Claincy

The nature of Dawnshards (Theory)

6 posts in this topic

The announcement of Dawnshard's title got me thinking about the nature of the dawnshards (like everyone else here I imagine :P ) and I think there's a possibility we may not have considered. (I didn't find any older threads talking about this idea, but I apologise if there is one.)

We may have made some assumptions about the nature of dawnshards that we shouldn't have. Of the little information we have about dawnshards most of it is 2nd hand and of dubious veracity. In particular I'm not wholly convinced that dawnshards are actually objects. I'm wondering if they're simply dawnsingers who've bonded with highspren. Or a specific order/group thereof. (If that is the case, Venli would be a proto-dawnshard.)

Let's review what information on the Dawnshards we actually have.

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."
“From the Poem of Ista. I have found no modern explanation of what these "Dawnshards" are. They seem ignored by scholars, though talk of them was obviously prevalent among those recording the early mythologies”

-WoK Epigraph 36

The poem of Ista is probably based on real events, but to a very limited extent. I'd assume there's an element of truth in there or Brandon wouldn't have put it in the book. However, I doubt the in-world author has any idea what dawnshards actually are. Even taken as written it only very loosely implies that the dawnshard is an object and not a person or creature. He could easily be accompanied by or carrying a person. I would guess that it is accurate that dawnshards could bind things, but that's all I'd say with any confidence.

Quote

"A mythological treasure, Brightness, much like the Dawnshards or the Honorblades. Certainly worth seeking, but only with great caution."
Shallan, Wok chapter 29

It does seem that they are commonly thought of as objects in mythology. But without any actual knowledge it's only natural that people would think of something named x-shards as objects of power.

Quote

'I wish I could do more,' repeated the figure in gold. 'You might be able to get him to choose a champion. He is bound by some rules. All of us are. A champion could work well for you, but it is not certain. And...without the Dawnshards...Well, I have done what I can. It is a terrible, terrible thing to leave you alone.'

Honor, WoK chapter 75

I don't think this quote does much to help or hinder the theory. It tells us the dawnshards seem to be gone or unavailable in some manner and that they would be very helpful in defeating Odium. But that makes sense whether they are objects or singers. Singers bonded with spren of honor & cultivation instead of voidspren or lesser spren are more likely to oppose Odium I would think.

Quote

"The Almighty kept this from his Radiants," Dalinar said. "When they discovered it, they abandoned their vows."

It is more than that. My memory of all this is ... strange. First, I was not fully awake; I was but the spren of a storm. Then I was like a child. Changed shaped during the frantic last days of a dying god.

But I do remember. It was not only the truth of humankind's origin that caused the Recreance. It was the distinct, powerful fear that they would destroy this world, as men like them had destroyed the one before. The Radiants abandoned their vows for that reason, as will you.

...

In the past, Honor was able to guard against this,
 the Stormfather told him He convinced the Radiants they were righteous, even if this land hadn't originally been theirs. Who cares what your ancestors did, when the enemy is trying to kill you right now?

But in the days leading to the Recreance, Honor was dying. When that generation of knights learned the truth, Honor did not support them. He raved, speaking of the Dawnshards, ancient weapons used to destroy the Tranquiline Halls. Honor ... promised that surgebinders would do the same to Roshar.

"Odium claimed the same thing."

Dalinar & the Stormfather, Oathrbinger chapter 113

This is far and away the most useful quote we have. But even this one could be a little misleading. The Stormfather is relating something Honor said while dying and "raving". And the Stormfather was still coming to full consciousness and says his memories of it were "strange". I don't doubt the direct truth of what the quote says, but it could be misleading beyond that. Firstly, it is unusual but not unheard of to refer to dangerous/powerful people as weapons. So even taking it at face value I don't think this confirms the dawnshards are objects.

More interesting is "used to destroy the Tranquiline Halls." and the promise that surgebinders would do the same to Roshar. If my theory is right (which it may not be) that would mean that some Dawnshards had traveled to Ashyn prior to it's destruction, and were involved in that destruction. Which seems a bit of a leap at first, but thinking further it seems likely that some humans or singers had traveled between the worlds before the destruction of Ashyn. I'm not saying the dawnsingers were responsible for Ashyn's destruction; I do think Odium influenced humans were responsible. But these dawnsingers could have been used/participants in what happened. And/or the humans could have attempted to reproduce their powers. If this was the case, that would help explain why Honor and Odium both thought human surgebinders might destroy Roshar.

 

Quote

 

Shardbound

Were the Surges used by humans, the ones that destroyed their previous home, the same as the ones that the Radiants are using.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, same basic principles. Magic system slightly different. Same basic principles.

