Jul 10 2014 12:00pm

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 4

Brandon Sanderson Words of Radiance reread Stormlight Archive Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on! Please come along with me as we follow Dalinar on a magical journey through the lands of yesteryear.

In Chapter 4: Taker of Secrets, Dalinar enacts Navani’s scholarly plan to decode the Almighty’s voicemails, he dreams about chasing a face through a lake (Lakeface?), Navani asks again about when they’re finally going to move in together, and Dalinar sees the writing on the wall. I’m not sorry about that pun. No one makes me feel my own remorse.


Words of Radiance Arch Chapter 4 Taker of Secrets

Chapter 4: Taker of Secrets

Point of View: Dalinar
Setting: The Purelake-that-Was, Dalinar’s Chambers
Symbology: Kholin Glyphpair, Ishar

IN WHICH Dalinar receives a vision of running through water; he dictates his experiences; a squad hunts spren on the Purelake; a Radiant is seen in glowing armor; Lakeface is introduced, and Sja-anat invoked; a Thunderclast rises; hammers are in order; the Almighty expresses befuddlement regarding Radiants; Dalinar vows to refound the lost orders; Dalinar wakes, and he and Navani take notes; theology and morality are brought into the question of whether Navani can move in yet; spoiled children must still be brought to task; an ominous message appears on the wall; Kaladin accepts blame which was not given; an ardent possesses many interests; and we are all reminded that the Everstorm comes.


Quote of the Week:

“The Knights Radiant,” the Almighty said, standing up beside Dalinar, watching the knight attack the nightmare beast. “They were a solution, a way to offset the destruction of the Desolations. Ten orders of knights, founded with the purpose of helping men fight, then rebuild.”

Dalinar repeated it, word for word, focused on catching every one and not on thinking about what they meant.

The Almighty turned to him. “I was surprised when these orders arrived. I did not teach my Heralds this. It was the spren—wishing to imitate what I had given men—who made it possible. You will need to refound them. This is your task. Unite them. Create a fortress that can weather the storm. Vex Odium, convince him that he can lose, and appoint a champion. He will take that chance instead of risking defeat again, as he has suffered so often. This is the best advice I can give you.”

Thank you, God, for that clearly-worded action plan. Dalinar, I hope you were taking notes during this week’s meeting, because you have a lot on your plate going forward. We’re going to need a perfect mix of goal-focused and detail-oriented out of you, if you want to rebuild ten lost orders of infamous heretics and perform acts of engineering beyond anything your world has ever seen, all while compelling suboptimal action out of the greatest force for evil in the world, the spirit of hatred personified. Please report in on your progress quarterly.


Chapter 4 is short, but it’s tightly packed with interesting things. What struck me particularly on this readthrough was how Dalinar reconstructs his faith, given the knowledge that the Almighty is dead. While he approaches the whole situation with standard-issue Dalinaric stoicism, he’s actually scrambling. He decides that, because the Almighty is dead, and because He failed to foresee the coming of the Knights Radiant, the Almighty could not have been God. God, as Dalinar constructs Him, must be omniscient and omnipotent. This realignment of faith is rapidly approaching heresy, though. Dalinar believes the Almighty is dead, because the Almighty said so and that guy would know, but he still believes in God, so he is now constructing a new divinity to take the place of his fallen center of worship. Not necessarily a safe move!

Those especially well-versed in Realmatic Theory will know that Dalinar happens to mostly be right. The Almighty was never God. Adonalsium was. BAD NEWS, THOUGH, DALINAR, THAT GOD IS ALSO DEAD.

What’s even more interesting is that, in the midst of that process, Dalinar is rapidly moving towards a morality that is not grounded in divinity. “Something is either right or it’s wrong,” he insists. “The Almighty doesn’t come into it.” Is that your final answer? Because I think you’re going to need to show your work if you want to convince anyone that a secular and purely non-relativistic morality exists. Call me skeptical.

Kaladin is pretty good about calling blame down on his own head. Not the wisest workplace habit, but you can forgive the guy, since he’s only had an actual workplace supervisor for a week.

Oh, also, I guess there’s an Everstorm coming. Maybe we should talk about that.


Sixty-two days, the glyphs read. Death follows.

That’s just… it’s not very many days. Let’s move up your report schedule to once a fortnight, Dalinar, because you only have sixty-two days to get the world’s shit together.


This week we see Lakeface, the lake with a face! Okay, no, this converted riverspren is probably not actually a character on the level of Skyface. There’s a ton of spren-related information in this chapter. First, there’s some terrible thing called Sja-anat that can make spren act strange. Is this one of the Unmade? One of the names of Odium? We just don’t know, but the effects of its touch include erratic behavior and an affinity for Thunderclasts.

Speaking of Thunderclasts, I’m not sure whether to cover them in Sprenspotting or All Creatures Shelled and Feathered. They seem to be giant rock monsters animated by spren for the purposes of shonen combat. Humans get power armor, evil spren get mecha; this seems like a fair fight. I’m 100% onboard with Dalinar’s speculation that Shardblade’s were created to fight Thunderclasts. They’re so good at cutting rocks.

All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:

The Purelake is where the fish are! I like these fish, because they are magic.

Ars Arcanum:

Dalinar gets a chance to study a Radiant in full Plate during this vision, and notes the glowing red light coming from her joints. I wish he’d described the markings on the armor more clearly, but even without that, I think we know what order this Radiant belonged to: “She raised her Shardblade and charged, stepping through the water with uncanny ease, as if it had no purchase on her. Perhaps it was the strength of Shardplate.” Not Shardplate, Dalinar; you just met your first Edgedancer. Like Lift, this Radiant can ignore friction, letting the water pass right over her without being slowed.

