Happy reread Thursday, Cosmere Chickens! In this week’s installment, we finally reach the point in the story that many of us have been waiting for—Sarene getting thrown into Elantris, and connecting with Raoden on a more personal level. Won’t you join us as we venture behind the walls of Elantris and see what happens next?
(Non-)Spoiler warning: This week’s article has no spoilers from other Cosmere works. Read on fearlessly, chickens!
Trigger warnings: Chronic pain.
Last time on Elantris: Patriarchs and Plots…
When the patriarch arrives on the shores of Kaye, he brings with him an unexpected bit of news; before Iadon’s death, the king had left instructions that upon his death, all standings of nobility are to be frozen in place and all titles be hereditary moving forward. Roial and Sarene are pleased by this, as it means that their planned marriage later that day will ensure their placement as king and queen. However, when Sarene removes her bridal veil, the depths of Hrathen’s cruel plans are revealed. He’s poisoned her with the fake-Shaod poison that he himself had taken; now she’s to be thrown into Elantris, and Telrii will take the throne.
POV Character(s): Raoden, Sarene
“A newcomer has been thrown into the city, my lord.”
P: I’m so excited about this!
“Hello, there,” he said affably. “I’m willing to guess you’ve had an awful day.”
L: Why is Raoden just the absolute best?
P: He really is quite perfect.
“I don’t trust you anymore, Spirit.”
“Did you ever?”
Sarene paused, then shook her head. “I wanted to, but I knew that I shouldn’t.”
“Then you never really gave me a chance, did you?” He stretched his hand out a little closer. “Come.”
L: I’m so very excited for this.
L: For a die-hard romantic like myself, this is the moment I’ve been yearning for. Well… almost the moment I’ve been yearning for. The real one will be when Sarene realizes who Raoden is. But this is trending in the right direction at least!
P: Waiting a bit longer is okay. I want her to appreciate Spirit before she realizes he’s Raoden.
Eventually she reached out her fine, thin-fingered hand and placed it in his own for the first time, allowing him to pull her to her feet.
L: The only appropriate reaction.
P: I rather like this one. And even though a picture, or a GIF, is worth a 1000 words, I have to say that I am also extremely jazzed that he’s gonna get to show Sarene who he really is… I mean, who “Spirit” really is.
None wore the rags she had assumed were the only available clothing in Elantris; their outfits were simple skirts or trousers and a shirt. The cloth was strikingly colorful. Amazed, Sarene realized that these were the colors she had chosen. What she had seen as offensive, however, the people wore with joy—the bright yellows, greens, and reds highlighting their cheerfulness.
“But where—” Sarene stopped. She knew exactly where they had gotten sheets of steel that thin. Sarene herself had sent them, again thinking to get the better of Spirit, who had demanded several sheets of metal as part of his bribe.
L: And so Sarene finally sees all the ingenuity that Raoden and his people are capable of, in using her “gifts.”
P: Yeah, I admit that I looked down on her a bit for that. But Raoden never seemed very fazed by it.
The woman held up a long scarflike piece of orange cloth. “For your head,” Maare said, pointing at the similar cloth wrapped around her own head. “It helps us forget about the hair.”
L: Much like those undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
P: Or those with conditions like alopecia.
Unbidden, she found herself judging his height. He’s tall enough for me, she thought almost offhandedly, if only barely. Then, realizing what she was doing, she rolled her eyes. The entire world was toppling around her, and all she could do was size up the man walking next to her.
L: Yessss, Sarene. Check him out. Mmmhmm.
P: I mean, the poor thing has had two ruined weddings. It’s not surprising she’d check him out, blotchy skin and all. That said…
“You are not a tyrant. This community proves that—the people love you, and there cannot be tyranny where there is love.”
L: Not quite sure I believe that. Many people arguably loved Hitler as he was rising to power, after all. Tyranny is rarely viewed as such by those whom the regime claims to be helping—especially if said regime isn’t being wholly honest with those people.
P: She sure changed her tune quickly!
Sarene felt a sudden stab of grief. Ashe must be like that now, she thought, remembering the mad seons she had occasionally seen floating around Elantris.
L: Ohhhh, but he’s not, is he? Since she wasn’t really taken by the Shaod!
P: Nope, he’s not. But will they figure it out?
“It seems like you got the better of me more times than not,” Sarene said, remembering with shame the time she had spent gloating over her sly interpretations of the demands. It appeared that no matter how twisted her attempt, the New Elantrians had found uses for all of her useless gifts.
L: She reminds me of a D&D Dungeon Master, excitedly figuring out alternate wordings/phrases for her players’ wishes. Only in this case, her mischievous acts might have caused people real harm.
P: And could have deprived them of things they sorely needed.
“Don’t even try and convince me you didn’t go,” Sarene said, turning back to the carvings. “You’re obviously a nobleman. You would have gone to church to keep up appearances, even if you weren’t devout.”
