Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Read Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: Chapter Seventeen

On November 17, 2020, The Stormlight Archive saga continues in Rhythm of War, the eagerly awaited fourth volume in Brandon Sanderson’s #1 New York Times bestselling fantasy series.

Tor.com is serializing the new book from now until release date! A new installment will go live every Tuesday at 9 AM ET.

Every chapter is collected here in the Rhythm of War index. Listen to the audiobook version of this chapter below the text, or go here for the full playlist.

Once you’re done reading, join our resident Cosmere experts for commentary on what this week’s chapter has revealed!

Want to catch up on The Stormlight Archive? Check out our Explaining The Stormlight Archive series!


Chapter 17
A Proposal

The simplest Fused weapon against us isn’t truly a fabrial, but instead a metal that is extremely light and can withstand the blows of a Shardblade. This metal resists being Soulcast as well; it interferes with a great number of Radiant powers.

Fortunately, the Fused seem unable to create it in great quantities—for they equip only themselves, and not their average soldiers, with these wonders.

—Lecture on fabrial mechanics presented by Navani Kholin to the coalition of monarchs, Urithiru, Jesevan, 1175


Navani had seen Shallan and Dalinar summon the map dozens of times, but—as with Dalinar’s ability to recharge spheres—she felt there was more to be learned by careful examination.

First Shallan breathed out, and her Stormlight expanded outward in a disc. Dalinar breathed out his own Light, which melded with Shallan’s, spiraling across the surface like a whirlpool. The two planes of luminescent smoke spun outward, flat and round, filling the room at about waist height.

Somehow Shallan’s Lightweaving mixed with Dalinar’s Connection to the land to create this magnificent representation of Roshar. The Stormfather implied that Dalinar—as a Bondsmith—could do similar marvels with other orders, but so far their experiments had been fruitless.

The map’s sudden appearance caused the Mink to scramble away. He was at the door in a fraction of a second, standing with it cracked, ready to flee. He was a paranoid type, wasn’t he?

Navani focused on the map, her pen poised. Could she sense anything? Perhaps Shadesmar? No… something else. The sensation of flight, soaring above a tempestuous ocean, free. Dreamlike. The Light seemed to become solid, snapping into the shape of a map of the continent as if seen from high above. Fully rendered in color, it showed mountains and valleys in exacting topographical detail, all to scale.

The Mink’s eyes went wide, and awespren burst above him like a ring of smoke. Navani understood that emotion. Watching the Radiants work was like experiencing the intensity of the sun or the majesty of a mountain. Yes, it was becoming commonplace to her, but she doubted it would ever become common.

The Mink shut the door with a click, then stepped over to reach a hand into the illusion. A small portion of it wavered and swirled into misty Stormlight. He cocked his head, then walked into the center of the map, which distorted around him, then snapped back into focus after he stilled.

“By Kalak’s mighty breath,” the Mink said, leaning over to inspect a miniature mountain. “This is incredible.”

“The combined powers of a Lightweaver and a Bondsmith,” Dalinar said. “It is not a picture of the world as it exists at this moment, unfortunately. We update the map every few days when the highstorm blows through. This limits our ability to count enemy troop numbers, since they tend to move inside for the storm.”

“The map gets that detailed?” the Mink asked. “You can see individuals?”

Dalinar waved, and a portion of the map expanded. The far perimeters vanished as this specific section became more and more detailed, focusing in on Azimir. The Azish capital expanded from a dot to a full-sized city, then stopped at its best magnification: a scale where buildings were the size of spheres and people were specks.

Dalinar zoomed the map back out to full size and glanced to Shallan. She nodded, and numbers began to hover in the air above portions of the map—swirling and made from Stormlight, marked by glyphs that men could read.

“These are our best estimates of troop numbers,” Dalinar said. “Singer counts in gold, our troop counts—which of course are more accurate—in the color of the appropriate army. Divided by glyph, you’ll find foot soldiers, heavy infantry, archers, and what few cavalry we can likely field in each area.”

