The Strange Case of Hoid and Radiance

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"But asmodeus!" I hear you say, "didn't Hoid just bond a cryptic and become a Lightweaver? What's so strange about that?"

Well, sir (or ma'am, or... whatever your predisposition may be), this is Hoid we're talking about. So let me start at the beginning.

Part 1: Topaz and Vows

There are quite a few WoBs on this, but I'm going with this one for now:



The Second Letter, Frost mentions a gemstone, is that in the Moon Scepter?

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question. That is a topaz, which was associated with him for a long time and had some mystical properties.

Shadows of Self London UK signing (Oct. 19, 2015)

We've known for a while that one of his earliest aliases was Topaz, and that it had to do something with an actual, in-world Topaz he was carrying, and that there was something magical or mystical about the whole affair. (note: I am deliberately not commenting on "Bearer of the First Gem," because I have no clue what to make of it.) Okay, so what about this is interesting?

Because of what I'm choosing as the title, some of you probably already noticed that Topaz is indeed an actual polestone on Roshar, and yes, yes it is. In the magic of Roshar, Topaz is the ninth polestone - it soulcasts things to stone, and is associated with Taln and the amber eyes of the Stonewards. And, yeah, on its own, this doesn't really sound interesting, because what does Hoid have to do with Stonewards?

You see, earlier this year, we had the Radiant Quiz drop, with its own associated lore drop on the Ten Orders of the Knights Radiant. And... there's something really rather interesting about it. (Okay, yes, there was a lot more than one just interesting thing about the whole matter, but what matters for out purposes is just one). We had it confirmed earlier that the little tag lines for each order on the order placards are the core concepts for each order, and also the canon theme for their second oaths in general. (source. Scroll down to the comments section for it.) So then, it is rather interesting to see the Stonewards having this:



So, just to reiterate, Stonewards in general swear some variation of "I will be there when I'm needed" as their second Oath, or their first Order-specific Oath.

So... why is this relevant? Some of you've already probably caught on, but here's an excerpt from one of my favorite chapters in OB (Chapter 68: Aim for the Sun):


“You’re … old, aren’t you? Not a Herald, but as old as they are?”

He slid his boots off the chair and leaned forward, holding her eyes. He smiled in a kindly way. “Child, when they were but babes, I had already lived dozens of lifetimes. ‘Old’ is a word you use for worn shoes. I’m something else entirely.”

She trembled, looking into those blue eyes. Shadows played within them. Shapes moved, and were worn down by time. Boulders became dust. Mountains became hills. Rivers changed course. Seas became deserts.

“Storms,” she whispered.

“When I was young…” he said.


“I made a vow.”

Shallan nodded, wide-eyed.

“I said I’d always be there when I was needed.”

“And you have been?”


So... rather interesting that Hoid had a mystical Topaz (which eventually became the polestone of the Stonewards) and was named after it, and then also vowed to be exactly what a second oath Stoneward would swear to be. Curious, innit?

Now, someone will probably say, "But the timelines don't match up!" and you wouldn't be wrong. But... consider, for a moment, that metal being special isn't something that just... came to be, one day, nor is it Scadrial specific. Metal was always special, and Scadrians are just inherently suited to utilise its special properties in a certain way. Yolen had lightweaving, even though it functioned differently from Rosharan lightweaving (since, you know, no spren or stormlight). So... it's not too farfetched to assume that colors and gems might also have something inherently fundamental to their nature, something that drove magic in two disparate places to... manifest certain common themes. Remember also that Roshar was created deliberately by Adonalsium, who had a certain vision for where they wanted the magic to go, and it's safe to assume the Yolen was also something heavily influenced by them.

Another point of note is that a lot of people link Hoid's use of Fortune to this vow that Hoid made, which is fair, considering that he himself says this later, in this very chapter:


Shallan grinned and let out a deep sigh. Her hair had reverted to red—she’d let the illusion lapse. “Wit,” she said, “why are you here? In the city?”

“I’m not completely sure.”

“Please. Could you just answer?”

