Everything We Know About the Knight Radiant Orders

Welcome back to another long-winded entry in the Stormlight Archive explainer series! This week, we’ll take a (much too exhaustive!) look at the Knights Radiant: their history and development, as well as the unique aspects of each Order. Dive on in with me!

Warning: This series will contain spoilers for all of The Stormlight Archive published so far, and will occasionally draw on Words of Brandon for supporting information. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers for other series, or to mark them if they really need to be included. I make no promises about the comment section; however, I’d request that if you want to include spoilers in a comment, please try to white-text them or at least tag them as spoilers so people can skip your comment.


Inception and History

Once upon a time, on a planet called Roshar, a god gave ten people swords, the ability to manipulate the forces of nature, and the power to bind their enemies in Damnation. These ten people were called the Heralds, and I wrote a lot about them last week. (And the week before.)

There is much we don’t know about the origins of the Knights Radiant, and the spren whose bonds with humans grant their powers. I’ll try to present what we do know, and then a tiny bit of speculation. We know that the spren who form the bonds to make Knights Radiant came after the Heralds. Sylphrena, speaking of Jezrien’s Honorblade in Words of Radiance chapter 87, says:

“The Honorblades are what we are based on, Kaladin. Honor gave these to men, and those men gained powers from them. Spren figured out what He’d done, and we imitated it. We’re bits of His power, after all, like this sword.”

The spren, then, observing the way the Heralds functioned with their Blades, figured out how to give the same powers to men by forming the Nahel bond, and those people were called Surgebinders. Unfortunately, they weren’t always entirely careful or wise in the use of their powers, as we see in Dalinar’s vision (The Way of Kings chapter 60) with Nohadon:

“Alakavish was a Surgebinder. He should have known better. And yet, the Nahel bond gave him no more wisdom than an ordinary man. Alas, not all spren are as discerning as honorspren.”

In context: Alakavish had, for reasons unknown, gotten a major war going; unfortunately for humanity, he did it shortly before a Desolation started, and when the Fused and Voidspren arrived, humanity was hard pressed to survive. In the kingdom Nohadon ruled, centered in what is now Kholinar, 90% of the population was dead by the time it was over, and they barely had food to survive two or three months. As far as he could tell, some kingdoms had been essentially wiped out, and others were unlikely to survive as such. The Surgebinders had stepped into positions of command and influence but, bearing all the weakness of human nature, used their bonds for the selfish purposes common to man.

Nohadon had some good ideas, but no way to implement them at the time. He expected to have to use force to bring humanity back together, but once that was (probably?) done, he wrote a book full of wisdom and insight. In later years, his thoughts became guiding principles for the Knights Radiant.

As for the actual implementation… We don’t know how long it took or how it worked, but according to the in-world “Words of Radiance,” Ishar

“readily understood the implications of Surges being granted to men, and caused organization to be thrust upon them; as having too great power, he let it be known that he would destroy each and every one, unless they agreed to be bound by precepts and laws.”

We’re told multiple times that spren and Shards cannot break oaths—as in, are not able even if they want—so once the spren agreed to be bound by the arrangements Ishar set for them, it was settled forever. (Presumably? So far as we know, spren are functionally immortal, and it seems that new spren “born” after the initial ones made that agreement are bound by the same precepts. I guess we can make that conscious assumption until it’s proven wrong.)

It seems logical that the Ideals of each order were part of those “precepts and laws” Ishar laid out, ensuring that once the Nahel bond was formed, there were definite limitations on human tendencies toward selfishness. Not exactly a cure, but at least a curb. The upshot was that there were now ten orders of Knights who kept knowledge alive between Desolations, protected humanity, and gave support to the Heralds during Desolations. As we’ll examine below, each of the ten Orders had specific goals and priorities. All ten shared what came to be called the First Ideal:

Life before death,
Strength before weakness,
Journey before Destination.

After that, the kind of spren determined four more Ideals. But as I said, we’ll go into those details below. Let’s finish up the general info first.

After Aharietiam, the Knights Radiant were left to lead and protect humans in this new situation. The Heralds were sort of right, in that there were no new Desolations for millennia, and so human civilization was renewed. We don’t know what happened to the singer population for the next 3000 years or so, but presumably they did the same thing—retreated to their homelands, healed their wounds, and rebuilt their civilization. (I really wish I knew which were their homelands, though.)

