Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One Hundred Twenty-One

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Welcome back to the Oathbringer reread! We’ve moved on to the next chapter, finally, but it’s still the same long day. This week, we’ve only got eleven point-of-view segments to look at! There are a few uncommon ones, too, so come on in to the aftermath of The Battle of Thaylen Field.

Alice: This week, Lyndsey is still on her project to make masks for the hospital; I’m reasonably confident she could do it in her sleep by now. Let’s have a round of applause for her, and for all those sacrificing their time, risking their lives, and just plain keeping on keeping on, in the international effort to mitigate this pandemic. (Gotta put in a plug for the railroad workers and truck drivers, too, without whom there would be nothing to buy on our strictly-limited grocery shopping trips!)

Now, please welcome Paige as she returns to help wrap up the climax of this behemoth. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Paige: What’s up, Sanderfans? Continued kudos to Lyndsey, protecting those who cannot protect themselves. *Bridge 4 salute* Let’s do this.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Moash, Navani, Shallan, Venli, Szeth, Kaladin, Dalinar, Lopen, Shalash (So… not quite everyone and his brother this week, then.)
WHEN: 1174.2.8.1 (still!)
WHERE: Kholinar, Thaylen City

Moash, busy breaking up rubble in the Kholinar palace, is offered a task by the Fused. An exhausted Shallan sits atop the wall talking to herselves, but when Adolin arrives, he spots the real Shallan in the shifting. Veil attempts to take over when Kaladin comes by just as Adolin leaves. Venli, aboard a ship leaving for Marat, talks with her spren, then starts telling nearby parshmen the true stories of the listeners. Szeth returns to Nin above the battlefield, speaks his Third Ideal, and identifies what his Fourth will be when he’s ready. Shallan, having finally turned her back on Veil’s attraction to Kaladin, seeks out Adolin at the top of the city. Also atop the city, Kaladin talks with Syl about relationships, history, and decisions, then talks with Teft about the benefits—and lack thereof—to being a Knight Radiant. In Talenel’s temple, Dalinar considers the Herald; Taravangian enters, and Dalinar confronts him about his betrayal of the coalition but soon realizes that his activities went much deeper than that. Moash finds and kills Jezrien with a highly unusual knife. Lopen plays silly games with his spren, then chats with one of the wounded, unexpectedly speaking his Second Ideal. Shalash, trying to get Taln out of the city, feels Jezrien’s death and falls unconscious.

Beginnings

Header arch for chapter 121 of Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer

Title: Ideals

A: This one isn’t so much a quote as a theme. We see Szeth speaking his Third Ideal and identifying what his fourth will be, and Lopen speaking his Second, and in between there are other conversations about Ideals in the Knights Radiant sense, and ideals in the more common sense.

Heralds:

Kalak—The Maker, patron of Willshapers, Resolute and Builder

Nale—The Judge, patron of Skybreakers, Just and Confident, Herald of Justice

Vedel—The Healer, patron of Edgedancers, Loving and Healing

Jezrien—The King, patron of Windrunners, Protecting and Leading, Herald of Kings

A: Hmm. If we just look at the people, Kalak represents Venli, Nale represents himself and Szeth, Vedel… I dunno unless it’s Adolin and his Edgedancer Shardblade Maya, Jezrien represents himself and the various Windrunners involved. We could look at themes, too, if my brain were working.

Icon: Not Bridge Four—presumably, this is because the chapter is bookended with Moash’s POV and the result of his actions.

Epigraph:

It becomes the responsibility of every man, upon realizing he lacks the truth, to seek it out.

—From The Way of Kings, postscript

A: This is a truth; the problem is that most people don’t seem to be aware that they lack truth. I’m actually going to address this next week, though, and take all four statements from this set of epigraphs together. It makes a lot more sense that way.

Stories & Songs

“There’s a woman at Kharbranth,” he said. “She goes by the name Dova, but we think she is Battah’Elin. A Herald. She told us the Desolation was approaching.”