The Mink walked through the map and Navani tracked him with her eyes, more interested in him than the numbers. The Mink took his time, inspecting each region of Roshar and its troop concentrations.

As he was thus surveying, the door opened. Navani’s daughter—Her Majesty Queen Jasnah Kholin of Alethkar—had arrived. She had four guards; Jasnah never went about alone, though she was more capable with her powers than any other Radiant. She deposited the guards outside the door and entered with only one man shadowing her: the Queen’s Wit, tall and lanky, with jet-black hair and an angular face.

It was the same Wit who had served Elhokar, so Navani had known this man for a few years. Yet he was… different now. Navani often noted him and Jasnah whispering in conspiratorial tones during meetings. He treated Navani—and, well, everyone—as if he knew them intimately. There was a mystery about this Wit that Navani had never noticed during Elhokar’s reign. Perhaps he molded himself to the monarch he served.

He stayed in step right behind Jasnah, silvery-sheathed sword on his hip, his lips drawn ever so slightly to a smile. The type that made you think he must be considering a joke about you that no one had the decency to say to your face.

“I see we have our map,” Jasnah said. “And our new general.”

“Indeed,” said the Mink, who was reading the troop numbers over Azir.

“Thoughts?” Jasnah asked, ever practical.

The Mink continued his inspection. Navani tried to guess what conclusions he’d draw. The war was happening on two main fronts. In Makabak—the region encompassing Azir and the many small kingdoms surrounding it—coalition forces continued to battle the singers over a specific region, the kingdom of Emul. The drawn-out conflicts were only the newest in a series of wars that had left the kingdom—once proud—war-torn and broken.

So far, neither side had an advantage. Azish armies, with the help of Alethi strategists, had recaptured some ground in northern Emul. However, they didn’t dare advance too far, as the wildcard of the region might come into play if they reached the south. Nestled behind Odium’s forces was the army of Tezim, the god-priest. A man they now knew was Ishar, the ancient Herald gone mad.

Tezim had been quiet lately, unfortunately. Dalinar had hoped he would rage against the rear lines of the singers, forcing them to fight pressed between two armies. As it stood, the brutal fighting in Emul continued at a standstill. The coalition could easily resupply its lines through the Oathgate to the north and Thaylen shipping to the south. The enemy had vast numbers of former parshmen and access to larger numbers of irregulars—Fused, in this case.

The Mink took in the details of this battlefront, studying the shipping and navy numbers with interest. “You control the entire Southern Depths?” he asked.

“The enemy has a navy, stolen from Thaylenah,” Jasnah said. “We have only the ships that we’ve managed to build since then, and the ones that escaped that fate. So our continued dominance is not assured. But following a singular victory by Fen’s navy four months ago, the enemy retreated their ships into Iriali waters to the far northwest. Currently, they seem content to control the northern seas while we control the south.”

The Mink nodded and moved to the east, inspecting the second of the war’s two battlefronts: the line between Alethkar and Jah Keved. Here, Navani’s captured homeland made a secure staging base for the enemy, who fought the coalition forces led by Taravangian and Dalinar.

Fighting on this front had mostly been skirmishes along the border. The Fused had so far refused to be caught in any traditional large-scale battles—and much of the border between Alethkar and Jah Keved was difficult terrain, making it easy for roving bands on both sides to raid and then vanish.

Dalinar felt that the coalition would soon need to make a large offensive. Navani agreed. The protracted nature of this war gave the advantage to the enemy. The coalition’s Radiant numbers were increasing slowly now, particularly with the honorspren withholding their support. However, the enemy singers—once untrained—were growing into better troops by the day, and more and more Fused were appearing. Dalinar wanted to push into Alethkar and seize the capital.

The Mink trailed through the illusory mountains along the Alethi border. So far, other than raids, Dalinar had focused on seizing control of the southwestern corner of Alethkar—the part that touched the Tarat Sea—to reinforce the coalition’s naval superiority in the south. The close proximity of Jah Keved—and the Oathgate in Vedenar—allowed them to field troops here with quick resupply.

