Belzedar

theory
Dawnshards: less mysterious than we thought?

6 posts in this topic

This crazy idea just occurred to me. It's late, so maybe I'm not doing my best thinking, but this theory seems so elegantly simple that it just might be correct.

The Dawnshards are just the Ashynite disease magic.

I think we let the word "shard" mislead us. We (and most Rosharans) assume that a "shard" is always a powerful invested artifact, but what if it once had a simpler meaning? What if Dawnshard is just the old Rosharan way of saying "ancient weapon?"

Like the "weapons" that ruined Ashyn. Or the "weapon" that shattered the Shattered Plains. Maybe it wasn't a super-invested artifact that allowed people to do that. Maybe it was just a magic system without checks and balances.

I'll quote the Coppermind here:

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Honor also referred to them in Highprince Dalinar Kholin's final vision, worried how mankind would survive without Dawnshards,[6] which suggests that the Dawnshards were lost or do not exist anymore. Honor seemed to believe that the Dawnshards were crucial to defeating Odium.

Why do the Dawnshards not exist anymore? Because Roshar's ambient investiture strengthened humanity's immune system and eliminated the diseases. Why are the Dawnshards crucial to defeating Odium? Because they're a magic system more powerful than surgebinding.

Then there's this quote:

Quote

Taking the Dawnshard, known to bind any creature voidish or mortal, he crawled up the steps crafted for Heralds, ten strides tall apiece, toward the grand temple above.

Why crawled? Why is he crawling? Maybe it's out of reverence to this grand temple, or maybe he can't walk properly because he's sick. Maybe "Taking the Dawnshard" means "contracting the disease."

I theorize that the Dawnshard microbes function like nahel-spren. They form a bond which gives the host an ability (innate investiture), but that ability cannot be used without fuel (free investiture). When the Ashynites migrated to Roshar, they brought their diseases, and thus their abilities, with them. But they left their power source behind, so they couldn't actually use any of their magic. But the microbes continued to thrive in Shinovar because Shinovar is less invested than the rest of Roshar. No Highstorms means no magical immune boosters.

Then the girl looks up. Humans cross the mountains and enter the rest of Roshar. Suddenly they have stormlight, a source of nearly unlimited free investiture. Their disease magic (i.e. Dawnshards) suddenly works again. This is how the relatively small human population overtook the entire continent relatively quickly. They had a magic system destructive enough to wreck a planet. The Singers didn't stand a chance.

It was only in the generations that followed that the Dawnshard microbes began to die out. I'd propose it was a slow process, perhaps taking centuries and covering multiple Desolations.
 

note on the Shattered Plains:

Spoiler

 

On the subject of the Shattered Plains, I'd theorize that their shattering happened early, perhaps during the First Desolation, and the city of Stormseat (or at least its Oathgate) was built after. Otherwise, how could the whole region be shattered without damaging the Oathgate? There may have been a Singer city there before the First Desolation, and the shattering may have happened specifically to destroy that city, but I believe the humans built their city after the shattering.


 

Thoughts?

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Good thought, but the magic on Ashyn wasn't always disease based.

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beer_in_an_esky

1) Is Ashyn still operating on a sickness-based magic, as indicated in the readings you've done previously? Or are you not ready to canonise that?

2) Assuming it is, was the use of Investiture on Ashyn always sickness-based?

3) If someone who is sick on Ashyn leaves while still unwell, would they still have powers? How about any people they infect on the new world?

Brandon Sanderson

1) Ashyn still has that magic, though I've gone a lot of directions on how I want the culture to feel, so I wouldn't consider that canon yet.

2) No.

3) The powers come directly via the micro-organisms, similar to other symbiotic relationships in the cosmere.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA (Oct. 4, 2018)

It is suggested, even, that the cataclysm that forced the exodus(es) changed the magic itself to the disease-based thing it is now.

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My take was he's crawling up the stairs because they are built for heralds and too large for him (10 strides tall apiece) . Since we know the Heralds are actually normally sized, I take the paragraph as hyperbole as the author didn't really know the truth. 

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Perhaps the Dawnshard is just realy heavy?  I know it is a blase theory but this is what I have always thought. 

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Posted (edited)

hmm this is an interesting theory. Could it be that the Ashyn based magics are still alive on Roshar?

could Renarin's epilepsy be a form of this? I was assuming him being able to see the future was because his spren is enlightened, but could it be as simple as he has the right condition?

Just a thought, I'm not convinced of it, but worth considering 

 

the Ashyn magics have not been fleshed out like at all. We know the dawnshards or surgbinding destroyed the planet. since the Rosharns dont remember those words its likely they are substituting the words they do know for the actual term. Similarly they refer to Wine that isnt actualy wine and Birds are Chickens even though they are not necessarily chickens.

 

Edited by Deathwielded
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In the past, I was a very firm believer that the Ashyn disease magics were carried over, and as @Vortaan has suggested, even the source of the term "The Old Magic" with the obvious boon/curse parallel of a disease and a power.

More recently though, because of this WoB... 

Quote

beer_in_an_esky

1) Is Ashyn still operating on a sickness-based magic, as indicated in the readings you've done previously? Or are you not ready to canonise that?

2) Assuming it is, was the use of Investiture on Ashyn always sickness-based?

3) If someone who is sick on Ashyn leaves while still unwell, would they still have powers? How about any people they infect on the new world?

Brandon Sanderson

1) Ashyn still has that magic, though I've gone a lot of directions on how I want the culture to feel, so I wouldn't consider that canon yet.

2) No.

3) The powers come directly via the micro-organisms, similar to other symbiotic relationships in the cosmere.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA (Oct. 4, 2018)

I think the destruction altered the planet enough to change the magic system, and caused the disease magic. 

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