Greetings, fellow soldiers and scholars! This week our intrepid friend Alice is imprisoned in an icy cage of power outages and snowstorms and hence won’t be joining us, but Aubree and I are ready to don our colorful caps and journey through the Oathgate to Azimir with Dalinar. What will he find here? Edgedancers? Noodles? Pancakes? Maybe even… essays and agreements?! Come along and find out on this week’s edition of Politics Made (Not) Fun and (Never) Easy!
Reminder: We’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the entire novel in each reread. There are no greater Cosmere spoilers in this chapter’s reread, but if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.
WHO: Dalinar Kholin
WHERE: Azimir (L: For this map, I’ve included a simple color key and some approximate locations of armies mentioned in the chapter, as well as armies we know of from previous chapters. I don’t recall all of the mentions of parshmen army locations mentioned so far, but from now on I’ll endeavor to keep track of them as they’re mentioned.)
WHEN: 1188.8.131.52, immediately following the previous chapter.
Dalinar arrives in Azir and is confronted with a group of viziers and soldiers. After a brief discussion with the Stormfather, he determines that he can use one of his Surges to understand and speak their language. After doing so, he presents several persuasive essays from Queen Fen, Navani, and Jasnah to sway the Azish to his side. They are appropriately impressed, and lead him into the city for further discussion. They leave him outside of the palace and he encounters Lift, who promptly eats his lunch. The viziers return and inform Dalinar that emissaries from almost all of the Azish cities and provinces will come to Urithiru to discuss a treaty.
Truth, Love, and Defiance
L: Not much to say about this one. While the word isn’t directly used, it’s clear through context that the Azish have come to a verdict about Dalinar and his offer.
A: It’s the name of Jasnah’s argument as well. See? You’re getting the levels of Superior Understanding!
Vedel, Edgedancers, loving/healing. Palah, Truthwatchers, learned/giving.
L: Well, Vedel is clearly here because Lift makes an appearance. But Palah, Herald of the Truthwatchers and patron of the aspects of learned/giving? I suppose in regards to learning, Navani, Fen, and Jasnah’s essays could fit in.
A: I definitely think it’s about the essays, and the scholarship they demonstrate.
Now that we abandon the tower, can I finally admit that I hate this place? Too many rules.
—from drawer 8-1, amethyst
L: This Willshaper might be onto something. God knows that, if the Skybreakers were as involved as the last few gemstones indicated, this place was a hotbed of regulations back in the day.
A: Especially if they were actively feuding with the Windrunners!
Stories & Songs
“Most of that country is on fire now, due to either the parshmen or Tezim’s armies.”
Tezim. Who was a Herald.
L: The more I find out about this guy, the more fascinated I am by him. I want to know moooooore. What happened to him in the intervening years to push him in this direction? What’s going on in his head?
A: I also hope we get his backstory. I really want to know what all the heralds have been up to in the past few thousand years.
Bruised & Broken
He felt a chill, and the pressure of something hidden trying to thrust itself into his consciousness. There was more to remember about that place.
L: Hoo boy, Dalinar. You don’t want to open that door yet, trust me.
A: It’s coming though! Stay tuned for next week!
L: I do have to say though… I’m glad that the breakthrough happened at the end of the chapter and not here. He definitely wouldn’t have been in the right headspace to deal with the Azish after the revelation that’s coming.
“I was that man,” Dalinar said. “I’ve merely been blessed with enough good examples to make me aspire to something more.”
L: This is a beautiful sentiment, though not… entirely true. He needed a little supernatural push in addition to those good examples.
A: I’d consider a memory wipe a heckin’ big supernatural push! I also like how the flashbacks reinforce that the Azish are right to be skeptical of Dalinar. Not long ago he was a super bad dude. He’s had a very rapid turn around in his personal growth, but it was only five-ish years ago that he was that monster.
Places & Peoples
Empty of people, it was lit by sphere lamps along the walls. Sapphires. Coincidence, or a gesture of respect to a Kholin visitor?
A: Oh, it was definitely intentional. The Azish are sticklers for ceremony and protocol.
The writing was in Azish, a funny language made of little markings that looked like cremling tracks.
L: Hmm, something like cuneiform, I wonder?
A: I think cuneiform is probably on the right track. He compares it unfavorably to the “sweeping verticals” of the women’s script, which remind me of an EKG machine whose settings are messed up.
L: They’ve always reminded me of sound waves, myself.
He had heeded Queen Fen’s plan, trusting that he couldn’t bully his way through Azir with a sword. Instead, he had brought a different kind of weapon.
