Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter One Hundred Five

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Good day and happy reread-Thursday to you, Cosmere Chickens! I hope you all had a restful, relaxing week because we’re diving back into the thick of it here in Rhythm of War-land.

Our dear, grizzled, grumpy mess of a drill sergeant Teft is gone (press X for a Bridge Four salute to pay your respects), but we’re not done yet. Oh no. Not by a mile. There’s still Pursuers to take down, Radiants to save, captives to free, and Towers to liberate. So let’s begin, shall we?

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.

There are no greater Cosmere spoilers in this article.

 

Heralds:

  • Jezrien (Jezerezeh, Yaezir, Ahu), Herald of Kings. Windrunners (Adhesion, Gravitation). Protecting/Leading. Role: King.
  • Chana, (Chanarach), Herald of the Common Man. Dustbringers (Division, Abrasion). Brave/Obedient. Role: Guard.
  • (2x) Vedeledev (Vedel). Edgedancers (Abrasion, Progression). Loving/Healing. Role: Healer.

One of the rare chapters with not one or two, or even four, but three Heralds represented! Jezrien’s here for Kal, obviously. Chana could be representative of Teft or, possibly, Moash (he does see himself as the common man archetype, after all). As for Vedel showing up twice, I guess I’d attribute that more to Navani than Lift, as she barely appears in this chapter.

Icon: Double Eye, denoting multiple POVs in the chapter.

Epigraph:

For ones so soft, they are somehow strong.

—Musings of El, on the first of the Final Ten Days

P: They ARE strong. Not having carapace doesn’t mean they aren’t strong.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Kaladin; Moash; Navani
WHEN: 1175.4.10.4
WHERE: Urithiru
(Note: For the “when” notations, we are using this wonderful timeline provided by the folks at The 17th Shard.)

RECAP: Kaladin continues his battle with the Pursuer, finally getting him to run from him and hence winning the greater battle, that of public opinion. However, a certain jerk drops Teft’s dead body in front of him, and Kaladin falls to his knees, overwhelmed in grief. Moash instructs the Pursuer not to disturb Kaladin, but if he should rise, to kill Lirin in front of him. Then he destroys the Sibling’s final node and heads off to find Navani… who’s working on a plan to stop Raboniel from corrupting the Sibling. Navani convinces Raboniel to talk things over, and leads her into a trap.

Chapter Chat—Legends and Lore

The Pursuer searched around, likely realizing how large his audience was. Hundreds watching. He lived by lore, by reputation.

P: A reputation that Kaladin is single handedly destroying. Lore that he is rewriting. I love it.

L: If there’s one thing our boy is good at, it’s creating legends and lore.

“Has it been long enough, do you think?” Syl whispered. “Are the others free?”

“Something’s wrong,” she said softly. “Something dark…”

P: I wonder what she’s sensing here. The presence of the sand? Has Phendorana already been murdered? Would Syl feel that?

L: I always read this as just… Moash himself. He’s become something inhuman and dark, not just metaphorically, but in reality.

“Last body,” Kaladin called. “Come fight, and we’ll see who dies. We’ll see if your reputation survives the hour.”

P: And he taunts Lezian knowing that the Fused has to answer the challenge or be humiliated before his troops and the other Fused.

L: Keep driving that spear home, Kal.

The Pursuer, to his credit, came charging in.

P: Far be it for me to argue with Brandon, but I don’t think it’s to Lezian’s credit that he charges in. As I said, he has no choice.

L: His choice would be to run, and in so doing, destroy his reputation—a reputation which is everything to him.

He slammed into the glass of the window, and his carapace cracked as he struck. He shook himself, recovering quickly—but didn’t heal. He’d used up his Voidlight.

P: How’s it feel to be helpless, Lezian?

“RUN FROM ME!” Kaladin demanded.

L: Storms, he’s a BAMF.

P: That, he is. It started a couple of chapters ago, when he named Lezian The Defeated. Kaladin boosted his own confidence with every blow he dealt. And it continues here with his assertion that he is the storm. Just… wow. ::chills::

He did, dripping blood and shoving his way past the singer soldiers. He’d retreated from previous battles, but this time they both knew it meant something different.

P: It meant that he is no longer the Pursuer, and that he has cemented his legacy as the Defeated One. For a short time, anyway.

L: Good riddance to bad rubbish.

They began to chant, gloryspren bursting in the air.

Stormblessed.

Stormblessed.

Stormblessed.

L: If he hadn’t been a legend before this moment, he sure is now.

P: He definitely is. To run off a Fused, and not just any Fused, but the much-feared (former) Pursuer, is pretty amazing, even for Kaladin.

