On Oathbringer cover, Jasnah seems to be in the air, flying, but she never had flying ability before...
She is not flying, that's more artistic liberty on Michael's part.
On Oathbringer cover, Jasnah seems to be in the air, flying, but she never had flying ability before...
She is not flying, that's more artistic liberty on Michael's part.
Magic for me - in my books - is anything that breaks the fundamental laws of our physics. So new physics in another world... <>
<What was the most fun scene to write?>
The most fun... It’s probably one of Wayne things, from Era 2 Mistborn, maybe the one where he goes to the bar - the church of the common man <>. It's in the Shadows of Self.
*inaudible* when you are going to publish or finish writing Era 3 Mistborn *inaudible* <Do you know how long they will be?>
I have very good outline for Era 3. Three books. It will be a little bit longer than Era 2 books. It will be this length *points to probably Era One books*. But yes, I’m not planning to write those until Stormlight 5 is written.
Is Kelsier going to appear again?
It is very likely.
So I can expect this?
Yes, you can.
Bluefingers Explains That He Has to Execute Siri
Bluefingers is right when he says that there's a good chance Idris will do better in the war than everyone assumes. Of course, the main reason they'll do better is because of how the Lifeless were launched without support or planning.
If this war were allowed to progress, Idris would be able to draw allies from across the mountains (as I mentioned earlier), and Yesteel's ability to create swords like Nightblood would end with T'Telir falling and then the entire world being cast into chaos and destruction.
Lightsong Notices the Pahn Kahl are Imitating Priests
If you're still confused about this, most of the priests you've seen in the Lightsong sections are Pahn Kahl scribes imitating priests to increase confusion. The skin tone is the clue, and Lightsong noticed it a chapter or two back, but couldn't figure out what exactly was bothering him.
The previous chapters of the book—everything before the evening of Lightsong's infiltration of the tunnels—never included Pahn Kahl imitating priests. We've only seen them a couple of places, mostly in the Lightsong sections here.
Vivenna Throws Nightblood at the Soldiers
These men in soldier uniforms, as hinted at by how they react to Nightblood, are just a bunch of Denth's mercenaries wearing uniforms to hide them. The guards at the front gates, however, are actual court guards. They don't know that insurgents are now in control of the palace; they're confused and are taking orders from Bluefingers, whom they see as someone with respect and authority.
The priests of the various gods are not so accommodating. There's mass chaos among them, though many parts of the city don't even know something strange is going on. The tunnels out of the Court of Gods are clogged with priests getting their various deities out of danger, which is why Bluefingers is slightly frustrated in the Siri scenes. He can't get the God King out to the boat he has waiting. (He wants to keep him as a prisoner. Executing him as he outlines to Siri is a backup plan, one he decides to implement.)
Another note here is that Nightblood can sense where Vasher is. This is because Nightblood has ingested and fed off Vasher's Breaths in the past. When he does that, it connects him to someone. It's also, by the way, one of the secrets as to why Vasher doesn't get sick when holding Nightblood, even though he's a good person. It's not simply familiarity (though that is part of it). Nightblood has a built-in test. If he feeds off you and you survive, then you become somewhat immune to his powers.
First is Nightblood's mention of Yesteel. I believe this is the first mention of him in the book. If you've been paying attention, you probably realized that there was one person missing out of the Five Scholars. Vasher, Denth, Arsteel, Shashara . . . and this guy. You'll see him in the sequel. (And yes, he's much better at sneaking than Vasher or Vivenna.)
Vivenna Sneaks (Poorly) into the Court of Gods
We also show Vivenna being very proactive. Both of the sisters are having a much larger effect on events here than their male counterparts.
The Priests Sacrifice Themselves
As I said, one of the reversals for this book is a reversal of my own books, where priests have traditionally been the bad guys. Here, Treledees and his people throw their lives away in an attempt to save Susebron. They're zealous; I would say too zealous. But they're good men, trying their best to serve their god. They go to their graves in that service.
Treledees Almost Tells Siri How to Pass On the God King's Breath
We get to see more of Siri taking charge here. In this tense situation, a lot of others would have been reduced to hysterics, but she's come into her own, taking command, trying to get the information she needs.
