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Chapter 14

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Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers.

Chapter 14 (Voice)
Title: I got nothing. My pie-in-the-sky hope is that this is about Maya finally having something to say, but there’s no possible way that happens until something far more dramatic on Adolin’s end plays out. It’s not Part 1 material. I guess it might be more Venli stuff? Just spitballing here.

Epigraph: Come on, Navani. Don’t just give us inanities and then drop that logicspren are important without actually saying something about them. I’m calling this a wasted epigraph. (I mean, technically you did tell us definitively that stormlight isn’t necessary for keeping the spren trapped, but we could have concluded that pretty easily from what we’ve seen of fabrials so far.)
I’m going to make the baseless prediction that logicspren allow you to insert Boolean operators into fabrial functions, leading to much more sophisticated devices. (No, I don’t think this is real, I’m just making a long-odds bet for the potential “called it!” bragging rights.)

Huh, looks like it was Venli after all. Is Voice from the title going to be a reference to the rhythms or to Timbre?

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 a grand construction that used many of the original foundations and walls, but expanded upon them in a unique design. Instead of boxy lines, it contained grand arcs, with large ridges sweeping down from the sides like curved blades. These multiplied toward the top, the ridges rising to points.
The result was a curved conical shape, the peak resembling a crown.

I think I need some art of this to really envision it. Isaac, where are you? (Actually, what will be his singer appellation? The Alethi artwork is attributed to Isasik Shulin. What would a singer version of his name look like?)

Also, how are they making all of these major changes in construction? I understand that they have the labor to get it done, but with highstorms to stress test their work, the demands on engineering know-how are way above what I would expect the humans to be able to accomplish, much less the recently-awakened singers.

Oh, duh. Voice is Venli’s title and job description, speaking for Leshwi. I totally forgot that. Need to keep up with the chapter releases better. 

More to the point, the idea of factions within the Fused that are divided enough to generate this kind of  a reaction from Leshwi is fascinating. I had expected a diversity in approach and temperament, even individual morality and intent, but not in goals and identity to the point that a group’s awakening would “terrify” Leshwi. This meeting is going to be interesting, and I can already guess that Venli is going to be digging herself in and out of holes by trying to guess what Leshwi wants her to say. Politicking-ho!

Oh, wait. Looks like it’s the soul-casting voidbinders doing all the work on remodeling the palace. “Fannahn-im”= Those Ones of Alteration. (a.k.a. “Altered Ones” so they may also succumb to side effects of frequent soul casting, similar to humans using fabrials.) I suppose I’ll accept “immortal souls doing magic” as sufficient explanation for how it’s getting done without falling over.

Venli: “Can I become a Fused, maybe? That sounds cool.”
Timbre: “Don’t be an idiot!”
Venli: “Oh, right, Odium is in charge of that circus.”
Timbre: “And…”
Venli: “And most of them are completely insane. Okay, so it’s not a great idea.”

The council of Nine Fused, soulcast in place in the center of the palace, is a disturbing, terrifying, and fascinating addition to this little debate-by-proxy style of government that is being developed. I can already tell I’m going to love the machinations and posturing.

Fused can abandon their host bodies at will? So much for half the ideas I’d come up with for human tactics.

The song is blocked from Leshwi’s interpretation by Odium. That’s not good.
I do wonder, now--are all of the Voices in envoyform? 

Singer name for Alethkar is Avendla, which translates to “Land of the Second Advance.” Does that mean it was the second place where humans expanded out of Shinovar? Or is it something unrelated to that conflict, more internal to the listener/sleepless/(other Aimian) history prior to the incursion from Ashynn?

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“They have made great strides in understanding the prisons of spren, but they know little about the bond, the power of oaths, the nature of the tones of the world.

I’m especially curious about how the “tones of the world” (which I interpret to mean the rhythms) play into the oaths and bond. Obviously they’re just teasing us with that information this early in the book. I’m hopeful that we may get more in the course of the book titled “Rhythm of War,” though.

The teleporters are called “Nex-im,” “Those Ones of Husks,” which is very evocative of the shells they leave behind when they jump to new locations. Good to hear that there aren’t a ton that exist, since teleporters are always going to be hard to deal with. I’m curious why they are referred to as the ninth brand of fused. Is that simply because of the order they awakened? Or is there a hierarchy of some sort? It can’t be a realmatic sequence, as moving around the double eye for Radiants, because there’s a gap and the Nex-im shouldn’t be anywhere near that terminus.

Ooo. Lezian is obviously lying, but he’s saying that Fourth Ideal Radiants won’t be susceptible to stormlight suppression? That’s very cool, and implies very interesting things about the next step of the bond. Does it take them a step closer to Heraldry/Fused mechanics being sustained by the shard directly rather than needing everything to come from environmental sources?

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“I was killed. The Windrunner is more dangerous than any of us were led to believe. I must pursue him now, as is my right by tradition. I will leave immediately.”

