Andrew C

Theory to explain Darkness's actions

91 posts in this topic

I am saying that the protagonists will require armies (which they have) in order to win the Desolation. I think that a few thousand Radiants, solo, against the Desolation would lose. My logic is essentially that the Radiants didn't make Desolations a cakewalk, so the reason humanity won previous Desolations was because millions of humans were willing to fight the Voidbringers.

 

Because of this, I think that Taravangian and the other "amoral" types could "win" the Desolation. I also think the main Radiants could win the Desolation. The Radiants are nice and useful, they're special, but they're not 100% required. I don't care who ends up winning against the Desolation, only that someone does. This isn't a competition. We could discuss the options for which faction has the best chances of winning in another thread if you want.

 

I feel that people place entirely too much emphasis on the Radiants. "Without the Radiants, everyone is doomed!" is just something I don't think is true. They got by in previous Desolations without them.

 

In previous Desolations without the Radiants they had the Heralds though.

 

I have no problem with the sentiment that there's too much emphasis on the Radiants. We see "ordinary" humans among the battle in the Last Desolation, we see examples of squires fighting along side Radiants in one of Dalinar's flashbacks and in modern times we see ordinary soldiers complementing Shardbearers to good effect. Most obviously, Dalinar faced the stormform Parshendi with conventional troops and Shardbearers only (and a bit of fabrial help) - though I'd expect Parshendi to be among the weakest Voidbringers.

 

However, I think you've gone too far in the other direction - you come across as being very pessimistic about Radiants. Also, the new Desolation seems set to be uniquely dangerous - the Everstorm is "new" (in scale at least) and I suspect that destroying it will be the end-goal of the next 3 books (ie the first half of the Stormlight Archive) and I don't see much chance of conventional weapons being able to do anything about it (not that I'm expecting the Radiants to be able to do much about it individually either - it will require some kind of special solution). It's also worth noting that it took a Radiant to stop Szeth when even experienced warriors with Shards attacking in groups failed.

 

Maybe the reason why Desolations did not become notably easier with the rise of the Radiants is because Odium invested extra power in his forces - for example creating the Unmade. That's certainly speculation but I find it much more realistic than some flaw in the setting that inherently but indirectly counterbalances the Radiants as a whole (if it was some direct flaw at an individual level then I would have no problem with it).

 

I don't want to turn this thread into a discussion on Taravangian but so far he's making things worse: he's significantly weakened the armies of Jah Keved and has destabilised the world just in time for the Everstorm. If he did this a generation earlier maybe he could have taken over the world and had time to undo the destruction he caused - instead he's playing into Odium's hands. He's shown no interest in trying to prevent the Everstorm in the first place either - a pretty big oversight for the supposed saviour of the mankind.

 

At least Darkness/Nalan is not causing massive collateral damage.

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Sorry for the rambling posts. I feel like they're off-topic, but there really isn't any topic that can contain everything touched on. I'm enjoying things anyways - you bring up a lot of good points, and I like thinking about them.

 

In previous Desolations without the Radiants they had the Heralds though.

 

But this was my point: each Radiant is a mini-Herald. The Radiants did not add very much (relative to human armies) combat value, so the Heralds should not much add much combat value (assumption: each Herald is worth 100 Radiants - I would argue it's an order of magnitude less, but just for the sake of argument we can assume 100). The Heralds did regularly die, as it was a surprise that 9/10 Heralds survived the last Desolation.

 

I believe the primary value of the Heralds was the knowledge they brought - they brought man up from the stone age to the bronze age each time, which effectively would double or so the power of the armies of men at their command. Roshar after 4500 years of no Desolations is quite advanced, far beyond bronze, so I think the Heralds being missing should not prove to be that troublesome.

 

However, I think you've gone too far in the other direction - you come across as being very pessimistic about Radiants. Also, the new Desolation seems set to be uniquely dangerous - the Everstorm is "new" (in scale at least) and I suspect that destroying it will be the end-goal of the next 3 books (ie the first half of the Stormlight Archive) and I don't see much chance of conventional weapons being able to do anything about it (not that I'm expecting the Radiants to be able to do much about it individually either - it will require some kind of special solution).

 

Syl claims the Everstorm is an "old" invention, and Venli knew it would blow the "wrong" way, so I don't think it's all that unique. Maybe you're right that it's never been seen on this scale, but I have a hard time believing that - it would imply the listeners never before were able to group up and get a song off. (Over the course of 99 Desolations or whatever particular number is true, you'd think they'd get it off once before now.)

 

(Sidetrack: Taravangian understands (understood?) the mechanics of how the Unmade operate, successfully predicted the highstorm dates leading up to the Everstorm, worldhopping... he probably understands how the Everstorm could be stopped, and I'd be curious to see if the Diagram includes notes on it. If it requires Radiants, he could even tell the Radiants how to do it. But it's impossible to tell at this point, and I suspect the Everstorm can't be stopped (though it was before apparently so ???) since it would be like stopping the mists - even if you burn them all up, they'll just return with time. )

 

It's also worth noting that it took a Radiant to stop Szeth when even experienced warriors with Shards attacking in groups failed.

 

Off-topic rambling response which should really go in its own thread:

Szeth is not a Voidbringer, however, and I suspect any Voidbringers trying to use an Honorblade would not like the results. Sample size of one: a Voidbringer using a Shardblade hears screams in their head. Other speculation: Odium and Honor's Investiture reacts violently - highstorms and everstorms being the prime example - so bonding an Honorblade should similarly cause a reaction for those with significant amounts of Odium's Investiture.  Also, if a Voidbringer got their hands on an Honorblade, the Stone Shamans could deal with them.

 

And, not to criticize Dalinar too much (I guess I'm his biggest critic), but he's not very creative.

  • Szeth could have been stopped with a Soulcasting fabrial and a gemheart.  Anyone areligious and with the occasional smart day to plan this out, like Taravangian, could do that.
  • Shardbows could have killed him (couldn't Reverse Lash them, since they're too big I think). Stick enough in him, and he can't move while he heals - then you kill him.
  • Shardbearers trained to work in sync could beat him (presuming they didn't do silly things like set a trap for Szeth in a wide open space filled with objects for Szeth to Lash). He only beat the king of Jah Keved (I think that was who?) because his Shardbearers were not trained to fight in pairs.
  • Anyone with a set of Shards who can lure Szeth into a trapped, enclosed hallway (where Szeth couldn't Lash about and take advantage of his increased mobility) where they shut him in with mobile barriers (use modified versions of conjoined fabrials if necessary, use Soulcasters to summon a stone wall behind him...) could kill Szeth. Szeth didn't have Shardplate, which puts him at a serious disadvantage against any well-prepared opponent if he can't Lash and move about.

