Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Read-Along Discussion: Chapter Ten

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Well, how about that. It’s Tuesday again! We’ve all read Chapter Ten, right? (If not, what are you doing here? Go read it first!) Last week, Navani got the beginning of a new arc, with her mysterious correspondent. This week, Kaladin gets the end of an arc, and … well, honestly, kind of a blank slate on what comes next. Let’s go talk about it, shall we?

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.

In the new normal, we have some Mistborn Magic comparison in the Fabrial Technology section, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want spoilers, best to give that section a pass.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Kaladin
WHERE: Narak (Shattered Plains)
WHEN: Day One, cont.

Kaladin and the others arrive back at the Shattered Plains, and Dalinar relieves Kaladin of duty.

Overall Reactions

No, Syl said. He is angry at your repeated suggestion he bond one of the enemies.

“He won’t find a potential Windrunner more capable or earnest.”

L: I appreciate that Kal is looking out for Rlain, but… trying to coerce a spren into a bond without it being their own idea? I don’t know. I’ll be interested to see what Rlain’s take on that will be. He’s seemed to be a very independent type, I don’t know how he will take this potential pity-bond.

A: Yeah, it’s… troubling. We all want Rlain to get his spren bond, but this is … I don’t know how I feel about it. Ambivalent. It might be a great bond, and Yunfah just needs to give it a chance to find out how great it can be. Or it might be worse than useless; if they really try and can’t form a bond, what would that do to Rlain? I do see why Kaladin wants to try it, though; Yunfah is the only available honorspren, and from all appearances there won’t be any others without someone dying. So… okay. Sorta. I guess.

(Except, somehow a spren that chooses the form of a grumpy old man just doesn’t seem right for Rlain! LOL)

“I forbid you to bond anyone else unless you try to work with Rlain first.”

L: At least he’s not flat out ordering Yunfah to bond with Rlain, but… still problematic.

A: Yep. I suspect Kaladin knows he can’t actually force a bond, and is smart enough not to push it that far. Nonetheless, it feels off.

“What happened to Brightness Ialai is regrettable,” Dalinar said. “See that her decision to take her own life is published.

L: Wait a second. Dalinar, lying outright like this? Or… is he being given false information?

A: Umm… yikes? I mean, I get that Shallan and Adolin don’t want to tell the world that Ialai Sadeas was murdered during their mission, by one of their own people… Maybe they figured Dalinar would read the report out loud and didn’t want to put the truth in it?

“It’s time that I relieved you of duty, son. I’m sorry.”

A: OUCH.

L: Honestly, I’m… glad that Dalinar is doing this. Kaladin needs time to heal, and Honor knows he’s never going to voluntarily sit back and do it himself. However…

“You can’t do this. I built the Windrunners. They’re my team. You can’t take that from me.”

L: Ye gods. If this is the only thing keeping him together… what’s going to happen when he loses it?

A: This chapter… so many mixed feelings! Kaladin’s immediate reaction is that the lighteyes are once again taking away everything that matters. And yet, he knows it’s the right thing to do, too. Overall, I agree that Dalinar is doing the right thing here, but it’s so painful. Doesn’t matter that he’s now a lighteyes too, or that he’s a Knight Radiant—that sense of loss is deep.

Humans

The battalionlord, a gruff fellow with an Oldblood tattoo, looked away pointedly.

L: I just want to point out that I have no clue what this Oldblood thing is.

A: Heh. We know very, very little; I think it’s just a worldbuilding detail. The Oldbloods used to be rulers of Alethkar in some distant past, and they wear a blue tattoo on their cheek to show their heritage. Teleb, the archer from Dalinar’s first flashback, was an Oldblood. And… that’s about all we know.

Though Dalinar had never said he’d moved to written reports specifically to make his officers confront the idea of a man reading, Kaladin could see the showmanship in the way he held up the sheet and nodded to himself as he read.

A: Can we just share a chuckle over Dalinar striking a pose to pointedly read the report in front of his officer? He’s just determined to spread this bit of rebellion, isn’t he? Also, it seems like we should address this:

Dalinar was a king now, officially recognized by the coalition of monarchs as ruler of Urithiru—a station separate from Jasnah’s queenship over Alethkar. In the acknowledgment of this, Dalinar had officially renounced any idea of being a “highking” over any other monarch.

A: So there’s the formal answer to a recent question: Urithiru is Dalinar’s “kingdom” now. I wonder if Jasnah will set up an Alethkar-in-exile settlement at the warcamps, now that there’s a leadership vacuum there.

Relationships & Romances

“I can’t believe this!” Kaladin said, angerspren pooling underneath him. “You were supposed to be different. You—”

“Why?” Dalinar asked, standing calmly.

