Top of the morning to you, oh fine rereaders of the Oathbringer! Welcome back to the excruciatingly detailed investigation, as we sit in on a highly informative conversation between Dalinar and the Stormfather. Also, Bridge Four. Also also, team Sadeas fail.
Reminder: We’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the entire novel in each reread. This week, there’s no direct discussion of wider Cosmere issues. But if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.
WHERE: Urithiru, Azimir
WHEN: 1126.96.36.199 (11 days after his last appearance in Chapter 59; 8 days after Chapter 63)
Dalinar retrieves Jezrien’s Honorblade from its hiding place, and has a protracted discussion of Heralds and Bondsmiths on his way to deliver it to Bridge Four; he’s hoping they can use it to continue practicing their Windrunner powers in Kaladin’s absence. He then prepares to depart, solo, for Azir, to talk them into joining his coalition. On his way to the Oathgate, he breaks up a skirmish between Aladar and Sadeas soldiers which is rapidly moving from “mock” to “real” as the soldiers antipathy toward one another overcomes their discipline.
Truth, Love, and Defiance
Title: Binder of Gods
Before he was Herald of Luck, they called him Binder of Gods.
AA: In context, Stormfather is telling Dalinar about the powers he now holds—powers that were once held by Ishar. While Dalinar doesn’t do any god-binding in this chapter, the title seems portentous.
Ishar—Herald of Luck, Binder of Gods, patron of the Bondsmiths, associated with the role of Priest, the divine attributes Pious and Guiding, and the essence Sinew. Jezrien—Herald of Kings, patron of the Windrunners, associated with the role of King, the divine attributes Protecting and Leading, and the essence Zephyr.
AA: Ishar’s connection to this chapter is obvious, since the title refers to him, much time is spent talking about him, and Dalinar-the-Bondsmith is the viewpoint character. Jezrien is a little less obvious, though they talk about him a bit as well; most likely, he’s here because his Honorblade is entering service again.
Kholin Glyphpair for a Dalinar POV
The disagreements between the Skybreakers and the Windrunners have grown to tragic levels. I plead with any who hear this to recognize you are not so different as you think.
—From drawer 27-19, topaz
AA: This week we have a Stoneward expressing concern about conflict between Skybreakers and Windrunners. I wonder if the disagreements were about whatever caused the Recreance, and if perhaps this is the beginning of what made the Skybreakers decide not to participate. Pure conjecture, but I do wonder.
AP: I can definitely see how those two orders in particular would be in conflict. The Skybreakers focused on law and rules and the Windrunners focused on matters of honor and moral rightness. I expect to see a lot more conflicting coming between Nale’s group and the rest of the Radiants.
Stories & Songs
AA: Roll up your sleeves, boys and girls. There’s a lot of information about the Heralds coming up here…
“There are some who assumed you were one of the Heralds,” Dalinar noted to the Stormfather, who rumbled in the back of his mind. “Jezerezeh, Herald of Kings, Father of Storms.”
Men say many foolish things, the Stormfather replied. Some name Kelek Stormfather, others Jezrien. I am neither of them.
AA: I thought it was a nice touch to address this, finally. We’ve seen both assumptions in play, and we mostly knew neither was true. It’s just fun to see the misconceptions across the world, and know that they are misconceptions.
“But Jezerezeh was a Windrunner.”
He was before Windrunners. He was Jezrien, a man whose powers bore no name. They were simply him. The Windrunners were named only after Ishar founded the orders.
AA: I mean… we knew this, of course, but it’s such a different angle on who the Heralds were. Each one was unique, and used his or her unique set of powers to help humanity defend itself against the parsh and the Fused. I really would like to get some clue as to how many Desolations happened before the orders were founded; I’m just curious about this sort of thing.
AP: I don’t remember this info before. I think it’s interesting that one of the Heralds decided that they all needed more organization and just sorted them all into Orders.
AA: It’s been hinted more than outright stated, mostly. Syl told Kaladin some of it—when the spren decided to try and bond humans to give them the Heralds’ powers, Ishar decided that it was a nice idea but needed some structure and limitations. Dalinar’s vision with Nohadon hinted that some of the initial Surgebinders were dangerously unreliable at that point. Speculation is that Ishar bound the spren to the Ideals so that Surgebinders, which then took on specific Orders with their own sets of guidelines, were required to live by those guidelines or lose their powers.
… Ishar founded the orders.
“Ishi’Elin,” Dalinar said. “Herald of Luck.”
Or of mysteries, the Stormfather said, or of priests. Or of a dozen other things, as men dubbed him. He is now as mad as the rest. More, perhaps.
“Do you know where they are?”
I have told you. I do not see all. Only glimpses in the storms.
“Do you know where they are?”
