Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Read-Along Discussion: Chapter Thirteen


Welcome back to the discussion! Last week, we saw Kaladin’s arc take an abrupt turn into the unknown. This week, assuming you’ve already read the new chapter, we’ll focus on Shallan. As she deals with internal struggles, we see the events of the previous day turning to a set-up of the next part of her journey. Come on in and discuss!

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 this week’s discussion we have to address Cosmere-relevant lore and speculation. I can’t even say “skip this section” anywhere, because if you read this chapter, you’ve already got the Cosmere-level view of what’s going on. We don’t talk about plot-level spoilers for anything outside Mistborn: Secret History, but … well, other worlds are mentioned and magic systems briefly addressed.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Shallan
WHERE: Urithiru
WHEN: Day 2

After taking care of administrative duties, Shallan visits her brothers. Her peace there is disturbed when Balat brings home a friend, “Gobby,” who turns out to be Mraize. Later, she goes to meet him in the garden below, where they exchange information and he gives her a new mission.

Overall Reactions

A: Virtually everything we need to talk about directly in this chapter addresses either Shallan’s mental health (including a lengthy ramble on DID and personal perceptions), or her interview with Mraize. Those fit more with “Bruised & Broken” and “Secret Societies”—although the latter could just as easily have been put in “Cosmere Connections”—so that’s where we put them.

Here, I’ll just point out what was mentioned in the Intro: this is the chapter where Shallan’s adventures with the Sons of Honor take a different turn. It turns out that, while her previous chapters did apparently wrap up the story of Ialai Sadeas’s subversive plans, we were actually being set up for her next arc. (Keep in mind that, according to Sanderson’s “plot outline” posts on reddit, there are three stories going in this book. According to the back-of-the-book blurb, “As more and more deadly enemy Fused awaken to wage war, no more honorspren are willing to bond with humans to increase the number of Radiants. Adolin and Shallan must lead the coalition’s envoy to the honorspren stronghold of Lasting Integrity and either convince the spren to join the cause against the evil god Odium, or personally face the storm of failure.”)

So. In Ialai’s little notebook, she was keeping track of information she gathered on the Ghostbloods. While Mraize doesn’t seem to mind Shallan knowing this stuff, and in fact expands on it quite a bit, I’m betting that he wouldn’t have told her any of it if she didn’t already have some clues. With her new Cosmere awareness, Mraize sets her a new task—and one that looks to tie in to the Shallan’s arc for this book. Obviously, one of the afore-mentioned “three story arcs” is the trip to Lasting Integrity. It also looks like Shallan will again be pursuing two goals on this mission: the overt purpose of persuading the honorspren to join the humans’ cause, and the covert one of finding and identifying Restares… and whatever it is that “she’ll know” to do when she finds him.

L: The “splitting up the party” trope is one that we see over and over in epic fantasy novels, so this isn’t a big surprise, to be honest. It’s interesting that Sanderson focuses on the one with Shallan and Adolin exclusively on the back cover copy, though. Is this the most important story arc of the book? Or is there something about the other two that he’s trying to keep under wraps? (Obviously we know the answer to this question, but I pose it to you, the readers, to speculate.)

Relationships & Romances

Jushu was no longer the plump, readily smiling boy from her memories. He was an overweight man with a full beard who had to be watched almost constantly, lest he steal something and try to pawn it for gambling money. They’d twice caught him trying to remove the heating fabrial.

A: Still a git, in other words. As I recall, there’s one thing in all the books so far that presents Jushu in a relatively good light. (From Words of Radiance, ch. 48: “Our mother was murdered,” Shallan said. “That night, as I cried, Jushu held me.” It was all she had.) Somehow, I just cannot like any of Shallan’s brothers, even though I know that their teen years were full of abuse and I feel very sorry for them. But here we are, with the baby sister still taking care of them all.

