Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Sixty-Two

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Greetings and hallucinations salutations, O Fair and Friendly Rereaders! (No greetings if you’re unfair or unfriendly? Hmmm… maybe I’d better rethink that greeting.) Welcome back to the Oathbringer Reread, where we’re about to watch Shallan get creative in her efforts to document what they’re seeing in Kholinar. Also, lots of information about what’s going on in the city. Information! Lots of information! Not, unfortunately, all the information, though; some, we’re still guessing.

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the entire novel in each reread. This week, the post only includes a nod to the upcoming Worldhopper Revelation without really talking about it. But if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Shallan
WHERE: Kholinar, in the home of Adolin’s tailors (L: No map this week, as they don’t travel anywhere…) (AA: Yeah, we don’t really need the map to show us Shallan wandering back and forth between two rooms while everyone else sits in chairs.)
WHEN: 1174.1.10.2 (same day as Chapter 61)

Chapter Sixty-Two begins with a lengthy discussion of the state of the city and what’s been happening in Kholinar. Before the Everstorm, the city was full of riots. Queen Aesudan issued a proclamation to execute all of the parshmen in the city. She also ordered the execution of an ardent who was questioning her. After the Everstorm hit, the palace was coated in gloom and things began getting progressively worse. Brightlords who went to the palace to speak to the queen never returned. Neither did the soldiers who were stationed there. A group known as the Cult of Moments are dressing up as spren and parading through the city, insisting that a new time is coming, one in which the spren will rule the world. If people attempt to use fabrials, Voidspren sweep out of the sky, bringing with them Fused who confiscate the fabrials and sometimes kill the users. On top of all this, some of the spren of the city are appearing as strange corruptions rather than their usual forms.

Having learned all of this, Elhokar decides to send Shallan in a disguise to the palace with a sealed letter for Aesudan, with Kaladin along to keep an eye on her. She reveals her alter-ego of Veil to her followers, then heads out into the city.

Truth, Love, and Defiance

Title: Research

AA: This is another of those few titles that isn’t a direct quote from the chapter. Shallan thinks about the research Jasnah and Navani are doing on the Unmade, but that’s not really in focus here. The team is questioning the tailor to figure out what’s going on in the city because they need information; it’s kept from being an infodump partly by Shallan’s… creative… research methods regarding the corrupted spren in the city.

Heralds

Vedel and Shalash.

AA: Shalash is pretty obvious, as the Lightweaver Herald. However, with her associated divine attributes of Creative and Honest, the corrupted spren could be considered an opposite. Also, blood, which Shallan… well, we’ll get to that.

Vedel is the Healer, patron of Edgedancers, with the attributes Loving and Healing. Shallan injuring and then healing herself could be part of the reason.

Icon

The Pattern icon tells us that this will be Shallan’s point of view.

Epigraph

I wish to submit my formal protest at the idea of abandoning the tower. This is an extreme step, taken brashly.

—From drawer 2-22, smokestone

AA: Apparently this Skybreaker, unlike the previous, does care. About something, anyway! As one who can fly, Urithiru is a perfect base. I wonder if they were starting to have trouble with the Oathgates? That might have made other Orders want to leave the tower, if their normal means of travel was unreliable, but wouldn’t really bother the Windrunners, Skybreakers, and (likely) Elsecallers. Sheer speculation, obviously, but it’s another thing to watch for.

L: Yeah, this is an interesting one. Since it’s a Skybreaker (the only Order to remain intact after the Recreance), I would imagine that this takes place just after the Recreance has occurred. Like Alice, this is sheer speculation on my part, but I wonder if the rest of the Orders have abandoned Urithiru at this point and it’s just the Skybreakers left there. Or… perhaps something more sinister is going on? (Who knows how long the Midnight Mother was in residence, for instance…)

Stories & Songs

“When that new storm came, the one with the red lightning, it left a gloom over the palace.

L: Interesting that the Unmade appears to have traveled with the Everstorm…

AA: Except that as we’ll discuss very shortly, that doesn’t make sense with what we already know. Hmm.