It was the sole part of Alethkar they’d reclaimed so far. And it was a long, long way from the capital of Kholinar. Something had to be done. Each day their homeland remained in the enemy’s hands was another day for the people there to be beaten down, controlled. Another day for the enemy to further entrench, feeding its armies on the sweat of Alethi farmers.

It was a deep, unyielding kind of pain, thinking of Alethkar and knowing they were essentially a people in exile here in Urithiru. They’d lost their nation, and Dalinar—she knew—blamed himself. He thought if he’d been able to quash the squabbling highprinces and finish the war at the Shattered Plains, Alethkar would not have fallen.

“Yes…” the Mink said, squinting at the numbers of Alethi troops near the ocean in southern Alethkar, then glancing back at the Veden armies manning the border. “Yes. Tell me, why do you show me this? This intelligence is precious. You trust me quickly.”

“We don’t have much choice,” Jasnah said, causing him to turn toward her. “Have you followed the recent histories of Alethkar and Jah Keved, General?”

“I have had my own troubles,” he said, “but yes. Civil war in both countries.”

“Ours was not a civil war,” Dalinar said.

That was debatable. The rivalry with Sadeas, the contest on the Shattered Plains, the eventual turning of Amaram…

“Regardless of what you term it,” Jasnah said, “the last few years have been painful for our two kingdoms. Jah Keved lost practically its entire royal family—and most of its best generals—following the assassination of their king. We didn’t fare much better. Our command staff has been gutted several times over.”

“We are spread thin,” Dalinar said. “Many of our best field generals are needed in Azir. When I heard we had a chance to rescue the man who single-handedly held off the singer invasion for a year…”

Dalinar strode into the middle of the illusion, and it treated him differently—in subtle ways—from others. The color swirled near him, but the threads of Stormlight reached out, connecting to him. Like the arms of petitioners reaching toward their king.

“I want to know what you see,” Dalinar said, sweeping his hand over the map. “I want your analysis on what we’re doing. I want your help. In exchange, we will use our forces to recover Herdaz. Help me retake Alethkar, and I will spare no effort in seeing your people freed.”

“Having the Blackthorn on my side would be novel,” the Mink said. “Before I make any promises though, tell me why you have so many troops stationed here, here, and here.” He pointed at several fortifications on the southern border of Alethkar, near the ocean.

“We need to hold the ports,” Dalinar said.

“Hmm. Yes, I assume that excuse works for the others in your coalition?”

Dalinar drew his lips to a line, glancing at Jasnah. Behind her, Wit raised both eyebrows and leaned against the far wall. He was uncharacteristically quiet in meetings—but one could read entire strings of mockery in his expressions.

“The enemy concentrations are here, across the river,” the Mink said, pointing. “If you were truly concerned only with them, you’d fortify directly opposite to prevent a strike when the river runs dry between storms. You don’t. Curious. Of course, you’d be exposed from behind. It’s almost like you don’t trust the one watching your back…”

The much shorter man met Dalinar’s gaze and left the words hanging in the air. Wit coughed into his hand.

“I believe Taravangian is working for the enemy,” Dalinar said, with a sigh. “One year ago, someone let enemy troops in to attack Urithiru, and—despite excuses and deflections that have convinced the others—I am certain Taravangian’s Radiant was the one who did it.”

“Dangerous,” the Mink said, “fighting in a war where your strongest ally is also your greatest fear. And Radiants, serving the other side? How could this be?”

“They wouldn’t be the only ones, unfortunately,” Jasnah said. “We’ve lost one entire order, the Skybreakers, to the enemy—and they have been harrying Azir, requiring us to keep dedicating forces in that region. The Dustbringers continue to flirt with rebellion, often ignoring Dalinar’s orders.”

“Troubling,” the Mink said. He walked up along the border of Alethkar, passing Jasnah. “You amass here as well. You want to push into your homeland, don’t you? You seek to recapture Kholinar.”

“Delaying will lose us the war,” Navani said. “The enemy grows in strength each day.”

“I agree with this assessment,” the Mink said. “But attacking Alethkar?”

“We want to make a large, powerful offensive,” Dalinar explained. “We are trying to persuade the other monarchs to see how vital it is.”

