Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Dawnshard Reread: Prologue and Chapters 1-7


Lyn: Hello everyone, and welcome to the reread of Brandon Sanderson’s novella/novel, Dawnshard! We’re going to be powering through this one in order to finish up before the holidays and begin on Rhythm of War in January, so buckle in, because it’s going to be a heck of a ride!

Sam: It keeps being said, but it doesn’t become less true, only Brandon could accidentally write a novel. I’m glad to be on board for this and I’m eager to hear yours and other’s thoughts on this story!

L: With me on this reread is the inestimable Sam Lytal! If you’re a regular to the Stormlight rereads, you’ll want to know that Alice is fine, she just needs a little break over the holidays. But Sam is here and happy to take over for a few weeks, so I’d like to let him introduce himself!

Sam: Hello! This is, honestly, one of my favorite pieces of fiction; not just Stormlight, Cosmere, or Sanderson, but ALL fiction.

L: Dawnshard specifically? Wow! For such a short book, that’s incredibly high praise!

S: I love the Stormlight Archive because Brandon puts so much effort into highlighting mental illness and doing it WELL! I love this story for somewhat selfish reasons: I was part of the beta read and it focuses on a physical disability that I have. So I can identify very strongly with the main character.

L: That makes total sense! It’s always amazing when we see ourselves represented in the fiction we love. I connect very deeply with Kaladin’s struggles with depression and Jasnah’s sexuality, myself. (Though we won’t be seeing much of either of them in this particular book.)

As for me… My name’s Lyndsey and I’ve been a Sanderson beta reader since Words of Radiance. In that time I’ve helped out on eighteen different projects, from alpha or beta reading to simple gamma reading (ie, grammar/typo checks). I’m also a fantasy author in my own right, a mom & wife & partner, a professional actress at various New England Renaissance Faires (when the world isn’t locked down anyway—specifically, the Connecticut Renn Faire, Robin Hood’s Faire, and the Massachusetts Renn Faire), and a cosplayer. My pronouns are she/her.

S: As Lyn said, I’m new to the reread, but I’m not new to the Cosmere. I first discovered Brandon Sanderson’s work with the Wheel of Time and was recommended Mistborn by a friend. I haven’t looked back. I work in the mental health field and was brought on the beta read for Dawnshard as an expert on paraplegia, because I’ve been a paraplegic for almost seventeen years. My injury is at T3-4, which is about chest level, and I have no use of any muscle below that beyond wriggling a few toes. As such, the portion of this book referencing Rysn’s physical disability are extremely important to me and I’ll be spending a lot of my time and energy addressing those parts. My pronouns are he/him.

L: I’m super happy to have you join me this time around, Sam! Well, now that you know who we are, let’s talk a little about Dawnshard! This book was intended to be a novella, but over the course of revisions, Sanderson hit the 50k word mark, which technically makes it a novel. It takes place just before the events of Rhythm of War. We will be discussing spoilers from that novel in this reread, so please be aware of that going in.

The book has two main POV characters, Rysn (who you may remember from previous interludes in the other three books, in which she was a trader’s apprentice who got the gift of some very lazy grass; went on a trading expedition on the back of a big old Rosharan crustacean which resulted in her leaping off; and defended a Really Big Gemstone from thieves while in her “wheelchair” (as the aforementioned leap left her paralyzed). The other POV character should need no extended introduction, but just in case… The Lopen is a member of Bridge Four. He used to be missing an arm before he became a Knight Radiant and grew it back, and is the most lighthearted member of the bridge crew, constantly making jokes (usually at the expense of everyone around him).

Schedule: As stated earlier, we’re gonna be shotgunning this one thanks to the holidays. This week we’ll cover the prologue and chapters 1-7, next week will be chapters 8-14, and the week after we’ll be finishing the reread with chapters 15-epilogue. Whew! We’ve got a lot to cover, so buckle in!

Reminder: we’ll be discussing spoilers for the entirety of the series, including Rhythm of War. If you haven’t read ALL of the published entries of the Stormlight Archive (this includes the novella Edgedancer and the newly released Rhythm of War), best to wait to join us until you’re done.

In this week’s discussion we also discuss some things in passing from Mistborn in the Cosmere Connections section, but they’re not really spoilers, just general musings. If you haven’t read it and have a hard no-spoilers policy, though, best to give that section a pass.


Chapter Recap

WHO: Yalb, Rysn, the Lopen
WHERE: Thaylen City, Urithiru, Sea travel, Hexi, Sea travel
WHEN: (Prologue) 1174.6.2.4, (Chapter 1) 1174.8.1.4 (Chapters 2 and 3) 1174.6.2.5, (Chapter Four) 1174.8.2.1, (Chapters 5 and 6) 1174.8.5.1 and 1174.8.5.5, (Chapter 7), 1174.8.7.5

(Note: For the “when” notations, we are using this wonderful timeline provided by the folks at The 17th Shard.)

