Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Interludes Thirteen and Fourteen—Rysn and Teft

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Buckle up, folks, it’s moving faster all the time! I know, I’ve been pointing out for the last few weeks that we’re in the beginnings of the Avalanche, but these two chapters, along with the last four chapters and the next seven (excluding the one remaining Dalinar flashback) all take place in a two-day period. The Interludes are now directly tied to the main action, and things are exploding everywhere. Come on in!

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.

No Cosmere spoilers this week, friends. You’re safe to read on!

Chapter Recap

WHO: Rysn; Teft
WHERE: Thaylen City; Urithiru
WHEN: 1174.2.7.5 (Immediately following Chapter 113)

After having been paralyzed from the waist down after her last interlude, Rysn is now working as one of Queen Fen’s stewards, keeping ledgers. Her old babsk arrives and gifts her her own ship, then the two of them head down to the queen’s gemstone reserve. When they open the vault containing the King’s Drop, a perfect gemstone which holds Stormlight indefinitely, they’re attacked by a Voidbringer using Lightweaving. Rysn manages to defeat him with the help of her pet larkin, and saves the King’s Drop.

Meanwhile, Teft and the rest of Bridge 4 have been attacked by someone wearing Teft’s old jacket that he sold to fund his firemoss addiction, and the Honorblade has been stolen.

Beginnings

Titles: Rysn, Teft

Being Interludes outside the Venli novella, these are just titled with their viewpoint characters. 

Heralds

For Rysn, Paliah (the Scholar, attributes Learned and Giving, patron of Truthwatchers) and Chana (the Guard, attributes Brave and Obedient, patron of Dustbringers).

A: I have no real idea why we get Paliah here, other than Rysn’s current assignment involving books, if ledgers count as “books.” I’m not getting any Truthwatcher vibes, so I can’t figure out anything else. Oh, unless it’s the stories? There are several of those referenced. As for Chana, I’d say Rysn’s actions in stopping the intruder justify that—and on top of that, there’s the King’s Drop, which is an enormous ruby, which is the gemstone associated with Chana and the Dustbringers order.

L: What if Paliah is representing Vstim, here? He’s certainly learned and giving.

A: Well, okay, if you want to be that way about it… you’re most probably right! Vstim is the best mentor ever.

For Teft, Nalan (the Judge, Herald of Justice, attributes Just and Confident, patron and member of Skybreakers) and Jezrien (the King, Herald of Kings, attributes Protecting and Leading, patron of Windrunners)

A: It’s a little bit of a stretch, but I think Teft is judging himself like mad here, and he’s convinced that the rest of Bridge Four is judging him too. (And they might be. It is, after all, his poor choices that granted such easy access to the Honorblade.) It’s also possible that Nalan is here to represent the opposite of his attributes: Teft is anything but confident (or just, really) in his refusal to speak the next Ideal. Jezrien, pretty clearly, represents the Windrunners, as well as Teft’s role in leading (and failing to lead) them.

Icons: Double Eye, which is standard for most Interludes; Bridge Four, for another chapter in the Bridge Four novella sequence

Thematic Thoughts

Rysn could balance while sitting, though she couldn’t feel her legs and embarrassingly couldn’t control certain body functions. She had to rely upon her porters to move her.
Career, over. Freedom, over.

L: This is heartbreaking for her, and I really have to commend Sanderson for his continuing dedication to showcase characters who are differently abled (although he does have a tendency to continuously follow the “and then I got better” trope, which my friends in the disability rights movement have informed me is prevalent and frustrating). Progress is progress, though, and while most of our physically disabled characters have healed after gaining their Knights Radiant healing abilities, we do see characters continuing to struggle with emotional disabilities. I’d love to see a character coming to terms with their disability (physical or otherwise) and accepting it as a part of themselves rather than a flaw, but maybe that’s still on the horizon.

A: I have very mixed feelings about this. There’s an eternal conflict between accepting a disability and striving to overcome its limitations. While it would be a little… cheesy, I guess, to have every single character with a physical disability just get fixed by the magic super easily, I never want to see someone settle for “this is all life is now.” I can’t help feeling that, at the beginning of this chapter, Rysn is in the “resentfully and hopelessly resigned” category, and that’s not a good place to be. (Meh. I’m not saying this well.)

L: It’s difficult, because we are both abled individuals and coming from a place of privilege on the matter. The best I can do is listen to my friends in the disability rights activism community and attempt, as best I can, to amplify their voices on the matter.

