Woohoo we’re back in Roshar! 1200 pages worth, and we learn SO MUCH! Brandon Sanderson once again builds a wonderful world to share, and we get to spend some more time with our favorite characters, Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar.

Arielle is here to join me this time in co-authoring this review – you’ll see her thoughts in blue. 

YAY! It’s me! Hopefully I don’t spell anything wrong because I listen to the audio version.

Okay, let’s get to the meat of things. Spoilers start now.

Dalinar’s Story

Yours is the power Ishar once held. Before he was Herald of Luck, they called him Binder of Gods. He was the founder of the Oathpact. No radiant is capable of more than you. Yours is the power of Connection, of joining men and worlds, minds and souls. Your surges are the greatest of all, though they will be impotent if you seek to wield them for mere battle.

The Way of Kings was Kaladin’s story; The Words of Radiance, Shallan’s. I thought, between her surprise re-appearance at the end of book 2 and her appearance on the cover of this book, that Oathbringer would be Jasnah’s story. Nope. Dalinar’s. Surprise!

In Oathbringer, we got to learn all about Dalinar’s past as The Blackthorn. Up until now, I had just assumed he was some sort of badass in combat, perhaps a brilliant tactician, and that’s how he earned his name. Sure, some people mentioned he was brutal, but let’s be real – war is brutal. That kind of comes with the territory.

“I want them to suffer for this. Men, women, children. They must know the punishment for broken oaths. Immediately.”

“I promised Tanalan that his widows would weep for what I did here, but that is too merciful for what they’ve done to me. I intend to so thoroughly ruin this place that for ten generations, nobody will dare build here for fear of the spirits who will haunt it. We will make a pyre of this city, and there shall be no weeping for its passing, for none will remain to weep.”

O.o Oh, okay. Well then.

Arielle insert time – THANK GOD Edmund takes notes. I’d just like to point out in the above quote from the book that “none will remain to weep” is such an understatement. Sure, no one is alive to weep, but all the crying comes back to literally HAUNT Dalinar in his mind.

Slight tangent – I’m actually going to post an unpopular opinion here and say that I’m 100% okay with what Dalinar did there, razing the rift. This entire debacle was because he refused to murder a small child earlier. Or did we forget that an act of mercy in sparing a small child is what got us here in the first place?

Only one other person was in the small chamber: a young boy. Six, perhaps seven. Tears streaked the child’s face, and he struggled to lift his father’s Shardblade in two hands.

Dalinar loomed in the doorway.

“You can’t have my daddy,” the boy said, words distorted by his sorrow. Painspren crawled around the floor. “You can’t. You…you…” His voice fell to a whisper. “Daddy said … we fight monsters. And with faith, we will win…”

Last time he granted mercy and clemency, the child grew up to cause a rebellion. And more than that, he used underhanded tactics to try to A) get Dalinar to turn on his allies and B) murder Dalinar in a trap. I’d be pissed too. I’d *also* want to burn the city to the ground.

So, if we’re to learn our lessons from history, we should raze the city, lest its inhabitants grow up just to try and take vengeance on all of us later. If he’d just killed that little boy, none of the other citizens of the Rift would have had to die decades later. To take an example from another series, didn’t Tywin Lannister do something similar in Game of Thrones with the Castameres? And everyone thinks that he’s smart and prudent.

Okay, tangent over.

So apparently Dalinar wasn’t just The Blackthorn because he was really good at killing people, but because he had earned a reputation for being unnecessarily cruel and harsh in doing so, murdering scores of civilians along the way. This was a really harsh contrast to the Dalinar we saw in the previous books, especially the Dalinar that we saw in Book 1.

“What is a man’s life worth?”-Dalinar

“A life is priceless” – Kaladin

“Coincidentally, that is the exact value of a Shardblade. So today, you and your men sacrificed to buy me 2600 priceless lives. And all I had to repay you with was a single priceless sword. I call that a bargain.” -Dalinar

“You really think it was a good trade, don’t you?” Kaladin said, amazed.

Remember that exchange from Book 1? Dalinar was supposed to be the pinnacle of honor! Of all that was good in the world! Welp.

I really liked how Brandon Sanderson had us realize the same way that Dalinar did, in slow, small snippets. As we’re feeling betrayed and lied to about his character, Dalinar has to come to grips with the fact that he isn’t the person he thought he was. That it was all built on a foundation of…not lies perhaps, but omission.

Dalinar’s arc in this story is one of redemption, of him feeling guilty for having killed all the people in the Rift and accidentally killing his wife in doing so (oops). We see him try and hide from his grief, first by drinking, and eventually by going to the Nightcrawler/Cultivation.