In the prologue, we are reintroduced to Yalb, who survived the sinking of his previous ship. On his current voyage, they discover a strange ghost ship afloat off the coast of Aimia. Chapter One brings us to Thaylen City, where Rysn is worried for her pet, Chiri-Chiri. She receives a visitor who informs her that the only way to possibly cure the ailing larkin is to bring it to Akinah, the lost city of Aimia. In Chapter Two, Rysn heads to Urithiru for a sit-down meeting with Navani, where she negotiates an investigative envoy to Akinah in return for fabrial technology to replace her bulky wheelchair.

Chapter Three shows us the Lopen, who is (bewilderingly) sent to welcome the delegates from the Reshi Isles…and does a surprisingly good job of it. Kaladin assigns him, his cousin Huio, and Rock’s daughter Cord on the mission to Akinah. Rysn sets sail in Chapter Four, despite the crew’s reluctance to accept her fully as the ship’s owner. In Chapter Five, Rushu experiments with fabrial technology as Rysn finds an unexpected understanding between herself and Lopen…but they’re interrupted as, in Chapter Six, it is revealed that their grain has gone bad. The crew sees this as yet another bad omen, but Rysn turns it to their advantage by trading the bad grain away. In Chapter Seven, Lopen tries to impress Cord, then has a chat with his cousin Huio while Huio disassembles a span-reed in an attempt to learn how they’re made. The chapter ends with the discovery of something very large and very dead in the water…

Overall Reactions

L: I just have to say, I’m so happy that Yalb survived the sinking of the Wind’s Pleasure. (Reminder for those with less-than-great memories: The Wind’s Pleasure was the ship that Shallan and Jasnah chartered in Words of Radiance, the one that Shallan transmuted via Soulcasting in order to save her life from the Ghostbloods who showed up to try to assassinate Jasnah. Yalb was the sailor who befriended Shallan.)

S: I’m one of those with an awful memory but I was so excited to remeet Yalb. I loved how he helped Shallan in her first foray into the outside world. So glad that Sanderson gave this to the fans.

Way Yalb saw it, if a fellow was naive enough to get pranked, then he’d lose all his spheres eventually. Why not lose them to mates?

L: He’s… almost Herdazian, in his sense of humor!

S: He’s probably one of the Lopen’s cousins. I’m sure there’s a specific word for it.

L: If only we knew Herdazian!

…they finally pulled up beside the strange ship. Sails all torn to shreds. Listing in the water with a deck empty of even ghosts.

L: This is giving me major Pirates of the Caribbean vibes and I love it.

S: We’ve seen Sanderson play with elements of horror and I love it when it works like this. Great visualizations.

L: For sure. The Sleepless that we see later on in the chapter are certainly pretty horrific. Whenever they show up, they give me the major creeps. (Also, fun fact. When we were doing the beta read, the first time I got to one of the Sleepless sections, a real-life bug scurried across my laptop screen and about gave me a heart attack.)

Find the unmet desire.…

L: I feel as though this is the undercurrent to Rysn’s entire character arc. What’s her unmet desire?

S: She says this several times, and in rereading her interludes before the Dawnshard beta read I agree, she was a brat. I love seeing her integrate her babsk’s wisdom into her own skill set.

“And… the missing Soulcaster?” Navani asked.

L: Ah yes. I wasn’t reminded by the name of the ship (First Dreams) but this reminded me. This was the ship that was in a previous interlude, in which we met a Soulcaster (Kaza) who was killed by a Sleepless masquerading as the ship’s chef.

S: (RoW spoiler) Since we now know how Soulcasters were made, it makes even more sense why Navani would ask after this one. It’s not just that they’re rare or hard to make. There are ONLY so few and making them requires a great sacrifice.

He figured, sure, that people must be like mountains. See, when you were far away from mountains, they all basically looked the same. Fly up high, soar over them in a hurry, and there was no time for detail. Pointed. Covered in snow. Mountain. Got it.

L: I just have to say, from a writer’s perspective, that I adore the Lopen’s character voice in regards to inner narration. It’s so distinctive.

S: No kidding. I know that not a lot of people are fond of him, but I identify with his sense of humor. I’m glad to get some much of him in this story.

L: People who aren’t crazy about the Lopen are out of their minds, gancho!

S: Agreed. Airsick lowlanders, the lot of them.

“Intimidate?” Lopen said, then glanced to Rua, who grew six arms and used all of them to smack his forehead at the stupidity of that idea.

L: Interesting to note that Rua doesn’t seem able to talk. I wonder why…

S: It might be that Rua can’t get a word in edgewise…

L: You know, that wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

“Your job is to handle trade negotiations,” Drlwan said. “This voyage will include no such need.”

