Fridge / The Stormlight Archive

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Fridge Brilliance

    Series as a whole 

  • Alethi gender roles seem odd at first. Okay, so men are warriors...and shopkeepers? And diplomats? While women are artists and scholars? How do those go together? However, it makes perfect sense: The men are in charge of dealing with other people, while the women are in charge of the more internal roles. Or for the cynical, they get all the light, indoor work with no heavy lifting.
  • The Vengeance Pact:
    • A war where the most powerful nation in the world reacts to a horrific act of violence by launching an invasion of a relatively distant land, fighting a numerically inferior foe in a harsh, difficult landscape. The foe uses innovative, insurgent tactics. The war causes deep stress on the homeland, extends for a great length of time, gets many people killed (often for no good reason) and those prosecuting the war lose their focus on what they're really out there to fight. Might not be intentional, but there are some striking parallels there....
    • Sanderson was asked about this very thing, and he pointed out that the Parshendi are not the extremists in this war. Really, there are four sides to the War of Reckoning: The Sons of Honor, the Alethi, the Parshendi, and the Voidbringers. The Parshendi assassinated a member of the Sons of Honor to prevent him from turning them into Voidbringers. Unfortunately he was the Alethi king, so they took that personally and declared war. The Voidbringers then used the desperate situation to turn the Parshendi into Voidbringers. There are political parallels through all that, but it's a little bit less clear-cut than it might seem at first.
  • Sexism:
    • It is interesting to note the lack of sexism in Vorin-based societies, despite the gender role restrictions. In fact, Vorinism places some very strict roles on gender, and while possible to circumvent by being an ardent, it still divides the sexes into tasks that are oddly awkward at times. However, Look at the roles that women fill: clerks, scientists, scribes, engineers, researchers, etc. Many of these roles, especially scribing and clerical work, are absolutely essential for any society to function. By requiring that specific roles essential for society to operate are locked to women, Vorinism ensures that women not only remain highly educated but also very powerful, effectively curbing the traditionally masculine society that would develop historically. This results in a society where sexism is virtually nonexistent. This exact notion of women's "power" is explicitly deconstructed, however, in Jasnah's writings.
      What is a woman's place in this modern world? I rebel against this question, though so many of my peers ask it. The inherent bias in the inquiry seems invisible to so many of them. They consider themselves progressive because they are willing to challenge many of the assumptions of the past. They ignore the greater assumption — that a "place" for women must be defined and set forth to begin with. Half of the population must somehow be reduced to the role arrived at by a single conversation. No matter how broad that role is, it will be — by nature — a reduction from the infinite variety that is womanhood. ... A woman's strength should not be in her role, whatever she chooses it to be, but in the power to choose that role.
    • Interestingly, tying in with what Jasnah has written, is that Shallan actually becomes more powerful the more she challenges her traditional role as a mere scholar. While she still applies her knowledge and research to her goals to stop the Last Desolation, she only truly achieves when she starts breaking out of the role itself - first by saving her brother while killing her father, then by taking up Pattern directly, approaching the Ghostbloods, and then completely casting aside any attempt to hide her Surgebinding and Shardblade.
  • The Alethi and the Parshendi actually have similar gender roles in one important respect: They are expected to pair off and act as a single unit. For the Alethi, the husband acts as the face of the pair while the wife does the book-keeping, but the Parshendi warpairs, matepairs, and scholarpairs aren't actually all that different.
  • In the first book, Axies the Collector mentions that though he's been imprisoned many times, he's never seen captivityspren. In the second when Kaladin is imprisoned he starts seeing a new kind of spren, like thin taut wires. Those are likely captivityspren, and the reason Axies doesn't see them is because while he's imprisoned, he's hoping to see captivityspren, but they're only drawn to people who genuinely feel trapped.
  • Sanderson likes hiding foreshadowing by appearing to refer to a single event when he's actually referring to multiple. Take the series tagline: "The Everstorm comes. The True Desolation. The Night of Sorrows." It sounds like one thing with multiple synonyms, but the Everstorm and the True Desolation (and presumably the Night of Sorrows) are actually different things. Likewise, Shallan often references her father's death and her Shardblade as if they are the same event, but they are only related in that she's suppressing both memories.
  • A closer look at Roshar's environment lends credence to Syl's claim that the laws of physics are "an agreement between friends." In fact there are so many things off about Roshar as a planetoid that it begins to look like a "what's wrong with this picture" puzzle:
    • The year length is a round number (500 days between Weepings exactly) and the moons always go across the sky in the order of Salas, Nomon, Mishim. Given that Salas and Mishim are stated to be smaller than Nomon, this is unlikely to occur naturally.
    • The seasons are all over the place (Kaladin notes at one point that a fortnight of spring is unprecedented), which implies no axial tilt (which would focus the sun's rays onto specific parts of the globe at specific times of the year, causing "warm" and "cold" seasons as with Earth).
    • The main supercontinent has not changed in 4 millenia (compare the map of the Silver Kingdoms in The Way of Kings to the map of Roshar in Words of Radiance), which implies no volcanic or tectonic activity. However, diamonds (and its family of gemstones) can still be found, mined out, and used in spheres and fabrials, even though the environment in which they would be created naturally does not exist, nor do the lava flows that bring them to the surface.
    • Said supercontinent is in the shape of a fractal - a mathematical diagram that would not change to suit the whims of any specific number system.
  • Wit's insults:
    • Wit never insults Dalinar, only offering him simple nods whenever they meet. Because Dalinar already whips himself more than bloody enough on his own.
      Wit: Those who "deserve" my mockery are those who can benefit from it, Brightlord Dalinar.
    • In contrast, Wit always insults Kaladin. The only time he stops is when he decides that's not working and tells him a story instead. Kaladin is so selfishly depressed that even when Wit spells out the aesop explicitly, it takes Kaladin time to get it through his head.
  • The name "spren." It seems like they could just call them spirits. But since the Spiritual Realm is an actual place and the spren are not from there, calling them spirits is imprecise at best.
  • The first part of the first Ideal of the Knights Radiant is "Life before death." To quote Teft: "The Radiant seeks to defend life, always. He never kills unnecessarily, and never risks his own life for frivolous reasons. Living is harder than dying. The Radiant's duty is to live." The part about not risking their own life seems odd. But when you consider that every single Radiant was a Broken Ace and thus heavily depressed, it makes more sense. Yes, they really do need an ironclad rule that boils down to "don't commit suicide."
  • As noted on the main page, the properties of the ten Polestones seem to be determined by color. But since color is defined by what frequencies of light an object reflects, it does make some sense that a gem's color would effect how it channels Stormlight.

