Oudeis

Destroy Evil

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Isn't it the point that it was a Command that the sword couldn't possibly understand, much less actually fulfill? Isn't that why it went so wrong? So what exactly point you're getting at? Vasher said that it had seemed logical at the time, but he never said at any point that it was, in reality, a logical decision. 

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The interpretation of the command is in the mind of the Awakener normally, not the object.

Go ahead and find me anything, anywhere, in text or in WoB, that supports what you're saying here. Go ahead and find me something concrete that actually says this, not just your personal ideas, assumptions, speculations, impressions, or inventions.

...

Just one example. Anything at all.

 

 

Feel free to find a quote that proves anything I've said wrong, or a time that anyone Commands something vague and the Awakened object does, not what it was told, but what the Awakener meant instead.

 

Your example was that vague Commands, like "Grab Things", result in objects knowing exactly what the Awakener had in mind when he said the word "things" and then only grabbing that thing. When does that happen? Do you have an example, the way I've provided examples? Does this event actually occur in the book, or is it referenced in any WoB?

 

You say that if I'm right, almost none of Vasher's Commands should have worked. Great then. He Awakens constantly throughout the book. It shouldn't be hard for you to find a concrete example and present it to us all. Go ahead. We'll all wait while you find one. If you're right, it cannot possibly be that hard to support. You seem incredibly confident that the proof is everywhere to be found, so find it.

Okay. All coming from the Warbreaker PDF, found here on Brandon's website

 

Addressing commands requiring mental intent:

She went back outside, holding the rope between her fingers, twisting it, thinking. The Commands that Denth taught me were simple phrases. Hold things. Protect me. He’d implied that the intent was important. ... It was more than just the command. The Command brought the life, but the intent—the instructions from her mind—brought focus and action.

and

Even some two- word Commands can be more complicated, and it takes practice visualizing—or, well, imagining. Well, using your mind to [...] give the right impulse to the object.

And addressing vague commands working with only the intent of the Awakener:

Vasher leaned down—imagining what he wanted the figure to do—and completed the final step of the process as he gave the Command.

“Fetch keys,” he said.

...

The straw figure returned to his window. It carried a large ring of keys.

Emphasis mine.

He clearly requests a very vague thing ("keys" could be taken as two keys off of that ring, all the keys in the world, just the keys and not the ring, etc.) and yet the figure did what Vasher imagined, and brought back the keyring that held the key to his cell.

 

[W]hen Brandon Sanderson casts his vote for "What's real in the books," it's a trump card.

Yup.

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Rubix beat me to it a bit, but I did a keyword search for "things" in the PDF... and it was quite enlightening...

 

 

All commands containing the word "Things"

Strangle things,” Vasher Commanded, fingers touching the quivering scarf. It twisted immediately, pulling away a large—yet now inconsequential—amount of Breath. The scarf quickly wrapped around Vahr’s neck, tightening, choking him. Vahr didn’t struggle or gasp, he simply watched Vasher with hatred until his eyes bulged and he died. Page 22

 

The servants’ shock lasted a second longer than his own. Within a heartbeat, Vasher snapped the rope forward. “Hold things,” he Commanded, giving up most of his remaining Breath. The rope rapped around the arm of one of the servants, though Vasher had been aiming for the neck. Page 208

 

“Well,” Denth said, “there are a lot of Commands. If you want to bring a rope to life—like that one you tried to use back in the alleyway—a good Command is ‘hold things.’ Speak it with a clear voice, willing your Breath to act. If you do it right, the rope will grab what ever is closest. ‘Protect me’ is another good one, though it can be interpreted in fairly strange ways if you don’t imagine exactly what you want.” “Imagine?” Vivenna asked. He nodded. “You have to form the Command in your head, not just speak it. The Breath you give up, it’s part of your life. Your soul, you Idrians would say. When you Awaken something, it becomes part of you. If you’re good—and practiced—the things you Awaken will do what you expect of them. They’re part of you. They understand, just like your hands understand what you want them to do.” Page 357

NOTE: Protect me isn't a "things" command, but it's illuminating that a command that vague can actually work. It shows how much the system relies on intent or visualization.

