Spideyninja20

stormlight archive
The Skybreakers are oath-breakers.

12 posts in this topic

My argument here is quite simple. The first ideal of the Knights Radiant, shared across all orders, is “Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.” While the meaning and connotations of this oath are somewhat vague in some respects, Sanderson does try to explain the meaning somewhat in TWoK.

I’m writing this off the top of my head, so I don’t have exact references, but when Kaladin is discussing this ideal with Bridge Four in the chasms, we are privy to some of his thoughts regarding the words. Essentially, what we learn is that “journey before destination” means that your goal, however noble it may be, must be achieved through means you know to be right and good. So, for instance, if your intended goal, or “destination,” is preventing another desolation, then the means, or “journey,” by which you achieve this goal must be achieved without doing something you know to be wrong, such as killing innocent radiants simply because they are forming nahel bonds. (Sorry, I’m an audiobook reader so my spelling might be wrong.)

We know that Nale knows killing radiants is wrong, due to his multiple confessions of this fact throughout the series. He believes that the evil means he uses are justified by his goal of preventing the desolation. Regardless of these feelings, however, he has still broken the first ideal of the knights radiant, and yet he still retains a fifth-level bond to his highspren. In fact, all of the skybreakers retain their bonds, and I highly doubt that not a single one of them believes that killing radiants is wrong, even if they think it’s justified. 
I don’t know if Brandon has an explanation for this, but if not he’s written himself into quite the corner, as he has established that, by Nale’s own perception, he has broken the first ideal — a restriction placed upon nahel bonds to prevent people from using surgebunding to do the exact things that Nale and the skybreakers are doing — and yet he and his order retain their nahel bonds.

Thoughts? 

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1 hour ago, Spideyninja20 said:

My argument here is quite simple. The first ideal of the Knights Radiant, shared across all orders, is “Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.” While the meaning and connotations of this oath are somewhat vague in some respects, Sanderson does try to explain the meaning somewhat in TWoK.

I’m writing this off the top of my head, so I don’t have exact references, but when Kaladin is discussing this ideal with Bridge Four in the chasms, we are privy to some of his thoughts regarding the words. Essentially, what we learn is that “journey before destination” means that your goal, however noble it may be, must be achieved through means you know to be right and good. So, for instance, if your intended goal, or “destination,” is preventing another desolation, then the means, or “journey,” by which you achieve this goal must be achieved without doing something you know to be wrong, such as killing innocent radiants simply because they are forming nahel bonds. (Sorry, I’m an audiobook reader so my spelling might be wrong.)

We know that Nale knows killing radiants is wrong, due to his multiple confessions of this fact throughout the series. He believes that the evil means he uses are justified by his goal of preventing the desolation. Regardless of these feelings, however, he has still broken the first ideal of the knights radiant, and yet he still retains a fifth-level bond to his highspren. In fact, all of the skybreakers retain their bonds, and I highly doubt that not a single one of them believes that killing radiants is wrong, even if they think it’s justified. 
I don’t know if Brandon has an explanation for this, but if not he’s written himself into quite the corner, as he has established that, by Nale’s own perception, he has broken the first ideal — a restriction placed upon nahel bonds to prevent people from using surgebunding to do the exact things that Nale and the skybreakers are doing — and yet he and his order retain their nahel bonds.

Thoughts? 

Nope there Spren are very much alive.  They don't think there means are evil because they follow the law and there Spren agree. If they were to kill a radiant who  hadn't  committed a crime worthy of death then they would be oath breakers which is why there are so careful to always have the proper warrants. 

No where has Nale considered his actions morally wrong. 

Edited by bmcclure7
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1 hour ago, bmcclure7 said:

Nope there Spren are very much alive.  They don't think there means are evil because they follow the law and there Spren agree. If they were to kill a radiant who  hadn't  committed a crime worthy of death then they would be oath breakers which is why there are so careful to always have the proper warrants. 

No where has Nale considered his actions morally wrong. 

I agree, I think you can easily argue that the to skybreaks the journey is following the law.
Matter of fact, though Nale wished to be rid of Lift, he will not do it outside of the law (Edgedancer), so it's actually a good example of the journey coming before the destination.

In general, I see where you're coming from OP, but also I think the oaths are interpretable by design, it's not "the end does not justify the means", it's "journey before destination", so yeah go figure:lol:

 

As an aside, I think we'll still be exploring the full meaning of the first oath in the next book.

 

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Then how do you explain Nale confessing to both Lift and Szeth that he knows what he’s done is wrong? Or the fact that they don’t actually have to follow the law, as proven by Szeth when he swears to follow Dalinar? The Skybreakers are shown to be able to understand that the law is not the same as right and wrong (for instance when the order chooses to stop following human laws and start following singer laws) and are shown to circumvent and twist the law to their designs. As I said before, some Skybreakers, especially Nale, make choices they know to be morally wrong, thereby breaking the first ideal; yet they retain their bonds and their Spren are unharmed. I’m just unsure whether this is a plot hole or something Sanderson has a plan for.

