Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Eighty-Seven

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Welcome back to the Rhythm of War Reread, as we finally get to launch into Adolin’s trial in the honorspren fortress of Lasting Integrity. The witnesses against him are just full of surprises, and… well, let’s just call it mixed results for Day One, okay? To top it off, Shallan and Pattern get up to some creative hijinks, and honorspren are gullible. Fun times! Come on in and join the discussions!

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: Nalan (Nale), Herald of Justice. Skybreakers (Gravitation, Division). Just/Confident. Role: Judge.

Jezrien (Jezerezeh, Yaezir, Ahu), Herald of Kings. Windrunners (Adhesion, Gravitation). Protecting/Leading. Role: King.

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

A: Well, at least Nalan is easy—the Judge is appropriate to Adolin’s trial. Also, the decision of the highspren to take the side of Odium and the Fused is brought up a couple of times.

Jezrien… I’m not so sure. The most likely seems to be that this chapter is all about the honorspren, though there’s a certain amount of Highprince Adolin doing whatever he can to protect and lead humanity. That’s all I’ve got.

Palah, I assume, is for Shallan’s research and acquisition of Stormlight, though it’s possible that she also reflects the studies of both Adolin and Shallan in preparation for the trial.

What I’m really wondering, at this point, is why we have two of Palah and zero of Kalak. He’s got a central role in this chapter, and… nope, not there.

(Hey, I caught all three this time!)

P: I was surprised that Kalak wasn’t included, too. Since he’s actually there, in the flesh, presiding over this farce of a trial.

Icon: The Shardbearer, for a primarily-Adolin chapter.

Epigraph:

Maybe if I remembered my life, I’d be capable of being confident like I once was. Maybe I’d stop vacillating when even the most simple of decisions is presented to me.

A: Welp. Doesn’t that just inspire confidence in the judge presiding over Adolin’s trial? As much as Adolin has been warned that crowd sentiment will sway the decision, it’s ultimately up to Kalak to decide whether he’s guilty or innocent… and he admits to vacillating over the simplest decisions. Yikes.

P: It doesn’t bode well for Adolin, does it?

Chapter Recap

WHO: Adolin, Shallan
WHEN: 1175.4.10.2 (This takes place, as promised, two days after Chapter 82. It’s roughly a week ahead of the Urithiru events in the intervening chapters.)
WHERE: Lasting Integrity, Shadesmar

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

RECAP: Adolin proceeds to the forum for Day One of his trial, carefully following the plan he laid out with Blended. The first witness speaks on behalf of the deadeyes, arguing that spren shouldn’t risk the bonds again after their entire race was destroyed at the Recreance. The second witness turns out to be Blended herself, arguing that humans have always been too fickle to trust and that bonding with them is not natural anyway. The third witness is Notum, who begins to read a carefully prepared statement but then goes off script and sets the whole place in an uproar, bringing Day One to a close. Adolin feels that the day had its positive aspects, but a conversation with Kalak makes him fear that instead of winning over any of the honorspren, he may have inadvertently given support to those who think they should join the Fused and singers on Odium’s side.

Later, Shallan and Pattern engage in a fake accident, enabling Shallan to make off with a large gemstone full of stored-up Stormlight under the pretense of having used it to heal her non-existent injuries.

Chapter Chat—Adolin’s Trial, Day 1

A: As I was reading through and highlighting things to quote, I found myself highlighting about 70% of the trial scene. So… nope, can’t quote that much! I’ll try to contain myself somehow.

Many [honorspren] wore uniforms or other formal attire, though some wore loose, flowing outfits that trailed behind them as they walked. These seemed more free-spirited. Perhaps their presence would help the crowd turn to his side.

Blended said that was important. The High Judge—being who he was—would likely listen to the mood of the crowd and judge accordingly. Adolin wished someone had explained to him earlier how fickle his judge would be.

A: This will turn out to be very important. Right now, the honorspren seem to be against him, but since Kalak is so fickle, and isn’t obligated to listen to the crowd. It places Adolin in the position of having to try to appeal to both the honorspren (hoping for some support) and to Kalak (in case he can be maneuvered into being contrary about what the honorspren want). It’s… weird. And do I ever feel bad for Adolin; while he’s probably seen some unfair trials under Alethi law, and trial by duel merely means the better duelist wins the point of law no matter who is right, this trial is completely unpredictable. Not only is he limited to a superficial knowledge of the rules and the culture he’s trying to influence, the judge is likely to go completely random on him. What a mess.

