Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Reread: Interlude Five

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Cosmere Chickens ahoy—in more ways than one! This week’s reread involves two actual Cosmere Chickens, along with all the rest of us peeps. Join us in the reread for Lift’s interlude, with Wyndle being his adorable self, interrupted by yet another of those characters most of us love to hate. Also, That Everstorm, with all it brings… And chickens. Did I say chickens?

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 we also touch on some things from Mistborn, both Eras, in the Cosmere Connections and Secret Societies section, so if you haven’t read those yet, be warned.

Heralds: Chana, (Chanarach), Herald of the Common Man. Dustbringers Brave/Obedient. Role: Guard.
Palah (Paliah). Truthwatchers. Learned/Giving. Role: Scholar.

A: Interesting choice! I was expecting to see Vedel in all four slots, given that this is an Edgedancer Interlude, but… nope. Chana and Paliah. I can see Chana for both Brave and Guard; Lift displays both of those here. Paliah… maybe the Giving attribute? Lift certainly risks a lot to help the red chicken. Any other ideas?

Icon: This is the icon I dubbed “Copia” for all the food—it means a Lift POV chapter, and we don’t get many of those. Yet.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Lift
WHERE: Urithiru
WHEN: 1175.4.6.3 (The same day as Chapters 37-40, when the Everstorm hits Urithiru)

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

RECAP: Lift is frustrated by her increasing inability to squeeze her growing body through the tunnels in the ceilings and walls of Urithiru. Wyndle gets her to talk about her visit to the Nightwatcher, but their moment of confidence is interrupted by a disturbance of their powers. Searching for information, Lift hears screams which turn out to be a red chicken being chased by a green one. She rescues the red one, heals it with some difficulty, and follows it to its dead master, when Mraize finds her and begins pursuit.

Overall Reactions

Plus she could glow—when properly fed—and her awesomeness could get her through tight squeezes. A year ago, there hadn’t been nearly as many of those as there were now. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

A: This is a theme for the first part of the Interlude: Lift is (as Navani noted several times) growing despite her best efforts and expectations, and she hates it.

P: She really hates it. Our poor not-so-little-anymore Radiant.

“That’s almost a full inch since last time,” she said.

“I’m sorry, mistress.”

She flopped down in her nest of blankets, wanting to curl up and cry. “I’ll stop eating,” she said. “That’ll stunt my growth.”

“You?” Wyndle said. “Stop eating.”

A: Which is, of course, ludicrous. LOL.

P: Lift wouldn’t be Lift if she wasn’t stealing and eating food constantly. It’s also infinitely sad that she wants to stop growing this badly.

A: I wish I could quote the entire section about the Nightwatcher and Cultivation, here.  But y’all have read it, and can read it again… so I’ll just note that Lift did see Cultivation, as did Dalinar, and… well, what she asked for isn’t exactly what she got.

P: When Lift spoke with Dalinar in Azimir in Chapter 65 of Oathbringer, she said, “Huh. You smell like her.” I knew at that moment that she had dealt directly with Cultivation, as had Dalinar. Plus there’s just so much that’s different about Lift. The way she can touch Wyndle and the way she turns food into “Stormlight,” not to mention however she managed to invade the vision that Dalinar had brought Gawx in to watch in Oathbringer. The Stormfather isn’t happy about whatever it was that Cultivation has done with Lift, that’s for sure.

A: Yes, the hints were there for sure. I like having things confirmed. :D It’s worth noting that Wyndle drops a hint about her not using Stormlight here, too. It won’t be confirmed for a while, until Navani starts working with Raboniel and discovers that there are different forms of Light, but the hint is here, dropped in all casual-like. Clever author.

“I had suspected it was true. Your … situation is unique. Why, seeing into the Cognitive Realm—even a little—is an uncommon feature in a human! And turning food into Light. Why … if Mother is involved … perhaps this isn’t Stormlight you use at all. Hmm … You realize how special you are, Lift.”

P: Of course, we’ve all wondered about Lift’s ability to turn food into Light. We don’t see Edgedancers using Stormlight as readily as we see Windrunners, but we know that this is unique to Lift.

A: Yep, consistently, every other Radiant of every Order gets their Stormlight from the highstorms via infused gemstones. She’s unique. (I have to wonder if there have been others, though, in preceding millennia. Does Cultivation just choose one once in a while, or is Lift truly unique?)

“I asked not to change,” Lift whispered, opening her eyes. “I said, when everything else is going wrong, I want to be the same. I want to stay me. Not become someone else.”

“Those are the exact words?” Wyndle asked.

“Best I can remember.”

“Hmm…” Wyndle said, snuggling down into his vines. “I believe that is too vague.”

“I wasn’t! I told her. Make me so I don’t grow up.”

“That is not what you said, mistress. And if I might be so bold—having spent a great deal of time around you—you are not an easy person to understand.”

