Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Dawnshard Reread: Chapters 8-14


Lyn: Happy Stormlight Thursday, my chickens! (Yes, I’m going to use this as a term of endearment for you all now. Live with it.) I hope you’ve all been enjoying working your way through Rhythm of War, if you’re not finished with it yet! Sam and I had a great time last week with part one (of three) of the Dawnshard reread, and we’re back now with part two! ::match bell rings:: This week we’ll be discussing further aspects of the wonderful work that Sanderson does with his representation of Rysn as a disabled character, as well as learning some more about the Sleepless (oooh! aaahhh! …Or maybe AAAHHH! is more appropriate) and watching the Lopen get up to some heroic shenanigans (let’s face it, when does he not?). Next week will be a Cosmere-heavy discussion, so be aware of that going in, my wee chickens. (I’m loving this nickname a little too much.)

Sam: This portion of the book has some of my favorite parts of fiction. As such, you’ll notice that I pulled a lot of quotes regarding Rysn and her disability. I cannot express appropriately how much I loved those paragraphs. It may be because I participated in the beta read and was able to provide my feedback, but I feel like Sanderson perfectly depicted my feelings about living with a disability. I know we all have different perspectives, so I can only hope that these sections affected everyone else with a disability as favorably as they did me. These chapters also feature some of Lopen’s best moments, in my opinion. And the Sleepless! I can’t wait to learn more about them. Next week, as Lyn said, we’ll be diving into the deep end of the Cosmere. Hold on to your shardplate!

L: Tiny note. Someone in the comments last week mentioned that “differently abled” is not the preferred phrase, so we’re switching to disabled. Apologies!

S: This is on me. Lyn specifically asked me if the phrase “differently abled” was appropriate and I gave her the green light. I need to be more aware of my own community’s preferences. I don’t mind the phrase, or the preferred term “disabled,” but my own ideal would be to be called a paraplegic, since that’s what I am. All that is to say, we apologize and strive to do better. Thank you to the commenter from last week for the correction!

L: 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 don’t have any broader Cosmere discussion, but there will be a lot next week, so prepare yourself for that.


Chapter Recap

WHO: Rysn, Lopen
WHERE: The open sea; Akinah
WHEN: 1174.9.2.5 – 1174.9.3.4

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

Map note: I’m not 100% sure which of the northern islands is Akinah, so I haven’t marked it.

The Wandersail comes across the floating corpse of a santhid, which the sailors view as a terrible omen. However, Rysn manages to convince them that it’s a good omen…until the body disintegrates into a mass of cremlings and vanishes under the surface of the water. The sailors spend the night ashore, burning prayers for the santhid, and Rysn has a series of discussions with other characters about Aimia, fabrial technology which might gain her more independence, and suspicions of others (specifically, Cord). Nikli continues pressuring Rysn to believe that Cord is the traitor, but Rysn manufactures a scenario in which Nikli outs himself as the traitor. They send him off in chains to take a “breather” on the main island of Aimia while the ship heads into the storm surrounding Akinah. Lopen saves a few lives (it’s what Windrunners do, gancho) and they break through the storm to find themselves looking at the legendary Akinah. Lopen, Huio, and Rushu head ashore while Cord stays on board the ship with Rysn.

Overall Reactions

She glanced down again, and swore that oversized eye was looking at her. Seeing right through her, even in death. As decaying  chunks of santhid began to float off from the main body, she felt as if she were being watched. And she suddenly became aware of the crowding sailors’ mood.

S: Such creepy and disgusting imagery. I love it. Also, love the empathy here. She’s a natural.

L: I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; I’m a huge fan of horror. Grew up on the works of Stephen King, worked in haunted attractions since my teens, and investigated some of the most haunted locations in the United States. So when I say that the Sleepless creep me right the heck out, this is high praise indeed for Brandon.

S: I really need to read some horror. I guess this qualifies but I want more immersion. Maybe Brandon will write a full horror novel at some point!

It should smell, rotting like that. I don’t see a single rotspren.

S: Foreshadowing I didn’t notice my first time through!

Is the Oathgate there? Does it seem like the enemy has been investigating it?

L: Strategically, I can see why this would be so important. If the enemy has access to another “teleportation” point, they need to know that.

