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That's right, friends. Letters. As in more than one. Three in fact. Part Two's epigraphs contain three response letters to Hoid. I will document them here for posterity. Enjoy, and join in the discussion! 

Please keep this spoiler free except for discussion on the Part 2 epigraphs.

 

Letter #1: Unknown Shard? Likely Endowment.

  • Dearest Cephandrius,
    I received your communication, of course. (Ch 33)
  • I noticed its arrival immediately, just as I noticed your many intrusions into my lands. (Ch 34)
  • You think yourself so clever, but my eyes are not those of some petty noble, to be clouded by a false nose and some dirt on the cheeks. (Ch 35)
  • You mustn't worry yourself about Rayse. It is a pity about Aona and Skai, but they were foolish--violating our pact from the very beginning. (Ch 37)
  • Your skills are admirable, but you are merely a man. You had your chance to be more, and refused it. (Ch 38)
  • No good can come of two Shards settling in one location. It was agreed that we would not interfere with one another, and it disappoints me that so few of the Shards have kept to this original agreement. (Ch 39)
  • As for Uli Da, it was obvious from the outset that she was going to be a problem. Good riddance. (Ch 40)
  • Regardless, this is not your concern. You turned your back on divinity. If Rayse becomes an issue, he will be dealt with.
    And so will you. (Ch 41)
 
Letter #2: Ire? 17th Shard? Autonomy, probably.
 
  • Cephandrius, bearer of the First Gem.
    You must know better than to approach us by relying upon presumption of past relationship. (Ch 42)
  • You have spoken to one who cannot respond. We, instead, will take your communication to us--though we know not how you located us upon this world. (Ch 43)
  • We are indeed intrigued, for we thought it well hidden. Insignificant among our many realms. (Ch 44)
  • As the waves of the sea must continue to surge, so must our will continue resolute. 
    Alone. (Ch 45)
  • Did you expect anything else from us? We need not suffer the interference of another. Rayse is contained, and we care not for his prison. (Ch 46)
  • Indeed, we admire his initiative. Perhaps if you had approached the correct one of us with your plea, it would have found favourable audience. (Ch 47)
  • But we stand in the sea, pleased with our domains. Leave us alone. (Ch 48)
  • We also instruct that you should not return to Obrodai. We have claimed that world, and a new avatar of our being is beginning to manifest there. 
    She is young, yet, and--as a precaution--she has been instilled with an intense dislike of you. (Ch 50)
  • This is all we will say at this time. If you wish more, seek these waters in person and overcome the tests we have created.
    Only in this will you earn our respect. (Ch 51)

 

Letter #3: Harmony

  • Friend.
    Your letter to me is most intriguing, even revelatory. (Ch 53)
  • I would have thought, before attaining my current station, that a deity could not be surprised. Obviously, this is not true. I can be surprised. I can perhaps even be naive, I think. (Ch 54)
  • I am the least equipped, of all, to aid you in this endeavor. I am finding that the powers I hold are in such conflict that the most simple of actions can be difficult. (Ch 55)
  • I am also made uncertain by your subterfuge. Why have you not made yourself known before this? How is it you can hide? Who are you, truly, and how do you know so much about Adonalsium? (Ch 56)
  • If you would speak to me further, I request open honesty. Return to my lands, approach my servants, and I will see what I can do for your quest.

 

Okay guys, I've been waiting for you to be able to talk about these, and I'm sure the other readers who've managed to snag an early copy are dying to as well.

Some thoughts:

  • The first letter is probably from a Shard. Maybe one that we don't know yet. They noticed Hoid immediately, and speak of the Shards as kin. They also look down on Hoid for not taking the opportunity to grab a Shard. These make it evident that it is probably a Shard speaking.
  • Given that Hoid probably mentioned Aona and Skai as Shards murdered by Odium, it may be that Uli Da is the name of another Shard Odium killed. Ambition perhaps? Or one we don't yet know? The Shards originally agreed to stay separate. That's hilarious. Maybe lends some credence to the 17th Shards mandate of keeping them separate.
  • Whoever is speaking seems sure that they can take on Odium and Hoid. Noted.
  • Second Letter could be from people who snagged it before it reached Frost, maybe 17th Sharders, though they don't seem to have the same neutrality mindest that they do. My money is on the Ire. Hoid may have meant his letter to someone in particular and got this as a response.
  • Bearer of the First Gem is probably a reference to Topaz. I wonder about its significance.
  • Whoever this is seems to think they control many worlds. This is huge. Still sounds like Ire to me.
  • Curious as to how one would hide a planet.
  • Obrodai is doubtless a new planet, where these people have a base of operations. This makes it sound like Hoid delivered the letter in person. 
  • The new avatar scares me. This has implications. Very interesting.
  • What are the tests???
  • HARMOYYYY MY SWEET MAN. It's obviously him guys, don't even bother arguing. :P
  • How are you?
  • Not too much of significance here that we don't already know, but storms it's nice to hear from him here. This made my day guys.
  • He's intrigued by Hoid, and wants to learn more.

 

Enjoy! And again please keep this spoiler free of Oathbringer plot details.

Edited by Rider of Storms
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As you'll see on a podcast airing Wednesday, here's our thoughts:

The first letter is either Endowment or another Shard. Not Cultivation.

The second letter is Autonomy.

The third letter is Harmony (obviously).

Uli Da is Ambition. 

All the letters are from Shards, clearly, so I think the second letter is weird and we know Autonomy has many aspects. Entire pantheons are actually her. So this could be some weird collective thing.

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2 minutes ago, Chaos said:

As you'll see on a podcast airing Wednesday, here's our thoughts:

The first letter is either Endowment or another Shard. Not Cultivation.

The second letter is Autonomy.

The third letter is Harmony (obviously).

Uli Da is Ambition. 

All the letters are from Shards, clearly, so I think the second letter is weird and we know Autonomy has many aspects. Entire pantheons are actually her. So this could be some weird collective thing.

Autonomy is an interesting idea, but wasn't Hoid perpetuating his grudge against her as well? Seems weird that he's ask her for help.

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Just now, Rider of Storms said:

Autonomy is an interesting idea, but wasn't Hoid perpetuating his grudge against her as well? Seems weird that he's ask her for help.

I don't think it's that weird. That can just show that he's that desperate versus Odium. If Autonomy is this weird collective then you could try and find one empathetic to you. It's worth a shot. 

We don't really know the extent of Hoid's grudge against Bavadin anyway. It's not like Autonomy teamed up with Odium on Roshar. The two aren't teamed up like Honor and Cultivation.

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The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. It makes sense to have it as three Shards, and the wording and everything. I'll go ahead and edit OP.

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I think it's worth mentioning that Frost is not a Shard, so it's possible Hoid is looking for help from powerful beings beyond just the Shards.

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Agreed that Cultivation is definitely not one of the letters since she is has no problems interacting with other shards (ruling out letter 1) and is in direct opposition with Odium at the moment (ruling out letter 2). 

The author of Letter 2 seems like it could be Autonomy ("we need not suffer the interference of another") or at least an agent of Autonomy but the references to the sea seem odd for a Shard whose main world (that we know of) is like half desert. We do have good evidence that Autonomy is meddling outside Taldain so maybe this is laying the groundwork for an upcoming short story set on Obrodai? Also, Letters 1 and 3 have language that directly indicate the authors are Shards but Letter 2 doesn't read that way to me. Based on the rest of the letter, I think its probably an agent of Autonomy though it would make more sense to have all three coming from Shards  as Chaos and Rider of the Storms mentioned.

Another wilder guess is that the author of this letter might belong to one of the worldhopper organizations like Khriss's group, the Ghostbloods, or the 17th Shard. Some group with past relationships with Hoid and a somewhat warmer view on Odium and his actions. Maybe the Ghostbloods since the other two groups seem to disapprove of Odium's actions while we really don't know what the Ghostbloods really are or what they want. Perhaps they intercepted a letter that Hoid sent to some other Shard that is either destroyed or in some weird state ("you have spoken to one who cannot respond"). 

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1 hour ago, Chaos said:

The second letter is Autonomy.

The third letter is Harmony (obviously).

Uli Da is Ambition. 