L: For how much nurturing she did as a child, I’m not entirely surprised that she seems to have gone in a much more independent route as an adult. When you’ve spent your whole childhood caring for others, I feel as if you’re either going to continue down that road and keep caring for all the people around you, or rebel against it. Shallan really isn’t what anyone would consider “nurturing,” I don’t think. And that’s not a bad thing! Having independence isn’t bad. It’s just interesting to look at character archetypes, especially when it comes to women in fantasy novels. There are a number of specific “types” that women in fantasy usually fall into, and Shallan is a clear outlier, which I love. She’s a very unique, complex, and believable character.

A: It’s interesting to see her internal conflict over this. She half-way feels like she still ought to be looking out for them, but even her visit today is forced; she only goes to them because family is important, not because she actually enjoys their company. And to be fair, they really need to grow up.

L: There’s something to be said for the old adage “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the blood of the womb.” I.e., your blood family might not necessarily be those who deserve your love. I’m not saying that this is the case here, but… Shallan’s brothers sure don’t seem to be doing anything to support her lately. Good thing she’s got Adolin!

Over the last year, Shallan had grown surprisingly fond of the young woman. As a child, Shallan remembered being jealous of anyone who might take her brothers away— but as an adult, she saw better. Eylita was kind and genuine. And it took a special person to love a member of the Davar family.

A: And there’s the one thing I can say for Balat: Eylita loves him, so there must be something good about him. I guess.

Damnation. Shallan hated talking with him. She found herself wanting to nod, to agree with him, to learn from him. Radiant whispered truth: Shallan had lived her childhood with a father who had been paternal in all the wrong ways and none of the right ones. In Mraize, a part of her saw a substitute. Strong, confident, and—most importantly—willing to offer praise.

A: GAAHHH. No, Shallan, Mraize is not a good father figure. He’s every bit as manipulative and demeaning as Lin Davar was, and quite possibly less interested in her good. What a horrible thought.

L: This is so realistic, though. It’s something that we see over and over in real life, so it makes complete and total sense to me to see Shallan gravitating towards a father figure.

Bruised & Broken

… home in Jah Keved. In her fantasy, a fire crackled in the hearth. Nearby, her stepmother and her father chatted together with some visiting ardents … Good days. Warm days.

In truth, those days at home had been terrible times. Times of tears, and screams, and a life unraveling. It was also the last time she could remember her entire family together.

Except… no, that wasn’t the entire family. This memory had happened after… after Shallan had killed her mother.

A: Every time she does this, with the fantasy memory vs. the real memory, it hurts all over again. Such heartbreak in her young life.

L: I can’t even imagine how painful it was. My best friend in high school lost his mother at a very young age, and I remember him using some of the same coping techniques that Shallan does—namely, a wicked sense of humor.

Confront it! she thought at herself, angry. Don’t ignore it!

She’d been only eleven years old. Seven years ago now—and if that timeline was correct, she must have begun seeing Pattern as a young child. … Shallan didn’t remember her first experiences with Pattern. Other than the distinct image of summoning her Shardblade to protect herself as a child, she had excised all such memories.

No, they’re here, Veil thought. Deep within, Shallan.

She couldn’t see those memories; didn’t want to see them. As she shied away from them, something dark shifted inside her, growing stronger. Formless. Shallan didn’t want to be the person who had done those things. That… that person could not… not be loved.…

A: Last week, in the comments, someone expressed disappointment that we could be so understanding of Kaladin’s depression, while – at least to this person – being very hurtful about Shallan’s DID (comment 33, if you want to go back and read their exact words). I’d like to address that comment a little, though I’m not sure I entirely understand what they were hoping for. (Side note: Taryn – it’s very good to hear from those who live with DID, and see where Sanderson hit the right beats, as well as learning where he didn’t. It’s especially good when, like last week, we say “I don’t get it, does that really work?” and you can say “Yep, right on” or “Well, mostly” or whatever. Constructive critique is always good.)

First, Lyn and I both know what depression feels like from both sides – from being the one with depression, and also from trying to help or support a loved one with depression – so we can’t help being sympathetic to that experience. While I can’t speak for Lyn, I don’t know anyone with DID; the closest I come to anything like Shallan’s situation is that I was able to completely block memories of early-childhood molestation for decades.I don’t think you could really say I did it by creating a different persona, except perhaps in that I lived all that time as someone who hadn’t had that experience. Dissociation, definitely, because when I did face it, it was always as though it had happened to “that little girl” rather than “me,” even though I have distinct visual and tactile memories of it. But I don’t think that’s the same thing as DID.