“In the middle of the rioting, a proclamation came from the queen. Oh, Your Majesty. She wanted to execute the city’s parshmen! Well, we all thought she must be—I’m sorry—but we thought she must be mad. Poor things. What have they ever done? That’s what we thought. We didn’t know.

“Well, the queen posted criers all over the city, proclaiming the parshmen to be Voidbringers… She didn’t even seem to notice that half of the city was rioting!”

L: This is really odd. We know that Dalinar & co. sent her a warning about this, but if she’s being controlled by an Unmade by this time (presumably a different one from the one who showed up along with the Everstorm), then why was it undermining Odium’s efforts like this?

AA: The timeline has been driving me crazy! We know that the Interlude with Lhan and Pai happened during the Weeping, and it’s pretty clear that Ashertmarn was already in residence—the Heart of the Revel. My best guess is that Aesudan’s actions (and those of her court and ardentia) weren’t really controlled by it, but instead were heavily influenced by it. When she got the message from Dalinar, she issued the proclamation; I’d suggest that in keeping with the “all things in excess” nature of Ashertmarn, she ordered them to be executed, not just exiled as Dalinar and Elhokar had said. It’s the same sort of overreaction as executing Pai, maybe.

Anyway, a few days afterward, the Everstorm came across, transforming the parshmen outside the city with Voidspren and bringing with it… what? Fused? Sja-anat? Yelig-Nar? (I’m not sure Yelig-nar has an area effect; he seems more like a personal take-over-your-body guy.) It seems like maybe the Everstorm “fueled” Ashertmarn to greater influence, and we see plenty of evidence of Sja-anat’s presence in the corrupted spren. If the Fused actually came with the storm, it would have been very shortly afterward that they snagged themselves some Parsh bodies and shut down the spanreeds and other fabrials.

AP: I’m with you on the timeline issues, Alice. We don’t know exactly when Aesudan bonded with Yelig-Nar. She may not have been under its influence when she issued the order to execute the Parshmen. It would fit with the excess of Ashertmarn. On that note, Pai’s extreme decision to publicly denounce the Queen fits that pattern as well. As a reminder, Pai was the ardent who first appeared in Words of Radiance in Interlude 1-12. She was part of the Devotary of Denial, and was ordered to join Aesudan’s retinue. She had a discussion with another ardent about the excesses of the nobles in Kholinar, and in particular, she was shown a pile of rotting food that should have been given to the poor. After, she is given time to think about her place and potential to do good, but would also be tacitly endorsing the Queen’s behavior. She instead decides to do a truly epic call out, and is executed as a result. It’s possible that both Pai and Aesudan were under the influences of the Unmade when they made their decisions. I also like the idea that the Everstorm heightened the power of the Unmade already in residence, rather than bringing them to the city in the first place. I think Alice is on the right track there.

AA: Yay! Good to know my wispy theory has merit. ;) We’re guessing, but it makes so much sense that an almost mindless Unmade like Ashertmarn would be strengthened significantly by the arrival of the Everstorm, all chock full of Odium’s investiture, just waiting to be sucked in and deployed.

If the tailor was correct about the dark spren arriving during the Everstorm, then Aesudan had executed the ardent on her own—as that had happened before. Likewise, the order to exile the parshmen would also have come before the Everstorm.

L: Shallan’s not even entertaining the possibility that there may be more than one Unmade in the city.

AA: It’s shortsighted, but understandable. To be fair, one Unmade is quite enough to be getting on with, let alone even thinking about two!

AP: Let alone the three we know are there!

Relationships & Romances

“Take a deep breath, Yokska,” Adolin said gently. Even his voice was adorable.

AA: ::gigglesnort::

She ended up sprawled on the floor, skirts up about her waist—and she wasn’t even wearing the leggings today. Her safehand bulged out from between the sleeve buttons, poking into the open right in front of not just the king, but Kaladin and Adolin.

