Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Fifty-Three

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Today on the Oathbringer Reread we’ve got a Scholarly Sit-down with Jasnah Kholin and a few of her friends (via span-reed, of course). Suspicions start blooming over a certain Kholin boy’s spren, Amaram takes a well-deserved verbal beat-down, and Renarin makes a grand discovery that could change everything.

Aubree and I have a lot to cover today, and Alice won’t be joining us due to family obligations, so strap in and prepare your spanreeds to make those comments on the bottom!

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. There’s also a tiny bit of Cosmere talk in the epigraph part of The Singing Storm, so tread carefully if you haven’t finished the original Mistborn trilogy. As always, if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Jasnah
WHERE: Urithiru
WHEN: 1174.1.9.1, one day after Dalinar flew to the warcamps.

Jasnah is spending some time with her fellow scholars in Urithiru. She makes a “conference call” via spanreed to some old friends, and discusses the fact that Nalan has been sighted in Azir. They also talk about Lift, whether or not Dalinar is crazy (he’s not), and Jasnah begins to have some suspicions about Renarin’s spren. Unfortunately for Jasnah, her least favorite person (Amaram) shows up, wanting to talk to her about bridging the growing gap between their families. Jasnah’s having none of it, and insults him so thoroughly that he leaves in a huff. Shallan brings up that she plans to leave with Elhokar to infiltrate Alethkar, which Jasnah’s none to pleased about, then Renarin makes the discovery of a lifetime—a hidden cache of gems, holding vibrational codes containing knowledge thought long lost.

The Singing Storm

Title: Such a Twisted Cut

L: I’m inclined to think that this is talking about the cuts Jasnah inflicts on Amaram’s ego, and nothing you can say will convince me otherwise.

Heralds

Palah’s in all four places on this chapter, and it’s pretty clear why, I think. She’s the Scholar, and if there’s one thing Jasnah is in full-gear on in this chapter, it’s scholastics. And mad burns, but we’ll get to that.

Icon

Shadesmar

Epigraph

Friend,

Your letter is most intriguing, even revelatory.

L: Oh no, Alice isn’t here so I guess I’ve got to take a stab at this section this week. ::sweats:: Well, this is clearly the beginning of a new correspondance. In the next parts the writer says they’re a deity and holding two opposing powers, so… Sazed/Harmony, writing to Hoid, presumably. The question is, what in the world was Hoid writing to Harmony that would surprise him so much? Something about Odium’s return, perhaps? We’ll dig into more of this letter in later chapters, of course, but I’m so curious to know what Hoid’s up to. (As always with him.)

AP: I was really excited by this, because the Cosmere timeline is a bit wibbly-wobbly to me.

L: (You said it so I have to post the gif, I’m contractually obligated.)

AP: It’s really cool to see Sazed pop up again. I’m eager to get more and more connections as the series unfolds.

Stories & Songs

He gathered them together at a grand feast, promising the delights of distant Aimia.

L: I’m desperately curious to know what these delights were.

AP: I’m going to need our fellow beta, Deana Whitney, to take a stab at this in one of her Cosmere food articles!

L: Wow, for some reason my head didn’t even go to food, I was thinking music or entertainment or something. But you’re right, looking at it again it probably does refer to food.

The text sounded almost delighted when she’d explained how he’d died by choking on the food at that very feast, alone with nobody to help him.

L: I really like this story/proverb. On the one hand, this guy survived so many assassination attempts that it’s almost understandable that he did what he did—but on the other, the irony is pretty delicious: the very fact that he had no one he could trust led him to his demise.

AP: I thought it was a great story too. But on a second look, it makes me wonder why exactly so many members of his own family hated him enough to try to kill him. Based on his overreaction, it seems like they may have had good reason.

L: Yeah, there’s definitely some underlying subtext, here. If he was a perfect benevolent ruler, everyone wouldn’t be trying to do away with him, now would they?

Often the greatest threat to a ruling family was its own members. Why were so many of the old royal lines such knots of murder, greed, and infighting? And what make the few exceptions different?

AP: Related to the above, this makes me really nervous for possible foreshadowing what with Jasnah being the new Queen at the end of the book. Are the families prone to paranoia or other forms of mental illness? We know that potential Knights Radiant are particularly paranoid when cryptics start hovering around. If the royal lines were full of unstable people, then no wonder they fell to internal threats. And with the Kholin dynasty already overrepresented in the newest iteration of the Knights Radiant, is it possible that we see some of this pop up again in future books?

L: Well, at least if people within the family do start gunning for her, she’s well equipped to take care of herself. Not only is she a Knight Radiant, she’s had years and years of experience in hiring assassins to “take care” issues like this.