Treledees lies to her here about two things. First off, he does know how a God King can have a child, but he knows that the secret is also held by a secure group of priests on the islands. He doesn't think letting Siri in on that one for now is a good idea. But he does want to pass on how to get Susebron's Breaths away from him, should it become necessary. He knows that those need to be passed on, even if the God King does have a child. That's the greater secret, but the one that needs to be known to Siri. Those Breaths cannot die with Susebron.
So, anyway, he's lying about the God King not being able to have a child. (Or at least he sidesteps it. He says that the God King can't sire a child, which is true unless certain steps are taken. He also says that he doesn't know how the First Returned bore a child, which is true—he doesn't know for certain if the First Returned used the same method that Treledees knows. He's also sidestepping the fact that he does believe that the blood of the First Returned flows in the veins of the royal Idrian line.)
So why not bring this up in the book? Well, I learned in Elantris that it's easy to overtwist an ending by having too many reveals. This is a very small point, and there is good rationalization for why Treledees doesn't let on what he knows. So I felt it was better to let the story stand as is, without delving into this.
Of course, there is a hint in the text about it—or at least a question. If they depended only on a Returned child taking Susebron's place, then why were they worried about Siri having sex with Susebron? They didn't need her to sleep with him unless they expected that sex to do something.
I'm sorry to leave this issue a mystery, and I'm even more sorry to not explain how Susebron can give away his Breaths. It's not important to this book, and so I felt that having Treledees give the explanation here would just bog things down. I'd rather wait until a sequel, where I detail the magic system in a more complete form, to give you these explanations.
That leaves us with the cliché of someone who almost passes on information, then dies. As I said, I am sorry to do this. I nearly didn't put it in, but I felt it very important to include something that let you know that the priests did have a way to get those Breaths.
Note that Treledees is not lying about letting Susebron live out his life with Siri in peace. They have allowed previous God Kings to do that, once they had a successor in place.
Lightsong Gives Up
Oddly, Lightsong's character arc here in this chapter was to give in. To give up, to abandon his mocking and his glibness. To finally accept what he's been pretending all this time. That he's useless.
The games are over.
Siri Saves Them from Bluefingers
Some people, as I've said, have complained about Siri's damsel in distress place in the book during the next couple of chapters. I want to draw their attention to this chapter, however, which is where she shines. She's in control and careful. She's become a leader out of necessity. She's able to make demands of Treledees and get answers. And she's gotten good enough at politics to make the connection that nobody else did, seeing through Bluefingers's ploy.
If she hadn't acted here in this chapter, this book would have ended very differently. She saved Susebron's life here. Because of what she did, Bluefingers wasn't able to implement his plan to sneak the two of them out onto the waiting boat in the Inner Sea. Her delay gave just enough time that Bluefingers had to go with his secondary plan of getting the God King to the dungeons for the next few chapters.
More than that, however, Siri became the person she needed to in these chapters. She was able to grow as much as Vivenna, but she didn't have to be knocked down for it to happen first.
Siri Is Taken to the God King, Then Discovers Who Is Really Behind the Attacks
I'm hoping that by this point, readers will be very confused about the nature of this third force that is attacking. I hope it's the good kind of confusion, though.
Let me explain. When I write, I sometimes want to inspire confusion. It helps keep the mysteries of the book shadowed and vague. It helps the reader connect with the characters, who—presumably—are also confused. But there's a danger here in being too confusing. If the readers think that they've missed something, or if they can't follow what is going on at all, then they will just put down the book.
The trick is to make certain to telegraph that the characters are confused as well, as I mentioned above. If the reader knows that they are supposed to be searching for answers, then it will be all right. (As long as it doesn't get prolonged artificially.) If, instead, they get the impression that the author has simply made a mistake and isn't explaining things clearly, they'll react very differently.
Anyway, I hope that you have the first reaction and not the second. The twist of who is really behind everything should come as a shock, but I hope that it's also well foreshadowed. The big clincher is the question that, perhaps, you've been asking this entire book. If the war is going to be so bad for everyone involved, then who could possibly be pushing for it to occur?
I've seeded quite a number of hints about the Pahn Kahl in the book. The first is Vahr and his rebellion, but there are a number of others. The first time that Siri assumes Bluefingers worships the Returned, he purses his lips in annoyance. We've got a lot of little hints like that that the Pahn Kahl are frustrated by their place in the empire. They controlled this land long ago; we discovered that from Hoid's storytelling.