“I will give you…a pruning. A careful excision to let you grow. The cost will be high.

In doing this, I provide for him a weapon. Dangerous, very dangerous. Yet, all things must be cultivated. What I take from you will grow back eventually. This is part of the cost.

It will do me well to have a part of you, even if you ultimately become his. You were always bound to come to me. I control all things that can be grown, nurtured.

That includes the thorns.” – Cultivation

Woah! In exploring Dalinar’s backstory, we learn

A) Why he went to the nightcrawler (to try and stop feeling all the guilt)

B) What he got (he stopped feeling guilt about killing Evi, but also forgot Evi entirely, which allowed him to grow as a person)

C) That the Nightcrawler and Cultivation are different entities. I had personally been under the impression for most of the book that they were one and the same, instead of having a relationship similar to the Stormfather and Honor. 100% in the same boat here. I definitely thought they were the same person. It was interesting that Cultivation wanted to take care of Dalinar, instead of letting the Nightcrawler handle it.

D) Cultivation KNEW he was going to get his memories back. You’ll see some hypothesizing below but I wonder if bonding a spren is what makes his memories come back. It began at pretty much the same time. 

E) That Cultivation had a plan in doing this. There’s even foreshadowing when she speaks above about “even if you become his”. Also here, she would’ve known that he was to become a Knight Radiant? The Nightcrawler even specifically calls him “Son of Honor? Son of Odium?”

The Thrill boiled within. And Dalinar knew. He knew he’d always been a fraud. He was the same as Amaram. He had an honest reputation, but was a murderer on the inside. A destroyer. A child killer.

“Let go,” Odium whispered.

Dalinar squeezed his eyes shut, trembling, hands tense as he hunched over and clawed the ground. It hurt so badly. To know that he’d failed them. Navani, Adolin, Elhokar, Gavilar. He couldn’t live with this.

He couldn’t live with her tears!

“Give it to me,” Odium pled.

Dalinar ripped his fingernails off, but the pain of the body couldn’t distract him. It was nothing beside the agony of his soul.

Of knowing what he truly was.

Dalinar’s struggle with his guilt over his actions at the Rift was the central point around which the story revolved around. I loved how Brandon Sanderson made everything tie together at the end with Odium wanting to make him his Champion (plot twist!!) and offering to absolve Dalinar’s guilt as a way of enticing him.

The most important step a man can take. It’s not the first one, is it?

It’s the next one. Always the next step, Dalinar.

“I will take responsibility for what I have done. If I must fall, I will rise each time a better man.”

He closed his eyes, breathing out, listening to a sudden stillness. And within it a simple, quiet voice. A woman’s voice, so familiar to him.

I forgive you.

Side note – You know sometimes how a book reaches out beyond its confines and affects you in real life? When a quote is so poignant that you just stop reading and say “wow”? That was the “always the next step” line for me.

Sometimes it’s not about who you are or what you’ve done in the past, but who you are or what you’re doing *right now* that defines who you are.

I love that Dalinar’s redemption arc concluded with him accepting that he did certain things, that they’d always be with him, but that those things didn’t prevent him from doing the right things *going forward*, namely, you know, not becoming Odium’s Champion. That was nice.

Side note: I think Odium was also training Amaram to be a champion backup.

Kaladin

“Maybe you don’t have to save anyone, Kaladin. Maybe it’s time for someone to save you.

Speaking of twists and turns, how weird was it that Kaladin took a backseat in the story in book 3? Not only did he have much less screentime (pagetime?) than in books 1 and 2, he also wasn’t the savior at the end of the day.

“I…I will…”

He thought of friends lost. Malop. Jaks. Beld and Pedin.

Say it, storm you!

“I…”

Rod and Mart. Bridgemen he’d failed. And before them, slaves he’d tried to save. Goshel. Nalma, caught in a trap like a beast.

The Words. Say the Words!

He *almost* speaks the 4th ideal, but not quite. I’m curious as to what it is. One of the better theories that I read on the internet was that the fourth ideal would be something like “I will forgive myself for those I cannot save.” Oooh. I like this theory.

That would explain why he thinks of all the friends he lost as he’s trying to speak the 4th ideal. He can’t quite get there to forgive himself.

“What about me?” Kaladin asked.

Dalinar pointed at Amaram, who was climbing to his feet in Shardplate. “He is going to try to kill me for what I do next, and I could use a bodyguard. As I recall, you have a score to settle with the highlord.”

Kaladin DOES however *finally get the showdown he and I have been waiting for since book 1 against AMARAM*! Wooooooh.