L: ::laughs in foreknowledge-of-ending::

S: ::nervous laughter intensifies::

Below, Queen Navani’s team arrived: two Windrunners, an ardent scribe, and a young Horneater woman—perhaps in her late teens or early twenties—who Rysn thought must be their servant.

L: The fact that Rysn immediately assumed that Cord was their servant just goes to show that discrimination can be held by anyone, even those who are discriminated against themselves.

S: It isn’t necessarily sexism, we just learned that the quartermaster and navigator are traditionally women. I’m trying to remember if Kaladin had any preconceived notions of Rock when he first started revitalizing Bridge Four. Or any other opinions we’ve gotten of Horneaters, besides where they go their name. I don’t remember an overabundance of Horneater servants, however.

L: You may be right. Sometimes I have a tendency to jump to the worst conclusion in cases like this; it’s hard, when dealing with a world that still incorporates human slavery, not to.

“An imperfect solution for an imperfect world,”

L: I don’t have much to say about this quote, other than I really, really like it.

S: People aren’t perfect, and sometimes tradition is stronger than sense. I like this exchange between Nikli and Rysn.

The Voidbringers had come back. But they weren’t actually the Voidbringers. They were just parshmen, but different. And the war had started, like in the old stories. There was a new storm, and the world had basically ended. It all seemed so intense.

But in reality, it was so storming slow.

L: I… can really relate to this at this moment in history, as the world waits with bated breath for the COVID-19 vaccine.

S: No. Kidding. 2020 has been so intense but I also feel so disconnected from the world as a result.

L: This year has absolutely felt like it crawled by, for me. So I can relate to Lopen’s perspective, here.

Character Comprehension

Somewhere among all of this minutia was the perfect opportunity for her crew. She sorted through it like a scout creeping through the underbrush, quiet and careful, seeking the perfect line of attack.

L: It’s really beautiful seeing Rysn having truly come into her own. I remember when we first saw her with her little bowl of “lazy” grass back in The Way of Kings, she was so immature. She’s come so far since then.

S: She was a bit bratty. Now she’s a decisive leader. I can’t wait to see where she goes from here.

L: Absolutely. Her character arc has already come so far, it’s going to be awesome to see how far she eventually climbs, and how much she grows.

Talik wore a traditional Reshi wrap and tasseled overshirt, with his chest bare.

L: Reminder for those with poor memories! Talik was one of the Reshi on the island where Rysn had her accident that resulted in her loss of mobility.

S: I’m sure he feels like he’s to blame on a certain level, I’m glad they’ve kept in touch for his sake. In that kind of situation there’s no need for blame even though there’s plenty to go around.

L: Storms, I can only imagine…

Each was so distinctive. Everyone should use a “the” in front of their name. He’d merely figured that out first.

L: This is pretty fascinating to me. I love that he sees people as being so unique, that that is why he’s chosen to add the “The” to the beginning of his name.

S: HE’S certainly unique, can’t argue with that!

Storms, that’s it. That’s why. Rysn’s sudden elevation, and her arrival on the ship as its new master, must have taken the entire crew by surprise.

L: I’m absolutely loving to see this empathy from her. The old Rysn, from The Way of Kings, would never have thought so deeply about the feelings of others. She’s grown so much as a character.

S: It feels like the bulk of what Vstim was trying to teach her was empathy. To understand the need. That’s what she does here, understand and react appropriately.

“…it’s nice to make people laugh at you for something you do, and not something you can’t control. You know?”

L: This right here explains so much about Lopen.

S: Honestly, I do this. A lot. And it works. Intent matters.

“I was trained very well by a teacher I didn’t deserve, and can never live up to.”

L: You know… I can’t help but see Vstim as…

S: Well now I just want to see Vstim sitting down with a cup of nice jasmine tea…

“Lopen,” Huio said in Herdazian. “This aluminum has fascinating properties; I believe the captive spren are reacting to its presence, almost like prey react to a predator. When I touch this foil to the stone, they push to the other side of their confines. I hypothesize that the aluminum interferes with their ability to sense not only my thoughts of them, but the thoughts of their conjoined half.”

L: Ash’s eyes, I love this! Because we’ve never seen him speaking in his native tongue, we’ve never realized this about him! Huio is a scholar!

S: It really goes to show that if you can’t judge someone when they’re outside of their comfort zone. I want Huio to meet Navani! I mean, there’s a decent chance they’ve already met, I want to SEE the interaction.

L: Hell yes! You just know that Navani would immediately snatch him up as soon as she realized that he had any aptitude for fabrial tech!

Relationships & Romances

“You didn’t realize that something fearsome, something different, could be so intoxicating. I think I get what you’re saying.”

L: ::sing-song voice:: Lopen’s got a cruuuuuuush…

S: I can see it…but I think this more explains why Lopen was so unfazed by bridge runs, why he seems so unfazed by most things. Life is an adventure! But yeah, he’s definitely hitting on her. Poor Cord, haha!

