kaladin22

A Detailed Theory on the Identity of Odium's Champion

6 posts in this topic

TL;DR: It's Ishar.

First off, let's get this out of the way.

Why Moash cannot be the champion.
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“I have chosen my champion already. I’ve been preparing him for a long, long time.”

“Amaram.”

“Him? A passionate man, yes, but hardly suited to this task. No, I need someone who dominates a battlefield like the sun dominates the sky.”

 

As we can see, Odium chose Dalinar as his champion due to his fearsome prowess on the battlefield. Moash on the other hand, grew up as a caravan worker and picked up the spear for the first time under Kaladin's tutelage in the chasms. You'd ideally want the best of Odium's to become his champion and Moash is nowhere near that even with a newly bonded Honorblade. Meanwhile, Dalinar's side has so many deadly fighters. Szeth: trained to use all ten Surges and capable of killing multiple Shardbearers at once; Kaladin: master spearman; Adolin: master duelist; Jasnah: who can kill without even a touch; all of whom have been training for years. It'll hardly be a fair contest.

Furthermore,

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“Those are humans,” Dalinar said.

Obviously, said the Stormfather.

“I never put it together before,” Dalinar said. “There were men who fought for the Voidbringers?”

Some.

 

Moash's role is to provide a perspective into what would drive a human to side with the Voidbringers. It has occurred in prior Desolations and thus a human fighting for the Voidbringers does not make Moash a champion to be.

And then there's this:

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“Then what does anger you? What is your passionate fury, Moash, the man with an ancient singer’s name?”

“Vengeance,” he whispered.

“Yes, I understand.” Lady Leshwi looked at him, smiling in what seemed to him a distinctly sinister way. “Do you know why we fight? Let me tell you. . . .”

 

Moash is aware that humans are invaders on Roshar. We saw how troubled Bridge Four became when they learned about this in OB. I'm certain that we're going to see more humans side with the Voidbringers in the upcoming books. That Moash did it first does not make it special or unique.

Hell, there are 26 countries on Roshar: Azir, Jah Keved, Thaylenah, Shinovar, Iri, Rira etc and nobody outside a handful in Alethkar are even aware Moash exists. Moash has just replaced Amaram as Kaladin's foil. Kaladin and Moash, two members from the same bridge crew in an Alethi Highprince's army, and with a history between them, fighting over the fate of all of Roshar? Nope.

There's simply not enough depth to make Moash a compelling endgame villain threatening the entire human civilization in Book 5. The epic conflict brewing will deeply affect all of Roshar and thus it only makes sense that all the nations have a stake in the conflict. And that leads me perfectly to my next point:

Who among the handful of people are known to all of Roshar and wield immense power?

Why do I suspect the Heralds?

Looking at the state of the war, we see similar occurrences being mirrored on both sides.

Humans have begun to side with Odium; singers have begun to side with the Radiants.

The Thrill, a cognitive shadow from Odium's side is captured; Jezrien, a cognitive shadow from Honor's side is killed.

Sja-Anat, a cognitive shadow from Odium's side wants to betray him and join the Radiants; A Herald, a cognitive shadow from Honor's side has betrayed him and joined Odium. Or as the epigraph from Words Of Radiance, Chapter 86 says:

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One is almost certainly a traitor to the others. 

— From the Diagram, Book of the 2nd Desk Drawer: paragraph 27

 

The Heralds are incredibly weak after centuries of torture and I doubt they'd offer any resistance if Odium offered them the same deal he did to Dalinar: Give me your pain and in return, serve me.

Narrowing down our list of suspects.

Why do I suspect Ishar?

Here's a detailed timeline of Ishar's activities with relevant quotes. Note that there's one section below which is pure speculation and I have called it out as such but it ties together several disparate plot lines neatly.

Aharietiam - 4500 years ago

Ishar agreed to serve Odium even before Aharietiam. He is the one who convinced the Heralds to abandon the Oathpact after a Desolation where only Taln died in the course of battle. Ishar suggested that one person may be enough to keep the following Desolations at bay. And so, the nine agreed to abandon the Oathpact. From the prelude of The Way of Kings:

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"A…a decision has been made. It is time for the Oathpact to end.”

Kalak felt a sharp stab of horror. “What will that do?”

“Ishar believes that so long as there is one of us still bound to the Oathpact, it may be enough. There is a chance we might end the cycle of Desolations.”

 

Ishar is the only Herald who survived the Desolations with his mind intact. From Oathbringer:

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“I used to be able to feel, Szeth-son-Neturo. I used to have compassion. I can remember those days, before . . .”

“The torture?” Szeth asked.

Nin nodded. “Centuries spent on Braize—the place you call Damnation—stole my ability to feel. We each cope somehow, but only Ishar survived with his mind intact."

 

Speculation Start

I suspect Ishar assumed Taln being the sole Herald would not hold out for long and decided to wait it out until Taln broke. However, Taln's iron will over the centuries held strong and Ishar grew increasingly frustrated and instigated the False Desolation.