Oathbringer London signing (Nov. 28, 2017)

 

 

 

Quote

"They came from another world, using powers that we have been forbidden to touch. Dangerous powers, of spren and Surges. They destroyed their lands and have come to us begging. We took them in, as commanded by the gods. What else could we do? They were a people forlorn, without a home. Our pity destroyed us. For their betrayal extended even to our gods: to spren, stone, and wind. Beware the otherworlders. The traitors. Those with tongues of sweetness, but with minds that lust for blood. Do not take them in. Do not give them succor. Well were they named Voidbringers, for they brought the void. The empty pit that sucks in emotion. A new god. Their god. These Voidbringers know no songs. They cannot hear Roshar, and where they go, they bring silence. They look soft, with no shell, but they are hard. They have but one heart, and it cannot ever live."

-The Elia Stele, Oathbringer epitaphs 115-118

This might be the strongest point against this theory. Though we don't know how biased the account may be. The singers were forbidden to touch those powers, presumably by Honour and/or Cultivation. But we don't know when they were forbidden, they may have been forbidden because of the destruction of Ashyn and have used them before then. We also don't know how long after Ashyn's destruction/the human arrival on Roshar this was written. Though from the little we know it was probably many years. I have to guess that the powers being forbidden happened before the wars and the oathpact. There isn't as much need to forbid it when the spren have already joined the humans, using Odium's power/voidspren is presumably worse. And I doubt the singers cared much what Honor/Cultivation might forbid them from doing after they felt they'd been betrayed by them and started serving Odium.

Quote

"’Tis said it was warm in the land far away / When Voidbringers entered our songs. / We brought them home to stay / And then those homes became their own, / It happened gradually. / And years ahead ’twil still be said ’tis how it has to be."

Song of Histories, 12th Stanza

 

Quote

"The betrayal of spren has brought us here. / They gave their Surges to human heirs, / But not to those who know them most dear, before us. / ’Tis no surprise we turned away / Unto the gods we spent our days / And to become their molding clay, they changed us."

-Song of Secrets, 40th Stanza

"The spren betrayed us, it’s often felt. / Our minds are too close to their realm / That gives us our forms, but more is then / Demanded by the smartest spren, / We can’t provide what the humans lend, / Though broth are we, their meat is men."

"But it is not impossible to blend / Their Surges to ours in the end. / It has been promised and it can come. / Or do we understand the sum? / We questioned not if they can have us then, / But if we dare to have them again."

-Song of Spren, 9th-10th stanza

The last line in particular strongly suggests that the higher spren had bonded with singers in the past.

I'm not supremely confident in this theory, but I do think it's possible. It also just feels to me like something Brandon might do. :P  Do you think the theory has merit? Or am I way off base.


Some other relevant wobs

Spoiler


Quote

Questioner (paraphrased)

Is there a Dawnshard in Aimia?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. Well, there definitely has been a Dawnshard in Aimia in the past, that is why it has been protected so well, obviously. Maybe it is still there and maybe not, that is an open question for now.

ICon 2019 (Oct. 16, 2019)

 

Quote

Curtis

Could you write something about Dawnshards that we don't/won't know?

Brandon

One Dawnshard is different from all the rest. 

Words of Radiance release party (March 3, 2014)

 

Quote

Punzi (paraphrased)

Have we seen a Dawnshard in any Cosmere book?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes and no. *hands RAFO card*

DragonCon 2019 (Aug. 30, 2019)

 

Quote

Stormlightning

Is there a set number of them[Dawnshards]?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Stormlightning

Are you willing to say?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Stormlightning

Are you willing to say if they originated in the Rosharan system?

Brandon Sanderson

I am not willing to say.

FanX 2018 (Sept. 7, 2018)

 

Quote

Questioner

The Dawnshards. Have we seen any evidence of them on Roshar yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Technically, yes.

Questioner

Is there a the relationship between them and say, like, the perfect gems like the King's Drop?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll RAFO that. Good question.

FanX 2018 (Sept. 8, 2018)

 

Quote

Questioner (paraphrased)

How about the other way around? Can a Parshendi bond a Knights Radiant spren?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Historically, the Parshendi were not made Knights Radiant, or the parshmen weren't.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Can they become squires maybe?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Historically they did not, but it's not impossible.

Words of Radiance Houston signing (March 11, 2014)

 

Quote

Questioner

What would happen if a Parshendi were to attract a spren and bring it into the Highstorm? Like, an Honorspren of some sort?

Brandon Sanderson

Sapient spren have a choice of whether they get bonded or not, unless you entrap them some way. But simply attracting them...simply going into the Highstorm with one wouldn't work, what you said is 'attracted a spren', so, to answer that actually... The thing is, honorspren, all the spren of Honor and Cultivation, not honorspren capital, Honorspren or whatever... The spren that create the orders of the Knights Radiant have not, in the past, been attracted to Parshendi because of certain events in the past.

