So I have been thinking about Dawnshards and the Shards for some time now and would like to put forward my own model of how they all come together. This model came to me after using the single most reliable method we have of understanding the Cosmere, a theory so concrete that it has never, not even once, failed us and I believe it holds the key to allowing us to understand the Shards like we never have before, if not unlock all the secrets of the Cosmere.
I of course refer to Shardic number theory.
And please lower the pitch forks.
I can already hear the many objections of Shardic Number theory being virtually useless in every single imaginable way but I still hold that it has some use, and using it in this post I would like to persuade you that it actually contains the key to understanding how the Shards were all formed, helps us work out details about the unknown Dawnshards and can help us guess the personality of other Shards. For starters I will briefly recap Shardic Number theory;
Shardic Number Theory, the basics:
For those unaware Shardic Number theory is the idea that every Shard in the Cosmere correlates to a number from 1-16 and that where they are most invested this number becomes more prevalent. Historically the most accepted numbers have been that Preservation is 16 while Odium is 9 and Honor 10. Another common guess is that Endowment is 5. (The 5 scholars, Heightenings are achieved in multiplications of 5, Nalthis’ symbol is a 5 flowered petal which is a depiction of the Tears of Edgli, the 5 visions, the Court of God houses 25 at time of Warbreaker and can house 50 if needed, etc.)
A more rare suggestion, but one I still support, is that Ruin correlates to 11. Although lesser 11 those show up multiple times in relation to him, Koloss are often noted to be 11 feet tall and Marsh (And possibly inquisitors in general) had 11 spikes before Ruin forced him to add more. The reason why 16, Preservations number, is more prevalent is because as the chapter 54 epigraph mentions he was more invested into the system. Since the numbers appear where a Shard is invested it makes sense that his number would be more prevalent in the system since he is more invested in it than Ruin. We also have most recently Virtuosity who could possibly be a 13. Putting this together we end up with the Shards in the following positions;
Now in regards to why I numbered them like this I would like to note that I did attempt a variety of ways of organizing the chart, it was only the above formation that led to the model I am going to discuss here and so I believe this is the way Brandon decided to number them.
The Dawnshards generally lead to issues with models such as these as it is difficult to clearly associate four shards to each Dawnshard, I do not think such a thing is needed however. Instead I believe that Adonalsium was initially split into 4 pieces, one for each Dawnshard, and that these four pieces were in turn split into 4 so that in total there were 16 Shards left. As a side note I recently reread Dawnshard and found that the mural in it was made in a way that suggested this is the case, it is mentioned to start with a circle that splits into four pieces and that those pieces in turn split into four more. For the sake of this theory this means that most Shard correlates to 2 Dawnshards and that each Dawnshard correlates to 7 Shards.
In terms of the Dawnshards we have one already confirmed, Change. I suggest that there are 2 more also already known, it was noted that both Ruin and Odium refer to Passion often and that this connection is not insignificant, I believe that this connection is that each originates from the same Dawnshard. We do know from an epigraph in WoK that there is some sort of Dawnshard about connecting things together, one that seems to revolve around Order, as well as this we have Dalinar mentioning that he is Unity and so I will name that Unity for the time being.
We know that if this is given then Ruin and Odium must be both a part of Passion, that Ruin and Preservation must both share Change and that Honor must be of Unity. Putting this together we end up with a table that looks like this;
2; (Unity, Passion)
4; (Unity, Unity)
5; Endowment (3, Passion)
7; (3, Unity)
8; (Change, Unity)
9; Odium (Passion,3)
10; Honor (Unity,3)
11; Ruin (Passion, Change)
12; (Unity, Change)
13; Virtuosity (3,3)
16; Preservation (Change,Change)
Due to the location of Odium and Ruin we are forced to place Passion in the top left quadrant of the chart. The same goes for Unity having to be the top right quadrant and change being the bottom right quadrant. This does allow us to estimate the Dawnshards that spawned the remainder for the Shards however.
