Argent

Taln's Identity

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Let's talk about the dude that showed up at the gates of Kholinar in The Way of Kings epilogue. I have, for the most part, been firmly in camp "he is really the Herald Talenelat," but now that I think about it, Brandon has been coy about him for as long as we've been asking questions about him. Literally every time he answers a question about Taln, he will talk about how we don't actually know whether that guy is Taln or not, he might just be saying - and thinking - he is.

 

So let's talk about him. FireArcadia pointed out that when he appears before the gates of Kholinar, he speaks Alethi with no accent:

 

 

The man finally noticed the two guards who stood, terrified, with spears leveled at him. He raised his empty hand toward them. "Go," he said raggedly, speaking perfect Alethi, no hint of an accent. "Run! Raise the call! Give the warning!"

"Who are you?" one of the guards forced out. "What warning? What attack?"

The man paused. He raised a hand to his head, wavering. "Who am I? I... I am Talenel'Elin, Stonesinew, Herald of the Almighty. The Desolation has come. Oh, God... it has come. And I have failed."

 

Which is suspicious. In his interlude from Words of Radiance, he not only seems to speak an ancient version of the Alethi language (to the point where Dalinar, Elhokar, and Bordin can't even understand anything but a few words), he also appears to be... withdrawn. I will have to reread the interlude when I get a chance, but he is definitely more coherent in the epilogue there - he actually understand what is being said to him, and responds appropriately, instead of just repeating his mantra. Which, I should point out, starts before Bordin gets to him (because Bordin tells Dalinar that "this is all he says" or something to that effect). It's almost like he got out of Damnation, said what he could in the epilogue, and then went completely insane.

 


See this post about the latest relevant WoB and some of the debate.

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“The time of the Return, the Desolation, is near at hand. We must prepare. You will have forgotten much, following the destruction of the times past.”

“I can make out some of it, Elhokar. It’s Alethi. Northern accent. Not what I’d have expected from one with such dark skin.”

 

Here, he speaks with an accent but he didn't on his introduction in Kholinar.

 

I'm a fan of the Taln-swap theory, now. Why a random person they found who thought he was Taln would have super-speed to catch darts, I don't know. Perhaps this "Taln" is a Herald with multiple personality disorder, and one of the personalities is Taln? It's one way of going insane with guilt...

Edited by Moogle
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The change in accents is really telling.  I postulate the following:

 

1.  He is Taln and his broken mind has caused him to get his times/languages mixed up.  He thinks it's the last Desolation that occurred 4500 years ago, and is speaking in that language (which begs the question how do the Heralds figure out the latest languages? But that's a tanget).  Let's call this Temporal Confusion Symdrome.

 

2.  The person that showed up in Kholinar was Taln, but he's since been switched and someone else left in his place.  (Fits with the different Blades that we see). [Disproved.  Brandon has said that the person who arrived in Kholinar is the same person who arrives at the warcamps]

 

3.  He was never Taln and is lying about everything (likely another Herald since he does seem to have an Honorblade, possibly Jezrien).

 

4.  He was never Taln but thinks that he is, either having been brainwashed or just very mentally unstable (possibly Jezrien?)

 

I can't think of any other possibilities right now...

 

Edit:  Oh!  Or Brandon is just trolling us :D

Edited by RShara
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I don't like the "person swap" theory. The madman in the warcamps is inhumanly fast and knows things no normal person should know. 

 

Some form of "multiple personality Taln" is my go-to theory for now. Maybe he is just insane. Maybe he had another personality shoved down his throat. Maybe he broke from torture and threw half of his mind into another personality (the one we see in the warcamps). Maybe Hoid did something to him, for one reason or another.

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Well, 4,500 years of straight torture could do a lot to someone's mind, so maybe there IS a multiple personality thing going on. 

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It wouldn't exactly be multiple personalities, because he thinks he's Taln in all of them.  Temporal confusion might be more accurate ;)

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I suggested a couple of possibilities in another thread that would account for both the Honorblade, and the madman in WoR not actually being Taln.

 

 

The first possibility I suggested was that "Taln" is, in fact, the Herald who went back and retrieved his (it has to be a "he" for this hypothesis to work) Honorblade.  We know that one of the Heralds did so, although it hasn't yet been clarified which one it was.  This particular Herald has realized that another Desolation is coming, and his already strained mind finally broke.  As a result, he now believes that he's Taln, and he's acting as the Herald who warns everyone.  We still have the question of what happened to his Honorblade, and how he ended up with a Shardblade.

