by Matthew Johnson
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”I am emotion incarnate. I am the soul of the spren and of men. I am lust, joy, hatred, anger, and exultation. I am glory and I am vice. I am the very thing that makes men men.
Odium is a Shard of Adonalsium held by Rayse. Unlike most other Shards, which typically pick a single world and settle there, Odium has been travelling freely throughout the cosmere for a long time, deliberately refusing to Invest himself anywhere. He is responsible for the deaths of four other Shards to date -- Devotion, Dominion, Ambition and Honor. In the present, he's confined to the planet Braize, but his influence can be felt on the entire Rosharan system.
- 1 Intent
- 2 Associated Magics
- 3 History
- 4 Influence
- 5 Trivia
- 6 Theories and Speculation
- 7 Notes
”They call me Odium. A good enough name. It does have a certain bite to it. But the word is too limiting to describe me, and you should know that it is not all I represent.
How to interpret the Shard of Odium is a matter of some debate. Frost claims a straightforward definition: that it is the wrath of god. Odium himself, however, claims that he's Passion, a Shard of emotions, in particular excessive emotions. Many of his splinters, the Unmade, represent giving into the sensations with nothing to rein them in - Ashertmarn wants people to mindlessly revel in what they feel, while Nergaoul inspires a battle rage. On the other hand, the overwhelming amount of emotions inspired by Odium are hateful, among them the aforementioned Thrill and the Rhythms of Odium-derived singer forms. Moreover, much of Odium's influence promotes apathy rather than passion, as his followers are encouraged to give up their sense of guilt and their pain.
It's worth noting that Rayse has a tendency towards self-deception, and that apart from him, everyone else understands him as the Shard of hatred. While it's possible for a Vessel to influence a Shard to an extent, Odium's declaration of being Passion should not be taken at face value.
Voidlight is the gaseous form of Odium's Investiture, analogous to Honor's stormlight. Unlike stormlight, however, Voidlight's applications are far more narrow. It can be utilized by the Fused to provide healing and fuel their use of Surges, and it might have some relation to the forms of power used by the Regals.
How Voidlight enters the Physical Realm is uncertain. In the past, it was provided by Ba-Ado-Mishram, and possibly through other means. How it's supplied during the True Desolation is yet to be revealed, though if it's similar to stormlight in that respect, it may come from the Everstorm.
The Rosharan magic system associated with Odium is Voidbinding. Very little is known about it at the moment, including the specific powers it grants or the method of aquiring the ability to Voidbind. What is known is that there are ten levels to it, and that it involves something called the Voidbindings, which might be the name of individual powers, analogous to Surges. It's highly likely predicting the future is one of those powers.
Despite his reservations about Investing into a planet, Odium has created numerous spren in the Rosharan system, known collectively as voidspren. Some of them are intelligent, and capable of autonomous thought despite not being bonded to an living creature, in contrast to most spren of Honor or Cultivation. Others are as mindless as ordinary emotion or nature spren. Singers can bond the latter to become Regals, taking the spren into their gemhearts to gain forms with supernatural abilities ranging from summoning lightning to speaking all languages.
Standing apart from regular voidspren are the Unmade, a group of nine great splinters of Odium, each granted immense power. What power this is precisely varies from Unmade to Unmade -- some are capable of influencing human mind, some can grant powers to other creatures, while others have the ability to corrupt spren. Likewise, their level of intelligence varies, as while Sja-Anat is almost humanlike, Nergaoul behaves more like a force of nature or an animal.
Fused are Cognitive Shadows of singers bound to Odium. This grants them numerous benefits, chief among them the ability to resurrect by taking over a body of their living kinsmen. During the True Desolation, this can occur when the Everstorm passes over a singer who has been mentally primed to let something into their gemheart. How it happened before the Everstorm existed is unknown.
Other than the ability to resurrect, the Fused possess other powers. They can use voidlight to heal themselves, as well to fuel their use of Surges. Unlike Surgebinders, however, the Fused have access to only one Surge each.
