Dec 3 2013 1:00pm

The Stormlight Grimoire, Part 3: So You Want to Be a Windrunner

In the last installment of the Stormlight Grimoire—my in-depth exploration of the many magical systems at work in Brandon Sanderson’s epic saga The Stormlight Archive—I compiled all the information I could get my hands on about Surgebinders and the Knights Radiant, paying special attention to the Windrunners. This week, however, I want to go even deeper. The Way of Kings’ primary plot arc follows Kaladin’s transformation into a Windrunner, so we’ve theoretically seen every step in that process. I’m going to carefully study the conditions of his transformation, especially his exposure to the highstorm, and see if I can sketch out what it takes to become a Windrunner. This article, like every article in the Stormlight Grimoire, will contain heavy spoilers for The Way of Kings.

Over the course of this inquiry, I’ll be keeping a careful eye out for the attributes associated with Jes, the first ordinal number and the one that I believe is most strongly associated with the Windrunners. Those elements are: Sapphire and the color blue, zephyr and wind, inhalation, translucent gas and air, and the qualities of protecting and leading others. All of these elements are apparently associated with the Herald Jezrien.

Words of Radiance Brandon Sanderson US cover Tor BooksBefore the Storm:

We know that Syl was watching Kaladin long before she first appeared to him, especially during his time in Amaram’s army. From this I think it’s reasonable to conclude that his actions during this time are relevant to his eventual destiny. At many points before the storm Kaladin displayed minor capacities for various Lashings, some instinctive inhalation of Stormlight, and innate battle prowess. So, the question we have to ask is, how did Kaladin draw the attention of Sylphrena and set himself on the path of the Windrunners.

The turning point in Kaladin’s life was when he decided to join the army, not to seek glory, but in order to protect his younger brother, Tien. From that point on he made it his mission to protect the men he served with and those who came under his command. He embodied the divine attributes of protecting and leading in countless ways and on countless occasions.

We see Kaladin fight in the first chapter, and the visual effects in that battle are interesting: “He spun between the last two, his spear a blur, wielding it like a quarterstaff. For a moment, Cenn thought he could see something surrounding the squadleader. A warping of the air, like the wind itself become visible.” This is an imperfect preview of the incredible display of Kaladin’s power and skill in the final chapters of The Way of Kings, and it shows that Syl must have been watching then. She was certainly watching when Kaladin refused the Shardblade he had won.

This, I believe, was the next major step on Kaladin’s path. Sylphrena hates shardblades. She says they feel wrong to her, and that not having one makes a man better. And Kaladin, even without any factual knowledge, came to agree with her. After watching Shardbearers effortlessly slaughter his men, he grew filled with disgust for those inhuman weapons. And, after saving Brightlord Amaram and being offered both Plate and Blade, he turned them down, asking that they instead go to empower his soldiers. We know this is a central moment in Kaladin’s early magical development by Word of Brandon.

From that point on, Syl paid special attention to Kaladin, and the two eventually developed a friendly relationship. This connection empowered Kaladin and restored Sylphrena’s mind, and the two maintained an active dialogue about the nature of honor and responsibility.  This bond of mutual reliance and respect culminated when Kaladin was sentenced to the mercy of the highstorm.

During the Storm:

Kaladin goes into the highstorm with nothing but the clothes on his back, a single sphere, and Sylphrena. The last thing he did before the storm came was to bet on his own survival for the sake of his men. He promised them that he would survive, knowing that if he did, they would treat it as a miracle. This means that, at the moment he went into danger, he was utterly focused on embodying the protecting and leading attributes. The sphere was a skymark, a bit of sapphire contained in glass. This, too, is related to Jes. The sphere saved his life in the storm: he drained the stormlight that filled it so that his body could heal from its wounds.

Directly before the sphere filled with Stormlight, Kaladin saw a giant face in the storm. He sees it again later, when he first has a highstorm-inspired vision. I believe this face may have been a shattered part of Honor, but whatever it was, it seems very likely that it is the source of Stormlight. Kaladin associates the face with the Stormfather, a figure associated in turn with Jezrien. The Stormlight that blossoms in this moment is described as blazing “with blue fire,” a color that is also associated with Windrunners.

