Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One Hundred and One

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Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me… on a Reacher ship in an ocean of beads on a journey to Celebrant? (It’s a pity not to work in something about the river Styx, or that the song wasn’t done by Journey instead. Oh well.) Here we are on board, in this week’s Oathbringer reread! Adolin does some clever fashion alterations (I’m so proud of him) and begins questioning who he truly is, which can’t possibly bode well for the future… Also, Azure is enigmatic.

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread—if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

In this week’s reread there are references to Warbreaker in the Cosmere Connections section, so if you haven’t read it, best to give that section a pass. But if you haven’t read Warbreaker by now, you really need to correct that. Go read it! (After you finish this week’s discussion, of course.)

Chapter Recap

WHO: Adolin
WHERE: On board the Reacher ship; arrival at Celebrant
WHEN: 1174.2.4.4 (Two days after chapter 99)

On the ship to Celebrant, Adolin makes some adjustments to his clothing in order to look nicer. He has a brief discussion with Azure about duty and responsibility, then goes down below to fetch his “deadeye” spren before they arrive in Celebrant.

Beginnings

Title: Deadeye

“We’ll soon arrive. Let’s go get your deadeye.”

A: This is the first instance of the term “deadeye,” and I find it unutterably sad. It’s the way the spren all refer to any spren who are still bound to the Shardblade form as a result of the broken bonds of the Recreance, and it’s … kind of awful to see them in this form. IIRC, we never actually see any other such spren, so we can only assume from the name that they all have that look of scratched-off eyes. (Hey, if I get my wish that Adolin brings his Blade back to life, it would be pretty awesome to see her eyes return to normal!)

Heralds:

Shalash (Patron of Lightweavers, Herald of Beauty. Role: Artist. Attributes: Creative & Honest)

Vedel (Patron of Edgedancers. Role: Healer. Attributes: Loving & Healing)

L: So, Maya was an Edgedancer’s spren. That explains Vedel being here.

A: Sure does! I don’t see a lot of other healing going on, so… that’s all I’ve got. As for Shalash, Adolin’s costuming is truly a work of art! He’s very creative. Also, honest: twice, in his conversation with Ico, he notes that “rudeness doesn’t necessarily imply untruth” when speaking of uncomfortable things. He’s being sort of brutally honest with himself, as well—but we’ll talk about that below.

Icon:

The Shardbearer marks an Adolin POV. (Squeeee!)

Epigraph:

Moelach is very similar to Nergaoul, though instead of inspiring a battle rage, he supposedly grants visions of the future. In this, lore and theology align. Seeing the future originates with the Unmade, and is from the enemy.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 143

A: On the dry technical side, we’ve been given to understand that the death rattles Taravangian has been pursuing so assiduously are the result of Moelach’s presence. As “visions of the future” go, they’re really quite useless IMO; you can’t tell what they’re predicting until you can look at the event in hindsight. How Taravangian & Team use them to update, correct, and interpret the Diagram is totally beyond me. I can’t help wondering what else Moelach does besides give visions to dying people.

But there’s another aspect to this, and that’s whether “seeing the future” really does originate with Odium.

L: Is this the reason why Renarin can see the future, then? Because his spren is corrupted by the Unmade?

A: That’s the big question, and we don’t have a solid answer yet. We know, from one of Dalinar’s visions, that Odium is not the only Shard who can see into the future; Honor himself could, some, and he claimed that Cultivation was much better at it. IMO, the Truthwatchers always had some future sight—not necessarily all of them to the same extent, but I believe it was part of their skillset. I suppose I might be prejudiced on that, since I like Renarin and don’t want his special skills to come from Odium, but as far as I know, there’s no reason for Honor to lie about it. At the same time, Glys has been touched by Sja-anat, so… who’s to say?

One thing I’m now curious about, though: is it possible that Cultivation has deliberately downplayed her ability to see the future? Did she encourage the Truthwatchers to hide it from the others, so that in the end virtually no one realizes what she (and/or they) can do? Is this another of her “long game” moves, hiding things from Odium so that he doesn’t know the weapons she can range against him?

L: Or… OR… (and this is REALLY tin-foil-theory-y), what if Sja-Anat had corrupted the Truthwatcher spren all along?