False Desolation and Recreance - 2000 years ago

The False Desolation is key to understanding the events which lead to the Recreance. Here is a quote from Coppermind:

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The precise date of the False Desolation’s onset is unclear, but when Dalinar showed Jasnah and Navani a vision of the Recreance, Jasnah postulated the Radiants were fighting in the False Desolation. If correct, the False Desolation occurred around the same time as the Recreance.

The False Desolation commenced in earnest when Ba-Ado-Mishram, one of the nine Unmade, Connected with the singers. This allowed Ba-Ado-Mishram to provide forms of power to the singers, as well as access to Voidlight.

It is unclear how Ba-Ado-Mishram performed this feat, or why she could not do so sometime prior to the False Desolation. The Radiants were confused as to Ba-Ado-Mishram's new Connection with the singers, which might suggest this was a new development in her abilities, and not a feat she could previously perform. It also seems that she managed to Connect with the vast majority of singers -- all except those who would become the listeners.

 

Look at the last paragraph (highlighted in bold) above. Ba-Ado-Mishram somehow managed to Connect with vast majority of the singers. Next, here's a quote from the Stormfather to Dalinar:

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"Yours is the power Ishar once held. Before he was Herald of Luck, they called him Binder of Gods. He was the founder of the Oathpact. No Radiant is capable of more than you. Yours is the power of Connection, of joining men and worlds, minds and souls. Your Surges are the greatest of all."

 

Next up, here's a quote regarding the Dawnshards:

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“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.”

—From The Poem of Ista.

 

Putting these quotes together, it's very likely that Ishar used a Dawnshard and Ba-Ado-Mishram to Connect with the vast majority of the singers and provide them Voidlight and forms of power.

However Melishi, the sole Radiant Bondsmith of the era captured Ba-Ado-Mishram and due to the unnatural nature of the Connection, the capture of Ba-Ado-Mishram lead to all Connected singers losing their Identity. Quoted from Coppermind:

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The costs to Ba-Ado-Mishram's imprisonment were higher than any Radiant could have expected. Since Ba-Ado-Mishram was Connected to the vast majority of singers, her imprisonment ripped out Connection and Identity from the singers' souls. This meant that these singers were essentially lobotomized--unable to think or act independently. These singers had no form and would later be termed as "slaveforms."

Fighting occurred near Feverstone Keep, and since that is the site of many Windrunners and Stonewards abandoning their oaths, it is possible that this sequence of events precipitated the Recreance. It may have been the final thing that made the Radiants feel they were on the wrong side. The Recreance certainly happened at the same time or directly after Ba-Ado-Mishram's imprisonment.

 

Speculation End

Now, there's one other significant event which ties into the Recreance: Nale's third ideal as a Skybreaker was to follow the word of Ishar. Nale seems incapable of making his own decisions and keeps visiting Ishar to seek guidance. Supporting quote from Edgedancer:

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“I saw them return,” the assassin whispered. “The new storm, the red eyes. You are wrong, Nin-son-God. You are wrong.”

“A fluke,” Darkness said, his voice firm. “I contacted Ishar, and he assured me it is so."

 

Another one:

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“But…” said the male initiate. “Is it really … I mean, shouldn’t we want them to return, so we won’t be the only order of Knights Radiant?”

“Unfortunately, no,” Darkness said. “I once thought as you, but Ishar made the truth clear to me."

 

From Oathbringer:

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The Herald had taken him on a mission to Tashikk, hunting Surgebinders from other orders. A heartless act that Nin had explained would prevent the coming of the Desolation.

Except that it had not. The Everstorm’s return had convinced Nin he was wrong, and he’d abandoned Szeth in Tashikk. Weeks had passed there until Nin had returned to collect him. The Herald had dropped Szeth here at the fortress, then had vanished into the sky again, this time off to “seek guidance.”

 

Ishar is also the who sets Nale up on his mission to kill all budding Knights. Nale's a Skybreaker of the fifth ideal. He is the law. Hence all Skybreakers simply continued following Nale's will, and by extension, Ishar's will.

Hierocracy - 500 years ago

Ishar's next attempt at seizing power came during the Hierocracy, by which he had started wearing the guise of a God priest. Here's a very interesting quote, from The Way Of Kings:

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"It is a delicate balance we walk, bright one. Do you know much of the Hierocracy, the War of Loss?”

“The church tried to seize control,” Adolin said, shrugging. “The priests tried to conquer the world—for its own good, they claimed.”

“That was part of it,” Kadash said. “The part we speak of most often. But the problem goes much deeper. The church back then, it clung to knowledge. Men were not in command of their own religious paths; the priests controlled the doctrine, and few members of the Church were allowed to know theology. They were taught to follow the priests. Not the Almighty or the Heralds, but the priests.”

