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     Elhokar's Suspicions 
  • It wasn't until I re-read the book (although maybe that means I'm just slow at picking up on these things) that I realized Dalinar had the perfect way to remove any suspicion that he tried to get Elhokar killed during the chasmfiend hunt, namely that, during said chasmfiend hunt, Dalinar saved Elhokar's life! If Dalinar had wanted Elhokar dead, he could have just let the chasmfiend kill him; instead he leapt in front of the creature's giant claw and actually caught it between his arms, saving the king's life. Why neither Dalinar, Adolin, Elhokar, or Sadeas ever brought up this point is a mystery to me.
    • Elhokar's paranoid enough that he wouldn't take that as proof, and Dalinar, Adolin, and Sadeas all know him well enough to know that. Remember what Dalinar had to put him through at the end of the novel to convince him?
    • I believe the reason was that they thought it was a gambit by Dalinar to get Elhokar to trust him, though I can't remember if this was explicitly stated in the text or something that I thought up on my own.
    • Also keep in mind that it's not so much an issue of proving Dalinar wasn't involved. It's an issue of Sadeas using an accusation of Dalinar's supposed guilt as justification to go to move against him with the grinning approval of the other Highprinces.
    • One thing to remember is that Elhokar doesn't really believe Dalinar tried to assassinate him, but there are fears that someone within Dalinar's camp was responsible for it. Elhokar was routinely meeting Dalinar in confidence throughout the book and was totally blindsided at the end when Dalinar started smacking him around. The real fear on Dalinar's end was that Sadeas would manufacture a justification to gather the other highprinces to attack him.


    Shallan's money trouble (contains major spoilers) 

  • Shallan secretly posseses a shardblade that she apparently took from her father after she killed him. Shardblades are worth "Fortunes. Cities, palaces, kingdoms." If her family is in such terrible enough debt that she is desperate enough to try conning and stealing from the sister of the most powerful King in Roshar then why does she not just secretly sell the blade. It can't be harder to arrange than what she tries to do instead.
    • As discussed below, the biggest reason this doesn't come up is that Shallan just doesn't think rationally about the shardblade. None of the others know that she has it, and she suppresses the memories so hard that she almost doesn't know she has it.
      • You can picture the scene. One of her brothers wishes aloud that they could win a shardblade, and offer it to the ghostbloods. "Something tingled at the back of Shallan's mind and whispered: 'But you already have a shar-' 'No!' another part screamed. 'Don't think about it! Don't think about it'"
    • There's implications that there's something much worse going on in the background surrounding Shallan's family, even beyond the Ghostblood connection, and that trying to sell the Shardblade would simply result in things getting worse. Blades aren't things you just sell in Roshar, and merely possessing one will bring down tremendous and terrible attention on the family. Attempting to sell the Blade would likely end in the whole family being killed and the Blade taken. Trying to sell it is like trying to sell nuclear weaponry in the modern world.
    • Is trying to sell nuclear weaponry that much more dangerous than trying to steal nuclear weaponry, the soulcaster is probably just as dangerous and valuable as a shardblade. Both prospects are just as risky but in opposite directions, the soulcaster is already in the posession of a dangerous powerful person but once taken will be kept hidden, the shardblade is already hidden but for it to save them would require it to be brought to the attention of potentially powerful dangerous people.
    • Stealing the soulcaster is obviously the less risky proposition, as it would not draw attention if done properly. The shardblade would draw attention regardless.
    • Also, they have a soulcaster that she plans to replace the stolen one with. The idea, was that Jasnah would think her soulcaster had broken, fix it or find another stone to replace the broken one, and there would be no harm no foul.Or, failing that, that Shallan would be gone by the next time Jasnah tried to use it anyway. From my understanding, the reason they can not fix their own family's soulcaster is because none of them have the knowledge to fix it, and are afraid to look to outside help because it would make them appear weak and vulnerable (and also because, I believe, their family has not et others know that the reason they have been as profitable as they have been was because they had a soulcaster).
    • They were never supposed to have a soulcaster in the first place, so yes, they couldn't get outside help getting it repaired. The people who apparently gave it to their father are also the ones who they suspect will kill them if they find out it's broken.
    • Because Shalan's Shardblade isn't a normal Shardblade. It's actually a living one with an active spren, instead of the Blades formed from the bodies of dead spren, so it can't be actually sold without Shallan breaking her link to Pattern (that and it actually vanishes instantly when someone other than Shallan tries to take it). In addition, not only does every Blade have a carefully-tracked lineage, but it can actually be considered treason for a Shardbearer to sell their Shards to someone outside of their country or princedom. So while Shardblades might be worth a kingdom to buy and sell, actually selling one is going to be extremely tricky, and definitely beyond the means of the Davar clan, none of whom are actually going to be all that savvy at selling something that valuable.
    • On top of that, Shallan was at that stage only able to function by repressing her memories of her mother's death, including the fact that she had the Blade in the first place.
    • And as a third point, none of the rest of her family knows she's got it.
    • She didn't take it from her father. She had it when her mother was still alive, and it's implied and confirmed in the second book that Shallan actually killed her mother with it.
    • But what if her father's soulcaster wasn't actually broken and he was soulcasting natively like Jasnah and Shallan can?
      • That would require him to be a Radiant, and there's absolutely no evidence that he is a Radiant.
  • Rhythm of War offers a new reason. Shallan killed Testament. She wasn't just mentally incapable of calling a Shardblade; she didn't have one to sell.

