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Shard

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Shard
The Roshards by jurassicpencil.jpg
by jurassicpencil
Related to Adonalsium, Investiture
Universe Cosmere
This page contains information for the Shards of Adonalsium. For information regarding the armaments used on Roshar, see Shardblade or Shardplate.

The Shards are not God, but they are pieces of God. Ruin, Preservation, Autonomy, Cultivation, Devotion...There are sixteen of them.

The Shards of Adonalsium, or Shards for short, are sixteen pieces of the power of creation.[2] They are each named after specific actions or ideals, which represent the Shard's primary purpose or motivation. A person who has taken up the power of a Shard is the Vessel of that Shard.[3]

The Shards are the most powerful entities in the cosmere, and for all intents and purposes, serve as cosmere's gods. Most, if not all magic systems are related to them.

Introduction[edit]

Ruin and Preservation inhabited power and energy in the same way a person inhabits flesh and blood.

Power[edit]

Each Shard is a piece of the power of creation with a specific motivation, such as to destroy or to preserve. Those fragments each began their existence with equal level of power; however, over time many have diminished, whether through conflict or by the act of Investing a world -- imbuing it with Investiture. Each Shard has its own Investiture; while a Shard can co-opt the Investiture of another Shard, that Investiture will become noticeably red.[5]

Investing in a world will produce numerous effects, most notably the creation of a magic system tied to the Shard. While a Shard doesn't have complete control over how the magic system functions or what it does, it can manipulate its mechanics to an extent.[2][6] Moreover, the presence of a Shard leads to the formation of a Perpendicularity, a well of the Shard's Investiture that pierces all three Realms, allowing for the existence of worldhopping.[7] The Shard can also influence the world in other ways; examples of such influence are atium and lerasium on Scadrial, the Tears of Edgli on Nalthis, or the many spren of Roshar.

Vessel[edit]

To function properly, a Shard requires a Vessel -- a mind to control it, belonging to a sapient creature from the Physical Realm, such as a human.[8] One doesn't need to be able to use Investiture in order to become a Vessel, but the ability does help.[9] What becoming a Vessel requires above all is Connection to the Shard in question, whether forged artificially or driven by a natural inclination towards the Shard's intent.[3]

The act of becoming a Vessel is called Ascension, and causes the Vessel's body to vaporize, allowing their mind to expand.[2] From then on, the Vessel and the Shard are intertwined; the Vessel gets to set some general course of how the Shard's power is defined, and feeds off the Shard's power to remain alive, but the Shard's power is the driving force between the two. Over centuries, the Vessel's mind begins to change to fit the Shard's intent more perfectly.[10][11][12]

A Shard can be killed by Splintering it, breaking its power down further into smaller pieces, called splinters; the easiest way to achieve that is by killing the mind.[1] The actual death of a Vessel, however, can take up to hundreds of years.[13] If the Shard is taken up before the Vessel dies completely, splintering can be prevented;[1] if not, the power will become wild and dangerous.[14] When a Vessel dies, the person's original body rematerializes and falls to the ground as a corpse.[15]

It is possible for a Vessel to be separated from their Shard without dying or Splintering the Shard they held.[16][17]

History[edit]

For the histories of individual Shards, see their respective pages.

I have delved and searched, and have only been able to come up with a single name: Adonalsium. Who, or what, it was, I do not yet know.

It is unknown what precisely Adonalsium was, though it has been referred to numerous times as the power of creation, suggesting it to be the progenitor god of the cosmere. At some point in the distant past, on the planet of Yolen, sixteen people conspired to kill it, and succeeded in an event known as the Shattering of Adonalsium.[1] Some of those people were romantically involved; others were related to each other.[19][20] All of them were mortal at some point.[21]

Following the Shattering, the power that comprised Adonalsium broke into sixteen pieces, each polarized to one particular aspect of it, such as Ruin or Endowment. Those pieces, each equal in power, became known as the Shards. The sixteen killers of Adonalsium each took up one of the Shards, Ascending and becoming the first Vessels.[1] Following their Ascension, each of the Vessels departed Yolen. Some settled on various planets, henceforth dubbed Shardworlds; others set no roots.[22]

Originally, the Shards made a pact not to interfere with each other; however, only a few Shards kept to it.[23] The pact was not, it seems, set in stone, as even the Shard of oathkeeping, Honor, felt no qualms about travelling with Cultivation.[24]

