mdross81

My big, fat Gavilar post: trying to get a fuller picture of Gavilar Kholin

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Hi! Welcome to my big, fat Gavilar post. Given that we're finally going to get his POV in the SA5 Prologue, and the proliferating theories that Gavilar survived as a CS or will be Odium's champion, I went on a deep dive through the SA books trying to get as full a picture as I could of Gavilar Kholin.

The result is the beast below, which is broken into four parts. Part One part goes through some notable points on Gavilar's journey from the beginning of his campaign to conquer Alethkar to the couple of years before his death. Part Two includes some theorizing about when Gavilar received the visions, when he started to change and plan, and who or what might have been influencing him. The theories aren't groundbreaking, but I think they are at least pretty-well supported. Part Three is a sort of oral history running through what various characters have said about who Gavilar was, how he changed, and what he was up to. Part Four wraps things up and poses some continuing questions.

Looking forward to hearing others' thoughts.

PART ONE: THE JOURNEY

So I wanted to just begin with a few notable backstory tidbits, showing the start of Gavilar's journey through to his eventful final years, so that we can establish a sort of baseline to see how he changed later.

  • 1141 - OB 11: In one of our earliest scenes with Gavilar - the first battle at the Rift - we see him already asking some fairly big questions and expressing a desire for a stable, lasting kingdom
  • 1143 - OB 19: During the feast where we first meet Evi, Gavilar continues asking why they are at war and wonders at the reasons why past empires failed; also mentions for the first time the Codes of War and the idea that Alethkar once meant something
  • 1150 - OB 36: Still banging that drum of a unified Alethkar, but questioning the use of force as a means to achieve it: "We can’t have a show of force being our only method of maintaining unity, or Elhokar will spend his entire life putting out fires after I’m gone. We need people to start thinking of Alethkar as a unified kingdom, not separate regions always looking for an advantage against one another.”
  • Later 1150 - OB 49: Gavilar can't let Dalinar have even 10 minutes of happiness over the birth of Adolin before telling him he's sending him to Herdaz and Jah Keved for more fighting; here are a few other notable bits from this chapter, including Gavilar's first mention of the importance of "words":
    • First mention of others calling Gavilar weak: "Tanalan is raising an army and settling into his fortifications. Worse, I think the other highprinces are encouraging him. They want to see how I handle this.” He sneered. “There’s talk I’ve grown soft over the years.”
    • More talk about the greatness of old Alethkar, but now also mentioning the Knights Radiant: “Do you ever wonder about the time when this kingdom was truly great, Dalinar?” Gavilar asked. “When people looked to the Alethi. Then kings sought their advice. When we were … Radiant.”
    • In response to Dalinar's fears about being a bloodthirsty animal, Gavilar says "You are what the Almighty made you" (yikes, this sounds like Odium talking to Moash)
    • Gavilar also suggests that he "might have something that will help" but does not elaborate; Dalinar is skeptical: “Bah. I’ve tried living a quiet life. I can’t live through endless politics, like you can. I need more than just words!”
    • Speaking of "words": 

      “Words are important,’ Gavilar said. “Much more than you give them credit for being.”

      “Perhaps,” Dalinar said. “But if they were all-powerful, you wouldn’t need my sword, would you?”

      “Perhaps. I can’t help feeling words would be enough, if only I knew the right ones to say.”
  • 1151-1163: Giant gaping hole in what was going on with Gavilar because our flashback character, Dalinar, is out on campaign this whole time, with only infrequent visits back to Kholinar, none of which we see
  • 1163 - OB 66: Gavilar contacts Dalinar via spanreed, and in between congratulating him on becoming a tactical genius and informing him that he's gotta go back to the Rift, he drops this little tantalizing line: "I have important revelations of my own I would like to share."

This brings us up to the events that really set the plot in motion - the hunting expedition during which they encounter the listeners, Gavilar's secretive experimentation and plans, changes in Gavilar in his final months/years, and eventually his assassination. So here's where the theorizing starts and I go into a little greater depth.

PART TWO: SOME TAKEAWAYS/THEORIES ABOUT WHEN GAVILAR STARTED MESSING WITH THINGS AND WHO/WHAT WAS INFLUENCING HIM

1. The changes in Gavilar's personality/behavior started before he encountered the listeners

Maybe others already knew this, but I was uncertain before doing this deep dive as to when the changes in Gavilar's behavior began. I found two passages that suggest he was starting to act strangely before the hunting expedition where they encountered the listeners.

WoK 28:

Quote

During Gavilar’s youth, only two things had thrilled him – conquest and hunting. When he hadn’t been seeking one, it had been the other. Suggesting the hunt had seemed rational at the time. Gavilar had been acting oddly, losing his thirst for battle. Men had started to say that he was weak. Dalinar had wanted to remind his brother of the good times in their youth. Hence the hunt for a legendary chasmfiend.

Also, and somewhat more intriguing, OB 66:

Quote

Gavilar was starting to look worn.

He’s looking so old, Dalinar thought. Grey before his time. He needs something to revitalize him. A hunt maybe?

