Hey, y’all! Welcome back to the Avalanche! We’re moving fast this week, with three (short) chapters, finishing off Part Four and starting the last set of Interludes! Just in case you missed the note last week, this is the big day—the Battle of Thaylen Field will commence later on this same day.
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. This week’s reread contains no larger Cosmere spoilers, so at least you’re safe on that ground.
WHO: Kaladin; Dalinar; Venli
WHERE: Shadesmar, approaching Thaylen City (Kaladin’s memory takes place in northern Alethkar); Thaylen City; A cave outside of Marat
WHEN: 1184.108.40.206, two days after leaving Honor’s Path (Kaladin’s memory takes place sometime between 1169 and 1172). Venli’s Interlude takes place on the same day. Dalinar’s chapter takes place the day before (1220.127.116.11, the same day as the disastrous Ch. 111 meeting).
We begin with chapter 112, in which Kaladin reminisces about his relationship with Tarah when he was in Amaram’s army. She left him with an admonition to stop living for the dead. They approach Thaylen City and finally see the Oathgate in the distance—but it’s surrounded by an army of Voidspren.
In Chapter 113, we stand with Dalinar and watch as his coalition shatters around him. Everyone leaves except for the other Alethi and Queen Fen, who has no choice. The Stormfather reveals that the Recreance happened because the old Knights Radiant became convinced that their powers would destroy the world.
Venli’s Interlude begins with Venli preaching to the newly freed Listeners. A Fused arrives and takes her to a ship, part of a vast fleet which is sailing towards Thaylen City. The Everstorm is approaching to push them there faster.
Chapter 112: For the Living
“Oh, Kal,” she whispered, then squeezed his arm. “Maybe someday you’ll learn how to be there for the living, not just for the dead.”
Chapter 113: The Thing Men Do Best
I tried my best to hide this, the Stormfather said.
“So we could continue living a lie?”
It is, in my experience, the thing men do best.
Venli Interlude: Rhythm of Withdrawal
Rine changed to a new rhythm, one she rarely heard. The Rhythm of Withdrawal—one of the only new rhythms that had a calm tone.
Chapter 112: Chach, aka Chanarach (Chana), Brave/Obedient, Dustbringers, Role: Guard; and Shalash (Ash), Creative/Honest, Herald of Beauty, Lightweavers, Role: Artist.
L: I can see Kaladin being represented as Chach, the Guard—he’s guarding his brother’s memory and the young soldiers he’s taking under his wing. If that’s the case, then Tarah’s Shalash, in her honesty.
A: Kaladin is also sort of serving as guard for the Expedition, but he’s doing a lousy job of it because he wants to get back to the Physical realm to guard Dalinar.
Chapter 113: Talenelat (Talenel, Taln.) Herald of War. Dependable / Resourceful. Stonewards. Role: Soldier.
L: War is coming, and Dalinar is the last man standing, as it were. Much like Taln was the last Herald remaining to break.
A: Well, that made me choke up, Lyndsey. Thanks. Though now that you mention it, I do think the comparison is apt. Perhaps Taln here also reflects the way that everything else Dalinar has tried to be, to become, has fallen apart on him, and all he has left is Soldier.
Venli Interlude: Battah (Battar), Wise/Careful. Elsecallers. Role: Counsellor.
A: I keep expecting to see Kalak on Venli’s chapters, but right now Venli is definitely trying hard to be both wise and careful. She’s starting to know too much, and is very careful to keep it from the Fused, all while trying to learn more.
Icons: Banner & Spears (Kaladin POV), Kholin glyphpair (Dalinar POV), Singer (Venli POV)
I am certain there are nine Unmade. There are many legends and names that I could have misinterpreted, conflating two Unmade into one. In the next section, I will discuss my theories on this.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 266
A: I feel like I ought to go back and review all the epigraphs now, to see if she did conflate two of them… except that at least half of what we know about them comes directly from these epigraphs. Circular logic is circular? And maybe she didn’t conflate them, given the next epigraph.
If I’m correct and my research true, then the question remains. Who is the ninth Unmade? Is it truly Dai-Gonarthis? If so, could their actions have actually caused the complete destruction of Aimia?