A: Without knowing what their basis is for this guess, other than “she knows stuff,” I suspect they’re wrong about which Herald she is. The Heralds all seem to be turning into the inverse of their original selves, right? The King has become the beggar, the Artist destroys art, the Judge is unjust, the Priest has declared himself God, and (by my theory!) the Guard has become an assassin. So I’m betting that the woman who helped Taravangian kill hundreds of people to get the death rattles is actually the Healer, Vedel. That’s just my instinct, so take it for what that’s worth. We may learn, someday!

Someone nearby cursed by her name, and she wanted to slap him. Don’t swear by us. Don’t paint pictures of us. Don’t worship at our statues. She’d stamp it all out. She would ruin every depiction.

P: Even in the midst of the aftermath of a battle, whilst trying to get an unresponsive Taln to move so they can get out of the city, poor Ash shows how unstable her mind is when she rants in her head about destroying depictions of herself. I feel so bad for her.

A: I do feel bad for her… but I also think she’s got a valid point. People worshipped the Heralds, and they proved themselves desperately unworthy as gods. They did amazing things, certainly; surviving war and torture (even as Cognitive Shadows) for 2500 years or so is not nothing. Even so, in the end, they couldn’t live up to being actual gods. Should anyone blame them? Probably not! Should anyone worship them as gods? Also, probably not. Of course, for Ash, the knowledge of her failure is compounded by the guilt of leaving Taln to suffer alone. I honestly can’t blame her for hating the idea of being worshipped. (Especially if, as these chapters have hinted, the two of them were in a romantic relationship. Ouch.)

What a gift you gave them! he’d said. Time to recover, for once, between Desolations. Time to progress

Oh, Taln. Couldn’t he have just hated her?

P: So much self-loathing. I know how that feels, and that’s why I adore this character so far. I can relate.

A: Like I mentioned above, I can absolutely see her reasons for hating herself. At the same time… really? You’re saying you couldn’t stand up to torture any more, after only two and a half millennia? Shocking! Seriously, though, if they’d had any idea what they were signing up for, could they possibly have agreed to it? They did it anyway.

Relationships & Romances

Dalinar walked with help from Lopen and Captain Kaladin, one under each arm. He towed jets of exhaustionspren like a swarm. Navani took him in a powerful embrace anyway. He was the Blackthorn. He’d survive a forceful hug. Kaladin and Lopen hovered nearby.

“He’s mine,” she said to them.

They nodded, and didn’t move.

“People need your help inside,” she said. “I can handle him, boys.”

P: I love Navani’s attitude here. She was so desperate to get to Dalinar and so thrilled that he was okay after being so worried when standing on the wall and seeing him facing down an army alone. This is a pretty powerful moment, IMO.

A: Yes, it is. Her possessive attitude makes me happy, which is sort of an odd thing to say. But really, she wants to be the one he needs right now—and she is. (Also, she’s right—the enemies have left, so he doesn’t need a bodyguard right now, and there are other people who need their particular skills far more than Dalinar does.)

“I have to say this, Shallan. Please.” He stood up tall, stiff. “I’m going to let him have you.”

She blinked. “Let him have me.”

“I’m holding you back,” Adolin said. “I see the way you two look at each other. I don’t want you to keep forcing yourself to spend time with me because you feel sorry for me.”

P: I loved, loved, loved this scene. Shallan went from worried that she’d messed things up with Adolin to indignant that he would let someone else have her. Her rantastic reply is in the quotable quotes section because it was too awesome not to include.

A: THIS WHOLE SCENE! Adolin is trying so hard to do what’s best for Shallan. He saw her face change when she saw Kaladin earlier and Veil took over, and decided that this was the solution. Also, remember that bit in Chapter 120 where he saw himself as one of Shallan’s Illusory Army… and she’d made him a Windrunner? That comes back into play:

Kaladin landed on a roof in the distance… Adolin waved toward him. “Shallan. He can literally fly.”