It's well foreshadowed, but I still worry that it will be too surprising to people. This is primarily because I think that readers will just pass over the Pahn Kahl while reading. They're forgettable by design. Easy to ignore, and most of the other characters have trouble remembering that they aren't just Hallandren. They aren't an angry and vocal minority, like the Idrians. They're just there, or at least that's how everyone sees them.
One of my big goals for this book, however, was to have a good reversal for who is the bad guy pulling the strings. It's not the high priest. It's not the crafty god. It's not even the brutal mercenary. It's the simple, quiet scribe. It's one of the biggest conceptual reversals in the book. Hopefully it works for you.
Vasher Is Tortured More
It's very important to note that Vasher is hiding and saving his strength here. Writing his scenes here was tricky, since I knew that he would need to be able to pull off some feats of strength later in the book. I figured that one night of torture wouldn't do very much to him, though I also didn't want to spoil the tension by drawing too much attention to that fact.
Denth is frustrated, here, that he's not enjoying the process of torturing his old friend—much as he's frustrated with his life as it exists presently. He wants so badly to just be the carefree, work-for-whoever-pays thug. But he can't. He can't be like Tonk Fah, and it frustrates him. Hurting Vasher hurts Denth too, as it reminds him of so many things that have been lost.
Nightblood was interesting to write in this book as he makes a very nice contrast to Vasher. Vasher doesn't want to say anything about his past; he's so tight-lipped about it that he rarely even spends any time thinking about it. Nightblood, however, dwells quite heavily on the past. Though in some ways his mind is very capable, he has the quirk of being an Awakened object. The first hours of his life—during which time he met Shashara, Denth, and Vasher—imprinted heavily on him. It's like . . . a part of his mind is hard forged in that moment with read-only memory that cannot be changed. Much of him can learn and grow, despite what Vasher says, but he cannot overwrite those initial concepts, states, and understandings that were burned into him during his birth. Shashara was alive then, so he will always think of her as alive, even if thousands of years have passed. Denth will always be pleased with him. Vasher will always be friends with the other two. Those things were some of Nightblood's first impressions.
It was sad to kill off Old Chaps so fast, but at least he went out with style. Besides, he wasn't a very good person, as you can guess. He quite literally sold out his own mother once. He wanted her apartment, so he pinned a theft on her when he was a teenager. That's the room where he was still living. He didn't realize, in his youth, that she didn't even own the place, and all he ended up inheriting was a rent payment. Not exactly the brightest guy around. But at least he waited until after she had died in prison to tie rocks to her feet and toss her into the bay.
Vivenna Meets with the Beggar, Then Goes to Get Nightblood
She lays it on a little thick here. But hey, if you're a beggar, sometimes you like to be brownnosed. Plus, she's new to this kind of thing, and she did give him a very pretty handkerchief. . . .
My editor was uncomfortable with the way this happened—he felt that the motivations for the killers weren't solid enough. I tried to put a little more in, which placated Moshe, but I always felt that they were solid.
Bad guys in books often do stupid things, and it annoys me. They're often not allowed to do the smartest things they could because it would ruin the plot. I wanted them to do the smart thing here, and I felt that the smartest thing was to kill Blushweaver. Just threatening her wouldn't have worked with Lightsong; he refused to take things seriously. A simple threat would have earned them mockery and frustration. So, not knowing that he loved her, they killed Blushweaver to show how serious they were. Then they grabbed Llarimar, not intending to actually kill him, as they knew he was the best bargaining chip against Lightsong they had. (If he hadn't talked, they'd have started cutting off Llarimar's fingers.)
The brutality of that moment of Blushweaver's throat being slit is supposed to be a major reversal in tone for Lightsong's sections. I hope that it worked for you; I think I laid the proper groundwork that this story could have things like that happen in it. I think I justified the motivations of the killers enough.
The games are over.