     Szeth's Surgebinding 
  • Where is his spren?
    • Considering that we still know very little about how surgebinding in general works and its relation to the Honorspren, the answer is "Who knows?" He obviously doesn't have one near him, but for all we know he flat-out doesn't have one. Or he does have one, but it's still in the Shen lands, and somehow providing him with power despite the distance. That is definitely a question that could come up when he and Kaladin inevitably meet.
    • I believe there is a Word of God that Szeth's powers work on a different principle from regular Surgebinding.
    • The above comment is confirmed by Words of Radiance. Szeth has Surgebinding powers because he wields an Honorblade. He doesn't have a spren.
    • Although he presumably will in the next book, after being recruited into the Skybreaker order.
      • Confirmed as of Oathbringer
    • Assuming that the organization he got inducted into are actually Radiants and not just a group Nalan named after his old order of course. Though in any event, he still got Nightblood...
    • He certainly meets the 'broken soul' prerequisite by this point. But as to what Spren he will wind up binding, he seems as good a candidate for one of Odium's spren since he's got good reason at this point to be consumed with hatred.

    Taln's Blade 

  • Honorblades work differently than Shardblades, because they were created directly by the Almighty, rather than what happened with the Radiant's Blades. The question is, why does Taln's Blade scream when Dalinar touches it after becoming a Radiant? It's not a dead spren.
    • That wasn't Taln's blade. If it had been, Dalinar would have gained full-fledged Surgebinding powers just from using it, like Szeth got from his Honorblade. Which means somebody (and by "somebody" I mean "almost certainly Hoid") swapped the Honorblade for a standard Shardblade before Dalinar got his hands on it.
    • Also, Dalinar's Blade screams at him after he bonds with the Stormfather, which is further evidence it is just a regular Shardblade.
    • Update from Word of Brandon: It was not Hoid.
    • Further update: There aren't enough clues in the book to figure out who it actually was.

     The last Honorblade 
  • When Szeth is talking with Taravangian, he mentions that the Shin have "the other seven" Honorblades. Adding Taln's and Szeth's own, that leaves nine accounted for. Where's the last one?
    • Perhaps one of the other Heralds collected theirs. Possibly Nin (we know he has a Blade of some type), but we don't know the precise circumstances of the Shin's custodianship, so he might have considered that illegal. Also note that the fact that Szeth knows about it despite being out of contact for who knows how long implies that it was a while ago. Maybe one of them was stolen way back after the Last Desolation, before the Shin got their hands on them?
    • Nin's Blade is actually from Nalthis, another world in the Cosmere.
    • Nin has two Blades—the one he gave to Szeth at the end (Nightblood) and the Shardblade he killed the shoemaker with, and tried to use on Lift before he was stopped.
    • It is very possible that Nin has his own Honorblade. During Lift's interlude he is shown drawing Stormlight but he has no spren, or at least no spren that Wyndle reacted to.
    • Nin actually at had (at least at one point) three Blades - his own Honorblade, Nightblood and his own Shardblade, since he alone among the Heralds actually joined the Order dedicated to him. Although currently Nightblood has been given to Szeth, and he doesn't seem to be looking for reclaiming it, so he should be down to two.
    • Confirmed in Oathbringer that he retrieved his own Honorblade.