A: I have to think that those two moments are big movers in this decision, and with any other woman, he probably would have been right. But this is Shallan/Veil, so of course it’s complicated. The rest of her answer—and his response—is one of my favorites, but it’s long, so I won’t put it all here. We’ll tuck it in Quality Quotations, because it really doesn’t need any elaboration.

“I will admit to you, in the interest of full honesty, that Veil did have a tendency to fawn over Kaladin Stormblessed. She has terrible taste in men, and I’ve convinced her to fall in line.”

P: Veil’s supposed attraction to Kaladin kind of came out of left field while Shallan and Adolin were atop the city wall after the battle. She was immediately shoved into the back of Shallan’s mind and the Shalladin ship abruptly sank; good riddance, says me.

A: Yep. I’ll grant that it could have been an interesting relationship, but not when Adolin was the other option! He’s just so good for her, in a way that IMO Kaladin doesn’t currently have the capacity to be.

“How do you like that, though? Three betrotheds instead of one. Some men drool over the idea of such debauchery. If you wanted, I could be practically anyone.”

“But that’s the thing, Shallan. I don’t want anyone. I want you.”

P: Brandon doesn’t write many swoon-worthy scenes, but if you ask me, this one definitely qualifies. I’m telling you, Adolin is the best medicine for Shallan.

A: No argument from me! That answer just melted my heart into a puddle of chocolate. (Okay, sorry…) It was the perfect answer, because it’s so genuinely Adolin—and also, because Shallan desperately needs that kind of love as an anchor for her currently-wayward personalities.

Bruised & Broken

“I think I know why the memories came back,” he whispered. “Odium was going to make me remember once I faced him. I needed to learn to stand up again. All my pain these last two months was a blessing.”

A: I love his realization in this moment. Can you just imagine if he’d gotten all those memories back the way Odium intended? It almost broke him when it was spread over two months (which, let’s not forget, would be three months in earth time!), and justifiably so. All in a few minutes? It would have worked.

P: Yes, if they’d all hit him at once, he very well may have given his pain to Odium and become what we all feared. Cultivation definitely knew what she was doing with Dalinar.

Adolin searched her eyes. She bled from one, to the other, and back. A moment of Veil. A moment of Radiant. Shallan peeking through—

Adolin’s hand tightened around her own.

Shallan’s breath caught.

There, she thought. That’s the one. That’s the one I am.

He knows.

P: This is why I was always Team Adolin. He knows Shallan. He brings her out when the others threaten to overwhelm her.

A: I know there are people who have different ideas about “the real Shallan,” but I’ve always loved this scene, and I’m absolutely convinced that he’s right. This is the true Shallan; yes, she has problems, and she’s still avoiding a lot, but this is Shallan in a way Veil and Radiant can’t be. As demonstrated:

She walked toward him, grinning. Then slowed.

Adolin knows me.

What was she doing? She shoved Radiant and Veil aside, and when they resisted, she stuffed them into the back part of her brain. They were not her. She was occasionally them. But they were not her.

P: This gives me hope that Shallan will start to heal and will eventually realize that she no longer needs Veil and Radiant. They are not her. I think Adolin will help her with this very necessary unification of her personas.

A: I love that line: “She was occasionally them, but they were not her.” They’re just pieces. They represent aspects of her potential that she’d like to grow into, perhaps, but they also set aside some of what makes her… her.

“Her choice is made. You can see it.”

“I can?”

“You should be able to.” He rubbed his finger on the rock. “I don’t think I loved her, Syl. I felt… something. A lightening of my burdens when I was near her. She reminds me of someone.”

