Eric Mesa's Reviews > Oathbringer

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2018-sword-challenge

Some people (both whom I know in person and on the internet) have said that Oathbringer is plodding. After dealing with the slow pace of the first two books, this is interminable. I can certainly understand the frustration given the waiting period between book releases. I think Stormlight Archive 4 is coming out in 2020 at the earliest. But one of the things that makes the first quarter different from most military fiction (fantasy or sci-fi) is that it is heavy with the periods between the action. Unlike stories where kings and queens argue for a day or two and then form alliances, we see Dalinar struggle to get anyone on his side. We also see what idleness does to the folks in the military and their camps. It makes things more real than even historical depictions of war sometimes are. In this way I don't mind the pacing. It also makes the character evolution seem less out of left field.

It's interesting that Sanderson originally intended The Stormlight Archive to be two five book cycles because this book definitely has the feel of a trilogy ending. While we still have plenty of questions when the book is over, most of the conflict introduced over the past three books has been dealt with in one way or another. There's definitely a feeling of finality with this book. If something prevented Sanderson from ever writing more, it's not a horrible way for the story to end. Our heroes have grown and learned and lived to fight another day. They haven't won the war, but they're in a place where you could maybe see a path for them to get there.

I think the biggest theme of this book is redemption and the search for it. Each book has involved a character's backstory. Book 1 was about Kaladin. Book 2 was about Shallan. Book 3 is about Dalinar. He spends the entire book trying to earn redemption for his earlier actions. When we met him in book 2, he was an honorable man following the codes. It was someone Kal could finally trust. But we learn in this book what a journey that's been for him. And it colors his interactions with all the other kings and queen around him. But he even needs to seek redemption from his nephew for the way he treated him in book 2. Shallan looks for redemption for her past and it threatens to break her apart. Kal continues his slow journey of self-forgiveness. Teft has to deal with his demons. And even Moash seeks a certain redemption after Kal showed him his selfishness in book 2.

The second biggest theme of the book is people acting from unknown ignorance. The humans as a whole don't learn the entire truth behind the desolations until we do and it's a big bombshell. (That also explains why Shinovar has normal animals and grass, etc) Dalinar is acting from ignorance of his past thanks to the actions of the Night Watcher. The Parshendi don't know or understand most of the epic battle they're now a part of and just want to live without being enslaved. Most of the new radiants start out ignorant of what their actions mean in spren-world.

Overall, this book was masterful in the way it unpeeled layers of ignorance as we (and the characters) learned the truth of what had happened on Roshar. Additionally, we had great character studies (many characters spend loads of chapters away from the others) and growth moments. Does Shallan get a little bit tiresome? Maybe. I think some chapters handled her issues better than others. But it's clear that this is Sanderson's Magnum Opus ad I can't wait until book 4 in a couple years.

PS - Wit/Hoid continues to be amazing and I continue to love the tradition of his final chapter being a commentary on art/storytelling.
Cosmere tropes:

Attempts by the force of good to trap the force of evil - Mistborn Era 1, Honor vs Odium in Stormlight First Pentology

The things the gods represent: passion, bonds, and change. Just like on Mistborn where Creation was not good on its own because some destruction is necessary.

Non-cosmere, but Sanderson: in this book Shallan is seeming a bit like Stephen Leeds.


Some quotes from near the end of the book that didn't make it into my status updates:

We took Shardblades from the women, he thought, glancing at the one hung on the wall above his desk. And they seized literacy from us. Who got the better deal, I wonder?
“It is obscenely difficult—if not impossible—to make something that nobody hates,” Wit continued. “Conversely, it is incredibly easy—if not expected—to make something that nobody loves.”
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Reading Progress

August 6, 2018 – Started Reading
August 6, 2018 – Shelved
August 6, 2018 –
1.0% "I think it's interesting that over the past 3 books, each one has brought a new perspective on the events the night of Gavilar's death"
August 7, 2018 –
2.0% "Dalinar sets forth a path. And he realizes the gravity of the situation means we can't rejoice the death at the end of Words of Radiance."
August 8, 2018 –
3.0% "From yesterday's chapters: The Unmade....what a scary name for bad guys

Then a chapter on young Dalinar and The Thrill

Opening quote of next chapter seems to reveal that the author of the in-universe Oathbringer is Jasnah"
August 8, 2018 –
4.0% ""There are no foolish oaths. All are the mark of men and true spren over beasts and subspren. The mark of intelligence, free will, and choice."