They had stories of his powers - Szeth left survivors. They didn't confirm them, investigate places where he attacked previously, didn't ask Jasnah (who had first-hand experience)... they didn't really do anything that would let them set up a trap for Szeth. This is because... well, I'm not sure why, but I think my answer that "Dalinar isn't very creative" explains things as well as anything.

 

They knew Szeth was coming for quite some time (he was killing every other world leader), so I'm honestly shocked they had no plans to deal with him. A cramped tunnel into the ground, made by Shardblade/Soulcasters with a 24/7 task force of ardents ready to plug the hole, with two Shardbearers always on guard within, would be the least I think Elhokar could have done. Again: there's nothing Szeth could have done in a cramped space without any objects to Lash.

 

Maybe the reason why Desolations did not become notably easier with the rise of the Radiants is because Odium invested extra power in his forces - for example creating the Unmade. That's certainly speculation but I find it much more realistic than some flaw in the setting that inherently but indirectly counterbalances the Radiants as a whole (if it was some direct flaw at an individual level then I would have no problem with it).

 

If this is true, why didn't Odium do this before the Radiants arrived and then win the Desolation? (I had a theory actually: Odium has to be fair and limit the power of his forces to the power of his foes, because Honor forced him into it. This theory predicts that without the Radiants, Odium will have to go easier on Roshar.)

 

He has plenty of power available now that Honor is gone - why can't he keep making more Unmade?

 

I don't want to turn this thread into a discussion on Taravangian but so far he's making things worse: he's significantly weakened the armies of Jah Keved and has destabilised the world just in time for the Everstorm. If he did this a generation earlier maybe he could have taken over the world and had time to undo the destruction he caused - instead he's playing into Odium's hands. He's shown no interest in trying to prevent the Everstorm in the first place either - a pretty big oversight for the supposed saviour of the mankind.

 

Yeah, this probably deserves its own thread. I agree that from our position, with barely any knowledge, it doesn't seem like Taravangian is helping (though I see the potential). Brief response with possible counterpoints though:

  • Taravangian knew the date the Everstorm was coming (highstorm dates in the Diagram, as well as Death Rattles confirming them). He still went full speed ahead with his plan, and everyone is aware of the Diagram's plan - if destabilizing the world just before the Everstorm was a win for Odium, like you're proposing, they'd know and they wouldn't follow the Diagram. It looks bad to us, but we only have a small piece of the picture.
  • The Everstorm may be a boon to Taravangian's plans rather than a hindrance - the only place it really harms is Shinovar, which isn't too useful for fighting the Voidbringers beyond the Honorblades. Everywhere else should be capable of adapting by building reverse-laits, though there will initially be great devastation (which, of course, Taravangian can use as an opening to come in and help and take over).
  • The Everstorm may provide an extra power source, if Taravangian has plans for superweapon fabrials or something. Taravangian has plans for how to deal with the Unmade and obviously plans to acquire weapons capable of defeating them - my natural assumption is he'll do it through SCIENCE! but perhaps he knows where a Dawnshard is or something?
  • The civil war killed the Jah Keved Highprinces, who would have bickered and argued and generally not been a help against the Voidbringers anyways. Half an army devoted to the world is better than a full army not helping at all. I sincerely doubt the world would have united on its own without Taravangian or Dalinar forcing it to.

At least Darkness/Nalan is not causing massive collateral damage.

 

Nalan still really is hurting rather than helping. Surgebinders are useful resources, and it sucks he's killing them. I wonder if he'll continue doing what he's doing now that a Desolation has arrived? Is killing the Stone Shamans, like he plans, helpful or harmful? I don't know.

Edited by Moogle
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I am saying that the protagonists will require armies (which they have) in order to win the Desolation. I think that a few thousand Radiants, solo, against the Desolation would lose. My logic is essentially that the Radiants didn't make Desolations a cakewalk, so the reason humanity won previous Desolations was because millions of humans were willing to fight the Voidbringers.

 

Because of this, I think that Taravangian and the other "amoral" types could "win" the Desolation. I also think the main Radiants could win the Desolation. The Radiants are nice and useful, they're special, but they're not 100% required. I don't care who ends up winning against the Desolation, only that someone does. This isn't a competition. We could discuss the options for which faction has the best chances of winning in another thread if you want.

 

I feel that people place entirely too much emphasis on the Radiants. "Without the Radiants, everyone is doomed!" is just something I don't think is true. They got by in previous Desolations without them.

 

OK, I think these statements are a bit genre blind.  This is epic fantasy.  Written by Brandon Sanderson.  The magic users will be essential to saving the day, and 99.9% of SA readers wouldn't have it any other way.

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This!

OK, I think these statements are a bit genre blind.  This is epic fantasy.  Written by Brandon Sanderson.  The magic users will be essential to saving the day, and 99.9% of SA readers wouldn't have it any other way.

And If the people that we've been reading about end up not mattering ... what's the point of reading the books. 

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OK, I think these statements are a bit genre blind.  This is epic fantasy.  Written by Brandon Sanderson.  The magic users will be essential to saving the day, and 99.9% of SA readers wouldn't have it any other way.

Moogle isn't saying that the Radiants and Heralds are useless; far from it.  The statement is that Radiants and Heralds can not win the war by themselves.  Hell, even Hoid seems to think this:

 

 

"You'll find God in the same place you're going to find salvation from this mess," Wit said.  "Inside the hearts of men."

Saying this to Jasnah wielding a sprenblade.  Radiants and Heralds are leaders, possibly generals--and definitely heroes.  But not more.  Think of it this way.  In history, in the US, we learn about Sherman's march to the sea.  MacArthur was a driving force behind many successes in WW2.  Without their armies, these men would have still been intelligent and driven to fight their enemies, but absolutely ineffective on a large scale.  Heralds, and Radiants, without the armies of mankind will be just as overwhelmed.

 

SA isn't necessarily a series of books about a few plucky heroes killing the evil monster all on their own; it might just be a series of books about how a few plucky heroes come together to help unite the world in the face of a shapeless monstrosity bent on devouring the planet itself.  Still very important, very relevant, and necessary--but utterly incapable of winning a fight against a god on their own.