“We’re all children of Odium in the end,” Raboniel said. “Children of our Passions.”

“You just said we were scholars,” Navani said. “Others might be controlled by their passions. We are something more. Something better.”

L: She says, as she plots the perfect way to play Raboniel. Navani’s pretty fantastic.

P: I love this scene. Navani and Raboniel have danced around each other all this time, and Raboniel usually had the upper hand. Except for this one, very important time. I adore Navani!

Music, Mechanisms, and Manifestations of Light

The highstorm blowing outside the enormous window presented a view that Kaladin often saw, but others rarely knew. Flashing lightning, a swirling tempest, power raw and unchained.

P: I never considered this, how the humans and singers in the atrium would be seeing something of the storm that they had never seen before. It’s a powerful picture that Brandon painted in this chapter opener.

He summoned his Blade and used the tip to destroy the tiny fabrial.

P: And thus, the last of the Sibling’s defenses falls.

L: If I may inject just a tiny bit of levity into all this…

Navani slipped into the hallway and moved quietly toward Raboniel. After passing the crates with her carefully prepared traps, she touched the magnet to a corner of the last crate and heard a click. She only dared take the time to arm one: a painrial that filled anyone who crossed this point in the hallway with immense agony.

P: Trap set.

L: By law of the internet, I must post this.

“Very well,” Raboniel said. She took the dagger with a quick snap of her hand, showing that she didn’t completely trust Navani. As well she shouldn’t.

P: ::cackling::

Then Raboniel stepped directly into Navani’s fabrial trap.

P: Trap triggered.

L: Indeed.

“Since the final node has been destroyed,” Raboniel said, “Vyre will soon return to claim his promised compensation. However, if you have escaped on your own … well, then I have not defaulted on my covenant with him.”

P: Not that Navani would have much chance of escaping, not in the middle of a bloody highstorm, but props to Raboniel for at least making an effort to give her a chance.

“What do you think to do?” Raboniel asked. “Fight me?” She turned, so calm and composed. Her eyes flickered to the dagger, then she hummed softly to a confused rhythm. She’d forgotten about it. She wasn’t as in control as she pretended.

P: While grieving her daughter, Raboniel forgot that she had left the dagger behind.

Bruised and Broken

A body hit the ground in front of Kaladin with a callous smack of skull on stone.

L: By all the gods and martyrs, Moash, you’re such a complete and utter d***!!!!

P: That, he is. And I’ve got a few more choice names for him. I mean, we know he’s cold-hearted… I know this well. We all do. But how could any person be so plainly awful as to drop the body of a man you just murdered in front of his best friend?

L: Someone who was trying to drive someone else to commit suicide could be just that awful.

P: And awful isn’t even strong enough a word for it. And I can’t use all the supplementary swears that I want to use in this article. But yeah, looking back to Words of Radiance, there’s not anything I can think of regarding Moash that isn’t just… horrible.

L: Okay, so… having done part of the reread with Aubree back in the day (who was a bit of a Moash sympathizer), I can say that I see where he was coming from in his actions then. Killing Elhokar was, to him, justified. This reminds me a bit of Breaking Bad, to be honest (some mild spoilers for the show to follow in this paragraph, if you haven’t seen it yet, skip this). You start off rooting for Walter, and then watch as he does increasingly awful things as he goes. It’s fascinating from a sociological perspective to see where the turning point falls for different people; what’s the “point of no return,” where he becomes the villain of the piece rather than the hero? I remember very well when that point was for me, and it was probably farther along than a lot of other people’s, because I’m one of those who loves a good anti-hero and adores villain redemption arcs. But for most people and most characters, there is a point of no return. There’s one thing a character does that’s so awful, so terrible, you simply can’t forgive them for it.

Now. Does this mean that a truly skillful author (as Brandon is) can’t turn it around and pull off a good redemption arc? Absolutely not. It’s possible. If Brandon manages it I’ll probably hate him for it, because it’s just so much fun to hate Moash, much as it was fun to hate Professor Umbridge in the Series-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. But it is possible, and if that’s the direction Brandon winds up going with it, I’ll grumble about it but it’s his work and his character to do with as he likes. I’ll grudgingly nod to the skill it takes to pull off, while keeping my “F*** Moash” badge ribbons.

Interesting question for those in the comments. What was your “point of no return” for Moash? And if he hasn’t had one yet for you, what would it take?

Moash knew exactly what Kaladin was feeling. That crushing sense of despair, that knowledge that nothing would be the same. Nothing could ever be the same. Light had left the world, and could never be rekindled.