Well, that was a neat wedding."
August 9, 2018 –
5.0% "What is Kal going to find?"
August 9, 2018 –
6.0% "Kal's homecoming. I think Sanderson handled it rather realistically. Neither too maudlin nor too horrific."
August 10, 2018 –
7.0% "Dalinar Kholin could make choosing what to have for breakfast look like the most important decision in all of Roshar.

“Pattern? ... to be frank, Brightlord, I think he’s scared of you.”
“Well, he’s obviously not a fool,” Adolin noted.
Dalinar shot his son a glance.
“Don’t be like that, Father,” Adolin said. “If anyone would be able to go
about intimidating forces of nature, it would be you.”"
August 10, 2018 –
8.0% "Syl said..."been doing research...since you don’t seem inclined to do any learning yourself, I should study. So if you have questions…”
“I’m well aware of what is involved.”
“You sure?” Syl asked. “Maybe we could have that ardent draw you a picture. She seems like she’d be really eager.” banish the image of lying in bed with a woman, Syl sitting on the headboard and shouting out encouragement and advice.…"
August 13, 2018 –
9.0% "The story of how Dalinar got Oathbringer"
August 14, 2018 –
11.0% "Dalinar attempts to get others to open their gates. And a surprising moment with Elhokar."
August 16, 2018 –
12.0% "“What,” Pattern said, “is a chaperone?”
“...someone who watches two young people when they are together, to make certain they don’t do anything inappropriate.”
“Inappropriate?” Pattern said. “Such as … dividing by zero?”
“Oh!” Pattern said...“You were talking about mating! I’m to make sure you don’t accidentally...Dictates of custom require following certain patterns before you copulate. I’ve been studying this!”"
August 17, 2018 –
14.0% "I am no god, Dalinar Kholin. No more than your shadow on the wall is you.
“Not offended by my presence, Zahel?” Dalinar asked.
“I’m offended by everyone’s presence. You’re no more revolting than the rest, Mister Highprince.”
The story that gives this chapter its title is awesome."
August 17, 2018 –
16.0% "I was already thinking there was some kind of curse behind the second murder. Now with Veil's investigation, I'm more sure of it."
August 20, 2018 –
17.0% "More Young Dalinar

Kal and his Parsh Troop - very poignant arguments from the former slaves

What a cliffhanger that Adolin and Shallan chapter ends on!"
August 21, 2018 –
18.0% "So many secrets that may come to a head in this book"
August 21, 2018 –
19.0% "Kal and more Parshmen hijinks

Dalinar and Taravingian. I'm scared of what happens there.

A very, very scary horse spren drawing"
August 22, 2018 –
20.0% "I like Shallan's story. Interesting that the Stormlight City seems to look like Elantris.

Finally, the double-attacks make some sort of sense. Hopefully we aren't frustrated by Shallan not sharing this info."
August 23, 2018 –
21.0% "The Blackthorn!"
August 23, 2018 –
22.0% "Shallan finally learns the identity of her brother's killer. And I can't wait to see what her plan is."
August 24, 2018 –
24.0% "Dalinar starts to understand that he's been underestimating someone. Will he figure everythign out in time? Also, he finally has a plan, using The Stormfather to get more kings/queens on his side.

WTF did Shallan and Bridge Four folks find?"
August 27, 2018 –

Kal's finally back.

I can't decide if the chapter quotes from Oathbringer are written by Jasnah, Shallan, or Dalinar."
August 27, 2018 –
26.0% "LOL, I love Sanderson's Rosharian love story. I hope he has more bits and pieces over the next 7 books.

