When reading predictions for Stormlight 4, I decided as a bit of a mental exercise I would attempt to outline the plots I felt would be in Stormlight 4 the same way Brandon does. I ended up going quite a bit further with this than I originally intended, so here you go.
A few disclaimers before I begin.
- This is very heavily biased towards plotlines I want to happen. Some of these things I don’t necessarily expect to happen, especially after seeing how much space I’d expect them to take.
- I did not do a reread before creating this. I haven’t done a full reread since OB’s release, so there are almost certainly plot threads I’m forgetting. This is based on my memory and other users’ comments on things they hope to see.
- You may notice that this outline is extremely similar to the structure of Oathbringer. That’s because I used OB’s structure as a template and inserted potential Stormlight 4 plots. I did this for a few reasons. First, I’m not creative enough to do this from scratch. Second, the purpose of this was originally to estimate how much plot could fit in an OB sized book. The easiest way to do that, I felt, was basing it on OB. That said…
- I am not an author. I am not an outliner. So if you are and it seems like I put way too much/way too little plot in this outline, that’s probably why.
Prologue: To Mourn
Brandom has stated that Navani is likely to be the PoV character in the prologue.(Source)
The main thing I think we’ll get out of her PoV is her immediate reaction to her husband’s death. We’ve heard a bit about their marriage, but this will be our opportunity to see her thoughts on Gavilar while they were together. Other than that, Navani, as queen, is likely to know who’s who at the feast. We might get some of her interactions with the important people there. Hopefully we’ll also get some good fabrial tidbits. Navani has seen the black spheres Gavilar was giving out, as seen by this quote. If we’re lucky we’ll learn from her what’s in those.
“Dalinar, I’ve seen something like this before. Much smaller, like a sphere.” She looked up at him. “Gavilar made it.”
Part 1: History
Venli, Rlain, Shallan, Adolin
Venli - Venli’s story in this part is about beginning to build a group of singers loyal to her. In the time skip she’s told her story to singers, but she hasn’t really become a leader to them. Her story here is about accepting that. She failed her people once, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t try again. She’ll say an oath at the end of this part, partly so she can swear all the oaths in the first arc and partly so she can get her shardblade at the climax.
Rlain - Rlain was absent from the end of OB for a reason.(Source) Stormlight 4 will open with him on a journey to rescue the surviving members of the listeners. He’ll succeed and bring them back to Urithiru, becoming their de facto leader. His plot will be the primary parallel for Venli for this part.
Shallan - Shallan has a lot to deal with when Stormlight 4 begins. She’s going to be communicating with Sja-ana and the Ghostbloods, dealing with her brothers, and ironing out married life with Adolin. Veil and Radiant will also both be around. This part will end with resolution for Sja-anat and her family life.
Adolin - Things won’t have progressed with Maya in the past year. We’ll see Adolin talk to her. We’ll also see the marriage from his perspective and what his relationship is like with Dalinar since the revelations about Sadeas and Evi.
Part 2: Creating destruction now
Venli, Szeth, Navani, Bride Four
Venli - Venli’s pretty much just traveling around building support to break away. While she doesn’t agree with the Fused and Odium, she also doesn’t trust the humans enough yet to join them.
Szeth - Szeth is going to be dealing with living in a society that views him as a monster and murderer. He doesn’t quite understand why what he did is problematic, but he’s learning. Additionally, he’s going to be training. We’ll see him practice division for the first time since he was made Truthless and practice flying with Bridge Four.
Navani - The man who murdered Navani’s first husband is now guarding her second husband. She’s going to have some problems with that. Her PoV on the situation is going to contrast very nicely with Szeth’s. Having her deal with this in the same book that we get to see her immediate reaction to Gavilar’s death will also give perspective. Additionally, Navani, as the queen of fabrials, is going to be working very hard on the problem of Urithiru. We’ll also see her experiment with some gravity fabrials to make that flying ship she designed, although the actual ships won’t be around for a while.
Bridge Four - Bridge Four is going to be our main perspective on living with the listeners in Urithiru. We’re also going to see them prepare for a mission to fly out and evacuate parts of Kholinar.
Part 3: Fighting pain, feel pain
Venli, Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar
Venli - Odium’s forces are going to find and free Ba-Ado-Mishram.
Kaladin - Kaladin and a group of Windrunners will travel to Kholinar to bring refugees back to Urithiru. During this journey, one of the main members of Bridge Four will die. Bridge Four still doesn’t know what happened with Moash, and he’ll make an appearance here, forcing the Windrunners to confront Kaladin about what happened. Kaladin is still struggling with the knowledge that he can’t save everyone, and these events will only make it worse.
