Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One Hundred Eight

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Good morning, faithful Rereaders! Have you heard the wonderful news? We have an official release date for Stormlight 4! November 17, 2020! Huzzah! (Now, Alice and I would like to remind you that this could still change. Nothing is set in stone until Team Dragonsteel tells us that it’s set in stone, but still. Excitement! Jubilation! High-pitched squeals of merriment!)

::ahem:: As exciting as this is, we do need to get back on track, because we’re nearing the end-game here, people. And this is one heck of a long chapter. We’ve got painful confessions, and Syl locked up (No! Poor Syl!), and Kaladin drawing near to the Fourth Ideal, and Fused on the horizon, and… and… Hoo boy. Lots and lots to cover, so come along and prepare your seat on the Honor’s Path as we continue our trip through Shadesmar.

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 we also discuss some things (very mild spoilers though) from Warbreaker in the Cosmere Connections section, so if you haven’t read it, best to give that section a pass.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Shallan, Kaladin, and Adolin POVs (accompanied by the rest of the Shadesmar Exploration Society)

WHERE: Shadesmar, on board the Honor’s Path.

L: I’ve done my best to chart out their likely path on the map below. Note the location of Thaylen City, southwest of their current location. If they’re going to deviate from their chosen route, as Kaladin hopes, now would be the time to do so.

WHEN: 1174.2.5.5 (one week after departing Celebrant, and some indeterminate number of days following.)

Aboard the Honor’s Path, Syl has been locked away but the rest of the Shadesmar Exploration Society (SES) have been given free rein of the decks. Shallan is trying to come to terms with which of her personalities are “real,” and starts collecting up some beads in case they need to make a quick getaway. She and Adolin have a frank discussion in which she explains to him about her personality issues, and Adolin admits that he killed Sadeas. Meanwhile, Azure makes a deal with the honorspren first mate to secure passage for herself—and only herself—in her quest to hunt down Nightblood, after they reach Lasting Integrity. Kaladin, however, is hell bent on getting them to Thaylen City instead, and as soon as possible. He attempts to convince the captain of the ship to take them there, and in the process starts drawing near to the Fourth Ideal. Windspren congregate around him, much to the shock and awe of the sailors and the captain. When Kaladin reveals that a Bondsmith has appeared, the captain reconsiders. However, it is then that they realize that they’re being tailed by no less than eight Fused…

Beginnings

Interior art for chapter 108 of Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Honor’s Path

Their current vessel, Honor’s Path, was faster than Ico’s merchant ship.

Heralds

Jezrien: Herald of Kings, Patron of Windrunners. Divine attributes Protecting & Leading. Role: King.

Nalan: Herald of Justice, Patron of Skybreakers. Divine attributes Just & Confident. Role: Judge.

A: I can see Jezrien here because of the honorspren as well as his Windrunner—and especially this Windrunner’s leadership via his drive to get back to where he can protect Dalinar. I’m a little less confident on Nalan’s presence.

L: Well, Kaladin is doing a lot of thinking about his own Ideal and who chooses what’s right and wrong. That seems very similar to the sorts of questions that Szeth is asking over with Nalan currently.

Icon: Pattern, since we start with Shallan’s POV; it switches to Kaladin and then Adolin

Epigraph:

Chemoarish, the Dustmother, has some of the most varied lore surrounding her. The wealth of it makes sorting lies from truths extremely difficult. I do believe she is not the Nightwatcher, contrary to what some stories claim. —From Hessi’s Mythica, page 23

A: I’m… not sure what to say about this. I think this may be the first time she’s mentioned by name, though one time (one!!) someone cursed by the name “Dustmother” back in The Way of Kings. Hessi says there’s a wealth of lore about her, but we’ve yet to see any of it.

Stories & Songs

“What happens if we carry the beads away too far?” Shallan asked, curious as the mistspren handed her the bucket. “They are tied to objects in the Physical Realm, right?”