Also, I still find it funny how he uses either The Wit or interludes to make meta-comments:

“Wait. There are three different men this time?”
“Sequels always have to be bigger,” he said"
August 28, 2018 –
27.0% "I'm torn with how I feel about Jasnah and Shallan's first interaction in this book. On the one hand, perfectly in character for each of them. On the other... please don't slide back after all your growth, Shallan."
August 28, 2018 –
28.0% "Perhaps some forward progress for Dalinar"
August 29, 2018 –
29.0% "They wouldn’t last a day in Azir, where queuing in an orderly way wasn’t only expected, it was practically a mark of national pride.

Master Hoid had named him a full Worldsinger, and here he couldn’t even tell a story straight.

Sigzil's chapter was neat. Learning and growth for both he and Kal."
August 29, 2018 –
30.0% "I am loving these Bridge Four Chapters. Rock is the best.

Lunamor grunted. Sometimes, even if you were loud and insufferable, you knew when not to say anything.


“You,” a feminine voice said beside him, “are so wonderfully respectful, it borders on being silly.”
Lunamor turned to find Sylphrena sitting on the side of his cauldron, in her small and girlish shape, legs crossed and hanging over the edge."
August 30, 2018 –

Finally, the explanation of the beginning of The Way of Kings.

Wow. That's a lot to digest..."
August 30, 2018 –
33.0% "I understand Shallan's fears. It can be easy to regress or fear regression around our parents and parental figures."
September 4, 2018 –
34.0% "Sad Teft Chapter"
September 5, 2018 –
35.0% "“I didn’t expect you to be so old,” the girl said. She sat perched cross-legged on a large boulder nearby. “And you’re not really that black. They call you Blackthorn, but you’re really more like … Dark-tan-thorn. Gawx is more black than you are, and even he’s pretty brownish.” The young emperor, remarkably, burst into an enormous grin. “Lift! You’re back!”

Lift's reappearance is awesome.

Also a Moash chapter."
September 7, 2018 –
36.0% "Shallen's mind continues to fraction.

Renarin gets a boost from Dalinar doing some good parenting.

More Moash"
September 7, 2018 –
38.0% "Awesome bridge 4 chapter

Jasnah Chapter!

“Ivory, you think all humans are unstable.”
“Not you,” he said, lifting his chin. “You are like a spren. You think by facts. You change not on simple whims. You are as you are.”

Aw, poor Parshmen who Kal had been with."
September 10, 2018 –
39.0% "Adolin born"
September 11, 2018 –
40.0% "Only at 40%, but I feel that all the pieces are starting to come into place for the Sanderson Avalanche."
September 12, 2018 –
41.0% "A neat Stormlight Archive.......oh snap! I just realized in this chapter we discovered the name drop of the series. (Even though no one has yet actually done the name drop)"
September 12, 2018 –
42.0% "Moash learns why the Voidbringers fight, but we don't."
September 14, 2018 –
43.0% "“I’ve always been here,” God said. “Always with you, Dalinar. Oh, I’ve watched you for a long, long time...Honor? No, he truly is dead...I’m the other one, Dalinar. They call me Odium.”

then a reveal of 3 sides rather than 2. And I think a ref to the gods on the other worlds like in Mistborn Era 1. His explanation of himself, Honor, and Cultivation definitely mirrors Mistborn. Lift at the end was awesome."
September 17, 2018 –
44.0% ""and Kaza could see the beasts beyond, the creatures that accompanied the spren." WTF? That was a very scary chapter."
September 17, 2018 –
45.0% "“I won’t make policy decisions, and I’ll avoid ordering the murder of any further groups of melodic children. Fine? All right?"

Super-smart Taravingian is scarier than almost anything else, including Odium."
September 18, 2018 –
47.0% "Tragedy continues to follow Venli.

Watching Dalinar learn his secondary bondsmith powers was great!"
September 19, 2018 –
48.0% "The exploration of Kholinar begins. Enjoyed the journey there.