Looking at these two passages, along with the earlier line from Gavilar about having "important revelations" of his own to share, it seems likely to me that Gavilar probably started receiving the visions from the Stormfather well before he left on the hunting trip. There's also the line from the RoW prologue where Gavilar notes that bringing "them" (likely spheres) back and forth from Braize "was impossible only a few short years ago." This suggests that Gavilar may have already been working on movement between Braize and Roshar as early as 1165.

Just how far back Gavilar started seeing the visions and experimenting with Light, I'm not sure. I mean, dude was obsessed with "uniting" all the way back when he and Dalinar got started on conquering Alethkar. He talked about the Alethi Codes of War as early as 1143 and was musing about the importance of "words" as early as 1150. All we know from WoB is that Gavilar was on the Bondsmith path longer than Dalinar (although Gavilar never bonded the SF). 

2. Still, Gavilar was intrigued by the listeners and we now have a clearer picture of what it was that so intrigued him

Overall, I was a little underwhelmed by the flashbacks in RoW. But several of them stood out as being pretty juicy. One of those is Ch. 48 where we get Eshonai's viewpoint capturing precisely when Gavilar became truly interested in the listeners. Back in WoK, Shallan and Jasnah had noted discrepancies in records of when and why Gavilar had become interested. Here's Jasnah's undertext from Gavilar's account, from WoK 36:

Quote

by most accounts, King Gavilar originally ignored these strange, self-sufficient parshmen. It was only after explanation by his scholars and scribes that he understood the import of what he’d discovered.

That more or less tracks with Eshonai's view. She noted that Gavilar was erratic and that Initially he just wanted to know where he could hunt a greatshell. But the scholars were interested

Quote

“Guide,” the king said, walking up to her. “Is this where the hunts happen?”

“Sometimes,” she said. “Depends. It is season, so maybe they come. Maybe not.”

The king nodded absently. He had taken little interest in her or any of the listeners. His scouts and scholars, however, seemed as fascinated by Eshonai as she was with them. So she tended to spend time with them.

But then, when Eshonai leads the humans from their encampment in the forest out onto the Shattered Plains, a series of things happen that change Gavilar's tune. The first actually occurs a little before the above quote. Axindweth asks Eshonai some questions about how she sees spren and is intrigued to learn that Eshonai appears to see the reality of spren, or closer to it. She then asks about windspren that act like humans, change shapes, and play tricks and Eshonai says she's seen spren like that. Axindweth next asks about spren who speak and call people by name, but Eshonai thinks that's silly. Axindweth was clearly asking about Radiant spren. We don't see it on screen, but this conversation took place before Axindweth fell out of favor with Gavilar so it's a safe bet that she shared what she learned about how the listeners see spren with Gavilar.

Then, we get a quick succession of things:

  • Axindweth and Gavilar catch a glimpse of Eshonai's hunting knife "with beautiful metal that had lines in it, and a carved hilt of majestic detail"
  • Eshonai explains that the knife had been handed down for generations; Axindweth suggests to Gavilar that it may date all the way back to the False Desolation;
  • Before they can interrogate Eshonai any further about the knife, a freaking chasmfiend shows up; Eshonai's just like: nbd, it doesn't seem angry
  • The chasmfiend moves along without causing any problems, but all the humans are still freaked out; everyone except Gavilar who seems "unperturbed"
  • Gavilar goes right back to studying and asking about the knife; Eshonai explains that her great-grandparents found them in the ruins;
  • At the mention of ruins Gavilar looked up sharply and asked if she was referring to the ten cities on the edge of the SP that another guide had mentioned
  • Eshonai mentally curses Klade for mentioning the ten cities; she decides not to reveal that the knife came from the ruins at the center of the plains; she says she mention ruins of cities that he ancestors built;
  • Gavilar asks how she knows about events from so long ago; asks whether they have records
  • Eshonai explains that they have songs
Quote

“We have songs,” she said. “Many songs. Important songs. They talk of the forms we bore. The wars we fought. How we left the … I don’t know the word … the ones of old. Who ruled us. When the Neshua Kadal were fighting, with spren as companions, and had … had things … they could do…”

“Radiants?” he said, his voice growing softer. “Your people have stories about the Knights Radiant?”

“Yes, maybe?” she said. “I can’t words, yet. Of this.”

“Curious, curious.”

As she’d expected the humans decided to return to the forest soon after their meal. They were frightened – all but the king. He spent the entire trip asking about the songs. She had plainly been mistaken when she’d assumed he didn’t care much about the listeners.

For from that moment on, he seemed very, very interested. He had his scholars interrogate them about songs, lore, and whether they knew of any other ruins.

So, it seems that the things that piqued Gavilar's interest were: ancient weapons, ruins on the Shattered Plains, and songs about the Knight Radiant and other ancient lore.

3. Gavilar was probably already pretty far along with his grand plans by the time he encountered the listeners; also a certain Worldhopper is super suspicious

There are a few interesting things to point out here. One is that it doesn't really seem like Gavilar's scholars and scribes had to explain much to him to get him interested in the listeners, as was suggested by the accounts that Jasnah had read and referenced in her undertext. He clearly had some pre-existing knowledge that caused his sudden interest.

