by Rebecca Sorge
|Related to||Knights Radiant|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
The Immortal Words were a set of oaths sworn by the Knights Radiant in order to gain their Surgebinding abilities. There were five sets of Ideals for each order, with the first being the same among all orders, and the Order of Lightweavers being the exception as they swore no oaths past the first one.
The primary purpose of the Ideals was to serve as a guide to the Radiants for how they were to live their lives. These ideals were based off of the lessons taught in Nohadon's book, The Way of Kings. As the book had forty parables, it seems likely that each parable described an ideal of the Knights Radiant, excluding the First Ideal.
A nascent Surgebinder speaking an ideal of their order also increases their ability to infuse both themselves and other objects with Stormlight and lowers the amount of Stormlight they require to actualize an effect. It is also important to note that simply having the ability to infuse does not make one a Radiant, simply a Surgebinder. Only after Ideals are spoken does one become a Radiant. The Ideals were not simply a means to greater power, they were a way of life for the Radiants.
The First Ideal
”Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.— The First Ideal of the Knights Radiant
The First Ideal of the Knights Radiant is shared among all of the orders. Because of this, it serves as the motto for the entire order. Unlike the other Ideals, saying it does not seem to be a prerequisite to gaining further Surgebinding ability, as Kaladin first hears of it long after he first begins to infuse himself with Stormlight.
The First Ideal is not merely a statement of obvious truths. For example, even though people are always born before they die, that is not the knowledge that the First Ideal seeks to impart. As explained by Teft:
- Life before death
- The Radiant seeks to defend life, always. He never kills unnecessarily, and never risks his own life for frivolous reasons. Living is harder than dying. The Radiant's duty is to live.
- Strength before weakness
- All men are weak at some time in their lives. The Radiant protects those who are weak, and uses his strength for others. Strength does not make one capable of rule; it makes one capable of service.
- Journey before destination
- There are always several ways to achieve a goal. Failure is preferable to winning through unjust means. Protecting ten innocents is not worth killing one. In the end, all men die. How you lived will be far more important to the Almighty than what you accomplished.
Subsequent Ideals of Individual Orders
After the First Ideal, each order has unique words that serve as a path to increasing the Nahel Bond and becoming a Knights Radiant. It is unclear if the exact words used are important or if simply the concept implied by them is. A Surgebinder progressing along the path will know the words when they are ready to say them. Each order has four sets of words before the final culmination of the Nahel Bond.
Ideals of the Windrunners
The Ideals of the Order of Windrunners may be tied to the divine attributes of protecting and leading, as those are related to Jezrien This idea is enhanced by the Second Ideal of the Order of the Windrunners, which has to do with protection.
”I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.—The Second Ideal of the Windrunners
”I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right.— The Third Ideal of the Windrunners
Ideals of the Skybreakers
”I will put the law before all else.— The Second Ideal of the Skybreakers
Ideals of the Edgedancers
”I will remember those who have been forgotten.— The Second Ideal of the Edgedancers
”I will listen to those who have been ignored.—The Third Ideal of the Edgedancers
Ideals of the Lightweavers
The Order of Lightweavers acknowledge no Ideals other than the First Ideal shared by all Knights Radiant. Members of the Lightweavers do however need to speak "Truths" to advance, which is similar to the process of speaking the Ideals in other Orders. However, instead of a shared set of beliefs like the other orders, the Truths of Lightweavers seem to be acknowledgements of personal truths, especially those that are hard to accept or ones that have been kept secret.
Ideals of the Bondsmiths
The Ideals of the Order of Bondsmiths seems to be tied to uniting men and possibly surgebinders. They seem to be the Ideals closest connected to governance.
”I will unite instead of divide. I will bring men together.— The Second Ideal of the Bondsmiths
Ideals of Unknown Orders
The following are confirmed Ideals of an Order (subject to change), but the Order which speaks them has not been confirmed.
”I will stand when others fall.— It is speculated that this Ideal might fit the Stonewards.
- Words of Radiance chapter 89
- The Way of Kings chapter 59
- The Way of Kings chapter 58
- The Way of Kings chapter 67
- The Way of Kings Ars Arcanum
- Words of Radiance chapter 84
- What is the Skybreaker's Second Ideal?
— 17th Shard forums - 2014-03-22
- Words of Radiance interlude I-9
- Edgedancer chapter 19
- Words of Radiance chapter 87
- Brandon gave me an unpublished KR Ideal
— 17th Shard forums - 2014-03-03