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Of spren and Surges, indeed

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So, I've been thinking, and I believe I've come to some accurate conclusions about Roshar's ecology and Arcana. Hopefully some of the following makes any degree of sense.


1. The spren don't matter

Let's start this off with singer physiology and Rosharan ecology. As we know, the fauna of Roshar has evolved to take advantage of the large amount of investiture lying around, namely spren, skyeels fly, greatshells don't square-cube themselves, ryshadium super-horse and singers attain forms.

Now, the interesting part, the forms, bond to a spren, change your physiology and mentality, sure. But why do the forms of power work? Because investiture is investiture. I have seen the forms of power caller a hack, but it's honestly just inserting something new into the system. The system has a response, it still returns valid, as it were, and voila, a new form.

Next up, spren and gems, we know that spren can be captured in gems. We know that voidspren can be captured in gems. We can extrapolate that voidspren could be used in fabrials. As support for this notion one might look to that fabrials can be made with enlightened spren, though they work differently.

Thirdly, the Nahel bond, where we've yet to observe the commonallity I'm espousing, however if we extrapolate: Renarin's Glys is enlightened, and must reasonably have been when the bond formed, as one thinks Renarin would have noticed his spren changing. From Glys' situation we learn that not being a "regular" true spren does not preclude bonding, being partly of Odium does not preclude bonding!

What I'm trying to show here and imply by the title of this section is that the type of spren doesn't matter, the systems will just plug-n-play as it were, just with a modified output. I posit that any sapient spren could theoretically enter into a Nahel bond, just like any spren (save perhaps the "Greatspen," the Stormfather, Nightwatcher and other unique and massive spren) can presumably be bonded symbiotically by a singer or used in a fabrial, you'd just get a non-standard, but valid, output.

So when I say the spren don't matter, I mean that it seems that any spren can hook into any system that accpts spren, regardless of type, the kind of spren juat acts as a filter.


2. Powers that we have been forbidden to touch

Now, let's look to the Eila Stele


They came from another world, using powers that we have been forbidden to touch. Dangerous powers, of spren and Surges.

From this fragment we can learn several things. At the time of the Ashynite exodus the singers were aware of some form of manipulation of the Surges. At the time they had at some previous point had access to this power themselves, as you do not forbid that which can not be done. At the time they knew the powers were dangerous, which can be read as the powers themselves being the dangerous part, rather than who wielded them.

I've long had a pet theory that the original Rosharan surgebinders bonded the cousin-spren of the true spren (eg, windspren being cousin to honorspren) and that the true spren evolved later. According to my speculaton these proto-proto-Radiants would only have had access to one surge each, because of the nature of the spren, so proto-proto-Windrunners would only have adhesion, Skybreakers gravitation, etc. I'm not quite pushing that theory here, but elements of it are present, so it's good for context.

I now think that the original Rosharan surgebinders were pre-shattering (or at least pre-shardic) singers who either bonded the cousin-spren or the true spren as part of the regular symbiotic singer-spren relationship. I believe that this bond granted them surgebinding, though possibly with a single surge only. On a more baseless note I speculate that these early "forms of power" allowed them to draw stormlight directly from the spiritual, a-la Honorblades. These singer-surgebinders would then have existed until Honor and Cultivation came to Roshar and, knowing or seeing the danger such powers posed, forbade their use, possibly also telling the true spren to not bond the singers.


3. Low-fat, imitation surgebinding

Now it's time to look at everyone's favourite genocidal surgebinders, the Fused.

Building on my earlier speculation, I believe that the Fused are a twist on the first Rosharan surgebinders. They are the souls of ancient singers, who are invested by Odium and act as both spren and host. They are already a perversion of the symbiotic system of Roshar, as they are parasitic, but also kind of a perversion of my idea of early surgebinders. I believe that the extra investiture in the soul of the Fused is meant to mimic part of the early surgebinder forms, but obviously voidish in origin instead. So, void imput, surge output.

We may also assume that being the Fused has twisted them, because they are permanently wearing a form of Odium. See Eshonai in stormform as a comparison.

If we also accept the admittedly baseless speculation above, that also solves the problem of how the Fused, with their relatively low level of investiture can draw power from Odium directly, while, say Kaladin needs spheres, in that it'd be an inherent function of the form.