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I think Skybreakers can easily feel like villains exactly because they don't follow "what is right" as a winderunner would according the the morality of their honorspren, 

Let's put it this way, Szeth is now sworn to cleanse the Shin leaders. Say he goes and realizes all they did was for a greater good, still he follows his oath and kills all of them, would he not leave Shinovar being both of the 4th ideal and knowing what he did was wrong?
So I don't think the first oath is really related, just the skybreakers oaths overtake the concept of morality, in terms of oathkeeping, by following the law, a leader, a crusade, making that the journey, rather than "good means" as an interpretable concept.

 

I think what you bring up is very  interesting though in terms of the 5th ideal, as that would require a Skybreaker to become a personification of the law, how that works I think is a bit unclear (are you the law, so you cannot break it, are you tied to some fundamental laws?), but either way it does raise the problem of Nale both being the law and questioning is own morality.

I agree with you that how Nale represents the law and his conflicted nature will be explored more, I'm not sure which direction it'll take but I'm re-reading right now I'll keep an eye open for details in that regard.
In general, all heralds have something weird going on in their madness that will probably explain this and more

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3 hours ago, Spideyninja20 said:

Then how do you explain Nale confessing to both Lift and Szeth that he knows what he’s done is wrong? Or the fact that they don’t actually have to follow the law, as proven by Szeth when he swears to follow Dalinar? The Skybreakers are shown to be able to understand that the law is not the same as right and wrong (for instance when the order chooses to stop following human laws and start following singer laws) and are shown to circumvent and twist the law to their designs. As I said before, some Skybreakers, especially Nale, make choices they know to be morally wrong, thereby breaking the first ideal; yet they retain their bonds and their Spren are unharmed. I’m just unsure whether this is a plot hole or something Sanderson has a plan for.

When did he ever do that ? I don't remember reading anything like that? He did admit to being wrong but that was about whether or not the desolations had start.  If that what you are referring to He was only admitted to being factually incorrect not moral wrong. 

 

You can be wrong(incorrect)and still right (moral true to your ideal). Nail makes that point to szeth when thay first meets.  Saying that he was wrong to kill those men but right in following the law of his people. The same principle applies to Nail. 

 

Dalinar is the law to Zseth and Nale obviously has a different 3d oaths  So I don't see how this is relevant?

 

 Choosing between singer or human law is a question of legitimacy not morality. 

The hole point of skybreaker is that they trust in there own morality so there put there trust in some external rule to guild them instead of internal morality, The law( Nale), Dalinar (Szeth), Nale (skybreakers) ,  I do not kill (Batman). 

 So to answer the question the question can the skybreakers different differentiate between morality and law.  The answer is it doesn't matter by virtue of being a skybreaker you give up your moral agency. 

 

Edited by bmcclure7
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Nale himself states the importance of the law above all else. He says the law is not moral, the law is for providing consistence.

So nale does not care much about right or wrong. He sees following a code an implicitly good.

A similar argument was made regatding the aes sedai first oath

Edited by king of nowhere
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The different Orders will interpret even the First Oath differently, and I think the one we got in WoK is more the Windrunner and/or Bondsmith interpretations.  And honestly it seems like the Skybreaker's Oaths are some of the most versatile short of Truths.  According to WOB and Ishar, Nale is supernaturally crazy with brief supernatural windows sanity if he's near a Radiant that swears an Ideal.  He's also been overly influenced by the Highspren which are "wacky"...

 

Quote

 

AndrewHB (paraphrased)

Is Niccolò Machiavelli's political theory--the ends justify the means--incompatible with the Knights Radiant's First Oath?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No. Although many of the Orders of Knights Radiant would find Machiavelli's theory, that the ends justify the means, incompatible with additional oaths and/or values of that Order, there are some Orders who could accept a Machiavellian. (Brandon said that the Skybreakers are where a Machiavellian could find a home.)

Footnote: A follow up question was asked in the signing line.
Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing (Dec. 3, 2016)

 

 

Quote

 

Stormlightning

How the heck is Nale's spren still with him? Is his spren as wacky as he is? Or is it dead, and he still carries it around?

Brandon Sanderson

Nale's spren is alive. The highspren... I would say "wacky" is probably a decent term for them. I would blame some of how Nale is acting more on the highspren. Obviously, it's partially being a Herald and all the things he's gone through, but they're all on board for this. So read that as you will.

Well, "all." The ones that are making Radiants of the Order are on board for it. You'll get to see Szeth interact with his just a little bit. There's not a ton of Szeth in this book, but you've got a few chapters. At least one, for sure. And he gets to interact with his spren, and you'll get a better picture of the highspren from that moment.