“Human, get over there on the podium and stand there until this show finishes and we can execute you.”

“Holy One,” an honorspren said from his side. “We do not execute people.”

A: Well, at least there’s that? It’s comforting (I think) that the spren don’t yet think they have the authority to kill physical beings. Or is that not what’s going on? I’m honestly just assuming that there’s some ingrained prohibition going on here.

P: I think that they just want to imprison and display Adolin for the amusement of the honorspren.

“What else are you going to do?” Kelek said. …

“We are building a proper holding cell,” the honorspren said, looking toward Adolin. “So he can be kept healthy and on display for years to come.”

A: Um… that’s not comforting. Yikes.

And yet, Adolin barely considers the personal risk. He’s here on behalf of his people, and the fact that he might end up imprisoned and humiliated for the rest of his life doesn’t even compare to the thousands of people who will die in the war if they don’t have more Radiants—and that means getting the honorspren on their side to lead the way. I do love our Highprince.

P: He’s something, isn’t he? Willing to take the fall if it means helping in the war effort, even if it’s just a bit.

According to Blended, today would be the worst of the days. Three witnesses against him. Tomorrow he’d get to have his say.

A: As a reminder, this trial format means that on Day 1, there are three witnesses against him. Day 2, he gives his testimony. Day 3, the accusers are allowed one rebuttal, and then the judge rules. As Blended pointed out when she suggested it, this really gives a lot of weight to the testimony against him, but the options were pretty limited.

P: This was probably the most expedient of their options, though it does give the honorspren the advantage. At least, it should have.

“Today, we enter a trial as demanded by this human, Adolin Kholin, to determine if he can bear the sins of the Recreance. … Since this event happened, which no one disputes, then we must simply prove that we are wise to stay away from all humans as a result.”

A: Put that way… ouch. It does make sense from their perspective.

P: Yeah, not much for them to prove when they approach it this way.

A: I notice that they’re sidestepping the question of “honor” and simply trying to prove that it’s wiser not to bond. Hmm.

“Human, this works for you?”

“Not exactly, Honored One. … I did not agree to be tried for my ancestors. I agreed to be tried for myself. I told the honorspren I personally bear no blame for what humans did in the past. Because of that, I contend that the honorspren are acting dishonorably by ignoring my people’s pleas for help.”

A: It’s actually a pretty weak argument, now that I think about it from his listeners’ perspective, given their belief that the humans betrayed the spren. Even if Adolin personally is trustworthy and would never betray a spren, he’s asking them to trust a lot of people that… well, aren’t him. What makes them more trustworthy than the humans of a couple thousand years ago? And how does caution make the spren dishonorable? What obligation do they have to support the humans? (Other than the Stormfather thing he’ll bring up later, so we’ll talk about that in a bit.)

P: It’s an especially weak argument when they’re right about how humans are violent, war-mongering creatures.

A: Yeah. He’s been relying on the idea that honorspren should behave with honor, even though humans don’t—and they’re avoiding that aspect.

“Either the honorspren are being selfish, denying honor, and I should command them to go to the battlefield. Or I decide they’ve been wise, that humans are not worthy of trust—and we throw this man in a prison as an example?”

A: Well, that’s it in a rockbud… Much as I’m on Adolin’s side, given what they know at the moment I see no reason for the former argument. Fortunately, there’s more to the story.

P: Fortunately! But in the meantime, it doesn’t look great for Adolin.

A: It doesn’t. But just a minute. Where does Kalak get the “I should command them to go to the battlefield” idea? Obviously Adolin is hoping they will go to the battlefield, but all Kalak has to do is say that they’re denying honor and then leave it up to them. No command required. Oh, well.

“Amuna,” said the honorspren. “Come, and bear your witness.”

A: She’s the honorspren who takes care of the deadeyes. In this case, she’s going to speak on their behalf—and to be fair, she honestly believes she has the right, authority, knowledge, and responsibility to do so. She has no way of knowing that her assumptions are incorrect.

P: She doesn’t… which is why I thank Honor for Maya!