S: Except an Oathgate in barren Aimia doesn’t seem too helpful. Though I suppose they could use it to restock ships venturing into Coalition waters.

L: The closest accessible land masses are either held by the enemy (Iri) or at best third party (Shinovar), but it is pretty close to Azir, too.

S: I guess it just makes sense to have all those locations locked down, for when they COULD be needed.

You remember what I encountered six months ago? Rysn wrote. Right before the Battle of Thaylen Field? What if this was created by something like that? 

An enemy Lightweaver, Vstim dictated.

L: Reminder that in Oathbringer, while Rysn was escaping from the gemstone vault, she fought with a Fused with illusory powers.

S: I love that interlude because it’s proof that even with a physical disability she can still be awesome.

The chill air smelled alternately of the ocean and of smoke, depending on the whims of the wind.

S: What on Roshar doesn’t have some amount of sentience? If Rysn is developing a Connection to the ocean, couldn’t the wind be responding to her desires. I know I’m overthinking this but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong!!!

L: I tease because I love.

“This is an important discovery for so many people. You should make certain to transfer it quickly via spanreed. So it is not lost, in case something happens to this expedition.”

L: Oh yeah, because that’s not suspicious or anything!

S: But it also shows that he honestly cares about her. He’s not xenophobic. He wants the knowledge of the hoverchair to be shared so that other people with paraplegia or similar physical disabilities can achieve that kind of independence. I love that his character is so nuanced. But… yes… suspicious. ::narrows eyes:: We’re watching you, Nikli.

“In that, she’s no different from the Alethi queen, or Queen Navani, or even Queen Fen. All want us to succeed.”

L: Interesting to note that she lists off only other women.

S: I love the focus on powerful women and empowering the disenfranchised in this series!

They’d also tied bags of oil over the side of the ship too, with punctures to leak— which they said would keep the water from spraying so much on the deck.

L: Is… is this a real thing? Any sailors in the comments willing to weigh in?

S: I accessed a coppermind (Google) and found that oil will calm the surface of turbulent water. This is such a cool little detail to include!

Well, Huio took it further. Crazy chorlano. He figured he could make them blink a different number of times to mean different things.

S: Huio inventing Morse code…

L: If anyone would, it makes sense that it would be the scholar!

Character Comprehension

What kind of omen was this?

S: For someone that doesn’t believe in omens she’s certainly spending a lot of time thinking about omens…

L: Well, that makes sense. She’s trying to predict what the sailors are going to think/do in order to better deal with them. So in order to understand, she has to start to think like them.

S: Rysn is so smart. She’s learned to think like whomever she is dealing with at the time.

Easy was a relative term, and these days Rysn was keenly aware that what was easy for one person could be a challenge for another.

S: This is the beginning of true empathy. ::nods wisely::

Rysn stared at the page. Friend? He was her master, her teacher. Honestly, her idol. Did he actually see her as a friend, now that she was grown? Something about that made her start to tear up.

L: Oh my goodness, this is so sweet and endearing.

S: We look for these moments, without realizing it. Those moments when we become equals with those we admire.

“Well, when I lived in the Peaks, I liked my home. My world. I never wanted to leave. But then I did, to join my father. And you know what I found?” … “A frightening world,” Cord said, narrowing her eyes. “He is a strange place. And I realized that I liked… Being able to prove that I could survive frightening things.”

L: I’m so happy to get this glimpse into what makes Cord tick! We’ve known so little about her since she showed up in Oathbringer.

S: I wonder if she’ll show up more often. I noticed her mentioned once in RoW, but not prominently.

L: Maybe she’ll be a more prominent character in the back five books.

“Rebsk?” Kstled asked her. “Is it time?”

“Yes,” Rysn said. “Take him.”

S: I love that she wasn’t fooled. We knew it was him so it was frustrating to think that she wasn’t catching on. I’m also glad this didn’t go on longer than it did.

L: There’s a fine line an author walks, between “knowledge the reader has” and “knowledge the character has.” Willful suspension of disbelief will only carry a reader so far when the character isn’t being “smart” enough to figure out information that the reader is already privy to.

