KOOZ

[OB] Sja-anat: to trust, or not to trust, that is the question.

Should Sja-anat be trusted?   95 members have voted

  1. 1. Should Sja-anat be trusted based on OB only?

    • Yes
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    • No
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    • Test her, set up a verification.
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15 posts in this topic

There has been a lot of discussion concerning Sja-anat's abilities to corrupt spren, and not only lesser spren, but radiant spren as well. Interestingly enough, I have not seen really much discussion regarding whether she is a potentially trustworthy entity. And I am curious what your gut feelings are!

On the one hand, we have, ostensibly, Sja-anat warning Shallan not to use the Oathgate when they're fleeing Kholinar: she claims that it is a trap, that she was compelled to (somehow) corrupt the Oathgate spren, and that Ashertmarn fled on purpose, she then says that the Oathgate will not work as expected, and she'll try not to kill them, which she ostensibly does, as Shallan and co end up in Shadesmar. Sja-anat also asks Shallan to verify her plea with "her son"; and that she's no longer of Odium, but "of me".

So, on the surface of it, it looks like she's sincere- after all, Shallan and co survive, whilst what may be her corrupted son, Glys, (please give other interpretations here, folks, I've not seen any yet) produced together with Renarin and lot of goodness, imho. 

And yet, and yet - a couple of points stand out: 
1). Ashertmarn is supposed to be pretty mindless... dumb. So, to me, being bait in a trap,then fleeing on purpose, somehow indicates a higher degree of self awareness than I expected. Was there really a trap by Ashertmarn there? Or is Sja-anat controlling him by virtue of being more self-aware and, likely, important (consider the attitude and relationship Syl and her aunt have with windspren). 

2). The oathgate spren are much larger than the lesser spren, are powerful, and are self-aware. If I understand correctly, before, Sja-anat, should not have been able to do what she did. Could it be that she knew that the Oathgate spren will malfunction, but will not kill those who seek transportation, and so she sets up a lie to get into the Radiant's good graces and be a spy - by claiming they should have been killed, she plays to the limitations of her control over Oathgate spren, and makes it seem like she countered Odium's wishes?

Also, who is the son? Renarin? Someone else? Is she being vague on purpose? 

To counter this, I think two points (apart from wishing to believe in better natures of entities, especially with the likes of Moash running around...) could be raised: 

- Shallan found that Re-Shephir's nature was also changing, she's no longer a mindless killer, but it trying to understand the "creatures" it kills; then there is a general feeling that things are much muddier than they used to be - Venli, Jezrien's murder, Glys being prime examples (this kind of is point two - assuming that Sja-anat was asking the Radiants speak to Renarin and Glys, those two turned out to be just fine, thank you very much).

- I suspect that, like with Dalinar and other entities changing their nature, Cultivation's hand might be behind this, carefully enabling change from the shadows (interesting point to make, given that Cultivation is all about change, would it not make sense that she would be all for "changing" Odium's Vessel, eh? It's been millenia, after all!), and I would guess her desire is to survive and lessen Odium's influence on Roshar, at the end of the day

 

Anyhow, would love to hear your take on this.

Personally, I do not feel paranoid enough to suspect Sja-anat of carefully positioning herself (at her own or Odium's behest) to corrupt the living lights out of Radiant spren at the centre of their power. (Yet she does mention something along the lines that "you will not give my children a home. Not yet." OB, p.820, UK KIndle ed. Which makes me think that she's planning to share her Enlightenment with Radiant spren.)

 

 

PS
Here is a thread discussing the possibility of Cultivation's influence on Sja-anat.

Edited by KOOZ
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Okay, so here's my theory of the unmade, and I'll follow up at the end with whether Sja-anat should be trusted.

Spren are made of three things: A chunk of investiture from a shard, an idea compatible with that shard and with enough cognitive presence, and an identity to make it an entity. Brandon has confirmed all of those things as part of a spren variously in WoB's.

