Hello, hello! Welcome back to our detailed examinations of the Stormlight Archive! So far we’ve talked about history, the Heralds, the Knights Radiant, fabrials, worldhoppers, secret societies, and the Fused. This week, it’s time to turn our attention to those mysterious beings, the Unmade: Splinters of Odium and instigators of much mayhem. What do we know about them, anyway?
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.
Please note that we are NOT including anything from RoW in this series, even if it has been made publicly available—like in a newsletter, for example. If you’re reading early materials and want to reference it in your comments, please tag it as a spoiler and, if possible, white-text it.
The first mention of the Unmade (with that name) in the entire series comes in an epigraph: The Way of Kings, Chapter 45, as part of Jasnah’s research on the Voidbringers.
“Yelig-nar, called Blightwind, was one that could speak like a man, though often his voice was accompanied by the wails of those he consumed.”
—The Unmade were obviously fabrications of folklore. Curiously, most were not considered individuals, but instead personifications of kinds of destruction. This quote is from Traxil, line 33, considered a primary source, though I doubt its authenticity.
Ironically enough for a bunch of “fabrications of folklore”, the Unmade kinda made a mess of things recently. (I’m reasonably sure she’s changed her mind on that part.) It’s worth noting that she knew the name of Yelig-nar as one of the Unmade, but that probably makes sense; we know plenty of names from mythology and folklore, without believing that they were necessarily real people. Entities. Whatever-you-call-them.
There are a handful of other mentions of individual Unmade in the epigraphs, but since they mostly contain tiny snippets of information about the specific Unmade, we’ll leave those for a bit later.
Once we get to Words of Radiance, we see the listeners talking about the Unmade as reality—and a reality devoutly to be avoided. Eshonai worries for her people under the current circumstances, but the only alternative she can see is “Dabbling in things we shouldn’t, things that might bring the eyes of the Unmade upon us.” (Turns out her fear is entirely valid, of course.) The other listener references to the Unmade link them to a form of power called “smokeform,” but we aren’t sure how the two are connected.
Further folklore connections show up in Chapter 45, “Middlefest,” when young Shallan is startled by a talking chicken and fears that it will “bring the eyes of the Unmade” upon them. (I mean… clearly a talking animal must be a Voidbringer, right? But she’s very isolated and naive. In the same scene, she’s a little freaked out over the fact that there must be at least five hundred people!! there.)
It’s not until we get to reading epigraphs from the Diagram, in this case chapter Words of Radiance Chapter 81, that a human speaks of the Unmade as a real phenomenon.
The Unmade are a deviation, a flair, a conundrum that may not be worth your time. You cannot help but think of them. They are fascinating. Many are mindless. Like the spren of human emotions, only much more nasty. I do believe a few can think, however.
—From the Diagram, Book of the 2nd Desk Drawer: paragraph 14
This, let’s remember, is from not less than five years ago, since the Diagram was written after Taravangian visited the Nightwatcher, which was a year after Gavilar died. How or why Taravangian came to this conclusion we don’t know. It may be that his own scholarship convinced him they were real, or it may have been the influence of one or more unidentified Heralds. Or it may be that he knew the folklore, and on his Day of Brilliance he understood far more about the truth behind the stories.
M: Interesting that Taravangian calls the Unmade a “flair” and “not worth your time.” They certainly seem powerful enough to thwart, at least temporarily, the Radiants multiple times in Oathbringer.
A: Right? And despite “not worth your time,” he actually starts to depend on one of them!
By the end of Words of Radiance, he knows a bit more, possibly due to Dova’s information. In Interlude 14, he and his team talk about the reduction in the number of Death Rattles as confirmation that Moelach is moving. The fact that they’re correcting & updating the Diagram based on words spoken under the influence of an Unmade is… well, questionable wisdom, but that’s not the point today!
In Oathbringer, of course, everything changes. With the Battle of Narak, the humans understand more about the Voidbringers—in current terms, if not historical—as the listeners turned into singers and brought the Everstorm, and folktales came to life before their eyes. Dismissing anything about Odium’s forces is no longer valid. Then, of course, there are multiple direct contacts proving the existence and activity of several Unmade. Rather than addressing those events here, though, we’ll talk about them in context of the individual Unmade below.
