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Point of view: Ym
Setting: Iri

Progression of the Interlude:

A cobbler named Ym prepares lasts in the ancient way; spectacles receive appreciation; a naive spren considers shoes, children; the spren announces, "He comes ... "; a small urchin child appears, limping on a wounded foot; Ym trades cobbling for a story; medicine proves insufficient; Stormlight is used instead; Ym claims that all is One; the urchin is skeptical; the shoes fit; the child wears them; Ym may be crazy, is definitely a nice person; "He is still here ... ", and has a crescent moon scar on his face; Ym is declared an accomplice, forty years after the fact.

Quote of the Interlude:

"You and I are One."

"One What?"

"One being," Ym said. He set aside that shoe and got out another. "Long ago, there was only One. One knew everything, but had experienced nothing. And so, One became many - us, people. The One, who is both male and female, did so to experience all things."

This feels like a Rosharan take on certain forms of Buddhism, but it also reaches far back into Realmatic Theory. Way back before any of the books actually happened, there was a being called Adonalsium, who was Shattered into all the different Shards. On Roshar, there are two male shards and a female shard. What's more, if my memory of the Word of Brandon is correct, Honor and Cultivation arrived on Roshar long before Odium. This philosophy of Oneness could be a remnant of knowledge from long before the Desolations. If so, it's stunning that it has persisted through so many cataclysms.

Description of the Interlude:

Ym may have previously been a drunk who made a lot of mistakes, but after forty years of clean living, he'd settled well into the role of a gentle, philosophical, mildly crazy cobbler. Everything in this interlude predisposes the reader to like Ym. He is a friend to spren and orphan child alike. He has a sensible money management system to avoid robberies. He makes his own lasts. Sure, his philosophy is a little too keen to justify inequality, but one still doesn't want to see him stabbed to death.

Not much is learned about Iri in this interlude. But more than a shoe store and an alleyway represent a city. Iri is on the other side of the landmass from Alethkar, on the northwestern side of the swirl, and apparently it's very warm there.

Crescent-Moon Face seems to be a bad guy. While Odium is the real bad guy, the kind of "justice" meted out by Nale (i.e., murdering someone for something they didn't realize they were doing forty years ago) is messed up. Justice isn't the letter of the law, but he seems to see it that way.


Ym’s spren doesn’t have a name, nor does it have a type. Since Ym was a proto-Surgebinder, it's likely he was bonded to the spren, but it seems unlikely that he had spoken any of the Immortal Words due to how poorly the spren handles language. It seems that the spren would know how to speak better if they had reached the point of saying the first ideal. Whatever kind of spren this is, it's associated with light.

Ars Arcanum:

Ym has healing magic, the power of Regrowth. That limits him to the two orders of Knights Radiant with access to the Progression Surge: the Edgedancers and the Truthwatchers. The fact that Ym’s spren glows like twisting light suggests the Surge of Illumination, as does the fact that it repeatedly predicts the future. The Truthwatchers had access to Progression and Illumination, and could predict the future to a limited extent. Ym would've been a Truthwatcher, were it not for Nale.

Ym said that he'd only used Regrowth a few times in his life, and he still doesn't seem to realize that his spren is always going to be around. He hadn't reached the level of constant companionship with his spren that Kaladin, Shallan, and Jasnah had. He hadn't even found out its name. However, he’d fully worked out that he needed to inhale Stormlight to use his powers. He was at a pretty interesting place, so it's unfortunate that he got stabbed as all get out.

Heraldic Symbolism:

The Herald in this interlude is Vedel, the Herald of Order, whose attributes are Loving and Healing. The simple explanation for why she's on this section is that, well, Ym is healing a kid. However, her presence problematizes the assertion that Ym was a proto-Truthwatcher. Vedel oversaw the Edgedancers, the other order with access to Progression. As for the other symbol presented, the Divine Prism is always used for interludes, Szeth and Eshonai excluded.

- Paraphrased from Carl Engle-Laird[1]


Ym's interlude shows that there are others on Roshar, beyond the main characters, forming Nahel bonds and embracing oaths; characters that are far away from the plot action. This gives a glimpse of how many there might have been if they weren't being hunted. It shows the dangers that lurk for those with Nahel bonds and that it's being suppressed. It also shows different combinations of Surges readers don't see from focusing on the main characters.