AP: Oh, definitely. She’s got more experience with her powers than anyone else at this point. I fear for whoever tries to take on Jasnah Kholin.

L: Me, when that happens. Unless it’s Kaladin, in which case, this.

In any case, something’s wrong with the man I think is Nalan, Jasnah. I don’t think the Heralds will be a resource to us.

I will provide you with sketches of the Heralds, Jasnah said. I have drawings of their true faces, provided by an unexpected source.

L: Hoid, perhaps? We know Jasnah ran into him. I’m interested in this from another angle though. Do you think that the Heralds retained the same physical form in each return? I always sort of imagined it like reincarnation, sort of like in Wheel of Time. But this indicates that they look the same each time they’re brought back. It also implies to me that they return each time as adults, rather than being reborn and having to take the time to grow to adulthood. This makes sense, as they’d need to be adults to lead the people in each Desolation—but does it also mean that their bodies themselves are immortal, as opposed to just their souls?

AP: I wonder if it has to do with their cognitive identity—how they see themselves. So perhaps they experienced small changes over time related to their own self image, maybe they are taller than they were when they were human, for example. But by & large, your self image is pretty set.

L: Interesting. So their self-image could somehow alter their physical appearance? Like… “wouldn’t you rather be fire?” only in this case, “wouldn’t I rather be blond?” Man. I wish changing hair color in the real world were so easy…

AP: Not exactly a “would you rather” but like how Kaladin still has his slave brand that doesn’t heal, because it’s part of his self identity. Versus The Lopen who regrew his arm because only having one arm isn’t something he has internalized. His “self” has two arms, so the stormlight “healed” him to match his self identity.

L: That makes sense. So rather… “I should be blond, hence… I am.” I think therefore I am? ::laughs::

AP: Decartes would so be there for Roshar!

L: I do still wonder about their physical bodies though. Are they immortal and their bodies were carted off into the other realm with them to be tortured each Desolation?

AP: I don’t think so. My guess is that they get new meat suits for each reincarnation. They just match their cognitive identity.

A ruby, long as Jasnah’s thumb, cut into a strange shape with holes drilled in it.

The library had decayed, but the ancient Radiants had obviously anticipated that.

They’d found another way to pass on their knowledge.

L: Fun fact, the little snippets of information that show up in the epigraphs from here on out weren’t in the beta draft, so I have no idea what’s in them. I look forward to finding out and speculating…

AP: I was so confused when the book came out and people were talking about what was in these. I ended up skimming through all the epigraphs in a single sitting. It’s a really clever way to get world lore to the reader. Though in the beta we were all guessing about what these stones would do, and were totally off base. I thought they would be part of what powered Urithiru and made it “be a city.”

Jasnah was most interested in the Thaylen parshmen who had stolen the ships that survived the storm. Their exodus—combined with Kaladin Stormblessed’s interactions with the parshmen in Alethkar—was painting a new picture of what and who the Voidbringers were.

AP: I find all these tidbits fascinating. The awakened parshmen are definitely going to have a huge role to play apart from the Fused. I’m all in on them reclaiming their culture and identity.

L: Yeah, as much as I hate the Fused, I am all for the poor parshmen. Poor people have been downtrodden and enslaved for so long that they don’t even have their own cultural identity anymore. It’s heartbreaking.

AP: My completely unfounded suspicion is that it will take the Listeners/Singers/whatever new identity the awakened parshmen take on AND the humans working together to take down Odium.

L: I still think that Odium’s a red herring and the Real Big Bad is going to show up after he goes down after book 5, but I’m with you on the “Listeners/Humans team up” thing for sure.

Relationships & Romances

“We were close once.”

“My father wished us to be close. Do not mistake his fancies for fact.”

“Why, Jasnah? Why have you always denied me?”

“Other than the fact that you are a detestable buffoon who achieves only the lowest level of mediocrity, as it is the best your limited mind can imagine? I can’t possibly think of a reason.”

L: Dude, Amaram. Take the hint. The lady’s not into you.

AP: No means no. It makes me wonder what he was like when they were younger. I got seriously creepy vibes when he grabbed her arm.

L: Saaaaame.

“Brightness!” Shallan said as Jasnah sat. “That was incredible!”

“I let myself be pushed into abundant emotion.”

“You were so clever!”

L: I love how Shallan looks up to Jasnah so much, even despite the frustration she feels over being treated like a child sometimes. (Also, it might be worthwhile to mention that while Shallan tries—too hard, often times—to be clever, Jasnah does it effortlessly.)

AP: I like how this shows the difference in maturity between them so clearly. Shallan is just over the moon about the epic burns, and Jasnah is self-critical about the tactics she chose to take and knows that there will be consequences.

