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Szeth, Darkness, and That Sword...


StormyAngel

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I'm terrified of that combination. I'm pretty sure there's a WOB out there that says we should be too. What I wanted to discuss was the particular reason I find it so scary.

 

In the process I enter somewhat speculative, and definitely spoileristic grounds. Also, this is a long one. Fair warning.

 

 

 

 

Part 1: Introductions

 

First off, Szeth. The guy gets a lot of flack, but I don't think any of us can deny he was a good person at some point. He hates killing. He believed the desolation was returning, and tried to raise the warning. He truly believed he was wrong, and accepted his punishment. These are all attributes of a good person. Unfortunately his life shot straight to Rosharan Damnation from there. He lost his sanity, and pretty much became a hateful, hated person. Odius even.

 

Look at Nin/Nale/Nalan/Darkness. He at some point volunteered for a very harsh duty of which we know only a little bit. It involved perpetual war, desolation, death, and torture. I'm not trying to say his actions are excusable, but we do know that he spent centuries suffering. He's undoubtedly broken.

 

Nightblood is...Nightblood. That's enough (even though he is a fun character).

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Examining Interactions

 

When I first read the scene with Darkness (I'm sticking with Lift's name here: I think it's the most accurate) saving Szeth, I was actually a little happy. I was thinking, "Ooh Cool! Szeth's going to become a Skybreaker! He'll team up with the new Radiant's a couple of books down the line and make up for what he's done! This is awesome!" Upon further reflection though, and a reread or two, I actually suspect that absolutely nothing has changed for Szeth.

 

We know from Szeth's point of view, that Darkness was there talking to Elhokar the night Gavilar was killed. Along with another nondescript fellow. Jasnah's POV of this event reveals that they're both Heralds disguising themselves as ambassadors, since the other one definitely refers to Szeth's Honorblade as Jezerezeh's. This other herald clearly says he doesn't feel comfortable with what they've done in regards to Szeth holding the Honorblade.

 

What does this mean? Shallan wonders at one point how in the world the Parshendi ever came across Szeth. It's an encounter of such amazing fortuity, that it's hard to believe it wasn't brought about by some third party. It was, of course. It was Darkness and company behind it. They wanted Gavilar dead, for reason's I'll get to shortly.

 

This means that the people behind Szeth's long, loooong trail of death and destruction are? Darkness himself. He started him on it and, as his comments reveal, watched him every step of the way (rosharan television, anyone?).

 

(As a small aside here: some might think Taravangian was behind Szeth's truthless expulsion, in order to use him later. That doesn't seem right to me though, because Taravangian only learned of the Everstorm from Gavilar that very night, prompting him to visit the Nightwatcher in order to gain the capacity to save the world. The diagram came later.)

 

So Szeth has never really changed hands. Darkness set him on the path to accomplish a goal. He didn't care what happened to him afterwards except to observe, but finally stepped in at the end. So if Szeth really follows Darkness further, he's only going to continue doing the same things that drove him crazy in the first place. Serving the same master, for the same goals. Except this time with Nightblood.

 

 

 

 

Part 3: My Conclusion

 

Why is that so scary? Because of what Darknesses goals are. How has he acted, that we've seen? Darkness has spent his time arranging the death of Gavilar (a.k.a. honor's visions recipient), and proto-radiants. Surgebinders specifically. He goes to all the trouble in the world to hunt down any infraction of the law that they have ever made, so that he can kill them. He's subverting the law to his purposes, essentially.

 

This is supposedly because he believes that doing so will prevent the desolation returning. He's hunting down and killing mankind's only hope out of some delusional belief that doing so will keep Odium away. Maybe he knows something I don't, but that honestly looks like the stupidest idea I've ever seen. (I have a theory that the ten fools are based on the attributes of the nine fallen heralds...) Just like the stormfather at the end of book 2, his solution is to try and sweep it all under the rug by killing the radiants. And just as syl described the stormfather: he's clearly broken.

 

To top it all off, he's an arrogant, hypocritical guy too. He barely tolerates the other herald in Jasnah's POV, and I suspect that he retrieved his own Honorblade too. Since the Shin only had 8 to begin with, and one just mysteriously vanished (if Taravangian wasn't lying that is...). And wasn't he the last herald to accept the order that followed him? Why on earth is he leading their pale imitation now? A change of heart based on their usefulness maybe?

