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Chapter 111

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

Chapter 111 (Unchained)
Title: Probably most intended as a reference to the Sibling, but I imagine it will be a broadly applicable theme.
Icons: Quartet of Chach, Ishar, Palah, and Jez. Hard to speculate for Chach and Palah.
Epigraph:

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“And so I am not at all dissatisfied with recent events.”

How recent are we talking, here? I assume this is post-epilogue material, and El is aware that Urithiru was retaken and the Sibling revived. He really doesn’t think it matters, does he. I guess it’s a positive thing for him, since humans are resisting annihilation, and he was already arguing against exterminating the race. He doesn’t think there’s any chance at all that humans will come out the victors, though.
***
Wait, before we get into this, does Navani’s revival of the Sibling and apparent healing of that whole Unmaking business mean that the tower’s suppression can immediately revert to blocking Void-powered abilities? That would make a dramatic and instant difference in the balance of power here. I almost hope that’s not the case, since it feels sort of like the frequently used “shoot the mothership to deactivate everything” trope in movies that often comes off as a cheap victory.

Anyway, on to Dalinar, who is our first PoV.
Oh. It was Dalinar who accepted Kaladin’s oath. I had that totally wrong. Makes sense, though. Bondsmith power!

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“God Beyond bless it to be enough.”

New swear construction for the list. Thanks, Dalinar!

Dalinar immediately recognizes Ishar through their Connection. That’s the bondsmith’s domain, so it makes sense, but I also wonder if it’s partly to do with the way Ishar founded the nahel system. It’s more than any of the other Radiant orders have recognized of their own patron heralds. 

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Shalash presented Ishar as a confident, eager man. Energetic, more a battlefield commander than a wise old scholar. He was the man who had discovered how to travel between worlds, leading humans to Roshar in the first place.

Well, that’s a bit of an info drop. That’s not how imagined Ishar either, mostly going by the closed-eyed icon, but that’s neither here nor there. He was the one who saved humanity from Ashyn by discovering the path through Shadesmar. That’s a remarkable achievement, and it means that events happened very rapidly on early Roshar for him to have become a member of the oathpact. How swiftly did it become necessary to lock away Odium and his Fused?

Ishar thinks he’s Tanavast, and that he’s the one meant to fight Odium’s champion? That’s more delusional than I was expecting.

Apparently he is “Herald of Heralds, sole bearer of the Oathpact.” Not only that, he’s going to absorb Odium’s power and become reborn into a new incarnation of Adonalsium. I’m not going to say that he’s harmless, since he obviously has plenty of power and ability, but I will say that recruiting this guy sounds dodgy.

Ishar reclaimed his own blade, and apparently it was the one that Szeth’s dad was entrusted. I’m not convinced that Ishar would need to do anything at all to Szeth’s dad in order to get the blade back, since I doubt it was actually unbound from him in the first place. But the Ghostbloods lost track of some honorblades and their wielders, so something might be up.

***
The cremling is following their group. I guess we’ll find out if it’s actually possessed by a voidspren rather than being part of a sleepless. However, Timbre taking a chasmfiend taxi to reach Eshonai in the flashbacks gives some credence to the idea that the voidspren really are hiding in these cremlings.

The Rhythm of Executions. Why do they even have that rhythm?

Rlain asks for a spren. Timbre says he’s “already spoken for.”
 

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Keep fighting. Salvation will be, Rlain, listener. Bridger of Minds. I have been sent to you by my mother, at the request of Renarin, Son of Thorns. I have watched you and seen your worthiness. 
Speak the Words, and do not despair.

Okay, there’s quite a bit to unpack here. Yes, he gets one of Sja-Anat’s children. I was hoping for Unmade Sibling, but I guess we’ll go with semi-Unmade nahel spren from another order instead. I do still like his association with Renarin here, and bonding one of Sja-Anat’s children fits.


