Fanghur Rahl

Is there more to Lirin than meets the eye? An out-there theory

39 posts in this topic

So for a while now I’ve been thinking about this subject, and the other day I had made a post in the Stormlight Facebook group addressing it, and it ended up being a pretty big hit there, with reactions ranging from people loving it, to thinking it’s interesting but likely misguided. So I wanted to lay this out here as well and get some more feedback on it.

So ever since I listened to Stormlight Archive the second time, with the benefit of hindsight from my first listen-through, I began to wonder whether there might be potentially more to Lirin (Kaladin’s father) than meets the eye. But at first I couldn’t quite place what it was about him that seemed off about him to me, but recently, it hit me. I realized that literally every single one of Kaladin’s ideals thus far, including what his fourth one is most likely to be, namely accepting that you can’t save everyone and to not allow your failures to prevent you from doing what you can, are things that Lirin has explicitly tried to instil in Kaladin and also operates by himself. In short, Lirin almost seems to me to be a Windrunner without a Spren.

The first ideal is really too broad to find anything specific, but the second and third are very explicit in that he dedicates his life to helping people whose lives are in danger, he very explicitly was put into a situation in which Roshone, a man he had every reason to despise and allow to die, had his life entirely in Lirin’s hands, and Lirin chose to do what he knew was the right thing and save his life, which is the third ideal of the Windrunners. And he also has told Kaladin on more than one occasion that he no matter how hard he tries, he can’t save everyone, and that he needs to come to terms with that inevitability, which is most likely at the very least related to the fourth Windrunner ideal. So again I say, Lirin seems to be very Windrunner-y in his philosophy, with the only real difference being the way in which he chooses to protect people, namely as a surgeon rather than a soldier.

Now I don’t believe for a second that Brandon wrote his character this way accidentally; the parallels are just to explicit for that. But the question is: what does it mean? And could it possibly be hinting at something? Now, before I go any further, I just want to freely admit that I have very little confidence that this theory is correct, as there are many other explanations for this that are much simpler, but I still think it’s at least worth laying out. So, here’s my admittedly unlikely theory: what if Lirin is a former Windrunner? Specifically a Windrunner from the time of the Recreance?

Now, like I said, I realize how unlikely this probably is, but I don’t think it’s completely out of the question. After the Recreance, I think it’s entirely possible that some of the disgraced Radiants may have chosen to go into exile and leave Roshar, maybe becoming worldhoppers. And we know that worldhoppers often gain a greatly extended lifespan by as yet unknown means. And the one piece of evidence I have for this is how thickly Lirin lays on the whole ‘violence is always bad; nothing good can ever come of it!’ spiel. The way he speaks of that, and his conviction, seems to me to bespeak some deep familiarity with war and conflict.

And the Radiants at the time of the Recreance pretty much got the ultimate example of this by their unwitting lobotomization and subsequent enslavement of the Singer species. With the Windrunners probably being even more deeply disturbed than many other orders by virtue of how much their order was all about protecting people and doing the right thing; I happen to be in the camp of fans who suspect that the horror of realizing what they had done to the Singers probably caused many of them to consider their oaths broken. And if Lirin was one of them, I can easily imagine his guilt driving him to be a hard pacifist, which he clearly is, and changing his method of protecting people from the role of a soldier to the role of a healer. And the other somewhat intriguing thing is that Lirin had a very interesting reaction to seeing Kaladin use his Windrunner powers, namely to look horrified and dismayed, maybe because he knew first hand what those powers could potentially cause and was horrified that his son now possessed them?

Again, clearly there are many other possible explanations for this, and I freely admit that even I think that most of them are probably much more likely than this one. But I will say one thing with conviction, and that is that regardless of whether he’s a former Windrunner or not, I do think that Brandon must have written his character like this for some reason. One doesn’t just overtly display pretty much the entire Windrunner philosophy (in stark contrast with 99.9% of the rest of Roshar) for no literary purpose. Like I said, the only question is what that literary purpose is in this case? Could Brandon be hinting at something more important here?

What does everyone think?