[Adolin] was allowed to talk during testimonies, though Blended had warned him to be careful. If he was too belligerent, the High Judge could order him gagged. And he had to be careful not to address the audience in a way that invited them to interrogate him.

A: Oh, sigh. His innate courtesy and his training in diplomacy make the first part easy enough; he might feel belligerent, but he knows how to control his emotions when needed. Unfortunately, his personality makes the second part really hard, because this is the guy who will chat with anyone easily and openly—and now he has to avoid chatting or reasoning with the people who are going to make the most noise.

P: Unfortunately, the honorspren are immune to Adolin’s specific brand of charisma, so chatting them up would do him exactly zero good, as we’ll see.

“The first daughter was in a catatonic state and was spared. But every other honorspren—every single one—had answered the call of the Radiants during the False Desolation. Can you understand the magnitude of that tragedy, Highprince Adolin?

“We often encounter deadeyes wandering aimlessly in the barrens, or standing in the shallows of the ocean. We bring them here, give them Stormlight, care for them as best we can. Frequently, we can do only a little before they are summoned away to your world—where their corpses are used to continue your brutal murders!”

A: She goes on to ask how he can say that his people now are more trustworthy than the ancient Radiants, given their warring and brutality, and I have to say she’s got a point! Again, given the assumption that the humans were the ones to make the decision, why would they accept that risk again?

P: And that assumption is generally accepted as fact. Nobody has ever questioned it, which boggles me. When I think about it.

A: It does seem a bit cliche that no one seems to have questioned the narrative. But there’s the obvious fact that the harm to the spren was far greater—or at least far more visible—than the harm to the Radiants. But did they have some pact to never tell anyone that it was a mutual decision? Or was it merely that no one listened? In any case, the spren have no desire to question their own assumptions!

P: Even the humans accept it as fact, there’s no questioning what might have happened by anybody, and never has been as far as we know.

A: Plot hole, or human nature? You decide!

“Can you deny that the Stormfather himself was willing to take a chance upon a man from this epoch?”

A: I mean, it’s a fair point. And as I understand it, the Stormfather is the one solely responsible for the existence of all the honorspren other than Syl, so… maybe some authority, there? And maybe he’s been around for 12,000 years or so, compared to the less-than-2,000 of the oldest ones here? Just maybe he knows more?

P: I feel that the fact that the Stormfather bonded a Radiant should be the only deciding factor here. But that’s just me.

A: Nah, I’m with you. And Adolin.

“I am the one who cares for the betrayed. I hear their voiceless sorrow; I see their sightless pain. I would have Lasting Integrity pulled down, stone by stone, before I agree to send a single honorspren to suffer a similar fate.”

A: Okay… she’s wrong about them, as we’ll learn eventually, but you can understand her view. And it’s very poetic. Has she been studying rhetoric with the inkspren?

P: You can definitely understand her view, considering all they currently know. It’s still frustrating for Adolin and for us!

He forced himself to remain standing, hands clasped behind him in the posture his father used when he wanted to appear commanding. He’d worn his best coat. For all it mattered.

A: I love this image. There are a number of references to his father, which we’ll address as such in Relationships, but here… I love his attitude and his self-control. He’s giving this gig absolutely everything he’s got—including his best coat.

P: This just kills me. He’s putting his best face forward for an audience that couldn’t care less. Sad face.

“Next to speak will be Blended,” Sekeir said. “Inkspren emissary to Lasting Integrity.” …

“Wait,” Adolin said. “What is this?”

“They asked me to witness against you,” she said. “So a spren who is not an honorspren would have a chance to weigh in on this proceeding.

A: Well, that’s a bit of a facer. She says that she tutored him because she wanted a fair trial, but she also wants him to lose. If she were human, I’d be absolutely not trusting anything she’s ever said, but… spren. I dunno. I still don’t entirely trust her, because now we know she has mixed motives, but I doubt she actively lied to him about anything or sabotaged his training. I hope…

P: Blended is definitely interesting. And it’s hard to know where she’s coming from or where she’s going with her testimony. But it’s certainly worrisome that she’s testifying against him.

“Why should we beings of innate honor have been surprised when the event happened? It is not the fault of men that they are as fickle as the falling rain. This thing is. They should not be trusted, and the shame of doing so is our fault.”