P: He didn’t love her. They have a good friendship and she has the ability to lift him out of his darkness, as Tien did. #TeamAdolin

A: His recognition of the core factor is just wonderful, and the rock shows how clearly he was thinking of Tien. Brandon confirmed via WoB that Tien was a nascent Lightweaver, and even though he’d never quite solidified the bond, he did have some of The Lightweaver Effect. I.e., when you’re around a Lightweaver, how they see you influences how you feel, how you see yourself. (In case you hadn’t seen that WoB before, I thought it was a pretty clear explanation for the changes in Bluth and Elhokar when they saw Shallan’s drawings of them, too. I think it also answers the “who?” question raised by this Q&A.)

“They say you have to be broken,” Lopen said, glancing toward his spren, who made a few loops of excitement, then shot off to hide again. Lopen would need to go looking for the little guy—he did enjoy the game. “You know that tall woman, the king’s sister? The chortana with the glare that could break a Shardblade? She says that the power has to get into your soul somehow. So I’ve been trying to cry a lot, and moan about my life being so terrible, but I think the Stormfather knows I’m lying. Hard to act sad when you’re the Lopen.”

P: I think that Lopen is a good example of a Radiant (whose POV we get to see) who isn’t overtly broken in some way. Brandon has said that being broken isn’t required for a Nahel bond, it just makes it easier, but I love to see Lopen pretending to act broken.

A: He’s such a dork. Can you imagine Lopen not pretending something, ever? He’s priceless.

Diagrams & Dastardly Designs

It glowed with a bizarre light, deep and dark. Somehow, it seemed to be trying to pull the light around it in.

“I want you to keep this safe for me… Study it…“

She bit her lip. “Dalinar, I’ve seen something like this before. Much smaller, like a sphere.” She looked up at him. “Gavilar made it.”

Dalinar touched the stone with his bare finger. …

A: For as big a deal as that sphere of Gavilar’s was (and is) to the fandom, Dalinar completely ignores what Navani says here. It’s like he didn’t even hear her. Does that mean he already knew about it, or just that he’s not listening? And of course, the burning question of the fandom is… how many of those did Gavilar have? We know he gave one to Szeth and one to Eshonai, though we don’t know where either of them are now. But what were they? (Note: If you have read or heard the portion of the Rhythm of War prologue that’s been released and want to talk about it in the comments, PLEASE white-text it so others aren’t spoiled.)

“You… didn’t become king of Jah Keved by accident, did you?” Dalinar asked.

Taravangian shook his head. It seemed obvious to Dalinar now. Taravangian was easy to dismiss when you assumed he was slow of thought. But once you knew the truth, other mysteries began to fit into place.

“How?” Dalinar asked.

“There’s a woman at Kharbranth,” he said. “She goes by the name Dova, but we think she is Battah’Elin. A Herald. She told us the Desolation was approaching.” He looked to Dalinar. “I had nothing to do with the death of your brother. But once I heard of what incredible things the assassin did, I sought him out. Years later, I located him, and gave him specific instructions…”

P: Frankly, it surprised me that Taravangian told Dalinar what he’d done with Szeth. I fully expected him to continue playing the benevolent grandpa king, who just wanted to help everyone. What do you think might happen with T between now and Rhythm of War, Sanderfans?

A: I was surprised by this, too, at the same time that I was relieved of the annoying “no one tells anyone anything they need to know” trope. But of course, the next question you have to ask is “what’s he up to now?” Because this is Taravangian, and it seems like he’s always got a backup plan for the backup plan. And I do not trust him.

Squires & Sidekicks

“I’d be dead if you hadn’t activated the Oathgate,” Kaladin said softly. “Somehow I knew that you would, Teft. I knew you’d come for me.”

“Knew better than I did, then.” Teft heaved a breath.

Kaladin rested his hand on Teft’s shoulder. “I know how it feels.”

“Aye,” Teft said. “I suppose you do. But isn’t it supposed to feel better? The longing for my moss is still storming there.”

“It doesn’t change us, Teft. We’re still who we are.”