“You can carry them anywhere in Shadesmar you wish,” the captain said. “Their tie is through the Spiritual Realm, and distance doesn’t matter. However, drop them—let them free—and they’ll work their way back to the general location of their physical counterpart.”

L: This is very cool.

A: I know, right? This answers a lot of questions I’d had earlier—like the relationship between a deadeye spren and the Blade they form. If the connection between the Cognitive and Physical realms is actually through the Spiritual realm, there are all sorts of implications.

Relationships & Romances

A: This chapter opens up (at least in retrospect!) the dynamic between Shallan and Adolin vs. Veil and Kaladin. We’ll get it spelled out much later, but here we get several small hints that Kaladin is attractive (romantically) to Veil, rather than to Shallan. (There’s more on this in the following section.)

There’s a lovely, sweet scene between Shallan and Adolin, where he’s clearly worried about her. She’s oddly annoyed by his concern—which seems to be Veil coming through, even though she’d very much been thinking as Shallan about her recent avoidance of Soulcasting.

“Shallan?” he asked.

“Shallan will be fine,” she said. I’ll bring her back in a moment. I just have to recover … her…”

Adolin glanced at the fluttering pages with the different versions of her. He reached out and hugged her, saying nothing. Which turned out to be the right thing to say.

… “Which one do you like the most?” she finally asked.

A: She proceeds to explain her personalities to him: Veil, the one with the white outfit but currently troublesome. Radiant, the prettier swordplayer. And a new personality she’s trying to figure out, who can Lightweave.

“Shallan’s broken, so I think I’m trying to hide her. Like a cracked vase, where you turn the nice side toward the room, hiding the flaw. I’m not doing it on purpose, but it’s happening, and I don’t know how to stop it.”

A: She’s expecting him to give her advice; instead, he gives her honesty.

L: As he does.

“I … Shallan, I killed Sadeas.”

A: He pours the whole thing out, including that the whole time they were “hunting a killer” it was a sham, and that he thinks (essentially) that he did something very wrong, but he’s not sorry. And she surprises him by simply saying, “Good for you.”

L: (More on this in how it relates to Adolin’s state of mind down in the “Bruised and Broken” section.)

A: They share this moment of honesty, and it culminates in one of my favorite moments:

“You never did say,” she whispered, “which one you prefer.”

“It’s obvious. I prefer the real you.”

“Which one is that, though?”

“She’s the one I’m talking to right now. You don’t have to hide, Shallan. You don’t have to push it down. Maybe the vase is cracked, but that only means it can show what’s inside. And I like what’s inside.”

So warm. Comfortable. And strikingly unfamiliar. What was this peace? This place without fear?

A: I know there’s a lot of disagreement about this, but I firmly believe Adolin is right. He’s one of the very few—maybe the only person—who can see through all the disguises to the real Shallan, even when she herself doesn’t know who she is. (Incidentally, I think this might be connected to his Edgedancer-ish character; the same thing that makes him able to see “the real Shallan” makes him able to connect to Mayalaran and, I hope, will make him able to bring her back to life.)

L: It really is a beautiful scene, and a wonderful example of a healthy relationship—on Adolin’s side, anyway. He’s there to support her and to help her become a better version of herself, even if that better version is just realizing that she’s been the better person all along. However… I still don’t see the same level of emotional maturity from her. A relationship is two sided, and both partners should be supporting the other. I know she’s going through a lot herself right now, I just hope that eventually, when she gets herself ironed out, she’s going to be ready to be there for him when he inevitably needs her.

A: Sigh. Her relative immaturity (both emotional and intellectual) is definitely a problem, and I do hope she gets herself sorted out. I love how good Adolin is for Shallan, but I have to admit she’s not a terribly good match for him at this point. And unfortunately, we see it just a couple pages later in the same chapter. There’s this other scene… and I’m reminded that despite how I see Adolin, he’s not nearly as self-confident as I think he should be!

