Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Read-Along Discussion: Chapters Two and Three

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Welcome back, fellow Cosmere fans, to the read-along discussion series for Rhythm of War! If you’re here, hopefully you’ve read through chapters two and three, so without further ado, let’s kick this discussion into high gear!

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the entirety of the series up until now—if you haven’t read ALL of the published entries of the Stormlight Archive, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

[No Cosmere spoilers this week, you’re safe!]

 

Chapter Recap

WHO: Kaladin/Shallan, Navani
WHERE: Hearthstone/the Shattered Plains, Hearthstone
WHEN: The same day as Chapter One

Kaladin fights off a new type of Fused that has a… sort of teleportation ability, but he runs off leaving an ominous warning that this isn’t the last time Kaladin will see him. Meanwhile, Shallan is in the Shattered Plains warcamps trying to get herself kidnapped so she can get to the bottom of whatever Ialai Sadeas is up to.

Back in Hearthstone, Kaladin returns in time to see Navani’s brand-spanking-new air-barge (I can’t quite justify calling it an airship just yet) arrive. They’re planning on evacuating the entire town to Urithiru, along with the Mink—but he insists that they stop along the way and rescue what remains of his resistance force, too. Just as they’re about to leave, they learn that a Fused force is on the horizon….

Overall Reactions

L: The prologue was fun and all, but it’s so nice to start really settling back into the world of Roshar! It’s like curling up into a nice comfortable chair with a drink of your choice, isn’t it?

A: It is, rather. It’s like meeting old friends again, even when they’re grumbling, or doing things of questionable wisdom.

L: I love seeing Kaladin again, though it seems as though he’s still struggling with his depression. This isn’t exactly unexpected—he didn’t get much resolution after Elhokar’s death, Moash’s betrayal, and his failure to swear the Fourth Ideal, after all. He has a lot of what he views as his failures to process. And it doesn’t look as though his strained relationship with his father or a recent romantic breakup are helping, either.

A: As we know well, depression isn’t something you just get over, even under the best of circumstances. The past year does not seem to have been even “reasonably good” circumstances, much less “the best.” The events of Oathbringer were enough to require a lot of recovery time, and instead, they’ve been fighting continuously as well as trying to sort out the mess of Taravangian’s betrayal, etc. Emotional baggage often needs some peace and quiet to sort; a continual struggle for survival is not conducive.

L: And speaking of emotional baggage, it looks as though Shallan’s still lugging around an entire luggage cart’s worth, too.

A: Sigh. Yes, it sure looks that way. I’d sort of hoped to see that a year of marriage to the best dude ever had made it possible for her to resolve her personality divisions, but… guess not.

L: Navani’s still processing the death of her son, but at least she’s had a good healthy way of dealing—by throwing herself into her work and creating something! (Thereby completely disproving Gavilar’s awful insults in the prologue, I’d like to add.)

A: It really is nice to see someone moving forward, isn’t it? She still doesn’t think of herself as worthy of the credit for this thing, but she’s doing the work anyway. Inspiration and project management are far more important than she thinks!

But for a moment, imagine a fleet of ordinary ships suffering an attack from one of these up above. It wouldn’t need trained archers. The flying sailors could drop stones and sink a fleet in minutes.…” He glanced to her. “My dear, if these things become ubiquitous, it won’t only be navies that are rendered obsolete. I can’t decide if I’m glad to be old enough to wish my world a fond farewell, or if I envy the young lads who get to explore this new world.”

L: I’m reminded of a recurring theme/quote from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: “The world has moved on.” This is a very interesting theme to see in fantasy novels, but also a bit sad. We see it so very starkly in the world around us… I used to be a projectionist in a movie theater, and that job has now been rendered almost entirely extinct by digital projectors. Radio DJs and so many other jobs are being forced to either evolve with the times, or perish. It can be a little heart-breaking for those who have spent their lives training in these professions… but the world moves on.

