Ixthos

What are the Ghostbloods (with regards to the entire Cosmere)?

Type of organisation with regards to the larger Cosmere   102 members have voted

  1. 1. Which of the following do you think best describes the Ghostbloods - select as many as you want

    • Secret Society (see description for what I mean)
    • Mafia / Organised crime
    • Cult
    • Legitimate Business
    • Researchers
    • Philanthropists / Not seeking a personal profit
      0
    • Other

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52 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

The Ghostbloods have a lot of interests in different forms of Investiture. They have recruited from the 17th Shard, and are interested in exporting Stormlight from Roshar, as well as recruiting an Unmade. So, what are they to the entire Cosmere? We know on Roshar they are a secret society, but does that hold on other worlds, to other Worldhoppers, on Scadrial?

 

Are they a secret society in the greater whole of the Cosmere - do they openly recruit from other Cosmere aware groups, or do they operate in secret?

Are they the Mafia, squeezing out competition, circumventing authority to build up their business, protecting family?

Are they a cult, focused on achieving the will of a shard or leader, reviving a shard, "MAKING" one?

Are they a legitimate business - in the Cosmere, a group with legal authority by whatever government or loose organisation administers worldhoppers?

Are they researchers? Philanthropists? Trying to discover more about the Cosmere to share the power or knowledge with others (as a PRIMARY goal)? Something else?

 

What do you think they are?

Edited by Ixthos
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They're the East India Company, or Standard Oil, since they don't have a royal charter or anything. They're a group trying to create a monopoly on the import and export of energy. I do not think that they are philanthropists, and while they are definitely doing research, I would not consider them researchers.

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I suppose they can be viewed as a Mafia organization, since they aren't respecting any Rosharan law and they seem unconcerned in pushing their agenda through murders, espionage and thefts.

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Yeah, like @Rainier, they're focused on building an energy monopoly by any means possible. That's one reason I chose "mafia" because it kind of fits--money, loyalty, ends justifies the means mentality, etc. 

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Definitely the Mafia.

And as a side-note, I now cannot get the image of Marlon Brando as Mraize our of my head.

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Can you define the difference between a mafia and a legitimate business in a lawless environment?

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14 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Can you define the difference between a mafia and a legitimate business in a lawless environment?

This is with regards to the cosmere as a whole, so Mafia would be they are doing shady dealings in shadesmar and Silverlight as well as on Roshar, while legitimate business would mean that, as far as their interactions with other worldhoppers go, they are actually following acceptable protocol. So, basically, which do they match most closely: are they above board away from Roshar, and are exploiting Roshar like they are local tribes sitting on resources "civilisation" needs (legitimate business), or are they breaking kneecaps and running people down for protection money in Silverlight and selling illegal goods (mafia).

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I see them more as the Cosmere Illuminati, a secret society obsessed with power that is Machiavellian in their unrestrained willingness to do whatever they need to achieve their aims. I would imagine that on Shardworlds other than Roshar, where possible, they are likewise exercising their power to achieve their ends.

Their motivations are surely more than merely economic, why would they truck with such fell forces as the Unmade if they are only interested in mere economic renumeration. Just as Investiture is convertible into energy and matter, power is a commodity that is also convertible (reversibly as well) into money and opportunity. 

Especially after Mraize's speech during the Aviar hunting the mole scene, they seem like an organization that takes a wider view of affairs, and they have larger farther reaching aims. Like Hoid, I believe the Ghostbloods are willing to watch Roshar burn to achieve their objectives. But unlike Hoid, I believe they are willing to make Roshar burn if that achieves their objectives, which surely are greater than a just a mafia style criminal energy concern.

To say that Investiture in a raw form is just energy is to ignore that it can also be converted to matter as well. It is power, distilled, contained (and if housed in perfect gems), storable until it's needed. The Ghostbloods most likely recognize that it has applications far more numerous and useful than just running Scadrial Air Conditioners or Rosharan heatrials.

To take the real world analogy of crude oil, it's a limited view to say that this promethean substance is merely something to refine into high octane gasoline for running engines. It's also a precursor to the essential petro-chemicsl supply chain. Most varieties of commercial plastics have as an input of their production crude oil, the utility of the commodity is not uni-dimensional. Energy is itself an abstract commodity, and so serves somewhat as a stand-in for a subset of what raw Investiture could do. 