Meanwhile, we see further evidence that Radiants shared some degree of their power with the soldiers who fought alongside them. Our Edgedancer friend isn’t the only one who starts glowing when the Thunderclast rises. I think Rock will look quite fetching all lit-up like a Christmas tree.

Heraldic Symbolism:

Ishar is the Herald of Luck, and is associated with Pious and Guiding. Dalinar is definitely being guided in this chapter. It would be hilarious to me if Ishar was invoked in the chapter heading to indicate that the old dude approved of Dalinar’s slapdash theology. Speaking of, I just had a thought. Would anyone be interested in a more extended discussion of Vorin theodicy?


That’s it for this chapter. Next week, Dalinar’s plan to treat a bunch of warlords like spoiled children goes into full effect! I’ll take “things that will definitely go well” for $500, Alex.

Carl Engle-Laird is an editorial assistant at, where he acquires and edits fiction both for the Originals program and for The Imprint. You can follow him on Twitter here. If you ask nicely he might even tell you how to find his Brooklyn Nine-Nine podcast.

Leeland Woodard
1. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers
A few things.

1) This is nitpicky, but we can't really assume that Adonalsium was God. It's entirely possible that Adonalsium was just another, 16x more powerful "shard" (or maybe crystal would be a more appropriate term, assuming that it isn't part of a greater whole).

2) On my first read of this, I assumed that Sja-anat was another name for Odium. On my first re-read, I decided that it's probably the name for one of the Unmade. This being my 2nd re-read, I'm more inclined to go with the 2nd theory. Sja-anat is probably an Unmade, and specifically somehow has the power to turn spren to Odium. It could be that this is our first glimpse into Voidbinding.

3) Actually, I think that the KR that we saw was more likely a Dustbringer. The red glow indicates the liklihood of ruby being the gemstone associated, and Dustbringers have the surges Division and Abrasion. Getting through the water quickly could easily be an effect of the Division surge. The edgedancer gem is diamond, so I don't see there being red light associated with them.

4) I'd also say that Ishar is the heraldic symbol here because Dalinar is on the way to becoming a Bondsmith, and Ishar is the herald of that order. In addition, the tasks that the Almighty is giving Dalinar here really seem like they're directed at a Bondsmith in particular--he's telling him to bring the KR together, and to unite them. There's also the liklihood (not sure if it was confirmed or not) that the visions have to do specifically with Dalinar's proto-bondsmith status.
Anneke van Staden
1. QueenofDreams
I like that Dalinar's new idea of morality ties in so well with Jasnah's. He echoes (pretty much word for word) her argument with Taravangian in tWoK. The Radiant in his vision could potentially be a dustbringer as well surely? IIRC they share the Friction surge with the Edgedancers.
Glen V
2. Ways
Two #1 comments, isn't that odd.

Good points all.

The surge shared by Edgedancers and Dustbringers (Releasers) was originally called Friction, but Abrasion is the more-accepted name now. I see the relationship, however, those "forces" are not identical by any stretch. I think I like Friction (or lack thereof) better, based on what we have seen so far. We'll see how this plays out.
Leeland Woodard
3. TheKingOfCarrotFlowers

I think that somehow myself and QueenofDreams must've submitted at exactly the same time.

I hit submit, and the page reloaded with me as the first #1, then QueenofDreams also as #1 right below me. Interesting.
andrew smith
4. sillyslovene
Huh, hadn't noticed that the 'unite them' in this section comes in discussion of the spren, the knights, and mankind. Maybe the Almighty at different times in different visions is telling Dalinar to unite different things, or placing greater emphasis on different aspects of the things he needs to unite. Perhaps here it is meant as unite mankind and the spren, while at other times it is more unite the knights or human kind in general. Then again, all of those things are wrapped up together in the way that humans are supposed to combat the desolations...maybe it is just his level of emphasis at different times in different visions. This vision seems much more focused on spren than, say the Feverstone Keep vision (which mainly seems to deal with humans and their schisms/behavior)

If I had the time, I would go find the other times that he tells him to "unite them" and see what the subtext and context are... but I don't, so y'all just get useless speculation from me :P
Andrew Berenson
5. AndrewHB
"The Almighty turned to him. “I was surprised when these orders arrived. I did not teach my Heralds this. It was the spren—wishing to imitate what I had given men—who made it possible.""

Does the reference to "men" in the above quote refer to the 10 Heralds? If so (and I lean toward that line of thinking), why did the Almighty not just say "It was the spren - whishing to imitate what I had given to my Heralds - who made it possible."

If the reference to "men" referred to more than the 10 Heralds, then who were these "men"? (As an aside, I wil assume that men means humans (both male and female) rather than just the male portion of the species.) Will they become a significant class of characters -- "magic users" who were not the Heralds but not the Knights Radiant either (i.e. not part of a symbionic relationship with a spren)? Were there more "special swords" than just the 10 Honorblades? Could these be the dawnblades the text has mentioned?

Thanks for reading my musings,
(aka the musespren)
Kimani Rogers
6. KiManiak
Thanks Carl.

I like the whole “report schedule” thing you have going for Dalinar. But is he supposed to check in once a Earth fortnight (14 days) or a Rosharan fortnight (20 days, I would assume)? A very important distinction… :-)

Carl, I would propose that the Radiant is actually a Releaser/Dustbringer, due to the red Shardplate
(Edit: while writing this I see a number of the previous commenters above me have also stated this. Cool, I'll co-sign on with them).