A: Indeed it does, and I agree with Kmakl: it’s both sad to see the old things go, and exciting to see the new things come. I’m pretty sure he’s wrong about one thing, though: even with ubiquitous airships, navies won’t be obsolete. Not until the design makes a whole lot of progress, anyway. I wonder… Are we going to see a strong forward movement in technology, or are we going to see the new technologies collapse by getting ahead of themselves, leaving everyone grateful that they haven’t completely forgotten the old ways? It could go either way.

Humans

Kaladin grunted in reply.

L: Kaladin grunt count: 1. And in the very first sentence from his POV, no less! Impressive, Kal.

A: LOL. Shall we keep track as we go? I think maybe each “Humans” section needs to start with that.

L: I’m game for a Kaladin grunt counter.

Syl formed into a majestic silvery spear as he swept his hand outward.

L: I’d just really like to point out this awesome (canonical) artwork by Ben McSweeney of Kaladin with the Syl-spear.

A: I adore that one. Of course, I tend to adore Syl, and anything by Ben, so the combination is irresistible.

His spear vanished and Syl reappeared, standing in the air in front of him. She’d taken to wearing a stylish dress, ankle-length and sleek, instead of the filmy girlish one. When he’d asked, she’d explained that Adolin had been advising her.

L: This tickles my funny bone. Sweet, blessed Adolin and his fashion sense.

A: Oh, this was absolutely delicious! I’m not sure which part I like better: Adolin’s fashion sense itself, or Sylphrena consulting him since obviously Kaladin would be useless in this context. What a delightful burn.

L: I hate to think about what sort of fashion advice Kaladin would offer…

A dummy? What in the Stormfather’s unknown name?

The soldiers seemed equally surprised, though the tall one merely sighed and gave Kaladin a resigned look. “He does this sometimes, Brightlord.”

L: Reminds me of Batman vanishing on Commissioner Gordon.

A: It kills me the way his soldiers don’t seem all that bothered by their general sneaking off. I guess he’s earned his nickname.

Navani would have preferred to bring Isasik, but he was off on one of his mapping expeditions, this time to the eastern part of the Shattered Plains.

L: Reminder that this is Isaac, Brandon’s cartographer and the artist who makes all the cool symbols in the books (as well as other things). Hi, Isaac!

The last Edgedancer in the group—a lanky girl who seemed to have grown an entire foot in the last year—missed her jump though, and tripped over a large rock the others had dodged.

L: This can only be Lift. Good to see that she’s grown taller—another clear indicator that yes, she is aging, despite her boon (what she asked of the Nightwatcher/Cultivation.

A: And still no less of a klutz, it seems! Come to think of it, with that growth spurt, it would be a surprise if she weren’t uncoordinated. She’s probably more annoyed at the Nightwatcher than ever!

“Good for them,” the Herdazian man said. “Your flying boy says you’ve got a place for me here. Don’t know what I think of serving an Alethi. I’ve spent most of my life trying to stay away from them.” He eyed Dalinar. “You specifically, Blackthorn. No offense.”

L: The more we see of the Mink, the more I love him.

A: I admit I’m predisposed in his favor, after what he did to Sheler, but I agree. He’s a keeper. (…if you can…)

“Squabbles?” the man asked. “So that’s the Alethi word for them. Yes, yes. My mastery of your language, you see, is lacking. I’d been mistakenly referring to your actions as ‘raping and burning my people.’ ”

L: Welp.

A: Got some first aid cream for that burn? Seriously, the man has a point; despite Dalinar’s great developments over the last seven years, he—and the Alethi in general—have not historically been good neighbors to the Herdazians. I rather like the way Dalinar is continually having to live down his old reputation. It’s so realistic.

Singers/Fused

Over the last year, new varieties of Fused had been appearing on the battlefields in a trickle. Kaladin was most familiar with the ones who could fly like Windrunners. Those were called the shanay-im, they’d learned; it roughly meant “Those Ones of the Heavens.”

L: Oooooh new Fused!