L: I love that she’s clever enough to realize that he was a nobleman. She’s so tantalizingly close to the truth…
P: She’s nothing if not clever, our little Sarene. And maybe a bit spiteful. But she needs to put two and two together!
“How long—” she began, turning away from the wall. Then she froze, her breath catching in her throat.
Spirit was glowing.
L: Uh oh.
P: Oh, no bueno. Poor Raoden, going through so much pain so often.
A spectral light grew from somewhere within; she could see the lines of his bones silhouetted before some awesome power that burned inside his chest. His mouth opened in a voiceless scream; then he collapsed, quivering as the light flared. … Something large, something impossibly immense, pressed against her. The air itself seemed to warp away from Spirit’s body. She could no longer see his bones; there was too much light. It was as if he were dissolving into pure whiteness; she would have thought him gone if she hadn’t felt his weight in her arms.
L: Well… that’s new. And unsettling to the extreme.
P: Absolutely unsettling. It’s like the Dor is beginning to be more insistent.
“AonDor? That’s a heathen legend.” There wasn’t much conviction to her words—not after what she had just seen.
L: Seems weird for her to say this, when the wonders of Elantris are still within living memory… Now granted, their secrets weren’t common knowledge, but even so…
P: Point. Ten years isn’t that long. She’d have been a teen.
Korathi teaching of the last ten years had done its best to downplay Elantris’s magic, despite the seons. Seons were familiar, almost like benevolent spirits sent by Domi for protection and comfort. Sarene had been taught, and had believed, that Elantris’s magics had mostly been a sham.
L: Ahhh, that explains that then.
P: I suppose it makes sense that people turned to that when they were unable to explain the fall of Elantris.
Spirit claimed that their bodies were in a kind of stasis, that they had stopped working as they waited for the Dor to finish transforming them.
L: How very unfortunate.
P: And the Dor is trying really hard to transform him. And I wonder why just him? Is it because of the injury he had as a child that was healed by an Elantrian?
Coupled with it was the knowledge of her failure. Spirit had asked her for news from the outside, but the topic had proven too painful for her. She knew that Telrii was probably already king, and that meant Hrathen would easily convert the rest of Arelon.
L: I don’t know about “easily,” but it’s certainly likely…
P: And just think… If she had spilled the beans, he probably wouldn’t have been able to hide who he was because of his reactions.
“My lady?” whispered a deep, hesitant voice. “Is that you?”
Shocked, she looked up through her tears. Was she hearing things? She had to be. She couldn’t have heard …
It was Ashe’s voice.
L: I’m so glad that she’s got at least this one thing to console her. Now, let’s see if she figures out the implications…
P: As clever as she is…I think it will take more than this.
“Ashe, you’re talking! You shouldn’t be able to speak, you should be…”
“Mad,” Ashe said. “Yes, my lady, I know. Yet I feel no different from before.”
“A miracle,” Sarene said.
L: ::sigh:: Well, maybe it will be awhile before she figures it out.
P: I don’t remember if she tells “Spirit” about Ashe. Because he might figure it out even if she can’t.
“After the wedding dismissed, I spent an hour demanding that the patriarch set you free. I don’t think he was disappointed by your fall.”
L: My dislike for this man grows more and more.
P: Yeah, he’s not one of the good ones, like Omin.
“We must be fair, Father,” Sarene said. “If a peasant’s daughter can be cast into Elantris, then a king’s daughter shouldn’t be exempt.”
L: I do love that she’s so fair.
P: And I’d have still been screaming at the gates.
“Father,” she said, letting love and respect sound in her voice, “you taught me to be bold. You made me into something stronger than the ordinary. At times I cursed you, but mostly I blessed your encouragement. You gave me the liberty to become myself. Would you deny that now by taking away my right to choose?”
L: Well that’s an incredibly compelling argument. It’s nice that she knows her father well enough to know exactly which cards to play.
P: And she really does love and respect him. It’s good to see a healthy familial relationship like this.
“They have become my people, Father.”
“It has been less than two months.”
“Love is independent of time, Father.”
L: Well that’s beautiful.
P: And what choice does she have, really? They’re not going to let her out, even once she “heals.” at least, I doubt that they would. She hasn’t been lining the pockets of the Captain of the City Guard. Guess we’ll see what happens to our dear princess!
We’ll be leaving further speculation and discussion to you in the comments, and hope to join you there! We’re off next week due to the holiday—happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates!—and we’ll be back on November 30th with chapters 42 and 43.
Paige resides in New Mexico, of course. Between work and school and the SA5 beta read, she’s trying to work on book 3 of a YA/Crossover trilogy with just a hint of the supernatural. Links to her other writing are available in her profile.
Lyndsey lives in Connecticut. She makes magic wands for a living and will be helping out Santa Claus this season in Essex, CT. If you enjoy queer protagonists, snarky humor, and don’t mind some salty language, check out book 1 of her fantasy series. Follow her on Facebook or TikTok!