Friction and Division for the Knights Radiant Naval forces. It would make total sense, and be rather powerful.

Let’s project the usage of the KR orders a little more, shall we: Windrunners for the Airforce (I would have grouped in Skybreakers, but they are most likely MPs what with their fixation with the law). Stonewards could be the Infantry. Hmm… maybe Edgedancers as the Marines? But (based on the limited info we have on surges) I would project a good candidate for the Naval force to be Releasers/Dustbringers.

And we get our first look at squires. Well, technically not our first look as we get to see Bridge 4 in WoK, but this is the first time we see folks helping Radiants emit the Stormlight glow.

Anyway, fun and short chapter.
Carl Engle-Laird
8. CarlEngle-Laird
@1: True, we don't know enough about Adonalsium to make that kind of definitive statement. Thanks to everyone for correcting my Radiant misclassification.

@6: Fortnight = fourteen nights, right?

@7: RAD!!!
Nadine L.
9. travyl
Oh, squires, I agree (now), though in my first read I read just by it. I'm still puzzled though. These soldiers only start to glow, when they fight, probably because they help their Radiant.
I'm likely wrong, because Lopen seems to heal himself while not doing anything remarkably Kaladin-focused.
10. Cyddenid
I love Navani. She comes up with perfectly logical reasons, in this case the 'practicality' of moving in with her brother in law/ boyfriend - for why she should get her own way. She's one of my favourite characters. I wonder ehat her own views on faith are: although she creates the glyph prayer for dalinar at the end of Wok, she doesn't seem overly bothered about the fact Dalinar claims god is dead- in fact using it to her advantage by trying to persuade Dalinar that if God is dead, then His (possible) objections to someone marrying/cohabitating with their late brother's wife are irrelevent and so she can move her things in to Dalinar's palace whenever she pleases.
Jordan Hibbits
11. rhandric
Thanks Carl. (Slight nitpick - you wrote "Take of Secrets" before the cut, but got it right as "Taker of Secrets in the chapter title.)

@many - Agree on the Dustbringer instead of Edgedancer.
@6 - WoB is that Skybreakers are, indeed, most comparable to MPs.
Kimani Rogers
12. KiManiak
Carl@8 - I always thought a fortnight meant 2 weeks. Which is synonymous with 14 days here on Earth (1 week = 7 days), but not so much on Roshar (1 week = 10 days).

But I was just being silly and joshing around anyway; not really trying to nitpick with you about exactly how long a fortnight would be on Roshar. Dalinar reporting every 14 days (instead of 20) gives him the chance to check in one more time before the Everstorm hits the fan. :-)
Paul Rando
13. SerDragonReborn
On page 78:
"Imagine if you were to outline a body on the floor, then watch that body rip itself free from the ground."

I know THE RITHMATHIST isn't a Cosmere novel but nonetheless I love this little tip of the hat. He clever avoided actually using the word 'chalk.'
14. Capt D
I am curious about Renarin and the abilities of his order. He can predict the future? but were told many times throughout the series that predicting the future is supposedly of Odium. Maybe it was some prediction of the future that lead to the Recreance...?
Carl Engle-Laird
15. CarlEngle-Laird
@14 Possibly, although what we're told many times in the series is actually that predicting the future is heretical in Vorinism. I think that might be becuase of the events of the Hierocracy? Not sure.
16. Confutus
When Shallan mets Taln, he has a partly lucid moment and identifies her as "one of Ishar's people". At first, I thought that that that meant that Ishar was the patron of her order of KR, but this didn't quite fit. This was my question for Brandon at a signing, and he explained that it was Ishar who began organizing the Surgebinders into orders of the KR. There is an epigraph that attributes the founding of the KR to Ishar, so it's not a spoilery revelation. Since Dalinar is attempting to refound the KR, that might also account for Ishar's icon here.
Kimani Rogers
17. KiManiak
Capt D@14 - Like Carl alluded to, beware of the source that attributes seeing the future with evil or Odium. As a contrast, during one of Dalinar's Highstorm visions, Honor tells him that Cultivation is capable of seeing the future better than him.

Which means that both Honor and Cultivation have some ability in that area, and it's not just of Odium, if it's even really of Odium at all.
18. JoeH42
"Create a fortress that can weather the storm."
That certainly makes a lot more sense now that we know a lot more about the Everstorm. They'll need a fortress that is protected on more than one front. I'd comment that Uretheru (sp? I listen to the audiobooks) would be an example of a fortress that can weather the storm(s) since I would assume it was built with that being part of the criteria.

The real question is, how often are we going to see an Everstorm collide with a Highstorm? The destruction from THAT happening seems a head a shoulders above the normal level of destruction we get in a storm. I can't think of any way they could survive that without simply being deep underground or very very high up. Kaladin sees whole boulders being thrown into the sky when we see that happening and I don't see how anything man-made could survive that level of destruction even if they somehow used the same technology used in shardplate. The storms last for quite a while and I'm not sure someone in fully charged shardplate would be able to survive a Ever/Highstorm conflux.