Eventually, though, the False Desolation came along, when Ba-Ado-Mishram formed enough Connection with the singers that they were able to use Voidlight and take on the forms of power, and so there was war. At the same time, it seems that there was discord and uncertainty among the Knights Radiant, at least in part due to discovering that humans were not native to Roshar, but were the ones who had come from the other planet. Stormfather tells Dalinar (Oathbringer chapter 113) that whenever humans had made this discovery in the past, Honor had reassured them that they were not to be blamed for the deeds of their ancestors. This time, though, Honor was in the process of being splintered by Odium, and instead of supporting them,

He raved, speaking of the Dawnshards, ancient weapons used to destroy the Tranquiline Halls. Honor … promised that Surgebinders would do the same to Roshar.

Fearing that their powers were dangerous, they nonetheless did their work to protect humans from the Void-form singers. Somehow, the Radiants figured out what was going on with the Unmade and the singers. (My guess is that they knew from ancient histories that the Fused should be part of the battles, but they weren’t there. That must mean something, right?) Based on information we don’t have, the Truthwatchers came up with the plan to trap Ba-Ado-Mishram—likely in a perfect gemstone, though all they say is “a special prison.” Although there was some concern about unintended side effects, they decided that since the plan should deny the singers their forms of power, it was worth the risk. With some unknown modification, the plan was carried out by Melishi, the only Bondsmith at the time.

The “unintended side effects” were very real: Not only did the singers lose their forms of power, they lost the ability to take any forms at all. We don’t know whether the effect was immediate or whether it took some time to become apparent, but it wasn’t long before the entire singer people were neutralized and ultimately enslaved. This, too, weighed on the Knights Radiant, and in a few decades, they reached a decision: Their powers were simply too dangerous, and there should be no more Knights Radiant ever again. En masse, they just… walked away, from fighting, from their Blades and their Plate, from their Ideals.

The Skybreakers were the only Order which didn’t participate; it seems that the others were 100% in agreement. In-world documentation claims that the Skybreakers “went underground” and benefited from being the only Radiants left in the world, but in-world documentation is notoriously unreliable when there’s a single source. It’s possible (though definitely only speculation) that the other orders agreed that the Skybreakers were needed to make sure no new Radiants appeared; it’s certain that they took that role on at some point, anyway.

In-world sources give different angles on what came to be called the Recreance. Some say the Radiants betrayed their spren, some say they betrayed humanity, some say they betrayed the Almighty. In any case, the humans paid a price similar to the spren. The rest of humanity was, shall we say, not very understanding of their decision, since there was still some kind of fighting going on. (Between human kingdoms, presumably, since the singers were all mind-numbed slaves by then?) Seeing their decision as a betrayal, the former Knights were attacked and killed (except the Skybreakers, of course). Meanwhile, those who were able to get hold of the (now dead-spren) Blades and Plate became very powerful; not as powerful as a true Radiant, but also without any of the limiting precepts.

Speculation: In the comments last week, Jay asked “Shouldn’t there be Herald spren?” There were mixed responses, but I’m one of those who didn’t really think there should be. I haven’t seen any evidence of spren associated with an individual; spren seem to be the personification of concepts (e.g. shamespren) or phenomena (e.g. flamespren). But now I’m wondering… Could the “families” of sapient spren be the result of people seeing the Heralds in action? Could “Herald spren” have developed as people saw the things they could do, and those concepts developed into intelligent spren who figured out how to form bonds to imitate those powers? I’ll just leave that there for discussion, since I’m not really going to try to prove it. The theoretical realmaticists can argue the possibilities in the comments.


The Orders

Okay, now let’s look at the individual Orders of the Knights Radiant—their Ideals, their spren, their Surges, and some theories (naturally). Up front, I’ll point out that there’s a standing theory that a Knight’s Plate—the living kind—is somehow made from a spren we call “cousins” to the true spren. (Note: The Stormfather refers to the sapient spren as true spren, so that’s what I’m going to use to refer to the spren which form the Knight Radiant bonds. It’s possible there are other sapient spren which he would consider “true spren” but which don’t form bonds… but I’m not going there today!) Anyway, I’ll speculate a little on which spren are likely to be associated with the various orders, when we don’t actually know.

