The climax continues in this week’s installment of the Oathbringer Reread! Walls fall, alliances tumble, and betrayals abound as the end approaches. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Reminder: We’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the remainder of the novel, but if you haven’t finished it by now… you’re crazy.
This week’s reread is Cosmere-spoiler-free. Read on with no fear of spoilers from other books!
We would like to remind you that, excruciating as it may be, we won’t be engaging in speculation from here on out. The beta read for Rhythm of War has begun, and we don’t want to risk letting anything slip that we shouldn’t. So if you want speculation and theorizing, y’all will have to bring it yourselves.
WHO: Kaladin, Dalinar, Jasnah, Shallan, Venli, Gawx, Szeth, Navani
WHERE: Thaylen City, both Cognitive and Physical realms
Dalinar makes his way through the city as Odium’s forces begin their attack. One of the thunderclasts brings down part of the wall near Navani, and destroys the Gemstone Reserve, seeking the King’s Drop. Rysn and her guards are attacked by Fused, the Drop stolen. Odium sends Venli in to speak for him while Jasnah approaches Renarin and his corrupted spren. In Shadesmar, Adolin and Kaladin distract the Fused guarding the Oathgate while Shallan approaches, only to discover that the two giant spren guarding the gate will not let them through.
The title this week is an awesome bracketing of the chapter. From the first POV, just a few paragraphs in, as Kaladin steps up to get the attention of the Fused, he can practically see their shock:
One man, alone?
Then, the very end of the chapter:
Unaided and defenseless, Dalinar Kholin stepped into the gap in the broken wall, and there faced the nightmare alone.
A: It really captures the feel of this chapter; every character seems to be facing something alone. Kaladin, alone vs. four Fused. Adolin with nothing but a harpoon, a few spren, and illusions against two Fused. Jasnah and Renarin, each facing their own personal fear. Shallan, alone, trying to persuade the Oathgate spren. Venli as Envoy with a secret Willshaper spren. Gawx, not allowed to overrule his advisors. Szeth, the only Skybreaker who thinks the humans might still be right. Navani, watching alone from the wall. Dalinar, walking alone onto the field, the only human outside the city not owned by Odium.
Once again, we have four Heralds heading this chapter.
Jezrien: King, patron of Windrunners, Herald of Kings, Protecting and Leading
Chana: Guard, patron of Dustbringers, Brave and Obedient
Paliah: Scholar, patron of Truthwatchers, Learned and Giving
Shalash: Artist, patron of Lightweavers, Herald of Beauty, Creative and Honest
L: Jezrien is probably here for both Kaladin and Dalinar, the former as Windrunner/protector, and the latter as leader and king. Chana could also be Kaladin/Dalinar (and Adolin), in their bravery. Paliah may be here as representative of Renarin’s “order.” As for Shalash, Shallan is here, and being particularly creative with her powers.
Icon: Double Eye of the Almighty, for multiple viewpoints as listed above.
We took them in, as commanded by the gods. What else could we do? They were a people forlorn, without a home. Our pity destroyed us. For their betrayal extended even to our gods: to spren, stone, and wind.
—From the Eila Stele
A: Like last week, most of what we had to say about this epigraph was brought out when we talked about the whole text a couple of months ago. Anything else we might want to say could be tainted by what we know, or don’t know, from the RoW beta read.
“You said God was dead.”
“A god is dead. Another won the war by right of conquest. The original masters of this land have returned, as you so aptly made metaphor, with the keys to the house. So tell me… whose law should the Skybreakers follow? That of humans, or that of the real owners of this land?”
A: This is a good argument, until you look more closely at the logic. Nale is saying that since Odium killed Honor, the ownership of Roshar has transferred— but there were two Shards who “owned” this planet, and Odium only killed one of them. What about Cultivation’s rights of ownership? According to the Eila Stele, she also was involved in telling the singers to welcome the humans; has she rescinded that? If not, the singers betrayed their god and turned to another, so… IMO, Nale’s logic breaks down and he’s not doing “justice” at all. But then, I guess he’s insane anyway. Seems to me that Cultivation needs to make her stand known one of these first days.
Rightful? Who has a right to land? Humans are always claiming things. But nobody asks the things, now do they?
L:This question is the prevailing question behind most of the book, and Nightblood’s taking it in a very interesting direction, here—especially given what we know from our little jaunts into Shadesmar, about inanimate objects here in Roshar having a sense of purpose and identity. (Also, it figures that he would take the side of the inanimate objects, given that he’s an inanimate object himself…)
Stories & Songs
A sudden feeling slammed into him.