Kaladin, the storming bridgeman, stood at the bow of the ship, surrounded by glowing lines of light. They illuminated his heroic figure …

Just ahead of him, Shallan seemed to change. It was in her bearing, the way she stopped resting lightly on one foot, and stood solidly on two feet instead. The way her posture shifted.

And the way that she seemed to melt upon seeing Kaladin, lips rising to a grin.

A: Poor Adolin. :(

L: Well, I mean… who can blame him? From a monogamous stand-point, this sort of behavior has got to be pretty devastating. (You know… I was about to comment about how this is pretty close to toxic monogamy culture but honestly? Adolin’s got a pretty decent reaction to this. He’s not lashing out in anger, he’s taking the time to self-analyze and eventually he just offers to step aside, rather than letting jealousy control him. Boy’s got his head on straight. I would also like to take a moment to mention that it has been asked if Sanderson would consider having them in a polyamorous relationship and he’s said no. More’s the pity.)

A: I really, really feel awful for Adolin here. He just gave Shallan the perfect blend of support and vulnerability, and she seemed to return his love and trust… and then she does this thing. In the scene, he thinks about the drawings he’s seen in her sketchbook, too, and it all reinforces the idea that she’s not as committed to him as he is to her. She had given him some clues, in the way she talked about her different personalities, that some of her behavior wasn’t entirely her. But… but. It will be a long time yet before he can entirely accept that his “real Shallan” does love him and only him, and as long as Veil is such a strong piece of her I’m not sure I’m convinced, though I want to be. (For what it’s worth, I’m personally quite happy with Sanderson’s decision not to go with polyamory. Aside from thinking it’s a really bad idea IRL, I don’t think it would be a great look for an LDS author. I’m not sure that’s a big factor for him; he writes more based on what he wants to write than on how it will look, but… still. History is not irrelevant.)

L: We’ll have to agree to disagree about the IRL bad idea part, but I concede on the point of it not being a great look for an LDS author. While it would be nice to see more representation and normalization of these relationship dynamics outside of a very select few Fantasy/Sci-Fi novels (like Kushiel’s Dart), it needs to be handled with care and understanding, and while Sanderson is usually very good at researching such social topics, he’s stated that he doesn’t feel as if he could do this particular one justice.

Bruised & Broken

A: After several weeks of “just Shallan,” this chapter starts showing much more sign of Veil peeking through again, and even taking over. Have we seen this unintentional and sudden change before, though? Like this bit, where she’s totally Shallan, listening to Kaladin’s plan to get to Thaylen City and worrying about whether she can make the Oathgate work even if they get there. She’s been pondering on how passionate he is about getting there, but she was still thinking like Shallan. Then this happens.

She couldn’t help feeling that too much of this plan depended on her.

Yet those eyes …

“We could try a mutiny,” Veil said.

A: Just like that, Veil is speaking, without any apparent intention on Shallan’s part to change.

L: Seems like Kaladin’s a bit of a trigger for her, providing the eyes in question are his.

A: She continues to suggest things like “pinching” the Stormlight/gems that had been confiscated from them, admiring his rough look, etc., and then:

Wait.

Wait, had that been Veil?

Shallan shook free of the momentary drifting of personality. Kaladin didn’t seem to notice.

A: It seems to worry her, which is a little bit comforting, I guess…

L: Small comfort.

She wore the skirt that Adolin had purchased for her, hoping it would make her feel more like Shallan. Veil kept poking through, which could be useful—but the way it just kind of happened was frightening to her. This was the opposite of what Wit had told her to do, wasn’t it?

A: So… I’m glad she’s worried about it, but why is it happening? Is it Shallan simply falling apart? An effect of being in the Cognitive Realm? A result of her interaction with Sja-anat? She asks a most fascinating question later, as she practices gathering impressions from the beads:

What would someone see when looking at her soul? Would it give a single, unified impression? Many different ideas of what it was to be her?

A: I’d like to know!

L: I wonder if Pattern could tell her.

“They need to let [Syl] out,” he said. “Prisons are terrible for me—they’ll be worse for her.”

