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galendo

Errors? Plot hints? Something's not right, here.

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So I just finished rereading the three SA books and I've noticed a few things that seem...odd.  Since people here like odd things, I thought I'd share.  They might just be typos or other continuity errors.  They might be me misunderstanding a scene.  They might be non-obvious hints about how the magic or the society functions.  Ranked in the admittedly quite subjective order of most likely to be an error to most likely to hint at some future revelation, I offer the following observations:

1) In WoR, the chasmfiend's eyes don't burn.  Kaladin kills the chasmfiend with a Shardblade to the head as it's swallowing him.  The creature dies so fast it doesn't even clamp its jaws shut in its death throes, which means it has to be dying from instant, Shardblade-induced death and not natural damage.  But its eyes don't burn.  I thought maybe that chasmfiend eyes don't burn, but nope -- the chasmfiend's eyes in WoK burn as expected.  Then I thought maybe for some reason a Shardblade through the brain wouldn't cause eyes to burn, but again no -- in one of Dalinar's flashbacks, he kills Highprince Kalanor with a Shardblade "straight through the face", and Kalanor's eyes also burn.  This seems very much like an error to me.

2) Spanreed ruby replacement.  In OB, When Dalinar and co. don't hear from Kaladin as expected after he jaunts off to Hearthstone, Dalinar and Navani get worried, but not too much because "he'd likely run out of infused rubies."  This implies that one can replace one ruby with another in a spanreed.  However, this seems to directly contradict the Ars Arcanum, which claims that the process of creating a spanreed "requires splitting the original ruby.  The two halves will then create parallel reactions across a distance."  If this is correct, then one should not be able to simply swap one ruby in a spanreed out for a different one.  Also, as a Radiant, Kaladin should be able to infuse any gem with Stormlight assuming he has any left at all, so claiming that he'd "run out of infused rubies" should be akin to assuming that he'd run out of Stormlight entirely, which is an even more worrisome situation. Therefore Dalinar's shrugging off not hearing from Kaladin because he might have run out of infused rubies seems like an error.  That, or I'm really confused about how fabrials/spanreeds work.

3) Rlain doesn't see Lopen's spren.  I might be off a little bit on this one, but there's a scene in the chapter "Alone Together" where Rock is helping everyone come to grips with the fact that things are changing faster than they like.  Everyone, that is, "except Lopen, who had snuck away from the group and for some reason was lifting up rocks on the other side of the plateau and looking underneath them."  Now I took this -- and stiil take it -- as a hint/foreshadowing that Lopen is interacting with a spren the others can't see, satisfying her curiosity in the same way that Kaladin did with Syl before their bond got far along.  And this would work great, except for one thing: that this scene is told from Rlain's point of view, and if there's one member in all of Bridge Four who a spren shouldn't be invisible to, it's Rlain.  If my interpretation of Lopen's motives are correct -- and if anyone can come up with a better idea, let me know -- then I don't see how Rlain could reasonably be unaware both that Lopen has attracted a spren and that he's interacting with one.  Something seems a bit off here.

4) Dalinar speaks of an "old general's trick" that can't be all that old.  When Dalinar goes to visit Azir, he refers to using a spanreed for communication by "[flipping] the reed on and off to send signals, an old general's trick for when you lacked a scribe."  However spanreeds are only a couple decades old, as near as I can tell.  Evi uses one to ask Dalinar what to name Renarin when he's born (eighteen and a half years ago), but I think that's the earliest mention.  This isn't necessarily an error, since I don't think there's a hard date on spanreed invention and "old" can be relative, but it's still a weird turn of phrase.  Can spanreeds and fabrial science be older than they appear?  If so, why did it take them so long to go from spanreeds to other modern fabrials?