It was focus and passion. An eager energy, a warmth, a promise of strength.
… The Thrill was here. His old, dear friend.
A: There’s not much to say about the Thrill in this chapter, other than to note Dalinar’s feelings right here. This will come into play in the next few chapters.
These two Fused didn’t seem to be able to fly, but there was a startling grace to their motion. They slid along the stone street with no apparent effort, as if the ground were greased.
A: In Rysn’s Interlude, we saw a Fused who was clearly using some form of Lightweaving. Here, we get two who use a form of Abrasion, achieving the motion that an accomplished Edgedancer would use. (I wonder when Lift will get this movement sorted out!) Speaking of Rysn,
… the Fused attacked on palanquin among the many trying to move through the crowds. They knocked it over, shoving aside the porters, and dug inside.
… Amid the wreckage he found a young Thaylen woman alongside an elderly man who appeared to have been previously wounded…
… “The King’s Drop … a ruby. They tried to steal it before, and now, now they’ve taken it!”
A: I’m frankly quite irritated at these Fused, robbing a paraplegic and a wounded elderly man! Especially after all Rysn did to protect the gemstone in the first place.
L: I mean… they are the bad guys, so I’m not terribly surprised they’d go after a person who’s disabled and someone who’s injured. But I am frustrated that all of that hard work Rysn did to protect the Drop is undone so swiftly!
“A gemstone? Is that why we came here? A rock?”
“No,” Odium said. “That is merely a precaution, a last-minute addition I made to prevent a potential disaster.”
A: Is this Odium learning from the way Ba-Ado-Mishram was trapped, making sure they can’t do it to another of his Unmade here? Or is there something else he thought the presence of the gemstone could mess with? “Potential disaster” sounds portentous, anyway!
L: Yeah, it doesn’t seem as if just trapping an Unmade would be a potential disaster. I think there’s something more going on here, but I can’t determine what…
“The prize I claim today is far greater—even more grand than the city itself. The conduit of my freedom. The bane of Roshar.
A: I’m reasonably certain he’s talking about Dalinar, though I still don’t get the mechanics of whatever binds him to the Rosharan system, or how Dalinar’s acceptance of Odium would end that. I can’t quite figure out whether it’s simply a matter of Dalinar leading the Thrill-controlled Sadeas soldiers to destroy Thaylen City, and if that acceptance of Odium’s rule would free him from the binding. Almost certainly, there have been plenty of humans who have accepted Odium as their god before this; why is this one different? Whatever it is, it certainly sounds ominous.
“The Alethi have turned against the Thaylens, and now seek to conquer them! They’ve been allied with the parshmen all along. Your Grace, by fleeing, we have narrowly avoided a trap!”
L: Yikes. It makes me really sad to see Odium’s plans coming through with such precision. Dalinar was played like a fiddle.
A: Yes, he was, and it’s both sad and infuriating. Taravangian thinks he’s saving humanity, and every single thing he did played right into Odium’s plan. Like… they’re the same plan, at this stage, and it’s awful to watch.
Kaladin continued out over the sea, and beads reacted to his Stormlight, rattling and surging like a wave behind him.
L: Have we seen the beads react this way to Investiture before? It’s almost like they’re attracted to it.
A: I think we saw some of that happening when they first entered Shadesmar. It only happens to Kaladin, not Shallan, though; presumably, it’s for the same reason that Shallan could use Stormlight undetected in Kholinar, while Kaladin couldn’t. Windrunners seem to be “noisier” than Lightweavers in their use.
Bruised & Broken
He’d come far in the last half year. He seemed a man distant from the one who carried bridges against Parshendi arrows. That man had welcomed death, but now—even on the bad days, when everything was cast in greys—he defied death. It could not have him, for while life was painful, life was also sweet.
A: This seems like quite a change even from the guy who needed Adolin to prod him to put one foot in front of the other when they first entered Shadesmar. It almost feels like an incongruity, except that I can attest to how rapidly the effects of depression can shift. A sudden sense of purpose, especially with the possibility of actually accomplishing that purpose, can make the despair seem far past.
L: This definitely rang very true for me, too, with my own experiences with depression. Sometimes, a definitive goal can help to pull you up out of the depths and give you purpose.
And most importantly, he had purpose.
Today, Kaladin would protect Dalinar Kholin.
A: So… is this sheer determination speaking? Does he have that much faith in Shallan’s ability to get them through the Oathgate? Is he just figuring that whatever he does here is bound to help in the other realm? Personally, I’m going with that first option.
“I have no choice.”
Really? Didn’t you tell me you spent a thousand years following the instructions of a rock?
