Friday, April 29, 2022

Review + Spoilery Notes: OATHBRINGER by Brandon Sanderson


Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Oathbringer was certainly an undertaking for me. It took me over a month to read and it’s officially the longest novel I’ve ever finished. It’s the third installment in the epic fantasy series the Stormlight Archive by my favorite author ever. 

I don’t even know what to say about this one. I’ve been contemplating my rating for this book for a few days now. While I loved it, obviously because I already love the world and the magic and the characters, I also thought this book was longer than it needed to be (1,300 pages!!). I think like 200 pages could have been cut out and I would have been just fine with that. Certainly a lot happened in Oathbringer, but I also feel like I struggled a little during the middle portion, and there were some POVs I was just not interested in reading from, which made it less enjoyable overall for me. This one is my least favorite of the series so far, which is quite disappointing considering Words of Radiance is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I had heard that Oathbringer was even better. For me, it wasn’t. There’s a lot of character building and reveals, but my emotional attachment wasn’t as strong as it was during the first two books. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love this series with my whole heart. And this book by another author would have likely gotten a higher rating because of how intricate and developed it is. But I have come to expect excellent things from Brandon Sanderson, and so in comparing this tome to the others in the series, I have to settle on 3.5/5 for this one because the others were simply better. (My husband greatly disagrees with me as this is his favorite book in the series.) 

I’m definitely going to need to take a break for a bit before I jump into Rhythm of War. Even though I normally like to binge series straight through, the Stormlight Archive is so intense that I need time to process events before continuing on. 

“Try to understand what people want out of life, and respect that, rather than projecting onto them what you think they should want out of life.”

I’ve compiled my notes of Oathbringer below, which I intend to reread before starting the fourth book. I wrote these and am posting them solely for my own benefit, but if you’re looking for a summary of this book’s events as a refresher of what happened during the story, I hope my notes will be helpful to you as well. They are chock-full of spoilers so proceed with caution. 