A: And names! Cool new designations! I really do hope we get good descriptions and distinctions between the different varieties. I need help keeping them straight.

L: Me too. There’s a lot of different names already to keep straight—parsh, parshendi, listeners, singers, Fused…

Other Fused could not fly; as with the Radiants, each type had their own set of powers. Jasnah posited there would be ten varieties, though Dalinar—offering no explanation of why he knew this—said there would be only nine.

L: According to what we know, Fused powers align with the Surges the Knights Radiant use. But there are ten Surges… so if there are only nine orders of Fused, which one is missing?

A: Oh, the speculation on this one! I think the most common theory I’ve heard is that likely the Bondsmiths are missing, but I’m not sure (off the top of my head) what the rationale is.

L: But which of the two Surges the Bondsmiths have? All Knights Radiant have two Surges,, while it seems as though the Fused only have one.

A: I’ve heard the theory that the Fused have one Surge per type; I like the notion as a very cool differentiation between the Radiants and the Fused. If that’s the case, I’ve heard a fairly good theory that Adhesion would be the Surge closest to the Honor point on the Radiant diagram, and would likely be the one missing from the Fused powerset.

L: Also, why is Dalinar so certain about the number nine? Is it just because he has realized the importance of the number through his dealings with Odium? (Remember that his visions of the Champion always showed it with nine shadows.) Or because there are nine Unmade?

A: Could be either one. Or it could be that he’s gotten hints from the Stormfather’s memories. Dalinar is the only person living to bond a spren that was alive prior to the Recreance, much less prior to Aharietiam—which is the last time Roshar saw the Fused. (Okay, Nale’s spren might be from before the Recreance; we really don’t know.)

L: Syl was around before the Recreance too, remember. (Reminder: the Recreance was the day the Knights Radiant lay down their Shardblades and abandoned their oaths. It happened about 2,000 years before the events of The Way of Kings. Aharietiam is the “final battle” 4,500 years ago when the Heralds laid down their Honorblades and refused to return to torture—except for Taln.)

A: Oh, you’re right. Syl, the Stormfather, and maybe Nale’s spren were bonded prior to the Recreance; some others we’ve seen may have been around, but we don’t know anything about their prior bonding. The key to what I was thinking, though, would be Aharietiam—the last time the Fused were active on Roshar. Stormfather was… aware, though not as aware as he is now. Syl wasn’t around back then. We don’t know about any others, so I’m hoping the Stormfather can remember more useful things!

This variety marked the seventh Kaladin had fought. And, winds willing, the seventh he would kill.

A: Seven varieties of Fused so far, eh? We certainly couldn’t identify that many by the end of Oathbringer, so … I guess it’s time to start counting!

The fog-shrouded figure in the near distance collapsed suddenly, and something shot out of the body—a small line of red-violet light like a spren. That line of light darted to Kaladin in the blink of an eye, then it expanded to re-form the shape of the Fused with a sound like stretching leather mixed with grinding stone.

The Fused appeared in the air right in front of Kaladin. Before Kaladin could react, the Fused had grabbed him by the throat with one hand and by the front of the uniform with another.

L: Whoa. That’s pretty OP (over-powered). Teleportation of any variety in a fight is super dangerous!

A: It seems distinctly unfair, I must say.

Kaladin screamed and felt his limbs go numb as his spinal cord was severed. His Stormlight rushed to heal the wound, but this Fused was plainly experienced at fighting Surgebinders, because he continued to plunge the knife into Kaladin’s neck time and time again, keeping him from recovering.

L: YIKES ON BIKES.

A: Even my confidence that Kaladin wouldn’t die in the second chapter of the book didn’t make this less terrifying.

He left a body behind each time his soul—or whatever—became a ribbon of red light. Kaladin’s Blade sliced the body’s head clean off, but the light had already escaped.

Stormwinds. This thing seemed more spren than singer.