Words of Radiance Brandon Sanderson UK cover GollanczAfter the Storm:

Kaladin began to notice his powers more and more often. He was told the First Ideal of the Knights Radiant, accepted that he was manifesting powers and that he wanted to grow in strength to protect his men, and started actively exploring his abilities. These measured steps forward, however interesting they may be, have less magical significance than his actual moment of transformation. So, let’s examine that.

Kaladin achieved full status as a Windrunner at the battle of the Tower, when he rushed to save Dalinar and his armies from Sadeas’s betrayal. He was spurred to action both by his own principles and by Syl’s discovery that she was, in fact, not a windspren but an honorspren. He led Bridge Four in a full assault on the Parshendi forces, but when his men drew the attention of Parshendi archers, he gathered a massive amount of Stormlight and leapt to their defense. Throughout this sequence, Syl continually pressed him to know the words, as a matter of life and death. At the last moment, he did remember, and spoke the Second Ideal of the Knights Radiant: “I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

Speaking these words unleashed a huge amount of power, transforming Kaladin’s abilities and making him a nearly unstoppable force on the battlefield. The combination of speaking the words and embodying what they mean through action gave him metaphysical force, in that moment. Knowing, understanding, and accepting the purpose of the Windrunners is the final step in becoming one. However, all the things that came before, from refusing the tools of wanton death and being exposed to the highstorm while holding a sapphire, also seem to be essential.

If this seems unbelievably complicated and multi-faceted, that’s because it most definitely is. Some steps might be omitted, but I doubt it. Luckily (or unluckily) for the people of Roshar, we have Nohadon’s word for it that other spren are less picky than honorspren. It might be much easier to join other orders of the Radiants. It’s also significant how many of Kaladin’s moments of trial are mirrored by Dalinar. Both refused Shardblades. Both have had contact with the intelligence in the highstorms. It may be that Dalinar is well on his way to becoming a Windrunner himself.

Carl Engle-Laird is too afraid of hurricanes to be a Windrunner. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Nadine L.
1. travyl
When did Dalinar "refuse" a Shardblade? He gave his up, and the next one might go to Renarin, but so far I haven't read anything to suggest that he himself would "refuse" a Blade.
Other than that, good article.
Carl Engle-Laird
2. CarlEngle-Laird
Yes, "give up" would be a much better phrasing. Thanks!
3. clan91ify
Great discussion on Windrunners. It gave me a lot to think about. I can't wait to learn about the other orders of the Radiants!
Daniel Robertson
4. danr62
The Stormlight that blossoms in this moment is described as blazing “with blue fire,” a color that is also associated with Windrunners.

Is there any other time the color of stormlight in a sphere is described? Is it always blue? Is it usually white or some other color? Does it vary?
Alice Arneson
5. Wetlandernw
Oh, the sweet, delicious ironies. I loved this post, Carl! (Sadly, I can't comment much on my favorite bits, because of the implications. Dude, you are going to LOVE Words of Radiance!) I really appreciated your focus on the various attributes and indicators - color, behavior, character, etc. I've been thinking I should go through with an eye to exactly those kinds of things, but now I don't have to. :) Yay, you!

(Side note: I wonder what one would learn by going through and doing the same kind of focus on what we know of Lightweavers...)

I have a.... curiosity would be the best word, I suppose. Exactly when is a person considered a Windrunner (or Lightweaver, or whatever)? Is Kaladin a Windrunner when he speaks the first Ideal? Was it before that, somehow, when Sylphrena first bonds to him? (for lack of a better descriptor...) Or will he only really be a Windrunner when he has spoken all five Ideals? So far as I know, Brandon has not specified this, so I'm curious. (If he has, I'm sure someone here will know!)

It certainly seems that speaking an Ideal "unlocks a level" as it were - that new abilities open up when he speaks both the first and second. What new abilities/skills/gifts/whatchacallies will be unlocked when he speaks the other three? Anyone want to venture a guess as to what those will be? (Okay, I know what happens when he speaks the third, which leads to some guesses about the fourth and fifth, but those are only guesses.)
Carl Engle-Laird
6. CarlEngle-Laird
Spheres shine light that is the same color as their gemstone, since the light is refracted through the gem, I believe. That's why the diamond broams are so useful in Lirin's surgery: they produce pure white light.
Jordan Hibbits
7. rhandric
I'm not convinced his time in the highstorm was of any major significance to becoming a Windrunner. Yes, it did mark a major milestone for his personal situation, but I think it's a superflous step - in general if not in his specific case. I am, however, interested in seeing him spend another highstorm outside, which, as a Windrunner, might not harm him. Though he might want to wait until he's a full Windrunner, whenever that occurs

