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  1. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 40 (In For All) Epigraph: So (in Sazed’s opinion) it sounds like we have an Ati situation here, where Rayse is merely a personality overlay on the destructive will of Odium. “It’s been thousands of years. Rayse isn’t going to stick to his personal goals that long. He’s been subsumed.” I am really worried about how many of the soldiers are going to die now that Navani gave them orders and there’s no functional mechanism to relay a surrender/retreat/stand down order. The little crisis of “what title do I give someone who got promoted despite being darkeyed” is fun. Such a tiny thing to derail you during your pep talk about fighting an invading force. “Halls above” --I’m pretty sure we’ve seen that formulation before, but I’m noting it just in case. Navani is getting reasonable advice from her military captains, which is encouraging. I’m glad they’re not all yes men and that they’re not all bloodthirstily stubborn. But Navani is decisive, choosing the all-in plan. “By the blood of our fathers” -- again, this is similar to one we saw in Words of Radiance, but I’m not sure it’s identical. Added to the swears list. You know, I just realized that Raboniel is the researcher. Sure she does more torture and soul extration stuff, but that’s uncomfortably close to Navani’s fabrial expertise. I am eager for (but kind of dreading) the face off between the two of them. It’s a really fitting matchup and will draw out some interesting themes. Raboniel has centuries of experience, a proven will and penchant for cruelty. She also has options of personal violence that are not open to Navani, which gives her the choice to sidestep the engineering and esotricism if it looks like she’s losing that battle. Teofil is earning his promotion here. Also, “Anyone worth his stormlight” feels awkward. Have we heard this phrase before? Oh, that’s bad news. I was expecting there to be more non-Radiant shardbearers to shore up the defenses. Turns out there was only one and he already got taken out by the invaders. “May the Almighty accept his soul to the eternal battlefield” indeed. Not that it’s a particularly comforting wish for a non-Alethi. I’m glad Nightblood isn’t an option. That would have gone poorly for everybody. Good thinking Teofil, but for those of us with metaknowledge, that’s a really, really bad plan. “A small twinkle of light, like a starspren” she says. That hits quite a bit differently after seeing the majestic creature in shadesmar. Wow, that is a very different take than any we have heard so far. It’s a clever spot for Brandon to slip it in, too, since nearly all readers will be focused on the conflict at hand. I’m no exception, and won’t spend much time theory crafting this or trying to extrapolate / reinterpret what we know of the Recreance yet. Still, this strikes me as a profoundly significant line that will give us important insight into Roshar’s history. Not gonna lie, that’s a mouthful. Still, it’s an interesting data point. The Fused don’t acknowledge the tenth surge exists, and they can’t suppress it through whatever they did with voidlight. I’m not sure how the surge stuff all works in the realmatic sense with Honor and Cultivation both contributing (and with the magic of Roshar predating the Shattering) but it’s looking more and more that the Bondsmiths command a surge uniquely associated with Honor (and perhaps uniquely antithetical to Odium). The significance of that surge still working is a bit lost on me, since even if it does govern the process of forming a nahel bond that won’t be useful at this point (unless the Sibling is immune somehow, and Navani gets to become a Bondsmith). I don’t expect that to be the way this plays out, but I’m not sure how that surge will be part of the solution.
  2. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 39 (Invasion) Is this the first chapter with dual herald icons? Jez and Vev… I don’t know what the significance should be. Epigraph: Odium is more dangerous than Rayse because it has distinct intentionality? I don’t think I’m following the reasoning even though I trust that Sazed is probably right. I like that in conjunction with Kaladin’s realization of a meaning for “strength before weakness” in the previous chapter, he’s become so used to pushing through his own mental hangups that when it’s externally imposed by the tower he does the same thing without even recognizing that it’s a different force. His natural response is just to keep going. It also makes me wonder if the form of the attack is personalized to each Radiant’s own weakness. Tefts drug use and gambling, Kaladin’s depression… Is it less a suppression of investiture than an oppression of spirit? I’ll have to wait and see. Hm, maybe not. Lashings don’t work. So even if it is partially personal, it is at least a large-scale anti-magic field. Thank you, Red. That one is going on the swear list. On earth the back side of a moon is often considered the dark side, or the unknown due to our moon being tidally locked. That’s clearly not the case for this more anthropomorphized reference. WHAT!? Navani’s pen pal is the Sibling? I am shocked. Definitely did not see that coming. Also, very convenient timing that the Sibling got taken out just before it could deliver its message. Just like the witness in a noir film or the old sheriff in a Western, there just wasn’t time to convey that crucial piece of information, and therefore we get the rest of the book. Nahel spren seem to have been banished from the tower. If that’s part of the normal protections I’m confused about how the voidspren for the stormform and Deepest Ones, along with Raboniel, managed to approach enough to access the Sibling. Shouldn’t they have been excluded, at least the Deepest Ones’ rock phasing ability? I presume that the gemhearts provide a protective barrier that preserves some of their powers, but I would have expected the direct voidbinding to be inhibited. Oh, the Full Lashing (adhesion) works, while the other (gravitation) doesn’t. This sounds suspiciously like the detection of surgebinding in Kharbranth. Why are some abilities inherently high/low bandwidth? Is there an explanation besides rule of cool? So Syl clawed her way back. It was pretty obvious already, but that basically confirms that the strength of the bond correlates with resistance to being shut down by the effect. Even squires are affected, so it’s any degree of bond that makes one susceptible. The more tightly your soul is bound to your spren, the less your bond is disrupted. I was not expecting Leshwi and company to show up yet. How will that play out, I wonder? I didn’t remember there being veins of gemstone mixed in with the rock strata. It was probably mentioned and I just missed it or thought it unimportant, but that’s awesome. Nice to see that the Sibling is accessible from throughout the tower and not only in the pillar room. I can’t wait for Navani to do a fun garnet soul-dive (or more likely some macgyver engineering) to communicate with the Sibling. Kaladin having flashbacks when narratively we expect a badass moment makes it hit all the harder. Him diagnosing himself in this detached way just drives it home. Kaladin himself expects to fight because that’s the pattern he’s learned. It takes a lot for Lirin to talk him down. I was not expecting the invasion to be so overwhelming, but (until Navani tries to save the day) it looks like Odium’s gambit worked marvelously.