All the letters are from Shards, clearly, so I think the second letter is weird and we know Autonomy has many aspects. Entire pantheons are actually her. So this could be some weird collective thing.

I completely agree with the Second Letter being Autonomy - the variety of personas is interesting - but it sounds as if the different personas have differing agendas and opinions, so could they be less collection, more self aware large splinters of Autonomy? Maybe like a Horcrux, becoming less and less like the original....

Where do we get that Uli Da is Ambition? :)

And Harmony's servants - Hoid-Kandra interaction is going to be interesting!

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1 minute ago, imriel452 said:

Where do we get that Uli Da is Ambition? :)

And Harmony's servants - Hoid-Kandra interaction is going to be interesting!

I just think that it would be relevant to talk about Ambition if Hoid was mailing this Shard. Ambition was the first Odium went after, so this Shard is very callous and just says "good riddance." I think Ambition being an issue makes total sense, so that's why I think it's Uli Da.

One more thing, I consider each of the things in the second letter to be "aspects" of Autonomy, not agents, as was mentioned earlier. I think aspects is a correct word to use here.

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We know that there was at least one more race of sentient being on Yolen aside from humans and dragons, and we know that not all of the Shards are human. I agree that Letter #2 is Autonomy given the references to not suffering Hoid's interference, one of their worlds being well hidden (ie Autonomy closing off access to Taldain) and other little context clues. The wording actually made me think of the cremlings, and how Axies' species are able to separate into hordes of little creatures. I don't think this is what Autonomy is, as it doesn't match how we've seen them refer to themselves or speak or think of themselves, but it made me think that Bavadin could possibly be one of the third species from Yolen and that they're some kind of gestalt being....and that's why, when magnified by a Shard's power, Bavadin acts as multiple incarnations and has been entire pantheons in the past....as well as why Brandon has been coy in reference to their gender.

Acting on the assumption that Letter #2 is Autonomy, I do have some thoughts counter to what others suggest: I don't think we can assume that Obrodai is a new location. It might merely be a new name for a familiar location - my impression is that Scadrial is Obrodai, and Autonomy merely has her own name for it. Most of the Shardworlds were named pre-Shattering and thus the Shards and others from that time like Frost and Hoid would likely use the same names for Roshar, Sel, etc....but Scadrial is one of the only worlds we know of that was created fully by Shards. As such, various immortal beings might have different names for it or might not be in universal agreement on the name that eventually became common usage. Autonomy might simply be using a name she's more partial to or from a previous era when she had prior contact with Scadrial, perhaps. In addition, the 'we have claimed that land for our own' sounds an awful lot like it could be a reference to Trell's actions on Scadrial right now and Autonomy warning off other major players from interfering with whatever her goals are there, and the new incarnation of their being spoken of here, as well as instilling this new avatar of an intense dislike of Hoid as a precaution could refer to Trell directly. Like Trell is Autonomy, but Trell is not all of Autonomy, if that makes sense?

Also, I wonder if the references to the sea and the waters might have something to do with the Cognitive Realm? Gut impression here, but reading Letter #2 I had this sensation of Autonomy existing primarily in the Cognitive Realm where she can watch over or readily access all of the many lands she claims for herself, rather than existing primarily on any one singular world? Even if we think of Taldain as HER Shardworld, consider the fact that the reigning theory is that Autonomy's Invested in Taldain's star, rather than Taldain directly. It makes a kind of sense that Autonomy would choose not to be beholden to any one singular world, especially if she has many lands she considers to be hers, and thus even if she has a home base or a world she prizes over others or focuses on most directly, she took care not to bind herself to it or in any way limit herself from coming and going as she pleases....as happens to other Shards when they Invest heavily in a single world. Lots of cultures in Earth's history refer to the heavens or space as a kind of sea of stars, and given the inverted nature of land and sea in the Cognitive Realm, the way Letter #2 reads makes me wonder if a Shard who Invested in space or stars rather than a planet and who elects to move through the Cognitive Realm more frequently than the Physical might think of their surroundings or base of operations as the waters of a sea.