One ability held in common by all ten Orders is that they can use Stormlight to heal themselves from virtually any wound. According to Jasnah’s spren Ivory, a person holding enough Stormlight could only be killed by a crushing blow to the head.


Spren: Honorspren

These spren take a humanoid form with a blue-white tint. Their clothing, both in the Physical and Cognitive Realms, is formed from their own substance. In the Physical Realm, they can change their appearance greatly, both in size and shape. Syl, for example, usually takes the form of a young woman, but frequently flits off looking like a ribbon or fluttering leaves.

Surges: Adhesion (pressure and vacuum) and Gravitation (gravity)

Windrunners can use these surges to stick one object to another (referred to as a Full Lashing, and likely mostly a matter of Adhesion), change the orientation of gravity on themselves or objects they touch (called a Basic Lashing, and apparently mostly Gravitation), or create a gravitational field around an object which pulls other objects toward it (Reverse Lashing, which Khriss thinks is just a specialized version of a Basic Lashing, but I think involves both Surges).

We’ve seen these in action with Szeth using Jezrien’s Honorblade, with Kaladin developing his powers, and with Bridge Four as they became squires and then bonded spren of their own. They do things like stand on a wall or the ceiling, or run up (or down) the side of a building. They also fly—or more accurately, they fall (but definitely falling with style!) when they change their gravitational orientation to something other than Down. They can also multiply or divide their Lashings, changing their rate of acceleration as well as the force with which they land. This also applies to Lashing other people or objects, which they can do as long as they’re touching. And of course, the most famous of the Reverse Lashings: when Kaladin instinctively put a Reverse Lashing on his shield, pulling all the Parshendi arrows to that single location and leaving all his men un-shot. (YMMV on whether that’s the most famous, but it’s my favorite.)


The Windrunner Ideals follow a basic form, but may be tailored to the issues facing the individual.

First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

It appears that this Ideal must be spoken to become a Windrunner squire. It also appears that a spren may form a nascent bond prior to the Ideal being spoken, and even grant some Stormlight usage.

Second Ideal: I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.

As near as we can tell, a Windrunner must have a growing bond with a specific spren before this Ideal can be spoken effectively.

Third Ideal: I will protect those I hate.

This one seems to have some specificity to the individual, requiring that they set aside their hatred in a given situation. For Kaladin, this was “I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right”—because he knew it was right to protect Elhokar against Moash and Graves, even if he did hate the man he was protecting. For Teft, it was “I will protect those I hate. Even if the one I hate most is myself”—because he needed to set aside his self-loathing and fight for himself as well as others who needed him. We can hope to see more variations soon, right?

The third Ideal is the one that gives a Windrunner spren the ability to become a metal object on behalf of the human. The most common form is a sword, but we’ve had the fun of seeing Syl switch rapidly between sword, spear, shield, and hammer. (And maybe more?)

Fourth Ideal: Unknown at this time, though it seems to involve not protecting people. This is the level at which a Windrunner gains armor.

Fifth Ideal: Unknown. It’s also worth pointing out that we don’t know what enhancement the Knight gains as a result of speaking this Ideal, since they already have their Blade and Plate.

Known Members

Kaladin and Teft have both spoken the Third Ideal, and Lopen the Second. Skar (and possibly Drehy) are, per WoB, very close to speaking the Second. Beyond that, all of Bridge Four plus the additional recruits during Oathbringer are Windrunner squires. (Also per WoB, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll become Windrunners even if they become Knights. I can’t help thinking that Rock, if he becomes a Radiant, will belong to a different Order. Maybe some others as well.)


Each Order has what is generally referred to as a “resonance”—to some degree it’s a matter of the interaction of their two Surges, and maybe something else we don’t know about yet. For Windrunners, the resonance is “strength of squires,” which seems to indicate both the number of squires a Knight can have, and also the amount of stuff a squire can do.


This isn’t exactly speculation; Syl has frequently referred to windspren as cousins to Honorspren. The only part about it that’s speculative is whether the windspren really do form a Windrunner’s armor, but the way Kaladin was able to use a whole raft of windspren to form a shield against the highstorm to protect a few people… it sure looked like an amazing precursor!