    Lost Radiants disappeared 

  • Where the hell did the Lost Radiants go after they abandoned their shards?
    • Either they just slipped anonymously into the general population, or they were hunted down and killed. Some of the epigraphs from Words of Radiance (the in-universe book, which is referenced several times in the Stormlight Archive book of the same name) imply that kingdoms were able to exact revenge on them for their betrayal. Specifically:
      "This act of great villainy went beyond the impudence which had hitherto been ascribed to the orders; as the fighting was particularly intense at the time, many attributed this act to a sense of inherent betrayal; and after they withdrew, about two thousand made assault upon them, destroying much of the membership; but this was only nine of the ten, as one said they would not abandon their arms and flee, but instead entertained great subterfuge at the expense of the other nine."
    • According to Mraize's letter to Shallan in Oathbringer, it's likely that Nale and his Skybreakers may have hunted down and killed many of them in order to prevent another Desolation.
    • Oathbringer also indicates that the Recreance wasn't actually a single event, but a prolonged series of the slow erosion of ideals and oaths by the Radiants. Rather than one single dramatic event, it was a series of desertions and abandoned oaths over the years, allowing Radiants to gradually slip away into the shadows.


    Heralds while dead 
  • Where do (did?) the Heralds go between Desolations? We know it's a place bad enough to utterly break their spirits, but... what is it?
    • Short version: Hell. Long version: Braize, one of the three Shardworlds in the Greater Roshar system (the others being Roshar and Ashyn). It's Odium's world, and probably doesn't have any actual people on it, though it might have Voidspren so that he doesn't have to personally torture the Heralds all the time. It seems that whatever the Oathpact was, it involved making concessions to Odium in the process, including getting tortured until they're resurrected.
    • The implication seems to be that Odium can torture them on Braize for as long as they can take it, and in exchange he can move to try to destroy Roshar as soon as they are reborn. The longer they hold out, the longer civilization has to rebuild between the Desolations. This both makes it more likely for civilization to survive the cycle and gives millions of innocents the ability to live their lives. Not only that, but Hoid's correspondence indicates that this cycle of eternal recurrence was engineered to trap Odium on Roshar and prevent him from attacking shardbearers through the cosmere as a whole. So the millenia of torture they endured preserved uncounted billions through the worlds from Odium's influence. Pretty damn impressive. ESPECIALLY since the last, who the others finally abandoned, held out far longer than all the other times combined at the cost of his mind.
    • There is some conflicting information, though. Taln's last line in WoK ("I have failed") implies that yes, if he had held out for longer, the Desolation would in turn have been pushed back farther. But in the second book, Taln is worried that he's late this time, while Nale thinks that killing off surgebinders will stave off the Desolation, implying that it's caused by something besides just how long they can hold out. Of course, they're both their own flavors of crazy at this point, so it's hard to get a straight answer.
    • The Diagram implies that it's the first one, that it's based on how long the Heralds can hold out, and furthermore states that anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot:
      Book of the 2nd Ceiling Rotation: Pattern 1: Obviously they are fools The Desolation needs no usher It can and will sit where it wishes and the signs are obvious that the spren anticipate it doing so soon The Ancient of Stones must finally begin to crack It is a wonder that upon his will rested the prosperity and peace of a world for over four millennia
    • Oathbringer lends credit to the other theory, however: Gavilar tells he found a way to enforce a Desolation, and we see the Diagram being wrong. Also, Taln's line on failing could be about stopping whatever Gavilar was doing, or Taln could be just too broken to clearely recall it, only getting different glimpses at different times. The Stormfather also points out that Honor's limit was him believing men were as bound as oaths as he was, so him blocking the Singers to come back from their side but not considering that men could pull them in from the other would be consistent with it.
    • Oathbringer confirms that they are sent to Damnation as part of the Oathpact. Essentially, Odium is bound as much by oaths as Honor, and the Oathpact was that the Heralds would perform a Heroic Sacrifice by using themselves to seal away the Voidspren who would start up a Desolation, keeping both of them there. However, if any of the Heralds bent their oaths enough to allow the Voidspread to return, then they would all return until the Desoaltion was repelled, at which point the Heralds go back. All of the Heralds eventually broke, except for Taln, who was such an extreme Determinator that he was able to withstand the torture for four and a half thousand years.

     Nightblood on Roshar 
  • So, Szeth has Nightblood now. I'm curious how useful it will be, though, on a world where Breath isn't something you can buy. Unless Nightblood can eat Stormlight? In which case, we have to imagine fighting Nightblood in the middle of a highstorm, which gives it basically unlimited mana...
    • Now that I think about it, Vasher requires a breath every week like Returned, doesn't he? Does he get the same sustenance from Stormlight? He must, I think, so it makes sense that Nightblood would work with Stormlight as well.
    • Yes. Word Of Brandon confirms that both Vasher and Nightblood can feed off of Stormlight in place of Breath, which is presumably part of why they came to Roshar in the first place.