 

Unlock things,” she Commanded. The thread wiggled a bit, but when she stuck it into the lock, nothing happened. She withdrew the Breath, took a few calming breaths of her own, then closed her eyes. Have to get the intention right. Need it to go inside, twist the tumbler free. “Twist things,” she said, feeling the Breath leave her. She stuck the thread into the lock. It spun about, and she heard a click. The door opened. The sounds of fighting from behind stopped, though men continued to moan. Page 486

Climb things, then grab things, then pull me up,” he Commanded. Three Commands in one Awakening, a difficult task for some. For him, however, it had become as simple as blinking. The belt untied itself, revealing it to be far longer than it looked when wrapped around him. The twenty- five feet of rope snaked up the side of the building, curling inside of a window. Seconds later, the rope hauled Vasher up and into the air. Awakened objects could, if created well, have much more strength than regular muscles. He’d once seen a small group of ropes not much thicker than his own lift and toss boulders at an enemy fortification. Page 508

Grab things other than me,” Vasher said quickly, snatching the cloak of one of the fallen men and Awakening it. That cloak whipped about, taking down another man, whom Vasher then killed with a swipe of his dagger. He kicked another man, throwing him backward, opening a pathway. Page 511

Grab things,” he Commanded, whipping the rope out, drawing color from his bloodstained shorts. They bled to grey, and the rope wrapped around an outcropping of stone on the palace wall. It pulled taut, and he ran sideways along the ebony blocks, slowing his fall. Page 558

 

Pages 454-456 is key, but also kind of long. You might want to skip.

She went back outside, holding the rope between her fingers, twisting it, thinking. The Commands that Denth taught me were simple phrases. Hold things. Protect me. He’d implied that the intent was important. When she’d Awakened her bonds, she’d made them move as if part of her body. It was more than just the Command. The Command brought the life, but the intent—the instructions from her mind—brought focus and action. She stopped beside a large tree with thin, blossom- laden branches that drooped toward the ground. She stood beside a branch, touched the bark of the tree’s trunk itself to use its color. She held out the rope to the branch. “Hold things,” she Commanded, reflexively letting out some of her Breath. She felt an instant of panic as her sense of the world dimmed. The rope twitched. However, instead of drawing color from the tree, the Awakening pulled color from her tunic. The garment bled grey, and the rope moved, wrapping like a snake around the branch. Wood cracked slightly as the rope pulled tight. However, the other end of the rope twisted in an odd pattern, writhing. Vivenna watched, frowning, until she figured out what was happening. The rope was twisting around her hand, trying to hold it as well. “Stop,” Vivenna said. Nothing happened. It continued to pull tight. “Your Breath to mine,” she Commanded. The rope stopped twisting and her Breath returned. She shook the rope free. All right, she thought. “Hold things” works, but it’s not very specific. It will wrap around my fingers as well as the thing I want it to tie up. What if I tried something else? “Hold that branch,” she Commanded. Again, Breath left her. More of it this time. Her trousers drained of color, and the rope end twisted, wrapping around the branch. The rest of it remained still. She smiled in satisfaction. So the more complicated the Command, the more Breath it requires. She took back her Breath. As Vasher had explained, doing so didn’t shock her senses, for it was a mere restoration to a normal state for her. If she’d gone several days without that Breath, she’d have been overwhelmed by recovering its power. It was a little like taking a first bite of something very flavorful. She eyed her clothes, which were now completely grey. Out of curiosity, she tried Awakening the rope again. Nothing happened. She picked up a stick, then Awakened the rope. It worked this time, the stick losing its color, though it took a lot more breath. Perhaps this was because the stick wasn’t very colorful. The tree trunk didn’t work for color, though. Presumably, one couldn’t draw color from something that was itself alive. She discarded the branch and fetched a few of Vasher’s colored handkerchiefs from the room. She walked back to the tree. Now what? she thought. Could she put the Breath into the rope now, then command it to hold something later? How would she even phrase that? “Hold things that I tell you to hold,” she Commanded.
Nothing happened. “Hold that branch when I tell you.” Again, nothing.

“Hold what ever I say.” Nothing. A voice came from behind.