L: Because she’s an honorspren and used to being free to flit about on the winds? Or is Kaladin just projecting, here?

“I’ve seen a lot of young hotheads in my time, and young Stormblessed feels like another color altogether. I wish I knew what he was so desperate to prove.”

L: That’s actually a really good question. Kaladin’s got his own swath of issues he’s working through, true… but what’s he trying to prove, exactly, and to whom? My spheres are on “that I’m a good person” to “the world.” He joined the army against his father’s wishes, and now he’s trying to prove to everyone around him—but most importantly to himself—that he’s not just a murderer, like his father said soldiers were. This is just speculation on my part, obviously. But it feels right to me.

Why… why hadn’t she tried to Soulcast since then? She’d made excuses, avoided thinking about it. Had focused all her attention on Lightweaving.

She’d ignored Soulcasting. Because she’d failed.

Because she was afraid.

L: Well… good on her, for figuring out what was going on in her own head, for this instance at least!

A: She has good reason to be afraid, given her experience; it was dangerous. But if she’d been honest with herself earlier, she could have taken advantage of Jasnah’s return to learn about it, instead of continuing to avoid it.

“The honorable Adolin Kholin, the consummate duelist. A murderer. And Shallan, I… I don’t think I’m sorry.”

L: There’s a lot of debate about this in fan circles, and honestly? Yeah, what he did may not have been strictly ethically correct. But he was protecting his family from someone who would certainly have tried to kill them. I don’t blame him for not feeling bad about it. But the very fact that he’s worried about the fact that he doesn’t feel bad speaks volumes about his character. He’s not simply justifying it to himself and moving on with his life. He’s still beating himself up over it—not because he killed someone (who deserved it), but because he’s afraid that not feeling repentant makes him a bad person. And he doesn’t want to be a bad person.

A: Once again, I love this guy. I think you’re right, too: in one sense he knows he simply did what had to be done, but he also thinks he ought to feel bad about it.

He’d failed so many people in his life…

…The Second Ideal made more direct sense. I will protect those who cannot protect themselves. Straightforward, yes… but overwhelming. The world was a place of suffering. Was he really supposed to try to prevent it all?

…The Third Ideal means standing up for anyone, if needed. But who decided what was “right?” Which side was he supposed to protect?

L: I’d just like to take a moment to interject here and note that the Third Ideal has been different for each Windrunner who’s sworn it. Interesting…. Anyway. The reason I’m putting this here is obviously because Kal’s really, really struggling. We’ve seen him struggling with this concept ever since Elhokar’s death, but this is the closest he’s come to really sitting down and trying to come up with an answer, as is evident by the windspren. I’m so very curious to find out what that Fourth Ideal is going to wind up being.

Places & Peoples

Notum had confirmed that the Voidspren were creating their own empire in Shadesmar. And they controlled Cultivation’s Perpendicularity, the easiest way to get between realms.

L: Whoa whoa whoa. Does this mean that Cultivation’s left? I can’t imagine that she would have let them use it without a fight! Or… is she maybe captured? That’s a scary thought!

A: I’ve always been really baffled by this. Her Perpendicularity is in the Horneater Peaks, but the only place anyone has physically seen her is in the Valley, near Urithiru. So… how much proximity does a Shard need to their Shardpool? Some? None? Lots? From what little we know, a Shard can probably take physical form anywhere on the planet, so maybe the question is moot.

Tight Butts and Coconuts

He walked across the deck, passing by Pattern—who stood with hands clasped behind his back, thinking number-filled thoughts.

L: I just really love the idea of “number-filled thoughts.” It made me chuckle.

“I would prefer,” Captain Notum said, “if you would refrain from upsetting my crew.”

“I would prefer that you let Syl go,” Kaladin snapped.

L: Yeah. You tell him, Kal!

“We certainly are an odd bunch.”

“Yes. Seven people. Odd.”

L: Classic Pattern.

