Confused

Rosharian “Mage-ocracy”?

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WoB:

 

Q:  “You have a tendency to create books with theocracies that are legitimately ruled by the gods, and this seems to be missing. Is that a direction that the Knights Radiant might be heading, or is something else going to happen?”


A:  “I'm gonna RAFO that one. There was a theocracy on Roshar at one point. There was also a mage-ocracy. A lot of things have existed on Roshar.”

 

Who would rule the mage-ocracy? Many candidates, but I’m going to suggest the Aimians. Rosharians don’t seem to view surgebinders as mages. And any being that can rearrange its body at will has to be considered magical.

 

Other suggestions?

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Rosharians don’t seem to view surgebinders as mages.

 

I don't know where you got that impression, but anyway the one using the term "mage-ocracy" is Brandon himself so we have to ask if he thinks Surgebinders are mages.

 

At any rate, we know that 1) Urithiru was the headquarters of the Knights Radiant and that 2) it also contained ten thrones, one for each king of the Silver Kingdoms. It's not so far-fetched to connect those two facts and conclude that the kings of the Silver Kingdoms were Knights and were therefore Surgebinders/magic-users/"mages", although I admit that this might not necessarily be the case.

Edited by skaa
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Perhaps the island of the wandersail? There was a guy in a tower.

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Well we already know of the theocracy, I would assume the mageocracy would have come a long time before that. Probably led by practitioners of the old magic, back when it wasn't the old magic.

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Actually it's probably Surgebinders that Brandon was talking about. We know from the Nohadon vision that the general populace at the time put a lot of stock in Surgebinders. They thought Surgebinding gave them the right to rule.

Then again it was a Divine right in Nohadon's words so I could be wrong.

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The surgebinders to our knowledge never ruled, despite the efforts of that binder in Nohadon's time. It's not that the general public didn't think surgebinders were magical, it's that they didn't consider them magicians or wizards - "mages."

 

I do agree that the Old Magic is probably involved here - maybe referring to Adonalsium residue? I just think the Aimians might have been involved too. But I'm not pushing that theory. Brandon's comment was interesting, that's all.

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I think the Surgebinder rule would have been the Mageocracy. It's the best word for any upper class that uses magic when used as a descriptor by Brandon. Look at the way Kal and Shallan are immediately elevated to high status on account of their powers when they go public. An upper class composed of magic-users would probably be called a mageocracy by the author, regardless of in-world descriptions.

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Well we already know of the theocracy, I would assume the mageocracy would have come a long time before that. Probably led by practitioners of the old magic, back when it wasn't the old magic.

Note, though, that the Silver Kingdoms period was different from the Hierocracy; the theocratic Hierocracy existed after the Recreance, if I remember correctly, and the Silver Kingdoms have been a thing way, way before that.

I think it is more likely that the magocracy was the Silver Kingdoms, and that the kings of that age were Knights Radiant. After all, they were supposedly guided by a book called "the Way of Kings".

Edited by skaa
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When did the KR ever rule? The Way of Kings is not The Way of Mages (or KR). And Nohadon's intent was to rein in surgebinders, not expand their power.

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Perhaps once Surgebinders began to appear, they ruled, culminating in civil war and Nohadon needing to rein them in? There was plenty of history before Nohadon.

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I agree with the idea that the mageocracy was the Knights Radiant. It's the only thing that makes sense, because they're the main users of magic on Roshar. The epigraphs in TWoK mention how they charged huge tariffs for going through Urithiru. Every king had a throne in Urithiru. Lighteyes being in charge came about as a distant memory of the Radiants.

 

And who was going to tell them, 'no you can't lead'? You don't anger the person with a Shardblade.

 

There were also three different Orders that might have considered it worthwhile to lead an entire nation: Skybreakers, Windrunners, and Bondsmiths. Kaladin does have some supernatural charisma...

 

When did the KR ever rule? The Way of Kings is not The Way of Mages (or KR). And Nohadon's intent was to rein in surgebinders, not expand their power.

 

His intent was to change them into better people, not reign in their power. He seemed quite fine with becoming a tyrant and taking over half the world himself.

Edited by Moogle
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It is quite possible that they ruled Urithru, and, because of the Oathgates, controlled all international trade through it, making them rulers in truth if not literally. Or that they ruled for a time prior to Nohadon.

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More supporting points for KR being the Mageocracy - Brandon has repeatedly referred to surgebinding, voidbinding, fabrials, and other things as 'systems of magic'. He's even implied heavily that he personally considers each order of Knights Radiant to be a different 'magic system', in the narrative sense. He's talked about his various other books, and basically, anything that is not in the material world and forms a little self-consistent bubble is a magic system.