Then Turlm— the fellow who had passed Lopen with the rope earlier— got caught in an unexpected wave and washed clean off the deck. Into the drink, the dark abyss, to be claimed by the seas and strangled with water.

Well, couldn’t have that.

L: And here we have a Big Hero Moment from Lopen, but… being Lopen… he treats it so nonchalantly. I love this about his character. He’s very much a hero, and yet he still manages to remain an Everyman. For all his posturing, he’s really quite humble, deep down.

S: He just doesn’t know he’s humble. If he only knew I’m sure he’d let everyone know about his humbleness. It’s important and all.

L: You know it, sule! (Side note, I really hope that someday Brandon gives us a list of the right times to use all these little Lopen-isms. I can’t determine a rhyme or reason to why he uses each one. It’s possible that, Lopen being Lopen, it’s completely random. But I suspect that Brandon has some system at play here.)

S: IIRC, Brandon has studied linguistics. He probably has a Herdazian dictionary written up.

L: If anyone does, it’s Karen. She’s the SuperWoman behind the scenes!

They were expecting to lose people. Or at least they were prepared for it.

Well, not on Lopen’s watch. You didn’t let your friends drown in nameless oceans during a frigid storm. That was, sure, basic friendship rules right there.

L: I know that some people find Lopen to be incredibly annoying, but moments like this have to endear him to you.

S: I thought for a moment that I loved that he considered them friends after such a short time. But I guess they’ve actually been at sea for weeks now, right?

L: Yeah, it’s been quite awhile.

“…See what we find off the beach.”

Well, see if they could locate the Oathgate. But he wasn’t supposed to talk about that part.

L: I am shocked—SHOCKED!—that Lopen managed to keep a secret under wraps.

S: Well… not that shocked. (See, where you insert gifs and memes, I use random quotes from all manner of other things I’ve watched, read, and heard. That one was a Futurama quote.)

“I wanted other treasure. Shardblades and armor, like the Alethi have.” Cord leaned on the railing, looking out at the beach. “My people are proud, Rysn. But we’re also weak. Very weak. Not weak individually, but weak as a nation.”

L: This makes me so happy! I love that her motives aren’t purely selfish.

S: She’s Rock’s daughter. It also gives some insight into Horneater culture that she recognizes the differences in kinds of weakness.

Relationships & Romances

“Ardent Rushu,” Lopen asked. “I cannot help noticing that you have not given an explanation to me or Brightness Rysn about what it is you want to do.”

S: I ship them so hard. He respects her and insists others should too.

“Hey,” Lopen said, taking the arm of the chair to steady it. “Feels good, I bet. You deserve this, gancha.”

S: SO HARD do I ship them! He gets it. And knows she needs her feelings validated. He said what she needed to hear.

L: I’m not fully aboard the ship yet, but I’m not against it, either!

“Interesting,” Rysn said. “Is that why the Radiants brought you?”

“Well,” Cord said, “I think also Lopen wants to impress me? Maybe?”

L: Awwww so she knows he has a crush! Adorable.

S: She hasn’t completely disabused him… can The Lopen be disabused of something? Hopefully she lets him down easy. Although I think his ego could handle it.

L: You’re assuming that she’s not interested, Mr. USS-Rushu/Lopen!

They’re… rooting me on, she realized. In that moment she finally felt a kinship with the crew. A bond of understanding. What kind of person sought work on a sailing vessel? The type who longed for freedom…

L: This is beautiful. Both for Rysn finding community in an unlooked-for place, but also for her empathy to be able to understand their shared experience despite the specifics of their circumstances being so different.

S: I hadn’t noticed this bit before. I love that it shows her relationship with the crew improving.

Bruised, Broken, & Disabled

Turning back meant giving in to whoever that was.

S: This is a really important aspect of her personality. It takes a certain amount of stubbornness to suffer an injury like hers, push through it, and thrive despite her circumstances. This is just another aspect of that same personality trait.

She had trained herself not to feel intimidated when seated among a crowd of standing people, but it was difficult not to feel her old insecurities as so many of them turned to stare down at her…

S: Oh I feel this. I hate being in a crowd of standing people, it’s so claustrophobic.

