Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Sixty

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Well, hello again, O my Cosmere Chickens! Hey, there’s a Cosmere Chicken in the chapter this week, too! But it’s the nasty one—the one attached to that $%@# Mraize. Who is also in this chapter, much to the irritation of your friendly neighborhood rereaders. On the bright side, this is the point where Venli discovers that she really isn’t the last listener, and she has her own personal great awakening. And it’s a beautiful thing, even if Mraize was instrumental. (You know what they say, “No one is so useless that he can’t at least serve as a bad example.”)

Come on in and join the discussion!

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 address some mildly Cosmere-relevant stuff, but since it’s mostly asking questions, I’m not sure it spoils anything.

Heralds: Palah (Pailiah, Paliah). Truthwatchers. Learned/Giving. Role: Scholar.

A: Heh. On a bet, Palah is here solely to represent her Truthwatcher-to-be. We wouldn’t have known that on a first read, of course, but IMO this is a hint of Rlain’s future bond—especially since his future-bonding spren is actually here on the page.

Icon: The Singer, for Venli’s POV.

Epigraph: From Rhythm of War, page 10 undertext:

Who is this person? You used no title, so I assume they are not a Fused. Who, then, is El?

A: No question as to the author this week! That’s Navani, responding to Raboniel’s comment in the text that El would be particularly interested in the emotional impact of the Rhythm of War. Since the first-time reader also has no idea who El might be, nor what the Rhythm of War actually is, this is one of those epigraphs that only gains real significance on a reread. However, I have a question: Why does Navani make the assumption that if there’s no title, he’s not a Fused? There are very few whose titles we’ve heard, Raboniel and Lezian being the only ones that immediately come to mind. Have we just not been told about the others? Or has Navani only been given names and titles of very few Fused, so she assumes they all have titles? I’m confused.

P: Yeah, Navani is definitely curious about what Raboniel is talking about. And the comment about no title was definitely strange. Because how would she know it’s not, really?

Chapter Recap

WHO: Venli
WHEN: 1175.4.7.1 (the day after Chapter 56, when she learned Rlain was there, and also the day after Kaladin’s most recent escapades)
WHERE: Urithiru

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

RECAP: Venli finds that it really is Rlain in the prison, though he initially doesn’t recognize her. After sending the guard away, they have a conversation revealing that neither of them wants to serve Odium. When Venli mentions having saved someone from execution, Rlain is excited to discover that Lirin and Hesina are alive, and pushes Venli to find a way to get him out of prison and reconnect him with them. Venli agrees to try, and seeks out Raboniel. She observes the end of a conversation between Raboniel and Mraize, which concludes with Mraize presenting a caged Lift to Raboniel as a gift. Venli is appalled, but pursues her original goal of asking for Rlain’s release. Raboniel grants her request, and Venli realizes that her next Ideal will be about seeking freedom for those unjustly imprisoned. When she speaks the words, however, they are rejected, and she finally understands that she doesn’t get to pick and choose freedom only for those whose freedom benefits her. It has to be bigger than that.

Overall Reactions

Venli felt all rhythms freeze when she saw Rlain in the cell. Like the silence following a crescendo.

In that silence, Venli finally believed what Mazish had told her. In that silence, all of Roshar changed. Venli was no longer the last. And in that silence, Venli thought she could hear something distant beyond the rhythms. A pure tone.

Rlain looked up through the bars, then sneered at her.

The moment of peace vanished.

P: Oooh… I love this chapter! And I love this verbiage… silence following a crescendo. Gorgeous. She’s no longer the last. The hope and excitement she must feel at seeing him gives me chills.

“A pure tone.” This whole opening is lovely. Until the peace vanished like a record scratch. Maybe she was expecting a warm greeting, a happy reunion?

