Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Reread: Interlude Four

and

Greetings once again, me hearty Cosmere-Chickens! This week, we tackle the first of the Interludes between Parts Two and Three, in which the former bridgeman and current bearer of Jezrien’s Honorblade… cuts rocks with it. Um. Oh, and carries them around, because why not. He also makes plans with his new god to make life as miserable as possible for Kaladin. This makes us Very Not Happy.

Before we begin, please welcome Paige Vest, whom many of you know from previous articles. She’ll be taking over the RoW Reread for Lyndsey from here on out, and from past experience I promise she’ll do an excellent job!

P: Thanks, Alice! I look forward to hanging out with you each week, Sanderfans! And I wish Lyndsey the best of luck in her future endeavors!

Reminder: We’ll be discussing spoilers for the entirety of the series up until now. If you haven’t read ALL of the published entries of The Stormlight Archive (this includes Edgedancer and Dawnshard as well as the entirety of Rhythm of War), best to wait to join us until you’re done.

In this week’s discussion there are no Cosmere-level spoilers.

Heralds: Talenelat (Talenel, Taln), Herald of War. Stonewards. Dependable/Resourceful. Role: Soldier.

A: I always get a little salty about putting any of the Heralds on a Moash chapter, because it feels like an insult to them. But consistency, I guess… So why Taln this week? Perhaps the stoneworking has something to do with it, but I’d guess it’s mostly because Moash/Vyre thinks of himself as a soldier, and he’s pretty good at following orders. (Okay, only if he likes the orders, but for him, that’s a benefit of his current affiliation. He never gets orders he dislikes.)

Icon: Not Bridge Four—it’s a Moash/Vyre chapter.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Vyre/Moash
WHERE: Kholinar
WHEN: 1175.4.6.3

(Note: For the “when” notations, we normally use this wonderful timeline provided by the folks at The 17th Shard. This week, it appears to be incorrect, since they have this labeled as 4.4.4, but Moash notes that with the approaching Everstorm, the armies were preparing to attack Urithiru.)

Vyre is in a marble quarry, where he’s been using the Honorblade to cut stones for Fused residences. As the chapter opens, he’s trying and failing to emulate Adolin’s Shardblade-throwing skills, while mentally congratulating himself on his freedom from emotion and all other bonds. He’s proven false when Khen mentions his obsession with Kaladin, but he covers it up and returns to cutting stone. Returning to the city with the quarried stone, he is taken into a vision by Odium, who gives him two new tasks. He is to join the armies assaulting Urithiru, assuming his Honorblade will work the Oathgate; and he is to use his Connection to Kaladin to send nightmares and dreams in an effort to break his mind. Odium wishes to possess Kaladin; Vyre wishes to push him to self-destruction.

Overall Reactions

Vyre was unchained.

Moash, the man he’d once been…

A: I haven’t searched the book yet, but now I’m curious. Does he ever think of himself as Moash anymore, or is that just other humans thinking/talking about him? I’ll be watching and noting that in this chapter, at least. (Just maybe, I’ll take the time to look up his other POVs. We’ll see.)

P: He may start the Interlude off thinking of himself as Vyre, but the interlude refers to him as Moash some of the time. I think that’s where a lot of the confusion in naming him during fan discussions and the like comes from, because some people don’t want his deadname used yet the book clearly refers to him as Moash during his own points of view.

A: As we’ll note below, he thinks of himself as Vyre most of the time, but certain topics cause him to revert to Moash. It will be interesting to notice this in Part Five, too! Given what we see here, I don’t think “deadname” is a valid designation.

Vyre threw his Shardblade with a wide, overhand throw…

He gestured, and the distant Shardblade vanished to mist. Yet it took him ten heartbeats to summon it again.

“I saw Prince Adolin throw his Blade,” Vyre said. “Three months ago, on the battlefield in northern Jah Keved. He is no Radiant, yet his Blade responds to him as if he were one.…” …

“He must be able to change the balance to allow for this maneuver. And it returned to him faster than ten heartbeats, even accounting for the accelerated pulse of battle.”

A: I find this whole scene hilarious (as well as informative). For all his talk about having no emotions and being unchained, he does envy those with bonded spren-Blades, and he’s trying so hard to mimic Adolin’s Maya-blade.

P: Not gonna happen. Ain’t no one like Maya ‘cept Maya. At least, not yet. And Adolin definitely has something special and unique going on with that spren.