     Powers on Other Worlds 
  • For that matter, do other powers like Awakening or Allomancy actually work on Roshar? Could someone native to Roshar give an Awakener their Breath?
    • People on Roshar do not have Breath. Breath is from Endowment and only native to the world she made, Nalthis. People who come from Nalthis would still be able to use the breath they gathered from Nalthis in Roshar, but wouldn't be able to get more of it. (Using your magic on other worlds than your own possible by Word of Brandon, as long as the world has the requisite 'materials' or you can bring them with you from your homeworld.)
    • Yes, but Breath and Stormlight are the same thing, just in slightly different forms. You'll note that the two magic systems are opposite in most ways: Biochroma is from a world where magic is very difficult to get and thus involves lots of recycling of power, while Surgebinding is from a world where magic is very easy to get and burns through it like tissue paper. A Surgebinder would last about five seconds on Nalthis, but a Returned doesn't have to worry about his immortality at all on Roshar.
    • So Breath and Stormlight are different forms of investment, just like metal is invested on Scadrial?
    • Yes. We don't know too much about how the magic systems work on other worlds, but Breath and Stormlight are both the same thing. If powers do work the exact same way on other planets (and if anybody can make them work, it will be a Returned, since they're basically small pieces of the Shard Endowment that is in charge of their magic system), it's even possible that Zahel has full access to all his Biochromatic powers, and will pull out a Tenth Heightening at a dramatic moment.
    • Notice that Zahel knew immediately when Kaladin entered the room, that's a Biochromatic power.
    • Sadly, Zahel pulling a Tenth Heightening out of his ass is a violation of Sanderson's First Law, especially if he uses it to solve a problem that Kaladin and co. might have. But yes, he can use Stormlight in place of Breath. It's all Investiture anyway, what matters is how it acts.
    • WRT "powers like Awakening or Allomancy actually working on Roshar," in one of Shallan's flashbacks we (presumably) see Hoid using Soothing on her father.
    • Word of God is that Stormlight doesn't grant Returned Breath powers. Though, presumably, he still has the power of his single divine Breath, since he could sense Kaladin through the wall.
    • Is it possible that Bio Chromatic Breath includes some of the originator's Connection and/or Identity? It might account for the difference if it wasn't pure Investiture, and might explain the workings of Awakening
    • We know as of Oathbringer that BioChroma works on both Roshar and in Shadesmar; Hoid uses it in the former case and Azure uses it in the latter.

     Binding four Surges? 
  • So what happens if a Radiant tries to wield the Honorblade of a different Order? Does he just get the "sword" functions? Can he use the powers of both his own order and his sword's order? And what would happen if Kaladin used Jezrien's blade? Would he get more powerful Windrunning? Would it just function as a sword for him? What?
    • Word of God is that dual-wielding Shardblades is possible, so grabbing an Honorblade might be a shortcut. However, Honorblades are weaker and flawed compared to true Shardblades, so it might be that a spren overrides one. Using Honorblades of different orders might work, but using one of your own almost certainly wouldn't. Kaladin didn't mention any extra surge of strength and power. Maybe you have to bind it first, but that's implied to be unnecessary with Honorblades.
    • Though this isn't tested, Dalinar believes using another order's Honorblade is possible and would grant its surges. There would be very little reason to use your own Order's honorblade, because they're less efficient than the Nahel Bond.
      • One would wonder, if that were possible, if one could control all the Surges, at least in theory.

    Nightblood's tempting 

  • Can anyone explain why Nightblood didn't immediately cause Szeth to kill others and himself? If it works anything like it did in Warbreaker, this seems like the obvious first thing that would happen.
    • Two possibilities: Szeth counts as "sinless" due to being Truthless (which seems to be doubtful, as a large point of his story is that he's responsible for everything he does), or we just misunderstand the rules a little. Maybe being given the sword freely makes you immune to the effect? Or using it as a spren does so.
    • Nightblood, who doesn't understand good and evil, probably sees Szeth as repentant and honorable. After all, he feels horrible for everything he's done and followed his code of honor to the bitter end. The fact that he's completely insane by now is an unfortunate detail.
    • Nightblood's tempting doesn't have anything to do with his concept of evil, though. He openly wonders why he can't affect some people, Vasher tells him it's because they're sinless, and he has no idea what that means. On the other hand, it could be as simple as him choosing not to tempt Szeth. He never tempted Vasher, after all, or even Vivenna at the end.
    • Word of God is that the tempting is based on what the Breaths used to create Nightblood guessed "evil" meant. "What they decided was evil was someone who would try to take the sword and use it for evil purposes, selling it, manipulating and extorting others, that sort of thing." This is subconscious, for lack of a better word, so Nightblood can't articulate this, but by this definition Szeth pretty clearly counts as "sinless." Szeth has no desire to do evil, no matter what evil he has already done. Thus, Nightblood's tempting has no effect on him.
    • Notably, in Oathbringer, Nightblood is picked up by a fleeing criminal. It doesn't kill him, because the man is simply trying to escape from Szeth, rather for any ill intent, so picking up Nightblood purely for self-defense seems to be a valid option.
    • Szeth may also be a special case since he Came Back Wrong with his soul kind of displaced.