L: As we find out later, at least he can only do this a set number (3) of times! That helps with the OP-ness. As Sanderson himself stated in his Second Law of Magic, the limitations are more interesting than the powers themselves.

A: Survive, survive, survive, breathe. Lather, rinse, repeat. What an exhausting way to fight a battle, always watching for that red streak to signal a fight for your life.

The corpse—or whatever it was—looked dried out and fragile, the colors faded, like the shell of a snail long dead. The flesh underneath had turned into some kind of stone, porous and light.

L: Well, that’s fascinating. So it’s not like this Fused is possessing other bodies (I know that technically it is already, in that it had to find a Singer to possess, but that’s not what I mean in this instance).

A: Yeah, how does this work? He takes a singer body and then keeps making replicas of it? So weird. Also creepy.

They’d met Fused that could fly, and others that had powers like Lightweavers. Perhaps this was the variety whose powers mirrored, in a way, the traveling abilities of Elsecallers.

L: Sort of? A reminder that the Elsecallers are transitioning into and out of the Cognitive Realm (Shadesmar) and that’s how they travel. Like ducking into an alternate dimension for awhile. This Fused might be doing something similar, leaving behind just a spark of red light in the Physical Realm (like how we only see part of a spren), but in that case, how is it creating new “bodies”? Is it maybe convincing matter to change while it’s in the Cognitive Realm? (Remember Shallan’s “You could be fire” conversation with the stick, in Words of Radiance?)

A: I’m lost on this one. Is it Soulcasting? That doesn’t fit with the “one Surge per Fused variety” theory, but I’m not sure what else it could be. I have to wonder if we’ll see Jasnah—or other Elsecallers—zip around in a manner anything like this. I almost hope not. It’s creepy.

Yes… that black wrap he wore was hair, from the top of his head, wound long and tight around his body. He broke a carapace spur off his arm—a sharp and jagged weapon—and pointed it toward Kaladin. He had probably used one of those as a dagger when attacking Kaladin’s back.

Both spur and hair seemed to imply he couldn’t take objects with him when teleporting— so he couldn’t keep Voidlight spheres on his person, but had to retreat to refill.

L: Well, thank goodness for that, at least. But the fact that he has built-in weapons is hardly fair!

A: There’s just nothing that is fair about this Fused. NOTHING.

“Watch for me from the corner of your eye, Windrunner. We’ll meet again soon.”

L: Well, that’s not ominous or anything.

Relationships & Romances

Kaladin pointedly avoided looking at his father, to not betray their relationship. Besides, he knew what he would see. Disappointment.

So, nothing new.

L: Ouch. Well… guess nothing’s changed between Kaladin and Lirin in the year-long gap between books, huh?

A: Sigh. Apparently not.

The part of Kaladin trained by his father considered the wound analytically.

A: In one sense, I’m happy to see Kaladin acknowledge the usefulness of the training he received from Lirin, though he’s really never denied that. But it’s still the soldier training that figures out what to do with the surgeon’s knowledge—or in this case, almost despite the surgeon’s knowledge.

“I’m a soldier, Father,” Kaladin said. “I fight for these people.”

“Any idiot with hands can hold a spear. I trained your hands for something better.”

L: Yup, nothing’s changed at all.

A: Sigh.

“Fine,” Syl said. “I’ll do your part.” Her image fuzzed, and she became a perfect replica of Kaladin, sitting on his own shoulder. “Well well,” she said in a growling, low-pitched voice. “Grumble grumble. Get in line, men. Storming rain, ruining otherwise terrible weather. Also, I’m banning toes.”

L: Oh god I LOVE Syl so much. She’s such a perfect annoying little sister!

A: Bahahahahaha!! Oh, Syl.

Storms, he thought. Where would I be if I hadn’t found her?
The answer was obvious. He’d be dead at the bottom of a chasm, having leaped into the darkness.

L: That sound you just heard was my heart breaking.

“So,” Kaladin’s mother said, “how is Lyn?”

“Does that always have to be your first question?”

