief headache any day.

AP: As Jasnah would say, if you don’t want headaches, don’t take wards!

Moash’s Mysterious Murky Motivations

AA: We talked about most of the fighting part up in “Squires and Sidekicks” because I was so struck by how much Moash credits Kaladin for his training, but the rest of it belongs here in Motivations.

Moash felt at the Bridge Four patch on his shoulder. It brought memories. Joining Graves and his band, who had been planning to kill King Elhokar. ….

Facing off against Kaladin, wounded and bleeding.

You. Will. Not. Have. Him.

AA: As angry as I was at Moash for siding with Graves against Kaladin at the end of WoR, I almost felt sorry for him in this chapter. He takes no joy in these memories, and there are a number of times he overtly misses Bridge Four—and not merely for the cooking.

AP: Okay, here we go! Moash is completely unmoored here. He is a product of Alethi society that says that lighteyes and darkeyes are different. As a result the lighteyes keep the darkeyes in check through really brutal means, including slavery. He is feeling the warring emotions between being part of an in-group—Bridge Four—and being part of a political and emotional ideology—that the lighteyes don’t deserve the power & privilege they have. And even more, that Elhokar deserves death for being personally responsible for the death of Moash’s grandparents, and being then nominal leader of a society that condones slavery, of which Moash was one until very recently. So it’s personal. Alethkar’s culture is absolute garbage, and Moash is one of the few who call that out. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, and he isn’t mourning the loss of real, close, relationships that he developed as part of a unit. I was completely with him in WoR, he is trying to take down a dystopian society. In another epic fantasy novel, Moash would be the hero.

Moash held up the patch, trying to catch the firelight for a last look, and then couldn’t bring himself to throw it away.

Moash could almost hear their voices, and he smiled, imagining that he was there. Then, he imagined Kaladin telling them what Moash had done.

He tried to kill me, Kaladin would say. He betrayed everything. His oath to protect the king, his duty to Alethkar, but most importantly us.

Moash sagged, patch in his fingers. He should throw that thing in the fire.

Storms. He should throw himself in the fire.

AA: He recognizes his actions as a betrayal of Bridge Four, and I started to feel a little bit of hope. Maybe he would change. Maybe he could return to Bridge Four. Maybe he could help after all. It’s worth noting that others were less hopeful during the beta discussions; Paige, for example, was highly skeptical.

AP: It is a betrayal of Bridge Four. But Bridge Four is propping up a corrupt society. At some point you need to make a choice, friends or the greater good.

AA: (I just have to interject that I don’t see Moash as qualified to determine what “the greater good” looks like. Just sayin’…)

AP: Yeah, but ostensibly that’s what Team Diagram is. Whether that’s legit or not is totally debatable. Of course he feels guilt over betraying his unit. And he definitely has a personal vendetta, but it’s earned. His grandparents were killed by Elhokar. Keep in mind that the entire nation of Alethkar has spent years on a personal vendetta because some Parshendi killed Gavilar. In an entire culture build on honor and vengeance and glorification of violence. Kaladin is different because he works to protect the King, even though he personally has a great deal of reason to hate him because of his own family history. But there’s no reason to expect that everyone would be the “bigger person” like that. And Kaladin has the advantage of having a literal conscience on his shoulder telling him to be better. Moash doesn’t. This right here is one of the reasons I’m such a big Sanderson fan. Brandon does a great job of creating complex characters with believable motivations. Moash spent a long time being told he was disposable. It’s no surprise that he now has trouble letting go of the one group who told him he wasn’t.

AA: You’re absolutely right about Sanderson creating complex characters! So here’s my problem with Moash. Yes, his grandparents were killed because a young prince—Elhokar couldn’t have been more than 19 at the time—was heavily and destructively influenced by an older man who took advantage of his position. But where was Moash at the time? He had itchy feet and wanted to be out travelling, so he went off with caravans for months at a time, leaving his elderly grandparents on their own with a bitter lighteyed rival across the street. Never once does he admits that just maybe, he should have stayed home and they would have had someone to speak on their behalf. Would it have helped? Who knows? Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything—but my biggest problem is that he refuses to consider that he had any responsibility to do so. No, everything is Elhokar’s fault, and in Moash’s mind that justifies betrayal of promises and regicide. I don’t think I’d be so angry at him if he ever expressed the slightest sense of guilt or regret that he wasn’t there to protect them—whether he could have or not—but he doesn’t. Nothing is ever his fault.

AP: Eh, that seems really victim blame-y. With the position of the darkeyes in Alethi society, if he’d been home he would also have been in prison. Taking a job outside the family business doesn’t mean that his grandparents deserved to be throw in jail, or that it was Moash’s fault.