I’ve been waiting for this for SO LONG. I got blue balls when it didn’t happen in The Words of Radiance and just kind of assumed it would never happen. So Jonah Hill there pretty much embodied my excitement when I got to this portion of the book haha.

“Didn’t you tell me you’d given up that grief?” -Kaladin

“Yes! I’m beyond guilt!” -Amaram

“Then why do you still hurt? Murderer! You’ve switched sides to find peace, Amaram. But you won’t ever have it.” -Kaladin

I found it interesting that Amaram basically confessed that he went through similar trials to what Dalinar was going through regarding guilt (see note about Amaram maybe being a backup champion above). And that he, unlike Dalinar, accepted Odium’s way out in trying to convince himself that he didn’t need to feel guilt, that it was all Odium’s fault that he did those terrible things, not his.

But Kaladin is able to tilt him during the battle by continuing to pick at that scab. It’s not healed. Amaram doesn’t *actually* think that everything is fine and that he shouldn’t feel guilt.

I made you, Kaladin! I gave you that granite will, that warrior’s poise. This, the person you’ve become, was my gift! “I made you! I forged you!” -Amaram

“Today, what I do, I do for the men you killed. I am the man I’ve become because of them. Ten spears go to battle. And nine shatter. Did that war forge the one that remained? No, Amaram. All the war did was identify the spear that would not break.”

And I loved the further exchanges between the two where Amaram tries to convince Kaladin that everything he did to him was a good thing for Kaladin, forging him into what he was.

“I saw it in your eyes, Amaram,” Kaladin whispered as the husk of a man stumbled up to him. “When you killed Coreb and Hab and my other friends. I saw the guilt you felt. You tried to break me as a slave. But you failed. They rescued me.”

Maybe it’s time for someone to save you, Syl had said in Shadesmar. But someone already had.

Amaram raised the Shardblade high.

“Bridge Four,” Kaladin whispered.

It was so satisfying to see Amaram continue to tilt while Kaladin didn’t, and for Bridge Four (and Rock!) to be the ones who ultimately saved Kaladin. Closing circles feels *so good*!

My little note and something that didn’t quite make sense to me this section of the fight:

“You have great form, spearman! Do you remember when you first came to me? Back in that village, when you begged me to take you? You were a blubbering child who wanted so badly to be a soldier. The glory of the battle! I could see the lust in your eyes, boy!” – Amaran to Kaladin

Amaram makes it sound like fighting was all Kaladin wanted to do, but we, as readers, know that isn’t exactly the truth. Kaladin wanted to protect his brother. Sure, of course, he wanted to be a soldier too but I wouldn’t say that’s why he went running off to war. I feel like this is another piece/lie Amaram tells himself so that he feels “okay” about what he did.

Some other notes about Kaladin is I really enjoyed the part where he became friends with the Parshmen. We get to see things a bit from their side, their confusion, the fact they just want a life, and more spoilers from Edmund below. BUT this friendship directly changed the outcome of the Kholinar battle – WHICH WAS OFF THE CHAIN.

ALSO HE FINALLY REUNITES WITH HIS FAM. LIKE OMG. AND – HE HAS A BROTHER.

Adolin (and Maya!)

“You want to fight it, don’t you?” Adolin asked. “It reminds you of when you were alive.”

Something tickled his mind, very faint, like a sigh. A single word: Mayalaran.

Special shoutout to Adolin, who is at this point my favorite side character. And while Kaladin is obviously my favorite character, I identify most with Adolin. We both grew up relatively privileged, and we both apparently talk to our inanimate objects and treat them as though they had thoughts and feelings, which apparently makes us weird haha.

So it was a pretty cool reveal to see Adolin’s spren in Shadesmar, even if she is a deadeyes. It warmed my heart to see her help protect Adolin right after he got stabbed, especially since deadeyed spren are supposed to basically be no brained passive zombies.

“The world is full of gods and Heralds now, and you’re one of them. I’m practically a nobody. I’m not used to that feeling.”

-Adolin, to Shallan

His battle sequence snippets were great, especially since he went through this entire book without his shardplate, which he’s used to fighting with. His coming to grips with the fact that he’s no longer a member of the most important group of people since he’s not a Radiant is interesting character development. If he’s a central focus of Book 4, I bet that will be his character arc.

I wonder if there’s a way that he can bring her back to life? After all, Syl said in the last book that spren are never truly dead in the way that people are. I was hoping for this too, especially since she is showing “signs of life.” I’d love for that to happen.

Plus, he was able to summon her with only 7 heartbeats once. And he felt sadness from his Blade when he had to lend her to the Theylen shardbearer.

I need more Adolin + Maya in my life like I needed Kaladin + Syl.