  3. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 38 (Rhythm of the Terrors) Title: That can’t be good. I’m not sure whether the actual reference will be to something that the one attuning it is terrified of, or of them channeling terror against others. More importantly, I am wondering if there are Rosharan entities that have been given the title of Terrors, and how those might relate to the Unmade or other frighteningly formidable beings. Epigraph: Sazed says Hoid was right to refuse a Shard, and that the shards themselves should be more frightening than the vessels. That combines ominously with the chapter title. Huh. I was really expecting Navani’s message to have been the final warning of the guardpost we saw slaughtered at the end of the chapter, but I guess not. (Makes the “silence from the dead” title more fitting, I suppose.) But what mechanism could have caused Szeth’s sphere to explode? I’m baffled, and also concerned that they just lost their two best experts on gems, lenses, etc. That’s going to set them back. Or am I jumping to conclusions? It just says the sphere was destroyed in the explosion along with everything else in the room, not that it was the cause. Navani makes a good point. This was fabrial experimentation, sabotaged (potentially) just as the spren’s messenger was discovered. I also just had the image of the spren who is taking offense to all this as the head of Roshar’s PETA organization, advocating strenuously for fair treatment of even non-sentient spren. Navani’s argument of “they’re just animals, not people like the nahel spren” sound fairly barbaric in that light, even while I still sympathize with her position. Finally, and I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before, I suddenly wonder whether this spren communicating with Navani is one of the Enlightened of Sja-Anat. It could contribute to the divergent perspective compared to other spren, it’s altered ability to interact in the physical realm, and be involved in the chaos as Sja-Anat seeks to hide her true actions by playing both sides. ----- Two hours of running up stairs is horrifyingly exhausting. I am very glad it is Venli making that climb and not me. Gah, I didn’t think that subverting the defenses meant warping the spren at their heart. This is what we call “not good.” I’m sorry, Sibling. I hope Navani comes to rescue you. Also, until this point I’ve been considering the title of Sibling to refer to its relationship with Nightwatcher and Stormfather. The way Raboniel addresses it as Sibling makes me wonder if there is a closer kinship with the Fused and/or Unmade than I suspected before. ----- That ironic statement by Teft of “this place is dead” is a bit too on the nose for me. Syl and Adolin set up Kal with Lyn: “Storming man. Storming spren. Bless them both.” Awww. The exchange with Rlain about the apology for desecrating listener bodies is very strong characterization. He responds respectfully but not accommodatingly until Kaladin gives an actual apology rather than just hinting at the sentiment. Rlain (and Teft) calling out Kaladin for not participating in therapy himself is great.
  4. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 37 (Silence from the Dead) Title: I presume this is to do with the library in the basement? Epigraph: Hoid is more scared of Rayse than Odium, and Sazed calls him out on it. That’s interesting. Full mobility in any direction, as long as I’m getting dragged around by my hand? Yeah, I’m going to go with “nope!” Thanks, Tomor, but I’ll pass. I do look forward to seeing whatever this changes into under Navani’s guidance. Oh, she’s going to test it. Not the most dignified of activities for the Queen Mother. Bahaha! He didn’t even think of a way to change direction or descend. The only option is to turn it off and fall, or to keep going the direction the glove is facing. This is not the mobility solution you are looking for. What does that even mean? Short as in lacking? She had plenty of personality? I’m sure this seemed like a clever phrase, but it really doesn’t work for me unless there’s something idiomatic in Alethi that it’s trying to point to in another “near-miss of translation” moment...which I don’t think this is. So she caught a patsy planting the replacement spanreed, but he won’t (can’t?) talk. It’s interesting that she’s specifically choosing a Lightweaver for help due to their ability to see into Shadesmar. Why not an Elsecaller, who are explicitly better at that? Are there fewer of them around? Did I misinterpret the assertion that interaction with Shadesmar is the Elsecaller’s specialty? Oh no. Is it Dabbid? Dang it, this spren just got on my nerves. Don’t bring Dabbid into this. I’m also concerned about how Kal will react and interfere or “help” Navani’s investigation. Um, explosion? What kind of things do they have that can explode lethally? ___ Ah, Venli’s turn. Good line. Evocative but also a distillation of the personality behind it. I like the reminder that the passion and power of Odium remains tempting despite her understanding of the situation. Huh. Aluminum/ralkalest lining on the passage into the mountain. I wouldn’t think that could work with how much physical power the Fused have on top of their magical abilities, but obviously it’s an integral part of the defense. I’d forgotten that Raboniel was the Lady of Wishes. Eee. I love that she’s been shown to be competent and savvy, along with hints of her apparently deserved reputation. Oh, there’s a Masked One along in the party. Spy games are go. The Deepest Ones strip before passing through the rock. That’s pretty good evidence that they can’t take anything with them, which is an interesting limitation that I presume is not shared by the Willshapers and Stonewards when they perform similar feats… but obviously I don’t know since we haven’t seen those orders do practically anything yet. ___ Kaladin’s turn. I wasn’t expecting a fast-POV-switching climax already. And Oroden is right there. Potential tender moment turned into an implicit threat with the suspense of the ongoing attack. Lirin uses stormwarden style glyphs for his medical charts. I wonder if there’s any cross-communication for that type of usage, or if they arrived at things independently? Yup, it was Dabbid. Things are really turning chaotic now. I do like that Kaladin is trying to establish decades worth of research into mental health in a matter of weeks. Coming from a modern society it’s easy for me to say, “Oh, good they’re trying pet therapy. Of course that would work.” But then I remember that a month ago they took the first one out of solitary confinement and I’m amazed at the pace of discovery. Good going, Kal! ___ I don’t remember what Raboniel’s order was, but she sure seems like a Dustbringer/Releaser to me. Whaaat!? This is my new prized addition to the list of swears. The Fused are old enough to still swear by Adonalsium? And in informal/shortened form? I need to know more. Suddenly I don’t want the Fused to all pass Beyond. We need interviews first! That’s a mood right there. Well, at least Venli realizes she’s not going to make easy allies on this trip. It’s going to take hours for them to ascend the tower? That’s a reasonable amount of time for the humans to mount a defense, assuming the message that got through was the one we just saw violently cut short. Ah, the title is talking about the worry of missed check-ins by patrols. A fittingly poetic way to put it.
