Blightsong

[OB] The Origin of the Singers

30 posts in this topic

Introduction

There has always been something about the Parshendi that has bothered me, something that felt uncharacteristically off. After months of thinking on it, I think I've come up with a viable theory related to this. I think I've mentioned this on the Discord in the past, so a few of you may have talked to me about this at some point already, but I've only just pulled these thoughts together. Enjoy!

The Singers Don't Fit

This has always been strange to me. There are no species even remotely similar to Singers on Roshar. No other bipedal (or close) creatures. No Singer equivalent to monkeys. Nothing. Brandon has always been very meticulous about his world-building and the wildlife involved. Especially considering that Dysian Aimians do have creatures closely similar to them, and seem to have developed consciousness in a completely different way.

This oddness becomes even more apparent when considering that Singers, creatures who allegedly evolved completely separately from humans, can mate with humans and create viable off-spring.

Theory

There is another animal like this on Roshar. One that doesn't fit (as Renarin so keenly points out), one that i think may be related to all of this. Ryshadium. They are able to form symbiotic relationships with spren, have carapace hooves, and are still able to mate with regular horses. My theory is that Singers are derived, somehow, from the human species. Whether they were somehow magically transformed from living humans into what they are now or Adonalsium changed the formula slightly and stuck it on Roshar, I am not sure. This theory also extends to Siah Aimians, another species that really seems out of place on Roshar. It is also possible that if a alien species exists on a planet they were not from originally from long enough, some effect related to Connection may transform them into something similar to what already exists on the world, or something similar, although this is a much more crackpot theory if I'm being honest. Read the below WoB with this in mind.

Spoiler

CCQ

You said that Ryshadium experience sentience through a spren. But I just didn't understand how that's possible. Most of them are through tension, gravitation, *inaudible*... nothing cognitive.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, yes. So all-- so non-sapient creatures that get Invested in don't gain powers until they gain *inaudible*.

CCQ

How does that fit into the larger picture?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, how does that fit? It's mostly-- you can start seeing that-- things that forces are adapting to the Roshar ecology. Does that make sense? Because a lot of Rosharan-- other creatures-- have bonds with spren. Very common. And so--

CCQ

I know. I noticed the chasmfiend *inaudible*, whatever you want to call it.  I don't know how that works.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You'll see the next book kind of explores it a little bit. But yes... but yeah. I'm just going to leave it at that.

Conclusion

I'm sure i dont have all of the puzzle pieces connected yet, but this is the kind of super obvious twist that I've learned Brandon likes to pull on us. Let me know what you guys think!

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14 minutes ago, Arch said:

I agree that it's strange that they can mate with eachother, but I remember Wob saying that the Listeners and Humans don't have a common ancestor and are not some sort of mutation. I'd have to find it though

Edit: here it is https://wob.coppermind.net/events/188-general-reddit-2015/#e3922

We discussed this WoB on the Discord just now. We concluded that 'no common ancestor' can mean that the Yolenese and hypothetical Roshar variant were created separately.

Edit: For example, Scadrians and Yolenese don't have a literal common ancestor, but can mate. 

Edited by Blightsong
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Ok, but your theory was that they were derived from eachother. Were you just trying to say that they weren't created through evolution? That both humans and singers were created by Adonalsium?

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Just now, Arch said:

Ok, but your theory was that they were derived from eachother. Were you just trying to say that they weren't created through evolution? That both humans and singers were created by Adonalsium?

"Derived from" does not equal "Share a common ancestor".

I think that that is one possibility.

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What other possibilities are there?

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27 minutes ago, Arch said:

What other possibilities are there?

That humans existed on Roshar, created separately from the Yolen variety, and slowly became what we see now through some magical effect. Read the below snippet from the above WoB with this in mind. 

Spoiler

Yeah, how does that fit? It's mostly-- you can start seeing that-- things that forces are adapting to the Roshar ecology. Does that make sense?

I think that some sort of adaptation may have taken place, although this possibility is much more crackpot.

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You make a good point at how different the Singers and Ryshadium are from the rest of the Rosharan ecosystem. I just came from another thread on the origins of the Ryshadium, and I found this quote from Arcanum unbounded to be useful.