Over the millennia, several Shards have passed away, one way or another. The most common cause of death for them were actions of one specific Shard, Odium, who went on a killing spree, splintering Ambition, Devotion, Dominion and Honor before eventually being trapped in the Rosharan system by the remnants of the latter.[25] Preservation passed hands several times before being merged with Ruin into Harmony;[26] by contrast, Autonomy spread, creating avatars to inhabit numerous Shardworlds, including Obrodai and First of the Sun.[27]

At least one of the Vessels regrets taking up a Shard, though which one that would be is unknown.[28] There are living descendants of some of them still alive.[21]

Known Shards[edit]

Shard Vessel World Books References
Devotion Aona (deceased) Sel Elantris [29][30][31][32]
Dominion Skai (deceased) Sel Elantris [33][31][32]
Preservation Sazed (formerly Leras, Kelsier, and Vin) Scadrial Mistborn (series) [34][32]
Ruin Sazed (formerly Ati) Scadrial Mistborn (series) [34][32]
Odium Rayse Braize The Stormlight Archive [35][32]
Cultivation Unknown Roshar The Stormlight Archive [36][32]
Honor Tanavast (deceased) Roshar The Stormlight Archive [37][32]
Endowment Edgli Nalthis Warbreaker [38][32]
Autonomy Bavadin Taldain White Sand, Sixth of the Dusk [34][32]
Ambition Uli Da (deceased) Threnody Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell [39][40][41]

While most Shardworlds have only one Shard, Sel and Scadrial are both dishardic, hosting two Shards each.[14][42] Roshar, on the other hand, is the only known example of a world influenced by three Shards.[25]

Several of the known Shards are dead in the current time, with Ambition, Honor, Devotion and Dominion all being splintered.[25] Ruin and Preservation, on the other hand, have blended together into Harmony, albeit they remain somewhat separate within this unified construct.[26]

Unnamed Shards[edit]

Some men, as they age, grow wiser. I am not one of those, for wisdom and I have always been at cross-purposes, and I have yet to learn the tongue in which she speaks.

Hoid implying the existence of another Shard[43]

There remain six Shards that have not been named, nor referred to explicitely in text. Very little is known about them.

What is known is that there exists a Shard with intent similar to Wisdom, that once sought to hide and survive, but has over time realized that this isn't the most desirable course of action.[44][45] Hoid and this Shard seem to be antagonistic towards each other, though this appears to be a common thread in his relations with all Vessels.[43][46]

There exists a Shard that wishes only to hide and survive.[47] It's possible that this refers to "wisdom". There's also at least one unknown Shard that doesn't inhabit any planet.[22] Moreover, at least one unknown Shard has been mentioned as having been splintered, although this may refer to Ambition, who was unnamed at the time this information appeared.[48]

When asked about what Vessel he would become, Brandon suggested Ingenuity, implying that it might be another Shard.[49][50] Likewise, Prudence was suggested to be a very Shardic name.[45] However, neither Ingenuity nor Prudence have been confirmed as Shards.

Powers and Abilities[edit]

The power of ancient Adonalsium permeates him. And controls him. Odium is a force like pressure, gravitation, or the movement of time. These things cannot break their own rules. Nor can he.

Shards possess incredible power -- a single Shard can easily move entire planets and alter people down to genetic level.[52] They exist in all three Realms, but unlike other living beings, vast majority of their power is concentrated in the Cognitive and Spiritual. Time matters little to them, and can bend and stretch as they wish it.[53]

As Investiture never truly goes away, a Shard has access to a functionally-endless supply of it; however, there is a finite amount that a Vessel can command at any one time. This also means that while all Investiture in the cosmere is assigned to one Shard or another, a Shard cannot truly command all of it at once.[54] As such, while powerful, Shards are neither omniscient, nor omnipresent or omnipotent.

A Shard's power can be temporarily diminished, either by assigning it to other living creatures (like people or spren) or by sending it back to Spiritual Realm, for example, by burning atium. Moreover, Shards are, as powers, bound to follow higher rules; a deal, once made by a Shard, cannot be broken, and they must absolutely obey the rules that govern them.[51]

Each Shard appears particularly predisposed towards acting in line with their intent; for example, Preservation finds it near-impossible to destroy, while it's extremely easy for Ruin.[55] This is partially influenced by the personality change brought about by the Shard.[56] However, whether their intents provide Shards with actual unique powers is unknown.