A: I’m coming at it from a slightly different angle: I have a child with a major disability. As a parent, everything about your life is affected by your child’s disability; not quite the same as becoming unexpectedly disabled yourself, but shockingly comparable in many ways. What I’m trying to get at is that “resentful and hopelessly resigned” is not a healthy place to be, mentally. You may or may not eventually be able, or even want, to change your physical condition—but a sort of permanent resentment at life, the universe, and everything is not going to help.

As a side note, I think everyone who is remotely interested in “how to deal with being different” should go read The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. It’s fascinating in the way it deals with exactly this question. If you could “fix” your disability, would you? What would you have to give up?

The walls of her office were blank. She’d originally hung souvenirs from her years traveling, but those had reminded her of a life she could no longer have. A life full of promise. A life that had ended when she’d stupidly fallen from the head of a greatshell, and landed here, in this cripple’s chair.

L: I can’t even imagine how difficult a transition this has to be for her. My friends who have similar disabilities have told me that some people come to accept and even appreciate their disability, as it’s a part of themselves. Suggestions of being “healed” are met with disdain or anger, because healing indicates a problem, and that’s not how they view it anymore. Others never get to this stage and continuously search for solutions. Regardless, the loss of your bodily autonomy (at least in the beginning) is a difficult blow to take. I got only the smallest taste of this when I was put on bed rest for the months before and after my child’s delivery due to complications. I well remember how frustrated I was that I had to rely on other people to do even the simplest of tasks… and that was only a temporary situation. The concept of that being my life from then on… It’s difficult to imagine how I would have dealt with that, long-term. Rysn is continuing to work, at least, but she finds no joy in it and doesn’t seem to have any friends (except for Chiri-Chiri).

A: Given her current bitterness about the situation, I’m not sure we can take her lack of friends as a real thing, but this chapter doesn’t address her life outside the Reserve. She seems to be in that stage where she’s accepted that it won’t change… but I wonder if her current attitude is partially due to dashed hopes when Renarin was unable to help her.

L: That had to have been heartbreaking… to have that brief hope, then have it taken away.

“Chiri-Chiri likes [the grass],” Rysn said. “Maybe because it can’t move. Kind of like me…”

L: Poor thing. She still has a long way to go before she comes to terms with this… provided she doesn’t become a Knight Radiant and heal herself first. I have to admit, part of me really wants to see that happen. But another part does long for better representation of the differently abled in genre fiction, as well.

“This is my consequence—payment for a contract I entered into willingly the moment I climbed down the side of that greatshell.”

“You don’t have to lock yourself away, Rysn.”

L: On the one hand… it’s good that she realizes that her actions have consequences. I remember thinking in her previous interludes that she was a bit of a spoiled brat. However… the level of “payment” in this case far exceeds the “contract” she entered into. I can understand her fatalistic attitude—depression is a cruel mistress, especially so when you’re dealing with medical issues on top of it.

A: As a reminder, the “contract” she entered into was a result of desperation to get the trade she wanted; it appeared that the local king was going to deny her the trade, so she took a chance and went to a “higher authority.” She climbed down a rope to try to talk to the greatshell that was the island they were on, but the critter, being a critter, carelessly broke the rope she was hanging from, dumping her into the ocean from a non-survivable height. As it turns out, if the spren of the greatshell hadn’t been so impressed with her audacity, she’d be dead for pulling that stunt. Instead, she’s alive but paraplegic, and she has the most magical creature on the planet as a pet. Oh, and she got the deal she was after.

I’ll give her this: She’s taking responsibility for the decision she made, even though the difficulty of the trade was totally artificial and set up by Vstim and Talik. I personally feel like that’s the worst part of it: They were trying to help her by setting up a “difficult” trade deal which she would eventually win, giving her confidence in her ability to do the job. It shouldn’t have been dangerous at all, but her solution was way outside of what they’d planned for.

Being carried was the most humiliating part.

L: In a fantasy world in which there are no accommodations made for those who are differently abled, I can see this being terribly dehumanizing. Where’s Roshar’s equivalent of the ADA?

A: Heh. Non-existent, I’m sure. If you’re wealthy enough, you can have accommodations made for you; if not, you’d better have wealthy or influential friends who can help out. But I’m just guessing. Maybe some of the cultures have a better way to deal with this. (If the Azish do, I’m betting there’s a pile of paperwork to go with it!)

Stories & Songs

Wandersail,” Rysn said, reading the ship’s name. “Babsk, you are a romantic. Don’t tell me you believe that old story?”

“One can believe in a story without believing it happened.”

