Hakusho Slick

Dalinar's Genocide

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Major Oathbringer spoilers and dark/adult themes to follow. I don't think this topic has been brought up on the forums, so I'd like to start a serious and considerate discussion of a topic that merits consideration. Be warned and don't read on if you're uncomfortable with discussion of genocide in general, as well as specific mentions of historical genocides. I've hidden the contents to make sure that those who would rather not read about the worst crime a human can commit can avoid doing so. If this is your cue to exit, have a lovely day-- if not, here goes:

Spoiler

Dalinar is my favorite Sanderson character of all time, so I've spent a lot of time thinking about his arc. For me, it is the redemption element that I find most compelling. Dalinar has obviously done awful things, but has started on the path to redemption, and for this, we love his character. However, Brando is not exactly a subtle guy, so Dalinar's mistakes are gonna be big ones. The second battle at Rathalas comes to mind, I'm sure. However, what didn't occur to me at first is that this event can and should be considered a genocide. Let's define terms:

In 1948, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the U.N. defined genocide as "Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group... (Etc.)" 

This is the definition I will be working with going forward. It has been tinkered with and added to many times, but this original definition is enough to cover our bases.

Step one in a genocide is defining separate groups. These are most often ethnic, racial, or religious groups. The "Rifters" considered themselves a separate cultural group, and spoke with a distinct dialect. They were also a distinct political entity, resisting and rebelling against assimilation into Alethkar and possessing their own government. This is enough to classify them as a "group" in our definition of genocide.

Step two in a genocide is "intent." Oftentimes, history class discusses historical intents for genocide, most often a desire for racial or ethnic cleansing, as in the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Holodimor, or the Rwandan genocide. However, any intent suffices for the original and almost all modern definitions. Dalinar's intent was pragmatic: make an example of the people of Rathalas, recapture a wife he thought kidnapped, and end an inconvenient political uprising. He chose to slaughter all Rifters as a means to achieve this. This is not what is typically seen through history, but is more than enough to constitute an "intent" for genocide.

The last step in a genocide is taking "actions" against the group. This one needs less explanation: Dalinar intentionally killed as many Rifters as he could, destroyed all their infrastructure, and killed their leaders with prejudice. I don't think I need to justify why this fits the definition.

So there you have it. By the original definition, Dalinar committed a genocide. Yet, most people support him as a character. There are justifications, of course: that our modern Dalinar didn't know he had taken these actions, as his pain at Evi's death caused him to wish his actions taken from his own mind; this was during wartime in an Alethi context as opposed to our own; Nergaoul was involved. Yet, Dalinar accepts none of these justifications and retains his own culpability in his mind, and writes a book about what he's done as a way to accept and atone for his actions. This is powerful stuff-- but if a 21st century human did the same, he would likely be executed anyway.

So there's my breakdown. I still can't lay a finger on why we as the 17th shard seem to love Dalinar so much when I'm sure all of us would stand in opposition to genocide in the real world to say the least. So that's the discussion I'd like to start: what makes Dalinar redeemable, why did Brandon choose to write him this way even though I'm sure he doesn't support genocide either, and, most importantly, do you consider Dalinar to be the perpetrator of a genocide, or do you disagree with my assessment? I think this topic is worth going over in detail as we prepare for a war between humans and Singers-- I think Dalinar's newfound memory of the Rift will come into play. Perhaps he will even... Unite Them?

Thank you very much for reading my wall of text. Please be respectful and mindful of these darker topics if you choose to reply. Beyond that-- happy reading. Journey before Destination.

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13 minutes ago, Hakusho Slick said:

Major Oathbringer spoilers and dark/adult themes to follow. I don't think this topic has been brought up on the forums, so I'd like to start a serious and considerate discussion of a topic that merits consideration. Be warned and don't read on if you're uncomfortable with discussion of genocide in general, as well as specific mentions of historical genocides. I've hidden the contents to make sure that those who would rather not read about the worst crime a human can commit can avoid doing so. If this is your cue to exit, have a lovely day-- if not, here goes:

  Reveal hidden contents

Dalinar is my favorite Sanderson character of all time, so I've spent a lot of time thinking about his arc. For me, it is the redemption element that I find most compelling. Dalinar has obviously done awful things, but has started on the path to redemption, and for this, we love his character. However, Brando is not exactly a subtle guy, so Dalinar's mistakes are gonna be big ones. The second battle at Rathalas comes to mind, I'm sure. However, what didn't occur to me at first is that this event can and should be considered a genocide. Let's define terms:

In 1948, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the U.N. defined genocide as "Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group... (Etc.)" 