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Good post! It's given me a lot to think about.

 

 

 

I also doubt he'd go after Surgebinders without proof. He seems to follow an "innocent unless proven guilty" mentality, else he wouldn't have researched Ym before whacking him. There's no real reason to go after Surgebinders rather than the big crime bosses (as Lift argues) unless he's near-certain they can cause a Desolation.

Another interpretation is that he is magically compelled via some as yet unknown (to the reader) to act within local laws.

Also on your comments re the importance of Radiants. I could well be wrong but I suspect Radiants are an overwhelmingly powerful battlefield force. Just a Shardbearer is worth a lot more than a hundred trained soldiers, to the point that someone without Shards defeating one in combat makes them a legend for generations. Radiants are stronger still.

If there was not a supernatural cost to surge binding, no-one that opposes Odium would want to hunt surgebinders. I suspect it either hastens Desolations or perhaps intensifies them.

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Thanks, kaellok. You have my view right.

 

Another interpretation is that he is magically compelled via some as yet unknown (to the reader) to act within local laws.

 

This is a possibility, but I find it pretty unlikely. Nalan doesn't seem compelled to do anything to me (he seems to want to follow the laws). "The law is all we have left" puts forward his views pretty starkly I think. Still, it'd difficult to know almost anything about the Heralds. I got the impression they were all cursed from the prologue of WoR, for example, but I don't know where to go with that ("I feel like I'm getting worse").

 

Also on your comments re the importance of Radiants. I could well be wrong but I suspect Radiants are an overwhelmingly powerful battlefield force. Just a Shardbearer is worth a lot more than a hundred trained soldiers, to the point that someone without Shards defeating one in combat makes them a legend for generations. Radiants are stronger still.

 

Undoubtedly they're powerful combat forces, just like Shardbearers. There's still only a few thousand of them - not enough to win a war against millions of Voidbringers and thunderclasts without help, even if each is worth a thousand men. A thunderclast killed Kalak, and I'll bet it could kill a Radiant.

Edited by Moogle
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Hi Moogle, two apologies: my slowness in posting and I don't think I've given you enough credit for the quality of some of your arguments - I guess I was just surprised at the angle you were taking for some things. Anyway, I'm glad you've found this discussion to be as interesting as I have.

 

It's somewhat off-topic but here's my current thinking on Desolations and the like from a Shard level (and why Odium might have been careful about how much power he invested on Roshar):


Honor and Cultivation setup Roshar themselves - Odium was not involved at all (his home planet is Braize). However, at some point Honor recognises that Odium is a threat he can't ignore. Rather than wait for Odium to attack what Honor does is basically to propose a "bet" to Odium: this "bet" was not the Oathpact, though did lead to it. Anyway, the bet basically involves Odium investing some of his power in Roshar for the duration of the bet. If he wins then he gets an easy win over Honor (as a Shard) and all the power he invested back. If he loses then he loses the power he invested. The terms of the bet probably made Odium feel that he couldn't lose and expected a quick and easy victory. Side note: I expect there is something tangible to prevent Odium simply cheating on the terms of the bet, whether relating to Honor's shardic intent or something else (Cultivation?) I don't know. Honor may have also threatened Odium in some way if Odium refused the bet.

 

So anyway, the Desolations are the main part of the power that Odium invested, originally. I suspect that to him the events of the prelude (9 of the 10 Heralds breaking) was almost a victory for him and if all 10 had broken then he would have "won" the bet. However, because of Taln Odium could not claim victory. He can't regain the power he invested but has managed to beat Honor anyway. But his power is still stuck on Roshar.

 

The reason why I think Odium would have tried to invest as little power in Roshar as possible is because the more he invests the more it leaves him open to attack from other Shards. Odium wants to be the top power in the universe and I guess that for him to attack and splinter other Shards requires him to have some kind of edge - he's probably invested very little power on Braize and attacks other Shards who have invested a lot, similarly to how Ruin could eventually win over Preservation because Preservation invested slightly more power. So, Odium invests a bit of his power into Roshar for the bet, expecting a quick victory. He's wrong. He then fears he could lose for the first time when the Radiants turn up. If he loses then he would be permanently weakened, which would significantly damage his long term goal. So he goes for "double or nothing" as it were and creates the Unmade, investing more power. He almost wins.

 

This is basically why Odium has not attacked other Shards for so long - he fears losing because he's now invested a bit too much in Roshar. This is also why Roshar is so important to the Cosmere - if Odium gains final victory then he'll be back to full power and go on to attack other Shards again.

 

In the epigraph letters, I think Hoid's viewpoint is basically the pro-interventionist one: Odium will win eventually if we don't do something. Frost's response is the opposing viewpoint: things are stable, don't rock the boat. It seems that neither quite understand how Honor achived what he did.

 

I think we're not that far off on how important we see Radiants being as a military force, at least for the first half of the series. Here's a summary of my expectations:

For the first half (books 1-5) I'm not expecting there to be many Radiants at all - I'm not expecting this to change until they figure out what caused the Recreance and then how to convince the spren that it won't happen again. I see the current Radiants as being a "reboot" - they're not learning directly from what the old Radiants did but figuring out everything for themselves. Let's call them "first generation Radiants". Then "second generation Radiants" would learn from them - I expect we'll see a few by book 5. In the second half of the series I'm expecting there to be lots of Radiants - 100s at the start, maybe 1000s by the end.

 

Something I realised this morning is that the "first generation Radiants" are pretty much "too precious to risk" on mere battles - unless there's no other option when the opponent is so strong that nobody else can beat them. It's vital that the information and skills they acquire is not lost.

 

An army isn't just the soldiers, it's the generals, attendants, planners, trainers, recruiters, spies, heralds in the old sense (information carriers), supplies and resources, health, propaganda, internal security etc. There's also many types of soldiers. Overall, I think the Radiants could be compared to everything that makes up an "army". Windrunners would be like light infantry (highly mobile soldiers), Stonewards would be heavy infantry. Lightweavers and Elsecallers would probably be multi-purpose - a bit of everything except being soldiers or trainers or generals. Bondsmiths would be generals. etc

 

By themselves, a couple of combat orientated Radiants are not going to make a big difference against 100,000+ Parshendi. It certainly wouldn't hurt but they would also be better off tackling stronger enemies where ordinary soldiers would face massive casualties. However, Radiants also have squires, who would be individually more useful than ordinary soldiers. All the Radiant squires might end up being as useful as all the non-Radiant Shardbearers, depending on the enemy.

