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Nightblood and Breath

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Warbreaker Annotations Chapter 51

Okay, though I haven't been around the theorizing scene much lately, since I'm so far behind, I thought I would comment on this, since it's new.

(Minor Mistborn Spoiler)

I remember there being a lot of speculation on Nightblood, and the smoke that rose off of it, especially in relation to the solid/liquid/gas nature of Ruin and Preservation. Well, now we know what that mysterious smoke is: corrupted breath. So (unsure if this has been said already), this got me thinking, what if Breath itself is the body of one of the shards (likely Endowment, if that's what we're still calling it), and a piece of it is in each human, similar to with Preservation.

If this topic should be in the general theories or Cosmere or whatever, please move it. I just thought it belonged here since it's mostly about Warbreaker.

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What you are asking is one that has been talked about quite a bit recently.

What is a breath?

I think this is best defined by starting out with something we already know. Divine Breath. The Voice (Endowment) offers Lightsong the chance to Return. This means that Endowment has the power to make Lightsong come back. The Divine Breath is what keeps Lightsong alive. So, Endowment gives the Divine Breath, which is a Splinter, or a piece of the power of Endowment.

Now, there are two theories about Breaths: that they are given to each person by Endowment (like Preservation gaves people conciousness), or that they are part of each person.

The first says pretty much what it says (which you seem to believe). Endowment gives each person a teeny bit of his power (or counsiousness) and that is their Breath, which they can give away like he did.

The second (which I like more) says that every person naturally has a Breath. Vin has one, Elend has one, Kaladin has one. After all, it doesn't seem like the regular people have any extra capacity for color or sound or lifesense. What makes the people of Nalthis unique is that they can give it away. This is either because of simply being around Endowment (because he came recently), or because it was in their spiritual DNA when Endowment made them, and they only became aware of it recently (when Endowment Awakened Vo).

So that is pretty much my explanation.

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I've not subscribed to any particular theory, just putting this out there. Should have known this would have been a well trodden topic by now. I just thought it would be under the Warbreaker stuff, and didn't bother to look through all the General Theories (because there are a LOT).

As for your explanations, I'm not sure which I like better, and will have to think about it a bit. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction though.

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I think this is best defined by starting out with something we already know. Divine Breath. The Voice (Endowment) offers Lightsong the chance to Return. This means that Endowment has the power to make Lightsong come back. The Divine Breath is what keeps Lightsong alive. So, Endowment gives the Divine Breath, which is a Splinter, or a piece of the power of Endowment.

I was under the impression that once a Returned is brought back to life, they no longer need their Divine Breath to stay alive. I vaguely remember reading somewhere in the annotations that if a Returned gave away their breath and they had a stockpile of normal breaths, they could live off those until they run out.

The second (which I like more) says that every person naturally has a Breath. Vin has one, Elend has one, Kaladin has one. After all, it doesn't seem like the regular people have any extra capacity for color or sound or lifesense. What makes the people of Nalthis unique is that they can give it away. This is either because of simply being around Endowment (because he came recently), or because it was in their spiritual DNA when Endowment made them, and they only became aware of it recently (when Endowment Awakened Vo).

I really like this explanation and it fits nicely with Chaos's Principle of Intent but to be honest, I'm not sure if a normal person with a single breath is the same as a normal person from any of the other worlds. The main problem I have is how you can sense other people's presence if you both have breath. We haven't really seen this in any of the other worlds except with Vin, but one could argue it was her hard life that gave her that intuition and not the fact that everyone has a single breath in them but only people of Nalthis can give and receive them. If you can come up with some more examples of this in each of the other worlds, then I'd be more inclined to believe you, but to really be sure, we'd need to see Awakening interact with people from other worlds.

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I'd say that the breath is the soul + some small amount of sDNA via either:

  • the presence of the shard (just by being around, her 'influence' was felt)
  • active fiddling (she tagged everyone, or decided to start 'influencing' them, which lead to the tagging by association)

And I was sure that the Returned have 'one chance' to do something with their Divine Breath. Though that might just be because most of the Returned don't keep Stores.

