Ashspren

Hoid and the Stonewards

6 posts in this topic

So, let's talk about Hoid. 

Wow Ashspren, I hear you say. We've never heard that one before. 

But now let me make this a bit more intriguing: let's talk about Hoid and the Stonewards. 

At first, this seems like a strange combination. Hoid, given his Yolish abilities, seems to be more compatible with the Lightweavers–– storms, he even bonded a cryptic. However, there are two main facets to Hoid's relationship with the Stonewards that I wanted to explore.

The first idea is the Ten Essences. I'm going to start with the role of gems, especially within the plot of the Stormlight Archive. As we all know, stones and gems play a huge part on Roshar. They power fabrials, reside in the hilts of blades, and are the cause for Greatshell hunts. Thus, whenever a gem is mentioned, it's generally a good idea to take a closer look. 

Take a look at the following table of the Ten Essences, spoilered for size (because it's a lot bigger than I expected, wow). I'm associating each row of the column with its respective order of the Knights Radiant, which I believe is a pretty safe assumption:

Spoiler

Ars_arcanum_photoshopped.thumb.jpg.81b9b13ca3328dfecd24675a6661fe42.jpg

(Side note: I'll probably replace this image with something... uh... a bit more manageable. For right now, though, have fun zooming in and out.)

The stones all seem pretty generic. Sapphire, a blue stone, goes to the sky-centric Windrunners. The Dustbringers are associated with rubies, as they invoke an image of heat and sparks. But, Number 9 on the table really caught my eye. The gemstone of the Stonewards is Topaz... where else is that stone used?

The answer: that was one of Hoid's aliases, possibly even his given name. Spoilered for length, here's the WOB to back it up:

Quote

[...]

Questioner

What's his real name?

Brandon Sanderson

He does... have a real name, but he would argue that they're all real names.

Overlord Jebus

What's one that isn't Cephandrius or Midius?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid. *laughter* Topaz.

Aurimus

When he says he's named after a rock that's a reference to Topaz?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes that's referencing the topaz. [...]

Oathbringer London signing (Nov. 28, 2017)

(We could get into a whole other discussion about the "words on a page" deal, but let's not for right now.) 

So we already have this connection between the stone and one of Hoid's names. On top of that, though, let's examine the body focuses of Hoid's Radiant associations. Hoid is most prominently mentioned with regards to the Lightweavers, so the body focus there is blood. For the Stonewards, the body focus is bones. To demonstrate a prominent connection with both, I looked at The Traveler and specific imagery in that scene. 

Quote

A focused southern breeze made the trees sound like they were chattering. Tiny crisp leaves spreading the news of the Traveler’s return. Pure white leaves, clustered along branches like skeletal limbs. Even the bark clinging to the trees was white. In some lands, white meant purity; in others, it meant death. Here, it didn’t mean a thing. It was simply, normal. 

The Traveler sat on the mossy white ground, back to the tree, legs crossed idly as he picked at a pomegranate, eating the seeds one by one then spitting out the pits. They fell on the stark moss-covered ground, leaving red juice like blood running across a sterile white floor. 

For a color scheme, we're given lots of white, accentuated by red. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but there is an overwhelming amount of the colors of bones and blood shown in the scene. Additionally, the surrounding trees are described as "skeletal," and the juice from the pomegranate is "like blood." 

So, let's review before we move on: in accordance with the Ten Essences, we have determined that one of Hoid's aliases and the Stoneward gemstone are both named Topaz, and imagery from The Traveler reflects blood and bones, which are the body focuses of the Lightweavers and Stonewards, respectively. 

Next, we move onto human-to-human relationships. What is the significance of Taln, the Herald of the Stonewards, with respect to Hoid? 

An important thing to note is that Taln is introduced during the epilogue to The Way of Kings. Thus, Hoid is the among the first to hear that Taln has succumbed to the pain on Braize, and the Desolation is soon to arrive. However, it's clear that Hoid knows what is about to happen. 

Quote

“The storm has come,” Wit said, standing up.

The guards scrambled for spears left leaning beside the wall. They had a guardhouse, but it was empty; they preferred the night air.

The gate shook again, as if something enormous were outside. The guards yelled, calling to the men atop the wall. All was chaos and confusion as the gate booned yet a third time, powerful, shaking, vibrating as if hit with a boulder.

And then a bright, silvery blade rammed between the massive doors, slicing upward, cutting the bar that held them closed. A Shardblade.

The gates swung open. The guards scrambled back. Wit waited on his boxes, enthir held in one hand, pack over his shoulder.

