Confused

On Oaths, Ishar, and the Knights Radiant: A Rebuttal to Consensus

3 posts in this topic

This post recapitulates a recent Discord debate on this topic. In honor of the late Justice Ginsburg, contrarian me dissents from the majority view. The issue concerns the meaning of the WoR Chapter 42 Epigraph:

Quote

But as for Ishi’Elin, his was the part most important at their inception; he readily understood the implications of Surges being granted to men, and caused organization to be thrust upon them; as having too great power, he let it be known that he would destroy each and every one, unless they agreed to be bound by precepts and laws.

The debate asks these questions:

  • What did Ishar do?
  • Who did he do it to?
  • How and when did the Oaths arise?

COMPETING NARRATIVES

Consensus

Ishar “thrust organization” upon Surgebinders but did not impose the Oaths. Oaths inhere in each Order’s spren. Surgebinding required five Oaths even before Ishar. Within an Order each Knight and their spren agree on an Oath’s specific wording. “Perception is a big part of the Oaths.” Ishar’s “precepts and laws” were not magical but a set of mundane rules established for the Knights’ and each Order’s self-governance. Ishar threatened to kill any Surgebinder who wouldn’t accept his “precepts and laws.”

Rebuttal

Ishar’s Ashyn experience taught him how dangerous unchecked magical power can be. Recognizing Nahel bondable spren mimic Honorblades, Ishar insisted on an “organization” that mimicked the Oathpact. He created the Orders and imposed the First Oath, “Life Before Death...” (IMO, the Oathpact’s Oath). I think Ishar, perhaps with Shardic help, threatened to “destroy each and every one” to obtain their agreement: First the spren by forcibly breaking their bond while the Surgebinder lived, and then the former Surgebinder. Killing spren stops them bonding someone new. Killing former Surgebinders stops other like-minded spren from attempting to bond them.

Honor wanted Dalinar to see the Nohadon vision for a reason. Alkavish’s revolt showed Nohadon “not all spren are as discerning as honorspren.” A single Oath’s grant of full power to humans didn’t stop the pre-Desolation carnage. With so few humans left, spren would have to wait many human generations before they could return to the Physical Realm. Nohadon may have been a Bondsmith. Perhaps with Shardic help and “Way of Kings” inspiration, Nohadon persuaded each spren Order to add four unique Oaths and permanently change the bond. Spren might willingly accept Nohadon’s solution to avoid another spren-wide catastrophe. Five Oaths incrementally ratchet up the Knight’s power as the Knight, through epiphany and self-scrutiny, attains each ideal. Oaths mark that ideal’s attainment. Incremental power growth minimizes the damage a traitorous Knight can do.

ARGUMENTS

Consensus

What Did Ishar Do?

Ishar did not impose Oaths. Oaths don’t create “organization.” Even within an Order each Knight and their spren agree on their own version of the Oath “though the concept is the same.”

Malata proves Oaths don’t constrain Knight behavior. Malata and Spark agree she made proper Oaths and is deservedly Radiant. Yet she and Spark spy on Dalinar and the other Knights and actively sabotage their plans. To quote one Discord post, “the Oaths don't stop people from misusing their powers, so long as they can justify it and the spren agree.”

If Oaths don’t “organize” Surgebinders, Ishar’s “precepts and laws” must involve some non-magical change. Consensus believes Ishar created the rules for the Knights Radiant and each Order’s self-governance. They cite the Knights’ execution of Kazilah as an example of those rules’ enforcement (WoR Chapter 51 Epigraph).

Consensus also argues even a powerful Bondsmith like Ishar can’t change a magic system. They believe imposing Oaths changes Surgebinding. Shards themselves don’t actively create magic systems. Magic systems are the unplanned result of Shard Investiture in a planet. Except for Leras and Sazed, we don’t know any Shards that changed a magic system. How can a non-Shard make these changes?

Who Did Ishar Do It To?

Consensus reads the WoR Chapter 42 Epigraph (quoted at the top) to mean that Ishar organized and imposed his precepts and laws solely on the human Surgebinders and threatened only them with death.

How and When Did the Oaths Arise?

Consensus believes Oaths arise from the nature of each spren Order. They cite the diversity of Oaths among spren Orders as evidence. The variability of Oath wording within an Order further proves that Oaths arise from the spren themselves. Consensus believes Surgebinding required five Oaths even before Ishar.

Rebuttal

What Did Ishar Do?

I believe Nahel bondable spren evolved as personifications of the Heralds’ Divine Attributes. They are attracted to humans who manifest the Primary Divine Attribute. Oaths mark the Knight’s progress to the Secondary Divine Attribute. At the Fifth Oath, the Knight and their spren merge Spiritual aspects and the Knight now personifies their spren’s Divine Attributes.