    Death Rattles 

The prophetic dying words sprinkled throughout the series (especially the epigraphs of Way of Kings) have a lot of brilliance to them, referencing events from multiple books in esoteric terms. Interpretations below.

  • "A man stood on a Cliffside and watched his homeland fall into dust. The waters surged beneath, so far beneath. And he heard a child crying. They were his own tears."
    • Possibly a reference to Dalinar's first and final visions, where he stands on a cliffside with Honor and watches Kholinar crumble to nothing.
  • "I'm dying, arenít I? Healer, why do you take my blood? Who is that beside you, with his head of lines? I can see a distant sun, dark and cold, shining in a black sky."
    • An early reference to the secret hospital. The "head of lines" is obviously a Cryptic, and the landscape described is Shadesmar. This might not even be a real Death Rattle.
  • "Three of sixteen ruled, but now the Broken One reigns."
    • An obvious reference to Honor, Cultivation, and Odium collectively ruling Roshar. But with Honor's death, Cultivation appears to have gone into hiding, and Odium is essentially the sole Shard on the planet.
  • "The burdens of nine become mine. Why must I carry the madness of them all? Oh, Almighty, release me."
    • Taln, being tortured in Damnation. In fact, this might be the exact moment where he gave up and the next Desolation officially began.
  • "A woman sits and scratches out her own eyes. Daughter of kings and winds, the vandal."
    • A reference to the Herald Shalash (daughter of Jezrien, Herald of Kings and patron of the Windrunners) and her habit of destroying all art of herself.
  • "Above the final void I hang, friends behind, friends before. The feast I must drink clings to their faces, and the words I must speak spark in my mind. The old oaths will be spoken anew."
    • This seems to be from Kaladin's perspective, of all things, as he leaps from the bridge in the climax of Way of Kings. The friends behind are Bridge Four, the friends before are the Parshendi (who he soon learns are more honorable than the Alethi who are his supposed allies), the feast is the Stormlight in their beards, and the words are of course the Second Oath of the Windrunners.
  • "They come from the pit, two dead men, a heart in their hands, and I know that I have seen true glory."
    • A reference to an event in Words of Radiance when Kaladin and Shallan were thought dead in the chasms, only to return with a gemheart. The only odd part is referring to them as two men, but the Rattles have used stranger wording before. The chapter where they come out of the chasms is even titled "True Glory."
  • "All is withdrawn for me. I stand against the one who saved my life. I protect the one who killed my promises. I raise my hand. The storm responds."
    • Another Kaladin one, this time when he is protecting Elhokar from Moash. Syl becomes a Shardblade for the first time. The chapter where Kaladin is in prison and hears about what Elhokar did with Roshone is called "The One Who Killed Promises."