Bruised, Broken, & Differently Abled

Instead of a chair—or a series of them—she preferred long benches with high backs, which she could slide along.

S: In a world where wheelchairs with large back wheels you can push yourself just aren’t that practical or common, this is genius.

She now had a large office, in which she’d commissioned a variety of furniture changes. Though she’d lost the use of her legs in her accident two years ago, her injury wasn’t as far up along her spine as other people she’d written to. Rysn could sit on her own, though doing so strained her muscles unless she had a backrest to lean against.

S: This implies information that we just didn’t have. That her injury is lower so she may be able to use her abs. It matters a lot where her injury is because of things she does later. Some movements just aren’t possible when the muscle groups don’t want to listen.

L: This is really good information to know. Being abled, I never would have thought of this.

S: Which is exactly why we need more POV main characters that aren’t cisgender white men. Let’s explore that Cosmere of differences.

“Thank you, Nikli,” she said, taking the pen. “But please wait until I ask for help before rendering it.”

S: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Autonomy is so important when you have such restrictions on your independence.

Talking with them was exciting and invigorating. They felt so many of her own emotions, and were eager to share with her things they’d learned. Mura, an Azish woman, had designed several interesting devices to help in daily life, demonstrating marvelous creativity. Hooks and rings— with items hanging on pegs— to allow for ready access.

Specialized hoops, wires, and curved rods to aid in dressing herself.

Reading through the latest letters, she couldn’t help but be encouraged. She had once felt so isolated. Now she realized there were many people who— despite being strangely invisible to the world at large— faced her same challenges.

S: The internet makes the world so small, and spanreeds serve a similar purpose. Isolation makes trauma so much worse and being able to reach out and commiserate and celebrate with similarly abled folks is so important.

L: I see this with many disenfranchised groups, and it’s honestly one of the things that is most wholesome and amazing about the internet. For all its many, many faults and ugly aspects, it has also brought together people from all over the world over shared struggles and helped them to realize that they’re not alone. Spanreeds, while not as prevalent, obviously, are serving a similar purpose, and it’s lovely to see.

Why, why, why? Why do you want to live, Rysn? Why do you want to better your situation?

S: I get this. So often I’ve been asked if people can pray for me and it’s so cringey and awkward. Even though I often share the faith of those asking, it hurts for them to assume my life is so bad off. Or when I get people congratulating me for getting out and about, or shocked when they learn I drive myself or want to struggle with a problem on my own instead of having them hand me the solution. We’re not doomed to live a life of misery, let us work to improve our lots!

L: I really love that Brandon’s seemed to have nailed so much about this experience, and a lot of that had to do with the help you and the other differently abled beta readers offered. It’s really nice to see any author who’s reaching out and really trying to ensure that he’s portraying an experience totally different from his own as accurately as possible.

But here was something new. A chair with large wheels you could move yourself with your hands. She’d need to have one of these commissioned.

L: Yay! It’s so good to see that Roshar’s engineers have come up with something similar to a modern wheelchair. (There’s a really neat article about the history of wheelchairs in our world here, if you’re interested in that sort of thing! I find it fascinating myself.)

S: I hadn’t even realized that she DIDN’T have this kind of chair already; this makes what happens later so much more incredible for her. She’s had virtually no autonomy or independence for so long.

Talik—who had been so stern when they’d first met so long ago—leapt to his feet to help. … She was grateful. And also frustrated.

S: ::grumble grumble::

L: Yup, here’s that “helping without being asked” thing again.

S: We appreciate the help…but I never feel more disabled than when folks do this kind of thing.

Not being able to walk was annoying, and that emotion people seemed to understand. But few understood the sense of embarrassment she felt— despite knowing she shouldn’t— at being a burden.

S: I was paralyzed when I was 18. In my young adult prime. Going from that to wheeling around was tough. That feeling, of not wanting to be a burden, of wanting to be independent and autonomous. I feel this.

Plus, few current roads and floors were built for someone to be wheeled across.

S: I thought of this too. Her world is, essentially, similar to ours at the time of the industrial revolution if you ignore the flying people magic teleporters.

L: And honestly, our modern world still isn’t awesome with disability access, so… imagine how much worse it must have been then! No ramps, or automated doors, or even something so simple as sections of curb that are slanted to allow access onto sidewalks…

Best if we let them carry me. (and) She preferred to use the seats offered her in these situations

S: This is contrary to my preference, but I understand that, given the political nature of the event, that she wants to show deference and appreciation to the host.

L: Especially given her training with Vstim. She’s so hyper-aware of other cultural norms and political motivations, that it does make sense that this would be at the top of her mind.

Finally, the queen stopped, focused on the chair at the rear of the room, then pulled her chair over and sat before Rysn.

S: This is kindness. This is empathy. Heralds bless you, Navani.

They were long past the point where Kaladin could go with every team to watch them personally. It seemed to be tearing him apart inside to let go.

