Good morning, Sander-fans! This is an exciting week for the reread, as we’re in the very last chapter before the climactic ending and things are really starting to heat up in Roshar. The final battle is underway, our heroes are gathering for the last stand, and Dalinar is flexing those Bondsmith muscles in entirely new and unexpected ways. Put your hands up, because this roller coaster is about to take the final plunge!
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. (It’s only a few more chapters, really…)
In this week’s reread we also discuss some very minor things from Warbreaker in the Cosmere Connections section, so if you haven’t read it, best to give that section a pass. Also, for Honor’s sake, just go read it already! There is also a tiny Elantris sort-of-spoiler in Thematic Thoughts, right down near the end.
WHO: Everyone. Literally everyone.
WHERE: Thaylen City
WHEN: 1126.96.36.199 (still)
Dalinar refuses to allow Odium to take his pain, and instead brings all three Realms together in the ultimate power move, thereby refilling everyone’s Stormlight and allowing Kaladin, Shallan, and Adolin to hop back over to the real world. Szeth and Lift are saved by it and come to join him, as do Renarin and Jasnah. Dalinar lays out his battle plans to save the city, and Teft finally swears that Third Ideal.
“I am Unity.”
A: It’s pretty self-explanatory, no?
Heralds: Ishi (Ishar). Pious/Guiding. Bondsmiths. Herald of Luck (x4)
A: I have to think that this is, completely appropriately, for Dalinar the Bondsmith and all the cool things he does in this chapter. Everything anyone else does is simply centered around him.
Icon: Double Eye
As I began my journey, I was challenged to defend why I insisted on traveling alone. They called it irresponsible. An avoidance of duty and obligation.
Those who said this made an enormous mistake of assumption.
—From The Way of Kings, postscript
A: Standing by itself, this doesn’t tell us much. Later epigraphs may clarify it, but for now, it seems that the implication is that Nohadon viewed his journey as a means of taking on the most important of his duties, not avoiding them. From what we’ve learned elsewhere, I’m guessing that he decided that walking “from Abamabar to Urithiru” was as good a way as any to meet the ordinary people of his realm. He seems like a man who eventually realized that he needed to care about the people of his kingdom, not just the kingdom in abstract.
L: We had a lot of thoughts regarding Honor’s Perpendicularity scattered throughout our notes, so we’re going to combine all of that here. This is undoubtedly the biggest question in the reread this week: What is this? How does Dalinar do it? Has anyone done it before?
“I am Unity.”
He slammed both hands together.
And combined three realms into one.
L: The implications of this are just staggering.
A: It’s hard to know even where to begin! Or if anything we could say is close to the intent, for that matter. It’s huge.
“What… what is it?”
“Honor’s Perpendicularity,” Syl whispered. “A well of power that pierces all three realms.”
L: If Syl knows what this is, that means she’s seen it before…
A: Don’t you sometimes wonder how the spren know what they know? Are they limited like humans, or are there things they just know? In any case, it’s a fair guess that Syl has seen it before—and she understands it far better than anyone else thus far. There’s just so much we don’t know about Honor’s Perpendicularity, and some of what we have seems contradictory. Since I’m not allowed to speculate at this point, we’ll leave it at that, but I really want to know a whole lot more.
“No!” Odium screamed. He stepped forward. “No, we killed you. WE KILLED YOU!”
L: I can only assume he means Honor. But why is he mistaking Dalinar for Honor, here? Unless there’s a good reason… Dalinar appears to be doing something that he shouldn’t be able to do, that Odium has never seen.
A: I have never been entirely confident in any of the various explanations for this statement. Honor seems the most likely, but… I just don’t know. It might just be that he didn’t think anyone would ever be able to bring together this much of Honor’s Investiture again, after splintering Honor, and so he’s shocked that Dalinar can do it. (That doesn’t explain who “we” is, though.) I have to assume that eventually, Sanderson will tell us. As with a number of things we’ll talk about here, he’s clearly foreshadowing something for future revelation.
These Words… are accepted, the Stormfather said, sounding stunned. How? What have you done?
L: It seems as though Dalinar is doing something that hasn’t been seen on this world before. But if that were the case, how would Syl recognize it?
A: I don’t know this, but I strongly suspect that the Stormfather is referring to Dalinar’s effective defiance of Odium.