Another thing I wanted to highlight is Axindweth's mention of the False Desolation. I've been wondering for a while now how Gavilar came to know about the imprisonment of BAM. We saw in the WoR Prologue that he clearly knew about it by the night of his assassination, because he talked about how humans had captured "an ancient, crucial spren." But this information wasn't contained in the visons from the Stormfather, and Gavilar wouldn't have had access to the Urithiru gem archive. So he must have learned about it from somewhere/someone else.

Kalak is one possible source of this information. Perhaps he shared information about BAM with Gavilar as part of the experimentation that Gavilar was doing with moving Lights between worlds. We know Kalak hoped this might lead to a way for him to get off Roshar, so he may have been willing to share information with Gavilar. I kinda doubt Nale would have been jazzed about that though.

Axindweth is the only other source I can think of, and given this scene, it seems likely that she is in fact the source. She mentions the False Desoalation, an event which even Jasnah refers to as a pseudohistorical legend early on in OB. Gavilar doesn't bat an eye when Axindweth mentions it though; doesn't stop and ask what the False Desolation was. He knows what it was, which means he probably knows how it ended.

This all makes it seem increasingly likely that Axindweth was the one guiding Gavilar's experimentation and grand plans. Eshonai thought she might be oncemates with Gavilar because of how often she spoke with him. And Axindweth wasn't outed and shunned by Gavilar until shortly before his assassination. By that point she'd already set things in motion by getting Ulim to Venli.

Speaking of getting Ulim to Venli, that seems like another point in favor of Gavilar having already begun experimenting with the movement of Light (and maybe other things) between Braize and Roshar before he set out on the hunting expedition. I'm more or less convinced that the whole reason that Ulim was able to make the jump and end up in the gem on Roshar was because Gavilar's experiments created a connection that allowed him through.

Just how Axindweth, a Feruchemist Terriswoman, came to be an agent of Odium is anyone's guess. But it does seem consistent with Odium's long game of co-opting warped human notions of honor, for her to have gotten close to Gavilar and subtly nudged him toward experimentation and plans that seemed consistent with the exhortations from the visons to "unite them" and refound the Knights Radiant, but were actually furthering Odium's agenda.

The only hiccup with this line of thinking about Axindweth is something Ulim says to Venli in RoW 86:

Quote

Ulim had been nervous about Gavilar’s sphere. The little spren said Gavilar hadn’t been working with him, or any of Odium’s agents – indeed, he’d been hostile to them. So Ulim had no idea how he’d obtained Odium’s Light.

But, I mean, Gavilar clearly had been working with Axindweth at some point and she seems to be an agent of Odium. It could be that Ulim simply didn't know the full scope of Axindweth's part in Odium's plan. Or maybe he's just flat out lying to Venli here. Wouldn't surprise me.

PART THREE: DESCRIPTONS OF GAVILAR AND HOW HE CHANGED TOWARD THE END

Consider this a kind of oral history about Gavilar featuring quotes about him that didn't fit in anywhere above. I've grouped these by speaker, and sometimes topic.

Mraize (as told to Shallan)

  • King Gavilar’s efforts to rekindle the Desolations are likely the true reason he was assassinated. Though there were many in the palace that night who had reason to see him dead. (OB 40)
  • Re: the Sons of Honor
    • The old king of Alethkar – the Blackthorn’s brother, Gavilar Kholin – was a driving force in their expansion. (OB 40)
    • Gavilar had led them along, used their resources – and their hearts – to further his own goals. (RoW 4)
  • On what Gavilar wanted: “Immortality, in part. He thought he could become like the Heralds. In his quest, he discovered a secret. He had Voidlight before the Everstorm – he carried it from Braize, the place you call Damnation. He was testing the movement of Light between worlds. (RoW 13)

Dalinar

  • On deferring to Gavilar: “I didn’t think about it much,” Dalinar said. “When I did … yes, I was frustrated. But it was Gavilar. You know how he was. The force of will, that air of natural entitlement. It always seemed to surprise him when someone denied him or when the world itself didn’t do as he wished. He didn’t force me to defer – it was simply how life was.” (WoK 64)
  • On trying to understand what Gavilar saw in The Way of Kings: Alethkar was a light, once, he thought. That’s what Gavilar’s book claims, that’s what the visions are showing me. Nohadon was king of Alethkar, so long ago. In the time before the Heralds left. Dalinar felt as if he could almost see it. The secret. The thing that had made Gavilar so excited in the months before his death. If Dalinar could just stretch a little farther, he’d make it out. See the pattern in the lives of men. And finally know. (WoK 24)
  • On changes at the end and final words
    • “ ‘Brother, follow the Codes tonight. There is something strange upon the winds.’ That’s what he said to me, the last thing he told me just before we began the treaty-signing celebration.” (WoK 15)
    • “He’s the one who first showed [the Codes] to me. He found them as a relic of old Alethkar, back when we’d first been united. He began following them shortly before he died.” Dalinar grew hesitant. “Those were odd days, son. Jasnah and I weren’t sure what to think of the changes in Gavilar." (WoK 15)
    • “It’s a quote,” Dalinar said. “From an ancient book called The Way of Kings. Gavilar favored readings from the volume near the end of his life – he spoke to me of it often." (WoK 15)
    • He found himself remembering a day when he stood with his brother beside the Impossible Falls of Kholinar.