“I asked not to change! So why am I changing?”

“You’re still you. Merely a bigger version.”

A: On the one hand, this is hilarious. Because Wyndle is oh, SO right: Lift is not an easy person to understand. Her idea of saying what she means involves assuming the other person can read her mind, most of the time.

P: She needed Wyndle before she went to seek the old magic; he’d have helped her word things right. That tricksy Cultivation probably knew exactly what Lift wanted, though.

A: Fair point—Cultivation may well have known exactly what she meant, but also knew it wouldn’t be good for her. And… not to be cynical, but it likely wouldn’t have served Cultivation’s mysterious purposes, either. So Lift didn’t get what she thought she needed, and we’ll have to RAFO on the outcome.

All the same, it’s heartbreaking to read this. She wanted to remain the little girl her mother loved—and she was only a little girl when she met Cultivation. It’s not too surprising that she couldn’t say exactly what she meant. So this is agonizing:

The last time things felt right, Lift thought, I was with her. Before she got sick. And I was her little girl. If she saw me now, she wouldn’t recognize me.

A: I mean… yeah. She’s growing, going through puberty, and all that entails, and she’s fighting it with everything she has. Poor child. I think she’s wrong about her mother not recognizing her, though. Mothers are clever that way.

P: I think that what Lift doesn’t understand is that it didn’t feel right because she was her mother’s little girl, it felt right because she was with her mother. She’s been grieving alone this whole time, unable to talk about it, without anyone but Wyndle to talk to about it. And it is heartbreaking. I’ll always have a soft spot for our Lift.

A: Oh, absolutely. The “rightness” was less about herself and more about her world; it was right when her loving mother was always there, and it will never feel the same without her.

Wyndle slowly wrapped his vines around her. Gentle, like an embrace. Though others could barely feel the touch of their spren, Wyndle felt solid to her. He wasn’t warm. But … it was comforting when he rested his vine head on her shoulder.

A: That’s just beautiful.

P: I’m not crying, you’re crying.

A: I hate to break the moment, but on the subject of boons from Cultivation, it occurred to me that Dalinar asked for forgiveness. In the immediate sense, that’s not what he got. He lost his memories and was able to become a different person, so that when he fully got his memories back, he was able to stand up to Odium and received Evi’s forgiveness. (At least that’s my interpretation.) So he got his requested boon, but it took a bunch of years. Now I can’t help wondering if there will be some echo of that in Lift’s situation. Will she someday hear or see an echo of her mother, still Connected somehow, that will recognize her and tell her how much she’s loved? Dalinar heard Evi’s voice. Kaladin had a whole conversation with Tien and heard Teft’s voice. Could Lift have that resolution as well?

P: I think that’s a beautiful sentiment. I hope that Brandon gives her something like this in the back five, something to bring her some comfort at long last.

Music, Mechanisms, and Manifestations of Light

A: This week, this section is more like… maybe absence of Light, instead of manifestations?

“Something just happened. In the tower. I feel … a darkness resting on me like a blanket.”

A: This would, I assume, be the moment when Raboniel inverted the Tower’s defenses.

P: Did Syl sense anything like Wyndle did? I can’t recall at the moment.

A: Right at first, she just vanished; Kaladin thought she’d been flying around near the bar, but couldn’t see her. When she gets hold of him and pulls herself back through to the Physical realm, she only says that her mind feels clouded, like she’s sleepy.

She tried to use Stormlight to make her body slick to get through a particularly tight squeeze, but it didn’t work. She frowned, tried again, then finally forced herself through without it.

A: Yup. Her “awesomeness” just got shut down. She can’t manipulate Abrasion now.

P: My stomach knotted at this realization. That’s her thing. That’s what keeps her safe, and now it’s gone with the Tower under attack. Light, but this interlude is emotional for me. I fear for this poor child so much. As I’ll likely say. Repeatedly.

Some people had gathered on the Oathgate platform to the Shattered Plains. Several figures who seemed to have fallen to the ground. Blue uniforms.

“Windrunners,” she said…

A: I’d been wondering where all the other Windrunners were. There were supposed to be a total of about 20, including squires, according to Navani, but we only saw Kaladin and Teft. Apparently the others were outside. Practicing, maybe? Or just returning to Urithiru from Narak?

P: I was surprised that the effects of the fabrial reached the Oathgate platforms. I would have assumed it was limited to the Tower. Unless they’ve “fallen” in another way.

A: There are indications later that the defense reaches well outside the Tower itself, because Windrunners couldn’t get close enough to do any spying without losing their powers. It’s not entirely clear what the range is, but it looks like it reaches that far, since the invading forces wouldn’t have had time to reach the Oathgates yet.

If we needed further evidence of the timing (not that we do…):

“Wyndle, I need you,” she said, holding her hand to the side to make him into a weapon. Not a sword. She hated those things. A rod she could swing at the nightmare chicken.