AA: This may or may not have any significance at all, but why does she specifically think about Kaladin? The king is The King, and Adolin is her betrothed, but why should she care about Kaladin that much? Is this another hint at the Veil/Shallan/Kaladin/Adolin triangle-with-four-sides (or is it a square-with-three-sides?) problem?

Bruised & Broken

“Do not fear reprisal. I must know what the city’s people think.”

L: Here’s a mark of a good leader. I really believe that he’s actively trying to live up to the good examples he’s seen around him (::cough Kaladin cough::) and turn over a new leaf in regards to his leadership.

“Mmmm,” Pattern said. “Destruction. This… this is not normal for you, Shallan. Too far.” … “He buzzed, worried, but he needn’t have been, as Shallan had what she wanted.

L: I really appreciate Pattern being so concerned for her well-being after seeing what appeared on the outside to be an act of self-harm. Storms know that he has good reason to be worried about her mental state…

AP: Definitely true. But also she took a tailor’s fabric scissors to stab herself! AND she didn’t even clean them off afterward! ::shudder::

L: If someone used my fabric scissors to stab someone, they’d be getting stabbed themselves next!

AA: Maybe Brandon just forgot to tell us she cleaned them? Because poor Yokska, if the next thing she finds when these surprise visitors finish interrogating her is blood all over her fabric shears. “Adolin, I trust you and you’re a delight to dress, but some of these people you brought are seriously bizarre.”

Also, I looked back at the beta comments, and Pattern wasn’t the only one worrying that Shallan was going to start down the self-harm path. There were some very worried readers.

That, she thought, might be the craziest thing you’ve ever done. Which is saying a lot.

L: I’m a little disturbed by the fact that she thinks that showing a little leg/finger is worse than, oh… stabbing herself in the leg, or slitting her own wrist in book 1, or, you know… THE MULTIPLE DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES SHE IS CONCOCTING FOR HERSELF.

AA: I’m just sitting here laughing. “Which is saying a lot” indeed! She’s got some funky priorities, our Shallan. But in terms of crazy-shenanigan-ness, she’s got a point!

Oh, ugh. I’m adding this too late for Lyndsey and Aubree to respond to it, but it occurs to me that Shallan only considers “crazy things I’ve done” as “things someone else saw me do.” Anything she does in private, no matter how stupid or dangerous, can just be ignored and “forgotten” like she’s forgotten so much else.

“But that slave brand…” She reached up to create an illusion to make it vanish from his forehead.

He caught the hand. “No need. I’ll keep my hair down over it.”

L: Oh, Kaladin. You and your insistence on seeing that brand as an integral part of you.

“I had it reversed. I thought Brightness Shallan was the persona. But the spy—that’s the false identity.”

“Wrong,” Shallan said. “They’re both equally false.”

L: Shallan. No. Ugh.

AA: Sigh. Poor girl has no idea who the real Shallan might be anymore.

AP: This is really concerning. She is putting on a facade of a “proper” lighteyes woman in front of her people. But to go so far as to say the entire identity of Shallan is false is concerning. I hope she has time to figure out who she is. Not just who other people want or expect her to be.

“We don’t need Dalinar’s permission to act,” Elhokar said. … “What is my uncle going to do, Captain? Dalinar won’t know any more than we will. We either do something about Kholinar ourselves now, or give the city, the Oathgate, and my family up to the enemy.”

Shallan agreed, and even Kaladin nodded slowly.

AA: Again, Elhokar is stepping up as a leader. Kaladin’s instinct was to just go back and check with Dalinar, but Elhokar is right—there’s nothing Dalinar could do about it that this team can’t. I love watching the way Elhokar is growing in this chapter: He’s still watching Kaladin for a role model, but he’s also becoming a little more able to recognize when his own training is giving him the right answer. He’s trying so hard to guard against being impetuous and stupid, but along with that he’s realizing that there are times that he himself knows more about the situation they face than Kaladin can. (I just kind of wish he’d look to Adolin a little more. I understand why he doesn’t, but Adolin understands the city and the lighteyes in ways that Kaladin simply can’t.)

