Happy new year, O Rereaders of the Stormlight Archive! Welcome back! Did you see the news about Sanderson finishing Book 4 just before the end of the year? We’re so excited, but we also hope you’re all well rested, because this chapter sets up the beginning of the ending of Oathbringer. We’re back in Shadesmar, where Our Heroes once again strike out on their own, minus one member.
Heh. I couldn’t resist the cut text. (If you came here without going to the Tor homepage first, it was, “All right. Jump!”) It’s Shallan leading the team off the ship, but it’s SO appropriate for this stage of the book. It’s going to be pretty much non-stop tension and action from here on out.
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 from Warbreaker in the Cosmere Connections section, so if you haven’t read it, best to give that section a pass.
WHO: Shallan & the Shadesmar Exploration Society
WHERE: Shadesmar, at the edge of Longbrow’s Straits (east of Kharbranth, north of Thaylen City, on the south coast of the mainland)
WHEN: 1184.108.40.206—The numbers in the timeline are a little fruity, since a minimum of several days passed during the course of Chapter 108, and we don’t know how many. We don’t quite know if this is a matter of several days, or only several hours, since the end of that chapter; either one could be argued. Either way, we know the date for this chapter solidly; the highstorm they see is the same as the one in Chapter 109, when Dalinar and Venli met in the ancient-Kholinar vision.
Title: A Million Stars
They crowded into the opening into the cargo hold, looking at the glass beads below. Churning, catching the light of a distant sun, sparkling like a million stars …
Heralds: Jezrien, Herald of Kings, patron of Windrunners, is the sole Herald on this chapter. His associated divine attributes are Protecting and Leading, and his role is King. I’m not entirely sure why he’s here, except that the honorspren are front and center here. I guess Shallan even does more protecting and leading than her usual, so there’s that?
Icon: Pattern, for a Shallan POV
The Midnight Mother created monsters of shadow and oil, dark imitations of creatures she saw or consumed. Their description matches no spren I can find in modern literature.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 252
A: She’s come a long way, has our little Midnight Mother… ::shudder:: The creatures Dalinar saw in that vision fit this statement, but what Shallan & Co. saw in the Urithiru basements were recognizable humans. It does make me wonder what she was imitating before, though. Creatures from Braize? (Did the Unmade return to Braize between Desolations too? Do we know?)
Stories & Songs
Honor’s Path had made a heroic effort these last few hours, pushing its mandras to exhaustion—and it hadn’t been nearly enough. The Fused were slower than Kaladin could go, but they were still far faster than the ship.
A: So… why are the Fused slower than a Windrunner? Are they not using the same Surges? Perhaps they can only use one Surge, or one at a time? I don’t know (obviously), but this seems like an important thing to notice! I suppose it makes sense that the mandras can’t pull a ship as fast as an unencumbered Fused can fly, though I’m curious as to how fast they can go by themselves.
L: Yeah, this seems like a strange distinction to make. When Kal is flying (or falling with style), he’s only using one of the surges, right? Maybe he can just use them more effectively and Lash himself more times than they can.
A: Hmm, yeah, the number of Lashings makes a big difference. Maybe they can’t do that.
Also, this bit is why I suspect that Chapter 110 picks up only a few hours after Chapter 108 ends, since that’s when they first spotted the Fused on the horizon. Did they start the push immediately? I would guess so.
Flora & Fauna
These trees! The trunks were translucent; the leaves looked like they were blown from glass in a multitude of colors. Moss drooped from one branch, like melted green glass, strands hanging down in silky lines. When she touched them, they broke off.
A: I’d really love to see some artwork for this…
They hit the bottom, which was shallow, here near the shore. Then Shallan finally let herself draw in Stormlight. One precious gemstone’s worth. It sustained her, calmed her. She fished in her pocket for the bead she’d picked from the bucket earlier.
When she fed the bead Stormlight, the other beads around her trembled, then pulled back, forming the walls and ceiling of a small room.
