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Order of Skybreakers

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Order of Skybreakers
Skybreakers glyph.svg
Gravitation
Division
Herald Nale
Spren Highspren
Surges Gravitation & Division
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
This page or section needs to be updated with new information for Rhythm of War!
Be aware that in its current state, it may not include all additional content yet.

I watched you destroy yourself in the name of order, watched you obey your personal code when others would have fled or crumbled. Szeth-son-Neturo, I watched you keep your word with perfection. This is a thing lost to most people--it is the only genuine beauty in the world. I doubt I have ever found a man more worthy of the Skybreakers than you.

Nale to Szeth[1]

The Order of Skybreakers is an order of the Knights Radiant on Roshar.[2]

The Skybreakers are Surgebinders who use the Surges of Gravitation and Division[3], and they are associated with the smokestone polestone. They form a Nahel bond with highspren.[4] They are widely thought of as fanatics in both Shadesmar and the physical realm. The Skybreakers were the only Radiant Order not to have abandoned their oaths on the Day of Recreance, and continued to operate in secret until the present day.[5]

Philosophy[edit]

The second is the Ideal of Justice, an oath to seek and administer justice.

—Ki explaining the Second Ideal of the Skybreakers[3]

The individuals who join the Skybreakers generally believe in following a strong moral code. They wish to prevent both anarchy and tyranny. To do so, they enforce the law on everyone. They particularly want to make sure the other Orders of Radiants do not use their powers to break the law and become tyrants. They used moral codes and legal structures to fight for justice and causes they believed in.[6]

Before the Recreance, the Skybreakers were merciful and understood that the law is not perfect. They viewed the law as an ideal to strive towards.[6] Highspren would accept their Radiants following codes that may endorse illegal activity. For example, a Skybreaker could follow the code of a criminal organization.[7] Since the Recreance, the Skybreakers have gotten far more strict and merciless in their behavior. The group largely seems to follow Nale's opinion on what codes and laws to follow.[8] This may be related to the fact that Nale has lost his ability to feel emotions under the torturing in Damnation. While they still follow the law to the letter, they are not above getting the law changed or instituting the most strict punishments possible to suit their needs.[9][10] Exploiting loopholes in codes is also encouraged among them.[11]

Ideals of the Skybreakers[edit]

The Ideals of the Knights Radiant, also known as the Immortal Words, are a set of rules by which the Radiants live. The First Ideal is shared by all of the orders, and is used as a motto for the Knights Radiant as a whole. Each of the orders then have an additional four Ideals that are unique to that order.[12] The Ideals of the Order of Skybreakers all focus on fighting for justice, upholding codes, and protecting civilization.[8] Their Ideals and interpretations would be compatible with the philosphy that the ends justifies the means.[13] Skybreakers tell their recruits all five Ideals when they swear the first one.[3]

The First Ideal[edit]

Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.

—The First Ideal of the Knights Radiant[12]

The First Ideal is also known to the Skybreakers as the Ideal of Radiance. Before swearing this Ideal, hopefuls travel with the Skybreakers on a mission. They must prove their dedication and solemnity on that mission to a full Skybreaker before they are deemed worthy of saying the Words. The Ideal of Radiance does not give powers or the ability to draw Stormlight, but it does qualify them for further tests among the Skybreakers so that they can become Squires. The Skybreakers pardon any past misdeeds when someone swears this Ideal, using the proper local authorities and paperwork.[3]

The Second Ideal[edit]

Szeth training with other Skybreakers

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

—The Second Ideal of the Skybreakers, as chosen by Szeth[14]

Also called the Ideal of Justice, this is a specific oath to seek and administer justice. Once a master chooses to accept someone as a Squire, they may swear this Ideal. This Ideal gives the Squire the ability to breathe in Stormlight and use the Surge of Gravitation.[3]

The Third Ideal[edit]

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

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

Also called the Ideal of Dedication, this is a specific oath to dedicate oneself to a greater truth, either a code or, sometimes, a person. 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. Swearing this Ideal makes someone a full Skybreaker. This oath is the furthest that most Skybreakers ever swear.[3] If the code they swear to follow changes after they swear to it, they must follow the changes.[7] Nale warned that following people as an Ideal may result in some issues since people are easily subject to change.[16] Nonetheless, many Skybreakers choose to follow Nale as their third Ideal.[citation needed]

The Fourth Ideal[edit]

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

—The Fourth Ideal of the Skybreakers, as spoken by Szeth[15].

This Ideal is 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. Masters are able to accept Squires. Most Skybreakers never make it to this Ideal, and the ones that do can spend decades at the Third Ideal before completing their quest.[3]

The Fifth Ideal[edit]

If you progress as a Skybreaker, you will need to become the law. To reach your ultimate potential, you must know the truth yourself, rather than relying on the crutch presented by the Third Ideal. Be aware of this.