Spren: Highspren

We know very, very little about these spren. In the Physical Realm, they appear as slits in the sky, through which stars can be seen; they seem to bend reality when they move. No clue what they look like in the Cognitive Realm, though.

Surges: Gravitation (gravity) and Division (destruction and decay)

Like Windrunners, Skybreakers can use Gravitation to fly/fall; presumably, they can’t do the Full Lashing with pressure, though it’s possible they can do something very like it with gravity. So far as we know, we haven’t seen them use Division, so… your guess is as good as mine on that!


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

The Skybreakers call this the Ideal of Radiance. It is required (whether as a matter of precept or tradition, we don’t know) in order to become a squire—but the hopeful applicant is not allowed to say the words until they have been evaluated and deemed worthy by full Skybreakers. They also don’t have access to Stormlight yet, but are dependent on those more advanced for all travel. Once the First Ideal is spoken, the person still remains “hopeful” until a master chooses to take him or her as a squire, at which point they may speak the Second Ideal.

Second Ideal: The Ideal of Justice

With this Ideal, the squire takes an oath to seek and administer justice. During this phase, the squire can access Stormlight and learn to use Gravitation. Apparently, the squire continues at this level for some time, until a spren is sufficiently impressed and chooses to bond. Once that happens, the squire is allowed to speak the Third Ideal.

Third Ideal: The Ideal of Dedication

At this level, the newly minted Skybreaker dedicates himself to “a greater truth,” choosing a specific code to follow. During this phase, the Skybreaker is to learn how to use Division, but we haven’t gotten to see it yet. At the end of Oathbringer, Nale and most of the Skybreakers decide that they will follow the laws of the Fused; Szeth chooses to follow “the will of Dalinar Kholin.” His elusive spren seems to approve, though there’s no indication that it’s going to become a Blade for him any time soon.

Fourth Ideal: The Ideal of Crusade

Presumably having learned both Gravitation and Division quite well, at this level the Skybreaker chooses a personal quest. If he completes it to the satisfaction of his highspren, he is considered a master; many Skybreakers never achieve this height. No mention is made of armor, so this Order may or may not parallel the Windrunners in that regard. (On a wild guess, you have to successfully follow your Dedication long enough to make your spren happy before you get a Blade, and you don’t get your Plate until you’ve completed your Crusade. But that’s just a guess.)

Fifth Ideal: The Ideal of Law

At the fifth level, the Skybreaker must “become law, become truth.” Very few Skybreakers reach this level, and one of the masters even dismisses Szeth’s query by telling him not to think about it, because he won’t swear it anyway. I think his question was valid though: “Nin told me we were to follow the law—something external, as men are changeable and unreliable. How can we become the law?”

Later in Oathbringer, Nale indicates to Szeth that he himself is of the Fifth Ideal, and summons a Shardblade. He still doesn’t explain anything, except that he seems to think that speaking the Fifth Ideal is enough justification for choosing which laws to enforce and which to ignore. It would seem odd that a Skybreaker has to reach the Fifth Ideal to get a Shardblade, though.

Known Members

Nale is a Fifth Ideal Skybreaker, while Ki and Warren are apparently Fourth Ideal. By the end of Oathbringer, Szeth is Third, plus we saw a bunch of squires: Joret, Cali, Zedzil, Ty, and Fari. Also, according to Mraize (Oathbringer chapter 40), Shallan’s brother Helaran was a Skybreaker recruit who hadn’t yet reached the Third Ideal; whether he was at the First or Second we don’t know, but he hadn’t yet bonded a spren.


We don’t actually know what this is. Words of Radiance indicated that Skybreakers seemed to have an extraordinary ability to determine guilt and innocence, but when questioned directly, Sanderson said that is not their resonance. So… yeah, no clue.


When I first saw the description of the highspren, I immediately leaped to the conclusion that their cousin-spren were probably the starspren. I’m less convinced of that now than I was earlier, if only because starspren seem pretty rare, but… we’ve got nothing else to go on either.