A: I keep feeling like we shouldn’t need the description again, but I’m always glad it’s there to answer the question. When Stormlight is fed into one bead, the other beads around the area join to create the shape of the original bead’s physical form. Also, very clever of Shallan to have found a room-bead in that bucket she was sifting through! Do you suppose she picked out a variety of beads that seemed like they might be useful in different situations, then settled on this one to meet the specific need?
“Damnation,” Adolin said, wheezing. “Drowning with no water. It shouldn’t be so hard, should it? All we had to do was hold our breath….”
A: Okay, here’s something I should have realized in the beta. When you need to breathe but want to filter out something nasty, such as smoke or fumes, you tie a handkerchief or something over your mouth and nose. Why did it not occur to them to try this? Just wrap a scarf across your nose and mouth, and you don’t have to hold your breath or choke on beads.
(Also, we discovered on the beta that we had quite a variety of impressions of these beads. Everyone was thinking “round,” but the sizes we visualized ranged from ⅛” seed-bead size all the way up to tennis-ball size!)
They each carried a change of clothing, three water jugs, and some of the food Adolin had purchased. Hopefully it would be enough to reach Thaylen City.
A: This reminds me of the epilogue from Words of Radiance, where Jasnah came out of Shadesmar much better equipped than she went in. Our Heroes certainly have a much better shot at survival now than they did when leaving Kholinar.
They started up the slope, against the tide of beads. … They soon reached a place were the ground was too steep to walk on easily. Shallan let go of the men’s hands and scrambled up the incline.
A: Well, I guess they got the hang of walking without breathing? This bit always feels vaguely wrong to me, like they have to have walked farther than they should be able to hold their breath, but… I guess? Shallan has it easy, with the Stormlight she’s holding, but Adolin doesn’t have that, and Kaladin chooses not to use it.
“I saw the enemy fly past,” Syl said. “I was hiding by the trees here.”
A: So at least that part of the plan worked… Note also that Syl didn’t bother to join them in Shallan’s “waiting room”—she just headed for the land and hid in the trees so she could see what was happening.
Kaladin dug out two gemstones. “All right,” he said, “we fly.”
They’d decided to use two gemstones’ worth of Stormlight to fly inward, a gamble to get a head start on their hike—and to get away from the coast. Hopefully the Fused wouldn’t treat the honorspren too harshly. Shallan worried for them, but equally for what would happen if the Fused doubled back to search for her group.
A: Sounds like a reasonable plan, given what they know now….
Kaladin Lashed them one at a time—and fortunately, his arts worked on the spren as they did humans.
A: Argh. This gets so meta, when a character starts thinking about how lucky they are that things work out conveniently. The reader gets torn between relief that it works, and the knowledge that it works because the author decided that the story would be better served by not giving them another annoying difficulty to overcome just now. Heh.
L: We call this “hanging a lampshade,” or just “lampshading.” Basically, “yes, reader, I realize this is odd or super convenient but I promise you I’ve thought of it and it’s not a mistake.”
“I simply have a different thread to chase, and besides, I left my men to fight these monsters in Kholinar. Doesn’t feel right to do the same again.” She smiled. “Don’t fear for me, Stormblessed. You will have a much better chance if I stay here—as will these sailors.”
A: As with everything about Vivenna/Azure, I wonder… In this case, I wonder how much Breath she’s got. Nalthians seem to have the ability to hold an awful lot of Investiture, whether it’s their own world’s Breath or Roshar’s Stormlight. She certainly doesn’t seem worried about being injured or killed, so I have to assume she’s holding a LOT. Plus, she’s clearly planning to awaken a whole boatload of objects to fight with them, which is also going to take a lot of Breath/Investiture-of-some-kind.