By the way, this is only the second time Lightsong has landed them both in prison. The first time happened a good twenty years earlier, even if Llarimar has never quite gotten over it. It involved a whole lot of drinking. (Llarimar, already then an acolyte priest of the Iridescent Tones, had never gotten "good drunk" as Lightsong called it at the time. So, he took him out on he day before his ordination as a full priest and got him solidly, rip-roaringly drunk. The embarrassment of what they did, landing themselves in prison for trying to bust into the Court of Gods while wearing only their underclothing, nearly got Llarimar tossed out of the priesthood. Needless to say, he didn't make full priest the next day. It was three years before he was allowed to apply for ordination again.)
Lightsong Is in Prison
Lightsong here is not giving up, which I think is very appropriate for his character. He still has his sense of confidence. In a way, the priest who kills Blushweaver is right. Lightsong does still see it as a game. His life in the court has taught him that things aren't ever dangerous for him. This is all just politics, and a big piece of him feels that he's just on an adventure. He finds it exciting.
That's why Llarimar blows up at him. It's not Lightsong's fault—he's been trained by the last five years to look at life this way. But here, the games have ended, and it's suddenly become very real and very dangerous. Llarimar is the type who is very calm headed until you just push him past his snapping point, and then he loses it. It's hard to get him there, but the current situation is enough.
Vivenna Suits Up and Leaves
Vivenna is in a similar position to Siri here in these last chapters. Things are getting so dangerous that both women (well, and Lightsong too) are rather out of their elements. However, I knew that I had to have them both involved. It would be incredibly frustrating to read an entire book focused on two characters, then have them get pushed around for the entire climax.
So during my outlining, I made certain to build the story in such a way that they could be useful, even if they're very much out of their elements. I feel this makes the story more tense in a lot of ways, since they're forced to deal with things for which they're completely unprepared.
Here, we have Vivenna sorting through her own emotions and finding enough determination left to go out and do something. This is an important moment for her, even though she doesn't realize it. This is the moment where she takes her first real step toward becoming her new self.
Denth has done a relatively good job keeping Tonk Fah from murdering as often as he used to. Killing is necessary, sometimes, in Denth's opinion—but there's no need to go around killing people who don't need it. He's managed to rein Tonk Fah in. It's a slight measure of the good that's left in Denth.
Vasher is wrong about Arsteel, by the way. Arsteel didn't need to be killed; Vasher misinterpreted the man's motives in joining with Denth. It's unfortunate that the two came to blows, but Arsteel never intended to kill Vasher in the duel, just subdue him and talk some sense into him. ("Sense" as Arsteel saw it. He wasn't actually right in what he was doing—he didn't understand Vasher's reasoning either. All I'm saying is that Arsteel's motives were, in fact, pure.)
Moshe wanted Vasher naked here, but I felt that keeping him in the white shorts was good enough. We've had a lot of nudity in this book, both male and female, and I didn't want to push it any farther and distract from the discussion here.
I love having random little viewpoints like these in books. I don't do them often, usually just once or twice a book. But I was excited to write this one, as Chaps has a very interesting way of thinking. Dance, dance, dance. I didn't plan him into the book specifically; I simply wrote this scene as it arrived and I knew someone had to fetch Nightblood. I'm always pleased when a little glimpse like this gives us such a distinctive feel and flavor for a character, though.
Nightblood is better at communicating with people who are mentally unhinged. He can influence them more easily. Really, Denth, you should have known to toss Nightblood someplace far deeper than the shallow bay.
Treledees Takes Siri
At this point, you're supposed to be confused at whose motivations are what. I'm not sure what you'll be thinking of the priests at this point in the story. Suffice it to say that Denth's men were in control of Siri's chamber, but he left them once he got Vasher. While he's been torturing Vasher, however, Treledees and his forces seized Siri's room back and killed the guards out front. Now they've pulled her away.
Tonk Fah wasn't there, as you'll soon discover. He's guarding the door to the room where Vasher and Denth are. He's just outside, and he has orders not to let Denth get interrupted. When things get out of hand in the palace, however, he goes in to inform Denth of what's going on. We'll see him there in just a little bit.
Vivenna Wonders Where Vasher Is
This is just a quick scene to update you on what Vivenna is doing. It's approaching morning, so she's been sitting and stewing all night. I felt we needed to at least get a glimpse of her here. If you can't tell, the avalanche has begun.
