Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Seventy-Nine

and

Lyn: Hello, my lovely Cosmere Chickens?! Guess who’s back?

Paige: Lyndsey’s kindly filling in for Alice who has to be out with senior stuff for her daughter.

L: I’m so thrilled to be back, too. Even if it’s only for a few weeks. So, where are we? (Bet you all forgot how gif-happy I can be, didn’t you?) Is Kaladin happy yet? Has Shallan overcome her inner turmoil? Are Adolin and Dalinar on speaking terms again?

P: There’s SOOO much.

L: Oh, right. I forgot. It’s a Stormlight book. No one’s likely to be happy for a long, long time…

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 spoilers for other Cosmere works, save for one off-hand mention of something from Mistborn: Secret History at the end as a joke.

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

L: An interesting choice for Herald for this chapter. I can only speculate that the choice is because Rlain does tend to be the type to think long and deeply about things.

P: That he does. Plus he’ll be chosen by a certain spren.

Icon: Bridge Four, denoting a chapter from the POV of one of its members—in this case, Rlain.

Epigraph:

Jezrien is gone. Despite being all the way out here in Lasting Integrity, I felt him being ripped away. The Oathpact was broken already, but the Connection remained. Each of us can sense the others, to an extent. And with further investigation, I know the truth of what happened to him. It felt like death at first, and I think that is what it ultimately became.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Rlain
WHERE: Urithiru
WHEN: 1175.4.9.2 (Note: For the “when” notations, we are using this wonderful timeline provided by the folks at The 17th Shard.)

RECAP: In this week’s chapter, Rlain makes his way through Urithiru to deliver blankets and pillows to the stricken Knights Radiant. He checks in on Lirin and Hessina, who have some maps which Rlain considers bringing to Kaladin in the hopes they might help. While they’re discussing this, however, Dabbid arrives, and actually speaks, begging for help for Kaladin, whom he claims may be dying.

Chapter Focus—Outsider

L: Rlain ponders a lot about being an outsider in this chapter, as he often does. No matter where he goes, he never truly feels as if he belongs—with the exception, of course, being Bridge Four. But even in Bridge Four, Rlain sometimes feels excluded, as we saw in his POV chapter in Oathbringer.

P: He’s definitely excluded, though other members of the crew would probably deny that they’d ever excluded him. You just don’t know until it’s your life.

[…] but he couldn’t help feeling like he was the one gemstone in the pile that didn’t glow. Somehow, with the singers invading Urithiru, he’d become more of an outsider.

“You heard him,” the first woman hissed. “He’s a gambler! Of course. Those kind can see the future, you know. Foul powers of the Void.”

[…] he wished he could simply be Rlain. He hated that to every one of them, he was some kind of representation of an entire people. He wanted to be seen as a person, not a symbol.

“They aren’t my people,” Rlain said. “I’m a listener—I come from an entirely different country. I’m as much one of them as you are an Iriali.”

L: As in most of Rlain’s chapters, we see Brandon delving into racism, using the lens of fantasy fiction to shine a light on real world problems (as the best fiction does, of course). He’s not the only character to deal with this, of course, but we see it the most poignantly with Rlain.

P: It’s definitely the strongest with Rlain because we see him spend so much time with Bridge Four, and see his exclusion even there.

Like most of the others in the room, he’d painted his forehead with the shash glyph. That baffled Rlain. A few days ago, Lezian the Pursuer had ordered his men to beat those who wore the forehead mark—though only a day later, that order had been reversed by Raboniel. Still seemed strange that so many humans would wear the thing. They had to realize they were singling themselves out.

L: Rlain is an outsider by nature of his heritage and birth… but these people are choosing to make themselves so. They’re singling themselves out to show loyalty and support… and in some cases, to become martyrs presumably in order to thumb their noses at their enemies. I find the dichotomy here interesting: one person who is forced to non-conformity, and these others who are freely choosing it for themselves.