“Mother’s prerogative,” Hesina said. “So?”

“She broke up with him,” Syl said, shaped as a tiny glowing axehound.

L: Go ahead, get it out of your system.

A: LYN!! HOW COULD YOU OF ALL PEOPLE BREAK UP WITH KALADIN STORMBLESSED‽‽‽ Have you no compassion, woman? What were you thinking

… Okay, carry on.

L: I do have a funny story about this. When I went out to Utah for the Starsight book release event, Brandon told me that the character based on me dated and broke up with Kaladin in between books. I laughed, and said, “you’re kidding, right?”

If you’ve never had the chance to meet Brandon in person, you wouldn’t know that he’s got a wonderful deadpan. He replied, “Nope.” I examined his face and felt doubt creeping in. “You… you are kidding, right?” He laughed a little and asserted again that he was serious. And in that moment, I knew I was going to get a lot of light-hearted ribbing from the fandom who knows that this character is based on me. (Though I will note that my next question was “please tell me she didn’t break the poor boy’s heart, I couldn’t take that.”) So… yes. I’m the one who broke up with Kaladin Stormblessed. Tease away, I’ve had months to prepare.

A: The sole drawback to a tuckerization that grew into a real character: they start being themselves instead of sort-of-you, and all of a sudden they’re doing something shocking, and … they aren’t you at all.

L: In all seriousness though and speaking without bias, as much as I like the idea of Kal finding a love interest who’s a fellow Windrunner (think of all they’d have in common), I think he has a lot of growth and self-discovery to do before he can have a successful romantic relationship with anyone.

A: You’ll get no argument from me on that score. He needs friends he can trust, but that emotional baggage we talked about earlier is going to need some resolution before he can be truly dedicated to someone else in a romantic relationship.

Bruised & Broken

Indeed, he felt better when he got up and drew in a little more Stormlight. So what if the sleepless nights had returned? He’d survived on less sleep before. The slave Kaladin had been would have laughed himself silly to hear that this new Kaladin—lighteyed Shardbearer, a man who enjoyed luxurious housing and warm meals—was upset about a little lost sleep.

L: Oh… Oh, Kal. I’m thankful that he has Syl to look out for him at least.

A: “A little lost sleep.” In a way it’s healthy to minimize problems instead of carrying a martyr complex, but he has to know it’s not about “lost sleep” at all. It’s about what’s causing the sleeplessness, and that has to be dealt with. I actually feel bad for Syl in this scene, because she’s so obviously at a loss for how to help him.

L: It’s such a hard position to be in, trying to help a loved one who is dealing with depression. You can only do so much—the victim has to be the one to start taking those all-too-important steps forward towards healing. It has to be of their own volition—pushing them into it won’t help, and could only make things worse.

Veil smiled at the warmth that came from Shallan, and even Radiant, who was coming to enjoy humor. This last year, the three of them had settled into a comfortable balance. They weren’t as separate as they’d been, and swapped personas easily.

L: You know… as much as the split-personality thing bothers me because it’s an outward indicator of how unstable Shallan is mentally, this… I have to admit that I really like this. It’s like Shallan has two friends who are always with her, friends who understand her (literally) inside and out. Stormfather knows that Shallan could use some friends like that… Even if they are inside her own head.

A: Hmm. I can see that aspect, but (as I said above) I’d had some hope that the things she learned about herself at the end of Oathbringer, combined with being married to Mr. Dream, would help her sort out and reintegrate herself. Alas, it was not to be. But as with Kaladin, I also have to admit that the trauma of her past is huge, and it would be … well, sort of cheap to just handwave it away.

They had to perfectly maintain the illusion, as the real Chanasha never let a day go by without reconciling her accounts. She seemed to find it relaxing.

L: Aaaaand we’re back to being a little disturbed. The fact that Shallan is saying that this persona “seemed” to find it relaxing indicates that she doesn’t know—she didn’t build it from scratch.