So how do you unmake a thing? You take away something that is involved in making it. You can't take its investiture or it ceases to exist. You can't take its identity or it ceases to be able to act. The only thing you can take is its idea, because the idea is necessary for it to form, not for it to exist. I think of the investiture as the body, the identity as the mind and the idea as the purpose. What happens if you take somethings purpose? It desperately tries to find purpose. I think this is what we see the unmade doing.

Moelach - Deathspren perhaps originally. Instatiably whispers to the dying, far more prolifically than we see with a normal deathspren.

Re-Shephir - Creationspren perhaps originally. Copies things insatiably in a parody of creation.

Nergaoul - Not sure what spren. Spreads frenzy insatiably, but without malice. Searching for the battle discipline it lost.

I really don't know about Yelig-nar so I won't even try. More information is required. Which brings us to the conclusion of the post:

Sja-anat - Probably a cryptic. Driven insatiably to intrigue. Insatiably looks for secret, and betrayals. Not to be trusted, it will betray again, and again and again. It is an entity driven to intrigue, but no longer understanding the context of it.

Odium is the god of the void, and he took the idea from these spren and placed it in the void. At least, that's my theory.

 

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10 hours ago, KOOZ said:

And yet, and yet - a couple of points stand out: 
1). Ashertmarn is supposed to be pretty mindless... dumb. So, to me, being bait in a trap,then fleeing on purpose, somehow indicates a higher degree of self awareness than I expected. Was there really a trap by Ashertmarn there? Or is Sja-anat controlling him by virtue of being more self-aware and, likely, important (consider the attitude and relationship Syl and her aunt have with windspren). 

2). The oathgate spren are much larger than the lesser spren, are powerful, and are self-aware. If I understand correctly, before, Sja-anat, should not have been able to do what she did. Could it be that she knew that the Oathgate spren will malfunction, but will not kill those who seek transportation, and so she sets up a lie to get into the Radiant's good graces and be a spy - by claiming they should have been killed, she plays to the limitations of her control over Oathgate spren, and makes it seem like she countered Odium's wishes?

Also, who is the son? Renarin? Someone else? Is she being vague on purpose? 

To counter this, I think two points (apart from wishing to believe in better natures of entities, especially with the likes of Moash running around...) could be raised: 

- Shallan found that Re-Shephir's nature was also changing, she's no longer a mindless killer, but it trying to understand the "creatures" it kills; then there is a general feeling that things are much muddier than they used to be - Venli, Jezrien's murder, Glys being prime examples (this kind of is point two - assuming that Sja-anat was asking the Radiants speak to Renarin and Glys, those two turned out to be just fine, thank you very much).

- I suspect that, like with Dalinar and other entities changing their nature, Cultivation's hand might be behind this, carefully enabling change from the shadows (interesting point to make, given that Cultivation is all about change, would it not make sense that she would be all for "changing" Odium's Vessel, eh? It's been millenia, after all!), and I would guess her desire is to survive and lessen Odium's influence on Roshar, at the end of the day

 

This is a really interesting topic and I agree it is worth discussing in a bit more detail :)

I instinctively feel that it is probably better to err on the side of caution with Sja-Anat - i.e. give her the opportunity to prove herself but don't assume that she's ok. I would be concerned that whilst she may be pulling away from Odium and is largely outside his control, it appears that she is not fully outside his control yet (assuming she was compelled to change the Oathgate spren despite her intentions towards the humans). This means that she may give information/help to Odium either against her will or accidentally. After all, as "the taker of secrets" it isn't clear where those secrets go...

Regardling your comment on Ashertmarn, I personally suspect that Odium was either influencing it, or bonded to it in some way (I am not 100% convinced that Shallan heard "Wit" when she touched the spren) and that Ashertmarn, like a well trained animal, is bright enough to follow simple commands but not necessarily the intent of those commands. Given the way Shallan herself describes it, it doesn't seem "clever" - similar to how ReShephir feels, but perhaps a bit stupider. I don't personally doubt the veracity of the statement that Ashertmarn was following orders because Shallan herself didn't think she'd actually beaten it - unlike her encounter with ReShephir. The issue comes from whether Sja-Anat was also following orders and lied or not. 