L: Oh, you don’t think he’s referring to the Perpendicularity, then? That would make more sense…
A: In a previous chapter, Odium had essentially shoved the Stormfather away from Dalinar, and how could either of them fight against a Shard? And yet, Dalinar defies Odium, and instead of becoming Odium’s champion, he speaks the third Ideal of Honor’s Bondsmith.
I was bonded to men before. This never happened then.
“Honor was alive then. We are something different. His remnants, your soul, my will.”
L: See, it’s lines like this that make me think they’re referring to the Perpendicularity. If so, does this mean that Dalinar is… part Shardholder? Kind of? Honor was a Shard, right? If the bearer died, then… what happened to it? Odium obviously couldn’t have destroyed it—or could he have?
A: Well, the Investiture is still there, because (as far as I know) that cannot be actually destroyed. The implication we have is that Honor placed much of his essence into the Stormfather, and possibly into the highstorm, and the rest of it… well, spren and stormlight are highly invested.
L: So rather than being held by a single holder, the Shard’s power is… split up? Diffused?
A: As I understand it, the power was diffused when Honor was splintered, but not in the same way as what happened on Sel, where the power is just flailing around in the Cognitive realm. Here, it was diffused largely into sapient beings, and especially the Stormfather. Now Dalinar is somehow bringing a lot more of it together than (I assume) Odium thought would be possible. It also suddenly occurs to me that, although Odium could push the Stormfather away to the extent that Dalinar couldn’t hear him, he wasn’t able to break the actual bond—so Dalinar unexpectedly still has access to all that power, and in some way Tanavast’s Cognitive Shadow. I don’t think Odium was expecting that.
Stories & Songs
“Ash.” He took her hand again. “What a wonderful thing.”
Wonderful? “We left you, Taln.”
“What a gift you gave them! Time to recover, for once, between Desolations. Time to progress. They never had a chance before. But this time… yes, maybe they do.”
L: I can’t get over how amazing Taln is. Even after literal millennia of torture, he’s still thinking of others above himself.
A: Right? Oh, my heart. What a selfless man! It’s astonishing to think that he approved of the others, the ones who had already broken under the torture at least once, just bowing out of the Oathpact and leaving it to him. If he were a lesser person, it would be sheer arrogance to say, “You all stay here, and I’ll take care of this on my own.” And yet, when that happened, he’s grateful to them for letting him bear the burden they couldn’t handle. Mind-boggling.
Those two only make nine, he thought to the Stormfather. Something told him there should be one more.
L: Can he only do this if representatives of all ten orders are nearby, then? Why else would Sanderson be making a big deal out of this?
A: Yeah, this was never clear to me. Sure, all ten are represented, because Venli is there, and as a narrative point it’s really cool, but why does it matter—and why can he “feel” it? Honestly, I’ve got nothing. Best guess, it’s one of those things that we’ll understand later.
Relationships & Romances
“I know what you are,” Jasnah said. “You’re my cousin. Family, Renarin. Hold my hand. Run with me.”
L: Awwww. It’s really beautiful to see Jasnah being really open and honest about her feelings this way.
A: The way she helps and supports him in this section is excellent—physically, emotionally, all the ways. It changes so much for him, and of course it gets him in the right position to be there when Adolin needs him.
Bruised & Broken
“I killed her. It hurts so much, but I did it. I accept that. You cannot have her. You cannot take her from me again.” … “If I pretend I didn’t do those things, it means that I can’t have grown to become someone else.” … “Journey before destination,” Dalinar said. “It cannot be a journey if it doesn’t have a beginning.” … “I will take responsibility for what I have done,” Dalinar whispered. “If I must fall, I will rise each time a better man.”
L: Wow. Just wow. This scene always gives me the chills.
A: Oh, most definitely. Goosebumps and all, this is a thrilling scene.
L: I think this is the lesson that Kaladin needs to learn, too… People fail. They fall. They fail those to whom they are responsible. But that doesn’t mean they should stop trying. And then, later, we get this:
He closed his eyes, breathing out, listening to a sudden stillness. And within it a simple, quiet voice. A woman’s voice, so familiar to him.
I forgive you.
L: ::sobs:: Of course she does. Of COURSE. Because Evi was too damn good for this war-torn world.
A: I can’t prove it, and I know there’s debate, but I believe this really was Evi speaking to him. It happens just after he grasps the Spiritual and Cognitive realms, and I totally believe she was there waiting for him. And as you say, of course she forgives him, because she always did and she always would.
