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A Rosharan Political Analysis: Secret Societies Ghostbloods, Diagramists, Skybreakers, Sons of Honor, Envisagers, Stone Shamans, Ardentia The following is intended to be a comprehensive guide on known secret societies on Roshar, especially ones interfering in The Stormlight Archive. Due to the complexity and excessive number of such societies, this will hopefully be a useful reference for newcomers, confused fans, and those that want to double check or reference any information. If you note any inaccuracies or things that I missed, feel free to let me know so that I can update the information to be as accurate as possible. The Ghostbloods: The Ghostbloods are the most encountered secret society with the least information given. As Mraize told Shallan at the end of Words of Radiance, we know next to nothing about the Ghostbloods or their purpose. We can, however, make some educated approximations, and codify the information we have been given. · Jasnah Kholin: She and the Ghostbloods seem to be engaged in a policy of mutual assassination; but unfortunately we don’t know the history or reasons behind this. · Sons of Honor: There seems to be a specific rivalry between the Ghostbloods and the Sons of Honor. The Ghostbloods have a keen interest in Amaram at the Shattered Plains, and Iyatil tried to assassinate him at the end of Words of Radiance (most likely, she has at least one nonlethal poison); Amaram also suspected the Ghostbloods of sending Helaran as the Shardbearer to kill him, though later evidence indicates that it was really the Skybreakers. Gavilar’s two suspects for his assassination were Thaidakar (probable leader of the Ghostbloods) and Restares (probable leader of the Sons of Honor). Both are also seeking maps and Urithiru. · Maps and Urithiru: The Ghostbloods have an uncanny interest in maps. (This is not singular to the Ghostbloods; the Sons of Honor, Parshendi, and others seem to have the same interest.) Either they (as well as the others) are putting plenty of effort into the search for Urithiru (as seems likely), or the maps have something else of interest. · Taravangian and Tukar: Mraize, in his conversation with Raspy Voice, seemed to indicate that he thinks Taravangian and the Diagram of little importance. Either he is unaware of the Diagram or its extent, or the Diagram is of less importance than we are led to believe. In the same conversation, he speaks of a “creature in Tukar” that is either not human or not of the local species. As pointed out, this is likely the "god-priest, Tezim," leading the Tukari in the conflict over Sesemalex Dar. · Worldhoppers: Secret conversations, key props, the Diagram, and Words of Brandon confirm that Mraize and Iyatil are worldhoppers. The conversation Shallan overheard in Chapter 54 of Words of Radiance seems to indicate that there may be at least one other. A person with a raspy voice. Conspiracy theory! Dreok Crushthroat! The Ghostbloods could, therefore, be a Cosmere-wide organization in either membership, expanse, or at least information. Significant Members: · Mraize: A man who, on first sight, reminds Shallan of Hoid. He is twisted an scarred, fixates on courage (in his first conversation with Shallan), and likes to use local weapons to learn of different cultures. He is the ward of Iyatil, and a worldhopper. In fact, Adrotagia wondered (in her annotations to the Diagram) if he was the “wanderer Taravangian spoke of. · Iyatil: She is considered the “babsk” of Mraize. The only other babsk we see is Vstim, and from Rysn we learn that the babsk is considered the parent of the apprentice, in charge of “rearing” them to be a full trader. I am not sure how this relationship works with the Ghostbloods. She has an orange carapace mask she refuses to remove, is a skilled actress, and is also a worldhopper. · Tyn: An expert con artist that took Shallan under her wing. She was in league with the Ghostbloods but may not have been an actual member. She was in charge of the operation to assassinate Jasnah Kholin. Shallan killed her with her Shardblade when Tyn discovered her identity and tried to kill her. · Thaidakar: This appears to be a leader or high ranking member of the Ghostbloods (he is spoken of in conjunction with the Ghostbloods in a way that implies he is the head of the organization by Amaram in The Way of Kings, and Words of Radiance reaffirms a Ghostblood position, with the term “Master