Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Seventy-Eight

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This week on the Oathbringer Reread, Aubree and I will be taking a disturbing journey into the Heart of the Revel with Shallan/Veil/Kishi/whoever the heck Shallan’s pretending to be at the moment… Stay tuned for giant black blob of gluttony vs the woman of a million faces! And simultaneously, in one corner of the Kholinar wall… the boy blue, the brooding wonder, the Shardbearer supreme—Kaaaaaaaaaladin Stormblessed! In the other corner, also in blue, the Worldly Woman, the Princess of Persuasion, the Commander in Chief—Viv—I mean, Azure! Who will reign supreme in these two battles before us?

Well, we won’t find out this week as one ends in a distraction and the other in a timely escape, but come along anyway and join us in the comments!

(I’m just now realizing that I have a tendency towards using Wrestling-style intros for some reason, despite the fact that I don’t much care for wrestling… Look, it’s just fun, all right?)

Reminder: We’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the entire novel in each reread. There may be some small spoilers for Warbreaker in here as well, since a certain Worldhopper is present. As always, if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Veil, Kaladin
WHERE: Kholinar (not bothering with a map this week, as all of the events take place either on the wall or the Oathgate platform.)
WHEN: 1174.2.3.2 (same day as the previous chapter)

Veil arrives at the Oathgate plaza and presents her offering, thereby gaining access to the platform and the revelers on it. She is assigned a “guide,” but easily ditches him and makes her way into the center of the platform, where she encounters a giant pulsating mass of goo. Her “shadow” informs her that it’s a trap, and Veil takes over again to extract Shallan from the situation.

Meanwhile, Kaladin cozies up to Azure in an attempt to get more information from her. They parry questions back and forth for a few minutes before they hear the drums heralding an impending attack…

Truth, Love, and Defiance

Title: The Revel

Heralds

Jezrien, protecting/leading, Windrunners. Battah, wise/careful, Elsecallers.

It’s pretty clear that Jezrien’s here because Kaladin and Azure are embodying his trait of leadership. Battah, I believe, is present because Shallan is certainly being very careful as she progresses into the Heart of the Revel. In a way, we could say that Kal’s represented by this too, as he’s being awfully selective in his replies to Azure’s questions (and vice versa).

Icon

Pattern, usually indicative of a Shallan POV chapter, though she shares this one with Kaladin.

Epigraph

A coalition has been formed among scholar Radiants. Our goal is to deny the enemy their supply of Voidlight; this will prevent their continuing transformations, and give us an edge in combat.

-From drawer 30-20, second emerald

L: Interesting tidbit here, as always from the Drawer-Stones. When they say continuing transformations, I wonder if this is referring to the different forms the Listeners already have and can switch between (envoy, war, etc), or if they mean that these forms are continuously evolving into new ones.

AP: I mean, they are pretty constantly transforming, from the point of view of humans who can’t shapeshift.

L: I also find the part about denying them Voidlight to be really interesting. Were they trying to find a way to end the Everstorm, or maybe sever the Listeners’ connection with Odium?

AP: I think this is the plan that ends in the creation of the Parshmen. Cutting them off from the rhythms entirely. It worked better than they could have ever expected.

Stories & Songs

However, not long after starting, she began to hear the voice.

Let go.

Give up your pain.

Feast. Indulge.

Embrace the end.

L: Yikes. I can certainly see how this might be attractive to a population who’s given up hope of rescue.

AP: Definitely! There are lots of voices going around in Kholinar these days. It makes me wonder who is susceptible to being able to hear the Unmade. Is it the same cracks in the spirit web that allow potential bonds with spren? Are these poor unfortunate souls we see at the revel the population of potential Radiants in Kholinar that have just been neutralized?

L: I don’t know, I don’t think there would be enough “cracked” people. I think the Unmade is just relying on people who are depressed and have no hope. It’s easier to convince someone to just give in and accept the end if they’re already halfway there to begin with.

AP: But in cosmere terms, isn’t depression a type of spirit web crack? There should have been hundreds of Radiants already. And instead because of a combination of deliberate interference and the Heralds abandoning their duty, we have… ten? And a handful of squires. Odds are bleak. To me, this fits into the pattern of squashing the Radiants before they can even get started.