L: Much later in the section, the Stormfather says:
These Words… are accepted.
L: I’d like to think that the ones he’s referring to are the “If I fall” ones, because they sound more like the other Oaths we’ve heard sworn.
A: Absolutely. There have been some who assumed it’s “I am Unity,” but it’s much more logical that it’s the whole “I will take responsibility… If I fall”—which is really just two different ways of saying the same thing, in this specific case.
“Maybe you don’t have to save anyone, Kaladin. Maybe it’s time for someone to save you.”
L: Poor Kaladin. He’s so used to taking responsibility for everyone else, that the idea of someone saving him is a foreign concept.
A: It still breaks my heart that he was unable to speak the Fourth Ideal there, despite knowing what he needed to do. We still don’t know quite what he couldn’t do, or say, but his own inability here almost broke him all over again. That whole bit about “we all fail”… you’re right, Kaladin hasn’t accepted that, no matter how many times he’s learned it. He can’t accept his own failure to save everyone he cares about.
“No,” Amaram said. “No, he’ll never forgive me.”
“Not him.” Amaram tapped his chest. “Him.”
L: Is he just referring to himself in the third person because he’s possessed right now?
A: Mmm, At this point, he hasn’t yet swallowed the gemstone that will allow Yelig-nar to control him. I think it’s more that he sees the distance between his ideals and his actions. I suspect that once upon a time, he really did care about honor and integrity, and through a series of choices, he compromised those ideals beyond reclamation. This doesn’t mean I necessarily think he was ever a likable or admirable person; he’s always, as far as we know, been an arrogant jerk who thought himself better than anyone else. But here, he’s faced with Dalinar, the one who did all the wrong things, now being the one who is able to take responsibility for his own actions and refuse the easy way out. Dalinar is proof that you don’t have to compromise with evil, but he’s already done it. The part of him that believed in honor and integrity can never pretend that he still holds them.
“I cannot know truth, so I follow one who does.”
L: Poor Szeth, he breaks my heart. I really hope that he learns how to trust in himself eventually.
A: Poor Szeth indeed. I’m not sure trusting in himself is something he will ever be able to do, but I think it’s possible that he can learn greater discernment.
Tight Butts and Coconuts
The light resolved into a man with shoulder-length wavy hair, a blue uniform, and a silvery spear in his hand.
L: Kaladin Stormblessed, king of dramatic entrances, ladies and gentlemen.
“Shallan, we don’t have an army yet. Lightweave one up for us.”
L: Hey Shallan, just make us a whole fake army, okay? No big deal.
A: I love this leap in skills, too. We saw a hint of this ability when she was determined to fight the Midnight Mother, and we saw it again when she created the illusions to distract the Fused in Shadesmar. I’ll grant that the whole fake army is a huge bump, and to some extent has to invoke the Rule of Cool, but I can also, very easily, believe that everyone’s skills are enhanced simply by the presence of Honor’s Perpendicularity (and also unlimited Stormlight).
Gotta admit, though, Dalinar’s almost off-hand assignment of duties here was hilarious in its own right.
Teft licked his lips, and spoke.
“I will protect those I hate. Even… even if the one I hate most… is… myself.”
L: Wow. Wow. Such powerful words from Teft. The idea of protecting oneself as well… it’s just amazing.
A: I find this fascinating. Teft really doesn’t want to protect himself, very much, but he knows he needs to do this for the sake of others. So he’ll protect himself in order to protect them, which is pretty profound. You do have to ask, though: Will the Ideal of “protecting even his own hateful self” be enough to help him fight the addictions?
L: I guess it depends on whether or not he can keep it in mind during the worst of the cravings. I would hope that his spren would help to remind him, but… we don’t know what level of addictive the firemoss is. Chemical addictions are crazy things, and differ in strength in the real world. Cigarettes are hard enough for most to resist, but people with heroin addictions are far far worse, obviously. Is firemoss more like the former, or the latter? Also, will his bond and the supernatural healing that comes along with it help with the chemical part of the addiction, leaving only the mental part to overcome? It’s a multi-layered question, but I hope that Teft overcomes this.
Jasnah ducked the weapon, then shoved her hand against him, throwing him backward. He crystallized in the air, slamming into the next man, who caught the transformation like a disease.