L: I love this. Kaladin’s losing his temper and Dalinar just completely throws him off the tracks before he can start gaining momentum. Dalinar is acting like the tough but loving father to Kaladin here, and I’m here for it.

A: Totally infuriating! Except that of course it’s exactly the right response. Dalinar has seen this situation before, probably hundreds of times, and he knows what needs to be done. Further, he knows Kaladin, and what Kaladin needs to have done. That whole bit about how Dalinar is supposed to be better, because he cares about his men… It’s really quite perfect, as sad as it is, because every one of Kaladin’s arguments bring him back around to acknowledging that Dalinar is correct, and that it’s what he himself would do for someone under his command.

“You’re not valuable to me because of how many enemies you can kill. It’s because you’re man enough to understand, and to say words like those.”

L: Dalinar making a strong play for MVP at this particular moment…

Bruised & Broken

Others, however, handled it differently. The majority, though grieved, seemed to want another bond soon—as it helped them move past the pain of loss.

L: This reminds me a little of how some people will get a new pet to help ease the pain of the loss of another. It… kind of amuses me a little to think that maybe spren see humans as their pets. It would make sense, though, if you think about it… they are far more long-lived than humans, just as we are compared to dogs or cats…

Perhaps the two Heralds could explain the pillar. Had they walked here? Unfortunately—considering that one of them was full-on delusional and the other dabbled in it now and then—he wasn’t certain they’d be useful in this.

A: I love the phrasing here, but at the same time, it’s a bit painful. I keep hoping they’ll learn something useful from Taln and Ash; they should know so many things that would help! But they don’t seem to be contributing a lot, so far.

L: Might just be a case of needing to know the right questions to ask…

“What if I’m not there?” he pled. One final complaint. “What if something happens when they’re out fighting? What if one of them dies because I couldn’t protect them?”

L: This breaks my heart.

A: Dalinar’s response, though… what if one of them dies because you are there and you freeze right when they need you? Honestly, I think that would be the worst thing that could happen to Kaladin at this point. The pain of knowing someone died because he wasn’t there would be awful. Knowing someone died because he was there and he froze right when they needed him… that would be so much more guilt piled on his already overburdened sense of responsibility! I’m glad Dalinar is pulling him out before that happens.

L: I agree, but I can also see how Kaladin couldn’t see that in the moment. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t, situation. People could die either way, and in Kal’s mind, that responsibility is on him either way.

A: That’s very true; his mindset at present is “I’m responsible for everyone, no matter what.” Which… Kaladin, just no, but I get it. *sigh*

“I just won’t be anywhere I can cause harm,” Kaladin whispered. “Because I’m broken.”

L: KALADIN. AW JEEZ, HE’S KILLING ME HERE.

A: Oh, child… (Yes, I know he’s 21. He’s still a child, right now. And he badly needs a hug.)

L: There are so many times over the course of these books that I wish I could just reach into the book and give him a hug. Not that he’d take that well, that is… look at how annoyed he is by everyone checking in on him.

Sure. Of course. Take from me the one thing that matters, then tell me I’m valuable. We both know I’m nothing.

L: I’ve… I’ve had these thoughts, when depression is at its worst. I feel for Kaladin so much, here.

“So I’ll come back to the battle?” Kaladin asked. “I’ll take a leave, then return?”

“If we feel it’s right for you to do so. Yes, that’s possible.”

Possible, Kaladin thought. But not likely. Dalinar had probably seen more men succumb to battle fatigue than Kaladin had—but in all his years of fighting, Kaladin had never seen someone recover. It didn’t seem the kind of thing you got over.

A: Ow.

L: How often have you seen people heal from Shardblade wounds, though, Kaladin? Back before the Radiants returned? I’m just saying… maybe it’s not so impossible anymore. (Though I will say that I’d rather if this healing comes about because of work he puts in on his own emotional stability rather than just a supernatural fix.)

Weighty Words / The Knights Radiant

None had yet spoken the Fourth Ideal. He liked to think that it was as hard for them as it was for him, and none had yet cracked it. But… but could they be restraining themselves because of him? Out of some misguided respect?

A: This has come up in the discussions recently, so… here’s an answer. There are not yet any Fourth-level Windrunners, and—like the reader—Kaladin can’t help wondering if someone is holding back so he can be the first. Would they, really? I don’t know.

L: I could see that. They all look up to him so much, and they all obviously know how bad off he’s been lately. Imagine how much worse it could be if someone else took that step before he did? Even if it’s just subconscious, I could see people holding back because they’re trying to protect him. They are Windrunners, after all.

“I…” he whispered. What were the Words?