     Shallan's past 
  • Does Shallan break the rules of the Knights Radiant? In Words of Radiance, Syl says all of the Knights were broken, making it seem like that was a prerequisite to being chosen by a spren. Indeed, Kal, Dalinar, and even Szeth are broken men before they bond with a spren. Shallan, though seems to have her breaking after becoming a Knight (killing her mother, which happened because she saw Shallan becoming a Knight Radiant and wanted to stop it). Am I missing something?
    • Not everyone apparently needs to be broken for each order. Lift is basically the opposite of broken, after all. And I don't think it's possible to break The Lopen.
    • Growing up in a household that violent and oppressive will certainly break a person. Hell it broke ALL of them! Yes it got worse after Shallan's mother died, but you get the clear impression it was bad even before that. Oh, and if you think that a person who actively rebels against maturity or a person who has a basket of coping mechanisms for being ridiculed aren't broken, I don't think you understand how many different ways people can break. That's besides the fact that Lift's soul has been warped by powerful magic (breaking her connection to the physical in a very real way) and The Lopen is physically broken (that is to say, missing an arm).
    • Lift implies that there's something very dark in her past, she's just covering it up by acting like a goofball. Sort of like what Shallan is doing, just in a different direction.
      "You don't even care, do you?"
      "No," he said. "I don't."
      "You should," she said, exhausted. "You should... should try it, I mean. I wanted to be like you, once. Didn't work out. Wasn't... even like being alive..."
    • OP here. I'd agree that Lift was broken, and Lopen I don't think is broken but also not a Knight (he has no spren that we've seen). However, if Shallan WAS broken before she killed her mother (which I think was her breaking point, personally) why doesn't Sanderson show it? He showed us Kaladin's in Wo K (either his brother dying or his original squad getting slaughtered) and presumably will show us the others, as well (in their own books). I thought it was implied that Shallan's breaking point was the memory she represses so hard it's almost a blank spot to her, but it would've been AFTER she got Pattern. I'm not implying I don't think she's broken, but I am wondering if she didn't break late, so to speak.
      • As of the end of Oathbringer, Lopen does indeed have a spren. Besides, just because someone is upbeat doesn't mean they aren't hurting inside. It just means they're good at hiding it.
      • Notice that the moment the spren shows up is when Lopen being more open and serious, aknowledging that missing an arm can be hard to help a soldier who was going through the same thing. There's also the saying that those who are saddest are the ones who try the hardest to make people smile, and the Lopen could basically embody that.
    • We saw like five seconds of Shallan before her mother's death. There's not enough to say that she wasn't broken. Also keep in mind that people can be born with a cracked soul—that's why madmen could hear Ruin in Mistborn. Kaladin's clinical depression might have been enough for him to be marked as a proto-surgebinder since birth, and then the death of Tien forced the cracks wider and let Syl in. He was shockingly good with a quarterstaff, after all.
    • There's not enough to say she was, and absence of evidence is weak evidence of absence. I could buy the idea that Shallan's and Kaladin's souls are precracked (though I'd also point out the only major character we spent any time with in Mistborn like that was Zane, who was ten pounds of crazy in a five pound bag, which is not how I'd describe either of these characters), but it just bugs me that it's not explicit for Shallan like I felt it was for Kal in his viewpoint book.
    • True. But this whole thing started because someone wondered how she could be broken enough to receive her powers so early. There are only two ways that we know of: Either you're born broken or you're made broken. It's one or the other. Remember, the only time we saw Shallan's life before her mother's death was the explicitly idealized version Hoid forced her to imagine. Since she doesn't seem to have any mental problems other than the ones that can be directly traced back to the issues caused by her mother's death, that implies that yes, her childhood was bad enough to break her even then. The other option to consider is that children just break easier in general, but we haven't really seen any evidence of that. We haven't seen any evidence against, either, but absence of evidence...
    • Also, showing her childhood before would have spoiled the reveal of her role in her mother's death. The Lightweavers oaths being truth, I also think that admitting she's lying about her childhood will become a point in future books, particularly now that she's reunited with her brothers and can see them as broken despite the new lifestyle, while she blamed it all on the circumstances before. Also, we actually saw two things: her mother agreeing to make another man come to kill her, and what kind of person her father was, and you don't just become like that in one day. I don't really think that having a mother who could do that could leave a child without scars, or that her father only changed afterwards (particularly since he sheltered and constricted her as if it was for her own good, something he might as well have been doing before).
    • It's also not exactly clear what "broken" means. It could be the result of trauma, but many of the Radiants we've seen seem to have both a traumatic past and a mental illness. Dalinar's got severe anger problems, or at least, he used to, Kaladin's got depression, Shallan's got something like Dissociative Identity Disorder, Renarin's developmentally disabled or on autism spectrum, Szeth has... Borderline Personality Disorder? Schizophrenia?... no idea, Teft is a drug addict, Lopen is ... Lopen...
      • Szeth has massive PTSD at the least and maybe other things.