So… part of me wants Adolin to be a Radiant, but:

“They say you have to be broke,” Lopen said…

I don’t think he’ll get there. As Edmund mentioned, he’s a little too privileged. I would like to give a shout out to Adolin for confronting Shallan on her “feelings” towards Kaladin. I know that must’ve taken a lot of guts, but I shouldn’t have been too surprised, Adolin is honestly a pretty brave dude. ALSO he’s brave enough to tell his dad he killed Sadeas and it was just like “Oh… okay. Well I guess we will figure it out.”

Lastly, about Adolin is that I LOVE how much Sanderson brought out Adolin’s fashion sense. One, it was hilarious. And two, I think it helps with how in modern day, fashion isn’t really assumed to be a guy’s thing. I liked how unabashedly interested he was in it.

Nale and Szeth!!!

Really? Didn’t you tell me you spent a thousand years following the instructions of a rock?

“More than seven years, sword-nimi. And I didn’t follow the rock, but the words of the one who held it. I…”

…had no choice?

But it had always been nothing more than a rock.

Speaking of side characters, Szeth is back! And…I guess I was wrong in wanting Kaladin to have murdered him in Book 2. Like I *really* wanted that…

The disagreements between the Skybreakers and the Windrunners have grown to tragic levels. I plead with any who hear this to recognize you are not so different as you think. – drawer 27-19

All of his entire interactions with Nale were very interesting. For one, I don’t really get the difference between skybreakers and windrunners. They seem to have almost identical lashing and binding abilities.

The only differences seem to be in their ideals. Compare “I will protect those who cannot protect themselves” (Windrunners) to “I will put the law before all else” (Skybreakers). Whereas skybreakers (and highspren) only seem to care about the law, windrunners (and honorspren) only seem to care about “doing what is right”, which is a much more nebulous concept.

Syl actually touched on this concept in Book 2, specifically stating with derision that she was NOT a highspren.

“You must choose, Szeth-son-Neturo. The skybreakers will swear to the Dawnsingers and their law. And you? Will you join us?”

-Nale

And we see the importance of such a nebulous distinction at the final battle. A HERALD says he’s going to join Odium’s side, WHAAAAT? I suppose Brandon’s entire point regarding the two different orders is that what is lawful is not always what is right.

Nale went around murdering surgebinders for who-knows-how-long, under the pretense of law, making the entire world less prepared for this Desolation. And he’s now done the mental gymnastics to say that yes, he’s still following the law by switching sides. Because he gets to pick which laws are “right.”

Honestly, I fail to see how that’s functionally different than just nebulously following what is “right.” It’ll be interesting if in book 4, there are windrunners vs skybreaker fights, not only physical ones, but mental arguments between them as well regarding what is “right.”

“I serve Dalinar Kolin. I cannot know truth, so I follow one who does.”

Szeth’s decision to follow Dalinar is interesting in two ways.

(1) Nale basically says that he’s going to tell all the other skybreakers to join the parshmen, even stating that “it will be hard” for some of them. But Szeth gets a choice? Why? This is interesting. I’m not sure if Nale specifically meant he’d force them into it, but that he thinks they will follow his will, even if they don’t necessarily want to. But Szeth, during his trials, etc, has shown to think a bit outside the box.

(2) I honestly felt like there wasn’t a ton of buildup to make Szeth’s character innately trust Dalinar, especially not to the point where he would trust Dalinar more than Nale. Super agree. Szeth spends most of Book 2 trying to kill Dalinar, and is spurned only by Kaladin. Is Szeth’s basis for following Dalinar entirely based on the fact that Kaladin is then? And will this change if Kaladin’s feelings change once he learns about Dalinar’s past?

It will be really interesting to see 1. how Kaladin’s feelings do change about Dalinar, for sure, BUT also, how he feels about the assassin in white just nilly-willy joining up with Dalinar. I am going to assume that he’s going to be pretty untrustworthy towards Szeth for a good while.

I’d like to talk about the sword here too. Like WHAT IS UP WITH IT?! 

Wow! I’m impressed. You know, Vivenna never drew me even once? She carried me for a long time too. Maybe a couple of days even?

“And how long have I been carrying you?”

At least an hour; the sword said satisfied. One, or two, or ten thousand. Something like that.

That sword’s mind is definitely in a weird place, and I honestly wonder why that is. Are the other swords like this? 

Kathleen was right! That *IS* Nightblood!

(spoilers – if you haven’t read Warbreaker, just skip to the next section, sorry Arielle – and lol at your question about the sword since you can’t read the next section yet)

You should draw me, the sword said.

“And do what, sword-nimi?” Szeth whispered.