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 307
L: Man, whenever the destruction of Aimia gets brought up it just makes me insanely curious as to what that’s all about. I can’t wait until we get that story!
A: Having just reread the chapter with this epigraph fresh in my head, I can’t help wonder if her question is answered by something the Stormfather says:
[Honor] raved, speaking of the Dawnshards, ancient weapons used to destroy the Tranquiline Halls.
Did one of the Unmade somehow have access to a Dawnshard, or a part of one, or one that wasn’t fully functional any more? Is it possible that Dai-Gonarthis used a Dawnshard to try to destroy Aimia?
[Venli] was growing dirty, rough. That was what the Fused seemed to want: a hermit living in the wilds.
L: The archetype is a good one, and it’s wise of the Fused to be playing up to it—the martyr, last of her people, having lost everything in the Good Fight.
A: It’s clever of them, indeed. I’m glad that she is starting to feel the pain of the lie, as she wonders whether any of them may have survived. In this chapter, she doesn’t really acknowledge her own role in their destruction, but… she knows it.
“You must sail to battle. For the future, for your children! And for us. Those who died that you might exist.”
L: It’s a VERY powerful narrative she’s spinning, and it’s not entirely untrue. Except for the fact that they didn’t have to die, that the Fused orchestrated all of that… but… didn’t they? If the Fused hadn’t taken over, would any of this gone as far as it has? Would they have come this far in reclaiming what rightfully should be theirs?
A: Well, the slave-parshmen certainly wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the Listeners who summoned the Everstorm, so there’s that. And those who died in that battle, whether protecting the singers or unable to fight because they were too busy singing, they certainly “died that you might exist.” Those who survived the battle, though, seem to have died for the sole purpose of giving bodies to the Fused, and I’m less sympathetic to that aspect. (It of course leaves out the question of what happened to the Listeners who escaped… but I expect we’ll learn about them in the next book.)
L: I really do love this dilemma, because there is no wrong and right side here. We’ve spoken about this at length before in chapters in which Kaladin is struggling with this very question, but it’s very brave of Sanderson, I think, to be tackling such a huge philosophical dilemma. If the Native American people were to one day rise up and decide to take back lands which once had been theirs, what would be the outcome? Who’s right, and who’s wrong? It’s horrifying to think about, for both sides.
A: The logical thing seems to be to find a way to coexist, except for one major catch, which… well, we’ll talk about it below.
Stories & Songs
It’s been a long time since we had to add to our running tally of Singer Rhythms, but this week we’ve got a new one: Rhythm of the Terrors, Craving, Command, Fury, Satisfaction, Derision, Spite, Abashment, Destruction, Agony, Conceit, Ridicule, Subservience, Withdrawal.
Amid the sea of lights were two towering spren, much like the ones they’d seen in Kholinar. One sparkled a multitude of colors while the other shimmered an oily black. Both stood tall, holding spears as long as a building. The sentries of the Oathgate, and they didn’t look corrupted.
L: Every time I see these things, all I can think of is the Oracle from The Neverending Story. I find the colors interesting… the inky black makes me think of Jasnah’s spren. Are the Oathgates associated with different orders, do you think?
A: I’ve always assumed so. It seems reasonable that they would be associated with the two Orders who can use Transportation—i.e. the Elsecallers and the Willshapers. Seems like maybe the sparkly one ought to look more like the Reachers in that case, though their other name of Lightspren seems appropo to this appearance.
That bridge was guarded by an entire army of enemy spren, hundreds—perhaps thousands—strong.
A: Let me just say… Yikes‽
“I thought… maybe we came from Shinovar originally.”
That is the land you were given, the Stormfather said. A place where the plants and animals you brought here could grow.
“We weren’t able to confine ourselves to what we were given.”
When has any man ever been content with what he has?
L: Wow. Ouch, Stormfather.
A: It’s almost hard to remember back before we knew this, but this was a wonderful theory-confirmed moment: that Shinovar was indeed the place where humans were first settled when they came to Roshar. I look forward to learning more details.
“The Almighty kept this from his Radiants,” Dalinar said. “When they discovered it, they abandoned their vows.”
It is more than that.