Quote

... and there is even a race of equines that – through the spren bond – have adapted to life on the planet and obtained a high enough level of self-awareness to nearly be named a sapient species. 

 – Arcanum Unbounded, The Rosharan System 

By the usage of the word "adapted", we can infer that Ryshadium are not native to Roshar. 

I'm tempted to say that the Singers may not even be native, merely the first migrants, but they are not that removed from the Rosharan ecosystem (many Forms incorporate carapace, they have gemhearts like Greatshells, etc.).

Also your point on Dysian Aimians developing consciousness in a different way, with clear ties to the Rosharan ecosystem, has made me appreciate them, and Brandon's worldbuilding by extension, so much more. 

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Another thing of note that has bugged me pretty much since WoK: Blood. 

Singer/Parsh blood is always described as being orange and smelling moldy, and the narrative references that often. One context is that that is continously mentioned to set them apart from red blooded humans, but we see the orange and red blood of singers and humans repeatedly juxtaposed with the purple blood of cremlings, axehounds and greatshells. Now animals in real life (several clades of invertebrates for example) have blood markedly different than our red stuff, but as @Blightsongsaid it's never just one species. It's whole groups with similar blood chemistry so you can derive lines of decent and evolution by comparing and contrasting. Singers are the *only* life forms we see on Roshan with orange blood.

So I think it's likely that they themselves are not related to the rest of the ecology on Roshar. They might have been humans long ago, or they might have been something else from somewhere else. But I'm not even convinced they are native to this planet. In fact how ironic would it be that the "true inhabitants" of the planet fighting the "invaders" are just an older group of migrants who have had longer to adapt? And the only truly indigenous sentient life, the Amiens, are more or less reduced to a side player in their own world. Do we ever see Axies or one of the Sleepless bleed and find out what color their blood is? 

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14 minutes ago, Zalocx said:

Another thing of note that has bugged me pretty much since WoK: Blood. 

Singer/Parsh blood is always described as being orange and smelling moldy, and the narrative references that often. One context is that that is continously mentioned to set them apart from red blooded humans, but we see the orange and red blood of singers and humans repeatedly juxtaposed with the purple blood of cremlings, axehounds and greatshells. Now animals in real life (several clades of invertebrates for example) have blood markedly different than our red stuff, but as @Blightsongsaid it's never just one species. It's whole groups with similar blood chemistry so you can derive lines of decent and evolution by comparing and contrasting. Singers are the *only* life forms we see on Roshan with orange blood.

So I think it's likely that they themselves are not related to the rest of the ecology on Roshar. They might have been humans long ago, or they might have been something else from somewhere else. But I'm not even convinced they are native to this planet. In fact how ironic would it be that the "true inhabitants" of the planet fighting the "invaders" are just an older group of migrants who have had longer to adapt? And the only truly indigenous sentient life, the Amiens, are more or less reduced to a side player in their own world. Do we ever see Axies or one of the Sleepless bleed and find out what color their blood is? 

As far as I know, we haven't seen an Aimian of either type bleed on-screen. However, in the Prelude, Kalak walks through a battlefield that contains both orange and violet blood. I think it's likely the purple is intended to Aimian blood (probably Dysian); Arclo alludes to having fought alongside the Knights Radiant in the past.

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A long long time ago, when Way of Kings was just released I remember reading Brandon's commentary somewhere about co-existence of humans and parshmen on Roshar as a parallel to humans and Neanderthals. Since that quote, I've essentially imagined parshmen and the Parshendi as the Neanderthals of Roshar. 

I think, given the evidence, I can buy a version of Blightsong's theory. The Singers' bonds with Roshar spren are fairly ancient, because these bonds grant them adaptations that other, native Rosharan species receive.  So, potentially, the ancestors of the Singers could also be from a different planet, but brought to Roshar in pre-Shattering time.

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1 hour ago, BeskarKomrk said:

As far as I know, we haven't seen an Aimian of either type bleed on-screen. However, in the Prelude, Kalak walks through a battlefield that contains both orange and violet blood. I think it's likely the purple is intended to Aimian blood (probably Dysian); Arclo alludes to having fought alongside the Knights Radiant in the past.