Now…. I will add a caveat to this, that as a writer, I often experience this. My characters will take on lives of their own and “do things I don’t expect” from time to time, veering off the outline. But this feels different, maybe because we as readers know that Shallan is so damaged and seems to use this as a coping mechanism, as escapism. She is literally allowing herself to become other people because often it’s easier than being Shallan.

A: I read this a little differently. Chanasha is an acknowledged (and purchased) disguise, rather than a persona. Shallan (Veil?) finds it slightly bizarre that the real woman finds reconciling her accounts to be a relaxing exercise, but in the interests of maintaining a good impersonation, she does the reconciling every day anyway.

That said, the ease with which Shallan allows Veil or Radiant to take control in order to escape uncomfortable situations is definitely a sign of continuing instability.

She could do these numbers; she’d first trained on accounting when doing her father’s ledgers. That had begun before she…

Before she…

It might be time, Veil whispered. To remember, once and for all. Everything.

No, it was not.

But…

Shallan retreated immediately. No, we can’t think of that. Take control.

Veil sat back in the seat as her wine arrived. Fine.

L: And here we have Shallan retreating again, using her other personas to hide from her past. Unhealthy? Oh yeah. SUPER unhealthy. But it’s also kind of endearing that Veil seems to be looking out for her well-being, here.

A: I’m so torn on Veil. Sometimes she seems very protective and mama-bear toward Shallan, but I don’t trust her, and I always wonder if there’s an ulterior motive. She seems to think Shallan isn’t capable of anything beyond artwork.

L: Yeah, that’s very troubling. I sometimes worry that she just wants to take over the body entirely, which is CREEPY beyond belief.

A: Exactly. Is Veil being protective here, or just pushing buttons to make Shallan minimize herself?

Syl would expect a response, but he didn’t feel like giving one. Not out of annoyance, but more… a kind of general fatigue.

L: I suffer from bouts of depression from time to time, and this is such a huge red flag for me when I notice it in myself.

“You can fight a Radiant all on your own, if you’d like,” Kaladin said. “Alternatively, if you don’t feel like dying today, you can gather the singers in this town and retreat a half hour’s walk to the east.” …

The six soldiers rushed him.

Kaladin sighed.

L: I love that he gave them the chance. But I’m so sad that they didn’t take him up on it and made him fight and kill needlessly. This is definitely reflecting some of the growth we saw in him from Oathbringer, when he befriended the singers and was so conflicted about having to kill them.

A: At least he didn’t freeze this time…! Okay, to be fair, these are not singers he’d mentored who suddenly turn up in the middle of a battle; these are singers he confronts deliberately. The fact that he’s hoping not to fight them doesn’t mean he isn’t prepared to fight and kill if need be. And yes, it’s too bad they work for a nasty Fused who expects them to just go ahead and die for no particularly good reason.

She wished she could share it with Elhokar. Though most people remembered her son only as the man who had struggled to replace Gavilar as king, she’d known him as the curious, inquisitive boy who had always adored her drawings. He had always enjoyed heights. How he’d have loved the view from this deck…

L: There goes my heart breaking again.

A: This was so painful. Last week in the prologue, we saw how poorly Gavilar thought of Elhokar, and this is probably part of the reason. His natural inclinations were so far from what Gavilar thought worth-while, and clearly aligned much more closely to Navani’s gifts. It makes me hurt for that curious little boy, suppressing his interests and creativity to try to become the kind of person his father wanted him to be. It also hurts for the mother who had to watch him try to be something he wasn’t, and then lost him just as he was on the brink of (perhaps) merging the two.

Weighty Words / The Knights Radiant

“When in danger, he is to vanish.”

“And abandon his men?” Kaladin asked, aghast.

“You don’t survive like the Mink has without learning to wiggle out of situations others could never escape,” the tall Herdazian said. “If we were in danger, he’d try to come back for us. If he couldn’t… well, we’re his guards. Any of us would give our lives so he could escape.”