@5 I also wonder about what it is that the spren are jealous that the almighty gave to man. I wonder if it isn't something a bit more simple. Think about the differences between spren and humans in the physical realm. I wonder if spren aren't simply envious of our ability to retain our minds/memories/etc. while in this realm as they seem to have trouble with that unless they are bonded to someone like Pattern and Syl. I wouldn't think of that as being an attribute given to man by the Almighty but perhaps the Spren do and perhaps he did. So maybe that comment makes more sense when we think along those lines. Just my thoughts :)
19. JoeH42
Just a little criticism of the overall post. I love having some humor thrown into the situation but I felt like this post was working a little too hard on the humor and not as hard on really discussing the chapter. You've got to balance the two and I felt like it wasn't balanced this time. Just trying to give a little constructive criticism here and if I'm wrong then I'm wrong. I definitely have nothing against some humor but don't let it get in the way of the overall discussion.
20. silvermonarch
@18 re: Urithiru

I find it interesting that Urithiru has the flat face pointed stormward, even though that face has glass windows. This, and the fact that gardens face leeward, indicates that it was built to weather highstorms, not everstorms, despite being rather high up. Hopefully the height does help Dalinar, etc. survive the everstorm as it comes around.

@1 re: Sja-anat

Would turning spren to Odium have something to do with modifying spren bonds? As in, would Sja-anat have similar power to bondsmithing?
Heather LaCroix
21. Bellaberry
Can I just say that I like Rushu. She's pretty funny here and in the fabrial testing chapter. I hope she gets to stay on as one of Dalinar/Davani's scribes. Ooh! Maybe she could get together with Renarin. Speaking of Renarin, where was he while everyone else in the family was checking out his scratches, hmm?
Julian Augustus
22. Alisonwonderland
I still don't see how Renarin could make those scratches on the wall without detection. Maybe he was wearing an invisibility cloak? We see Navani and Dalinar alone in the room during and after his vision. After recording the vision, they engage in a bit of necking, and then Dalinar leaves. Kaladin sticks his head into the room to check that no one else is hiding in there. Dalinar goes to sleep. When he wakes up, still alone in the room, there are scratches on the walls. How? How could Renarin have come into his father's room and made scratches on the wall with no one the wiser, not even Adolin who would surely have noticed that his brother was absent without explanation? Am I missing something?
23. Cazz
@22 Alisonwonderland. Could it have something to do with the Edgedancer-Truthwatcher shared surge of Progression?
Birgit F
24. birgit
I thought Sja-anat was similar to Moelach who causes the Death Rattles and Nergaoul who causes the Thrill. Are they Odium-superspren? Is there an Odium-equivalent of the Stormfather for the Everstorm? If there is, where is it before the Parshendi create the Everstorm?

How could Renarin have come into his father's room and made scratches on the wall with no one the wiser, not even Adolin who would surely have noticed that his brother was absent without explanation?

This happened after the storm. There is no reason why Adolin and Renarin would have to remain in the same room, and the guards are only posted at the entrances of the appartment, not in every room.
Nathan Love
25. n8love
@19 JoeH42
"Just trying to give a little constructive criticism here and if I'm wrong then I'm wrong."
You're wrong.
More puns.
Don't ever apologize for a pun, Carl. If anything, repeat it more forcefully and maybe even explain it, especially when everyone clearly gets it. No sarcasm intended.

Maybe it's because I grew up with siblings to torture, but I will always support more cheeseball humor, especially when the rest of the tone is dry and academic. I laughed loudly, head thrown back and hand on knee, when I read "the writing on the wall". I suppose it's because I could picture my sister rolling her eyes and sighing when I reach for similarly low hanging fruit.

Really, though--keep it erudite and then give them whiplash with more puns, I love it.
Pirmin Schanne
26. Torvald_Nom
@24: I'm not sure about Sja-Anat - I recognize Moelach and Nergaoul as inspired by ancient Near Eastern deities (Moloch and Nergal, respectively), but this one isn't so clear (perhaps Anath?). The style would fit more closely with the Unmade (Yelig-Nar, Re-Shephir, Dai-gonarthis), but these might also be inspired by those pantheons (the latter two possibly being inspired by Resheph and Dagon).
rad miletich
27. radrad
One comment by Dallinar during this vision caught my eye. He notes, while describing the glowing Knight Radiant as having armour similar to Adonlin's armour. Now, unfortunately Adolin has not exhibited any spren bonding traits so far (...though in later chapters there seem to be hints pointing in cetain directions...) and this could be a total coincidence, Adolin is still one of my favourite characters and I'd like to see him bonded to a nice spren... Also, Hammers seem to be the weapon of choice for non shardblade carrying troops. Neat, eh?
rad miletich
28. radrad
Actually, I meant that bit about the hammer being a weapon of choice against a Thunderclast... not for all other circumstances
Adrian Abraham
29. Nazrax
@18 and @20 re: Urithiru and the Everstorm

Everyone seems to know of the coming of the Everstorm; yet when Dalinar is talking to the Stormfather in chapter 89, the Stormfather says "It (the Everstorm) is a new thing, but old of design." If this is the first Everstorm, then it's doubtful that anything has been designed to withstand it.