Spren: Ashspren

We have no idea what these spren look like in the Physical Realm; they are apparently of a sort that can choose not to be seen, like Windspren. In the Cognitive Realm, they take a humanoid form with ashen white skin, which crumbles to ash with any stress and then reforms. Sort of… skeletons walking around with ash for muscles and skin, which blows away and reforms all the time. Creepy beggars, these. According to what little Malata says about her spren, they resent humans and, despite forming bonds, they’re just as happy to cooperate with Odium as with the human coalition.

Surges: Division (destruction and decay) and Abrasion (friction)

Malata demonstrated Division for us—at least as a Dustbringer uses it—by using highly-controlled fire to burn an intricate design into a wooden tabletop. According to the Prelude, they can burn rock, too. As for Abrasion, we don’t know what that looks like for a Dustbringer; Sanderson has indicated that due to constructive interference, the Surges will frequently not be used in quite the same way from one Order to the other. Given what little we know of Dustbringers—or Releasers, as they preferred to be called—one can easily imagine that they’d make pretty good use of friction in just the opposite way as Edgedancers. Where the Edgedancers reduce friction so they can glide gracefully over most surfaces, maybe the Dustbringers increase it to make it harder for other people to move. Maybe?


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

Second through Fifth Ideals: No storming clue.

Known Members

Malata, level unknown, but high enough that she has a spren Blade.


Like the Ideals, not a solitary clue.


My best guess for ashspren cousins would be flamespren, for the obvious reason. Also, because do you have a better guess?


Spren: Cultivationspren

In the Physical Realm, cultivationspren manifest as moving vines, which can move rapidly in any direction, form little faces out of their vines if they wish, and leave slightly crystalline shapes behind before crumbling away. In the Cognitive Realm, they look like humanoids made of tightly bound, thin vines, with hands of crystal.

Surges: Abrasion (friction) and Progression (growth, healing, regrowth)

Lift has repeatedly demonstrated Abrasion with her “awesomeness,” which generally involves scooting around with her knees and shins super-slicked, and her hands left normal so she can paddle around when she’s in a hurry. It’s not known (that I’m aware) whether her ability to climb walls using Wyndle as handholds is solely her odd ability to touch cognitive entities, or whether it’s actually a form of Abrasion that no one has seen before. We’ve also seen her use Progression a couple of times—first, to heal her friend Gawx when a Skybreaker minion got carried away and killed him, later when she heals the Stump after Nalan nearly kills her, and then in Oathbringer when she keeps Szeth from dying by Nightblood-soul-sucking.


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

Second Ideal: I will remember those who have been forgotten.

We have no idea yet whether the Edgedancer Ideals are individualized, but this sure sounds like something each one would say. The application might be different for each person, but as it stands, this covers a lot of territory!

Third Ideal: I will listen to those who have been ignored.

Same with this one, right? The Edgedancers, true to their connection to the Healer Herald, with the divine attributes “Loving and Healing” seem to be focused on the people who are generally overlooked as “unimportant.” The Edgedancers, like the Windrunners, apparently get their Blade at this level, as we see when Lift speaks her Third Ideal… except Wyndle doesn’t like hurting people, and Lift doesn’t know how to use a sword anyway, so he basically becomes a ShardBar with a handle. Or a fork, if needed.

Fourth and Fifth Ideals: Still waiting to RAFO these.

Known Members

Lift is at the Third Ideal.


This has been firmly RAFO-squashed. No idea.


There’s a strong case to be made that the cousins are lifespren. Lift sure seems to see them around a lot, and it seems logical that they’d be cousins to cultivationspren, what with all that growing and stuff.


Spren: name unknown

There was some speculation that the misty-looking spren Our Heroes encountered in Shadesmar might be the Truthwatchers spren, but Sanderson seems to have shot that down, so… maybe not. In that case, we don’t know what Truthwatcher spren are called, nor what they look like in general. The one that we’ve seen, Renarin’s spren Glys, has been corrupted by Sja-anat; in the Physical Realm he looks like a red crystalline structure similar to a snowflake, which is not the normal appearance (even barring the red coloring). Other descriptions of Truthwatcher spren indicated that they look like reflected or refracted light on a surface.