“Damnation.”

P: It’s painful to see Teft’s disappointment that his addiction wasn’t cured when he leveled up.

A: I’m so conflicted about this. I think it makes a better story when the magic doesn’t just make all your problems go away. At the same time, hey! what’s the good of magic if it doesn’t fix things? But it is a better story this way.

Weighty Words

“I swear to follow the will of Dalinar Kholin. This is my oath.” At the Words, snow crystallized around him in the air, then fluttered down. He felt a surge of something. Approval? From the hidden spren who only rarely showed itself to him, even still.

“I believe that your Words have been accepted.”

A: I still find it odd that the highspren are so aloof from their Knights, and I wonder why. Nonetheless, Szeth does speak his Third Ideal right here. It’s so much less dramatic than Kaladin’s it’s almost funny. Unless I’m forgetting something, up until this point, Ideals have always been spoken in Climactic Circumstances, right? Kaladin, Teft, Lift, Dalinar. Which makes it especially interesting that there are two in this chapter. They both give the theatrical effect (in Szeth’s case, the usual frost-glyph doesn’t hold shape and just looks like snow, but whatever), but the situation is just so casual it’s a little startling.

It’s pretty appropriate for Szeth, in a way, that it’s not a sudden moment of inspiration. We learned about all the Skybreaker Ideals way back in Chapter 90, so the mystery of the Third Ideal is only in the specific choice of the individual as to what code they will follow. He’s had plenty of time to think about what he would follow, and Szeth does like to think things through. What I find truly fascinating about his choice is that his secretive spren seems to strongly approve of his choice to follow Dalinar’s will. Does the spren distrust Nin as much as I do? The rest of the Skybreakers are apparently planning to follow the Herald in choosing the law of the Fused as their Dedication, and Szeth is essentially taking the other side in the conflict… and his spren approves. Huh.

P: Kaladin’s Ideals have been pretty climactic, yes. I also found Szeth’s Third Ideal to be rather blah. It would have been awesome to have it just before he fell from the sky and filleted that thunderclast, glowing with stormlight and Nightblood oozing black smoke. THAT would have been awesome.

We see below that the Lopen’s Second Ideal, while not intentional, is just as anti-climactic.

“I will cleanse the Shin of their false leaders, so long as Dalinar Kholin agrees.”

“We shall see. You may find him a harsh master.”

“He is a good man, Nin-son-God.”

“That is precisely why.”

P: “…so long as Dalinar Kholin agrees.” I wonder what Szeth will do if Dalinar doesn’t agree, or wants him to wait until it’s convenient for Dalinar and the KR as a whole for Szeth to be away?

A: Well… that’s a good question. The “how to tell a story” part of me says that he needs to wait a while between Ideals anyway, right? I mean, you can’t just say one Ideal, and then promptly say the next one two minutes later! You’ve gotta spend some time living out that bit about the will of Dalinar Kholin, right? But I do find it a little weird that, knowing what all the Ideals are supposed to embody, the Skybreakers can think about it and decide ahead of time what they’re going to do when that time comes. How do they know when it’s time?

“I will visit you again to oversee your training in our second art, the Surge of Division. You may access that now, but take care. It is dangerous.”

A: It occurs to me that Nin doesn’t seem to know that Szeth has already trained with this Surge. Does he even need help? Is there enough difference between the Skybreaker and Dustbringer applications of Division that he’ll have trouble with it? He certainly doesn’t seem to have had trouble adapting to the Skybreaker version of Lashings.

“The oaths are about perception, Syl. You confirmed that. The only thing that matters is whether or not we are confident that we’re obeying our principles. If we lose that confidence, then dropping the armor and weapons is only a formality.”

“Kal—”

“I’m not going to do the same,” he said. “I’d like to think that the past of Bridge Four will make us a little more pragmatic than those ancient Radiants. We won’t abandon you. But finding out what we will do might end up being messy.”