Questioner

*inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

You'll have to Read and Find Out.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing (Dec. 1, 2016)

 

Quote

Questioner

Is Eshonai going to be a Radiant? You mentioned in the beginning that there's going to be ten books, ten Radiants - and Eshonai's book is one of them...

Brandon Sanderson

So. In the past, parshmen were - Parshendi were not allowed to become Knights Radiant. However, what I said, might imply that that could change.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing (March 20, 2014)

 

Quote

Questioner

Is it possible - not will there be, but is it possible - for a Parshendi to become a Knight Radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

In the past, they would've said [no]. How about this, in-world everybody would tell you no. It's never happened.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing (March 22, 2014)


 

 

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5 hours ago, Claincy said:

We may have made some assumptions about the nature of dawnshards that we shouldn't have. Of the little information we have about dawnshards most of it is 2nd hand and of dubious veracity. In particular I'm not wholly convinced that dawnshards are actually objects. I'm wondering if they're simply dawnsingers who've bonded with highspren. Or a specific order/group thereof. (If that is the case, Venli would be a proto-dawnshard.)

We know that a Dawshards was hidden in Aimia for some time and that there's one Dawnshard different from the others - which I think makes it hard for it to be a Dawnsinger. Also, leaving Roshar with a bonded spren is rather hard to pull off.

I agree however, that the Singers' ability to link their power to a devastating effect (the Everstorm) seems very similar to what a Dawnshard could do. I wonder if Singers could technically count as the "different" Dawnshard

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1 hour ago, KandraAllomancer said:

We know that a Dawshards was hidden in Aimia for some time and that there's one Dawnshard different from the others - which I think makes it hard for it to be a Dawnsinger. Also, leaving Roshar with a bonded spren is rather hard to pull off.

I agree however, that the Singers' ability to link their power to a devastating effect (the Everstorm) seems very similar to what a Dawnshard could do. I wonder if Singers could technically count as the "different" Dawnshard

Yeah I had both of those WoBs in there. They are potentially problematic but not definitive. The different one is too vague to tell us much of use. I mean, Renarin is a different radiant right? With his 'corrupted' spren. Venli, as presumably the only Listener on that path and perhaps the only proto-highspren-bonded-singer currently could easily be considered different to the others, and that's only scraping the surface of possible differences.

I think the time in Aimia is a larger concern for the theory. Brandon didn't give any indication of the actual time spent there though I would lean toward guessing a longer time than a shorter one. If it was years or decades it's not an issue. If it's centuries? That'd certainly make it less likely. There are ways around that of course. We've seen age manipulation/non-aging, a form of spren-based reincarnation with the fused, and time dilation before. Or it could, in theory, be a singular spren and a lineage of singers. Are any of those likely? Eh, perhaps not. :P But there are possibilities.

I think the set number of dawnshards is another possible issue. Though it's not entirely clear if that's because there only ever could be a set number, or if there are just a specific number that exist currently. If there is a set limit, it could be due to the particular spren required, as with bondsmiths, or due to cultural or religious reasons, or a secondary requirement for the bonding, etc. But in general a set number does imply something more definite/lasting.

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I had always assumed the Dawnshards were from Ashyn, not Roshar 

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3 hours ago, thejopen27 said:

I had always assumed the Dawnshards were from Ashyn, not Roshar 

Yes, in Ch. 38 of OB the Stormfather says Honor ranted to the KR about how the Dawnshards were used to cause the cataclysm on Ashyn. 

I do agree with idea that the Dawnshards are spren. In Stormlight Archive “Shard” is used for plate and blade which we know are spren that crossed over to the physical realm and took the shape of objects. 

Almost every magic on Roshar involves a spren: Singer forms, KR surges, Fabrials, even the Old Magic is (usually) a spren magically altering someone. 

The Fused and the Heralds / whoever holds an Honorblade got their power directly from Odium or Honor. Those are the only exceptions I can think of.

The non-canon magic system Brandon was developing for Ashyn didn’t involve spren. So how did Spren get to Ashyn?

 I ‘unno! :D

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1 hour ago, Child of Hodor said:

Yes, in Ch. 38 of OB the Stormfather says Honor ranted to the KR about how the Dawnshards were used to cause the cataclysm on Ashyn. 

I do agree with idea that the Dawnshards are spren. In Stormlight Archive “Shard” is used for plate and blade which we know are spren that crossed over to the physical realm and took the shape of objects. 

Almost every magic on Roshar involves a spren: Singer forms, KR surges, Fabrials, even the Old Magic is (usually) a spren magically altering someone. 

The Fused and the Heralds / whoever holds an Honorblade got their power directly from Odium or Honor. Those are the only exceptions I can think of.

The non-canon magic system Brandon was developing for Ashyn didn’t involve spren. So how did Spren get to Ashyn?

 I ‘unno! :D

The magic from the not finished Silence Divine is what replaced the original magic of Ashyn. The Ashynites had different magic before the migration.

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