It occurs to me that she and Zahel have a tremendous advantage here on Roshar, where every highstorm provides tons of Investiture; since everyone expects it to get used up, it’s not that surprising (if they’re clever) that they can get away with just storing it up internally to a mind-numbing level. All they have to do is make sure they stay below God-King level, where the colors go all swirly around you, and no one else will notice a thing. And since they can retrieve it all when they’re done with their Awakened objects, they don’t have to keep renewing it. (Well, okay, Zahel/Vasher does to some extent, being a Returned, but Vivenna doesn’t. Unless she died and Returned since the end of Warbreaker.)
L: I wonder how they get rid of the extra, so they don’t get all god-King-color-swirly.
A: Stuff it in a convenient cloak (Vivenna) or rope belt (Vasher)?
“When you boys next meet the swordsman who taught you that morning kata, warn him that I’m looking for him.”
“Zahel?” Adolin said. “You know Zahel?”
“We’re old friends,” she said.
A: Yes, indeed. Old friends… though he’s much older than she is. I love Adolin’s shock, though. He (like everyone else) has no clue about Zahel’s background. I would really love to see the moment when Adolin & Kaladin deliver her message!
“Notum, have your sailors been cutting those bales of cloth into the shapes I requested?”
“Yes,” the captain said. “But I don’t understand—”
“You soon will.”
A: Oh, I wish we could have seen this battle! Hopefully we’ll hear something about it later. The spren are about to get the shock of their lives when the see Awakened objects fighting alongside them. I wonder what shapes she chose. I’m guessing vaguely human-shaped, because Vasher said those are easier to Awaken, but… who knows?
A Scrupulous Study of Spren
Syl’s color seemed muted, and she clung to Kaladin’s arm, unsteady. Was she going to be able to make it to shore with them?
A: Poor Syl; it hasn’t been good for her to be locked up for almost three weeks. I don’t exactly understand why it affected her like this, but apparently it did. And the captain should, so I find it baffling that he would treat the “ancient daughter” that way. Weird.
“Go, then,” the captain said. “And be swift. I cannot promise that my crew, once captured, will be able to keep this secret for long.” Apparently it was difficult to kill spren, but hurting them was quite easy.
A: Well, that sucks.
Overhead, the clouds rippled with the mother-of-pearl iridescence that marked another highstorm in the real world. … the effect on Pattern and Syl was immediate. They stood up straighter, and Syl’s wan color brightened to a healthy blue-white. Pattern’s head shifted more quickly, spinning through a dozen different cycles in a matter of minutes.
A: We’ll just call this another cool thing I don’t understand; somehow, the spren “feed” off of the storm in Shadesmar, even though it doesn’t seem to deposit any stormlight there.
Nearby, Syl looked to the southwest with a kind of wistful, far-off expression. “Syl?” Shallan asked.
“There’s a storm that way too…” she whispered, then shook herself and seemed embarrassed.
A: WHAT? What. Is. That. About?
I mean… Southwest of their location in Shadesmar, there’s Thaylen City with its Oathgate, and beyond that is the “Nexus of Imagination,” whatever that is. In the physical realm, it’s just Thaylen City and the “Southern Depths” part of the ocean. What storm is she sensing? Is the Everstorm thataway right now? But why would that make Syl wistful? I’m so confused.
L: I’m really confused by this one, too.
She’d chosen to wear Veil’s outfit today, in part for the pockets.
A: Every woman I know can relate to this.
Well, that concludes this weeks presentation. Comment on what we left out! Also, come back next week to deal with Chapter 111, in which we will all grind our teeth to nubs. Our smarmy “friend” Amaram is in full form, Teft & Lyn get great lines, and two storms—one literal, one figurative—come at the same time, as the results of Dalinar’s visions return to stab him in the back. Eila Stele next week.
Alice is still groggy from getting back to a normal schedule, after having the most relaxing Christmas break in years; she’s hoping to recover her brain in time for the upcoming beta read of SA4, which is expected to start sometime in the next three weeks or so. Happy New Year, everyone!
Lyndsey is recovering from getting five piercings on one day right before New Years, and wishes the Force to be with you. Always. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.