A: I say this every time the subject comes up, but… there’s really no way to guess what kind of messy things they will do until we—and they—learn the rest of the story. Like many readers, I can’t quite see the information from the Eila Stele as sufficient reason for a bunch of people six thousand years later to make such a huge decision.

P: Yeah, it’s apparent that we’re not getting all of the info. Brandon’s dealing it out to us just as Cultivation gave back Dalinar’s memories… a bit at a time.

“‘Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before pancakes.’ That’s the easy one. The hard one is, ‘I will protect those who cannot protect themselves,’ and—”

A sudden flash of coldness struck Lopen, and the gemstones in the room flickered, then went out. A symbol crystallized in frost on the stones around Lopen, vanishing under the cots. The ancient symbol of the Windrunners.

“What?” Lopen stood up. “What? Now?

He heard a far-off rumbling, like thunder.

“NOW?” Lopen said, shaking a fist at the sky. “I was saving that for a dramatic moment, you penhito! Why didn’t you listen earlier? We were, sure, all about to die and things!”

He got a distinct, very distant impression.

YOU WEREN’T QUITE READY.

P: Ahh, poor Lopen. He’s just trying to cheer up an injured soldier and accidentally speaks his Second Ideal. I love his indignance. Though I’m pretty sure that “journey before pancakes” is one of Lift’s Ideals.

A: No doubt! I get the distinct impression that he tried saying it earlier, in the hopes of a dramatic level-up at a critical moment in the battle, and nothing happened. But he wasn’t quite ready, whatever that means. I sort of have an idea that if you’re saying the right words, but you’re doing it in the hopes of getting a useful power boost, it’s not going to work; your focus has to be on someone else, almost to the exclusion of even thinking about how it might affect you. I could be wrong, of course, but that seems consistent with what we’ve seen… at least, that I can think of off the top of my head!

Tight Butts and Coconuts

“Oh!” He looked down at his ripped uniform and scraped hands. “It’s not as bad as it looks, Shallan. Most of the blood isn’t mine. Well, I mean, I guess it is. But I’m feeling better.”

A: This just made me giggle. “Most of the blood isn’t mine” is such a standard line, on the order of “you should see how the other guy looks.” And of course, Adolin is fine at this point… but also most of the blood is his. Between being gutted by a Fused in Shadesmar and fighting a thunderclast for the Oathgate, he ought to be dead. Just, you know, Renarin happened in there a couple of times, so by now he’s uninjured.

“If you need any jokes,” Lopen said, “I’ve got a few I can’t use anymore.”

P: We can always count on the Lopen to lighten the mood when things are depressing. Honor love you, you crazy, two-armed Herdazian.

“Storm you!” Lopen made a double obscene gesture toward the sky—something he’d been waiting a long time to use properly for the first time. Rua joined him, making the same gesture, then grew two extra arms to give it more weight.

“Nice,” Lopen said.

P: This was just classic… Lopen’s Ideal being accepted when he didn’t even mean to speak it in that way, and his anger at the Stormfather for choosing that moment to accept his words.

A: So perfect for the Lopen, right? Always at his best when he’s just messing around.

Murky Motivations

“Your passion does you credit.”

“I have no passion. Just numbness.”

“You have given him your pain. He will return it, human, when you need it.”

That would be fine, so long as he could forget the look of betrayal he’d seen in Kaladin’s eyes.