Thaidakar” used by Mraize. Gavilar suspected Thaidakar for his assassination, telling him that he was “too late;” though Restares (a Son of Honor) and Sadeas were also suspects. We have no other information at the moment. Lin Davar: Father of Shallan and Helaran (along with three other siblings). He assumed the blame for the deaths of Shallan's mother and her friend in order to preserve the secret of Shallan's Radiancy and the fact that Shallan had killed them (albeit in self-defense). He grew politically ambitious, increasing House Davar's importance and preparing to make a bid for Highprince, but making enemies and alienating allies. His steward, Luesh, was his intermediary with the rest of the Ghostblood organization, which had been backing his bid for the Highprince succession and had loaned him the Soulcaster. He was killed by Shallan when he tried to kill Nan Balat during one of his rages. Luesh: Steward to Lin Davar and his intermediary with the Ghostbloods as they backed him politically. He was trained to use a Soulcaster. He (purportedly) died in his sleep after Lin's death, while Shallan was in Kharbranth. Kabsal: A Ghostblood posting as a Kharbranthian Ardent. He befriended and fell in love with Shallan, but his main purpose was to assassinate Jasnah Kholin. He died from poisoned bread during the assassination attempt after Jasnah inadvertently Soulcast the antidote. Shallan: Following Jasnah's "death," Shallan's encounter with Tyn, and her arrival at the Shattered Plains, Shallan infiltrated the Ghostblood organization under the alias Veil. She was ultimately admitted as a full Ghostblood member, but her true identity was ultimately discovered. Despite this, Mraize still offered her the membership. "Let Shallan Davar be a Radiant, conformist and noble. Let Veil come to us. And let her find truth." Interesting quote (from Mraize's conversation with Shallan at the end of Words of Radiance): "Your family [the Davar's] has a long history of involvement in these events." The Sons of Honor: The Sons of Honor are a group of Vorin extremists. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we see a lot of them through the interactions and investigations of Amaram, especially from Words of Radiance. (Ironically, the English singular – Son of Honor – is only one letter away from perfect Rosharan symmetry, a good Vorin name.) Their purpose is to return the Desolations in order to bring back the Heralds and restore the Heirocratic dominance of Old Vorinism. While obviously misguided and misinformed, and seemingly unimportant, they still manage to kick up quite the storm. Restares: We know little more of Restares than we do of Thaidakar. The apparent leader of the Sons of Honor, all we truly know is that he is Amaram’s superior, one of Gavilar’s murder suspects, and that his cronies were “close,” according to Mraize, presumably to finding Urithiru. He is usually mentioned in context with Thaidakar. He is the individual to whom Amaram sent his progress report at the end of Words of Radiance. Amaram: A devout Son of Honor, he has been seeking Heralds (namely the “person who calls himself Taln), gathering maps (presumably seeking Urithiru), and trying to get the Parshendi to transform into Voidbringers. While he has garnered much dislike in the novels and among fans for murdering Kaladin’s men and being generally dishonorable, I feel he is no worse (and absolutely no better) than many of the other misguided, semi-antagonistic members of such secret societies; while he is more misguided than most, he honestly feels he is doing what is best for Roshar, without regard to himself, but has a very destination-before-journey mindset that is common in similar individuals (Taravangian, Mraize, and even Hoid to an extent). The Diagramists: The most appreciated and generally understood secret organization, the society of the Diagram is the prime example of “Destination before Journey,” summarized by the Catechism of the Back of the Flowered Painting: Q: What cost must we bear? A: The cost is irrelevant. Mankind must survive. Our burden is that of the species, and all other considerations are but dust by comparison On the night of his death, Gavilar confided in King Taravangian of Kharbranth, telling him of his visions of the Almighty. Following this, Taravangian sought out the Nightwatcher, asking for the capacity to save humankind. The result? Daily intelligence fluctuations, inversely connected with compassion levels. Then