 

So where does this leave us? A broken herald who can and will kill anyone he sees as a threat, mistakenly pursuing the deaths of those who are best able to fight back against Odium. He's knowledgeable, can subvert his own sense of justice to serve his own purposes, leads a group of people called the Skybreakers (I doubt their investiture), has a bunch of handy tricks up his sleeve such as captive-stormlight-draining bats, and Szeth armed with Nightblood too. He's currently leading the charge against the Shin, who are only guilty of being too peace-loving to face the truth. I kind of suspect he wants to collect the honorblades they have, although I'm sure he'll tell Szeth it's for justice.

 

Szeth may feel better at first, taking his pent up rage out on those who he feels are responsible: the shin leaders/people. But after they move on past Shinovar...I think he'll realize that nothing has really changed.

 

If it weren't for Darkness's influence, and losing his sanity, I might have been able to trust Szeth with Nightblood. Unfortunately, I just don't see this combination ending well for anybody. Except Nightblood, because I doubt he can die.

 

 

 

So, there it is. Thoughts? Arguments? I realize there's little direct source material in here but I'll be happy to hunt it down for anyone who asks. Let me know what you think.

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Note: half-way playing devil's advocate.

 

This is supposedly because he believes that doing so will prevent the desolation returning. He's hunting down and killing mankind's only hope out of some delusional belief that doing so will keep Odium away. Maybe he knows something I don't, but that honestly looks like the stupidest idea I've ever seen. (I have a theory that the ten fools are based on the attributes of the nine fallen heralds...) Just like the stormfather at the end of book 2, his solution is to try and sweep it all under the rug by killing the radiants. And just as syl described the stormfather: he's clearly broken.

 

To top it all off, he's an arrogant, hypocritical guy too. He barely tolerates the other herald in Jasnah's POV, and I suspect that he retrieved his own Honorblade too. Since the Shin only had 8 to begin with, and one just mysteriously vanished (if Taravangian wasn't lying that is...). And wasn't he the last herald to accept the order that followed him? Why on earth is he leading their pale imitation now? A change of heart based on their usefulness maybe?

 

How do you know he's delusional? He's a Herald, he would have a good idea of what can cause a Desolation. He made the deal with Honor in the first place! He knows far, far more than we do. I don't really understand the assumption that he must be delusional. If the Radiants really were the best hope to defeat the Desolations, the Recreance probably would not have happened. (Why would the Radiants disband when they're needed to stop an apocalypse?) The Radiants learned some terrible secret that broke them, and we have one prime candidate right there.

 

As far as Darkness losing his sanity... he appears perfectly sane. He's able to function in society, is capable of accurately predicting others (like Lift's movements), dresses well, is articulate, and has set goals and is working competently to fulfill them. I don't think 'insane' is a word that describes him. Insane would imply he's out of touch with reality, and nothing he does shows this is the case. "Without mercy", "emotionless", "coldly murderous", perhaps. I'm also not sure where it was implied he was in any way responsible for Gavilar's death?

 

As to the Skybreakers... imagine they learned that bonding spren caused Desolations. What would you do? Well, not bond spren. But that doesn't stop the Skybreakers from wanting to dispense justice. In some sense it's the philosophy that makes the order, not the spren. Kaladin would go on protecting if he didn't have Syl... so I wouldn't quite write the Skybreakers off yet. They may still be the descendants of the original order, and may never have disbanded. We have hints that one order was not involved in the Recreance (though it's not the strongest theory).

 

I would also be hesistant in claiming the Shin are "only guilty of being too peace-loving to face the truth". Szeth was sent out with a tool of mass destruction and told to follow the orders of his masters. That is not exactly the action of a peace-loving society, I think you'll agree. They had a good idea of what would happen, and have a good idea of what did happen. (Recall that they are to retrieve Szeth's blade when he falls. He's very likely being spied on.) The experience is meant to be Szeth's punishment, after all, to be forced to sin and bear the punishment for it in the afterlife.

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Yeah...I did overstate my case on a few points. It is fair to say that the Herald knows tons more than we do. I have a hard time imagining anything that justifies hunting radiants though, since the Everstorm came, and not because the Parshendi were fighting radiants. Simple Alethi did that job.

 

Also, I probably didn't make it clear enough, but my assumption that Darkness is behind Szeth's assasinating Gavilar comes from the conversation Jasnah overheard between darkness ad the other herald. Namely:

 

"I don't like this. What we've done was wrong. That creature carries my lord's own Blade. We shouldn't have let him keep it. He-"

 

-Words of Radiance Prologue: To Question

(Note, That's exact. Italics and capitalized Blade and everything.)

 

Which I consider to be fairly strong evidence, because we know that Szeth had the Windrunner blade, and Jezerezeh was the leader of the Heralds.