This is the definition I will be working with going forward. It has been tinkered with and added to many times, but this original definition is enough to cover our bases.

Step one in a genocide is defining separate groups. These are most often ethnic, racial, or religious groups. The "Rifters" considered themselves a separate cultural group, and spoke with a distinct dialect. They were also a distinct political entity, resisting and rebelling against assimilation into Alethkar and possessing their own government. This is enough to classify them as a "group" in our definition of genocide.

Step two in a genocide is "intent." Oftentimes, history class discusses historical intents for genocide, most often a desire for racial or ethnic cleansing, as in the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Holodimor, or the Rwandan genocide. However, any intent suffices for the original and almost all modern definitions. Dalinar's intent was pragmatic: make an example of the people of Rathalas, recapture a wife he thought kidnapped, and end an inconvenient political uprising. He chose to slaughter all Rifters as a means to achieve this. This is not what is typically seen through history, but is more than enough to constitute an "intent" for genocide.

The last step in a genocide is taking "actions" against the group. This one needs less explanation: Dalinar intentionally killed as many Rifters as he could, destroyed all their infrastructure, and killed their leaders with prejudice. I don't think I need to justify why this fits the definition.

So there you have it. By the original definition, Dalinar committed a genocide. Yet, most people support him as a character. There are justifications, of course: that our modern Dalinar didn't know he had taken these actions, as his pain at Evi's death caused him to wish his actions taken from his own mind; this was during wartime in an Alethi context as opposed to our own; Nergaoul was involved. Yet, Dalinar accepts none of these justifications and retains his own culpability in his mind, and writes a book about what he's done as a way to accept and atone for his actions. This is powerful stuff-- but if a 21st century human did the same, he would likely be executed anyway.

So there's my breakdown. I still can't lay a finger on why we as the 17th shard seem to love Dalinar so much when I'm sure all of us would stand in opposition to genocide in the real world to say the least. So that's the discussion I'd like to start: what makes Dalinar redeemable, why did Brandon choose to write him this way even though I'm sure he doesn't support genocide either, and, most importantly, do you consider Dalinar to be the perpetrator of a genocide, or do you disagree with my assessment? I think this topic is worth going over in detail as we prepare for a war between humans and Singers-- I think Dalinar's newfound memory of the Rift will come into play. Perhaps he will even... Unite Them?

Thank you very much for reading my wall of text. Please be respectful and mindful of these darker topics if you choose to reply. Beyond that-- happy reading. Journey before Destination.

So not saying you cant post or shouldn't. Just pointing out there was another thread with this exact premise called something to the effect of "Moral Miscalculations of Mr. Sanderson in Oathbringer". Any points I would say here have already been stated there.

Edited by Pathfinder
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@Hakusho Slick The main reason I think most people like Dalinar is, first and foremost, that we got to know the man he became, which is a deeply honourable man who has no obvious malicious prejudice, save only those one would typically expect in someone in a ruling class. He was a very different man in the past, but that was mainly the result of him being someone who enjoyed combat and fighting - he never fought anyone with the intention of eliminating an entire ethnicity - when they fought the Listeners it was because of a betrayal on their part, and so it wasn't a racially motivated attack. When he committed the horror at the Rift, it wasn't a nationally motivated attack, it was a response to their betrayal of his offer of peace, and the added result of a magical influence that enhanced his rage, but none of that was because he hated the ethnicity of the people there, or their culture - he wanted to punish them for what they did, not to wipe out an entire people - the distinction is subtle but important.

 

It was a horror, it was a genocide, and when Dalinar came back to himself he was horrified at what he had done - THAT is the key: he didn't enjoy it, and if he had been thinking clearly he wouldn't have done it. It wasn't motivated by racial prejudice or bigotry, but by the wound their betrayal had inflicted on him emotionally. He wanted to punish a group, but not for being a group - not for their cultural identity - but because of the actions of their leadership.