 

So for the first half I'm expecting a handful of combat orientated Radiants, 50-100 normal Shardbearers (unless there's huge numbers of hidden ones), several hundred squires, and hundreds of thousands of "normal" soldiers. I'd also expect the Radiants, Shardbearers and squires to all be concentrated into one main force (with a few exceptions).

 

I think part of the big difference Dalinar and co are going to make in the first half is organisation and information - when Honor says "unite them" I'm pretty sure he means the whole of Roshar. Everyone needs to work together to face the threat because it is a true global scale threat. Rediscovering old information has already been critical - it's what allowed Shallan to save the army at the end of WoR. They need to know what to expect, what the real enemy is and how to fight it. Essentially, the whole of Roshar needs to be placed on a war footing. The Radiants will be best placed to provide quality leadership and information - their abilities will give them a crucial edge over ordinary mortals.

 

So I'm expecting a lot of "intangible" benefits to Radiants - where non-Radiants could theoretically do the same job but with a higher chance of failure. I'm certainly expecting there to be direct benefits though - such as when Kaladin "flew" from the warcamps to the battlefield to fight Szeth. At certain critical points, having a Radiant or three around will probably be what saves the day.

 

When we get to the second half of the series I think the military might of the Radiants will be felt more strongly, mostly because there will be far more of them. I'm kinda expecting the first half to be more of a "warm up" for the real Desolation. Real Desolations are very damaging - there is mention of 90% population loss IIRC. I wouldn't be surprised if basic infrastructure like farms and cities are massively damaged - towards the end of a Desolation I would expect pretty much all food to be Soulcast due to lack of crops. With such heavy resource constraints and with such heavy casualties, having more powerful individuals is going to be very useful - vastly better cost/benefit ratio in terms of resource usage and training. Early in a Desolation, you might have a big conventional army but they'll also suffer much higher casualties than Radiants (and squires). The deeper you get into a Desolation, the more military might the Radiants will be providing, as a proportion, because they would likely have much better survival rates.

 

I'll try to get back to more on-topic topics when I can :)

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The reason why I think Odium would have tried to invest as little power in Roshar as possible is because the more he invests the more it leaves him open to attack from other Shards. Odium wants to be the top power in the universe and I guess that for him to attack and splinter other Shards requires him to have some kind of edge - he's probably invested very little power on Braize and attacks other Shards who have invested a lot, similarly to how Ruin could eventually win over Preservation because Preservation invested slightly more power. So, Odium invests a bit of his power into Roshar for the bet, expecting a quick victory. He's wrong. He then fears he could lose for the first time when the Radiants turn up. If he loses then he would be permanently weakened, which would significantly damage his long term goal. So he goes for "double or nothing" as it were and creates the Unmade, investing more power. He almost wins.

 

I'm still fairly uncomfortable with this. If Odium went for "double or nothing" and created the Unmade, why did he wait so long? If I'm interpreting you correctly, you're saying he wouldn't want to give up any power because a Shard might attack him while he's busy fighting Honor. Except, isn't he opening himself up to exactly that by doubling down? The Desolations continued for thousands of years after the Unmade were made, so it seems Odium's fears of being attacked were ill-founded and he should have done this "double or nothing" from the start - or, better yet, triple or nothing, or in fact Investing himself as strongly as Honor did on Roshar. He'd get all of his power back extremely quickly, since he'd win in a single Desolation. Instead, he fought for (according to Vorinism, which probably got the number wrong) some 99 Desolations - a huge time sink, and one where he was weakened.

 

(A note on the timeline: the Unmade existed pre-Radiants, as Nohadon complains that the Surgebinders have to be "better" after mentioning Yelig-nar ate all his wordsmen. I assume Yelig-nar was an Unmade.)

 

(A further thought: Odium seems to be good at viewing the future? Voidbinding is all about it. But then, Mistborn showed that the two are not necessarily linked. Whether or not another Shard would attack him could probably be known in advance, which should determine how much power he expends.)

 

I feel like Honor must have limited the amount of power Odium was allowed to expend, or had some other system in place. For example, if Odium spends too much power on the Desolations, Cultivation might be able to overpower and kill him, or like I've speculated before, Honor forces each Desolation to be even in power levels (which is why Desolations became harder post-Radiants). If Odium was free to add more power at any time, it makes little sense that he'd have waited until the twentieth Desolation or whatever (when the Radiants appeared) before doing so - he should have done it at the start for a quick and easy victory. Instead, he waited a really long time, and then made things more difficult because the Radiants came. I don't like the idea that he was "forced" into doing it because he suddenly felt he could lose, because he still hasn't won in thousands of years since doing that, so there can't have been very big negative effects to expending the power.

 

A possibility is that once Honor died, Odium was suddenly free to Invest more, and so he did and then the Desolations became harder. There's a WoB that it's a slow burn for someone to actually die - my theory I'm putting forward here is Honor 'died' before the Heralds gave up, and then slowly died over the thousands of years after. It explains why Odium was free to make Desolations harder, but also why Honor was able to give visions of the Recreance to Dalinar. I find this very unlikely, though - there is a WoB too that says the abandonment of the Oathpact was tangentially related to how Odium defeated Honor, though it wasn't responsible for it.

 

There's also the question of why/how Odium made the black sphere, and why he invested the power necessary for it... though that may be Cultivation's or the Nightwatcher's thing. (I still hold out some hope for the theory that the Nightwatcher is a Cultivation/Odium mix.)

Edited by Moogle
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Thanks, kaellok. You have my view right.

 

 

This is a possibility, but I find it pretty unlikely. Nalan doesn't seem compelled to do anything to me (he seems to want to follow the laws). "The law is all we have left" puts forward his views pretty starkly I think. Still, it'd difficult to know almost anything about the Heralds. I got the impression they were all cursed from the prologue of WoR, for example, but I don't know where to go with that ("I feel like I'm getting worse").

 

 

Undoubtedly they're powerful combat forces, just like Shardbearers. There's still only a few thousand of them - not enough to win a war against millions of Voidbringers and thunderclasts without help, even if each is worth a thousand men. A thunderclast killed Kalak, and I'll bet it could kill a Radiant.

 

On the question of compulsion, Shardic compulsion is mentioned in another book.