Outside of that, great article!
Walker White
8. Walker
It is not a given that Syl hates all shardblades. She hates THOSE shareblades, the once left over from the recreance. As the KR had shardblades of their own, there must be a proper way to obtain them.
Alice Arneson
9. Wetlandernw
danr62 @4 - It's pretty clear throughout the book that the color of the gemstone determines the color of the light it gives off. In the prologue, there are lots of blue stormlight lanterns; at one point, Shallan (IIRC) notes that although diamonds are the least valuable of the stones, they give off the clearest light; at another time, she notes the mixed tones she's getting from using a mixture of gemstones for her lighting, etc. (I can look those up and give you actual quotations, if you like. I'm just being lazy.)

It does make me wonder, though; does Kaladin have any particular affinity for the sapphire spheres? I hadn't noticed, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't consciously note it anywhere; he's just aware of the relative values of the different spheres. Szeth certainly seems to appreciate the blue Stormlight lanterns in the prologue, but I don't know if that's especially because they're blue, or simply because they're Stormlight.
10. AG Rooster
You mention here that when Kaladin was strung up to be "Judged by the Storms" he was constantly draining the clearmark and it was constantly being replenished. I believe we've had Word from Brandon that all gem infusion and evesteture happens in one moment in the storm. The moment where he seems the "Stormfather" So it's more likely that he was just really making the little stormlight that he could get his hands on count.
Dixon Davis
11. KadesSwordElanor
I wonder if it is possible for someone to wield 2 Shardblades. I’m sure someone has asked or it is mentioned in WOK and I forgot.
Daniel Robertson
12. danr62
@6 and 9:

Thanks, you'd think I could remember something like that after reading the book 3 times, right?
13. Jit
I think I remember brandon saying that a person can indeed carry more then one shardblade at a time but it takes another ten hartbaets in sommon each one
Matt Stoumbaugh
14. LazerWulf
@10: It was a Skymark (sapphire), not a Clearmark (diamond), but, yeah, I tend to agree with you. There's no textual evidence that the sphere was "constantly" being recharged and drained. There is a single moment when the sphere bursts with light, then is completely drained by the time Bridge 4 takes him from the roof, and Kal's still in pretty bad shape, not like he would be if he were "constantly" healing himself.

Carl's made this erroneous claim before, and people in the comments have had to correct him, but apparently he hasn't seen those comments.
Carl Engle-Laird
15. CarlEngle-Laird
I'm amending the article to reflect that the sphere was only charged once. It seems quite significant that it filled with light at about the same time that the face appeared in the storm.
Alice Arneson
16. Wetlandernw
LazerWulf @14 - Two comments regarding yours:

One, we don't know for sure (from the book) whether a sphere is charged solely in one burst or whether the charge builds up over time. It could well be that the gem slowly absorbs the Stormlight for some period of time before it reaches a level that breaks the threshold required to actually glow. While Brandon may have clarified this elsewhere, it's not in the book nor in the Coppermind wiki. I personally have tended to believe that it's charged in a burst, but I certainly couldn't present any convincing arguments for it. Unless you can show Word of Brandon evidence, I could make arguments for several mechanisms, and they would all be equally valid. They couldn't all be correct, but they would all be equally supported by the text.

Two, the assumption that Carl "hasn't seen those comments" is patently absurd, given the level of his participation in the discussion. I don't know about you, but if I have read and understood something one way, and thought about it that way for several years, my subconscious assumptions about it don't necessarily change just because someone else happens to be sure I'm wrong. If the arguments were purely circumstantial, or if I didn't interact with them in great detail, or if it were a while ago and a lot has happened since then, I might not be thinking about the fact that someone disagreed last time I mentioned it.
17. Studynot
Love this!

I think it much more likely that Dalinar is on his way to becoming a Stoneward personally!
Kimani Rogers
18. KiManiak
Thanks for the article Carl,

A couple of things:

-Interesting that you brought up zephyr. Zephyr is a light wind/breeze, but also a light breeze blowing from the west. Seeing as how the Highstorms only blow from east to west, I wonder if Zephyr being associated with Windrunners, and with Jezrien, is significant somehow? Or maybe I’m just overthinking it.