“Waiting and trusting those whom you have empowered is the soul of kingship, Windrunner,” Elhokar said.

AA: Well said, Elhokar. More and more with every chapter, I find myself liking Elhokar. SANDERSSSOOOOOONNNN!!

Squires & Sidekicks

“How much did you eavesdrop on?” Shallan asked them.

“Not much,” Vathah said, thumbing over his shoulder. “We were too busy watching Ishnah ransack the tailor’s bedroom to see if she was hiding anything.”

“Tell me you didn’t make a mess.”

“No mess,” Ishnah promised. “And nothing to report either. The woman might actually be as boring as she seems. The boys did learn some good search procedures though.”

AA: … I was just going to quote this as “Shallan’s team is doing its thing.” Then it occurred to me: I’ll bet there will come a time in the next book or so when these ‘good search procedures” will turn out to be foreshadowing. Am I wrong?

Also, it cracked me up that they took her revelation about being Veil so nonchalantly.

Places & Peoples

I’ve had Passion for something to happen, true, but to finally… I mean…

AP: A reminder here that the Thaylen religious beliefs are tied up with Passion too! I think there’s definitely a historical connection to Odium here that we don’t know enough about yet.

Similar finished coats were displayed around the showroom. They were made in bright colors—even brighter than the Alethi wore at the Shattered Plains—with gold or silver thread, shiny buttons, and elaborate embroidery on the large pockets. The coats didn’t close at the front except for a few below the collar, while the sides flared out, then split into tails at the back.

L: Dropping this in here partly because of the social aspect of the Alethi preferring bright colors and flamboyant designs, but mostly as a note for my fellow cosplayers. ;) By the description, these seem to be similar to 18th century frock coats, but with tails. I have to admit I adore the Alethi style—it’s very militaristic while still being fashionable, with the additions of the embroidery and buttons to add flair.

She was surprised at the running water; she hadn’t thought Kholinar had such things.

L: I’m surprised at her surprise on this; I always kind of thought that Kholinar was viewed by the other countries as being pretty advanced when it came to technology. Also, obviously this isn’t run by fabrial technology, which is actually pretty surprising to me. Usually Sanderson’s very good about utilizing the inherent magic in a world to explain variant ways that society has invented technology, so I’m a bit curious about the fact that mundane methods of achieving running water were apparently easier/more achievable than doing the same via some form of magic.

AA: I don’t know… Before the return of the Radiants, all they had for magic-powering stuff was fabrials. I could be wrong, but it seems like they’re only now beginning to really develop their understanding of the Surges and how they can be used to manipulate matter in useful ways. I think it’s a case of them being limited by the inherited “ancient” fabrials—the ones the Radiants left behind, like Soulcasters; it took a while to figure out not only how to make them, but to come up with ideas for what kinds of things they could do. Didn’t Navani say that it was only recently that they learned how to trap spren? (I should look this up…)

AP: Various types of plumbing have been around since ancient times. I don’t think this level of technology should be a surprise for Shallan. What may be a surprise is that a commoner has access to it, and it would speak to her skills that she would have such a luxury in her home.

L: I’m not sure how much a “commoner” this woman is, if she’s making outfits for the Highprince himself… Upper-middle class perhaps?

AP: Even so, the White House didn’t get plumbing until the 1830s. It was very expensive.

AA: For what it’s worth, Kharbranth (at least the palace) had running water. It was kept warm in the bath by heating fabrials, but it arrived via what appears to be normal mechanically-powered plumbing, and it came in warm. But let’s not forget that Shallan didn’t grow up with running water, and the brief time she spent in Kharbranth is her only experience with it. It may be one of those things that will always surprise her just a little.

“But the real power in the city is the Cult of Moments.”

“Those people we saw in the street?” Adolin asked. “Dressed like spren.”