The journey into Khonilnar - a perfect balance of humor and drama/pathos."
September 20, 2018 –
49.0% ""Some have started claiming they can see a new world coming, a truly strange new world. One ruled by spren." - foreshadowing?"
September 21, 2018 –
50.0% "I've reached the halfway point, huzzah!

The Kholinar Palace infiltration mission is successful.....kinda?"
September 21, 2018 –
52.0% "It clicked. “Stormfather!”
“Oh. Uh, that was a curse.… Never mind."

^Good bit of comedy. Reminds me of History of the World Part 1

Interesting. Alethi parshmen had acted Alethi—immediately gathering for war. The Thaylen parshmen had taken to the seas. And the Azish parshmen …well, they’d done something quintessentially Azish. They had lodged a complaint with the government."
September 24, 2018 –
53.0% "Wit's story was, as usual, great!"
October 1, 2018 –
54.0% "“That’s a nice illusion,” Wit said. “You got the back of the head right. People
always flub the back."

“Heavens no,” Wit said. “I’m not stupid enough to get mixed up in religion
again. The last seven times I tried it were all disasters. I believe there’s at least
one god still worshipping me by accident.” - sarcasm or Cosmere world-building?"
October 4, 2018 –
56.0% "Kal communes with soldiers and we get closer to learning about The Rift."
October 5, 2018 –
58.0% ""She crouched in a dim room, hands touching the smooth stone floor, which had been eroded by thousands upon thousands of footfalls. If stone met a man, stone might win—but if stone met humanity, then no force could preserve it."

Kal continues to learn things aren't as simple as dark eyes v light eyes. Shallan continues to lose more and more control of herself."
October 9, 2018 –
59.0% "Tanalan picked the wrong man to double-cross."
October 9, 2018 –
60.0% "Shallan's insanity is so fascinatingly done. Also, she has a squire now!"
October 10, 2018 –
62.0% "Shallan learns about unintended consequences; Kal finally learns the secrets of the wall commander."
October 22, 2018 –
63.0% "Shallan with Wit as her pyschologist and another view of the story we heard before.

The battle for Kholinar begins"
October 23, 2018 –
64.0% "Chaotic battle - a reminder that no one is safe in a Sanderson novel."
October 23, 2018 –
65.0% "End of Part 3. Back to the spren realm."
October 24, 2018 –
66.0% "Venli has an interesting new job. And some revelations about gemhearts.

A chapter with Mraize's laundress? Sanderson, you are so creative in your POVs! Is this the same lady that was defacing stuff before with a couple dude helpers?"
October 24, 2018 –
67.0% "Apparently, just as the Stormfather can talk during the regular storms, Odium can talk during his storm. Feel sorry for Venli or is she reaping what she sowed?"
October 26, 2018 –
69.0% "With Szeth we finally have explanations of higher ideals. One of them has the person on a quest the Spren decides on. Related to the radiants giving up?

Hey! the sword said Hey, did you draw me?
“I did, sword-nimi.”
Great job! Did we did we destroy lots of evil?
“A great and corrupt evil.”
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?"
October 26, 2018 –
71.0% "ooooh..... “I’m from a far land, and I came to Roshar by crossing this place, Shadesmar.” Looking for Wit or for Vashar?
"Um … you’re supposed to watch out for Cryptics.”
Pattern hummed happily. “Yes. We are very famous.”"
October 30, 2018 –
72.0% "Navani's meeting skills and then learning a bit more of how things work in Shadesmar.