-I’m of the mindset that it’s highly unlikely that Kaladin speaking the words of the Second Ideal of the Windrunners is the final step to him becoming one. He has 3 more Ideals to go. I do appreciate Wetlander@5’s questioning of when exactly one would be considered a Windrunner. I’m just skeptical that it would happen after stating Ideal #2.

-I also question whether Dalinar is on his way to becoming a Windrunner. From a somewhat-more “meta” perspective, it would seem kind of redundant and weird for Brandon to introduce 2 of his main characters and have them end up in the same Order. Word of Brandon is that Jasnah, Shallan and Kaladin all are in separate Orders (spoilers: Elsecaller, Lightweaver and Windrunner, respectively; although speculation is that Elhokar also sees the Cryptics in WoK and may share an Order with Shallan). I would be surprised if Brandon decided to place 2 of his 3 main POV characters of the Stormlight Archive’s first novel in the same Order.

Also, Dalinar appears to have visions of the distant past when Highstorms hit, whereas Kaladin had (just one) vision of the present/recent past/recent future. Finally, Dalinar’s action of preventing Elhokar from being crushed by the Chasmfiend by holding up its leg does not appear to be related to any of the 3 lashings of the Windrunners. It is highly likely that Dalinar will find himself in a different Order. Speculation tends to lead toward Stormward, or whatever Ishar’s or Kalak’s Orders is called (Bondsmith or whatever).

-Finally, are we sure that the sphere was constantly being recharged during the Highstorm? It appears in reading the passage again that Kaladin only makes note of the sphere being recharged (“flaring with a sapphire glow”) after Kaladin sees the enormous inhuman face during the calm of the storm. It’s likely that the sphere was just charged that once.

(Edit: I really need to refresh the page throughout the day more often. I see AG Rooster@10 and LazerWulf@14 said this already, so allow me to third them. And Carl’s subsequent change of the article.
In response to Wetlander@16 though, the book does state that the sphere suddenly bursts into life in Kal’s hand, right after he sees the face. So we know that the glow is emitted suddenly, but you do raise a good point about the accumulation of the charge. But it happening immediately after Kal sees the huge face is an incredibly big coincidence).

Carl, I know it appears I’m often attacking/criticial-of your theories, but I really do appreciate the theorizing and speculating; working out which aspects are strong and which could be disputed. I really hope you keep this up!
Walker White
19. Walker

Dalinar strikes me as a Stoneward (Taln's order). His temperament seems closest to Taln, and the event at Feverstone Keep suggests that Windrunners and Stonewards are closest to Honor.
Kimani Rogers
20. KiManiak
Walker@19 - re: Stoneward

My feeling is that Dalinar will likely be a Stoneward as well, for various little reasons shown in TWoK, but I admit my feeling isn't strongly supported and I am highly open to the likelihood that I'm wrong.

Could you clarify where you are getting your information regarding Windrunners and Stonewards being closest to Honor during the Feverstone Keep/Day of Recreance vision?

The voice (of Tanavast, it is almost certain) says that those Knights that showed up (Stonewards and Windrunners) "...were the first, and they were also the last." But I don't see a mention of them being closest to Honor.

According to WoB, if you look at the chart of KR orders and surges in the front of the Hardcover, Windrunners would be considered the 1st Order and Stonewards would be the 9th Order, so the voice could mean that the Windrunners are the First (order) and the Stonewards are the Last (order); but that would exclude the 10th Order, the one which is associated with Ishar (of which we still don't know the name).

Or, the voice could mean these were the first and last Knights Radiant to stop being actual Knights Radiant. The passage states that the armored Knights were followed by a number of unarmored people.

So maybe (pure, 100% unfounded speculation on my part) the Stonewards and Windrunners were the first to decide to stop being actual Knights, but were the last to give up their Shardplate and Blades? I don't particularly like that theory, but it could be one way in which the voice's words could be applied.

I eagerly await when we get to that Chapter in the reread; we're only six Chapters out...
Alice Arneson
21. Wetlandernw
Or how about this? They were the first two Orders created, and the last two to abandon their Ideals? Oh, so many ways this could be "true"...
Walker White
22. Walker

There is WOB (cannot currently find source), that some of the KR are influenced by Cultivation more than Honor. The Lift Interlude read by Brandon at signings (from Words of Radiance) heavily suggests this. Lift is an Edgedancer with a cultivation spren.