Individual Powers[edit]

Movement[edit]

Shards are capable of appearing in various parts of their own Invested worlds instantaneously.[57] They can also travel to other planets by willing themselves to do so.[58][59] However, when a Shard Invests its power in a world, it's bound to it and will have difficulty leaving the system it's in.[60] Shards can also trap each other in systems, though the precise mechanics of it are unknown.[61]

Communication[edit]

Shards have several ways of communicating with people. Some Shards can speak directly into the minds of others, while others can listen.[62] A Shard can also communicate with a person directly through dreams or visions, and even take on a physical form -- a puppet of sorts, serving as a Physical outlet for communication.[61][63] While the visions and speaking directly into a mind are limited to a single person, a puppet can be seen by many people.[64]

A Shard can also communicate directly with Cognitive Shadows, and is capable of bilocation -- being present in several places at once -- within its sphere of influence.[65]

Creating Sapience[edit]

Shards can use their power to create complex constructs, capable of continuing their function past the Shard's death. Examples of such constructs are the snapping mists of Preservation,[66] and the vision journal of Honor.[67] Shards can also create sapient beings out of their power -- this is most commonly seen on Roshar, with its overabundance of spren. Many of them, like Stormfather, Nightwatcher and honorspren, were created by local Shards.[68][63]

Shards can also create avatars, personas that can act independently of them.[69] Avatars can be of any gender, race and species, regardless of the original Vessel creating them, and can be formed at a considerable distance from the main body of the Shard, with many different avatars able to exist on a single Shardworld.[70][71][70] Though a Shard can create them directly, avatars can also from without a conscious decision on the Shard's part, though the Shard is still aware of what is happening.[69] When created directly, however, they can be instilled with specific traits.[72]

Avatars are, in a way, considered to be Shards in their own right.[73] Known ones include Patji and the Sand Lord, both of Autonomy.[74][75] It is difficult, but possible for someone to become a Vessel of an avatar.[76]

Shardic power is also directly related to sentience and sapience. Close presence of a particular Shard, such as Cultivation, can lead to surrounding beings developing higher levels of sapience.[77] Shardic power can also grant sentience directly -- Scadrians are sapient due to Preservation's power within them, and Nightblood's sapience is partially derived from his large quantity of Breaths. Splinters can also become sapient.[78] Even the raw power of a Shard, if left alone and without a Vessel, will eventually begin to form a rudimentary mind.[14]

Magic Generation[edit]

When a Shard Invests a world, it will begin to fuel the local magic system. Each Shard can do this differently, though much of the system is dictated by the planet itself. Because of this connection to the magic, a Shard is able to directly interact with its users and provide Investiture when necessary, without the need for intermediaries.[2]

While not all magic systems in the cosmere are directly tied to a Shard, Shardic presence greatly influences the shape a magic system takes. On a Shardworld, magic forms as a result of the interactions between Shard's power, Realmatics, the world's natural inclinations and, in some places, even genetics.[2] For this reason, the exact function magic performs will not always be related to the Shard's nature -- for example, Surgebinding, despite being powered by Honor, is capable of manipulating Division, separating things. However, how the magic is obtained is, in fact, tied to the Shard.[79] Hemalurgy demands that a person be destroyed, in line with the intent of Ruin, while Surgebinding demands forging bonds.

Futuresight[edit]

It's as if the future is a shattering window. The further you look, the more pieces that window breaks into. The near future can be anticipated, but the distant future… I can only guess.

Shards can perceive the future, although it can be difficult for them. Some are better at it than others, with Cultivation and Preservation in particular being noted as particularly excelling.[67][80] Like all seers, Shards utilize Fortune to see ahead; and, like all seers, they can be wrong about both what they see and how they interpret it.[81] Shardic power can also be utilized by others to perceive the future like they do: examples of this are atium, as well as the visions of the Returned.[82]

This page or section deals with theories or speculation.
Please read carefully and note that this is not necessarily canonical.