Edited by Fanghur Rahl
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Three things, as I mentioned on discord.

1. Syl says she is the only honorspren to attempt to bond since the Recreance. The Stormfather reinforces this with his reaction and behavior in WoR. Notum and the sequence in Shadesmar in OB as well.

2. Most of the non-Skybreaker Radiants were killed soon after the Recreance.

Quote

"This act of great villainy went beyond the impudence which had hitherto been ascribed to the orders; as the fighting was particularly intense at the time, many attributed this act to a sense of inherent betrayal; and after they withdrew, about two thousand made assault upon them, destroying much of the membership; but this was only nine of the ten, as one said they would not abandon their arms and flee, but instead entertained great subterfuge at the expense of the other nine."

3. Radiants aren't immortal. With access to stormlight, they heal to their spiritual Ideal, but age is part of the spiritweb, so you can only ever heal to your actual age, not to a younger age. Eventually, the organs would still get to the point of non-function. I'm not sure what motivation a Recreance-era ex-Windrunner would have to extend his life?

Have you read my thread about the Recreance? It covers some of the reasons I think the Recreance happened.

 

Edited by RShara
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Wouldn't dismiss it outright, there are several ways this could be possible - maybe Lirin is one of the descendants of Jezrien or stuff like that. They didn't went crazy immediately and 10 000 years - I don't think they stayed celibate the whole time.

Also there is the night watcher, and cultivation and so many other things we don't yet know about. So could be definitely something, could also be nothing.

As for now we sadly don't know enough to assume anything concrete. I will agree with you however that Lirin acts odd even for a pacifist, it just doesn't really fit the 'roshar etiquette' - and his teachings to kaladin do sound too specific to be a coincidence.

But maybe Brandon just thought 'hey surgeon is a very honourable job, let's make an order that would go with those ideals' :D

Edited by Void89
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1 hour ago, Void89 said:

Wouldn't dismiss it outright, there are several ways this could be possible - maybe Lirin is one of the descendants of Jezrien or stuff like that. They didn't went crazy immediately and 10 000 years - I don't think they stayed celibate the whole time.

Also there is the night watcher, and cultivation and so many other things we don't yet know about. So could be definitely something, could also be nothing.

As for now we sadly don't know enough to assume anything concrete. I will agree with you however that Lirin acts odd even for a pacifist, it just doesn't really fit the 'roshar etiquette' - and his teachings to kaladin do sound too specific to be a coincidence.

But maybe Brandon just thought 'hey surgeon is a very honourable job, let's make an order that would go with those ideals' :D

Yeah, it almost seems like we could interpret it in a "Who are you really trying to convince?" sort of way. It's just such a obviously wrong position to hold from a person who otherwise seems so pragmatic and rational.

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I was really hoping that this was a theory about Lirin being an Autobot. Sad face.

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To the OP. Interesting but i don’t see it. I think the simpler explanation is more a chicken/egg thing. You’re seeing that Kaladin is a Windrunner and finding out that Lirin has a hand in it. That maybe Lirin is more because of that. What I’m seeing is that Syl wouldn’t have bonded Kaladin without his upbringing in the first place. I think Lirin is just what he is. A surgeon with values that aren’t common in Alethkar. It’s an explanation of his past and why Kaladin was chosen in the first place more than a hint that his upbringing has mystery. (All imho ofc, but I think Occum is at play here. )

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Possibly Lirin had similar upbringing like Teft. Growing up with parts of Radiant lore.

Edited by ScavellTane
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I wouldn't be surprised if the Windrunner oaths had evolved into the Rosharan version of the Hippocratic oath or something.

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Lirin does seem to embody all of the Windrunner ideals we have seen (and have suspicions about). And Kaladin’s whole life has been a struggle deciding whether to be a surgeon or a soldier. Maybe Lirin will end up being a Windrunner or perhaps one of Kaladin’s squires, but can be there to show how people can still interpret similar ideals in different ways. But like someone above said, it may just be a way to set Kaladin on the right path from the get go. 

