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What changed and what didn't with Honor's death


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There's still a lot we don't know about just how Honor came to kick the bucket.

We know roughly when he died (shortly after the False Desolation, the imprisonment of BAM, and the Recreance, although Shard deaths are lenghty affairs).

And we have some semblance of the state he was in leading up to his death: he was losing his mind; he was obsessed with oaths themselves more so than the meaning behind oaths; and he may have been changing in some unspecified way (per the Skybreaker who left a smokestone in the Urithiru gem archive).

But what were the larger impacts? What changed and what didn't in the Rosharan system as a result of his death? I've tried to compile a list of both below.



1. Removal of boundaries on the definition of Honor

A couple of times in RoW, we're told that Honor once had a hand in defining the concept of honor, but that with him gone, humans and spren define honor for themselves.

Syl in RoW 21:


“Be careful, Adolin,” she said, flitting up into the air. “My kind aren’t like highspren – we don’t look to laws, but to morality, as our guide.”

“That’s good, isn’t it?” Adolin said.

“It is … unless you happen to disagree with their interpretation or morality. My kind can be very difficult to persuade with logic, because for us … well, what we feel can often be more important to us than what we think. We’re spren of honor, but remember, honor is – even to us – what humans and spren define it to be. Particularly with our god dead.

Blended in RoW 78:


“Men define honor,” Blended said. “And no god can enforce it, no longer. Beyond that, spren like us are not mindless things. Our will is strong. Our perceptions mold our definitions of concepts such as honor and right and wrong. Just as with humans.”

“You’re saying that what they perceive as honorable might not be what I perceive as honorable. Syl warned me as much.”

“Yes,” she said. “What they are defines honor to them. Whatever they are.”

“That’s … frightening,” Adolin admitted.

2. Removal of Honor's limitations on the powers of Bondsmiths

We also learn in RoW that after humans had destroyed Ashyn via Surgebinding, Honor placed limits on the powers of Bondsmiths. But with Honor gone, those limitations appear to be gone as well.

RoW 66 (the SF discussing Dalinar's ability to see lines of Connection):


Dalinar touched his finger to the young soldier’s forehead, then closed his eyes and concentrated.

He could see something extending from the soldier, radiating into the darkness. Pure white lines, thin as a hair. Some moved, though one end remained affixed to the central point: the place where Dalinar’s finger touched the soldier’s skin.

“I see them,” he whispered. “Finally.”

The Stormfather rumbled in the back of his mind. I was not certain it could be done, he said. The power of Bondsmiths was tempered by Honor, for the good of all. Ever since the destruction of Ashyn.

“How did you know about this ability?” Dalinar said, eyes still closed.

I heard it described before I fully lived. Melishi saw those lines.

“The last Bondsmith,” Dalinar said. “Before the Recreance.”

The same. Honor was dying, possibly mad.

This quote is also interesting in that it gives us a little insight into the timing of when the Stormfather began to "fully live." I had once thought it might have been earlier than this given what we learned in OB about Honor transferring responsibility for making honorspren to the Stormfather. But as late as the time of Melishi (and Melishi when Honor was dying, no less) the Stormfather still was not fully alive. I guess he didn't fully live until he absorbed Honor's cognitive shadow?

RoW 111:


Are you all right? He asked the Stormfather.

Yes. He tried to steal our bond. It should not be possible, but Honor no longer lives to enforce his laws …

Later in the same chapter:


Ordinarily Stormlight would have perked them up, but they complained of headaches their powers couldn’t heal.

The effects shouldn’t be permanent, the Stormfather said. But I cannot say for certain. Ishar Connected them to the ground. Essentially, their powers saw the stones as part of their body – and so tried to fill the ground with Stormlight as it fills their veins.

I can barely make sense of what you said, Dalinar replied, hanging in the sky far above Ishar’s camp. How are such things possible?

The power of a Bondsmith are the powers of creation, the Stormfather said. The powers of gods, including the ability to link souls. Always before, Honor was there to guard this power, to limit it.