“Ah…” the Mink said. “Yes, and an outside general—approaching this fresh—would be persuasive to them, wouldn’t he?”

“That’s the hope,” Dalinar said.

“Yet you couldn’t help trying to predispose me, eh?” the Mink said. “You wanted to show this to me early, get me on your side first. Not risk any surprises?”

“We’ve had… enough surprises dropped on us in meetings of the monarchs,” Navani said.

“I suppose I can’t blame you,” the Mink said. “Nope. No blame. But a question remains. What do you want from me, you Kholins? Would you prefer a reinforcement of what you already want to believe, or do you seek the truth?”

“I always want the truth,” Dalinar said. “And if you know anything of my niece, you’ll know she has no qualms stating the truth as she sees it. Regardless of the consequences.”

“Yes,” the Mink said, looking at Jasnah. “I know of your reputation, Your Majesty. As for the Blackthorn… I would not have believed you two years ago.” The Mink lifted his finger. “Then my niece read to me your book. The whole thing, yes. We got a copy, which was difficult, and I listened with much interest. I do not trust the Blackthorn, but perhaps I can trust the man who would write the words you did.”

He studied Dalinar, as if weighing him. Then the Mink turned and strode across the map. “I can perhaps help you escape this mess. You must not attack Alethkar.”

“But—” Dalinar began.

“I agree you need to make an offensive,” the Mink said. “However, if Taravangian is not trustworthy, an expedition into Alethkar now would expose your forces to catastrophe. Even without the danger of betrayal, the enemy is too strong in the area. I’ve spent time fighting them; I can tell you that their footing is sure in your country. We won’t push them out easily, and we certainly can’t do it while prosecuting a two-front war.”

The Mink stopped in Azir, then pointed toward the fighting in Emul. “Here, you have the enemy pinned between you and a rival force. They’re using those Skybreakers to distract you from how exposed they are here. Your enemy is landlocked, with serious supply troubles, isolated from its allies in Iri and Alethkar. You want a big offensive that has a chance to work? Reclaim Emul, push the Voidbringers—the singers—out of Makabak.

“You need to consolidate, focus on where the enemy is weakest. You do not need to smash your armies into the most fortified enemy position in a reckless attempt to satisfy your wounded Alethi pride. That is the truth.”

Navani looked at Dalinar, hating the way the words made him deflate, his shoulders slouching. He wanted so badly to free his homeland.

She was not the tactical genius Dalinar was. She would not have objected if he’d insisted that freeing Alethkar was the correct move. But the way he turned—bowing his head as the Mink spoke—told her he knew the Mink was right.

Perhaps Dalinar had known it already. Perhaps he’d needed to hear it from someone else.

“Let us get you more detailed reports,” Jasnah said. “So you can see if the facts support your instincts, Mink.”

“Yes, that would be wise,” the Mink said. “Many a locked room reveals a hidden path to escape, after all.”

“Adolin, if you would please?” Jasnah asked. “Yes, and you, Shallan. See our guest to the military briefing chambers and give him access to our scribes and any maps from our archive vault. Teshav should be able to provide exact numbers and recent battle data. Study with care, Mink. We meet with the monarchs in a few weeks’ time to discuss our next big offensive, and I would have a plan ready.”

The Mink bowed to her and retreated with Adolin and Shallan. As soon as he was gone—the map collapsing as Shallan left—Jasnah changed subtly. Her face became less of a mask. She didn’t walk with a queenly gait as she strode over and settled down at the room’s small table. This was the woman taking off her crown, now that she was with only family.

Family and Wit, Navani thought as the lanky man, dressed all in black, walked over to fetch some wine. She couldn’t tell if the rumors about those two were true or not, and hadn’t felt comfortable asking. Strange, that a mother should feel so unwilling to chat with her daughter about intimate matters. But… well, that was Jasnah.

“I was worried about this,” Dalinar said, taking a seat opposite Jasnah at the table. “I need to persuade him that the battle must push toward to Alethkar.”

“Uncle,” Jasnah said, “are you going to be stubborn about this?”

