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Rhythm of War is an epic fantasy novel written by American fantasy and science fiction author Brandon San-

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derson.  It's the fourth book in his hugely popular Stormlight Archive series, which is set to be released on November 17, 2020.  

Synopsis[]

After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage, and the threat of a betrayal by Dalinar’s crafty ally Taravangian looms over every strategic move.

Now, as new technological discoveries by Navani Kholin’s scholars begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of the Radiant ideals, and potentially reveal the secrets of the ancient tower that was once the heart of their strength.

At the same time that Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with his changing role within the Knights Radiant, his Windrunners face their own problem: As more and more deadly enemy Fused awaken to wage war, no more honorspren are willing to bond with humans to increase the number of Radiants. Adolin and Shallan must lead the coalition’s envoy to the honorspren stronghold of Lasting Integrity and either convince the spren to join the cause against the evil god Odium, or personally face the storm of failure.

Plot[]

The prologue is from Navani's perspective, in which she recalls Gavilar's death and his involvement with strange spheres of light. The book begins with Kaladin traveling to his hometown of Hearthstone, to rescue the citizens and pick up a famous Herdazian general, The Mink. Navani, Dalinar, and many Radiants arrive on a flying machine to assist Kaladin in evacuating the city. While the evacuation begins, the Radiants get into a battle with the Fused, which ends with no conclusive winner. Meanwhile, Kaladin is baited into a fight with his former friend Moash, who somehow induces Kaladin to have visions of traumatic experiences. Kaladin escapes to the flying machine and they fly away with the townspeople on board. While returning, Navani is contacted by a mysterious stranger, who tells her that creating magic devices called fabrials is unethical and wrong. Fabrials are created by imprisoning a spren in a gemstone. After returning to Narak, Dalinar relieves Kaladin of duty due to his battleshock and increasing depression. Kaladin searches for a way to continue serving those around him without fighting and starts assisting his father in the infirmary, eventually finding greater purpose in helping those with mental issues through group therapy and more progressive treatments.

Meanwhile, Shallan and her split personalities infiltrate the Sons of Honor to curry favor with Mraize and the Ghostbloods, a clandestine organization that hints at secrets beyond the world of Roshar. During the mission, Shallan discovers a hidden notebook mentioning mysterious terms (referring to other worlds in the Cosmere universe) and considers breaking free of the Ghostbloods. Mraize sends her on one final mission, promising her full Ghostblood membership and knowledge after she finds and kills Restares in Lasting Integrity, the honorsprens' base in Shadesmar. Listening to the Mink's advice, Shallan, Adolin, and a few Radiants head to Shadesmar as diplomatic envoys to encourage more honorspren to bond with humans, while Dalinar and Jasnah set off to fight on the Emul battlefront in a strategic maneuver and leave Navani and Kaladin behind at their home base of Urithiru to manage matters. Taravangian supports the Emul battlefront, plotting for his troops to betray the rest of the human army on Odium's orders, though Dalinar foresees and plans ahead for this betrayal. After the battle, Taravangian is captured as a traitor and begins to see ways to thwart Odium through Nightblood, the black sword.

Led by Raboniel, who claims to have found a way to end the war permanently, the Fused invade and take control of Urithiru by corrupting the Sibling, the tower spren, which causes all the Radiants in the tower except Kaladin and Lift to fall unconscious. Navani and the Sibling manage to activate a shield before the Sibling is fully corrupted, powered by four hidden nodes. Navani surrenders and is enlisted by Raboniel to aid in her research. Together, they discover that Voidlight and Stormlight can be mixed into Warlight. They also find anti- types of light, something that can permanently kill spren and Fused: a discovery that can end the cycle of war. Aided by Navani, the Sibling, and Dabbid, Kaladin escapes with an unconscious Teft to a hidden room in the upper levels of Urithiru. Kaladin's depression grows increasingly worse, with Moash and Odium sending him visions to drive him to suicide, but keeps busy by defending the nodes under the instruction of Navani and the Sibling. Venli, Rlain, and Dabbid help to take care of Teft and free Lift from the Fused, who can wake the unconscious Radiants with her healing powers.

Increasingly suspicious, Dalinar looks at Urithiru through the Stormfather and realizes the tower has been occupied by the enemy. He decides to seek out another Bondsmith, Ishar the Herald, to increase his powers and fight back. However, Ishar has been driven insane through the centuries and attacks Dalinar. He is defeated by Szeth and temporarily sane, tells Dalinar to meet him in Shinovar for further instruction. Dalinar discovers that Ishar has been experimenting with spren bodies in the Physical Realm. Meanwhile, Shallan and Adolin travel through Shadesmar. Adolin undertakes a legal battle in Lasting Integrity to convince the honorspren that humans are worth bonding again. Shallan realizes that Restares is actually Kalak, a Herald, and judge of the trial. She attempts to assassinate him but in doing so, releases her repressed memory of killing her first spren Testament. Adolin's dead Shardblade, Mayalaran, speaks at the trial, revealing that the ancient spren chose to sacrifice themselves with the Knights Radiant. Shallan ends her association with the Ghostbloods and sets herself firmly against them.

Navani, Kaladin, Teft, and Lift fight to wake the Radiants and liberate Urithiru. Teft and Lift infiltrate the infirmary while Kaladin provides a distraction by fighting one of the Fused outside. However, Moash is waiting and kills Teft, then throws his corpse to Kaladin. Kaladin's father is thrown off the tower by another Fused. Consumed by grief, Kaladin jumps off the tower into the highstorm, where he is saved by Dalinar and the Stormfather. He states the Fourth Ideal and saves his father, then returns to reclaim the tower. Dalinar later recruits Kaladin to join him in Shinovar to help treat Ishar's mental issues. Navani encounters Moash during her escape attempt. He tries to kill Navani but she bonds with the Sibling, becoming a Bondsmith; she repels Moash and reverses the corruption of the tower through anti-Voidlight. Blinded, Moash flees Urithiru and is later reclaimed by Odium. The remaining Fused attack the infirmary; Venli teams up with Rlain, Leshwi, and the humans to protect the unconscious Radiants, showing that the singers and humans can live in harmony. She eventually reunites with an escaped group of listeners who are eager to bond with spren, redeeming herself and her past role in bringing about Odium. Szeth leaves Dalinar to pursue his next Ideal and visits Taravangian in his cell, intending to kill him once and for all. Before he can do so, Odium pulls Taravangian (and unintentionally Nightblood) into a vision, where Taravangian stabs Odium and takes his power. The newly born Odium tricks Wit, leaving him unaware of Odium's new identity.

Development[]

The writing process for the book started in January 2019, with a publication date planned for 2020. Before deciding the title would be Rhythm of War, the working title for the novel was The Song of Changes, which Brandon stated was never meant to be the final title. Later it was announced that the book would be released on November 17, 2020.

Originally the book was to feature flashbacks from the point of view of Eshonai, with Venli taking center stage in the present-day timeline. Eventually Sanderson decided on mixed flashbacks, with part set from Eshonai's perspective, while the other part set from Venli's.

Sanderson has stated that the Wit epilogue of Rhythm of War is something he has been particularly looking forward to for a long time. He also stated there would be a time-jump between book three and four. While the title suggests greater focus on characters from the so-called 'singer culture', the remaining protagonists, including Kaladin Stormblessed, Shallan Davar, Dalinar Kholin, Navani, Adolin, as well as Bridge Four members also feature prominently. Narratives from the prospective of Szeth and Taravingian highlight many of the interludes.

The American cover was revealed on August 17, 2020.

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