Shallan - After her previous assignment, the Ghostbloods will have tasked Shallan with getting Urithiru up and running. She’ll have been a bit involved with the group of scholars, run by Navani, responsible for discovering Urithiru’s secrets before, but only now will she truly devote effort to it.
Dalinar - Dalinar will be dealing with the weight of leadership. The logistics of dealing with everyone in Urithiru are getting harder as the population of the city expands. The only way to handle it is by getting all of the cities functions up and running so they can start growing food. There will also be a bit of politics with other countries, particularly Jah Keve and Azir. This section will end with the Sibling being awakened, which will serve as the primary parallel for Venli’s arc in book 2, which also ends in an ancient, powerful spren being found.
Part 4: Fight! Now destroy!
Venli, Kaladin, Shallan, Adolin, Jasnah, Dalinar, Taravangian, Rlain
Venli - She sees what the Fused are like under Ba-Ado-Mishram and is not impressed. She’s still questioning if joining the humans is right though. Should she not just take her own people and run, rather than risking them for a group that’s only ever done her wrong?
Kaladin - Kaladin is extremely low at this point. He doubts he’ll ever be able to swear the next ideal. Then he runs into Tarah in Urithiru, who says things to him that makes him reevaluate his attitude. Syl ships them when they meet.
Shallan - Shallan finally decides she can fully confront her past. We get flashbacks to her childhood before she bonded Pattern and when she said her first ideal, similar to Kaladin in OB. She starts to accept all of herself, but she isn’t quite there yet.
Adolin - We get a bit more development with Adolin and Maya.
Jasnah - We finally get to see how Jasnah is doing as queen. We see her basically interview the Sibling for information. She still has Ash and Taln as prisoners, not that either is helpful to her in any way.
Dalinar - Dalinar has another Bondsmith spren and he’s looking for another candidate. Not that he actually has any choice in the matter, but that doesn’t stop him. We get to see more politics, including his decision to take the Horneater Peaks. After all, Rock is their rightful king and the Radiants are in a stronger position than ever. What could possibly go wrong? He’ll also learn the rest of what caused the Recreance and the lobotomization of the singers.
Taravangian - We need to check up on Odium’s human ally and here is where we’ll do it. Having been informed about Ba-Ado-Mishram’s return, Tarvangian encourages Dalinar in the campaign while passing along the intel to Odium.
Rlain - Rlain has been leading the listeners in Urithiru. We’ll get a chapter or two of him wishing there was a better way for him to be a leader and bridge the gap between humans and singers.
Part 5: Creating history
This is the Brandon avalanche, so I won’t go by character like for the other parts.
The Radiants show up to the Horneater Peaks and Cultivation’s Perpendicularity. Far more of Odium’s forces are there than they expected, including both Ba-Ado-Mishrim and Venli’s faction of singers. The fight begins and the Radiants are losing, badly. Venli makes a decision and her group of singers joins forces with the Radiants. She swears another oath, summoning Timbre as a shardblade. Kaladin accepts the fourth oath and swears it, summoning shardplate. Adolin revives Maya and fully becomes an Edgedancer. The tide turns and the Radiants force Odium’s forces to retreat. Right after the battle, Shallan says her final truth, which fully integrates her personas. Back at Urithiru, Rlain and the listeners were left behind while everyone else fights. Rlain manages to bond the Sibling, becoming a Bondsmith.
The story told in Eshonai’s flashbacks will be one of a young woman who is forced to give up what she loves to accept responsibility. The flashbacks will begin in her childhood, where we see how the stories her mother told influenced her to want to explore the world. We’ll see her ignore her responsibilities to follow those dreams, and Venli will pick up the slack. After the discovery of humans, she’ll take on responsibility as an interpreter, but not because she feels she needs to. She does it because it allows her to see the world as she always wanted. The climax of her arc will come after Gavilar’s assassination, when she finally accepts responsibility as a member of The Five and leader of the listener armies against humans.
This will parallel Venli’s arc as the dutiful daughter who never quite did anything right and is trying to learn to do better. She knows she failed her people when trying to do the right thing, and now she has to navigate the fears of doing the same thing again. The climax of Eshonai’s story will be paralleled by the climax of hers. Rather than becoming a leader of her people by choosing to fight against the humans, Venli will become a leader by choosing to fight with them.
The main interlude novella will be taken up by Moash/Vyre. We’ll see him traveling and attempting to hunt heralds. We’ll see him kill one, most likely Ishar.
