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Theory - on Oathpacts, Desolations and Recreances


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So I've been doing some thinking about the betrayal of the Radiants, Vorin beliefs, and some of Brandon's readings from WoR, and I've come to a theory.


The Oathpact gave humans access to magic, at the cost of also giving them access to the magic of Odium, and Odium access to them. Desolations occurred every time a critical mass of surgebinders turned to the Dark Side, if you will. To fight this, Honor appointed ten Heralds, to give leadership to humankind during these times; in exchange, Odium got them during the downtimes. Eventually, Nohadon, realizing how much humans backslid during the quiet, good days, created the Radiants, to provide institutional memory and stability separate from the Heralds. This was good.


One day, the Heralds called it quits. They had almost won by having 9/10 stay alive, and they thought the Radiants would be able to hold things together. The abandoned their Blades and went incognito. 


Eventually, the Radiants realized what had really happened. Despairing of facing another Desolation without the Heralds, they did what they thought was the only thing they could to prevent it - they abandoned their Shards and gave up surgebinding, hoping thereby to prevent any more Desolations from coming. The rest of mankind suddenly lost access to the benefits of surgebinding (i.e. Soulcasting, Regrowth, Travel, etc. etc). and were pissed. Chaos ensued from soldiers getting hold of Shards, kingdoms fell, etc. The ardents could certainly justify spinning this event as a great betrayal, and over time, the details of the betrayal were lost.


We don't know what the Radiants did to end surgebinding for over 4 thousand years, but clearly something happened - even before Nohadon founded the Orders, surgebinders existed. And now, surgebinders are starting to exist again, just in time for the Last Desolation. And we know the Parshendi freaked and tried to prevent the return of their "lost gods", whatever those are. And we know that someone is trying to kill surgebinders.


Have at it, folks.

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I would love to respond to this thread, but I'll refrain since this isn't posted in the WoR topic where I could freely explore this topic without concern for creating a spoiler tag for every line of text.

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Well, I have one significant problem with this theory and one niggling problem. The niggling problem is that I don't see any indication that the number of Heralds which survive is any indication of how close they came to winning the desolation. This is one of my big questions. Humanity has survived 99 desolations, but lost them all. What constitutes a win?

The big problem I see is that you said in the first paragraph that desolations come when a critical mass of surgebinders is reached. you themn later say that surgebinders began to turn up again just in time for the desolation. This seems somewhat contradictory or at least circular reasoning. On the one hand you seem to suggest that desolations only come when there is a certain amount of surgebinders and then obn the other you suggest that surgebinders come for the upcoming desolation. I think you need to choose between the two. As it stands, Taln has come as a Herald of the Everstorm, the final desolation and I don't see any indication as yet of a large number of surgebinders.

Edit: I actually don't see any reason for this to be in the WoR subforum. This is all based on info from TWoK which was released 3 years ago. The only thing that needs to go in spoiler tags at this point is stuff that is directly from WoR.

Edited by Shardlet
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@Shardlet - I see how I didn't really explain myself clearly. The point I was trying to make is that the Desolations weren't something that were caused directly by Odium, in the sense that he sends an army of bad guys to Roshar. Rather, my theory is that surgebinders are subject to the Spiderman principle: with great power comes great responsibility. In this case, not only is there the temptation for them to use regular surgebinding for selfish purposes, but (here's the theory) Odium allows surgebinders access to his own magic system, voidbinding, which makes them both more powerful and more corrupt/evil. This is what I meant by a critical mass - given enough surgebinders, a certain proportion of them will turn to Odium, and with enough of the evil surgebinders/voidbinders running around, mayhem ensues. This, then, is the reason why the Radiants may have done something to eliminate surgebinding from Roshar entirely, and apparently succeeded. And now that surgebinding is coming back, there is no organization to it, and inevitably some of its practitioners will become corrupted.


Did I explain that any better?

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I think that a certain Herald has been systematically finding reasons to eliminate Surgebinders for some time. We have no evidence that Surgebinders have only recently started to reappear. They could have been appearing since the Recreance, and been eliminated before they gained the power of a Radiant. The little black pill doesn't have to be related at all.

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So what changed?


If the group have been managing to stay on top of the potential surgebinders for 4000 odd years, the either they are getting sloppy or more surgebinders are appearing now.


Certainly more are slipping through the net.


I am still of the opinion that Gavilar did something with the black sphere of doom that:


(1) Caused the return of Surgbinders

(2) Started the countdown to the Desolation.


OK... how about this...


Something has held back surgbinding since the recreance but there were still the odd few appearing here and there. The Surgebinder death squad (led by the shadowman) has been eliminating them.


Then Gavilar does his thing and suddenly there are many more surgebinders cropping up than the death squad can deal with.