A: I also had this entire section highlighted for discussion. The imagery is beautiful, and so joyful… right up until that sneer. As she notes almost immediately, of course he doesn’t recognize her. It’s been at least five years since he’s seen her, with the possible exception of a couple of weeks when he was trying to figure out what had happened to his people before the battle of Narak. She’s in a completely different form than he’s ever seen before: She’s an envoyform Regal now. Plus, he’d been given to understand that all the listeners had been killed. So it makes sense that he wouldn’t recognize her immediately, but it’s a little sad to see that beautiful moment marred by something as simple as “you look so different I didn’t know it was you.”

Curiously, though Venli had assumed that Raboniel would be furious, instead she’d taken it in stride. She’d almost seemed amused at what had occurred. She was hiding something about her motivations. She seemed to not want the corruption to happen too quickly.

P: This is, of course, referring to Kaladin breaking the node the previous day. And Raboniel is thousands of years old—how easy it would be to bide her time and be in no hurry.

A: I expect that’s part of it, but we also saw it in her demeanor when she was speaking with Kaladin. Personally, I think she’s realized the opportunity in having access to Towerlight. Given the research she’s conducting, the potential of playing around with multi-Shard Investiture is pretty rich. She’s already in control of the tower as a city; the actual corruption and Unmaking of the tower’s spren can easily be delayed in the service of her research.

Rlain. Alive.

Near the door, Venli met with the head jailer: a direform Regal with a crest of spikes beginning on his head and running down his neck.

“I didn’t realize we had a prison,” she said to him—softly, and to Indifference.

P: Direform, I wonder what their purpose might be. Unless it’s actually “jailer” in which case, never mind. The spikes sound wicked, though.

A: They mostly seem to serve as guards here in the tower, though they’re only mentioned a couple of times. Yeah, nasty-looking sorts.

“I will speak with him,” Venli said. “Alone.”

The direform studied her, humming to Destruction in challenge. She hummed it back—she outranked this one, so long as she was Raboniel’s Voice.

“I will send again to the Lady of Wishes,” he finally said, “to inform her that you have done this.”

“As you will,” Venli said, then waited pointedly until he stepped out and shut the door.

P: I love how she meets his rhythm with her own. Don’t mess with the Voice of the Lady of Wishes. And I find it kind of funny how I nearly hated her at the beginning of Oathbringer and here I’m thinking, “Tell him how it is, Venli!”

A: Heh. There are still times when I want to smack her upside the head, but at least now it’s mostly because I want her to move toward fulfilling her potential instead of being a coward, rather than wanting her to die horribly. She’s actually in her comfort zone here, though, because she’s confident in the hierarchy and her place in it: Specifically, she outranks him and there’s not a thing he can do about it.

 “Rlain.

He looked up at her. Then he frowned and stood.

“It’s me,” she said to Peace, speaking in the listener language for an extra measure of privacy.  “Venli.”

He stepped closer to the bars, and his eyes flickered to her face. He hummed to Remembrance. “I was under the impression they had killed all of the listeners.”

“Only most of us. What are you doing here, Rlain? Last we knew, the humans had discovered you in the warcamps and executed you!”

“I… wasn’t discovered,” he said. He spoke to Curiosity, but his body language—he had indeed picked up some human attitudes—betrayed his true emotions. He obviously didn’t trust her.

P: It’s interesting that she can recognize what human body language might look like when one is being dishonest. Perhaps her time with the humans in the flashbacks?

A: I thought this was really wild—that she’d read the contrast between rhythm and body language, and decide that it was the body language that spoke the truth. I’d have expected her to read it the other way, but then she herself has become really, really good at attuning rhythms she doesn’t feel. As to where she learned it… well, yes, there was definitely time with the humans prior to the assassination. But also, she’s been hanging around with recovered singers for the last year and more, and at first, human mannerisms were all they knew. I would bet that most of them still use body language as much as rhythms—especially for the ordinary singers, maybe less for the Regals.

P: Of course, the Alethi singers would use a lot of body language.

A: Oh, also—I loved that she switched to the listener language. Ostensibly this was for privacy, but it’s so much better that these two, so far as they know the last of the listeners, are speaking their own language again. Worth noting, they both had reason to believe the other had been killed more than a year ago—so it’s especially poignant when these two “lone survivors” meet, and neither feels they can trust the other.