 

The second possibility I suggested was that the guy at the end of WotK is in fact Taln.  But the madman who got sent to Dalinar is someone else.  That leaves the question of who performed the swap, and why.  And also, where the Shardblade came from (since it's explicitly stated that the blade is unknown, despite the fact that such things are *very* carefully tracked).

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I don't like the "person swap" theory. The madman in the warcamps is inhumanly fast and knows things no normal person should know.

Some form of "multiple personality Taln" is my go-to theory for now. Maybe he is just insane. Maybe he had another personality shoved down his throat. Maybe he broke from torture and threw half of his mind into another personality (the one we see in the warcamps). Maybe Hoid did something to him, for one reason or another.

Maybe it's another herald overcome with guilt. And to assuage his conscience, he's convinced himself he is Taln. The one who stayed true to his oaths.

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Didn't the WoR Taln talk about he would teach them how to create bronze weapons and refer to the other Herald with their original name and not the alethi/vorin equivalent ? Aren't those details that only a Herald or a person living in pre-recreance times would know ?

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Didn't the WoR Taln talk about he would teach them how to create bronze weapons and refer to the other Herald with their original name and not the alethi/vorin equivalent ? Aren't those details that only a Herald or a person living in pre-recreance times would know ?

 

Possibly. Likely even. I am trying to think whether any of the thoughts from the interlude indicate anything - because I am pretty sure the narrative there suggests that the person, whether he is Taln or not, has either been tortured in Damnation or has the memories of someone who has.

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With Hoid around, is Hemalurgy a possibility?

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I just posted this in another thread, it is similar to some theories here.

Crazy thought that I haven't seen mentioned, Brandons answer makes me think that instead of switching blades maybe he switched the madman himself. Granted I know very little about the heralds or taln in particular, but his repetitive loop of info and willingness to be kept in captivity by naive people who don't grasp the implications of his return, as opposed to showing a little surgebinding to get everyone's attention make me suspicious of misdirection. But this may be better than hiding his return bc it may allow some chance of getting people to take the desolation seriously.

I'll admit that the end when he catches the dart it made me second guess my theory. Then I thought if it was an act then that was how the impostor became so hyperalert when we know hr had been in a stupor since returning to roshar.

We know worldhopping and various cosmere magic systems r at hoods disposal. Hr shows his mastery of illusion when he tells kaladin the story. He effectively makes him see as he wishes. This could b similar just on a grander scale. Maybe this faux-Taln is roshar's version of a kandra.

I know its crazy, but this mystery is more than a simple switching of swords I'm sure of it.

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I suppose, @Swimmingly... You think he spiked Taln for his memories and gave them to somebody else?

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Maybe. Just an almost-certainly-untrue thing, which I felt could be contributed as a possibility to be discussed and likely discarded.

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This is not originally my idea (though I think I was first to post the person swap in general):

Maybe soneone convinced mad Jezrien that he was Taln and then did the swap. Real Taln could be somewhere safe. Or on some private mission....

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Ok a few things to note when rereading "Talns"? interlude that are fishy to me

"The Gift and words. Not his. Never his. Now his" ( note the capital applied to Gift, This is spoken by "Taln")

"How did you separate it from him, Bordin? We didnt, Brightlord, He just dropped it. And it didnt vanish away? Not bonded, then. He couldnt have had it for long. Were his eyes this color when you found him? ( Question to Bordin, Note that the understanding here is that Bordin found him, No mention of the gates of Kholinar)

"That is an Alethi accent"

When we get to the Chapter with Shallan sneaking in to see "Taln" she mentions that he speaks perfect Alethi, this compared to the end of TWOK and the earlier Taln interlude do NOT match up.

What is "the Gift" ?

Edited by PunSpren
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Jezrien was mentioned as a drooler. Given that, it seems reasonable to guess that the drooling madman is Jezrien. Worth asking Brandon about to see if he does a coy smile.

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it has to be either Taln, or one of the other Heralds going far over the edge and believing they are Taln. Which might mean Taln is still in Damnation being tortured, and the desolation hasnt really come yet?