Bruised & Broken

You can’t spend forever floating between worlds, Cousin, she thought. Eventually you’ll need to decide where you want to belong. Life was so much harder, but potentially so much more fulfilling, when you found the courage to choose.

L: There’s a lot of interesting thoughts to unpack in this passage. For starters, I don’t think Jasnah is right here. She’s thinking in such binary of terms—black or white, fact or fiction. It’s a very scientific approach, but I don’t think it necessarily applies to people and emotions. It’s entirely feasible to live in the grey area, to be both a scholar and a soldier. Perhaps in this case, the courage Renarin needs is to take a stand and straddle that line, to choose what’s right for him and not to align with what society and culture expect of him.

AP: I think that the orders of the Knights Radiant can live on the edges much more easily than the son of a highprince. I expect the old rules to be less and less applicable, and I definitely welcome the change. However, this does show that Jasnah, for all her very public heresy, does have to work within the system to a strong degree to achieve her goals. She is still very much an Alethi lighteyes.

L: I wonder how much that’s going to change now that she’s queen, though!

AP: Depends on how effective she wants to be, I would guess! We saw with Elhokar how the king can be just a figurehead if they don’t have the support of the highprinces. I think Jasnah is much more politically savvy than her brother though.

—the boy could be a powerful addition to our ranks. He shows interest in numerology, and asked me if we can truly predict events with it.

Jasnah made a note to speak to Renarin; she would not have him wasting his time with a bunch of fools who thought they could foretell the future based on the curls of smoke from a snuffed candle.

L: Jasnah, really? Come on, now. You’ve been judged for your belief (or lack thereof) your entire life, maybe don’t judge others based on those same metrics.

In all seriousness, I get where she’s coming from. Athiests often have a dissatisfied take on any sort of religion, having been judged based on their beliefs for their entire lives. It makes sense that any sort of scientifically unprovable belief system would chafe against her. But she’s continually trying to make others what she believes they could be, rather than allowing them to figure that out for themselves. It’s the only thing that really bugs me about her.

AP: I think that’s a valid criticism! I wonder how much of the predicting the future is based on the abilities of one or more orders of KR, and how much has been corrupted like seemingly everything else in Vorinism?

Squires & Sidekicks

Are you at Urithiru? Jochi wrote. When can I visit?

As soon as you’re willing to let everyone know you aren’t female, Jasnah wrote back. Jochi—known to the world as a dynamic woman of distinctive philosophy—was a pen name for a potbellied man in his sixties who ran a pastry shop in Thaylen City.

L: I absolutely adore this guy already.

AP: He’s definitely the side character I’m most looking forward to “meeting”.

Heralds alive and trying to kill people, Jochi wrote. And here I thought my news about a sighting of Axies the Collector was interesting.

L: Just noting this casual little drop of information on Axies.

Places & Peoples

tests confirm something is different here. Temperatures are distinctly lower on other nearby peaks of the same elevation—

L: Well that’s interesting. Something to do with the dormant technology of Urithiru, perhaps?

AP: I really want to know how Urithiru works! This is the bit of lore I was most interested in finding out, and we don’t get an answer by the end of the book. Which makes me think there is a Big Reveal coming in book 4.

Navani talked of ways to improve the experience—of spanreeds that could be adjusted to connect to different people.

AP: Yaassss Navani! I am totally in on Navani’s magi-tech.

L: You just had to say that word, now all I can think of is Final Fantasy.

“And yet, my first insult was not to attack him, but the moral reputation of his female relative. Clever? Or simply the use of an obvious bludgeon?”

L: I’m putting this one here because of the subtext of social commentary. So often femininity is used as an insult (“You throw like a girl”), and I really love seeing Jasnah admitting that her first instinct was to adhere to this rather than insulting him based on his own lack of virtues or honor. Alethi society may have a long way to go, but I’m glad for people like Jasnah who, like many in our own world today, are taking a good hard look at the ingrained injustices and prejudices of the world and taking active steps to reject them.

AP: As I alluded to earlier, I think this is huge. It takes a lot of self reflection to acknowledge an error, and work to do better.

Tight Butts and Coconuts

“Jasnah,” he said when he drew close. “I was told I could find you here.”

“Remind me to find whoever told you,” Jasnah said, “and have them hanged.”

L: Storms bless you, Jasnah Kholin.

“Everyone can see that he has started to share your religious beliefs.”

“Which would be incredible, since I don’t have religious beliefs.”

L: Jasnah 2, Amaram 0.

“Yes, from what I understand, she spent the seven months she was with child entertaining each and every military man she could find, in the hopes that something of them would stick to you.”

L: Yup.