“Rlain,” she said, her voice soft, “I’m me. Truly me. This form doesn’t … change me like stormform did for the others.”

Timbre pulsed. Tell him the truth. Show him what you are.

She locked up. No. She couldn’t.

He doesn’t know, she realized, that I caused all this. How could he? He was among the humans. To him, I’m simply … another survivor.

She found that idea daunting.

P: Gah, Venli. Trust someone for once, would you? All of the dishonesty leaves a bad taste in my mouth. She definitely needs to come clean with him about everything. Everything. Though we know they’re not the last of the listeners, they think that they are and she can’t keep her part in things from him.

A: As always, my mind goes to “I wonder what he’d have done if she’d told him she was a nascent Radiant…” If there were anyone she could safely tell, it would be Rlain! But Sanderson is saving that revelation for a time when it has a lot more emotional punch.

“And yes, the humans tried to exploit the listeners, then tried to destroy us—but the Fused are the ones who succeeded. Odium chose to destroy our people. I’m not going to serve him. I…”

He trailed off, perhaps realizing what he was saying. He’d tried to start the conversation noncommittal, plainly worried she was an agent for Odium. Now he’d confirmed where he stood. He looked to her, and his humming fell silent. Waiting.

P: That moment when you realize you might have just said too much.

A: Yikes. If she’d been what she appeared, that would have been his death warrant. Fortunately… she’s not. Also, he’s not wrong. Whatever the humans did—and it was truly awful, no debate—it took Odium and the return of the Fused to completely wipe out the (known) listeners. Much as the desperate listeners were, in one sense, asking for trouble by taking stormform… it’s really brutal that Odium chose to use every last one of them as bodies for the Fused. I think Venli was right—for some reason Odium was afraid of the listeners, and wanted them all out of the way. He only kept the one who had so much lust for power that she could be manipulated for his own purposes. I wonder if his future-sight gave him a clue that the listeners were dangerous to him, and that’s why he tried to destroy them all. If so, it may well be that the colony of listeners who escaped will turn out to be Odium’s downfall, and I really really want that to happen now.

“I don’t know if any good can be done by fighting him, Rlain,” she whispered. “But I … keep secrets from Odium myself. I’ve been trying to build something separate from his rule, a people I could … I don’t know, use to start a new group of listeners.”

Trying, in her own pitiful way, to undo what she’d done.

“How many?” Rlain asked, to Excitement.

“A dozen so far,” Venli said.

P: Hey, look who it is, all sharing information and being honest. This is how you adult. This is how you get people to trust you, by telling them the truth.

A: I love it, but it’s also incredibly dangerous for them both. If either of them were a spy… But they aren’t. Whew.

“Who did you save? The queen?”

“No, someone far less important,” Venli said. “A surgeon and his wife, who were—”

“Lirin and Hesina?” he asked to Excitement. “The child too, I hope.”

“Yes. How did you—”

“You need to get me out, Venli,” Rlain said.

P: *flails* I love this moment when he hears that they’re okay. Though I wish he’d asked why they had been slated for execution before she’d saved them.

A: On a bet, he assumed they’d been slated for execution for hiding Kaladin and Teft, but it could have been any of a number of things. Raboniel could easily decide to make execution the punishment for any kind of resistance. That said, it’s delightful to see him perk up so much, and become so confident, when he realizes that they’re alive—and that Venli had rescued them, and could potentially take him to them. It’s like he has a whole new hope now.

“Venli,” he said to Confidence, “look at me.”

She met his gaze. Had he always been this intense? Eshonai had known him better than she had.

“You need to do this,” Rlain said to her. “You need to use whatever influence you have and get me out.

“I don’t know if—”

“Stop being so insufferably selfish! Do something against your own self-interest, for the greater good, for once in your storming life, Venli.”

She hummed to Betrayal. She didn’t deserve that. She’d just told him how she was trying to rebuild the listeners. But he hummed louder to Confidence, so she aligned her rhythm to his.