A: We see Moash again for the first time since Skar and Drehy pulled Kaladin out of the battle in the Kholinar palace. Turns out he’s still there, still slaving for the Fused, trying to forget anything that might make him feel guilty for his own actions. As you may (or may not) recall, my dislike of Moash has two sources: his actions and his attitude. Obviously, I think he was wrong in betraying Kaladin’s trust by trying to murder Elhokar in the previous book, and by succeeding in this book, as well as killing Jezrien in an upcoming scene. The thing that has made me hold to the no-redemption position, though, is that he very rarely takes responsibility for the consequences of his actions. In this moment, he has no regret for murdering Elhokar. (And yes, I call it murder, even though it was in the middle of a battle, since he was unarmed and carrying a toddler. Moash might or might not agree, but I don’t think he’d particularly care about the distinction.) Anyway, his only regret is that “look of betrayal in Kaladin’s eyes.” On the bright side, he does still care about his friend’s opinion; on the dark side, he wants nothing more than to forget it and not bear even that shred of guilt.

P: Anyone who knows me knows that I hated Moash before it was cool, and that I was on the #noredemption bandwagon before there was a band or a wagon. *ahem* Because my hatred stems primarily from the fact that he was ready to murder Kaladin in Words of Radiance. Kaladin was without spren or Stormlight, injured and bleeding, holding only a spear while Moash, in full Plate and armed with a Shardblade, was ready to kill his supposed friend. That moment, that very moment, was when Moash was lost to me. Killing Elhokar the way he did was just bitter icing on a hate cake for me.

A: That’s a good point, Paige. Also, that Plate and Shardblade Moash had were a gift from Kaladin in the first place; he’d done nothing to earn them himself.

“You felled a king in this palace.”

“King or slave, he was an enemy to me and mine.”

A: Well, that’s a bunch of chull dung. The only reason Moash can claim that Elhokar was his enemy was because Roshone, the man actually responsible for the abuse of his grandparents, was able to manipulate a foolish young prince into letting his competitors be imprisoned. No slave would have been in a position to threaten anyone Moash ever cared about. What I find most repulsive about it, though, is that Moash has apparently never even tried to find Roshone and exact any vengeance on him. He just wanted to kill the king.

P: Exactly.

Moash’s target was a particular man who sat giggling in the darkness near the back of the gardens. A madman with eye color lost to the night.

“Have you seen me?” the man asked as Moash knelt.

“No,” Moash said, then rammed the strange golden knife into the man’s stomach. The man took it with a quiet grunt, smiled a silly smile, then closed his eyes.

A: Given that he’s been unkillable for like seven thousand years, you can’t exactly blame him for the silly smile, now can you? I wonder how many people have tried to kill him in that time. Or how many times he tried to kill himself. Having left their honorblades and walked away from the Oathpact, would killing a Herald like Jezrien in the “normal” way even send him back to Braize? In any case, he’s really not worried here.

“Were you really one of them?” Moash asked. “Herald of the Almighty?”

“Was, was, was…” The man started to tremble violently, his eyes opening wide. “Was… no. No, what is this death? What is this death!” …

“It’s taking me!” the man screamed …

When Moash pulled the yellow-white knife free, it trailed dark smoke and left a blackened wound. The large sapphire at the pommel took on a subdued glow.

A: And Moash feels neither remorse nor victory as he kills a helpless old beggar—or “the greatest human who had ever lived.” His only emotion seems to be mild curiosity as to why the Fused couldn’t do this themselves. Ugh. I hope he can never forget the look of betrayal in Kaladin’s eyes. Never. Sure, Jezrien wasn’t the infallible Herald King of the mythology; after some 2500 years, he finally lost the courage to continue the torture-and-battle cycle. That doesn’t justify his murder.

P: No, it doesn’t. I think that stabbing a crazy old beggar in the gut has to be one of the most despicable things a person can do. But it’s right up Moash’s alley. He definitely isn’t the kind of guy to go in for a fair fight. It makes me beyond angry that he so readily volunteered to murder a crazy, defenseless old man.

A: Speaking of which, though, why wouldn’t the Fused dare do this themselves? Afraid that Jezrien might be bluffing, and destroy them if they got too close? Some twisted kind of respect, that sends an assassin to do a shameful deed on their behalf? They would be willing to kill him in battle, but when he’s a daft, giggling old beggar, that’s beneath them? I really don’t get it.