“I did—and I was honest. I can know where I’m supposed to be, Shallan, but not always what I’m supposed to do there.” He tapped the table. “Why are you here?”

And, again, fair. It could mean that this Oath of Hoid is what gives him his futuresight via some unknown magic, or that he chose his means of futuresight in a way that lets him fulfil his Oath. Note, also, that I'm not saying anything about him having access to stoneward surges - that's a whole another bag that I'm not willing to open right now.

And... that's just section one of this post.

Part 2: Hoid and the Buffet of Radiance

For part two, I want to take a look at yet another excerpt from this chapter:


“Heavens no,” Wit said. “I’m not stupid enough to get mixed up in religion again. The last seven times I tried it were all disasters. I believe there’s at least one god still worshipping me by accident.”

She eyed him. It was always hard to tell which of Wit’s exaggerations were supposed to mean something and which were confusing distractions. “Then what are you?”

“Some men, as they age, grow kinder. I am not one of those, for I have seen how the cosmere can mistreat the innocent—and that leaves me disinclined toward kindness. Some men, as they age, grow wiser. I am not one of those, for wisdom and I have always been at cross-purposes, and I have yet to learn the tongue in which she speaks. Some men, as they age, grow more cynical. I, fortunately, am not one of those. If I were, the very air would warp around me, sucking in all emotion, leaving only scorn.”

He tapped the table. “Other men … other men, as they age, merely grow stranger. I fear that I am one of those. I am the bones of a foreign species left drying on the plain that was once, long ago, a sea. A curiosity, perhaps a reminder, that all has not always been as it is now.”

“You’re … old, aren’t you? Not a Herald, but as old as they are?”

So... this bit is kind of famous, because the idea of Wisdom (or Prudence) as Shard came from this quote. And... there's been a lot of speculation on whether the other things that Hoid compares to are also Shards or not. And, fair speculation. I want to offer an alternate take on things, however.

See, earlier this year, we also got told this:


Kim Jenson

Does Hoid have any rules, self-imposed or otherwise, about how much he can interfere with what is going on on whatever planet he is currently on? And why does he take such an active part on Roshar, compared to the other planets he has visited?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid has a few rules of thumb, but he does not have the same rules that the Shards have to follow, which is basically one of the big points that makes Hoid do what he does. He has to watch out, because drawing their attention at the wrong time can be very dangerous. But that's not necessarily a rule, it's more of a "be careful." He's defined by the fact that he doesn't have to follow the rules. And he's also defined by the fact that he intervenes when a lot of others think that one should not intervene, as made evident by the chastisement he receives from Frost. So, I would say, no and yes. There are some weird limitations on him related to things in his past that you will find out about eventually, but those are not really about intervening.

Why Roshar more than others? There are a couple of reasons for this. One is: the way he is intervening on Roshar is something that is directly involving the main characters of the book I'm writing. He actually has done a lot on other planets as well, you just haven't seen it because he hasn't been as involved with the main characters. Why is he involved with the main characters? Well, he is trying to get to be a Knight Radiant, and he wants to be involved with the people who are becoming Knights Radiant, because he wants to figure out how that magic works and specifically how you can get off-world with it, which is the real trick on Roshar. So he, in this specific instance, is really involved with those characters because of that reason. A lot of the other places he will go, the magic is already extant, and it's not like Roshar, where the magic has not been around for a while. So he is kind of by necessity more involved in the plot.

YouTube Livestream 1 (Jan. 11, 2020)

Which tells us that a lot of Hoid's reasoning behind becoming more involved with the core cast is that he wants to get access to the magic of Roshar, and then to take it off-world. There's a lot to be said there, but the important thing is that this tells us his headspace and what's going on in his own head, when he's getting involved with the main cast - he's interacting with Shallan here not because she wants his help - though, he's helping anyway, no question - but part of his reason is to also figure out why she's a Lightweaver, how it all works, and how he can get access to it. There's another chapter later in the Kholinar sequence, "The Girl Who Stood Up," where I think he's helping Shallan, but at the same time also trying out her (and by extension, Rosharan) Lightweaving, to see whether he likes it or not. Specifically, here:


“Oh, so you do know it? Good.” He leaned down, blowing at the crem dust on the floor. It swirled up, making a figure of a girl. It gave the brief impression of her standing before a wall, but then disintegrated back into dust. He tried again, and it swirled a little higher this time, but still fell back to dust.