 

[Edit] To elaborate further: it was an accidental genocide, an evil, evil action that Dalinar - when his mind returned to him - was horrified to have done, something he takes full responsibility for and thinks was the worst thing he ever did. And it wasn't motivated by race or bigotry, but by him over-reacting to the actions that group's leadership had taken which had almost killed him. Dalinar hates himself for what he did, and it was something done punatively, in an evil over reaction.

Edited by Ixthos
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Within a real-world historical context, such people are often considered national heroes, with many, if not all, modern nation-states being founded on blood (Genghis Khan being the most famous and least politically incendiary example). It's horrifying in our times, yes but we stand on the shoulders of giants. Dalinar too, would most likely be remembered as a tragic, repentant, heroic figure in Roshar's history (assuming Odium doesn't blow them all sky high)

Yes, what he did constitutes as genocide. It was horrifying. I, personally, draw the line on being redeemable well away from what he did (having thousands of people set on fire). But in the end, it comes down to the fact that we're not from Rathalas or even Roshar. We've seen things, very intimately, from Dalinar's point-of-view and so are *hoping* for him to redeem himself.

We do have real life examples of victims forgiving perpetrators of genocide, in fact one of the examples you mentioned, the Rwandan Genocides have multiple examples of this. Whether you find this inspiring or horrifying is on you. I think... well, I've been told all my life to forget and forgive, but I hope no one blames me for finding the idea of forgiving such an act utterly unimaginable (and if not, oh boy, we're gonna have a long talk and heads are gonna roll)

It's a well researched topic since ancient time in the ethics branch of philosophy: where do we draw the moral line?

I'm sorry that at the end of such a long spiel my response is simply "I'm undecided". But I can't forgive Dalinar. And I can't hate Dalinar. A non-answer, I know, but that's the sum of what I feel.

Edited by Honorless
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To answer the question as to why we like him so much, I think it lies in the way it was revealed. Dalinar was already a well regarded character with honorable intentions (no pun intended ;)). The way the info was revealed to him by way of his returned memories allowed us to share the same questions he had about events, and fleshed out his character and gave context to a lot of different things even as he was learning them about his own history. It's a rare treat to be able to share that with a character by way of flashback, and allowed us as readers to share the same emotions he would have felt as events progressed. I think it gives us more sympathy toward him than we probably would have had otherwise, especially in the way Odium intended to use it against him and he resisted despite the horror of it. I was really rooting for him by the end of the book because of it. It was so well done.

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1 hour ago, Pathfinder said:

So not saying you cant post or shouldn't. Just pointing out there was another thread with this exact premise called something to the effect of "Moral Miscalculations of Mr. Sanderson in Oathbringer". Any points I would say here have already been stated there.

Thank you for mentioning this. I did a brief search to see if this topic had been brought up already, and didn't see that it had-- I guess I used the wrong keywords. If you think this thread should be locked to replies let me know-- I'm new here and less familiar with the etiquette.

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49 minutes ago, Honorless said:

Dalinar too, would most likely be remembered as a tragic, repentant, heroic figure in Roshar's history (assuming Odium doesn't blow them all sky high)

Yes, what he did constitutes as genocide. It was horrifying. I, personally, draw the line on being redeemable well away from what he did (having thousands of people set on fire). But in the end, it comes down to the fact that we're not from Rathalas or even Roshar. We've seen things, very intimately, from Dalinar's point-of-view and so are *hoping* for him to redeem himself.

We do have real life examples of victims forgiving perpetrators of genocide, in fact one of the examples you mentioned, the Rwandan Genocides have multiple examples of this. Whether you find this inspiring or horrifying is on you. I think... well, I've been told all my life to forget and forgive, but I hope no one blames me for finding the idea of forgiving such an act utterly unforgivable (and if not, oh boy, we're gonna have a long talk and heads are gonna roll)

I'm sorry that at the end of such a long spiel my response is simply "I'm undecided". But I can't forgive Dalinar. And I can't hate Dalinar. A non-answer, I know, but that's the sum of what I feel.