Main POVs

Dalinar’s Flashbacks: He was in his early 20s, fighting a battle, when an assassin shot him from 400 yards away. Dalinar was impressed so he recruited the assassin into his team. His personality was very different and more careless back then than now. He loved Navani even back then, but married Evi because he had to for political reasons. He saw an assassin about to kill Gavilar at dinner, so he stabbed the assassin then used the knife to cut his meat and keep on eating. During battle one day, he got so caught up in the Thrill that he almost killed Gavilar, and it scared him he could get that out of control. He would spend time at bars, using firemoss and drinking, and would instigate fights he couldn’t remember. When Adolin was born, that was the first time he hesitated before agreeing to go into a fight. He once spared a boy named Tanalan after killing his family, and the boy grew up to resent Dalinar, but one day before they battled, they agreed to feign they had been working together and settled peacefully without battle. Tanalan told Dalinar that Sadeas had been supplying him with weapons, thus betraying Dalinar. Dalinar concluded it was actually Tanalan betraying him, and he burned Tanalan’s buildings, but he didn’t know that Evi was inside trying to get them to surrender, so he inadvertently killed her. He was distraught and drank himself into oblivion, until he schemed a plan to visit the Nightwatcher, on Evi’s prior recommendation. He requested forgiveness, and the Nightwatcher’s mother (Cultivation) appeared to him. She granted him a boon of peace of mind and culling of memories, while she cursed him to forget Evi. After his visit, he had felt foolish for going to a forest spren to relieve his grief of an assassin killing his wife. He was never meant to forget forever though. 
Dalinar: Spends the first 200 pages just dueling people and practicing his fighting. Then at some point Navani speaks his wife’s name and he can actually hear it and remember her face for the first time: Evi. He is trying to get all the other kingdoms to agree to open their Oathgates and travel to Urithiru but everyone denies except for Taravangian. He can bring other people into his visions, so he is showing them to other leaders to convince them he isn’t crazy and that they do need to come to Urithiru to unite. During one of Dalinar’s visions, Odium visits him and tells him about the shards on Roshar and that Dalinar will eventually free Odium. Dalinar later learns from the Stormfather that Herald Ishi is Tezim, the god-priest of Tukar. Dalinar gave Bridge Four an extra Honorblade for them to practice becoming Windrunners. Then he traveled through the Oathgate to Azimir, where he got the Azish people to join him, which was the linchpin in the plan, and many other nations followed suit and joined him as well. He remembers Evi’s death and is distraught about it. Then he and Navani hold a council in Urithiru with all the leaders from all the nations that have agreed to join with him. He figures out the parshmen will attack Thaylen City first, so everyone agrees to go there to help the fight. Dalinar pulls Venli into a vision and wants to negotiate peacefully but she wants to fight unless Dalinar agrees to give the Parshendi the city of Kholinar, which he won’t do. During the council, notice by spanreed declared that the Dawnchant translations have had a breakthrough and they were able to translate the Eila Stele, the oldest written document in history, written by a Dawnsinger who witnessed the first coming of the Voidbringers before the first Desolation. It turns out that the Voidbringers were humans, not parshmen, and the first Desolation was the invasion of humans onto Roshar after they had destroyed their original planet via Surgebinding. This is the truth that destroyed the Radiants. Taravangian pulls his support and a bunch of other nations do too because they think Dalinar is working with Odium and Dalinar feels like he’s failed. He converses with Odium who tries to make Dalinar his champion, but Dalinar tells him, “You can’t have my pain,” and does the clap that combines all three realms, which is called Honor’s Perpendicularity. The Thrill came back and he welcomed it. Dalinar discovers that the Thrill is from Odium and he sees red during it because it’s Odium’s control over him. He gathers all the known Knights Radiants and gives them commands to protect the city. Then when Lift brought Dalinar the King’s Drop, he stored an Unmade inside it, and that Unmade was the essence of the Thrill, so he trapped the Thrill. He later asked Navani to teach him to read and write, and he begins writing his own autobiography called Oathbringer: My Glory and My Shame.
Shallan: During the first 200 pages, she draws and hangs out with her betrothed, Adolin, and reminisces about killing her parents. As Veil, she goes to some taverns to investigate some murders. While getting drunk, she learns there was another double murder—same position and marks on the body—where the first murderer denies having committed the second murder. She followed the murderer as Veil and found out it was a spren called the Midnight Mother, or Re-Shephir, who she touched with her bare safehand and it fled. Because she did this, the Ghostbloods gave her a letter of explanation of what happened to her brother Helaran, acolyte of the Skybreakers. Shallan recruits Ishnah as her spy, who then trains her men to be spies. Shallan stands up for Renarin during a meeting of the scribes, and she’s been disobeying Jasnah a lot lately too. Shallan, along with Elhokar, Kaladin, Adolin, and some personal guards, fly to Kholinar via Kaladin’s ability to figure out what’s going on in the city. The Voidbringers have gained control, and a dark spren is controlling Queen Aesudan. Shallan disguised herself to sneak into the