    Following the Diagram 

  • King Taravangian and his aides place him under the following restrictions: "When he was dull, he could not change policy. Interestingly, he had decided that when he was too brilliant, he was also not allowed to change policy." Now, the Diagram was created on the day he was most brilliant, clearly not allowed to be policy. Still, the Diagram dictates the entire policy his followers adhere to in dealing with the whole world. It has led him to order the assassination of a majority of the world's rulers, place entire kingdoms and hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in jeopardy, slowly kill people just to hear the horrible dystopian futures/visions they see...Is there anything wrong with this picture? Isn't that the entire reason he limited his effect on policy? If he isn't allowed to do something so small as requiring intelligence testing for future parents, why is he allowed to enact the highly convoluted plan of the Diagram, which, at this point, seems to be making things a lot worse rather than better? Yes, let's plunge the world into anarchy right as the Desolations start, because the Voidbringers won't be enough trouble...Why is anybody following the Diagram? Isn't it not allowed to change policy, under his self(and aide)-imposed rules?
    • The rules were put in place after the Diagram got started, and even then only after he came up with a couple stupid/smart ideas and kept trying to act on them. We haven't seen the full text of the Diagram, but everyone who knows about it has. Apparently, it's very persuasive. There's that one Alternate Character Interpretation on the YMMV page that wonders if Taravangian might genuinely be smart enough on his best days to convince people of bizarre but logical things. So maybe the Diagram is just such a supremely perfect document that anyone who reads it believes it. There's a reason the people following it are likened to a religion.
      Furthermore, remember that Taravangian was a king long before he wrote the Diagram. He already had most of the power and influence he needed. There's a very short list of people who know about the Diagram and Taravangian's goals. Most of them are just paid normally.
    • We find out that the Diagram was the very reason he contacted the Nightwatcher (he wanted to be able to save the people of Roshar, and the Diagram is all about that), so it would be senseless not to follow it.
    • There's a point or two where policy is contrasted against commentary. Taravangian when brilliant is fully encouraged to interpret the Diagram and speculate about what he meant when writing it, though it's still not taken as gospel. What he's not allowed to do is make any rulings in running the country. It's the difference between figuring out a sequence of numbers is shorthand for entire words, and not having the authority to execute the children's choir outside his room.

    Where do baby Parshmen come from? 

  • OK, so Parshmen are "formless" Parshendi, same species but mystically lobotomised. Parshendi have to enter mateform to have children, they are only fertile when in mateform. Parshmen meanwhile cannot assume forms, so where do new ones come from?
    • Word of God is that the other forms are fertile, just much less so. So it just takes more trying. It also helps explain why Parshmen are so valuable; they're impossible to breed in numbers to meet demand.
    • Oathbringer discusses this. Parshmen are fertile but breed slowly, and female Parshmen who provide good children are breeding stock. Understandably, when the Parshmen regain their self-awarenss, they are distinctly upset about this.

  • If Shardblades are made from Spren, what is Shardplate made of? And for that matter, what are the keyholes for the oathgates made of, if it's the same stuff as a Shardblade - did Spren have to sacrifice themselves to make those?
    • Short version: We don't know. We'll probably find out in a later book. One theory is that they are made of each Order's "lesser" spren, the non-sentient ones, like windspren for Windrunners and creationspren for Lightweavers. All we know for sure is that Shardplate is not made of dead spren, since it doesn't scream when a Radiant touches it. On a more practical note, Shardblades and Shardplate are both made of condensed Investiture; solid magic, basically. There are plenty of ways to condense Investiture without sacrificing a spren. For example, Feruchemical metalminds from Scadrial are not solid Investiture, but they are heavily Invested with power and would be much more difficult for a Shardblade to cut through than normal.
    • As of Oathbringer, we now have further insight into this. It is implied that Shardplate are granted to Radiants who have sworn the Fourth Ideal of their respective Orders, presumably as a final sign of their dedication, similar to access to the surges and the Shardblade.
    • Also, them not knowing how it all worked is a plot point, and we are only on book three (out of ten), so it's pretty likely that many of those misteries are supposed to remain unsolved for quite a while.
    • As of book 4 we know that radiant shardplate is made up of aligned smaller spren working in concert with the radiant and their bonded spren. So far we only have the confirmation that Windrunner plate is made of wind spren.
    • We still don't know the structure or mechanics of unbonded shardplate yet.
    • Regarding the second question. In Oathbringer, it's shown that the Oathgates are each powered by a pair of spren. It could be that the keyhole, or even the entire gate, are physical manifestations of the spren.