A: It’s fun to learn, though, that Adolin has been doing a lot more with Maya than we’ve actually seen. We thought we were done with the “during the intervening year” stuff, but… I guess not! We saw at the end of Oathbringer that Maya did once form in less than the normal ten heartbeats; now we know that she has not only continued that pattern, she’s reduced the time it takes so much that it’s clearly observable to an outsider. Vyre might be wrong about her changing forms, because we know Adolin has been practicing throwing her for years; still, being Maya, she may have been altering her form for longer than we know!

P: I need MORE Maya!

Large stone settled on his shoulder, he hiked steadily up the path toward Kholinar. The marble was heavy, but not so much that he needed Stormlight or supernatural help.

P: What supernatural help? Other than Stormlight? And just how large is this piece of marble because that stuff is pretty heavy.

A: Yeah, I was wondering about that too. Even granted Roshar’s lower gravity making it weigh less for the same mass, you have to wonder!

Relationships and Romances

“You say you’re unburdened, Vyre,” she said. “That you don’t care anymore. But you keep hunting him. The Windrunner.”

At the mention of Kaladin, Moash felt a hint of old, painful emotions—though Odium quickly sucked them away. “Kaladin is a friend,” Moash said. “It is important to me that he find his freedom.

P: Pardon my Alethi, but my ass. Moash sought revenge over the death of his grandparents yet he wants to drive Kaladin to his death to “free” him? You can’t call him a friend and also want him dead. I don’t care if that means freedom to you, that is not okay.

A: Right? He seems to have convinced himself that he’s doing something good for Kaladin… as long as he doesn’t think too hard. But notice that when Khen brings up Kaladin, and stirs those emotions, he’s Moash again. It’s only for a minute, until he can clamp down on it, but it’s still there. (Things like this are what make me think Sanderson is setting up a redemption arc somewhere downstream. He’s at least keeping the option open, by drawing this division between Vyre and Moash.)

P: I have a lot of side-eye to cast at a possible redemption arc.

A: I hate the thought. Just hate it. And yet I expect it, to some extent, and I’m reasonably certain that if Sanderson goes that direction, I’ll end up loving it. And I’ll hate the fact that I love it. Argh.

 Poor Kaladin. There was freedom available for his old friend. Two freedoms, in fact. But he doubted Kaladin would ever accept the same freedom as Vyre, so he offered the other one. The sweet peace of nonexistence.

A: Gaaaaaaaah. This makes me so angry. So much for the moment of humanity! “Sweet peace of nonexistence” my hat. He just wants to shut Kaladin up.

P: I feel that he’s jealous of Kaladin’s radiance. He thinks about the limitations of the Honorblade while he knows that Kaladin has no such limitations.

A: He claims that he feels no anger or humiliation over his Honorblade’s inferiority, but his comparisons reveal that while he doesn’t admit to them, the envy is there—of Adolin’s abilities with a dead(ish) Shardblade, and much more of Kaladin’s living Blade. And I note that he doesn’t think about the Blade Kaladin gave him, that he lost to the Fused—because he wouldn’t have been able to emulate Adolin with that Blade either. Typical Moash: The fault is clearly in the Blade, and not anything lacking in himself. Obviously not. /sarc

There was one chain still holding to him, Vyre admitted. That of his friend. I have to be right, Vyre thought. And he has to be wrong. Kaladin had to acknowledge that Vyre was right. Until he did…

Until he did, that last chain would remain.

A: Because if Kaladin is right and Vyre is wrong, that means there’s no justification for anything he’s done, and he can’t bear that thought. So in order to avoid being wrong, he’s going to try to drive Kaladin to suicide.

P: I need to stress again how upsetting this is. People like to say that Moash has done nothing wrong but how is it okay to try to drive a former friend to kill himself? That’s heinous. Detestable. Just wrong on so many levels. Who is he to think he knows what’s best for Kaladin when he can’t even deal with his own emotions‽

A: There’s one tiny ray of light in all of it, near the beginning of the Odium vision, where Odium is musing about Kaladin and the danger he presents.

I WOULD CLAIM THIS ONE, AS I HAVE CLAIMED YOU, Odium said.

And Vyre would see him dead first. A mercy.