A: She makes a valid point, unfortunately. Again, as I keep saying, given the accepted understanding of the Recreance, the spren have every reason to avoid the Radiant bond. Trust an inkspren to accept the blame for not fully accounting for human fallibility, though! “Back-handed insult” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

P: In retrospect, Adolin’s idea of being tried is pretty weak. He has a strong sense of honor but neglects to think of the opinions outsiders might have about his people and their penchant for war. They really don’t seem the best choice for spren to bond. Of course, in light of the desolation, it should be a situation where the enemy of my enemy is my friend. One would think.

A: Exactly—and straightforward Adolin expects others to think that way. He forgets that not everyone is willing to do the right thing at any cost, not even spren who supposedly take their entire character from Honor.

“Spren and skyeels bond to fly. Spren and greatshells bond to grow. Spren and singers bond to create new forms. This is as natural as the changing seasons.” …

“Humans are not from this land,” Blended said. “You are invaders, and bonds with you are not natural.”

A: Okay, this is a little nit-picky, but I still disagree with the characterization of humans as invaders. We still don’t know enough of the source of conflict between the Fused and the humans, but we do know that Honor brought the humans to Roshar from Ashyn. They weren’t created here, but they were brought here by a god, and it’s hardly right to claim that the bonds—initiated by the spren themselves—are unnatural. IMO.

P: Right? As long as humans have been on Roshar, should they still be called invaders?

A: Not in my opinion! (And doesn’t Raboniel eventually concede this point to Navani?)

“Be careful what you say—you will encourage us to return to the singers. They betrayed us long ago, but never on the scale of the humans. Perhaps the highspren have the correct idea in joining with the armies of the Fused.” … “They are the rightful heirs of this land. … Perhaps your kind would do better to acknowledge their rule.”

“They serve Odium,” Adolin said, noticing many of the honorspren shifting in their seats, uncomfortable. “Men might be changeable, yes. We might be corrupt at times, and weak always. But I know evil when I see it. Odium is evil. I will never serve him.”

A: I can’t help wondering about Blended taking this tangent. She clearly doesn’t want the honorspren urging other spren to return to the Radiant bonds, but this almost looks like she wants to remind them not to partner with Odium’s forces, and rather than say it herself, she hands it to Adolin to make the point. I’m not sure about that, though.

P: It’s entirely possible that this is exactly what she did.

“Can you promise … that no further spren will be killed from bonds, if allowed to be?”

“Of course not,” Adolin said.

“Well, I can promise that none will die so long as no more bonds are made. . . .”

“There are no promises in life. Nothing is sure. She says spren won’t die without bonds, but can you say what will happen if Odium reigns?”

“I find it most curious she’d prefer that possibility, young man.”

A: Actually, I think Adolin made a good point, and Kelek is forgetting that Blended hasn’t even acknowledged this question. What would happen to the honorspren (and the other Nahel-bonding spren) if Odium won the war? I’m betting it wouldn’t go well. If the honorspren are willing to hold all humankind responsible for the Recreance, how much more will Odium hold all the Nahel spren responsible for everything the Radiants did over the millennia?

P: He does make a good point. Though they would likely rather chance what would happen if Odium wins than face another Recreance.

A: Seems to me that the honorspren should think twice about it. I can see the inkspren assuming they’d be okay, but… honorspren? Their future would be iffy at best.

The honorspren weren’t trying to force the actual sins of the Recreance on him; they were taking a more honorable approach of proving that men hadn’t changed, and bonds were too risky. … Kelek could very well decide that there was no reason to imprison him for things the ancients did. At the same time, Adolin was losing the hearts of the watching spren. What would it matter if he “won” the trial if the spren were even more strongly convinced they shouldn’t help in the conflict?

A: Sigh. I mean… it is better for him to not be put in the spren equivalent of the stocks for the rest of his life, but he’s so determined not to go back to his father and admit failure. It matters so much to him on multiple levels.

P: It matters too much, I think. Dalinar has put too much on Adolin’s shoulders in this scenario.

A: In one sense, yes. In another sense… who could possibly be better to attempt this vital mission than the most charismatic Highprince they have?