      Things are different, now, Dalinar, Gavilar had said. I see now, in ways I never did before. I wish I could show you what I mean.

      It had been three days before his death. (WoK 26)
  • Warning Eshonai: “His interest could benefit you, but it could have an equal cost. Do not be so quick to share your stormshelter with men you just barely met. Don’t offend, but also don’t be too quick to bend. Any new recruit needs to learn both lessons. In this case, I’d suggest politeness – but care. Do not let him back you into a corner. He will respect you if you stand up for yourselves. And whatever you do, don’t give him any reason to decides he wants what you have.” (RoW 57)
  • Noting Gavilar's frequent absences in later years: Things had been going better lately. Dalinar had started controlling his vices; he’d confined his drinking to monthly trips away from Kholinar, visiting outer cities. He said the trips were to let Elhokar practice ruling without Dalinar looking over his shoulder, as Gavilar had been spending more and more time abroad.  (OB 105)

Jasnah

  • Gavilar, who would speak with such quiet intensity that you wanted to lean in and listen, to catch every word and implication. He was a handsome man, unlike his brother, with a beard that outlined his strong jaw rather than covering it. He had a personal magnetism and intensity that Jasnah felt no biographer had yet managed to convey. (WoR Prologue)
  • On the Parshendi:
    • “The longer he remained in the Unclaimed Hills, the more fascinated by the Parshendi he became.” (WoK 45)
    • "just before leaving to return to Alethkar, my father suddenly began talking fervently of the need for an agreement.” (WoK 36)
  • Changes toward the end
    • "When he returned, I was encouraged by his interest; we spent many evenings talking about his discoveries. It was one of the few times when I felt I really connected with my father.” (WoK 45)
    • “You are coming to see how my father’s personality changed during those months, and that means you are digging deeply. Believe it or not, few others have caught the discrepancy you just did – though many do note his later changes, once he returned to Kholinar.” (WoK 45)

Navani

  • Beyond that, there was an air of … distortion around Gavilar. Nothing supernatural or nonsensical. It was just that … well, you accepted that Gavilar could do whatever he wanted, in defiance of any tradition or logic. For him, it would work out. It always did.  (RoW Prologue)
  • She might be the things he said, but he was no more than a backwater thug with too much luck and a knack for fooling good men into following him. (RoW Prologue)
  • All Gavilar cared about was his legacy. He wanted to be known as a great king, a great leader. That drive had always pushed him, but it was growing into something else lately. He kept asking: Would he be remembered  as Alethkar’s greatest king? Could he compete with his ancestors, men such as the Sunmaker? (RoW Prologue)
  • Their arguments grew worse and worse. She knew he was not this man, the one he showed her lately. He wasn’t like this when he spoke to Dalinar, or to Sadeas, or even – usually – to Jasnah. (RoW Prologue)
  • What she didn’t feel was grief. His death was meaningful, but it didn’t mean anything to her. Other than perhaps a way for her children to never have to learn what he’d become. (RoW Prologue)
  • During Gavilar’s last days, he had gone strange. Few knew how dark he’d grown, but they had seen the eccentricity. Jasnah had written about that, of course. (OB 104)
  • Gavilar was not the man everyone thought him to be. I was fond of him, but he –” (WoK 61)
  • “Gavilar is dead,” Navani said, resting her head back against his chest. “ I was never unfaithful while he lived, though the Stormfather knows I had ample reason. (WoK 61)
  • Jasnah loved secrets. Navani was more wary of them. Secrets had turned Gavilar into … whatever it was he’d been at the end. (RoW 9)
  • Sometimes she missed him. At least the man he had once been, when they’d all schemed together as youths, planning to conquer the world. That was the face he’d continued to show most everyone else after he’d started to change. (RoW 65)

Sadeas

  • “That book ruined Gavilar." (WoK 26)
  • To Dalinar after betraying him: "Gavilar died because of his weakness. I wanted to attack the Parshendi from the start, conquer them. He insisted on a treaty, which led to his death. Now you’re starting to act just like him. Those same ideas, the same ways of speaking. Through you they begin to infect Elhokar. He dresses like you. He talks of the Codes to me, and of how perhaps we should enforce them through all the warcamps. He’s beginning to think of retreating.” (WoK 69)

Elhokar (all from his conversation with Dalinar in WoK 18)

  • “You sound like him, you know,” Elhokar said, turning back to look eastward again. “Near the end. When he began to act … erratically.”

  • “this is much like how he was. Talking about an end to war, fascinated by the Lost Radiants, insisting everyone follow the Codes…”

  • “He grew weak at the end,” Elhokar said. “Everyone knows it

  • “My father started refusing duels, near the end."