Outside the gates, standing on the dark stone roadway, was a solitary man with dark skin. His hair was long and matted, his clothing nothing more than a ragged, sacklike length of cloth wrapping his waist. He stood with head bowed, wet, ratty hair hanging down over his face and mixing with a beard that had bits of wood and leaves stuck in it.

His muscles glistened, wet as if he’d just swum a great distance. To his side, he carried a massive Shardblade, point down, sticking about a finger’s width into the stone, his hand on the hilt. The Blade reflected torchlight; it was long, narrow, and straight, shaped like an enormous spike.

“Welcome, lost one,” Wit whispered.

We know why Taln is the one to announce the dawn of the Desolation; the other Heralds left him to suffer on Braize alone, as he was the only one who had not failed in enduring Damnation. However, why is it Hoid that receives him at the gates? 

Personally, I think that this was Brandon's way of alluding to a deeper connection between their characters. Specifically, I see many ways in which Hoid and Taln are painted as opposites. In the aforementioned epilogue, the differences are mostly superficial. 

Quote

Hoid:
That crazy man happened to have blue eyes, which let him get away with all kinds of trouble. Perhaps Wit should have been bemused by the stock these people put in something as simple as eye color, but he had been many places and seen many methods of rule. This didn’t seem any more ridiculous than most others.

And, of course, there was a reason the people did what they did. Well, there was usually a reason. In this case, it just happened to be a good one.

“Brightlord?” one of the guards asked, looking at where Wit sat on his boxes. They’d been piled there and left by a merchant who had tipped the night watchmen to make certain nothing was stolen. To Wit, they simply made a convenient perch. His pack sat beside him, and on his knees he was tuning his enthir, a square, stringed instrument. You played it from above, plucking its strings while it sat on your lap.


Taln:
The figure ignored the question. He stepped forward, dragging his Shardblade, as if it weighed a great deal. It cut the rock behind him, leaving a tiny groove in the stone. The figure walked unsteadily, and nearly tripped. He steadied himself against the gate door, and a lock of hair moved from the side of his face, exposing his eyes. Dark brown eyes, like a man of the lower class. Those eyes were wild, dazed.

The man finally noticed the two guards, who stood, terrified, with spears leveled at him. He raised his empty hand toward them. “Go,” he said raggedly, speaking perfect Alethi, no hint of an accent. “Run! Raise the call! Give the warning!”

To condense the key parts of the passages:

  • Eye color: Hoid has blue eyes and is therefore high-class, while Taln has brown eyes and appears to be low-class
  • Positioning: Hoid is comfortably perched on boxes, while Taln is cannot walk straight and is tripping over himself
  • Material objects: Hoid carries an instrument, while Taln carries a giant Shardblade

Beyond this, though, there are major points of contrast within Hoid and Taln's personalities. If we assume Taln to be like his fellow Stonewards, he is "dependable" and "resourceful," according to the chart of the Ten Essences. This is further affirmed by his long years of pain on Braize and how he was able to stand firm to protect Roshar. Therefore, the argument is not if Taln is dependable and resourceful, but rather if Hoid is the opposite of at least one of those qualities. We all know that Hoid is very resourceful, and this is virtually inarguable–– as someone who operates alone, going any way the wind blows, he has to be. But as to the question if Hoid is dependable, the answer is a resolute no. Here's why... 

Reading back through The Traveler, we witness a conversation between Hoid and Frost the dragon, who reminds him of his past wishes. Hoid and Frost reflect on the former's change over thousands of years, and why his involvement in universal affairs is an issue. 

Quote

The elderly man sighed, walking across the short clearing and settling himself down on a large protruding tree root. “You can’t keep doing this.” The Traveler continued to eat his seeds, though he had started to chew them up rather than spitting out the pits. “You will just make things worse.” 

“Ati and Leras are dead,” the Traveler said, picking a piece of seed out from between his teeth. The elderly visitor said nothing, and the Traveler eyed him, leaning in closely, studying the man's eyes. The pupils were rimmed with a silver far too metallic to be natural, at least for a human. 

“You sly old lizard!” the Traveler said, pointing. “You already knew! You were watching! And here you were chastising me.”

“I did NOT interfere,” the elderly man said. "You meddle in things we promised to leave alone. Things that we—”

Traveler held up a finger, interrupting him, then slowly he pointed at the older man. "I. Made. No. Promise.”

“You made your choice. Why now seek for things you so eagerly denied? My friend, it’s the dangerous desire, the lust for power best untouched, that created the situation in the first place.”