Thanks for such a great response. I think I'm in the same place with Dalinar-- I wouldn't forgive him in real life, but I can't hate him since he's clearly shown real remorse and steps to atone. That's why he's my favorite character-- a monster, perhaps, but a very well-written one.

As for the Rwandan genocide example, I find it to be inspiring. I understand why you say you would never forgive a perpetrator of a genocide, but I'm still in the gray area on this one. Dalinar might be the only circumstance I've seen that I could see myself forgiving him. It's tricky to reconcile that with the Dalinar we all love, and having his main motivation be to seek redemption by saving the world from a greater evil is powerful to say the least. 

Thanks for your thoughts on the matter.

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@Solant

Yes I am definitely on Team Dalinar since he's shown himself to be a good person when considered in a vacuum. I can root for somebody without forgiving them, which I think is where many people are with Dalinar. That kind of realistic, nuanced reaction to a fictional character is rare, which is why I like the character so much.

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25 minutes ago, Hakusho Slick said:

Thank you for mentioning this. I did a brief search to see if this topic had been brought up already, and didn't see that it had-- I guess I used the wrong keywords. If you think this thread should be locked to replies let me know-- I'm new here and less familiar with the etiquette.

Here you go, if this is helpful

Also, when you have addition thoughts to share after you've posted, but no one else has replied yet, you should use the Edit button to add thoughts to your post, rather than double (or triple) posting in a row :)

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@Ixthos

Yeah, I think the question is whether we can support the man he is without first forgiving the man he was. I think that in the case of Dalinar we can and do, but that would be rare outside of fiction. It makes for a compelling character, but in reality we would have no way to see the regret, remorse, and possible redemption from Dalinar without being inside his head. Either way it was great writing.

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@RShara

Thanks for linking me to the thread, I don't know how I missed that one. I'll be sure to check it out. 

Sorry for double posting, I'm coming from Reddit where that's often the norm instead of editing the original post. I'll be sure to do that in the future. 

Thanks for showing me the ropes! Have a good one.

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45 minutes ago, Hakusho Slick said:

@Ixthos

Yeah, I think the question is whether we can support the man he is without first forgiving the man he was. I think that in the case of Dalinar we can and do, but that would be rare outside of fiction. It makes for a compelling character, but in reality we would have no way to see the regret, remorse, and possible redemption from Dalinar without being inside his head. Either way it was great writing.

Agreed, though I don't really think it is ours to forgive him - only those who he has wronged can forgive him, and in a sense he hasn't wronged us except in the revelation of who he was was a betrayal of who we had been lead to believe him to be, which in a sense was just as much his past self wronging the man Cultivation's memory extraction made him into. But I agree, and I think at the end of the first five books Dalinar will willingly subject himself to immense pain to protect Roshar itself from the same torment his victims suffered, thus the pain he caused would be avenged.

 

(Also side note, but in general you should avoid double posting except in special circumstances such as a more than a day between posts, so it is often better to edit a post if you wish to respond to a new post made before you've submitted your last one :-) )

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18 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

Agreed, though I don't really think it is ours to forgive him - only those who he has wronged can forgive him, and in a sense he hasn't wronged us except in the revelation of who he was was a betrayal of who we had been lead to believe him to be, which in a sense was just as much his past self wronging the man Cultivation's memory extraction made him into. But I agree, and I think at the end of the first five books Dalinar will willingly subject himself to immense pain to protect Roshar itself from the same torment his victims suffered, thus the pain he caused would be avenged.

 

(Also side note, but in general you should avoid double posting except in special circumstances such as a more than a day between posts, so it is often better to edit a post if you wish to respond to a new post made before you've submitted your last one :-) )

Yeah, that seems like a safe bet. I predict Dalinar will Unite the remaining Singers with humans against Odium, preventing a genocide to help atone for his previous one.

Did I double post on this post or are you mentioning another post I made? Not surprising that I double posted since I'm coming from Reddit where that's more the norm, but if it's on this post it's definitely some kind of bug/accident since I only see my original and a bunch of replies.

Edit: ooohhhh, I figured out what you meant about double posting. Yeah I figured it was the norm to do a separate reply per person who commented originally. Bad habit. Thanks!