How handily the Ghostbloods eliminated Thanadal and Ialia shows that they are competent in the extreme. We know that they recruited Iyatil from the 17th Shard, and Mraize's trophy case shows they have ranged far across the Cosmere, so it's safe to infer that they are active in the wider Cosmere.

I think we might see subtle signs of their machinations when we finally get The Lost Metal and the War Breaker sequel, and I am excited to see the conflict that I believe is building between the Ghostbloods and the Sleepless in Era 4.

Edited by hoiditthroughthegrapevine
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To be honest, when Mraize was talking about the plan to collect and transport Roshar's massive amounts of free Investiture off-world, the first thing that came to mind was this:

"And when at last it is time for the transition from megacorporation to planetary government, from entrepreneur to emperor, it is then that the true genius of our strategy shall become apparent, for energy is the lifeblood of this society and when the chips are down he who controls the energy supply controls Planet. In former times the energy monopoly was called "The Power Company"; we intend to give this name an entirely new meaning." – CEO Nwabudike Morgan, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

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That sounds like exactly what the Ghostbloods would think. Good parallel!

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On 9.10.2020 at 10:28 PM, Ixthos said:

This is with regards to the cosmere as a whole, so Mafia would be they are doing shady dealings in shadesmar and Silverlight as well as on Roshar, while legitimate business would mean that, as far as their interactions with other worldhoppers go, they are actually following acceptable protocol. So, basically, which do they match most closely: are they above board away from Roshar, and are exploiting Roshar like they are local tribes sitting on resources "civilisation" needs (legitimate business), or are they breaking kneecaps and running people down for protection money in Silverlight and selling illegal goods (mafia).

What was the British East India company?

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4 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

What was the British East India company?

Oooh I'm learning about this in the class I'm in right now! But I'm on the Shard instead of listening...

They were a company that delivered tea to America. Because the Americans were being like "We ain't buying nothing from Britain," the ships had a lot of extra tea that needed to be sold. However, the Americans sent the ships away or burned them. One of those ships was where the Boston Tea Party occurred.

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4 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

What was the British East India company?

In this framework they were a legitimate business. But again, legitimate business doesn't mean "nice", or even moral - following the law in your native land (as I think they did?) doesn't mean you aren't the mafia elsewhere. Again, this is with regards to the entire cosmere. So that's why-

9 minutes ago, DramaQueen said:

Oooh I'm learning about this in the class I'm in right now! But I'm on the Shard instead of listening...

They were a company that delivered tea to America. Because the Americans were being like "We ain't buying nothing from Britain," the ships had a lot of extra tea that needed to be sold. However, the Americans sent the ships away or burned them. One of those ships was where the Boston Tea Party occurred.

... or this. This is a good answer too :-P

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Hmm, there's no overarching force to authorise the Ghostbloods' activity and they're in breach of local customs and law. That means they're either profiteers or dissidents, and they have clearly expressed a profit motive on the issue of energy so it makes them basically mafia IMO. However that doesn't mean they won't become legitimised by another power later, and become like the East India company as mentioned.

17 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

What was the British East India company?

It was a corporation that effectively colonised large sections of Asia on behalf of Britain's interests, and at one point it had gained control of the south east of the continent and its army became larger than the official British army.

While the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland etc. represented settler colonisation directly by the British, the East India Company's operations in India was what we'd call mercantile colonisation since it didn't involve wiping out the original inhabitants in favour of direct settlement by British populations, but rather was the forceful control of another nation's commercial interests. 

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They are Big Investiture. 

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On 10/12/2020 at 7:50 AM, DramaQueen said:

They were a company that delivered tea to America.

This is an impressive understatement. Yeah, they delivered tea to America. Why them? Because they were the only ones allowed to do so. How is that? Because they had the monopoly on imports from the East Indes (India). Who gave them this monopoly? The British Crown. Why did they do so? How much time do you have?