 

Here's another quote from Coppermind:

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The main goal of the Hierocracy was to unite the world in the Vorin faith; under the rule of the ardents. Claiming a divine mandate from the Almighty, the Vorin church seized control of the government. The Church tried to conquer the world and control the people for their own good.

One of the other primary goals of the Hierocracy was to expunge knowledge of Shadesmar, the Knights Radiant and the Recreance.

 

Ishar almost certainly headed the Hierocracy and commanded his priests to conquer the world and control all people. He also did not want knowledge of the Radiants and Shadesmar to spread and thus rewrote significant portions of books and knowledge.

However it was sometime during this time, a conqueror from Alethkar, Sadees the Sunmaker began an ambitious quest to conquer all of Roshar. I'm also certain that the Sunmaker saw the same visions as Dalinar did from the Stormfather. Relevant quote:

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"What I don’t accept is that you, Dalinar Kholin, have been told by the Almighty to lead us.” said Queen Fen.

“I have been commanded to unite.”

“A mandate from God—the very same argument the Hierocracy used for seizing control of the government. What about Sadees, the Sunmaker? He claimed he had a calling from the Almighty too.”

 

Sadees, being a ruthless warrior attempted to "unite them" via conquest and put down the Hierocracy. For reasons unknown, he was poisoned soon after, leading to his death. I suspect involvement by the Ghostbloods, as poison seems to be their MO. Kabsal attempts to poison Jasnah, Iyatil attempts to poison Amaram through a blow-dart.

Present Day

As the God Priest of Tukar, Ishar has been engaged in the Eighty's War against Emul for control of the city of Sesemalex Dar. Here's evidence of Voidspren mysteriously appearing near Tukar:

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“What?” Azure prompted.

“Shadesmar has been changing these last months,” Pattern explained. “Voidspren have arrived mysteriously just west of the Nexus of Imagination. Near Marat or Tukar on your side."

 

Here's some very subtle foreshadowing that Odium's forces are lead by a "head ardent" aka God Priest.

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But Kadash’s question did leave him considering. Odium wouldn’t be commanding the day-to-day operations of his army, would he? Who did that? The Fused? The Voidspren?

Dalinar strolled a short distance from Kadash, then looked toward the sky. “Stormfather?” he asked. “Do the enemy forces have a king or a highprince? Maybe a head ardent? Someone other than Odium?”

 

And finally, Book Five was supposed to Dalinar's book before Sanderson switched it to Book Three. The final showdown in Book Five will be Dalinar, the Radiant Bondsmith going head to head against Ishar, the Herald of Bondsmiths, with both dueling and influencing Connection on a vast scale.

Feel free to poke holes! Eager to hear what the community thinks :)

Edited by kaladin22
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Well, I can see this happening. Of course I can also see it not happening. Don't the Shin have Ishar's honorblade? That would be one obstacle, unless Ishar bonds a spren. Without the sword or a bond, I'm pretty sure Dalinar would win without much trouble. I'm guessing that Ishar is going to bond with something, maybe an unmade, or the Sibling or cultivation if this does happen. I can't see any major holes in this, but I'm not an expert on cosmere facts.

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1 hour ago, Experience said:

Don't the Shin have Ishar's honorblade

Yes.  Ishar also has no known particular aptitude for war or personal combat of any kind.  If we put him up against someone like Dalinar you will have to get worried about him being suckered. 

1 hour ago, kaladin22 said:

Nale's third ideal as a Skybreaker was to follow the word of Ishar.

Going by Lift's WoR interlude it is to follow the law.

1 hour ago, kaladin22 said:

Moash's role is to provide a perspective into what would drive a human to side with the Voidbringers. It has occurred in prior Desolations and thus a human fighting for the Voidbringers does not make Moash a champion to be.

He is also entrusted with an Honorblade.  Those are not exactly a dime a dozen.

1 hour ago, kaladin22 said:

Ishar is the only Herald who survived the Desolations with his mind intact. From Oathbringer:

Ishar is confirmed by Brandon to be insane.  Still a decent theory.  Please add it here.

 

 

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A minor note, but Ishar didn't get out with his mind intact either. Ishar believes he's a god king. He's no more stable than anyone else, Nale just thinks he is because without Ishar, he has nothing to rely on. His believing that Ishar is sane and following his word is his way of coping. That doesn't affect the rest of the theory though.

Edited by aneonfoxtribute
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This is a very interesting theory. I'm not sure you've entirely convinced me, but it is interesting. One large problem with it is that the other heralds still trust Ishar. I would think that after leading the Hierocracy and starting the false desolation, they would know not to trust him. 

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1 hour ago, Gderu said:

This is a very interesting theory. I'm not sure you've entirely convinced me, but it is interesting. One large problem with it is that the other heralds still trust Ishar. I would think that after leading the Hierocracy and starting the false desolation, they would know not to trust him. 

Unless they don't know about that. For all we know, Nale is the only one who started distrusting him due to him lying about the Desolation not returning, and we don't even know if he does distrust him.

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