Nothing happened.

“I can’t become a weapon, mistress!” Wyndle cried. “I don’t know why! It’s something about the wrongness in the tower!”

A: At least they’re still together, I guess! Syl disappeared for a while, shoved into the Cognitive Realm. On a guess, Wyndle’s presence (even if he can’t be a ShardRod) is due to Lift’s Cognitive connection? It’s a good thing, in any case, because she desperately needs his presence even if he can’t weaponate.

Fine. She didn’t need a weapon anyway.

P: First she lost Abrasion, then Wyndle can’t manifest as a weapon. Lift has no idea at this point whether she can heal herself, yet she still stands steady and catches that bloody Aviar with her face. She’s something, our girl.

A: LOL. That was just so Lift. She’ll use her teeth if no other weapons are available. Indomitable child. Also, it gives her the chance to discover that her own healing still works, as the Light she holds heals her face after the green chicken scratches her.

She pressed her Light into the body, and it resisted. The healing didn’t work either. Damnation.

A: Yikes. Right now, it seems all she’s got is the semi-physical presence of her spren. The really odd part comes a bit later:

She pushed harder. When she’d tried to become awesome earlier, nothing had happened. But when she’d tried to heal, she’d felt something different—a resistance. So this time she pushed it, growling softly until … it worked. Stormlight left her, and the chicken’s wing healed.

A: It resists, but she can make Progression work, while Abrasion seems to just not exist. I can speculate all day, but we really don’t know why. (Other than narrative necessity, of course.) It might be because Progression is almost purely of Cultivation, or because Lifelight and Progression are so in tune with one another, or… I’d really like to know exactly why it works. We get an explanation for why Kaladin can use Adhesion; what about this??

P: In my head canon, it’s both the use of Lifelight and the fact that Progression is of Cultivation. Plus, Lift just isn’t an ordinary Radiant.

Spren and Shadesmar

“Mistress,” Wyndle said, curling up like an eel and raising a vine head beside her. He was getting better at making faces, and this one was one of her favorites—it had vines that looked like little mustaches.

P: I need art of Wyndle looking like this. Can someone get on that?

A: Check out the artwork below!

Also, this seems to be a good place to note the various things Lift calls Wyndle in this Interlude. Whineyspren, dummyspren, lamespren, cowardspren…

P: And I love his Wisdomspren retort.

A: Heh. Oh, and she has to call him Voidbringer once, just for old times’ sake. Honestly, I think he finds it all a little amusing, though he probably wouldn’t admit it.

Relationships and Romances

Flatbread … some curry … sugared mashed beans … a little jar of jam with a cute face drawn on top above the Horneater symbol for “love.” …

“Starvin’ stupid Horneater boy,” Lift grumbled, slathering jam on the flatbread. “His dad knew how to make it appear like an accident, leavin’ stuff out so I could take it. Let me stormin’ pretend.” …

“Is it really so bad?” Wyndle said, following. “Gift likes you. That is why he leaves things out for you.”

A: Absolutely priceless. Rock’s son Gift appears to have a crush on Lift… and she both loves it and hates it. IMO (and this is just an overall impression) the only reason she really hates it is that it involves change. Changing from a clever thief to a girl who receives gifts. Changing from a street urchin into a young woman. Mostly, growing up. But we talked about that part above.

P: I am here for it! Lift needs a friend. Maybe actually interacting with and becoming friends with Gift would make growing up less painful for her.

A: Oh, that would be nice!

Bruised and Broken

She squeezed her eyes shut again.

“Mistress,” Wyndle said. “Lift. Will you tell me why this bothers you so much? Everyone grows. Everyone changes.”

“But I’m … I’m her little girl.”

“Whose little girl?” he asked gently. “Your mother’s?”

Lift nodded. Stupid. It sounded stupid and she was stupid. Mother was dead. That was that.

P: I legit ugly cried at this scene the first time I read it. This book already had my emotions all tied up in knots, but seeing Lift saying, “I’m her little girl” just killed me. Why don’t you just cut my heart out with a spoon, Brandon? It would hurt less.

A: So agreed. I got teary just reading this section again. (Maybe I’m just missing my daughter. She’s gone for a week. Yeah, we’ll blame it on that.)

P: *hugs*

Crawl through dark tunnels? Sure. Fight against Fused? Eh, why not.

But feel your own body changing you into someone else, and not be able to stop it?

Every human being lived with a terrible terror, and they all ignored it. Their own bodies mutated, and elongated, and started bleeding, and became all wrong.

She pulled off her shirt, redid the wrap tighter—although it pinched her skin—then replaced her shirt.

P: She wants so much not to change. But it’s more than wanting to remain her mother’s little girl. She’s afraid of maturing, flat opposed to “mutating,” as she puts it. She’s so brave for one so small, but growing up is more than she can face. I just want to hug her.