Jasnah smiled, holding her freehand toward him, letting Stormlight curl and rise from it. “Oh, please do, Meridas. Give me an excuse. I dare you.”

L: This Jasnah Kholin appreciation comment is brought to you by the letter B, for “badass.”

AP: Yes! I wanted to see her summon her shardblade! And, AND, after Amaram threatens her with the blade he STOLE FROM KALADIN!

L: Shit I had forgotten that and it makes me want to kill him even more.

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

Concentrationspren rippled in the air like waves overheard—a rarity in Alethkar, but common here—and logicspren darted through them, like tiny stormclouds.

L: I wonder if the concentrationspren being more prevalent here is simply due to the fact that it’s easier to concentrate in such a secluded place, or if there’s more going on in regards to location.

AP: I read it as a commentary on having so many scholars in one place, which was rare in Alethkar.

Ethid, she wrote, weren’t you going to try to construct drawings of the spren tied to each order of Radiant?

I’ve gotten quite far, actually, she wrote back. I saw the Edgedancer spren personally, after demanding a glimpse.

What of the Truthwatchers? Jasnah wrote.

Oh! I found a reference to those, Jochi wrote. The spren reportedly looked like light on a surface after it reflects through something crystalline.

L: Here we go, starting to really question Renarin’s spren. I’m curious about what exactly piqued Jasnah’s interest here, though. What he said (“—it’s coming from in here. Somewhere in this room—”) doesn’t seem to raise any red flags for me…

AP: I had the same question. We don’t know a lot about the Truthwatchers, so my guess was that it’s something in the lore surrounding them and Renarin’s behavior with Glys did not fit the expected pattern. Is he demonstrating an ability that he shouldn’t have based on his declared order? We know that Shallan is pretending to be an Elsecaller for her own benefit, which Jasnah knows is a lie. Perhaps she is more suspicious of her own family and internal threats than she’s willing to acknowledge.

Analyzing Artwork

Click to enlarge

AP: I love the calligraphy discussion here! Seeing the glyphs written out for the first ideal of the Knights Radiant is a cool easter egg. And then the reference to the phoneme set on the next page….which we don’t get!!

L: I agree, but… who the heck is writing this?

I prefer bloodstains to inkstains any day, so next time send me somewhere I’m more likely to die from wounds than from handcramps.

Assuming that it’s a worldhopper, but… are there any other clues?

AP: Someone posing as an ardent, I surmise. Or an actual ardent undercover in another devotary? The “Purity’s Eye” swear sticks out at me. It sounds like the writer is worried about coded messages being sent via glyphs, and that they do not typically spend a lot of time writing.

L: The way they talk about the Alethi, it’s got to be either a worldhopper or someone from a different culture on Roshar.

AP: Oh, totally a worldhopper. But we’ve seen Hoid be deep undercover before. Pretending to be an ardent wouldn’t be anything too difficult.

L: I also like how the glyphs so closely mirror the evolution of the written languages for Chinese and Japanese. The way they change and simplify over time, the way we have that section on the bottom right that’s just letters transcribed to simple glyphs is very much like Japanese hiragana and katakana! This is probably intentional—I know that Sanderson spent some time in Asia, he probably picked up on some cool stuff like this while he was over there.

AP: That’s a good catch! I study western calligraphy, and it makes me think of the way that scripts changed over time, first becoming highly stylized and decorative, then moving back toward functional before becoming very standardized with printing.

Quality Quotations

Turns out the end of the world had to actually arrive before people would take it seriously.

L: ::cough climate change cough::

AP: Such a good quote.

If Alethkar was going to survive the Desolation, they’d need committed leadership. A stable throne.

L: That’s some quality foreshadowing, there.

AP: Time will tell! I love my girl Jasnah, but I don’t know how stable the throne will be during a Desolation!

Ethid did not think highly of men who earned their reputations through conquest, despite having made the study of such men a cornerstone of her research.

L: Or perhaps because of it.

Jasnah Kholin? Lost at sea? Likelier we’d find the Stormfather dead.

AP: Weellll…that seems ominously like foreshadowing….

 

AP: Next week we join back up with the guy everyone loves to hate, Moash! Get hype!

L: Mm hmm.

AP: We also learn a lot more about the Fused. And someone we thought was gone re-emerges…

Aubree is eventually going to have to write an actual bio. But as she is currently on assignment hunting inspirationspren it will have to wait for another time. She heard that Axies found one in Aimia and she is now giving stray cremlings the side-eye.

Lyndsey is heading to Salem, MA for Halloween this year. If you’re there, keep an eye out for Yuuri Katsuki and Victor Nikiforov and if you see them, come say hi! If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website.

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