The EIC was basically God Almighty for India. They were the colonizing force, and their job was to run the country smoothly so that trade could flourish. Their job was not to play nice with the locals, it was to make money, and they exploited their role as sole British envoy to the East to become one of the most powerful corporations to ever exist. 

There are two board games, both by the same guy, looking into this. One is about the opium trade into China, specifically, and is called An Infamous Traffic. The other is about the EIC in India, and is called John Company, as this was a nickname for the company. One of the unique things about these games is that the wealth and money you acquire through trade is not how you win the game, you are competing for prestige back in London, and must convert your money into status in order to win.

If the Ghostbloods are the equivalent to the East India Company, then they'd have the imprimatur of some ruling body on their own world, and would be given the monopoly on inter-Cosmere trade, as well as given the task of making the Cosmere safe for (their) trading. Presumably that's what they're doing on Roshar: laying the foundation for a lasting occupation, such that they can rely on exports of Investiture from Roshar.

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On 13.10.2020 at 5:51 AM, Proletariat said:

It was a corporation that effectively colonised large sections of Asia on behalf of Britain's interests, and at one point it had gained control of the south east of the continent and its army became larger than the official British army.

To His Majesty's goverment they were a perfectly legal company operating under a royal charter. In India they were a government. Not a particularly benevolent government. In China they were smugglers. So what were they?
This question presumes a development the Cosmere has not undergone. If you form a company town in the Cognitive Realm and set up your own government, what are you? You are an organization with political, financial and military goals.

 

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I was quite sure that I would go with secret society but this 

On 9/10/2020 at 6:30 PM, Ixthos said:

Are they the Mafia, squeezing out competition, circumventing authority to build up their business, protecting family?

I think captures them quite well. 
They do behave like a mafia,

squeezing out the competition -  they did take out sons of honor, 

circumventing authority to build up their business - they are definitely doing that, what they are doing is not legal and I don’t see them filling forms in Azish to operate there

protecting family - that is what Mraize claims, does not he? Getting Shallan’s brothers safely out of Jah Keved etc 

but their goals are less than clear, amassing wealth true but they also seem to be collecting different magics not like hoid but they are collecting differently invested individuals into their organisation. 
 

They clearly wanted a radiant and Shallan just fell into their lap of her own accord! 

They want to recruit an unmade, wonder if they will set their sights at a shard eventually !!

 

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On 12/10/2020 at 8:20 PM, DramaQueen said:

They were a company that delivered tea to America.

 

13 hours ago, Rainier said:

This is an impressive understatement

Haha.. Massive understatement indeed. 
Ask the Indian here! 

PS: 

Spoiler

Sorry for the double post. But you cannot quote while editing and read these comments later and just could not resist for obvious reasons! 
 

@Rainier do they have authority from their home world to operate covertly on other planets for long sustained occupation of those worlds in the future? Interesting notion but Seems unlikely. Because they are operating too stealthily if they had. But may be they are a precursor to what EIC eventually became. 

Edited by The Traveller
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2 hours ago, The Traveller said:
  Reveal hidden contents

Sorry for the double post. But you cannot quote while editing and read these comments later and just could not resist for obvious reasons! 
 

@Rainier do they have authority from their home world to operate covertly on other planets for long sustained occupation of those worlds in the future? Interesting notion but Seems unlikely. Because they are operating too stealthily if they had. But may be they are a precursor to what EIC eventually became. 

There is no unified home world that could give such an authorization. And wy would they need it? If you settle in Shadesmar for generations, why would you heed some alien authority?

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2 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

There is no unified home world that could give such an authorization. And wy would they need it? If you settle in Shadesmar for generations, why would you heed some alien authority?

How do you know there isn't some governing body in Silverlight that administers world hoppers and is analogous to the British Empire, only operating in the shadows? I am not saying there is, but on what basis do you say the Cosmere doesn't have some ruling body operating in the Cognitive realm as a nation?

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39 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

How do you know there isn't some governing body in Silverlight that administers world hoppers

There likely is. Research bodies usually have codes of conduct.

39 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

and is analogous to the British Empire, only operating in the shadows?

Funding. How would such an operation fund itself? The Ghostbloods have found an answer, but not yet implemented it.