L: If you know how it feels, how could you ever, ever want to inflict it on someone else? Especially someone who you once cared for?

P: I’m frankly surprised that Moash has this thought, considering he’s given all his pain to Odium. I mean, if he feels nothing, then how does he remember despair? How does he remember what it’s like for light to have left the world?

L: Maybe he remembers from a clinical perspective and not an emotional one? It’s possible to remember events and how they impacted you, without necessarily feeling those emotions again.

Kaladin cradled Teft’s corpse, letting out a low, piteous whine. He began to tremble and shake—becoming as insensate as he had when King Elhokar had died. As he had after Moash had killed Roshone. And if Kaladin responded that way to the deaths of his enemies …

Well, Teft dying would be worse. Far, far worse.

Kaladin had been unraveling for years.

“That,” Moash said to the Fused, “is how you break a storm.”

P: I know I can be subtle and unassuming… and I may not have let on in the past just how much I hate Moash. But I really, really, really hate Moash. If he wasn’t essentially dissociating by giving all of his feelings to Odium, I would say he’s almost gleeful in this moment.

L: It’s so painful for us to see, since we’ve essentially been living rent-free in Kaladin’s head for so long.

The Pursuer formed a body, and Moash pushed Lirin into the creature’s hands. “This is Stormblessed’s father,” Moash whispered.

P: I’m not a fan of Lirin, but this is low. Moash is lower than crem. Lower than slime. I just can’t right now.

L: No one would consider me to be on Lirin’s fan club for sure (emotionally abusive @$$ that he is) but he’s still Kaladin’s family, and more importantly… he’s a doctor. He’s not a soldier, and IIRC he works to help people on both sides of this conflict. Remember how last week we discussed war crimes

Kaladin knelt before the storm, clinging to a dead man, shaking. Moash hesitated, searching inside himself. And … he felt nothing. Just coldness. Good. He had reached his potential.

L: Only a true psychopath would feel accomplishment from a lack of empathy.

P: That’s it. You nailed it. He’s a storming psychopath.

L: On second thought (and because I remember seeing once that people are often labeled as psychopaths when really they mean sociopath), I looked up the definitions of both. Worthwhile to note that an internet search does not make me a psychologist and hence I can only draw some base guesses and not diagnose Moash, but it’s interesting to look at from a layperson’s perspective.

Psychopath, according to Science Direct, “is defined as a mental (antisocial) disorder in which an individual manifests amoral and antisocial behavior, shows a lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, expresses extreme egocentricity, and demonstrates a failure to learn from experience and other behaviors associated with the condition.”

Sociopathy, as defined by MayoClinic, “is a mental disorder in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.”

On looking at these definitions, they seem very similar, so I looked up what the difference is. “Sociopaths have a conscience, albeit a weak one, and will often justify something they know to be wrong. By contrast, psychopaths will believe that their actions are justified and feel no remorse for any harm done” (Source).

Moash certainly believes his actions are justified and feels no remorse, but reading further into that third article, I’m really not sure which fits him better. Debate in the comments, chickens?

“He’s… just a man.…”

“Don’t touch him,” Moash said. “If you interfere, it will awaken him to vengeance.”

L: I hate that Moash knows him so well.

P: Yes. And I just plain hate.

There are two paths open to him. One is to take the route I did, and give up his pain. The other is the route he should have taken long ago. The path where he raises the only hand that can kill Kaladin Stormblessed. His own.”

L: Ugh. UGH. I am actually shaking with rage.

P: Yeah, I can’t read this without wanting to smash something.

“I need to go kill a queen.”

P: Good luck with that, you storming cremling. (My heartfelt apologies to any cremlings I’ve offended with this statement.)

L: Love to see him try and fail, though. So satisfying.

Oaths Spoken, Powers Awakened

Odium was interested in the Edgedancer, and Moash had been forbidden to kill her.

L: Because of her boon-ability, I’d assume…

P: Likely. And then I hate how he so callously hopes that he didn’t hit her head too hard. ::growl::

L: Seriously. Concussions are no joke, even for people with super-human healing abilities. Not cool doing that to a kid, Moash.

 

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 106, in which Kaladin completely loses it. Understandably.

Paige resides in New Mexico, of course. She very much misses baseball and is counting the days until Spring Training. Links to her other writing are available in her profile.

Lyndsey lives in Connecticut and makes magic wands for a living, as well as working as the costumer for two of her local Renaissance Faires. If you enjoy queer protagonists, snarky humor, and don’t mind some salty language, check out book 1 of her fantasy series. Follow her on Facebook or TikTok!

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