  5. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 36 (The Price of Honor) Title: Adolin’s wound is gonna be their ticket into negotiations with the honorspren. Epigraph: Sazed seems to be responding as though Hoid’s advice in the previous epigraph were personally directed, which makes it more interesting. Shockspren clustering around Notum--we now have the confirmation that was lacking last chapter. Yes, emotion spren are drawn to other spren, not just to humans/listeners/(sleepless, etc?) Hmm. The title could also be suggesting that leaving Notum behind might be the price of entering Lasting Integrity. I don’t think that will be the case, but that’s the foreshadowing vibe I pick up from these few paragraphs. Not sure I can call it a red herring since it’s not blatant enough. Glad that the Three are now in agreement about Beryl’s innocence. I was worried that plot point would drag on for too long and leave Shallan looking foolish. Godeke being a good Edgedancer, and nobody else appreciates it. I suppose that makes sense. As much as I love the Edgedancer ideals, I admire them primarily at a significant remove, in the context of fiction. Being able to actually listen, remember, and have compassion for your very real enemies is a lot more difficult than it is to like reading about someone who does those things. I’m really not sure what Stump is thinking about all of this. I doubt we’ll get an interlude since she’s so close to the main cast, but I hope that we at least get some more screen time from her soon. She’s a great character, and her reactions are different than the rest of the expedition’s. Pattern? Really? It’s ludicrous, and a bit too reminiscent of OreSeur. On the other hand, Pattern has been acting strangely in a few places. I predict that he has in fact been “spying” for Mraize for the express purpose of breaking down Shallan’s barriers and her unwillingness to rely on Adolin or others. He’s trying to push her to acknowledge her truth, and doing it in a terribly reckless way. He already said that he’d be willing to die for the knowledge he is gaining from their partnership, and that he actually expects it to happen. Moreover, he expects it to be sooner rather than later, if I remember the tone of that conversation correctly. Oh, Pattern. What are you doing? I do think it’s dumb that Pattern would be caught by any of Veil’s tricks, considering that he recognized the cypher even without being able to read. Any pattern with intentionality to it seems to stick out to him, so the orientation of the cube and the dust coating should not be things he would miss. Oh, her suspicions about Pattern being a spy all the way back when her dad was working with the Ghostbloods? That he subtly put her in contact with Mraize and guided her other interactions? That’s the kind of “oh rust” moment I love. I wish I were more convinced of it, but I still enjoy watching Shallan freak out about it. The best part is that it works perfectly into my prediction of Pattern’s motives, because trying to uncover what happened between Shallan and Pattern back in the day might just be the kick Shallan needs to stop suppressing everything and actually go seek out her truths. Oh dear, the timeline doesn’t make sense? I thought we’d pieced things together pretty well, and I'm happy to have holes and misunderstandings filled in, but if we have to start doubting what we’ve seen I’m going to be a bit upset. Whose testimony are we throwing out? “Imperious” that’s the word I was looking for in the honorspren sketchbook page. Thanks, Shallan. Yeah, Pattern is terrible at this lying business. I don’t know how long ago he had this idea, but he sure isn’t the smooth operator that would be able to do this for a decade. Sorry, Shallan, your trauma is justified but unnecessary. Just kick him in the equations and tell him to cut it out. Interpreting the letters as a contract, that by reading them they imply a possible accommodation, is a very cool argument. I would love to see Jasnah respond to that, but she’d do so unsuccessfully. Good thing Adolin is here. Oh, yeah, Adolin rocks. “I’ve come to stand trial. Reject that!” Honestly, though, I think he had too much fun sitting in prison and texting Shallan a couple books ago. I’m not sure this version will be quite as fun without his bro Kaladin nearby (among other amenities). Guess I was wrong about the wound mattering, though. I’m really not sure who I want to have as the second person to accompany Adolin into Lasting Integrity. Stump? Beryl? Oh, are they counting spren too? That would stink to just be Shallan and Pattern. Good thing they don’t know about Veil and Radiant, or Shallan wouldn’t be able to come. Party limits are only enforceable if you can see the people. Pretty clear, though, that the best defence (and his key to getting back out of Lasting Integrity) is going to be Maya. Reviving her right in the middle of the Sanderlanche, to tie off both the character work and like five plot hooks all at once is something that I can totally see happening. I wasn’t really expecting her revival to be in this book until now, but there’s been so much emphasis on it and now it’s almost the only path forward for Adolin and friends. I predict it happens in… part 4, since Brandon has been trying to spread out his Sanderlanche, and we need time for the consequences to impact the ending. Ah, yup. Pattern counts, so it’s just the four of them entering Lasting Integrity... plus Gallant, so that brings the party up to eight total if we’re counting Formless. Wow. Put like that, the honorspren are doomed.
  6. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Shallan’s Sketchbook Part III Honorspren (image here) Wow, that mustache really catches the eye. After that, the clothing is both impressive and expressive, along with their stances. Ben hit this one out of the park. Both of the featured spren are an odd combination of welcoming and confrontational with an ambiguous mismatch between their posture and their facial expressions. I am really not sure how to interpret it other than “intimidating” and certainly “self-confident.” I do especially love the individuality built into all of these character sketches. The other spren profiles had that too, especially the ashspren image, but it definitely stands out here. Shallan’s mention that clothing is even more indicative of a spren’s personal beliefs than would be the case for humans makes me wonder how that manifests and how varied spren beliefs are within honorspren society. That their skin and clothing feel human despite being composed of light is interesting, and the emphasis on their very real steel swords is… revealing. Also, that exceptionally regular block of a tower is present, the one on Michael Whelan’s cover art. Confirmation that it’s where they’re headed (and presumably where Restares is holed up). The cliff it is set on is imposing, bordering on ominous. Finally, the fact that the deadeyes walk across the bottom of the bead seas is a really horrifying thought. That image of hundreds of zombie spren shambling through the quicksand-like murk, forever in the dark as they follow their bearer through the populated portions of Roshar… it doesn’t really have that feeling of cheerful pep that Syl tries to convey when she’s in childish mode.