    The Way of Kings 
  • Taln's mentioned tendencies to die in unsurvivable fights during the Desolation make so much sense when held against the eventual refusal of the other Heralds to return to Braize. He's probably consciously choosing to keep fighting until he dies, removing the temptation to revolt against the Oathpact, which the other nine did end up doing.
  • It is mentioned several times that predicting the future is left to the Almighty. The final vision Dalinar sees shows him a possible future . . . and guess who that voice is that he's been hearing? And as it turns out, even the Almighty can't do it very well. Apparently the bearer of a shard called Cultivation is better. What is Cultivation all about? Planting and nurturing things that will come to the future.
  • Arrows have a habit of conveniently missing Kaladin just barely during bridge runs, hitting the wood near his hands and head instead. Keep in mind that he usually carries his money on his person during these runs, and that the spheres always seem to go dun a lot faster than they ought to. Now, how did Reverse Lashing work again?.
  • At one point, the King's Wit talks to Dalinar and mentions how gibberish words are often the sounds of other words. Doesn't seem too important. then we find out that the "gibberish" that Dalinar speaks during his visions are actual words, only in an ancient dead language
  • Wit/Hoid's story to Kaladin:
    • At first glance, it almost seems like a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, until one looks back over the setting itself. The tale shows what happens when people allow unconfirmed belief to rule their actions, and how people can do the most horrible of things because of belief in some greater power that excuses their actions. Three of the four main characters fall victim to this in their own way: Kaladin's inability to get over his own guilt and self-loathing, which convinces him that things are hopeless. Dalinar's belief in what the visions are showing him, which ultimately leads him into the trap during the battle on the Tower, as well as making the mistake of assuming The Way of Kings was applicable to all of life, and not the creation of a man who had been forced to unify the nations by force so he could implement his ideals. And most importantly, Szeth's strict adherence to Stone Shamanism and carrying out his assassinations at the order of whoever commands him, when all he would need to do to stop everything from happening would be to simply refuse to follow the orders of whoever holds his oathstone.
    • Becomes even more brilliant once we learn why Szeth was made Truthless. He tried to warn the Shin that the Desolation was coming. Because it obviously wasn't true, they branded him Truthless and forced him into slavery, and to bear the guilt of all the lives he claimed, and he went along with it, as he viewed it as the only punishment suitable. And then it turns out that he was right and the Shin were wrong. The desolation was coming. The Knights Radiant had returned. All of the deaths he caused were for nothing... because he believed the Shin over himself.
  • In the epilogue Wit mentions that the system of Lighteyed rule, despite seeming so bizzare, was created for perfectly logical reasons. Actual eye color is clearly as poor and indicator of intelligence and leadership quailities on Roshar as on Earth, but what probably happened, was that people remembered the Radiants having eyes that glowed, and are still deferential to bright eyes without remembering the reasons. Even more so, it's revealed that if you pick up a Shardblade, your eyes change color to light. It's quite probable that all lighteyes are the descendants of Radiants and Shardbearers.
  • There are ten point of view characters in the main story of The Way of Kings. (Kaladin, Dalinar, Adolin, Shallan, Szeth, Gaz, Navani, Cenn, Wit/Hoid, and Teft.) There are six others in the interlude, so add those and it becomes sixteen. And there's one more in the prelude, so seventeen. Brandon put in stealth references to the Arc Number of this series, the Arc Number of the entire Cosmere, and the Seventeenth Shard. Nice job.
  • The Parshendi targeting the expendable and easily replaced bridgemen over other more worthwhile soldiers is a puzzle to the Alethi. But when you consider the Parshendi are shapechangers who move between different forms for specialized roles, it makes sense that they would consider targeting bridgemen worthwhile. The Parshendi don't really believe in cannon fodder, since any Parshendi can become any role. While they would likely grasp, intellectually, that humans don't shapechange, there would still be an innate belief that killing a human - any human - would remove a potential enemy soldier from the field, even if that combatant was a lowly bridgeman. As an added bonus, that's exactly what happens during the book: Bridge Four turns from being made of the lowliest of the bridgemen to a Badass Crew able to held its own in an actual battle.
  • There's a scene halfway through the book where Shallan is trying to figure out how to make Jasnah's Soulcaster work. One of the books she reads suggests humming is a key to making it work. Shortly after trying (and failing) this, Shallan is studying the patterns the Soulcast stone in the ceiling of her room when she first hears the spren talking to her. Its rather subtle, but Pattern is, well, made up of patterns, and he also likes to hum quite a bit. Its not really a coincidence that the first time he speaks to Shallan, it is after she tries humming to Soulcast, and starts studying patterns in her surroundings.
  • Taln is the Herald of War, and immediately following his resurrection appears at Kholinar. Kholinar is currently the capital of Alethkar, but it's also one of the Dawncities, and was the capital of Alethela, the Proud Warrior Race kingdom. No wonder he appeared there—it's the most logical place to start rallying soldiers.
  • Dalinar's visions are like a video game. He can interact with the world, move about freely and make choices, but in the end the story is still on the rails, and it's going to head where it wants no matter what he does. The parts where the Almighty is speaking to him are non-interactive cutscenes.