I will go further and theorise that whatever Gvilar did with the sphere of doom was exactly what the shadowman was afraid of (hence why he was there at the party the night Gavilar died).



Edited by MadRand
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There seem to be two different trigger points happening here.  I'd like to lay it all out as I see it and see if people agree with my reasoning here.  


1) The first event happens in the time frame of the prologue.  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like the assassination of Galivar and the discovery of the black sphere, the discovery of the Parshendi, the onset of the death rattles, and the return of Surgebinding seem to happen around the same time period.  We don't know for sure if these are all symptoms of a cause we do not yet know of, or if one of these caused the others.


The assassination of Galivar and the discovery of the Parshendi are related, since the Parshendi orchestrate the assassination.  They state that they want to avoid the return of their gods which, combined with the existence of the black sphere in Galivar's possession, imply that the black sphere is tied to the Parshendi gods either in itself or in something that can be done with it.  


I would hazard a guess that the return (or increase in frequency) of Surgebinders is directly related to the discovery of the Parshendi.  I propose that since both Parshendi forms and Surgebinding rely on bonding with spren, they are both effects of whatever happened and not the cause.  I also propose that whatever Galivar did with the sphere either re-enabled Spren bonds or allowed bonding-capable spren to pass between the cognitive realm and the physical realm again.


2)  This is much more guesswork.  The second event is around the climax of WoK, which makes it hard to pick out specific events, but in my opinion there are a few important ones.  First, Kaladin speaks the first non-general Radiant Words that we know of, "I will protect those who cannot protect themselves", and increases his radiant power level.  Second, Talanel'Elin appears outside Kholinar to announce the Last Desolation.  I don't know if the text is clear about the amount of time that passes between the Tower battle and Taln's appearance but they seem close together.  


Without knowing the specific time frame I can't guess for certain that Taln's appearance is a result of Kaladin's power-up, but it is suggestive.


We know that Darkness is hunting Surgebinders (Ym interlude, etc).  From the Jasnah prologue we can guess that Darkness is the Herald Nalan.  I will assume that Nalan understands what causes Desolations from a high-level point of view, but may not know the specifics since he always shows up right at the start.  Nalan seems to believe that Surgebinders are a key cause of Desolations.  


I'll present the following theory for people to poke holes in:


What if there was a way for Spren to travel between the Cognitive and Physical realms easily in the beginning facilitated by the presence of Honor and Cultivation.  This was unavoidable and couldn't be changed by the Shards since the Spren are a result of Adonalsium's power rather than their own.  The basis for this statement is here:


"Ooh! I just recalled something else that was super-cool.  Some of you may have heard of wetlandernw here or on the Tor rereads.  Anyway, part of the answers to one of her questions (which I will be providing all of to you soon) was that there were some spren on Roshar prior to the arrival of Cultivation and Honor.  These spren resulted from some power left behind by Adonalsium.  Whether this was a snafu of creation, inadvertant neglecting of a bit of dropped power, or some intentional investiture was unclear.  But it appears that spren are a key feature of how Roshar handles loose power of creation." - Shardlet


Since the Spren were caused by Adonalium there were spren that represented the whole spectrum of intents.  When Odium realized this he found a way to allow them to bond with sentient entities on Roshar.  Despite Honor and Cultivation's best efforts, Bonding-capable Deathspren (or possibly Desolation spren?) crossed the boundary and bonded with people, setting off the events known as a Desolation.  The Heralds were Honor's only defense initially, but eventually the Knights Radiant form as a military group and the Desolations got easier, culminating in a victory with only one Herald dead.  


At this point the Heralds were going nuts.  They quit.  Somehow, their resignation allowed Odium to shatter Honor.  The shattered power of Honor was soaked up by the Spren, and so the barrier was still permeable since the Spren were currently bonded to Radiants on Roshar and held most of Honor's power.  Sometime later, the Heralds figure out how to make it harder for Spren to cross between Cognitive and Physical and bond with people, but they're left with a huge number of Honor-invested Spren in the physical realm.  They tell the Knights Radiant that they need to disband and their spren need to return to the Cognitive realm;  the Recreance occurs.


Following this, few to no Spren are able to bond.  If any do, Nalan finds them and kills them.


Eventually, Galivar does something to make the barrier more permiable again.  Spren begin slipping through and bonding.  Kaladin speaks the first Radiant Oath, increasing his bond to Syl, and drawing more of her into the Physical realm.  This results in enough of Honor's power being present on Roshar to further weaken, or possibly destroy, whatever was holding the realms apart.  A death / Desolation spren slips through and it begins again.




Well, that ended up being far longer than I intended.  Havn't fully checked through for continuity.  Thoughts?

Edited by Scott
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