Naerin

[OB] Cosmere Crossovers, and the deal with Hoid

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So, I know we were all expecting some cosmere crossover to take place in Oathbringer, especially given the ending to WoR when Nightblood appears, but was anyone else surprised by the extent of it? And what are your thoughts on it. 

Obviously, it was awesome to see Nightblood in action again, and very cool to have Vivenna be such a big part of the story. But does anyone else feel like this was a bit too much? From my understanding, the intention with the Cosmere novels is that the shared universe adds depth, but is not necessary to enjoy the individual stories. I'm not sure that is true with Oathbringer. If you haven't read Warbreaker, I think you are going to be very confused by this books. The invested not-shardblades are literally not explained in the context of the Rorsharan magic system, because they were made using a completely different magic system. I feel like without the Cosmere context, these things just kind of come out of nowhere. Which would be fine...except they are fairly significant parts of the story, in that they interact with the main characters a lot.

Is it just me or do the Rorsharan characters act strangely casual about the mysteries Azure presents? Sword that is not an Honorblade and not a Shardblade, defying everything we thought we had figured out about how these things are made? Cool. Oh, it kills differently from a Shardblade, meaning that it might involve some magic other than Surgebinding? No need to follow up on that. You say you aren't a Herald? That's cool. No need to press for who you actually are. What's that? You're implying that you're from another world, upending everything I had previously thought about the nature of reality and how humans came to be on this planet? Neat. Let's carry on.

It just seems like the only reason the main characters don't press for more information here is that they can't because the answers relate to other cosmere work that is supposedly kept separate. And that brings me to my main question. Hoid. Why? And what do people feel about his involvement?

I know Hoid is an interesting enigma and all, but apparent upgrade from fun easter egg to actual character with real impacts seems to present some basic problems. We know that he is super knowledable about what is going on. He tells Jasnah the truth behind the Recreance before the rest of the characters find out. He basically collects magic systems, and therefore understands it better than anyone else we have seen in these books. And he opposes Odium. He even helps out Shallan actively, so we know he doesn't have some non-intervention philosophy or something. SO WHY ISN'T HE HELPING?! 

I know what people are going to say: inscrutable plans, behind the scenes work, etc... But why not take some time away from telling stories to write out a few tips for Shallan to pass along to Dalinar and company? Literally ANY information would help. Here's just a few sample titles of handy pamphlets Hoid could have given out:

- "A Quick Guide to the Nature of Investiture and Some of the Basic Rules Governing How Shards Work"
- "An Idiot's Guide to Opposing Odium: A Few Things Not to Do"
- "Cultivation: What's Her Deal and Should you Trust Her?"
- "BTW The Heralds are Nuts and Wandering Around"
- "Your Slaves Can Totes Become Magical Monster-Warriors. Lolz"
- "You're the Voidbringers. Ha!"
- "Odium Wants These Perfect Gem Things: Here's Why. Maybe Hide 'Em If Ya Got 'Em" 

These are all things we know he knows, and there is no logical reason why he should provide some information that would both help them and further his own designs. He obviously has no qualms influencing the conflict or even helping out. He actively schemed to help Shallan infiltrate the palace in Kholinar, and apparently told Jasnah about the Voidbringers and who knows what else. The problem with this character is that he would be just so damnation USEFUL if he ever did anything. The whole enigmatic thing works fine if he only has a cameo here and there, with mysterious purposes. But when he is showing up for decent stretches of time and clearly offering aid to the protagonists, it starts to be a problem. I get that he is worried about revealing himself to Odium, but just writing out some advice or lore would not put him at any added risk and could have SERIOUSLY aided those fighting Odium at multiple points, and still could. From a narrative standpoint, Hoid's competency is a problem. The more he is actually involved in a story the stranger it becomes when he doesn't actually DO more or have a larger impact on events.It is strange from a worldbuilding perspective when we have these ancient conflicts playing out, epic figures like the Heralds who have existed for thousands upon thousands of years, Fused that have fought them again and again in an endless cycle....and then this wisecracking worldhopper older than any of them who can't die, knows basically everything, has basically every magic power, is apparently on the side of our heroes, and yet only parcels out his help/knowledge in small, mostly insubstantial increments. It kind of undercuts everything else that is going on.  And I guess I'm just wondering if others agree that we are nearing a tipping point with this. How much Hoid is too much? At what point does his inclusion cheapen the efforts of the actual main characters and disrupt the tension of the conflicts playing out (since this character is a constant reminder that a game is being played on a whole other level off-stage)?