3. Removal of checks on the powers of Knights Radiant more generally

While the SF mainly spoke of Honor placing limits on the powers of Bondsmiths, several other characters - none of them completely reliable - suggest that with Honor dead, any Radiant bonds (not just Bondsmiths) are potentially dangerous. (I think this may actually be related to number 1 above. As I explain in the conclusion at the end of the post, if humans and spren could define for themselves the meaning of their oaths and what was honorable, then the oath-based system to control the powers granted by the spren starts to fall apart).

Here's Nale in OB 106:


“I worked for thousands of years to prevent another Desolation,” Nin continued. “Ishar warned me of the danger. Now that Honor is dead, other Radiants might upset the balance of the Oathpact. Might undermine certain … measures we took, and give an opening to the enemy.”

How would Radiants upset the balance of the Oathpact? What measures is he talking about? There's either something really juicy here or he's just full of crem (which is totally possible considering this comes from Ishar).

Now, here's Notum in OB 108:


“You think we’re too changeable, don’t you? That we can’t keep our oaths.”

“I’m no highspren,” the captain spat. “I can see that the variety of humankind is what gives you strength. Your ability to change your minds, to go against what you once thought, can be a great advantage. But your bond is dangerous, without Honor. There will not be enough checks upon your power – you risk disaster.”

But again, the honorspren don't seem to have a great understanding of what went down with the Recreance and Honor's death. So who knows how accurate this is.

4. Changes to the Stormfather

As mentioned above, it seems that one of the immediate effects of Honor's death was the Stormfather taking up Honor's remnants, merging with his Cognitive Shadow, and coming fully alive.

Here's the SF in WoR 82 the first time he really talks to Dalinar:


“I am the one left behind,” the voice said. It wasn’t exactly as he’d heard it in the visions; this voice had a depth to it. A density. “I am the sliver of Him that remains. I saw His corpse, saw Him die when Odium murdered Him. And I … I fled. To continue as I always have. The piece of God left in this world, the winds that men must feel.”

Here's the SF discussing the vision of Aharietiam in OB 38:


“Earlier, I fought against humans,” Dalinar said.

They were recruited to the other side, the Stormfather said. I think.

“You think?” Dalinar demanded.

During these days, Honor still lived. I was not yet fully myself. More of a storm. Less interested in men. His death changed me. My memory of that time is difficult to explain.

Here's R-Odium noting that Dalinar is connected to the remnants of a god in OB 57:


“You have been placed in a difficult position, my son,” Odium said. “You are the first to bond the Stormfather in his current state. Did you know that? You are deeply connected to the remnants of a god.”

Later in the same chapter, R-Odium phrases it a little differently:


Odium turned to him so sharply that Dalinar jumped. “Is that,” Odium said quietly, “an offer to release me from my bonds, coming from the man holding the remnants of Honor’s name and power?”

Here's Notum in RoW 30 explaining what some honorspren say about how Honor's death changed the Stormfather:


“The Stormfather,” Notum said, “won’t be of much help to you. Now that he’s agreed to be bound, the honorspren no longer revere him as they once did. They think he must have been wounded by the death of Honor, and that wound is now manifesting as irrational behavior.”

But again, modern honorspren often don't know what they're talking about.

I'm leaving out some other instances where Dalinar refers to the SF as a remnant of the Almighty becuase he's just repeating what the SF said.

But for good measure, here's a WoB that sheds a little bit of light on how taking up Honor's Cognitive Shadow changed the SF:



Does the spren have to be present for a Surgebinder to have their abilities? Because with Dalinar, the Stormfather won’t be around all the time...

Brandon Sanderson

Good Question! Fortunately, the Stormfather is a little more omnipresent. Normally you’re gonna have to have your spren close, but the Stormfather absorbed... is basically Honor’s Cognitive Shadow, which means he’s got a connection to a lot of different things, so he’s not bound by a lot of the rules that others are.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing (Oct. 9, 2015)

5. Odium was wounded

Two things to consider here. The first is this WoB, indicating that Honor went out swinging:

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it... so, Odium came at him, and he gave - not as good as he got - but he made it cost.