“A little help?” he asked. He pushed a bag of spheres across the ground toward Shallan.

Shallan sighed, then picked up the bag and drew in the Stormlight. It started to rage within her, demanding to be used, so she stood up and breathed out, Weaving it into an illusion she’d done once before. A pristine village, and a young girl standing and looking upward, toward an impossibly tall wall in the distance.

The illusion made the room seem to vanish. Somehow, Shallan painted the walls and ceiling in precisely the right way, making them disappear into the landscape—become part of it. She hadn’t made them invisible; they were merely covered up in a way that made it seem Shallan and Wit were standing in another place.

This was … this was more than she’d ever done before. But was she really doing it? Shallan shook her head and stepped up beside the girl, who wore long scarves.

Wit stepped up on the other side. “Hmmm,” he said. “Not bad. But it’s not dark enough.”


“I thought you knew the story,” Wit said, tapping the air. The color and light bled from her illusion, leaving them standing in the darkness of night, lit only by a frail set of stars. The wall was an enormous blot before them. “In these days, there was no light.”

“No light…”

And it continues on from here. And as I said, I think what's really happening in this scene is that sure there's a really interesting story that we want to break apart and find meaning in, and maybe Hoid is here because his access to fortune brought him here (again, not the point of this post), but how he's really approaching the scene (as in, from his point of view) is that he's helping, but also... sort of taking the reigns, on her Lightweaving, and taking the magic out for a test drive, to see how it feels, and whether he likes it.

So it only stands to reason that if Hoid wants access to Surgebinding, and if he's really decided to leverage this opportunity (the coming of the final Desolation and the spren suddenly becoming bond-happy) to come and get Surgebinding, then it only stands to reason that he would do some soul searching and try and figure out which order of Knights Radiant he actually wants to be, and what he actually wants out of the end of the world (which, again, would be inline with him being chosen to become a Lightweaver - he's trying to find himself, and wondering who he is, as a person, and how he wants to live the rest of his life; he's trying to attain a measure of self-awareness. For someone immortal, Oaths like those of Radiance hold a lot of weight, because he's essentially choosing to be a certain way and uphold whatever ideals he speaks for the rest of posterity).

So, going back in time to Chapter 68, when he's talking to Shallan and saying this:


“Some men, as they age, grow kinder. I am not one of those, for I have seen how the cosmere can mistreat the innocent—and that leaves me disinclined toward kindness. Some men, as they age, grow wiser. I am not one of those, for wisdom and I have always been at cross-purposes, and I have yet to learn the tongue in which she speaks. Some men, as they age, grow more cynical. I, fortunately, am not one of those. If I were, the very air would warp around me, sucking in all emotion, leaving only scorn.”

He tapped the table. “Other men … other men, as they age, merely grow stranger. I fear that I am one of those. I am the bones of a foreign species left drying on the plain that was once, long ago, a sea. A curiosity, perhaps a reminder, that all has not always been as it is now.”

He's essentially saying what he thinks of himself - he's telling Shallan, and by extension Pattern, that he's done some soul searching, and he's trying to spread the message that he could be ready to bond too, and that there are some juicy truths he can tell, by dangling a little tidbit of information. But also, to us, I think this tells us which of the Orders he's considered and discarded. Now, I'm about to paste something that's might make some of you nope out, but hang in there, I'll walk you through it. So, let's take a look at the Surgebinding Chart:



In general, this is the pattern: every Order, on the Surgebinding Chart, is connected to two Surges (the ones that they have). Then, you get a line connecting from each Order to two of their "adjacent" orders - these are the Orders they share a Surge with. And then, each Order is also connected to the order directly opposite to them, on the chart. And then lastly, there are the two lines I've highlighted in red, which are an anomaly and I'm not going to talk about them in this post, because boy have we speculated on them.