 

WARNING: Mistborn spoiler - do not read if you haven't read Hero of Ages

Marsh's POVs in book 3 show how Shardic compulsion can twist both mindsets as well as actions. Marsh tries to resist at times, but when Ruin asserts control, Marsh finds beauty in destruction and looks forward to the end of the world.

Note that this is a Shard where compulsion isn't really part of its Shardic intent, although it's not opposed. I would expect Odium to be better at compelling people than Ruin.

 

For that reason I still consider it possible, even likely, that Darkness is under some form of compulsion from Odium.

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On the question of compulsion, Shardic compulsion is mentioned in another book.

 

WARNING: Mistborn spoiler - do not read if you haven't read Hero of Ages

Marsh's POVs in book 3 show how Shardic compulsion can twist both mindsets as well as actions. Marsh tries to resist at times, but when Ruin asserts control, Marsh finds beauty in destruction and looks forward to the end of the world.

Note that this is a Shard where compulsion isn't really part of its Shardic intent, although it's not opposed. I would expect Odium to be better at compelling people than Ruin.

 

For that reason I still consider it possible, even likely, that Darkness is under some form of compulsion from Odium.

 

As to the Shardic compulsion idea, I think that being manipulated causes you to share in the Shard's Intent in some regard. For example, someone manipulated by Odium should feel loathing and hatred and view the world that way (hi there Szeth! :)) and someone manipulated by Honor would gain a mindset of one of the more honorable orders of the Knight Radiants. I don't think Odium is responsible for Nalan's current worldview - it is decidedly un-Odious, as he is completely lacking in emotion.

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Let me preface this by saying that I don't think we have enough information to create solid theories. My idea is that the Heralds are true slivers of Honor and they have individual intentions of Honor. Nalan's is obedience or something like that. During the Recreance he was charged by Honor to eliminate rogue surgebinders. Honor is shattered before he can rescind the order. Nalan has no choice but to continue.

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In another thread, I believe on this site, it discusses the Heralds and what's happened to them in the years since they broke the oathpact.  It could be a conseuence of breaking the pact, or it could merely be a result of their extreme age, but they are all not quite right in the head.  There has been speculation that their current state is a perversion of the virtue they were associated with.

Taln's messed up view of the relationship between surgebinding and desolations could be explained by that.

He's already gone from Justice >> Javert (Inspector Javert) and a messed up appreciation of the cause of desolations.

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But this was my point: each Radiant is a mini-Herald. The Radiants did not add very much (relative to human armies) combat value, so the Heralds should not much add much combat value (assumption: each Herald is worth 100 Radiants - I would argue it's an order of magnitude less, but just for the sake of argument we can assume 100). The Heralds did regularly die, as it was a surprise that 9/10 Heralds survived the last Desolation.

 

I believe the primary value of the Heralds was the knowledge they brought - they brought man up from the stone age to the bronze age each time, which effectively would double or so the power of the armies of men at their command. Roshar after 4500 years of no Desolations is quite advanced, far beyond bronze, so I think the Heralds being missing should not prove to be that troublesome.

I think that knowledge was an important factor, but the Honorblades almost certainly have effects beyond simply granting weak Surgebinding. Kalak describes them as "weapons of power beyond even Shardblades", before the Recreance. At that point, Shardblades would have all been spren manifestations, and would therefore grant strong Surgebinding. I'm pretty sure that the Heralds interacted somehow with the Honorblades in an extremely powerful manner, which would be enhanced by their natural fighting ability.

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It's also possible he's just stark raving mad, but that does not match at all with our knowledge of him. He's emotionally warped, incapable of feeling, but everything we see says he's sane otherwise.

 

 

I think Nalan's mental state isn't necessarily a symptom of being corrupted by any outside force, or of being mad.

 

Nalan is a herald, a quasi-immortal being that is far older, smarter, stronger, and generally more powerful  than any human on Roshar. When it comes to thinking long-term, few can do it better than someone who's been around for 4500 years. Considering how the powers of heralds put them far above mankind, and considering how long he's been around, and how far-reaching his plans might be, I don't think it should be surprising that Nalan doesn't display any emotion at the deaths of a few proto-radiants.

 

The other possible explanation is that Nalan doesn't do emotions. Emotions are linked to morals - morals are supposed to be intrinsic values that we react to emotionally, right? Well, that sounds iffy as I write it, but if you can buy that, then it makes sense that Nalan doesn't do emotions. 

 

We know for certain that Nalan doesn't do morals. He believes that the laws that men place upon themselves are paramount, which is why he went through the full process of gathering the massive stack of paperwork required to permit him to execute Lift, but allowed Lift to go free when the Prime pardons her. This also explains why he has no issue with Szeth's massive killcount - while under many (most) laws, Szeth would probably be executed, under the law of Shinovar, Szeth is Truthless and so absolved of his deeds.

 

The very idea of morals is that they're a sort of universal law that all of mankind is subject to. If Nalan believed in such a thing, he would be out there enforcing that "law" - instead, he allows mankind to choose for itself what is right.

 

The real flaw in Nalan's philosophy is that his justice is selective. Of course, it wouldn't make sense for him to be prosecuting every petty criminal, but the fact that he allows himself to choose when to enforce laws undermines the powers of the laws themselves. 

 

That is, unless I'm on the wrong track, and Skybreakers don't actually consider themselves enforcers of the laws, but rather entities also bound by them. That would allow for the Skybreakers to be free in pursuing their own goals, while respecting the laws of man as absolute. But of course, that seems ridiculous, considering how the Skybreakers and Highspren, from what we know, both seem to be pretty proactive when it comes to justice.

 

 

I think that knowledge was an important factor, but the Honorblades almost certainly have effects beyond simply granting weak Surgebinding. Kalak describes them as "weapons of power beyond even Shardblades", before the Recreance. At that point, Shardblades would have all been spren manifestations, and would therefore grant strong Surgebinding. I'm pretty sure that the Heralds interacted somehow with the Honorblades in an extremely powerful manner, which would be enhanced by their natural fighting ability.

 

 

 

I agree. This has been bothering me. The Honorblades must have some sort of increased capacity when in the hands of a Herald. In fact, perhaps it's been implied by the time we heard Syl talk about how wielding an Honorblade required a dangerous amount of stormlight for a human to hold.