Edited by Hakusho Slick
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Just now, Hakusho Slick said:

Yeah, that seems like a safe bet. I predict Dalinar will Unite the remaining Singers against Odium, preventing a genocide to help atone for his previous one.

Did I double post on this post or are you mentioning another post I made? Not surprising that I double posted since I'm coming from Reddit where that's more the norm, but if it's on this post it's definitely some kind of bug/accident since I only see my original and a bunch of replies.

That seems more than likely though which arc it happens in, the first or second, will be interesting to see.

Gotcha :-) the double post was your response to RShara right after your response to mine. Its all good though and it isn't a problem, just something I thought might be helpful to know :-) 

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4 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

That seems more than likely though which arc it happens in, the first or second, will be interesting to see.

Gotcha :-) the double post was your response to RShara right after your response to mine. Its all good though and it isn't a problem, just something I thought might be helpful to know :-) 

Yup I just wasn't thinking. Sorry bout that.

I'm predicting this whole thing will get wrapped up by the end of the front 5, with a 10 year time skip for humans and allied Singers to get used to each other before the back 5 and a new round of stuff to get through.

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@Hakusho Slick Yup, and hopefully in time for - what I HOPE will happen - an interplanetary battle between newly developed Rosharan magic-punk space ships and Braize. I know it sounds weird, but I'm convinced that that is what the future will hold for Stormlight in advance of the final Mistborn Trilogy. United Rosharan races against the forces of Odium with crude space travel, Singer and human and Aimian together as one.

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7 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

@Hakusho Slick Yup, and hopefully in time for - what I HOPE will happen - an interplanetary battle between newly developed Rosharan magic-punk space ships and Braize. I know it sounds weird, but I'm convinced that that is what the future will hold for Stormlight in advance of the final Mistborn Trilogy. United Rosharan races against the forces of Odium with crude space travel, Singer and human and Aimian together as one.

I... Think the timeline is way to early for that. 

Brandon's said that the AoL is set at earliest in the gap between halves, and as far forward as SA 7. That means the 1980s tech Mistborn is going to be set pushing a hundred years after the back half of stormlight. Then you have the time jump from there to Era 4.

I don't see any way that Roshar is going to jump to interplanetary transport and combat multiple hundreds of years prior to everyone else. 

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The reason we all like Dalinar (see how I included everyone here:)) is "The most important step is the next one". That is the hope of all of us good, bad, amazing, and despicable. It does not bring me any pride to say it, but I have killed men who have committed less death than Dalinar, and would do it again because we can't wait for them to change before they kill again. But, I hope to my last breath that they, and all of us get a chance to be better people by painful changing. It is the hope we all live by. Genocide, mass murdering or holocaustic killing need justice and need someone to stop them, but sometimes that requires large scale killing to do so. Your motive and your capacity matter greatly in the judgement of justice. Dalinar showed many times that he was no Sadeas. I cheered when Adolin removed him from the story.  Dalinar is not the bully he was, nor does he justify killing like he used to. But, I too, would eliminate the man who betrayed a white-flag tryst to have me killed. The rest of the city casualties we can blame on Sadeas, as he acted early without orders and with malice.

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1 minute ago, 1stBondsmith said:

The reason we all like Dalinar (see how I included everyone here:)) is "The most important step is the next one". That is the hope of all of us good, bad, amazing, and despicable. It does not bring me any pride to say it, but I have killed men who have committed less death than Dalinar, and would do it again because we can't wait for them to change before they kill again. But, I hope to my last breath that they, and all of us get a chance to be better people by painful changing. It is the hope we all live by. Genocide, mass murdering or holocaustic killing need justice and need someone to stop them, but sometimes that requires large scale killing to do so. Your motive and your capacity matter greatly in the judgement of justice. Dalinar showed many times that he was no Sadeas. I cheered when Adolin removed him from the story.  Dalinar is not the bully he was, nor does he justify killing like he used to. But, I too, would eliminate the man who betrayed a white-flag tryst to have me killed. The rest of the city casualties we can blame on Sadeas, as he acted early without orders and with malice.

Wait what? Are you in the military?