AA: I’m not saying it was his fault—just that most people would feel like they had some responsibility, and Moash rarely if ever takes personal responsibility for his motivations. This is just the first and most obvious example.

He seized his spear again, fingers slick with blood, and pointed it at the three remaining Voidbringers, who regarded him with stunned expressions.

“Bridge Four, you bastards,” Moash growled.

“You can probably kill me. But I’ll take one of you with me. At least one.”

AA: I’m dreadfully ambivalent about Moash claiming Bridge Four here. His training is all Bridge Four, but he betrayed them—and Kaladin’s gift of the Shards—for his own personal vendetta.

AP: Are the shards that kind of obligation though? Does he have to defend Alethkar because they gave him a magic sword & armor? Or shouldn’t he use the tools of his oppressors against them? He totally has a personal vendetta, but again, it’s for very good reason. They killed his family. Made him a slave. Sent him on suicide missions. And he’s just supposed to forgive & forget? Bridge Four started by being defiant. And Moash still is.

AA: But Alethkar didn’t give him a magic sword and armor. Kaladin did—and Moash was fully prepared to use that gift to kill Kaladin for the sake of getting at Elhokar. Back in WoR, he had manipulated Kaladin into not reporting his treachery by framing it as “You’d turn on a member of Bridge Four?” Mere weeks later, though, he tried to kill Kaladin for the fulfillment of his personal agenda. “Turn on a member of Bridge Four” you say, Moash? Nope. I can’t accept that one man’s personal vendetta (which I don’t see as completely justified anyway) gives him the right to go around wreaking vigilante justice on anyone—guard, king, citylord, slave, or friend. I don’t buy it. He’s not doing it for the sake of bringing down an unjust system. He just wants to kill Elhokar—for something which in my view was partly his own fault.

AP: Again, I don’t think it was his fault. He does also talk very clearly in WoK about wanting to replace the lighteyes, so I don’t think it’s 100% personal, but that’s definitely a big component. But then so is the whole war on the Shattered Plains in the first place. And no one is blaming the Alethi for causing a Desolation because they didn’t just stay home. Also, let’s be super clear, I’m not saying that Moash’s vigilante actions are just, but that he’s not measurably worse than other characters in the series who have done similar things and I totally get where his motivations are here. There are vanishingly few characters in this series that have a totally clear moral compass, and it’s really one of the things I love about the books. They show people being people, in conflict with other people being people.

AA: We can certainly agree on those last two sentences! It’s one of the things I love about this series—the characters are realistic. Yes, including Moash.

With a shrug he tossed aside his spear. He summoned his Blade. After all those years dreaming of one of these he’d finally received one. Kaladin had given it to him. And what good had come of it? He obviously couldn’t be trusted with such a weapon.

AP: Well, he was defiant until this moment. This, to me, is where he clearly cuts ties with Alethkar. But that’s a story for next week!

Arresting Artwork

This selection from Navani’s notebook is titled “Ship Designs.” The notations read, in order,

Too fanciful ha?”

“Ask Rushu how to keep the mast from ripping off.”

“Jasnah’s favorite.”

AA: Presumably, this is related to the discussion Navani is having with the engineer in the red dress about the sailing fabrials. I wonder if we’ll get a chance to see these constructed in the next book!

AP: These are really cool. Very steampunk. Fabri-punk? Is that a thing?

AA: I just noticed—Jasnah’s favorite looks like a one-man fighter. How appropriate.

Quality Quotations

“The classic scholars didn’t just draw. The Oilsworn knew mathematics—he created the study of ratios in art.

AA: Sort of a cross between da Vinci and Fibonacci?

[Dalinar] settled down on a stool outside the ring. He looked like a warhorse trying to perch on a stand meant for a show pony.

 * * *

Look close at a given person, and you’d see their uniqueness—see that they didn’t quite match whatever broad category you’d first put them in.

AP: I think this quote is really fitting for this week, with both Renarin and Moash.

Renarin shrugged. “I’ve found the best way to avoid doing what Jasnah says is to not be around when she’s looking for someone to give orders to.”

 

Well. That was a long one, and I still feel like there was so much more we could have talked about. Many, many thanks to Aubree for joining me this week! And she’ll be back next week, too, because we’re going to read Chapters 45 and 46—Moash and Skar. There will be further debate; count on it.

Alice is oddly relieved to be getting back to cool, rainy weather. Must be acclimated to Seattle, or something weird like that. She’s also looking forward to the release of the Legion trilogy next week! (Also… Skyward is coming in a couple of months… have you preordered it yet?)

Aubree is definitely not three owls in a raincoat.

citation

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