“The third and final witness,” the honorspren officiator said, “is Notum, once captain of the ship Honor’s Path.

A: Well, now. Blended was a surprise; Notum is perhaps even more so, given his banishment. It’s gonna get interesting up in here.

P: I honestly had no worries that Notum would speak against Adolin, considering that Adolin saved him.

A: Adolin’s observations about his uniform made me worry, though. It looked like exactly what Adolin says here:

“Offered to end your exile, did they, Notum?” Adolin asked softly. “In exchange for a little backstabbing?”

Notum continued to avoid his gaze … He began to read. “I have been asked,” he said, “to relate the erratic behavior I witnessed in this man and his companions. … They used subterfuge to …”

Notum trailed off and looked toward Adolin.

Give him Father’s stare, Adolin thought. … Adolin had never been good at that stare.

“Go ahead,” he said instead. “We got you in trouble, Notum. It’s only fair that you get a chance to tell your side. I can’t ask anything of you other than honesty.”

A: Oh, Adolin, you are the best. You just can’t help yourself; you have to be fair. There’s a distinct change once Notum looks at him; I love it. (And also, I have to quote this whole thing. It’s almost as good as Maya’s testimony.)

P: It IS almost as good! It’s certainly emotional and makes you want to stand up and cheer!

“I…” Notum met his eyes.

“Go on.”

Notum lowered his sheet, then said in a loud voice, “Honor is not dead so long as he lives in the hearts of men!”

Adolin had never heard the statement before, but it seemed a trigger to the honorspren crowd, who began standing up and shouting in outrage—or even in support. Adolin stepped back, amazed by the sudden burst of emotion from the normally stoic spren.

Several officials rushed the floor of the forum, pulling Notum away as he bellowed the words. “Honor is not dead so long as he lives in the hearts of men! Honor is not—”

They dragged him out of the forum, but the commotion continued.

A: I LOVE this scene. Notum had the chance for reinstatement, but he’s a true honorspren and had to speak honorably despite the possible consequences. Adolin risked his life for Notum’s, and… well, that requires something. And seeing the whole thing thrown into a complete tailspin is awesome. Well done, Notum! There’s a lot more dissent than we’d thought, among the honorspren. While the Powers That Be are even more set against him than ever (if possible), it turns out there might be a fairly large contingent that is not in agreement with the PTB.

P: This is such a great moment! So exciting to have a witness against him turn around and defend him. I love it!

“I could never judge them for refusing to bond men. How could I? I could never order them back into that war, back into that hold. To do so would be to … to abandon what little honor I have left…”

A: That’s fair. He spent millennia in that war; it’s reasonable to at least say that he could never order them back into the war. I’m not sure why he thinks that’s his only choice other than condemning Adolin, though. Could he not, as noted above, rule that Adolin cannot be held responsible for the actions of his ancestors, forbid the honorspren’s desired punishment, and leave it at that? Or even rule that any honorspren who wish to form bonds cannot be prevented, while still refusing to order them to do so? Why does he think Adolin’s cause is hopeless?

P: Agreed, it’s definitely not his only choice. The question here isn’t whether he should order the honorspren to bond with humans, though he seems to think that’s what Adolin wants him to do.

“I agreed to this trial … because it was the only way to get a chance to talk to the honorspren. … If I persuade even one or two to join the battle, I’ll have won.”

A: True enough. One or two won’t exactly satisfy him, but it would be a win.

P: It would at least be SOMETHING.

“The things that inkspren said—about joining Odium’s side—are on the minds of many spren. Including many in this very fortress. … I suspect their dislike of highspren is part of why they hesitate. … You came here to recruit. But I suspect you will end up tipping these finely balanced scales, and not in the direction you desire.”

A: So… did Blended bring this up to try to tip them toward joining Odium? I’d thought not, but if she’s as smart as I think she is… maybe so. Maybe she was setting it up.

P: Or maybe she was trying to highlight how ridiculous the sentiment is.

A: I hope she was trying to make it look ridiculous… I’d really hate to see the inkspren push the idea of joining Odium.

Spren and Shadesmar

The weather turned energetic by the time Adolin’s trial arrived. The honorspren he passed chatted more, and seemed to have more of a spring to their steps. … Blended said it was like a faint drumming in the back of her mind, upbeat and peppy. Indeed, the inkspren seemed chattier.