5) Renarin sends Stormlight into a wall with physical effects.  When they discover the gemstone archive in Urithiru, Renarin causes all the drawers to slide open by "sending a surge of Stormlight through [the wall] that extended from his palms like twin ripples on the surface of a pond."  Knowing that Truthwatchers shared a surge with Edgedancers, on my first reading I figured he was using Abrasion to make all the drawers spring free, but nope -- Truthwatchers have Illumination and Progression.  The thing is, neither Illumination nor Regrowth seem like they should have much of an effect on a stone wall.  Also note that I don't think we've ever seen Stormlight forced into a non-gem object without invoking one of the Radiant's Surges.  This leaves several possibilities: 1) it's a mistake; 2) Renarin's and/or Truthwatchers' Surges are weird and can somehow interact with a stone wall; 3) Stormlight can do stuff to objects independent of the Surges.  I don't know which of these is correct, or if there's some other explanation, but it seems worth pointing out.

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I'm not an expert, but I'll do my best to answer what questions I can

1) I don't remember the exact scene very well, but does it specifically reference the eyes after it has been killed. If so I have no idea what's going on here. If not, it could simply be an omission of an unimportant fact. For example, there must be spren constantly appearing and disappearing around everyone, whether they be emotion spren or even just windspren. Because they are everywhere, many times they simply aren't discussed unless they have a purpose in driving the story forward.

 

2) I'm not sure why it mentions rubies specifically, but at this point Dalinar can hold stormlight so he could easily draw it out of one gem and put it into another. There may also be a fabriel device or another method to transfer stormlight from one gem to another that we just haven't heard of as of yet. I find the first idea more likely then the second.

 

3) When we get a chapter from Lopen's point of view later in the book he talks about his spren running of and playing hide and seek a lot. Rlain might not see the spren because it is hiding from even Lopen.

 

4) I think this one is just a phrase. "An old general's trick" could probably be used for any trick that he learned in the army. I don't think it's hinting at anything else. Also, they had spanreeds for most, if not all, of Dalinar and Gavilar's conquest of Alethkar.  This means that all the time Dalinar as a general this could have been a popular trick

 

5) I'm not completely sure on this one. One explanation is that he used the surge of illumination. He could have made a powerful sound, basicly a sonic wave, that could have knocked the doors ajar. Also, it sometimes mentions that Shallan's illusion occasionally have some physical form. He could have given the light enough physical form to influence the world. Another explanation is that the doors were somehow made in such a way that they automatically open when they sense stormlight. Renarin could have simply dumped a bunch of stormlight into the air instead of infusing it into a gem, much like you could just throw a pitcher of water into the air, instead of carefully pouring it into a cup. The doors sensed the free stormlight and reacted. It also might have something to do with his corrupted spren. Since this has never been seen before we don't really know how it could change someone's abilities.

I hope this is somewhat helpful

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2 hours ago, galendo said:

1) In WoR, the chasmfiend's eyes don't burn.  Kaladin kills the chasmfiend with a Shardblade to the head as it's swallowing him.  The creature dies so fast it doesn't even clamp its jaws shut in its death throes, which means it has to be dying from instant, Shardblade-induced death and not natural damage.  But its eyes don't burn.  I thought maybe that chasmfiend eyes don't burn, but nope -- the chasmfiend's eyes in WoK burn as expected.  Then I thought maybe for some reason a Shardblade through the brain wouldn't cause eyes to burn, but again no -- in one of Dalinar's flashbacks, he kills Highprince Kalanor with a Shardblade "straight through the face", and Kalanor's eyes also burn.  This seems very much like an error to me.

I think that both humans are not paying attention to the casmfiend's eyes do to Kaladin's injuries.

2 hours ago, galendo said:

2) Spanreed ruby replacement.  In OB, When Dalinar and co. don't hear from Kaladin as expected after he jaunts off to Hearthstone, Dalinar and Navani get worried, but not too much because "he'd likely run out of infused rubies."  This implies that one can replace one ruby with another in a spanreed.  However, this seems to directly contradict the Ars Arcanum, which claims that the process of creating a spanreed "requires splitting the original ruby.  The two halves will then create parallel reactions across a distance."  If this is correct, then one should not be able to simply swap one ruby in a spanreed out for a different one.  Also, as a Radiant, Kaladin should be able to infuse any gem with Stormlight assuming he has any left at all, so claiming that he'd "run out of infused rubies" should be akin to assuming that he'd run out of Stormlight entirely, which is an even more worrisome situation. Therefore Dalinar's shrugging off not hearing from Kaladin because he might have run out of infused rubies seems like an error.  That, or I'm really confused about how fabrials/spanreeds work.