Edited by Naerin
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I tend to agree with you. While I do read everything, and am happy to catch the little easter eggs and crossovers, I do have reservations about how central some of these crossovers are becoming. When every single time someone posts asking about reading order, new readers are told to go read Warbreaker before going into Words of Radiance, that feels wrong to me.

As far as Hoid is concerned, I just don't like him. I enjoyed him in the role of Wit, but would have liked it just as much in that role if it was an entirely new character. The more he reveals himself to other characters, the less I like him. Similarly, the way 90% of cosmere discussions come back around to talking about how cool and awesome Hoid is... it just rubs me the wrong way. He feels like an overpowered DMPC in an otherwise great D&D campaign. I suspect we are in a minority opinion on him though.

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I wasn't very surprised about them not making a big deal about Vivenna's sword. It's a shardblade, and hers apparently killed like a normal shardblade instead of on all 3 realms. Some of the characters have been exposed to different types of Blades already, like Honorblades. The world is completely changing... surges are new, parshman were slaves, and now parshmen have surges. How unique is a shardblade that doesn't dismiss after everything these people have been through?

 

What I was a bit surprised about is how no one wondered about Nightblood after the battle. He 1shot 360 noscoped a thunderclast, and wiped out half of the Sadeas army. That should have raised some questions beyond Lift wondering why it tried to eat her.

 

As for Hoid he has his own concerns beyond the fight for Roshar. Bonding a spren was more important than winning the current battles for him.

Edited by Canucck
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Having occasionally read books in the "wrong order", I don't think this would be as big of a deal as you think. We've run into a *lot* of characters in these books that have veiled backstories that we don't know a lot about, and some we learn more and some are just there to move the story along.  Azure has some definitely weird things about her, but there are much more important things to focus on for the characters.

I find Hoid amusing and interesting; I guess I can kinda see your perspective, but don't really share it. You don't need to know anything about him to appreciate the story; as for Warbreaker, reading Edgedancer is *way* more important than reading Warbreaker.  The only reason you need to read warbreaker first is if you want background on nightblood, which -- let's face it -- doesn't *really* tell you that much anyway.  We get hints in Warbreaker about nightblood but not a lot of concrete information. You won't understand as well why he is so weird if you didn't read it but you won't miss anything important in the story, because it's pretty apparent right off when he gets used how powerful he is -- in fact, we didn't see him used half as much in Warbreaker anyway.

You can't please everyone, and I think he erred on the side of making fans who have read all his books happier with the cameos turned up a bit... and it's hard to blame him for giving people who spend more of their money on his books what they want. I might blame him if he'd made it so you couldn't enjoy it otherwise, but I really don't think he did.

Just my $0.02.

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Brandon has indicated that Vasher and Nightblood were always Stormlight characters first,  and that Warbreaker was written to provide their backstory.

In addition, Brandon does not intend to keep the Cosmere stories separate with only cameos connecting them forever. He's been rather upfront that, the further we go along in the timeline, the more interconnected they will get.

Your understanding about the wider Cosmere not being necessary to enjoy the stories is correct for the early works,  but it isn't a goal Sanderson has set for the entire sequence. We've already seen the Mistborn storylines start getting more deeply involved with the larger Cosmere.

That said, Roshar is certainly going faster into the wider Cosmere scope than I expected, but I still don't think we've passed the point of "essential to the story" yet.  Except maybe Warbreaker,  but that seems to have been intentional from the start.

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Hoid/wit has appeared as a weird possibly magic dude who is around for some other reason but drops in to see you since he’s there over and over in WoK and WoR. If we didn’t already know him from other books he’d be the number one or two topic of speculation anyway. 

Dead shardblades cant be cool for 10 books. We need dead shard blades from book one to see why other things like honor blades, zombie blades (adolin), toddler blades (night blood), gluten-cruelty free blades (vivennas new one she’s trading Spren the tech for) and True-death blades (Moash’s new toy). Nightblood in the context of magic blades on roshar is just no more mysterious than anything else.

Future generations will treat Stormlight Archives like lord of the rings. The entire rest of the cosmere is the simillarian lost tales etc.

sorry for capitalization and typos 

baby “sleeping” on me

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Seonid said:

Brandon has indicated that Vasher and Nightblood were always Stormlight characters first,  and that Warbreaker was written to provide their backstory.

In addition, Brandon does not intend to keep the Cosmere stories separate with only cameos connecting them forever. He's been rather upfront that, the further we go along in the timeline, the more interconnected they will get.

Your understanding about the wider Cosmere not being necessary to enjoy the stories is correct for the early works,  but it isn't a goal Sanderson has set for the entire sequence. We've already seen the Mistborn storylines start getting more deeply involved with the larger Cosmere.