A: The “weather” in Shadesmar is fascinating, and I really want to know what causes the various phenomena. So far, we have absolutely no clue; it just… is.

P: You sound like an inkspren. Lol!

“We were fortunate that no Bondsmiths existed at the time of the Recreance, though how the Sibling knew to end their bond early is a matter of dispute.”

A: Hmm. I’m trying to remember what the Sibling said about this… I suspect, though, that Melishi and the Sibling jointly broke their bond just like the other Radiants, but they did it before he trapped Ba-Ado-Mishram. I don’t know, but my guess is that the Sibling was getting irritated with some of the interests Melishi was pursuing, and they agreed to a divorce, as it were.

“I can only imagine the catastrophe that awaits us when your father kills his spren.”

A: ::shudders:: What would happen, anyway? It sounds like a bad idea… but I can’t help wondering if the Stormfather is simply too integral to the planet to be destroyed by a broken bond. The same would be true of the Nightwatcher, as near as I can tell. The Sibling… I don’t know; they don’t seem quite as deeply part of the function of the planet.

But suppose the Stormfather could be destroyed by a broken bond. What would happen? He holds much of Honor’s Investiture, so that could be pretty catastrophic; it’s anyone’s guess whether the Investiture would be completely bound up and no longer made available through the highstorms, or whether it would be suddenly loosed from all constraint. Either would be bad for the planet.

P: And the fact that they’re so sure that Dalinar will break his bond is a little disconcerting. We know who the new Dalinar is, and we know that he wouldn’t break the bond. At least, I think we know! But the honorspren know him as the Blackthorn and are rightly concerned about that particular bond.

A: All this creates a niggling worry about the outcome of the contest of champions… If Dalinar loses, breaking his bond to the Stormfather might be the best thing he could do. Then what?

Shallan climbed a tree. … She shimmied a little higher, then reached out, and thought she felt an oddity as she got exactly high enough. An invisible tugging on the tips of her fingers.

A: Ah, Shallan. This scene reminds me of the early days with Shallan in TWoK, when she was immensely curious about the world and every new thing she saw. It’s so very Shallan to want to feel how it works when you get far enough away from the plane to reach normal gravity.

P: Even though the whole tree climbing thing was mostly a subterfuge, she still took the opportunity to science!

A: That’s my girl!

Then her foot slipped. … She hit with a loud crack, then lay dazed before letting out a loud groan. …

“Mmm…” Pattern said, stepping over. “Rapid eye blinks. This is serious. She could die.”

“Die?” Lusintia said. “I had no idea they were so fragile!”

A: Heh. Looking back at the beta, I find that no one actually believed any of this… “Oh, so this is her plan to get Stormlight, eh? Get ‘hurt’ so she needs Stormlight to heal, and then snitch some extra?” But Pattern is hilarious.

P: It was Pattern’s attitude that did it for me. He obviously wasn’t actually concerned. Not that the honorspren would know that, not knowing Pattern’s personality.

“Tell me what to do!” Lusintia said. “Do we carry her out to that Edgedancer?”

“It will take too long. She will die. Poor human whom I love very much. It will be tragic for her to die here, in the center of honorspren power and protection. Unless, of course, she were to be given Stormlight.”

“Wait… Stormlight?”

“Yes, she is Radiant,” Pattern said. “It would heal her.”

Shallan suppressed a smile. Pattern was a tad transparent.

A: BAHAHAHAHAhahahahahah Oh, lordy. Just a tad transparent. “Poor human whom I love very much” indeed… as she tucks away the rock she smacked the ground with. They really are fairly gullible at times. (Not so much at other times…)

P: Super gullible in this matter! lol!

Shallan made a particularly poignant whimper of pain at exactly the right moment, and then she was in. Light surrounded her as she was brought someplace brilliant.

A: Hey, it’s all working. Look at that.

P: They should have had a smarter spren guarding her. *chuckle*

[M]ost of the Stormlight was contained in a large construction at the center of the room. A kind of vat, or tall jar. This was technology Shallan hadn’t heard of before coming to Shadesmar, and apparently not even the honorspren knew how it worked. They could be purchased from a group of strange traveling merchants called the Eyree.