But for me the big takeaway of Letter #2, the most interesting element was that whoever the Shard who wrote it is, they seem to claim many worlds as their own. We already knew Autonomy meddles in a lot of places, but of the ten core Shardworlds Brandon talks about, this Shard clearly has no interest in Roshar (and since Rayse is said to be bound to the Rosharan system, probably not Braize or Ashyn as well, given the reference to Rayse's prison). Similarly, I don't see any evidence that Autonomy has any claim over Nalthis or Sel like this Letter writer claims to have over Scadrial currently. Point being, I don't think there's any way one single Shard could claim all or even a majority of the core Shardworlds as their own, which makes me feel like there might be a LOT more minor Shardworlds out there (like Sixth of Dusk) than I think we've previously suspected.

 

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Kelsier could be Harmony's servant, and the reason he isn't on Scadrial during Era 2 is because he is on Roshar with Hoid.

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I think Letter #1 is probably not Endowment - and I'm basing this simply on the fact that Egdli made Vasher and Shashara Returned, a process which seems to at least have some sort of sentience behind it. Those guys seems to have some super deep connections to Roshar, and I wouldn't be surprised if Nightblood / Zahel / Azure end up being crucial to the resolution of the plot of SA. This doesn't fit with the non-interference policy that the Shard seems to be subscribing to.

I agree that Letter #2 is almost definitely Autonomy / Bavadin. Do we know the Shardworld on which Dark One occurs? What if that's what Obrodai is?

I think it's pretty clear Uli Da must be Ambition - since, as far as we know, Odium has killed 4 Shards, and Ambition is the only one who's name we don't know. It's possible that he killed more, but I don't think it's likely.

Edited by yahas
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The 1st one is the only real mystery.  I tried reading it for little hints of personality but all I can come up with is:

- mad the other Shards broke the isolation deal (promises important)

- is impressed with Hoid, but looks down on him for not taking up a Shard and notices his trespasses (protective)

- was potentially opposed to Uli Da and is glad she's gone (anti-ambition)

- is not concerned with Rayse (arrogance)

sounds a little like Endowment? But most likely a new Shard. I'm going with something discipline or order-based. 

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Apologies if anyone has already pointed this out, but it seems to me that the contradiction of Autonomy saying "But we stand in the sea, pleased with our domains." when taldain is a desert planet, doesnt that imply autonomy is beholding her/his domain from shadesmar/the cognitive realm, where it WOULD be a world of ocean?

 

EDIT - Could the third race from yolen be ocean-born, like sentient whales or something?

Edited by quadbox
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11 hours ago, quadbox said:

Apologies if anyone has already pointed this out, but it seems to me that the contradiction of Autonomy saying "But we stand in the sea, pleased with our domains." when taldain is a desert planet, doesnt that imply autonomy is beholding her/his domain from shadesmar/the cognitive realm, where it WOULD be a world of ocean?

 

EDIT - Could the third race from yolen be ocean-born, like sentient whales or something?

It also says that she considers many worlds among her realm, and White Sand was about 1000 years previous to these letters at least. Did you see Weiry's thread saying Obrodai might have been First of the Sun? Some of that stuff makes a lot of sense and deserves further thought.

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3 hours ago, Rider of Storms said:

It also says that she considers many worlds among her realm, and White Sand was about 1000 years previous to these letters at least. Did you see Weiry's thread saying Obrodai might have been First of the Sun? Some of that stuff makes a lot of sense and deserves further thought.

That's actually not what I was proposing. The way I read that letter the aspect of Bavadin that is writing it is not on Obrodai, my theory is that they are on First of the Sun. (Hopefully I remember to like to my theory thread when I'm not on my phone...)

Edit: Here's a link to that theory.

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46 minutes ago, WeiryWriter said:

That's actually not what I was proposing. The way I read that letter the aspect of Bavadin that is writing it is not on Obrodai, my theory is that they are on First of the Sun. (Hopefully I remember to like to my theory thread when I'm not on my phone...)

My apologies, I only skimmed it because I was wary of spoilers. Either way, if Bavadin is counting many worlds among her domain, and time has passed, the waters she refers to don't have to be about Taldain. @quadbox

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22 hours ago, quadbox said:

Apologies if anyone has already pointed this out, but it seems to me that the contradiction of Autonomy saying "But we stand in the sea, pleased with our domains." when taldain is a desert planet, doesnt that imply autonomy is beholding her/his domain from shadesmar/the cognitive realm, where it WOULD be a world of ocean?