In addition, while the Orders have numbers, they appear to be cyclical. Each Order has two surges, and it appears that is shares one surge with the one before and the one after. So orders 1 and 10 are adjacent. The Edgedancers (which might be more Cultivation focused) are 4.

This together with Tanavast's words suggest to me that these orders are some of the most closely bound to Honor (and perhaps some of the earliest KR). But that is just personal speculation.
Jeremy Guebert
23. jeremyguebert
Very interesting article.

While I'm not sure the exact process of becoming a Knight Radiant, I do think that it's not complete until the individual in question has said all five of the oaths for their particular order.

To that end, I would submit that Kaladin is not yet a Knight Radiant, but is still a Knight-Radiant-in-training. A Page Radiant, or Squire Radiant, if you will ;)
24. jasuni
Kaladin also spoke the the first ideal before climbing the chasm(ch. 59). Although there are some differences between speaking that ideal and speaking the second ideal (end of chapter 67). There is a voice that spoke into Kaladin's mind right before he spoke the second ideal. I wonder whose voice that is (Honor, perhaps? Maybe the face in the storm?) Also, both times are accompanied by a burst of stormlight (first one falling from the bridge, second one right before landing on the chasm), but I think that this is more likely to be another ability of a windrunner rather than something that accompanies the oaths. Finally, a crack sounds in the air the second time. Also have to question what caused that noise.
Nadine L.
25. travyl
Wetlander @9: Szeth certainly seems to appreciate the blue Stormlight lanterns in the prologue, but I don't know if that's especially because they're blue, or simply because they're Stormlight.
Based on my WoK-only-knowledge POV ;) I'm not sure if Szeth's affinity would help us in the question, wheter Kaladin can sapphire-hold stormlight better than other gems.
Yes Szeth uses the same "sets of powers" as Kaladin, but I thought we agreed that he isn't on the path to become a KR, so his association to "Jes" and its attributes might not be the same as for Kaladin.
Alice Arneson
26. Wetlandernw
travyl @25 - Good point. The fact that Szeth has the same abilities doesn't, in fact, connect him to all the Windrunner attributes. So maybe it's completely irrelevant to Kaladin anyway.
chris reiser
27. halibulu
Can someone clarify for me what exactly (as far as we know) a Stoneward is supposed to be and why Dalinar would best fit with them? I can't recollect any of the facts about what their attributes are.

Also, in regard to the phrasing of Dalinar "rejecting" his shardblade, you could perhaps make the argument that he in fact did reject it on a personal level, if not a physical one, until the end at least. In several of his scenes we see him feel disgust at the wanton slaughter he's committing with it, as though something within him is almost compelling him to cast it into a chasm rather than to go on killing with it, but the need to protect his men supersedes this. Then there's the ditch diggin scene, where we see Dalinar question the nature of the blade and it's applied use. He seems to "reject" that it's just a destructive instrument for killing, and instead searches for ways to turn it into a tool for honorable, constructive achievements.

Now of course you can argue that sure he was rejecting the idea of the common use for shardblades held by his society, but never rejected it enough to refuse to touch one like Kaladin, but then you'd be ignoring that Dalinar has spent a lifetime with Blade in hand, having the idea of nobility through dominant use of it ingrained in him, whereas Kaladin's first introduction to Blades were to see one kill everyone he held dear within the blink of an eye. In that light, it's a lot easier for Kal to reject it than Dalinar.

Sorry for the ramble.
Kimani Rogers
28. KiManiak
Hulibulu@27 -Stonewards (or Stonewardens; I don’t think we have Word of Brandon on what the title of the actual individual Knights would be, just the name of the Order, and I've read them labeled both ways) are the 9th Order of the Knights Radiant. They are associated with the Herald Taln or Talenel or Talenelat or Talenel’Elin stone sinew (he’s been referred to multiple ways as well).

Taln (and by extension, Stonewards) is believed to be associated with the Ninth of the Ten Essences: Talus. Talus is associated with the number Tenat; the Gemstone Topaz; the Body Focus of The Bone; the soulcasting properties of Rock and Stone; the Primary Divine attribute of Dependable; and the Secondary Divine attribute of Resourceful.