L: A friend of mine has DID, and I’ve had many discussions with them on the subject. But I haven’t experienced it firsthand, and their condition didn’t derive from trauma, as Shallan’s seems to have. It’s something they always had. They have two distinct personalities that, while they are aware of one another, do not interact and (honestly) don’t get along terribly well. One is not generally aware of what happens when the other is in “control.” It can be a bit of a learning experience, interacting with them, as you need to pick up from subtle clues which you’re speaking to (they sometimes will wear a bracelet and switch it from one wrist to the other depending on which personality is in control, but not always). So I can empathise with Adolin on this! But, again. It’s not something that I personally have experience in, as I do with depression. So yes… I relate more to Kaladin’s struggles. As in most fiction, you’ll find that certain characters resonate more with certain people than others, and that’s not a bad thing! I’m very thankful that there are people out there who see some of themselves in Shallan. That representation is so very important. If our comments have come across as dismissive of her struggles, it was not our intent, and I can’t speak for Alice, but I’ll do my best to look closer at my wording in regards to her in the future, in this regard.

A: I’ll certainly be more aware of what I say about her, though I’d never intended to be dismissive of her in the first place. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll always say the right thing… I’m pretty good at not doing that. But I’ll do my best.

Moving on… I think we’ve always been clear that Shallan experiences a real mental illness; what is less clear is whether this is a condition we want to see “fixed” – or more accurately, if it’s something we should treat as “fixable.” Remember, I’m not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist. I don’t know anyone with DID. I don’t know what causes it for different people IRL. All I can do is look at Shallan’s backstory (as far as we know it) and how that is playing out in her current situation, and see what the implications are.

L: That’s a big distinction for me, anyway. The question of “is this healthy, or not?” isn’t something that Alice or I have the knowledge to adequately assess. As Alice said, I’m not a psychiatrist or even a therapist. I don’t have the years of education to be able to say whether segmenting one’s personality and blocking memories is a productive coping mechanism for trauma, or not. All I can base my reactions on are my own feelings and emotions, and those are based in concern and empathy. Not science.

A: Exactly. In Shallan’s case, we know that her DID is trauma-induced, and it’s very definitely a coping mechanism for childhood horrors. And… there’s something we don’t know yet. Back in Chapter 9, there was this moment:

What he would do if he knew the real her. If he knew all the things she’d actually done.

It wasn’t just about him. What if Pattern knew? Dalinar? Her agents?

They would leave, and her life would become a wasteland. She’d be alone, as she deserved. Because of the truths she hid, her entire life was a lie.

A: It seems obvious that there is something more in Shallan’s past, something she not merely fears¸ but is convinced would make everyone reject her. That’s reflected again this week in the idea that “That person could not be loved.” There’s something going on here that we don’t know. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the “something” is a huge factor in causing her mental illness. Whether the illness can be cured by confronting the cause, I don’t know. Shallan seems to think so – but she also fears that the cure might be worse than the disease.

L: (Aside: I reject the concept that mental illness needs to be “cured;” sometimes, it becomes an integral part of who we are. It’s a very personal thing, and varies widely from person to person. But a blanket statement that being neuro-atypical is “wrong” and must be “fixed” is a dangerous overall precedent, in my opinion.)

A: True. Hence the question: should it be fixed, or treated as fixable? I don’t think there’s a “right” answer to that in general; there may be a right answer for Shallan. In her case, she’s got a still-buried memory that, for some reason, she perceives as unforgivable. Combine that with the way we saw the personas of Veil and Radiant developed: Back in WoR, Veil started as merely a disguise for her Ghostblood-related activities, pretending to be an associate of Tyn, so there would be no connection between “Veil the dark-eyed accomplice” and “Brightness Shallan, ward of Jasnah, protégé of Sebarial, fiancée of Adolin.” In Oathbringer, Veil started to become a separate person rather than a disguise. Veil became the person who could do the dangerous and daring things that Shallan couldn’t. Later, Radiant was overtly created to be the one who could learn to fight with the Patternblade. She was necessary presumably because that aspect of being a Lightweaver was inextricably tied (in Shallan’s mind) to the use of that Blade to kill her mother. (Interestingly enough, using Pattern to open Oathgates or other non-fighting purposes doesn’t bother her much.)

