Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Eighty-Three

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Welcome back to Urithiru! It’s Willshaper Week up in here, as Venli starts to develop her powers. I won’t say control them, exactly, because she’s not that good at it yet, but she’s taking the first few steps. Also, Lift is back! (Sorry, those of you who dislike her. She’s one of my favorite characters, probably for much the same reasons y’all dislike her, so… oops.) Anyway, it’s a long chapter full of good stuff, so 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.

Heralds: Vedeledev (Vedel). Edgedancers (Abrasion, Progression). Loving/Healing. Role: Healer.

Kalak (Kelek). Willshapers (Transportation, Cohesion). Resolute/Builder. Role: Maker.

A: This seems pretty clear: Both of the Heralds this week reflect the presence and activity of a Knight Radiant (ish) of their Order—Kalak for Venli’s (and her cool stone manipulations), and Vedel for Lift. We won’t see Lift doing any healing for a couple of weeks, but this week she promises to try.

Icon: The Singer, for Venli’s POV.

Epigraph:

I remember so few of those centuries. I am a blur. A smear on the page. A gaunt stretch of ink, made all the more insubstantial with each passing day.

A: Even for the sharpest mind, the many years can run together a bit. Thousands of years, the first 2,500 or so involving centuries of torture interspersed with years (or decades) of battles and the last 3,500 spent hiding who he was and burdened with the guilt of abandoning a true companion… Well, that’s too many years to remember. It kind of boggles the mind.

P: Boggles the mind, indeed. 50+ years feels like forever some days… I can’t imagine living thousands of years.

A: Right? At least not with this going-flaky-on-me brain I’ve got, much less the creaky knees. (Okay, the Heralds probably don’t have creaky knees, but flaky brains? Absolutely.)

Chapter Recap

WHO: Venli
WHEN: 1175.4.9.2 (concurrent with and immediately following Chapter 79)
WHERE: Urithiru

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

RECAP: Alone on the 15th floor, Venli experiments with her Willshaping abilities. Searching for Cultivation’s tone, she finds the song that is the harmony of Cultivation and Odium; the stone before her forms an image of the first listeners striking out, away from the war and their gods. Soon after, she meets with Leshwi as usual; Leshwi reminds her that Raboniel’s plots are far more intricate and lofty than Venli can imagine, and their task is to make sure there’s a world left to inhabit when Raboniel is done.

Chilled, Venli checks in on the infirmary to find Rlain, Lirin, and Hesina in conflict over the news Dabbid has just brought of Kaladin’s injuries. At Timbre’s insistence, Venli suggests that she may be able to free Lift from her cell, and that her powers may still function. With Dabbid providing a cued distraction for the guards, Venli uses her Willshaping to create an opening in the back of Lift’s cell. Once freed, they meet up with Rlain and Dabbid, who will guide Lift to Kaladin. Elated by giving Lift her freedom, Venli asks Timbre if she can say the words yet, but is denied.

Chapter Chat—Remembrance and Revelation

The stones whispered to her that the place had once been called Ur. The word meant “original” in the Dawnchant. An ancient place, with ancient stones.

The stones had not been created by [the Sibling], though a grand project had reshaped them. Reshaped Ur, the original mountain that had been here before. The stones remembered being that mountain.

A: This was so powerful to me—the stones remembering ancient history. What an experience for Venli, to feel their memories of being the mountain, and then of being reshaped to become the tower, with the Sibling running throughout like veins of metal and crystal. It’s still not clear whether the Sibling alone reshaped the mountain to become a physical body for themself, or whether they had help; I’m leaning toward the former, though the tower was clearly shaped with the intent of being a habitation for people. (I wish we knew for sure whether it was originally created for the Knights Radiant, or if it had previously belonged to the singers. I think, because of the Oathgates and such, that it was created for the Radiants—and also because I’m pretty sure we’d have heard from Raboniel about their prior claim, had such a claim existed. But I’m not 100% sure on that.)

In any event, I loved the discovery that the stones of the tower remember knowledge reaching back beyond the pages of history.