Weighty Words

“But your bond is dangerous, without Honor. There will not be enough checks upon your power—you risk disaster.”

L: TIN FOIL HAT THEORY TIME! I wonder if all the power that normally would have been kept within Honor is now spread out amongst the Windrunners, and this is why they’re so powerful in terms of this story? They do seem to be a bit overpowered compared to the other orders, except for the Bondsmiths…

A: Hey, that’s a cool theory! We know that the Stormfather is the single biggest Splinter of Honor (don’t we?), but he certainly doesn’t hold all of Honor’s power. What if it is spread among the honorspren, so that when they form bonds, the Radiant is overpowered by comparison? That would be pretty cool.

It’s interesting that the Honorspren in this chapter are so opposed to Kaladin’s bond with Syl. They really do seem to think the bond is a bad idea.

Cosmere Connections

Nearby, the ship’s first mate … left the hold. Curiously, she was carrying Azure’s Shardblade. …

“Draw her carefully,” Azure said to Borea … “Don’t pull her out all the way—she doesn’t know you.”

… [Borea] undid a small latch on the Shardblade, eased it from its sheath a half inch, then drew in a sharp breath. “It … tingles.”

“She’s investigating you,” Azure said.

“It really is as you say,” Borea said. “A Shardblade that requires no spren—no enslavement. This is something else. How did you do it?”

A: And of course, we don’t get an answer to that! Still, what we do learn is pretty interesting. This is definitely an Awakened sword, with intelligence and personality. We don’t know yet what her Command is, but she clearly has some moral guideline by which she “investigates” people who touch her. I really do hope we learn more about her soon.

“But,” Azure continued, “even if his mission is critical, it doesn’t mean mine isn’t as well.”

L: What’s so critical about getting Nightblood back? Is she just concerned that it’s going to cause havoc here on Roshar unless it’s contained, or is there something more going on? Is there some time-sensitive reason that she needs it back home? So many questions.

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

A: Who, or what, are the “mistspren”??

She glanced toward a passing sailor, a mistspren who had gaseous limbs that ended in gloved hands. Her feminine face was the shape of a porcelain mask, and she—like the others of her kind—wore a vest and trousers that seemed to float on a body made of swirling, indistinct fog.

A: From what Our Heroes say elsewhere, the mistspren seem to work for the honorspren, doing most of the labor of the ship while the honorspren command. My initial assumption was that they, being described this way and appearing to be sapient spren, were probably the spren of one of the Knight Radiant orders, but I’m not so sure now. Which order would have spren who work for the spren of another order? They certainly understand the humans, and yet they seem to take no initiative; when Shallan asks one for some beads to study, she simply goes and gets the captain to make a decision. And yet they clearly aren’t the “cousin” spren we’ve talked about before; those are the windspren, and we see them in this chapter as something very different:

Something crystallized in the air beside him, a line of light like a pinprick in the air that trailed a long, soft luminescence. … A second pinprick of light appeared near him, spinning, coordinated with the other. They made spiral trails in the air. He’d have called them spren, but they weren’t any he’d seen before.

A: Much to his shock, Kaladin can suddenly hear Syl in his mind, even though she’s still imprisoned. And the rest of the spren are far more shocked:

The strange pinpricks of light continued to whirl around him. Sailors gathered behind, making a ruckus until the captain pushed through and gaped.

“They’re not common on this side,” the captain said. “They live on your side, almost completely. I … I’ve never seen them before. They’re beautiful.”

A: So that’s cool: something we thought was incredibly common, if pretty, turns out to be a beautiful wonder to the spren in the Cognitive Realm. The following discussion is pretty funny, as Kaladin discovers that there are other things that will surprise the spren:

“Captain,” Kaladin said. “I have taken an oath, as a Windrunner, to protect. And the Bondsmith who leads us is in danger.”

Bondsmith?” the captain asked. “Which one?”

“Dalinar Kholin.”

“No. Which Bondsmith, of the three?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Kaladin said. “But his spren is the Stormfather. I told you I’d spoken to him.”