“I’ll try,” she said.

P: Oh, but you did deserve that. You so deserved that. He doesn’t even realize just how spot on he is in that moment! I’m just so damn glad he’s calling her out here and telling her not to be so selfish. It’s something I wish she’d been told years ago but this is our story and here we are, right?

And he may have always been this intense, but a certain Windrunner may have also rubbed off on him a bit.

A: She totally deserved it. And while he didn’t know Venli as well as he’d known her sister, I’m betting he was always aware of how selfish she could be. I wouldn’t be surprised if he heard about it from Eshonai sometimes; griping about your younger siblings is a time-honored tradition. Even so, it’s a blast to see how unknowingly on the mark he was; this would, indeed, be the first time in many, many years that she did a good deed that didn’t obviously benefit her own interests. And even this, as she’ll acknowledge later, is for her own emotional benefit.

Venli stepped inside, where an unusual number of Fused had gathered and were systematically going through the warlord’s belongings … These were important Fused, none of the more erratic or crazy represented. Leshwi herself had been pressed into the work, and that all together whispered something meaningful: Someone very high up in the singer hierarchy was interested in this man. To the point of wanting to dissect and understand his each and every possession, no matter how ordinary.

A: Hmmm. They’re in the Blackthorn’s quarters… and while I’m betting that Raboniel is interested in understanding him as much as possible, these would also be Navani’s quarters, and it’s entirely plausible that both are targets of Raboniel’s interest. I don’t quite get the socks, though.

P: Yeah, why the socks, cousin? I mean, maybe Raboniel really likes Alethi’s socks.

The tall male was dressed in a coat and trousers that seemed elegant to Venli’s eyes—though she knew little of their fashion. More striking was the strange creature on his shoulder, an odd thing unlike any Venli had ever seen. It stood on two legs like a person, though its face ended in a beak and it had brightly colored scales that looked soft, of all things.

A: Ugh. Mraize. I loathe this guy, you know? I’ll admit to a certain amusement at his attempt to manipulate Raboniel, though; while he clearly has something she’s interested in, I can’t help thinking he’s way out of his league. Poncing around with an Aviar on his shoulder acting like he knows all the things. Ugh.

P: I loathe him, too. Just hate. And though I feel differently of late about the Ghostbloods as a whole, I will never like Mraize.

Though he does impress with his down payment; he did catch our girl Raboniel in a moment of shock there.

“And you are not one who throws away something useful, are you, Ancient One?”

“Use is relative,” Raboniel replied. “I will throw away an opportunity I’ll never have time to exploit if it is preventing me from something better.”

A: Raboniel is definitely not an easy one to manipulate, even though Mraize thinks he’s doing it. I’m rather amused—she’s deliberately letting him think he might succeed. Not that she wouldn’t make a deal with him, but I’m pretty sure she’d get the better part of it while letting him think he beat her.

P: He may think he’s a clever guy but he can’t outthink or outsmart a Fused. Especially not one like Raboniel, she’s crafty.

He stepped forward and respectfully handed her a large pouch. Raboniel took it, and it made a soft clink. Raboniel undid the top, and stared inside. She sat there for a long moment, and when she next spoke, her voice was devoid of rhythms. “How? Where did you get this?”

A: What. Is. In. That. POUCH‽

Do we ever find out? It makes a soft clink, and it totally shocks her, and then they don’t talk about it at all, except when Mraize implies that payment for use of the Oathgates will be more of the same whatever-it-is. My best guess is it’s something Invested, but… what? They already had the Herald-trapping daggers, so that can’t be it. Anyone?

P: I need to know what’s in the pouch, too! Hemalurgic spikes? Metalminds? But how would she know what they were, especially with one look?

A: Hmm, good thought. The Fused are pretty Cosmere-aware, but last time they were awake I’m not sure hemalurgy had yet been invented. Metalminds I could almost see… Maybe it’s just something heavily Invested, and she’d recognize that aspect without the actual object being significant? I dunno. Whatever it is, it has a really profound effect on Raboniel!