But, if you look at the Lightweavers, they are connected to three orders: Elsecallers, Truthwatchers, and Windrunners. And here, I think the Hoid quote is relevant, because he's lowkey telling us that he's considered Orders that are "right next to" the Lightweavers on the chart, and found them (or himself) wanting.

  • He is not well suited to the Windrunners, as kindness and compassion is not something he makes the point of his life. He isn't driven by the desire to protect those who cannot protect themselves, because he is old enough and has lost enough people that that doesn't really move him anymore as deeply (something the Windrunners struggle with, as evidenced by both Kaladin and the unnamed Windrunner from the gem archives).  He's seen how the Cosmere can mistreat the innocent (Tien, anyone?), and that leaves him disinclined towards kindness.
  • He is not a wise man, and he is not well suited to the Elsecallers, whose attributes are literally "Wise" and "Careful." If Sanderson can drop a hint to an unnamed shard in here, I don't think he wouldn't. And then there's a greater question about certain realmatic things in the Cosmere that I don't think digging into here makes sense, but...  yeah. So I'm not saying this isn't a hint to a Shard, I'm saying that it's both - Hoid telling us that he's considered Elsecallers and found himself not suited to their ideals, by quipping that he's not into a Shard that resonates with some of the core concepts of their order all that much. It's kind of like saying, "I'm not a huge fan of Preservation" to say "I wouldn't make a great Windrunner," or "I'm not really that into Ruin" to say the same for Skybreakers or Dustbringers.
  • And, lastly, Hoid is also not a Truthwatcher, as he's not a cynic who wants to seek out the truth behind the lies. He's not driven by the desire to find out and expose lies, nor is he driven by the desire to ferret out the deep secrets of nature. He's seen enough evil out there that he's a little too jaded for that to drive him anymore. If he did decide to become a cynic, he would be very likely to go full on scornful (his... quips, as Wit, and his jib at Sadeas in this very conversation are only proof of this).

However, Hoid is strange, he's a very weird man, and he has a lot of truths to tell. He, as he has aged, has only grown more strange, as a person. Hoid... is a good fit for the Lightweavers. And then he dangles a juicy Truth about his own self: "I am the bones of a foreign species left drying on the plain that was once, long ago, a sea. A curiosity, perhaps a reminder, that all has not always been as it is now."

So... yeah. I think this was both Hoid being sincere about himself, but by being sincere, also running a marketing campaign at the same time.

About the lines in red on the Surgebinding chart, I'm not specifically looking at the red line from Lightweavers connecting to Stonewards (given section one of this post) as particularly relevant, but... ehh. It could be relevant.

There's also one more thing I want to say, but... this post has gotten long, already, so I'm just gonna leave this crackpot here: What if Hoid, having already sworn something along the lines of what Stonewards would swear way back when, volunteered as the original candidate for Taln's position? What if Taln was chosen because Hoid, for whatever reason (I have my suspicions), backed out?

This is probably not gonna get all that many comments, but ehh... I just wanted to say this and get it out there.

Edited by asmodeus

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Some really compelling observations and linkages here Asmo. Ha and yeah a quarter the way through your post the 'Hoid being the original Taln' jumped into my head so i can sympathise with that unlikely-but-fun idea (unlikely only because it's hard to imagine a guy who didn't take a shard as he didn't want to be limited, to limit himself to eternity on Braize - but the thematic link is fun). It is a long post, you may want a TLDR.


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Nicely put together @asmodeus!

One other point that is further support for your Hoid shopping around for the right radiant order theory is that Hoid was at the gates of Kholinar when Taln the stoneward herald showed up, and the extended metaphor that Hoid was working up into a magnificent punchline had to do with timing.

With the commonality of their shared vow to always be where they when they are needed, it does beg the question whether the stonewards as an order will share Hoid's unwitting prescience.


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