“Maybe,” he said.

“He saw it almost immediately,” Jasnah said. “Taravangian must know we don’t trust him. We can’t strike into Alethkar right now. It hurts me as much as it does you, but…”

“I know,” Dalinar said, as Navani sat next to him and put her hand on his shoulder. “But I have this terrible feeling, Jasnah. It whispers that there is no way to win this war. Not against an immortal enemy. I worry about losing, but I worry more about something else. What do we do if we force them out of Azir, and they agree to cease hostilities? Would we give up Alethkar, if it meant ending the war?”

“I don’t know,” Jasnah said. “That seems to be putting our chulls to work before we’ve bought them. We don’t know if such a compromise as you suggest is possible.”

“It wouldn’t be,” Wit said.

Navani frowned, glancing toward the man, who sipped his wine. He walked over and absently handed Jasnah a cup, his beak of a nose hidden in his own cup as he tipped it back.

“Wit?” Dalinar asked. “Is this one of your jokes?”

“Odium is a punch line, Dalinar, but not to any joke you’ve been told.” Wit sat with them at the table, not asking permission. He always acted as if dining with kings and queens was his natural state. “Odium will not compromise. He will not settle for anything other than our complete submission, perhaps destruction.”

Dalinar frowned, then glanced to Navani. She shrugged. Wit often spoke like that, as if he knew things he shouldn’t. They couldn’t tell whether he was pretending or serious—but pressing him usually merely got you ridiculed.

Dalinar wisely remained silent, contemplating the offered tidbit.

“A strong offensive in Emul,” Jasnah said thoughtfully. “There might be a gemheart at the center of this monster, Dalinar. A stable Makabak would strengthen our coalition. A clear, powerful victory would raise morale and energize our allies.”

“A valid point,” Dalinar said, with a grunt.

“There is more,” Jasnah said. “A reason to want Azir and the surrounding countries secured in the months moving forward.”

“What more?” Dalinar asked. “What are you talking about?”

Jasnah looked to Wit, who nodded, rising. “I’ll fetch them. Don’t belittle anyone while I’m gone, Brightness. You’ll make me feel obsolete.” He slipped out the door.

“He will bring the Heralds,” Jasnah said. “Until he returns, perhaps we can discuss the proposal I showed you before you left for Hearthstone, Uncle.”

Oh dear, Navani thought. Here we go… Jasnah had been pushing toward a singular law for Alethkar. A dangerous one.

Dalinar stood up and began to pace. Not a good sign. “This isn’t the time, Jasnah. We can’t create social upheaval on this scale during such a terrible moment in our history.”

“Says the man,” Jasnah said, “who wrote a book earlier this year. Upending centuries of established gender norms.”

Dalinar winced.

“Mother,” Jasnah said to Navani, “I thought you said you’d talk to him.”

“There wasn’t a convenient opportunity,” Navani said. “And… to be honest, I share his concerns.”

“I forbid this,” Dalinar said. “You can’t simply free every Alethi slave. It would cause mass chaos.”

“I wasn’t aware,” Jasnah said, “that you could forbid the queen from taking action.”

“You called it a proposal,” Dalinar said.

“Because I am not finished with the wording yet,” Jasnah replied. “I intend to propose it to the highprinces soon and gauge their reactions. I will deal with their concerns as best I can before I make it law. Whether or not I will make it law, however, is not a matter I intend to debate.”

Dalinar continued to pace. “I cannot see reason in this, Jasnah. The chaos this will cause…”

“Our lives are already in chaos,” Jasnah said. “This is precisely the time to make sweeping changes, when people are already adjusting to a new way of life. The historical data supports this idea.”

“But why?” Dalinar asked. “You’re always so pragmatic. This seems the opposite.”

“I seek the line of action that does the most possible good for the most people. This is in keeping with my moral philosophy.”

Dalinar stopped pacing and rubbed his forehead instead. He looked to Navani as if to say, Can you do anything?

“What did you think would happen?” Navani asked. “Putting her on the throne?”