 

I'll give you the Shin though. It does irk me a bit that they've got all those honorblades, and probably know tons of secrets, and just contentedly sit on their supposed moral high ground. Reclusive. I'm really looking forward to learning more about their culture, because it's probably going to be fascinating. I doubt they'll come out of the series unchanged.

 

Also, Darkness is not insane. I don't think I actually said he was. No, i'm accusing him of being evil. I think he's letting fear drive him forward, and that's playing into Odium's hands. And he really should know better.

 

 

Thanks for playing devil's advocate. It helps to have some more perspective.

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There are many hints that surgebinders do cause Desolations. The Recreance, the coded epigraph from the diagram, Nale and minor hints, they suggest the Radiants are good for Odium, one way or another. Some people want to contain Odium (17th Shard, Nale, Taravangian), preventing him from causing more Desolations, while others want to fight him (Hoid giving a hand to surgebinders around Roshar) at the risk of setting him free so that they can defeat him completely. (Maybe to fix Roshar's afterlife)

Edited by yurisses
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The Radiants good for Odium. Hmmmm. That would be a pretty awesome twist if Sanderson pulls it off, and would be something of a gamechanger for the series in my opinion. I think most of the evidence suggesting that comes from bad sources though, since Taravangian and Nale's actions seem to be playing into Odium's hands.

 

In short, anyone with Kaladin: Good. Anyone against him: bad. (Yes, that's far too simplistic. But also fun to say!)

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Yeah...I did overstate my case on a few points. It is fair to say that the Herald knows tons more than we do. I have a hard time imagining anything that justifies hunting radiants though, since the Everstorm came, and not because the Parshendi were fighting radiants. Simple Alethi did that job.

 

Technically, Kaladin was one of the triggers which caused the Parshendi to freak out and head straight into Odium's hands. Eshonai and co. get really scared when discussing him in WoR.

 

Also, I probably didn't make it clear enough, but my assumption that Darkness is behind Szeth's assasinating Gavilar comes from the conversation Jasnah overheard between darkness ad the other herald.

 

I don't agree with your interpretation there, as I am reasonably sure the Parshendi were not influenced by Nalan and they were the driving force. Perhaps the Heralds were responsible for Szeth becoming Truthless in the first place, though.

 

I don't really think there's much more I can say on this topic. That said, I'm not saying it's impossible, it's just unlikely. I've interpreted things wrongly in the past before.

 

Also, Darkness is not insane. I don't think I actually said he was. No, i'm accusing him of being evil. I think he's letting fear drive him forward, and that's playing into Odium's hands. And he really should know better.

 

My bad. I saw you speaking of Darkness having "delusions" and then misread you speaking of Szeth losing his sanity and thought you said Darkness was.

 

The Radiants good for Odium. Hmmmm. That would be a pretty awesome twist if Sanderson pulls it off, and would be something of a gamechanger for the series in my opinion. I think most of the evidence suggesting that comes from bad sources though, since Taravangian and Nale's actions seem to be playing into Odium's hands.

 

I'd somewhat disagree on Taravangian falling into Odium's hands (again, half devil's advocate). Keep in mind that Taravangian and his advisers have all read the Diagram all the way through. If the plan lead to blatantly terrible outcomes, I don't think they'd follow the Diagram.

 

All the nations seemed to be in rather terrible shape - look at Alethkar and the highprinces squabbling with a weak king. Look at Kholinar, where the queen has managed to create a civil war! The highprinces are even constantly fighting each for territory! Jah Keved was apparently not in any better shape, as a civil war erupted at the slightest spark. Do you think the area where the leadership is determined by who's the oldest (where the leading family assassinates anyone who might end up older than one its members) is any better? Would these be nations that provide a strong defense against the Desolation?

 

Taravangian pruning the weeds and forging the nations into something united seems to be an action of Cultivation, rather than Odium. Perhaps his timing is terrible, but the Diagram is apparently still pretty accurate thus far, so they knew it would be this way all along. If it was a blatantly stupid idea to follow the Diagram, the people doing so would have a good idea that that is the case. They don't follow Taravangian's word unquestioningly; when he suggested Kharbranth's below-average intelligence people commit suicide, they locked him up. This suggests they did look over the Diagram with a critical eye.

 

To boot, Taravangian apparently will have a way to actually kill the Unmade in the future, which is something that's never happened before to our knowledge. If not even the Radiants can manage that feat, that is rather impressive. He has more information than the Radiants do at this point, and has been working to save the world long before anyone else was bothering. (Except maybe Gavilar. But the Sons of Honor sought to start the Desolation anyways, so who knows there?)

 

Humanity beat back Desolations before without the Radiants. It's not impossible that it can do the same again. I wouldn't say Taravangian is necessarily set up to help Odium.