The Order of the Stonewards are described as having amber glowing armor when Dalinar sees them in his vision of the Day of Recreance (Chapter 52). By extension, the female Knight that Dalinar sees in his Starfalls vision (Chapter 19) also had Plate that glowed amber, and is therefore almost definitely a Stoneward/warden (The other Knight/s in each situation were Windrunners, with Blue glowing Plate).

As for why Dalinar is the best fit with them, that’s purely a manner of opinion and debate. I like the possibility for reasons that I won’t go into right now; but I freely admit that we don’t have enough information one way or the other to speak with any certainty. Hopefully we'll find out in Words of Radiance.

I hope this helps. And seeing as how I am a major culprit of rambling at times, I gladly support it on these articles.
Alice Arneson
29. Wetlandernw
Rambling FTW!! ;)
KiManiak - yes, you will find out. :P
Adam S.
30. MDNY
Not much to add after all the great comments already in place, just wanted to say thanks for the great article....I could always use some more stormlight writing.
It's clear that Dalinar is on his way to a different order than Kaladin, and I buy everything that's been said above about Taln. It's also clear that Shallan and Elhokar have overlap in their order (both seeing the same spren), but probably they are in adjacent orders. Maybe we'll eventually have 10 different characters falling into all 10 orders (so far Dalinar, Adolin, Shallan, Jasnah, Elhokar....I predict Szeth may become one, and likely Renarin. That leaves 3 more open spots- I'm pulling for Rock!)
What someone wrote about Cultivation being associated with some orders is total news to me...I was thinking that the radiants/spren were associated with honor, and cultivation was totally separate. The only world we've seen with multiple shards was Scadrial, with Ruin and Preservation, and they could not interact at all (they destroyed each other until Sazed was able to use both). I kind of thought that all the shards were separate and couldn't be mixed since adonalsium shattered, but maybe they can-cultivation being involved in the radiants gives our heroes a little more hope, maybe.
Kimani Rogers
31. KiManiak
Wet@29 – Re: rambling – Not fair, if you don’t ramble just a little bit when declaring its victory ;-)

MDNY@30 – re: planet with more than one Shard: Have you had the chance to read Elantris? I don’t know how immersed you are in the extended backstory of Brandon’s cosmere, but Ruin and Preservation are not the only Shards to share a world…
(Actually, Brandon has said (paraphrasing) that Ruin and Preservation had a specific type of relationship that was more about balance. We are not to assume that every Shard has such a perfect opposite/counterpart that it can't safely interact with.
(Edit: I'm trying to embed/post the link but for some reason, it's not working after I finish the edit process.

Address: http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=691#9

Plus, it does not seem necessary that any world with multiple Shards has to have them balance/oppose one another in order for them to coexist; they don't even appear to necessarily have to complement one another. Some other type of relationship between Shards has tended to be involved, though.

Also, Scadrial seemed to have a magic system that I believe was a combination of both Ruin and Preservation.)
32. AlainEsp
Strange that no theories of why/how the Windrunners "run the wind" (fly) showed in this discusion. My particular view involves "bondig" the air to the body. If you bond hrydrogen or simple hot air to your body you can theoretically float and then you can move by varius methods: bonding the air in front of you and "de-bond" the air behind you or compress some air and then expulse it. This is, of course, wild especulation.
Kimani Rogers
33. KiManiak
AlainEsp@32 - re: "flying" - I don't think we've been given enough information about how the magic system works yet to do more than wildy speculate, as of right now. :-)

The easiest answer would be that Windrunners could use the Basic Lashing ability; and lash themselves up, followed by lashing themselves in the direction that they want to travel. In his vision of Starfall (Chapter 19), Dalinar remarked that it appeared the Windrunner "launched into the air, as if falling straight up." This appears somewhat consistent with how a Basic Lashing works (compare it to Szeth lashing the slashed section of the dome to the northwest section of the sky in Interlude 1-6) when sending something into the sky.

Having said all of that, I still think there's more to it. I think it's fair to speculate that having use of the Gravitational Surge and the Atmospheric Pressure Sugre can allow for all kinds of creative ways to propel oneself through the air at fantastic speeds.