The origin of the Unmade is … well, it almost seems not worth addressing, because we know so little! But let’s explore that little, okay?
Hessi (whoever she is), in her Mythica which makes up the epigraphs for Oathbringer Part Three, claims that they were
likely ancient spren, primal, from the days before human society and civilization.
This may or may not be true, of course, but… who are we to debate an in-world scholar? Worth noting, though, she only says it’s likely, so she isn’t entirely sure.
M: If they are from the days before human society, perhaps that implies that the singers are the ones who originally shaped the spren in the Cognitive realm that became the Unmade!
A: That would certainly be the implication, I’d say. It might also explain several other things. Since the singers essentially have four genders, that could be the reason that the human perception of the Unmade only sometimes involves “male” or “female.” I wonder… might the ancient singers have been likely to shape spren with no gender, not merely the four we’ve seen? Hmm.
We don’t have any actual basis for judging whether or not she’s correct, but for now, we’ll take it as a reasonably solid conjecture. In that case, they would have originally been only of Roshar; they could even have been around before Honor and Cultivation arrived, for all we know. Whatever and whenever they originally developed, something definitely was done to them. In Kholinar, Sja-anat speaks to Shallan from a mirror in the Oathgate control room, (OB Chapter 84):
We were made, then unmade, she agreed. But no, not an enemy!
We’ll dig into “not an enemy” later. For now, what about “made, then unmade”? If Hessi is correct, they were likely “made” by the thoughts of the ancient singers. They may even have been the spren of concepts like Prophecy, Passion, Enjoyment, Illusion, and so on; why not? But then, probably sometime around the same general timeframe as the Fused and the Heralds, they were “unmade” by Odium. WoB says they are Splinters of Odium; it seems likely (though not yet proven!) that their “unmaking” involved replacing their original Investiture with that of Odium, and reshaping their original purposes to something that would serve him.
A: If they really are ancient spren, turned to serve Odium, does that prove that spren influence the things they represent? I really want to understand how this works.
This doesn’t really say much about their origins per se, but here’s a thing we need to talk about. WoB tells us that the relationship between Stormfather and Honor is (or was before Honor was splintered) analogous to the relationship between the Nightwatcher and Cultivation. The analogous relationship for Odium, however, is the Unmade, collectively. This logically seems to imply that they were lesser spren than the Nightwatcher and the Stormfather; that would be consistent with yet another Q&A where Brandon referred to “many of the Unmade—something proto-aware, but not truly an individual.” While some of them clearly are self-aware and individual, some seem less so—more like forces or influences.
And all that to say… we aren’t really sure about the origins of the Unmade, and are mostly stuck with guesswork as to when, why, and how they came to be … Unmade.
Who, What, and Where
Okay, now that we’ve covered the generalities, let’s look at the individual Unmade. There are nine of them, as is fitting for the representatives of the Shard with an affinity for that number. Some of them, we’ve seen up close and personal; others are merely names and a little speculation. Let’s go down the list, in the order we see them (or their effects) on the page, and collect what we know of their activities, characteristics, and last known location and condition.
Associated with: Death Rattles
First seen: The effects of Moelach’s influence are first seen in the part one epigraphs of The Way of Kings, though he was first named by Taravangian in his interlude in Words of Radiance.
Moelach is mindless, more of a force than an individual, and is responsible for the Death Rattles. Despite this, both Taravangian and Jezrien refer to Moelach as “him/his,” implying that he has a gender or had one before he was unmade. As noted, this is pretty common in descriptions of the Unmade.
This Unmade has the power to foretell the future. This manifests as visions that come to those near the moment of death. We first learn about this power first from the Diagram (Words of Radiance chapter 82 epigraph):
Though all of them have some relevance to precognition, Moelach is one of the most powerful in this regard. His touch seeps into a soul as it breaks apart from the body, creating manifestations powered by the spark of death itself.
This is then confirmed by Jezrien:
Moelach is close. I can hear his wheezing, his scratching, his scraping at time like a rat breaking through walls.
