Greetings, Cosmere Chickens! Our chapter this week’s going to be a frustrating one on one account and a sad one on another. We’ll be seeing the end of a villain-turned-hero in Navani’s section, and an ascension into Godhood in another. And it’s certainly not a person we want to see becoming a vessel for a Shard, that’s for sure! Opportunities for discussion and theorizing abound, so won’t you join us?
Reminder: We’ll be discussing spoilers for the entirety of the series up until now. If you haven’t read ALL of the published entries of The Stormlight Archive (this includes Edgedancer and Dawnshard as well as the entirety of Rhythm of War), best to wait to join us until you’re done.
In this week’s discussion we also discuss some things from Warbreaker… sort of…? Not specifics, but things about Nightblood and Investiture as a whole. You’ve been warned…
Heralds: Chana, (Chanarach), Herald of the Common Man. Dustbringers (Division, Abrasion). Brave/Obedient. Role: Guard.
Nalan (Nale), Herald of Justice. Skybreakers (Gravitation, Division). Just/Confident. Role: Judge.
L: Oh, this is a tough one this week. Both of these Heralds have the Surge of Division, and there’s certainly a lot of strife and division going on here. Nalan’s likely also here because of Szeth, who’s our resident Skybreaker. I suppose Navani could also be said to be taking on a bit of a guardian role (for Chana), but that’s a stretch.
Icon: The Diagram
And I will march proudly at the head of a human legion.
—Musings of El, on the first of the Final Ten Days
Paige: Wait, what?
Lyn: Don’t ask me, I’ve been lost on these epigraphs since I got back.
WHEN: 1188.8.131.52 (Note: For the “when” notations, we are using this wonderful timeline provided by the folks at The 17th Shard.)
WHERE: Urithiru and… wherever Taravangian was being held, I don’t recall.
RECAP: Navani gives Raboniel a well-deserved final rest, destroying her soul so she isn’t reborn mad. Meanwhile, Szeth makes a visit to Taravangian to confront him with the knowledge that his father is dead. In his anger, he has brought Taravangian the exact thing he needed. When Odium draws Taravangian into the Cognitive Realm, Taravangian brings Nightblood along as well and uses it to destroy Rayse, the current vessel of the Shard. He then steps into the void of power to become the new Shard Vessel.
He was stupid. Stupider than he’d ever been before.
That made him weep. Stupid weeping. He cried and cried, overwhelmed by emotion…
L: Reminder (since it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Taravangian) that it isn’t necessarily that he varies between smart and stupid (as we thought for a long time back at the beginning of the series), but rather logic and emotion.
P: He just sees it as stupid because, what, he sees emotions as stupid? Or because it’s the opposite of his “brilliant” day when he wrote the diagram? Who knows his thought processes.
L: Well, I think that people who are so closely married to the idea of logic as superior do tend to view emotion as stupid. Think about the Vulcans in the original Star Trek. They viewed it as inferior, and I don’t think that was solely a fictional concept.
[His hunger] seemed so strong. And storms, he drew so many spren when stupid.
L: Hunger, while not an emotion per se, is a feeling. He feels more when he’s on the opposite side of the spectrum from logic.
P: This makes me wonder if he ate less when he was “smart.”
L: I seem to recall him being described as very skinny in past books, so this theory might hold water.
He’d waited so long for a transcendent day when he would be supremely intelligent again. He’d never wondered about the opposite. A day when he was all emotion. A day when thoughts didn’t move in his brain, and spren swarmed him, feeding gluttonously upon his passions.
L: Passions is an interesting word choice here, considering what Odium is.
P: Interesting and very deliberate.
The room started to grow golden.
L: Oh no oh no oh no
P: He coming…
L: Oh lawd he comin. (This gif wasn’t what I was initially looking for but it’s too funny not to include, especially since it’s a GOLDEN retriever… GET IT PAIGE? GET IT?)
Taravangian felt something pushing through his fear, his pain. An emotion he’d never thought to feel himself. Bravery.
Bravery surged through him, so powerfully he could not help but move.