L: ::gasp:: The horror!
A: I can dig it. The Azish can be paralyzed with bureaucracy, but it’s a nice contrast to the brutal warlike mentality of the Alethi. It would be nice if more battles could be won with logical arguments!
L: If only.
“That’s an allusion to the Grand Orientation. And… storms… she quotes Prime Kasimarlix in three successive stages, each escalating the same quote to a different level of Superior Understanding.”
L: I have no idea what that means, but clearly Jasnah’s speaking their language. I would expect no less from a scholar of her standing, of course, but it’s really nice to see people who fully appreciate her intellect.
A: It’s a neat rhetorical trick if you can do it!
One woman held her hand to her mouth. “It’s written entirely in a single rhythmic meter!”
L: Okay, so, here this one I get. / A rhythmic meter’s tough, it’s true / and one in rhyme is harder yet / so Jasnah’s essay’s quite the coup. (No, seriously though, writing in Iambic meter is REALLY hard. I did it once for all of the dialogue for a character in a novelette I wrote and I wanted to toss my computer out the window by the end of it. I can only imagine how much harder the meters in Azish could be!)
A: What I’m getting from this is that Jasnah is basically Lin Manuel Miranda. She’s not throwing away her shot!
…she obviously didn’t know much about Alethkar, if she assumed all Alethi darkeyes were like chulls to be herded around. The lower classes had a long and proud tradition of rights related to their social ranking.
L: Dalinar, I love you man, but maybe it’s you who doesn’t know much about the real Alethkar. Just sayin’.
A: Seriously. Especially since his good buddy Kaladin was a slave a few months ago.
“Unfortunately for the Azish, the control building alone was not the gate. A Radiant could make this entire dome vanish, replaced with an army in the middle of Azimir. He’d have to be delicate about how he explained that.”
A: That would indeed be problematic! Though they handle the revelation better than expected…
“What would it do,” she said, “if we built a structure halfway across the plateau perimeter? Would it slice the thing in two?”
A: …And ask some good questions! I see Oathgate testing in the future.
Interesting. Alethi parshmen had acted Alethi—immediately gathering for war. The Thaylen parshmen had taken to the seas. And the Azish parshmen… well, they’d done something quintessentially Azish. They had lodged a complaint with the government.
A: Interesting indeed! This reinforces that the Parsh were not unaware of what was happening to them when they were blocked from the rhythms. They took on aspects of the cultures they were living among. I very much look forward to the Parsh outside of Odium’s control.
L: I’ve always rather liked this little touch. It makes so much sense that they’d take on the societal constructs of the societies they’re from—they don’t know anything else. They as a people have forgotten their own myths, mannerisms and rhythms. Naturally they’d assimilate them from what they see around them!
Both [Alethkar and Theylenah] had been distracted from a more subversive disaster, the economic one.
L: Yeah, losing a huge portion of your blue collar work force is gonna mess you up before long. What do you do when all of the trash collectors and farmers and janitors and construction crews and train conductors up and vanish? Society is built on a bedrock of labor, and if that bedrock isn’t refilled, civilization will crumble. People will get sick because things aren’t cleaned. They’ll starve, not have places to live as their homes deteriorate, not be able to get to their white collar jobs without the public transportation they once relied on. It’s a slow-moving disaster, but perhaps the most dangerous one.
A: It’s not even that slow moving. We recently saw the sanitation disaster in the US national parks from a month without maintenance. Imagine a major city without trash pickup for a month.
Was it because deep down, he didn’t trust their gilded words and intricate promises, all contained in documents he couldn’t read? Pieces of paper that were somehow stronger than the strongest Shardplate?
L: I feel for him a bit here. It’s hard to trust your safety and the safety of those you love to something you barely understand, especially when you’ve been raised to depend so entirely on the sword and spear to keep you safe. That’s something real, something physical. You can see the sword blocking your enemy’s. Trade agreements and politics, however… that’s more nebulous. Ideas are harder to trust than steel. I get his trepidation. However…
“The contests of kingdoms are supposed to be a masculine art,” he said.
L: Aaaaaand goodwill. Lost. The women are clearly doing better than you are, here, Dalinar. ACCEPT IT.
A: I’m with you completely here. The strict gender dichotomy is poison to Alethkar, and is keeping them from reaching their full potential. Though, considering how toxic the Alethi honor/revenge cycle is, that is probably a good thing.
“Lots of boys is afraid of girls.”
“They say it changes when you grow up.”