Regarding your comment on Sja-Anat interacting with the Oathgate spren, I agree it is a little tricksy (watched LoTR Two Towers last night so my inner Gollum is coming through). That being said, it is clear that her ability to "warp" higher spren like Glys is relatively new - Mythica states she could only do "lesser spren", so perhaps the difference is not that surprising. As you yourself pointed out, there has been plenty of time for growth/change, and this may be a facet of that. I don't think the gate spren, despite their size, are that different from the spren who can form the nahel bond. Their size is likely more to do with their perception as guardians of Urithiru. 

It doesn't necessarily tell us much about Sja-Anat's motives though because it is unclear whether she knew they would end in Shadesmar or not and it isn't clear whether she lied to Odium or not about what happened. The one thing that strikes me as being in Sja-Anat's favour is Glys.

I agree that Glys is Sja-Anat's "son". It makes sense both in that he is twisted but still able to make Renarin a pseudoTruthwatcher, and in that Odium seems unable to "see" Renarin in the diagram - likely as a result of his bond to Glys. This is not proof of Sja-Anat's intentions, but it at least proves that she is a wild-card because she is prepared to put things out there that may adversely affect the outcome for Odium. Sja-Anat was said to see her twisted creations as her children (from Mythica) so this also fits with Glys. The issue is that Glys himself doesn't seem to remember much before his change - so we don't know if it was voluntary or not.

Lastly, I agree with your premise that growth/change is happening as a direct result of cultivation but my personal reasons are to do with @aemetha's comment below:

3 hours ago, aemetha said:

Okay, so here's my theory of the unmade, and I'll follow up at the end with whether Sja-anat should be trusted.

Spren are made of three things: A chunk of investiture from a shard, an idea compatible with that shard and with enough cognitive presence, and an identity to make it an entity. Brandon has confirmed all of those things as part of a spren variously in WoB's.

So how do you unmake a thing? You take away something that is involved in making it. You can't take its investiture or it ceases to exist. You can't take its identity or it ceases to be able to act. The only thing you can take is its idea, because the idea is necessary for it to form, not for it to exist. I think of the investiture as the body, the identity as the mind and the idea as the purpose. What happens if you take somethings purpose? It desperately tries to find purpose. I think this is what we see the unmade doing.

Moelach - Deathspren perhaps originally. Instatiably whispers to the dying, far more prolifically than we see with a normal deathspren.

Re-Shephir - Creationspren perhaps originally. Copies things insatiably in a parody of creation.

Nergaoul - Not sure what spren. Spreads frenzy insatiably, but without malice. Searching for the battle discipline it lost.

I really don't know about Yelig-nar so I won't even try. More information is required. Which brings us to the conclusion of the post:

Sja-anat - Probably a cryptic. Driven insatiably to intrigue. Insatiably looks for secret, and betrayals. Not to be trusted, it will betray again, and again and again. It is an entity driven to intrigue, but no longer understanding the context of it.

Odium is the god of the void, and he took the idea from these spren and placed it in the void. At least, that's my theory.

 

I agree with the basic premise of this. I believe I posted a similar concept in another thread somewhere but I can't find it. I personally don't think that "the void" of Odium can create, he can only take stuff away and thus alter it.

The important thing about this is that the spren of Roshar are all fragments of Honor and Cultivation's power. That means they each have a little bit of Cultivation in them - and this in theory, should give them a very slow capacity for change. It is why the nahel bond (likely a result of their link to Honor) grants them greater capacity to grow and learn than they have without it. I think that all the Unmade were, as mentioned above, either lesser spren or "nahel" type spren that were captured/coerced into giving up a part of themselves to become "unmade". Odium likely put more of his power into each of them whilst taking some of the power invested by Honor/Cultivation and thus they became unique individual spren rather than multitudes of smaller simpler spren. 

The thing is, if you took a bit of "Cultivation" out of the spren, in theory, it should grow back - its part of the intent of the shard after all. So perhaps the Unmade are getting back to being what they used to be but because of Odium's actions, the amount taken, Honor's death, or some other factor, this is a very slow process. 