P: Of course Alethi darkeyes have dealt with being “inferior” to lighteyes their whole lives, but they’ve never experienced the type of isolation that Rlain has experienced in the tower, especially since the Fused took over.

Music, Mechanisms, and Manifestations of Light

Some of the tower’s original fabrials—the lifts, the main wells, the air vents—had been altered to work with Voidlight.

L: I wonder what modifications (if any) had to be made in order to accomplish this.

P: I’ve wondered about this, too. Perhaps it was as simple as filling gemstones with voidlight, though the description here seems to suggest something more than that.

Spren and Shadesmar

It wasn’t his fault that spren were as racist as humans. Or as singers. As people.

L: Oof. I do wonder if there’s something to this. Could the spren have unconscious (or conscious) racial biases? Or is there something more behind their reluctance to bond Rlain? We see that other spren have bonded with listeners (Venli’s spren), so it’s not that they’re physically incapable of doing so.

P: I don’t know about racial biases but we’ve seen spren who are definitely biased against people, in general.

Relationships and Romances

For all that Lirin complained about Kaladin, it seemed he considered someone his son called a friend to be worthy of trust.

L: ::Continued angry noises about Lirin and how he treats Kaladin over the course of this book::

P: Oh, I’m right there with you. Right there next to you, making all the angry noises.

Should they… try to rebuild? The idea nauseated him for multiple reasons. For one, the times he’d tried mateform himself, things hadn’t gone the way he—or anyone really—had expected.

L: Yes, this means what you may be thinking it means. Hooray for more canonically gay characters! Although, it does kind of suck in the context of this quote. Hard to rebuild a society when you’re only attracted to the same gender. Seems like Rlain’s never got it easy.

P: No, he’s definitely got the deck stacked against him, poor guy.

Also…!!! I love that Brandon included this bit!

Geography, History, and Cultures

“Scout report,” she said. “They found a camp out there, it seems. Some kind of large caravan or nomadic group. Maybe they’re Natans? A lot of this area is unexplored, Rlain.”

L: Okay. There’s got to be something more to this…

P: I may have clapped with delight.

L: As usual, I think I’m forgetting something!

Humans

[…] the men and women of the tower were turning coming here into some kind of pilgrimage. Look in on the Radiants. Care for them.

L: This gives me the chills. I love that the people are coming together to care for their protectors in their hour of need.

P: It is a lovely sentiment for them to take their turns caring for the fallen Radiants.

Flora and Fauna of the Physical Realm

As he pushed his cart, he caught sight of that cremling again. The nondescript brown one that would scuttle along walls near the ceiling, blending in with the stonework. They were still watching him.

Venli had warned him about this. Voidspren invisibility didn’t work properly in the tower. So it appeared that, to keep an eye on someone here, they’d begun entering an animal’s gemheart.

L: Legitimate observation on Venli’s part? Or are these Dysian Amians? Could go either way I think. Venli isn’t exactly the most reliable… and even if they are doing this, this particular cremling could be either!

P: We know she’s not exactly reliable but yes, all I could think was that whoever was spying wasn’t very good at it!

Brilliant Buttresses

The Fused were obviously frightened. They had immediately started publicizing that they’d killed him. Too quickly, and too forcefully, without a body to show.

L: Every comic book fan knows… no one’s really dead unless you see the body. And even then it’s negotiable.

P: It’s especially negotiable in a Cosmere book.

L: ::looks side-eye at a certain Survivor we all know and love::

 

This was a bit of a short one so we didn’t have a ton of dialogue… We’ll be leaving further speculation and discussion to you in the comments, and hope to join you there! Next week we’ll be diving into chapter 80, in which Hoid tells a story about a dog and a dragon…

Paige resides in New Mexico, of course. Links to her other writing are available in her profile. Let’s go, Yankees!

Lyndsey is gearing up for the first Renaissance Faire of the season and preparing for another in fall. You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram. She’d like to remind everyone that the best American Northeast baseball team is, of course, the Red Sox.

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