“I thought she’d keep the lighteyes in check,” he said. “And figured she wouldn’t be bullied by their schemes.”

“That is exactly what I’m doing,” Jasnah said. “Though I apologize for needing to count you in the group, Uncle. It is good for you to oppose me. Feel free to do so visibly. Too many saw Elhokar bending knee to you, and that nasty business with a ‘highking’ still lingers as a distasteful scent. By showing we are not united in this, we strengthen my position, proving I am no pawn of the Blackthorn.”

“I wish you’d slow down,” Dalinar said. “I’m not completely opposed to the theory of what you’re doing. It shows compassion. But…”

“If we slow down,” Jasnah said, “the past catches up to us. History is like that, always gobbling up the present.” She smiled fondly at Dalinar. “I respect and admire your strength, Uncle. I always have. Once in a while though, I do think you need to be reminded that not everyone sees the world the way you do.”

“It would be better for us all if they did,” he grumbled. “I wish the world would stop making a mess of itself every time I turn the other direction.”

He got something to drink from the pitcher of wine. Orange, naturally.

“Would this include the ardents, daughter?” Navani asked.

“They’re slaves, aren’t they?”

“Technically, yes. But in this, some might say you’re pursuing a vendetta against the church,” Navani said.

“By freeing the ardents from being owned?” Jasnah asked, amused. “Well, I suppose some will say that. They’ll see an attack in anything I do. Contrastingly, this is for their good. In freeing the ardents, I risk letting the church become a political power in the world again.”

“And… that doesn’t worry you?” Navani asked. Sometimes sorting out this woman’s motivations—which she claimed were always very straightforward—was like trying to read the Dawnchant.

“Of course it worries me,” Jasnah said. “However, I’d prefer ardents actively participating in politics, as opposed to the behind-the-scenes smoke screen they use now. This will give them more opportunity for power, yes, but also expose their actions to increased public scrutiny.”

Jasnah tapped the table with a nail on her freehand. She wore her safehand in a sleeve, eminently proper, though Navani knew Jasnah thought little of social constructs. She followed them anyway. Immaculate makeup. Hair in braids. A beautiful, regal havah.

“This will be for the good of Alethkar in the long run,” Jasnah said. “Economically and morally. Uncle Dalinar’s objections are valuable. I will listen, figure out how to respond to such challenges…”

She trailed off as Wit returned, bringing two individuals with him. One was a beautiful young woman with long black hair, Makabaki in ethnicity, though her eyes and some of her features looked Shin. The other was a tall stoic man, also Makabaki. He was strong, powerful of build, and had a certain regality about him—at least until you saw the distant expression in his eyes and heard him whispering to himself. He needed to be led into the room by the woman, as if he were simple of mind.

One could not have known from a glance that these two were ancient beings older than recorded history. Shalash and Talenelat, Heralds, immortals born to dozens of lives, worshipped as gods by many religions—and as demigods in Navani’s own. Sadly, they were both insane. The woman could at least function. The man… Navani had never heard anything from him other than mumbles.

Wit treated them with a reverence Navani did not expect from him. He closed the door behind them, then gestured quietly for them to sit at the table. Shalash—Ash, as she preferred to be called—led Talenelat to the seat, but remained standing after he sat.

Navani felt distinctly uncomfortable in their presence. For her entire life, she’d burned glyphwards speaking of these two, praying to the Almighty for their help. She used them in her vows, thought of them in her daily worship. Jasnah had abandoned her faith, and Dalinar… she wasn’t certain what he believed anymore. It was complicated.

But Navani held to her hope for the Heralds and the Almighty. Hope that they had plans mere mortals could not understand. Seeing these two in such a state… it rocked her to the very core. Surely this was part of what the Almighty wanted to happen. Surely there was a reason for everything. Right?

“Two gods,” Wit said, “delivered as requested.”

“Ash,” Jasnah said. “During our last interview, you were telling me what you knew of my uncle’s abilities. The powers of a Bondsmith.”

“I told you,” the woman snapped, “that I don’t know anything.” Considering how gently she treated Taln, one might not have expected such terse language from her. Navani, unfortunately, had come to accept it as normal.

