lizbusby

Mormon Parallels in Words of Radiance

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So I'm hoping this topic can remain as civil as the last LDS connections in Brandon's work thread. I'm not even sure there's much for people to say, but when I was reading this book, I had two Mormon connections scream at me, so I had to get them out:

 

1. Kaladin's internal debate over whether to kill Elhokar: In the beginning of the Book of Mormon (1st Nephi 4), a righteous man (Nephi) is commanded to slay a man in order to bring back the scriptures for his family. A couple of quotes from this chapter seem to have direct parallels in Kaladin's struggle. First, Nephi comes upon Laban drunk and passed out in the streets, and is commanded by the Holy Spirit to kill him. It's interesting that Kaladin makes exactly the opposite choice. I listened to the audiobook, so I don't have the direct quote, but he says, "If I was going to kill him, I'd do it out in the open in front of everyone, not when he's lying there helpless and drunk."

 

As Nephi is debating the morality of slaying this man with the Spirit, the Spirit says, "Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief." In addition to the obvious way that Kaladin goes directly counter to this statement, this idea is a major tie in to the Taravangian plot-line as well: who has the right to say a man's death is for the greater good?

 

Anyway, as a Mormon reading this Kaladin scene, it seemed like it was constructed to directly contrast with this scriptural story, and it really enhanced my reading of it.

 

2. Dalinar's visions being exposed at the party: When Dalinar found the altered vision texts going around at the party, my mind instantly went to a story from early in the life of Joseph Smith. After translating the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, these pages were lent to an associate from whom they were then stolen. Smith received a revelation that stated he should not retranslate these pages because his enemies would alter the previous translation, so that the comparison would discredit him. I dunno, maybe this is a tenuous stretch, but it instantly jumped to my (Mormon) mind in reading this scene with Dalinar being discredited with a slightly altered version of the truth.

 

What do you think? Not sure where I'm going with this, but wanted to share in case anyone else is interested.

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The second also made me think of that Joseph Smith story. The first one I don't see. But the quote from Kaladin fits well. I am also Mormon and I listened to the audio book while working. When Kaladin speaks the 3rd ideal I was talking with a particularly incompetent employee I wanted to slap around. It made me think twice. Then the old saying of "We are all gods children" poped in my mind. I then changed it to "We are all gods tien's" made me calm down and do some training.

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On pages 887 and 888, Shallan has a discussion with Pattern. He explains to her how spren first live together in the cognitive realm, and when they bond to a human, they pass through a sort of veil into the material realm. They gain an identity, but lose their memories. It seemed like the most Mormony thing ever.

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Yes, I've been trying to tie the three realms to Mormonness for a while. Well spotted.

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I think that the world/religious view of any author act as a filter through which the story is navigates from potential to written form.   Both the untapped potential divinity of the human spirit and sacredness of human relationship struck me as themes that are also central in the LDS church the first moments I started reading Sanderson's.  Brandon also writes spiritual experience well.  This is something I find many authors fail at.

 

That being said, the same themes are also prominent in Baha'i, Mystic Christianity / Islam / Judaism, many strands of Eastern faiths and New Age / Neo paganism.  I think one of the beautiful things about good fantasy is that it transcends religious boundaries and evokes something primal in the human spirit.  

 

I think it takes a special open-mindedness of belief, a great deal of empathy for others, and a strong connection to mystery of life to be a great fantasy author.  Luckily, Brandon seems to have this.

 

- Jerich

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All true, Jerish. However, no matter how many commonalities all religions have, they are, in the end, different from each other. As an English major, I find it interesting to look for hints of the author's specific background in books. I'm not saying the books are secretly trying to convert everyone; I'm just saying that growing up in a strong religious environment has an impact on the stories you choose to write.

Another thought on the spren thing: Mormons believe we existed first as intelligences, then we're molded by God into spiritual beings, and finally given physical bodies. I feel like we've heard very little about the spiritual realm in Brandon's books. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) I wonder if this gives us any hint about the interaction between it and the other realms. Maybe the reason spren have such a hard time understanding people is because they pass straight from cognitive to physical, lacking a spiritual component even though the have a slight physical component.

Edited by lizbusby
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This connection isn't nearly so religiously deep, but I burst out laughing when I made the connection.

Remember when Adolin and Shallan are talking over lunch and Adolin says "it is all right for Jasnah to run around in her middle thirties without a spouse, but if I reach my 23 birthday without a bride I'm some kind of menace." Well, there is a very similar quote floating around mormon culture, usually atributed to Brigham Young, which is "Any man over the age of 25 and still single is a menace to society". I have no idea if the original quote is true or merely urban legend, but I bet Brandon was thinking about it when writing that scene!

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Yes, I remember that one. Definitely a Mormon-ism.

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This connection isn't nearly so religiously deep, but I burst out laughing when I made the connection.

Remember when Adolin and Shallan are talking over lunch and Adolin says "it is all right for Jasnah to run around in her middle thirties without a spouse, but if I reach my 23 birthday without a bride I'm some kind of menace." Well, there is a very similar quote floating around mormon culture, usually atributed to Brigham Young, which is "Any man over the age of 25 and still single is a menace to society". I have no idea if the original quote is true or merely urban legend, but I bet Brandon was thinking about it when writing that scene!

 

Yeah, this is the kind of cultural "meme" thing that is pretty unambiguous in its reference, especially with a larger fraction of people getting married later in life.

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