And we discover that Lightsong is no good with the sword. I toyed with making him able to use it, but I felt it was too much of a cut corner. Knowing who he was before he died, he'd not have needed to know the sword. Beyond that, I felt it would have been too expected. Lightsong himself built it up so much that I feel it would have been a boring plot twist to have him able to use the sword. Beyond that, it would have been just too convenient.
Reversals. I wanted to reverse what you assume about him, and to reverse how this scene would have probably played out in a lot of fantasy stories. Once again, I'm not reversing just to reverse. I'm reversing because it's appropriate for the characters, setting, and plot—and then finally because it's more interesting this way.
A little history on the tunnel complex. It was begun many years ago by some gods who wanted to have a secret way to get between each other's palaces. They had to get funds for that, however, and so the God King's steward before Bluefingers (who was also Pahn Kahl) heard of it and was intrigued. Even back then, plans were being laid. He realized that a secret way to get in and out of the Court of Gods would be very useful, so he began to hint to the priests he knew that they might want tunnels themselves. They were very useful in arranging clandestine meetings of the political type, and so some priests got their god to agree to tunnels. They didn't realize that they were playing into the Pahn Kahl steward's plans.
Bluefingers continued this work, carefully diverting funds from the projects secretly, then using the digging to mask digging in other places as well. Few priests paid attention to the workers down there, and within several decades, the workers could enter and leave even without passing through the court above. The priests liked having secret ways to enter the court themselves, though most had safety features—like the grate at Mercystar's place—installed. They saw no danger in the tunnels; they've always been too confident of their safety in T'Telir. They didn't realize the extent to which Bluefingers would eventually be able to manipulate the tunnels to bring in mercenaries and Pahn Kahl Awakeners to slowly begin breaking the Lifeless soldiers.
By the way, the grate that Lightsong closes on the tunnel behind them . . . well, it didn't do any good. There's a lever and pulley on the other side, in the room beneath Mercystar's palace—and the locking mechanism is there too. The grate is there to keep people out of her palace, installed by her priests to keep unsavory elements (if there are any) from sneaking in through the tunnels. Vasher had to pull this very grate up before he could sneak into the tunnels himself. Mercystar's priests don't follow because they don't care that Lightsong snuck in and down; they just want to guard their goddess. So they arrange troops up above, waiting for Lightsong to return.
Lightsong Sneaks into Mercystar's Palace
Here's the other big place where I cheated just a tad and added Lightsong's dreams of the tunnels and the moon as a reason to get him into the right place at the right time. I added this in a later draft; originally, this was one of my big personal problems with the book: the fact that Lightsong got into just the right place at just the right time. It was just too coincidental, and it always bugged me.
I wasn't paying attention to the tools I'd given myself (as I think I mentioned earlier). If I'm going to go to all this trouble to build a magic system that uses prophecy as a major component of its religion, then I might as well use a few of those prophecies as small plot points. I didn't want them to solve any major problems, but letting Lightsong dream of where he has to be brings nice closure to the entire "What's in those tunnels?" plot while at the same time playing into his quest to determine if he really is a god or not.
Siri Is Locked Up, and Her Guards Change
Just a quick reminder here of what's going on with Siri. I worry about her next few sequences looking too "damsel in distress." I tried to counteract this in several places, which I'll mention. Still, I had a problem here. Once things turn to combat and fighting, there is very little that Siri can do. She's not Vin—she can't approach things the same way.
However, since Elend got to play damsel in distress fairly often in the Mistborn books, I think I've earned the right to put a female protagonist into that role here. It's appropriate to the plot, and I don't think it could have worked any other way.
Lightsong Gathers His Finery in His Palace
Is there a lesson in all of this, as Lightsong accuses Llarimar of teaching? Perhaps. The value of something is indeed in how you treat it. All of the riches in the world could be piled in one place, and they would be unimportant unless you ascribed value to them. I think this is one of the reasons Lightsong has been so flippant all of his life as a god. Before Returning, the things he valued were far more intangible. People, his life's work, intellectual freedom—all these things were taken from him, then replaced with gold and baubles. To him, they're inferior replacements, and he can't help but chafe—unknowingly—at his confines.
I wanted a chance for Llarimar to take off his hat and be just a friend for a time. His belief system is complex, since he knew Lightsong ahead of time. He sees the divine mantle, but he also sees the man.