Surges: Progression (growth, healing, regrowth) and Illumination (light, sound, various waveforms)

As near as we could see during Oathbringer, Renarin’s healing worked much like Lift’s; honestly, I’m not sure how healing would differ much from one Order to another. Renarin had trouble healing older injuries, but we don’t know if that was a matter of his Order, his corrupted spren, lack of practice, or the acceptance of injury by the injured. We haven’t seen enough healing by anyone else to judge yet; just Lift, Renarin, Ym, and the Stump (who didn’t even know she was doing it).

Renarin was also able to see potential futures, which is probably (though not confirmed that I can find) due to Odium’s Investiture. He sees visions in the form of stained-glass-looking pictures before him, which he can interpret; he’s also realized that they can be wrong, because humans can do unexpected things. We know that the Surges may work a little differently from one Order to another, so it’s entirely possible that this is how a Truthwatcher uses Illumination—though I suspect it may also be limited to a corrupted spren. We just haven’t seen enough from the other Truthwatchers yet.


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

Second through Fifth Ideals: Unknown. We probably won’t get much information on these until we get to Renarin’s flashback book, currently expected to be book 7, iirc. Renarin has spoken more than one Ideal, but we don’t know how many, nor whether his are the same as the normal Truthwatcher Ideals. In any case, he’s progressed far enough to use Glys as a Blade… but then, we don’t even know that Glys is limited by the levels. The first time we see Renarin summon him, he just says that Glys wasn’t sure if he could do it, which makes me wonder if Sja-anat’s corruption enables him to sidestep the level-based restrictions. RAFO, I guess.

Known Members

Renarin, if the normal strictures apply, ought to be Third Ideal. Ym and the Stump were both able to heal others, but we saw so little of them it’s hard to say. Ym was clearly aware of the spren assisting him, but their bond seemed to be very fragile and new. The Stump seemed to have no idea at all of what she was doing, so… take that for what it’s worth. Depending on what the Ideals are and the personality of her spren, it’s possible that she was even at the Second Ideal and didn’t realize it, though that might be a bit of a stretch.




We really don’t know enough about the Truthwatcher spren to make educated guesses, but… oh, what the heck. I’m betting on rainspren.


Spren: Cryptics

Cryptics appear as shifting fractals in the Physical Realm, and are unable to hide themselves except by blending into a surface, where they look like a raised pattern. In the Cognitive Realm, they have a humanoid body, but with a constantly-shifting three-dimensional fractal for a head, and they wear stiff-looking robes that seem to be made of their own substance.

Surges: Illumination (light, sound, various waveforms) and Transformation (Soulcasting)

Shallan uses her Illumination primarily to create disguises for herself and others, though she seems to have used it to entertain her brothers when she was small, and she used it to create an entire theatrical dramatization of a story on two occasions. Then, of course, she created an entire army of illusions complete with physical resistance and sound to distract Amaram’s Thrill-driven army at the Battle of Thaylen Field. She also uses it, but only in conjunction with Dalinar’s power, to create intricate maps reproducing what the Stormfather sees. (If she ever gets to something resembling a normal life, maybe we’ll see her do some fun things with it—entertaining her kids with lively storytelling or something.)

She has not been terribly successful with Soulcasting; she’s untrained and unpracticed, so her results are… unexpected. She accidentally turned a water goblet into blood in Words of Radiance, and then convinced the Wind’s Pleasure to turn itself into water in order to give its crew a chance to escape. After that, she abjectly failed to persuade a stick to become the fire she needed to warm herself up, and was so traumatized by the entire experience that she avoided the experiment thereafter.

We really haven’t seen any of her squires do much other than disguises, so… we’ll wait and see how their Surgebinding develops.

One thing that isn’t yet clear is how her drawings of people affect them. We saw Bluth’s personality change slightly when she drew him as a more heroic figure, and he died fighting to protect her, with that drawing in his pocket. We saw much the same effect on Elhokar: She drew him as a more heroic person than she observed, and he died clutching that picture, protecting his son and seeking to speak the First Ideal, stronger than he’d ever been before. Once upon a time, I asked Sanderson how this worked/what she was doing, and he said that we’d seen another character doing it. In retrospect, I’m now convinced that he meant Tien; a Lightweaver’s perspective can have an impact on those around them.