39 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

I am not saying there is, but on what basis do you say the Cosmere doesn't have some ruling body operating in the Cognitive realm as a nation?

There is too much territory and too many choke points. On Earth we have extremely powerful states because we have no free habitable land left and extremely fast travel. Not so in the Cosmere. Sure Silverlight can impose rules. But if some scholars don't like it and found their own university what are they going to do? Deny them the prestige and resources of Silverlight of course, but that is persuasive only so far. Making war on an enemy you have to walk weeks to get to and would have trouble even finding is not realistic.

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1 hour ago, Oltux72 said:

There likely is. Research bodies usually have codes of conduct.

Funding. How would such an operation fund itself? The Ghostbloods have found an answer, but not yet implemented it.

There is too much territory and too many choke points. On Earth we have extremely powerful states because we have no free habitable land left and extremely fast travel. Not so in the Cosmere. Sure Silverlight can impose rules. But if some scholars don't like it and found their own university what are they going to do? Deny them the prestige and resources of Silverlight of course, but that is persuasive only so far. Making war on an enemy you have to walk weeks to get to and would have trouble even finding is not realistic.

Those are fair points, but you are assuming Silverlight is just a research body rather than a community containing research facilties. Silverlight could well be a city state with a military, trading hub, court of law. Silverlight could just be a place of learning, but that doesn't mean it only is a place of learning.

Likewise investiture could be like melange from Dune - the most valuable resource, the most prized, but not the only thing worth trading, nor the only currency. Besides, if Secret History showed anything, it was that other groups have a way to channelling investiture away from its planet of origin, not just the Ghostbloods. Roshar isn't the only potential source of investiture that could be commonly used in Silverlight.

Also, again, there are assumptions in that statement about the geography of the cognitive realm. There could only be a few paths one could take, the rest "mountainous" or blocked off, or simply folding in on themselves to form a straight path from one world to another with all paths bending to become one, and that one can be tolled. There isn't enough data to say that Silverlight is only a university or series of universities, or that the cognitive realm allows unlimited paths from one planet to another, or that Rosharan investiture is the only currency.

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The Ghostbloods fit several of the poll categories at the same time. I'd say it's a blend of three of your choices.

A "secret society" that "openly recruits from other Cosmere aware groups" - check! We have a WOB to that exact effect.

Quote

KING

What would it take for a member of the Seventeenth Shard Shard to convert over to a member of the Ghostbloods? 

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, the Ghostbloods would actively recruit from them. So, I think it would not be terribly difficult. It 's gonna depend on which kind of Seventeenth Sharder. Because there are a lot of non-field-agent Seventeenth Sharders, which would be less interesting. Field agents, they would actively recruit. 

Skyward release party (Nov. 6, 2018)

Mafia / Organised crime? They do use brutal means to control people and information, have a reputation and recognized symbol in the underworld of the Alethi warcamps, and speak of wanting to control means of travel and trade between worlds.

A cult that is serving the will of a Shard or Leader, or seeking to reconstitute or construct a Shard for themselves? Mraize does say they have "a higher purpose" that is centered around "accumulating power" and that transporting Stormlight out of Roshar to somewhere else is critical to this, so maybe?

But only one hand at a time can wear the One Ring, as well you know, Saruman! -- I mean, only one Ghostblood could actually Ascend! And we don't hear mention of even "Thaidakar" as a Cult Leader type of figure so much as an organizational leader. If that were the case, I have the feeling Mraize would have said that "HE has" (not "we have") "a higher purpose" in recruiting Shallan in Urithiru. Typically cults recruit by trying to get an inductee to fully trust The Leader, a fixed figurehead, rather than a larger organization with fluid membership.

So overall I went with "Secret Society", but with strong overtones or elements of those two.

 

 

Edited by robardin
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@robardin Thanks for that quote - it does help clear a few things up :-) Though it does make me wonder, if they actively recruit from other organisations do they have a hidden base of operation in the greater Cosmere or Silverlight, or a well-known meeting place where others can go to willingly join? Presumably the former, especially if they actively evaluate potential members before they can join, but possibly the later?

(Also, as a heads up, the poll is set up to allow for selecting multiple entries, so you can vote for all three of Secret Society, Mafia, and Cult)

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