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Theory: Ishar Caused the Recreance With Magic


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TLDR: Ishar never liked the idea of normal humans with Surges, and only tolerated them as a tool against the Voidbringers. As soon as they were no longer needed, he disposed of them. The sense of "pain and betrayal" Dalinar feels in the Recreance vision is the Knights and spren betrayed by Ishar, not the spren betrayed by their Knights. Alternately, if Ishar is less evil, maybe it has to do with Odium being bound by the spirit of agreements, not the letter. Enslaving the parshmen risked letting Odium view things as "unfair" and letting him out of agreements, and Ishar rushed to cause the Recreance to balance things.

I find it unbelievable that Windrunners, Lightweavers, and Elsecallers were unanimous in breaking their oaths. No exceptions. And we don't know about the other 6 Orders; maybe there are no exceptions there either. But we know every Honorspren, Cryptic, and Inkspren except Sylphrena was killed in the Recreance. It's just not realistic. No dissent, no exceptions, no spren who resisted and escaped?

It must be magic, and only Ishar has the level of magic to do this, if anyone does.


But as for Ishi’Elin, his was the part most important at their inception; he readily understood the implications of Surges being granted to men, and caused organization to be thrust upon them; as having too great power, he let it be known that he would destroy each and every one, unless they agreed to be bound by precepts and laws.

-- Words of Radiance, epigraph for Chapter 42

He was strong enough to destroy every Radiant once, and would only have greater power to do it after he got them to swear his Oaths. Maybe, somehow, Ishar has power over the First Ideal, and can use it against anyone who's sworn it. He met with Nale, worked out a way to keep the Skybreakers safe from what he was doing, and then did something to the First Ideal so it was impossible to keep, forcing everyone to break it.


“Taking the Dawnshard, known to bind any creature voidish or mortal, he crawled up the steps crafted for Heralds, ten strides tall apiece, toward the grand temple above.”

-- Way of Kings, epigraph for Chapter 36

This is someone using a Dawnshard at the top of Urithiru. More likely the creation of the Orders than causing the Recreance, since the latter would be a secret. We've seen what a normal Bondsmith can do with a perfect gem. What Ishar could do with a Dawnshard could be world-changing, and the source of his power to destroy the Orders at any later time.


“One of Ishar’s Knights,” the madman whispered. His eyes narrowed. “I remember . . . He founded them? Yes. Several Desolations ago. No longer just talk. It hasn’t been talk for thousands of years. But . . . When . . .”

-- Words of Radiance, Chapter 63. Taln is talking to Shallan.

Even another Herald views the Knights as Ishar's. All the Knights, because he's associating a Lightweaver with Ishar, not a Bondsmith. "No longer just talk" may mean the Oaths were originally a cultural practice from Nohadon's book, and Ishar later made them magically binding.


“ ‘A warning,’ ” Navani read, “ ‘from Tezim the Great, last and first man, Herald of Heralds and bearer of the Oathpact. His grandness, immortality, and power be praised. Lift up your heads and hear, men of the east, of your God’s proclamation.

“ ‘None are Radiant but him. His fury is ignited by your pitiful claims, and your unlawful capture of his holy city is an act of rebellion, depravity, and wickedness. Open your gates, men of the east, to his righteous soldiers and deliver unto him your spoils.

-- Oathbringer, Chapter 24. Tezim is known to be Ishar.

This sure sounds like someone who would cause the Recreance, if he had the power to. Past Ishar may have been less insane than the current Ishar writing to Dalinar, but he was still insane, and on the path to being this bad.

Evidence Against

The Stormfather says they broke their Oaths because reasons, but his memory is unreliable without the bond, and he's bad at understanding human motivations. The Oaths were broken, but he may not understand why.

The Diagram says they lost faith and broke their oaths, and I think Super Taravangian would know the truth. But I also think he put lies in the Diagram; he distrusts less intelligent versions of himself, and only tells them what they need to know.

Are the highspren really keeping this a secret? No other spren would know why the Recreance happened, if it happened too quickly and there were no survivors. But the highspren would know. Maybe they can lie if it's "lawful", maybe even have to lie if they promised, but it's still quite a secret.

Edited by Morsk
separated "evidence against" into a section
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I just changed / expanded this, and added 2 quotes. I think it more likely Ishar destroyed the Radiants for selfish reasons. Although it could be a bit of both. He may have justified it to himself with nicer reasoning.

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  • Pagerunner changed the title to Theory: Ishar Caused the Recreance With Magic
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