[…] Venli’s hands […] sank into the eager stone. Remember, the stones whispered. Remember what you have forgotten.

She remembered sitting at her mother’s feet as a child […]

A: There’s no need to quote the entire thing, but it’s all about memories of her childhood, her family, her people. It’s rather lovely, and includes one of only four mentions (that I can find) of her father before he left them to seek the eastern sea.

P: This is quite the touching moment, especially remembering her father.

A: I love the way it brings her a true revelation about herself and about Odium, which I suspect may be part of her turning point:

As a child, ambition and love had been like two sides of her face, each with its own vibrant pattern. To the sound of Odium’s rhythms, one side had shone, while the other withered. […]

It was in that moment that Venli saw for herself the depth of his lies. He claimed to be of all Passions, and yet where was the love she’d once felt?

A: It goes on in this vein, but that’s enough for the point. While Odium can stimulate many other emotions besides direct hatred, if you look at it closely, he only drives emotions that support self-centered behavior. Anything involving self-denial for the sake of another is just… not there.

P: The fact that she mentions love for her sister gives me so many feels! What happened to that love, Venli? You can’t put that entirely on Odium.

A: That love was subsumed by envy, long enough for Odium to slip in by means of Axindweth and Ulim. It breaks my heart to think about what she lost to that envy and all that followed.

[…] she listened to her mother’s songs in her mind. […] they reached backward through time. Through generations.

To her people, leaving the battlefield. Walking away rather than continuing to squabble over the same ground over and over. They hadn’t merely rejected the singer gods, they’d rejected the conflict.

A: This is so beautiful! Granted that the Voidspren and the Fused see them as traitors, it’s lovely to see Venli ignoring all that and seeing the heroism in their actions. It’s a little ironic, because self-sacrifice has never been her strong point, but her ancestors gave up an awful lot for the sake of giving their descendants a better future. (How fortunate it is that they left before their minds were broken, too!)

P: This whole scene is wrought with emotion. It gives me many feels and makes me ache for Venli, to “remember” her people abandoning the singers to try to preserve themselves. And for her to know that she single-handedly destroyed them.

A: Yeah, that’s the really painful part—knowing that her own actions brought about the very destruction that she’s admiring her first ancestors for avoiding!

[The stones] began to shake and vibrate to the sound of her rhythm, liquid […] The floor, ceiling, and walls before her rippled, and a trail of people formed from the stone. Moving, alive again, as they strode away from pain, and war, and killing.

Freedom. The stones whispered to her of freedom.

A: FREEDOM!! Okay, I know this is all manufactured in the mind of the author, but I love the way she’s now seeing the importance of freedom—the focus of her Ideals—everywhere: not merely for herself or her little group of followers, but for her ancestors, and even for a young human girl imprisoned by Raboniel. She doesn’t say it here, but I think she’s starting to really want freedom for the rest of the Knights Radiant, and maybe even the rest of the humans.

P: She truly absorbs the concept in time, doesn’t she? It gives me shivers. Though that could be the air conditioner.

[S]he had in front of her, in miniature, a sculpture of her ancestors striking out toward the unknown.

More, she had their songs. Because of her mother’s diligent and insistent teaching, the songs had not died with the listeners.

A: I love this moment. All the earlier years when she was so arrogant about her role as the keeper of songs are contrasted to her humble gratitude that Jaxlim was so persistent—and tying it to the involuntary sculpture is really delightful.

P: It is nice to see her appreciating the fact that she knows the songs rather than resenting it as she once did.

A: Much later… (the intervening bits are all discussed below)

Venli gestured for the Edgedancer to follow her—but the girl wavered. She seemed as if she was going to bolt away in another direction.

“Please,” Venli said. “We need you. To save a life. If you run now, he’ll die.”

“Who?”

“Stormblessed,” Venli said. “Please, hurry with me.”

P: Frankly, I’m surprised Lift didn’t bolt immediately. And I get the feeling that she was thinking, “Well, why didn’t you say so right away?” as soon as Venli said “Stormblessed.”