Ialai (to Shallan on what Gavilar was after)

“Ah, nebulous ‘power.’ No, it is more specific than that. Most of the Sons of Honor simply wanted their gods back, but Gavilar saw more. He saw entire worlds…”

Aesudan (all from her conversation w/Elhokar & Kaladin in OB 84)

  • “Oh Elhokar,” the queen was saying. “You were ever so oblivious. Your father had grand plans, but you … all you ever wanted to do was sit in his shadow. It was for the best that you went off to play war.”
  • “I continued your father’s work! I found the secret, Elhokar. Spren, ancient spren. You can bond with them!”
  • “Have you seen my Radiants?” Aesudan asked. She grinned. “The Queen’s Guard? I’ve done what your father could not. Oh, he found one of the ancient spren, but he could never discover how to bond it. But I, I have solved the riddle.”

Nale (RoW 77)

“So, Gavilar’s plan is working. The fool. He will destroy us all.” Nale sneered, a sudden and unexpected burst of emotion. “That foolish idiot of a man. He lures us with promises, then breaks them by seeking that which I told him was forbidden! Yes. I heard it tonight. The proof I need. I know. I know….”

Finally, Gavilar, in his own words (limited to lines where he at least hints at what he's up to)

  • To Navani in the RoW Prologue
    • “I deal in secrets you could not handle, Navani. If you knew the scope of what I’ve begun…”
    • “Greatness will define me, Navani. No mediocre effort by someone like Dalinar or my son could undermine that – and I personally doubt Elhokar could rise to even mediocre.”
    • "Write whatever you want about me. Say it, shout it, proclaim it. I will outlive your accusations, and my legacy will persist. I have discovered the entrance to the realm of gods and legends, and once I join them, my kingdom will never end. I will never end.”
  • To Eshonai in the WoR Prologue
    • “Our enslaved parshmen were once like you. Then we somehow robbed them of their ability to undergo the transformation. We did it by capturing a spren. An ancient, crucial spren.” He looked at her, green eyes alight. “I’ve seen how that can be reversed. A new storm that will bring the Heralds out of hiding. A new war.”
    • “The old Words must be spoken again.”
    • "My people need to be united, and I need an empire that won’t simply turn to infighting once I am gone.”
    • “I seek for an end to something that we never finished. My people were Radiant once, and your people – the parshmen – were vibrant. Who is served by this drab world where my people fight each other in endless squabbles, without light to guide them, and your people are as good as corpses?”
  • To Taravangian (according to Taravangian)
    • Just as the Diagram instructed, Taravangian was king of Jah Keved. He had taken the first major step toward unifying the world, as Gavilar had insisted would need to happen if they were to survive.That was, at least, what the visions had proclaimed. Visions Gavilar had confided in him six years ago, the night of the Alethi king’s death. Gavilar had seen visions of the Almighty, who was also now dead, and of a coming storm.

  • To Szeth in the WoK Prologue

    • “I … expected you … to come”

    • “You can tell … Thaidakar … that he’s too late…”

    • “Then who …? Restares? Sadeas? I never thought …”

    • “The Parshendi? That makes no sense.” Gavilar coughed, hand quivering, reaching toward his chest and fumbling at a pocket. He pulled out a small crystalline sphere tied to a chain. “You must take this. They must not get it.” He seemed dazed. “Tell … tell my brother … he must find the most important words a man can say…”

PART FOUR: WRAPPING THINGS UP; REMAINING QUESTIONS

Phew. That ... got away from me. Thanks for sticking around if you're still reading.

In the course of doing this deep dive, I think I've convinced myself that Gavilar began receiving the visions from the Stormfather, and probably started experimenting with moving Light, before he went on the expedition where he encountered the Listeners (which was in early-ish 1166). Pulling off the transfer of Voidlight doesn't really seem like the kind of thing that would be easy, so it probably took a while for him to figure it out, which also weighs in favor of it starting earlier rather than later.

My best guess is that Gavilar started receiving the visons some time not too long before the spanreed message to Dalinar in OB 66. I'm guessing the visions were the source of the "important revelations" he mentioned. It seems weird that he would receive them that early and be on the Bondsmith path longer than Dalinar, but never form a bond. But maybe something was standing in the way. Maybe something like ... Axindweth?

Speaking of Axindweth, I'm also fairly certain that she was a major driving force in Gavilar's planning.

Some big questions that remain for me:

What the heck did Aesudan mean when she said that Gavilar "found one of the ancient spren?" I know that before RoW came out, lots of people thought that either the sphere he gave Eshonai or the one he gave Szeth housed an Unmade. That clearly wasn't the case. Did he really find an Unmade? If so, which one and where the heck is it now? (best guess is Yelig-nar I suppose)

Also, what's up with the blue marbles that replaced Gavilar's eyes before he was Soulcast? I've gone back through all the Prologues, and neither of his eyes were damaged. Why did the Soulcaster refer to his eyes as the only part of him that was true? That scene, coupled with Gavilar's line to Dalinar three days before his death (Things are different, now, Dalinar, Gavilar had said. I see now, in ways I never did before. I wish I could show you what I mean) really has me thinking about the "two blind men" stuff and wondering if Gavilar will end up being one of them.

And the biggie: Did he really die? If he did, was he Invested enough that he was able to stick around as a cognitive shadow? If so, which Shard's Investiture was it? And where is he now? Gah! Can't believe we have to wait until 2023 to get some answers.