L: Oof. Knowing what we do of Kal’s state of mind from Rhythm of War, this one hurts.

S: Poor guy, I’d read some of the RoW preview chapters before this and was confused for a bit. Silly timeline, silly my brain getting confused.

“So…” the Lopen said in Alethi, still lying on his back near her seat and staring up at the clouds, “know any good no-legged Thaylen jokes?”

S: Why did the wheelchair user cross the road? Because it was downhill.

L: ::giggles::

“It’s unseemly to make mockery of your ailment.”

“The thing that’s unseemly,” the Lopen said, “is how people treat us sometimes. Rysn, they ever ask about how it happened? And then get angry if you don’t want to discuss it?”

“All the time,” she said. “Ash’s eyes, they keep poking at me, like I’m a riddle that exists only to entertain them. Others get quiet around me, and awkward.”

“Yeah. I used to hate how folks would pretend I was gonna break at any moment.”

L: It makes me so unbelievably happy to see her connecting with someone in person about this frustration. I’m sure that she’s had similar discussions with her friends via spanreed, but it’s totally different having this kind of talk with someone in person.

S: THIS is the couple I ship. The two true natural empaths we’ve run across.

L: Shit. I hadn’t thought of it before, but now that you’ve brought it up… yeah. I ship it.

“Brightness Rysn shouldn’t have to crack jokes at her own expense in order to make other people comfortable with their personal insecurities.”

“Yup, true,” the Lopen said. “She shouldn’t have to.”

S: I’m not crying, you’re crying! Well, I’m welling up. She shouldn’t have to. He shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to.

The world was becoming a place of wonders— men and women soared in the air, and ships were being built with lightning rods right in the masts. At times, everything felt like it was progressing at an insane pace. Yet none of it seemed able to help her. The healing was amazing… as long as your wound was fresh. The fabrials were incredible… as long as you had manpower to operate them.

L: This is heartbreaking.

S: Medicine has come so far… as long as insurance covers it. Oh wait, that one was about real life.

L: Fiction is a mirror to real life. Even fantasy fiction. And every literature professor in college who tried to tell me different can… ::ahem:: Do, uh. Something anatomically impossible. ::sweet smile::

…now that she knew how the crew felt about her, she found it more difficult to quiet the voice inside. The one that whispered she didn’t deserve to own this ship. She hadn’t earned this station. She hadn’t made the money, proven her acumen, or worked her way up to being a shipmaster. Everything Rysn possessed, she had been given.

L: Imposter syndrome. ::sighs:: It strikes us all, from time to time.

S: Hang in there Rysn. You’ll prove you deserve it all very soon.

Weighty Words / The Knights Radiant

“My injury turned out to be too old for healing, Brightness,” Rysn said, her stomach twisting at the words.

L: This lines up with the magic system, as it’s been laid out so far. (Though if Rysn ever became a Knight Radiant, all bets are off.) From a storytelling perspective, it makes a lot of sense—if the Radiants can heal pretty much anything, it makes them awfully overpowered. On a personal note, as much as I would love to see Rysn healed for her own sake, I am happy to see at least one differently abled character who remains so. We see many of the characters struggle with mental disabilities/neurodivergent behaviors, but very few that can serve as a mirror of representation for physically disabled readers, most of which don’t have the option of being magically healed.

S: We’ve seen how their powers improve as new oaths are taken. I wonder if, once Renarin gets to the fifth ideal, such wounds COULD be healed. But I agree with you, it’s nice to see someone struggle with a disability without completely recovering from it.

“Our king, who is one of my parents, has undergone some unusual physical changes lately. … “Your king is Radiant!” Lopen said. “What kind?”

“He can make the very air seem to catch flame,” Talik said. “And sees a spren that burns through the inside of objects in curious treelike patterns.”

“Dustbringer,” Lopen said. “We’ve been hoping to find some more.”

L: Ooooh, so cool! Nice to know that they’ve found a few so far. I am curious about the physical changes, though, as this isn’t something we’ve seen from other Orders, to my knowledge. Is it maybe because he’s older? Have his new-found Radiant powers healed slight ailments brought on by age, and that’s why he’s physically “transformed” (this would explain why we haven’t seen it in most of our other Knights Radiant, who have been—if not young—at least in the prime of their lives)? Or is there something special about the Dustbringers?

S: I think I saw this referred to in some of the Reddit posts. I believe this indicates that their monarch has become their rightful gender physically. They’re trans. So their body has changed to depict what it SHOULD be.

L: Storms, you’re right! I had forgotten about that! Bless you, Brandon.

The others called him silly, but he thought the different colors tasted different.

L: Just another Lopen idiosyncrasy… or is he onto something, here?

S: RAFO!… or not, probably just the Lopen Lopening all over the place.