Creation and initial killings
Odium was created at the Shattering, when the creator god, Adonalsium, was killed by sixteen people, splitting him into sixteen Shards. One of those killers was Rayse, who chose for himself the Shard of Odium.
At some point after Ascending, Odium went after one of his fellow Shards, Ambition, as he felt threatened by her intent. However, before he could find her, he located two other Shards from his hit list, Devotion and Dominion, in the Selish system. Through means unknown, Odium managed to kill and splinter them both. To prevent their remaining power from gaining intelligence of its own, he then pulled them out of the Spiritual Realm and stuffed it into the Cognitive, creating the Dor and causing Sel's magic systems to become location-dependent. This being said, he wasn't very experienced at the time, and his countermeasure failed as the Dor did, indeed, begin to gain a measure of sentience.
After creating the Dor, Odium went on to Threnodite system, where he fought and subsequently killed Ambition and its Vessel, Uli Da. While fighting, Ambition was dealt a grievous wound, and chunks of her power were flung into Threnody, greatly affecting the system in ways not yet fully understood. This being said, the final splintering took place beyond the system.
Battle with Honor
Next, Odium set out for Rosharan system, seeking to kill either Honor, Cultivation or both. While the singers refused him, humans were willing to give him more of an ear, and the singers came to consider him a human god. It can be assumed that Odium was crucial in the breakdown of the relations between the two species. Eventually, for unknown reasons, a swap occured, whereupon singers came to worship Odium while humans began serving Honor and Cultivation. Both sides created their own immortal armies - Odium, the Fused, and Honor, the Heralds.
”I am … I was … God. The one you call the Almighty, the creator of mankind. And now I am dead. Odium has killed me. I am sorry.—Tanavast
Somewhere around that time, Honor and Odium fought, the former with assistance from Cultivation. Unlike other Shards, Honor prepared, and his particular nature as the Shard of binding allowed him to tie Odium to one of the system's planets, Braize. Honor additionally crafted the Oathpact, which would use the Heralds to imprison Odium's forces on Braize along with their master. Unfortunately for Honor, Odium was a much better fighter at this point, and Tanavast was killed.
Unfortunately for Odium, killing Honor did not free him from Braize, and the sacrifice of the Herald Taln meant that he could not send his armies to Roshar. And so, over the next four and a half thousand years, he prepared for the time when Taln would break, allowing for one last Desolation -- the True Desolation.
There were several elements of the plan. One, as one of his Unmade, Nergaoul, was still free, Odium sent him to Alethkar to faciliate the Thrill among the Alethi. Over the centuries, the battle-rage brought about by Nergaoul became normal, and even desirable for the Alethi men, which would later allow Odium to use it to control them. Moreover, the Thrill allowed Odium to groom a champion whom he could later put in command of his armies and use to release himself. In the final decades of the Era of Solitude, such a potential champion appeared in the form of Dalinar Kholin. Odium focused on him to ensure he had as many hooks in him as possible.
Odium also focused on the listeners, a group of singers who denied him some centuries prior. On the day of a treaty between them and the Alethi, Odium used one of his voidspren to lead them to buy an assassin, Szeth, which came in handy when Eshonai, found out that the Alethi king, Gavilar Kholin, intended to release the very gods the listers had once fled. Whether Gavilar's plan was inspired by Odium or just a happy coincidence, it was certainly useful, as it pushed the listeners to assassinate him, leading to the War of Reckoning. The War brought tremendous losses to the listeners, until the idea of assuming a form of power grew appealing to them. Odium then used the stormform and the change of personality it brought in Eshonai to persuade the listeners to summon the Everstorm, kickstaring the True Desolation.
Preparing a champion
As the True Desolation began and the Fused started taking over human territory, Odium focused on Dalinar Kholin while maneuvering his forces towards Thaylen City, where the confrontation between the two sides would occur. He hijacked one of Dalinar's visions and let the other man believe that Odium was the Almighty for a short while before revealing himself. Although Dalinar refused to release him at the time, Odium was certain that Dalinar would eventually do so, and showed him his true form when Dalinar began to get too comfortable. He did not, however, agree to the contest of champions Dalinar suggested.