[Side note; One may object to this model since Preservation is placed at Change, I will address why this may be later but I do want to note that there isn’t anyway to place Preservation that doesn’t put him at a corner meaning that they would always have ended up as a pure Dawnshard regardless.]
Placing the remaining Shards:
I will now dedicate some time to explaining how these commands became the Shardic intents. I believe the reason for this was because the original vessels gave each Shard its intent based upon their thoughts of the two commands upon picking it up, it is known that we could have needed up with a different set of Shards and that Harmony could easily have become Discord. I believe it is the first person to pick up a series of Shards that allows one to decide what a Shard’s intent is.
Following from this I would like to discuss what leads to each Shard being formed and justify where I have placed them. I generally understand Unity as a sort of ‘Order’ Dawnshard, we have multiple Shards that have some sort of order behind their intent, Devotion, Dominion, Valor, Invention, Cultivation. Honor and Autonomy. I believe that each of these correlate to one of the Order Shards. We have 2 slots for Shards that must be about Change and Order and out of this list Autonomy and Cultivation fits the bill the best to my eyes, Autonomy as being able to change the Order that controls you and Cultivation being Change in an ordered manner. In terms of shards that are Passion and Order we also have 2 slots and out of the list Valor (Passion of war and bravery) and Devotion (Passion of love) seems to fit the best. Honor is already place and between the 2 remaining Shards I believe Dominion is the closest to true Order.
Moving onto Passion Shards we have three Shards already placed there, Endowment, Odium and Ruin. There are also 4 more that seem to fit, Devotion, Valor, Ambition and Mercy. Devotion and Valor have already been discussed and out of the pair I feel that Mercy must be pure Passion for reasons that I will cover later. We are then left with only one Shard with no placement, Whimsy, and two slots of identical Dawnshard pairings to create them.
Putting this together our table now looks like this;
1; Mercy (Passion, Passion)
2; Valor (Order, Passion)
3; Devotion (Passion, Order)
4; Dominion (Order, Order)
5; Endowment (3, Passion)
6; Ambition (Change, Passion)
7; Invention (3, Order)
8; Autonomy (Change, Order)
9; Odium (Passion, 3)
10; Honor (Order, 3)
11; Ruin (Passion, Change)
12; Cultivation (Order, Change)
13; Virtuosity (3,3)
14; Whimsy? (Change, 3)
15; Whimsy? (3, Change)
16; Preservation (Change, Change)
Using the Model to make predictions:
Now any model worth itself should be able to make predictions, using my model here I believe that it should help us make new observations or realize new aspects of the Shards. For example, according to the model Autonomy should be associated with the number 8, looking at its two worlds we find that this number is actually repeated. There are 8 trades that controls the government, the Diem separates itself into 8 ranks and 8 Darksiders undertake the expedition to Dayside. On Sixth of the Dusk meanwhile there are 40 Pantheon islands (and presumably avatars of Autonomy), a multiple of 8, and there are 8 stellar bodies named on the Drominad system map.
For Elantris meanwhile we have 3 viewpoints, with 3 religions after forming after a schism, with the number of lines in a basic Aon changing from 3 to 4, with there being 3 gangs in Elantris that is in turn split into 3 continents who have 3 dominant cultures. As well as that 2 religions descended from Devotion and Dominion revolve around Unity and how to achieve it, with a schism forming over whether that Unity should be based in love (Passion) or order. (Unity)
On Roshar we have 12 great Spren (The Unmade + The Nightwatcher, the Sibling and the Stormfather), as well as Thayleneh has a base 12 number system with the number 12 being prominent in their religion. One may wonder why Honor’s number is so prevalent but I believe it is for the same reason of Preservation, after his death his splintered power is diffused more across the world making it more common in the world.
It would seem that the numbers are in fact correlating with some of the Shards as would be expected if this theory was true. As well as that I think that the pure Shards have their intent influenced by the curse given by their sole Dawnshard, using this then I would further predict that Passion is the dawnshard Sigzil and Hoid held as Mercy is the correlating Dawnshard and that at some stage Rysn will discover that she no longer ages or can not be changed in someway since Preservation is that of pure Change.