A: Uh… that would be sort of creepy… My first thought is that of course she hadn’t because Jasnah has a drawing of what a Truthwatcher spren is supposed to look like, and it ain’t like Glys. But… Glys is able to hide when he doesn’t want to be seen. Would it be reasonable that, as a race, they tend to stay hidden, so that no one would know if some of them were corrupted even though most weren’t? On the other hand, that would mess with my own tin-foil theory that Cultivation has just as much future vision as Odium, but she’s hiding it. Hmm.

Seriously, though, there’s a whole starving lot we don’t know—about Cultivation, about Moelach, about death rattles, about Sja-anat, about Truthwatchers, about seeing the future… We’re just guessing at this point.

Hey, did you notice that the Rhythm of War progress bar is up to 73%?

Relationships & Romances

“You are not to be blamed. Betraying oaths is simply your nature, as a human.”

“You don’t know my father,” Adolin said.

L: Oof. Oh, Adolin. I love how highly he thinks of his father, but I am terrified to see what happens when the truth comes out about Rathalas. Because you know it’s going to eventually.

A: It is going to come out, for sure. But I’m not sure, in any of Dalinar’s past, that you can point to a situation where he broke an oath. His actions at Rathalas, horrific as they were (especially to our eyes), weren’t really that far outside Alethi norms, and didn’t break any rules he’d ever sworn to follow. The only possible “rule” I can see him breaking is in refusing to hear the parley envoy—which obviously would have changed things dramatically—but no one seemed particularly shocked at the time.

On the other hand, he did participate in covering up what really happened to Evi, right up until he went to the Nightwatcher and forgot it. Not a broken oath, but not honesty either.

“I look terrible, don’t I?… No makeup, with hair that hasn’t been washed in days, and now wearing a dumpy set of worker’s clothing.”

“I don’t think you’re capable of looking terrible. … In all their color, even those clouds can’t compete.”

A: Obligatory d’awww… but the best part is, he doesn’t just say stuff like that to make her feel better. He really means it. That’s what I love about these two.

Come to think of it, that’s one of the biggest things I love about Adolin in everything—whatever he does or says, he’s completely genuine. That’s probably why he’s so bothered by not telling Dalinar about Sadeas—he’s not a disingenuous person by nature, and it preys on him to try to keep secrets from those he trusts.

Places & Peoples

L: I honestly have no clue where to put this discussion regarding Adolin and fashion, so I’m just going to drop it here, since I’m making some broad societal comments.

He rolled the sleeves of the jacket up to match, approximating an old style from Thaylenah. … It needed a waistcoat. Those, fortunately, weren’t too hard to fake. Ico had provided a burgundy coat that was too small for him. He removed the collar and sleeves, stitched the rough edges under, then slit it up the back.

L: I just continuously adore Adolin for his fashion sense. In a society that is so stereotypically masculine in most regards, an appreciation and love for fashion seems, to us, to be a very feminine trait. We certainly don’t see any other male Alethi who are as interested in it as Adolin is.

A: Well, there are a lot of mentions in The Way of Kings about other fashionable young men, and even a couple about Sadeas using “fashion” (as in, his coat buttons) to make a wordless but pointed comment to Dalinar. But Adolin is undoubtedly the best at fashion, and the one most committed to it.

L: And he is unabashedly in love with fashion. As in most respects of his life, he makes no excuses for the things he loves. He is who he is, and storms take anyone who doesn’t like it. Case in point:

“Did you really sew that?” she asked.

“There wasn’t much sewing involved,” Adolin said. “The scarf and jacket hide most of the damage I did to the waistcoat—which used to be a smaller jacket.”

“Still,” she said. “An unusual skill for a royal.”

A: I loved that bit. It’s so easy to assume that, as a royal, he’s totally accustomed to having servants do everything for him. How much of his ability to do things for himself is a matter of really not having all that many servants around, and how much might be because he trusts his tailor and himself and no one else, we don’t know. But he can take care of his own clothes, and I find that both hilarious and endearing.

“Very nice,” Ico said. “You look like an honorspren going to a Feast of Light.”

A: I still don’t know whether this is a compliment or an insult…

Tight Butts and Coconuts

Kaladin gaped at Adolin…. That befuddled expression alone made the work worthwhile.

“How?” Kaladin demanded. “Did you sew that?”

Adolin grinned.

L: I will never get over how much I love these two.

A: This was priceless.

“I see. And are you enigmatic on purpose, or is it kind of an accidental thing?”

A: LOL. The snark is strong with this one.