Did he sacrifice himself, or is Odium better at that sort of thing?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't say that he sacrificed himself, I'd say he went out swinging.

Oathbringer San Diego signing (Nov. 14, 2017)

The other is one of the things T-Odium realizes shortly after Ascending in RoW 114:


He saw that his predecessor had been sliding toward oblivion for a long, long time. Weakened by his battles in the past, then deeply wounded by Honor, this being had been enslaved by the power.

6. Urithiru ceased functioning because the Sibling couldn't hear Honor's tone

Although it seems that the imprisonment of Ba-Ado-Mishram was what initially caused the Sibling to lose the ability to hear the pure tones, Honor's madness and subsequent death rendered him unable to help them to find his tone again. From RoW 49:


I have … been wounded. Thousands of years ago, something happened that changed the singers. It hurt me too.

Navani covered her shock. “You’re speaking of the binding of that Unmade, which made the singers lose their forms?”

Yes. That terrible act touched the souls of all who belong to Roshar. Spren too.

“How have no spren mentioned this?”

I don’t know. But I lost the rhythm of my Light that day. The tower stopped working. My father, Honor, should have been able to help me, but he was losing his mind. And he soon died …

This change was not permanent, however, as Navani was able to sing the tone and help restore functionality to the tower.



1. Odium remains trapped in the Rosharan system

This one isn't explicitly laid out, but we know that the powers of Honor and Cultivation sealed Odium in the system (OB 38). And Rayse had a long-game that hinged on getting Dalinar, as the representative of Honor, to release him - so Honor's powers must still be involved in some way with continuing to seal Odium. Or, at the very least, someone holding the remnants of Honor's powers can agree to release Odium.

(I'm assuming here that Odium was chained to the system prior to Honor's death; if it turns out that it was something about Honor's death that caused Odium to be chained, then this would obviously belong above with the list of things that did change).

2. The power of Honor still binds things together

Raboniel points this out in RoW 31 when talking to Venli about the Surges and why the singers worship Odium rather than Honor or Cultivation:


“Yes, Surges are bound by Honor. Yet as you can see, his death did not change the world in any appreciable manner. His power binds all things together, but this alone is not worthy of worship. Odium … Passion … he will grant rewards.

Surges gonna Surge.

3. Honor's power still fuels the Radiants

This one is kinda obvious, but I mention it because, on two seperate occasions, two different Heavenly Ones express what seems to be some surprise at this.

Here's Rine talking to Venli in OB Interlude 7:


“We should bring them human slaves, Ancient One,” Venli said to Subservience. “I fear that there is too much land here. If you really want these villages to supply your armies, they’ll need more workers.”

Rine glanced at her. She’d found that if she spoke to him respectfully – and if she spoke in the ancient tongue – her words were less likely to be dismissed.

“There are those among us who agree with you, child,” Rine said.

“You do not?”

“No. We will need to watch the humans constantly. At any moment, any of them could manifest powers from the enemy. We killed him, and yet he fights on through his Surgebinders.”

Note how he suggests that Honor still has has some active role in the fighting - "he fights on."

The other notable thing here is him saying "We killed him." As far as we know, there had not been any Fused around for several millennia at the time of the False Desolation/Recreance when Honor was ultimately killed. Perhaps he just means "our forces" when he says "we." (This also reminds me of the other, more well-known line, "No, we killed you. WE KILLED YOU!" But I don't think there's necessarily any connection)

And here's Leshwi in RoW 53, remarking on how Kaladin continues to fight:


“Honor propels him,” Leshwi said, “even now. Even after his god’s death. This is excellent news, Venli, You did well to break protocol to bring me this.”

Note how, as with Rine, above, she suggests that Honor has some active role in powering Radiants.

4. Speculative - Nale thinks Honor's power should still be able to prevent Dalinar's bond

As noted, this one is speculative (and I know we're not supposed to trust the Heralds), but I wanted to include it because Nale seems pretty certain that notwithstanding Honor's death, Honor ought to prevent what he views as a non-righteous bond. From RoW 47:


“How are you a Bondsmith?” Nale asked Dalinar. “You should not exist, Blackthorn. Your cause is not righteous. You should be denied the true Surges of Honor.”