Only one, he said with a rumble. I … have seen Ishar. He curses me at night, even as he names himself a god. He seeks death. His own. Perhaps that of every man.
AA: That’s not disturbing or anything. He “perhaps” seeks the death of every man? Great…
Tezim, the god-priest of Tukar? Is it him? Ishi, Herald of Luck, is the man who has been waging war against Emul?”
“For what purpose?”
He is insane. Do not look for meaning in his actions.
AA: We now know for sure where Ishar is and what he’s doing… if not why. I wonder if it’s true that there is no meaning but insanity in his actions. Also, this ended, once and for all, my cherished theory of Vasher and Ishar being the same person. Ah, well. It was fun while it lasted.
AP: It also seems kind of sad, a thousands of years old being with unknown powers, who doesn’t know who he really is anymore. Most of the heralds seem tragic to me. But then again it’s hard to be sympathetic when he’s set himself up as a god and wants to destroy everything. I also have trouble with the multiple names for the Heralds. It’s really confusing to me. I can see why you might think Vasher and Ishar might be the same!
AA: It really is sad—every one of the Heralds we’ve seen so far, except Taln, is just… lost.
I had thought during WoR that Zahel might be Ishar, but there was pretty compelling evidence that he was Vasher. Then I tried to figure out if maybe Vasher and Ishar were the same, and with no more evidence than we had for a while there, it looked like a possibility. Slim, maybe, but still a possibility. But now, not so much.
Squires & Sidekicks
“This,” he said to the men of Bridge Four, “is the Honorblade your captain recovered. … Anyone who holds this will immediately gain the powers of a Windrunner. Your captain’s absence is interrupting your training. Perhaps this, though only one can use it at a time, can mitigate that.”
AA: Well, it makes a certain amount of sense, I guess…
Teft reached out, then drew his hand back. “Leyten,” he barked. “You’re our storming armorer. You take the thing.”
AA: Why? Because he feels unworthy of the Honorblade, or because he’s already two steps into the process of becoming a Knight Radiant?
AP: I think because he’s already bonded to a spren. The spren might not like him holding another blade. Is there a similar reaction to holding a dead blade?
L: That’s an interesting question. I fall more in the side of him feeling unworthy of it—this is a holy object to them, and Teft already has a lot of baggage regarding his self-worth.
AA: Aubree, the only reason I don’t put it down to the bond is that neither Dalinar nor Kaladin had any problem with the Honorblade. It’s an artifact, not a dead spren.
“Airsick lowlanders,” Rock the Horneater said, shoving forward and taking the weapon. “Your soup is cold. That is idiom for ‘You are all stupid.’ ”
AA: Rock is adorable. That is all.
AP: I like his practicality.
The clock fabrial on his forearm dinged, and Dalinar stifled a sigh. She’d learned to make it ding?
AA: Heh. Also, I just realized I don’t have a good unit for talking about fabrials. Huh. I just wanted to note something here, though. Someone complained elsewhere about how long it should have taken to go from alarm clocks to alarm wristwatches… and I just realized yesterday what the big difference is. In the real world, it was a matter of getting the same sort of mechanism to function in a much smaller formats. This isn’t a mechanism; it’s a fabrial. Navani just needed to make the fabrial tooling and readout smaller. At least that makes sense to me.
Two of his Shardbearers—Rust and Serugiadis, men who had the Plate only—practiced with massive Shardbows,
AA: Just for what it’s worth, these two received the Plate won from Jakamav and Elit in the infamous four-on-one “duel” back in Words of Radiance. Hi, guys! Nice to see you again!
A significant number of the common soldiers sat around holding spheres, staring at them intently. Word had spread that Bridge Four was recruiting. He’d lately noticed numerous men in the hallways holding a sphere “for luck.” Dalinar even passed a group out here who were talking about swallowing spheres.
AA: We not going to meet anyone else who decides to swallow gemstones, or anything. No sir. Not a hint of foreshadowing here, sir!
The Stormfather rumbled with displeasure. They go about this backward. Foolish men. They can’t draw in Light and become Radiant; they first must be approaching Radiance, and look for Light to fulfill the promise.
AA: Quite true. But very human behavior, nonetheless.
Two blocks of spearmen pressed against each other on the plateau … Dalinar saw the warning signs of things going too far. Men were shouting with real acrimony, and angerspren were boiling at their feet. … Green and white on one side, black and maroon on the other. Sadeas and Aladar.
Dalinar shouted, and Stormlight shimmered along the stones before him… The rest got stuck in the Stormlight, which glued them to the ground. This caused all but the most furious to stop their fighting. He pulled the last few apart and pushed them down, sticking them by their seats to the stone next to their angerspren.