Szeth's highspren on the Fifth Ideal[17]

Called the Ideal of Law, this Ideal requires the Skybreaker to swear an oath that they will become a personification of law and truth. Nale is likely the only current Skybreaker to have achieved it, as it has been centuries since anyone mastered the Fifth Ideal.[3] There is a disagreement among the order on whether this means that the Skybreaker swearing this oath can do anything, as they are an embodiment of the law, or if they need to not break any law to keep their oaths. Depending on the Skybreaker's perception of the Ideal, either interpretation could be valid.[18] After swearing the Fifth Ideal, a Skybreaker is no longer required to follow the Third Ideal they swore to.[17]

Abilities[edit]

Flying Skybreakers

The considerable abilities of the Skybreakers for making such amounted to an almost divine skill, for which no specific Surge or spren grants capacity, but however the order came to such an aptitude, the fact of it was real and acknowledged even by their rivals.

Surgebinding

The Skybreakers are able use the Surges of Gravitation and Division.

The full extent of their powers are so far unknown. They are able to use a Basic Lashing like the Order of Windrunners, since they share the Gravitation Surge. While there are slight differences in how the Surges behave between Orders, Gravitation largely looks the same between the two.[20] They also have the Surge of Division, which allows them to destroy or degrade things around them. Skybreakers do not have access to the Surge of Division until after the Third Ideal.[3] Restricting access to Surges based on oaths is rare among the Orders and few do it. The only other Order currently known to do so are the Dustbringers, who share the Surge of Division.[21]

Other Skills

They reportedly had the ability (unrelated to their Surges) to divide the innocent from the guilty that was by some even considered to be an almost divine skill.[22] However, they do not have any supernatural abilities in determining a person's guilt,[23] so this appears to be some combination of mundane experience and exaggerations in folklore.

History[edit]

Ancient Skybreakers[edit]

And thus were the disturbances in the Revv toparchy quieted, when, upon their ceasing to prosecute their civil dissensions, Nalan'Elin betook himself to finally accept the Skybreakers who had named him their master, when initially he had spurned their advances and, in his own interests, refused to countenance that which he deemed a pursuit of vanity and annoyance; this was the last of the Heralds to admit to such patronage.

The group that would become the Skybreakers began when the highspren, trying to imitate the Honorblades, granted men Surges.[4][24] Ishar, understanding the implication of men having Surges, forced them to accept laws and organization, becoming the Order of Skybreakers.[25] Given the Skybreakers' dedication to the law, they likely had one of the easiest times accepting Ishar's rules. The Skybreakers pursued Nale as their patron. Nale initially refused to accept the patronage, believing the position to be annoying and vain. The Skybreakers operated for some unknown length of time without a patron Herald after his refusal. He finally accepted them after the disturbances in the Revv toparchy were quieted. He was the last Herald to accept their Order.[2]

They were concerned that the other Radiants would think themselves above the law and use their power to become tyrants, oppressing those without the power to resist. As a result, they functioned as a military police among the Radiants, and took that duty very seriously, though it was often a thankless task.[8][26] This role required separating innocent and guilty parties.[27] They were extremely skilled at doing so, a fact that even those who didn't like them acknowledged.[19] Despite being described as an almost divine skill,[19] there was no magical cause for this ability.[23] Despite this, the pre-Recreance Skybreakers could be merciful and understood that the law is not perfect, but rather represents an ideal to strive for. The Skybreakers also took responsibility for keeping some of the dangerous or dark forces of Roshar contained.[8]

There came also sixteen of the order of Windrunners, and with them a considerable number of squires, and finding in that place the Skybreakers dividing the innocent from the guilty, there ensued a great debate.

The ancient Skybreakers seem to have been involved in conflicts with other Orders frequently, especially the two Orders they share Surges with. The Skybreakers considered the Dustbringers to be on the edge morally and did not get along with them.[28] They also reportedly had some issues with the Windrunners. Highspren and, through them, the Skybreakers judge and dispense justice according to the letter of the law and what may make logical sense to them, while the Windrunners will disregard these laws or logic at their letter to do what is considered right.[29][4] Debates ensued when Windrunners and Skybreakers tried to decide the fate of the guilty.[27] These conflicts got significantly worse as the time of the Recreance approached.[30] Some believed these and other conflicts caused the Sibling to retreat, but it was unrelated to the true cause.[31]

At some point before the Recreance,[32] Nale secretly retrieved his honorblade from Shinovar and bonded his own highspren, officially joining the Skybreakers. He is the only known Herald to have joined their Order.[33]

In Hiding[edit]

Led by the ancient Herald Nalan'Elin—often simply called Nale—the Skybreakers are the only order of Radiants that did not betray its oaths during the Recreance. They have maintained a continuous clandestine line from ancient days.