Oh, about the Oathgates… Mraize wants a deal for access to the Oathgates. Would that be an attempt to gain easy access to Shadesmar from multiple places on Roshar, instead of only through Cultivation’s Shardpool up in the Horneater Peaks?

“This is the gift.” …

The lead human whipped the cloth off, revealing a small teenage human girl in a box with bars on the sides. …

“This is no slave,” the man said. “But if your master does happen to ever locate Cultivation, suggest that he ask her precisely why she made an Edgedancer who is fueled by Lifelight and not Stormlight.”

A: And there it is: the first mention (by name) of Lifelight. Cultivation’s own Light, distinct from Stormlight and Voidlight. Fandom had been hypothesizing it for a while, and it was quite reasonable, but now we know that it exists, and we have a name for it. Also, now we know that Lift isn’t metabolizing food into Stormlight, but Lifelight. What we don’t know is whether Lift is the first (as Mraize assumes) or not.

Also, in case anyone wasn’t sure, this proves that it’s Lift in the cage. Apparently she lost the hunt, and now this $#%&@ Mraize has stuffed her in a box and given her to Raboniel. Have I mentioned that I loathe him?

P: What I want to know is how did he know she was metabolizing food into Lifelight? She’d never seen him before he “hunted” her *grrr* so how did he know?

And I was FURIOUS that he had her in a cage like some kind of animal. He needs to pay, for that, if for nothing else.

A: Good question. I have to assume that his people in the Tower have learned about her odd abilities; it’s not exactly been a secret over the last year or so. As much as I dislike the Ghostbloods in general and Mraize in particular, they aren’t exactly stupid, and they’re very good spies and infiltrators. And while they’d never met, the end of Interlude 5 makes it clear that Mraize had heard of her.

“He is dramatic, as I was warned. Hopefully he thinks I was put onto the back foot by his little stunt. Did he really deliver me a Radiant who is awake despite the tower’s protections?”

A: Yes, the little rat, he actually did. He put a 14-year-old girl in a box and gave her to someone who might well use her for lab experiments. Monster.

P: How have I not yet founded the Mraize Must Die Club?

A: I’ll join!! Can I be the first new member?

P: I hereby induct you into the club. We have a secret handshake and pass code, which includes a swear but we do accept the PG-13 version of the swear.

A: Given how I feel about Mraize, I’m not sure I need the PG-13 version…

But back to the subject of Venli and Rlain:

“I would have him released to my care. I haven’t any other kin to speak of. He is precious to me.”

“Odium specifically made your kin extinct,” Raboniel said. “You are the last. A distinction that you should appreciate, for the way it makes you unique.”

“I do not wish uniqueness,” Venli said. “I wish to keep this malen alive and enjoy his company.

A: I don’t think Raboniel can begin to comprehend the sense of isolation Venli has been feeling. Over the last seven years, she’s lost not only her immediate family, she lost her clan, and all the other clans, and everyone she’d ever known. And somehow Raboniel expects her to see it as an honor. Yikes.

P: What I loved about this was how Venli demanded to free Rlain. That kind of thing could go either way with Raboniel. Fortunately, she was probably mollified by her “gifts” and could appreciate Venli’s passion instead of wanting to punish her for it.

A: Maybe she was still a bit bemused by the contents of Mraize’s pouch, and was feeling magnanimous? Heh.

If she wanted to honestly progress as a Radiant, she’d need to do as Rlain had said and start thinking about someone other than herself. And it was beyond time for her to begin treating her powers with the respect they deserved.

A: This was such a wonderful moment. As much as I’ve wanted to slap her around, at this moment she’s seeing clearly what she has to do, and it feels like maybe, just maybe, she’s going to pursue the greater good in the right way. (Why is it, so often “for the greater good” gets used as an excuse for one person to do horrible things to hundreds, thousands, millions of other people? It’s rarely used the way it is here—someone giving up her own desires and preferences in order to serve others. But this is the only justifiable use of the term. In my opinion.)