  7. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 35 (The Strength of a Soldier) Epigraph: no comment...oh, except that I’m now wondering if this advice to keep shard and vessel “separate in our minds” is general or targeted specifically at the Vessels themselves (since it was apparently given to Sazed) for the purpose of self knowledge and relationships with each other. Is it advice for handling the Shards and their interaction? Or is it just the mundane plurality of identity thing? And there goes Adolin being all Edgedancery again. Listening to Shallan, to Gallant… even to Ua’pam and Arshqqam now that I think of it, and all on the first page of the chapter. He’s basically a shoo-in, except for the fact that his bond will necessarily be different in consideration of Maya. I wonder what form that will take, since it’s obviously not going to be the standard nahel thing… INSPIRATION! Okay, predicting it now. Adolin will be the first of the new Heralds, replacing Vedeledev, or whatever her real name is. I suppose he might not be first if we need Dalinar to get promoted before that for Bondsmith reasons, but I really hope not. Adolin needs his chance to shine. He’ll ascend or whatever with Maya at his side but not as his blade. Too bad we’ll have to wait for book 7-ish to find out if I’m right. Aww, and Gallant is bonding with Maya too! Adolin really is the feel-good center of these books. There’s some of that with other characters, but his sections consistently have that wholesome vibe to them. Felt “seemed to have a sixth sense for traveling in unknown places.” Where does that come from? Is it just mundane skill? Because I can’t think of anything except maybe tin allomancy that would help with that. No other allomantic or feruchemic traits really fit that description. I suppose feruchemical duralumin (connection) might, but that’s a stretch. Do we have confirmation that Felt is a native of Scadrial and didn’t end up there from somewhere else? The Tukari don’t want to meet the honorspren. Would the honorspren recognize whatever Ishar did with them? Would they attack? I don’t know! Wait, were they following Notum instead? Why prepare for an attack here, then? What you just said makes no sense, Adolin, and it’s throwing off my own predictions because you seem like you know what you’re talking about. Oh, wait I misread it. I thought you told everyone to stay at the camp, but you actually said to have everyone follow you and be ready for a fight where you’re going. Adolin’s trick riding with Maya on board is an awesome image. Way to flex your skills, dude! I’m still not convinced that death for spren is specifically as described here, mind broken from too much pain. I believe there’s more to be revealed on that front. Adolin invites Maya to help, she’s scared for his safety (though he misinterprets it) and he understands her responses. Every interaction is that much more substantive. Keep on Listening! Adolin’s inferiority complex is a problem, though. Don’t you realize that by showing honor here and coming to Notum’s defense you are providing the one possible argument for your own credibility on this envoy? I guess it’s a good thing you don’t, since that would color your motivations and possibly disqualify you automatically even if you did the right thing anyway. Anticipationspren look like giant lurgs? Who gets excited about lurgs? Dang it, someone just said “Tien” didn’t they. Fine, I know when I’ve lost. I’ll just be over here muttering about nonsensical associations. The painspren is howling… in anticipation of the coming fight? Do they have an ability to know ahead of time where they need to be? It would make sense, especially in this case since the sensation of pain is largely about expectation and anticipation on top of the physical aspect. The alternative is that Notum’s pain is drawing it, but I don’t think we ever got an indication that emotion spren could feed from or were attracted to other spren. These Tukari may be untrained, but there’s still whatever magical junk Ishar did to them. Don’t get cocky, Adolin. Your wife will be upset if you get yourself killed. I do also admit to being slightly shocked when Adolin’s opening move was a decapitation. I’ve been reading superhero fiction lately, where the majority of people go out of their way to avoid lethal or even crippling blows, so this was a bit of genre mismatch. I really can’t tell how sincere you’re being here, Adolin. Is this a dig at Dalinar? Oh, stabbed in the stomach with a spear. That’s not a good thing. Maybe you should think about gaining some stormlight healing soon? Wait, he’s injured and suffering from blood loss. Is this Ishar’s magic doing stuff, or is Adolin just disoriented? It’s not allowed to be ambiguous! And Maya came to the rescue! I wasn’t sure she would, this time. Oh, and the kata lets her actually save him, distracting and intimidating the enemy. Nice! Oh, but the Tukari leader got away. “Adolin didn’t win. But the Tukari lost.” That about sums it up, and it’s still a victory. Very sweet fight scene.