Good catch.  It is possible that some fabrials require stormlight from a specific gemstone(the way you can only soulcast certain essences with specific ones).  There is a fabrial that can be used to transfer stormlight from one gemstone to another of the same type so it is possible that in the past infused rubies were the only way to power fabrails.  I am not sure if the stormlight looses its "flavor" once a radiant has sucked it in and at that point in the timeline Dalinar might not be either.

2 hours ago, galendo said:

3) Rlain doesn't see Lopen's spren.  I might be off a little bit on this one, but there's a scene in the chapter "Alone Together" where Rock is helping everyone come to grips with the fact that things are changing faster than they like.  Everyone, that is, "except Lopen, who had snuck away from the group and for some reason was lifting up rocks on the other side of the plateau and looking underneath them."  Now I took this -- and stiil take it -- as a hint/foreshadowing that Lopen is interacting with a spren the others can't see, satisfying her curiosity in the same way that Kaladin did with Syl before their bond got far along.  And this would work great, except for one thing: that this scene is told from Rlain's point of view, and if there's one member in all of Bridge Four who a spren shouldn't be invisible to, it's Rlain.  If my interpretation of Lopen's motives are correct -- and if anyone can come up with a better idea, let me know -- then I don't see how Rlain could reasonably be unaware both that Lopen has attracted a spren and that he's interacting with one.  Something seems a bit off here.

@Nellac answered this fairly well.

2 hours ago, galendo said:

4) Dalinar speaks of an "old general's trick" that can't be all that old.  When Dalinar goes to visit Azir, he refers to using a spanreed for communication by "[flipping] the reed on and off to send signals, an old general's trick for when you lacked a scribe."  However spanreeds are only a couple decades old, as near as I can tell.  Evi uses one to ask Dalinar what to name Renarin when he's born (eighteen and a half years ago), but I think that's the earliest mention.  This isn't necessarily an error, since I don't think there's a hard date on spanreed invention and "old" can be relative, but it's still a weird turn of phrase.  Can spanreeds and fabrial science be older than they appear?  If so, why did it take them so long to go from spanreeds to other modern fabrials?

Dalinar mentions in Oathbringer that spanreads have gotten cheaper in recent years.  Early on in the learning curve the only people involved in government or warfare used spanreeds.  Knowledge on Roshar is a bit odd because ancient records possessed knowledge that modern scholars do not understand.  For example everyone on Roshar follows basic rules for sanitation (like hand washing) as "the wisdom of the Heralds" even though they have no idea about the bacteria that cause disease.  This along with various problems like the Desolations Radiant betrayal, and Hierocracy have significantly slowed down Rosharan advancement.

2 hours ago, galendo said:

5) Renarin sends Stormlight into a wall with physical effects.  When they discover the gemstone archive in Urithiru, Renarin causes all the drawers to slide open by "sending a surge of Stormlight through [the wall] that extended from his palms like twin ripples on the surface of a pond."  Knowing that Truthwatchers shared a surge with Edgedancers, on my first reading I figured he was using Abrasion to make all the drawers spring free, but nope -- Truthwatchers have Illumination and Progression.  The thing is, neither Illumination nor Regrowth seem like they should have much of an effect on a stone wall.  Also note that I don't think we've ever seen Stormlight forced into a non-gem object without invoking one of the Radiant's Surges.  This leaves several possibilities: 1) it's a mistake; 2) Renarin's and/or Truthwatchers' Surges are weird and can somehow interact with a stone wall; 3) Stormlight can do stuff to objects independent of the Surges.  I don't know which of these is correct, or if there's some other explanation, but it seems worth pointing out.