My personal take on the UnMade is that they are related to the higherspren associated with each order of the KR except the bondsmiths. Its very much a working hypothesis and I have no evidence to support it over the ideas mentioned above. I am not sure that it matters hugely what their origins are so much as the fact that they seem to have the capacity for growth. 

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Can Sja-anat be trusted? It is a hard question. My gut says no. Maybe not because Sja is attempting to pull a trick, but because Odium most likely could control her at will. That said, I do believe that Sja-anat herself wants to rid herself of Odium. The Ghostbloods seems to think that she might be serious with that, and they usually have good information. 

The big question for me is why Sja-anat would seek to defect in the first place? And is she the only Unmade who is sentient enough to do something like this?

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I want her to be at least trying to defect, because to me that makes a more interesting story.

(I also believe that's what's happening, but the OP already linked to my thread on why).

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Let me state firstly that I have no evidence for the theories I am about to say, they are a matter of opinion and admittedly, a possible misinterpretation of what I've read in OB. Proving that any of my opinions are invalid with in-book quotes is more than welcome, as my ulterior purpose is to figure out what is a 'fact' within the books and not persuade people into my tin foil hat theories. Sometimes they even clash(!) so I'm not backing them with a full conviction. I'm just trying to provide 'food for thought'.

Anyway...

On 12/10/2017 at 0:21 AM, KOOZ said:

she is a potentially trustworthy entity. And I am curious what your gut feelings are

I wouldn't say trustworthy exactly, but why would she reveal herself as a friendly, warn of the Oathgate malfunction and Ashertmarn's trap, if she could just attack first and (potentially do more damage that way with the element of surprise)? 

Quote

Of the Unmade, Sja-anat was most feared by the Radiants. They spoke extensively of her ability to corrupt spren, though only “lesser” spren—whatever that means. 

Sja-anat also cares for her children, the spren that she has corrupted, and seems to be attempting to find them a home.[11]

In the past Sja-anat often corrupted lesser spren,[2][6] but she has now displayed the ability to corrupt true spren,[7] such as spren capable of forming a Nahel bond like Glys, and the spren of the Oathgate.[13] 

https://coppermind.net/wiki/Sja-anat

Quote

Or is Sja-anat controlling him by virtue of being more self-aware

From the fact that Sja-anat corrupted Glys, it's obvious that she has the power to corrupt "nahel-bond" level of spren. Meaning that she, as an Unmade, is a "superior" kind of spren, but I am not so sure if she could corrupt a 'same level' spren, like Ashertmarn.

This could possibly be true if Sja-anat is somehow more powerful than the rest of the Unmade and that could be argued by the fact that she is self aware, when the others are fully controlled by Odium. So either:

(1) she is in the process of gaining power, has reached self awareness level but is still struggling to take back whatever part of her Odium 'compels' - She is truthful

(2) she is one of the most powerful Unmade, potentially corrupting and controlling other Unmade into doing Odium's bidding - She is manipulative

For (2) my only counter argument would be 'why would she warn about Ashertmarn's trap in the first place' if it's all part of the plan?

Either way, the only thing that seems sure to me is that Odium is powerful enough to compel the Unmade.

On 12/10/2017 at 0:21 AM, KOOZ said:

Ashertmarn is supposed to be pretty mindless... dumb. So, to me, being bait in a trap,then fleeing on purpose, somehow indicates a higher degree of self awareness than I expected. Was there really a trap by Ashertmarn there?

Not necessarily a higher degree of self awareness, but maybe following direct commands through a direct link (kind of like a prompter talking through an ear piece)? So that command could potentially just say 'flee' to Ashertmarn and it would instantly obey even if it is a mindless Unmade. Now who that prompter was..., I'm putting my chips on Odium. 

Quote

Don’t do it, Sja-anat pled. Listen, Radiant. Listen to my plea. Ashertmarn fled on purpose. It is a trap. I was compelled to touch the spren of this device, so it will not function as you wish.

OB - Location 16130

So the trap was laid by Ashertmarn, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Ashertmarn was aware of doing setting it. Sja-anat doesn't say 'Ashertmarn is tricking you', but 'it' -meaning the whole encounter- was a trap.