L: CALLED IT.
A: Yes, it never felt like “our ancestors ten thousand years ago were the invaders” was enough to make all the Radiants abandon their oaths and destroy their spren. This is one of the times when I get confused between the beta version and the final version, because I never read the final with as much intensity as the beta. :( I forgot that there was more explanation to follow.
L: Same, actually.
My memory of all this is… strange. First, I was not fully awake, I was but the spren of a storm. Then I was like a child. Changed and shaped during the frantic last days of a dying god.
But I do remember. It was not only the truth of humankind’s origin that caused the Recreance. It was the distinct, powerful fear that they would destroy this world, as men like them had destroyed the one before. The Radiants abandoned their vows for that reason, as will you.
L: Ah, there we are. This definitely makes more sense.
A: Does that also explain their willingness to kill their spren along with their bonds? If they just abandoned the spren but left them alive, the spren might bond with others and still destroy the world?
In the past, Honor was able to guard against this. … But in the days leading to the Recreance, Honor was dying. When that generation of knights learned the truth, Honor did not support them. He raved, speaking of the Dawnshards, ancient weapons used to destroy the Tranquiline Halls. Honor… promised that surgebinders would do the same to Roshar.
“Odium claimed the same thing.”
He can see the future, though only cloudily.
L: Yikes. So is this going to be one of those “we have to destroy the world in order to save it,” things? Are we looking at an Avengers: Endgame scenario in the future?
The ancient Radiants didn’t abandon their oaths out of pettiness. They tried to protect the world. I blame them for their weakness, their broken oaths. But I also understand. You have cursed me, human, with this capacity.
L: Yeah, this makes way more sense. I would never be able to see people killing their best friends because of a long-past transgression by their ancestors. But to save the world? Yeah. Yeah, I can see that.
A: ::sniffle:: Yes, I can see it, and while it seems pretty harsh, I can even believe that maybe the spren were in on the plan and sacrificed themselves for it. You know, this makes me want Maya revived even more; if she can remember the decision, she could tell us about it! (And if all this is correct, I wonder how much the unbonded spren were told. Were they just told never to bond humans again, or not to trust them, or something? So that there would be a massive distrust among the spren to avoid future bonds? And then the Skybreakers stayed to make sure it didn’t happen?)
“The strongest and most skilled of our number have yet to awaken—”
L: Well, that certainly doesn’t bode well for our heroes.
“—but even if we were all awake, we would not fight this war alone. This world will not be ours; we fight to give it to you, our descendants. When it is won, our vengeance taken and our homeland secured at long last, we will sleep. Finally.”
L: Oof. Just driving home that knife to us, the reader, that they’re not wholly the bad guys here. They’re not killing just to kill. This isn’t Sauron the Deceiver we’re dealing with. They just want to get back what was unjustly stolen from them, and to add insult to injury, their entire people was enslaved, their autonomy removed… what the ancestors of our heroes did really was a terrible, terrible crime.
A: To be fair, the enslavement came after thousands of years of war, and at that it seems likely to have been an unintended side effect. That doesn’t make it less terrible, of course. But here’s the catch I mentioned. For the Fused, this is still personal. (At least, for those who still have some semblance of a mind…) These ancestors, some or all of them, were actually alive at the time the humans came to Roshar. For all we know, one of the Fused carved the Eila Stele. What’s really bizarre is that, in all probability, some of the Fused knew some of the Heralds before any of the warring started.
Which reminds me… There may yet be more to the story. It may be that some of the Singers welcomed and encouraged the humans to spread out, while others resented the human presence and viewed it as an invasion. (More similarities to the Native Americans and the original European settlers of the Americas.) Given that some of them intermarried, I’d like to see more records from those early days before we take the Eila Stele as the sole authority. I wonder if the Horneaters have some historical information that they haven’t shared yet. Maybe Ellista & Co. from that monastery up in the Horneater mountains will find something.
Relationships & Romances
Kaladin remembered a woman’s kiss.
A: At long last, we get to learn more about Tarah! Two books with hints, and now we “see” her in Kaladin’s memory. This is the third and last of the “Kaladin remembered” sections in Oathbringer, which fill out some of the things we didn’t get to see from his past during his flashback sequence in The Way of Kings.