Mraize's letter to Shallan[5]

The Skybreakers were also the only Order that did not partake in the Recreance and remained active in the following two millennia.[1][34][5][3] Over those years, Nale increasingly put his imprint on the order, and the Skybreakers of the modern era are much more rigid than their pre-Recreance predecessors.[8] Nale seems to have some control over which of his recruits obtain spren bonds, and he is exacting in testing them before they are found worthy.[35] In the centuries leading up to 1173, Nale was the only Skybreaker to swear the Ideal of Law.[3]

The Order has a small fortress in Marabethia that overlooks the Purelake.[3] Hopefuls are brought to the fortress for testing, and Squires and Masters reside there while training (unless they are away on a mission).[3] Skybreakers usually wear the uniforms of local law enforcement wherever they travel, regardless of their own race or nationality.[3][11] The Skybreakers have power and Shards that they use to awe new recruits.[5]

In approximately 1153. Nale began his crusade to stop other Orders from bonding spren and returning.[5] Ishar had told him that the other Orders returning would hasten the return of the Voidbringers.[36] The prospective Radiants would either be killed or, if they fit well with the Skybreakers, recruited. Nale's mission led a Skybreaker acolyte to get involved with Shallan's mother.[5] The two learned that Shallan had bonded a spren and attempted to kill her. Shallan killed them both instead.[1] He did not relay to his fellow Skybreakers which Davar was a Radiant, so Nale believed Helaran may be the Radiant. According to Mraize, Nale recruited Helaran, who then died attempting to kill Amaram using a set of dead Shards. Whether he did this on Nale's orders or as an independent attempt to impress him is unknown.[5]

True Desolation[edit]

Right at the onset of the True Desolation, Nale recruited Szeth to join the Skybreakers.[1] Despite the Everstorm's arrival, he remained in denial about the failure of his Order's mission for weeks until a confrontation with Lift showed him the truth.[37] Nale left the Skybreakers to train as normal. They continued to remain uncertain about the True Desolation's arrival in his absence, though they trained as if it were true.[11] The training included initiates hunting down criminals that had escaped from a prison on the Purelake. The highspren were incredibly impressed by Szeth's performance in this test, allowing him to swear the oaths quickly.[14] The squires practiced their combat and Gravitation abilities with an exercise that involved flying around and attempting to hit their fellow squires with bags of colored powder.[11]

When Nale returned, he told the Skybreakers the truth of the Recreance and gave them a choice.[11] As the original owners of the land, Nale claimed that the law of the land was that of the singers.[38] He and most of his Order decided to follow Odium and the singers' with their return to Roshar. The transition was easiest for those of the Order who had sworn to follow Nale directly.[16] Szeth is currently the only known Skybreaker to not serve Odium.[39] He instead swore to follow Dalinar Kholin, who acknowledged him as the Skybreaker present when the Radiants assembled following the summoning of Honor's Perpendicularity.[40]

Notable Skybreakers[edit]

Trivia[edit]

  • If Rashek were to have joined the Knights Radiant he would have made an okay, though not great, Skybreaker.[41]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b c d Words of Radiance chapter 88#
  2. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 43 epigraph#
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Oathbringer chapter 90#
  4. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 59#
  5. a b c d e f g Oathbringer chapter 40#
  6. a b Alcatraz Annotations
    Arcanum - 2012-07-30#
  7. a b YouTube Livestream 9
    Arcanum - 2020-05-28#
  8. a b c d e The Ten Orders of Knights Radiant
    Arcanum - 2020-06-09#
  9. Edgedancer chapter 8#
  10. Edgedancer chapter 16#
  11. a b c d e Oathbringer chapter 98#
  12. a b The Way of Kings chapter 59#
  13. Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-03#
  14. a b Oathbringer chapter 92#
  15. a b Oathbringer chapter 121#
  16. a b Oathbringer chapter 117#
  17. a b Rhythm of War interlude I-7#
  18. General Reddit 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-09-24#
  19. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 55 epigraph#
  20. Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
  21. The Ten Orders of Knights Radiant
    Arcanum - 2020-06-09#
  22. Words of Radiance chapter 55#
  23. a b Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  24. Words of Radiance chapter 4#
  25. Words of Radiance chapter 42 epigraph#
  26. Words of Radiance Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-08#
  27. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 54 epigraph#
  28. Skyward Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-10#
  29. Words of Radiance chapter 22#
  30. Oathbringer chapter 64 epigraph#
  31. Oathbringer chapter 70 epigraph#
  32. Orem Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-03-16#
  33. Oathbringer chapter 106#
  34. Words of Radiance chapter 41 epigraph#
  35. Words of Radiance chapter 40#
  36. Edgedancer chapter 9#
  37. Edgedancer chapter 19#
  38. Oathbringer chapter 116#
  39. Oathbringer chapter 122#
  40. Oathbringer chapter 119#
  41. Steel Ministry report
    Arcanum - 2014-08-20#
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