The titles are interesting. Son of Thorns I like because it acknowledges both Dalinar the Blackthorn but also Renarin’s mother. (Whether that refers to Evi or Navani or both, I’m not sure. Probably Navani due to recent events, but who knows?) As for Bridger of Minds, that’s a fascinating one because until the recent alliance of convenience against the Pursuer, Rlain really didn’t do much to act as a bridge, being too much an outcast of both worlds. That title also suggests a role in connecting people or in pursuit of knowledge, which brings us to the last point:


The spren’s speaking patterns are reminiscent of Blended and Ivory, suggesting that prior to their corruption by Sja-Anat they were an Inkspren. That’s certainly not conclusive, and I could be wrong entirely. Current guess, though, is that Rlain will be a weird Elsecaller in the same way that Renarin is a weird Truthwatcher.

***
There’s a new word. “Skepping” is the act of quickly dismissing and resummoning the blade so that it passes through blocks. 
Whatever else Ishar has lost, his fighting ability is still top notch.

Ishar was average among the Heralds, Taln was the best. 
Ah, the Stormfather’s warning is important. WIth his honorblade, Ishar is “a bondsmith unchained” by the rules of the nahel system he instated.

The perpendicularity brings Ishar to his senses…almost. But no, the conclusion must be that Odium has corrupted the Stormfather.

He’s trying to steal the bond to the Stormfather, and Dalinar’s status as someone opposed to Odium? That can’t be good.

It almost works, except that Szeth chops through the theft with Nightblood. Holding Nightblood drawn in the middle of a perpendicularity has got to be making sword-nimi really happy right now.

Ishar went to the Shin and revealed himself in order to get his Honorblade back. What did that do to Stone Shamanism to have a herald tell them the conflict wasn’t over? 

Szeth doesn’t believe it, and Ishar elaborates:
 

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Your father was barely a man when I found him. The Shin have accepted the Unmade. Tried to make gods of them. I saved them. And your father did give me this Blade. He thanked me for letting him die.

All of that is concerning. Given Ishar’s demonstrated grasp on reality I am not sure how much truth is in those statements, but it’s certain that Shinovar is worse off now than it was before Ishar and the Unmade visited.

Nightblood chipped the Honorblade. That’s not surprising to those who know where it came from, but it’s a big shock to everyone here.

Ishar has a brief moment of lucidity when Navani says her vow. He knows he’s insane, but he wants everyone to meet him in Shinovar to restore the Oathpact, provided they can restore his sanity at the time by having a whole bunch of Radiants swear their next oath in sequence to grant him lucidity.

***
Okay, so the Voidlight is still present in the Sibling as a corrupting influence, but the Sibling’s nature and use of Towerlight has not changed. Navani is going to try to purge the Voidlight I guess?

Okay, she can do it but she needs her scholars and the anti-Voidlight plate to make it work, and all of this will take time. Despite being driven back, Moash is not a solved problem, yet, that she can spend her focus elsewhere.

Hm. I guess Moash fled and she really can focus on this problem now.

***

Hm. So Ishar’s trick was to make their bodies and the ground Connected to the point that all their investiture flowed out to try to fill the ground. That’s a scarily effective ability.
Apparently Ishar couldn’t do that before, because even without the restrictions of the nahel system he was limited by Tanavast. So how limited is Dalinar at this point? What enforces his restrictions?

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He [Ishar] cannot bear sole blame for the destruction of Ashyn, humankind’s first home, but he was the one Odium first tricked into experimenting with the Surges.

Well, that’s a whole can of worms we didn’t know about the Ashyn situation. Not only is Ishar the one who discovered how to escape, he seems to have precipitated the crisis that forced an escape to be necessary. It also appears that Odium was confined to Ashyn somehow, and trickery was necessary for him to escape to the wider Roshar system.
This explains why the Oathpact was immediately recognized as a necessity. The survivors from Ashyn knew that Odium would cause the same destruction to Roshar if he wasn’t checked. So somehow they devised a way to consign him to Braize. I’m eager to learn the story of how that happened.