Lezian trying to shoulder in on Leshwi’s rivalry with Kaladin is not going to end well for him. It will take a while, but Leshwi isn’t going to be happy sharing that relationship.

What kind of a rhythm is Withdrawal? That is not a readily interpretable emotion for me.

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Any time he is killed, Lezian ignores everything else until he has claimed the life of the one who killed him. Six thousand years, and he’s never failed.

Well, we know what Kaladin is going to be up to for a few chapters.

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“We were only locked on Braize once the Heralds died and joined us there. Until then, there would often be years or even decades of rebirths during a Return—during which time the Heralds would train humans to fight. Once they were confident that humans could continue to stand, the Heralds would give themselves to Braize to activate the Isolation. The Heralds would need to die for this to work.”

Crucial information! Thank you, Leshwi. I feel like we know a lot more about how Desolations worked now.
Most significantly, there was no expectation for the Heralds to immediately return to Braize back at Aharietam. They could have stayed for years before going back. It’s notable that the decision was made as early on in the process as it was, rather than have them waffle about it and discuss for a long time before deciding, “You know what, it’s nice here and things are going well. Let’s stick around.”

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“Lezian has endangered our plans, undermined strategies, and ruined more missions than I can count. And he’s growing worse. As all of us are, I suppose…”

Nice parallel to the Heralds talking about getting worse in their vices and obsessions. Perhaps manias is a better word.

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“I speak my Passion,” she said. “The man who killed the Pursuer has killed me. I claim prior privilege to the life of Stormblessed. The Pursuer must, in this case, wait upon my pleasure.”

Those are very formal words for calling dibs on your boy toy, Leshwi. I like that this is happening now. Best frenemy ship! (Should it be Kalashwi? Leshwadin? Mile High Club?)

Well, Raboniel has an ambitious plan. And, knowing the way Sanderson plots things, I’m expecting it to succeed at least partially, and have Urithiru cease to be friendly territory to the humans. It seems way too early in the series to be denying them that fortress.

It also is interesting that the Sibling is called “essentially a deadeye.” To be fair, any mention of the Sibling is going to be interesting because we have no actual information, but still.

“Lady of Pains” is a very disturbing title for a supposed scholar. I’m not sure that “Lady of Wishes” is actually an improvement, with that context.

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“If you forget why you are fighting, then victory itself becomes the goal. The longer we fight, the more detached we become. Both from our own minds, and from our original Passions.” She hummed softly to Abashment.

This speech right here is very… “humanizing” is obviously the wrong word, given that this race is at war with the humans, but take it in the literary sense rather than the literal. The rhythm at the end where Leshwi is self aware is the real clincher that keeps this from feeling didactic.

Why is Vyre in this meeting? What the heck? (Though I do like him sticking up for Kal, in his very very twisted way.) Looks like Venli and others are also confused about why he’s allowed in, but the higher ups are in agreement about how to use him--or at least under orders from Odium.

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“One way or another,” Raboniel said, “this is the final Return. The humans will soon discover how to imprison us. If not, well, the best of us who remain are but a few steps from madness. We must find a solution to this war.”

A great framing of the stakes for the Fused, though not for the listeners/singers as a whole. Naturally, Raboniel doesn’t recognize that their own flawed immortality might be the piece that needs to give.

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“I have gathered a staff of faithful and highly capable singers. I would lend them to you for this enterprise, and would attend you myself, as an apology for my objections.”

“You do always have the best servants,” Raboniel said, eyeing Venli. “This one is the Last Listener, is she not? Once Voice of Odium himself? How did you collect her?”

 

Nice! This is the scheming and posturing I was looking forward to. Leshwi plays a longer/deeper game than I was expecting. I’m really excited to see how this “alliance” plays out.

I’ll note that I was expecting a very different style of meeting, with the Voices more prominent than simply announcing their masters. This version is less intriguing and entertaining, but it does make a lot more sense and also forces any ambitious singers into opposition with the Fused rather than trying to control things in their names / under their noses.

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This land is for the ordinary singers to inherit. I will not leave it desolate simply to prove we can murder better than our enemies.

Awww! Best boss ever! Leshwi is definitely set up as the most sympathetic and promising of the Fused forces. I’m going to be heartbroken if/when Venli approaching her backfires and forces them into opposition with each other.

Oh, I spoke too soon. Venli brought it up right now! And Leshwi supports her! Hooray! Definitely best boss.

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Timbre pulsed decisively. She had a point. Perhaps the humans could train Venli. Maybe she could capture one of their Radiants and make them teach her.

And here comes the comedy of errors part of the book. No, Venli, that is not how you make good plans. But I sure am going to enjoy watching you try this! Kidnapping a Willshaper (i.e. the order most focused on freedom, wanderlust, and bucking authority) can have no downsides whatsoever.
 


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