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Wow! My first big theory! Feels good! I can't wait to see how Book 4 disproves all of this with a single paragraph. So, let's get into things. Some Background Most of this speculation comes from a small argument I had on our lovely Discord about magic systems and methods of access. Yknow, stuff like Bonds and Oaths and breathing in Stormlight. So, at the tail end of this discussion, I had a thought. What is Voidbinding's method of access? Well, you might say Voidlight, but I don't believe the Fused are Voidbinding (yet). But even if that's the case, I assume Voidlight would only be a key, similarly to Stormlight. Not everyone can Surgebind, you need to have a Nahel bond with a Radiant Spren, and you need to say Oaths. So that's what I'm going to call a "method of access" for this theory. With that, let's begin! The Nightwatcher, the Unmade, and providing external powers So, two big parts of my theory are these two nuggets of information. First up is the information that Voidbinding usually originates with the Unmade. The second nugget is that Voidbinding and the Old Magic are "cousins", as stated by Khriss in the Ars Arcanum: So, how does the Old Magic work? As far as we know, it's just the Nightwatcher chucking Investiture at people to facilitate a change. So, if Voidbinding and the Old Magic can be considered "cousins", perhaps the similarities lie here. The Unmade provide an external form of Investiture, either in the form the ability to use Voids/Surges/Voidsurges (terminology unclear), Voidlight, or both. But unlike the Old Magic, Voidbinding seems to be a much more rigid magic system standard of Brandon. It was used (at least in some form, since we can assume that Voidbinding has not been fully explored) frequently enough that the Vorins were able to make a (probably incorrect) chart for it. So, if it's a rigid, Sanderson-brand magic system, how's it work? What's the key? The focus? The method of access? Well... The empty pit that sucks in emotion I can't fully confirm what Voidbinding does once it's activated, whether it's Surges used in a crazy new light, to simply corrupted Surgebinding, to something entirely out of left field. But I can ask you a question: why does Surgebinding love bonds so much? I'd think it's because Honor likes bonds and oaths. It's his "thing". Gravitation even works the way it does in Surgebinding because Honor loves bonds. He likes to make them, he sticks by them, and he uses them for all his crazy magic (sealing away Odium, establishing the Oathpact, etc). So what's Odium's "thing"? What does he do? From what we've seen in Oathbringer, and that ominous quote from the Eila Stele I put before this paragraph, Odium "takes away pain". His followers (this is especially apparent in Moash) throw the blame on someone else. They relieve themselves of their pain, and as a result they feel a depressive void. When Dalinar abuses the Thrill, he becomes unable to be sated by anything but Thrill-infused carnage. There is no emotion unless he is accessing Odium's power. While this is obviously a metaphor for drug/alcohol abuse, I do think it still relates to Odium magically. So, how does this relate to Voidbinding? Well, if we go forward with the idea that the method of access for magic systems is related to the Modus Operandi of their Shard of origin, than perhaps in order to use Voidbinding, you have to drain yourself. Possibly of emotion, possibly of a variety of things that the Unmade ask of you, maybe both, but I believe that Voidbinding requires the user to drain themselves of something. Once they give up their "pain", the Unmade can step in, and provide that internal Investiture source, whatever that may be. I'm not quite sure how it works, but one possible way might be like this: Some person has Voidlight. They breathe in the Voidlight, and focus on their "pain". The Voidlight gets to work and takes the person's pain. Some Unmade steps in, and forges a quick connection with the person, filling them up with Voidy Juice. Ta-da! You've got yourself a Voidbinder! This might not be exactly how things work, and it might not even need Voidlight at all, but that remains to be seen. I will give you my sorrow There's still a chasmfiend in the room: Renarin. He's obviously related in some way to the Void, due to Brandon's chart-pointing and the fact that his Spren is "Enlightened" by Sja-Anat. Since he seems unable to produce illusions (this remains to be seen, but he does seem to have an abnormally difficult time producing them, even accidentally), many people have considered the idea that his Surge of Illumination has been coopted and replaced with the Void/Voidsurge of Illumination. But Voidbinding originates with the Unmade, right? Well, only usually, whatever that means. So, Renarin bonding a corrupted spren. That might be one of the less common methods of obtaining Voidbinding. Now, according to Brandon, Renarin is "weird' and not really fully Voidbinding. What does he mean by this? Well, there are a lot of theories, but one I think works is that Renarin isn't really doing much - Glys is facilitating everything. It's definitely possible for spren to access Surges. Syl does a bit of it, and Fabrials obviously work that way in some form. And now, this might be a stretch, but consider, Right before Renarin sees his final vision in OB, this little line shows up : "I will give you my sorrow". And then the next time we see Renarin, boom. Vision time. I might be completely reading too far into this, but if Voidbinding does require giving up "pain" or emotions, than perhaps to use Voidish Illumination, one must give up their sorrow. And since Renarin either doesn't want to or doesn't know how, Glys has been facilitating it for the time being? Can Renarin Voidbind on his own? Does he need an Unmade, or will his strange bond suffice? That remains to be seen. Ending And with that, all my weird speculation comes to a wrap! Thanks for reading, and feel free to tear into this in the replies. I think it holds some water, and even if I'm mostly wrong, this might be a piece to a larger puzzle. See you all soon!