I don't think he was using any surge at the time at all.  The draws were probably fabrials designed to open as soon as "powered up."  All Renarin did was push stormlight into the gemstones that powered it.

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We actually have Word of Peter on #4.

Quote

barrens chat

In Oathbringer, Dalinar thinks to himself "He couldn't write to them of course, but he could flip the reed on and off to send signals, an old generals trick for when you lacked a scribe." But I thought spanreeds were a relatively new invention? Thoughts?

Peter Ahlstrom

"Old" is relative.

General Twitter 2018 (Jan. 4, 2018)

 

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1)  I think there is something going on with chasmfiends and chulls and possibly other native crustacean-ish animals.  I can't put my finger on it, but something about their life cycle and pupating and gem hearts.......I dunno, but I think there is something plot important about them that has yet to be revealed.

2) I think Dalinar and Navani are speaking in general terms about not having have infused gems and stormlight.  

5)  I'm leaning towards Illumination, especially in how it works with light or sound waves.  The message gems in the drawers are cut specifically to be used with vibrations, so it would make sense that vibrations would also be used to open the drawers.  Additionally the stormlight is described to move in ripples, which also sounds very much like some sort of waveform.  

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20 minutes ago, Zelly said:

1)  I think there is something going on with chasmfiends and chulls and possibly other native crustacean-ish animals.  I can't put my finger on it, but something about their life cycle and pupating and gem hearts.......I dunno, but I think there is something plot important about them that has yet to be revealed.

Good catch.  Roshar's ecology was designed for a specific purpose(we do not know what it is yet) however mundane solutions are acceptable.  We don't always have to go looking for the latest conspiracy.

22 minutes ago, Zelly said:

5)  I'm leaning towards Illumination, especially in how it works with light or sound waves.  The message gems in the drawers are cut specifically to be used with vibrations, so it would make sense that vibrations would also be used to open the drawers.  Additionally the stormlight is described to move in ripples, which also sounds very much like some sort of waveform.  

While this is possible his surge is wired and does not seem to realy work that way.

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On 7/1/2019 at 5:42 PM, galendo said:

1) In WoR, the chasmfiend's eyes don't burn.  Kaladin kills the chasmfiend with a Shardblade to the head as it's swallowing him.  The creature dies so fast it doesn't even clamp its jaws shut in its death throes, which means it has to be dying from instant, Shardblade-induced death and not natural damage.  But its eyes don't burn.  I thought maybe that chasmfiend eyes don't burn, but nope -- the chasmfiend's eyes in WoK burn as expected.  Then I thought maybe for some reason a Shardblade through the brain wouldn't cause eyes to burn, but again no -- in one of Dalinar's flashbacks, he kills Highprince Kalanor with a Shardblade "straight through the face", and Kalanor's eyes also burn.  This seems very much like an error to me.

Two things--one, this is from Shallan's perspective. Keep in mind she's the epitome of an unreliable narrator, but also that in this scene she was much more concerned with the fact that the chasmfiend fell on Kaladin and possibly ate him than its eyes burning.

Second, We don't entirely know what "burned out eyes" looks like--no one ever really takes the time to dwell on or describe what they look like after. It's possible that Shallan's description of the eyes afterward as

Quote

"The chasmfiend’s head lay nearby, massive eyes cloudy. Spren started to rise from it, like trails of smoke. The same ones as before, only . . . leaving? She held her light closer."

is what the eyes look like afterward, or--equally possible--she's just not paying much attention because she's more concerned about other things. It could be a simple error, but either way it isn't completely story shattering.

