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(Discussion) Unmade Theories and link to Heralds


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Disclaimer: I'll be citing many things I read in the course of time, but I lack the energy to reference WoBs or other theories, so I apologize if I talk about something that has been confirmed as incorrect!

Hey! First post here :) After finishing Rhythm of War and spoiling myself a lot through many reads of coppermind, I spent this whole year reading through cosmere theories over here and on reddit too. I'm a huge fan of many theories that are around, and one of the things that I'm really curious about is the origin of the unmade.

There are many theories around, some a bit more elaborated than others. There is one linking them to the dawncities (mostly based on what the Sibling said about Raboniel unmaking them) and though I like it, I think it'd be a bit of a stretch (perhaps I'm wrong). There are also many theories linking them to the Heralds but for some reason I don't feel super happy about them either...

However, yesterday I was reading a theory on Ba-Ado-Mishram having a human/singer part called Mishram (because of stuff like how she was called a "highprincess" or how Kalak talks about Mishram in such a coloquial way) and that got me thinking. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but we could say that Heralds more or less are spren, in the sense that they are cognitive shadows and we know they get affected by Roshar's population's conceptions about them (I think this was confirmed on a WoB but I might be wrong). I always assumed the Unmade were originally a spren of high tier like Cusicesh or even higher like the Stormfather or the Nightwatcher, but what if they were actually people, or aspects of people? 

When talking about lesser spren, we know of the nature ones just like flamespren, windspren, etc. and the "emotion" ones like angerspren, joyspren, etc. In this tier we also have creationspren, logicspren and some others that don't really represent emotions but something more like concepts. Then we have the "truespren" or what we could call the radiantspren. I'm not really sure what are they, I think it was confirmed on a WoB that the 9 kinds were created by Honor and Cultivation (though I know spren in general predate the arrival of Honor and Cultivation to Roshar). So, radiantspren might be the cognitive representation of ideals ? I mean, for honorspren that's quite straightforward of the ideal of honor (not as a shard but as a general ideal) but mistspren, cryptics, inkspren, etc. are more hard to tie to a specific ideal, though we could say ALL radiant spren are tied to the ideals represented by the radiant order associated with them.

Relating the last thing to the Heralds, we know there are certain ideals of values tied to each one (creativity and honesty for Shalash for example, I don't recall the other ones). Maybe this ideals used to have a spren of some sort, or maybe the cognitive nature of the Heralds got tied to these values because of how long people associated them. There are many theories around that link the Heralds' madness to their ideals, and there's a WoB confirming their madness is a magical one. What if the unmade are an aspect of the heralds that was taken from them by Odium, causing their madness and also explaining how many of them are mindless and represent specific "bad" things like Ashtermarn or Nergaoul?

There are a couple of problems with this theory. First, we should establish when this happened. I don't know how old the Unmade are, so I'm asking you guys, does this make sense chronologically? In Dalinar's vision fighting the Midnight Essence, the KR already existed but we know the Oathpact and the Heralds predate the KR. My theory would be that Odium unmade the Unmade when the Heralds broke the Oathpact (explaining why there are 9, since Taln didn't break), but I'm not sure when this happened. It could have happened after Honor's death maybe?

There's also another problem: as far as we know, the 10 Heralds are insane. If the unmade were part of the 9 that stayed, Taln shouldn't be insane, but he is. We could say he is insane because he was tortured alone for 4500 years with no rest, but he regained clarity along with Ash in Thaylen City's battle, so probably his madness is magical too.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text and let me hear what you think!

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It's far more likely that the Unmade were simply powerful spren. We know Roshar had spren before Odium, Honor or Cultivation's arrival. They were created alongside the world by Adonalsium. Odium probably just Corrupted them. There is an idea that like the Heralds, the Unmade might've been from Ashyn originally but Ba-Ado-Mishram seems to have been an important spren of Roshar, so it seems more likely that the others are as well.

Unmade having been people... or pieces of people isn't impossible but we've been told that there's no one to one correlation between the Unmade and the Orders, which there probably would've been if they were originally Cognitive pieces of the Heralds. Why would Odium transform them to the Unmade, that's a not insignificant expenditure of Investiture? He might've taken pieces off the Heralds if he was given the chance to but why bother turning those pieces into powerful spren? And if he didn't turn them into powerful spren then how would they have become so?

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You're probably right... though I honestly feel it'd be weird if those unmade were specifically 9 powerful spren that we know nothing about yet, does it make sense? I feel like Brandon has presented most of the clues now and yes, there's a lot we know nothing about yet, but I don't think something so important and so recurring like the Unmade are gonna be 9 new spren we knew nothing about until 5th book or even later.

Apparently, from what Syl mentions about how Honor created the true spren, there were no sapient spren before Honor and Cultivation. We know the storms predate the shards, but are we sure the stormfather was sapient before being invested by Honor? I guess the nightwatcher was totally created by Cultivation but we don't know that yet. I'm just thinking out loud, it feels weirdly off that the unmade are 9 spren unrelated to anything we already know. What do you think? do you have any theory or like a particular theory of the ones that are around?