I'm mainly placing this in cosmere because of the WoB that needs to be included. So to start with, we've been given this WoB on the progression of technology in Scadrial. Spoilered for length, followed by the relevant portion. So the we had step one of the Metallic Arts, which was just using the powers themselves. We're in the process of seeing step 2, which is technology that relies on the interaction of those powers in the form of Medallions and the bands... Which I happen to believe relies heavily on Hemalurgy But step 3... Step 3 is where things get interesting... And also where I think things take a decidedly dark turn. Allomancy has diluted over time, and the genes have gotten weaker, but this has reached a saturation point. At least it has in the north... The south is decidedly weaker. There's an important point about allomancy in the south though, just like allomancy prior to Rashek. So what happens when the north and south mix heavily and the allomantic genes dilute further? All scadrians, power or not, have the seeds of the Metallic Arts in them... And understanding of Hemalurgy, now that it's being used is going to grow, whether Harmony approves or not. So what I think is going to happen, is that knowledge of the Metallic Arts is going to increase to the point that Hemalurgy can take those seeds from anyone. A single person obviously isn't going to grant you anything usable... But they aren't limited to a single person. People are fantastic at rationalization, and giving up a piece of yourself on your deathbed to better the lives of everyone is an easy thing to rationalize. Especially if that gift you're giving is what enables all of the fantastic technology that enables FTL travel, and who knows what other amazing and miraculous feats. So in short I think that the basis of technology in the future of Scadrial is going to rely on Hemalurgy, and it will be societally ingrained and accepted by the majority, and adamantly protested and opposed by others. Era 4 scadrian technology will be the Cosmere's Soylent Green. Edit: just going to insert this post here to make things more clear. Let me try to clarify a bit, because I think that as the genes dilute further, and the technology progresses, the magics generally are going to be much less things that people are born with, and much more focused on the technology that will become pervasive. I think it will be known that the "gift" that people give up is the basis for the proliferation of the technologies that allow everyone to live in a world of wonders. So I don't think it will be an attempt to assuage guilt. They'll be taught that it's just the way that things are and it will be accepted because if there is one thing that humans are good at, it's rationalizing away the things we should question. I don't think the majority will believe there's anything to feel guilty about.