Regarding your theory, I'm not sure about the need to bond hydrogen to one's body in order to float when they could just reverse their gravity. (Questions also arise if the bonding process can be that focused to only pick out and bond with hydrogen). Also, I don't believe Windrunners could heat the air around them. That would probably require the Friction or Division Surges. But I could definitely see using the Atmospheric Pressure Surge to affect the air pressure in front of and behind someone, to facilitate decreased wind resistance as well as increase their propulsion/acceleration.

Again, all of this is more wild speculation since we know very little about how their magic system works.

I hope we get a more in-depth explanation of a Windrunner's abilities (and limitations) in Words of Radiance.
34. AlainEsp
@33 I do not like Lashing to fly. When i think why i came to 2 reasons. First is that in all WoK Kaladin never use Lashing. He use very early on the story the bonding but not Lashing. Maybe he need to "bond" to other spren to unlock the Lashing power. I do not see Syl give Kaladin the Lashing power. Speaking of this, how many "bonds" with sprens a person can make? I do not understand why Knight Radiants has only 2 types of power and not more (or less depending of the individual predisposition to powers). The other reason is that as the name Windrunner suggests I was expecting that they manipulate somehow the air.

Maybe the Radiants have a number of different methods to fly and the Windrunner are the best, so the name. One think that came to my mind about Lashing is about Urithiru. I vote to be a skycity and if the Radiants lash half the city upwards then the city can fly. When the Radiants left the city uses all his stormlight and literally fell onto the ground.

To generate hot air Kaladin do not need to hot it herself, he only need a simple nonmagical fire :), but probably is very uncomfortable to fly in a sauna. To bond hydrogen he can make it intuitively (as he do bonding). One thing to note is Radiants pairs. Imagine Shallan and Kaladin. Shallan soulcast surrounded air into hydrogen and then Kaladin bond to they bodies. Make for some romantic scenes i guess. Speaking of that, soulcasting could be devastating: soulcasting enough hydrogen and put a fire and this is a powerful bomb. Better, if you soulcast enough Uranium 235 in a small place you can reach critical mass and begin chained reactions which means a full nuclear bomb. Mmm... if we imagine all that we can add soulcasting hydrogen around the nuclear bomb and we can have a thermonuclear bomb. I think this is too much imagine, but give a good approximation of how capable is the magic system of the Sotrmlight Archive.
David Foster
35. ZenBossanova
I am comfortable with the idea of being able to use lashing to fly, though landing sounds tricky. But the idea of having another spren to help him with his second power... that makes a lot of sense. Then why two powers? Perhaps, one spren associated with Honor and one spren associated with Cultivation.

But Syl will almost certainly be helping Kaladin with Lashing, since that is really just bonding things in unusual ways, which is what an Honor Spren does, bind things.

I have been thinking strongly of a sky city as well, but in my mind the reason that they left it, is because they could no longer do what they needed to to travel there. Perhaps that was one of the cities that Kaladin flew through in his vision, and perhaps there are still people there who are just as cut off from us, as we are from them.
David Foster
36. ZenBossanova
While I still think Urithiru may be a skybourne city, on second thought I don't think Kaladin flew through it, as it appears Szeth was there, now that I look back over it the passage closely.
Kimani Rogers
37. KiManiak
AlainEsp@34: Re: Kaladin, Lashings, Flight, etc –

Just a reminder that actually Kaladin has used Lashings already in The Way of Kings. What your post @34 lists as “bonding” is actually a form of Lashing.

So there are 3 Lashings listed in the Ars Arcanum at the back of the book (and which Carl goes into more detail in Part 2 of his Stormlight Grimoire series).

1. Basic Lashing (Change Gravity)
2. Full Lashing (Bind Objects)
3. Reverse Lashing (Objects Have Own Gravitational Pull)

Kaladin has already clearly demonstrated 2 of them (and it can be debated that he’s even used the third to aid him at times). Carl goes into it in more detail, but here’s a quick summary:

A) The most obvious example is the Reverse Lashing. Kaladin has been using that since he first started running Bridge 4. He would “Reverse Lash” the bridge, which would lead the arrows to hit the bridge, and not him. He also does this with a shield, later on in the book.

B) The next obvious example is the Full Lashing. Kaladin binds rocks to walls multiple times in TWoK. He uses this method to climb the chasm wall when in the Shattered Plains, he demonstrates sticking an object to the wall to fellow bridgemates (Teft specifically, I believe), and he threatens to stick one of his crew to the ceiling in jest near the end of TWoK.