L: Reminder that this is the story that Hoid tells Kaladin in Chapter 57 of The Way of Kings.

A: Right, the ship that sails around the world looking for the Origin and discovers that people will do anything, if they have someone else to blame for their behavior.

Vstim unlocked and swung open the smaller vault-within-the-vault, which was roughly the size of a closet.

Light poured from it. …

But the most stunning item in the collection was obviously the large ruby on the center shelf. The size of a child’s head, it glowed brightly.

The King’s Drop. Gemstones of its size weren’t unheard of—most greatshells had gemhearts as big. What made the King’s Drop unique was that it was still glowing—over two hundred years after being locked into the vault.

L: Quoting for emphasis, as this is going to be Very Important soon. Also, this reminds me a little of the flames that have been burning continuously for thousands of years. (The one I am thinking of specifically is this one in Japan, but there are many others.) Imagine something as transient as Stormlight to this society… then having this artifact which is holding Stormlight from two hundred years ago. Pretty cool.

“As far as scholars can tell,” Rysn said, “the King’s Drop never loses its Stormlight. A stone this large should have run out after a month. It’s something about the crystal lattice, the lack of flaws and imperfections.

A: And now we finally get to see one of the perfect gemstones, referenced in the Elsecaller epigraph of Chapter 83, and again by Captain Ico in Chapter 99. As Lyndsey says, this is about to become Very Important Indeed. (I do love the way Sanderson sets these things up. A mention here, a comment there, and then BOOM.)

It’s also worth noting that Vstim references “another story” which is probably going to be important later, when he says that “They say it’s a chunk off the Stone of Ten Dawns.” Kaladin refers to the same legend back in that same conversation with Captain Ico, so… hopefully we’ll learn about that too! I wonder if it’s one of the Dawnshards.

That ruby, the King’s Drop. The Voidbringers had been trying to steal it. Why?

L: To keep it from being used to imprison the Unmade, or do they have some other goal?

A: To trap a Herald? To trap one of the Big Spren, like Nightwatcher or the Sibling? If it really is one of (or a piece of one of) the Dawnshards, it may have some power of its own, I guess. I wish we knew for sure.

Relationships & Romances

“Staying in one city will wilt you—you’ll spend your days doing paperwork and being bored.”

“Rysn,” he said, taking her hand. “Child.”

She looked away.

L: ARGH, my heart. I love the relationship these two have. Vstim treats her very much like a daughter, and his love for her is so clear.

A: Daughter or granddaughter, I agree—the relationship is so much more precious than your typical master/apprentice.

“A deed of ownership?” she whispered. “To a ship?

“Brand new,” Vstim said. … “Whose rules are you following, Rysn? Who is forcing you to stay here? Take the ship. Go! I wish to fund your initial trade run, as an investment. After that, you’ll have to do well to maintain a vessel of this size!”

Rysn recognized the white rope now. It was a captain’s cord some twenty feet long, used as a traditional Thaylen mark of ownership. She’d wrap it in her colors and string it in the rigging of her ship.

L: This guy is the absolute best and I adore him.

Bruised & Broken

“You’ve always been so quick to make assumptions. About yourself, now, more than others.”

L: I wish I could say that this is forward motion on her part, but it’s not, really. It’s just redirecting her judgmentalness back on herself rather than outwards.

If five guards couldn’t handle the thief, what could one crippled woman do?

My babsk is locked in the queen’s vault. Bleeding.

L: I LOVE this. The thing that breaks her out of her depressive funk and helps her to take action is her love for her father-figure, followed swiftly by her realization that life still holds meaning for her:

Live or die. Did she care?

I…

Yes. Yes, I care! I want to sail my own ship!

L: Oh man.

A: And she comes back to life! She needed something big to care about, and she discovered that she has two: her babsk, and a goal. Amazing how much difference that can make.

Teft could function.

You learned how to do that. How to cling to the normal parts of your life so that people wouldn’t be too worried. So that you wouldn’t be too unpredictable.

L: Hoo boy, have I ever related to this in my past. I’m betting almost anyone who is neurologically atypical or suffers from an invisible illness or disability can relate.

A: Way too true.

Diagrams & Dastardly Designs

“Let’s start with the smaller gemstones and work our way up, shall we?”

Rysn nodded.

The queen’s guard killed Tlik.

L: I love how this is written. It’s so sudden and jarring.

A: Right? You actually have to go back and reread it to make sure it said what you thought it said.

Behind her, the thief took a second crossbow bolt, but didn’t seem to notice. … The two struggled, and Rysn watched the cut on the thief’s face reknit.