 

Szeth was an assassin, presumably trained from very early on. His prowess seemed incredible - he handles honor gaurds and multiple shardbearers simultaneously with ease, and appears to be an incredibly skilled surgebinder. Yet Kaladin, with just three oaths learned, after having spent one day flying freely, and after having only just acquired a Radiant's shardblade, handles Szeth with very little difficulty. 

 

That suggests that either honorblades are very underwhelming, or, when in the hands of a Herald, who presumably can hold/use much more stormlight than a normal radiant, honorblades are a weapon of exponentially increased power.  

 

 

On a side note, I'm clearly new and it's hard to gauge when I'm just stating things that are obvious or when I'm saying things that everyone is already aware of. If that's happening now, my bad. 

Edited by sun tzaro
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This also explains why he has no issue with Szeth's massive killcount - while under many (most) laws, Szeth would probably be executed, under the law of Shinovar, Szeth is Truthless and so absolved of his deeds.

 

 

Verging a bit off topic, my reading of the Szeth situation is that being compelled to have all of these crimes on his conscience IS his punishment (for his false conviction for the crime of 'lying' about Surgebinding having returned to Roshar). His punishment is significantly worse (in his mind) than execution.

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The other possible explanation is that Nalan doesn't do emotions. Emotions are linked to morals - morals are supposed to be intrinsic values that we react to emotionally, right? Well, that sounds iffy as I write it, but if you can buy that, then it makes sense that Nalan doesn't do emotions. 

 

Not to start up a philosophy debate, but morals have nothing to do with emotions. Nalan would probably say following the law is what is right. That is his morality right there. It might be accurate to say that most people get their morals from how they feel about things. Someone feels disgust at how Taravangian is killing people -> Taravangian is evil being the easiest example I can think of, but there's no universal law that says this has to be the case.

 

The real flaw in Nalan's philosophy is that his justice is selective. Of course, it wouldn't make sense for him to be prosecuting every petty criminal, but the fact that he allows himself to choose when to enforce laws undermines the powers of the laws themselves.

 

Or it shows he's enforcing the laws in order of severity, which really might be the best he can do. One man cannot police an entire nation. I imagine the logic in Nalan's mind goes something like "Desolation > mass killings > petty theft", and so he focuses all his efforts on Surgebinders. If there were no more Surgebinders, it could be that he'd go after people committing mass killings. I hesitate to assume anything about Nalan, though. (Well, except his fantastic fashion sense.)

 

I agree. This has been bothering me. The Honorblades must have some sort of increased capacity when in the hands of a Herald. In fact, perhaps it's been implied by the time we heard Syl talk about how wielding an Honorblade required a dangerous amount of stormlight for a human to hold.

 

I agree Honorblades likely have special uses we haven't seen. However, I doubt it has anything to do with being in the hands of a Heralds. The Heralds might know the secrets of the Honorblades' operation, but I doubt they themselves are the only ones capable of using Honorblades to their full potential. Szeth probably just didn't know the secret(s).

 

The Honorblades 'eat' Investiture like Nightblood, so they should be capable of similarly disintegrating vast amounts of matter or something of similar power - except, we don't see that happening. They are a mystery.

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Verging a bit off topic, my reading of the Szeth situation is that being compelled to have all of these crimes on his conscience IS his punishment (for his false conviction for the crime of 'lying' about Surgebinding having returned to Roshar). His punishment is significantly worse (in his mind) than execution.

 

I think you're right - I guess what I was trying to say is that under Shinovar law, Szeth wouldn't be executed. Nalan adheres to the law that a person is subject to - in Lift's case, Azish law; in Szeth's case, Shinovar law.

 

How he decides what set of laws a person is subject to is certainly not understood - Lift was not native to Azir, but when Lift was is in Azir, he prosecuted her under Azish law, whereas on the other hand, Szeth is not native to Alethkar, but when Szeth was in Alethkar, he was apparently still absolved of his crimes because he was Truthless - a thing of Shinovar.

 

Perhaps the scholarly branch of the Skybreakers was dedicated to deciding the legal implications of the overlapping and conflicting laws of separate cultures.   

 

 

Not to start up a philosophy debate, but morals have nothing to do with emotions. Nalan would probably say following the law is what is right. That is his morality right there. It might be accurate to say that most people get their morals from how they feel about things. Someone feels disgust at how Taravangian is killing people -> Taravangian is evil being the easiest example I can think of, but there's no universal law that says this has to be the case.

 

That's kind of what I was trying to get at - the idea that morals stem from how people feel innately about certain things - that what Taravangian does is wrong, even if it is for the greater good, or, in Syl's case, that she feels that seeking revenge against Amaram is wrong, even if it is justified. And emotions are what people feel, right?

 

I don't think Nalan has that sort of innate feeling - which I'm calling morality, although maybe that's not the correct term for it, To quote a passage I found in another topic when I was looking up Nalan:

 

“Why...why do you hunt me?” (Lift speaking)

“In the name of justice.”

“There are tons of people who do wrong things,” she said. She had to force out every word. Talking was hard. Thinking was hard. So tired. “You...you coulda hunted big crime bosses, murderers. You chose me instead. Why?”

“Others may be detestable, but they do not dabble in arts that could return Desolation to this world.” His words were so cold. “What you are must be stopped.”

“I saved him,” Lift said. “I did something good, didn’t I?”

“Goodness is irrelevant,” Darkness said. His Shardblade dropped into his fingers.

 

That sounds to me like he is dismissing the notion of morality. Although, it could be that he does have innate feelings, but considers them meaningless. 

 

 

 

Or it shows he's enforcing the laws in order of severity, which really might be the best he can do. One man cannot police an entire nation. I imagine the logic in Nalan's mind goes something like "Desolation > mass killings > petty theft", and so he focuses all his efforts on Surgebinders.

 

I see what you're getting at, but he is still being selective. 

 

If he were enforcing laws based on severity, mass killings would be at the top of his list. There are no human laws (well, I'm pretty sure there aren't) that relate to the desolations. 

 

Nalan was going to execute Lift, and he did execute Ym, based on relatively minor transgressions. Yes, their actions were enough to deserve death - but there are no doubt many others who had committed far greater offenses that deserved far greater punishments. 

 

Yet, Nalan still prioritized Lift and Ym over crime bosses and serial killers because preventing Desolations is at the top of his agenda, not at the top of the agenda of the law.  