P: I loved how she thought that her words would be accepted because she’d secured Rlain’s freedom. And instead of getting upset that they weren’t, she realized why they weren’t accepted and knows what she has to do in order to level up. I got major feels during this moment when she knew that freeing Rlain from bondage meant little in the face of a child in a cage.

A: That was pretty profound. As much as she’s still cowardly a lot of times, her eyes are starting to open. The bigger picture begins to unfold, and along with it, hope.

Spren and Shadesmar

Venli glanced into Shadesmar, as she’d grown into the habit of doing, though she’d learned Voidspren couldn’t hide in the tower. It was instinct by now. And she—

Wait. There was a Voidspren here.

It was hiding in the body of a cremling. Most spren could enter bodies, if they couldn’t pass through other solid objects. She wasn’t terribly familiar with all the varieties of Voidspren, but this one must have realized that it couldn’t hide in the tower as it once had, so used this method to remain unseen.

P: Aww, look who it is, checking out their future Radiant!

A: Indeed. Fascinating, though, that she instantly identifies it as a Voidspren, even though it’s a natural Rosharan spren “enlightened” by Sja-anat. Is that because of the red coloration?

Venli panicked, and nearly lost her will—but Timbre, always watching, pulsed to Conceit. A rhythm of Odium, but the best counterpart to Resolve. The rhythm Venli needed to continue to express now.

… Inside, Timbre pulsed to one of the normal rhythms. She seemed in pain, as if using one of the wrong rhythms had been hard for her.

A: Poor Timbre. It likely was hard for her! Venli is able to switch back and forth, but she knows that’s unusual and only the result of Timbre’s ability to hold the Voidspren captive. It’s more than a little irritating that Venli seems more surprised by Timbre’s pain than by her ability to use one of Odium’s rhythms.

P: I adore little Timbre. She’s so perfect for Venli. I was surprised she’d used one of Odium’s rhythms, too. I didn’t realize it would actually pain her. Poor little love.

Oaths Spoken, Powers Awakened

Freedom. That was to be her next oath, Venli realized. To free those who had been taken unjustly. …

She shut the door to her quarters, then whispered the words.

“I will seek freedom for those in bondage,” she said, then waited. Nothing happened. Had it worked?

A distant sensation struck her, a femalen voice, so very far away—but thrumming with the pure rhythm of Roshar.

These words, it said, are not accepted.

A: Am I right in thinking this is the first time we’ve seen an Ideal rejected? What an absolute stunner. They’re the right words; both Timbre and Venli know it, but just knowing the words isn’t enough. I’ll admit, though, I was pretty shocked to see her turned down!

P: Didn’t we see Lopen’s words not accepted? Or was that just when the Stormfather waited until Lopen was alone on the ship to accept them?

A: Oh, you’re right. Stormfather made him wait—twice, even! We didn’t specifically see the rejection the first time, just the odd timing of the acceptance. But I think you’re right—in Dawnshard, he says the words a couple of times, and while there’s no specific statement of rejection, nothing happens. I guess Venli’s words just felt so right, and it seemed like such good timing… but it wasn’t.

Question, though: Whose is the far-away femalen voice? My bet is Cultivation, though it could be the Nightwatcher. I’d wondered, at one point, if it might be Eshonai, but I’ve come back around on that, and I’ll go with Cultivation. But if you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them!

P: I’m thinking it’s Cultivation rejecting the words, too, though it surprised me a bit when it was a femalen rather than the Stormfather. But then we see Dalinar accept Kaladin’s words later, so who knows.

A: Yeah, exactly. I thought it was always the Stormfather, and then it wasn’t here. And then later, with Dalinar… I’m so confused. And I’m not alone, though the subject is different:

Timbre pulsed to the Rhythm of Confusion. But in her gemheart, Venli realized she knew the reason. She’d just watched a child trapped in a cage be hauled off by Raboniel’s servants. It seemed obvious, now that she considered.