L: I always viewed it as… more of a traumatic event than “just” depression. (I am putting “just” in quotations here to hopefully make it clear that I’m not downplaying depression—I suffer from it as well.) All of the people we’ve seen so far who have “gone Radiant” have had some pretty hefty traumas to deal with—some in addition to preexisting conditions. Kaladin’s little brother died “because” of him and he was also “responsible” for the deaths of his men, and getting thrown into slavery and all… Shallan killed her father, Dalinar killed his own wife, Teft’s got his drug addiction, Eshonai felt she failed her entire people… It just seems like, within the context of the story, it takes an Inciting Event to crack a soul. The hairline cracks may be there to start, but it’s the Event that cracks them open like an egg and allows the Bond to take place. This is my own speculation, of course, but… we’ll see!

The voices in her head combined from whispers to a kind of surging rhythm. A thumping of impressions, followed by a pause, followed by another surge. Almost like…

L: A song, perhaps? (I realize it’s supposed to be like a heartbeat, but I can’t help but wonder if there might not also be a connection here to the Rhythms.)

AP: I think that’s definitely a potential connection! But the heart imagery is undeniable.

She looked to the side, and found her shadow on the ground, pointed the wrong way, toward the moonlight instead of away from it. The shadow crept up the wall, with eyes that were white holes, glowing faintly.

I’m not your enemy. But the heart is a trap. Take caution.

L: Hello, Unmade #2! (Also, I can’t help but see that shadow as a Heartless from Kingdom Hearts…)

AP: Oh geez, now I do too! I’m also not really sure what to make of Sja-anat. I keep thinking she is playing the long game and this is another deception. I definitely don’t think the Unmade are working together in a coherent way. Actually, I’m not sure if they are capable of working together. TBD.

L: For some weird reason, I trust her. Time will tell if that backfires on me…

AP: I really, really hope you are right though! I want to like/trust her. I just don’t yet.

Bruised & Broken

Should she have created a new persona, a false face, to not expose Veil?

But Veil is a false face, a part of her said. You could always abandon her.

She strangled that part of her, smothered it deep. Veil was too real, too vital, to abandon. Shallan would be easier.

L: I suspect that this is going to wind up being a major character moment for her in a later book. She’s going to have to make a choice and “kill” one or the other. I am disturbed that she thinks killing off Shallan would be easier—but it does make sense. Shallan is deeply damaged, and she doesn’t like to look too deeply at that. Veil is confident and doesn’t come with years worth of emotional baggage. Of course it would be easier to kill off the part of her that’s more “damaged.” Fixing herself will take work. Giving herself up to Veil is easy.

AP: I agree. I think that Shallan needs to reconcile her personas in order to really heal. It would be super dramatic if she actually had to destroy one or the other.

Within that ring, time wouldn’t matter. She could forget Shallan, and what she’d done. Just… give in…

L: Kishi is a particularly dangerous persona for her to adopt right now. I rather wish she’d stuck with Veil. She’s already inclined towards trying to “be” someone else, and Kishi is one of the revelers. This is putting her perilously close to actually crossing that line and joining them.

AP: It’s like the ultimate form of method acting!

Squires & Sidekicks

This wasn’t the type of inspection that was intended to actually find problems–this was a chance for the men to show off for their highmarshal. They swelled as she told them they “just might be the finest platoons of fighting men I’ve ever had the privilege of leading.” Kaladin was certain he’d heard those same words from Amaram.

L: It’s really nice to see someone else who understands how to build morale and forge bonds of loyalty.

AP: I just plain like Azure here. It’s great to see the character development from where she started on Nalthis.

L: Same. I wasn’t really a huge fan of her in Warbreaker, but I love who she’s become! (Granted, I am partial to badass women in armor carrying weapons, so…)

AP: I mean, same…

Then Kaladin and Azure threw themselves back from the bench at nearly the same time. “To arms!” Kaladin shouted. “There’s an attack on the wall!”

L: Kal, 1. Azure, 0.

AP: He’s tipping his hand here! It isn’t going to matter much veeerrrry sooooonnn.

L: Azure and Kaladin.

Places & Peoples

She must have spent time as a mercenary out west, Kaladin thought. Sigzil had once told him that women fought in the west, particularly among mercenaries.