Now we have “Formless” starting to emerge, which both Shallan and Radiant seem to think is dangerous to their balance, as well as to Shallan herself. (I don’t recall hearing Veil make any comments on Formless, though I could just be forgetting.) So I think it’s fair to say that Shallan does not have her DID fully under control; she is not only broken, she is breaking further. I don’t know how this plays out with RL DID, but it seems from my perspective that she is going to continue to splinter unless she can face down and deal with that (last?) past trauma, whatever it is. And I can’t help thinking that, while I don’t want a “magic fix” for her DID, it would be so lovely for her to not need to break herself into separate pieces to deal with life.

L: This we can agree on, to a point. Seeing her find a stable balance seems important. The splintering seems to be a reaction to trauma that hasn’t been dealt with/addressed. If it takes another personality to confront and process that, I wouldn’t mind seeing one—providing it helps Shallan to find stability and balance in her own mind.

A: (That said, I have to admit to a little envy over that “division of labor for her duties” paragraph. If I could have a separate persona to do all this lovely fandom work, and a different one to take over doing speech therapy, etc. with my son, and another to take care of home maintenance projects, maybe life wouldn’t feel so overwhelming… Gotta say, it’s tempting!)

One other aspect which a couple of people mentioned in comments here and elsewhere: her marriage. While this is more related to last week than this, there’s an ongoing question about the relationship of the Three to Adolin. On one hand, I have nothing but respect for the guy’s ability to love his wife with all of her issues – even knowing that she hasn’t yet trusted him with all her issues. And yes, he totally married her knowing that she had at least three different personas, and that they were really very different from one another. He is clearly committed to doing whatever it takes for his wife to survive—and better yet, thrive. However…

Last week, we saw that he very clearly distinguishes between them, when he flat-out told Veil “you’re not my wife.” I have no idea how people whose spouse has DID handle this, but I’ll bet there’s a lot of variety. I would guess that there are some who would accept all the personas as “my wife;” some who (like Adolin) see only one as the actual wife, and the others as mutual friends; and probably a whole spectrum of other carefully-balanced relationships, each one unique to the individuals involved.

L: For what it’s worth, my friend who has DID considers themselves to be polyamorous, with each personality having separate (multiple) relationships. Their partners are well aware of this, and while of course there are complications that need to be resolved over time, it works well for them. This is not to say that this is how everyone with DID handles it, but because this is what I’ve seen personally, Adolin’s reactions ring very true to me.

A: A couple of weeks ago (yesterday, for them) we saw Adolin express some concern about that, though. He worried that Veil might decide to get involved with someone else, and he was clearly not sanguine about that possibility. Shallan assured him that she wouldn’t let Veil do that, which he seemed to accept.

L: Mmhmm. And that’s super important for successful polyamorous relationships, consent on all sides. So I’m very glad to see that Adolin is honest enough with his feelings to bring this up, and that they seem to be on the same page—all of them, Veil included.

A: Aside from physical/romantic liaisons, though, Adolin is seeing the difficulty his wife is having in her own mind. Again, from last week:

“This isn’t right, how she is. It hurts her. Over this last year I’ve seen her struggling, and I’ve seen hints that she’s sliding—if more slowly now—toward worse depths. She needs help, the kind I don’t know if I can give her.”

Their table hummed. “You are right,” Pattern said. “She hides it, but things are still wrong.”

A: However it works for “most people” in real life, Adolin is specifically concerned about Shallan’s condition, and desperately wants to help her. I have to go with what he has said, when I talk about what he wants for and from her. He loves her and wants the best for her, and – right or not – he sees “the best for her” as at least getting some help to keep her from developing more personas, and possibly even healing to the point that she doesn’t need them at all.