L: I can only imagine. I’m very short, but that doesn’t hold a candle to this.

Rysn had learned to hold herself in a similar way, but she couldn’t help being jealous of the ability to simply stand there. Exuding control and confidence  was so much easier when you weren’t several feet shorter than everyone.

S: Having gone from a 6′3″ tall man to a paraplegic I understand this so well. It makes one feel kind of insignificant and I often do everything in my power to compensate, even though I shouldn’t feel it necessary.

L: Rysn mentioned in an earlier chapter that Navani put herself on a level with her, and you mentioned that this was a beautiful moment. I hope it’s not out of line to ask here, but is this something that we as abled people can do to help disabled folks feel more comfortable?

S: For me, I’d rather someone stayed standing or sat down to talk to me. Kneeling is right out, that makes me feel like a little kid an adult is patronizing. But everyone is different. There’s probably some paraplegic or wheelchair user that doesn’t mind someone kneeling!

L: ::files this information away::

She didn’t call for Nikli to move her closer to the fire. She needed some solitude. And so she remained in her chair, some twenty or thirty feet apart from the others.

S: This is important. When you lack the ability to move freely you depend on others to move you sometimes. If that help isn’t available then you’re stuck where you are. And sometimes it’s worth it to stay somewhere you’re uncomfortable rather than ask for help moving to BECOME more comfortable. I know that’s not what she’s doing here but it reminded me of that feeling.

L: I imagine that this must be especially difficult for introverts, to be dependent on others for the very solitude they so dearly need.

S: Absolutely. As an introvert that likes people (weird combo, I know) I’m so glad I can propel myself towards or away from people.

“If you don’t mind,” the ardent said, then proceeded to start working on the bottom of the chair without waiting for a response.

Rysn blushed and tucked her skirts up tight against her legs. She did mind. People generally didn’t understand how much Rysn saw her chairs as part of who she was. Fiddling with one was like touching her own person.

“In fact,” Rysn said, “I would prefer if you asked first, Ardent Rushu.”

“I did ask….”

“Ask. Then wait for a reply.”

S: Where to start… This is probably my favorite passage from the book so far regarding Rysn’s disability. I can’t tell you how often I’ll be going up a ramp, or over uneven ground, or something completely mundane (like getting off an elevator once) and someone has taken hold of my handlebars and started to push or pull me to “help.” It’s a total violation and sets me off like nothing else. Rysn calls Rushu out, calmly, correcting her… I just love this back and forth. It’s something that needs to be understood by folks.

L: I’m so glad that it’s in here! Fiction can be so important in that it can open our eyes to the struggles or points of view of others, thereby heightening empathy. If even one person reads this and has an “oh!” moment which leads them to change their behavior going forward, then Brandon’s made a positive impact on the world for the disabled.

They both looked at Rysn, who had been struggling to keep her composure as they chatted. She finally failed, and tears started flowing. Chiri-chiri chirped and leaped up, flapping her wings to help her get high enough to grab the chair with her mouth. Rysn scooped her up with one arm, holding the branch with the other.

“I am well,” she said with as much dignity as she could manage through the tears and the joyspren. “I just…” How could she explain? She’d tasted freedom, something forbidden her for two years. Everyone else pranced around without ever having to worry they were a burden to others. Never remaining in the same place – when they longed to move around – because they didn’t want to be a bother. They didn’t know what they had. But Rysn knew exactly what she’d lost.

S: Last week I mentioned that this book is my favorite piece of fiction. It’s because of these two paragraphs. I read them during the beta. I cried then. I reread them when I helped with the gamma. I cried then. I rereread them when I got the final product when it was released. I cried then. I rerereread them now. I’m crying now. I cannot say, better than these words, what it’s like to live with a disability, when I remember perfectly well what it’s like to live without it and look at people all around my everyday who don’t have to worry about something as simple as moving around freely and easily. I cannot imagine living without my wheelchair and the partial freedom it provides. I say “partial” because curbs, stairs, slopes, and unfriendly terrains still exist. Thank you, Brandon. Thank you.

L: ::offers hugs::

S: ::accepts::

Something better was coming. She saw independence, and it was glorious.

L: ::looks longingly at news reports about COVID-19 vaccines:: I know, it’s not exactly the same. But… a similar feeling, I’d think.