Fight him. I think he might be evil.

When are we actually going to fight someone? You sure do like to talk. Even more than Vasher, and he could go on and on and on…

I read Warbreaker after The Words of Radiance on Kathleen’s recommendation. She thought the sword that Szeth got at the end of Book 2 sounded a lot like the sword in the beginning of Warbreaker – same snarky tone, same snarky personality, same proclivity to DESTROY EVIL!

Well, SHE WAS RIGHT!

One of the things that was touched on in Warbreaker was that while Nightblood is basically a sentient sword, made with the purpose to “destroy evil”, he wasn’t made with the capacity to truly discern *what* evil is. And so passages like the one above where he just kind of guesses at what is evil and what needs to be destroyed are both funny and poignant.

Does he think Nale is evil because he sees that Nale is going to switch sides to the Parshmen? Or does he think he’s evil just because?

“You almost ate him,” Lift said. “You almost starvin’ ate me!”

Oh, I wouldn’t do that, the voice said. She seemed completely baffled, voice growing slow, like she was drowsy. But … maybe I was just really, really hungry…

And his interactions with Lift were very interesting too, if for no other reason that Lift hears Nightblood as a *girl* while in all of Warbreaker, he’s referred to by Vasher as a boy, and even Szeth refers to him as a boy. I think I remember a passage about how Nightblood doesn’t really understand gender, and so he/she’ll appear to different people as different genders as a result.

“I have known royals. Including one woman who left it behind. Throne, family, responsibilities…

I can’t help feeling that this is merely one in a long string of duties abdicated, of burdens set down, perhaps to disastrous results. But of all the things I’ve walked away from, the one I don’t regret is allowing some else to rule. Sometimes, the best way to do your duty is to let someone else – someone more capable – try carrying it.”

-Azure

Bonus, we got Nightblood, AND WE GOT VIVENNA! It took me until after I finished the book to put two and two together, but Azure *has* to be Vivenna!  She talks about needing to be royalty, but then abandoning it, like she did to her home kingdom in Warbreaker. And Vasher *was* kind of a bounty hunter.

So many questions though then –

(1) Where is Vasher?

(2) How do colors / breaths interact with this world? Nightblood feeds on stormlight first, and THEN colors. But obviously colors are still a thing.

(3) Everyone in Roshar should still have all their breaths. How do breaths interact with shards or spren?

The Fall of Alekthar

More twists and turns. Who saw Alekthar falling? I definitely did NOT. I assumed the entire book was building up to a giant battle at Alekthar for the final Act, Dalinar and Alethi troops rolling in to stem the tide to rescue a beleaguered Kaladin, Adolin, Elhokar, and Shallan . Welp, I was wrong.

Kaladin saw them. All of them. Sah and the parshmen, fighting to keep their freedom. The guardsmen who had been rescued, fighting for their king. Azure’s Wall Guard, terrified as their city fell around them. The Queen’s Guard, convinced they were loyally following orders.

In that moment, Kaladin lost something precious. He’d always been able to trick himself into seeing a battle as us against them. Protect those you love. Kill everyone else. But…but they didn’t deserve death.

None of them did.

Kaladin screamed, tears streaming form his eyes. He begged them to just stop, to listen.

They couldn’t hear him. Sah – gentle Sah, who had only wanted to protect his daughter – died by Noro’s sword. Noro, in turn, got his head split by Khen’s axe.

Noro and Sah fell beside Beard, whose dead eyes started sightlessly – his arm stretched out, glyphward soaking up his blood.

We spent so much time with Kaladin as he befriended the parshmen on his reconnaissance before; just as much time with Kaladin as he made friends on the Wall Guard. I thought for sure the ending to this battle would be Kaladin at the *very least* convincing everyone to stop killing each other. That it would be this grand scene where everyone lays down their weapons because they know Kaladin, and they all work together to defeat the queen and save the city.

But nooooope. Everyone died. And it broke Kaladin. And a little bit of me as well.

Kaladin could almost hear Elhokar stuttering the words.

Life … life before death …

The hair on Kaladin’s neck rose. Elhokar started to glow softly.

Strength … before weakness …

“Do it, Elhokar,” Kaladin whispered.

Journey. Journey before …

A figure emerged from the battle. A tall, lean man – so, so familiar. Gloom seemed to cling to Moash, who wore a brown uniform like the parshmen. For a heartbeat the battle pivoted on him. Wall guard behind him, broken Palace Guard before.

“Moash, no…” Kaladin whispered. He couldn’t move. Stormlight bled from him, leaving him empty, exhausted.

Lowering his spear, Moash ran Elkohar through the chest.