She couldn’t honestly speak those words. Not when she was concerned with freeing Rlain primarily because she wanted another listener to confide in. Not when she was willing to ignore the need of a child locked in a cage.

P: This moment of realization by Venli is everything. Knowing that wanting to free Rlain for her own purposes was not quite on the level with the need to free the child in the cage is a big step for her. And I’m so glad we’ll get to see her take it. Very excited for that chapter!

A: That’s a really brilliant one—and a long way downstream. We’ll be well into Part Four before we see that.

Singers/Fused

“Why did you lock him away?” she asked.

“He’s an essai,” the direform said to Derision, using an ancient word they’d picked up from the Fused. It meant something along the lines of “human lover,” though her form told her it technically meant “hairy.”

P: Hairy. *snort* I’d expect something less ridiculous from the Fused.

A: And here’s me, wondering why “hairy” and “human-lover” became equated. I’m fascinated by idioms and their origins. So here’s a theory: Maybe it’s a reference to the cross-breeding that happened along the way, resulting in the Horneaters and Herdazians. If human-type hair instead of singer-type hairstrands was the genetically dominant trait, it could be conflated, right? In any case, since we’ve been given this much, you know Sanderson has a backstory for the idiom.

“If I do get you out, what are you going to do? You won’t get me into trouble, will you?”

He frowned at her, then hummed to Irritation.

“You are a human sympathizer,” Venli said.

P: Oh yeah, he’ll definitely get you into trouble. He’ll have you rooting for the humans in no time, Venli. I mean, you’re practically there already!

A: Heh. While I appreciate her sense of self-preservation (because we need the Radiants alive and functioning, not dead for stupid reasons), it’s definitely time for her to quit worrying so much about getting into trouble.

“A lot of people like the way things are going, Rlain. We have a nation of our own—not a few shacks in a backwater countryside, but a real nation with cities, roads, infrastructure. Things—I might add—that were largely built by the efforts of enslaved singers. The humans don’t deserve our loyalty or even an alliance. Not after what they did.”

P: She’s not wrong here. Things should never go back to the way they were; the singers suffered for far too long as slaves. And maybe the humans don’t deserve an alliance, but I think that’s going to be what it takes to eventually defeat the Fused. We’ll let Dalinar worry about actually defeating Odium.

A: Narratively, it certainly seems like we’re moving toward an alliance between humans and singers, and even some Fused, as a way to end this everlasting war. We’ll have to wait and see, of course, but at present that’s what I’m hoping for.

Humans

“The assassin?”

“Indeed. He vanished right before we arrived.”

“He should have fallen unconscious.”

“Well, he didn’t, and nobody has seen anything of him.”

A: This made me chuckle. I don’t recall that this concern is carried forward much, but what a hoot to think that they’d be worrying about Szeth’s presence in the tower. And IMO he would definitely be a threat if he were here! I don’t know, but I suspect he might not have been knocked out. In any case, Nightblood alone would be a huge problem. But they aren’t here, of course. The occupant of the cell that the humans told him about was just a lightweaving. Still… it’s fun to think about them fearing he might be around.

P: I love the thought of them looking over their shoulders from here on out, worried about the assassin sneaking up on them.

The Lady normally ignored requests from humans, going so far as to have several “important” ones flogged when they demanded audiences.

A: I’m trying to figure out who’s in the tower thinking they’re important enough to demand anything from Raboniel, after Navani has already surrendered to her. Roion (the younger) is the only highprince in the tower, and I thought he was smarter than that.

P: Yeah, I want to know who was flogged!

 

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 chapter 61, in which Navani is pushed ever closer to becoming an independent and brilliant scholar in her own right.

Alice is a Sanderson beta reader and administrator of two fandom Facebook groups. The Storm Cellar is specifically oriented to the people who reread here on Tor, though it’s not limited to them, and allows discussion of all Sanderson works. The Stormlight Archive group is, as you might guess, all about The Stormlight Archive, so discussion of other books has to be hidden behind spoiler tags. Alice lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two kids.

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! Links to her other writing are available in her profile.

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