We do have this though, and considering their physiology, it's not hard to guess which is which. 

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/86/#e5674

Quote

Havoc (paraphrased)

What color is Aimian blood?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Good question! The question is, which type of Aimian? That would be my first response. The two different varieties have two different colors of blood.

 

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So humans exist already on Roshar and adapt to the ecology by somehow taking in investiture and creating a gemheart and bonding spren. Spren get more from their bond with humans than from animals and a bunch of types of spren want to do it, leading to the forms. Making them the Singers. 

I like the idea even if it's very speculative. We should reread every ancient text with this in mind :ph34r:

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5 hours ago, Ookla the Indivergable said:

So humans exist already on Roshar and adapt to the ecology by somehow taking in investiture and creating a gemheart and bonding spren. Spren get more from their bond with humans than from animals and a bunch of types of spren want to do it, leading to the forms. Making them the Singers. 

I like the idea even if it's very speculative. We should reread every ancient text with this in mind :ph34r:

I've already been on this. I think the two below quotes may be related, and that the original clash between the Roshar "Natives" and the Humans may have been instigated by the Sleepless, who were jealous of the humans and what they could do.

Quote

From Oathbringer's back cover:

"We may soon hold Surges again, for the Radiance has returned to some, and shines toward others." 

Quote

From the Listener songs:

The betrayal of spren has brought us here. / They gave their Surges to human heirs, / But not to those who know them most dear, before us.

If my theory is correct, the Dysians likely inhabited Roshar before the Singers. It is also evident that they have more knowledge of spren (they can make ancient fabrials) than the Listeners. Ive been suspicious about how little the Dysians have been talked about when it comes to their involvement in the past.

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This ties in to my theory that Listeners are genetically closely related to humans, because humans+Listeners= fertile hybrids, which IRL indicates a recent common ancestor. I like the idea that Adonalsium created the original Rosharan humans separately from the Yolenese, but these original Rosharans evolved into Listeners.

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5 hours ago, Blightsong said:

I've already been on this. I think the two below quotes may be related, and that the original clash between the Roshar "Natives" and the Humans may have been instigated by the Sleepless, who were jealous of the humans and what they could do.

If my theory is correct, the Dysians likely inhabited Roshar before the Singers. It is also evident that they have more knowledge of spren (they can make ancient fabrials) than the Listeners. Ive been suspicious about how little the Dysians have been talked about when it comes to their involvement in the past.

Yeah there's something really fishy about how intentionally absent the Dysian Amian view of past events or even representation when we know they were there. I have a feeling the presence of gemhearts within a creature (I wouldn't be surprised to find out Ryshadium have them as well) has something to do with fabrial tech and Aimia.

 

Edit: I am currently doing a re-read of the whole SLA and found that part where Kalak notes red, orange, and purple blood veeeeeery telling. If you piece that viewpoint together with another from the same day in history in Dalinar's vision where he sees the burning pile of cremlings I think it's easy to put two and two together. Dysian Aimians most likely bleed Purple.

Edited by Ookla the Beardspren
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13 hours ago, Zalocx said:

Do we ever see Axies or one of the Sleepless bleed and find out what color their blood is? 

Axies probably bleeds ink, considering all those tattoos...

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I agree that the lack of species even remotely similar to the Parshendi is suspicious, as is the different blood color.  Would be fascinating (and a great reflection of real world debates about mass migration and history) if they turned out to also be non-native.

My doubt, though, is how fundamental the spren are to their sapience.  This isn't like the Rhyshadium where horse + spren = super horse.   Without spren, the Parshendi are non functional in a way that I can't imagine was their original natural state.  The different forms seem so foundational to who they are, I just can't imagine an ancestor race of what effectively would have been slaveform before they arrived on Roshar and figured out how to bond a spren.  Certainly, their sprenless form seems very different to humans,

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10 hours ago, shawnhargreaves said:

I agree that the lack of species even remotely similar to the Parshendi is suspicious, as is the different blood color.  Would be fascinating (and a great reflection of real world debates about mass migration and history) if they turned out to also be non-native.