You're right there is no relation between the Unmade and the Orders, but technically the Heralds predate the Orders (though I know each Order has a Herald patron, so the link exists). Also, what I linked the Unmade to, was to the Heralds and the ideals they "embodied" if that makes sense. Are those ideals of the Orders too?

I agree that Odium would never want to expend too much Investiture and would always go for the corrupt route, but I'm not sure how "expensive" would it be to take the Unmade off the Heralds. What I proposed (I think it wasnt clear in my last text, sorry about that) is that since the Heralds ARE spren, they could have been "split" or something like that, being that part that was taken off them, the Unmade. I think that breaking the oathpact and/or the death of Honor was something involved in that splitting, and Odium could just have taken advantage of that and corrupted that broken part of each Herald. He would win powerful spren to do his bidding but also would "corrupt" the Heralds, leaving them quite useless as they are now.

I still feel there are many loose ends to what I said though. I'd love to hear other theories on this matter!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/18/2021 at 6:37 PM, CultivationSpawn said:

are we sure the stormfather was sapient before being invested by Honor?

Honestly, might not've been. He keeps referring to himself as "not fully alive" and "just a wind" before Honor started messing with him shortly before the False Desolation. Perhaps even up to that point he wasn't fully sapient, or perhaps in the distant past wasn't and Honor just messed with him multiple times.

On 9/18/2021 at 6:37 PM, CultivationSpawn said:

I guess the nightwatcher was totally created by Cultivation

Maybe, but Brandon has insisted the SF and NW are parallels to the point that answering whether the NW predates the Shattering would be a spoiler for Stormfather reveals, so I think it's more likely that she's been in a similar boat to the SF most of the time, and that Wyndle mentioning Culti "creating" her refers more to changing her in the way Honor changed the Stormfather towards his end, making her actually alive. After all, spren are concepts, so defining when they were "created" is... complicated, either way.

On 9/18/2021 at 6:37 PM, CultivationSpawn said:

the Heralds and the ideals they "embodied" if that makes sense. Are those ideals of the Orders too?

I think it's pretty likely. The Divine Attributes of the Heralds all seem to line up with the Radiants of the orders pretty well, and the Honorblades are similar enough to the spren that ten types of spren could work out how to each imitate one of the Honorblades. (Plus, Honor is... Honor, he probably would want to pick people who exemplified the ideals associated with the Essences and Surges for the symbolism, and that probably affected the Heralds when they got CSified.)

On 9/18/2021 at 6:37 PM, CultivationSpawn said:

I think that breaking the oathpact and/or the death of Honor was something involved in that splitting

Timeline doesn't really work out here, unfortunately. We know the Unmade existed during the Desolations (Midnight Essence is in the Starfalls vision, and Yelig-nar is mentioned by Nohadon). As for Honor, he didn't fully die and get Splintered until shortly after the False Desolation, by which time the Unmade definitely existed. It's an interesting idea if not for that, though!

On 9/18/2021 at 6:37 PM, CultivationSpawn said:

I'd love to hear other theories on this matter!

My personal opinion is that the Unmade probably have a few different origins:

  • Ba-Ado-Mishram seems likely to have been a Sibling-esque spren, going off the breakdown of her name (have I really not made a proper post about it? anyway, can find my theory on the name here... though the table might break if you're on mobile, can be a pain sometimes)
  • Yelig-nar's user grows carapace, a gemheart, etc, and Yelig-nar is intelligent and looks person-sized in the Cognitive (as well as requiring a host in the Physical to do anything), so perhaps he's basically an omega-Fused: a singer soul twisted even further to grant all the Surges.
  • Sja-anat looks like a human woman wearing archaic clothing, when not in her weird shadowy form, so perhaps she was a human in the distant past who got warped and twisted as well
  • Shallan speculates, after seeing Re-Shephir's soul, that it feels almost like her curiosity about humanity is like she's trying to regain something she lost, so perhaps she was a singer or human in the past too. Though, Shallan also says that she's "like a creationspren. Only so, so wrong", so perhaps either the soul has been messed with to be creationspren-like, or Re-Shephir is some abomination made from both a human/singer and creationspren combined.
    • This might apply to the above two as well: Sja-anat says "it wasn’t that she had a foot in each realm; more, she was like two entities that shared a mind" about the nature of her being in both Realms, so perhaps Sja-anat is also some monstrous combination of spren and human.
  • Nergaoul seems basically mindless beyond its Intent. Additionally, Jasnah's notes say "most were not considered individuals, but instead personifications of kinds of destruction", and the Diagram says "Many are mindless. Like the spren of human emotions, only much more nasty." In that case, maybe Nergaoul and the other mindless ones are pretty much just normal spren of Odious concepts like the thrill of battle, but super juiced up.


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