L: Look here, you, you’re new here, you don’t get to just RAFO me! (I’m kidding you can absolutely RAFO me all you want)

S: I’m not your ward! I’ll do what I want!

Cosmere Connections

L: In regards to aluminum…

“Can get from trade,” Cord said. “In Peaks. We trade.”

“Trade?” Huio said. “Who trade?”

“People in spren world,” Cord said.

L: The fact that they’re trading with people in the Cognitive Realm means Worldhoppers, which makes a lot of sense. But which world in particular are they getting this from? My spheres are on Scadrial.

S: I’ll take that bet. Even though we’ve seen it there, aluminum still wasn’t that common. I’m wondering if there are other worlds where it is common, like say, wherever Hoid is originally from.

L: Add that to the encyclopdia’s worth of questions the fandom has about Hoid…

Flora & Fauna

“Hush,” Yalb said, climbing up to the eel’s nest to wave at Brekv, who was on duty.

L: It never ceases to amuse me how Brandon gets around the lack of the word “bird” on Roshar. Since birds are so rare (and are mostly all referred to as “chickens”), this is referring to skyeels instead.

S: And yet he doesn’t overuse the word “chicken.” It’s a delicate balance I’m sure.

The larkin usually spent her days pestering Rysn for food or otherwise getting into trouble.

S: Chiri-Chiri is a scaly, flying puppy. And I want one.

L: You’ll have to fight me for one.

S: Time-share a larkin?

But these days, her normally brown-violet shell had whitened to an almost chalky color. Too white— this wasn’t a simple molt. Something was wrong.

L: This meme isn’t quite accurate because we’ve known Chiri-Chiri for quite awhile now, but

S: Chiri-Chiri must be protected at all costs. Not the least of which because I’m confident she and Rysn will become EXTREMELY important later in the Cosmere.

L: I want Rysn to become a “dragon”-rider so badly that I can almost taste it. Look, it’s being set up so clearly, whenever she’s looking at the Windrunners and wishing for the freedom to fly. I’m calling this one right now, you guys. Rysn. Dragon-rider. It’s gonna happen.

S: Does Brandon read these? Probably not, but you’re welcome for the idea!

“When Aimia fell,” he explained, “the Na-Alind— a family among the greatshelled gods of the Reshi— took in the last of the larkin.

L: Oooooh, it’s always cool to hear more about Aimia! And the larkin in general are just so cool. I’ve always been partial to little dragons (thanks, Dragonriders of Pern) so I looooove seeing this little baby!

S: I’m pretty confident we’re going to learn a lot more in the back five when we get flashbacks from the Heralds. Can’t wait to see most if not all the pieces fall into place.

L: ::drools thinking about Herald flashbacks::

“There is… something on that island,” Navani said. “Something that is able to undermine the powers of the Knights Radiant. My soldiers reported seeing swarms of small shadows darting through the clouds. And legends about Aimia speak of mythical creatures that feed off Stormlight.”

L: Of course, we know from later in the book that these are larkin/lanceryn like Chiri-Chiri, but I do wonder if there’s any sort of connection between their abilities and the fabrial tech that the listeners/Fused employ. Did the Fused, in ages past, inspect/dissect these creatures in order to figure out the technology they have now?

S: Maybe, but I’m honestly surprised that there aren’t more creatures like that. Since we know (as of end of RoW) of three kinds of light that have become natural to Roshar shouldn’t there be more animals that can subsist off of those lights instead of just through bonding a Spren?

After consuming a few, she mouthed one of the spheres and began to play with it, rolling it away, then hopping over and catching it in her mouth before it could fall off the desk.


S: Fortunately light is a largely renewable resource. Much cheaper than dog food, I’m sure.

Nikli held up this body’s hand and made a fist, pleased by how long the form held. But now Nikli relaxed, and the seams in the body’s skin split, letting cool air reach into its squirming insides— which shivered, relieved to finally be allowed free motion after keeping tight for so long.


S: I was shocked that this reveal happened so early, but I’m glad that there’s no attempt to hide what he is. I want to know more about this race!

L: Don’t we all…

“A luckspren,” Lopen said, recognizing the arrowhead shape. “Five,” she said. “Was none. Then was three. Then four. More each few day.”

L: Ooooh, fascinating!

S: Drawn to Chiri-Chiri I think!

Geography, History, & Cultures

“Not the main island of Aimia, Rysn,” Talik said. “You need to take her to Akinah. The lost city.”

L: Oh boy oh boy! Lost cities?! Voyages to ancient ruins? I am so here for this!

S: Magic spells, daring sword fights, even a prince in disguise! Wait… one too far.

L: ::ahem::

S: ::guffaws::

The Queen of Urithiru, Navani Kholin,

L: Oooh, fascinating. Navani didn’t have this title before, did she? We know that Jasnah is Queen of Alethkar, but I didn’t recall Dalinar taking up an official title as King of Urithiru. He must have, though…

S: It’s either somewhere in Dawnshard or in RoW that we learn that they were recently crowned king and queen. Sometime between the end of OB and the beginning of Dawnshard.