Syl said.... “We’re each a bit of power made manifest. We honorspren mimic Honor himself. You Cryptics mimic … weird stuff?”
“The fundamental underlying mathematics by which natural phenomena occur. Mmm. Truths that explain the fabric of existence.”
“Yeah. Weird stuff.”"
October 31, 2018 –
74.0% "Syl looked at him as if he were crazy. “Because they can fly.”
“So can you. Actually, so can I.”
“You don’t fly, you fall the wrong way.”"
November 1, 2018 –
75.0% "Adolin... presented himself ....
“Very nice,” Ico said. “You look like an honorspren going to a Feast of Light.”
“Thanks,” Adolin said

I discovered when I was younger that being too open with strangers … went poorly for me...I have known royals. Including one woman who left it behind. Throne, family, responsibilities…” - Azure is totally Vivenna! I missed before when hair changed - thought was frm Shadesmar."
November 1, 2018 –
76.0% "Syl reveals a secret."
November 2, 2018 –
77.0% "Dalinar's shopping vision"
November 5, 2018 –
78.0% "All but Sebarial, who appeared to be flipping through a stack of cards bearing pictures of women in compromising positions.

“New recruits might get bored by guard duty, but you’ll never find a veteran complaining about a nice quiet afternoon full of not being stabbed.”

“I am not only a Herald, but a Skybreaker of the Fifth Ideal. ..I believe I am the only one who eventually joined his own order." hmm"
November 6, 2018 –
81.0% "Dalinar rallies.

“Mmm,” Pattern said.
“You know, I’ve never really felt like this before? It’s not just Kaladin, it’s all of this. And what’s happening to us.” He shook his head. “We certainly are an odd bunch.”
“Yes. Seven people. Odd.”

I love Pattern!"
November 7, 2018 –
82.0% "Dalinar tries suing for peace

The group tries to reach the gate."
November 8, 2018 –
83.0% "“Permission to stab him a little, sir,” said Teft.
“How do you stab someone ‘a little,’ soldier?”
“I could do it,” Lyn said...
“No, no,” Lopen said. “You want to stab him a little? Let my cousin Huio do it, sir. He’s the expert on little things.”

Beware the otherworlders - a Cosmere thing? OMG!!! HUMANS ARE THE VOIDBRINGERS!? AH! Although I always thought it was weird the original language was song-like."
November 8, 2018 –
84.0% "FINALLY an explanation of Shinovar!

“Yes, maybe,” Dalinar said. “I thought … maybe we came from Shinovar originally.”
That is the land you were given, the Stormfather said. A place where the plants and animals you brought here could grow.
Looks like the next Novella - Wandersail is about Rysn. That'd be neat."
November 9, 2018 –
85.0% ""What is it you wish of me?" the Nightwatcher asked. "What boon drives you, Son of Honor? Son of Odium?"

Son of Odium? Hmm.

"A Blade that bleeds darkness and cannot be defeated. I can give it to you."

Did she have Nightblood?


November 9, 2018 –
86.0% "Things look SO one-side that I've no idea what the next two books could even be about"
November 13, 2018 –
88.0% "“We’ll be fine.” Adolin glanced at Pattern, Syl, and the spren of his sword.
“Right, guys?”
“Mmmm,” Pattern said. “I do not like being stabbed.”"
November 14, 2018 –
89.0% "Lift shrugged. “Wyndle doesn’t like hurting people.”
Doesn’t like … Dalinar blinked. What kind of world did he live in where swords didn’t like hurting people?
“I’ve always wondered,” Lift said. “Do you suppose they got those marble colorings on all their parts?”
“Mistress? Does it matter?”
The assassin..raising his strange Shardblade ...“Our master has given us a task. We shall see it completed.”"
November 15, 2018 –
91.0% "What an incredible climactic resolution! Still so many unanswered questions... still 9% of story left...."
November 19, 2018 –
94.0% "Lift followed the Fused out, but couldn’t fly. She clambered up onto the prow of the ship, releasing a loud string of curses.
Wow, the sword said. That’s impressive vocabulary for a child. Does she even know what that last one means?"
November 20, 2018 –
96.0% "He left Szeth alone in the sky, holding a sword that hummed happily to itself, then confided that it had never really liked Nin in the first place.
“I think I’ve stopped leaking into new personas. Three for now.” She turned around, smiling at him...“How do you like that, though? Three betrotheds instead of one. Some men drool over the idea of such debauchery. If you wanted, I could be practically anyone.”"
November 21, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-sword-challenge
November 21, 2018 – Finished Reading

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