 

As to Nalan... well, it's obvious he failed to stop the Desolation, but I'm not entirely sold on his actions helping Odium. It's entirely possible that it was due to his actions that the Desolation did not arrive for thousands of years. From what we know, Desolations were much more common in the past. There seems to have been an unusually long pause before this one started.

 

If he keeps killing Radiants, maybe it helps Odium, but I'm not sure if he'll continue doing that. I could see his current plan being to kill the leaders of the Shin to take their Honorblades to fight back the Voidbringers.

Edited by Moogle
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Hm. All very valid points pretty much just as possible if not more probable than my suggestions.

 

I don't agree with your interpretation there, as I am reasonably sure the Parshendi were not influenced by Nalan and they were the driving force. Perhaps the Heralds were responsible for Szeth becoming Truthless in the first place, though.

 

This is probably the best argument though against my main point. The Parshendi may have been influenced, but they definitely wanted to kill Gavilar. And I had forgotten the Sons of Honor but given their goals and Gavilar's ties to them, that may not have been an entirely bad thing.

 

Regarding Taravangian and Nale. I think maybe you're right, in that there's a certain logic to their points of view given what we know. I still can't shake the feeling though that they're playing into Odium's hands though. An unstable world isn't going to fend off Odium better with Taravangian actively depopulating and destabilizing it. Taravangian's plan is unfortunately doomed though because it's outside of his power to enforce it. As evidenced by Dalinar's survival, despite the supposed necessity of his death. There are some things he just won't be able to manage.

 

I guess my main worry is with all these different groups: Former Heralds, Proto-Radiants, Diagramists, Sons of Honor, Ghostbloods, etc. that none of their plans are going to survive interaction intact. Instead they're all just going to ruin each other's survival plan and they could end up all failing. That's why the whole honorable means thing is so important. None of them can succeed if they're going to be destroying just as much as they're building.

 

So Szeth under Nale's direction wins back the Honorblades. But what happens when Nale decides that he doesn't like the new Radiants? Suddenly we have powerful shardbearing/surgebinding enemies mixed in with the general chaos of the end of the world.

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...

 

I agree that there's definitely something very suspicious going on with Taravangian and Nale. I totally get where you're coming from, thinking that maybe their actions are in fact helping Odium. Brandon has not exactly written them as the most trustworthy folk.

 

I also agree that no plan survives contact with the enemy unscathed. The various groups on Roshar could very well end up ruining each other's plans and doing more harm than good. A quote comes to mind from a certain fanfic, where a character remarks how chaotic things become when the plots of different people start interacting.

 

I certainly can't argue against the danger presented by Nale having all the Honorblades, if he indeed he goes that route.

 

My only final note is that I think that the "honorable" route is quite possibly liable to fail, contributing to why I am somewhat suspicious that Brandon is setting up Taravangian's plan as actually workable despite making it seem suspicious. Two Death Rattles support this theory:

 

1)  “I hold the suckling child in my hands, a knife at his throat, and know that all who live wish me to let the blade slip. Spill its blood upon the ground, over my hands, and with it gain us further breath to draw.” -Dated Shashanan, 1173, 23 seconds pre-death. Subject: a darkeyed youth of sixteen years. Sample is of particular note.

 

2)  The king heaved a final gasp, eyes glazing over. “So the night will reign, for the choice of honor is life . . .”

 

Odium is regularly associated with the night, for example the "dreaded nightspren" and these two listener songs:

 

"Stormform is said to cause / A tempest of winds and showers, / Beware its powers, beware its powers. / Though its coming brings the gods their night, / It obliges a bloodred spren. / Beware its end, beware its end."

 

"Nightform predicting what will be, / The form of shadows, mind to foresee. / As the gods did leave, the nightform whispered. / A new storm will come, someday to break. / A new storm a new world to make. / A new storm a new path to take, the nightform listens."

Edited by Moogle
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O.O

 

I never could figure out how that first death rattle fit into it all. But if that combination is accurate, and the things you're extrapolating from it are as well...Then Stormfather! That strikes me as ominous.

 

I don't disagree with the night/odium associations. (In fact, Nale being seen as such a dark figure by those who don't know who he is is part of the reason I think he's playing into Odium's hands.)

 

In the interest of the books having any kind of happy or satisfying ending though I sincerely hope that this is wrong somehow.

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I don't know. In the cosmere clarividence seems pretty uncontrollable. In mistborn

atium was used to defeat Ruin

Plus, in the Parshendi songs the Nightform, althought a form of power, isn't portrayed as as evil as the others, and speaks of Odium's defeat throught "a challenged champion, a strife even he must requite".