L: Other than Jasnah being a certifiable badass, the thing I wanted to note here was how this Surge was passed from one person to another. This is really interesting. How does this work, without Jasnah touching the second man as well? It seems to break the laws of the magic system, but it’s quite obviously intentional, so Sanderson must have something up his sleeve regarding it…
A: It’s wild, isn’t it? I’m not sure if he’s just hinting that the Soulcasting can be made to continue from one object to the next as long as they’re touching and of the same material (i.e. flesh), or if he’s going somewhere else with this. Always another question!
The sword vanished as she slapped her hand into the wall of a building behind her, and that wall puffed away into smoke, causing the roof to crash down, blocking the alley between buildings, where other soldiers had been approaching.
She swept her hand upward, and air coalesced into stone, forming steps that she took—barely breaking her stride—to climb to the rooftop of the next building.
L: Okay so… we’ve got flesh to crystal, stone to smoke, and air to stone. Soulcasting is so powerful.
A: Forget Soulcasting, Jasnah is crazy powerful. She flows from one move into the next so smoothly, it’s like a dance where only she knows the steps—or maybe she and Ivory. There’s never even a pause to think or switch up; she just keeps going like an unstoppable force.
L: Makes me wonder how much she’s practiced in her “downtime…” and for how long!
A well blossomed inside of him. Power like he’d never before felt, an awesome, overwhelming strength. Stormlight unending.
L: Well, good to know that Renarin uses Stormlight and not Voidlight, at least.
A: I’m… not sure I was even thinking about that possibility! But yes, it is good to know. I love the imagery here, too; “strength” is not really something anyone thinks of in connection with Renarin, including himself. The feeling of holding that kind of strength must be amazing for him.
The vines shriveled, as the sword’s thirst was slaked by the Stormlight. Lift fell back on the stone and pried her hands off Szeth’s head.
I knew I liked you, a voice said in Lift’s mind.
L: Thank goodness for Dalinar giving Nightblood more Investiture than even he can eat!
A: I wasn’t sure there was such a thing! Apparently the firehose treatment can save your life, if you insist on being crazy enough to draw Nightblood.
Oh, I wouldn’t do that, the voice said. She seemed completely baffled, voice growing slow, like she was drowsy.
L: She? Hasn’t Nightblood always had a male voice before? But… maybe this is only because we’ve seen them talking to men. Do they change their gender depending on who they’re talking to?
A: This messed me up so much at first! But then if you look back, Nightblood has a voice that isn’t distinctly either masculine or feminine, so the interpretation is up to the hearer. (This is a real mental disconnect for me, because when Nightblood starts going on about DESTROY EVIL I simply can’t “hear” it in anything but a deep bass roar. I can’t quite figure out what that sounds like in an androgynous voice.) Vasher always said “he”—so naturally Vivenna adopted that. I’m not sure, off the top of my head, whether Szeth has ever thought of Nightblood in a gendered form, though it seems he must have. In any case, what Lift hears, she interprets as feminine, so… “she.”
His face was crisscrossed with lines where the vines had been. That somehow left his skin grey in streaks, the color of stone. Lift’s arms bore the same. Huh.
L: So Nightblood was leeching away their color?
A: …I guess? He did this to Vasher, too, but I really don’t know what’s going on with that.
L: At least it doesn’t appear to be permanent, though, right? As the Vasher we see here in Roshar isn’t described as having a bunch of grey lines all over him. Is it just… Leeching away the pigment of the skin, which is repaired when the skin eventually replaces itself?
A: Best guess, yes?
“As I recall, you have a score to settle with the highlord.”
“You could say that.”
L: Understatement of the century, but man am I happy to see Kaladin get a chance to take on this scumbag.
A: Hear, hear!
A: Next week should be… interesting. Chapter 120 is 45 pages long, and there’s simply no way we’re going to cover it in one go; we’re planning to do it in two installments. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you just yet how we’re going to divide it up, because we haven’t figured that out yet! Read the whole thing, I guess, and be prepared for anything? (I mean… I dare you to stop reading halfway through that chapter anyway, so there’s that.)
L: I’d suspect that we’re going to try to stop approximately halfway through, so around 22 or 23 pages.
Alice is highly amused at the local coronavirus panic-attack antics. (Not the disease itself, mind you—just the crazy ways people react.) Most of the tech businesses are launching full-out work-from-home efforts, and the schools are experimenting with remote classrooms. Traffic is so much better…
Lyndsey is heading into Boston this weekend to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Coronavirus be damned. (Don’t worry, she’ll wash her hands thoroughly.) If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.