A: Agreed. It shows a little of Venli’s priorities at the moment—when she first spoke to Lift, her sole concern was “don’t tell anyone what I’m doing” and no mention of why. It’s only Lift’s sense of loyalty to someone who helped her that holds her there this long!

“You’re a traitor to them, then?” the girl asked her.

“I don’t know what I am,” Venli said. “Other than someone who didn’t want to see a child kept in a cage.”

P: I’m not crying, you’re crying.

A: Who, me? ::sniffle::

Also, Venli’s admission of her own confused sense of herself these days… that’s rather cool. She’s always had a lack of self-confidence deep inside, and she buried it under tons of arrogance and pretense. This is one of the few times she’s admitted to anyone but Timbre how uncertain she is of her own identity. That’s… kind of a revelation in itself.

The other two left, but he lingered, then hummed to Appreciation. “I’m sorry about what I said when you first saw me in the cell. You’re not selfish, Venli.”

“I am,” she said. “A lot of things are confusing to me these days—but of that fact I’m certain.”

“No,” he said. “Today you’re a hero. I know you’ve been through rough times, but today…” He grinned and hummed to Appreciation again, then ducked out after the others.

P: I think that Venli really needed to hear this from Rlain. I know I’m down on her a lot but she’s grown on me since Oathbringer and I really think she’s trying to atone for her sins. So this kind of comment would do wonders for her confidence, I believe.

A: Yes indeed! After just telling Lift she doesn’t quite know what she is, to have Rlain tell her that today, at least, she’s a hero? That’s got to feel pretty hopeful, even if she does remain painfully aware of her own selfishness, past and present.

Music, Mechanisms, and Manifestations of Light

It felt wrong to be using [Odium’s] Light to practice her Surgebinding, but the stones whispered that it was well. Odium and his tone had become part of Roshar, as Cultivation and Honor—who had not been created alongside the planet—had become part of it. His power was natural, and no more wrong or right than any other part of nature.

A: I have to say, I always felt like it was wrong too—but the stones have a point. Depending on how you look at it, either all the Shards were present or none of them where when Roshar was created. All Investiture is, in one sense, quite natural; perhaps for most purposes, the Intent of the Shard who provides it is immaterial to the one who uses it. Is it?

Venli searched for something else. The tone of Cultivation. Odium’s song could infuse her, fueling her powers and enflaming her emotions, but that tone… that tone had belonged to her people long before he’d arrived.

A: I’m more in sympathy with this viewpoint, in any case. The singers were the people of Cultivation and Honor long before Odium showed up to mess with things, and Cultivation’s tone is more hers than Odium’s could ever really be. IMO.

P: Oh, definitely. It’s interesting that she found a harmony between Cultivation’s tone and Odium’s tone while Navani was busy finding a harmony between Honor’s tone and Odium’s tone.

The tone snapped into her mind, Cultivation and Odium mixing into a harmony, and it thrummed through Venli.

A: Okay, permit me a rueful chuckle for Navani’s sake. She (and Raboniel) worked so hard to finally create the mix of Odium and Honor that become the Rhythm of War, but here with no special equipment, no elaborate theories, no complex experiments, none of the effort Navani had to expend, Venli just gets it. Obviously it’s a result of her unique situation—singer blood, trapped Voidspren, Nahel-bonded spren, all working together to give her a unique access to the Investiture of two different Shards at the same time. At the same time, I feel sorry for Navani, having to struggle so long to get this thing that Venli just… gets.

P: With little effort, even. Navani would be endlessly frustrated if she knew about this!

Spren and Shadesmar

Timbre vibrated with excitement inside Venli. The little spren was at it so loudly, Venli was certain the others would hear. How could they not?

P: They’ve just heard Dabbid speak during the confrontation between Rlain and Lirin. And Timbre reacted this way. This is Venli’s chance and Timbre’s trying to tell her!

A: It’s not the first time Timbre has tried to get her to speak up, but I think it’s the first time she seriously considers going along with it. SO exciting!!

Again the room grew quiet. All save for Timbre, practically bursting with sound. It’s time. It’s time. It’s time! When Venli spoke, she almost believed it was Timbre saying the words and not her. “What if,” she said, “I knew about an Edgedancer whose powers still seem to work? One who I think we can rescue?”