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Something that might support the theory is pretty much in the form of a question. Why is Kaladin immune to the Thrill?

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Honestly, the idea that Lirin is a Radiant or a Herald isn't new and it's either we are grasping at straws here or we're actually picking up on various hints. Personally, I love the theory even tho it seems so unlikely with the concrete information we have so far (and not just because I love running off on tangents).

1.  As @RShara  said "Most of the non-Skybreaker Radiants were killed soon after the Recreance." so that doesn't guarantee that all of them are dead. On the contrary, it brings out the question of 'why' was there an attempt to kill them all off, if they were going to die from old age anyway. So maybe there was indeed a way for them to extend their lifespan (Nightwatcher maybe), the Skybreakers decided to destroy that possibility. Such a scenario would also justify why would any surviving KR hide that fact that they survived that way. 

2. We see most of the Kholin descendants to be inclined to Radiancy, so if it is in some way hereditary it means that Kaladin should have a parent that carries the 'Radiant' gene. I don't know if this argument holds or not, maybe there is a WoB to support/refute it.

3. WoK prologue was about the Heralds, we have 10 books, it all begins with 'Honor is dead' and we know that some Heralds are going to be POV characters in the back five books. So, all of this would lead to the assumption that the Heralds are a lot more important in the story than they are now, possibly the most important characters from the book series (apart from the main ones of course). Comparing that importance to the amount of information we have on them (which isn't that much tbh) I think we can assume that we'll keep on having a lot of revelations about them as we go along. Frankly, we don't even know who all of them are in the present timeline, even though Sanderson has said that we've seen them all in the first two books.

I understand that these are not really arguments to support this but they are indications that this thought can at least survive in the back of our mind for the time being.

Either way, there is a meaningful approach to 'who Lirin is' without bringing in the divine (KR or Herald). As @Dalakaar said, it could be a mix up of cause and effect. It could just be because Lirin had such a different approach in life, becoming a pacifist surgeon and Kaladin being raised in that environment was led on the Windrunner path. It certainly justifies Kaladin's anarchic approach on society (at least at first), caring about the wounded bridge men, his success as a leading figure, but also his ability to grow beyond most of the rest of Alethi dark eyes do.

Still, we are on book 3 (okay 3,5) out of 10 so it's too soon to predict these stuff but you can expect just about anything from Sanderson really.

Edited by insert_anagram_here
typo
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11 minutes ago, insert_anagram_here said:

 

2. We see most of the Kholin descendants to be inclined to Radiancy, so if it is in some way hereditary it means that Kaladin should have a parent that carries the 'Radiant' gene. I don't know if this argument holds or not, maybe there is a WoB to support/refute it.

 

Brandon has said that it's more a matter of proximity.

Quote

Questioner

Is being a Knight Radiant at all genetic? Because you have Jasnah, Dalinar, and Renarin in the same family.

Brandon Sanderson

It is not genetic, however… Um… Families or people close to one another are more likely. It’s not genetic. So for instance, if everyone were adopted it would still have the same prevalence.

Questioner

Okay, fascinating!

Questioner

[interruption hard to hear]

Brandon Sanderson

Well, there are a couple of reasons for that. One is which, attracting the attention of a spren can mean that other spren are paying attention to that area. There are also things in the Cosmere (the shared universe of them) where people are connected spiritually. Um… and that’s part of the magic as well. So… You are more likely to become a Radiant if you know a Radiant.

Boskone 54 (Feb. 17, 2017)

 

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It is odd that Lirin has developed the values that he has, in the environment that he's been brought up and lived in. I think it's odd enough to warrant an explanation, but I don't think he's a Radiant. Perhaps he used to know one of the people from Teft's order, and learned something about the Radiants' values from them? It sounds like there was a person or several persons in Lirin's past who shared his values with him. And I think those people might be very interesting.

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2 hours ago, RShara said:

Brandon has said that it's more a matter of proximity.

 

Ah yes, I had a hazy memory of something like that. Even if it's from proximity, it's still inconclusive in this case. Having in mind that Tien was also proto-Lightweaver it could be anyone close to both Kaladin and Tien, Lirin included.