“What you told me was useful,” Jasnah said. “Kindly repeat it.”

Dalinar walked over, curious. Jasnah held weekly meetings with the Heralds, trying to pry every bit of historical knowledge from their minds. She’d claimed the meetings were mostly fruitless, but Navani knew to hang on to the word “mostly” when coming from Jasnah. She could hide a great deal in the spaces between those letters.

Ash sighed loudly, pacing. Not in thought as Dalinar had, but in a way reminiscent of a caged animal. “I didn’t know anything of what the Bondsmiths did. That was always Ishar’s purview. My father would occasionally discuss matters of deep Realmatic Theory with him—but I didn’t care for it. Why should I? Ishar had it in hand.”

“He forged the Oathpact,” Jasnah said. “The… binding that made you immortal and trapped the Voidbringers in another realm of reality.”

“Braize isn’t another realm of reality,” Ash said. “It’s a planet. You can see it in the sky, along with Ashyn—the Tranquiline Halls, you call it. But yeah, the Oathpact. He did that. We all simply went along with it.” She shrugged.

Jasnah nodded, showing no sign of annoyance. “But the Oathpact no longer functions?”

“It’s broken,” Ash said. “Done, shattered, upended. They killed my father a year ago. Permanently, somehow. We all felt it.” She looked directly at Navani, as if having seen the reverence in her eyes. The next words came with a sneer. “We can do nothing for you now. There is no more Oathpact.”

“And do you think Dalinar,” Jasnah asked, “as a Bondsmith, could repair or replicate it somehow? Sealing the enemy away?”

“Who knows?” Ash said. “It doesn’t work the same for you all as it did for us, when we had our swords. You’re limited, but sometimes you do things we couldn’t. At any rate, I never knew much about it.”

“But there are some who know, aren’t there?” Jasnah said. “A group of people who have practice with Surgebinding? Who experimented with it, who know about Dalinar’s powers?”

“Yeah,” Ash said.

“The Shin,” Navani said, understanding Jasnah’s point. “They hold the Honorblades. Szeth says they trained with them, knew their abilities…”

“Scouts sent to Shinovar vanish,” Dalinar said. “Windrunner flybys prompt storms of arrows. They don’t want anything to do with us.”

“For now,” Jasnah said, looking at Ash. “Right?”

“They are… unpredictable,” the Herald said. “I eventually left them behind. They tried to kill me, but that I could take. It was when they started to worship me…” Ash crossed her arms, pulling them tight. “They had legends… prophecies about the coming of this Return. I didn’t believe it would ever happen. Didn’t want to believe.”

“We need a stable region in Makabak, Uncle,” Jasnah said. “Because eventually, we’re going to have to deal with the Shin. And at the very least, we will want to find out what they know about Bondsmiths from centuries of holding an Honorblade and experimenting with powers like yours.”

Dalinar turned to Navani. She nodded. There was something here. If they could find a way to seal the Fused away again… well, that could mean the end of the war.

“You make an interesting point,” Dalinar said.

“Excellent,” Jasnah said. “If we do bring a large offensive into Emul, then I will attend personally and join the war effort there.”

“…You will?” Dalinar said. “And how… involved do you intend to be in the prosecution of the war?”

“As involved as seems appropriate.”

He sighed, and Navani knew what he was thinking. If Jasnah tried to join in wartime planning and strategy too forcefully, the highprinces wouldn’t like it. But Dalinar couldn’t complain, not after what he’d done.

“We’ll deal with that if it becomes a problem, I suppose.” The Blackthorn turned toward the Herald. “Ash, tell me more of what you know about the Shin—specifically the ones among them who might know more about my powers.”

Excerpted from Rhythm of War, copyright ©2020 Dragonsteel Entertainment.


Join the Rhythm of War Read-Along Discussion for this week’s chapters!


Rhythm of War, Book 4 of The Stormlight Archive, is available for pre-order now from your preferred retailer.
(U.K. readers, click here.)


Back to the top of the page

This post is closed for comments.

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.