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

Unlike other Orders, the Lightweavers have no set Ideals beyond the first. Their goal is increasing self-awareness, and so their level-ups come in the form of deep truths about themselves. Given Shallan’s history, it’s very difficult to know exactly where she is in this process, but she is definitely able to summon her spren as a Blade. Whether she’s got Plate yet is still a matter of debate; her Radiant persona was wearing Plate during the Battle of Thaylen Field, but it may have simply been part of the illusion. For that matter, we don’t even know for sure that Lightweavers have a five-step progression, so… Dunno?

Known Members

Shallan, whose level isn’t exactly determined but is implied to be Third or maybe Fourth, is the best-known member of the Order. Tien and Elhokar were both nascent Lightweavers with specific spren; Elhokar’s spren was later bonded by Hoid. Vathah has shown signs of squire-hood, and it’s possible that more of Shallan’s crew (Red, Gaz, and Ishnah, especially) may become squires or full Lightweavers.


Lightweavers have some highly unusual mnemonic abilities, though they may not manifest exactly the same way from one individual to another. Shallan’s visual Memories, which capture a scene in exacting detail but seem to fade once she draws it, are her form of the resonance.


My best guess for this one is creationspren, despite Pattern’s dismissal of them as useless things. We see a lot of creationspren around Shallan at various times, and given the artistic nature of Lightweavers, it seems logical.


Spren: Inkspren

The only Elsecaller spren we’ve seen much so far is Jasnah’s Ivory, though iirc the Shadesmar Exploration Society saw some of them during their journey from Kholinar to Thaylen City. In both the Physical and Cognitive Realms, they appear as a humanoid figures, all black but with a sheen reminiscent of oil, with angular features and clothing made of their own substance. Inky-looking, in other words. In the Physical Realm, they seem to be able to change size at will, though in the Cognitive they are generally human-sized.

Surges: Transformation (Soulcasting) and Transportation (motion, realmatic transition)

We’ve seen plenty of Soulcasting from Jasnah, and she’s very good at it. Unlike the fabrial version of Soulcasting, she is able to change something or someone without touching it. Without an exhaustive summary, a Soulcaster can change an object (or even a person) into another substance. It’s easiest to make that substance one of the basic Ten Essences, but other things are possible. Some objects are more resistant to being Soulcast, as well; it seems that strength of will is a necessary component.

Transportation is a little murkier; we know that with enough Stormlight, an Elsecaller can move from the Physical to the Cognitive Realm with relative ease, although the return requires more… something. It’s not clear whether a highly skilled Elsecaller can simply move from one physical location to another; we’ll have to wait for more development.


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

Second through Fifth Ideals: Unknown. It is implied that the Blade is received at the Third Ideal, and Plate at the Fourth, but it’s not 100% confirmed that I know of. In any case, Jasnah has both.

Known Members

Jasnah, probably at the Fourth Ideal.


Unknown. There’s a statement in the in-world “Words of Radiance” that the Elsecallers were the nearest to being masters of the Cognitive Realm, so maybe that’s their thing?


Just guessing again on this one, but I’d go with logicspren, as they seem most nearly associated with the priorities of the inkspren. In the Thaylen City scenes, Renarin saw “geometric shapes” flashing around Jasnah, in what appeared to be dissipating Plate, so now part of me wants to find a spren to fit that description, but since I haven’t found any that match, I’ll stick with logicspren.


Spren: Lightspren, also called Reachers

In the Cognitive Realm, Reachers have a humanoid form with metallic bronze skin, and wear clothing like humans do. It is speculated (with good reason) that their Physical Realm manifestation is a ball of light, which looks like a tiny comet when it moves.

Surges: Transportation (motion, realmatic transition) and Cohesion (strong axial interconnection)

We haven’t yet seen a Willshaper in action, so we don’t know much about their Surges. What little we know of Transportation is summarized above, and the only thing we’ve seen of Cohesion was by a Stoneward in one of Dalinar’s visions. We’ll look at that below.


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

Second through Fifth Ideals: Unknown.

It is speculated (again, with reason) that Venli will become the first Willshaper of the modern era. Since Rhythm of War is her flashback book, maybe we’ll get to see something of their Ideals in November.