L: Bloody time-skips…

“From the large island, yes,” Navani said. “But what of the smaller ones surrounding it? What of the hidden one, shrouded in mystery and storm?”

“The Rock of Secrets,” Rysn said. “The mythical Akinah. Some say it is only a legend.”

L: Storms, that’s cool sounding. (Risque language warning on this one from Archer, but it’s… just so fitting.)

S: It’s becoming more and more clear that any “legend” on Roshar is probably actually completely true.

They’re my cousins, gon.”

“They’re not your cousins.”

“Herdaz is next to Reshi. So we’re cousins.”

“Alethkar is next to Herdaz too,” Kaladin said. “So I’m as much your cousin as those people are.”

Lopen tapped him on the shoulder and winked. “You’re finally figuring it out, gancho. Good job.”

L: Honestly, this is really endearing, and makes all of Lopen’s talk about “cousins” make a lot more sense.

S: All of humanity is really one big happy…bickering family.

A quiet folk, uninterested in the politics of the world, they kept their hair in braids and smelled faintly of the animals they kept as sacred beasts. Their priestly class did not eat flesh, as they’d taken oaths forbidding it— but they considered grubs and insects to be plant, not animal.

L: Sometimes I forget just how varied the cultures of Roshar are, and then Brandon drops a little gem like this on us.

S: I read somewhere that Hoid was in this scene, but I can’t understand how we’re supposed to know that.

L: Oh for… ::goes back and looks:: Okay, I’m back. I don’t see how any of us could possibly have picked up on this, if it’s true. We don’t actually get any descriptions of specific individuals, so if Hoid is there…there’s really no way for anyone to know, outside of a Word of Brandon.

S: There’s a decent chance I dreamed that…

“I was betrayed,” he finally said, “by someone I trusted. Soon after, one of us was needed to go to Thaylenah— my people, though small, like to know what is happening in the great nations of the world. I volunteered. So I wouldn’t have to be around the one who had treated me so.”

L: I always find the Sleepless to be fascinating, but this more so than most! I’m assuming that he’s referring to humanity/the old Knights Radiant, here, when he’s talking about those who betrayed him. But if that’s the case, the “I chose to go into the world so I wouldn’t have to be around them” part doesn’t track. So…is he just lying completely, here? Or partially speaking in half-truths, to keep Rysn from guessing anything? This line a little later on seems to back up the theory that he was talking about the Knights Radiant:

“I think we can trust the Knights Radiant,” Rysn said.

“I’m sure people also thought that two thousand years ago,” Nikli said.

L: But I’m still not sure…

S: We know that there were Sleepless among the ancient Radiants. And we know that Nikli trusts the current Radiants. Or, at least has positive regard for them. So it could be assumed that there were some Sleepless that served Odium as well.

It was First, the oldest of the swarms on Roshar. Nikli was the Twenty-Fourth, youngest of them. I like the Bondsmith, for example, though I know he will destroy us.

L: Oh, oh wow.

S: Ok. I’m gonna need more POV from the Sleepless. Kthnxbai.

L: Mmhmm.

It was sent to sink, Alalhawithador replied. It could not have survived storms without help.

Its discovery is no coincidence. Arclomedarian crosses us again, said Yelamaiszin, the First. It meddles more and more. It has met with these new Radiants.

L: Reminder! Arclo is the Sleepless that Lift encountered in Edgedancer.

S: I was wondering! Thank you for clearing that up!

L: ::Bridge Four salute::

Arclomedarian is dangerous, Nikli sent. I can see this. But it is not as dangerous as the true traitors.

L: Still questioning if they mean the Knights Radiant…

S: I think they’ll get more into the history of the Sleepless on Roshar in the back five.

It hurts us to kill Radiants, let alone one of the Sighted, said Yelamaiszin, the First.

L: But… but… If… ::massages temples:: If the Radiants aren’t the betrayers, as this implies, WHO ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?

(Side note, but “the Sighted” must be Cord.)

S: Called it. Some Sleepless served Odium… or some other enemy in the Cosmere. Maybe the Ghostbloods since we know they’re worldhoppers too.

Mostly he enjoyed listening— he liked the way Cord’s accent made a cadence of her words, and the way she drew out some vowel sounds.

L: ::hums to curiosity::

S: Hasn’t it been confirmed that Horneaters are the product of humans mating with Singers?

L: Yeah, I just like pointing it out whenever I see it.

Both of them, along with Punio, gave most of their Radiant stipend to the family for helping out with the poorer cousins. A big chunk went to Rod’s family. Radiants were paid well, but there were a lot of cousins who needed help.

L: The more I learn about Herdazian culture, the more I really love it. Seems as though they have some sort of socialist society.