  8. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 34 (A Flame Never Extinguished) Epigraph: “Since we are all essentially infinite, he needs no more power.” That is certainly one way to view it, but it feels bizarre to me. Infinite doesn’t seem like the right word to describe shards, in almost any respect. I’d like to get Sazed to expand on what he means and on what infinite means to him (or what he thinks it means to Odium). They got Stump to help draft the diplomacy plans! That is a brilliant move and I highly approve. It’s possible that this will be diluted by having them ask advice from all the Radiants, but at least they are starting with the best choice. Oh, never mind. It’s not an individual discussion but a council with all the Radiants. Oh well, it’s a good move anyway. It’s fascinating to imagine Shallan sulking inside of herself. In contrast to the roles they played in Oathbringer, the aspects of herself in Rhythm of War are becoming more and more fleshed out as people, becoming true characters as much as any in the story. This musing by Veil about Stump’s characteristics and personality is one example of how she’s becoming fully realized and isn’t just a filter on Shallan’s thoughts and actions. “Dreaming-though-Awake” is a very cool name for a spren. I want to know more about the truthwatcher spren and why that naming system exists for them. Delicious flavor to the worldbuilding, and a good reminder that Brandon has come to do it very, very well. Little bits dropped in like this pique my interest where less experienced writers will drop a chunk of exposition and potentially kill that interest. How do they tell time in Shadesmar? The position of the sun never changes, and I don’t recall any other periodic changes that would indicate the passage of day to night. It’s been mentioned a little that it doesn’t turn to night like the physical realm, but they can still tell the difference. How? Glad to see that Beryl has been exonerated in Veil’s mind at least. I’m curious if Radiant will agree (or if Shallan will emerge to voice an opinion) and how that will play out. Shallan is starting to come out, and Radiant agrees with Veil. Shallan, please don’t discount Veil and Radiant’s contributions just because you are having an episode of crippling self-doubt. (Though I do love that self-doubt can manifest this way in such an externalized fashion.) It was better than insisting on believing the lie. No matter how expert they were at that particular trick. Yep, that’s a good way to put it, Radiant. I hope Shallan agrees. Boots callback. It’s a reminder of the funny scene and the relationships, but also a mention of how far they’ve come since that point. Shadesmar side has joyspren manifesting as a cyclone of color. That’s less animalistic than I was expecting, but also very cool. It does also make me wonder--the spren that have been described as dangerous so far include painspren and fearspren, among others. All of those have been ones associated with negative emotion. Is that just selection bias because others haven’t been showing up on screen or is there something to it? Would that joyspren be dangerous to the travelers? Are the predators and scavengers of the cognitive realm limited to those that are linked to negativity? I want a picture of that horse thing that Notum is riding. Apparently Shallan agrees, because in the course of describing it she emerged and replaced Veil, without even realizing she’d done it. I’m curious though if the creature has an aura of emotional impact or something, because Shallan’s reaction is extremely strong even for someone filled with fear and self loathing. Or at least, it’s strong in response to this one specific thing and not everything else. “Not all spren were imagined by men.” Oh, cool! More Adonalsium creations. Was that a musicspren? But wait, I’m confused about something. What’s up with Ryshadium? When Radiants or shardbearers cross over their spren manifest in their Shadesmar forms. But no musicspren appeared near Gallant when they went through the oathgate. Hmm. Fused either are their own spren or keep it trapped in a gemheart. Singers would presumably maintain the spren in their gemheart, not letting it manifest externally. So do Ryshadium have gemhearts for the spren to bond with? Radiants don’t, so it’s not required for the formation of a bond. That also makes me wonder about Venli as a special case. Timbre is acting as jailor to Venli’s voidspren. Would that mean Timbre is stuck in the gemheart if they cross over to shadesmar and she can’t manifest directly? Or would the voidspren be released and Venli opened to its influence? Or would Timbre be able to maintain the suppression even when manifesting externally? I honestly can’t tell whether it’s Shallan composing the poem about Adolin or if it’s Veil expressing Shallan’s thoughts through an expansion of her personality (presumably at the expense of the Shallan persona). Is this a cute shipping moment or is this an ominous harbinger of her own destruction?! Oh, it was Shallan coming closer to the surface. Adolin could tell! Shipping confirmed. Yay! Shallan is talking! Progress! That’s a wonderful addition to the list of swears. Thanks, Shallan. Also, a starspren! Brandon has been cagey about those in the past. Here’s our first glimpse and it’s a giant flying chasmfiend. Calling it now, these are going to have a huge role to play in the back five books. Another swear to add. This one is fun because of the phonetic similarity to our own “holy hell” in English but with the opposite meaning and an unironic use of “holy.” Starspren are only visible when viewed from certain angles or locations. That’s bizarre for sure. What does that mean and how does it work? And now it’s landing on the clouds. Do these clouds function like those in the physical realm? The starspren was trailing them in the way one would expect to be described in physical clouds, but the straight lines leading to the sun are obviously something normal clouds don’t do. Creationspren were hiding in the sketchbook satchel? That’s an interesting data point. They have learned that they can get food from this thing and have started following it around even when not in use. The starspren is posing for its picture. That’s hilarious and amazing and also kind of concerning. What are they attracted to? How is the crisp visual appearance possible despite the distance? The response to attention at a distance is understandable and fairly normal for spren, as Shallan mentions. D’aww, Shallan is so in love with Adolin that even the starspren can’t compete. That is a very sweet moment.
  9. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 33 (Understanding) Epigraph: We already knew Odium’s goal, but I think that was all from WoB and piecing together things from across the cosmere. Here we get it stated in plain text, even if couched in Sazed’s supposition. It feels like a lame reveal, but it’s good to have it out there for the less fanatical of fans. Kaladin realizing (i.e. internalizing) that advocating for someone and protecting them emotionally both count as protection for the purposes of his ideals is a good perspective shift. His whole thing up to this point was “can I kill to protect” because all the threats he was opposing were physical. I didn’t consider the thematic benefit of having him turn to an orthogonal set of questions, but it’s definitely expanding the philosophy of that question and his ability to explore it. Kaladin invents group therapy. Given the way therapy is treated in another fandom I belong to (specifically, fanfics of Worm), I am tempted to say that the good guys just won. Still, it’s a great start and I’m especially glad to see that Lirin is supportive not just in approving of Kaladin’s efforts but also in actively guiding them and setting limits so he doesn’t overextend. Aww, Kaladin is opening up to Hesina about more of his trauma. This short exchange is full of emotion, and I really feel for Hesina here. But it also shows that Kaladin is getting benefit out of helping, and not just in the expected “do good to feel good” way. I will be very happy if his relationship with his mother is a major factor in letting him heal enough to reach the fourth oath. Wow. short shapter. On to Shallan again...
