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Denth/Shashara and Arsteel/Yesteel as Returned "siblings"


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Several times in Warbreaker, it's mentioned and illustrated that the Returned do not recall their former lives, except dimly and subconsciously. Lightsong does not recognize his own brother serving as his priest, nor recognize in his dreams the niece he loved enough in life to sacrifice his life to save. Even Vasher, among the most long-lived and accomplished of any Returned, does not know even his own pre-Returned name (by his own account - maybe he was lying to Vivenna about that, for whatever reason).

Yet Denth and Vasher both recall Shashara as Denth's "sister" (well, sister to VaraTreledees, which was Denth's name when Nightblood was created), and the other two of the Five Scholars - Arsteel and Yesteel - are described as "brothers". What's the deal there?

My thought: the Five Scholars predate the Hallendren religious institutions built around the care and feeding of Returned Gods. Since it does happen that children, even infants, can and do Return, perhaps they were (small) children who died at or around the same time (by disease, accident, or something worse), were Returned, and were given back to their parents (or to adoptive ones) to be raised together? The emotional bonds evidently in play would seem to have to run a little deeper than being told "you know, you and Shashara were brother and sister before dying and Returning".

Edited by robardin
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I always assumed that it had something to do with dying (and therefore Returning) together--the pairs of siblings were involved in the same cause, which got them both killed, and they were brought back by Endowment at the same time with similar purposes. But for all I know, that could be way off the mark.

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6 hours ago, Yata said:

Someone proposed simply in ancient time, Returned were raised in group and they form "families" with the group's member. So nothing blood related but more "someone teaches thy are siblings"

I thought about this too, but unless the Returned were Returned as children, it seems there wouldn't be a need to "raise" them beyond giving them Breath.

We only have Lightsong as a POV from a (relatively) recent Returned, who died and came back five years ago, and he's not at the mental age of a five year old or anything. He doesn't remember his prior life except in subconscious ways, but that doesn't mean he was Returned unable to walk, talk, read, etc., etc. (Lightsong is able to read poems submitted to him as an offering - though I guess he could have re-learned to read in his five years). He reflects that "he would have died after 8 days" without being brought to the Court of Gods in Hallendren to be given one Breath a week, as Returned in other places typically did. And Vo the First Returned, who did die after 8 days, instructed his people as to the Five Visions in those 8 days (and fathered some descendents).

On the other hand, Treledees does admit to the priests having done a "baby switch" with an infant Returned to propagate the line of God Kings, and Susebron was not able to read until Siri taught him to do so. In fact, Susebron has a hidden book, Stories For Children, that was precious to him because, as he said/wrote to Siri (bolding mine),


My mother read the stories to me when I was a child. I memorized them all, before she was taken away. ... My mother taught me the monsters are not real.

which suggests that Susebron either remembered his pre-Returned childhood fairly clearly - which seems to be impossible - or else was (a) an infant or toddler aged Returned, and (b) allowed to be raised by his birth mother (or a consistent, surrogate one) until a certain age, old enough to memorize stories, understand a "moral" message to them, and remember them 50 years later (though the latter part could just be part of being a Returned).

And really, isn't that the obvious and natural thing to do with a Returned infant? If I were a parent whose baby died and miraculously Returned, you'd have a pretty tough time taking him/her from me, I tell you.

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5 hours ago, Spoolofwhool said:

The God kings were all infant returneds brought to the court in secret in order to make the people believe that the current God King had a child. Susebron's mother is probably the previous God King's wife or someone selected by the priests to raise him.

Not all of them. Some were actually the real children of the previous God King - that is why the priests were so intent on Siri getting pregnant quickly. I think that's in the Warbreaker annotations. Susebron's mother was probably his biological mother, and the previous God King and his wife lived out their lives on a secluded island (iirc). I'll see if I can find the right annotations.

Edit: Here:



Edited by Eki
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