S: Oh it’s definitely similar. Trauma is trauma. And COVID-19 has been globally traumatizing.

Ignoring her arms – which were beginning to ache from the difficulty of stopping and starting

S: Did you know that arms and shoulders are not meant to function as the legs and hips are? I do. Though, conversely, I win lots of arm wrestling bouts.

He gripped Lopen’s hand in thanks. The old one. His Bridge Four hand, not his Knight Radiant hand.

L: This says a lot in very few words about Lopen and his state of mind regarding his regained arm. The fact that he attributes certain… meanings to them is really quite fascinating.

S: The Lopen is fascinating. ::nods::

So much emotion was wrapped up in her experiences with the larkin. Rysn’s slow recovery from her accident, her year of melancholy, her near death at the hands of Voidbringers. Chiri-Chiri had been with her for all of that , and—in that brief first moment wondering if she was alone—Rysn found startling fragility to her feelings. A desire to cling to something she loved and never never, let go.

S: I know this feeling. When going through something traumatic like that, when there’s something or someone that was there for you the whole time, often losing that thing or person is almost like having the trauma happen again. You cling to it, like it’s hope itself.

L: I’m experiencing this very strongly in regards to someone in my life who’s helped me through this pandemic so far. I relate completely.

Weighty Words / The Knights Radiant

He nodded to her, and a little windspren—in the shape of a one-armed youth—wandered through the air over to Lopen. Or… no, it wasn’t a windspren. Something else.

A Radiant spren. It was the first time one had appeared to her, and this one bowed in a very official-seeming way.

L: Aww! I love that Rua chose this moment to reveal himself to her. It lends a certain… gravity to the situation and validates Rysn’s reaction. (I know, it’s weird to say that anything Lopen or Rua does could lend gravity to a situation. Although it is fitting that we’d be talking about gravity here… Because the chair’s floating? Get it get it? Okay I’ll stop.)

S: And he’s a Windrunner… so he creates his own gravity!

“There’s no way to tell if he’s a Fused, gancha,” he explained. “At least, no way I can tell. Queen Jasnah, sure, she could do it.”

L: By looking into the Cognitive Realm, I’d assume…?

S: Probably? She could see the voidlight there probably.

Cosmere Connections

“He left a bit of foiled aluminum in the mechanism,” Rushu said.

S: I can’t wait to read Dragonsteel and learn about the origins of how different metals became magic. Also, a really cool thread throughout the Cosmere, metals.

“Luckspren,” she said, pointing overhead. “But they’re not approaching the island. There are dozens upon dozens flying around out here.”

S: Ok. Theory time. We know that spren in Shadesmar are drawn to human emotion or natural events. What are luckspren drawn by? I’m betting the Dawnshard. And Luck, or whatever is really drawing the luckspren is associated with the power the Dawnshard inherently possesses. I’d love to know what Aki’nah looked like in Shadesmar before this.

L: Well… they seem to be drawn by the larkin more than the Dawnshard? So the question I guess is… are they really luck spren, or has humanity wrongfully attributed them to luck when they’re really drawn by something else?

S: RAFO!!!!

L: Look, you

Flora & Fauna

Sitting there, Rysn could peer over the side of the ship to see what the others had been whispering about: a dead santhid.

L: Reminder that these guys are santhids! (Artwork by Ben McSweeney.) Shallan lowered herself over the edge of the ship in Words of Radiance to check one out up close.

S: Tentacully sea turtles. Sort of like if Davy Jones and a sea turtle did the horizontal interspecies cha-cha.

L: Oh dear.

The sailors were bunched up here, attended by anxiety spren—like twisting black crosses

S: Such a cool image. I wonder how Brandon comes up with the different shapes for the spren.

L: ::imagines a giant dart board with different shapes and colors on it::

More spren than animal, they were somehow able to magnify peace and confidence.

L: Hmm. Well, that sounds awfully… allomancy-ish.

S: The farther we get into the Cosmere the more similarities there are between the magic systems. I love it. Also, just how far reaching is Cultivation’s influence. Is she ubiquitous throughout Roshar? I feel like this is her power at work.