Going forward, I don’t know that I’ll necessarily be able to meet the expectations for handling Shallan’s illness in a way that can please everyone who has RL experience with DID. I’m reasonably confident that I will step on someone’s toes quite unintentionally, because (as always) my comments are a combination of my own experience, and what I see in the characters. You can be sure, though, that any perceived insensitivity is not active hostility; it’s just a limitation of being human.

L: We do our best to be respectful of everyone’s life experiences, but we can’t be perfect (unfortunately). The varied opinions and viewpoints of those who have more life experience in certain matters will always be welcomed in the comments, though!

A: As for Shallan’s own perspective…

She’d buckled down and forced herself to read studies on other people with fragmented personas. She’d found only a handful of mentions in medical texts, though the accounts implied people like her were treated as freaks even by the ardents. Oddities to be locked away in the darkness for their own good, studied by academics who found the cases “novel in their bizarre nature” and “giving insight to the addled mind of the psychotic.” It was clear that going to such experts with her problems was not an option.

Memory loss was apparently common to these cases, but the rest of what Shallan experienced seemed distinctly different.

Importantly, she wasn’t experiencing continued memory loss. So maybe she was fine. She’d stabilized.

Everything was getting better. Surely it was.

A: Yeah, no. She knows she’s not getting better. At the same time… Wow. Lovely things to find, there, when trying to research your own condition. “Freaks.” “Oddities.” “Locked away in darkness for their own good.” “Bizarre.” “Addled.” Good grief. The poor girl. No wonder she doesn’t want help, if that’s what help looks like! Better to stay as she is, than get “help” that would surely drive her completely insane. I wonder if she told Adolin what she found; that would provide an interesting background for his conversation with Kaladin last week.

L: It’s so sad that Roshar seems to deal with this sort of thing the same way that asylums around the turn of the century (and earlier) did. If you ever want to see some real horror stories, look into real life accounts of how people in asylums were treated. It’s terrifying, and it makes me so sad to see that even in fantasy worlds, such misunderstandings are prevalent.

A: On a bet, Sanderson did that on purpose, though, because of our own history. Let’s just hope he gives Roshar a better way forward!

He knew the truth about Shallan’s past. There were holes in her childhood memories. If they did what he asked, Mraize would fill them.

And maybe then, at long last, Veil could force Shallan to become complete

A: Again, I don’t know how the personas of a person with DID feel about the whole thing. Here, though, we have evidence that Veil, the persona that seems most dominant so far, wants Shallan to face her memories and “become complete.” I dare say there may be differing interpretations of that; my interpretation is that Veil wants Shallan to reintegrate her splintered personalities and become a single, complete person. If you have another read on that, please share it in the comments!

L: Yes, this is an interesting distinction. In the case of my friend, they definitely view their personalities as part of themselves. They are “complete,” in their perspective, and don’t require “fixing.” Losing one of those personalities would be like killing someone. However… those personalities were not born of trauma. So for Shallan, it may be different.

Secret Societies & Cosmere Connections

The deal is set and arranged. The spren will come.

She held this one for a moment, then burned it.

A: I’m not sure if this is “Secret Societies” so much as just “Secrets”… What deal? What spren? (We’ll learn more in a few minutes, though.)

Ialai’s spies had caught members of the Ghostbloods talking about a new route through the Sea of Lost Lights. … Indeed, an entire three pages were filled with locations from the mysterious world of the spren.

A: This is interesting, not so much for the information itself, as for the knowledge that the Ghostbloods know a lot about Shadesmar, and the Sons of Honor (or at least Ialai) were trying to figure out what the Ghostbloods knew.

L: From what we’ve seen so far, I’m not at all surprised. With all the Cosmere knowledge the Ghostbloods have, I’d be shocked if they didn’t have extensive knowledge of Shadesmar too!

Maps, names of places, discussions of the cost of moving items through Shadesmar. …

Veil saw the pieces of something grand in Mraize’s moves: find the Oathgates, attempt to secure unfettered—perhaps exclusive—access to Shadesmar. Along the way, try to remove rivals, like Jasnah. Then recruit a Radiant who could look into Shadesmar. Finally, attack other factions who were trying to discover the secrets.