Weighty Words

King. Was Adolin a king? Surely his father would decide not to continue with the abdication, now that Elhokar had passed.

L: And so we begin this little arc of Adolin’s, in which he has to seriously consider whether or not he has what it takes (or if he even wants) to be king. Personally, I think he would make an amazing king. It’s often those who don’t want power who are most worthy of having it. Adolin displays a staggering amount of empathy and care for the common people of Alethkar (and the world in general), and since he’s not a Knight Radiant, he has less conflicts of interests than, say, the person who actually does wind up in charge. (Not that I am saying that I don’t think that Jasnah will make a good ruler, I’m just thinking that Adolin might have made a better one.)

A: This is a tough thing to consider. I can’t really second-guess Sanderson on the way he’s choosing to write the book, but from “in-world” I totally agree. I think Adolin would make a much better king than he thinks he would

L: We continue these thoughts below:

More, he felt his own growing worry that he might actually have to take the throne. He’d grown up knowing it could happen, but he’d also grown up wishing—desperately—that it never would. In his quiet moments, he’d assumed this hesitance was because a king couldn’t apply himself to things like dueling and… well… enjoying life.

L: It’s totally understandable for Adolin to fear change, to fear the heightened level of responsibility that being a ruler would bring. But I think higher of him than he seems to think of himself. Adolin has always stepped up and faced new difficulties with grace. I believe that, if called upon to rule, he would do an amazing job at it.

What if it went deeper? What if he’d always known inconsistency lurked within him? He couldn’t keep pretending he was the man his father wanted him to be.

L: Then we get to this. I think a lot of this is stemming from what happened with Sadeas. Before then, he’d been the model son and soldier. But killing Sadeas made Adolin realize that there’s something deeper within him. I’m not sure if I would classify it as an inconsistency, so much as an independent streak when it comes to doing what needs to be done regardless of the morality.

A: Right on. IMO, this is another false binary, but one Adolin creates for himself. He thinks he’s “inconsistent,” but that’s only because he feels he’s pretending to be the man Dalinar wants him to be. At present it’s wrapped around killing Sadeas, and he thinks that makes him “not the man his father wants him to be.” But what I’m seeing in him is a man striving to live up to his own ideals; he thinks of it as trying to be what Dalinar wants, but I can’t recall him doing anything he didn’t think was the right thing to do. Of course his ideals are shaped by Dalinar’s ideals, but they’re also shaped by Evi’s training, and in neither case does it make them less his own. (There’s also the disconnect between Dalinar’s expectations now vs. Dalinar’s expectations when his son was young; if you want “inconsistent,” there it is. It stands to reason that Adolin was shaped as much or more by the Blackthorn as by the proto-Bondsmith, and the Blackthorn wouldn’t have had any problem over getting in a murderous fight with a declared enemy in a dark alley. It’s the Bondsmith that might have trouble with that.)

So I don’t think he’s inconsistent. He just doesn’t realize that he’s not actually pretending most of the time. And really, it’s not a bad thing to be the man he is, instead of what (he thinks) his father wants him to be.

“Sometimes, the best way to do your duty is to let someone else—someone more capable—try carrying it.”

Such a foreign idea. Sometimes you took up a duty that wasn’t yours, but abandoning one? Just … giving it to someone else?

He found himself musing on that.

A: Wow, is that ever going to come back around! That’s exactly what he ends up doing when he declares that he won’t be king, and I can’t help thinking this was the moment the seed was planted for that decision. Whether it was “the best way to do his duty,” time will tell. As you say, Lyndsey, Jasnah will probably make a good queen. But Adolin would probably be a much better—and more effective—king than he realizes. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, and I hope we get to see Azure’s reaction.

“But humans will betray trust if it is given to them.” The spren frowned, then seemed to grow embarrassed, looking away. “That was rude.”

“Rudeness doesn’t necessarily imply untruth though.”

“I did not mean an insult, regardless. You are not to be blamed. Betraying oaths is simply your nature, as a human.”

L: Interesting to note the spren’s thoughts here. I think the spren have some sort of supernatural bond which literally prevents them from breaking oaths. When viewing humans, for which this is a choice, I can see how it would be confusing and frustrating for them. Like trying to explain to someone how gravity is infallible, when the person in question can choose to ignore it.