  10. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 32 (Of Three Minds) Epigraph: Yes, Sazed, we know you’re stuck. Thanks, Adolin. Now we have something about Zu to be suspicious of. As if there wasn't enough suspicion going around in this plot thread. She says she can shape stone, which makes sense for her being a Stoneward, but is the obsidian ground of Shadesmar “stone” enough for that to work? What about if someone wanted to soulcast an item that was native to the cognitive realm? We know the Windrunner powerset isn’t useless in Shadesmar, and illusions work fine, but what about things that rely on the essence of physical objects? Getting chased by the Tukari isn’t a good sign, though. Lots of room for things to go dramatically wrong. (Bring it on!) Yes, I’m still enjoying Shallan’s inner struggles. You’re probably getting bored of me commenting on it, so I’ll refrain for the moment until something else happens. Yay for Adolin the diplomat! Thinking up new possibilities on his own. Good work. Okay, and here I am again talking about the Three, only half a page later. I love the rapid fire switching in this conversation. It’s courteous of them to announce who they are, but I’m doubtful that it’s necessary given Adolin’s demonstrated perceptiveness. Thank you, Adolin. I love your commentary :-) Veil is explaining things to Adolin, finally! Aaaaaa! Aaaaa! Are we really getting that close to this blowing up? Okay, prediction time: Not this time, but next time Shallan retreats she will be supplanted by Formless. Veil and Radiant will have to work together for the rest of the book, right up to the Sanderlanche, to maintain/regain their own foothold, then to recover Shallan. And Veil likes Adolin’s answer.
  11. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 31 (Daughter of Traitors) Title: As a Venli chapter, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The listeners weren’t ever characterized as traitors, as far as I recall. Yes, they rejected the Fused and Unmade, but that hasn’t been treated as betrayal so far. Not to say it won’t be… The other possibility is that it’s talking about Timbre, since there was a mention of the spren betraying/abandoning the listeners when they gave their nahel bonds to humans. But that feels less likely to me. Epigraph: “If you can, as you suppose, maintain Odium’s prison for now…” Um, this sounds like Hoid has delusions of grandeur. I’m sure he’s influencing things, but to say that he’s the one maintaining Odium’s prison feels pretty disingenuous to me. It’s discounting not only everything the heralds and the modern protagonists are doing, but also Cultivation’s efforts and all the other mess of the Ghostbloods, etc. I’m not willing to concede that Hoid is the one who is protecting the Cosmere from Odium. The Deepest Ones (makay-im) get the surge of … whichever one messes with solids. I haven’t gotten a grasp yet on tension vs. cohesion. Finally we get someone walking to Urithiru! People keep talking about how Nohadon did it back in the day, but nobody’s actually tried to follow in his footsteps. Now we get the first pilgrimage, and it’s an invading force containing Venli. Nice. No idea where Abamabar might be or if it’s farther/closer than her starting point. Well, that’s blunt. Nomon is directly named “Honor’s Moon” by the singers/listeners. Presumably Salas and Mishim have equally straightforward names? The Edgedancer-like Fused who use friction/abrasion are called the Flowing Ones (shetel-im). Appropriate. I’m concerned about Venli’s title as Last Listener. Is that just because she’s high ranked, or have they found and done something with the others who escaped at the end? (I really can’t remember who led that group right now, that Eshonai allowed to escape.) This is fascinating, and obviously has at least some basis in realmatics. It really makes me wonder what’s going on with Bondsmiths. Is this extra surge perhaps part of the reason that Honor fell first to Odium? That extra bit of power invested in the system weakened Honor enough to make him an easier target? Also, we know that listeners predate the shattering, so it can’t be any innate reason that they are unable to access Adhesion. It’s got to be a spren difference, but what could leave it inaccessible when the others clearly can be used via alternate means? I really like seeing this outside perspective, even (especially?) because everything we’ve seen from at least the main cast of Radiants has been dominated by introspection. This is utterly false as a criticism where they are concerned, but entirely reasonable for Raboniel to make. The value placed on ambition among the singers makes me want to see them interact directly with the Ghostbloods for a compare/contrast session of how they recruit and advance their membership.
  12. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 30 (The Betrayal) Sorry to leave everyone hanging for *checks* five weeks. This is ridiculous that I’m taking such a long time to get through a Stormlight book. Doing these liveblog entries is enough of a barrier though that I don’t tend to read unless I have a sufficient chunk of time available and my wife is at work. (I’ve also been working on some writing this month, which has filled a few of the time slots that would otherwise have been dedicated to this.) Anyway, onward and upward. Let’s see if I can remember what was happening last time. Epigraph: That whippersnapper Harmony just doesn’t have the cred to get people to listen to him. Nobody cares about Odium. WHAT!! How is it that I stopped for over a month right before this reveal!?! How could I do this to myself? Shallan has used a hologram radio before, and it’s one of the memories she’s blocked out. Presumably this precipitated the murder attempt? I don’t know yet, I haven’t gotten past the first sentence. This is huge! Aaaaah! Okay, if I were Feather doing one of her live reaction voice recordings (that we no longer get because she’s been promoted to beta reader), you would have just been subjected to me reading a page aloud with little squees and gasps and “Come on, Shallan!” and “Go Veil!” I really kept expecting it to cut away and leave us only with implication, but Shallan actually remembered something! She let herself/was forced to recall it and retain it. This is a big step (which she’ll reject, thereby strengthening Formless, but that’s just narrative inevitability).I particularly love this sentence: I am very curious whether the lurching, caught-between-moments feeling she had was purely mental. She is currently in the manifestation of the cognitive realm where mental effects presumably have a disproportionate impact. Did something happen that would have been visible to an outside observer? And also, Mraize is doing his best to come across as scummy. “Yes, I will openly say that I’m trying to train you like an axehound.” Veil’s assertion that you can’t kill spren sounds very suspect. Not only did we see Kaladin kill one in a previous book (and Syl get upset about it), but even if Shallan doesn’t know about that she’s not the type to treat things as axiomatic that way. This is Veil, of course, and not the scholar, but she is the one who seems much more in tune with the realmatic side of things, intuiting how stuff works. She should know better than this. “We must bind [Sja-anat] to us,” says Mraize. His use of “bind” in speaking of spren is quite concerning to me. It’s not just an alliance that he’s proposing here I’m sure. Well, that was fast. And suspiciously simple. Did Mraize pick up on her counterintelligence ploy and bluff his way into guessing gloryspren? Has he just framed one of her suspects through being a better spy than Veil? Or did the plan actually work and uncover a planted Ghostblood? And of course the (supposedly confirmed) suspect is Beryl, the lightweaver introduced with just the sort of personal history that screams “important secondary character.” Calling it now, she’s either not a spy or she will be redeemed/flipped to Shallan’s side before they leave Shadesmar. I am leaning toward the first option as most likely. I do not recognize these caravan people. Their outfits don’t sound like those we’ve seen on any other shardworld. Oh, Tukar. I should have thought of that the first time Adolin guessed it. Yes, Tukar is a problem. I’m disturbed by the way they are described, the ever-enwreathing shadows making them appear skeletal. What has Ishar done to these people? What sorts of oaths have they become victim to? Because that’s the possibility my mind leaps to when the herald of bondsmiths sends thugs to travel through the shadow realm of thought. Oh, and an honorspren is already here. Glad Adolin explained who Notum was, because I definitely didn’t remember that name. Impressive that Adolin recognized him, though. It’s been a year, and the “spren/humans/whatever all look the same” trope is expected to be in full play. Oh, good. Veil picked up on the spy reveal being too easy and convenient. Aaaaaa! Pattern can see Formless! And she can see back out! Horror movie vibes are happening right now. Another mention of spren ignoring deadeyes. I’m now fully primed for Maya to turn the tide against spren enemies later in this book, or to be sent on an infiltrating mission to retrieve something. Probably both, honestly. Good job, Brandon. Foreshadowing accomplished. What kind of spren is a Reacher? I don’t remember. They would have been on the boat with Notum, but I really can’t recall. ...after a quick check of the coppermind, they are lightspren, with a bronze statue appearance.
