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Immortal Words

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Immortal Words
First Ideal poster.jpg
Related to Knights Radiant
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
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You can drink in the Stormlight and command it. But being a Radiant was more than that. It was their way of life, the things they did. The Immortal Words.

Teft[1]

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.[2] While the general idea behind every Ideal is the same between members of a certain order, the exact wording can change based on the individual journey of each Radiant. The Stormfather has a measure of control over when individuals in at least some orders are able to progress in their oaths.[3]

Purpose[edit]

The primary purpose of the Ideals was to serve as a restraints to help guide and control the Radiants for how they were to live their lives.[4] Nohadon may reference some of these in his book, The Way of Kings as Nohadon was a Surgebinder himself.[1]

A nascent Surgebinder speaks the first Ideal and with each subsequent Ideal they gain greater 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.[1]

The First Ideal[edit]

Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.

— The First Ideal of the Knights Radiant[1]

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.[1] While saying the other Ideals appear to be essential to their corresponding increases in Surgebinding ability, speaking the First Ideal does not seem to be a prerequisite to gaining a basic capacity to Surgebind, 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.

—Teft[1]

It should be noted that the Oaths are about each individual Radiant and his or her spren's perception of them and,[3] since Teft was not a Radiant when he explained the Ideal to Kaladin, he may not have realized the extent of the room for variation in interpreting the First Ideal. Furthermore, as he eventually becomes a Windrunner, his explanation of the First Ideal likely hews closer to how that Order would interpret it. Notably, the Order of Skybreakers and the Order of Elsecallers would accept a more Machiavellian interpretation of the First Ideal and the Elsecallers in particular view the "journey" as that of the entire species.[5][6]

Subsequent Ideals of Individual Orders[edit]

After the First Ideal, each Order has unique words that serve as a path to increasing the Nahel Bond and becoming a Knight Radiant. The exact words used may vary, but generally, the concepts implied by them are shared. 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.[7]

Ideals of the Windrunners[edit]

I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.

—The Second Ideal of the Windrunners, as sworn by Kaladin[7] and Lopen[3]

The Second Ideal's oath of protection reflects the Windrunners' primary theme as well as that of Jezrien, the Order's Herald patron whose divine attributes are protecting and leading.[8] Upon swearing the Second Ideal, a Windrunner gains access to both of their surges.

The Windrunners have full access to both of their surges after swearing the Second Ideal.

I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right.

— The Third Ideal of the Windrunners, as sworn by Kaladin[9]

I will protect even those I hate, even if the one I hate most is myself.

— The Third Ideal of the Windrunners, as sworn by Teft[10]

I’ve got to protect people, you know? Even from myself.

— The Third Ideal of the Windrunners, as sworn by Lopen[11]

Upon swearing their Third Ideal, a Windrunner gains the ability to summon their honorspren as a Shardweapon.

I accept that there will be those I cannot protect

— The Fourth Ideal of the Windrunners, as sworn by Kaladin[12]

The Fourth Ideal has to do with not being able to protect some people, accepting that fact and leaving them to their fates in order to move on. This is outlined by the unnamed Windrunner's entry in the Urithiru gem archive[13] as well as the situation in which Kaladin tries and fails to swear the Ideal, because he is not (yet) able to let go of those he failed and still torments himself over their deaths.[10]

Ideals of the Skybreakers[edit]

I will put the law before all else.

— A general form of The Second Ideal of the Skybreakers[14]

I swear to seek justice, to let it guide me, until I find a more perfect Ideal.

— The Second Ideal of the Skybreakers, as sworn by Szeth[15]

The Second Ideal, also called the Ideal of Justice, is a specific oath to seek and administer justice.[16]

I swear to follow the will of Dalinar Kholin. This is my oath.

— The Third Ideal of the Skybreakers, as sworn by Szeth[3]

The Third Ideal, also called the Ideal of Dedication, this is a specific oath to dedicate oneself to a greater truth. A Skybreaker squire must first bond their highspren before taking this oath, and it is the minimum oath required before the Surge of Division can be used. Once sworn, one is considered to be a full member of the Skybreakers.[16]

I will cleanse the Shin of their false leaders, so long as Dalinar Kholin agrees.

— The Fourth Ideal of the Skybreakers, as sworn by Szeth[3].

The Fourth Ideal, also called the Ideal of Crusade, and requires that a Skybreaker undertake a personal quest and complete it to the satisfaction of their highspren. Once completed, the Skybreaker is elevated to the rank of master.[16]

The Final Ideal, called the Ideal of Law, requires the Skybreaker to swear an oath that they will become a personification of law and truth. The Skybreakers consider one to be a full member after swearing the Third Ideal, at which point they have access to both of their surges.[16]

Ideals of the Edgedancers[edit]

I will remember those who have been forgotten.

— The Second Ideal of the Edgedancers, as sworn by Lift[17]

I will listen to those who have been ignored.

—The Third Ideal of the Edgedancers, as sworn by Lift[18]

Upon swearing their Third Ideal, an Edgedancer gains the ability to summon their cultivationspren as a Shardweapon.

Ideals of the Lightweavers[edit]

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.[19]

Ideals of Willshapers[edit]

I will seek freedom for those in bondage.

— The Second Ideal of the Willshapers, as sworn by Venli[20]

Ideals of the Bondsmiths[edit]

I will unite instead of divide. I will bring men together.

— The Second Ideal of the Bondsmiths, as sworn by Dalinar Kholin[2]

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

— The Third Ideal of the Bondsmiths as sworn by Dalinar Kholin[10]

The Ideals of the Order of Bondsmiths seems to be tied to uniting men and possibly Surgebinders. They seem to be the Ideals most closely connected to governance.

Ideals of Unknown Orders[edit]

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.

— Unknown Ideal of an Order of Knights Radiant[21]

The Fifth Ideal[edit]

Swearing the Fifth Ideal, also known as the Final Ideal, will grant a Knight Radiant full access to their powers. In addition, swearing the Fifth Ideal fully completes the Nahel bond between a Radiant and their spren. Once sworn, the bond becomes so strong that killing the Radiant is one of the only known ways to break the bond. Prior to swearing the Fifth Ideal, other ways exist to break the bond.[22]

Although swearing the Fifth Ideal allows a Radiant to fully master their powers, it is not necessary to do so in order to be considered a Knight Radiant or to access their primary powers. In fact, it is such a difficult process that the Order of the Skybreakers has not had someone swear the Fifth Ideal for centuries.[16]

Trivia[edit]

  • Brandon intended for sets of Ideals across Orders (e.g. the Third Ideal) to have a theme, though not all oaths will follow the pattern.[23]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b c d e f The Way of Kings chapter 59 #
  2. a b Words of Radiance chapter 89 #
  3. a b c d e Oathbringer chapter 121 #
  4. Words of Radiance chapter 42 epigraph#
  5. Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-03#
  6. Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-03#
  7. a b The Way of Kings chapter 67 #
  8. The Way of Kings Ars Arcanum #
  9. Words of Radiance chapter 84 #
  10. a b c Oathbringer chapter 119 #
  11. Dawnshard epilogue #
  12. Rhythm of War chapter 108 #
  13. Oathbringer chapter 86 epigraph#
  14. Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-21#
  15. Oathbringer chapter 92 #
  16. a b c d e Oathbringer chapter 90 #
  17. Words of Radiance interlude I-9 #
  18. Edgedancer chapter 19 #
  19. Words of Radiance chapter 87 #
  20. Rhythm of War chapter 60 #
  21. Words of Radiance signing Houston
    Arcanum - 2014-03-11#
  22. Oathbringer chapter 108 #
  23. Skyward Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-16#
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