Oaths Spoken, Powers Awakened

Lift searched out across the snowy landscape, trying to listen. Listen. The Sleepless had told her, Always listen.  

P: Lift’s Oaths touch me as much as—if not more than—Kaladin’s Oaths. I talked about this in the Ideal Heroes article a few years ago, how, feeling ignored for so much of my life, the thought of a Radiant order that literally listens to those who have been ignored just hits me right in the feels.

“It’s kind of what I do,” she said, and shrugged. “I’m ’posed to listen too. Damnation take me if I can figure out how that applies to chickens though.”

P: Saying “It’s kind of what I do” after healing the chicken is perfection. Lift is just so matter of fact and not at all arrogant. I’d say, “Never change, Lift,” but we all know that she will. That she is.

A: But in some ways—important ways—she doesn’t change. She always listens, and remembers.

P: And that’s why she’s my second favorite Radiant. Kaladin better watch out; he’ll lose his status if Lift gets much more awesome.

Instead she followed the chicken’s gaze. She was supposed to listen. It was one of her stormin’ oaths, or something.

P: I love how Lift sees the red “chicken” as searching for something when Wyndle doesn’t. And despite realizing that the Tower is under attack and Radiants are falling, and Stormforms are in the Tower, she continues listening to the chicken until it finds what it’s looking for.

“I’ll remember you. I promise.”

P: This was so touching to me, and it made Mraize’s appearance all the more infuriating, because he was interrupting. Lift didn’t know the dead man and thought he’d been the victim of a simple robbery, yet she promised to remember him, because that’s what she does. Oh, my heart.

Retired, once an important official in the palace. She’d gone and talked to him because nobody paid attention to old people. They smelled.

A: She listened to those who were ignored, and she remembered those who were forgotten. I love this girl—and this whole Order, come to think of it. We’d all do well to emulate them more.

Cosmere Connections and Secret Societies

“A minor Alethi functionary, though his eyes are different now. Curious. Look at his fingers—tan skin with bands of lighter skin. He was wearing jewelry once.”

A: I don’t know if this has been confirmed, but it’s probable that this is the steward Gereh, who Navani worked with in the Prologue. It’s also extremely probable that he’s a Terrisman. And that rat Mraize probably stole his metalminds.

P: That man needs to get his, and I hope that Shallan is the one who gives it to him. Grrr…

A: It makes me wonder, though: What can Mraize gain from Gereh’s metalminds? Just another trophy? Or have Iyatil’s people (off Scadrial) figured out how to access them? Keeping in mind that Mistborn Era 2 comes after this… There will be several hints of Terris people in this book, and not all on the same side. Someone—more than one—from Scadrial is definitely meddling on Roshar, and I want to know who and why and what.

P: I want to know all the things, all the secrets.

On his shoulder sat the green chicken from before, its wicked claws gripping a patch of leather affixed to the uniform.

“Little Radiant,” the man said. “I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted an excuse to hunt you.”

P: *growl* I experienced sheer terror for Lift when reading this scene during the beta. Especially when she had just lost her ability to be awesome. The Tower under attack, her rescuing the chicken, then this slimeball shows up to hunt her? All the anger… and fear, for our littlest Radiant.

A: There are words for people like Mraize, and none of them are appropriate under FCC rules. Gah. I loathe this man. He’s bad enough when he’s trying to manipulate Shallan (and usually succeeding, though at least she generally recognizes what’s happening and chooses to go along with it), but this? He has no particular use for Lift, not like he does Shallan, so he’s just going for a fun little hunt. GAAAAH.

P: He’s just so foul.

Arresting Artwork

A: It was a bit of a surprise to see one of Shallan’s drawings show up in the Interludes, but it makes sense. Our favorite non-deadeye Cultivationspren is all over this chapter. I mean… just look at that adorable creature in the lower left!!

P: There he is! As an audiobook listener, I rarely see the art in the books. Love.

A: It’s fascinating to look at the role the Cultivationspren play in the Shadesmar economy in light of the Ideals of the Edgedancers, too. They’re the mediators, the ones who listen to everyone, the ones who get along with all the spren. And the ones who remember what others aren’t able to recall. I wonder if that specific ideal is part of what enabled Maya to connect to Adolin strongly enough to speak about the Recreance.

Brilliant Buttresses

You can’t be taking stuff from people who don’t have much. That was the first rule of not being a total-and-utter-useless-piece-of-chull-dung.

A: Heh. A rule some other people could stand to learn.

 

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! Next week, we’ll be back with Interlude 6—the second chapter in Taravangian’s novella, in which Plans Are Laid.

Alice is a Sanderson beta reader and administrator of two fandom facebook groups. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two kids, with extended family out back.

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.

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