Szeth is ready to graduate from following the Blackthorn to following his quest to the Shin. Set up for Stones Unhallowed? Storms, yes!

Yes, sword-nimi, you destroyed a lot of evil this time. 

What does Szeth have to do before he leaves? Is it something to do with Taravangian, because otherwise the meeting with Odium may not be engineered appropriately. What was it Ishar knew that unnerved Szeth? The thing about the Unmade? Something about his father? I don’t know.

Dalinar: “I don’t know if Szeth or Nightblood are more insane.”
Stormfather: “Neither do I, but Ishar’s got them both beat.”

I wonder what they’ll actually get from Ishar. I don’t know that much of his writings will be useful or relevant or accurate, even if he did leave things behind.
***
Adin again. I don’t know how I feel about returning to an interlude character in the main text (excepting the main throughline interlude, which in this case is Taravangian). The only reason to do so now would be to show off that Adin is actually getting a spren, or to do something with a commoner’s view. The former doesn’t feel worth taking space here, and the latter could be accomplished with someone else. This undercuts the use of the interlude chapters. Either take out Adin’s interlude, possibly pushing it into the main text (my preference) or skip this PoV now. 

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War was a masculine art, but when you started attacking women, you’d stopped engaging in war. You deserved anything that happened to you after that point.

A bright spot in Alethi sexism, and a reminder that as brutal as their culture is, war is formalized and has certain rules around it.

So can Kaladin lend his plate to other people? That’s neat and unexpected. I’m going to guess that other orders can’t do this. But see, this would have been a much cooler thing if it were the Moment of Awesome for Kaladin, separate from our first sight of living Plate. We definitely should have had the introduction to that from Jasnah first so that this could be special. 

And yes, this PoV could have been anyone else rather than Adin. My vote would be Dabbid or Leshwi, personally. The superficial connection to Tien, where Kaladin gets to save a kid instead of watching them die, is only there in subtle reference and could be there just as much from another PoV.

Huh. It didn’t take Navani long at all to purge the Voidlight and get everything functional. The Tower is alive again, and the suppression is working correctly. 

Ewww. Suppressing the Deepest Ones while they are halfway merged with the floor does not go well for them.

I’m hopeful that the Sibling can be more selective in the future and allow allied Fused to function in their halls. I’m not confident, though. What will happen with Leshwi? Best guess right now is that she and her entourage will ferry Venli and Rlain to the Shattered Plains to find the lost listeners.

***
Ishar is doing autopsies/dissections? Are they … not singers, it appears. Apparently humans, but possibly Siah if their bodies become depigmented upon death? No, it is pale blue so probably a Siah Aimian. Or maybe just a Natan like Dalinar thinks.

This other body, though, is weird. Should I recognize this? Oh, wait. Is it a Cryptic brought into the physical? It totally is. That description matches and is disturbing, but it is definitely what we’re seeing. 

Yes, Stormfather agrees. It’s a Cryptic. And there are more. Cultivationspren… The first one must have been an honorspren, with the bluish skin. 

Yes, Stormfather agrees again. Not only that, he recognizes the body as an honorspren he knows.

Storms. I thought the reveal at the end of Way of Kings, with Taravangian exsanguinating people to harvest death rattles, was bad. This has the same shock value and greater atrocity. Ishar’s madness is worse than anyone expected.

***
Moash’s Honorblade-granted abilities are unhindered, but his connection to Odium is suppressed by the revived tower, and, as anticipated, his passion comes roaring back. His pain and guilt return with a vengeance. 

What did he run into and land on? The description makes me think he smacked into the cliff and then fell into a snowbank, but it could be something magical rather than physical. 
Why did the Towerlight burn him? Was he too steeped in Voidlight to survive? That’s bizarre, since nothing like that happened to the Fused.

He gets rescued by Heavenly Ones, and begins to heal. Odium steals his guilt and pain again, and his body mends…except for his eyes. He’s permanently blind. What does that mean for him going forward?
 


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