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As to the topic... To sum up my post in the other thread quickly... Dalinar isnt the man who did those things. His horror and near breakdown at remembering is proof of that. And even then, he refused to let that blame be shifted on to anyone else and is writing a book explaining everything he's done... Not in an attempt to seek forgiveness but to warn people not to be like he was. So that history can learn from it. And that in itself is the greatest possible condemnation of the society that called him a hero at the time. 

To look at the Dalinar who did those things, and look at Dalinar as we know he is, and think that he would even allow something like that to happen again baffles me. He can't change the past, but he can work to change the future, and that's exactly what he's doing. 

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9 minutes ago, Calderis said:

I... Think the timeline is way to early for that. 

Brandon's said that the AoL is set at earliest in the gap between halves, and as far forward as SA 7. That means the 1980s tech Mistborn is going to be set pushing a hundred years after the back half of stormlight. Then you have the time jump from there to Era 4.

I don't see any way that Roshar is going to jump to interplanetary transport and combat multiple hundreds of years prior to everyone else. 

Okay, I'm spoilering this so as to avoid both Mistborn spoilers, Elantris spoilers, and to avoid derailing the thread:

Spoiler

I think it will be interplanetary battling, partially because Brandon has said he worked out how long a Windrunner would take to travel between planets in the system, but also because it would serve as a logical explanation for why, in Mistborn four, that they would be able to travel among the stars.

 

I've outlined this before elsewhere, but in brief the Elantris sequels need to be written before the 1980's Mistborn, due to events in the sequel being important and involved in the 1980's Mistborn, and I think it will be with the discovering and attempts to reverse engineer the magic used by Sellish world hoppers or in Sellish space ships which would crash land on Scadrial, due to the whole UFO sightings / government and corporate conspiracies craze of the 80's and 90's. Either way, Sel would have expanded its influence during Mistborn era three, and so likely has several colonies or outposts on other planets, and Scadrial governments or corperations likely want in on it (all speculation, but not, I think, entirely unlikely). This seems to me to imply that Elantris 3 will end with Sel starting to move into space.

 

Now Stormlight is also important to the main Cosmere series, and we are seeing them developing Surge powered ships and technology. Windrunners can travel from planet to planet with enough stormlight, and the ships are designed to use Windrunner surges, etc., but not outside of the planet. Ashyn likely will also need to be visited at some point, because if Rosharan humans originated there they would likely - if as Brandon has said he knows how long it would take to travel form world to world, likely depending on where they are in their orbits - they probably would want to see their home which they destroyed. And they will be making contact with the inhabitants there then. They known other worlds exist beyond their system - like Azure - and so the idea of space travel has already been introduced. Braize is Odium's stronghold, and likely will need to be assaulted. All this seems to me to add to the idea of space combat confined to the Rosharan system - so not other stars, just Roshar's planets etc. - to foreshadow and justify seeing them as a space faring culture in Mistborn 4.

 

See here for a longer and more in depth post about this: https://www.17thshard.com/forum/topic/81377-mistborn-era-3-and-stormlight-and-elantris-will-be-conflux-series-in-part/

 

 

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@Ixthos I get what your saying but I still can't agree.

Spoiler

Primarily because even in system we have no hints of expansion, when Brandon's also said the silence divine reading he's done would take place around SA 8.

I'll agree to disagree, and sorry for continuing the side tangent. 

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8 minutes ago, Calderis said:

@Ixthos I get what your saying but I still can't agree.

  Hide contents

Primarily because even in system we have no hints of expansion, when Brandon's also said the silence divine reading he's done would take place around SA 8.

I'll agree to disagree, and sorry for continuing the side tangent. 

Gotcha :-)

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3 hours ago, Ixthos said:

 Yup, and hopefully in time for - what I HOPE will happen - an interplanetary battle between newly developed Rosharan magic-punk space ships and Braize. I know it sounds weird, but I'm convinced that that is what the future will hold for Stormlight in advance of the final Mistborn Trilogy. United Rosharan races against the forces of Odium with crude space travel, Singer and human and Aimian together as one.

Can you start a thread to discuss this?

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@Honorless asked if I was in the Military. I am not active duty anymore, but you are always in for our men and women. My spare time, when not earning a living for my family is spent with OUR (Operation Underground Railroad). Uses the skill set for a great cause.

 

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