It has been speculated that the Shard's intent is tied to its proficiency in futuresight. Preservation, as a Shard dedicated to keeping things existing, and Cultivation, a Shard dedicated to growing something in a desired form, would hold a natural interest in predicting what the future will hold. As such, they would be particularly excellent at seeing it. By contrast, a Shard like Ruin, which is interested only in destroying things, and Honor, about holding to one's oaths no matter what, would not have "seeing ahead" as part of their nature.

Forms and Subdivisions[edit]

I'm still a spren. I’m a little piece of God.

Syl[83]

The raw Investiture of a Shard can take distinct forms and states. As a solid, the Investiture is metallic, and is thus sometimes referred to as a godmetal. Examples of godmetals are atium, lerasium and the alloy of Honor and Cultivation that forms Shardblades. Godmetals typically have properties within the Metallic Arts, regardless of what Shard they're aligned with.[2]

Shardic power is the most potent as a liquid.[2] It typically coalesces in one place on a planet, forming a perpendicularity. A perpendicularity represents a tremendous amount of power, enough so to pierce all three Realms, allowing people to slide between them.[84] Examples of such perpendicularities are the Well of Ascension, the Pits of Hathsin, or the Lake.

As a gas, the Shardic power can take on a number of different functions. Examples of Investiture in gaseous forms include Breath, Stormlight, and Preservation's mists. All can serve as fuel for magic. In both Awakening and Surgebinding, gaseous Investiture is, in fact, the primary source of magic, but even in systems that use other substances, like Allomancy, gaseous Investiture can serve the same purpose.[2]

Slivers[edit]

A Sliver is a person who has held the power of a Shard, and then released it.[85] This "stretches" a person's spiritweb, noticeably altering them. There is some grey area as to how much power one needs to have to be considered a Sliver; however, a person who directly handled Shardic power is the most straightforward example. The Lord Ruler and Kelsier would both be considered Slivers, while Elantrians and Returned would not.[86]

Splinters[edit]

Splinter is a fragment of a Shard's power, similar to how a Shard is a fragment of Adonalsium's power. Unlike Slivers of Cognitive Shadows, Splinters don't generally have a Physical component.[87] They often have a mind of their own, separate and distinct from that of their parent Shard.[88] They can form in two distinct ways: either by the Shard being splintered (killed), or by the Shard directly splitting off splinters of itself.[89][68]

Splinters can be comprised of the Investiture of one or more Shards.[90] Examples of splinters include the divine Breath of the Returned,[91] Aons within seons, and spren.[92]