A: Heh. Yes, indeed. The Stormfather has commented on this in the past, iirc. It’s not so much that there’s a bond which prevents the spren from breaking oaths, though; it’s more that they just… can’t. It would be like water deciding not to be wet any longer. As personifications of ideas, they literally cannot be what they are not – which would make humans really bizarre creatures from their perspective.

Cosmere Connections

“And how many royals have you known?”

“More than some might assume.”

L: ::snicker::

“The throne was better served by someone who enjoyed sitting on it.”

“Duty isn’t about what you enjoy. It’s about doing what is demanded of you, in serving the greater good. You can’t just abandon responsibility because you feel like it.”

A: He has a valid point. Duty is not dependent on emotion. Reflecting on the events from Warbreaker that she’s referencing, though, I think Azure stated her point badly. Siri’s primary qualification as queen was not merely that she enjoyed her position, but that she was better suited to it, both by (lack of) training, and by temperament. Vivenna really would have been a terrible queen, given the circumstances; all the assumptions about the political situation had shaped her education in ways completely inimical to dealing with the truth. The effects on both Hallandren and Idris would have been even more devastating with her in Siri’s place. She’d probably have been an acceptable queen for Hallandren in another setting, and almost certainly she’d have been an excellent queen for Idris, but that wasn’t needed either.

“I can’t help feeling that [the Wall Guard] is merely one in a long string of duties abdicated, of burdens set down, perhaps to disastrous results.” For some reason, she put her hand on the pommel of her Shardblade when she said that. … “But of all the things I’ve walked away from, the one I don’t regret is allowing someone else to rule. Sometimes, the best way to do your duty is to let someone else – someone more capable – try carrying it.”

A: Oh, Vivenna. What have you been doing since we saw you in Warbreaker? The comment about letting someone more capable do the job refers to the fact that Siri was better at being Susebron’s queen than she would have been. But … what are the other duties that make up a “long string”? And what is the story behind her sword??? I really want that sequel.

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

Ico studied him with metal eyes—bronze, with holes for pupils, like Adolin had seen done for some statues. Even the spren’s hair appeared sculpted in place. Ico could almost have been a Soulcast king from an age long past.

L: Man, did I miss it before when he was described as being made of metal? Because I don’t remember it and this is really cool.

“I wish you hadn’t locked her in here,” Adolin said, stooping down to peer through the squat doorway.

“Can’t have them on deck,” Ico said. “They don’t watch where they’re walking and fall off.”

L: Poor things. So I suppose they can’t see or sense their surroundings at all, then… I’m curious as to exactly how this happened, since it’s a trait they all apparently share. Did they scratch out their own eyes, or did something else do it to them? If the latter… what?

“Can’t stand the thought of him wandering around somewhere,” Ico said, eyes forward. “Have to keep him locked away though. He’ll go searching for the human carrying his corpse, otherwise. Walk right off the deck.”

L: I wonder if they all go looking for their corpses, and if so, if they are trying to cross over between the realms or if they just… wander through Shadesmar, mirroring the location of their bearers. It’s really sad… especially when you consider the fact that with the way the land/sea is reversed, that means most of the deadeyes are just wandering around on the bottom of the bead sea somewhere.

A: Well, there’s an image… and one that makes me even sadder for these poor spren. But what happens when they’re summoned, then? Do they disappear from Shadesmar? Do they just go catatonic for the duration? If Ico is able to keep his father locked up on the ship, does that mean that no one has bonded him? Or does he somehow return to the same location when his Blade form is dismissed? The fact that Maya was physically present with Adolin as soon as they transferred to Shadesmar, despite the fact that he’d not been holding his Shardblade at the time, argues that they do tend to stay in the same vicinity. I wonder … but I’m going to break my brain if I think about it too hard.

“My daughter used to work there, before she ran off chasing stupid dreams.”

L: I’m really curious as to whether or not this is a spren we’ve seen somewhere, or will see eventually.

A: The most popular theory I know (starting with the beta, and continuing through the fandom till now) holds that his daughter is Timbre, the spren who was beginning to bond with Eshonai, and currently rides around in Venli’s pouch.

 

Next week we will be tackling chapter 102 all on its lonesome. Join us then, and as always, in the comments section below!

Alice is now entering the Pacific Northwest season of the Weeping. Unlike Roshar’s four weeks, hers will last six or seven months….

Lyndsey is going to miss all of her Renaissance Faire friends dearly, but she has to admit that it’s going to be nice to sleep in a real bed on the weekends again instead of in a tent. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.

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