L: Bravery is, after all, an emotion. My personal head-canon is that THIS is why Taravangian was given his gift by Cultivation, not for the moments of logic. It was for these moments of deep empathy/emotion/feeling. Only time will tell, I guess…
P: Knowing what little we do of Cultivation, this wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
L: More on this a bit later…
Taravangian seized the sword and pulled it free of its scabbard, hearing it scream for pleasure. He turned and thrust it upward—black smoke curling around his hands.
“Destroy!” the sword bellowed. “DESTROY!”
Taravangian rammed it up into Odium’s chest.
L: I’ll take “things I didn’t expect on my first read-through” for 500, Alex.
P: Big same. I was totally blown away by this. And at first, I was like, Go, T! Even though I hate him. But then when he took up the shard I was like, ohhhh noooo…
The figure that contained Odium’s power—the person who controlled it—evaporated, taken by the sword. That alone was so much Investiture that Taravangian felt the sword grow dull in his fingers. Full, lethargic. As when a hot brand was shoved into a barrel of water, there was an initial hiss—but this power was too vast for the sword to drink.
It killed the person holding that power, however, which left a hole.
L: So here we have verification that an entire Shard would be too much Investiture even for Nightblood.
P: Yeah, I think he can take in a lot, but he does get drunk pretty quickly. I wonder, though, did what he took weaken the Shard at all? Or did Odium somehow replenish what Nightblood took?
L: This is a very good question. Is the energy of the Shards finite, or does it regenerate over time? My initial knee-jerk-no-evidence-to-support theory is “regenerate.”
A… vacuum, like a gemstone suddenly without Stormlight. It reached out, and Taravangian felt a distinct Connection to it.
Passion. Hatred. Today, Taravangian was only passion.
L: I’m so torn on this whole thing. I’ve never been as vehemently anti-Taravangian as a lot of folks in the fandom; I enjoy him as a villain and I think he does have good intentions, even if he does have terrible ways of bringing them about. We could say the same of Hoid, who has flat out told people that he’d let entire planets burn and die if it meant saving the universe. Why do we view Hoid as the hero archetype and Taravangian as a flat-out villain? I think it’s only because we saw and knew some of the people Taravangian killed, and saw “first hand” the effects those murders had on characters we love. Not so much in Hoid’s case (yet).
This is all leading me to this thought. Is Taravangian a better vessel for Odium’s power than Rayse? At the very least we know that Mister T had good intentions. Rayse? Not so much. His motivations were a mystery to us. So better the devil we know, than the one we don’t? I don’t know. What do you think?
P: I’ve never liked Taravangian. Not at all. I thought he was a monster for intentionally killing people in Kharbranth, at the get go. Then his deal with Szeth. Throwing the world into chaos. And then to want to sacrifice everything to ensure that his tiny corner of the world remain unharmed, instead of fighting for all of it, like Dalinar. I just can’t see the good there. And, IMO, he might be worse at being Odium than Rayse was. I think Cultivation made a mistake here. Time will tell, of course, but I just can’t see this turning out well.
L: Another thing to discuss here is the fact that this right here may have been Cultivation’s plan all along. If she knew that Taravangian would eventually be in this place at this time, might her Gift to him have been intentional? Creating a well of passion and emotion so deep that Odium couldn’t help but enter that vessel?
P: I thought something similar, like was this Cultivation’s plan? Though, as I said, that plan may very well be flawed. I think T is scarier as Odium than Rayse was, and we’ve only seen him as Odium for a minute.
Spren and Shadesmar
I swore I would never do this again, the Sibling said in her mind. I swore I was done with humans.
L: I’m deathly curious to know more about the Radiant the Sibling had before…
P: They seem to have a beef with all humans.
L: Is this just a result of the Recreance, or is there a more personal betrayal going on here…
Our bond is unusual, the Sibling said. I still do not know what I think of what we’ve done.
L: Unusual, eh? In what way, I wonder…
P: This is curious, isn’t it? Why would the Sibling think the bond unusual? Unless it’s because Navani just clicked with her connection to the tower right off? Perhaps?
I wish to believe you, the Sibling said. But as of yet, I do not. I am sorry.
“Merely another problem to solve,” Navani said, “through application of logic and hope, in equal measure.”
L: I do love Navani’s approach to problem solving!
P: And her certainty that it can and will be solved.
“I am sorry,” Navani said, “for discovering this Light. It will let spren be killed.”
L: I mean… probably a good thing. Some spren may need to be killed, down the line. Like the Unmade….