Edited by sun tzaro
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1.  I think you're right - I guess what I was trying to say is that under Shinovar law, Szeth wouldn't be executed. Nalan adheres to the law that a person is subject to - in Lift's case, Azish law; in Szeth's case, Shinovar law.

 

How he decides what set of laws a person is subject to is certainly not understood - Lift was not native to Azir, but when Lift was is in Azir, he prosecuted her under Azish law, whereas on the other hand, Szeth is not native to Alethkar, but when Szeth was in Alethkar, he was apparently still absolved of his crimes because he was Truthless - a thing of Shinovar.

 

  

 

2.  That's kind of what I was trying to get at - the idea that morals stem from how people feel innately about certain things - that what Taravangian does is wrong, even if it is for the greater good, or, in Syl's case, that she feels that seeking revenge against Amaram is wrong, even if it is justified. And emotions are what people feel, right?

 

I don't think Nalan has that sort of innate feeling - which I'm calling morality, although maybe that's not the correct term for it, To quote a passage I found in another topic when I was looking up Nalan:

 

That sounds to me like he is dismissing the notion of morality. Although, it could be that he does have innate feelings, but considers them meaningless. 

 

 

 

3.  I see what you're getting at, but he is still being selective. 

 

Yet, Nalan still prioritized Lift and Ym over crime bosses and serial killers because preventing Desolations is at the top of his agenda, not at the top of the agenda of the law.  

Snipped out bits to try and shorten this post; overall meaning is still preserved.

 

That out of the way, I see you seem to be fairly new to the forums, so welcome! You've made a couple of well-reasoned posts, that I happen to disagree with, at least partially.  I've numbered them while quoting your post, to make it easier to explain in mine.

 

1.  Szeth is still responsible for his own crimes.  There is nothing to suggest that murder isn't a crime in Shinovar, so if he commits murder there he should still be subject to their law.  Being Truthless is, itself, a punishment for his supposed lies (as Moogle mentioned in previous post); this does not absolve him of any crimes he commits at the command of others, though.

 

2  Talking about morality can quickly get into ground that is rather murky. A number of philosophers over the years have tried to show morality, codes of ethics, correct ways to live, etc. that are not at all based on the emotions of humans.  Some have been more successful than others, but that's beside the point.  Morals are, boiled down, simply a code of what is right and wrong that a person lives by.  It seems likely that Nalan lives by a Law (which may be the same or different than laws of various lands he walks through, but certainly incorporates them), and that Law is his morality.  A quibbling point, to be sure, but just the kind of thing that forces me to respond.  I can be pedantic like that.

 

3.  As I alluded to in point 2, all we know is that Nalan follows the law of the land he is in while undertaking his objectives.  He could very easily be following a Law that demands he also follow laws of wherever he is.  In fact, that's the only way that I can think of a reason why he would go to such lengths to legally kill Lift, while willingly using Szeth as a tool, and seeming to forgive his many, many murders across virtually all nations--including the same one Lift was in whose name I now forget.

 

In fact, as I type this, I am becoming more and more convinced that this must be the case.  Otherwise, he's simply an illogical, nonsensical lunatic.

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I think Nalan's mental state isn't necessarily a symptom of being corrupted by any outside force, or of being mad.

 

Nalan is a herald, a quasi-immortal being that is far older, smarter, stronger, and generally more powerful  than any human on Roshar. When it comes to thinking long-term, few can do it better than someone who's been around for 4500 years. Considering how the powers of heralds put them far above mankind, and considering how long he's been around, and how far-reaching his plans might be, I don't think it should be surprising that Nalan doesn't display any emotion at the deaths of a few proto-radiants.

 

The other possible explanation is that Nalan doesn't do emotions. Emotions are linked to morals - morals are supposed to be intrinsic values that we react to emotionally, right? Well, that sounds iffy as I write it, but if you can buy that, then it makes sense that Nalan doesn't do emotions. 

 

We know for certain that Nalan doesn't do morals. He believes that the laws that men place upon themselves are paramount, which is why he went through the full process of gathering the massive stack of paperwork required to permit him to execute Lift, but allowed Lift to go free when the Prime pardons her. This also explains why he has no issue with Szeth's massive killcount - while under many (most) laws, Szeth would probably be executed, under the law of Shinovar, Szeth is Truthless and so absolved of his deeds.

 

The very idea of morals is that they're a sort of universal law that all of mankind is subject to. If Nalan believed in such a thing, he would be out there enforcing that "law" - instead, he allows mankind to choose for itself what is right.

 

The real flaw in Nalan's philosophy is that his justice is selective. Of course, it wouldn't make sense for him to be prosecuting every petty criminal, but the fact that he allows himself to choose when to enforce laws undermines the powers of the laws themselves. 

 

That is, unless I'm on the wrong track, and Skybreakers don't actually consider themselves enforcers of the laws, but rather entities also bound by them. That would allow for the Skybreakers to be free in pursuing their own goals, while respecting the laws of man as absolute. But of course, that seems ridiculous, considering how the Skybreakers and Highspren, from what we know, both seem to be pretty proactive when it comes to justice.

 

 
 

 

 

I agree. This has been bothering me. The Honorblades must have some sort of increased capacity when in the hands of a Herald. In fact, perhaps it's been implied by the time we heard Syl talk about how wielding an Honorblade required a dangerous amount of stormlight for a human to hold.

 

Szeth was an assassin, presumably trained from very early on. His prowess seemed incredible - he handles honor gaurds and multiple shardbearers simultaneously with ease, and appears to be an incredibly skilled surgebinder. Yet Kaladin, with just three oaths learned, after having spent one day flying freely, and after having only just acquired a Radiant's shardblade, handles Szeth with very little difficulty. 

 

That suggests that either honorblades are very underwhelming, or, when in the hands of a Herald, who presumably can hold/use much more stormlight than a normal radiant, honorblades are a weapon of exponentially increased power.  

 

 

On a side note, I'm clearly new and it's hard to gauge when I'm just stating things that are obvious or when I'm saying things that everyone is already aware of. If that's happening now, my bad. 

About Nalan and justice: It seems likely that he no longer follows the ideals of the Skybreakers, but for one reason or another is unable to break laws. So he's following the letter of the law, but not the spirit. Perhaps his status as a Herald (and therefore his immortality, and probably some other benefits) are bound to the oaths of the Skybreakers, such that he cannot directly contravene them without losing his Heraldosity. On a semi-related note, I would expect that one of the benefits of being a Herald would probably include some sort of enhancement of the Honorblades. Whatever that benefit is, he's probably making use of it. The obvious use would be in his search for Surgebinders. Maybe it allows him to sense Investiture? It would make sense for the Heralds to be able to find Radiants, in order to bring them together and train them to fight in the Desolations.

