not an Evil Librarian

The Secret to Returned Childbirth (A Theory)

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Posted (edited)

Sorry if this theory is already out there, but if it is, then I have not found it.

The Returned, excluding The God King, supposedly cannot have children. We know from the annotations that not only is this actually possible, but that Susebron's priests know the secret to it. While reading Warbreaker, it occurred to me that if a Returned was incapable of bearing children, that must mean that this Returned did not want to have children in the first place! Seeing as how the Returned have a subconscious control over their physical bodies. But why would none of the returned want children?

And then it dawned on me. The Hallendren, keep their gods constantly living in luxury and encourage laziness among them. To a people who enjoy such an idle life, wouldn't a body that is physically incapable of bearing children be the ideal from their point of view? It also probably helps that everybody assumes that the Returned cannot bear children. everybody says that gods can’t have children, so the Returned unconsciously sculpt their bodies so that they cannot.

So, according to this theory, everybody in the court of gods is being kept idle, and being told that they are incapable of bearing children, so they unconsciously make themselves incapable of having children. Everybody except one person. One god is being told from a very young age that he must produce an heir, and being told that he is the only god who can bear children. The god king is supposedly the only Returned who is capable of having children, well maybe that is precisely the reason why the god king is the only one who is capable. This also explains why Vo, the first returned was able to have children. There would have been no expectation for him not to, and no system set in place to keep him lazy and not thinking about children.

Edited by not an Evil Librarian
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I like the theory I heard a few days ago, that the fetus needs a Breath a week (perhaps after a certain point) in order to survive till birth. And most people, not realizing that, don't supply that, and so it consumes its innate Breath and dies :(

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, RShara said:

I like the theory I heard a few days ago, that the fetus needs a Breath a week (perhaps after a certain point) in order to survive till birth. And most people, not realizing that, don't supply that, and so it consumes its innate Breath and dies :(

I too quite like that theory. My only problem with it is that it doesn't explain why Vo was able to have a child.

 

Edited by not an Evil Librarian
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Posted (edited)

Here's another very basic question on this topic, with apparently conflicting answers: we know that male Returned can father children (we haven't any mention of a female Returned bearing one), and that the Royal House of Idris are descended from Vo, the First Returned. Vo died seven days after he Returned, but in that week, he had the Five Visions of Austrism, and also married and fathered a child (though the Royal House of Idris, devout followers of Austre, seems to have forgotten this, remarkably).

So, is the child of a Returned father also a Returned? Or a mortal?

You would think that Vo's wife going on to establish the Royal House of Idris, with the Returned-related Royal Locks associated with those in line to be a true heir, means that the answer is "mortal".

But, we have it from canonized annotations to Warbreaker, chapter 44, that a God King is ideally supposed to father his own heir:

Quote

It is possible for a Returned to have a child. Vo, the First Returned, did it. The God King isn’t special in that he can do it; any of the Returned could, but it requires some special knowledge that—I’m afraid—I’ll have to keep secret until the sequel. Suffice it to say that the priests know how it is done.

The problem is, they aren’t always able to get this to work. Sometimes, they have to do what Siri guessed—replace the God King with an infant Returned. ...

The God King’s priests take an infant Returning as a sign that it’s time to change God Kings. At that point, they choose a wife for the God King and hope that she’ll be able to conceive the next God King. They’d much, much rather that the God King be the literal child of the previous God King.

So it has happened for a God King to be the physical, conceived heir to the previous God King: at least once for them "to know how it is done". Yet Susebron is only the fifth God King in the approximately 300 years since the Manywar, and was not the conceived heir of the fourth God King. And only after 50 years of his tenure has an infant Returned occurred again, signaling the time for a changeover.

But the God King of Hallendren must himself be a God, i.e., a Returned, right? They wouldn't have a mortal human holding Peacegiver's Treasure for 50+ years, who would be at much greater risk of dying before an infant Returned happened?

Eh, on second thought, a human holding the Treasure would easily surpass the Fifth Heightening needed for agelessness, so that would be no more risky a situation than having a Returned heir holding it. It'd be more a matter of how the entire Court is built to scale around the larger physical dimensions of a Returned, and how it would kind of stand out if the God King were of ordinary non-godly human stature, eh? Not what the religion is based around.

The logical conclusion is that Vo's "trick" to father a child resulted in a mortal with a fragment of unpassable (?) Divine Breath, as evidenced by the Royal Locks, but that the "trick" known or used by the Hallendren priests that "doesn't always work" is a different one that results in an infant Returned being conceived.

1 hour ago, RShara said:

I like the theory I heard a few days ago, that the fetus needs a Breath a week (perhaps after a certain point) in order to survive till birth. And most people, not realizing that, don't supply that, and so it consumes its innate Breath and dies :(

And maybe that's the "doesn't always work" part of it: the priests have to realize that conception has happened in exactly the one week window necessary (whenever that is) to start feeding Breath to the unborn child, which is not easy.

Personally, I hope that's not it. Firstly, from an IRL standpoint, getting into the "what is the boundary point for sentient life after fertilized egg conception" question is a nuclear zone I'd think Brandon would keep well away from even in a fantasy setting. Secondly, there's a much more basic explanation for "it doesn't always work" at hand: given what they told Susebron about the, um, mechanics of fathering an heir on his new wife Siri (absolutely nada, zilchorama, bupkis), their "trick" may not involve physical coupling at all, while the version that resulted in the Royal House of Idris did.

On the other hand, Brandon specifically wrote about "how it is done", not "how it could be done", which would more suggest there being multiple ways for a Returned to father children.

Edited by robardin
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31 minutes ago, robardin said:

And maybe that's the "doesn't always work" part of it: the priests have to realize that conception has happened in exactly the one week window necessary (whenever that is) to start feeding Breath to the unborn child, which is not easy.

Or just normal infertility.

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11 minutes ago, Karger said:

Or just normal infertility.

Well, that's hardly "special knowledge" that the priests would have to effectuate "how it's done".

That's what intrigues me, based on what was saw (or didn't see) the priests do in terms of instructing Susebron on "how it's done" with Siri.

Of course, it's been around 100 years since the last time a God King fathered another God King, maybe longer, so maybe the priests have "special knowledge" but were holding it reserve only in case Susebron and Siri didn't seem to get things working naturally?

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I meant  as to why it does not always work.  Sometimes people have trouble reproducing.

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