    Words of Radiance 
  • Shallan notes that with enough Stormlight, she could survive a spear to the chest without too much difficulty. That's how Jasnah survived the ambush. She was stabbed through the chest, Shallan Soulcast the ship to water, and Jasnah escaped to Shadesmar to heal.
  • In the previous book, the Almighty told Dalinar "Odium has killed me." In this book, Syl dislikes Kaladin's raw hatred for Amaram and people like him, which eventually breaks the bond and kills her. Odium is a synonym for hatred. Not just hatred, but specifically hatred toward someone due to their actions. The root of Kaladin's hatred toward lighteyes is that lighteyes have consistently betrayed him and killed those he cared for. It's not just that Syl's afraid of Kaladin breaking his oaths and what might happen to her because of that, it's that while Kaladin's around lighteyes he's closer to attracting Odium's spren instead of honorspren.
  • It is mentioned that Bondsmith Radiants are incredibly rare and powerful, with three members being a normal number for them. Given that Dalinar becomes one by bonding the Stormfather himself, this makes a lot more sense.
  • All along, Renarin seems to be trying to overcome physical disabilities through sheer force of will. Everyone applauds him for making the effort, but it doesn't actually matter, except for what it says about his character. The only remotely useful thing he does at any point is use his Shardblade to cut through stone. then you get to the end and find out he's a Radiant. This means that handling the Shardblade is exactly as hard for him as it is for Kaladin. But he was still doing it anyway with just mild winces. Now that is a Handicapped Badass.
  • Eshonai is determined to speak with Dalinar specifically. This makes sense given that the Parshendi have spies among the parshmen in the camps, but makes even more sense when you consider that one of those spies was assigned to Bridge Four. Rlain had a singularly good opportunity to find out just how fundamentally decent Dalinar was, and his reports were probably partially responsible for Eshonai's high opinion of him.
  • Related, it's easy to miss, but Shen is with the group that guards "Dalinar" while he meets with Eshonai. That same night, Rlain leaves the camp, but can't tell Kaladin why. It's because he knew something was very wrong with Eshonai refusing to negotiate in even the slightest.
  • A VERY subtle hint that Shardblades are spren very early on. Navani told Dalinar that early Shardbearers learned to do the hammerspace storage thing by slapping a gem on their Shardblades. In Adolin's duel however, when his opponent unbinds from his Shardblade, Adolin takes of the binding ruby and crushes it in his hands. There is no mention of a spren escaping, as there was when Eshonai broke HER gem when she changed form. As the narration mentioned doing that was unnecessary to actually taking someone's Shardblade, that means the gem was perfectly fine and he could have used it as it was, and the spren hadn't 'run out'. So... where was the spren that should have been paired with the gem to make it a functioning piece of magitech? IN THE BLADE. Real subtle Brandon...
  • Small one: The reason Taravangian is not allowed to eat before taking his daily tests is because he has never eaten before taking his daily tests. It's a variable that could call into question the validity of the tests.
  • Kaladin lost his respect for Amaram when the man stole his Shardblade and killed his men, while he gained his respect for Dalinar when the man gave up his Shardblade and saved his men. Furthermore, Dalinar began to doubt Amaram when Amaram, despite being armed with a Shardblade, refused to save Adolin and Renarin because it would affect his reputation—while Kaladin jumped into the arena with nothing but a spear and then threw away his reputation in a failed attempt to get justice on Amaram.
  • It's often noted that Kaladin has essentially been adopted by Dalinar Kholin by this book. In addition to the fact that Dalinar treats him much the same way he does Adolin (trustworthy but occasionally needing a firm word or punishment when he does something stupid), Kaladin's name also fits the Theme Naming Dalinar used for his sons: Three syllables, with the last being in.