The man who was his younger brother, the daring and gregarious one, the one who didn't always do what he was supposed to. One of the subtle twists of this book is that Llarimar and Lightsong's relationship is supposed to be a parallel of Vivenna and Siri's. They were closer than those two ever were, and as both were middle-aged, they interacted differently. But Lightsong (or Stennimar as he was then known) never married. He liked traveling too much, and enjoyed his bachelor lifestyle. Llarimar was the one who always did what he should, but he also always admired his brother for his sense of adventure, his proactiveness, and his simple kindness toward other people.
Denth Captures Vasher
So, between this chapter and the previous one, Denth's mercenaries—who were being hidden in the tunnels beneath the palace—quietly killed the two soldiers who were standing guard at Siri's door. They are also, along with the Lifeless that Bluefingers broke, securing the Lifeless compound, grabbing Blushweaver, and taking control of the palace.
The priests get wind of this, though, and react by marshaling their own forces. For most of the night, the priests assume that they're struggling with Idrian rebels who have tried to take the palace and rescue Siri.
In this scene, there are some small hints of what it was like during the Manywar—with people Awakening ropes to toss boulders and things like that. It was a pretty dramatic conflict, the first one where Lifeless and Awakeners were put to a great deal of use in battle.
Anyway, Nightblood is named for the smoke he leaks, and he originally had a different name when he was created. Vasher himself dubbed the sword Nightblood after he had used it to kill the woman he loved. The blackness that leaks out is actually corrupted and consumed Breaths, the ones that Nightblood leeches off anyone who draws him.
Nightblood and Vasher Interact as He Sneaks into the God King's Palace
Note that Nightblood is capable of more change than Vasher assumes. Vasher has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to Nightblood. He makes assumptions he wouldn't make regarding other people or elements of Awakening. It's hard for him to regard the sword without bias. If you want to know more about this, read the sequel. (Er, if I ever write it.) Which is tentatively named Nightblood.
Vasher Considers Killing Lightsong
I remember reading a book a few years back where the heroes are separated from one another. One group of them is doing something clandestine, while another group is traveling in the area posing as ordinary peasants. Neither knows what the other is up to.
Well, some soldiers capture the ones posing as peasants, then go and talk to the main group of heroes. The main group says, "Well, I guess we'll have to kill those poor peasants who inadvertently passed by and discovered we have an army here." It's supposed to be dramatic irony, I believe. The protagonists nearly end up killing one another through a cruel twist of fate. (The group posing as peasants avoid death, however, for reasons I can't quite remember.)
Anyway, I put the book down shortly after. I didn't remember the scene I'd read until writing this particular one. Why wouldn't Vasher just kill Lightsong, thereby ending the war?
Because that's not a good solution. It's a shortsighted one. If you do terrible things in the name of trying to do what is right, I think you'll just end up creating bigger problems. Vasher couldn't have killed Lightsong, not and remain the man he wants to be. He knows this, I think. Even a man with the reputation of Lightsong is not someone you can kill just because he's inconvenient to you. Not if you want your conscience to go untarnished.
And if innocent peasants happen to spy your good-guy army, there are much better actions to take than deciding to execute them in the name of the greater good. You do that, and you stop being heroes. (That's not necessarily a book killer. It's only one if you expect me to keep on reading and still consider your characters heroic.)
Lightsong Refuses to Vote
I think this is appropriate for him. He doesn't do what they want to do, or even what they fear he will do. He just walks away to think some more.
He's frustrating like that.
Vivenna and Vasher Watch the Vote
With this chapter, I wanted to bring together another focus chapter, a bookend—so to speak—with the one earlier in the book where everyone came to the court when Siri was first shown off. If you recall, that was the first time Vivenna saw Vasher, and also the first time we had all of the viewpoint characters together in one location.
Now we're back, kind of. Siri is here in this chapter, but she's pulled away before she can make it all the way to the arena. It's the best I could do, under the circumstances, as I knew I needed to launch us into the "Brandon Avalanche" after this chapter. That meant Siri getting taken captive.