 

EDIT - Could the third race from yolen be ocean-born, like sentient whales or something?

Dayside is desert but remember that Khriss had to cross an ocean to get there from Darkside. 

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Yeah, Autonomy and Harmony are good candidates for the second two letters. The only safe bet I can make about the first is that we won't find another Shard on their world. I am also getting a feminine vibe with the "Dearest Cephandrius", but that's far less certain.

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What if the first letter is written by the shard that wants to "hide and survive"? I saw a thread posted earlier from @WeiryWriter that posited that Shard should/would be Wisdom (or some variant of that concept) which I think is a great idea!

Why Wisdom as a Shard seems to be the writter of the first OB letter to me:

  • To me, in agreement with @Argent, the letter has a "femnine" sound to it, and Wisdom historically has strong associations with the feminine divine (Sophia, Athena, female personification of wisdom in the hebrew proverbs, and others!)
  • Hiding and Surviving is the wise thing to do... and to do that you need to be the only Shard on a planet!
  • Much of the language in the first letter relates to wisdom or the opposite of that (foolishness)
    • "they were foolish" re: Aona & Skai
    • "chance to be more" - missed (foolishly) opportunity
    • "no good can come" - wise foresight
    • "disappoints me" - other shards make foolish decisions related to interaction
    • "obvious she was going to be a problem" - wisdom can see problems with unchecked Ambition (if you follow that argument, which I do)
  • And to get a little more geeky... wisdom in most RPG's is associated with perceptive/intuitive abilities
    • "i noticed...immediately"/"noticed your many"/"my eyes are not...clouded by..."

so yeah... I think the first letter is our "hide/survive" shard Wisdom. Now, how did Hoid find her is a better question to me! ;)

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I think there is an outside chance that both letters 1 and 2 are from Autonomy—just different aspects/personas of Autonomy. Seems like the kind of trick Brandon would pull, expecting us all to assume that three letters=three shards, and then doing something different, and a couple years from now we realize we could never nail down letter 1 because all our guesses were based on the implicit, unquestioned assumption that Autonomy was ruled out by letter 2.

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I asked Brandon in the SF signing, and he confirmed that Uli Da is Ambition.  The quote is almost "It's obvious, right?", but as I said in the event thread my phone (and recording) is AWOL.

I agree with Autonomy/Harmony for letters two and three, but I find it unlikely to be the survival shard for letter one.  It seems counter-intuitive for a Shard in hiding to have something that Hoid travels to and from the world repeatedly to get, be it useful Investiture or information.  However, I could imagine Hoid having to refuel on Breath to maintain his Heightening (either through misuse or imparting it to others), justifying the first sentence.

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On 11/15/2017 at 2:12 AM, quadbox said:

Apologies if anyone has already pointed this out, but it seems to me that the contradiction of Autonomy saying "But we stand in the sea, pleased with our domains." when taldain is a desert planet, doesnt that imply autonomy is beholding her/his domain from shadesmar/the cognitive realm, where it WOULD be a world of ocean?

 

EDIT - Could the third race from yolen be ocean-born, like sentient whales or something?

Aren’t they the Sho Del? They aren’t very aquatic... good at jumping though! (We are allowed to discuss the Dragonsteel chapters on Brandon’s website, right?)

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3 minutes ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

Aren’t they the Sho Del? They aren’t very aquatic... good at jumping though! (We are allowed to discuss the Dragonsteel chapters on Brandon’s website, right?)

Dragonsteel does not take place on the same world as White Sand. Dragonsteel was on Yolen, White Sand Taldain. Taldain features a desert island separated from Darkside by an ocean.

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@Rider of Storms 

She said ‘the third race from Yolen.’ Yolen is Dragonsteel and the three species were: Humans, Dragons, and Sho Del. The question was with regard to the species of Bavadin, the Shard of Autonomy, who is invested on Taldain. 

Personally, I think Bavadin is a dragon. Because that would be awesome!

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