 

The Everstorm really is just a ferocious storm blowing the wrong way...which while bad, isnt something that couldnt be adjusted for and shouldnt cause the whole breakdown of society that seems to come with Desolations.

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Could a person perhaps separate their physical entity with their cognitive one?

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I still want to think that it is Taln, but it's a good idea that it could be Jezrien who is thought to be cracked. 

 

One of my first thoughts on the accent thing was that, since the Heralds are supposed to come back to teach new Radiants before the Desolation, they might have an ability built into their nature as Heralds that allows them to pick up the language of certain nations. It doesn't sound like anything that has any evidence, but if they were in Damnation for 4500 years, there is a solid chance the language could have changed on the planet. What then? So I just kind of accepted that there was a workaround somewhere, and figured the "no accent" lines were all references to it. 

Edited by Bloodfalcon
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I personally like the idea of the Taln in WoR being actually Jezrien, that would probably also explain why Hoid ran off while accompanying the carriage. There's after all no point accompanying/guarding not the real thing. Also the best way to replace a mad herald and not get caught is to replace him with another mad herald.

 

Also as a side note/theory which I personally do not believe to be true but which was never considered here IMO is that Tanavast(Honor) may not be quite as dead as we think him to be. He may be dead as god/shard but kind of alive as a person. After all the madman knows stuff which is probably only known to the following persons:

 

Tanavast/Honor

Reya?/Cultivation

Raise/Odium

Hoid

Heralds

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I suggested a couple of possibilities in another thread that would account for both the Honorblade, and the madman in WoR not actually being Taln.

 

 

The first possibility I suggested was that "Taln" is, in fact, the Herald who went back and retrieved his (it has to be a "he" for this hypothesis to work) Honorblade.  We know that one of the Heralds did so, although it hasn't yet been clarified which one it was.  This particular Herald has realized that another Desolation is coming, and his already strained mind finally broke.  As a result, he now believes that he's Taln, and he's acting as the Herald who warns everyone.  We still have the question of what happened to his Honorblade, and how he ended up with a Shardblade.

 

The second possibility I suggested was that the guy at the end of WotK is in fact Taln.  But the madman who got sent to Dalinar is someone else.  That leaves the question of who performed the swap, and why.  And also, where the Shardblade came from (since it's explicitly stated that the blade is unknown, despite the fact that such things are *very* carefully tracked).

 

Taln wasn't the one to back and get his Honorblade because he was already in Damnation with his Blade. He was killed during the Desolation. I suspect that the Herald that retrieved their Blade was Nalan.

 

I don't really like the theory that the madman in WoR isn't Taln unless it's another Herald, possibly Jezrien with some Yolish Lightweaving that makes him look like Taln? I just don't see how else you explain the lightning reflexes.

 

EDIT: Added note about Nalan.

Edited by duladen
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The ummm what-do-you-call-'ems....pictures at the beginning of the chapter, that look like stone reliefs?

 

Neither of them are Taln, one is Chach, and the masked man usually stands for Hoid, right?  Or a worldhopper?

 

Edit:  Also

 

I am Talenel’Elin, Herald of War.” Voice. He spoke it. He didn’t think it. The words came, like they always came.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

Edited by RShara
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I didn't read all the comments, so someone might have brought it up already, but it's worth noting that:

 

Taln's chapter doesn't have him as a Herald, but Hoid and Chana. I don't know about her, but I am suspicious of every chapter that has the masked man indicating Hoid. Also, it's strange for his Heraldic icon to be missing in his own PoV. However, the epilogue of WoK has both Taln and Hoid.

 

So, I agree that this Taln in WoR might not be the Taln we saw at the end of WoK.

Edited by Aleksiel
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Crazy theory:

 

Wit somehow took the "divine breath" from Taln, leaving him drab, and breaking his memories / ability to speak modern day Alethi despite 4500 years away from it. This also gave Wit/Hoid awakener abilities.

 

The heralds, in addition to being given Honorblades that grant surges, were given divine breathes by the Almighty that feed off stormlight and give enhanced abilities and reflexes.

 

I can't really explain "Taln"s ability to grab the dart out of mid air, other than to think that maybe his body was left in the same state as it was while he had the breath?

 

 

While these are kind of crazy, I think the connection between Heralds and being granted a "divine breath" to give immortality and increased physical abilities is probably fairly similar to Returned in Warbreaker.

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