AA: Well, that’s a neat trick if you can do it! But it does not bode well for army discipline if you have to resort to sticking their butts to the ground to make them shut up. As Dalinar notes, for all Amaram’s reputation as a general, he’s not doing a good job as Mr. Sadeas. Dalinar excuses it as “well, he’s never had an army this size before,” but you can’t help wonder if it’s incompetence or disinterest. Is he already setting up to betray Dalinar? He and Jasnah come up with a very clever plan to keep the Sadeas army busy and productive … and which will naturally come back to bite them.
AP: It makes me wonder what Amaram is actually up to during this time. Sons of Honor shady activities? What led him to Odium?
AA: And will we ever find out?
Places & Peoples
“I did a great deal of business with the Azish when I was younger,” Fen said from behind him. “This might not work, but it is a much better plan than traditional Alethi strutting.”
AA: But of course, you’re not going to tell us what the plan is. Well, I’ll admit it’s much more fun to watch it roll out than to be told.
He couldn’t write to them of course, but he could flip the reed on and off to send signals, an old general’s trick for when you lacked a scribe.
AA: Silly Alethi strictures anyway.
Tight Butts and Coconuts
It clicked. “Stormfather!”
“Oh. Uh, that was a curse.… Never mind.”
AA: Bahahahahaaaaa! … I mean, it had to happen sometime, right?
But do not look toward the powers of others, even those who share your Surges. Their lot is not yours, and their powers are small, petty things. What you did in reknitting those statues was a mere trifle, a party trick.
AA: Ooof. Weighty words, indeed. Reknitting those statues seemed pretty impressive at the time, and now they’re “a party trick”? Okay, then! I think this is the first time it’s really put right in our faces that the Surges are not necessarily used the same way by the Orders that share them. (So, for example, Truthwatchers might not use Illumination the same way Lightweavers do, as has occasionally been suggested.)
L: Interesting that the Stormfather appears to be putting the powers of the Bondsmith above the others… which is expanded upon in the next quote.
Yours is the power Ishar once held. Before he was Herald of Luck, they called him Binder of Gods. He was the founder of the Oathpact. No Radiant is capable of more than you. Yours is the power of Connection, of joining men and worlds, minds and souls. Your Surges are the greatest of all, though they will be impotent if you seek to wield them for mere battle.
AA: So no pressure, there, Dalinar old buddy.
But what does he mean, “Yours is the power Ishar once held”? Does Dalinar hold all the powers of a Herald? (I’ve always assumed that the Heralds had something … I don’t know, something more than the Knights Radiant who emulated them. Aside from the Oathpact and all the good times on Braize, I mean.) Has this always been true of Bondsmiths? Or just the one bonded to the Stormfather? Or just Dalinar, now that Tanavast is dead? And when he’s called “Binder of Gods,” is that referring to the Singer ancestors, or to Odium? I would guess the former, since the following sentence references the Oathpact. GAH! I want to know it aaaaaaallll!!
AP: So, like, all the info we needed for the big reveal at the end was right here for us! During the beta, a group of us mostly theorized that this, with the “unite them,” meant that Dalinar was going to reconstruct the shards of Honor back together, or even recombine the shards to make a Voltron-type being we called the Almightier. Making a perpendicularity is pretty cool and all, but I’m still holding out hope for the Almightier.
A Scrupulous Study of Spren
Dalinar lowered the Honorblade, looking eastward toward the Origin. Even through the stone walls, he knew that was where to find the Stormfather.
AA: For some reason, I find this fascinating. The Stormfather resides at the Origin? Gah! I want to know where and what it is in the worst way.
“When … when were you thinking of informing me of this?”
When you asked. When else would I speak of it?
“When you thought of it!” Dalinar said. “You know things that are important, Stormfather!”
He just rumbled his reply.
Dalinar took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. Spren did not think like men.
“Did you know that I could heal the stone?”
I knew it once you did it, the Stormfather said. Yes, once you did it, I always knew.
“Do you know what else I can do?”
Of course. Once you discover it, I will know.
AA: And it’s just as frustrating for Dalinar as it was for Kaladin—or maybe more so! “Spren did not think like men,” indeed! I really like this aspect of the world-building, no matter how frustrating it is to feel like the spren could tell us All The Things, if only they would. It makes sense that since spren don’t have the same frame of reference as humans, they will see things much differently. It’s a little easier with someone like Pattern, because we’re frequently reminded that he’s sort of a personification of maths, and looks like a fractal. Sylphrena and the Stormfather both seem so much more human that it’s easy to forget their alien nature.
AP: What I like about this is how the spren grow in awareness as their bonded Radiants grow in ability. Once Dalinar can do it, the Stormfather “always knew” that he was able to. He’s able to remember more. Spren to full Radiants are likely pretty powerful! And that means that it’s likely that Dalinar/Stormfather aren’t done leveling up. If Dalinar is this powerful at relatively low Radiant level, what will he be able to do when he’s got his full abilities?