P: That would be interesting, though I’m not sure I want Sja-Anat killed. The jury’s still out on that one.
L: Yeah, Sja-anat doesn’t seem so bad, all things considered. The others though…
He stopped as he found a note. Written by Renarin Kholin, sealed by his signet. … Two words. I’m sorry. Two gemstones, glowing brightly, were included with the note. What were these?
I’m sorry. Why say that? What had the boy seen? He knew his future wasn’t to be trusted. …
The gemstones continued to glow. Large ones. With something moving in them. Hadn’t … hadn’t he been told to watch for something like that?
L: Oh dear. But how is Renarin entangled in this? What’s going on with him?! I’m so, so curious.
P: Perhaps Renarin saw what was going to happen with the sword? Anyone’s guess, really. I wonder if this question has been asked before and, if so, if it’s been RAFO’d.
L: And what the heck were the spren in the spheres? Are they what drew Odium here? Oh, I’m so confused…
P: He was keeping track of her altered windspren in Kholinar. Perhaps their presence here is what drew him. Perhaps that’s why Renarin was sorry, because he knew that the spren would draw Odium.
L: I’d totally forgotten about corrupted windspren. I always see “red spren” and just immediately think of the voidspren…
“Please,” he cried, “don’t break them.”
Szeth scowled, then threw them—one after the other—at the stone wall, shattering them. Strange spren escaped, transparent windspren that trailed red light. They laughed, spinning around Szeth.
L: Yeah that can’t be good.
P: Szeth is so petty in this moment. Though, to be fair, he has the right to be incredibly… um… angry with Taravangian.
How do they know how to move against me? HAVE YOU BETRAYED ME, TARAVANGIAN? Have you been speaking to Sja-anat? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
L: Interesting that he mentions Sja-anat since she’s the one who corrupted Renarin’s spren…
P: Maybe because he knows that the altered windspren are there?
Bruised and Broken
“Murders done to save lives,” Szeth said softly, tracking Taravangian with eyes dark and shadowed from the room’s poor light, now that the spheres were gone. “Idiocy.”
L: I hate to say this but he sounds a bit like Lirin here.
P: Well, he’s not exactly thinking clearly here, I don’t think.
L: No, I know. (Poor Szeth.) Just saying that this sentiment is very much in line with Lirin’s views on war. Taking lives to save lives and all that.
“We’ll meet again,” Navani said. “You will be reborn.”
“No. If I… die… I will return… mad. My soul… is burned… almost all away… Do not… Please… Please…”
L: How sad, to die knowing that when you’re reborn, you’ll be mad. That must be so terrible… especially knowing what we do of Raboniel’s daughter.
P: I can definitely see why Raboniel would want Navani to use the dagger on her. She doesn’t want to end up like her daughter, or worse. This is such a sad scene.
“Are you sure?” Navani asked.
Raboniel nodded. Her hand twitched, and Navani reached over and held it, which made the Fused relax.
“I… have done… what I wished. Odium… is worried. He may… allow… an ending…”
“Thank you,” Navani said softly.
L: Aww. You know, I really did come to like Raboniel, even though she was technically one of the villains.
P: I liked her, too, despite who she was. It was her rapport with Navani that drew me to her. And the way she told Navani that she was, indeed, a scholar.
“I do wish…” Raboniel said, “I could hear… rhythms… again…”
“Then sing with me,” Navani said, and began to sing Honor’s tone.
P: But he’s so storming good at it!
“How did you know my father was dead?” Szeth demanded, striding into the room. “How did you know that Ishar reclaimed his sword? How?”
L: Poor Szeth.
P: Despite all he’s done, with a bloody stone to blame, I feel the same.
We’ll be leaving further speculation and discussion to you in the comments, and hope to join you there! What do you think about the Rayse vs. Taravangian dilemma? Even more fun question perhaps… if you could choose anyone in the Cosmere to hold the power of Odium, who would it be?
Next week, we’ll be back with chapter 114, in which Rlain, Venli, and their friends vacate Urithiru, Taravangian meets Cultivation, and Teft is laid to rest.
Paige resides in New Mexico, of course. She writes, she loves baseball (Go, Yankees!), she studies Psychology, and she works for cops. She’s kind of cool. 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!