Then again, in the epilogue, Jasnah tells Wit that she's learned a lot "on the other side" and asks Wit if the storm has come and the parshmen have transformed, as if these are things that have happened before. What surprises her and causes her to exclaim "That's not how it happened in the past" is learning that this time around the storm is what transforms the parshmen.
@26 Torvald, while it might seem to be rather presumptuous, if not hopeless, to guess at the authorial intentions or sources of names, it is still an interesting game. Your guesses at the source of the names Moelach and Nergaoul appear to be well founded since BWS has used Hebrew names and titles in this series including a Biblical brother-sister pair, Yonatan (Jonathan) and Meirav, for a couple attending Elhokar's party. Furthermore, the translation from the Hebrew gives Molech as the name of that horrible deity so that an 'oa' has been added. Similarly 'ou' has been added to Nergal to create Sanderson's 'demon'. I also agree with your guess that Re-Shephir is the Hebrew 'demon' Resheph' in a slight disguise. Carrying this game out further leads to Sja-Anat as a scrambling of Satan with an added 'ja' (remember 'j's in this series appear to be pronounced as 'y's so that 'ja' is also a vowel pair). Then there is Dai-gonarthis which can be unscrambled to 'this dragon' (or is it Sith dragon) with an added 'ai'. Finally, there is Yelig-Nar to deal with. I may well be off-base, but I can unscramble that to Relig-N with an added 'ya' (and missing 'io').
@26 addendum. I shouldn't simply leave my @30 comment as implying some animus to religion by the author. Instead, Yelig-Nar, could possibly be derived from the German for liar, 'lugner' which transliterates as 'ligner' (with an added 'ye').
32. Max Gardner
Are Dustbringers, Edgedancers, Lift, Adonalsium and so on things I should have heard of without reading Sanderson's other books? Are they things from later in Words of Radiance? Because I can't for the life of me remember ever hearing any of them mentioned in Way of Kings or anywhere up to where I'm at in Words of Radiance, and I keep thinking okay, I'm reading the same book, but I have zero idea what anyone is talking about in this re-read.
Ed Freshwater
33. nakafre
IIRC, these terms are only mentioned directly in the SA (Stormlight Archive), so you aren't missing out by not reading his other books.

All of them are mentioned in WoR. Dustbringers and Adonalsium are also mentioned in WoK. Lift is a character in Ch. I-9. Dustbringers and Edgedancers are orders of KR (Knights Radiant). Adonalsium has not been specifically defined but the inference is that it is/was the power of Creation/ God from which the various shards and magic through Sanderson's Cosmere worlds derived.

Also, a lot of the conversation around these comes from info gained through Sanderson's various signings and interviews where he has dropped little hints and given a bit more explanation. If you'd like to look into the Cosmere a bit more, I'd recommend visiting and
June Williams
34. Windspren
What was the spren that Eshonai (excuse my spelling) took on tobecome
the Storm form? She expressed surpise when she seen it was red, could it have been a , sja anat? I had thought an anger spren, 1st read, but she was more than angry, the spren that she took (or took her) pushed her aside and has taken over. Shen when he returned to Dalinars army before the fight starts, still had control of himself, so why did Eshonai's spren act differently? sja anat could be why?
Alice Arneson
35. Wetlandernw
Windspren @34 - Well, this is getting ahead of ourselves quite a bit, but my understanding is that it was a stormspren, triggering stormform for her - which is one of the forms that subjugates the individual will to "the gods." Whether their old gods are Odium specifically, or the Unmade, or... just what, we don't yet know.

Shen returned in warform, one of the already-known forms, and one which leaves the individual with more self-control.
Alice Arneson
36. Wetlandernw
One thing I noticed in this chapter is that it's the first time an epigraph actually has something directly to do with the events in the chapter - although you don't know it until later:
The next clue came on the walls. I did not ignore this sign, but neither did I grasp its full implications.
Well, Navani, neither did we, though we at least had more to go on than you did!
Glen V
37. Ways
silvermonarch @20
"...turning spren to Odium..." Shades of WoT. As in 10x10'd with 10 voidbringers pushing stormlight through 10 unmade? Creepy. ;-)

@22 and 23
How about Truthwatcher's and Lightweaver's shared surge of illumination/light? I'm sure--MHO--Lightweavers can turn themselves invisible or something else close enough to count. Perhaps Truthwatchers also have skillz up that alley.

ETA - But birgit@24 probably has the right of it.

Good catch there, Wetlander.
Julian Augustus
38. Alisonwonderland
@24 birgit, yes, it happened after the storm, but it could only have happened after Navani left Dalinar in the room and he had dozed off. But then, we have to believe that Renarin snuck into the room, made the scratches on the walls, and then what, wasn't aware that he made them? Why didn't he inform his father privately that he might have done it, and instead allowed a huge brouhaha in Dalinar's quarters about how those scratches appeared on the walls?

The explanation hinted at towards the end of the book is that he was scared of being identified as someone with insight into the future, something forbidden by the Vorin church. But I find that explanation dissatisfying, as it means he was wilfully deceiving his father, his brother, his Aunt, Kaladin and his guards, etc., all of whom are anxiously looking for the means by which some unknown entity (potential assassin?) could gain entry into Dalinar's room while he slept and escape undetected. Doesn't compute.
Anneke van Staden
39. QueenofDreams
@38 bear in mind that Dalinar assumes from the very start that HE was the one who wrote on the walls. He also doesn't tell this suspicion to Kaladin or anyone but Navani and his two sons. Renarin is obviously terrified and believes he's cursed because he has knowledge of the future, so I think that's enough of a reason for me.
Adam S.
40. MDNY
It doesn't speak well of Renarin's spren that he appears so clueless about the scratched numbers on the wall. It seems like Syl or even Pattern would have told their proto-radiants if they were making markings unknowingly on the wall. If his actions are totally conscious, then yeah, I don't get why Renarin allows the concern to continue for so long.
Alice Arneson
41. Wetlandernw
IIRC, Brandon also indicated that Renarin is what we would call "on the spectrum" (i.e., autism) and that may play into this question. Part of it is just a slightly different way of seeing or interacting with the world.