That said, Roshar is certainly going faster into the wider Cosmere scope than I expected, but I still don't think we've passed the point of "essential to the story" yet.  Except maybe Warbreaker,  but that seems to have been intentional from the start.

My understanding is that Stormlight was always intended to be the big crossover series. That's why the worldhoppers tend to be more noticeable than they usually are in other Cosmere books.

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With regard to Hoid, I don't think he has as much freedom to act as his character sometimes suggests. He knows where he has to be and when, but not why. He can't harm mortals (at least in the physical realm) and is really hard to hurt himself. He's also overmatched in a fair fight by Odium and actively hunted by him. He's also likely quite insane, I don't know that his eccentricity is all an act. Certainly anyone who held a grudge for the length of time has would be considered at least slightly disordered in our society.

The idea that power is a synonym of freedom is fallacious in the cosmere. As the shards themselves indicate, the more power a being accumulates the more restricted its actions are. Even the invested mortals need some kind of impairment (broken) to attain that power. That's not completely at odds with real life. Power attracts opposition, which restricts freedom. Without the notice that power attracts you are free to move and act. Hoid strikes me as someone powerful trying to avoid notice so that he can act, but finding the freedom only allows the smallest of interventions.

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Ok, well here’s my two coppers on Hoid... He is like Gandalf for those of you who understand that particular archetype. He is not one to directly intervene unless it serves his direct purpose. It has been stated he is on a quest of some sort. Most will guess that’s the downfall of Odium but it might not be... But the main area he is pertinent is that Hoid in helping the main characters would draw Odium’s attention. Enough of these andHoid would be spotted so he helps in little ways, usually behind the scenes to avoid further scrutiny. He can play on Rayse’s hubris to a certain degree but if he shows up too much one of the Fused or Unmade is gonna bring it to their master’s attention then Hoid will either have to step out or step up. At this point it seems to be too soon or Hoid isn’t far enough in his quest to actually do much about it yet. 

We know Hoid is going to be the main protagonist eventually (MB era4, which has interesting connotations itself if Odium is his target...) but before then I doubt we will see him interacting as anything but a sideline coach...

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On why Hoid doesn't help the protagonists more than he already is: I honestly think that he just doesn't care too much about the problems of a single planet. His interest in Shallan is probably because of her ability to lightweave, which (as Khriss points out in the Ars Arcanum) is the most similar variant of lightweaving, to the original variant on Yollen.

Other than that, as you said in your original post, he has his own plans and goals and as he tells Dalinar in tWoK "I would watch this world burn to achieve my goals"[paraphrased]. Its not a satisfying answer, but its probably the reason.

1 more point: Ash says to Taln when he becomes lucid "They say its been four millennia. I don't always... note the passing of time" and Nale is surprised that food he left in a cave for years had decayed. I'm not sure if this applies to Hoid as well, but if time has less meaning for him as well then I think it makes sense that he wouldn't be concerned about the events happening right in front of him, and would be more concerned with achieving his goals.

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I like the idea of Hoid needing to be in specific locations at specific times, for unknown reasons. When you can't know why you're somewhere, you don't have time to dawdle, because the reason could pop up at any time.

I think that's why he bumped into Shallan in the first place, so he can learn about her, so he can learn how to attract a Cryptic. Now, he's joined with another piece of investiture, a piece of Honor/Cultivation, presumably his whole goal.

I doubt Hoid has the freedom for anything but tiny detours.

 

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To make an analogy, the Stormlight Archive to the rest of the Cosmere series is like the Avengers to the rest of the Marvel movies.  If these were just crossovers, it would be a bit much.  They're not, though.  SA is what the other series have been leading up to.  Readers who want to skip Warbreaker or Mistborn or Elantris (and so on) will lose out some, but they aren't going to be unable to enjoy SA as a standalone series (even though it really isn't that).

Hoid's actions make sense to me.  He isn't bebopping around trying to save people.  He is pursuing the destruction of a god.  Interfering with events too drastically will reveal his presence and force a direct confrontation (not good for him or his cause).  So he creeps around gathering knowledge and skills and nudging people in directions that will be useful to him.  Sometimes he nudges people out of the goodness of his heart, but I think that is an exception and not his default behavior.  His actions also seem limited by some boons/curses (from a greater source than the Nightwatcher or Cultivation -- possibly Adonalsium???).  He can't be killed and he can't hurt other people.  He knows where he needs to be but not why he needs to be there.

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Remember, Hoid said that if Odium even had a hint that Hoid was in Kholinar he would completely wipe out the city for even a small chance of killing him. So it makes complete sense for him to stay mostly in the background.