See Also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b c d e Mistborn: Secret History part 3 chapter 2 Summary: Mistborn: Secret History/Part_3_Chapter_2#
  2. a b c d e f g h Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  3. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 5 chapter 2 Summary: Mistborn: Secret History/Part_5_Chapter_2#
  4. The Hero of Ages chapter 14 epigraph Summary: The Hero of Ages/Epigraphs/Chapter_14#
  5. Oathbringer San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-15#
  6. General Twitter 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-11-14#
  7. Oathbringer chapter 119 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_119#
  8. Bands of Mourning release party
    Arcanum - 2016-01-25#
  9. /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-15#
  10. Annotation for The Hero of Ages chapter 58 Cite: Annotation/The Hero of Ages/58#
  11. Alloy of Law 17th Shard Q&A
    Arcanum - 2011-11-05#
  12. The Way of Kings chapter 18 epigraph Summary: The Way of Kings/Epigraphs/Chapter_18#
  13. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  14. a b c Arcanum Unbounded - The Selish System Summary: Arcanum Unbounded/The_Selish_System#
  15. The Hero of Ages chapter 56 epigraph Summary: The Hero of Ages/Epigraphs/Chapter_56#
  16. Firefight Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2015-02-20#
  17. Calamity Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-22#
  18. The Hero of Ages chapter 39 epigraph Summary: The Hero of Ages/Epigraphs/Chapter_39#
  19. Firefight Seattle UBooks signing
    Arcanum - 2015-01-06#
  20. Rithmatist Albuquerque signing
    Arcanum - 2013-05-22#
  21. a b Starsight Release Party
    Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
  22. a b Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-05#
  23. Oathbringer chapter 39 epigraph Summary: Oathbringer/Epigraphs/Chapter_39#
  24. Legion Release Party
    Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
  25. a b c Arcanum Unbounded - The Rosharan System Summary: Arcanum Unbounded/The_Rosharan_System#
  26. a b Alloy of Law Milton Keynes signing
    Arcanum - 2011-11-21#
  27. Skyward Pre-Release AMA
    Arcanum - 2018-10-27#
  28. Skyward Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-10#
  29. General Twitter 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-02-19#
  30. A Memory of Light Signing Milford
    Arcanum - 2013-02-16#
  31. a b The Way of Kings chapter 22 epigraph Summary: The Way of Kings/Epigraphs/Chapter_22#
  32. a b c d e f g h i Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A
    Arcanum - 2009-07-08#
  33. Alloy of Law Seattle Signing
    Arcanum - 2011-11-11#
  34. a b c Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  35. Oslo signing, 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-05-30#
  36. 17th Shard Interview
    Arcanum - 2010-10-03#
  37. General Twitter 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-03-21#
  38. Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A
    Arcanum - 2009-07-08#
  39. Arcanum Unbounded - The Threnodite System Summary: Arcanum Unbounded/The_Threnodite_System#
  40. Oathbringer chapter 40 epigraph Summary: Oathbringer/Epigraphs/Chapter_40#
  41. Oathbringer Houston signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-18#
  42. Arcanum Unbounded - The Scadrian System Summary: Arcanum Unbounded/The_Scadrian_System#
  43. a b Oathbringer chapter 68 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_68#
  44. Stuttgart signing
    Arcanum - 2019-05-17#
  45. a b Prague Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-10-26#
  46. Prague Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-10-26#
  47. General Signed Books 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-11-08#
  48. Idaho Falls signing 2014
    Arcanum - 2014-11-29#
  49. MisCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-05-26#
  50. Sofia signing
    Arcanum - 2017-03-28#
  51. a b Oathbringer chapter 16 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_16#
  52. The Hero of Ages chapter 4 epigraph Summary: The Hero of Ages/Epigraphs/Chapter_4#
  53. The Hero of Ages chapter 17 epigraph Summary: The Hero of Ages/Epigraphs/Chapter_17#
  54. Oathbringer London signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  55. Mistborn: Secret History part 2 chapter 3 Summary: Mistborn: Secret History/Part_2_Chapter_3#
  56. West Jordan signing
    Arcanum - 2011-12-15#
  57. The Hero of Ages chapter 76 Summary: The Hero of Ages/Chapter_76#
  58. The Way of Kings chapter 21 epigraph Summary: The Way of Kings/Epigraphs/Chapter_21#
  59. Ancient 17S Q&A
    Arcanum - 2010-05-01#
  60. Phoenix Comicon 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-05-24#
  61. a b Oathbringer chapter 57 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_57#
  62. The Hero of Ages chapter 48 Summary: The Hero of Ages/Chapter_48#
  63. a b Oathbringer chapter 114 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_114#
  64. Oathbringer chapter 115 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_115#
  65. Mistborn: Secret History part 1 chapter 1 Summary: Mistborn: Secret History/Part_1_Chapter_1#
  66. Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A
    Arcanum - 2009-07-08#
  67. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 75 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_75#
  68. a b Oathbringer chapter 108 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_108#
  69. a b Prague Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-10-26#
  70. a b General Reddit 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-11-28#
  71. /r/Cosmere
    Arcanum - 2018-03-18#
  72. Oathbringer chapter 50 epigraph Summary: Oathbringer/Epigraphs/Chapter_50#
  73. Oathbringer signing London
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  74. Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-21#
  75. Shadows of Self release party
    Arcanum - 2015-10-05#
  76. Starsight Release Party
    Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
  77. Shadows of Self Denver signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-06#
  78. Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-01#
  79. /r/fantasy AMA 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-08-31#
  80. Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  81. Oathbringer chapter 122 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_122#
  82. Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson
    Arcanum - 2011-01-10#
  83. Oathbringer chapter 91 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_91#
  84. Arcanum Unbounded - The Drominad System Summary: Arcanum Unbounded/The_Drominad_System#
  85. Vericon 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-03-19#
  86. Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A
    Arcanum - 2010-01-18#
  87. Vericon 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-03-19#
  88. West Jordan signing
    Arcanum - 2011-08-04#
  89. /r/Stormlight_Archive
    Arcanum - 2013-03-11#
  90. Writing for Charity Conference
    Arcanum - 2012-03-17#
  91. Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A
    Arcanum - 2010-01-18#
  92. Steelheart Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2013-10-05#
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