L: I wonder if he means that Alethi women fought, or that the women of those particular countries did? With the Alethi aversion to female fighters, this really makes me wonder. Also… what does he mean by “out west,” exactly? Almost everything is west of Kholinar.

AP: I think he is referring to Alethi women, since he makes a point of thinking how very Alethi Azure looks. I could definitely see Alethi women who didn’t fit into the very strict gender expectations leaving to join mercenary groups. But since, as you say, everything is west, it could just as easily be other countries/cultures.

Tight Butts and Coconuts

“How did you end up in this city?” Azure asked. “Sadeas’s lands are far to the north. There are several armies of Voidbringers between here and there, by report.”

“I flew.”

L: I have to giggle at Kal’s flippant (yet honest) response here. Their back-and-forth is fantastic—both subtly testing the other, trying to wean out some information. It’s a bit like watching a tennis match, neither player quite managing to get the ball past the other.

“I am your commanding officer, you realize. You should answer me when I ask questions.”

“I’ve given answers,” Kaladin said. “If they aren’t the ones you want, then perhaps your questions aren’t very good.”

L: Kal with the sass-attack!

AP: But also? This is a problem. Kal is very bad at accepting orders. We’ve seen several times where he just does his own thing and undermines the command structure. I expect that this will eventually have serious consequences.

L: Well… he’s good at following orders if he believes that his commanding officer knows what they’re doing. Which… honestly, doesn’t make him a terribly good soldier in some respects. There’s a fine line between “I’m not following this order because I think I know better” (cough Poe Dameron cough) and “I’m not following this order because I am morally opposed to it.” We’ve already seen him screw this up a few times—when he tries the side carry in The Way of Kings, and when he challenges Sadeas after Adolin’s disastrous three vs one duel in Words of Radiance. Now… technically, he does outrank Azure here, and he probably does have more information at his disposal than she does. But it’s still a problematic tendency that I hope doesn’t wind up biting him in the ass.

Cosmere Connections

She was also very Alethi, with the skin tone and hair, her eyes a glimmering light orange.

L: I have to admit I don’t recall descriptions of Vivenna with any real clarity save for the Royal Locks. Has she disguised herself somehow, or do her country’s physical characteristics just line up particularly well with those of the Alethi?

AP: The hair!! She is exceptionally good at controlling her emotions, and keeping her hair black, as mentioned in Warbreaker. Black hair is traditionally Alethi. The eyes I’m not sure about. I can’t tell if it’s Rosharan weirdness because of her “shardblade” connection, or if she can change more than her hair now. I don’t recall her skin tone being mentioned in Warbreaker, so I don’t know if that’s significant or not.

L: Yeah, it was more the skin tone that threw me than anything. Being able to change your own hair color at will sure is a handy trick—wish I could do it, it would make cosplaying so much easier!

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

She could feel Pattern’s vibrations on her coat. It seemed to counteract the voices, clearing her head.

L: Something supernatural going on here (their bond blocking the interference of the Unmade), or is it simply something “real” that’s keeping her from spiraling down into the Revel, anchoring her?

AP: I think it’s intentional interference. Pattern’s humming rhythms could possibly be a good tool to disrupt the Rhythms of the Unmade. Lightweavers should definitely have a tool that lets them disrupt deception that comes from another source. We have only seen one Lightweaver so far, but it seems to me that they should be able to see through or counteract the effects of other Lightweavers.

Sheer Speculation

…one of the guards held up a torch—not a sphere lamp…

L: Why aren’t they using spheres? Do the Unmade perhaps have fear of spheres being so close to them, seeing as how the Stormlight is being contained in gems much as the Unmade could be? These aren’t “perfect” gems, but I wonder if maybe the Unmade are twitchy about any gems being nearby.

AP: Well, more practically, they know that the Knights Radiant are back. Stormlight-infused lanterns are a potential source of power for the enemy. No need to make it easier to fight you.

L: That’s a good point.

 

Next week we’ll be diving head first into chapters 79 and 80, as both are pretty short. Join us then and, as always, in the comments for more spirited discussion with fellow fans.

Lyndsey is happy to have finally passed her test for Basic Figure Skating Skills Level 6, and actually rather liked the ending of Game of Thrones. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website.

Aubree is really looking forward to going to a party this weekend! But not that kind of party…

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