came one “singular day of unparalleled brilliance,” “making connections no man had ever before made”: The Diagram. Information written in an alien script (devised by Taravangian that day to express information more clearly) all over Taravangian’s bedroom, with a key fortunately carved into his table; now codified (in its original form) for more practical use. Although Taravangian’s Interlude maintains that he did not truly see into the future, the Diagram has made “eerily accurate” (though not entirely infallible) predictions of the results of specific actions necessary to unite the world (under Taravangian) to resist the Desolation, as his interpretation of Gavilar’s visions required: “You must become king. Of everything.” Quotes: · Inaccuracies: The Diagram, while startlingly accurate, has been off about a few things, more so the farther into the future it goes. Taravangian hopes for another day of equivalent intelligence to revamp the Diagram, but Adrotagia’s calculations declare this to be unlikely. Therefore, the current method is to use Death Rattles, little precognitive phrases uttered by the dying, created by Moelach (according to the Diagram, one of the Unmade) and powered by the “spark of life itself.” Two problems thus arise: First, that the Diagram is gradually decreasing in accuracy; Second, that the method of updating the Diagram is controlled by an evil, powerful being most likely a Splinter of Odium. These could have interesting future ramifications. · Death Rattles: · Sleepers: These are members of the Diagramist group, likely a term for a specific type of undercover agent. “Wake every Alethi sleeper we have; send every agent in the area.” These may include Graves and his men. · Silent Gatherers: These Diagramists are headed by Joshor and are in charge of murdering the terminally ill in the Kharbranthian hospitals in order to find and record as many Death Rattles as possible to augment the Diagram. Members: · Taravangian: King of Kharbranth and now Jah Keved, Taravangian was the confidante of Gavilar Kholin on his final night. After seeking out the Nightwatcher, he received the boon of intelligence fluctuation and created the Diagram on a day of unparalleled genius (as explained above). Through his occasional brilliance, he is able to interpret the Diagram and is the leader of the society. “Besides, in dealing with the Diagram, he might not remember what he had written or why – but there were echoes sometimes.” · Adrotagia: Head of Taravangian’s scholars and his boyhood friend. Following Taravangian, she probably knows the most about the Diagram. · Mrall: Taravangian’s bodyguard, in charge of determining his capacity to serve in public on a daily basis. A peculiar figure, he claims to be able to “change emotions on a whim,” such as ceasing to take pleasure in suffering. · Graves: A self-styled Alethi patriot and a Shardbearer, he was in charge of the group trying to assassinate King Elhokar. He is now fleeing the Shattered Plains. Through the assassination attempt, he recruited Moash to their cause. · Szeth-son-son-Vallano: Truthless of Shinovar, the Assassin in White. An explanation should be unnecessary. From the middle of The Way of Kings to the end of Words of Radiance, he is under the control of Taravangian and acts on his orders. The Skybreakers: The name originally applied to an order of the Knights Radiant. Whether they remain so, are the organizational remnant of what used to be Radiants, are Radiants ("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."), or merely share the same name and Heraldic leader remains unknown. In any case, they are a group headed by Nalan, Herald of Justice. They do seem to “put the law above all else,” though laws are twisted to suit their needs, and they certainly have a proliferation of Shardblades; however, their actions do not seem Radiant-worthy and they seem to be trying to assassinate – pseudolegally, of course – Surgebinders along the path to Radianthood, all in the name of preventing another Desolation. The best knowledge comes from the Interludes of Ym and Lift, along with Szeth’s portion of chapter 88 of Words of Radiance. I hope for a vast increase of information with the release of the next book (such as the information and references in The Way of Kings versus those in Words of Radiance.) · Nalan’elin: “Nin” to Szeth, almost certainly Darkness to Lift and the man in Ym’s story; Herald of Justice, Divine Attributes of Just and Confident. We