L: Honestly, the continent is small enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if she were.

Before her eyes, the santhid broke apart into hundreds of scuttling pieces. Cremlings—crustaceans the length of a person’s thumb—swarmed in the water.

L: And now we see what Nikli had planned! This isn’t a santhid at all—it’s the Sleepless, masquerading as one.

S: That sly swarm of crawly things!

There are twelve luckspren I count…

S: More foreshadowing!

That [Aimians] could take off their arms and legs? Rysn wrote. I met one of them on that expedition where I had my accident. That creature seemed very different from what we experienced.

S: The Aimian she met then was at the top of the great shell, hanging upside down by his ankles. He also had tattoos like Nikli… hmmm.

L: Wonder if it was Nikli… Just looking a little different.

S: Their attitudes were very different. I think it unlikely. It’s more likely that the tattoos are a common way for the Sleepless to hide the imperfect skin of their human forms. Remember, Nikli is one of the best at imitating humans. Another might be much less perfect and so need more tattoos.

If Nikli was secretly an enemy servant, Chiri-Chiri would have drained his Light away.

L: Hooboy that’s a helpful “weapon” to have at your disposal!

S: If only the weapon were feeling better!

Rua pointed at the water nearby, and Lopen saw a shape in the depths—or at least a dark shadow. Size was difficult to judge because he didn’t know how deep the thing was, but Rua was insistent. It was one of them. The things that had feasted on Stormlight, draining the Windrunners who had tried to investigate the storm before.

L: The first time I read this, all I could envision were sharks. Knowing now that they’re probably lanceryn… I don’t know if that makes it better, or worse.

S: You mean flying/swimming armored crab things that consume energy are terrifying…. Yeah you’ve got a point.

L: Dragon-crabs! Crab-dragons?

S: Drabs!…. No. Crabons!

L: ….Crab Rangoon? (Okay now we’re just getting silly.)

This one in the water seemed far larger. And more blobby somehow?

L: Blobby? So… not as much carapace, perhaps? Interesting.

S: Or maybe a bunch of cremlings that haven’t quite joined together into a larger form?

L: Oh. Oh, that would make a lot more sense, wouldn’t it? If Nikli is down there along with the lanceryn…

Skyeels were the only other creature her size that could fly, and they were often accompanied by luckspren.

L: Hmm, neat! So maybe some sort of flying correlation?

S: Can we assume that skyeels also bond luckspren to fly?

Geography, History, & Cultures

Among many Thaylens, superstition and confidence interwove like threads in a rope.

S: You make your own luck, basically, but in context with a Rosharan culture. Nice prose here.

…the Passions, as a religion, believed that wanting something changed fate to bring it to you.

L: So… sort of like prayer. Only more passive?

S: I feel like this is like believing in the heart of the cards.

L: We’re such geeks.

“Blue fingernails?” Rysn asked. “And vibrant blue eyes?”

L: Ah, like Axies the Collector! (Pretty sure Herdazians have blue fingernails too, but the vibrant blue eyes is the tell here.)

S: Definitely Aimian then.

“It happened,” he finally said, “because of the fall of the Radiants. Aimia had always been… different. The people who lived there. They were close with the Radiants, and maybe kept too many secrets. They assumed their secrets would protect them, but then their allies fell.

L: Oooooh this is some new info!

S: I vaguely remember a Shardcast in which they talked about the Aimians being descended from dragons… maybe. Or my memory sucks. Could go either way.

The scouring happened after that, though both were so long ago that we don’t know many details.

S: But we will! I’m looking at you, back five and your Heraldic flashbacks!

There are… stories of fantastical devices that transformed Aimia from wasteland to paradise.

L: I’m willing to bet that some of these same techniques were employed at Urithiru!

S: And maybe transformed it from paradise back to a wasteland. I want to know more about what Cultivation is capable of!

“Nah, it’s the food,” Lopen said. “Because I’m still me, you see. I’ve always been me. That’s the only thing I can really know— that I’m me. And so if the flavor of something changes, then the only thing I can say for sure is it tastes different, you know? So it changed.”

“Huh,” Rushu said. “…Lopen?”

“Yeah, sella?”

“Have you… had someone read you Pleadix’s Introspections?”