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The second (which I like more) says that every person naturally has a Breath. Vin has one, Elend has one, Kaladin has one. After all, it doesn't seem like the regular people have any extra capacity for color or sound or lifesense. What makes the people of Nalthis unique is that they can give it away. This is either because of simply being around Endowment (because he came recently), or because it was in their spiritual DNA when Endowment made them, and they only became aware of it recently (when Endowment Awakened Vo).

So that is pretty much my explanation.

Emphasis mine.

I was talking with TimeMaster today, and this was what we came up with, in the bolded text there.

It's too much of a stretch for me to say that everyone, regardless of world, has Breath. Reading annotations about Warbreaker has made me realize just how magical Breath is. It prevents disease, etc. Magic comes from Shards, so I think Breath are directly related to Endowment.

Sure, no one has extra lifesense, but follow me here for a moment. Assuming Endowment created Nalthis, and everyone has had Breath, similar to that fragment of Preservation in people, how would anyone know about Breath? It seems to me that if everyone had equal Breath, they would never notice anything different in the world. The origin of Awakening, then, is hardly mysterious. They simply never figured out the Commands to transfer Breath around. It's that imbalance of Breath which makes the lifesense (or lack thereof) noticeable.

And really, how could you guess the Commands if you never knew Breath existed? Not only do you need to guess the Command, but the Intent of the Command is important (heh, Intent... that's interesting in itself). It's only when Vo, the First Returned, appears with his powerful Divine Breath that people notice something is different. In order for a Returned to heal someone, he would need the Command to give the Breath away, so I think it's likely that people learned the first Commands from Vo. From there, some people could get more Breath than others, but it would still take centuries of tinkering (which, TimeMaster recalls it has been 600 years since Vo Returned. I don't remember this figure, but I imagine he's right) for Awakening to come into its own. If Vo Returned 600 years ago, and the Manywar happened 300, I'd imagine 300 years is enough trial and error to get some basics of Awakening down.

I like this explanation for why Awakening is "new" the best. It doesn't assume that people were already on Nalthis when Endowment arrived (I can buy one origin world, but if there are two, then there can be many more than two, and that's hard for me to swallow). The only question it doesn't answer is, "Why is Endowment Returning people?" I don't have an answer for you on that, but I imagine Brandon is going to keep a tight leash on that one.

This, of course, doesn't explain why other people on different worlds would ostensibly have similar lifesense. But let's think about it. If Endowment wanted to create people, like people he has seen on the origin planet, let's say he wanted to give them this lifesense ability. In effect, Endowment in his Shardy glory would think, "How can I emulate that to make them into humans?" Eventually, he decides that giving them Breath would make humans into the way he wants them.

What I'm saying is, Breath is the way Endowment decided people should be built. Breath is one way to get lifesense, but other Shards could emulate a similar effect without the need for Breath.

It's only because Breath--in line with Endowment's Intent--can be transferred that Nalthisean people even care about lifesense. We only notice the little things when they are taken away from us.

what if Breath itself is the body of one of the shards (likely Endowment, if that's what we're still calling it), and a piece of it is in each human, similar to with Preservation.

I espouse this idea. Breath is some essence of Endowment's power.

(And by the way, Endowment is confirmed to be that Shard :) )

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I like this explanation for why Awakening is "new" the best. It doesn't assume that people were already on Nalthis when Endowment arrived (I can buy one origin world, but if there are two, then there can be many more than two, and that's hard for me to swallow). The only question it doesn't answer is, "Why is Endowment Returning people?" I don't have an answer for you on that, but I imagine Brandon is going to keep a tight leash on that one.

Quick theory on the emphasized point.