On 7/1/2019 at 5:42 PM, galendo said:

2) Spanreed ruby replacement.  In OB, When Dalinar and co. don't hear from Kaladin as expected after he jaunts off to Hearthstone, Dalinar and Navani get worried, but not too much because "he'd likely run out of infused rubies."  This implies that one can replace one ruby with another in a spanreed.  However, this seems to directly contradict the Ars Arcanum, which claims that the process of creating a spanreed "requires splitting the original ruby.  The two halves will then create parallel reactions across a distance."  If this is correct, then one should not be able to simply swap one ruby in a spanreed out for a different one.  Also, as a Radiant, Kaladin should be able to infuse any gem with Stormlight assuming he has any left at all, so claiming that he'd "run out of infused rubies" should be akin to assuming that he'd run out of Stormlight entirely, which is an even more worrisome situation. Therefore Dalinar's shrugging off not hearing from Kaladin because he might have run out of infused rubies seems like an error.  That, or I'm really confused about how fabrials/spanreeds work.

We don't entirely know how fabrials/spanreeds work in the first place. It's likely Dalinar wasn't talking about replacing the ruby itself, but rather that he was worried about running out of the currency that makes the spanreeds work in the first place. That said, however, it's possible that the spanreed could have the ruby swapped out if the replacement was also conjoined to a different spanreed in Urithiru. Theoretically, so long as you had other rubies that were connected to a separate spanreed, you could take one "reed" and swap out the rubies as needed.

On 7/1/2019 at 5:42 PM, galendo said:

3) Rlain doesn't see Lopen's spren.  I might be off a little bit on this one, but there's a scene in the chapter "Alone Together" where Rock is helping everyone come to grips with the fact that things are changing faster than they like.  Everyone, that is, "except Lopen, who had snuck away from the group and for some reason was lifting up rocks on the other side of the plateau and looking underneath them."  Now I took this -- and stiil take it -- as a hint/foreshadowing that Lopen is interacting with a spren the others can't see, satisfying her curiosity in the same way that Kaladin did with Syl before their bond got far along.  And this would work great, except for one thing: that this scene is told from Rlain's point of view, and if there's one member in all of Bridge Four who a spren shouldn't be invisible to, it's Rlain.  If my interpretation of Lopen's motives are correct -- and if anyone can come up with a better idea, let me know -- then I don't see how Rlain could reasonably be unaware both that Lopen has attracted a spren and that he's interacting with one.  Something seems a bit off here.

This one actually doesn't seem weird to me at all--remember, spren like Syl can choose who they let see them. The only exception to this rule seems to be not Rlain, but Rock, who can see all spren regardless of if they want to be seen or not. There's no reason to assume that this rule of choosing applies only to humans, so the fact that Rlain doesn't see the spren and is unaware of Lopen's spren in general isn't weird in the slightest to me.

Also, Lopen's spren is male:

Quote

"Lopen would need to go looking for the little guyhe did enjoy the game."

Oathbringer, chapter 121

On 7/1/2019 at 5:42 PM, galendo said:

4) Dalinar speaks of an "old general's trick" that can't be all that old.  When Dalinar goes to visit Azir, he refers to using a spanreed for communication by "[flipping] the reed on and off to send signals, an old general's trick for when you lacked a scribe."  However spanreeds are only a couple decades old, as near as I can tell.  Evi uses one to ask Dalinar what to name Renarin when he's born (eighteen and a half years ago), but I think that's the earliest mention.  This isn't necessarily an error, since I don't think there's a hard date on spanreed invention and "old" can be relative, but it's still a weird turn of phrase.  Can spanreeds and fabrial science be older than they appear?  If so, why did it take them so long to go from spanreeds to other modern fabrials?

I think this one's been covered enough, but old is relative. Dalinar's in his fifties--so "an old general's trick" more than likely indicates recent history.