San Diego [email protected] 2020 (July 23, 2020)

 

 

 

 

Quote

 

Questioner

Can Skybreakers vow to follow a code of rules some might consider outlaw-ish, like the Pirate Code. Are they obliged to adhere to changes in the law after their vow?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes and yes.

What you're running into with what's happening right now, the Skybreakers are under the thumb of someone who has a much more rigid interpretation of what they should do than is necessary for the Order. And so you could totally be a Skybreaker who is not of this group, and this group would not look kindly on something like the Pirate Code necessarily. (Though the Pirate Code kind of works for them, because it's in international waters, so even with the current crop of Skybreakers you could probably argue the Pirate Code, and they'd probably be okay with it.)

But you could have even less, codes that's like, "I'm going to follow the code of the criminal underground. I'm going to follow the Mafia code." Current crop of Skybreakers, that would not fly with them. But in the Order in general, and the way that highspren work, and things like that, you would totally be okay.

Which is kind of dangerous, yes. But you would have to follow the code as the code changes. So that could get you into trouble, also. Skybreakers, they've got an interesting way of going about all this. Hopefully, all the Orders do; that's one of my goals with them.

YouTube Livestream 9 (May 28, 2020)

 

 

Edited by Quantus
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10 hours ago, Spideyninja20 said:

Then how do you explain Nale confessing to both Lift and Szeth that he knows what he’s done is wrong? Or the fact that they don’t actually have to follow the law, as proven by Szeth when he swears to follow Dalinar? The Skybreakers are shown to be able to understand that the law is not the same as right and wrong (for instance when the order chooses to stop following human laws and start following singer laws) and are shown to circumvent and twist the law to their designs. As I said before, some Skybreakers, especially Nale, make choices they know to be morally wrong, thereby breaking the first ideal; yet they retain their bonds and their Spren are unharmed. I’m just unsure whether this is a plot hole or something Sanderson has a plan for.

Nale did not think what he was doing was wrong. He was persuaded that killing all Radiants was the only way to prevent Desolations to return, and therefore, that what he was doing was right. It's completely different from Kal who, even though he participated in the plot to kill Elhokar, knew on some level it was wrong. 

Of course, he later learned that he was wrong about Radiants bringing back Desolations, and that is what his "I was wrong" confession means. Not that he was morally wrong, because with the information he had at that time, he did what he thought was right.

And Nale being most likely a 5th Ideal SB means that he could more or less do whatever he thinks is right, since he sets his own law, his own moral code.

Quote

lupicorn

I had a question about what it means to swear the Ideal of Law. Several fans have told me it means to define the law, in the Nixon, "when the president does it, that means it is not illegal," sort of way. I interpret it as becoming the embodiment of the law such that they can't willingly violate any law without breaking their oaths.

Do either of these interpretations hit the mark? Nale seems to follow the law more so than most and that doesn't just seem like a personal preference.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that both of these interpretations could work for a given Skybreaker, which is why there is disagreement among the order itself. Perception is a big part of the oaths.

I wouldn't want to squish this discussion by offering too much on one side or the other, as this is exactly where I want the conversation to be going right now.

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/315/#e12100

 

 

 

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I have three things to add to this conversation. First, even though we as outside viewers might unanimously view killing radiants as unjust, as long as the spren and the skybreaker don't see it as evil the bond is not broken. Knight Radiant Oaths are very much based on the perception of the individual and the spren, whatever their views dictate decides if it violates the oath. Second, Nale is a Herald and crazy so most of the stuff he does shouldn't change your opinion too much. Lastly, other orders have very Machiavellian views of the first oath. For example the Elsecallers view the journey as the journey of society, as so they use that to justify some of their actions. I could totally view skybreakers in the same way, they are people who have to do dark deeds to help foster humanity.

Edited by Mr. Misting
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My understanding of the Skybreaker oath progression is that it follows their philosophical development of justice, and therefore later oaths may override earlier ones. As Szeth swore,

“I swear to seek justice, to let it guide me, until I find a more perfect Ideal.“

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it would be surprising if Szeth’s 5th ideal freed him from his third oath to obey Dalinar.

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Kaladin is explaining the First Ideal from the POV of someone with an Honor spren and the Windrunner's sensibilities though

I would argue that the Skybreakers took the first parts of the First Ideal more seriously than the other Orders in choosing to not break their oaths and join the Recreance.

They chose to Live and they chose what they thought was Strength. Also... if you abandon the journey you can never make it to the Destination, so I'd say they've done a great job of maintaining their First Ideal Oath for the last 4.5k years... even if their morality may be somewhat lacking. 

Were Skybreakers other than Nale running around killing proto-Radiants? I can't remember now
 

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