 

So when Brandon says 'theocracy', he means 'the people who used religion to rule', and when he says 'mageocracy', he's talking about people who used magic systems to rule. During the Desolations, the KR were pretty much the Bastion of humanity, I would be strongly surprised if they didn't rule in one form or another.

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Okay, I'm not saying that surgebinding is not magic. It clearly is. I'm saying there is zero textual evidence, other than the "tariff" comment, that surgebinders ever ruled non-surgebinders. Surgebinders ruling themselves is a democracy or republic, not a mage-ocracy. Only if they rule others does it become a mage-ocracy. That's why I don't consider the comment about the one bondsmith "ruling in Urithiru" as evidence.

 

Nor does owning the fastest system of transportation between cities make surgebinders a government or a ruling class, unless they leveraged that control to act as sovereign over others. Otherwise, every toll road operator would be considered sovereign. Having an economic monopoly does not make you sovereign even if you charge monopoly rates.

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Okay, I'm not saying that surgebinding is not magic. It clearly is. I'm saying there is zero textual evidence, other than the "tariff" comment, that surgebinders ever ruled non-surgebinders. Surgebinders ruling themselves is a democracy or republic, not a mage-ocracy. Only if they rule others does it become a mage-ocracy. That's why I don't consider the comment about the one bondsmith "ruling in Urithiru" as evidence.

 

Nor does owning the fastest system of transportation between cities make surgebinders a government or a ruling class, unless they leveraged that control to act as sovereign over others. Otherwise, every toll road operator would be considered sovereign. Having an economic monopoly does not make you sovereign even if you charge monopoly rates.

 

I think this would be evidence:

At any rate, we know that 1) Urithiru was the headquarters of the Knights Radiant and that 2) it also contained ten thrones, one for each king of the Silver Kingdoms. It's not so far-fetched to connect those two facts and conclude that the kings of the Silver Kingdoms were Knights and were therefore Surgebinders/magic-users/"mages", although I admit that this might not necessarily be the case.

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The Epigraph from chapter 44 says that only one Bondsmith was "in continual accompaniment of Urithiru and its thrones."  This doesn't explicitly say that the Bondsmith sat on the throne, but it does imply that he was in a position of some power.  The in accompaniment of the thrones part makes me feel that the Bondsmith was at least a high ranking advisor, and the only one part makes me feel that other orders had significantly larger numbers "accompanying" the thrones at all times.

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The Epigraph from chapter 44 says that only one Bondsmith was "in continual accompaniment of Urithiru and its thrones."  This doesn't explicitly say that the Bondsmith sat on the throne, but it does imply that he was in a position of some power.  The in accompaniment of the thrones part makes me feel that the Bondsmith was at least a high ranking advisor, and the only one part makes me feel that other orders had significantly larger numbers "accompanying" the thrones at all times.

 

The Bondsmiths were probably not the kings. However, other Radiants probably were. The Radiants being both kings and advisers to kings is possible.

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I'm not really sure why people are focusing on the KR specifically so much. We know (assuming we trust Dalinar's visions) that pre-KR, Surgebinders were out of control. It's not really a big leap to consider that there might have been at least some nations where the ruling required being a Surgebinder:

 

 

“I can read your disagreement in your face,” the regal man said. “It’s all right, Karm. I realize that my thoughts on this subject are unconventional. Perhaps the rest of you are right, perhaps our abilities are proof of a divine election. But if this is true, should we not be more wary of how we act?”

 

Nohadon himself is almost certainly a Surgebinder at this point (he says 'our abilities'). It's not really a stretch to assume there was at least one nation, sometime in history, where Surgebinding was a requirement for ruling. The WoB doesn't really indicate that we should be able to figure out through textual clues as to the particular identity of the mageocracy; what it sounds like to me is just mentioning that there's a huge amount of history on Roshar (much of which, even if it's part of his background worldbuilding, probably won't affect the main series).

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I'm not really sure why people are focusing on the KR specifically so much. We know (assuming we trust Dalinar's visions) that pre-KR, Surgebinders were out of control. It's not really a big leap to consider that there might have been at least some nations where the ruling required being a Surgebinder:

 

 

Nohadon himself is almost certainly a Surgebinder at this point (he says 'our abilities'). It's not really a stretch to assume there was at least one nation, sometime in history, where Surgebinding was a requirement for ruling. The WoB doesn't really indicate that we should be able to figure out through textual clues as to the particular identity of the mageocracy; what it sounds like to me is just mentioning that there's a huge amount of history on Roshar (much of which, even if it's part of his background worldbuilding, probably won't affect the main series).

 

Yep, it's totally possible that the Surgebinder mageocracy started before the founding of the Knights Radiant, and that it lasted all the way until the Recreance, after which the surviving bondspren saw humans as traitors and stopped making Nahel bonds, thus ending the magocracy.

Edited by skaa
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