Both the Mythica and the Diagram agree that the effects of Moelach’s power depend upon proximity. It’s unclear how far this influence extends. The Mythica also mentions that Moelach may be able to cause visions of the future at other times, though we haven’t seen this on screen.
Taravangian is worried that Moelach will begin to “slumber” again. However, the Mythica believes that the Unmade have been active on Roshar since Aharietiam and are common enough to be treated “as we would the manifestations of other spren.”
M: Though, honestly, I’m not sure what manifestations of other spren Hessi is referring to. Most other spren seem attracted to human emotions, not able to influence those emotions or grant powers like strange visions.
A: This continues to be a mystery. Clearly the sapient spren can influence things, and earlier Kaladin thinks about windspren as being mischievous and liable to tricks like sticking things together when you don’t want them to. Rosharans—at least some of them—assume that rotspren cause disease… but they don’t assume that flamespren cause fire. So I don’t know what to think!
Last seen: In the Horneater Peaks, according to a brief Taravangian POV we get in Oathbringer chapter 107:
Adrotagia flipped over a paper from one of her stacks. “Moelach seems to have settled in the Horneater Peaks. Joshor is on his way there now. We might again soon have access to the Death Rattles.”
Associated with: the Thrill
First seen: The first time we see evidence of Nergaoul’s presence is early in The Way of Kings, Chapter 12, when Dalinar and Elhokar are racing to a good vantage point during the chasmfiend hunt. Dalinar distinguishes between the Thrill of contest and the Thrill of battle, but both are effects of Nergaoul’s presence.
I am convinced that Nergaoul is still active on Roshar. The accounts of the Alethi “Thrill” of battle align too well with ancient records—including the visions of red mist and dying creatures.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 140
These are the kinds of statements that make me trust Hessi’s scholarship; she is absolutely correct on this one! Throughout The Way of Kings, we see various members of the Alethi army reveling in the Thrill. Earlier in time (later on the page) in Dalinar’s flashbacks, it seems that Nergaoul could have been following Dalinar around. In fact, given Odium’s intention to make Dalinar his champion, it seems probable that Odium gave Nergaoul the specific assignment to trail around after the younger Kholin brother like an overenthusiastic Great Dane puppy, slobbering all over him. Okay, the analogy breaks down when you consider the “get him addicted to the Thrill” part of the assignment, but you get the idea.
A: Come to think of it, we don’t really know how big Nergaoul’s area of effect is. Can it cover entire countries, or is it limited to a single battlefield? Or is it more like a concentrated effect near the actual Unmade, but extending far beyond that area to touch those who have been greatly influenced by it?
Near the end of Words of Radiance, there’s evidence that Nergaoul, like Moelach, was moving around. Not only had Adolin and Dalinar noticed a reduction in the effect of the Thrill out on the Shattered Plains, but Taravangian (Interlude 14) makes the connection between the Unmade and the behavior of the Veden armies in their civil war. He notes that even as Vedenar city began to burn, the armies had simply moved out into the fields to continue their fighting. This is confirmed again in Oathbringer, Chapter 100, when Dalinar is speaking with some of the Veden soldiers; one describes it by saying
“Nobody would stop, Brightlord. Even when it should have been done. They just kept right on fighting. Killing because they felt like killing.”
Dalinar recognized the description, but even more, he recognizes the feeling as it stirs in him, so strong that it makes him ill and he has to wound the Stormfather in order to escape its influence.
The next time we see its effects, we see its physical presence as well: Thaylen Field. Physically the Thrill looks super creepy, like a red mist full of images of battle (Oathbringer, chapter 115):
Red mist. Ephemeral, like a shadow you see on a dark day and mistake for something real. Charging red horses, angry and galloping. The forms of men, killing and dying, shedding blood and reveling in it. Bones piled atop one another, making a hill upon which men struggled.
The Thrill can also directly bond humans!! We first see this happen with Dalinar at the Rift (chapter 75):
Dalinar saw only red…. Armies made of red mist at the corners of his vision.
Then it happens to the Sadeas troops at Thaylen Field. The Fused seem surprised, so perhaps this wasn’t a tactic of Odium’s in previous Desolations (chapter 115):
The dark spren flew toward the men, finding welcoming bodies and willing flesh. The red mist made them lust, made their minds open. And the spren, then, bonded to the men, slipping into those open souls.