S: Wish I had some Herdazian cousins.

Herdazian Humor

“Sure, Talik!” Lopen said. “Do you like to fly?”

“I wouldn’t be able to say,” Talik replied. “Were you the one who was supposed to—”

“We can talk,” Lopen said, “later.” He grabbed Talik by the arm, infused him, waved to the others, then launched the two of them high into the air.

L: Storms above, Lopen, you…you can’t just… ::sigh:: You know, I don’t know why I bother.

S: I would have immediately panicked. Loudly. With profanity.

“I told Kaladin, ‘I’m gonna fly those Reshi guys up high.’ And Kaladin said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good—’ but I didn’t let him finish, because he was going to grumble, so I said, ‘No, I got this, gancho. They’re gonna love it.’ And you love it.”

L: ….dear lord, ::laughs::

S: There’s really no stopping it. Might as well just let it happen and deal with the aftermath.

“Yeah, they think maybe the enemy will start moving troops through the sea to land for an invasion of Jah Keved in the east. So, Dalinar and Jasnah figure it would be good to have you on their side.”

“So it’s purely political,” Talik said.

“Purely?” Lopen shrugged, and Rua did too. “They’re trying to be good, velo. But they’re, you know, Alethi.”

L: WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS, to let the Lopen do any sort of political negotiations?! (In all seriousness, it might have been brilliant. His method of complete and total honesty is as far from normal politics as possible, but… maybe, for the Reshi culture, that’s exactly what was needed in this scenario.)

S: He’s honest to a fault. There’s no deception, no hidden messages. Yeah, there’s confusion, storming tons of it, but it’s either brilliant, insanity, or both.

L: But also no holding back of sensitive military information…

“He’s, sure, the king’s son. Treat him well, gancho.”

“I’ll try,” Kaladin said, his voice dry. “I hope Lopen’s tour of the tower was informative.”

L: How I picture Kaladin for this.

S: Is it any wonder that Kaladin needs therapy?

L: ::snort-laugh::

“Pick me!”

“I literally just did.”

L: I can’t even with these two.

S: I can picture Brandon writing these scenes, completely straight-faced, then snickering almost silently as he imagines all of us facepalming as we read it.

“…what do you call a Thaylen who can’t walk?”

“Not sure, gancha.”

“Names. From afar.”

L: I love to see Rysn getting into the spirit of this! It’s just such a great joke.

S: You have to joke about it! You have to! Or it gets under your skin. The only way to make it less heavy is to treat it lightly with humor.

L: One of my best friends is an EMT, and he deals with the horrors he encounters at work the same way. Joking is one way the human brain deals with things.

S: Dark humor is best humor.

“No, just human of you,” Rysn said.

L: I did have to chuckle at this, considering the fact that she’s talking to Nikli…

S: I… didn’t even notice that. Good catch!

Fabrial Technology & Spheres

The plateau had sheer cliffs at both sides, where engineers were constructing two large wooden platforms.

L: Ah! Our first glimpse of the Fourth Bridge! (Chronologically, anyway.)

S: Brandon knows we love being teased.

The devices were rare and extremely powerful. Most kingdoms had access to only a handful of Soulcasters— if any at all.

L: I wonder if these will now become obsolete, since Roshar has so many burgeoning Knights Radiant. (Honestly, that would probably be for the best, considering the fact that they eventually kill their users.)

S: Only two orders can soulcast and we don’t learn anything (I don’t think) in RoW about new Elsecallers. So I imagine they’ll still be used for a while yet.

L: ::sigh:: You’re probably right.

“I… got distracted by reading a new report on a curious interaction between flamespren and logicspren. The most interesting things are being discovered.

L: Check out the epigraph of Chapter 15 of Rhythm of War to see what Rushu’s talking about here, or at least some research that’s adjacent to it!

“But when the ship goes down,” Rysn said, pointing at the other ring, “shouldn’t it go up?”

“Yes, theoretically,” Rushu said. “But it doesn’t. Only your movements affect it. We believe this has to do with the frame of reference, as applied to the person moving the hoop.”

L: Nice to see this lampshaded/explained.

S: Intent matters. Connection matters. Also, rule 0 of Brandon’s Laws: “Err on the side of awesome.”

Arresting Artwork

interior art from Brandon Sanderson's Dawnshard

Art by Ben McSweeney © Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC

L: Loving this artwork by Ben McSweeney! It looks like a classic woodcut print. I love how at peace Rysn looks, cuddling with Chiri-Chiri… and check out Lopen in the background there, still sporting his rolled-up sleeve!


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

Sam (@sflytal) is living day to day. If you have any questions about life as a paraplegic don’t hesitate to ask. The only way we become better people is to ask questions.

Lyndsey is finally nearing the finish line on the print copy of her debut fantasy novel Greencloak; and if she never has to look at Adobe InDesign again, she will die happy. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.


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