It's possible that once people started moving Breath, which is part of Endowment, around, Endowment wanted some way to collect it back to herself. Normally this would be done through death, but if people are giving away their Breaths before they die then those Breaths are, in effect, taken out of circulation. Hence why Returned need a Breath every week - it goes back to Endowment, who can then dole it back out.

Of course, for this to be true you have to assume that Endowment can only give out so many Breaths at one time. I'm not sure even i believe that. It also does not explain why Vo was Returned in the first place, assuming that he is the origin of Awakening as an art.

In a related but different vein, it is possible that Nalthis existed before Endowment showed up, and that there was life on it. However, if that life was not sentient then it is possible that Endowment did something to make it so and over the ages that life evolved into something like humans.

Crazy theory there, but that's kinda what we do.

Edited by Cuaiir
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So Chaos, on the issue of Breath, your stance is "only Nalthis people have it, but other planets may have it similar"? I guess I can stand by that.

I think that souls are extremely powerful. Each intelligence (and human) has something special and unique about them. This uniqueness and this intelligence (which apparently, according to HoA, stays with us after death) is our soul. Breath is a piece of this soul, specifically, the part that holds the lifesense, perception for color, and perception for music, etc. When you have more of it, it allows you to strengthen your body (immunity) and your perceptions (color, sounds).

So I think that in order to have humans (as we know them), they must be intelligent.

If they are intelligent, they must have a Breath.

Therefore, everyone has a Breath.

Now, I do think that Endowment does make it (either directly or indirectly) possible to give that Breath away, which is unique to Nalthis. But I think that intelligence (that seems to be granted by Shards or possibly Adonalsium) innately holds a Breath. So maybe you're right. The Breath could be of Endowment. But I think that the people on Scadrial have one too, of Preservation. They just can't use it.

Ooh. Except maybe... instead of allomancy genes, they have breath genes. Except that doesn't work. The ordinary people of Nalthis are comparable to Scadrial. Although maybe instead of allomancy genes, it is the ability to give away breath genes. That work.

Also, on your Vo theory: I love it when you read my mind. I've thought the same for a while, but I've just never written about it. I mean, it makes sense. You have no awakeners, you come to the forest, Vo returns and suddenly, people start learning about awakening.

Ooh! That gives me an idea. What if, the reason why Endowment couldn't help them before is because there wasn't enough color? I mean, Hallendren is not only the awakening capital of the world- it's also the dye capital of the world. Perhaps there is something special about the tears of Edgli.

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So Chaos, on the issue of Breath, your stance is "only Nalthis people have it, but other planets may have it similar"? I guess I can stand by that.

I think that souls are extremely powerful. Each intelligence (and human) has something special and unique about them. This uniqueness and this intelligence (which apparently, according to HoA, stays with us after death) is our soul. Breath is a piece of this soul, specifically, the part that holds the lifesense, perception for color, and perception for music, etc. When you have more of it, it allows you to strengthen your body (immunity) and your perceptions (color, sounds).

So I think that in order to have humans (as we know them), they must be intelligent.

If they are intelligent, they must have a Breath.

Therefore, everyone has a Breath.

Now, I do think that Endowment does make it (either directly or indirectly) possible to give that Breath away, which is unique to Nalthis. But I think that intelligence (that seems to be granted by Shards or possibly Adonalsium) innately holds a Breath. So maybe you're right. The Breath could be of Endowment. But I think that the people on Scadrial have one too, of Preservation. They just can't use it.

Ooh. Except maybe... instead of allomancy genes, they have breath genes. Except that doesn't work. The ordinary people of Nalthis are comparable to Scadrial. Although maybe instead of allomancy genes, it is the ability to give away breath genes. That work.

Also, on your Vo theory: I love it when you read my mind. I've thought the same for a while, but I've just never written about it. I mean, it makes sense. You have no awakeners, you come to the forest, Vo returns and suddenly, people start learning about awakening.