“Master, you have learned to inhabit humans?” Turash said to Subservience.
“Spren have always been able to bond with them, Turash,” Odium said. “It merely requires the right mindset and the right environment.”
The effect on the Sadeas troops is pretty devastating, as they are so overwhelmed by the lust for battle that they turn on the people they’re supposed to be protecting. On the other hand, it also makes them easily distracted by Shallan’s illusory army, so… there’s that? Still devastating, just … damaging for different people.
A: It seems to me that this is not the most useful of tools. While those of “the right mindset” are certainly easy to overwhelm with the Thrill, they also seem to be easily distracted, and they get a sort of herd mentality that, like a stampede, may be difficult to direct.
M: Agreed! The soldiers at Thaylen Field aren’t particularly effective.
Last seen: The last we see of Nergaoul, of course, is near the end of Oathbringer, when Dalinar traps his “old friend” in the perfect ruby known as the King’s Drop, on Thaylen Field.
Associated with: Midnight Essence
First seen: The effects of Re-Shephir are seen in Dalinar’s very first vision in The Way of Kings (chapter 19) when he is attacked by her children. The Unmade herself then appears in Part 1 of Oathbringer.
A.k.a.: Midnight Mother, The Spawning Mother
Re-Shephir appears to be a semi-conscious Unmade who is made of an oily, black substance. She can shape shift into seemingly any shape. The Midnight Mother can create child-spren from her essence which she tries to have mimic humans or other beings like axehounds. As mentioned, we first encounter these children, called Midnight Essence, when Dalinar fights them in one of the visions sent by the Almighty. Per WoB, the Midnight Essence can also be extracted from the Mother and used independently.
A: Wow. Like that wouldn’t be horrible, or anything… Yikes.
In Oathbringer, Shallan discovers that Re-Shephir is in Urithiru and has been having her children commit copy-cat murders. Shallan believes that the Midnight Mother is fascinated by humans and wants to better understand them by mimicking them (chapter 30):
This thing was ancient. Created long ago as a splinter of the soul of something even more terrible, Re-Shephir had been ordered to sow chaos, spawning horrors to confuse and destroy men. Over time, slowly, she’d become increasingly intrigued by the things she murdered.
Shallan tracks Re-Shephir to the gemstone pillar at the heart of Urithiru. She, Adolin, and Bridge Four fight the Midnight Essence to reach the pillar. Re-Shephir appears frightened of Shallan because, Shallan senses, the Unmade was imprisoned by a Lightweaver centuries ago, assumedly in a gemstone. We don’t know how she escaped this imprisonment. Re-Shephir also tried to break Shallan’s bond with Pattern and insert herself instead. It’s unclear if she could have succeeded. Shallan somehow fights Re-Shephir and wins, sending the Unmade into retreat.
Last seen: She was last seen in Oathbringer fleeing Urithiru through the tunnels under the city. Her current location is unknown.
Associated with: “Corrupted” spren
First seen: Though we first see a corrupted spren in one of Dalinar’s visions in Words of Radiance, we encounter Sja-anat herself in Oathbringer when Shallan investigates the Palace in Kholinar.
A.k.a.: Taker of Secrets
Sja-anat is one of the Unmade that appears fully conscious. In the physical realm, she is visible in mirrors as a black shadow of a woman, though she can shift form (Oathbringer, chapter 84):
Someone else stood in the mirror. A woman with black hair that fell to her waist. She wore archaic clothing, a sleeveless, flowing gown that was more of a tunic, with a simple belted waist…
The reflected room faded and the figure distorted, and became a jet-black shadow with white holes for eyes.
She also appears to Shallan as Shallan’s shadow, but pointing the wrong way.
This Unmade can corrupt spren with Odium’s Investiture, though she calls the process “Enlightening.” She refers to these corrupted spren as her children. They obey her will and can pass messages for her, such as a corrupted gloryspren that visits Shallan in Shadesmar. They usually change color and shape when corrupted. Per WoB, they will also act differently in fabrials.