At the same time, he also interacted with Venli, stopping the Fused from taking her over and turning her into an envoyform instead to spread his propaganda. When she didn't work hard enough to his satisfaction, he threatened her, causing Venli to futher reconsider her current allegiance.
Dalinar and Odium spoke once more in a different vision, after Dalinar attempted to negotiate with Venli. Odium initially attempted to tear the vision apart, although Dalinar managed to send Venli out of it before that could happen. Odium then appeared to Dalinar and scolded him for thinking that any sort of accord between the two races was possible, before reassuring Dalinar that peace would, indeed, happen -- after Roshar was destroyed.
Battle of Thaylen Field
Odium decided to lead his forces on Thaylen City personally, although he didn't intend to use the plain singers in battle. He first sent a pair of thunderclasts, one to destroy the city walls, and the other to get to the Thaylen Gemstone Reserve, along with Fused to ensure that the King's Drop wouldn't fall into the wrong hands. Then, Odium used Nergaoul and the Alethi dependence on the Thrill to possess the Sadeas princedom forces in the city and make them turn against their own allies.
”No. No, we killed you. WE KILLED YOU !—Odium upon seeing Honor's Perpendicularity
Odium then went, taking with him Venli and several other Fused, to confront Dalinar in front of the city. Dalinar once more repeated his demand for the contest of champions, and this time, Odium agreed, before revealing that his champion would be Dalinar himself. By reminding Dalinar of his past crimes, chief among them the murder of his wife, Evi, Odium attempted to persuade Dalinar to surrender his guilt and accept that it was all Odium's fault. However, though Dalinar was initially horrified, he refused to give in. Odium could only watch, speechless, as Dalinar's newfound resolve allowed him to swear the Third Ideal of the Bondsmiths and open Honor's Perpendicularity.
This development horrified Odium, especially when he recognized whatever Dalinar became at this moment. Realizing that he lost his trump card -- and that Dalinar could now push him into a real contest of champions -- Odium swiftly retreated from the field, leaving his armies to lose the battle.
Deal with Taravangian
King Taravangian of Kharbranth had been planning to strike a deal with Odium for some time, as neither he nor his Diagram believed that defeating a god would be plausible. As such, he found a way to communicate with the Shard, both by writing and through actions such as opening the Kholinar Oathgate to let the Voidbringers invade Urithiru.
Some time after the Battle of Thaylen Field, Odium obliged him, visiting him in Urithiru after Taravangian let him in by opening a window. Odium revealed that he knew perfectly well that Taravangian had both brilliant and less intelligent days, and deliberately visited on one of the latter, to make sure that Taravangian knew he had nothing to negotiate with. Though Odium praised the Diagram, he used it to show how much further his own future sight reached. This inadvertedly let Taravangian know that Odium was unable to perceive anything involving Renarin Kholin.
By reading the Diagram, Taravangian eventually managed to negotiate with Odium, though his initial offering of sparing anyone Taravangian ruled was discarded, with Odium pointing out that Taravangian sought to become the king of the whole of Roshar. Eventually, the two settled on sparing every citizen of Kharbranth and their spouses.
"Wait!" Kaladin said. "Why is there so much war? Must we always fight?" He wasn’t sure why he asked. The questions simply came out.
The storm rumbled, like a thoughtful aged father. The face vanished, shattering into droplets of water.
ODIUM REIGNS, the voice said more softly.
Throughout his existence, Odium has had profound effect on the cosmere and its various Shardworlds. He has, on occassion, been called the most frightening and terrible of all Shards, and with a good reason.
On Sel, Odium's influence is omnipresent -- literally so, as the Dor, created by him in the aftermath of his murder of Devotion and Dominion suffused the entirety of the planet's Cognitive Realm, fuelling the various magic systems. The seons and skaze, the splinters of Devotion and Dominion respectively, also owe their existence to Odium's killing of their parent Shards.
On Threnody, Odium's battle with Ambition had vast ramifications for the entire system, though what exactly this entails is unclear. It's possible that the Evil that had taken over Homeland, as well as the Shades, are a side effect of the battle between the Shards.