C) I don’t recall us having a clear example of using a Basic Lashing, but it’s possible that he is slightly changing his gravity when he fights the Parshendi at the Tower. This could allow his increased speed and agility. Or that could just be part of the added benefits of being a Surgebinder that’s full of Stormlight.

All that to say, Kaladin has already used Lashings. As for your other theories about multiple sprens, multiple methods of flight, etc: there’s nothing factual as yet to support or reject your theories. I say to keep them coming; it’s fun to discuss.

The multiple spren theory I personally find rather unlikely (Kaladin’s bond with Syl shows that 1 spren may be all that’s necessary to access the 2 Surges associated with the Windrunner Order’s abilities; also there have been sneak peeks of Words of Radiance released that show only one spren aiding it’s Surgebinder in using the 2 Surges associated with another KR Order) due to what we’ve seen so far, but it hasn’t been demonstratively established in the books yet.

I would be intrigued if Brandon showed us individuals who could access all of the abilities (like a full Mistborn in Mistborn), but we’ve seen no proof of that yet. It would be cool, though.
38. AlainEsp
By "bonding" I mean "Full Lashing" as this power works in a different principle that the others (Pressure vs Gravity). Please note that we are not sure how/why the "Reverse Lashing" works (this is the only in the Ars Arcanum that begin with "I believe"). I am more inclined to link the "Reverse Lashing" with changing pressure (so this fall into the category of "bonding").

By "Lashing" I mean "Basic Lashing". Now that I analyze this power it was explained with a Newtonian view of gravity (this is not how gravity works in our Universe). Sanderson here skips "General Relativity", but I am OK with that (this is a fantasy book after all). If Sanderson does not skip "General Relativity" (the writer of the Ars Arcanum works only with partial knowledge) this will generate some good speculation. Gravity works by the mass bending the space around it. Objects are affected by gravity as they follow an "easy path" throw this bended space. Then "Basic Lashing" works by messing up with the space (bend it at will). Messing up with the space potentially gives the ability to travel to other dimensions, so the travel to Shadesmar is straightforward.
David Foster
39. ZenBossanova
Even in real world physics, unless you are working with something that is either moving a significant part of the speed of light, or is extremely massive, then Relativity is not used and Newtonian Gravity is perfectly accurate.

So, while we can have more subtle explanations and possibilities via Einstein, what we actually see most of the time, is just ordinary Newton. ie, what seem like ordinary spren in many cases, could be quite exceptional and different in high-energy cases.

I hope this isn't beating the topic to death!
40. Skinnylipid
I may be missing something here... but I seem to remember Kaladin's eyes glowing amber when teft treats him with stormlight after the highstorm... not blue.

was this a typo? because he definatly has windrunner abilities... but the same amber glowing eyes as the healing radient in Dalinar's vision.

It's the same in my kindle edition of the book and it always struck me as strange.
Zen appears to be confusing the mathematics of Newtonian gravitation with its model as a force. The former remains generally valid, as Zen observed, for the calculation of trajectories on earth and in space. However, it is no longer considered valid to regard gravity as a force. Instead, such trajectories (geodesics) are viewed in relativity theory as a reflection of the warping of spacetime by a massive object. The same would be true if mass is replaced by high energy density. Sanderson can thus use this concept to warp space by directing the highly energetic stormlight appropriately. I don't know that another force such as pressure is required to account for the bonding of other objects to a stormlight infused one. It should be sufficient to have it as a new center of gravity, i.e., high energy density object. The mention of a 'spiritual' bond to earth that is broken in the lashings may just be a way of recognizing and supplanting the ancient Arisototelian concept of gravity as objects 'seeking' their origin. Normally it is earthly (or Rosharian) objects that fall back to the surface of the planet.
I see that I missed a significant point in Sanderson's exposition of the 'full lashing' which binds objects once one has been infused with Stormlight. The strength of the bond is far greater than what one would expect from the 'artificial' gravity. Hence Sanderson suggests air pressure, i.e., creating a vacuum between the objects as the effective bonding force. In any case, Sanderson is known for creating 'rational' and self-consistent magical systems which invites physical type explanations. Merely calling something 'magic' is akin to calling something a miracle for want of an explanation consistent with what we know of the physical world.

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