Hessi’s Mythica doesn’t have a lot to say about Sja-anat. Though interestingly she was feared by the Radiants (Oathbringer, chapter 97):
Of the Unmade, Sja-anat was most feared by the Radiants. They spoke extensively of her ability to corrupt spren, though only “lesser” spren—whatever that means.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 89
We aren’t sure why she was feared, because the corrupted spren cause no harm to the Radiants in Kholinar.
M: Perhaps, Sja-anat’s children act as spies, stealing secrets from their enemies. This is implied when a Radiant in Dalinar’s vision calls a spren “Sja-anat’s spy.”
A: If Sja-anat really is trying to go independent, this could get interesting indeed. What secrets will she steal, and how will she use them?
It’s no longer true that the Taker of Secrets can only corrupt lesser spren. In Kholinar, Sja-anat reveals that she corrupted the true spren of the Oathgate there. At the end of Oathbringer, we learn that Glys, Renarin’s Truthwatcher spren, has been corrupted by Sja-anat. This gives Glys and Renarin access to some of Odium’s powers, like prescience.
Sja-anat appears to be trying to defect from Odium’s forces. She claims she is not Shallan’s enemy and that she is no longer of Odium, but is of herself. Her defection gains the attention of the Ghostbloods. Mraize tells Shallan to recruit or capture Sja-anat.
Last seen: Sja-anat is last seen in Kholinar. Her current location is unknown.
Associated with: Overindulgence and excess
First seen: This Unmade is first seen in Kholinar during Oathbringer where he has taken up residence on the Oathgate.
A.k.a.: Heart of the Revel
Like Moelach and Nergaoul, Ashertmarn is a mindless Unmade. He resembles a large, black, inhuman heart that beats with an irregular rhythm. He somehow speaks into the minds of the people near him and encourages them to excess (Oathbringer, chapter 76):
The dark mass pulsed and throbbed. Black veins as thick as a man’s leg ran from it and melded with the ground nearby. A heart. It beat an irregular rhythm, bum-ba-ba-bum instead of the common ba-bum of her own heartbeat.
Join the revel.
Ashertmarn appears to have been roaming Roshar since Aharietiam, sowing excess:
Ashertmarn, the Heart of the Revel, is the final of the three great mindless Unmade. His gift to men is not prophecy or battle focus, but a lust for indulgence. Indeed, the great debauchery recorded from the court of Bayala in 480—which led to dynastic collapse—might be attributable to the influence of Ashertmarn.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 203
In Kholinar, Wit tells Shallan that the Heart of the Revel is in the city on the Oathgate platform. Shallan gains access to the revel on the platform and is almost overcome by it before Sja-Anat stops her. In the fight for the Oathgate, Shallan tries using Pattern as a Blade to attack Ashertmarn, but his essence simply splits around the sword. She then tries to run him off the same way she did Re-Shephir.
Last seen: Ashertmarn is last seen withdrawing from the Oathgate in Kholinar as Shallan confronts him. He doesn’t appear to withdraw because of Shallan, though, so we don’t know why he leaves, nor where he goes.
First seen: We first get a glimpse of Yelig-nar in Oathbringer when Aesudan bonds him.
This Unmade appears as a person-sized figure of swirling black smoke in Shadesmar, according to Venli. He doesn’t seem to have a form in the Physical realm without a bond. In Oathbringer, Yelig-nar twice bonds humans by entering a gemstone they’ve swallowed.
First, he bonds Aesudan in Kholinar. When the bond takes effect, her body begins changing:
In the dim light of the royal chambers, Aesudan’s eyes glittered. Then started to glow a deep red….
Something started to twist around her, a black smoke, blown as if from an unseen wind….
She’d transformed, strange crystal formations having pierced her skin like carapace. Her chest was glowing bright with a gemstone, as if it had replaced her heart. It shone through her dress.
We don’t see what happens to Aesudan next, but Odium tells Amaram that Yelig-nar consumed her. At the Battle of Thaylen Field, the Unmade bonds Amaram, fulfilling Odium’s promise to the highprince. The process is similar, with Meridas swallowing a smokestone and transforming like Aesudan.