Siri Gets Taken by the Priests
What's going on here behind the scenes is that the priests know what is likely to happen at the Court Assembly. The declaration of war is going to come, and they're truly worried for Siri's safety. They take her into custody because they anticipate riots and maybe even an attack on the Court of Gods. They want her taken and kept safe.
Bluefingers is, of course, aware of this. But he thinks that their taking her captive is because they're suspicious and might know of his plans. That forces his hand, and when Lightsong decides to forestall the vote, Bluefingers gets really worried. So he puts things into motion and grabs Blushweaver from her palace, then seizes the God King's palace and Siri.
We get some final verbal sparring from the two of them. I wanted to do this to give a nod to the earlier portions of the book; we haven't gotten this from them in quite a long time. However, I also wanted it to feel forced. I was tempted to rewrite this scene a couple of times until the most amusing lines in the book came here, in this chapter, but in the end I chose to go for something with a little more tension in it. Something that felt contrived, like they were trying too hard—which, indeed, they are.
Beyond that, outside of the banter, they both make some very astute comments—and I think their wisdom in the moment undermines any random joking. Lightsong mentions how ridiculous everything is, and can finally point out and prove what he's been saying all along—that the rest of the pantheon is more useless than he is. Blushweaver, however, probably makes her most astute comment in the book by explaining to Lightsong just why everyone looks up to him so much.
You set yourself above them, Lightsong, and through your mockery—which they know to be true, deep down—you earn their grudging respect. That puts you apart from them. In a way, he's become the greatest leader of the pantheon in its current incarnation, all by avoiding contact with most of them and by being bitingly sarcastic when he does meet them.
Lightsong and Blushweaver Banter One Last Time
Lightsong wonders if maybe he was a prude in his former life. I can answer this—he was indeed. That's why he's always so critical of Blushweaver's clothing choices. That and the fact that he's in love with her and feels a little jealous at how flagrantly she shows her body and attracts the attention of so many men. These are little things; he wouldn't even mention them to others. But he does feel them.
Priests as Scapegoats
I do think that someone being a different religion from yourself makes them a good scapegoat. We tend to be put off by anyone who is too devout toward religion, even if their passion for it mimics our own passion for something we are dedicated to. It's easy to divide ourselves along religious lines.
Once again, I think I need to mention that I didn't write this comment (or the ones about not judging) into the book as an intentional message. It just seemed appropriate for the characters to say or consider, and I happen to agree with them. What I think is important influences the book. How can it help but do otherwise?
Notice how he grows in size here when he isn't paying attention. That's his Returned nature beginning to manifest, much like Vivenna's hair reacts to her emotions, because of the moment of great passion from him during the fight.
In this chapter, we also get the first hints that children and animals like Vasher. That's another hint about his nature—though a very, very subtle one, since I haven't talked about how animals and children all like Returned. They can sense the divine Breath within him, and it comforts them.
As I said, he has a temper. He tends to lose it when he fights. He's not a berserker or anything like that; he simply lets his passion get in the way when he's in battle. It makes him worse at fighting, particularly when dueling. It also makes him a lot more dangerous sometimes.
Vivenna looking back at him, his hand on Nightblood's hilt, slowly pulling it forth as the bodies lie around on the ground is one of my favorite scenes in the book.
This is how Vasher lost his Breath before, by the way. If you recall, he began the book with barely enough to Awaken in weak ways. He remembers having much more Breath. Beyond feeding on one Breath a week, slowly eating away his supply, he drew Nightblood a few months back. That drained away his Breath and left him with only a few remaining. As for who he killed that time . . . I'm going to hold off on saying, just in case I decide to incorporate it into a future book.
Vasher Uses Straw Figures to Find the Tunnel
I wanted to bring the straw men back into the book, as I felt I needed to show you—and Vivenna—just how capable Vasher is with Breath. He's leaps and bounds above most people. I think this book gives a skewed perspective, since we don't see any ordinary Awakeners. We see those just learning (Vivenna) and we see one of the greatest masters of the art to ever live (Vasher).
With his practice and years of Awakening, he's able to get Awakened objects to do things that others wouldn't be able to. The straw men are a good example. As for why he apologizes, well, he doesn't even know that himself. I think it's because he realizes that Breath can make something sentient and aware, like Nightblood, and worries that the straw creatures become (even just slightly) more than just mindless automatons.