And when I say everybody, that doesn’t mean “no name characters that no one really knew anyway,” that includes freaking ELHOKAR. And of storming course it’s Moash that does it.

So sad that he was *so close* to becoming a Radiant, to coming one step closer to becoming the hero and leader he wanted to be.

All of this is so same. I’m honestly surprised Elhokar was killed. I’m still trying to figure out what is going to become of Moash though.

Teft

“Can you see it, Teft?” the Spren whispered. “Can you feel the Words?”

“I’m broken.”

“Who isn’t? Life breaks us, Teft. Then we fill the cracks with something stronger.”

Storm you! Be a man for once in your life!

“I will protect those I hate. Even … even if the one I hate most … is … myself.”

I’ll be honest. I didn’t enjoy most of Teft’s chapters for almost the entire book. Same. I thought he was a whiny little bitch that kept abdicating his responsibilities. But I guess that was just one giant elaborate setup for his own personal little redemption arc at the end.

Hilarious it is to see his spren basically be as gruff as he is. She basically calls him a pussy and literally tells him to man up.

Light exploded from the Oathgate platform in a wave. The Fused cried out in a strange tongue, zipping into the air. A luminous wall expanded from the Oathgate platform in a ring, trailing a glowing afterimage.

It faded to reveal an entire division of Alethi troops in Kholin blue standing upon the Oathgate platform.

Then, like a Herald from Lore, a man rose into the air above them. Glowing with Stormlight, the bearded man carried a long silver Shardspear with a strange crossguard shape behind the tip.

Teft. Knight Radiant.

And as a result, Teft gets major screentime in one of the best scenes of the book! The entire end is of course breathtakingly amazing, but for him to figuratively ride in as the cavalry with the description above was…jawdropping.

Shallan/Veil/Radiant

“We’re still ignoring too much,” Shallan said. “We’re getting too good at pretending.” She had decided to stay with Jasnah in the first place to learn. But when the woman returned from the dead, Shallan had – instead of accepting training – immediately fled. What had she been thinking?

Nothing. She’d been trying to hide away from things she didn’t want to face. Like always.

Shallan’s character took a *very* interesting turn in this book, where she deals with split personalities and has a crisis of confidence in herself.

Much like Dalinar, she has to come to grips with some stuff from her past; whereas Dalinar hid himself in drinking and went to the Nightcrawler to assuage his guilt, Shallan tried to just run away from it all together and never face it, making up new personalities to deal with problems as she went.

We saw Veil again, but instead of being a character she puts on to accomplish things sometimes, we saw Shallan start to imagine herself with Veil as her main personality and Shallan as a personality she wanted to hide from the world…which was…weird.

Moreover, we saw Veil undergo her own plot lines and suffer major setbacks herself. Which ordinarily wouldn’t have been a problem since she’s a made up person, but…

“Since the first day, you storming woman. Hate…hate you…Others too. We all…hate you…”

The whole city was depending on her, but she hadn’t even been able to save a little beggar boy. As she curled up on the floor, Grund’s death seemed a shadow of everything else, of her good intentions turned arrogant.

Everywhere she trod, death haunted her. Every face she wore was a lie to pretend she could stop it.

Couldn’t she be somebody who didn’t hurt, just once?

Tragedy! How horrible would it be to genuinely figure out that while you were trying to do something good for people, you were actually ruining their lives? And that they *hated* you for it!

I give money to the homeless folks on the street; I donate to charities. I would feel crushed if I figured out that I had basically gone out of my way to accidentally hurt people.

“You tried to help the people of the market. You mostly failed. This is life. The longer you live, the more you fail. Failure is the mark of a life well lived. In turn, the only way to live without failure is to be of no use to anyone.”

-Wit

And the same things happens to Veil. She doesn’t “come out” as often anymore after that soul crushing realization. Wit literally has to rescue Shallan/Veil and help her back to her feet. And even then, she really doesn’t do much in the climax of the book.

Shallan’s struggle with who she was (Veil? Radiant? Shallan?) was honestly a little weird for me. I thought her battle with self doubt was basically over in Book 2, and it was curious to see it bleed over as her central theme in Book 3. I wonder how much of Shallan’s story in Book 4 will center around it. I hope in book 4 that Shallan figures out who she is and comes to terms with it. 

Adolin searched her eyes. She bled from one, to the other, and back. A moment of Veil. A moment of Radiant. Shallan peeking through –

Adolin’s hand tightened around her own

Shallan’s breath caught. There, she thought. That’s the one. That’s the one I am.

He knows.

Speaking of things spilling over from Book 2 to Book 3, remember that whole sexual tension between her and Kaladin and her and Adolin? It’s resolved!