  13. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 29 (Cage Without Bars) Epigraph: Sazed is looking for a “sword” (or perhaps a champion?) who can act for him when he by his nature cannot. Is this talking about Wax? I would imagine not, since one of the recent books--I think it was Bands--talked about Wax being his hand of Ruin, while someone else would be his hand of Preservation. I don’t think “both protect and kill” is talking about the same dilemma Kaladin faces. Then again, we’re still waiting for the conclusion to Era 2, and a lot could happen. Marasi seems to have turned down the job in the climax of Bands, so we’ll have to see. Well, that’s the title right at the front “A ship was a cage without bars.” Ua’pam is doing a “curious gesture” rubbing his knuckles. Is this related at all to Unkalaki cultural gestures, or is it purely a peakspren thing? It makes me think of Herdazians and sparkflickers, but that’s obviously a superficial association. I love that Adolin and Veil have game nights. She knows all the gambling card games. I also love Thaylen words. “Kdisln vintage” may sound like something you’d only say when drunk, but that’s actually the pronunciation you use when you’re sober. I bet the Thaylens start adding in vowels when they slur their words. Why don’t we get a picture of Shallan in her cultivationspren disguise? I hope this is a repeat of the melting face from that time she got shot in the head in Kholinar. I don’t actually remember that noblewoman’s name, though. Have to go look that scene up later. The statistical distribution of gemstone quality isn’t something I’d thought to consider before, certainly not as an ominous sign. Thanks, Jasnah. I always want more indications of conspiracy on your doomed little planet. Sword katas with Maya! Adorable as always. I can’t help but see the parallel to Adolin’s best bro Kaladin who is back in the tower trying to revolutionize care of mental health patients. Adolin is over here in Shadesmar slowly proving to people and spren that the deadeyes aren’t as dead as they seem, and the best way to help them is to treat them like people. This makes me wonder if awakening Maya is going to truly be a unique event or if doing so will open the path to (possibly many) more dead blades being revived. This could have a substantial impact on the numbers of allied spren available to oppose odium (or defect to him, I guess, given the Skybreakers example). The shortage of honorspren might end up being resolved in the long term not by recruiting the reluctant but by resurrecting the lost. Lots of caravans come through this town, and humans aren’t unusual in them? How many worldhopping traders actually are there? This is starting to sound a lot more heavily traveled than I thought. Hmmm. Veil isn’t good at using stormlight, to the point that she can’t easily heal a hangover? That’s a further separation of their abilities than I had expected to actually be shown in the text. I may have confirmation bias here, but I’m seeing a whole lot to support my theories about their split. What is Veil up to? I thought “have time alone” was talking about alone-with-Adolin, but she’s taking over from Shallan and sending Adolin on ahead, so that’s not it. Got to be sneaky spy stuff, though I can’t imagine what she has to do except maybe contact Mraize, and I thought she was supposed to wait until later in the journey to do that. Yeah, Mraize phone call time. I wonder if he’ll be upset at her contacting him too soon or if this was expected and I just misinterpreted what he said when he gave her the radio. The cube can talk? I have so many questions right now. This isn’t just Siri or Alexa, this is a self-aware device. Tell me more! You know what would be funny? If instead of a spy, Mraize hired someone to move the radio around so that it looked like it had been tampered with. Nobody has been using it to contact him, they’re just gaslighting Shallan to feed her paranoia. I can totally see that as a possibility that Mraize would consider. It’s more likely he has a real spy, just because it’s hard to see him passing up the opportunity for more reports and information, but I’m putting the fake-spy idea at a solid 30% possibility right now. How do you maintain a building constructed of manifested bricks and stones? Do you just have someone come by once a month to add new pieces to all of the holes that have opened up as the structure times out and reverts to beads? This doesn’t sound like it is actually cheaper or easier than importing physical materials. Hmm. The spren merchants are speaking Azish and Alethi. Is that the local lingua franca? Do they pick a Rosharan language and assume that worldhoppers have translation abilities? Are they just able to speak whatever the passing humans do? Regarding the ashspren, who gave rude gestures in Shallan’s drawing--do they do that to all humans? Is it just the Radiant-affiliated ones that they don’t like? The local Rosharans? Fearsrpen look like multi-legged eels… I don’t think eel is the base I would start from to describe something with a bunch of legs. And passionspren have mustaches? Plural? That is very weird. I think I need a picture. I think it’s very sweet that Adolin is jealous of the time that Veil (and presumably Radiant) are in control, like he’s competing with her alternate personas for Shallan’s time and attention. That’s not the relationship I would have predicted for the four of them at the end of Oathbringer. Adolin has officially let his fashion sense undermine his daily life. Adolin! You have fallen victim to the classic blunder of removing essential utility in pursuit of ephemeral esthetics! Do not give up your pockets! At least on Earth women can carry a purse or clutch. On Roshar, noblewomen have safepouches. You don’t get anything except maybe a saddlebag if you’re near your horse. Giving up your pockets is not worth it! Maya is trying to help the other deadeyes! This is huge! She has so much more life now than she has had in the past, starting to display initiative. New deadeyes. That’s bad. Especially since the fact they met one in the first town they entered means that statistically this is not a unique or rare event. Even taking into account the influx of population to Urithiru and the possibility that the Cryptic was following someone there, it’s very ominous. When Kaladin almost killed Syl in Words of Radiance we seemed to get confirmation that simply betraying oaths is enough to turn a bonded spren into a deadeye. However, I suddenly start to see parallels between the slave-form parshmen and the deadeye spren. Is there an external force that is reinforcing the death of these spren? We still don’t know much about the Recreance. Could it be that the method of sealing away Ba-Ado-Mishram to lobotomize the listeners had side effects to directly affect nahel spren? It can’t be a direct side effect due to the Skybreakers persisting (and possibly others). My first thought was Darkness executing would-be Radiants, but those deaths really shouldn’t have created deadeyes according to what we know. I’m going to go ahead and guess that one of the Unmade has been tasked with enforcing death on bonded spren it encounters, with a correspondingly deleterious effect on their human. I realize though, that we have no evidence to support this so far.