L: I absolutely love the fact that there are in-world philosophers! This is very similar to some works by real-life philosophers of the past (though hecked if I can remember specifically which one at the moment, I last took philosophy in college back in the early 2000s!).

S: “We’re all different people, all through our lives. And that’s good! You’ve got to keep moving. So long as you remember all the people you used to be!” Also the Lopen’s philosophy is directly contradictory to what Dalinar discovered about himself at the end of Oathbringer.

L: Sort of? The one I am referencing has to do with “I can only be certain of my own existence, everything else outside of me is questionable.” I can’t remember which philosopher it was, though!

S: I just mean his revelation that he hasn’t been only three different men (the warlord, the drunk, and the Bondsmith) but a different person each day. I think both he and Lopen are right.

The cold temperatures of the surrounding waters and the general exposure to storms left Aimia barren. It was basically uninhabited to this day.

S: “basically uninhabited” is extremely sus. It either is or isn’t uninhabited. Also, I just now noticed that Aimia is a palindrome. We’ve seen Brandon use palindromes in other names that are “holy.”

L: Good catch! Somehow in all these years I never noticed that…

Rysn looked through [the cookbook], finding notes that said things like, “Humans prefer salt in abundance” or “cook longer than you think will be required, as they often eat their meals mushy.” And, most alarmingly, “This will cover the taste” in reference to a spicy dish.

L: Yikes.

S: Would it cover the taste of chull dung?

“Hey, Lopen. This was a baaaaad idea, mancha.”

S: Of course there’s a Hardazian word to refer to oneself in the subjective…. I think it’s subjective. I don’t know how to use the words in my own language….

The captain stood firm and shouted order into the wind, sending them straight into the gullet of the beast. And by the Halls themselves, if the sailors didn’t take it with determination and grit.

S: Big damn heroes!

L: ::ahem::

“We made it!” Klisn said. “Storms, it’s like the centerbeat!”

L: Okay, I love that they have their own in-world term for the eye of the storm.

S: The next time I’m in the eye of a hurricane or the center of a tornado I’m going to use this term.

L: Sam, how often are you in the center of tornadoes?

S: Literal tornadoes or metaphorical? Depending, either never or constantly.

“The shadow vanished quickly, but I think he must be toa, not liki. Um, I think you say physical, and not… mind? Of the mind world?”

L: Just a note here that she’s referring to the Cognitive vs Physical Realms (i.e., Shadesmar vs the Real World).

S: So, can Horneaters see spren? Or are they seeing into the Cognitive Realm?

The Peaks have a portal, Rysn. A gateway. A path to the world of gods and spren.

L: In case you missed all the mentions in the other books, here it is written out in plain English. A Perpendicularity: a doorway to Shadesmar. (Also apparently how Hoid has gotten back and forth at least once.)

S: They’re usually caused by a condensed amount of Shard energy. The Well of Ascension on Scadrial was either Ruin’s or Preservation’s perpendicularity. The pool in Elantris belonged to… Devotion? Dominion? Can’t remember which.

Anyway, thank you. For not believing I was evil. I think many people, they dislike foreign people like me. Always believe them to be evil.

L: Oof. There’s a heavy dose of realism.

S: This is why I love fantasy. It lets us explore the failings of our world within the guise of a beautiful and fantastical world.

“I want to sleep on a bed of boundless lucre tonight.”

“Aren’t you an ardent?” Kstled asked. “And therefore forbidden personal possessions?”

“Doesn’t mean a lady can’t lie on a big heap of gemstones,” Rushu said. “They talk about it in stories. I’ve always wondered how uncomfortable it would be.”

“She looked up from her notebook, wide-eyed as she regarded them all. “What? I’m serious. Go! Gather it all up! We were sent to collect artifacts from this place, and those gemstones absolutely count.”

S: I like this exchange because it emphasizes that even within subcultures of religion people differ. I also just really like what this says about Rushu’s character. She’s read stories akin to Scrooge McDuck swimming in money and wants to do research about how comfortable it would be to recline on a pile of gemstones. Like, what even?

“Ah. Why—with so many sounds—do lowlanders make words that sound the same, but mean different things?”