A: I suppose that much might be true; for Kaladin, it would be better to be dead than to serve Odium. But I can’t help thinking it’s a very minor motivation, and at root, Moash doesn’t want a rival. Even more, he just wants Kaladin to be wrong; once dead, he has no more chance to prove he’s right. And once Kaladin is dead, that last smidgen of humanity in Moash will be gone and (he thinks) he’ll be free of all feelings of guilt.

P: If Moash sees death for Kaladin as a mercy over belonging to Odium, why does he remain? Why not take himself to the honor chasm? What’s that, you say? Because he’s a hypocrite? I agree wholeheartedly.

A: That’s partly why I think he doesn’t want Kaladin as a rival for his position with Odium. He claims it’s because Kaladin wouldn’t take that option, but at the same time he’s just a little worried about the possibility. He’d much rather see Kaladin dead by suicide, because that would (somehow) prove Moash right.

P: *vibrates as anger intensifies*

THERE ARE HOLES IN HIS SOUL. SOMEONE COULD GET IN. SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HIM, SOMEONE CONNECTED TO HIM. SOMEONE WHO FEELS AS HE DOES.

“I will do it.”

PERHAPS. YOU COULD INFLUENCE HIM IN SMALL WAYS ONLY. PERHAPS EACH NIGHT, WHEN HE SLUMBERS … HE THINKS OF YOU STILL, AND THERE IS MORE. A CONNECTION BECAUSE OF YOUR PAST, YOUR SHARED DREAMS. ANY BOND SUCH AS THAT CAN BE MANIPULATED.

A: The worst part about Moash is this intentional manipulation of the bond of friendship. It may be made more effective by a magic system in which Connection is an actual force, but it’s awful in itself, whether in fiction or real life. This is why I can’t comprehend people still maintaining that Moash did nothing wrong. How is it not wrong to use the bond of trust and friendship they once had in such a malicious way? To deliberately use that Connection to send Kaladin nightmares, intentionally twisting his mind, pushing him to the edge where he has no rationality and no hope?

P: Especially with how far Kaladin has come since The Way of Kings. Moash saw him rise above his station and pull his crew from the muck, saw him singlehandedly save lives, saw him become Radiant, and the best he can do for his former friend is to try to push him to the edge of the honor chasm again? How dare he, after he sought vengeance for the death of his grandparents, after he mocked Kaladin in the palace at Kholinar, after he murdered Roshone and again mocked Kaladin by “begging his mercy.” Again, how dare he deign to think he knows what’s best for Kaladin.

A: Think of all Kaladin did for him personally, too. Moash was one of that crew pulled from the muck, one of the lives saved. Kaladin gave him an unheard-of honor, gifting the Plate and Blade he’d earned to Moash, raising him automatically to fourth dahn with a priceless gift. Yeah, he lost all that for the sake of revenge, but he’d be dead by listener arrows if it hadn’t been for Kaladin. Gah.

“Then we find a way to make him jump,” Moash said softly.

A: Once again, right here at the end of the chapter, he’s Moash again… in the part where he thinks specifically about pushing Kaladin all the way to death. (This is a little like watching the identity shifts in Shallan’s POVs, come to think of it…)

Bruised and Broken

P: Ooh, I’m all OVER this section!

Okay, okay… putting aside my Moash hatred for a moment, let’s look at the state of his mental health. He was obviously traumatized by the death of his grandparents, and by his time in the bridge crews. I imagine he might suffer from PTSD because of those experiences. He betrayed his dear friend and tried to kill him while he was unarmed and injured, and now carries so much guilt from that that he couldn’t bear it any longer. Having been captured, he decided to give in to the freedom from feelings offered by Odium.

I’m really trying not to be super sarcastic here, I promise. Because when you’re depressed and mentally unstable, your judgment is not usually very sound. In fact, it can be quite questionable. And on one level, I can understand not wanting to feel emotions. I’ve often dissociated in order to escape overwhelming emotion, but I always come back to it because even as I do it and feel the nothing, I know it’s not right. Moash has to know that what he’s doing isn’t right. Right?

A: Quite true; Moash is very definitely broken, and for plenty of valid reasons. And his judgment is definitely not very sound. IMO, Sanderson set him up as an “anti-Kaladin”—where Kaladin takes responsibility for things beyond his control, Moash blames someone else for his own choices, even when he accepts the consequences. Moash is what Kaladin could so easily have been. Quite possibly, Moash is the version of Kaladin that would have kept the Shards when he killed Helaran.