Back to Tarah. She was the quartermaster’s daughter when Kaladin was in Amaram’s army, and they were most definitely romantically involved.
L: I like her. She’s very grounded and stable, which—let’s be honest—Kaladin sorely needs, from a romantic partner or even his friends. He’s so emotionally volatile that he needs a rock to stabilize him, until he learns how to do it himself.
A: And in this scene, he’s literally using a rock. A white, brown, and black one. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s stabilizing him—not the way Tarah could, if he’d let her.
He never sent responses. Because he was stupid, because he didn’t understand. Because men make mistakes when they’re young and angry.
Because she had been right.
L: Oh, Kal. At least in retrospect he sees his mistakes, though. More than we can say for some.
A: I’d like to smack him on her behalf, but as you say…
L: I really do hope that we see her again someday, though I’m not convinced I’d want to see them get back together. I hope she found someone else and hasn’t been pining after him, she seems way too sensible to do that. But she did seem to be a good match for him, so I wouldn’t be opposed if she found her way back into his life!
A: Yeah, that’s a dilemma. We don’t know for sure how long ago this was; before his slavery, but after Tien’s death, so it could be anywhere from two to five years ago. If the latter, I really hope she’s moved on! If this was shortly before the fight with Helaran (though long enough for her to write a couple of letters), I could see her still being single.
Bruised & Broken
[He couldn’t leave.] Not while he carried that stone in his pocket, not while the memory of his brother dying was fresh in his mind. Not while lighteyed highlords got boys killed in petty fights.
L: Poor Kaladin. I like to think that he did learn from Tarah and make strides in this during the course of The Way of Kings. He took care of Bridge Four, he led them away from the edge and gave them something to live for. But he does still cling way too much to the dead, to his responsibilities and perceived failures to protect them.
A: He does. I’m not big on the “shrug and move on” motif, but he takes every mistake as a vast personal failure, and wallows in guilt over things that weren’t even necessarily his fault.
I tried my best to hide this, the Stormfather said.
“So we could continue living a lie?”
It is, in my experience, the thing men do best.
“Don’t insult us.”
What? Is this not what you’ve been doing, these last six years? Pretending that you aren’t a monster? Pretending you didn’t kill her, Dalinar?
L: Yes, hello, police? I’d like to report a murder.
A: That’s really unfair, though. Dalinar hasn’t been pretending he didn’t kill her; those memories were completely gone. And even then, while he certainly intended to kill a lot of people that day and the term “monster” is applicable in that sense, Evi wasn’t supposed to have been one of them. For all Dalinar knows at this point, he could be guilty of pretense if he asked Nightwatcher to take away his memory, but we know that’s not what he asked. It’s just what Cultivation chose to give him. On the other hand, Stormfather probably doesn’t know what Dalinar asked for either, so they’re likely both making the same assumptions.
L: I’d argue that Blackthorn!Dalinar was a monster regardless of whether or not he meant to kill Evi, but you’ve got a point in that it wasn’t a conscious choice on his part to forget (or as the Stormfather put it, pretend) that it didn’t happen.
Diagrams & Dastardly Designs
“I’m sorry, Dalinar,” Taravangian said softly from behind. “I assumed everyone had the same information, and that it would be best to air it. I didn’t expect all of this…”
L: You SNAKE. You absolutely did, you lying, conniving… ::deep breath:: Ugh. I get that he thinks he’s doing the right thing, to save the world, and all. But UGH.
A: UGH. Everything he says in this conversation is a lie. Every last word. The whole thing was intended to destroy Dalinar, and he pretends to be sad. Foul wretch. And Dalinar still believes he’s a kindly if somewhat helpless old sweetie.
Squires & Sidekicks
Dalinar’s attention was drawn to a solemn group of men leaving the temple below. Bridge Four, spears held on slumped shoulders, heads bowed as they quietly marched down the steps.
L: Oh no. Not Bridge Four! DON’T LOSE HOPE!