S: She would love the Herdazian language! Ok, I ship her and Lopen too.

Herdazian Humor

Lopen grinned, putting a hand to his head. “A fellow has to try all the words, sella, to see which ones make for good matches and which ones don’t.”

L: Man after my own heart.

S: A hundred Herdazians at a typewriter would eventually produce the works of William Shakespeare… or not.

“I’m not married, sella. I suspect the ladies think there is too much Lopen— by at least one arm at this point, sure—for them to hold.”

L: Never a dull moment with this one!

S: I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“Will someone please explain how these wobbles are so entrancing?” He gyrated his hips. “They do look fun, mind you. The Lopen approves of wobbling.”

L: WHAT, someone making sex jokes?! In the Cosmere? Be still my lewd little heart! (Before you all jump down my throat, yes, I know. Wit, Wayne, there are some. I’m still always tickled when it happens, as it’s relatively rare.)

S: ::insert gif here::

L: This one?

S: That works!

“Ha!” Huio said.

S: Ha! Love Huio getting a point on the Lopen.

People like that didn’t understand; bragging wasn’t about making yourself look good, but about convincing the other guy you weren’t afraid, which was completely different.

L: Every so often Lopen comes out with little nuggets of wisdom like this. It’s quite endearing.

S: A broken clock is right twice a day. If he talks often enough eventually he’ll say something wisdomous.

Fimkn had a medic background, and he and Lopen had bonded over the fact that both had been told too many storming times to boil bandages.

L: Gee, I wonder who could possibly have been pestering Lopen about that… ::side-eyes Kaladin::

S: ::Kaladin shrugs::

L: No no, Kaladin grunts.

S: ::Kaladin grunts::

“How did you… Lopen, you saved him!”

“It’s kind of our thing,” Lopen said.

L: I mean. He’s not wrong.

S: Isn’t it one of your oaths?

L: … again. You’re not wrong. ::laughs, Bridge Four salute::

“Enough!” the captain yelled over the wind. “I don’t have time for you two to compare sizes.”

S: ::snort::

“Fine,” Lopen said, pointing forward heroically, with Rua copying him. “Onward we go, to step foot on a land no person has visited in centuries!”

“Except the crew of that other ship.”

L: I love Huio’s deadpan snark.

S: It’s a great contrast to the Lopen’s style of humor.

Lopen’s Lashing ran out right as the boat ground against the stones and beached itself. As it jerked to a halt, he used the momentum to tip forward and step straight onto the shore. Now that was style.

L: If this wasn’t an intentional homage, I’ll be a spren’s uncle.

S: What kind of spren are you uncle to?

“I once ate twelve chouta wraps in under two hours,” he said to her.

S: Holy non sequitur, Batman.

Fabrial Technology & Spheres

…the aluminum is interfering with the mechanism, making the conjoinment uneven. The paired rubies still transfer vertical movement, but not lateral movement. So you will go up and down with the motion of the anchor, but then can move laterally in any direction you want.

L: Yay! So she can float, essentially! This is super exciting!

S: I’m gonna need this technology in the real world, please. I have too many friends with homes that aren’t accessible.

L: Well, hover-stuff exists, it just seems to be prohibitively expensive so far.

You had to turn the anchor to spin. The mechanism must still have rotation conjoined; perhaps by experimenting with the aluminum we can fix that.

L: I’m gonna have to leave the theorizing on this to those of you who are more knowledgeable about physics, because I am definitely out of my depth, here.

S: I remember Brandon once describing that he knows things kind of like how you only see a small portion of an iceberg. He knows just enough to fake it.

Fabrial pumps would supposedly keep it bailed, no matter how much water washed onto the deck. And there were stabilizers that used attractor fabrials. Those would shift weights around in the hull—crazy, that stuff was built inside the hull—and keep the ship from capsizing.

L: Oh wow! Weights inside the hulls is genius!

S: I’m reminded of the scene from Futurama when they’re about to board the Titanic and have no idea about the foreshadowing the name suggests…


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

Sam (@sflytal) is taking the next step. Always the next step. If you have questions about life as a paraplegic please seek me out!

Lyndsey is starting to feel the weight of social isolation again. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or Instagram.


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