Singers/Fused

As usual, his small band of singers went where he did, and started working—quietly—as he did.

A: I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s nice to see that Khen is still around, and whoever else is left of that group. On the other hand, I really hate seeing them follow Moash so unswervingly like this.

P: Yeah. They worship Odium so much and they feel that he’s set Moash above them. Gross.

“I don’t want to go on these raids and fight anymore, Vyre. I feel like I woke up to life, and then immediately started killing. I want to see what it is like to live. Really live. With my own mind, my own Passions.”

P: It’s rather nice to see her say this. All she wants is to finally experience life, but her life is nothing to Odium and the Fused.

A: It is nice. I can’t help thinking that if only she could find them, she might fit in well with the listeners. I’m not sure why she’s so different from the others, but this is one singer who would really like to be free. Do you suppose it has anything to do with the time they spent with Kaladin?

And hey… she would like to be free. Maybe one of the Reachers will find her, if only she can get away from this place.

P: I wouldn’t be surprised if her time with Kaladin influenced her in the same way it did Kaladin.

“Vyre,” Khen said. To Determination. Curious. What did she want that made her so afraid?

P: Refresh my memory… have we seen Moash so accurately decipher singer rhythms prior to this?

A: He was beginning to understand them at the end of Oathbringer. He had recognized that the rhythms existed, and had started to associate meanings with some of them. At one point, Leshwi hums to “a rhythm he associated with being pleased,” for example. I think this is the first one where we see him naming the rhythms, though.

Humans

The peoples intermixed, though singers were properly given deference. They were models of behavior the humans needed to learn to follow. When disputes happened, the singers forced men to be fair to one another. After all, when the parents came home, it was their duty to remove privileges if they found a mess. Humankind had been given millennia to prove they could self-govern properly, and they had failed.

A: Ugh. I don’t quite know what to say about this. It grates on every single nerve I possess… but I can’t really say that humans on Roshar were doing a spectacular job of self-governance. (Especially not the Alethi, which is the only culture Moash knows well enough to address, and he’s kinda prejudiced against their rulers anyway.) I just doubt the singers would have the ability to do any better, if they were actually free from the iron control of the Fused.

P: And I’m over here wondering how Moash is an authority on how well humans were doing? Who did he lead that made him an expert on how leaders should behave? He’s arrogant and presumptuous and it makes me crazy.

A: Point. Maybe that’s what makes it so irritating. He has zero qualifications to make this judgment, so it’s either his never-satisfied hatred of the Alethi kings, or he’s parroting the Fused narrative. Either way, ugh.

Brilliant Buttresses

“Everstorm tonight, Brightlord. We were given a half day off, in celebration.”

“I’m not a brightlord,” Vyre said…

“Well, um, Bright… er, Lord Silencer? Sir? Um.

A: Hah. What do you call someone with that much status who insists that the normal honorific doesn’t apply?

(I have to admit, though, it bugs me every single time someone refuses to be called Brightlord—especially since the person doing so is generally of much lower status. It puts them in the untenable position of having to figure out a unique form of address that won’t offend a powerful person who objects to the traditional form. Trust Vyre to do it anyway.)

P: Oh, definitely. Because he just doesn’t care. He has no respect for the little guys. Just as he showed no emotion when Khen said she was leaving. He felt no anger, no disappointment. Why should he care that he’s making someone else uncomfortable?

 

We’ll be leaving further speculation and discussion to you in the comments, so have fun and remember to be respectful of the opinions of others! This is an exceptionally lengthy set of Interludes; with most sets, we can combine two or even three in one week, but not these! Therefore, next week we’ll be back with Interlude Five, in which Lift rescues a chicken and experiences the fall of the Tower.

Alice is a Sanderson beta reader (beginning with Words of Radiance) and administrator of two fandom Facebook groups. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two kids, with extended family out back. She’s still working on that Mistborn Era 2 reread, but she’d better hurry it up; the progress bar on The Lost Metal is up to 66% now!

Paige resides in New Mexico, of course. She works full-time, goes to school full-time, beta reads part-time, mods/admins 3 Stormlight-themed Facebook groups part-time, and writes part-time. She wishes sleep wasn’t necessary because there’s just too storming much to do! You can find her writing at www.amazon.com/Paige-Vest/e/B0797Z37XV and www.patreon.com/paigevest.

citation

Back to the top of the page

19 Comments

Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in Tor.com's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? Tor.com members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!

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.