On 7/1/2019 at 5:42 PM, galendo said:

5) Renarin sends Stormlight into a wall with physical effects.  When they discover the gemstone archive in Urithiru, Renarin causes all the drawers to slide open by "sending a surge of Stormlight through [the wall] that extended from his palms like twin ripples on the surface of a pond."  Knowing that Truthwatchers shared a surge with Edgedancers, on my first reading I figured he was using Abrasion to make all the drawers spring free, but nope -- Truthwatchers have Illumination and Progression.  The thing is, neither Illumination nor Regrowth seem like they should have much of an effect on a stone wall.  Also note that I don't think we've ever seen Stormlight forced into a non-gem object without invoking one of the Radiant's Surges.  This leaves several possibilities: 1) it's a mistake; 2) Renarin's and/or Truthwatchers' Surges are weird and can somehow interact with a stone wall; 3) Stormlight can do stuff to objects independent of the Surges.  I don't know which of these is correct, or if there's some other explanation, but it seems worth pointing out.

I believe the wall itself is a "fabrial" that only needed stormlight to function--keep in mind that Urithiru had giant columns of gemstones that were meant to power everything from the lifts, to the plumbing. It's not unreasonable to believe that the wall of drawers served a similar function, and that's why it popped open when Renarin infused it--Renarin wasn't using the surges, per se, just turning the power on.

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#1 - The chasmfiend Kaladin killed with the Patternblade in WoR having "cloudy eyes". This is the only one that is really a potential gotcha to me. For all that she's an "unreliable narrator", that generally applies to things about herself, or something she wishes to lie even to herself about. When it comes to observing things and people around her, she's razor sharp.

I would say it might be a clue about chasmfiends being special somehow, but as you pointed out, one that was killed in TWoK was described as having its eyes "burn out" like anything else living. Maybe she was studying the "spren rising from it like smoke" so closely, they were so dense as to form a "cloud" around the eye sockets (like they were streaming out of them)? That feels like a reach, though.

Otherwise, either there's something special about this one chasmfiend, or maybe something special about this one's particular mode of death: having "death throes" is also a bit unusual for a Shardblade wound to the brain, you'd think death was instantaneous. The chasmfiend Elhokar killed with a Shardblade didn't thrash, as well as having its eyes burn out. So maybe, somehow, Kaladin's stab through the roof of its mouth into its brain with a Shardblade wasn't actually what killed it - like he Blade-severed some motor control region of its brain, causing it to thrash, and some part of its thrashing against the walls of the chasm proved to be the fatal blow?

Going back to the end of TWoK Ch. 13, Elhokar Blade-stabs the chasmfield in the neck, causing its eyes to burn; then stabs it in the chest, which now got cut normally, it being dead. So maybe the head of a chasmfiend isn't where it keeps extremely vital parts, for Blade-severing reasons.

Or, it was just an error. It happens.

#2 - Dalinar thinking Kaladin "likely ran out of infused rubies" as a reason for spanreed silence. This is from Dalinar's POV, it isn't Navani saying that out loud, she has only shaken her head no to indicate that she'd not received any message yet from Kaladin. Dalinar is not familiar with personally using a spanreed, much less an understanding of its creation and functioning like Navani would have. He only knows "infused rubies" are involved, that's all, and is assuming that Kaladin simply had more urgent uses for infused rubies (consuming their Stormlight to fly).

#3 - Rlain doesn't see Lopen's spren. This may well have been the first time Lopen himself ever saw Nua, and he went pretty far away from Rlain to investigate, to be "on the other side of the plateau". Maybe even at that distance Rlain would have seen a flying spren, like Syl did in initially acting like a windspren, but for whatever reason, Nua chose to appear while hiding under rocks. Not very strange, then, that Rlain wouldn't see that from across the plateau.

#4 - Dalinar's "old general's trick" to flick a spanreed without words, where spanreeds were only invented since Gavilar's assassination.  Well, at this point of his life, Dalinar is an old general, and for all we know, he invented the trick :). That, or some other general a generation older than him thought of it a few years back. Once again it was from his POV, so perhaps Dalinar thinks of it as "Old General Tsotav's Chicken Flickin' Maneuver" or something.

#5 - Renarin opening the gem drawers with Stormlight. I figured this was a kind of fabrial in action, the act of pumping in Stormlight is what fueled or trigger-operated the drawers. His Truthwatcher nature (possibly his prescience flavored version) is what gave him the insight to do that.
 

Edited by robardin
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