    Shardplate repair 

  • How is Shardplate repaired? No one on Roshar has the knowledge to make new Shardplate, pieces explode when damaged enough, and new parts can't be made because it's solid Investiture. Yet we see shardplate damaged like this all the time, and then seemingly repaired like normal. How is that possible?
    • Explained in a scene in The Way of Kings: if provided with stormlight, Shardplate repairs itself (even, apparently, if in pieces, although while not stated there is presumably something keeping one doing it separately to two pieces and getting two Shardplates).
    • Whichever piece is larger will regenerate the full set of armor over time when exposed to Stormlight. Any smaller pieces crumble to dust.
    • It seems to be more which piece gets the most Stormlight, though size does matter. It's mentioned that in theory, the Parshendi could use Dalinar's lost gauntlet to grow a new set of Plate for themselves—but since the Alethi have the bigger pieces, this will probably just result in it taking longer for the Alethi to regrow the gauntlet. It's never mentioned again, so the Parshendi probably didn't even bother trying.

     Jasnah's backstory 
  • Where are people getting the idea that Jasnah was raped? I've read all three books, and seen no evidence of it, aside from the fact that she doesn't seem interested in men, which seems like a bit of a logical leap.
    • She has to have been broken somehow, and she shows a particular hatred for the thieves in the alley who were implied to also be rapists. Having a special hatred of rapists doesn't necessarily require her to have been raped, but it's how these things usually go.
    • In Oathbringer there are little suggestions that as a young girl she suffered a mental breakdown and (as we saw in monastery with Taln) was forced to spend time alone in a dark room until she recovered.
      Glimmers of memory from a dark room, screaming her voice ragged. A childhood illness nobody else seemed to remember, for all it had done to her. It had taught her that people she loved could still hurt her.
    • To split hairs a bit, they have to be broken, not have been broken, was the wording between Syl and Kaladin in that conversation. And a troubled past doesn't necessarily mean PTSD. We've seen Depression, Dissociative Identity, I'm not anywhere near equipped to diagnose Szeth... all of them seem to have mental illness besides past trauma. Jasnah has a dead father, a lifetime in a society that oppresses her gender, her religious views, and possibly her sexual preferences. I'm just not seeing "she dislikes rapists" as being an implication of "she was raped." Most women in real life, whether or not they've been raped, don't have a soft spot for rapists.
    • Adding on to this, Jasnah seems to have a general hatred of those who would force a woman's future for her. See her guilt at arranging Shallan's betrothal to Adolin, and her shock when Shallan is thrilled about it. Her particular loathing of Amaram seems to be tied into this as well. So it's hardly surprising she reacts so badly to rapists, which are the absolute worst of the breed.
    • In Way of Kings, when Jasnah kills the thieves, Shallan thinks to herself, "What happened to you? And who did it?" While I don't think she was raped in the past, it's easy to interpret this line as referring to rape.