P: Our little Timbre is so excitable, isn’t she? Here is a chance for Venli to display her Radiance and Timbre is over the moon about it.

A: It’s so in line with the Willshaper ideals, too—she has the opportunity to free Lift from a cell, so that Lift can free Kaladin from illness, and at the same time shield a bunch of other people from possible consequences of a risky attempt to help Kaladin. It’s perfect—and it’s such a relief to see Venli finally take the chance. Timbre must have just about exploded when Venli spoke up!

Relationships and Romances

Venli entered, then grimaced and glanced toward the others inside. There was a new human here, one Venli didn’t recognize, who stood with his eyes down, not speaking.

A tension in the room was coming entirely from Lirin and Rlain, who faced off at the rear, Rlain humming softly to Betrayal.

What on Roshar?

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” Rlain said. “I can’t believe it. He’s your son.”

“My son is long dead, bridgeman,” Lirin said […]

P: This infuriated me when I first read it. It still infuriates. His son is not dead, he’s alive and in need of assistance and Lirin pretends like Kaladin’s nothing, like he’s nobody. Honor, but this makes me angry.

A: While I understand that reaction, from both readers and characters, I still see Lirin’s point. Kaladin has apparently turned his back on Lirin’s most deeply held values and in fact seems to be acting in direct opposition. That’s beyond “disappointing” in this setting, and in one sense he believes Kaladin has chosen not to be his son. Despite his words, though—as Venli will note shortly—he doesn’t feel that way himself. He’s terrified for Kaladin, and is throwing a ton of effort into being rough-and-tough on the outside to hide his fear.

“He doesn’t want to be my son anymore. If that’s the case, it’s difficult for me to see him as anything other than a killer and an agitator. Someone who recklessly endangered not just my family, but the lives of every human in the tower, while pursuing a vengeful grudge.”

P: What grudge? Against the Fused? That’s a bit more than a grudge. It’s a matter of survival.

A: I’m not entirely sure what Lirin is seeing as a grudge, but I’ll make a guess in a minute. First, though, it’s a plain fact that, in killing that Regal back in the surgery, Kaladin did directly endanger Lirin, Hesina, and Oroden. Without Leshwi’s unexpected intervention, they’d all three have been tortured and killed by Lezian, even if they couldn’t give the slightest hint as to where Kaladin had gone. Even with Leshwi’s intervention, all the people who could have been helped at Lirin’s infirmary were denied that option. (That, of course, is balanced by putting him in the Radiant infirmary to help there.)

Was it important to us and Kaladin (and the narrative) that he and Teft not be taken by the Regals? Absolutely. Was killing that Regal in the surgery the only way to do that? Maybe. It’s the only way Kaladin saw… and that very fact is part of what breaks Lirin: his son, trained as a surgeon, not only put his and his friend’s safety above that of his mother and baby brother, but his first resort was to kill. IMO, all the things that Kaladin has gone through (soldier, slave, bridgeman, soldier, Windrunner) conspire to make that a completely natural reaction, but that doesn’t exactly make it more palatable to Lirin. (I don’t know if drugging the Regal would have been an option, given the drugs they have available, and I’m pretty sure knocking him on the head would have been ineffective, so Kaladin might be right and that was the only resort. Just not sure about that.)

About the grudge… Since only a very, very few people (Kaladin, Navani, Raboniel, and a handful of Fused and Regals) know about the nodes that protect the Sibling, or what Raboniel is trying to do, or any of that, what could Kaladin’s attack at the well possibly look like? It looks like he’s got a grudge against Lezian, Leshwi, and/or Raboniel, and is doing crazy risky stunts to mess with them even though he can’t possibly beat them all. What he can do is make them angry, so they do things like putting Lezian’s Regals to watch the infirmary in an obvious intimidation move, and give Lezian’s troops an excuse to rough people up at the slightest provocation. It’s easy for the reader to forget how much more we know than people like Lirin.

“You would give him up for execution!”