I wouldn't be surprised if Odium can't fully control the death rattles, only decide if they happen, where, and how frequently.

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How plausible is it that the Deathrattles are lies? The Unmade certainly aren't willingly helping the goodguys. 

 

I think they don't have to be lies to be wrong. Remember how Sanderson described seeing the future works: like a breaking window, and the further you look the smaller the pieces get.

 

Or was that Honor? I forget. Now i need to look it up. Yes that was honor see the end of WOK.

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I've been under the impression that Honor is just especially bad at it. His intent is more the kind of thing that happens in one precise moment after all. Future sight is definitely possible with their powers, judging from truthwatchers, atium allomancers, etc.

With stuff like luck feruchemy and, well, atium, I doubt an actual predestined future exists. It has to be extremely good extrapolation from current data.

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Agreed, there's far too many ways for a result/reaction to happen for it to be determined exactly (unless one person burns atium) although it is probably more likely there are super important events that will always happen but all the fine details that define the how/when/where/what are always constantly changing and function on circumstantial probabilitiy (or however Shardic Foresight/Precognition works)

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I'm not sure the Death Rattles are an intended thing by the Unmade. Taravangian's explanation (written during his Diagram, not entirely trustworthy):

There is one you will watch. Though all of them have some relevance to precognition, Moelach is one of the most powerful in this regard. His touch seeps into a soul as it breaks apart from the body, creating manifestations powered by the spark of death itself. But no, this is a distraction. Deviation. Kingship. We must discuss the nature of kingship.

 

I can't imagine an Unmade giving visions on purpose. Like, what purpose would that serve for Odium? He should be able to see the future much better than his more limited servants.

 

I get the impression that it's much more malevolent and Moelach is feeding partly on their soul as it leaves their body.

 

(While we're on things: "there is one you will watch" kind of matches the back cover of WoK's "there are four whom we watch".)

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Death rattles, Unmade, and seeing the future. It's too uncertain an area to draw any definite conclusions, but I think it's fair to say Sanderson uses them to foreshadow. Although he may just want them to build suspense and tension, since they do that really well. Makes me wonder if Odium will win in the end, but we'll just have to wait and see.

 

See what you've done? Now I have even more reasons to worry about this series.  :rolleyes:

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I really like the OP.  Another piece of evidence that might want to be included is from the diagram.  A chapter epigraph refers to one as a traitor to the others.  It could be talking about the Heralds, and could even be referring to Nale as the traitor. 

Another thing about Nale is the scar/birthmark.  When did he get it.   It is mentioned over and over, but there is no backstory.  Why hasn't it healed?  Is it like Kaladin's slave brands?  Did the scarring happen when He was turned to Odium?  

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I really like the OP. Another piece of evidence that might want to be included is from the diagram. A chapter epigraph refers to one as a traitor to the others. It could be talking about the Heralds, and could even be referring to Nale as the traitor.

Another thing about Nale is the scar/birthmark. When did he get it. It is mentioned over and over, but there is no backstory. Why hasn't it healed? Is it like Kaladin's slave brands? Did the scarring happen when He was turned to Odium?

Why on earth would a birthmark need to be healed?

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Why on earth would a birthmark need to be healed?

You mean "Why on Roshar ..." or "Why on stone ..."

 

But seriously, the healing would only be meaningful if it were a scar. 

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Only when it needs to be...
 

I really like the OP.  Another piece of evidence that might want to be included is from the diagram.  A chapter epigraph refers to one as a traitor to the others. 

 

 

This is my absolute least favorite chapter epigraph. Either it refers to someone I really don't want it to, and I hate it, or it refers to nobody I care about, and Sanderson is the cruelest troll ever.

 

Unfortunately, I don't think this fits Nale. If anything, it's more like nine heralds betrayed Taln. Although I don't think they're all bad, I just doubt they're a very cohesive group. They seem more like a family that wishes they didn't have to spend so much time together.

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Only when it needs to be...

This is my absolute least favorite chapter epigraph. Either it refers to someone I really don't want it to, and I hate it, or it refers to nobody I care about, and Sanderson is the cruelest troll ever.

Unfortunately, I don't think this fits Nale. If anything, it's more like nine heralds betrayed Taln. Although I don't think they're all bad, I just doubt they're a very cohesive group. They seem more like a family that wishes they didn't have to spend so much time together.

I think that part refers to one of the Unmade. It was written on the Book of the 2nd Desk Drawer, just as the other two consecutive paragraphs about the Unmade were, albeit twelve paragraphs later.

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