The Traveler did not reply. The two sat for a time, listening to the winds through the garrulous trees.

Through this passage, it can be inferred that Hoid has changed his mind from an earlier conviction. This means that he is not sticking to what he has previously said, whether or not that statement was a true promise or just passionate words. Additionally, Frost describes what Hoid wants as "dangerous," and Hoid's response–– or lack thereof–– demonstrates that he knows that his behavior can cause harm, yet he continues to do it. 

I'm not arguing that Hoid is a villain. What I am trying to say, though, is that you wouldn't be able to ask him for a favor and reliably assume that he would follow through. Again, this isn't a good or bad thing, it's just the way he is. Couple his lack of dependability with surface-level differences, and you've cracked the mystery of Hoid's relationships with the Knights Radiant. He essentially twins with the Lightweavers and heavily contrasts with the Stonewards. 

TLDR: Brandon's given us one of Hoid's aliases, Topaz, to imply a deeper connection between Hoid and the Stonewards. Through the body focuses of the Ten Essences chart, we can conclude that Hoid has connections to both the Lightweavers–– as we already knew–– and the Stonewards. After an analysis of Hoid and Taln's characters, it's clear that they are basically opposites, so Hoid's strongest relationships within the Knights Radiant must be the Lightweavers (similar) and the Stonewards (different). 

I know this had a lot of explanation and less of an actual theory, but I wanted to open up the theorizing to everyone else. What are your thoughts? Just saw a connection and ran with it, so I want to know what everyone else thinks about Hoid, his relationship with the Knights Radiant, Taln, the Stonewards, and anything involving all of them. 

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I think the Topaz mentioned is the First Gem, whatever that might be. Perhaps part of the weapon that killed Adonalsium.

Quote

Valhalla

So, you talked about a weapon made by the enemies of Adonalsium, and you said it doesn't exist in it's original form. Do any remnants of it still exist in the Physical Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Valhalla

Have we seen any of those remnants on-screen?

Brandon Sanderson

*pause* RAFO.

In current continuity (and people would know this), Hoid's immortality comes from this. People who have read Dragonsteel know that.

Idaho Falls signing (July 21, 2018)

I think it's more likely to be a link with the functionality of the gem rather than the Order itself.

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The reason for all that white in that scene is that it takes place on Yolen which has two competing ecologies, one of which resembles what we have on Earth and it's what Scadrial was modeled after. The ecology seen in that sequence is the second one Yolen has, called fainlife. It predates the Shattering by an unknown length of time but we're probably talking hundreds of years if not over a thousand. Like Hoid calling himself Topaz, it predates Taln and the Stonewards by thousands of years.

Using exactly the same kind of reasoning, I could demonstrate that Hoid actually has some special affinity for the Dustbringers. According to Frost, his meddling in worlds does more harm than good. Dustbringers are known to break things. What's one of Hoid's other aliases, which is even mentioned within Stormlight Archive itself? Dust.

TLDR: It's an amusing coincidence but anything more than that is a massive stretch.

Edited by Ookla the Nameless
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I think the Topaz did its thing prior to the existence of the Radiants.

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7 hours ago, Ookla the Prolific said:

I think the Topaz did its thing prior to the existence of the Radiants.

According to the chronology, that's correct. I was thinking of the connection as a way to imply something deeper between Hoid and the Stonewards–– nothing that has to do with Hoid's name selection.

16 hours ago, Ookla the Nameless said:

Using exactly the same kind of reasoning, I could demonstrate that Hoid actually has some special affinity for the Dustbringers. According to Frost, his meddling in worlds does more harm than good. Dustbringers are known to break things. What's one of Hoid's other aliases, which is even mentioned within Stormlight Archive itself? Dust.

TLDR: It's an amusing coincidence but anything more than that is a massive stretch.

I can definitely see the Dustbringer idea. Hoid's a pretty destructive force, so that would make sense. 

Also, the "massive stretch" is exactly what I thought to begin with. Just didn't know if anyone had figured something out about this... it's been a while since I've been active on the Shard. Miss a month or so, and the next thing you know, an entire theory has just been confirmed. :P 

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3 hours ago, Ashspren said:

According to the chronology, that's correct. I was thinking of the connection as a way to imply something deeper between Hoid and the Stonewards–– nothing that has to do with Hoid's name selection.

I think that the association between stonewards and Topaz is partially cultural as well.  It is also likely an uniquely rosharan thing not a universal one.

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