L: I feel as if this is a lead-in to what Kaladin’s arc is going to be (in story structure terms, it’s the “Theme Stated” moment). It’s long been theorized that Kaladin’s Fourth Ideal will be something along the lines of letting go of those he can’t save, and this is as direct an example as you can get.

Kaladin nodded. “I’m running low on Light, sir.”

Navani slipped her notebook from her pocket as Dalinar raised his hand and pressed it against Kaladin’s chest. There was a faint… warping to the air around them, and for a moment she thought she could see into Shadesmar. Another realm, filled with beads of glass and candle flames floating in place of people’s souls. She thought, for the briefest moment, she heard a tone in the distance. A pure note vibrating through her.

L: Ooooh, so Dalinar can use that ability he pulled out at the end of Oathbringer on command now, huh? That’s handy!

A: We saw at the end of Oathbringer that he was able to overcharge Kaladin for the flight to rescue Gavinor, but it was exhausting for him to do it. He seems to have gotten much better at it!

L: And what’s this about a tone? Is she hearing the rhythms, perhaps?

A: Well, not really a rhythm, just a tone. I think she’d have mentioned it if there were more than that one sound. Still, maybe it’s a step in that direction? That would be cool. We’ve been wondering whether it would ever be possible for humans without singer ancestry to hear the rhythms.

“I’m not sure yet,” she said. “Something is odd about the nature of Urithiru, and I think Bondsmiths might be related to the tower, at least from what we read about the old Radiants.”

A: It’s a reasonable supposition, right? They know from the Stormfather that the Sibling could make a Bondsmith, and they know from the gemstone library that the Sibling was somehow connected to Urithiru. Unfortunately, we—and they—don’t really know much of anything else, and I think it’s getting on her nerves that she can’t figure out what the actual connection is, or how to make it work. She’s got this much put together:

She knew the tower had once been occupied by a powerful spren named the Sibling. A spren on the level of the Nightwatcher or the Stormfather—and capable of making a Bondsmith.

L: Are we going to see a new Bondsmith in this book? Are we? ARE WE? So exciting! Who could it possibly be, if so? SPECULATE AWAY IN THE COMMENTS!

A: I seem to recall suggestions for this role: Rushu, Rlain, Rock, Navani… I’m not sure how many of those are based on perceived qualifications vs. wishful thinking, but there must be some other good candidates too. Thoughts? Let’s hear it!

Secret Societies

Veil made her way to a winehouse near the market. She’d been coming here for weeks now, and the owners knew her well. Intelligence said they, like the shoe merchant, belonged to the Sons of Honor, the group Veil was hunting.

A: Now we know the initial goal of what Shallan is up to in the warcamps, parading around trying to get herself kidnapped. She’s hunting the Sons of Honor, that questionable group of “uncommon figures” Gavilar used to associate with. Somehow, also, Shallan seems to think that Ialai Sadeas is linked with them. Is she right?

L: And does this tie into her association with the Ghostbloods at all? Or is she doing it simply under orders from Dalinar?

A: That’s more than I’ll guess just now. It could so easily be either one, or both.

What We Missed (In the Timeskip)

L: Well, apparently Kaladin had an entire relationship (though we have no idea how long it lasted). Also, he’s fought with seven different kinds of Fused? And Navani’s been busy! Shallan’s still…. Well, Shallan, and Ialai Sadeas might have taken up with the Sons of Honor.

A: It also appears that there may be more Windrunners than there used to be, if an easy two dozen are accompanying the airship. We don’t know how many are squires, but it’s a fair certainty that they wouldn’t send all the qualified Windrunners on this single mission.

Fabrial Technology & Spheres

It wasn’t a ship so much as a gigantic floating platform.

L: The Fourth Bridge is a really cool bit of tech!

A: Yummmmm. I love new tech.

In Urithiru, another group of engineers worked the complex mechanisms that kept this ship in the air. In fact, it used the very same technology that powered spanreeds. When one of them moved, the other moved in concert with it. Well, halves of a gemstone could also be paired so that when one was lowered, the other half—no matter where it was—would rise into the air.

