Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers.
(Side note: Many apologies for the long delay. Between an intense work schedule and spending time on writing, it took me forever to get back to this. Hopefully I'll be able to make meaningful progress and not keep you waiting forever. Also, I want to actually read through this book. It's honestly a weird feeling to take this long to get through a cosmere book. I feel like I'm going to miss out on all of the theorycrafting and discussion.)
Chapter 50 (Queen)
Epigraph: “detachment is enviable; I have learned that my greatest discoveries come when I abandon lesser connections.” Yeah, that line doesn’t sound like Navani. I’m not giving up on my working theory yet, but it’s a mark against.
Jester in the chapter icons. Wit is around, I guess? Oh, right, because he’s hanging with Jasnah, and she’s part of the campaign. Hence the chapter title, I presume.
“This betrayal will be felt--and prosecuted--by the Azish for generations.”
Why am I not surprised that the preeminent bureaucracy on Roshar is legitimately threatening cross-generational lawsuits?
Mr. T’s daughter is named Savrahalidem. I don’t think I’d seen the long form of that name before. It’s harder to pronounce than I expected. Took me a couple times to get it out naturally.
I’m fairly surprised that the false letters from Navani are working. Spanreeds necessarily transmit the writer’s own handwriting, and you would think that Jasnah and others would be intimately familiar with Navani’s hand. It’s not shocking that Raboniel would have access to someone with forgery skills, but to be prepared to emulate the dowager queen’s written word implies a lot of preparation beyond the martial side.
Why are they uncovering spheres around the perimeter of the pavilion as the meeting ends? I don’t get it. Is it important to hold the meeting in semidarkness? I’m really not following the choreography of the group that way.
Dalinar: “Hm, after this war, we should probably go fight another one to make sure Queen Fen can be an absolute monarch, without any of those pesky checks to her power.”
On one hand, I like that he’s feeling confident in taking on Odium and that he’s looking forward to something after the existential war they are waging. Way to plan ahead!
On the other hand… sorry, Dalinar. Many of us think that letting other people have a say in the government is actually a good thing.
He almost wanted to have one of the Windrunners fly him up to a higher altitude wher he could get some proper cold air and think clearly.
That is such an entitled approach to things, and I love it. Also, Dalinar, your unkalaki characteristics are showing through. If you do take that flight, I hope you bring Cord with you so she can commiserate about needing thinner, cooler air.
Thinking about Evi? Oh, right, his memories aren’t blocked at all anymore. I like that he’s also becoming comfortable with those memories, despite the pain they bring him.
Glad to hear that he at least tried to Connect with Ash and Taln, after what happened with Nale. It apparently didn’t work, but practicing with those powers is important and it shows that they are being intelligent about things.
They’re still thinking about the contest of champions that Odium agreed to, but don’t know how to force it or what it entails:
Rayse--Odium--is not one to be pushed into anything. He might have agreed to a contest in theory, Blackthorn, but he never set terms. And he won’t, as long as he thinks he’s winning this war. You need to frighten him, convince him that he might lose. Only then will he proceed with a contest of champions--as long as the terms limit his losses.”
Yup, Wit has us covered.
I can’t tell if Wit’s cannibal joke is a real anecdote or not. I think it is, and I want to know what planet it was on...so that I can never go there.
Wit being surprised by Dalinar’s idea is unexpected. I wouldn’t have thought him one to overlook audacious solutions, or things that require realmatic understanding. He’s been counseling with Jasnah, and I want to see what their plans were before this idea superceded them.
Jasnah thinks Dalinar’s penchant for tyranny is quaintly charming, as does Wit. “Endearing despot” indeed. At least she understands the direction that things appear to be going in the world. I wonder what her opinions are on the merits of alternate governmental systems, as she’s obviously studied such things.
I wonder whether Wit has told Jasnah about his cryptic? He has a lot of secrets I doubt he’d share, but he also appears to be more open with her than most others. Is his status as Radiant one of those?
Also, the idea of Wit staying behind at the tower… Would his bond to the cryptic open him to harm/suppression by the tower, or would his other sources of investiture protect him? I suspect the latter, but can’t rule out the former.
Side note for swears: “Kelek help him.” We’ve seen this construction before, but not with Kelek, I believe. Might need to double check. Could be worth looking at the context later to see if there’s a reason different heralds are invoked in different situations or by different characters. For reference, this one was a Dalinar internal thought, asking for help with a specific need for patience/longsuffering.
Oh, more intrigue from the highprinces. This should be fun.
Well, at least Dalinar is taking steps to surveil Urithiru and get the clues he needs.
Hm, looks like Jasnah is trying to provoke a response to the way she’s flouting Alethi gender roles. Not sure why this is the chosen venue for that, yet.
Aha. I love that we get to see the Queen’s Wit in action according to the role they supposedly fill in Alethi society. In the past it’s all been informal insults and rumor mongering, but it’s very cool to have Jasnah explicitly defer to Wit so as not to lower herself (and to preempt Dalinar from doing something energetic, perpetuating the martial society she’s trying to curb).
It’s more than that. Jasnah demanding a harsher insult repeatedly is a very foreign dynamic, and I love it. I do have to say, though, that having Hoid in the role of Wit takes a lot of the sting out of the “anyone can kill the Wit” tradition. I honestly don’t remember what the intended consequence to that was, though. Might have to go back to Way of Kings to take a look.
Oh, Dalinar just reminded us: exile and forfeiture of title. Yeah, Ruthar’s an idiot. I have to say I’m shocked to see Dalinar step in as the mediator here, and moreso that he would outright call attention to Wit’s esoteric abilities/durability.
Oh, I can see where this is going. Pretty easy to guess who Wit’s champion will be. Ruthar vs Jasnah sword fight is only going to be disappointing for how short it will be.
Huh. It was indeed short, but not in the way I expected. I wasn’t thinking Jasnah would be less skilled, or that Ruthar would back out, or that Renarin would be called to heal him.
Huh. She’d already accomplished the coup (if that’s even the right term for this) and the “duel” was just a way to formalize it and cow the man.
Wait, you can’t taunt us with another Renarin vision and then say “we’ll deal with it later,” that’s simply not allowed! Renarin continues to be criminally underrepresented in this story, and that needs to start changing soon. We need Ren! We need Glys! We need Teravangian to start sharing the news about Odium’s blindspot!
Oh, look at that. Dalinar is already thinking about how to create a similar trap for Odium. “What on all of Roshar could a god possibly fear or hate so much” that they could use as bait, indeed? Certainly not the enigma serving as Queen’s Wit.
Honestly, though I’m a little confused about why Dalinar finds this intrigue so distasteful. He prefers the direct approach to manipulating people, sure, but he also has a pretty solid history of seizing and consolidating power by whatever strategy suits him, and of picking and choosing which traditions to grant weight. This production doesn’t seem like it should be that much of a stretch for him.