Once they are bonded, Amaram begins to manifest control of multiple Surges. Hessi’s Mythica theorizes that Yelig-nar actually has access to all of the Surges (Oathbringer, chapter 95):
Yelig-nar had great powers, perhaps the powers of all Surges compounded in one. He could transform any Voidbringer into an extremely dangerous enemy. Curiously, three legends I found mention swallowing a gemstone to engage this process.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 27
Again, Hessi seems to have done her homework and come to the correct conclusions, giving me more confidence in her less provable assertions!
We see Amaram use at least Cohesion, Abrasion, Division, Gravitation, and perhaps Soulcasting. Contrary to Jasnah’s skepticism of Taxil’s quote about “the wails of those [Yelig-nar] consumed,” Kaladin is distracted by Amaram screaming in pain as Yelig-nar further transforms him. Despite this “consuming” of their bodies, it appears Amaram—and Aesudan before him—keep their minds, at least at the beginning of the process. Eventually, Yelig-nar’s gemstone housing consumes the host’s heart and torso (Oathbringer, chapter 120):
The highprince’s entire chest had collapsed inward. There was no sign of ribs or internal organs. Instead, a large violet crystal pulsed inside his chest cavity, overgrown with dark veins. If he’d been wearing a uniform or padding beneath the armor, it had been consumed.
He turned toward Kaladin, heart and lungs replaced by a gemstone that glowed with Odium’s dark light.
Kaladin cracks the gemstone in Amaram’s chest, seeming to harm the bond and cause the gemstone to flicker. Amaram recovers from this and even seems impervious to an arrow through the head, until Rock shatters the gemstone with an arrow. Yelig-nar escapes Amaram’s corpse as black smoke.
There’s one other notable mention of Yelig-nar. Nohadon mentions Yelig-nar to Dalinar in a vision, saying that the Unmade broke into his chancery and killed all of his scribes.
Last seen: Yelig-nar was last seen leaving Amaram’s corpse at Thaylen Field after they were defeated.
Associated with: the Identity and Connection of the singers
First seen: Though we haven’t yet seen Ba-Ado-Mishram, her influence has been visible since the first Prologue in The Way of Kings. She is responsible for the state of the parshmen before the Everstorm.
Ba-Ado-Mishram is described as perhaps the most intelligent of the Unmade (Oathbringer, chapter 106):
I find Ba-Ado-Mishram to be the most interesting of the Unmade. She is said to have been keen of mind, a highprincess among the enemy forces, their commander during some of the Desolations. I do not know how this relates to the ancient god of the enemy, named Odium.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 224
While we know nothing else about her personality or physical form, we have learned instead about Ba-Ado-Mishram’s powers. After the Last Desolation, she somehow Connected to all of the singers on Roshar, except the listeners. This implies that her powers don’t have the same range constraints as Moelach, Ashertmarn, or Nergaoul, but can instead encompass the whole continent. Once Connected to the singers, she could make them Regals and provide Voidlight (Oathbringer, chapter 80):
Ba-Ado-Mishram has somehow Connected with the parsh people, as Odium once did. She provides Voidlight and facilitates forms of power. Our strike team is going to imprison her.
—From drawer 30-20, fourth emerald
This created the False Desolation. In response, the Bondsmith Melishi and a strike team of Knights Radiant appear to have captured her, likely in a perfect gemstone (chapter 79):
Our revelation is fueled by the theory that the Unmade can perhaps be captured like ordinary spren. It would require a special prison. And Melishi.
—From drawer 30-20, third emerald
This resulted in the singers being severed from their Connection and Identity. The vast majority of them became enslaved by humans. This event had horrible consequences for the world as the singers lived in slavery until freed by the Everstorm. They are rightfully enraged by their treatment.
Last seen: Unknown, but perhaps still imprisoned in a gemstone.
First seen: We haven’t yet seen Dai-Gonarthis
A.k.a.: Black Fisher
We aren’t entirely sure Dai-Gonarthis is an Unmade and we know very little about them. We think they are probably an Unmade for two reasons.