You couldn’t say the Words, he thought. You needed to. A year ago, when Dalinar could have died. You needed to speak the Words. You crumpled instead.

L: As has been theorized up, down, left, and right before now, they have to be something about accepting the inevitable, right?

A: It certainly seems probable. There have been a lot of fan theories about this Ideal, but most of them seem focused around accepting something he’s not willing to accept. That some people don’t want his help? That they get to make their own decisions? That he’s not responsible for every single person in the whole world? It seems likely to be something along those lines.

What We Missed (In the Timeskip)

The spren, Yunfah, had been bonded to Vratim, a Windrunner who had died a few months ago. At first, when they’d begun losing Radiants in battle, Kaladin had worried it would cause him to lose the spren as well. Syl, after all, had gone comatose many centuries ago when she’d lost her first Radiant.

A: Let’s take a moment to note that last week’s passing comment about “lost Windrunners” is reconfirmed and expanded. We have a named dead Windrunner here, Vratim, and the clear implication that there have been quite a few others. There have been enough, at least, for Kaladin to observe that the “usual” response of the spren is to seek another bond. (This note brought to you by a review of previous weeks’ comments, to point out that we did not, in fact, see the first Radiant deaths on screen. IMO, it would have been unrealistic to go for a whole year of near-constant fighting without losing a single Radiant.)

Also: There have been a few infrastructure changes in the past year. At Narak, for example,

Navani’s engineers were turning the entire plateau from ruins into a fortified base. A wall to the east—easily six feet wide at its foot—was being built, low and squat, against the storms. A thinner wall wrapped the rest of the plateau, and lightning rods helped protect from the Everstorm.

A: So that’s cool; they’ve fortified the Oathgate plateau and very clearly made it Human Territory.

L: I particularly like the lightning rods, I don’t recall ever having seen anything like that in Stormlight before!

A: Then there’s this reflection of Oathbringer…

That was one of the revelations that had shaken the foundation of the Radiants—both ancient and new. Though many of the orders had accepted the truth as an oddity and moved on, many Windrunners had not. Nor had Dalinar; Kaladin could see the way he winced whenever the idea was discussed.

L: Well, it’s good to know that the Big Revelation from the end of Oathbringer wasn’t just swept under the rug.

A: Indeed! Kaladin (and presumably the rest of the Windrunners) seem to be stuck on the concept that the humans were the “invaders” and still feel some associated guilt, while many of the other orders are okay to just leave the past in the past. I’m bothered a bit differently than Kaladin, though: I’ve firmly believed ever since the Big Revelation that there’s more to it, that we haven’t gotten the whole story of the “Voidbringers” arrival. I would be really upset if everyone just accepted it and went on about their day; this is a Mystery, and I want Answers.

L: Especially since the Radiants of old certainly didn’t just accept it. What makes it different this time?

A: Good question. My best guess would be that instead of feeling guilty about a vanquished enemy turned to mindless slaves (after the False Desolation and the entrapment of Ba-Ado-Mishram), they’re facing an organized army, with extremely powerful Fused and Regals, and their lives are in danger. They need all the Radiants they can get to keep humanity from being destroyed or enslaved, and pragmatism trumps idealism in that situation.

Fabrial Technology & Spheres

A tin cage will cause the fabrial to diminish nearby attributes. A painrial, for example, can numb pain.

A: This is the first metal that doesn’t have an obvious correlation—at least, not that I can see—to the Allomantic usage. Burning tin enhances the senses, where a tin cage diminishes the relevant attributes. It might be a little like flaring tin to clear one’s head, but… not really. Perhaps it’s more like the Feruchemical use of a tinmind for storing sensitivity? Maybe? Someone better at the Scadrian magic system needs to weigh in on this.

Note that advanced designs of cages can use both steel and iron as well, changing the fabrial’s polarity depending on which metals are pushed to touch the gemstone.

L: This makes sense with what we know of Allomancy, too. Steelpushing and Ironpulling!

 

We’ll be leaving the rest of the speculation to you in the comments, so have fun and remember to be respectful of the opinions of others! And remember; please, no discussion about the sneak preview of Dawnshard! (ETA: Sneak previews remaining are a portion of a Venli chapter, two Interludes, and the prologue of Dawnshard. Please make sure you either avoid those, or white-text your comments about them if you feel they’re particularly relevant.)

Alice is done with the sunburn, sent the kid back to school, and is looking forward to the discussion. Also, Dawnshard.

Lyndsey is missing her faire family dearly. For the next two months in these bylines, she’ll be giving some shout-outs to fellow local performers who could really use the support. This week, check out The King’s Busketeers, fine purveyors of party folk music! If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.

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