A: This hurt so much to read. I’m still not 100% sure I believe that (without Honor ranting about destroying the world) the modern Radiants & Squires would take it this way. On the other hand, they’ve lost their leader, and for all their confidence that he’ll return, it’s got to be wearing thin. For now, they’re led by someone who hates himself at least as much as he loves Bridge Four, and that’s not an inspiring leader.
“Sir,” Teft said. “We thought we’d head back to Urithiru. We left some of the men behind, and they deserve to know about this business with the ancient Radiants.”
“What we’ve discovered doesn’t change the fact that we are being invaded,” Dalinar said.
“Invaded by people trying to reclaim their homeland,” Sigzil said. “Storms. I’d be mad too.”
“We’re supposed to be the good guys, you know?” Leyten said. “Fighting for a good cause, for once in our storming lives.”
L: Hoo boy. Yeah, that’s got to be one hell of a blow.
A: Hmm. ::hums to Skepticism::
“We’ll see what Kal says,” Teft replied. “Sir. All respect, sir. But we’ll see what he says. He knows the right of things, even when the rest of us don’t.”
L: Yikes. Poor Teft has no idea just how bad of a place Kal’s in, right now. I love their loyalty to him, and how they all look up to him. It speaks volumes to his talent at leadership. But… boy. Seeing inside of his head like we do sure gives us, the reader, a different perspective on him than the one he shows the world.
A: True. They don’t see the depth of Teft’s weakness, but they all know about it. Kaladin’s weakness, though… they don’t even believe he has any weakness. Kal knows everything. Kal will be able to tell us what’s right. And meanwhile Kal is coming apart at the seams over in Shadesmar.
L: I’m going to put Fen here, for the moment:
“Best I can tell, you’ve become a good man right in time to bravely sink with this ship. That’s commendable, until I remember that the Blackthorn would have long since murdered everyone trying to sink him.”
L: I love her so much. She’s honest to a fault, and even though this hurts Dalinar to hear, she’s right.
A: I know. I’m not sure this is what you were thinking, but… I was looking back at the beta comments, and someone was like “No, do NOT summon the Blackthorn!” In the end, no, we will need the “new” Dalinar, but I can certainly see her point. When you’ve got an army bearing down on you and your fortifications are still only barely in place, having the Blackthorn at your side would feel a lot better than a defeated would-be politician. Even if you did have to worry that he might decide he owned your country when it was all done, at least your people would likely survive.
Flora & Fauna
The jungle-style trees had given way to taller, more statuesque ones with deep crimson trunks and limbs like burnt-red crystals that, at the ends, burst into small collections of minerals.
L: This is so cool and reminds me so much of Final Fantasy, with all it’s crystal areas.
A: It would be awesome special effects on screen. In reality, it’s a bit much to imagine!
L: I’ve always said that I would much rather see Stormlight Archive done in animation, and things like this are a big reason why. The budget a live-action film or TV series would have to have to pull it off would be ENORMOUS. It would make the dragons and the direwolves in Game of Thrones look like child’s play.
Be there, Tarah had told him. For the living.
… Worry pulled him forward. Step after relentless step.
He had to get to the Oathgate. He would not fail like he had in Kholinar.
A: He’s pushing hard to get back to Dalinar, which is commendable, but what about the living who are with him? Adolin can keep up, and the spren don’t get tired, but he’s pushing Shallan way too hard.
A Scrupulous Study of Spren
Exhaustionspren circled above, like large chickens.
L: We know that “chicken” to the Alethi means any kind of bird, so it’s not quite so silly as it sounds to us. But… it’s still kinda funny to think about chickens flying around them.
A: Heh. It’s truly a snicker-worthy mental image! I just kept thinking about how that would give away their position, like buzzards circling a dying creature in the desert. They make a great signal if you want someone to find you and help you; if you’re hoping to hide from the “someones” who are searching, not so much. Stupid chickens.
It had been four weeks. How long could he keep pretending that Adolin and Elhokar were alive out there somewhere? That pain hid behind the rest, taunting him.
Next week, we’ll be tackling the other two interludes—Rysn’s, and Teft’s. As always, please join in the conversation in the comments, if you feel so inclined!
Alice is done with the yearly Snowmageddon and has settled back into The Long Dark Wet of the Pacific Northwest. At least it’s not spider season anymore.
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