On 12/10/2017 at 0:21 AM, KOOZ said:

Also, who is the son? Renarin? Someone else? Is she being vague on purpose? 

'Son' is deliberately vague I think. The narrative lets you conclude that she means Glys, knowing that Glys got corrupted (as she calls the corrupted spren 'her children') but how would Sja-anat know that Shallan would be able to contact Glys? Renarin and Glys weren't even there. But, if we follow this theory:

Quote

Sja-anat - Probably a cryptic. Driven insatiably to intrigue. Insatiably looks for secret, and betrayals.

... It could mean that maybe by 'son' she maybe meant Pattern, who was actually there with Shallan. 

20 hours ago, Toaster Retribution said:

The big question for me is why Sja-anat would seek to defect in the first place? And is she the only Unmade who is sentient enough to do something like this?

Could it be that she is looking for a prospect of finding a safer home for her children ? 

Quote

Sja-anat also cares for her children, the spren that she has corrupted, and seems to be attempting to find them a home.[11]

https://coppermind.net/wiki/Sja-anat

 

Edited by insert_anagram_here
typos
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Ooooor what if Sha-Anat is the mother of Cryptics in the way that the Stormfather is the father of Honorspren? Her children are powerful but unliked and thereby not safe. 

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I personally disagree that Sja-anat must be manipulative by nature. 

She doesn't convince spren to change. She corrupts then into changing. She alters what they're made of. That isn't manipulative, that's... Like an engineer changing the settings on something. 

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Given how Soulcasting works, it's possible she does convince them to change in some way. I don't think we know how it works. Unfortunately it seems like Glys does not remember.

As for whether she is trustworthy it's hard to say, even if she is trying to break from Odium, Odium can clearly compel her to do things. I agree with Necessary Eagle that it would be more interesting if she was trying to break away from Odium. But that doesn't mean that they should trust her unilaterally, since again, she can be compelled to do things.

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I have little doubt that Sja-Anat would be capable of tricking our protagonists into trusting her. I also have little doubt that effectively testing her would be very difficult.

However, pending further development (which could change the lay of things substantially), I think it would be much, much more interesting if she was indeed legitimately trustworthy. Which is not to say that she is altruistic or even benign, but that she is a genuine ally to our characters.

If my supposition is correct, than I expect our protagonists will not realize that Sja-Anat is trustworthy for quite some time.

If, on the contrary, our characters end up acting on her advice early into book 5, then Sja-Anat is probably planning to betray them.

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I'd say trust but verify.  Listen to what she has to say, but always have a plan in case of betrayal.

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I am very suspicious. The Radiants feared her more than the others. That has to mean something.

I think she is loyal to her children, and will act in their best interest. So I think they can work with her but with eyes open.

I can't wait for more Glys!

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Sja-anat is not trustworthy. It is only something to be used, and never to be trusted. 

Edited by Vissy
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Maybe someone can end up bonding Sja-anat and becoming the 4th bondsmith. 

While I want to trust her, it seems difficult to believe she would just want to defect. Void spren don't seem to be mistreated or hurt, so why does she say she wants "a better home for her children"? Why try to defect when humanity's side seems to be loosing? And while I'd say set up a test to see if she is trustworthy, I can't come up with something binding.

Another loop on the Sja-anat question is that the GB want Shallan to bind the Unmade to serve them.

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1 hour ago, WhiteLeeopard said:

While I want to trust her, it seems difficult to believe she would just want to defect. Void spren don't seem to be mistreated or hurt, so why does she say she wants "a better home for her children"? Why try to defect when humanity's side seems to be loosing? And while I'd say set up a test to see if she is trustworthy, I can't come up with something binding.

Because Odium wants free of the system to continue his crusade of destruction. Sja-anat, as one of the more intelligent Unmade, is probably smart enough to realize after millenia if interaction that he's not going to want to leave any power behind, because the weaker he is, the harder his future work. 

When/if Odium wins, I highly doubt the voidspren will be left as is. 

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