A: So far as it goes, that’s a good start.

Veil didn’t try to sneak up on him; she knew he’d sense her coming. He seemed to be able to do that no matter how little sound she made. It was a trick she’d been trying to replicate.

A: Wait a minute. Does Mraize have enough Breath to have increased life sense? (see Warbreaker) Or is this a more natural awareness of everything around him, like the way he always positions himself so he can watch the entrances?

L: Again, wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it were the former.

“It’s about power, obviously.” … He took out a diamond broam, then handed it to her, wrapping her fingers around it. Her fist shone from within. “Power,” Mraize said. “Portable, easily contained, renewable. You hold the energy of a storm in your hand, Veil. That raw energy, plucked from the heart of the raging tempest. It is tamed—not only a safe source of light, but of power that those with… particular interests and abilities can access.”

“Nalathis,” Radiant said. “Scadarial. What are they?”

“Nalthis. Scadrial.” He spoke the words with a different accent. “Where are they. That’s an excellent question, Radiant. Suffice it to say they are places in Shadesmar where our Stormlight—so easily captured and transported—would be a valuable commodity.”

A: He’s using a different word, but he’s talking about pure Investiture, thinking that if only he could find a way to get it there reliably, it would be usable on any world.

L: Interesting, too, that he says that they’re in Shadesmar. Is he only saying that because he thinks that it would be easier for Shallan to accept and understand? Or is he mistaken? I have to believe that it’s the former, because with all the information that Mraize has, I can’t believe that he’d be so badly mistaken as to think that these other worlds are simply different parts of Shadesmar. (Though… do the other planets have their own versions? They must, right? Since this is the cognitive realm, each planet should have their own. Do they all look the same, with the dark sky and the reversal of ocean/land, and the beads? I recall having seen a glimpse of Scadrial’s in Mistborn: Secret History, but I can’t recall any specifics.)

A: Well, yes, every planet has their own version of Shadesmar. M:SH has a whole section of wandering around the Cognitive realm, so we get a good look. On Scadrial, the land is all covered in mist, rather than beads, but it can at least be walked on. Like Roshar, the Scadrian Cognitive realm has rocky ground with plants growing wherever there is water in the Physical realm. We don’t know much about other planets yet, except that the Cognitive realm around Sel (Elantris) is very dangerous because of the way those Shards were killed.

L: Oooooh yeah, that’s right! It’s been a good long while since I read M:SH.

A: I’m a little confused about the “places in Shadesmar” question, though. I cannot believe that Mraize really thinks that they’re in Shadesmar; he’s got to know that they’re actual planets. Then again, since you can travel from one to another in Shadesmar, maybe he’s just referring to their presence in the Cognitive realm, and would equally refer to Lasting Integrity (for example) as being part of Roshar.

“This power is something we call Investiture,” Mraize said. “Investiture manifests in many forms, tied to many places and many different gods. It is bound to a specific land—making it very difficult to transport. It resists. Try to carry this too far, and you’d find it increasingly difficult to move, as it became increasingly heavy.

“The same limitation restrains people who are themselves heavily Invested. Radiants, spren—anyone Connected to Roshar is bound by these laws, and cannot travel farther than Ashyn or Braize. You are imprisoned here, Radiant.”

“A prison as large as three planets,” Radiant said. “Forgive me if I don’t feel confined.”

“This gemstone cannot go where it is needed. A more perfect gemstone could contain the Light long enough to go offworld, but there is still the Connection problem. This little flaw has caused untold trouble. And the one who unlocks the secret would have untold power. Literal power, Radiant. The power to change worlds…”

“So you want to unravel the secret,” Radiant said.

“I already have,” Mraize said, making a fist. “Though putting the plan into motion will be difficult. I have a job for you.”