palace, and gets rammed through with a spear, but she uses Stormlight to heal. She escapes, steals food, hands it out to the poor as Veil, and people nickname her the Swiftspren. She is invited to meet with the Cult of Moments. After a battle breaks out, she hears the Unmade Sja-anat speak to her in her mind that the Oathgate is trapped, but Shallan engages it anyway, and they end up in Shadesmar. They travel around, and get on a boat toward Thaylen City. The Fused are following them. Veil has feelings for Kaladin and Shallan has feelings for Adolin. In Thaylen City, she tries to get the spren to let her through the Oathgate and they refuse. When Dalinar combines the three realms, she is teleported back to the physical realm with Adolin and Kaladin. She summoned a Lightwoven army to fight the parshmen at the end. She is more quickly flitting between being Veil, Radiant, and Shallan, and even though Adolin is aware of this, he still loves Shallan. During her wedding day preparations, Mraize of the Ghostbloods delivers her a note that says her next assignment is to persuade the Unmade that has left Odium’s control (Sja-anat) to join the Ghostbloods.
Kaladin: He returns home to Hearthstone and finds the storm ravaged the place and the Parshmen turned to Voidbringers and fled. He meets his new brother, Oroden. Traveling back to Urithiru, he gets captured by Parshendi, who are being led by a Voidspren. The Voidspren appears to Kaladin. Kaladin eventually leaves them right before a highstorm, pulling Stormlight from the highstorm as he flies back to Urithiru. He and Bridge Four train at being Radiant with Stormlight from the Royal emerald reserve. Kaladin finds Teft in a pub, high on firemoss, and hauls him back to the camp. Kaladin, along with Shallan, Elhokar, Adolin, and some guards, flies to Kholinar to investigate. He joins the Wall Guard to gather information about Highmarshal Azure, who he eventually joins with and tells her everything, and he brings her to the Oathgate, which Shallan engages and they end up in Shadesmar. They walk and find a lighthouse, and Kaladin goes inside and meets Riino, who asks him what Heightening he is (Warbreaker reference) and then curses “merciful domi” (Elantris reference), and then he’s surprised to find out Kaladin is a Surgebinder (so Riino is a worldhopper who can recognize different forms of investiture). Kaladin and crew get on an honorspren boat for passage toward Thaylen City. The honorspren capture Syl, but Kaladin convinces them to release her when they see the Fused following them, and Kal, Adolin, and Shallan, with their spren, get off the boat. Azure parts ways with them as she is searching for Zahel and Nightblood. Kaladin fights some Fused before being teleported back to the physical realm when Dalinar combines all the realms into one. Dalinar then appoints him as his personal bodyguard in his fight against Amaram, who he had earlier discovered was actually working with Odium. Kaladin fought and killed Amaram.
Adolin: Killed Sadeas at the end of Words of Radiance. His body was found at the beginning of this book, and then a body of Brightlord Perel was found killed in the same spot and manner as Sadeas, so Dalinar thinks there’s an assassin on the loose and assigned Adolin to figure out who it is. Adolin visited Ialai Sadeas to find out what she knows about her husband’s murder, and Mraize was there with her, and she said she has her own investigator on the case: Amaram (who killed Shallan’s brother and who bested Kaladin). Adolin flies to Kholinar with Kaladin, Shallan, Elhokar, and some personal guards. Gets caught up in the battle that ensues. Ends up in Shadesmar with everyone else and ends up getting stabbed by a Fused. Gets teleported back to the physical realm with everyone else when Dalinar combines the realms, and Renarin heals him with Stormlight. Dalinar wants to appoint Adolin as king but he refuses and confesses to killing Sadeas.
Moash: He was captured by the parshmen and is currently their slave as they travel across the land. He reflects on betraying Bridge Four and decides he wants to be a better person. He stands up for parshmen that are being whipped by their parshmen leaders. In Kholinar, he appears then stabs Elhokar and kills him, then gives the Bridge Four salute to Kaladin before running off. Moash is working with the Fused, who gave him the command to kill Elhokar. Then they told him to kill a god, and he stabbed a man who was purportedly Jezrien, king of the heralds, greatest man to ever live. Later, Moash is mining and some parshmen approach him with an Honorblade, former blade of Szeth’s and Jezerezeh. He grabs it and becomes Vyre, He Who Quiets, before sucking in sphere light and Lashing himself to the sky. 
Szeth: He has Nightblood, who still wants to slay some evil, but Szeth is convinced he should never draw the sword. He swore the first and second Ideals. He is up by the Purelake trying to find escaped criminals so he can swear the third Ideal, and he ends up using the sword anyway. He is a Skybreaker and is hanging out with Nin. He realizes he can share paths to follow an individual and decides to make an oath to follow Dalinar. Ends up meeting up with Lift, and he helps her on her quest to find the King’s Drop.
Renarin & Jasnah: Jasnah notices that Renarin’s spren, Glys, does not look like a Truthwatcher spren and is red, which is the color associated with Odium, and she realizes Glys has become corrupted. Renarin is able to see the future, and he sees Jasnah killing him, but she decides not to, so he realizes that the future doesn’t always happen the way he sees it. He fears he’s not a real radiant because of his corrupted spren, but he still is. Renarin spends his time healing people during the final battle. The Kholin family appoints Jasnah as the new monarch after Elhokar’s death.