“Tell it to ‘Hold when thrown.’ ” Vivenna jumped, spinning. Vasher stood behind her, Nightblood held before him, point down. He had his pack over his shoulder. Vivenna flushed, glancing back at the rope. “Hold when thrown,” she said, using a handkerchief for color. Her Breath left her, but the rope remained limp. So she tossed it to the side, hitting one of the hanging tree branches. The rope immediately twisted about, locking the branches together and holding them tightly. “That’s useful,” Vivenna said. Vasher raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps. Dangerous though.”
“Why?”
“Get the rope back.”
Vivenna paused, realizing that the rope had twisted around branches that were too high for her to reach. She hopped up, trying to grab it. “I prefer to use a longer rope,” Vasher said, raising Nightblood by the blade and using its hooked crossguard to pull the branches down. “If you always keep hold of one end, then you don’t have to worry about it getting taken from you. Plus, you can Awaken when you need to, rather than leaving a bunch of Breath locked into a rope that you may or may not need.” Vivenna nodded, recovering her Breath from the rope.“Come on,” he said, walking back toward the room. “You’ve made enough of a spectacle for one day.”
Pages 454-456

Even more important explanations on Page 462

“As you’ve seen, most basic Commands work easily. If the Command is something the object could do, and you state it in a
simple way, the Command will usually work.”

“I tried some simple Commands,” she said. “On the rope. They didn’t work.”
“Those may have sounded simple, but they weren’t. Simple Commands are only two words long. Grab something. Hold something. Move up. Move down. Twist around. Even some two- word Commands can be more complicated, and it takes practice visualizing—or, well, imagining. Well, using your mind to—”
He nodded. “The Command ‘Protect me,’ though only two words, is extremely complicated. So are others, like Fetch something. You have to give the right impulse to the object. This area is where you really begin to understand how little we know. There are probably thousands of Commands we don’t know. The more words you add, the more complicated the mental component becomes, which is why discovering a new Command can take years of study.”

“Like the discovery of a new Command to make Lifeless,” she said thoughtfully. “Three hundred years ago, those who had the one- Breath Command could make their Lifeless much more cheaply than those who didn’t. That disparity started the Manywar.”
“Yes,” Vasher said. “Or, at least, that was part of what caused the war. It’s not really important. The thing to understand is that we’re still children when it comes to Awakening. It doesn’t help that a lot of people who learn new, valuable Commands never share them, and probably die with the knowledge.”

The talk about the Many War segues nicely into their motivations and expectations in creating Nightblood. Yes Outis, it seems they were that naive in thinking "Destroy (General) Evil" would work. But given their limited knowledge of Biochroma, this is perhaps understandable.

Vasher didn’t respond. The sword couldn’t see. But with its powerful, twisted BioChroma, it could sense life and people. Both were things Nightblood had been created to protect. It was strange, how easily and quickly protection could cause destruction. Sometimes, Vasher wondered if the two weren’t really the same thing. Protect a flower, destroy the pests who wanted to feed on it. Protect a building, destroy the plants that could have grown in the soil. Protect a man. Live with the destruction he creates.

Page 204

 

Is Shashara here? Nightblood asked, excitement in his nebulous voice. We need to go see her! She’ll be worried about what happened to me.
“We killed Shashara long ago, Nightblood,” Vasher said. “Just like we killed Arsteel.” Just like we’ll eventually kill Denth. As usual, Nightblood refused to acknowledge Shashara’s death.

She made me, you know, Nightblood said. Made me to destroy things that were evil. I’m rather good at it. I think she’d be proud of me. We should go talk to her. Show her how well I do my job.

Page 314

 

Honestly Outis, I don't think they were thinking of a specific evil. Page 204 certainly suggests that they were thinking more about protecting what is good than destroying what is evil... and Vasher seems to conflate those concepts. I really think they were thinking, as some have suggested, that there is evil in the world, and that they didn't really think through what they were creating (which is to say, they didn't think through the implications of creating a weapon to destroy evil, like you have, "kill the white CEO's" etc).