I agree with Consensus that

  • All Oaths arise from the nature of Nahel bondable spren.
  • Spren grant power to anyone who fulfills their Oaths. Spark grants Malata power because she is Brave. He chose her from among other Brave people because she too wants to settle grudges. Malata will progress through her Oaths as she gains insight into the Dustbringer Divine Attributes of Brave and Obedient. Nothing about that process mandates who Malata should be Brave for or Obedient to.
  • Shards don’t intentionally create magic systems.

IMO, these points of agreement don’t compel Consensus’ conclusions. Oaths are natural to Nahel spren because they grow directly from the Divine Attributes the spren personifies. That doesn’t make Oaths a necessary part of the Nahel bond.

Syl and Kaladin show Oaths are not necessary to form an incipient bond, at least for honorspren. She grants Kaladin power before he vows the First Oath at the Tower. Other Orders differ on when to grant power. Syl and Kaladin, IMO, prove Oaths regulate power but are not necessary to enter a bond and grant power.

No wonder seeing human Surgebinders scared Ishar. Unregulated, unorganized full Radiants without any understanding of their powers or the deeper meaning of their ideals? Ishar rightly feared Rosharan Apocalypse. I believe Ishar organized the Orders and imposed the First Oath but not the others.

Who Did Ishar Do It To?

I believe Ishar threatened spren, not mortal Surgebinders. Spren initiate the Nahel bond. Killing mortals wouldn’t stop spren from trying to bond other mortals through whom to experience the Physical Realm. To end human Surgebinding altogether, Ishar needed to break each spren’s bond while their Surgebinder was still alive. He probably also killed the human Surgebinder after the bond breaks to stop them attracting another spren. Faced with eternal mindlessness and mortal death, spren and Surgebinder agreed to accept Ishar’s Oath.

Consensus claims Ishar’s Oath changes Surgebinding. They believe only a Shard can change a magic system, and Ishar is no Shard despite his godly ambitions. IIRC, we have no evidence a powerful magic user like Ishar can’t change a magic system. Adding the First Oath as an Initiation condition seems slight compared to Sazed’s Spiritual changes to snapping. Bondsmiths Connect things. The first and (until Dalinar?) most powerful Bondsmith should have some say in the Nahel bonds’ terms. Spren capitulation shows they thought Ishar could break a Nahel bond.

If Ishar’s own power was insufficient to the task, Honor could have given Ishar what he lacked. The Stormfather says Honor shared Ishar’s fears. Notum hints Tanavast’s death makes spren less trustworthy, as if Tanavast himself enforced spren compliance.

How and When Did the Oaths Arise?

I think Ishar imposed the generic First Oath when Surgebinders began to appear. IMO, the Order-specific Oaths followed Alkavish’s revolt. Like Ishar before him, Nohadon somehow secured spren agreement to change the terms of the Nahel bond. The spren themselves were likely appalled at the human losses. Too many spren lost the human bond that Connected them to the Physical Realm. With so few humans left, spren would have to wait many human generations before they could return to the Physical Realm. Spren might willingly accept Nohadon’s solution to avoid another spren-wide catastrophe. Nohadon’s Way of Kings outlines each Order’s ideals. Perhaps that and Shardic mediation inspired spren compliance.

CONCLUSION

There’s the debate. Now vote...

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/29/2020 at 9:07 PM, Confused said:

Consensus claims Ishar’s Oath changes Surgebinding. They believe only a Shard can change a magic system, and Ishar is no Shard despite his godly ambitions. IIRC, we have no evidence a powerful magic user like Ishar can’t change a magic system. Adding the First Oath as an Initiation condition seems slight compared to Sazed’s Spiritual changes to snapping. Bondsmiths Connect things. The first and (until Dalinar?) most powerful Bondsmith should have some say in the Nahel bonds’ terms. Spren capitulation shows they thought Ishar could break a Nahel bond.

I'm currently rereading Warbreaker.  People of the Eighth Heightening can override commands in Awakened objects, including Lifeless.  There are, obviously, drastic differences between the Awakened objects and the Nahel bond.  However, I think that the similarities are enough to grant plausibility that someone with a dangerous amount of Stormlight (say, being channeled through an Honorblade) would be able to forcibly break a Nahel bond.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, kaellok said:

However, I think that the similarities are enough to grant plausibility that someone with a dangerous amount of Stormlight (say, being channeled through an Honorblade) would be able to forcibly break a Nahel bond

Channeling dangerous amounts of Stormlight (likely directly from Honor, considering the timeline as well), and holding powers directly related to Connection... This seems more than plausible that they could forcibly break a bond. In more recent times, we've seen that the Stormfather has taken up this regulatory role in managing people who have a Nahel bond, and with the Splinter of Honor that is now attached to him, he likely has more than enough Investiture behind him to forcibly break a bond if he finds it necessary. And Dalinar may, through the bond, be able to channel that Investiture himself to do similar feats.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.