“More than seven years, sword-nimi. And I didn’t follow the rock, but the words of the one who held it. I…”
… Had no choice?
But it had always been nothing more than a rock.
A: To be fair, he was bound by his belief system, not the rock. It was just a rock, but it symbolized the demands of his faith, which required absolute obedience to his owner. No wonder Szeth is so messed up; he keeps getting conflicting information about everything his beliefs were founded on, plus he’s living proof that whatever else may be true, he was never Truthless when he claimed the Voidbringers were returning. It was bad enough when he was owned by crooks who mostly had him killing other crooks, but Taravangian’s orders… Poor Szeth.
Places & Peoples
In a fit of rage, the titanic creature attacked the Gemstone Reserve, ripping apart its walls and innards, tossing chunks backward. A million sparkling bits of glass caught the sunlight as they fell over the city, the wall, and beyond.
Spheres and gemstones, Dalinar realized. All the wealth of Thaylenah. Scattered like leaves.
A: Well, that’s downright painful. The world’s banking system just got thrashed. Either Rysn is out of a job (because the Reserve is destroyed) or she will be exhaustively busy for the foreseeable future, helping to sort out the mess. Hopefully the records weren’t destroyed?
L: Anybody who’s left in the city, if they survive what’s to come, is probably pretty happy about it though. Imagine standing on the street and money literally raining down over you?
He was actually starting to feel like an emperor. He wasn’t embarrassed talking to the viziers and scions any longer. He understood much of what they discussed now, and didn’t jump when someone called him “Your Majesty.”
A: Poor Gawx—er, Yanagawn. He’s getting used to the role, which is pretty amazing in itself, but he sure is in an awkward position.
“All along,” Szeth said, “this world belonged to the parshmen. My people watched not for the return of an invading enemy, but for the masters of the house.”
A: Is he referring to the Shin people, and the Stone Shamans? If he is, that has some very interesting implications.
Tight Butts and Coconuts
“Taln’s nails,” Adolin said as Kaladin shot upward through the sky. “The bridgeboy is really into it.”
A: Nothing significant about this, it’s just… another one of those Herald-body-part curses. Heh.
“We’ll be fine.” Adolin glanced at Pattern, Syl, and the spren of his sword. “Right, guys?”
“Mmmm,” Pattern said. “I do not like being stabbed.”
“Wise words, friend. Wise words.”
A: Heh. I love it when Adolin and Pattern interact. There’s always something funny.
L: They make a wonderful comedic duo.
“I was chosen,” Yanagawn cut in, “because nobody would shed a tear if the Assassin in White came for me! Let’s not play games, all right?”
L: This struck me as funny, but it also makes me very proud of him for sticking up for himself. Little Gawx has come a long way!
A: You know what I love about this kid? He understands exactly what’s going on, and you could scarcely blame him if he allowed himself to be treated as a figurehead: Just enjoy the trappings of wealth and do what he’s told. He doesn’t do that. He is, as near as I can tell, determined to understand the intricacies of Azish government, and to actually do the job of leading his people. He’s not trying to become a dictator or anything, but if he’s emperor, he’s going to learn how to do the things he’s ostensibly responsible for. Good for him. I look forward to seeing what he’s become by SA6!
Then there’s Lift, always good for… changing things up, and refusing to be “kept busy and distracted” by anyone:
“I was [keeping her busy], Your Grace,” Vono said. “Until she kicked mem in my spheres and stuffed me under the bed. Um, Your Grace.” Don’t right know how she moved me. She’s not real big, that one…”
A: Well, that’s Lift for you. What did they expect?
Also, “spheres”—singularly appropriate euphemism, isn’t it?
Shallan wove Light.
… some soldiers from the army, people from Urithiru, and some of the spren she’d sketched on her trip.
… Shallan added an illusion of Azure to her group, then some of the Reachers she’d drawn.
… “Remember, I won’t be controlling these directly. They will make only rudimentary motions.
A: While this isn’t the first time Shallan has created independent-looking illusions, it’s certainly the most elaborate. She’s got these illusions bound to Adolin, so they follow him around, but they seem to be moving independently of his motions. It’s a little like the way she attached a Veil illusion to Pattern way back in Words of Radiance, but I can’t remember her ever doing anything more “independent” than that. Lyndsey, can you think of any?
In any case, their whole plan rests on Adolin, the spren, and those Illusions to keep two Fused distracted. Shallan desperately needs uninterrupted time to try to negotiate with the Oathgate spren. The other thing I love about this is the step up toward what she’s going to do very, very soon… but we’ll get there in a few more chapters.