On Roshar, Odium's influence is felt most acutely through the numerous Desolations he caused, as well as the murder and subsequent splintering of Honor, which in many ways made Stormfather what he is today. He is known obliquely in the various religions of the world as the leader of the voidspren and the force behind the Voidbringers. In the present, the Everstorm and the True Desolation are his doing.
- Odium's original name was Hatred; Brandon changed it because, in his words, it was "too on-the-nose", while the name Odium brought the Shard a step closer to Passion.
- The mere mention of the word Odium makes Syl hiss.
- Odium is very scared of Harmony.
- Odium might currenly have an alliance -- or, at least, an understanding -- with Bavadin, the holder of Autonomy. He's also allied with a cosmere power other than her.
Theories and Speculation
The Broken One
”Three of sixteen ruled, but now the Broken One reigns.—Way of Kings, epigraph 11
Odium may be the one referred to as the Broken One. This quote mirrors how Stormfather talked to Kaladin and said "Odium reigns". The "sixteen" surely indicates the sixteen Shards, and indeed there are three Shards on Roshar. However, it is peculiar that if three reigned -- why is Odium (presumably one of the three) referred to so strangely as the "Broken One" here? It's possible to say that indeed Odium is one of the three mentioned rulers, and as to why he is called the Broken One, it can be said that while Odium ruled along with the other two Shards he was still solid and "whole" in the sense that he was of physical form. But, as indicated by Wit, he is more of a force than a living being so this Broken One status we can say is him becoming this force.
- Oathbringer chapter 57 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_57#
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- Arcanum Unbounded - The Rosharan System Summary: Arcanum Unbounded/The_Rosharan_System#
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- Words of Radiance chapter 71 epigraph Summary: Words of Radiance/Epigraphs/Chapter_71#
- Oathbringer chapter 84 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_84#
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- Words of Radiance interlude I-11 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-11#
- Oathbringer chapter 78 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_78#
- Oathbringer chapter 118 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_118#
- JordanCon 2018
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- JordanCon 2018
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- Alloy of Law 17th Shard Q&A
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- Oathbringer chapter 79 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_79#
- Oathbringer chapter 54 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_54#
- Oathbringer chapter 80 epigraph Summary: Oathbringer/Epigraphs/Chapter_80#
- Boskone 54
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- The Way of Kings chapter ars Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_ars#
- The Way of Kings chapter 18 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_18#
- Words of Radiance chapter 81 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_81#
- Oathbringer chapter 17 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_17#
- Oathbringer interlude I-3 Summary: Oathbringer/Interlude_I-3#
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- Oathbringer interlude I-6 Summary: Oathbringer/Interlude_I-6#
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- Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
— Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
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- Arcanum Unbounded - The Selish System Summary: Arcanum Unbounded/The_Selish_System#
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- Oathbringer chapter 111 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_111#
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- Oathbringer interlude I-5 Summary: Oathbringer/Interlude_I-5#
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- The Way of Kings chapter 46 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_46#
- The Way of Kings chapter 19 epigraph Summary: The Way of Kings/Epigraphs/Chapter_19#
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- Words of Radiance chapter 84 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_84#
- Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing
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- General Signed Books 2015
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- The Way of Kings chapter 11 epigraph Summary: The Way of Kings/Epigraphs/Chapter_11#
|Shards||Ambition · Autonomy · Cultivation · Devotion · Dominion · Endowment · Honor · Odium · Preservation · Ruin · Survival Shard|
|Planets||Ashyn · Braize · First of the Sun · Nalthis · Obrodai · Roshar · Scadrial · Sel · Taldain · Threnody · Vax · Yolen|
|Terms||Adonalsium · Sliver · Splinter · Realmatic Theory · Investiture · Connection · Identity · Fortune · Intention · Perpendicularity · Spiritweb · Resonance|
|Worldhoppers||Hoid · Khriss · Nazh · Iyatil · Mraize · Vasher · Vivenna · Galladon · Demoux · Baon · Felt · Nightblood|
|Other||Seventeenth Shard · Ire · Shattering · Letters · Silverlight|