  14. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Cryptics (image here) Before anything else, I have to say how much I love the little sketch at the bottom of the page.”I’ve never seen a cryptic running. I expect they would look very silly.” Indeed, yes. I’m sure Ben had a great time drawing that one, and I like it as a moment of lighter-humored Shallan layered on top of her naturalist observations. Their hands being only obsidian or marble, black or white, suggests something connected to their relationship with lies and truth, but I’m not sure if the connection is more than aesthetic. I hadn’t thought that their robes/bodies also shifted, but it seems that they do split/fold/fracture as the cryptic moves. There are a huge variety of fractal shapes that the cryptics could have as their heads. Of the ones shown in the picture, the one in the lower right with the nearly sphere-like appearance is the creepiest to me. Ashspren (image here) Rude gestures, huh? That adds a lot of character to the description and image, and as obscene motions go this is an inventive and evocative one. I’m expecting to get an additional commentary in the text on the cultural context and what the spren think it means, but just the description itself is enough to catch the gist. I’m not sure from the drawing whether the ashspren have eyes that are typical of Rosharan humans or if they are even narrower. Compared to the herald portraits and the folio pages, these seem to be on an extreme end (and to enable a very condescending / wily set of facial expressions). The ripped pants of the female ashspren here, along with her slightly tattered cloak, are interesting associations with a spren of destruction and decay. Notably, the other spren in the illustration has much finer clothing that lacks ragged edges. It’s not possible to tell from the picture whether the spren follow safehand norms, though my suspicion is that they do not. I do love that mental image of ashspren in the physical realm, burning through things but leaving the object unharmed behind them. It’s similar enough to draw comparisons to Pattern and the other Cryptics, but still very unique.
  15. Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers. Chapter 28 (Heresies) Icons: Chana and Pailiah, representing obedience and learning, are appropriate to the title--which presumably means we’ll be dealing with the ardentia this chapter. Epigraph: “Other shards I cannot identify, and are hidden to me.” Does that mean that the foregoing portion of the letter is exhaustive of the list that Sazed has been able to contact? Or is he skipping some over? I’ll need to go back and count/list the ones that have been mentioned and those that have not. Autonomy sticks out as one he did not talk about and who is the prime suspect for “encroaching” on Scadrial, but I’m wondering if this indicates that there are multiple enemies. “Standard violet ink.” I’m not sure if this is the first time it’s been mentioned, but I definitely missed it before this. I love that the alethi are basically all writing their letters with purple gel pens. I wonder how long violet has been the standard--presumably it has something to do with the available ingredients and known recipes for ink. So were all of Shallan’s historical studies in the Palaneum using texts in purple? Or did they use pink/red/green/blue in different periods and geographic regions? Presumably there were specific authors who wrote in individualized colors, which adds a whole extra layer to my mental image of their libraries, their calligraphy, and their art. Measuring the difference in mass to a paired / inactive spanreed to calculate its partner’s distance? That’s very cool. This is a patented Mark Watney “science the rust out of this” moment. I was about to make a guess from the “heresies” line that the conspiracy theorist on the other end of the line would be a devotee of Ishar, but the very next line talks about what humans do. I’m currently predicting that this is a Siah Aimian (not Axies) since we haven’t seen any of them yet, the Sleepless are hands off and appear organized, and the spren are too obvious--and wouldn’t be able to communicate by spanreed as easily. But let’s make note of the other strange phrasing: “What is this you do, putting fabrials in a pit and connecting them to the blowing of the storms?” What pit is being referenced? OH! They are describing the wind turbine at the top of the elevator shaft. I was imagining something smaller scale, but this is fairly obvious. Never mind. Everyone packing up and sprinting to the next spot, to triangulate locations in the tower. I’m grinning at the image. The likelihood of a spren doing the writing is slightly higher. I’m not as committed to my Siah prediction at the moment. Anyway, this bit about promises makes me think of Syl’s comment back in book 1 about the laws of nature being agreements between friends, and the analogy I drew at the time to lesser spren as subcontractors that get hired by nahel spren using stormlight currency to perform surgebinding. “Ash’s mask”--a new swear to add to the list. Appropriate for the herald of the lightweavers. Oh, Navani thinks it’s Glys, doesn’t she. That’s why Pailiah is at the top of the chapter. I’m not sure how I feel about that--either the possibility itself, or the suspicion. The more I think about it, the more reasonable the guess seems, but I also rather hate how estranged Renarin is from his family even a year after that beautiful hug with Jasnah at the end of Oathbringer. Does Navani really need to do this cloak and dagger facade? Couldn't she just go talk to Ren? You know, her son!? (Well, nephew/stepson, but this family is supposed to be close.)