A: We’re already at the point where any conversation involving Mraize could just as easily be put in Cosmere Connections as Secret Societies; hence the decision to combine the two! So basically, Mraize thinks he knows a way to take Investiture from one world to another, using perfect gemstones, but there’s a missing link. Something he needs Shallan to do. Another thing he needs Shallan to do. (It makes me guess that if she thought about it with both hands, she just might realize that he needs her peculiar abilities, and she should be driving a much harder bargain.)

L: Interesting, too, to note that while Shallan is trapped here due to her Investiture, the same does not seem to apply for those who carry Breath (Azure/Vivenna, Wit/Hoid, Zahel/Vasher). We’ve also seen other Invested items carried here to Roshar… such as the white sand. So what is it about Stormlight that’s so directly linked to Roshar? Is it just that Worldhoppers have figured out ways of transporting the others and haven’t figured this one out yet? Or is there something integral to Stormlight that makes it more resistant to inter-world travel?

A: Oh, I wish I knew! Connection is a slippery property; every time I think I start to understand it, I discover something else that proves I don’t understand it at all. I wonder… would you be able to carry Breath between worlds if it were stashed in an object, or only if you yourself are holding it? The white sand can be transported, but IIRC, that’s because it’s actually a bacteria attached to the sand that reacts to Investiture. (And I really need to think to wrap my head around that one.) I’m guessing that one of the special things about Stormlight would be that if you can get it to another world, it can be used by anyone who knows how (or has the right SDNA or whatever). I’m not quite sure how that’s different than the others, though. The thing that’s bugging me is that once it’s used, it’s used, and you’d have to go back to Roshar to reinfuse the gemstone. Are there places where Investiture is just so hard to come by that it would be worth developing this trade? I’m honestly a bit confused, but if ever there was a topic for Cosmere speculation, this is one such!

L: Not to mention… does one type of proclivity towards Investiture carry across the board? We know that allomancers need something specific (pretty sure it was a specific gene) in order to use different types of Allomancy, or Feruchemy. Could, say, someone who’s a steel-pusher be more inclined towards being able to use Stormlight like, oh, I don’t know. A windrunner could?

“Sja-anat contacted me while I was away. She agreed to your terms, and is sending one of her spren to the tower, where it will investigate your members for a possible bond.”

“Those weren’t the terms,” he said. “She was to promise me a spren to bond.”

A: Well, there’s arrogance for you, thinking you can give orders to one of the Unmade. Also, this is probably what that first quote in this section was all about: a message from Sja-anat that she would send a spren to seek a bond. I can’t help seeing a parallel here. A few chapters ago, Kaladin directed Yunfah to consider Rlain for a bond (after reading all the comments I decided that I was too hard on Kaladin, since he only ordered Yunfah to try to work with Rlain). That sounds awfully similar to this conversation: Mraize expected a spren to be ordered to bond, and Shallan says only that the spren will look at the possibility.

“I don’t need to worry about two spies then,” Shallan said. “Only the one you have watching me, the one who killed Ialai. It’s one of Adolin’s guards, isn’t it?”

“Don’t be silly. We have no interest in men such as that. They offer us nothing.”

“Who, then?”

“I cannot betray this secret,” Mraize said. “Let’s just say that Lightweavers fascinate me, and leave it at that. And you should not fear if I did keep someone close to you. Such a person could be an… aid in times of need. Iyatil did the same for me.”

A: Well, okay then. He’s certainly implying that it’s one of the Lightweavers… Is it true, or is he just trolling?

L: Honestly I always kind of look at Mraize like this anyway, so I’m continually suspicious.

“Iyatil has reported to Master Thaidakar,” Mraize said, “and he has accepted—after some initial anger—that we will not be able to control the Oathgates. I explained that there at least is a calming wind in this, like the riddens of a storm. With Dalinar controlling the Oathgates, he can prosecute the war against Odium.”

“And that helps your cause?”

“We have no interest in seeing the enemy rule this world, Shallan. Master Thaidakar wishes only to secure a method for gathering and transporting Stormlight.”

A: Ah, the mysterious Master Thaidakar. Nope, I’m not going there. (But feel free to speculate in the comments.)