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Szeth was an assassin, presumably trained from very early on. His prowess seemed incredible - he handles honor gaurds and multiple shardbearers simultaneously with ease, and appears to be an incredibly skilled surgebinder. Yet Kaladin, with just three oaths learned, after having spent one day flying freely, and after having only just acquired a Radiant's shardblade, handles Szeth with very little difficulty.

 

THIS, has always bothered me.  I have, however, no intelligent explanation to offer other than Brandon purposely over powering Kaladin because he is his main character....

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THIS, has always bothered me.  I have, however, no intelligent explanation to offer other than Brandon purposely over powering Kaladin because he is his main character....

The other explanation (which is not in any way original to me) is that spren-based Surgebinding has an extra effect besides just access to the Surges. For Kaladin, it's instinctive knowledge of how to fly and use a Shardweapon (unless the latter comes from the psychic bond with the weapon). As such, he's better at flying than Szeth. And remember that he's an extremely good spearman to begin with, and Syl can transform into any weapon that Kaladin needs. That benefit cannot be overestimated. He needs a shield, she's a shield. He needs a sword, she's a sword. He needs a spear, she's a spear. Szeth is limited to a sword.

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THIS, has always bothered me.  I have, however, no intelligent explanation to offer other than Brandon purposely over powering Kaladin because he is his main character....

What makes you think Szeth was trained as an assassin?

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What makes you think Szeth was trained as an assassin?

That's an even better explanation.

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That out of the way, I see you seem to be fairly new to the forums, so welcome! You've made a couple of well-reasoned posts, that I happen to disagree with, at least partially.  I've numbered them while quoting your post, to make it easier to explain in mine.

 

 

Thank you! People around here seem to reason out their posts quite well, so I feel obligated to do the same. 

 

 

 

1.  Szeth is still responsible for his own crimes.  There is nothing to suggest that murder isn't a crime in Shinovar, so if he commits murder there he should still be subject to their law.  Being Truthless is, itself, a punishment for his supposed lies (as Moogle mentioned in previous post); this does not absolve him of any crimes he commits at the command of others, though.

 

I agree - absolve was the wrong word to use there. You did pick up on what I was trying to point out there, though - Nalan appears to respect the law of a person's culture, rather than the law of the current location.

 

 

2  Talking about morality can quickly get into ground that is rather murky. A number of philosophers over the years have tried to show morality, codes of ethics, correct ways to live, etc. that are not at all based on the emotions of humans.  Some have been more successful than others, but that's beside the point.  Morals are, boiled down, simply a code of what is right and wrong that a person lives by.  It seems likely that Nalan lives by a Law (which may be the same or different than laws of various lands he walks through, but certainly incorporates them), and that Law is his morality.  A quibbling point, to be sure, but just the kind of thing that forces me to respond.  I can be pedantic like that.

 

Yeah, this is probably why moogle wanted to avoid a discussion of philosophy - morality is definitely a subject that has been studied for many, many years, and anything I can post on the topic of morality probably either vastly oversimplifies things or shows my ignorance. 

 

So, I'll try to say it how I should have said it in the first place: I do not believe that the Skybreakers (Nalan included) accept the idea of an innate sense of "right" and "wrong". 

 

That's what makes the dichotomy between the Windrunners and the Skybreakers so interesting - Windrunners like Kaladin and Syl believe in doing what is right, regardless of the law or of what anyone else thinks. Skybreakers do not believe in an innate sense of "right"  - they believe that men choose for themselves what is "right", and that is why they believe that the laws, which men make for themselves, are absolute.

 

In fact, that's what makes Szeth such a perfect Skybreaker. One's innate sense of "right" and "wrong" is very much dependent on how one was brought up. Szeth was raised to believe that by acting as Truthless, he was doing the right thing - and now, he is very much disillusioned with what the Shin have taught him. If I recall correctly, Szeth believed that following the commands of the one holding his oathstone was his last way of retaining his honor. 

 

Now, Szeth has realized that his honor and his sense of "right" and "wrong" were false. The Truthless are still a construct of Shinovar law - but now that Szeth has realized that he was made Truthless under false pretenses, he can, as a Skybreaker, be justified in considering what was done to him a crime.

 

 

3.  As I alluded to in point 2, all we know is that Nalan follows the law of the land he is in while undertaking his objectives.  He could very easily be following a Law that demands he also follow laws of wherever he is.  In fact, that's the only way that I can think of a reason why he would go to such lengths to legally kill Lift, while willingly using Szeth as a tool, and seeming to forgive his many, many murders across virtually all nations--including the same one Lift was in whose name I now forget.

 

 

About Nalan and justice: It seems likely that he no longer follows the ideals of the Skybreakers, but for one reason or another is unable to break laws. So he's following the letter of the law, but not the spirit. Perhaps his status as a Herald (and therefore his immortality, and probably some other benefits) are bound to the oaths of the Skybreakers, such that he cannot directly contravene them without losing his Heraldosity.

 

I think these are interesting points. Ultimately it all boils down to one question: What is the stance of Skybreakers when it comes to following the law?

 

According to a WoB, the second ideal of the Skybreakers is:

 

“I will put the law before all else.”

 
Does this mean that Skybreaker philosophy is to follow the laws of man above all else? If this is the case, then Nalan's selective justice would indeed suggest that he has broken from the original ideals of the Skybreakers, and now only follows the laws of man because of ties to his heraldic powers, as Shaggai suggest, or perhaps because he still feels a lingering duty to at least try to follow what were once the ideals of his order. 
 
Perhaps it means that the Skybreaker philosophy is not necessarily to act as enforcers of the law, but to treat the law as the final word in all of their activities, above their own innate sense of "right" and "wrong". If this is the case, then the Skybreakers are free to pursue their own goals as long as they comply with the laws of man, and thus Nalan is still a true Skybreaker. 
 
The final possibility is the one kaelok suggested. Perhaps "the law" refers to an as-of-yet unknown universal law that requires the Skybreakers to follow the laws of the land that they are in (or rather, follow the laws of the cultures of the people they deal with). If this is the case, then again, Nalan is still a true Skybreaker.
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