don’t know what the years since Aharietiam have truly done to the Heralds, though they seem to be “doing worse.” This one has gained a penchant for assassinating Surgebinders and (Jezerezah only knows what else he’s been up to! I’ll leave it up to your imagination). · Szeth-son-Neturo: Once again, the Assassin in White needs little introduction. Now he has and a mission to bring justice to the leaders of the Shin, and he is learning at the feet of a dangerous Herald who may or may not be just as unstable as Szeth. · Helaran: Shallan’s oldest brother apparently “sought out the Skybreakers,” presumably where he received his Shardblade and Plate. Taravangian and Adrotagia considered him a possible tutor of Shallan in her Surgebinding. Nothing else is known, despite Shallan’s flashbacks (I am beginning to tire of saying that. I expect some good information from the third book!) The Envisagers: A cult, as Teft called them, that “believed in the Radiants, Heralds, and Old Vorinism; especially Old Vorinism.” They believed that if they could return the Voidbringers, it would bring back the Knights Radiant (comparable to the Sons of Honor in the preceding respects). They believed that if they put their members in mortal danger, they would manifest Surgebinding powers – a Snapping concept, of sorts. None did, but many (including Teft’s mother) died trying. Teft turned the Envisagers in to his citylord, who executed them all. If other groups exist, he (and we) is unaware. NOTE: This concludes the section on all known secret societies – at least, those known to be secret societies. The two following are potential candidates once more information is known; as things stand, any accusations of ulterior goals remain theorization. I hope the information is helpful, regardless. The Ardentia: The Vorin ardentia are the religious officials that remain after the Sunmaker destroyed the Heirocracy and Old Vorinism. While they lack the overwhelming political power they had previously, they are extraordinarily well placed to be a massive secret society in the Vorin nations of the East: ardents include cutting-edge scientists, scholars with access to practically all of the Eastern world’s knowledge (especially the Palanaeum), politicians (though they technically aren’t supposed to be), religious authorities and advisors, fighters, Shard-trained soldiers, and Soulcasters – in fact, they control all known Soulcasting fabrials. They seem too suspicious and well-positioned, especially with the fact that they once controlled the major Vorin nations. Stone Shamans and the Shin: I hesitated to include these, but the information, while mildly speculative and not truly a secret society, could still be of use. Stone Shamans seem to be the leaders of the Shin – certainly of their religion, which worships the spren of stone. They have the Honorblades and have kept them safe “for millennia” – likely since the Last Desolation. Szeth mentions eight of the nine, specifically (though he wasn’t terribly surprised with the fabricated news that one was stolen), and we have WOB that a Herald came back for his. Unfortunately, insofar as I know, we lack a time indicator – whether it was immediately following the Desolation, before Szeth’s expulsion, or afterwards is unknown, and the latter would mean that there is another unaccounted Honorblade. Presumably, the Stone Shamans use them, for they would have been able to retrieve the Honorblade following Szeth’s death in normal circumstances (whether they will try or succeed to regain the Honorblade from the new Knights Radiant remains to be seen) – though how this reconciles with the societal abhorrence of weapons and soldiery is unknown. Regardless, we know Szeth plans to “face enemies with Shards and with power.” Besides the ownership of the Honorblades (and potentially other Shards), however, is the potential knowledge, both generally held and that discovered by Szeth, leading to his naming as Truthless. Unfortunately, all that we know is very vague and will likely remain so until Szeth visits Shinovar or we see his flashbacks. Regardless, we can extrapolate from the few glimpses Szeth does give us, namely in Interlude 9 of The Way of Kings and phrases screamed while fighting Kaladin. Something made Szeth believe that the Radiants and Voidbringers had returned. He told others, probably the Stone Shamans, but was convinced or forced - despite what he claims his honor demanded - to become Truthless. (I am