L: I have my suspicions about who this is, after reading some excellent speculation on the topic. I hope it’s true, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

“The secret has to do with Gavilar. The old king. What was he doing?” …

“He recruited others, promising them a return to the old glories and powers. Some, like Amaram, listened because of these promises—but for the same reason were as easily lured by the enemy. Others were manipulated through their religious ideals. But Gavilar… what did he truly want?”

“I don’t know. Do you?”

“Immortality, in part. He thought he could become like the Heralds. In his quest, he discovered a secret. He had Voidlight before the Everstorm—he carried it from Braize, the place you call Damnation. He was testing the movement of Light between worlds. And one close to him might have answers. At any rate, we couldn’t risk Ialai or the Sons of Honor recovering these secrets.”

A: I … honestly don’t know what to say about this. Was Gavilar looking for a way to become a Cognitive Shadow like the Heralds? Or was he after some way to not die in the first place?

L: Wouldn’t be the first fictional character to turn into a villain on a search for immortality, certainly wouldn’t be the last.

“This is your mission,” Mraize said. “Find your way to Lasting Integrity. Get in, then find Restares. There should be no more than a handful of humans in the city; in fact, he might be the only one. We don’t know.”

“We will hold nothing back,” Mraize said. “Everything we know becomes yours after this.”

A: That’s… an interesting promise. I tend to doubt him, but I suppose we’ll see!

L: Yeah, again… I don’t trust Mraize as far as I could throw him. But I hope he’s being honest in this case, for Shallan’s sake.

What We Missed (In the Timeskip)

Considering Shallan’s Radiant duties, they’d put several trustworthy women in control of finances—their husbands overseeing police and guards. The meeting mostly involved Radiant dispensing a few decisions and Shallan auditing the accounts.

A: Just noting that the administration of a highprincedom, even in exile, involves a lot of paperwork. Apparently Adolin & Shallan have stepped into their roles, at least to the extent of putting trustworthy people in positions of authority. I’m assuming they do more than just delegate, but … delegating tasks to qualified people is definitely part of good leadership!

The Oathgates—though primarily used to quickly move troops and supplies—had another function. They had the ability to send people back and forth into Shadesmar, a usage that Dalinar’s scholars and Radiants had slowly managed to unlock during the past year.

A: Well, there we have another answer. Remember Navani saying something about going into Shadesmar via the Oathgates (ch. 9)? Yeah, that’s a thing they’ve figured out. Perhaps we’ll learn more soon.

Fabrial Technology & Spheres

Advanced fabrials are created using several different techniques. Conjoined fabrials require a careful division of the gemstone—and the spren inside. If performed correctly, the two halves will continue to behave as a single gemstone.
Note that rubies, and flamespren, are traditional for this purpose—as they have proven the easiest to divide, and the quickest in response times. Other types of spren do not split as evenly, as easily, or at all.

A: I’m still wondering how this relates to the amethysts used in the reversers, but we won’t answer that here. But why are flamespren the easiest to split evenly? I can readily believe that some gemstones are easier to divide evenly, but… what is the difference in the spren? I have a sort of vague hand-wavy notion that it might have to do with the way flames in a fire (not a lamp or candle flame, really) are constantly dividing and flickering, but I can’t even get hold of it enough to define it as a theory. Thoughts?

L: It’s easy to “divide” a flame by simply sticking in something flammable and then taking it away, to start a fire elsewhere. So I can see this. You wouldn’t be able to do that with, say, water, as water is a distinct physical mass and you can’t “create” more of it, whereas flame is a reaction and can grow. It feeds on mass rather than being mass itself, if I’m remembering my chemistry/physics correctly.

A: Oh, good point! That makes a lot of sense, and may be what my addled brain was searching for in the first place. I can pretend, anyway.


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

Alice is currently enjoying a brief reprieve in the PNW autumn; it’s sunny this week. Having got through Smoke season, it’s apparently now Spider season, preparatory to The Long Dark Wet season.

Lyndsey is missing her faire family dearly. In these bylines, she’ll be giving some shout-outs to fellow local performers or vendors who could really use the support. This week, check out Hildebrand Magic, and prepare to have your mind blown (and toss him a congrats, as he got married this week!). If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.


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