In any case, it seems to have been something unique. Not only does Jezrien realize—too late—that this is not a “normal” death, his daughter feels it from hundreds of miles away. I assume this is because they’re both bound to the Oathpact, and not merely because they are father and daughter, though we aren’t given information about any effect on the other Heralds. Also, what are your theories about the sapphire starting to glow? What’s with that?

Cosmere Connections

I think you did a great job, Szeth, the sword said from Szeth’s hand as they rose above Thaylen City. You didn’t destroy many of them, yes, but you just need some more practice!

P: We don’t get much of Nightblood in this chapter, but his praise and encouragement deserved a nod, at the least. I always love Nightblood’s commentary.

A: So perky, our murderous sword. Yes, as much as he creeps me out when he’s drawn, I do love this chipper side of him.

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

“This bond was supposed to be impossible,” she whispered to Timbre.

Timbre pulsed to Peace.

“I’m happy too,” Venli whispered. “But why me? Why not one of the humans?”

Timbre pulsed to Irritation, then the Lost.

“That many? I had no idea the human betrayal had cost so many of your people’s lives. And your own grandfather?”

Irritation again.

P: Poor Timbre, lost her grandfather in the Recreance. I wonder if more spren will attempt to bond with Singers in book 4.

A: Just as a reminder (in case anyone had forgotten), this combines with the conversations in Chapter 101 as evidence that Timbre is likely Captain Ico’s daughter, who “ran off chasing stupid dreams.” Ico kept his deadeye father locked up to prevent him wandering off, searching for the human carrying his corpse. We don’t know, and neither do they, what exactly happened in the Recreance, but it certainly seems to have given the Reachers a distaste for human bonds. Hence, Venli. Where it goes from here, we’ll have to RAFO.

He opened his palm, and she landed on it, forming into the shape of a young woman with flowing hair and dress. She bent down, inspecting the rock in his palm, cooing over it. Syl could still be shockingly innocent—wide-eyed and excited about the world.

“That’s a nice rock,” she said, completely serious.

P: I love that Syl seems as excited as Tien would have been about the rock Kaladin found. This is such a lovely little scene as Kaladin remembers his brother and how he was a light in Kaladin’s darkness.

Quality Quotations

‘Shallan had found that no matter how bad things got, someone would be making tea.’

 

“Shallan. He can literally fly.

“Oh? And is that what women are supposed to seek in a mate? Is it in the Polite Lady’s Handbook to Courtship and Family? The Bekenah edition, maybe?‘Ladies, you can’t possibly marry a man if he can’t fly.’ Never mind if the other option is as handsome as sin, kind to everyone he meets regardless of their station, passionate about his art, and genuinely humble in the weirdest, most confident way. Never mind if he actually seems to get you, and remarkably listens to your problems, encouraging you to be you—not to hide yourself away. Never mind if being near him makes you want to rip his shirt off and push him into the nearest alleyway, then kiss him until he can’t breathe anymore. If he can’t fly, then well, you just have to call it off!”

She paused for breath, gasping.

“And…” Adolin said. “That guy is… me?”

A: Heh. Perfect description of you, too, my dear man.

P: Agreed.

And that about wraps it up for this week. Next week, we’ll be doing Chapter 122, the final chapter of the book, leaving only the epilogue and the Ars Arcanum to finish it off. Can you believe it?

Alice is still pretty sanguine about this whole lockdown thing, though she wouldn’t have minded a few less interruptions from other locked-down family members while beta reading Rhythm of War. But that’s now complete, and the new normal has been a fairly easy adjustment. (Her daughter might not agree entirely, but online class meetings help.)

Paige resides in New Mexico, of course, and writes in an attempt to stay sane. No, really. Imagine if she didn’t write. Yeesh. She’s a champ at the in-person social distancing but is bereft at the postponement of the MLB season. Links to her available works are provided in her profile.

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