It seemed, from the captain’s aghast expression, that perhaps Kaladin should have mentioned this fact earlier.

A: I don’t know about you, but this cracks me up every time I read it. The fact that the Stormfather has bonded to a human again is a shock to Captain Notum; that, combined with the windspren spinning around Kaladin in Shadesmar, is what it takes to convince him that, just maybe, they should consider the requests (okay, demands) these humans are making.

“Besides, the Ancient Daughter is too young.”

“Young?” Kaladin said. “Didn’t you just call her ancient?”

…“The honorspren were created by Honor himself, many thousands of years ago. You call him the Almighty.”

…“Well, sometime before his death, Honor stopped creating honorspren. We don’t know why, but he asked the Stormfather to do it instead.”

…“The Stormfather created only a handful of children. All of these, save Sylphrena, were destroyed in the Recreance, becoming deadeyes. This loss stung the Stormfather, who didn’t create again for centuries. When he was finally moved to remake the honorspren, he created only ten more. My great-grandmother was among them; she created my grandfather, who created my father, who eventually created me.”

L: Wow, lots of cool information in here. So Stormdaddy only made twenty spren, and the honorspren can reproduce asexually, apparently. I’m also curious about why Syl wasn’t made into a deadeye… she told Kal that she had a Knight Radiant before, didn’t she? I’m not misremembering that?

A: She had a Knight Radiant, but he died in battle rather than destroying their bond in the Recreance. So, while his death was hard on her and she “slept” for a long time, it didn’t damage her in the way that a broken bond does.

L: So it was only spren that were abandoned that went eyeless, not those whose Radiants died? That seems odd to me. I almost wonder if her Radiant hadn’t sworn the Final Ideal yet.

A: I love reading this section today; there was just a discussion on Facebook when someone asked who Timbre’s mother was, assuming her father was Ico. My best conclusion is that, as you say, it’s an asexual reproduction; I can’t recall a single time when a single spren has referred to both a mother and a father. It’s always one or the other.

Arresting and Ambivalent Artwork

Artwork from Brandon Sanderson's Oathrbinger

A: Well, that’s a mix! Most of it is typical of Shallan’s natural history sketches—and then there’s the thing in the upper right. Veil’s handiwork? Gloryspren at the top, anticipationspren in the middle & right, and … awespren, maybe? I’m not sure about those. I’m also not sure about the branchy thing in the lower right, but I love the little doodle sketches in the corners, like she’s thinking on paper.

L: I’m certain that this is Veil’s handiwork in the top right, especially given the little “Drawing is easy!” “Clearly it isn’t.” dialogue that goes back and forth near it. I’d wager she was trying to draw the Captain, if only because I’m certain that this isn’t representative of either Kal or Adolin! There’s also a little Ghostblood symbol drawn under there.

A: I think you’re right on all counts, though I can’t prove it.

L: I don’t know what the tenacious ones on the bottom left are, but I kinda love how creepy they are. Lookit their little vertical mouths! So horrifyingly charming!

A: The little note in the corner: “Why 2 mouths at all?” (or at least that’s what I think it says). It must be so fun coming up with these drawings.

L: It’s “Why a mouth at all?”, actually. Which makes sense… as spren they wouldn’t really need them, now would they?

 

Next week we’ll be delving into chapter 109, in which Dalinar pulls Venli into one of his visions. Stay tuned at the same storm-time and the same storm-channel, and as always feel free to join in the conversation in the comment section below!

Looking ahead, there will be a break in posting over the Christmas holidays. Stay tuned for details.

Alice is now deep into the various celebrations and busyness that accompanies Christmas-tide around her home and family. Next up: school Christmas concert, in which her daughter tries to do just about everything, including flute, saxophone, and singing an octave above the staff. Hopefully all the pieces come together!

Lyndsey is heading into Boston on Saturday for a cosplay ice skating meetup, then to Providence on Sunday for even more ice skating fun! If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.

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