[…]

“Some have started claiming they see a new world coming, a truly strange new world. One ruled by spren.”

L: If the Radiants rise again, they’re not entirely wrong.

AA: Not… entirely.

AP: So this makes me wonder if there is perhaps a Truthwatcher leading this? Who is perhaps having visions they do not yet understand? Just doing what their spren tells them to do?

Tight Butts and Coconuts

The only thing for Shallan to do, then, was punch herself in the face.

L: Something that some of her haters wouldn’t question her on, I imagine. (I’d like to point out that I am not one of those. I do find this amusing, however.)

AA: I loved the way it took about two pages to tell us why she thought punching herself in the face would be a good idea. Also, that it didn’t work.

Mundane Motivations

Jasnah would tell her to put down her sketchpad and go sit with the others—but Shallan often paid better attention with a sketchpad in her hands. People who didn’t draw never seemed to understand that.

AA: I loved that Brandon included this. I don’t draw, but I’m one of those people who pay better attention if I have something to do with my hands. It doesn’t matter if I’m taking notes (which I never look at again), doing needlework, playing solitaire, doodling… doing something, anything, with my hands helps me listen better. I feel bad about it sometimes, because it looks like I’m not paying any attention at all, but… well, if it matters that I pay attention, let me do something with my hands!

Cosmere Connections

“Highmarshal Azure?” Adolin asked. “No. But I’ve been away for years. There are bound to be many officers in the city who were promoted while the rest of us were at war.”

L: Or officers who showed up out of the blue from entirely different planets. ;)

AA: Who might that be…?

L: Who indeed.

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

Painspren appeared around her, as if crawling out of the ground—like little disembodied hands. They looked skinless, made of sinew. Normally they were bright orange, but these were a sickly green. And they were also wrong… instead of human hands, these seemed to be from some kind of monster—too distorted, with claws jutting from the sinew.

L: The implications of this Unmade are really fascinating to me. Is it actually corrupting the entire spren, even in Shadesmar? Or is it just corrupting the way that people in the Physical Realm perceive it? What’s the purpose of this? Does the spren remain corrupted once the Unmade has left the vicinity, or does it go back to normal afterwards?

AP: Good questions! I hope we get a lot more information about this. How are they changed? Are they permanently becoming Odium-spren?

AA: And does she have to touch each one individually to affect them, or can she do en masse effects?

AP: I definitely think these are en masse effects, or else some of the shamespren would be petals and some glass. The spren of a corrupted type all seem to be corrupt. Another possibility is that Sja-Anat has been around longer than we thought and the hunger spren were corrupted a long time ago. I don’t think that’s the case, because someone, presumably, would have noticed. But I did want to toss it out there as a possibility.

She’s managed to glimpse some hungerspren around a refugee on their way. Oddly, those didn’t look any different. Why?

L: SO MANY QUESTIONS. Why do certain ones get corrupted and others don’t? Is it maybe something to do with negative vs. positive emotions? Do the negative ones not get corrupted because they’re already “negative?”

AP: I’m not sure that’s it. I don’t know that embarrassment/shame or pain are inherently positive emotions.

L: Yeah, this is a toughie. I thought maybe it might be like the Singers’ Rhythms? How the Voidbringer versions are “darker” versions of the original ones?

AA: And later we’ll see that not all of a given kind are affected. (I think that’s next week.) So. Many. Questions. On the bright side, I’m pretty sure we’re going to learn a lot more about Sja-anat in the next book or so!

She felt a deep blush come on, and shamespren dropped around her in a wave. Normally, they took the shape of falling red and white flower petals.

These were like pieces of broken glass.

L: Simply taking note of this as an example of another physical representation of the corruption.

“If you use a fabrial,” Yokska said, “of any sort—from spanreed, to warmer, to painrial—you’ll draw them. Screaming yellow spren that ride the wind like streaks of terrible light. They shout and swirl about you. That then usually brings the creatures from the sky, the ones with the loose clothing and long spears. They seize the fabrial, and sometimes kill the one trying to use it.”