They used Lashings like Kaladin did, though they didn’t seem to be able to vary their speed as much as he could. It took them longer to build up to greater Lashings, which should have made it easy to stay ahead of them.
L: I always find it interesting to point out the differences in the power usage between the Knights Radiant and the Fused! I look forward to the day when we find out why the powers work differently between them.
A: I know, right? Magic systems fascinate me.
A Scrupulous Study of Spren
A spren is, Ivory said. The wrong spren is.
Renarin Kholin was a liar. He was no Truthwatcher.
That is a spren of Odium, Ivory said. Corrupted spren. But… a human, bonded to one? This thing is not.
L: Ivory has a very odd manner of speaking. At first I thought it might have been some kind of mirroring thing (the first line of dialogue is almost a palindrome), but the second section here isn’t. It’s almost Yoda-like, his odd way of speaking, and I am curious if it’s just him, something that carries over to all the spren of his type, or if there’s something deeper to these patterns that we’re just not seeing.
However… Ivory isn’t the only spren we’re seeing in this chapter.
A: There seem to be differing views on what Glys actually is. Clearly he’s been modified by Sja-anat into a new kind of spren; the question is what kind of spren he was before her attentions. Some take “a spren of Odium” to mean that he was a Voidspren; others think it’s more likely that he was a Truthwatcher spren, but made a “spren of Odium” by Sja-anat’s meddling. Either way, he seems to be a unique being, and he does enable Renarin to see things others cannot. Hence his whisper:
“No… Not Father. No, please…”
A: But we’ll talk about what he sees when he describes it to Jasnah.
L: Also just a little reminder that there have been warnings about those who “see the future” being of the enemy right from the start!
One mother-of-pearl, the other black with a variegated oily shimmer. Did they guard the Oathgate, or did they—somehow—facilitate its workings?
A: I’d like to know this, too. I would also like to know whether they really are the same “race” as other spren (the black one seems like he could be an inkspren), or whether they are unique to Oathgates.
L: The fact that they turn to look at her creeped the heck out of me. For some reason I imagined them remaining still, like statues, so the fact that they’re sapient is just… disconcerting.
The air around Venli—once crowded by the spirits of the dead—was now empty save for the single black figure of swirling smoke. She’d missed that one at first, as it was the size of a normal person. It stood near Odium, and she did not know what it represented.
A: Ladies and gentlemen, let me present… Yelig-nar. Nasty piece of work, he is. I assume that his presence here means that Aesudan was unable to control him; silly woman to think she could, but perhaps his nature is to entice people to believe they can.
L: Does this mean that Aesudan is dead, though?
A: I assume so? I’m not sure we’re actually told definitively, but given what happens to Amaram, I get the impression that if you can control him, you get to be pretty amazing… and if you can’t you’re dead.
Oh, and incidentally, those “spirits of the dead”—are they now inhabiting human bodies, or singers? I assumed it was the latter, but the text isn’t totally clear on that.
Your payment will be refused. We are locked by word of the parent.
“Your parent? Who?”
The parent is dead now.
L: Later they clarify that this is Honor.
Travel to and from Shadesmar was prohibited during the parent’s last days.
A: Am I wrong in thinking that this implies that once upon a time, before Honor’s death, it was normal to use the Oathgates to pass between Shadesmar and the Physical realm? Like, Elsecallers and Willshapers could do it from anywhere, but anyone—or at least any Radiant—could do it through the Oathgates? That has… amazing implications.
“Then why did you let those others through? The army that stood around here earlier?”
The souls of the dead? They did not need our portal. They were called by the enemy, pulled along ancient paths to waiting hosts.
L: Ancient paths? Well that is interesting.
A: And I have no clue what it means. Nada.
Also, now that you pointed out the way Ivory talks, and if all the inkspren talk that way, this is almost certainly not an inkspren; it just has one aspect of appearance that is similar.
Unaided and defenseless, Dalinar Kholin stepped into the gap in the broken wall, and there faced the nightmare alone.
Next week, we move into Chapter 117, another one of these POV-jumping chapters, as things just keep ramping up. See you in the comments!
Alice is home from the All-State Choir trip, and that concert was amazing. 300 of the best high school voices in the state, with an excellent director, makes for a stunning performance. Unfortunately, she didn’t manage to finish the Part 1 beta during the trip, but she’ll be done by the time this posts, and be on to Part 2. Wheeeee!
Lyndsey is back from KatsuCon and busy prepping for Anime Boston, where she is the Assistant Director of Programming for the Cosplay Division. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.