A: Oh, look, it’s the IRE again. They seem to have expanded their field of operations in the last 300 years. (Also, I can’t remember if we know anything significant about this containment method or not. Anyone?)

P: If you don’t know, I certainly don’t know!

She tested this, reaching out a weak hand toward one of them and sucking in a breath of Stormlight—which streamed to her as a glowing, misty light.

A: Gee, let’s be obvious about it! I guess that’s part of the schtick—make it obvious here, so the later theft is… not so obvious.

P: Well, she is desperate and dying.

A: Heh. Indeed. Very desperate. Most dying.

“How could you endanger yourself in such a manner? Do you not realize that mortals die if broken?”

A: Aww. I could almost feel bad for her, being fooled like this. But not too much.

P: I love how she’s telling Shallan, a mortal, that mortals die if broken. Though she was herself surprised at the fragility of humans. Too funny!

She yanked [her notebook] out and dropped it in a flurry. At the same time she swept her safehand to the side and dropped a dun emerald in place of a brightly glowing one.

A: Sudden flashback to her training with Tyn, so long ago. This would be why Veil needed to take over from Shallan; it’s the sort of trick she’s better at. I have to say, though, the honorspren are incredibly gullible about all this, believing all Pattern’s fluff about her dying, and obediently looking at the dropped notebook while she palms the infused gemstone. We were set up for it, I guess, by Mraize telling Shallan (a few chapters back) that the honorspren are not good at noticing subterfuge, nor at figuring out what “odd behavior” looks like in humans. And of course, that was the conversation that set her on this path to steal Stormlight.

P: Of course it was. Mraize knows how to plant a seed, for sure. And he would have known that there was a wealth of Stormlight at the fortress, and that Shallan would be clever enough to get a chance to make a grab at some.

“We would not have you die,” Lusintia said. “Death is a terrible thing, and we…”

A: I wish this hadn’t trailed off right here. The spren actually seem to take death more seriously than humans do. Is that because death is not part of their natural lifecycle? This kinda ties in to that earlier thing about not executing Adolin if he loses.

P: Yes, they seem to abhor death, even in the humans that many of them seem to loathe.

“Storms alight! You ate the entire thing? Human, how…”

… “That was years’ worth of stored Stormlight!” he exclaimed. “Get out! Go, before you eat anything more! If you fall again, I will have you turned away!”

A: Despite cracking up at this whole thing, I do feel just a little bad about the trick. I mean… the passage of years is less significant to spren than to humans, but she apparently stole a lot of Stormlight, and it’s not as easy to come by in Shadesmar as it is in the physical realm. Come to think of it… she’s stealing it so she has enough to make an Illusion and pretend to be Kalak. More deception. I’m so glad that it will become unnecessary.

P: It’s probably a lot more Stormlight than she would need to impersonate the Herald. Though it would be good for them to have it for the return journey.

“Mmm…” Pattern said. “Thank you for letting me lie. Did it work?”

Veil nodded.

“Mmm. They are stupid.”

A: Oh, Pattern, you’re such a hoot. Veil is right, of course, that stupidity and ignorance aren’t the same thing, but Pattern being all grateful for the chance to be part of the game and to be allowed to lie… Oh, my.

P: He’s so happy to lie, I love it.

Relationships and Romances

[Shallan] pumped her fist toward him, and he had the impression she was Radiant at the moment.

A: I guess it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t have enough Stormlight to do the visual cues she used to do with hair color and such to indicate which persona she’s using; she’d pretty much quit doing that anyway, hadn’t she? I do love that Adolin knows her so well that he recognizes the mannerisms of each persona by sight.

P: She hadn’t done it on this trip, I don’t think. Both because Stormlight was scarce and because she was trying to be surreptitious.

A: You’re right; she did it at the beginning of the book, before they left for Shadesmar, but she stopped. Once their supply of Stormlight failed, she couldn’t do it anyway… even if she’d wanted to and hadn’t been trying to deceive pretty much everyone.

“Every man fails his own ideals,” Adolin said. “You are right. I am not the honorable man I wish that I were. But my father is.”