 

Indeed, perhaps Nightblood's personality would have a clearer sense of evil if Shashara had had a clearer sense of what she'd thought of as evil. But then, I think that's the point. I think that Shashara was trying to make her focus as generic as possible (to, as some have suggested, ensure maximum utility) which actually would have taken far more effort given the nature of visualizing the command as explained above. I suspect it would have been far easier to create a sword with the command "Destroy Americans" than "Destroy Evil". Yes "Destroy Americas" isn't exactly concrete either, there are still vagueries... but far less vagueries than "Destroy Evil". That Shashara pulled it off is a testament to her skill.

 

The best literary analogy I can think of to explain the seeming irrationality of Shashara and Vasher's approach is Frankenstein. Why did Frankenstein create life? To see if he could (much as king of nowhere suggested).

 

 

LAST EDIT, I PROMISE: It's interesting to note that we're coming at this through Vasher's perspective... but the fact that Shashara used Nightblood in battle and was planning on giving away the secret suggests that she, at least, considered Nightblood a success.

Edited by Kadrok
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Nightblood has a strange combination of ethics...

I wonder if Nightblood met another awakened sword. What would that be like?

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Nightblood has a strange combination of ethics...

I wonder if Nightblood met another awakened sword. What would that be like?

It would depend on the command of sword but given his childish and self-centered personality he would most likely see it as competition for his uses affection. ("Don´t use that stupid sword, I´m much better at killing")

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Um, no. Last time I checked, the atomic bomb was still millions of years off of the Cosmere. It wouldn't be a reference to the atomic bomb, because the atomic bomb didn't have a personality, last time I checked. 

Analogies are things. It's possible for Nightblood to be a reference to/analogy for the atomic bomb without being literally an atomic bomb.

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Analogies are things. It's possible for Nightblood to be a reference to/analogy for the atomic bomb without being literally an atomic bomb.

 

As a weapon, Nightblood does share some similarities with the atomic bomb.

 

  • He was created in secret during a world-wide war.
  • Nuclear bombs were used twice with devastating results; Nightblood was used once, leaving a trail of destruction unlike anything seen on Nalthis before.
  • The devastation wrought by Nightblood was so terrible that Vasher was willing to do anything to keep more of him from coming to existence. In many ways, Vasher's insistence on preventing Nightblood from being wielded in battle again is quite similar to the anti-nuclear movement.

On the other hand, Nightblood is far cuter than any nuclear bomb that I know of. ;)

Edited by Kobold King
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As a weapon, Nightblood does share some similarities with the atomic bomb.

 

  • He was created in secret during a world-wide war.
  • Nuclear bombs were used twice with devastating results; Nightblood was used once, leaving a trail of destruction unlike anything seen on Nalthis before.
  • The devastation wrought by Nightblood was so terrible that Vasher was willing to do anything to keep more of him from coming to existence. In many ways, Vasher's insistence on preventing Nightblood from being wielded in battle again is quite similar to the anti-nuclear movement.

On the other hand, Nightblood is far cuter than any nuclear bomb that I know of. ;)

But Atomic Bombs don't really have personality...

 

EDIT:

Wait...Imagine if Nightblood had a conversation with an Awakened Atomic Bomb with the Command "Destroy Evil?"

LOL.

Edited by Windrunner
Please don't double post. You can just use the edit button. Thanks!
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As a weapon, Nightblood does share some similarities with the atomic bomb.

 

  • He was created in secret during a world-wide war.
  • Nuclear bombs were used twice with devastating results; Nightblood was used once, leaving a trail of destruction unlike anything seen on Nalthis before.
  • The devastation wrought by Nightblood was so terrible that Vasher was willing to do anything to keep more of him from coming to existence. In many ways, Vasher's insistence on preventing Nightblood from being wielded in battle again is quite similar to the anti-nuclear movement.

On the other hand, Nightblood is far cuter than any nuclear bomb that I know of. ;)

Exactly.

 

But Atomic Bombs don't really have personality...

Not all analogies must be perfect.

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Thank you all those who found quotes. I could not  find my hard copy of Warbreaker anywhere for the life of me. I normally listen to the audiobook, but that's rather difficult to pull quotes from.

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