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Ideals: Honor or Spren System?


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The Ideals of the Knights Radiants (written up in the in-book Way of Kings): one shared ideal and four unique ideals for each order unlock enhanced capabilities and even trigger access to stormlight (or at least the second ideal does for Kaladin).  I have been assuming that the surges were a shared Honor-Cultivation system with the Oaths as an Honor system built on top of them.  Could the spren have created the oaths?


(tWoK chapter 67)

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 he knew they'd never been told to him.

"I will protect those who cannot protect themselves," he whispered.

The second ideal of the Knights Radiant.

A crack shook the air like an enormous clap of thunder, though the sky was completely clear ... Kaladin exploded with energy. 

A burst of whiteness washed out from him, a wave of white smoke. Stormlight.  The force of it smashed into the first rank of Parshendi, tossing them back, and Teft had to hold his hands up against the vibrancy of the light.


Jasnah says (chapter 6) that the spren are returning the oaths.  Does that strengthen the thought that they empowered them in the first place?

“Ten Essences,” Jasnah said softly. She ran her fingers along the page. “Ten Surges. Ten orders. But what does it mean that the spren have finally decided to return the oaths to us?


The spren created the Radiants in imitation of what was done with the Heralds.  It was a surprise to Honor. (WoR chapter 3)

“The Knights Radiant,” the Almighty said, standing up beside Dalinar, watching the knight attack the nightmare beast. “They were a solution, a way to offset the destruction of the Desolations. Ten orders of knights, founded with the purpose of helping men fight, then rebuild.”

Dalinar repeated it, word for word, focused on catching every one and not on thinking about what they meant.

The Almighty turned to him. “I was surprised when these orders arrived. I did not teach my Heralds this. It was the spren—wishing to imitate what I had given men—who made it possible.


Nohadon complains that some of the Nahel-Bond spren are not discriminating enough. (tWoK chapter 60)

"Our own natures destroy us," ... "Alakavish was a Surgebinder.  He should have known better.  And yet the Nahel bond gave him no more wisdom than an ordinary man.  Alas, not all spren are as discerning as honorspren."

"What do you think should be done with these Surgebinders?" Dalinar asked carefully.

"I don't know if we can force them to do anything." ... "Their power ... well, Alakavish proves the allure that Surgebinders have for the common people.  If only there were a way to encourage them ..." ... "They need to be better, old friend.  We all do.  The responsibility of what we've been given - whether it be the crown or the Nahel bond - needs to make us better."


So the spren created Surgebinding and it was kinda good, but it had a bug in that the empowered people wouldn't necessarily work together. 

Could the spren be the ones who changed their own system?  The spren could have created the Ideals to restrain the behavior of the surgebinders.  A Surgebinder either adopts the progressive ideals or doesn't become a strong surgebinder. 


The knights thought they had to disband (or whatever they did) because continuing as knights would lead to Something Bad.  In doing so, they violated their Oaths to their bonded spren, not least of which is the first: journey before destination.  Spren may have died or become mindless as a result. 


Syl comments on gravity working consistently as a working agreement (between the spren?) to keep people's minds from being blown (this is a whole topic of it's own) (Chapter 9 WoR).  The oaths could be a similar agreement between the spren (and maybe Nohadon) to limit the strength of the Surgebinders who have not adopted all the ideals. 

“Giving up all pretense of obeying natural laws again, I see,” he said.

Natural laws?” Syl said, finding the concept amusing. “Laws are of men, Kaladin. Nature doesn’t have them!”

“If I toss something upward, it comes back down.”

“Except when it doesn’t.”

“It’s a law.”

“No,” Syl said, looking upward. “It’s more like… more like an agreement among friends.”

He looked at her, raising an eyebrow.

“We have to be consistent,” she said, leaning in conspiratorially. “Or we’ll break your brains.”

Of course, Honor and the spren could have worked together on this also. 


What do people think?

Edited by hoser
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Darkness' need to comply with justice makes me feel like the Heralds also swore oaths to get their powers. Maybe the spren didn't know about that part or how to add it, and Honor was inspired by Nohadon to reveal it to them.

If the spren knew about the oath thing from the start, at least some of them would have been self-serving with it, "I will keep Cryptic secrets," "I will play with my spren when it's bored," etc. So something big must've happened to teach them about it or make it possible. Maybe it's about consensus like you said though, and spren normally disagree too much to get enough consensus to add oaths, but Nohadon persuaded them.

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I have recently been thinking that maybe I have had this backwards...


Rather than changing the nature of suregbinding maybe Nohadon just formalised it.


That way the Oaths and Ideals were always there, Nohadon (and the WoK) just formalised them into doctrine and formed the orders to control the surgebinders.


Once a critical mass of KR existed, those who did not fall in line could have been... erm... coerced?


Not sure. The only actual evidence people give for Nohadon changing the nature of surgebinding is the epigraph referring to the dawnshards binding any creature.


I think it makes more sense that Nohadon basically founded the KR like a religion and formalised the existing ideals into a doctrine for it.

Edited by The Count
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