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This is impressive. Scholarly. I don’t have a lot to add, except on the last bit about the eyes. I always figured replacing the eyes was because they burned out, but Szeth didn’t actually kill him with the Honorblade… maybe it’s tradition for kings/highprinces, maybe he left specific instructions? Either way I doubt it was a random unimportant detail. I forget which book the Soulcaster quote you mentioned came from, but it’s intriguing. May just be Soulcaster weirdness (the people who use them change and become very odd) and I’m guessing they don’t get changed in the Soulcasting process, but still odd.

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48 minutes ago, mdross81 said:

Why did the Soulcaster refer to his eyes as the only part of him that was true?

Eyes are “The windows into the soul.” And it would make sense to not want to disgrace the king by having his eyes be empty, but for them to be as majestic as he was even in death.

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13 minutes ago, Jondesu said:

This is impressive. Scholarly

Thanks. I channeled my inner Jasnah.

14 minutes ago, Jondesu said:

maybe it’s tradition for kings/highprinces, maybe he left specific instructions

Possible, but I feel like we would have heard about it if it was a tradition. 
 

15 minutes ago, Jondesu said:

I forget which book the Soulcaster quote you mentioned came from, but it’s intriguing. May just be Soulcaster weirdness (the people who use them change and become very odd) and I’m guessing they don’t get changed in the Soulcasting process, but still odd.

It’s OB 105.  And that does seem like a possible explanation: the Soulcaster just going a bit weird. Kaza certainly did.

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3 minutes ago, Bejardin1250 said:

his eyes be empty

Why would his eyes be empty without the marbles? He wasn’t killed with a Shardblade. And he still had his own eyes when he died. From the RoW prologue:

Quote

I will be the better person, Gavilar, she thought, closing his eyes. For what you once were, I’ll let the world pretend. I’ll give you your legacy.

 

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12 minutes ago, mdross81 said:

Why would his eyes be empty without the marbles? He wasn’t killed with a Shardblade. And he still had his own eyes when he died. From the RoW prologue:

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Meant the sightless dead eyes he would have. I should have been more clear

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This is absolutely terrific.  Thank you so much for doing it - I love having all these specific references collected in one place, but I'm far too lazy to do it myself.

The first question I pose: these two passages

54 minutes ago, mdross81 said:

On what Gavilar wanted: “Immortality, in part. He thought he could become like the Heralds. In his quest, he discovered a secret. He had Voidlight before the Everstorm – he carried it from Braize, the place you call Damnation. He was testing the movement of Light between worlds." (RoW 13)

55 minutes ago, mdross81 said:

"I have discovered the entrance to the realm of gods and legends, and once I join them, my kingdom will never end. I will never end." (RoW Prologue)

seem to imply Gavilar found a way into Shadesmar.  (How else could he have BROUGHT Voidlight from Braize?)  But they don't explicitly say so.  How would he have entered and returned from the Cognitive Realm?  And if that's NOT how it happened, what other explanations might fit?  Knowing what we know about Brandon's writing, everything will eventually make perfect sense... but right now, it's maddening.

I'm also confused and frustrated by the "eyes in death" mystery.  I agree it's got to mean something, otherwise, why include it?

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6 minutes ago, AquaRegia said:

seem to imply Gavilar found a way into Shadesmar.  (How else could he have BROUGHT Voidlight from Braize?)  But they don't explicitly say so.  How would he have entered and returned from the Cognitive Realm?  And if that's NOT how it happened, what other explanations might fit? 

Great question.

Best I can come up with is that it’s two different things. The reference to carrying Voidlight could just mean that he learned how to transport it (using the artifabrian’s box) rather than him literally carrying it himself.

And then the “entrance to the realm of gods” refers to something else. Either a way into Shadesmar or a means of achieving immortality. 

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Posted (edited)

15 minutes ago, Bejardin1250 said:

Meant the sightless dead eyes he would have. I should have been more clear

Ah, now I understand. That’s definitely plausible, if not very exciting.

Edit: sorry for the double post. Didn’t see your response until I hit submit on my other response. 

Edited by mdross81
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1 hour ago, mdross81 said:

But, I mean, Gavilar clearly had been working with Axindweth at some point and she seems to be an agent of Odium. It could be that Ulim simply didn't know the full scope of Axindweth's part in Odium's plan. Or maybe he's just flat out lying to Venli here. Wouldn't surprise me.

It's alsso possible she's a double/triple agent, if I remember correctly Axindweth is a Full Ferruchemist so she might resists Odium's future-sight because of her chromium

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  • On deferring to Gavilar: “I didn’t think about it much,” Dalinar said. “When I did … yes, I was frustrated. But it was Gavilar. You know how he was. The force of will, that air of natural entitlement. It always seemed to surprise him when someone denied him or when the world itself didn’t do as he wished. He didn’t force me to defer – it was simply how life was.” (WoK 64)

Talking about Fortune...

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4 minutes ago, mathiau said:

It's alsso possible she's a double/triple agent, if I remember correctly Axindweth is a Full Ferruchemist

Definitely a possibility

4 minutes ago, mathiau said:

Talking about Fortune...

Yeah, especially coupled with Navani’s line about “too much luck.”