     Are the Parshendi correct to blame humans for their slavery? 
  • Obviously, the newly created listeners hate the humans for enslaving them. But is it actually the human's fault? According to the Oathbringer epigraphs, the Radiants didn't intend to turn the listeners into Parshmen when they bound Bo-Ado-Mishram. They were just trying to cut the listeners off from the Unmade's power and control, the fact that it took their minds as well was apparently a complete accident. And once the listeners had become parshmen, they literally could not survive without owners, they'd just stand around until they starved. So what exactly where the Radiants supposed to do with them? Of course, the listeners have no way of knowing any of this, so they're totally justified in their hatred of humanity. It's just interesting to wonder if they are actually correct.
    • The parsh don't know any of this. Hell, the humans didn't know any of it. All they know is that they've been enslaved for as long as anyone can remember. However, it should be noted that the singers actually were willing to come to an accord. Even the Alethi parshmen, the most violent, were just hunkering down for defense because that's the natural Alethi instinct when in danger. The Azish parshmen were in the middle of negotiations with the government when the Fused arrived, and at the very end the Thaylen parshmen complain that they don't think attacking Thaylen City was necessary. In the end, the reason the war is still going on is because the Fused still remember the original sin of the humans turning on them, and refuse to forgive it even though the ones who are guilty are long, long dead.
    • The Parshendi's anger is understandable. To the humans, the Parshmen weren't self-aware entities, and they had never known that the Parshmen were at one point as intelligent as humans. That being said, the humans were raised in an environment where, for thousands of years, the Parshmen were only known as simple laborers who seemed perfectly content with their lot in life. Unlike human slaves, who fight back or resist, the Parshmen were blindly obedient. I don't think the humans could really be blamed for treating them as what were basically mentally-invalid menial laborers.
    • The parshmen were such a perfect race of sleeper agents that it's possible Odium had something to do with it after all. Their subservience would have appealed to basically all humans: Vengeful humans would want to enslave them as punishment, pragmatic humans would want to enslave them simply because they're useful, and compassionate humans would want to enslave them for their own good because otherwise they'd just die out. The third group probably tried to find a cure at first, but after all attempts failed, they eventually gave up, and everyone forgot that they were ever anything but slaves.
    • This wouldn't be the first time that Sanderson had a villain who perfectly planned and manipulated an entire society over centuries or millennia to play into his hands.
    • I don't think the current humans are to blame for the parshmen's slavery. After all, if you've gone for millennia living in a society with a perfectly subordinate slave race who never once raise any objections to their status as slaves, you're not going to think anything is wrong with this system. They're not like human slaves who resist or try to escape if they think they've been unjustly enslaved. As far as anyone knew, the parshmen were happy with being enslaved, or even somehow needed someone to direct them, since otherwise they'd just stand around doing nothing. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the very real fact that the current humans likely would try to re-enslave the parshmen and that the freed parshmen are completely justified in resisting slavery.

     Did Kaladin just forget to tell Sigzil that Wit made him a full Worldsinger? 
  • Wit asks Kaladin to pass that message on to his apprentice, Kaladin realizes that he's talking about Sigzil, but he's never shown doing it. He didn't even confirm that he's talking about Sigzil. Did it just happen offscreen, or did he forget?
    • Considering the whirlwind of stuff that happened to Kaladin afterward, it is almost certain that he forgot.
    • Never mind. Sigzil says that Wit made him a full Worldsinger in Oathbringer, so Kaladin told him offscreen.

     Quibbles about Szeth's Third Ideal (spoilers for Oathbringer) 
  • So Szeth swore an oath to follow Dalinar, because the law is inflexible and he doesn't trust himself to tell the difference between right and wrong. But if Szeth outlives Dalinar, does he lose his Ideal? Can he follow someone else, or will he just obey his last requests?
    • In Rhythm of War, Szeth discusses this with Navani. He doesn't know what will happen as he hadn't thought that far ahead when he made his oath.
    • It appears that the point of the Skybreaker oaths is for the Radiant to evolve past them as they reach the next one. Szeth's second Ideal ("I will seek justice, until I find a more perfect Ideal") is superseded by his oath to Dalinar, and the fifth Ideal involves them "becoming justice" and apparently able to make their own decisions on what is right. So while swearing to a mortal isn't the greatest idea, it's also not a one-way ticket to a broken Ideal.

    Seon communication 
  • How did Pattern talk to Wit using Mraize's Seon, if Seons can only communicate with other Seon? Wit doesn't seem to have a Seon of his own, judging by how he talks to himself so much when he could have been speaking to a Seon. Then again, this is Wit we're talking about.
    • Wit has access to the magical tools and systems of every other part of the Cosmere. It would make sense that he would have a Seon as well.
    • Spoilers for the epilogue of Elantris (10th anniversary edition at least): Hoid acquired a Seon and left with it through the pool after Elantris was restored.
    • Actually, it was a Skaze- a being similar to a seon, but created from a splinter of Dominion (as opposed to being a splinter of Devotion, like a Seon). Hoid did not "acquire" the Skaze. Rather, he had made some sort of loose deal with a group of Skaze involving his attempt at becoming an Elantrian.

    Tasty poisoned bread 
  • Even with an antidote, wouldn't regularly eating poisoned food cause some nasty side effects? Wouldn't the antidote have an effect on the body anyways? I might understand if Kasbal were a pharmacist and gave Shallan discrete pills, but he administered it in jam. Wouldn't he accidentally give her an overdose if she slathered her bread in jam, or vice versa?
    • One thing to remember about Roshar is that humans are significantly tougher and more resistant to disease and poison compared with other humans on other worlds, due to the sheer amount of Investiture soaking the whole planet. So the antidote plus the natural resistance to toxins and disease that Roshar humans possess likely fully neutralized all of the poison that Kabsal was dusting the bread with.

Alternative Title(s): Words Of Radiance, Oathbringer, Rhythm Of War, The Way Of Kings 2010


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