First is this Death Rattle that is very similar to one about Re-Shephir, who we know is an Unmade (The Way of Kings, chapter 67):
“Let me no longer hurt! Let me no longer weep! Daigonarthis! The Black Fisher holds my sorrow and consumes it!”
—Tanatesach 1173, 28 seconds pre-death. A darkeyed female street juggler. Note similarity to sample 1172-89.
Then Jezrien seems to confirm it in one of Dalinar’s flashbacks (Oathbringer, chapter 88):
“Which one got to you, little child?” Ahu asked. “The Black Fisher? The Spawning Mother, the Faceless? Moelach is close.”
That’s about all we know about this Unmade! There’s only one more tidbit of speculation from Hessi who thinks the Black Fisher might have had something to do with the scouring of Aimia (chapter 113):
Who is the ninth Unmade? Is it truly Dai-Gonarthis? If so, could their actions have actually caused the complete destruction of Aimia?
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 307
Last seen: n/a
Associated with: Sometimes confused with the Nightwatcher
First seen: We haven’t seen Chemoarish yet either
A.k.a.: the Dustmother
Everything we know about this Unmade we learn from an epigraph from Hessi’s Mythica (Oathbringer, chapter 108):
Chemoarish, the Dustmother, has some of the most varied lore surrounding her. The wealth of it makes sorting lies from truths extremely difficult. I do believe she is not the Nightwatcher, contrary to what some stories claim.
—From Hessi’s Mythica, page 231
The only other mention of this Unmade is in The Way of Kings. When Szeth’s oathstone is held by some Bavlanders, they swear by the Dustmother.
M: I’m super intrigued by this Unmade and how there’s such “varied lore” around the Dustmother. Does it look humanoid like the Nightwatcher or is the confusion that both spren bestow “gifts”? I wish we knew more!
A: Right? For the one with “the most varied lore” we sure didn’t get to see much lore! I suppose that must be waiting for the right time in the story.
Last seen: n/a
That’s all of them! Phew.
What We Still Don’t Know
M: One thing I realized, Alice, is that we don’t know which Unmade, or combination of them, caused the changes in the Palace Guard and Queen’s Guard in Kholinar. Aesudan calls the Queen’s Guard her “Radiants” and the guards seem to forget who Elhokar is. Some effect of the Unmade causes time to warp in the Palace so that weeks feel like days to some trapped guards. These effects don’t fit with any of the known powers of the three Unmade in Kholinar. We also don’t know which Unmade manifests the giant black claws the Radiant’s saw surrounding Kholinar when they escaped in Shadesmar.
A: I’m sort of assuming that the “time warp” effect might be caused by Ashertmarn; it seems to have the effect of getting people glutted into a stupor and skewing perception, so… that’s all I’ve got. About the extremely terrorizing giant black claws… again, I assumed it was Ashertmarn’s Cognitive appearance, mostly because of the size. In both cases, I’m most likely influenced by the idea that with three Unmade known to be in Kholinar, it’s a bit much to try to find yet another one causing trouble there!
M: There are probably other effects of the Unmade throughout the books that we just haven’t linked to them yet. For example, Brandon has told us that an Unmade influenced Shallan’s family during her childhood (WoB), though we don’t know which one. Who has theories?
A: For lack of fitting with any of the others, I’m going to go with Chemoarish. Someone called the Dustmother seems like a fitting influence over that hapless household.
M: Finally, Jezrien mentions an Unmade called “the Faceless” when he’s babbling at Dalinar. Who could that be referring to?
M: Oh, oh I forgot one other tidbit. Dalinar sees the storm striders and so do Shallan and Kaladin: “a gargantuan figure that moved on spindly glowing legs.” These might be Unmade using the Storms to move around. Or maybe they are something else entirely!
Welp. We seem to have found a fair bit to say about a bunch of mysterious beings! What did we miss? What theories do you hold? Let’s dive into those comments!! Next week, we hope to be back with a summary of what we know about Shadesmar and its more interesting denizens, so be sure to join us then!
Oh, and if there are any other topics you’d like to see addressed in this series, please mention them in the comments! We still have a few months before the Rhythm of War release!
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).
Megan is a Sanderson Beta-Reader and longtime fan. She is super excited for the fans to get their first new look at Rhythm of War!