“If that’s what is required, then so be it. I’ll do my job as a surgeon, then let Kaladin deal with the consequences of his actions. I’m finished being a pawn in games of death. For either side.”

P: Gah, I’m so #$%¥£&@ angry about this attitude! Kaladin isn’t a SIDE, you self-righteous twit. He’s your firstborn son, for Cultivation’s sake.

A: But if you put yourself in Lirin’s place… Kaladin has placed Lirin in an untenable position, particularly for one dedicated to preserving all life. Should he sacrifice his wife and baby for his adult son? Or should he allow his adult son to make his choices and take the consequences?

P: I definitely feel as if he should not expedite those consequences by putting Kaladin in a position to be captured while he’s unconscious and injured.

He sounded angry, but those were fearspren at his feet. Not angerspren.

P: I don’t give two crem pies what kind of spren pop up, or how Lirin feels. What he says is that he’d be willing to give his son up to the Fused so he could face the consequences of his actions. I am SO not okay with that.

A: Well, IMO he says that, but I doubt he entirely means it. He is, after all, packing a bag to go to Kaladin despite the knowledge that leaving the infirmary is extremely risky for him. He’s prepared to go with Rlain and Dabbid and do field surgery; as a surgeon, though, he’s well aware that Kaladin might need the kind of care that they simply can’t provide in some isolated hiding place. It’s also worth reminding ourselves that Lirin has no way of knowing the kind of terrible things Raboniel is prepared to do to the Knights Radiant, other than whatever Rlain assumes she’ll do.

He could say what he wanted but he loved his son.

P: *side eye* I don’t know if I’m in the minority here or what, but it feels to me like Lirin loves his son as long as his son does what Lirin thinks he should do. As soon as Kaladin tries to be his own person, Lirin’s ready to serve him up to the Fused, unconscious and dying.

A: Nope. I mean, I think that’s the way a lot of people read him, but I firmly disagree. This isn’t about “being his own person.” Kaladin could have picked a million other careers that Lirin might have seen as a waste of his talents, but he would have accepted those choices as merely disappointing. Sure, Lirin hoped he would be a surgeon, but he could have become a farmer, a caravaneer, a baker, a tailor, a… whatever, and Lirin would merely have rolled his eyes and thought it wasted potential. What Kaladin chose to do—become a soldier and kill people in all the cleverest and most brutal ways—is in direct opposition to, and violation of, Lirin’s most deeply held beliefs regarding the value of life.

(Also, no, Lirin is not “ready to serve him up to the Fused.” He’s ready to go try to save his life, while knowing that it may not be possible without long-term skilled care, which can’t be provided in his current location.)

P: I simply don’t see it that way. Kaladin chose the path he chose to protect, a foreshadowing of his chosen Radiant order. He tried to protect Tien but Lirin behaves as though Kaladin is some bloodthirsty killer, intent on destroying his family. I just can’t get on board with his viewpoint.

A: Unlike Lirin, we’re inside Kaladin’s head and we know his Ideals have all been about protecting. Lirin has a ways to go yet to accept the idea that it might be possible, much less necessary and acceptable, to kill in order to protect.

“It was going to catch up to Kal eventually,” Lirin said, his tone morose. “Most soldiers don’t die on the battlefield, you know. Far more die from wounds days later.”

P: This whole mentality is like Kaladin has this coming to him, like he deserves it for choosing the life of a spearman, a warrior. A Radiant. Even as a storming Knight Radiant, he can’t please his father. *incoherent swearing*

A: Pretty sure his father would have been delighted had he been an Edgedancer… Just sayin’.

And Lirin is correct once again—more soldiers die later of their wounds than die on the battlefield, especially given the extant technology. Lirin still isn’t used to Stormlight healing (though even if he were, it’s not happening right now). Under his antipathy toward violence as a means to accomplish anything, he’s deeply aware of the way soldiers usually die… which is probably another reason he hates the idea of his son being a soldier. Any parent would far rather think of their children dying of old age, than dying slowly and painfully of infection and battlefield trauma.