of the opinion that he was forced religiously, and he complied in the name of law and order, which Nalan claimed Szeth worshipped - “They told me I was Truthless,” emphasis added, and “There was no place for him in the Valley of Truth,” a name that seems to imply religious significance. There is also an interesting dichotomy following his acceptance of his station; while “his honor demanded” that the Voidbringers existed despite the fact that “his punishment declared that they did not,” the appearance of Kaladin as a budding Radiant made Szeth question his nature as Truthless until Taravangian’s explanation forced him to remain in his place.) Along with a possible knowledge of Radiants and Voidbringers, Szeth recognizes a Herald on sight (albeit by a different name than they are called in Vorin nations), and he knows more about Surgebinding than the Ars Arcanum from The Way of Kings and arguably that of Words of Radiance, despite Shinovar’s lack of access to Stormlight. They also had a knowledge of Urithiru. It will be very interesting to learn more of the Shin in future novels. Honorable mention: These are groups that deserve notice but lack requisite information for full consideration. Worldsingers: An order that travels across Roshar, "spreading knowledge of cultures, peoples, thoughts, and dreams; bringing peace through understanding." They claim that their charge to do so came directly from the Heralds. Related to the Worldbringers of Terris and probably founded by Hoid, Hoid is a member and was the mentor to Sigzil, graduating him during The Way of Kings. Veristitalians: A group of scholars that seeks to find the truth of what has happened in the past, such as finding natural explanations for supernatural phenomena and discovering unbiased history. Jasnah is a prominent member. Stormwardens: A group of make scholars finding loopholes in Vorin restrictions. They mathematically predict highstorms, use glyphs as a written phonetic script, etc. Several stormwardens have been involved with secret societies, but nothing indicates that the organization as a whole is. Vanrial: Am order of artists at Silent Mount in Jah Keved, responsible for preserving the full text of The Way of Kings throughout the Hierocracy. Each year they sing songs believed to be in the Dawnchant, of which Dalinar's visions seem to be giving a translation. Oldbloods: The descendants of the dynasty that once, long ago, ruled Alethkar. They mark themselves with blue tattoos on the cheek. Teleb, a Kholin highofficer and ultimately a Shardbearer, is an Oldblood. "In Yulay, there are groups of people who talk of the Radiants. And wish for their return." This quote from Sigzil may refer to the Envisagers or a separate group. I hope that this compilation is helpful. If you note any inaccuracies or know of anything I overlooked, any and all help is appreciated – I mean this to be a full, complete resource for anyone that could use it. Thank you! Edit 1: Updated the Ghostblood information, switching Iyatil for Mraize (as the assassin fit Amaram), added nonlethal poison as an option, fixed ambiguity of worldhopper status for Mraize and Iyatil, fixed "creature in Tukar," and added Lin Davar, Luesh, Kabsal, and Shallan/Veil. Edit 2: Added Worldsingers, Veristitalians, Stormwardens, Vanrial, Oldbloods, and Yulay groups.
I have the audiobook, so it is hard to search for things. Gavilar was part of the Sons of Honor, along with Amaram. We also know from the Taravangian interlude that Gavilar was having the same visions that Dalanar is having (so knows the desolation is coming, Honor is dead, humanity needs to be united, etc.). Gavilar was a proponent of the Way of Kings, due to his visions. How does this fit with the Sons of Honor? If the desolation is coming (visions), then the Heralds would be there soon. Why try to get the desolation to come sooner (which is what he and Amaram appear to have been planning, by attempting to bring back the Listener's gods). Why did Gavilar involve Taravangian? He operates completely opposite to the first ideal. Or is that a change caused by his visit with the old magic? And lastly, are the Envisagers an offshoot of the Sons of Honor? From Teft, the goals are very similar (they want to bring back the Radiants, the SoH want to bring back the Heralds, though the wiki does not state that clearly, so I may be misremembering), they just have the added craziness of trying to "snap" themselves into becoming radiants themselves.