He was healing? Could… could this man be a Knight Radiant?

A: Is this the first time we’ve seen one of the parsh people healing? I might just be forgetting, but I don’t think we’d seen it. So then the next question… is this a Fused, or are some of the forms akin to Radiants?

The larkin was feeding off the thief. A line of light streamed from him, but it was a strange dark violet light. Chiri-Chiri flew about, drawing it from the man, whose face melted away, revealing marbled skin underneath.

L: Oh ho! A Singer Lightweaver (or rather, one using the Surge of Lightweaving, as we don’t know for sure yet whether they can also use Soulcasting like a human Lightweaver could)? Neat!

A: Yes, clearly a Lightweaving, and using Voidlight rather than Stormlight. My first thought was that someone, a Fused, had placed it on him, but maybe he is the Fused. Or… maybe something else? Now I really want to know if any of the Singers other than Fused can use Voidbinding. Also, Chiri-Chiri, you’re the bestest little larkin ever!

The crossbow bolt hit him right in the chin.

He dropped and, blessedly, fell still. Whatever power had been healing him was gone, consumed by Chiri-Chiri.

A: Question 1: Is he really dead? We know Radiants are extremely hard to kill, but the past has given us some indications that said Radiant has to be holding at least a little bit of Stormlight. So Question 2: If he is really dead, is it because Voidbinding doesn’t give quite the same protection as Surgebinding, or because Chiri-Chiri had sucked him dry of Investiture? Which leads to Question 3: If he really is dead, will he be back with the coming Everstorm in another body, or is he dead dead?

L: I definitely read this as Chiri-Chiri having drained him of Investiture.

Squires & Sidekicks

The murderer reached into the vault to deal with her babsk, and she heard a grunt.

L: NO! DON’T YOU DARE HURT VSTIM YOU JERK!

A: Heh. I’m debating with myself whether or not to look ahead and find out! All in all, I think Vstim must have survived, or I’d have been really mad at Brandon about it.

Teft shouted, rushing through the room to find three corpses near the back. He dropped his spear and fell to his knees beside Rock, Bisig, and Eth.

A: Gotta say, “corpses” really had me worried. I thought all three were dead the first time I read this. Bad enough, as it is; Eth, the day’s Honorblade carrier, is dead; the other two are badly wounded.

L: Yeah, the wording on this had me super worried, too. And as it turns out, we’re right to be worried in Eth’s case. :( Another member of Bridge 4, lost.

“Thought … thought it was one of us,” Bisign muttered. … “Nobody I recognize. A short man, Alethi. Bridge Four coat, lieutenant’s knots on the shoulder…”

Lopen, nearby, frowned, then glanced toward Teft.

A Bridge Four officer’s coat, worn as a disguise. Teft’s coat, which he’d sold weeks ago in the market. To get a few spheres.

He stumbled back as they hovered around Rock and Bisig, then fled through a falling patch of shamespren into the hallway outside.

A: Oh, Teft. I’m torn between anger and pity—as I’m sure I was intended to be. Selling his coat really was inexcusable, but the way it came back around is just excruciatingly painful. As near as I can tell, he’s actually spoken the first and second Ideals at this point, but we know all too well that the bond doesn’t fix everything. It hasn’t fixed his addiction, and there’s no way it can fix the mistakes he made under the influence of the moss. Oh, Teft.

L: All things considered, who could have imagined that selling something as seemingly inconsequential as a coat could come back to bite you so badly? It’s just a coat. It’s not like he sold a Shardblade. And yet… here we are.

Flora & Fauna

Chiri-Chiri herself was a small winged beast a little longer than Rysn’s outstretched palm. The Reshi had named her a larkin, and though she was the size of a small cremling, she had the snout, carapace, and build of a creature far more grand. An axehound, perhaps, with wings. A little flying predator—though, for all her dangerous appearance, she sure did like to nap.

L: I see her as a little wyvern and it makes my dragon-loving soul really happy.

A: Tiny Dragon!

L: Anyway. Reminder here that larkin can eat Investiture (as we see in the next lines):

She climbed down onto the desk and eyed the diamond mark Rysn was using for light.

“No,” Rysn said, double-checking numbers in her ledger.

Chiri-Chiri clicked again, slinking towards the gem.

“You just ate,” Rysn said, then used her palm to shoo the larkin back.

A: Does this imply that larkin feed solely on Investiture rather than organic food? I keep trying to figure out if/how this relates to Lift turning food into Stormlight.