History and Culture: the Listeners

Listeners were not like humans, who grew slow as trees. Listeners grew like vines, quick and eager. By age three, she’d been singing with her mother. By age ten, she’d been considered an adult.

P: This is such a cool little factoid about the listeners.

A: Isn’t it though? I’m still questioning the relative wisdom of a ten-year-old, but… okay, 18- and 19-year-olds can be pretty unwise, too. Most people start adulthood with very limited experience or wisdom.

Singers/Fused

“Raboniel threatens to let the Pursuer have the humans […] To lord her advantage over us.”

“Perhaps,” Leshwi said […] “Perhaps not. Raboniel does not think like other Fused, Venli. She hears a much grander song. A skewed and twisted one, but one she seeks to sing without traditional regard for Odium’s plans or those of Honor, now dead.”

A: It’s so fascinating to hear Leshwi’s opinions of Raboniel. She clearly has a great deal of respect for the brilliant mind of the legendary Fused, but she sees the danger as well. Venli, with her limited experience, just sees it as sort of “jostling for position” like it’s a competition between more or less equal players, each trying to gain influence in their side of the larger conflict. Leshwi knows there’s no “equality” of any sort; Raboniel is smarter, more influential, more powerful, more brilliant, and more ambitious than Leshwi even wants to be.

P: It is interesting, isn’t it? Leshwi does see the danger; I remember her being so freaked out over the Lady of Pains showing up back in Alethkar. It made me dislike Raboniel before we even got to know her.

A: Right? And now that we know her… well, I’ve developed a certain respect for her, but I trust her about as far as I can throw an Oathgate.

“What are we watching Raboniel for, if not to understand how she’s trying to gain advantage over us? What is the purpose of my spying?”

“We watch,” Leshwi said, floating down to eye level with Venli, “because we are frightened. To Raboniel, the games of men and singers are petty things—but so are their lives. We watch her, Venli, because we want a world to remain when she is finished with her plots.”

Venli felt a chill, attuning the Terrors.

A: Yeah, you’d better be attuning the Terrors, girl! Leshwi’s perspective on Raboniel is… well, yeah. Terrifying. They’ve been in this gig together for 7,000 years, and while there’s no evidence that (among the hundreds or thousands of Fused) they’ve ever been particularly close, Leshwi has clearly been keeping an eye on Raboniel. Venli has been pretty crushed by the knowledge that her decisions destroyed what was left of the listeners after the Alethi war; she’s finally starting to register that Raboniel’s plans are so far beyond her own level of scheming they’re barely worth mentioning in the same context. Raboniel has her own goals, and while nominally she intends to have the Fused ruling the world, she’s working on some things that could destroy their world as thoroughly as the humans destroyed Ashyn… and she doesn’t really care. She’ll take incredible risks in her pursuit of ending the war, and if she “ends the war” by destroying everyone on both sides, well, okay. Yikes.

P: Right? She’ll burn it all to the ground if that’s what it takes to end the war. Makes me think of Hoid, who will do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals, whatever they may be.

A: So right. And such a frightening comparison. I sometimes wonder if Sanderson is giving us Raboniel as a foreshadowing of what Hoid will turn out to be.

Oaths Spoken, Powers Awakened

The Edgedancer was kept in the same cell Rlain had occupied not long ago. Venli could get through that wall with ease; she was in control of her powers enough for that. The real trick would be pulling off the rescue without revealing or implicating herself.

P: Getting caught is the big worry here. She has other plans she needs to be on with, so she can’t risk that for this. But she’s willing to try, and that’s a more heroic act by Venli than I’ve seen her do to date.

A: I really pity Venli here, even as I get frustrated with her. She’s absolutely terrified that someone will find out about her Radiant powers. Granted, there are those who would kill her in a heartbeat for that… offense, but there are others who would at least keep her secret. She just doesn’t quite trust anyone with that knowledge.

“How did you get a Shardblade?” Rlain asked softly, to Curiosity. “And how do they not know you have one?”

“It’s a long story,” Venli said. Mostly because she hadn’t thought of a proper lie yet.