L: Maybe it shouldn’t. ;)
The Alethi favored solid colors, perhaps some embroidery. The Azish preferred their decorations to look like the product of a painter having a sneezing fit.
L: Personally I can see the beauty in both aesthetics. I bet Adolin would too.
A: The clothing alone! So many new tailors to meet!
Tight Butts and Coconuts
Might as well eat something… except his cloth-wrapped lunch lay open, crumbs on the table, the wooden curry box empty save for a few drips.
L: Well, we all know what that means!
“Kind of bland,” she said.
“Soldier’s rations,” Dalinar said. “I prefer them.”
“‘Cuz you’re bland?”
L: I adore Lift. Her comedy is almost always punching up, though interestingly… I doubt she’d see it that way. She seems to view everyone on an equal keel with her, whether they’re the poorest beggar or the wisest vizier. I do love that about her.
A: I also think the childlike quality of her humor is captured well. When she makes a juvenile joke, it’s because she is a child, not that she’s acting like one.
“Your name is Lift, right?”
“And your order?”
“Would you help me understand?” he whispered to the Stormfather.
What makes you think I can?
“Don’t be coy,” Dalinar whispered.
L: I love how Dalinar doesn’t ever back down from the Stormfather. He lays it all out like it is. Maybe that’s why the Stormfather bonded him to begin with—because he knew that Dalinar wasn’t going to roll over and show his belly every time the Stormfather raised his voice.
“You can make me speak Azish.”
The Stormfather rumbled in discontent. That wasn’t me, he finally said. It was you.
“How do I use it?”
Try touching one of them. With Spiritual Adhesion, you can make a Connection.
L: Two things here. First of all, interesting that this also seemed to work for the people he brought into the visions with him. Secondly, the Stormfather is way more forthcoming with knowledge about the Surges than any of the other spren we’ve seen so far…
A: Maybe it’s because he’s a more advanced type of spren, on the level of the Nightwatcher. I think he’s more forthcoming because he actually knows more, and can guide Dalinar differently than the other spren. It makes up for limitations in other areas, like not being able to form a Shardblade. Though I will note, I don’t particularly care for the casual grabby hands on that Dalinar used to accomplish this particular feat.
L: Yeah, he definitely seems to have retained a lot more of the knowledge he used to have than the other sapient spren. Maybe because he stayed in the physical realm rather than shifting over into Shadesmar?
You know, this brings up an interesting question. The other spren who were bonded to Radiants before the Recreance fell and became “dead.” Why didn’t these higher spren, who presumably were bonded to the previous Bondsmiths?
The enemy is united against us, went her essay’s final argument. They have the unique advantages of focus, harmony, and memories that extend far into the past. Resisting them will require our greatest minds, whether Alethi, Azish, Veden, or Thaylen. I freely give state secrets, for the days of hoarding knowledge are gone. Now, we either leather together or we fall individually.
L: Damn. Navani’s one heck of a writer. Who can argue against that?
A: I mean, humans are super good at arguing out of spite. Luckily for Navani the Azish prize logical argumentation.
“This is a work of art,” Noura said.
“Is it… persuasive?” Dalinar asked.
“It provokes further consideration,” Noura said, looking to the others, who nodded.”
A: This is what you say when you don’t want to concede the argument outright. :D
“Lift cocked her head. “Huh. You smell like her.”
“The crazy spren who lives in the forest.”
“You’ve met the Nightwatcher?”
A: Which, like, we knew that Lift had met with the Nightwatcher, but the bit about smells is new! That could prove very useful. What else can Lift actually sniff out?
L: Yeah, that’s fascinating. I suspect that she can more sense it than smell it, per se, but she just uses the word smell because she’s more familiar with it.
A Scrupulous Study of Spren
Logicspren burst around them in the shape of little stormclouds.
A: I think these dudes are new. I’m not sure about the association of logic with storm clouds, which seem chaotic to me.
He remembered what had happened to Evi. It had started in a cold fortress, in highlands once claimed by Jah Keved.
It had ended at the Rift.
L: Okay folks, ready your tissue boxes for the next few rereads, because you know what’s coming. We’ll only be covering Chapter 66 next week even though it’s a short chapter, mainly because all three of us are currently in the midst of a beta read with a strict deadline. Feel free to leave your comments below, and as always please remember to remain respectful of one another’s varied opinions and theories!
Lyndsey is done with Kingdom Hearts 3 and so very confused by that ending… but at least now she’ll have time to work on cosplay again. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website.
Aubree is buying stock in Kleenex in preparation for the next few flashback chapters.