Ooh! That gives me an idea. What if, the reason why Endowment couldn't help them before is because there wasn't enough color? I mean, Hallendren is not only the awakening capital of the world- it's also the dye capital of the world. Perhaps there is something special about the tears of Edgli.

That's basically my stance--Breath are unique to Nalthis.

I think that souls are extremely powerful. Each intelligence (and human) has something special and unique about them. This uniqueness and this intelligence (which apparently, according to HoA, stays with us after death) is our soul.

I would think that Realmatically, the Cognitive and Spiritual Realms are distinct on some levels.

Of course, that idea has some problems, since the power of Breath gave Nightblood a Cognitive aspect. However, realize that with Breath, Brandon designed them to not be terribly unique.

Ooh! That gives me an idea. What if, the reason why Endowment couldn't help them before is because there wasn't enough color? I mean, Hallendren is not only the awakening capital of the world- it's also the dye capital of the world. Perhaps there is something special about the tears of Edgli.

Good point, the Tears of Edgli must have something to do with this, and we're just not seeing it.

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By the way, all my information on the time since the first returned comes from Hoid's speech to Siri.

Pg.345: "'The workings of the souls of men—their power to animate ordinary objects and the dead to life—is something discovered barely four centuries ago. A short time, by the accounting of gods.'"

Pg.344: "'Should I not speak of the Manywar, of the shattering of kingdoms, of the Five Scholars, of Kalad the Usurper and his phantom army, which some say still hides in these jungles, waiting? Those are the events we focus upon, the ones men know the best. To speak only of them, however, is to ignore the history of three hundred years that led up to them. Would there have been a Manywar without knowledge of the Returned? It was a Returned, after all, who predicted the war and prompted Strifelover to attack the kingdoms across the mountains.”

Pg.348 “'Five, Your Majesty,' the man said. 'Including His Immortal Majesty,

Lord Susebron, but not including Peacegiver.'

'Five kings,' she said. 'In three hundred years?'

Thus, there were 300 years between the First Returned and the Manywar, and 300 years between the Manywar and present day.

Interestingly, it took almost 200 years after Vo, the First Returned, before Commands and Awakening were first discovered.

Edited by Timemaster11
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If I remember correctly, I think I remember Brandon saying that the Tears of Edgli were directly related to the Shard on Nalthis.

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Does anyone know how Nightblood is able to talk to people? I'd assume it's an effect of all the Breath he has, but I wonder if there's more of a story there.

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If I remember correctly, I think I remember Brandon saying that the Tears of Edgli were directly related to the Shard on Nalthis.

We hardly need his confirmation. A magic system that uses color as fuel, and hey look, a flower that produces almost magically perfect dyes? What are the odds? I'm pretty sure there is no such flower in the real world, or any other Shardworld, for that matter.

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(very spoiler-ish)

I believe that the Tears of Edgli are like atium, it could be part of the physical body of Endowment.

Atium was found in only one place, the Pits of Hathsin; the Tears of Edgli are found only in Halladrin around the capitol.

Does the quality of color affect Awakening? If it does, then it would make sense that a dye that produces high quality color would be the body of Endowment.

I also like the idea that Endowment modeled 'her' humans on humans she saw before, and made humans the only way 'she' could.

I believe that Breath is only Breath if it relates to Endowment, but also that all intelligent humans have a Breath-like piece of a shard, such as the spark of Preservation in Scadrialese humans. Unfortunately, this has not been seen on Sel or Roshar, so I don't know how true it would be.

I emphasis intelligent because it was only until Preservation added the 'spark' that Scadrialese humans became intelligent, they were merely animals before then.

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(very spoiler-ish)

I believe that the Tears of Edgli are like atium, it could be part of the physical body of Endowment.

Atium was found in only one place, the Pits of Hathsin; the Tears of Edgli are found only in Halladrin around the capitol.

Does the quality of color affect Awakening? If it does, then it would make sense that a dye that produces high quality color would be the body of Endowment.

I also like the idea that Endowment modeled 'her' humans on humans she saw before, and made humans the only way 'she' could.