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I mean, one thing I will say is that technically Lirin may just be morally opposed to war, not necessarily violence under all circumstances. And considering that traditionally the Alethi (and Roshar in general) tend to wage war entirely for selfish reasons like sport and plunder rather than to protect the innocent, that’s not actually at all opposed to a Windrunner’s values, in fact if anything it would be consistent with them. I don’t think Lirin is like the Tinkers from WoT necessarily.

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1 hour ago, ScavellTane said:

Who was Lirins' teacher?

I don’t think we know. His past is largely a mystery. And what little we do know is rather vague.

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11 hours ago, Vissy said:

It is odd that Lirin has developed the values that he has, in the environment that he's been brought up and lived in. I think it's odd enough to warrant an explanation, but I don't think he's a Radiant. Perhaps he used to know one of the people from Teft's order, and learned something about the Radiants' values from them? It sounds like there was a person or several persons in Lirin's past who shared his values with him. And I think those people might be very interesting.

We know Lirin spent some time in Kharbranth, which sounds like a very tolerant place, he could have picked up some ideas there.

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And it's also a place where a Herald has camped out for a while, according to WoB (we've seen a Herald in proximity to Taravangian) :ph34r:

Edited by Vissy
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Honestly I would love it if Lirin turned out to be a worldhopper who settled down in Roshar. I think it would add more weight to his advice than just his experience as a surgeon if he went through similar ordeals to Kaladin's. Also I think it would show how much he loves his family if he's willing to truly settle down and raise his kids with Hesina, essentially giving up worldhopping- really the possibilities are just about endless.

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I love the idea but feel its to convoluted. I think its more of the surgeon in him that makes him make the choices he does. Kaladin becomes who he is because of his upbringing which is a person syl would bond with. It could even be his passiveness that made syl pass up on him and choose kaladin. Someone who would fight to protect. That being said I do think kaladin will get new perspective on his 4th oath by speaking with his dad. It would not surprise me in the least if since his visit home he brought the attention of syls friends there and he's bonded a spren. Possibly even on the 4th oath because he already lived those ideals. 

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Do we know if %100 (except sky breakers) of radiants broke their oaths? I’m sure 1 or 2 didn’t and just went into hiding, so maybe Lirin still has his spren (assuming this theory is correct), and he just hasn’t summoned his blade in a long time, so his eyes are dark.    

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On 1/25/2019 at 9:59 AM, Fanghur Rahl said:

I don’t think we know. His past is largely a mystery. And what little we do know is rather vague.

We do actually.  Kaladin says he studied under someone who studied at Karbranth.

I would like to point out that Lirin is extremely knowledgeable about modern Rosharan educate and practices.  He is up to date on Rosharan current events (enough to know about Theylen culture and how to get into a Karbranthian university.)  He also never once uses archaic or wired language.  As to him seeming out of place.  We are comparing a  surgeon to Alethi warriors and uneducated farm boys.  Of course he is going to look different.  As to his ideals inspiring Kaladin.  We know that his Radiant ideals of right and wrong are influenced by what he thinks of as right and wrong.  Of course a wise parental figure is going to have an effect on that it would be wired if it did not.

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I just wanna say, now that we know we’ll be getting some Lirin POVs, and Brandon’s cryptic ‘child of Tanavast’ WOB, I’m really excited!

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Past Radiant and worldhopper? . . . Sorry I can’t see it. But future radiant I would love to see.  I think you made a very strong case for him being a likely candidate for a windrunner and it would be a lot of fun to see a pacifist windrunner cause all of the ones we have seen are soldiers.

Edit: Crazy idea I just had. Like absolutely nuts. I’ve always thought that Lirin used to be a soldier and that’s why he is so adamantly pacifist. What if he was one of the Blackthorns Elites. We know the events at the Rift drove at least one Elite into the Ardentia and I could see it driving another into field of medicine. IIRC he didn’t become an apprentice surgeon until he was older which would fit the timeline fairly well.

Edited by Truthwatcher_17.5
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