L: Oh, that’s a good correlation. I hadn’t even thought of it being similar to Lift’s unique properties.

Her embarrassment was exacerbated as Chiri-Chiri—who wasn’t allowed in the vault for practical reasons—flitted by in a buzz of wings.

L: What practical reasons are those? At first I had assumed it would be so she doesn’t drain every single sphere of its light, but since they’re all dark… (except the Drop, which they were going to see, so maybe Rysn just wanted to keep Chiri-Chiri away from that).

A: Yeah, that’s a good question. Is the Drop the only perfect gem? Are there others brought in recently? Or is it just that you really don’t want your Stormlight sucked dry when you’re in the Vault, because you’ll never be able to get out?

Chiri-Chiri rode behind on the ruby, and its light dimmed. Everyone else was struggling for their lives, but the little larkin was feasting.

L: What neat little critters. Reminds me of the old Star Wars extended universe, there were creatures called Ysalamir that could nullify the Force in bubbles around them. Having some sort of creature that can place additional limitations on your magic system is a great concept.

A: Honestly, Chiri-Chiri is the biggest reason I don’t think Rysn will ever become a Radiant… unless we find out that she can give Stormlight away at will, too. If that’s the case, the possibilities are awesome to consider!

“Thank you,” Rysn whispered, sweat streaming down the sides of her face. “Thank you, thank you.” She hesitated. “Are you… bigger?”

Chiri-Chiri clicked happily.

L: This makes me wonder if they have an upper limit on size, or if they can just keep getting bigger and bigger as they consume investiture.

A: Oh, that reminds me… I seem to recall speculating that if she can get really big, and then Rysn can ride her like something out of Pern.

L: I AM 110% HERE FOR THIS.

Places & Peoples

Possession of these gems changed frequently, but it was all done with numbers in a ledger. It was a quirk of the Thaylen system of underwriting trades; as long as everyone was confident that these gemstones were here, large sums could change hands without risk of anything being stolen.

L: This is pretty much how it works in modern (American) society too, if my understanding of the financial system is correct. Dollars and cents are just representations of the gold in the gold reserve at Fort Knox.

A: Well, it used to be. Now no one cares about an actual standard represented by the numbers; it’s all just numbers shifting back and forth. It makes me feel a bit precarious at times, honestly.

Tight Butts and Coconuts

Her duties included annotating the queen’s pending mercantile contracts with references to previous ones, keeping the queen’s personal vault in the Gemstone Reserve, preparing weekly expenditure reports, and accounting the queen’s salary as a portion of taxable income from various Thaylen interests at home and abroad.

Wheeeeeeee.

L: Anyone who’s had to do any accounting work (oh heck, even their own taxes) can relate to this, I’m sure. I absolutely can.

Weighty Words

“Have you tried that Radiant who—”

“Yes. He can’t heal my legs. It’s been too long since my accident, which is appropriate.”

L: It may be too late for Renarin to do anything, but if Lopen can regrow an entire arm after Honor-only-knows how many years, then there’s still the chance that if she gains her own powers, Rysn can heal herself. Interesting limitation on the powers, here… old injuries can be healed if the power is coming from within, but not from without.

A: I’ve always wondered if one of the old Edgedancers, or maybe even Lift, could do anything about it. Renarin isn’t all that practiced, and he lacks so much in self-confidence, that I’m not quite willing to accept that just because he can’t do it, nobody can.

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

As they walked, a woman appeared in the hallway beside Teft, roughly his height, glowing with soft blue-white light.

A: I just think it’s fascinating that she appears life-size. Syl rarely if ever does that.

L: Yeah, that’s really cool. Just a personal preference thing rather than a limitation on the spren’s powers, then, you think?

A: … I think so? It might have something to do with the honorspren finally accepting the return of the Radiants, but I’m going with personal preference.

She turned away from him suddenly, becoming alert, looking down the corridor toward the Bridge Four barracks. …

Something is very wrong. Run quickly, Teft!

A: How did she know? Were there unbonded spren in the room ahead? I’m probably overthinking this, because why wouldn’t spren know things the humans can’t see, but… it seemed odd.

 

Next week we’ll be tackling Chapter 114 all on its lonesome. As always, please feel free to join in on the discussion in the comments below!

Alice is madly trying to finish All The Other Things so that she is completely free to dive into the Rhythm of War beta read, coming soon. All speculation shall henceforth cease until… um… November. Or December. Something like that.

Lyndsey is heading to a stage combat seminar this Saturday, then up to Vermont to attend the Vermont Winter Renaissance Faire. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.

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