“Perhaps it is a sign that you are wrong, Nalan,” Dalinar said. “Perhaps our cause is righteous.”

“No,” Nale said. “Other Radiants can lie to themselves and their spren. So-called honorspren prove that morality is shaped by their perceptions. You should be different. Honor should not allow this bonding.”

“Honor is dead,” Dalinar said.

“And yet,” Nale said, “Honor still should prevent this. Prevent you.” He looked Dalinar up and down. “No Shardblade. Fair enough.”

5. Honor still lives in the hearts of his children

I don't think a discussion of the impacts of Honor's death would be complete without a mention of how Honor supposedly still lives on in the hearts of his children. Here's a sampling of places where this idea crops up:

  • Syl: “He is [dead],” Syl said. “But he lives on in men. And in me.” (WoR 41)
  • Syl again: "You called for me. Or, no, I knew that you would someday call for me. So I transferred to the Physical Realm, trusting that the honor of men lived, unlike what my father always said.” (OB 91)
  • Godeke the Edgedancer, and former ardent, with a revisionist view on Vorinism: "Remember though, the church taught that we are all aspects of the Almighty – that He lives in us. As He lived in the being called Honor, who was tasked with protecting men." (RoW 22)
  • Notum: "Honor is not dead so long as he lives in the hearts of men!" (RoW 87)
  • Navani: “Honor is not …dead. He lives inside the hearts … of his children…” (RoW 110)
  • Unnamed cultivationspren from the Celebrant dock registrar's office suggesting that there were some spren who expected that honor would return to men: “Oh, glorious day. Glorious! We have waited so long for the honor of men to return!” (OB 102)
  • Teft upon realizing that Kal had sucked in Stormlight: "Almighty, cast from heaven to dwell in our hearts ... It is true." (WoK 38)



So, those are the main things I came up with. I'm probably missing some, so feel free to chime in.

As I look over the things that changed, the biggest impact is probably the removal of Honor's limitations on Surgebinding powers. I've come to suspect that the reason Honor ranted about how the Radiants would destroy Roshar like they did Ashyn, was because he knew he was dying and that the limitations he had placed on Surgebinding powers would fall away when he died. The removal of the limitations on the definition of honor may have been a big deal too becuase it would potentially upend the oath-based system put in place to control the powers granted by the spren if the spren and humans can define honor as they saw fit. (Indeed, I think that may have been the crux of the dispute between the Windrunners and the Skybreakers) Looking at it this way, I begin to see the Recreance in a new light.

When you consider that:

  • Honor had placed limits on Surgebinding powers and only planned to grant the Heralds Surgebinding abilities;
  • the spren surprised Honor and granted Surgebinding to a much larger number of people;
  • the Heralds had abandoned the Oathpact and their roles as leaders of the KR;
  • with Honor's death the limtiations he had placed on the Surges would fall away; and the protections of oaths on the Surgebinding powers of Radiants could fall away because humans and spren could define oaths and honor for themselves; and
  • unbound Surgebinding has the potential to destroy the world

then I guess the Recreance starts to make a little bit more sense.

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I also assume that Honor's Perpendicularity was static and didn't pop in and out of existence at random places when he lived.

What we know about the limiting of Surgebinging indicates that Honor(or some part of him) had to actively regulate Surgebinding. 



Can a Shard just--like, say someone is using their magic system--can they stop the power from them being able to use it?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's a bit like stopping the laws of physics. So, while they can circumvent laws of physics and things like that, but if you wanted to stop someone from using magic, smiting them would be the efficient way of making that happen, if you are capable of it in the system.

Skyward Seattle signing (Nov. 10, 2018)

What this tells me is that Honor couldn't just prevent people from Surgebinding. Once they figured out how to get access to Surges, the only options he had left were to raise the bar for becoming a Surgebinder and limit the power of Surges. Makes me wonder if Surgebinding on Ashyn worked more like Allomancy, where Investiture is supplied directly from the Shard in the Spiritual Realm and not from its physical manifestation. 

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