Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers.
Chapter 78 (The High Judge)
Epigraph: At least we know the mysterious person is writing, now. A letter or a journal, or something physical that they are recording themselves.
Icons: This may be the first instance in four books so far of a chapter headed by 3 different icons rather than 1, 2, or 4. To my knowledge, if one of the icons was mirrored, the other always would be as well. Nale (judgement/justice) on one side faces off with Kalak (Resolute) on the other, with an instance of Battar (wisdom) accompanying each. Remarkably appropriate for a trial if that’s what’s happening now, but striking that this chapter would be the one that deviates from the previously established pattern.
Oh. That actually makes a ton of sense. The wrongness about the other cryptic was that it was a deadeye. Just gonna say that the prior description was totally not clear on that point. Without this clarification I wouldn’t have clued in for quite a while.
So (if I’m not totally misinterpreting) Shallan did in fact kill her first bonded spren, but she was good enough at lying that the cryptics doubled down and tried again with the same person. No wonder Pattern expected her to kill him, he had a much more recent precedent to look at than just the Recreance.
If that’s true there are still questions, among which one of the most insistent at the moment is what did Veil know about this that Radiant did not? Also, why would Radiant be the one most likely to slip out if she thinks about the deadeye cryptic?
Pattern got a copy to the trunk’s key from Wit? What the heck? How was this a good plan, and what else was riding on it?
Oh, Wit has a second Radio that Pattern can tune in to communicate. Not sure why he was contacting Mraize with it at the same time, though. Presumably that will come out soon since we’re in “clear the air” mode.
Oh, I see. The sleepless that was spying on Wit overheard Pattern’s heart to heart about what’s going on with Shallan. This has several important consequences. First and foremost, Mraize is fully informed not only about events in Shadesmar but also about Shallan’s fragile mental state. This is, shall we say, not ideal.
Second, it shows just how capable the Ghostbloods are to be able to work around Wit, obviously knowing who he is, and apply the knowledge they gain there.
Your trust kills, Shallan says Formless (but not formless, b/c Shallan knows exactly who it is).
This feels like it should be a big clue to what happened with her mother, but the more I think about it the less specific it feels. There is a lot of ambiguity still tucked away in these words and it’s not really helpful in narrowing down what happened. At the same time, it definitely illuminates her mentality, so it’s doing the important job in the story.
Oh, I totally forgot about Ialai’s death being unsolved. Hm. Lots of possibilities, none of which incriminate Pattern, but it’s a good point that this doesn’t end the mysteries.
The phone call took a long time to connect, and she’s calling at a time she didn’t plan to. It’s unexpected, and Mraize is otherwise occupied?
Azure left Lasting Integrity 5 months ago, so presumably she arrived with the other Nalthians…oh wait, no. There was a year time skip between books. So she came to visit her friends, then left again? When did the tower’s xenophobic policy get instated? Because she shouldn’t have been able to enter after having gone to Alethkar etc.
The other honorblades have apparently left Shinovar, and significantly have escaped the Ghostblood’s tracking. I’m guessing this means that Szeth’s family are out and about, ready to meet our protagonists at the drop of a hat.
Oh, aside from all that, I wonder what “in the wind” means as a Rosharan expression? I was going to say that the bearers of the honorblades were in the wind (i.e. location unknown, can’t be accounted for) but I’m sure that idiom would not translate directly.
“Perhaps you’ll be surprised at what I already know.” The trouble wasn’t getting answers. It was finding the presence of mind to accept them.
I like this reframing of Shallan’s detective mission.
Not sure who the high judge could be if it’s not an honorspren. We know they don’t get along with the highspren, so the obvious choice for a judge is out the window. Would it be a unique spren ala Cusicesh? That doesn’t jive with the wording that they are rare (implying more than one).
“A building on the northern plane of Lasting Integrity”
I love that this is a valid way of giving directions.
Honorspren like owning books but don’t much care to read them. Appropriate to their name, inkspren are much more in line with scholarship.
Of course Adolin’s mental reference for oil sheen is “the colors on a freshly oiled sword.” Why would I expect anything else? Also, Blended is a cool name for a spren.
“[Honorspren law] seems designed to be frustrating.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “This is unsurprising, as it was devised by a stuck-up bunch of prim, overly polished buttons.”
I love it. I hope Adolin is taking notes for the next time he interacts with the bridgeboy.
Oh, it’s even better: that’s the words of the official diplomat to the honorspren. Got to admire the tact.
Blended would kill anyone trying to bond with her. That’s slightly surprising. I assumed a bond couldn’t begin without the spren’s willing volition. Also, I wouldn’t have thought a spren fully in the cognitive realm would have the ability to kill a human. I want to know more about Blended’s contingencies.
I’m glad that Blended is taking her duties as counsel/attorney seriously despite her antipathy toward Adolin and her thoughts on the merits of his case. She’s doing a good job and giving sound advice.
I think it’s overstating things to say that Adolin’s swordsmanship is obsolete in the face of Radiants. Yes, the individuals that turn a battle are now fighting at a much higher level, but we saw with Jasnah in the Emul campaign that the army is still entirely necessary. Adolin may no longer be the pinnacle of achievement, but he is still very useful and has an important role to play even if he confined himself to martial prowess. Not that I’d expect the son of the Blackthorn to see anything less than supremacy as acceptable or worthwhile. Hopefully his wife can help him with that. Oh, wait. Nope, she’s indisposed. Sorry Adolin. You’ll have to discover your self worth on your own.
Oh, Blended makes a good point. Spren are inherently a tautology. Honorspren are honorable, so whatever they do is necessarily in accordance with their honor. You cannot catch them in a contradiction because the fact that it is them making the decision means they are in the right. Without a god or the weight of human civilization behind you, you cannot enforce a version of their ideal upon them no matter how objective/subjective. That puts him in a difficult position.
It’s looking like Maya is going to be a central feature of his defense, even though he’s not planning on that. I can’t decide if this is actual foreshadowing or intentional red herrings, though.
Hm. The geometry of Lasting Integrity is not an active effect, but rather a passive consequence of the honorspren’s longterm presence. Is this specific alteration (i.e. gravity malleability) limited to honorspren? Would a different type of spren congregating produce a different alteration? Or could the tower have chosen something else?
The High Judge is human? That’s unexpected. If it’s Restares then things have just become ridiculously entangled.
Ah, yup. Veil ID’d Restares as the judge. This is going to be awesome.
It’s Kalak. The one who comes across as bumbling in the prologue. Why the heck is he supporting the Sons of Honor? Is it his herald madness or something else? Is he actually supporting them? His name has been invoked in a number of places, but we really know nothing about him.
More to the point, why does Mraize want to kill him specifically? Out of the heralds that he could target, what makes Kalak a threat to the Ghostbloods or their plans? As the patron of the Willshapers, he… I don’t know. Not really much to go on yet.
It does make sense why Mraize didn’t think Restares would bond a spren.
Why the chapter icons, though? Wouldn't Kalak have featured more prominently than one of three in the chapter he appears? Why was Battar the one who was doubled?