Rysn’s interlude will take place in the port of Steen. She’ll be preparing a voyage to sail to Aimia, where she hopes to see Chiri-Chiri’s homeland during a break in her trading. During the preparations she has some kind of interaction with the Sleepless.
Other interludes primarily be random character we don’t know, but here are what I think are a couple interesting possibilities.
Ethid - One of Jasnah’s penpals, she’s in the court of Azir and can give some perspective on the political climate of that country currently
Redin - The illegitimate son of a highprince who became his father’s executioner. Brandon has stated we’ll see a new Dustbringer in the next book.(Source) There was a relatively popular theory before Oathbringer, that I was a huge fan of, stating that Redin would be a Dustbringer. Well, I’m bringing that back and proposing an interlude where he bonds a Dustbringerspren. There are lots of questions about what happened to him after the last time we saw him.
One person I’m not including on this list is Axies. Brandon has said we might get an Axies interlude.(Source) I think instead of an interlude, we’ll just hear about an Aimian that recently arrived in Urithiru at some point.
In Nvani’s notebook I think we’ll get some of the inner workings of Urithiru. With the focus on singers, I think we’ll also get art related to them. A sketch of each form seems like something Shallan would do.
Where each character will end up
Venli - Venli has proven herself to the humans and singers she leads. She has not, however, proven herself to the surviving listeners. That will be the source of her conflict in Stormlight 5, which will particularly put her in conflict with Rlain.
Kaladin - Kaladin has his fifth and final oath to discover and swear. If he ends up with a love interest, that will be part of his journey in Stormlight 5. He’s also going to have one final confrontation with Moash, possibly in the duel of champions.
Shallan - Shallan has finally accepted herself and said all her truths. She knows who she is, so Stormlight 5 will be about her finally learning fully who the Ghostbloods are. She learned some tidbits in Stormlight 4, but those only led to more questions.
Dalinar - Unity. Time for Dalinar to learn exactly what being Unity means. There will also be quite a bit of politics involving him, particularly with both Shinovar and Azir. The Vorin church might also make one final push for power.
Szeth - It’s finally time for Szeth to shine. He’ll be sent to Shinovar by Dalinar, not to kill all the leaders but rather as a diplomat to make peace and an alliance. There’s also going to be a final confrontation between him and Nale.
Adolin - Time for Adolin to be Radiant.
Here’s an explanation for a few of the bigger choices I made while writing this outline.
First, I chose to cut back on Kaladin PoVs and not begin them until part 3. First, I wanted to allow plots for other members of Bridge Four, particularly Rlain. Reducing the focus on Kaladin seemed like the natural place to get that space from. Second, Kaladin’s arc in this book, I decided, was going to focus entirely on his brooding “Why can’t I save everyone?” angst. Starting that in part 1 and not ending it until part 5 when he swears the fourth oath just felt like a lot.
The next choice I made was to push back almost all of Szeth’s arc until Stormlight 5. Stormlight 5 is going to have Szeth flashbacks, so there will be a primary focus on him in the present day. The next big arc for Szeth is going to be his journey to Shinovar. Since Szeth swore to Dalinar, I felt Dalinar was going to be a large part of that arc, especially as it deals with political leaders of another country. We know Dalinar is going to have a larger focus in Stormlight 5 than Stormlight 4, so I felt a story arc heavily involving them both was a natural choice for next book.
The last choice I made that I think is notable is to resolve Shallan’s personas in this book. I think dealing with them for longer than that will just be too long. So I chose to resolve that here and push back the resolution of the Ghostbloods. Of course, there needs to be some Ghostblood resolution in Stormlight 4, as they’ve been a mystery since The Way of Kings. So I think the Ghostbloods in Stormlight 4 will be one of those “the answers we get only raise more questions” scenarios.
There’s a lot that I’m unhappy with in this outline. In particular, I don’t like how my Venli plot ended up. It’s really just a lot of her traveling around and trying to subvert singers from within Odium’s forces. It seems like far more of a Windrunner arc than a Willshaper arc. Not that we know what a Willshaper arc is yet, but “I will protect those who cannot protect themselves” and “I will protect those I hate, so long as it is right” would both fit remarkably well in the scenarios I have her saying oaths. I suspect her arc to be the most different from what I listed of the main characters.
Ultimately, I’m expecting a very different Stormlight 4 from the one I outlined. I don’t think Kaladin will step back that much or Rlain will be that important. But it was interesting to try and make a cohesive story out of the plot threads left. I have a new appreciation for the outlining that goes into writing a Stormlight book, and I’m glad Brandon will spend as long as he needs to get it right.