I don't know that it's relevant, but it might be.
Alice Arneson
42. Wetlandernw
Warning: I'm baa-aaaack... :D

I liked the clever new twist that Dalinar is now narrating his vision as he goes so that Navani can transcribe it. (Navani’s off-hand comment later, “You do need to speak more slowly when you do this, dearest,” was absolutely priceless. Ever the scholar…!) This was a good touch; it shows that Dalinar has accepted his visions, as has Navani, and they’re now purposefully working together to learn as much as they can from each one. Like it.

Re: Sja-anat... My assumption is that this is one of the Unmade, but only because it fits (more or less) with what little we already know of them. I wants more, I does! There's so little we know of the Unmade, the Ten Fools, the Madnesses... Gah! For every wonderful bunch of answers we get, there are a dozen more questions!

Anyway, back to Sja-anat, I found this quote most interesting: “Once Sja-anat touches a spren, it acts strange.” This would seem to indicate that whatever the spren’s original character, it is subverted by Sja-anat, rather than being a bit of Odium to start with. Of course, not knowing what Sja-anat is in the first place, we’re in the same situation as Dalinar: guessing at what’s happening here and what it means. Still, it makes me wonder whether the spren/forms that make the Listeners part of Team Odium actually originated with Odium, or if they were originally spren of Adonalsium, Honor, or Cultivation, but were somehow twisted to serve Odium. And is it the spren themselves, or is there some effect of these spren-bonds on the Listeners that opens them to Odium?

The thunderclast was cool - and it makes me laugh at myself. It fits perfectly with what little description we'd had before, but it was not at all what I expected it to be. I think I was envisioning an animal of some sort, just made of stone. I wasn't really expecting a humanoid-looking stone skeleton that moves on its own...

Also, why is this chapter titled "Taker of Secrets"?
Glen V
43. Ways
Wetlander @41
Pretty sure I heard (or was told) Peter said that at JCon this year. That makes it WoB, right? Or are we calling it WoP? Because he deserves it.

and @42
It's a bit oblique, but perhaps Taker of Secrets b/c Dalinar is receiving previously undisclosed info from the Almighty.
Alice Arneson
44. Wetlandernw
Ways @43 - Well, I'm pretty sure WoB is that Renarin is on the autism spectrum; whether that had anything to do with his remembering or being willing to tell that he'd written the message, I haven't heard.
Josh Haycock
45. Lopenscousin
Wetlandernw @41 If Renarin is "on the spectrum" would that be healed like his vision with the stormlight, or is it more like Kaladin's slave brand that stays because that is part of how he views himself?
Alice Arneson
46. Wetlandernw
Well, now, that's the $64,000 question, isn't it? Stormlight has healed his vision, and for the first time (at the end of the book) he 'fesses up to what he is (Truthwatcher)... but is that because he's being healed, or because he's seeing others 'fess up to what they are? I think we'll have to wait and see.

Of course, the autism spectrum isn't all bad; some of the world's greatest geniuses are on the spectrum. There's a question as to whether it's something one would even want to be healed of, especially since Renarin doesn't appear to have any developmental delays.
Jordan Hibbits
47. rhandric
@42 (and others): That brings up an interesting thought (re: so-called Odium-spren). Spren, as we know, are Splinters of Shards. We know that on Roshar some are of Honor, some are of Cultivation, and some are of Adonalsium. Originally I assumed (and I assume others did as well) that the red spren, so called Odium-spren, were of Odium - but does Odium really seem the type to make/allow Splinters of himself? Now if on the other hand, Sja-anat can corrupt spren, and cause them to be aligned with that sounds like something Odium would do, doesn't it?
I agree with Wetlandernw vis-a-vis Renarin and autistic spectrum disorders - particularly of such high-functioning individuals. It is not a disease that can be cured since it, apparently, involves a significant rewiring of the brain from a 'normal' configuration. 'Curing' such a situation, if it were possible, would result in a new personality with new thought processes. While Renarin's personality has not been much developed in the Stormlight books thus far - with his sudden revelation as a Radiant coming, seemingly, out of the blue, I doubt that he was the writer of the warning glyphs. While he may have had the opportunity to scratch those marks on the various walls, doors, and floors, he would have used his father's knife to make the last warnings. That means that he would have either been given the knife by his father as a safety measure during the highstorm, or that he surreptitiously entered his father's chamber and lifted the knife in order to make those warnings. In either case, he would have been unnecessarily implicating his father when he, presumably, had his own knife to scratch out the message. That doesn't seem like an action that a dutiful son would do. On the other hand, the warning did come with a remedy, "seek the center". Perhaps it was deemed necessary to save people, with a presumed Dalinar origin being more impactful than the scribblings of a not-well-regarded young man.
Jane Smyth
49. Kaboom
@17 about seeing the future

The way I see this is that in theory all 3 shards could predict the future. The reason Honor was not good at it was because in the near future he was splintered. It seems to me that these shards exist at least partially in all times explaining why they can see the future. But if one is "dead" in the future it then cannot see it, or at least not further than its "death"
Kimani Rogers
50. KiManiak
Kaboom@49 - That is an interesting theory.

Your theory would almost make the Shards have prescience similar to Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen; where the Shards are aware of all that happens during their lifetime and can “predict” their future because to them they are simultaneously aware of their existence both now and then. And/or similar to Paul Muad’Dib’s prescient powers, in that he is able to see the future completely, but that also seems to lock what will happen into place.