And in a pretty cute way at that. Adolin noticing that Veil and Radiant have a thing for Kaladin and offering to step aside, only for Shallan to confidently proclaim that she wanted to be with him and he with her. Their exchange was heartwarming.

Some other things about Shallan is her involvement with the Ghostbloods. I guess we are going to see how that plays out in Book 4 but I’m wondering if her brother’s are going to be held against her in someway now that they are around. Honestly, I thought she (and Brandon) had forgotten about her brothers altogether. I even messaged Edmund when i had about 40 minutes left thinking they weren’t going to be mentioned. But nope, they get a super short scene where they show up just before her wedding, convenient!

Lift

This is not possible, the Stormfather said in Dalinar’s mind. How did she come here?

“You didn’t bring her in?” Dalinar said softly.

No. This is not possible! How…?

This is a creation specifically meant to defy my will!

That child is tainted by the Nightwatcher. This is different. This is unnatural. She goes too far. The Stormfather rumbled his discontent, refuisng to speak to Dalinar further. He seemed genuinely upset.

It was really interesting that she was able to pop in and out of the Stormfather’s and Odium’s visions, and even take people out of them. Both of them seemed so unnerved whenever she did so. In fact, it’s the only time that Odium ever seemed freaked out.

Lift seems to be tied closely to Cultivation, who I assume will play a larger role in the books ahead. With Honor dead, Cultivation is really the only thing that can stop Odium.

Her deal with the Nightwatcher seems very interesting. She asked to stay young forever, but in addition, she seems able to do a lot of things other Knights Radiant can’t. She can metabolize Stormlight directly from food (I think this is an extra bonus about being an edge dancer, but I’m honestly not sure); she can screw up things from Odium and the Stormfather; her spren seemed to survive with more of his memories intact than either Syl or Pattern after transitioning over, and he always talks about “mother” who I can assume is either the Nightwatcher or Cultivation.

I wonder what her curse is? And how her special abilities as a Knight Radiant will factor into everything. I think that somehow her curse/boon will be reversed – like Dalinars. I think that since bonding, that is what has given Dalinar back his boon/curse, so maybe the same thing will happen with Lyft.

The VoidBringers

The biggest twist of this book was set up perfectly. *We* are not necessarily the good guys in this story, defending our land from the voidbringers. We are the original voidbringers!

Syl confirmed that humans originally brought Odium with them when they came from another world. They switched to Honor as a religion *afterwards*.

You could protect your home. You could kill to defend the people inside. But what if you’d stolen that house in the first place? What if the people you killed were only trying to get back what was rightfully theirs?

It got so complicated. Humans had lived upon this land for thousands of years. Could anyone really be expected to let go because of what ancient people had done, no matter how dishonorable their actions?

“The oaths are about perception, Syl. You confirmed that. The only thing that matters is whether or not we are confident that we’re obeying our principles. If we lose that confidence, then dropping the armor and weapons is only a formality.”

“Kal-”

“I’m not going to do the same,” Kaladin said. “I’d like to think that the past of Bridge Four will make us a little more pragmatic than those ancient Radiants. We won’t abandon you. But finding out what we will do might end up being messy.”

This brings about all sorts of interesting philosophical questions that I’m sure will be delved into in further books.

Will it kill people’s will to fight? Or will they not care, because fuck, it’s their lives they’re fighting for, and we’re now thousands of years removed from that. Plus, it’s *Odium* that we’re fighting, and he is the one bringing the void.

A good analogy is “Should Americans today feel less national pride because of what we did to the Native Americans?” and the answer in society has been a resounding NO. What we did to Native Americans has, for most intents and purposes, just become a footnote in history. So I feel like it’ll be something similar here in Roshar.

The Oathpact and the Heralds

Honor let the power blind him to the truth – that while spren and gods cannot break their oaths, men can and will. The ten heralds were sealed upon damnation, trapping the voidbringers there. However, if any one of the ten agreed to bend his oath and let voidbringers past, it opened a flood. They could all return.

That started a desolation.

“They were tortured, weren’t they?”

Horribly, by the spirits they trapped. They could share the pain because of their bond – but eventually, someone always yielded.

Ohhhh! We learn the secret of the oathpact relatively early on in the story, about 1/3 of the way through. NOW that first prologue in The Way of Kings makes sense! I’d always wondered why that battle was described and then basically never really referenced again.

Poor Talenelat. 4,500 years of torture. So that explains why HE’S crazy. Why are the rest of them crazy? And if any of them were like Ash, who felt bad about the whole thing, how come none of them ever decided “Hey, we should prob go back and help out Talenalat?”