My doubt, though, is how fundamental the spren are to their sapience.  This isn't like the Rhyshadium where horse + spren = super horse.   Without spren, the Parshendi are non functional in a way that I can't imagine was their original natural state.  The different forms seem so foundational to who they are, I just can't imagine an ancestor race of what effectively would have been slaveform before they arrived on Roshar and figured out how to bond a spren.  Certainly, their sprenless form seems very different to humans,

Creatures can evolve in such a way that what used to be only a minor adaption becomes essential to their identity as a species. I see your point, but I don't think it's that detrimental to the theory.

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My argument against: The "most ancient spren" had 4 genders because they were "not thought of by humans".  In order for the Listeners to be human descendants, there would have to be humans first.  Given that spren are the physical manifestations of the Cognitive personification of forces, elements, and concepts, this suggests that either the humans did indeed come later (as the stele suggests) or that the proto-humanoids were so cognitively deficient compared to modern humans that they could not possibly have been imagining spren.

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1 hour ago, Brgst13 said:

My argument against: The "most ancient spren" had 4 genders because they were "not thought of by humans".  In order for the Listeners to be human descendants, there would have to be humans first.  Given that spren are the physical manifestations of the Cognitive personification of forces, elements, and concepts, this suggests that either the humans did indeed come later (as the stele suggests) or that the proto-humanoids were so cognitively deficient compared to modern humans that they could not possibly have been imagining spren.

Here is the relevant quote:

Quote

Of course, some of the old spren have four genders instead of two.”

Only some old spren have four genders. This line could possibly be in favor of my theory, but I think that's a bit of a stretch.

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@Blightsong Something to consider.

 

Quote

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Basic stuff about the 2 types of Aimians, both of which have extended control of their own biology, both of which more or less refugees. He also said that they have cosmere significance.

I found this recently and have been trying to reconcile it with my belief that the Dysians at least are native and grew out of Roshar's ecological system. That word "refugees" is really bothering me though. 

Combined with this...

Quote

Questioner

Are all Hordelings Cremlings and vise versa?

Brandon Sanderson

Cremling is a synonym in Roshar for both, insect and small crustation, right? And so you would see one and you would see that's a little crayfish. Cremling is not an exact term if that makes sense. It's like bug. The word "bug" people can use to mean a lot of different things.[...] So, yes, they look like Cremlings, because they've been bred to look like Cremlings, so they will not be noticed on Roshar, but there are Hordelings that do not look like Cremlings. But they would still be called a Cremling by the people on Roshar. The occasional people (?) used the word insect, 'cause that word does exist on Roshar. Usually make refers to like little flying bugs that you only find in the very far west of Roshar near the mountains, but yeah.

And I'm having doubts. 

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The use of the word 'refugee' could refer to how they were forced out of most of Roshar. Could also refer to what happened with the Scouring and all that. I feel like I have this idea that the aimians have formed a society on Aimia, but that could be totally false and they could be a people scattered across Roshar. That is also a paraphrase, so the diction could be inaccurate.

Quote

"they've been bred to look like Cremlings"

I think it was me and you that discussed this on the Discord. You made a good point in that it is possible that the Dysians originally were aliens and looked very different, but bred to fit their environment.

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1 hour ago, Blightsong said:

I think it was me and you that discussed this on the Discord. You made a good point in that it is possible that the Dysians originally were aliens and looked very different, but bred to fit their environment.

Possibly. I'm not sure. I've been circling these WoBs for about a week because I've always thought that the Sleepless are native, and that they couldn't have developed elsewhere. Your refugee idea, with them being scattered makes sense. The bred to imitate cremlings one really screws with my thought process though. What are they? 

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WoB from the Houston signing should end the debate over Parshendi as human descendents:

Spoiler

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Is the Dawnchant native to Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah. Dawnchant is what... they were speaking when humans came over. It is their language. It is the Dawnsingers' language. So yeah, that is native to Roshar.

I think this makes things pretty clear that the Listeners were here and then the humans arrived,

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