Interlude POVs

Puuli: A lighthouse keeper excited for the new storm because he believes the men from the hidden island of Origin will come back.
Ellista: An ardent at the Jokasha Monastery. She is reading an Alethi romance novel. She also has been translating the Dawnchants via the key from Navani. The Everstorm is on a consistent timetable while the highstorms are not.
Venli: (1) Ulim the spren is commanding her, in a way. Venli discovers her sister Eshonai’s body, and realizes she’s dead. She removes Eshonai’s Plate and Blade, then sees a small white spren pop out of her body.
(2) During a storm, Venli transforms into a new form, and her friend Demid’s body becomes inhabited by a Fused god named Hariel, which killed Demid’s soul. She then sees another small white spren and hides it from the Fused to protect it.
(3) Venli is now in envoyform and is talking to a Fused named Rine, who seems to have some control over her. They discuss how the Alethi shouldn’t be bonding the spren because they don’t have gemhearts like the listeners do. Rine seems to work for Odium and they are using Venli as a showpiece to the Parshendi. When Rine leaves, the little white spren pops out again and plays with Venli. Later, Venli flies with the Fused to Kholinar and he tells her that her work has just begun.
Kaza: A Liaforan woman who has a Soulcaster that can turn things to smoke. She herself is slowly turning to smoke, disintegrating. She’s aboard a ship that is traveling to the island of Akinah, part of the nation of Aimia. The island is surrounded by large Soulcast stones to protect it, and it’s apparently where Soulcasters come from. The cook aboard the ship poisoned everyone, to protect the secret of the island, and they died before they reached Akinah. 
Taravangian: During a day of extreme intelligence, he cuts up the Diagram and rearranges the pages to glean new meaning from it. He concludes that instead of killing Dalinar, they need to make him withdraw from leadership. So they send Malaya’s spren to spy on him for blackmail material.
Mem: A Veden washwoman who works for Mraize. Her assistant Pom started attacking a painting of the Oilsworn, and Mraize came in and called her Ancient One, then he commended Mem for washing the aether out of his trousers.
Sheler: A man (from Amaram’s army) captured by the Herdazians for robbing and murdering civilians. He is given three options of ways to die, and he chooses the “hog.” The Herdazian general had already defeated the hog, and he can break out of any set of manacles.
Rysn: She is the ledger-keeper for Queen Fen. Her former babsk, Vstim, comes to visit her and gives her a deed to a ship called Wandersail. She is getting ready for an audit and discovers Vstim is the auditor. They go into the queen’s gem reserve, and one of the accompanying guards kills another guard and wounds Vstim while trying to steal the King’s Drop, a huge gemstone that has stayed infused for two hundred years. The traitor turned out to be a parshman in disguise.
Teft: Returns to the barracks to discover that Rock and Bisig have been attacked and Eth is dead. Someone wearing Teft’s Bridge Four coat, which he sold a few weeks ago, had come in looking for the Honorblade and hurt people for it. In the final battle, Teft becomes a full Knight Radiant.


Known Knights Radiants
Shallan: Lightweaver
Jasnah: Elsecaller
Lift: Edgedancer
Dalinar: Bondsmith
Kaladin: Windrunner
Szeth: Skybreaker
Renarin: Truthwatcher
Malata: Dustbringer (Releaser)
Living Heralds
Nin: Skybreaker
Talenelat’Elin: Stoneward
Shards on Roshar
—Odium: deals with passion and emotions; the soul of the spren. He’s the Void and sucks in all emotions. He was the humans’ first god before they turned to Honor, and he came with them to Roshar after they left their original planet.
—Honor: the Almighty; dead; deals with bonds; the remnant of his power is held by Dalinar.
—Cultivation: the spren of Roshar herself; deals with transformation and growth. The mother of spren.


Fused: Souls of the dead from long ago. The souls of the Heralds returned to Damnation when killed at the end of each Desolation, but the Fused are reborn in the next Everstorm. Basically an ancient Parshendi soul in a modern Parshendi body.
Oathgate: Ten portals, ancient fabrials, that are gateways to Urithiru. Must be unlocked from both sides to be used. They exist across all of Roshar.
Squire: A type of apprentice Radiant whose abilities are tied to their master who’s a full Radiant.
Unmade: Shadows of the Enemy’s soul. Re-Shephir, or the Midnight Mother, who Shallan defeated, is one of them: a spren who imitates humans. They are controlled by Odium. Sja-anat, the Taker of Secrets (and can corrupt spren), and Ashertmarn, the Heart of the Revel, are the Unmade in Kholinar. There are nine or ten in total.

Secret Societies

Ghostbloods: Mraize, Iyatil, KabsalTyn, Shallan as Veil, Shallan’s father.
A secret organization that seeks power. 
Patriots: Graves, Febrth, Fia, Rill, Danlan, Moash. 
They want Dalinar to be king of Alethkar instead of Elhokar. Tried multiple times to assassinate Elhokar. They are part of the Diagram. 
Diagram: Taravangian, his assistants Adrotagia and Mrall and Dukar, Malata the Dustbringer.
The Diagram is a book written by Taravangian during a day of extreme intelligence, as well as the name of the group of people who study the book. They want to change the world by negotiating with Odium, who they know they can’t defeat so they want to save whatever they can from falling to him. They sent Szeth to kill Dalinar, which failed, and now they want to unseat Dalinar from leadership. 
Sons of Honor: Amaram, Restares, Gavilar, Ialai Sadeas.
They want to restore the Vorin church. They believe that by causing a Desolation and thus bringing the Voidbringers back, the Heralds and Knights Radiants would come back with them, as well as the classical strength of the Vorin church. 
EnvisagersTeft’s parents.
A secret group that awaited the return of the Knights Radiant.
Skybreakers: Herald Nalan’Elin/Nale/Nin, Szeth, Nan Helaran/Helaran Davar.
The only order of Radiants who didn’t betray their oaths during the Recreance. 

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