I seem to recall something about quality of color, so I think you're on the right track.

I believe that Breath is only Breath if it relates to Endowment, but also that all intelligent humans have a Breath-like piece of a shard, such as the spark of Preservation in Scadrialese humans. Unfortunately, this has not been seen on Sel or Roshar, so I don't know how true it would be.

I emphasis intelligent because it was only until Preservation added the 'spark' that Scadrialese humans became intelligent, they were merely animals before then.

I like this idea a lot. Though, on your note about Sel and Roshar, we also don't know much of the creation mythology there. The fact that we don't know doesn't invalidate this theory. In fact, I think it is immensely likely that this is the case.

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I seem to recall something about quality of color, so I think you're on the right track.

...

I like this idea a lot. Though, on your note about Sel and Roshar, we also don't know much of the creation mythology there. The fact that we don't know doesn't invalidate this theory. In fact, I think it is immensely likely that this is the case.

Good, Good.

That is true that we don't know their creation stories. Hopefully Brandon writes something about them in their respective sequels.

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Oh, I bet he will. Way of Kings obviously has much more story to tell, and it's hitting the Shard mythology really hard, comparatively. And Elantris has many more secrets with the Fjordell. I think we'll get it all soon enough.

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As for part of a shard being needed to make humans sentient:

I note that on Roshar, Honor claims to have created humans. I know that the religions around him say he created everything, but I don't think he makes that claim for himself. Is it possible that humans on Roshar are humans because they have a piece of Honor in them? If so, did Cultivation also create some of the "alternate" sentients that we see floating around? So many questions!

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As for part of a shard being needed to make humans sentient:

I note that on Roshar, Honor claims to have created humans. I know that the religions around him say he created everything, but I don't think he makes that claim for himself. Is it possible that humans on Roshar are humans because they have a piece of Honor in them? If so, did Cultivation also create some of the "alternate" sentients that we see floating around? So many questions!

Can you tell me where Honor said so? It is not that I don't believe you, I just want to add to my theory.

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Can you tell me where Honor said so? It is not that I don't believe you, I just want to add to my theory.

Sure thing. I don't have the book with me, but IIRC (I might not) it's in Dalinar's last vision, just before the epilogue.

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Here you go. Page 997 Hardcover.

"I am... I was... God. The one you call the Almighty, the creator of mankind."

To be fair, that quote is phrased confusingly. Is he saying "You called me the Almighty and you called me the creator of mankind" or "You called me the Almighty, and I am the creator of mankind"?

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To be fair, that quote is phrased confusingly. Is he saying "You called me the Almighty and you called me the creator of mankind" or "You called me the Almighty, and I am the creator of mankind"?

Thanks! smile.gif unfortunately, the phrase is a little too vague to be useful.

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Here you go. Page 997 Hardcover.

To be fair, that quote is phrased confusingly. Is he saying "You called me the Almighty and you called me the creator of mankind" or "You called me the Almighty, and I am the creator of mankind"?

Thanks Chaos.

IMO, I agree that the ambiguity exists in principle, but I think that in context, this actually supports his claim to have made humanity, if not as strongly as I had remembered. IIRC, Vorinism claims that he made everything, but given the existence of Cultivation, this seems unlikely. The Almighty limiting his claim to the creation of humanity, and telling the truth about it, makes much more sense.

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About Nightblood, I just finished rereading Warbreaker and I thought that the way he could cut through pretty much anything was kind of similar to Shardblades.

What do you guys make of it?

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About Nightblood, I just finished rereading Warbreaker and I thought that the way he could cut through pretty much anything was kind of similar to Shardblades.

Nightblood evaporates things: Warbreaker chapter 56:

Vasher screamed, charging toward the side of the room. He slammed Nightblood

through a wall. The stone dissolved just as easily as flesh had, evaporating away before him.

Shardblades simply cut through them.

Edited by Aashyma
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