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11 hours ago, taxilian said:

Having occasionally read books in the "wrong order", I don't think this would be as big of a deal as you think. We've run into a *lot* of characters in these books that have veiled backstories that we don't know a lot about, and some we learn more and some are just there to move the story along.  Azure has some definitely weird things about her, but there are much more important things to focus on for the characters.

I find Hoid amusing and interesting; I guess I can kinda see your perspective, but don't really share it. You don't need to know anything about him to appreciate the story; as for Warbreaker, reading Edgedancer is *way* more important than reading Warbreaker.  The only reason you need to read warbreaker first is if you want background on nightblood, which -- let's face it -- doesn't *really* tell you that much anyway.  We get hints in Warbreaker about nightblood but not a lot of concrete information. You won't understand as well why he is so weird if you didn't read it but you won't miss anything important in the story, because it's pretty apparent right off when he gets used how powerful he is -- in fact, we didn't see him used half as much in Warbreaker anyway.

You can't please everyone, and I think he erred on the side of making fans who have read all his books happier with the cameos turned up a bit... and it's hard to blame him for giving people who spend more of their money on his books what they want. I might blame him if he'd made it so you couldn't enjoy it otherwise, but I really don't think he did.

Just my $0.02.

I agree with this persepctive. I prefer slightly too much and confusing newbies to not enough and starving for more.

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So, here's the thing. I have seen more than one person express similar complaints about Hoid. I feel like if you have a problem with him, you're going to have major problems down the line. Because at the end of the day, Hoid is the soul of the Cosmere. He is the primary bridge between worlds. One could make an arguement that he is not intruding in the Stormlight Archive, but that Dalinar and co. are intruding on his story. I feel like if we were reading from his perspective instead, we would be saying similar things about Altethi politics and Rosharan Lightweavers intruding on Hoid's story. At the end of the day, Hoid is the closest thing the Cosmere overall has to a main character. Stormlight is the tipping point, where things apparently start heading for full crossover. If that's the case, then Hoid is going to start showing up and interfering more as the books go on. If you have a problem with some relatively minor "intrusions" here, you may not like where the Cosmere is headed. Because like it or not, Hoid is here to stay. At the very least until Mistborn space opera. 

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I've seen a couple comments like this, and I generally think people who have read the other Cosmere books are more aware of these things, which makes them stand out more. There are so many unexplained things just within the setting of Stormlight itself (Voidbinding anyone?) that I don't think one sword that works slightly differently than expected is a huge deal for the characters.

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On ‎11‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 0:02 AM, Naerin said:

....and then this wisecracking worldhopper older than any of them who can't die, knows basically everything, has basically every magic power, is apparently on the side of our heroes, and yet only parcels out his help/knowledge in small, mostly insubstantial increments. It kind of undercuts everything else that is going on.  

You were definitely one of those people who wondered why the eagles didn't just fly the One Ring to Mt. Doom in LOTR, weren't you?

To actually answer the OP, the thing is that Hoid IS helping. We have seen him offer help and advice to almost all of the KR. Maybe it's not enough in your opinion, but Hoid is helping in one significant way you aren't considering: the letters.

It very well may be that only a god can successfully oppose another god. If so, then there's no point in revealing his knowledge since that will simply encourage those to whom he reveals things to ask more questions and expect more active involvement from him. Obviously Hoid is trying to fly under the radar in order to avoid detection by Odium.

Hoid's M.O. is to help as many people escape oppression as he can while interfering as little as possible, as we have seen from him in each of his appearances.

Edited by KidWayne
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I kind of see it like The Hobbit and LotR.  You don't need to read The Hobbit and see how Bilbo found the ring in order to enjoy LotR.  Same with SA and Warbreaker/other Cosmere works.

Extending that analogy, you don't need to read The Silmarillion in order to understand and enjoy LotR.

From what I understand, and what Brandon has said over the years, while the Cosmere is more prominent in SA, it's not meant to be the big main Cosmere series that he's hinted at.

Edited by RShara
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I think looking at it more from a viewpoint where you see all the Cosmere stuff as integral plot and backstory to what the SA is all about it makes it more engaging. I think what's happening on Roshar has the most connection with the Shattering of Adonalsium and as such will have much more of a connection to the Cosmere on the whole.

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A lot of the novels have happened in quick succession (Warbreaker, SA, W and W, and in Cosmeric terms, shortly after MB1 as well) which inherently means that the focus is around this rwally key period in Cosmeric chronology - MB1 seems to have been to set up where Harmony is now, which may be relevant to SA, but for Warbreaker it is all about setting up the characters (I include NB in that) for Stormlight

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I'm a fan of this thread, and the questions raised within.