P: Lying is hard, isn’t it, Venli? Only it shouldn’t be too difficult for you… you’ve been telling the singers lies for a year.

A: She’s pretty good at lies, for sure. Maybe she’s learned that you have to be pretty solid on your lie before starting telling it, if you don’t want to trip up on the truth!

“[…] I got it from a dead human. I bonded it while traveling to Kholinar, before the Fused found me and the others.”

“That was when they… they…” Rlain attuned the Rhythm of the Lost.

“Yes,” Venli said to the same rhythm. “When they took the rest of our friends. They left me because Odium wanted me to travel around, telling lies about our people to ‘inspire’ the newly awakened singers.”

P: There it is. Pattern would eat this up.

A: Half truth, half lie…

“Dabbid isn’t the person I’d put in charge of something like this,” he said. “Until today, I thought he was completely mute.”

“Is he trustworthy?”

“Absolutely,” Rlain said. “He’s Bridge Four.”

P: ALL of the warm fuzzies. All of them. Excuse me for a moment, I have something in my eye.

A: Awww. And yet… I can see Rlain’s concern. Dabbid would never intentionally betray them, but what might he do unintentionally? I can’t wait until he has the chance to speak Ideals of his own.

Timbre exulted in the Rhythm of Hope as Venli pushed her hand into the stone. It felt good, warm and enveloping. Unlike what happened with the Deepest Ones, Venli displaced the rock. It became as crem in her fingers, soft to the touch.

[…] she simply pushed her hand forward until it hit air on the other side. Then she pressed with her other hand and pulled the two apart, forming an opening straight through the stone—the normally hard rock curling and bunching up before her touch.

P: How incredibly difficult must it be for her to try to learn about her powers with no one to teach her? Having only a vague idea what her surge can do and just playing around until she figures it out. Kudos to Venli here.

A: It’s slightly humorous to compare the beauty of what the stones created with her at the beginning of the chapter with the brute-force method she uses here. But she is learning. I cracked up at Timbre pulsing to Consolation over her crude efforts.

“Can I say the words now?” she asked Timbre.

The pulse indicated the negative. Not yet.

“When?” Venli asked.

A simple, straightforward pulse was her answer.

You’ll know.

P: This was so frustrating! I wanted Venli to level up so badly!

A: It was so cool to have her take the risk of freeing Lift, after her earlier realization that she couldn’t honestly speak the words of her Second Ideal while she was “willing to ignore the need of a child locked in a cage.” I’m not entirely certain I understand why (other than narrative necessity) she couldn’t say it now, though. She not only freed that child, she did it so that someone else could be healed, even though she herself stands to gain nothing by it. Does it need to be “freedom solely for the sake of freedom” rather than “freedom because my friend needs you to help his friend”?

Brilliant Buttresses

Venli whispered to the Rhythm of Pleading, “but you have to promise you won’t tell anyone what I’ve done. You won’t tell them about the powers I’m using. Not even other Radiants. They think I’m cutting you out with a Shardblade.”

“What are you?” the human whispered in Alethi.

“Promise me.”

“Fine, promised. Done. Hurry. The guards are eating, and they didn’t even share none of it.”

P: Poor Lift never has enough to eat! This is just like her, to begrudge the guards not sharing their lunch.

A: You just knew there would be humor once Lift got involved!

Dabbid shook his head, then knelt before the girl. “Healing. It works?”

“Eh!” she said. “You can talk!”

He nodded.

“Say ‘buttress,’” she told him. “It’s my favorite word.”

P: Of course, we had to include this!

A: Absolutely! “Buttress.” Has nothing to do with anything, but say it anyway!

 

We’ll be leaving further speculation and discussion to you in the comments, and hope to join you there! Next week we’ll be back with chapter 84, in which Navani sets traps and experiments with conjoined spren—and makes a fascinating incidental discovery.

Alice lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two kids. Also, she is delighted to finally see some sunshine, even if it is only about 70°. At least there are no major floods. Yet.

Paige resides in New Mexico, of course. She’s thoroughly enjoying the baseball season. Go, Yankees! Links to her other writing are available in her profile.

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