Fridge Horror

    Series as a whole 
  • Darkness was right to kill potential Radiants in order to prevent Desolations. The Return of the Parshendi's old gods happens because Kaladin takes a level in badass and defeats Eshonai to rescue Dalinar. If Eshonai and Dalinar could have talked about ending the war there on the Tower, they would have been able to join together against the Desolation.

    The Way of Kings 
  • If Jasnah's research proves correct that the Parshmen are docile Parshendi, and we know the Parshendi - and, by extension, the Parshmen - have a Borg-style mind connection, all of Roshar is very fucked due to how used people have gotten to having Parshmen servants around to do whatever chores and look after children. In the second book, Jasnah points out that they won't even have to violently rebel (although she assumes that's the plan). All they have to do is walk off the job, and every country's economy would be completely devastated. When the big reveal is made, Shallan notes that there are two Parshmen standing literally within meters of them. That is just how commonplace the Parshmen are.

     Words Of Radiance 
  • Shinovar has always been protected from the highstorms, so its people and wildlife never evolved to survive them. But in just a few days, the Everstorm is coming, and unlike highstorms, it comes from the west. The mountains will be no protection against it. Shinovar is going to be devastated. There's a smaller (but still pretty darn big) mountain range covering the entire western coast of Shinovar. The Everstorm won't hit them full force (but even a minor hit could do serious damage to a land with no fortifications).
  • How long has Nalan been hunting down and murdering Radiants for whatever crimes he could find them guilty of? How many would-be Radiants who would be needed to fight the Voidbringers has he killed so far? How badly has his pursuit of Surgebinders crippled Roshar's ability to ultimately fight back?
  • The smarter Taravangian becomes, the more fundamentally flawed the plans he creates are, such as it being a good idea if all the less intelligent people killed themselves. The Diagram was created when he was at his most intelligent - right from the beginning, his faction is gambling everything on a critically flawed course of action. Even if his exceptional level of intelligence allowed him to overcome this, he also becomes increasingly less compassionate as he grows smarter. The Diagram was created by him while he was incredibly brilliant, and monstrous.
  • Considering the revelations about Gavilar's goals to bring back the Voidbringers and the Desolation, his line to Szeth claiming that the assassination was too late becomes much more disturbing in hindsight.

Fridge Logic

Alternative Title(s): Words Of Radiance