Can new Heralds be made? Is that the endgame of all this? Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar as new Heralds? Or is that the obvious BAD solution that we’ll shy away from at the conclusion of this series since that really doesn’t solve anything, but only delays another desolation? Plus, it’s the obvious solution, so I’m sure Brandon Sanderson won’t bring us there.

Most of the remaining Heralds all seem crazy. Ash is the only one who seems even remotely sane that we see any screentime for, and she spends all her time trying to deface anything that praises the Heralds. Talenelat’s brain is broken except for small outbursts of clarity; Nalan went crazy and is now actually going to join Odium’s side. Jezrein, king of the Heralds, was acting like a crazy hobo dude and just got perma-murdered by Moash? And there’s one Herald who apparently has his own army? Can’t remember his name right now, but I imagine he’ll end up being some sort of antagonist in future stories.

Arielle’s Final Comments

Here are some things I’d like to say that Edmund didn’t really cover! 😀

Venli: I loved seeing her grow, loved seeing her start to understand and dislike Odium, and I really LOVED Timbre. I loved that she bonded a spren and he speaks her language. It’s adorable. I kind of hope she helps out Dalinar, she did see him as a beacon of light or something really similar to that.

Renarin: HOLY SHIT. He bonded a spren and then it became corrupt! His visions weren’t correct! HE WENT TO FIGHT A GIANT ROCK MONSTER! What a freaking badass. I have high hopes for Renarin in the future.

Taravangian: This guy will stop at fucking nothing. I know that when he met with Odium that The Diagram had a lot of applicable parts.  I WISH he had just followed Dalinar and tried to help him once he realized that people would actually follow him. I thought there was a bond there and then he effing goes running off to Odium. Little bitch. 

The Unmade: It’s really exciting to see the sides of the unmade. Some of them are “nice and some of them are definitely not. I’m wondering if the one Shallan scared away will be back, but it was awesome of the one in the castle to warn Shallan. I like the little insert from Hessi’s Mythical too.

Shadesmar: I really like that we got to learn more about Shademar and how it works. We’ve always known about the beads but it was definitely interesting learning about the spren, the perpendicularity, how Oath Gates USED TO BE ABLE TO GO BETWEEN REALMS LIKE WHAT.

Book 4: I really hope they figure out how to “run” the tower. I hope our Radiant’s learn to summon their shardplate. I wonder if Kaladin’s family is going to play a bigger part in the book as well.

Last side note: Apparently I need to read another book to put the Azure thing together. 😛

Random Nitpicks

All this to say that a LOT of stuff happened in Book 4. And I really enjoyed it. Sucks that I have to undergo a multi-year wait now for the next book. But I guess not everyone can be like James S.A. Corey and pump out a new novel every year. I got spoiled since it was only a few months between Books 2 and 3 for me personally.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if these were released in smaller novels more regularly. Like you could publish each part every year? I wonder why Brandon Sanderson doesn’t do that…

That all being said, one thing I did notice was that I had a lot less of Kaladin + Syl in my life in this book, and chatter from the internet seems to think that this will be a trend going forward. If so, that’s disappointing, as Kaladin is the main reason I read and love this series. Doh.

Conclusion

I’m pretty happy with this book overall, and am sad that I probably won’t get to read the next until until 2022. I’ll definitely have to come back and reference this review, maybe even read this entire book again in order to get ready.

I hear that we’ll have a significant time jump between books 3 and 4, which is…honestly, a little disappointing for me. Time jumps always kind of mess up my flow quite a bit. I just finished reading The Expanse Book 7, Persepolis Rising, and the time jump really messed up my immersion since literal DECADES had occurred between books. But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I loved that we got to see Kaladin’s showdown with Amaram, loved seeing Dalinar’s character development through flashbacks, and the two twists (Alekthar NOT saved, *We* are the voidbringers) were really well done. Never saw them coming.

I hope that we’ll see more of Kaladin and Syl in future books, but am a little afraid that won’t happen. While I enjoy Lift’s chapters, and Pattern + Shallan’s chapters, nothing really comes close to the banter between Kal and Syl. But again, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

(Warbreaker spoilers for one paragraph – ignore it you haven’t read it yet)

I’m really happy that Kathleen introduced me to this world, and will probably read some of the other books in Sanderson’s cosmere. I LOVED the crossover from Warbreaker and it felt so cool when I figured out that Azure was probably Vivenna, and that Nightblood MOST DEFINITELY was the same sword!

Sanderson has a real gift for world building and tying everything together. I’m sincerely impressed. Kudos to you, Brandon. See you in your next book.

 

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