L: Lots of interesting information to unpack here. So the Voidspren can sense it when people are using fabrials… Is this a trait all spren share, but we just haven’t seen yet? It must be a pretty far-reaching sense for them to be able to feel it anywhere in the city.

AP: We’ve talked about the theory that all fabrials have a trapped spren inside. That could be it, maybe? That they are able to sense the spren inside the fabrial?

L: That’d be pretty dark. Maybe they think they’re liberating all these poor trapped spren.

AA: The “trapped spren” is more than a theory, though as far as we know the trapped ones are all the lesser, non-sapient spren. I’m reasonably sure the ability of the screamer-spren to find the fabrials has to do with the trapped spren, but I don’t know how they could sense it from a distance. Unless… could they be watching in the Cognitive realm, prowling the area corresponding to the city, watching for whatever they look like when the fabrials are activated? We haven’t seen that yet.

L: Also… What the heck is a painrial? Have we seen these before?

AA: Yes, we have. Navani demonstrated one on Adolin back in… TWoK, I think it was? It reduces the pain of an injury temporarily. She was experimenting with making them smaller, and was thinking in terms of making it easier for surgeons to do their job without having to drug people into oblivion first.

Sheer Speculation

“It was the execution of the ardent, Brightlord,” Yokska said. “The queen had her hanged, and…. Oh! It was so gruesome.” … “She wrote such awful things, Your Majesty. About the state of the monarchy, and the queen’s faith and…”

L: I wonder if this was entirely due to this particular ardent speaking out, or if the Unmade have a particular beef with the ardentia. It would make sense if the ardents were the first ones to figure out how to bind the Unmade into perfect gems, and if anyone was going to be the ones to figure that out, I’d put my spheres on the ardentia, with all of the research they do into similar subjects.

AP: I think, as we discussed above, that this is likely the first indications of Ashertmarn being present in the city. Both Pai making a very public display to call out Aesudan, and the queen’s response.

AA: I think we have indications soon that it was the Radiants that figured out the bit about trapping the Unmade, but I’m not positive. It does seem like the ardentia were particularly targeted, though.

Yes, she thought, taking another Memory of Elhokar. Yes, you are king. And you can live up to your father’s legacy.

L: I’m curious as to whether this is something she is just observing, or if she’s imbuing her drawing with what she wishes for him, like she did with her followers in Words of Radiance. Is she subconsciously influencing him to be a stronger leader, helping to give him more confidence and empathy? I can’t help but notice that after she does this, he starts making markedly more confident and wise comments and decisions.

AP: I took it as the latter, that she is trying to make him be better than he is, to live up to his potential.

AA: We’ll have to examine this question more in Chapter 74, when she actually does the drawing of him. ::sniffle:: (I just reread that scene, and it makes me so sad…)

Quality Quotations

“I’mfinethatwasanexperiment,” she said, ducking into the showroom and throwing herself into a seat placed there for customers. Storms, that was humiliating.

***

She climbed out the window and dropped one story to the ground, relying on her Stormlight to keep her legs from breaking.

AA: That’s a nice trick if you can do it.

Well, that about wraps it up! What are your thoughts on the corrupted spren? The timeline? The Unmade? Tell us all about it in the comments below, and join us next week as we tackle Chapter 63 where Shallan has… terminal adventures, shall we say?

Alice is happy to point out to anyone who cares that the “Stormlight 4 & 5 Outlining” progress bar has moved to 40%. (Outlining, not writing!! Gotta make sure the rest of this arc is planned out properly.) She’s equally happy to note that the Starsight third draft is in work, and a beta read is tentatively slated for February.

Lyndsey has finally started work on her Yuri Katsuki short program cosplay from Yuri!!! On Ice. She looks forward to the 1500+ sequins she’s planning to hand sew onto this monster. If you’re interested in following along on the work, check out her Facebook page.

Aubree is not letting Shallan borrow any of her sewing supplies. Not even the pinking shears.

citation

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