Known Members

None proven, though it’s strongly speculated that Eshonai was a budding Willshaper; this would mean that Venli, who has since formally bonded the spren that was originally her sister’s, is now a First-Ideal Willshaper.




This is really just wild guessing, but I’d probably have to go with mandras, also known as luckspren; these are the spren that make it possible for chasmfiends to get so big, and for skyeels to fly. Basically, they seem to generate a magical lift and are associated with moving when/how you shouldn’t be able to, so… that fits what little we know!


Spren: name unknown

Seen in the Cognitive Realm by the Shadesmar Exploration Society, they have a humanoid form with “skin like cracked stone, molten light shining from within.” We have no idea what they look like in the Physical Realm.

Surges: Cohesion (strong axial connection) and Tension (soft axial connection)

Using Cohesion, a Stoneward can reshape stone at will—and presumably other substances as well. We haven’t yet seen Tension in use, that we know of.


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

Second through Fifth Ideals: Unknown.

Known Members

None in the current time.




I can’t even begin to guess on this one.



Spren: Stormfather, Nightwatcher, Sibling

These three spren are unique, and are the only spren which create Bondsmiths when they bond. The Stormfather generally appears in the Physical Realm as an enormous face filling the sky, on the occasions where someone sees him during a highstorm; we haven’t seen him in the Cognitive Realm. The Nightwatcher appears to those who see her in the Physical Realm as vaguely person-shaped, dark green, with her essence floating around her; again, we have no idea what she looks like in the Cognitive Realm. The Sibling is, at this time, a complete unknown.

Surges: Tension (soft axial connection) and Adhesion (pressure and vacuum)

The Stormfather tells Dalinar that he should not look to those who share his Surges (Stonewards and Windrunners) to figure out what he can do, because his own powers are far beyond theirs. We saw Dalinar using Adhesion to put statues and buildings back together in Thaylen City, but the Stormfather dismisses that as a party trick.

Yours is the power of Connection, of joining men and worlds, minds and souls. Your Surges are the greatest of all, though they will be impotent if you seek to wield them for mere battle.

Make of that what you will… We did see Dalinar use something to form Honor’s Perpendicularity, and I’m guessing that was exactly what Stormfather meant about joining worlds. But there is clearly much, much more. Dalinar used “Spiritual Adhesion” to form a Connection with other people, granting him the ability to both speak and understand their language. He connects with Shallan to be able to create those Stormlight maps. Who knows what else he’s going to be able to do?


First Ideal: Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

Second Ideal: I will unite instead of divide. I will bring men together.

This is, at least, Dalinar’s second Ideal. Further books will give further information, but I suspect that the Ideals are not only specific to the individual, like the Windrunners, but also to the spren. At least, it makes sense to me that the Stormfather would have different priorities than the Nightwatcher, which would also be different from the Sibling. But… we’ll have to see what happens when someone bonds one of them.

Third Ideal: I will take responsibility for what I have done. If I must fall, I will rise each time a better man.

Again, this is Dalinar’s Ideal. We’ll see (I hope) how this plays out for the other Bondsmiths.


As quoted above, the Bondsmith’s powers are far beyond those of other Radiants. I don’t even know where to start with what their resonance might be; it seems like their entire skill set is their resonance!


Best guess, gloryspren. We see them around Dalinar so much, and then there’s that whole column of them around him at Thaylen City. I’m not making any other guesses.


Well, once again, that was way more than I expected to write, and at that I know I left things out. I hope it’s been helpful for you, in any case. Corrections, arguments, and discussion always welcome in the comments! Next week, we’ll tackle… I’m not sure yet. The Fused, the Unmade, or Fabrials, but I haven’t quite decided yet.

Alice is a Sanderson Beta-Reader, mega-fan, and occasional theory-crafter. She takes great pride in the moment at Emerald City Comic Con 2018 when, in conversation about some disputed fan interpretation of a scene, Sanderson said, “You’re right. Just tell them I said, ‘Alice is always right.’” She is also an administrator of two Facebook fan groups: The Stormlight Archive (spoilers allowed for Stormlight books only; everything else has to be spoiler-tagged) and the Storm Cellar (Sanderson fans loosely centered around the Tor rereads, spoilers for all Sanderson books allowed).


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