A: Again with the “I’m a loser but my father is amazing” lines… I’m not one of the people who considers Dalinar an unforgivably abusive father, especially given how much he’s changed, so I don’t really get irritated by the “my father is perfect” mentality. Even so, Adolin’s insistence that he himself is not honorable is frustrating. He’s just stuck on thinking he’s a failure; that’s why he’s here, trying to prove that he can accomplish something important. It’s … well, “humanly inconsistent,” I guess, that at one moment he’s angrily determined to prove himself to his father, and the next moment he holds Dalinar up as practically a demi-god. He started out this trip so angry at Dalinar, but every time he turns around, he defends his father against anyone who even implies criticism. Ah, well.

P: I think he’ll defend Dalinar until the sun goes down, regardless of how angry he might be at his father. And he’ll always see Dalinar as more honorable, despite his past.

“My father is no common man.”

A: No, I think we agree on that. (At least, I agree with Adolin…) It almost looks like he’s decided to forgive Dalinar for the things he did while under the influence of the Thrill.

P: I tend to agree, too.

Heralds, History, Geography, and Cultures

“You don’t have prisons, and I doubt he’ll care if you exile him. Hell, half the people in this place would regard escaping your presence to be a reward.

A: LOL. This is not an untrue statement! Also, it’s worth noting that Kalak is the first person in these books we’ve seen use the term “hell.” Wit will use it a few chapters from now, and it’s a concept understood on Scadrial and Threnody, at least. On a bet, I’d say this is because the Heralds are the only people on Roshar who have any recollection of the wider Cosmere concept of hell; on Roshar, they know only of Damnation.

P: That’s interesting. Not that I doubted you, but on a whim, I did a search of the earlier books and nobody has ever used the term. It is always “Damnation.” I’m surprised Adolin didn’t have a moment where he wondered what “hell” was or why Kalak said that strange word!

It wasn’t surprising to see [the High Judge] writing. Adolin just hoped the notes he was taking related to the testimony. He half expected that the Herald was solving word puzzles like the ones Jasnah enjoyed.

A: Snicker. From what we know of Kalak, he could well be doing exactly that! Except I’m not convinced his mind is actually sharp enough these days—not for the kind of puzzles Jasnah would like!

P: I can’t help but think that he’s messing around with something entirely unrelated to the trial!

A: The thought is hard to avoid…

“Your coming has opened centuries-old wounds, young man. Amusing, isn’t it?”

“Amusing? That’s all?”

Kelek started whistling as he wrote in his notebook.

They’re all insane, Adolin thought. Ash said so. This is what thousands of years of torture does to a mind.

A: Oy veh. What can possibly be expected from a High Judge that’s this far off his rocker?

P: And how do the honorspren not see how loopy he is? Or does that not matter because of who he is?

A: I wish we knew. It would help to understand the honorspren.

“Do you know how old I am, young man?” Kelek looked up and met Adolin’s eyes, and there was something in them. A depth that made him, for the first time, seem distinctly inhuman. Those eyes seemed like eternal holes. Bored through time.

A: Here, for the first time since… ever, I begin to have a bit of respect for Kalak. I’ve been able to grant that he has reason for his madness and cowardice, but… yeah, something about this view makes him recognizable as a Herald.

P: He’s so far over the edge of madness… but he can still turn on a bit of badassery when it’s necessary.

“Even Taln… Even Taln…”

“He didn’t break,” Adolin said.

“The enemy is here, so he did,” Kelek said firmly.

A: Have y’all read the prologue to Book 5 that Sanderson released a while back? **things that make you go hmmm**

P: Can you believe that I have not yet read it? Guess I ought to remedy that!

Brilliant Buttresses

[T]his wasn’t the worst self-inflicted wound she’d sustained in the name of science. At least this time her scheme hadn’t involved deliberately embarrassing herself in front of several attractive men.

A: LOL! Also, stabbing herself with the tailor’s sewing scissors. (I may never forgive her for that kind of blasphemy. Never use the sewing scissors for anything but fabric!!)

P: Lol!!

 

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 88, a flashback in which Venli traps a stormspren, and a lightspren follows Eshonai home. Also, cool chasmfiend makes an appearance.

Alice lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two kids. Her brain is melting in the current heat wave; when the thermometer gives a heat index of 102° that’s guaranteed to break her.

Paige resides in New Mexico, of course. But she’s a die-hard Yankees fan. Links to her other writing are available in her profile.

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