I've mentioned all of the parts of this "theory" (and it's tough to call it that as it's so speculative) in other places, but I figured after a discord discussion that I would consolidate it all in one place. Part one: Szeth's History In The Way of Kings, Szeth makes this comment in his internal monologue Szeth believes that in the event of his death, the shamanate will know that the blade has moved on and they will recover the blade and bring it back to Shinovar. I believe that Szeth is correct. Primarily, because I believe that Szeth was a part of the Shamanate before he was made Truthless. https://wob.coppermind.net/events/189/#e4040 https://wob.coppermind.net/events/127/#e5089 So Szeth was a very respected member of his society before his sentence, and Truthless do not normally have Honorblades. Add that the Shamanate have all of the blades save Nale's and Taln's (at the start of the books) and that from Szeth's PoVs we know that Szeth has both trained in all the surges, and enjoyed the ability to use his Blade to fly without needing to kill prior to becoming Truthless, and I believe the evidence points towards him being a member of the shamanate, and the chosen guardian of Jezrien's blade. Part Two: Taln's Blade So, assuming that Szeth is correct, and the shamans can indeed track the Honorblades by some means, here is what I believe happened. Taln appeared outside of Kholinar, and cut his way through the gates. He stumbles inside, and drops his Blade... And in so doing he breaks the bond to his Blade, either immediately, or as soon as someone else picks it up. The Honorblades function differently then Shardblades. They have a shallow bond. They also do not dissapate when dropped. So whether dropping the blade is enough to break the bond or not, the moment another person picks up the blade, and through touch it bonds to them... The bond is broken. At this moment, whether it's the breaking of the bond, or a new bond being forged, I think that this is what the shamanate can detect. So the shamans take flight (figuratively, most likely through the surge of transportation with the Elsecaller and Willshaper blades) shortly after to where the blade fell, and make the swap. They return to Shinovar, and are obviously aware that the newfound blade in their possession is one they've never had before. They've historically held all of the blades until Nale reclaimed his, and most likely have representations of what they look like. They would immediately know that this is the tenth blade that they have never held, and what precisely it means. Panic ensues, their entire belief structure falls into turmoil, and so when Szeth dies they don't even bother to try and retrieve Jezrien's blade. Part Three: Szeth's Crusade Finally, we come to Szeth's future, and the his fourth oath. Szeth has made it clear, that his goal will be to bring justice to the Shin. He believes that he will be on a mission of retribution. He is unaware that to the Shamanate he has been vindicated. He should never have been Truthless. He will arrive, and the Shamanate as a whole will throw themselves at his feet and swear to him. They will attempt to make him their king, and proclaim him the only one to have recognized truth. Szeth's crusade will be thrown completely off track. It will appear that the crusade he swore cannot be completed. This is only true though, if Nale's letter of the law mentality is true. This chain of events will act as the vehicle for Szeth to find the balance of letter and spirit of what he is sworn to that will allow him to act as an example of what the Skybreakers should be, instead of the twisted mockery of Justice that they play at under Nale's guidance. I'm most likely wrong, and a number of things could occur that will tumble this fragile chain of events. I find the idea compelling though, and I strongly doubt Brandon will give us a straightforward "Szeth slaughters the Shin" storyline.
This entire post is pretty much one big Secret History spoiler, so you have been warned So there is one little passage in Secret History that could have some interesting implications, here is the passage in question: Now that knife Kelsier is waving around came from Nazh, and while it does not really explain its composition or anything from what I could find, Nazh does mention that he is fond of it. That leads me to think that perhaps it is from Threnody, in which case it is weird that Ruin identifies Nazh's knife as specifically containing pieces of him. I see a few possible ways to interpret this scene 1) The knife is actually from Scadrial. Possible. Nazh had probably managed be in the physical realm in Scadrial before, and could have obtained a knife while there 2) Ruin just assumes Kelsier's knife is part of him, I mean how is Kelsier going to get a worldhopping knife? Seems unlikely though, I would think a shard could sense if something was made from its investiture or not. 3) Ruin is part of Adonalsium so technically anyting made by Adonalsium could be construed as containing part of Ruin. A bit of a stretch 4) It is a typo, or continuity error. Boring but still should be considered 5) Threnody is connected to Ruin in some way. This is the most interesting possibility. The Ire mention that they have made precautions specifically against threnodite shades, so it is already fairly plausible to believe that Threnody is in the same solar system as Scadrial, that was already debated here. In all the WoB I can find since, he sidesteps the question. Anyway if a knife taken from Threnody really is created out of Ruin's investiture then there has to be at least some connection. Maybe Threnody was an first attempt at creating a world by Preservation and Ruin. Or maybe they created the whole solar system and then only got trapped to Scadrial once they invested even more heavily in it by creating humans. Perhaps the "evil" on threnody was nothing more than the Deepness that Alendi and Rashek were fighting, and the current inhabitants of Threnody are refugees from that event (though I am not sold on that idea just yet). In any case there are probably other interesting implications I did not consider here, and besides this is a lot to extrapolate from a single passage. Thoughts?