Or maybe that’s not what you’re saying, but that’s where my mind went to after hearing your theory.

For what it’s worth, Honor does discuss his prescient abilities and limits, relative to Cultivation in TWoK Chapter 75 (In The Top Room):
“ I cannot see the future completely. Cultivation, she is better at it than I. It’s as if the future is a shattering window. The further you look, the more pieces that window breaks into. The near future can be anticipated, but the distant future…I can only guess.”
I interpret that to mean that Cultivation is naturally better at seeing the future than Honor, period. I don’t think he is linking it to his imminent splintering; the text doesn’t seem to read that way. He appears to state that Cultivation is just better at seeing the future than he is, and she always has been. He can only see so far ahead before it becomes less clear. No mention of Odium’s abilities at all.
Whiteout for Mistborn spoilers:
(I also think Preservation was better at seeing the future than Ruin, but I haven’t read Mistborn in years and could be getting that wrong)
Jeremy Guebert
51. jeremyguebert
@50 - If I recall correctly, the intent of a Shard is a determining factor in how capable they are of seeing the future. Shards like Cultivation or Preservation, which by nature are more concerned with planning and working for the long-term, are inherently better at seeing the future than Shards with more short-term natures (e.g. Honor - acting honourably in the moment, Ruin - wanting to destroy things).
Jeremy Guebert
52. jeremyguebert
Also, on the subject of Adonalsium/God - If your description of God includes God being infinitely powerful, then I would have to conclude that Adonalsium cannot be God. Mathematically, infinity / 16 is still infinity, so if we started at infinitely powerful, then each Shard should also be infinitely powerful as well. Since the Shards we know are demonstrably not infinitely powerful (Honor was killed, several have been splintered, Ruin was out-thought, etc.), then it follows logically that Adonalsium cannot have been infinitely powerful either, which I would claim disqualifies it from being thought of as God.
53. Underbelly
@52 – Yeah, I get what you’re saying but I don’t think it is that simple.

First of all, in a fantasy world with magic we can’t assume that things such as mathematics and logic apply to every circumstance.

Secondly, the breaking of something that is ‘all-powerful’ or as you describe ‘infinitely-powerful’ into sixteenths that are proven to not be infinitely powerful can be easily explained with the Aristotle quote that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” For instance, two people working together can’t simply be explained as being twice as powerful/productive/useful/etc. because depending on how they work together and what they are attempting to accomplish they could be greater than twice or less than twice.

Essentially you are attempting to attribute logic/mathematics/science to two things that defy those methods by their very nature: faith/religion and fantasy/magic.
Glen V
54. Ways
Wet @44
Hold the phone there. Isn't Word of Peter just as good as WoB? (I have no doubt about Renarin being on the autism spectrum.)
Alice Arneson
55. Wetlandernw
Ways @54 - Heh. As far as I'm concerned, they're the same thing - except that WoB during a signing has been known to be off when questions are being fired at him randomly, and I've never known WoP to be less than 100%. I just always figure that WoB is the "author"itative tag. :D
Glen V
56. Ways
Yes. ;-)

ETA - I can't imagine being BWS at a signing event. Wouldn't want that job--having to put up with, er, us. And 200+ us at a time. He does a fantastic job.
Jane Smyth
58. Kaboom
KiManiak @ 50

You did properly get what I was trying to describe about shards but I guess I take that quote the opposite way you do.

“ I cannot see the future completely. Cultivation, she is better at it
than I. It’s as if the future is a shattering window. The further you look, the more pieces that window breaks into. The near future can be anticipated, but the distant future…I can only guess.”

I take the imagery of the "shattering window" as a description of splintering, or at least how Honor would perceive that event in his own future.

But to be sure we would need a discription of how Cultivation perceive viewing the future.
Alice Arneson
59. Wetlandernw
Kaboom - It's a fascinating theory, and I can't dismiss it - primarily because of the similarity in terms. I think it would be a great signing question!
Glen V
60. Ways
rhandric @47
I wouldn't put it past Odium to make a few Splinters if it served his endgame. However, I'd also bet that he'd take the non-power-sapping route whenever possible. So, yeah. We need more info about Odium and the Unmade! We don't even know if Sja-anat is Unmade, IIRC. Seems like the Unmade could be Odium's version of Heralds. RAFO.
Kimani Rogers
61. KiManiak
Kaboom@58 – Ok, glad I was adequately following your initial point and perspective. As soon as I read your post my mind went right to Doc Manhattan, so I wanted to make sure that I was understanding you correctly and not letting my imagination run too far (as it so often does).

Yeah, we do appear to be reading that quote from almost opposite points of view. I agree with Wetlander, I think it would be a great signing question to ask! But, barring any clarification from Brandon or Peter, we’ll probably just have to wait until we find out more about Honor, Cultivation and Odium’s abilities in the novels.

In rereading your post @49, I do want to make the point that I basically agree with your initial point (all 3 Shards could predict the future). I guess we’re just quibbling a bit about whether these 3 particular Shards can each see the future to the same degree/clarity/distance/accuracy given optimal conditions, is that correct?

If so, I would have to ask: Have you read Mistborn? I don’t want to spoil too much of it for you if you have not, but I believe there is evidence in that trilogy that not every Shard of Adonalsium can see the future to the same degree as others; as jeremyguebert@51 states, the Intent of the Shard does impact their powers/abilities. If your theory (the 3 Rosharian Shards see the future to an equal degree when at optimal levels) proves correct, it could raise a number of other questions about the relationship and interaction between these 3 Shards on Roshar, and the resulting balance that was established (maybe the Oathpact even played a role in this).