Now, for the capstone argument: there are nine forms of Fused, lacking Bondsmith, if we assume they are imitations of early surgebinder forms this makes sense, as there wouldn't be a Bondsmith-equivalent. The Bondsmith spren are presumably too much to tuck into a gemheart.


4. Knights Enlightened?

And here I'll put my thoughts on everyone's favourite voidbinder, Renarin.

There has been a lot of talk about Renarin and the nature of his powers, with several people concluding that his Progression is normal and his Illumination voidish. I'd contend these assertions. My first reaction to this line of thinking was "Why? Why do people think it's so clear cut?" and thinking that his powers might be a mix, both Surges being semi-voidish.

However, now I'd rather argue that Renarin is fully voidbinding, though powered by stormlight, something of an inverse to the Fused. If we assume that Renarin's future-flashes are a product of Illumination, then it seems to be expressed in a highly spiritual aspect, and I'd argue that the same is true of his Progression, Adolin gets a flash of his ideal self as he's healed, which I don't think happens when Lift heals people, but I don't remember if we've seen Lift's healing from the perspective of someone being healed.

Another point of contention for me is the "his lightweaving don't work right" argument. Here I'd argue that he's a TRUTHwatcher (or close enough) and propose that they are not supposed to weave illusions, but rather show what IS, zoom, enhance and all that. So I propose that the problem is with philosophy and approach, rather than the power being weird.

And I can't resist throwing my pet term for Renarin and potential future characters like him in, Knights Enlightened, it uses the same kind of terminology (Knights Radiant) while still evocative of light and using Sja-Anat's own term (Enlightening) as the light word.



Thanks for reading my semi-coherent ramblings, hopefully I'll have brought something new or interesting to the table.




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Hey, pretty cool theory. I have little problems with it that I'll elaborate later as I now lack the time but for the time being, would you mind to try to rephrase some of it? Mostly at the begining. Maybe it was me but it took me a little to get into it 'cause I wasn't able to follow where you were going.

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Sure. Could you be a bit more specific about what bits were hard to follow?

I suppose it can be hard for me to see, as I know why each bit is relevant and am working towards a conclusion that to me already exists.

Also, this was an attempt to rationalise a bunch of near-manic rambling into something approaching coherency, so I can understand if it might be difficult to follow. 



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  • 5 months later...

Hmm, I don't know about the type of spren not mattering, Glys is a bad example as we don't know much about Investiture corruption, as are the three Bondsmith spren.

Certainly other types of spren can also be Bonded, we already know this from Brandon.

As for Surgebinding, the specific types of spren do seem to matter in how the Surges are accessed. Honorspren, which are cousins to Windspren, probably due to association with the Highstorms, give access to the Surge of Adhesion, which would function as the manipulation of pressure and vacuum in the Physical. Gravitation seems more directly tied to Honor's Intent and its relation to Connection.

Altered spren can be bonded, but what they can fuel will probably be very different than normal expressions of the Surges. These ten types of spren  might've been who were the closest to the Surges or simply closest to Honor's interpretation of the Surges.

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We know there are more sapient spren than the 10 types the KR bond. We have the voidspren of course,  but we also have those mistspren that were on the honorspren's ship.  Problem is the surges themselves.  The 10 surges represent the 10 fundamental forces according to the understanding of the people of Roshar. The KR surges map to one of the ten, the voidish surges map to one of the 10, all the singer forms we've seen can likely be shoehorned to fit one of the ten, even the Unmade can be looked at in terms of what surges they most closely map to. So the spren don't matter,  I could be persuaded to buy that, but all that would mean is that any bond between a physical being and a Cognitive one will Express itself as one of the 10 surges. So the question becomes,  once they realize they can bond any spren at all and gain power,  why would they ever go for the Nahel bond with its sometimes restrictive guidelines or a void bond with all the inherent dangers of service to the void? I'd probably prefer to grab a mistspren and gain one power and no restrictive rules or crappy deal with Rayse. Since it's a higher level spren I'd likely have much of the same power output as the other options.  We've seen the burdens these bonds place on those bonded, there must be a reason the ancients chose it. 

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