Force was transferred: if the distant half was underneath something heavy, you’d have trouble lowering yours. Unfortunately, there was some additional decay; the farther apart the two halves were, the more resistance you felt in moving them. But if you could move a pen, why not a guard tower? Why not a carriage? Why not an entire ship?

Another lattice, secured on the Shattered Plains and connected to chulls, could then be used to make the ship move forward or backward.

A: It’s pretty amazing to see fabrial technology advancing to this level! All the same, the idea that the ship’s power systems are located in Urithiru and on the Shattered Plains… that makes me nervous. It seems too distant, and it feels like it’s putting the Fourth Bridge in danger. If anything goes wrong hundreds of miles away, this clever airship has no way of rescuing itself. I know, those locations are fairly secure—far more so than the lands where they’re flying the beastie. But it still makes me nervous. Even so, it’s quite a daring and innovative expansion of fabrial usage, and I HAVE to applaud that.

Deciding upon a name had taken her months of deliberation. In the end, however, she’d taken inspiration from the bridges that had inspired her. In specific, the one that had—so many months ago—rescued Dalinar and Adolin from certain death, something she hoped this vessel would do for many others in similarly dire situations.
And so, the world’s first air transport had been named the Fourth Bridge. With the permission of Highmarshal Kaladin’s old team, she’d embedded their old bridge in the center of the deck as a symbol.

L: Oh man. My heart!

A: Indeed! I love the callback to the Battle of the Tower at the end of The Way of Kings. It’s easy to forget about that, given how much has happened since, but this brings it all back: Navani painting the enormous Thath glyph (justice) in burn ink and setting fire to it in front of Sadeas, and the stunning moment when Dalinar arrived and confronted him… Yes, Navani has very good reason to put a high value on Bridge Four, and make it the center of her new rescue vehicle.

The easiest method would be to use a larkin—a type of cremling that feasts on Stormlight. That would be wonderful and convenient if the creatures weren’t now almost entirely extinct. The wars in Aimia were in part over these seemingly innocent little creatures.

L: I am always fascinated by the wars in Aimia and live in hope of seeing more about them in flashbacks or something eventually, so this little tidbit was incredibly cool to see!

A: Sometimes I’m amazed when I find out how many people know these little secrets. Then I remember that we just weren’t in the heads of people who would know until now, so… okay, then. I can’t help wondering what more we’re going to learn about Aimia and larkins. Such a tantalizing thing to dangle in front of me!

When in motion, they couldn’t write full instructions—spanreeds had trouble with that. But they could send flashes of light that could be interpreted.

L: Oh, interesting. I wonder what the science behind that is? Maybe because a flash of light is just one tiny brief signal versus a sustained one?

A: Sort of. They depend on stability for one half to mimic the other; if one is in motion beyond the actual writing, the other can’t really match it unless it also is moving in exactly the same direction at the same speed. The gemstone flash is just a pulse, and doesn’t depend on the motion of the gemstone at all. I wonder if they’ve developed something like a Morse code to communicate by flashes; it would be extremely useful!

 

And there we are, three chapters into the new events and it’s already crazy. Next week we’ll be reading Chapters 4 and 5! Remember, after that first Thursday-evening release, the serialization will be posted on Tuesday mornings. We hope to see you here for more discussion every week until November!

We’ll be leaving most of the speculation to you in the comments, so have fun and remember to be respectful of the opinions of others!

Alice is having a great deal of fun with the new released chapters, and all the resulting discussion. Remember to keep your spoilers here, or hide them behind spoiler tags on other platforms!

Yes, that’s right, Lyndsey dumped Kaladin Stormblessed. In other news, she’s incredibly excited to announce the release of her first full-length novel this Saturday, August 1! Join her at noon EST on her Facebook page for a live stream reading of chapter one and a short Q&A session.

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