So many potential questions/theories, which when answered will probably lead to other questions/theories. I love this universe that Brandon has created.
Jane Smyth
62. Kaboom

I have read misborn, but that was before I learned about the cosmere. I did not read it with that kind of stuff in mind. I have to think more about this.
But if I remember correctly in Mistborn, Preservation did somethings to Ruin (hiding the body among others) that may affect its ability.

But yeah, I may be pulling at straws here. You may be right about different levels of ability. Nevertheless that is what went through my mind when I read it because of the choice of words.

Also to clarify I don’t know Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen so I don't know their level of knowledge about the future, but I don’t think that the shards’ knowledge about the future is absolute. That is, they might get some general outlines about the future but not necessarily movie type pictures. That would leave place for interpretation and here some shards may have more skills than other. Despite this I really do think that Honors' ability was hampered by its future splintering.

In any case we'll hopefully learn more in the future.
Glen V
63. Ways
Kaboom @62
Mistborn spoiler alert.
All things Cosmere are fair game here, so I'm not going white, but beware. The short version is that Preservation (Leras) "went liquid" and encapsulated Ruin (Ati) within his mind. So precog skills, if any, may have gone out the window for both of them.
Deana Whitney
64. Braid_Tug
Hello all, quick reminder. We go the "Renarin is in the Autistic spectrum" from Peter at JordanCon. He was nice enough to answer some questions for me.
Full post is at: Wetlandernw's Spoiler Review @953

Many of the questions got a RAFO, but sometimes what is left unanswered gives you a clue.
David Foster
65. ZenBossanova
@53. Underbelly

Yes, actually, I am expecting logic, mathematics and science. That is one thing that Brandon does well, is make a rigorous magic system.

But as you pointed out, these things don't necessarily add up linearly. I expect someone with two shards of Adonalsium, to be more powerful, or to have access to more power, than two separate bearers of shards of Adonalsium. Of course, the intents of the shards can really complicate how those powers are expressed.

I expect, that the only perfect balance (Harmony notwithstanding) is Adonalsium. And that what we don't yet know of the spiritual realm is going to have the biggest impact in the larger Cosmere story.
Adam S.
66. MDNY
@65 ZenBossanova- I agree with everything you said. It begs the question, in my mind, of Hoid/Wit's endgame, as he appears to be collecting bits of each shard we've seen this far in the cosmere, and how relevant that is to the specific events of Roshar...
Jane Smyth
67. Kaboom
I'm fairly new at this cosmere thing, so maybe I miss it somewhere.
I was w0ndering how these shards manisfest themselves physically as it is mentioned often that certain people have a shard (or two).
I keep visualizing them as a piece of broken glass (with aldonasium as the intact glass) although I'm sure that can't be the case.

It probably having to do with how I have learned the word shard when I learned english. I also have this vague image from one of the original Superman movies where there was something that looked like a glass panel floating in space that broke which was a prison-like thing for the bad guys. Sorry but it is from so long ago that the image is not quite clear in my mind.
Adam S.
68. MDNY
@67 Kaboom- Shards have different appearances, and can manifest in the physical, cognitive, and spiritual realms. In mistborn, they appeared both as metals and liquid pools (both Ruin and Preservation), and mist (Preservation) and fog (Ruin). There is also a liquid pool on Sel that appears to be a Shard's physical representation, while the Tears of Egli, a flower, are linked to the same shard. So in short, there are different physical appearances, which may be linked to the strength and realm of the Shard's power- check out Coppermind if you want to read more:
Deana Whitney
69. Braid_Tug
@68: That still leaves the question of how will the Shard's be reunited?

Does, say Hoid, just have to have a small piece of each one, to represent the whole? So if he carries with him vials of liquid from both Ruin & Preservation, then gets physical representation of the three Shards from Roshar, can he combine them to create a 5/16th Shardholder?

Or does each piece of Shard have to be kept separated until all 16 are represented to joined together? Guessing that is a big RAFO, 3-4 book sets from now. We have seven more Shards to learn about, and each world so far has only had 1-3 each.
Jordan Hibbits
70. rhandric
@69 This is where Realmatic Theory, as little as we currently know, is murky. Is it possible to use a minor physical representation (body) of a Shard to take up the Shard? In the cases we've seen (Vin, then Sazed), the new Shardholder pulls in the gaseous form -- associated with the Cognitive aspect of the Shard -- to Ascend.

However, it seems unlikely (and perhaps impossible, given what we know from Mistborn) that someone can take up a Shard that already has a Shardholder - one must kill the Shardholder first, as Odium has done to 3 (known) Shards. Perhaps the Shardholder can willingly transfer the Shard to another holder, though -- Preservation most likely couldn't/didn't because it went against the intent of the Shard, but that may not be true for all Shards. It doesn't seem likely that the pieces Hoid has collected would be sufficient to take up any of the Shards, regardless of the presence of a Shardholder.

However, given that we've seen a single Shardholder hold multiple Shards, that part is easy. Of course, those two Shards are opposites, so might "fit (join?) together" more readily. Keep in mind, however, that the longer one holds a Shard, the more they conform to the Shard's intent, so even if you were to take up multiple Shards, the combined Shardic intent might not align with your own goals. There's a reason Odium has left the Shards he's killed the Shardholder of behind, after all.

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