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9 hours ago, mdross81 said:

What the heck did Aesudan mean when she said that Gavilar "found one of the ancient spren?" I know that before RoW came out, lots of people thought that either the sphere he gave Eshonai or the one he gave Szeth housed an Unmade. That clearly wasn't the case. Did he really find an Unmade? If so, which one and where the heck is it now? (best guess is Yelig-nar I suppose)

I think the ‘ancient spren’ that Gavilar found is the Stormfather, which is why Aesudan goes on to talk about how Gavilar could never figure out how to bond the spren. I can’t think of another spren that fits the bill.

Which is fascinating, because it implies that Gavilar confided in Aesudan rather than any of the other people he had around him. He didn’t mention the Stormfather to Jasnah, Navani, Dalinar or Elhokar. So what was special about Aesudan? Does it have something to do with why Jasnah was concerned about her (to the point of considering assassination)?

I think a lot of Gavilar’s strange behaviour is a result of his efforts to bond the Stormfather. Given his emphasis on ‘words’, I think he had a vague idea that the First Ideal was the key, and he was searching for it (hence the fascination with The Way of Kings, the Listeners’ songs, and other ancient texts), but he never found the exact wording. I think he also knew that how a person conducts themselves has a lot to do with bonding spren - hence the fascination with the Codes and his interest in diplomacy over violence.

The aspect of his personality shift that doesn’t seem like a result of his knowledge is his increasing cruelty toward Navani. The best explanation I can think of is that he was always a bully who pushed around people he saw as beneath him, and towards the end, he began to think of himself as being above Navani. So it’s not really a change in who he is, just a consequence of Gavilar’s inflated self-importance and feeling of grandeur.

9 hours ago, mdross81 said:

In the course of doing this deep dive, I think I've convinced myself that Gavilar began receiving the visions from the Stormfather, and probably started experimenting with moving Light, before he went on the expedition where he encountered the Listeners (which was in early-ish 1166). Pulling off the transfer of Voidlight doesn't really seem like the kind of thing that would be easy, so it probably took a while for him to figure it out, which also weighs in favor of it starting earlier rather than later.

My best guess is that Gavilar started receiving the visons some time not too long before the spanreed message to Dalinar in OB 66. I'm guessing the visions were the source of the "important revelations" he mentioned. It seems weird that he would receive them that early and be on the Bondsmith path longer than Dalinar, but never form a bond. But maybe something was standing in the way. Maybe something like ... Axindweth?

I agree that Gavilar’s Stormfather visions predate the encounter with the Listeners, but I would push it further back than that. If Gavilar’s interest in diplomacy and politics was caused by these visions, then the onset of the visions should be shortly before this change in behaviour was noticed.

So, my guess: Gavilar started to get the visions in (or shortly before) 1150, when his leadership style changed and he started to talk about Radiants, words, history, and the importance of unity.

Yes, I know that this theory leaves an enormous amount of time in which Gavilar is trying and failing to bond the Stormfather, and there needs to be a reason for that. We know from our main characters’ experiences that, if the right spren is taking an interest, then trying to live up to the Ideals will make the Words pop into the prospective Radiant’s head. This did not seem to happen with Gavilar.

I think the reason Gavilar never became Radiant was because he just wasn’t cut out for it. The Stormfather took an interest because Gavilar was unifying Alethkar, but ultimately, Gavilar wasn’t Bondsmith material. He was always more interested in his own glory and legacy, not unity or good leadership.

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27 minutes ago, RedBlue said:

I think the ‘ancient spren’ that Gavilar found is the Stormfather, which is why Aesudan goes on to talk about how Gavilar could never figure out how to bond the spren. I can’t think of another spren that fits the bill.

This actually makes a lot of sense. Totally possible.

28 minutes ago, RedBlue said:

So, my guess: Gavilar started to get the visions in (or shortly before) 1150, when his leadership style changed and he started to talk about Radiants, words, history, and the importance of unity.

Yes, I know that this theory leaves an enormous amount of time in which Gavilar is trying and failing to bond the Stormfather, and there needs to be a reason for that. We know from our main characters’ experiences that, if the right spren is taking an interest, then trying to live up to the Ideals will make the Words pop into the prospective Radiant’s head. This did not seem to happen with Gavilar.

I think the reason Gavilar never became Radiant was because he just wasn’t cut out for it. The Stormfather took an interest because Gavilar was unifying Alethkar, but ultimately, Gavilar wasn’t Bondsmith material. He was always more interested in his own glory and legacy, not unity or good leadership.

I kinda like this take. We haven’t really seen what old green eyes was up to during the time from 1150-1163, so it’s possible.

It would be super frustrating for Gavilar for it to go on this long, which could explain his increasingly erratic behavior. And it tracks that maybe he just wasn’t Bondsmith material in the end. Maybe he even learned the Words but never really understood what they meant. Plus the SF is super persnickety.

This could even explain his willingness to try another route when Axindweth (or some other agent if Odium) comes into the picture later on.

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1 hour ago, RedBlue said:

We know from our main characters’ experiences that, if the right spren is taking an interest, then trying to live up to the Ideals will make the Words pop into the prospective Radiant’s head.