Simply put, the more we see Hoid on screen and the more he interacts with our main characters, the less satisfying it is unless we can understand him. We still don't understand him, so we have no basis to judge his motivations and thus have no lens in which to interpret his actions.

Why is he in Kholinar? What is he there for, and what does he expect to do once he's accomplished his goal? You can ask the same questions for him in each of his appearances in every Cosmere story, but as his involvement increases, so do the expectations we have as readers.

Right now, I think he's a poorly done character because his involvement has reached the point of distracting because we know so little about him. We need to know more about who he is and why he's doing what he's doing, specific to the story we read, in order to appreciate what's going on.

I was fine with him dropping Adonalsium on Dalinar and hining at mysteries and motivations far beyond the scale of even Jasnah. What I'm not OK with is him acting as Shallan's therapist and becoming a Lightweaver while remaining the same strange, mysterious, inscrutable, and supposedly powerful figure. The more he acts as therapist and budding Radiant, the more we need to know about him. The less we know about him, the less we should see of him directly interacting and influencing the story.

However, ultimately I've got enough from this book to keep me interested. Hoid, by his own admission, the kind of guy who runs alongside the boulder of time and, once in a while, tries to give it a little nudge. At the risk of stretching metaphors, he may also have been the one to push the boulder onto this particular path in the first place.

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I'm going to have to agree with those siding against the OP here.

The only thing I think is close to being a problem would be Hoid, but even at this point his motives and magic appear to be clearer to me than many other "old magician" archetypes from most fantasy books (I still don't 100% understand Gandalf, Merlin (from nearly any of the 100's of books on him), Elodin (Name of the Wind), or even Dumbledore).  Part of what makes Hoid so interesting is the mystery behind him, and I think that mystery actually gets more confusing for those of us who know the most about him (like why does he play therapist for Shallan and Kal when we have WoB stating that Hoid is not a nice guy). Even thought I'm dying to know more about Hoid, I don't think knowledge about him is essential at this point. And in reality, I'm just happy to know that at some point we will understand him better (unlike all the other mysteries so many authors leave unanswered). I also don't think we know enough about Hoid's constraints or objectives to know why he doesn't appear to be more active in his fight against Odium (we also don't know enough about Odium to understand how hard Hoid has to try to avoid detection by Odium). Hence, I don't hold it against Brandon or Hoid that Hoid isn't more actively fighting

I think that it is unlikely that anyone would question Nightblood or Azure and her weapon too closely (either as a reader or character). The surgebinding, voidbringing, the old magic, Aimians, spren in general, oathgates, the Unmade, etc. are examples of things that readers and characters don't really understand. It is only if you are Cosmere-aware that some of us understand that some things aren't native to Roshar. 

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Part of telling a story on this massive scale is having different plot elements moving at different speeds.  Some things are introduced and then resolved within a chapter, some within a single book, while others are just hinted at in early books only to be brought to the fore in later ones.   Hoid is at the extreme end of this, as his story will span all 35+ or whatever it is Cosmere novels in total.  That means he needs to progress VERY VERY slowly, with just tiny tidbits of information in each of the earlier books.

This glacial pace can be frustrating to those of us who pore over every little detail trying to uncover secrets, but for those who aren't coming online to endlessly theorize and analyze everything, I think he'll just appear as one more mysterious detail that will presumably be explained later on.

One huge thing that changed in OB is the explanation of Hoid being ancient.  Those who follow the Cosmere closely already knew all about this from Words of Brandon, but this was the first in-book mention that Hoid's age is on a par with that of Heralds, Shards, etc.

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Might I remind everyone of this WoB?

Quote

Questioner

Whats up with Hoid? He's not a Shard. Is he good? Evil? Indifferent? I'm starting to question whats going on with him.

Brandon Sanderson

He has his own unique motivations. There are definitely people who would call him good and definitely people who would call him evil. He was around at the Shattering of Adonalsium but is not a Shardholder or a Vessel for a Shard of Adonalsium. 

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/90-barnes-noble-b-fest-2016/#e4624

You know, just a reminder that Hoid isn't necessarily a protagonist in every way. Does he oppose Odium? Yes, which means that as long as Odium is the antagonist of SA, Hoid will be on the side of the protagonists. However, you still get stories like Emperor's Soul where Hoid was a lot more of an antagonist than a protagonist.

Just, you know, keep an open mind when it comes to Hoid. Just because he is (as far as I can know without having read it) Dragonsteel's protagonist doesn't mean he'll be a protagonist in the general Cosmere plot.

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