AA: I can’t wait to find out!
“Are there others like me out there?” he finally asked.
Not right now, and there can ever be only three. One for each of us.
“Three?” Dalinar said. “Three spren who make Bondsmiths. You … and Cultivation are two?”
The Stormfather actually laughed. You would have a difficult time making her your spren. I should like to see you try it.
My siblings need not concern you.
AA: And oh, the speculation about them… We can be pretty confident that the Nightwatcher is one (I think that’s confirmed later?), but The Other Sibling is still a huge question. The epigraphs in Part Three seem to strongly hint that the Sibling is connected to Urithiru somehow, but there are still so many questions… (More about this below!)
AP: But also, the Stormfather confirms that there is not currently another Bondsmith! Let the speculation continue as to who the other two could be!
L: Lift is the closest person we know to Cultivation, but she’s already got her own powers… This makes me wonder, though. Do the other Bondsmiths necessarily have to have the same secondary surges, I wonder?
AA: I think they must, Lyn, although I’m betting that the way they use the Surges will be as unique to each Bondsmith as they are to the Order.
As for speculation on the other two, I half expect Navani to bond one of them. I can’t decide if it’s more likely she’d bond the Nightwatcher in her role as Mother, or the Sibling in her role as Engineer/Artifabrian. I’d love to see Rushu bond the Sibling, though; I think that would be perfect. Not only is she a fabrial expert (suitable to the spren who makes Urithiru function), she’s an ardent and apparently asexual, as the Sibling seems to be. I also think Rock would make an awesome Bondsmith.
“Have I ever asked how you renew these [spheres]?”
Honor’s power, during a storm, is concentrated in one place, the Stormfather said. It pierces all three realms and brings Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual together momentarily in one. The gemstones, exposed to the wonder of the Spiritual Realm, are lit by the infinite power there.
AA: I wonder if Dalinar remembered this conversation later. That’s pretty much exactly what he did in the Big Moment, isn’t it? So… he sort of was a highstorm?
AP: Yep, it’s all right there for us!
“Could you renew this sphere, now?”
I … do not know. He sounded intrigued. Hold it forth.
Dalinar did so, and felt something happen, a tugging on his insides, like the Stormfather straining against their bond. The sphere remained dun.
It is not possible, the Stormfather said. I am close to you, but the power is not—it still rides the storm.
L: The implication being that this is something he could do, eventually.
AP: Or could Dalinar create additional perpendicularities at battle sites, providing an infinite recharge to troops?
AA: There are a number of theories floating around about the Sibling, and I’m sure I haven’t heard them all. There are a few people holding strongly to the idea that Cusicesh is the Sibling, but I don’t quite get how that works with the Urithiru tie. One of the conclusions people jumped to was naturally that three Siblings and three Shards meant that the third one had to be connected to Odium, but Sanderson precluded that when he said that the Unmade are to Odium what Nightwatcher is to Cultivation and Stormfather was to pre-shattering Honor.
So what is the Sibling? We’ll have this discussion many times before the next book comes out, I’m afraid. One theory that I rather like is that Odium was trying to splinter the Sibling and was making Unmade out of the pieces he could break off, so the Sibling withdrew to prevent any further damage. A bit far-fetched, but interesting.
The one I personally believe has the most logical support is that the Sibling is the spren of the stone. The planet, the continent, the landmass, whatever you want to call it. This makes sense to me because if the Stormfather was the spren of the highstorms, and the Nightwatcher was the spren of life, living things, growth… wouldn’t there logically be a spren of “the ground” as it were?
AP: One theory I liked is that one sibling is of Honor (Stormfather), one is of Cultivation (Nightwatcher), and one is somehow a fusion of their two powers.
L: The Sibling being Of Stone would make sense as to why Szeth’s people venerate stone, as well.
AP: And could tie in to the unique stone patterns in Urithiru.
It was shortsighted of him to see such an ancient weapon merely as the sword of the Assassin in White.
AA: Yes, it is.
He hoped he could remember it exactly to repeat to Navani—of course, if the Stormfather was listening, he’d correct Dalinar’s mistakes. The Stormfather hated to be misquoted.
Thus endeth this week’s infodump discussion—and what a fascinating infodump it was! Didn’t even feel like one, at least not to me! Jump into the discussion below, and then join us again next week for Chapter 65, wherein Dalinar tries his hand at diplomacy, guided by the plans of Fen, Jasnah, and Navani.
Alice is “enjoying” winter in the Pacific Northwest. She thought winter was going to be on a Monday this year, but it seems to be stretching. Might even be a whole week!
Aubree will form… the HEAD!!