I don't remember that ever happening

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51 minutes ago, mathiau said:

I don't remember that ever happening

That's funny; I remember it happening pretty much every time Kaladin swears a new Ideal.  Syl: "You have to say the words."  Kal: "I don't know what they are." Syl: "When the time is right, you will."  Kal (literally seconds from death): *says words, levels up, kicks ass*

Same with Lift in Edgedancer - she suddenly realizes what to say for her next Ideal when she truly tries to do what is right according to her previous Oaths.

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21 minutes ago, AquaRegia said:

That's funny; I remember it happening pretty much every time Kaladin swears a new Ideal.  Syl: "You have to say the words."  Kal: "I don't know what they are." Syl: "When the time is right, you will."  Kal (literally seconds from death): *says words, levels up, kicks ass*

Same with Lift in Edgedancer - she suddenly realizes what to say for her next Ideal when she truly tries to do what is right according to her previous Oaths.

Or at the very least, they finally put together concepts that they've been straining to grasp and then they realize the right words.

A number of times throughout Edgedancer Lift's attention is drawn to the importance of listening to people, and then she puts it all together during the climax.

Same with Dalinar and his ruminations on what it means to unite instead of divide, and then he find the words of the 2nd Bondsmith Ideal as he's bonding the SF.

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1 hour ago, mathiau said:

I don't remember that ever happening

We have plenty of examples of people speaking Ideals even though they were not told the wording or even the general concept. (Sorry for the long post)

 

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The three bridges crashed to the ground a few feet away, and the cavalry charged across a moment later, led by compact Ilamar. A few windspren danced past in the air, nearly invisible. Adolin called for his horse, but Dalinar just stood, looking down at the dead. Parshendi blood was orange, and it smelled like mold. Yet their faces—marbled black or white and red—looked so human. A parshman nurse had practically raised Dalinar.

Life before death.

What was that voice?

TWoK, chapter 26 - Life before death just pops into Dalinar’s head while he’s being philosophical.

 

Quote

THE WORDS, a voice said, urgent, as if directly into his mind.

In that moment, Kaladin was amazed to realize that he knew them, though they’d never been told to him. “I will protect those who cannot protect themselves,” he whispered.

The Second Ideal of the Knights Radiant.

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The Words, Kaladin. That was Syl’s voice. You have to speak the Words!

I FORBID THIS.

YOUR WILL MATTERS NOT! Syl shouted. YOU CANNOT HOLD ME BACK IF HE SPEAKS THE WORDS! THE WORDS, KALADIN! SAY THEM!

‘I will protect even those I hate,’ Kaladin whispered through bloody lips. ‘So long as it is right.’

TWoK chapter 67 and WoR, chapter 84 - Teft told Kaladin the words of the First Ideal, but he knew what to say for the second and third without being told.

 

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She set Gawx on his back, face toward the sky. He wasn’t really anything to her, that was true. They’d barely just met, and he’d been a fool. She’d told him to go back.

But this was who she was, who she had to be.

I will remember those who have been forgotten.

Lift leaned forward, touched her forehead to his, and breathed out. A shimmering something left her lips, a little cloud of glowing light. It hung in front of Gawx’s lips.

Quote

Rain beat around them, and crimson lightning blasted down behind Darkness, leaving stark afterimages in Lift’s eyes.

“You think you can fight me, child?” he growled, holding his Blade against her rod. “I who have lived immortal lives? I who have slain demigods and survived Desolations? I am the Herald of Justice.”

“I will listen,” Lift shouted, “to those who have been ignored!”

“What?” Darkness demanded.

“I heard what you said, Darkness! You were trying to prevent the Desolation. Look behind you! Deny what you’re seeing!”

Edgedancer prologue and chapter 19 - Lift doesn’t really think about it or explain what she’s doing, but she intuits her second and third Ideals, complete with wording that doesn’t sound like her usual speech.

 

From comments Gavilar makes, he seems to have thought that finding/knowing the right words is the sticking point. But based on other characters’ experiences I think he missed the point. When we see Radiants speak the Ideals, they are making a personal commitment to do what they understand to be the right thing, and the words just come. 

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Posted (edited)

56 minutes ago, AquaRegia said:

That's funny; I remember it happening pretty much every time Kaladin swears a new Ideal.  Syl: "You have to say the words."  Kal: "I don't know what they are." Syl: "When the time is right, you will."  Kal (literally seconds from death): *says words, levels up, kicks ass*

Same with Lift in Edgedancer - she suddenly realizes what to say for her next Ideal when she truly tries to do what is right according to her previous Oaths.

Oh, I had misread what you had said. I thought you claimed having a spren taking interest made the idea of living up to the words pop into the radiant's head.

Yes, the thing happening with Galivar is that he never started to live up to the words and went to purse Unity in the way of Dominion instead of Honour's one.

Quote

From comments Gavilar makes, he seems to have thought that finding/knowing the right words is the sticking point. But based on other characters’ experiences I think he missed the point. When we see Radiants speak the Ideals, they are making a personal commitment to do what they understand to be the right thing, and the words just come. 

Which is why the Lopen and Venli sometimes swear oaths that get refused

Edited by mathiau
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