by User: Sheep
|Books||The Stormlight Archive|
Spheres are gemstones encased in glass on Roshar. They serve as the primary form of currency, act as a light source, and store stormlight that can power surgebinding. They are charged by highstorms and gradually leak the investiture as light over time.
Spheres are made of small gemstones that are set inside glass spheres. The glass sphere is typically the size of a thumbnail while the size of the gemstone inside varies with the denomination. Most spheres are also flattened on one side, to keep them from rolling away when set down. Since gemstones can capture stormlight and glow with this captured light, spheres, by extension, also glow with light.
Only nine of the ten Polestones are used in the spheres, but it is as of yet unknown whether smokestones or heliodor are the gem not used, or the reason for the tenth gem's absence.
Usage as source of light
If left outside during a highstorm, the gemstone inside of a sphere is infused with Stormlight. Over time, all of the Stormlight will escape leaving the sphere dun, so it ceases to glow. The amount of light a sphere gives off varies with the denomination: chips barely have any glow at all, marks glow almost as bright as a candle, and broams glow with the light of several candles.
Due to this property of gemstones, infused spheres are often used as a source of light, since the light is renewable and more consistent than candles and lanterns. Though the light given off by a gemstone is reputed to be steady and calm, this is only in comparison to the even more flickering candlelight; Kaladin observes that the Stormlight inside of a gemstone is actually shifting like a chaotic blowing storm.
Although spheres are generally a superior source of light, many people, especially those less well-off or living in poorer districts, still use candles or lanterns. Using candles and lanterns is often cheaper than using spheres, since a sphere's dual status as currency makes it liable to be stolen. This problem does not exist for wealthy or noble lighteyes who may use all-sphere lighting either as a practical matter or to show off their wealth. For example, the entirety of Kharbranth's royal treasury is stored in the Palanaeum to be used as a source of light for the visitors and staff.
Zircon spheres give off a pale-blue light.
Usage as currency
Dun spheres are worth the same as infused ones but since their glow is what proves that they aren't counterfeit, people are often suspicious of those spending dun spheres. They will call in a moneylender to judge their authenticity. Instead of just leaving their spheres out in a highstorm, people often exchange their dun spheres with moneylenders for infused ones or pay a fee to have their spheres infused in the moneychanger's secure baskets. It is possible that spheres are used as currency because of their use by Surgebinders, before the Knights Radiant abandoned the people of Roshar.
Usage as source of Stormlight
A newly discovered usage of spheres is as a source of Stormlight for Surgebinders, such as the members of the newly reforming Knights Radiant and Honorblade wielders like Szeth. Surgebinders draw their powers from Stormlight; in the absence of a highstorm, Surgebinders must find other sources of Stormlight. Due to the ubiquity and inconspicuousness of spheres, they are an excellent source for power for Surgebinders to draw upon. Surgebinders make it a priority to keep a stockpile of infused spheres available to them at all times, whether it be carrying a pouch of spheres on their person, having subordinates or accomplices carry them, or using spheres found in the environment.
There are five chips to a mark and four marks to a broam. A higher denomination has a larger gemstone inside of it. However, the kind of gemstone set inside the sphere also determines the value of the sphere. This is related to the fact that magic such as Soulcasting uses gemstones in the process; emerald, the most highly valued sphere, can be used to Soulcast food. There are currently five known values of spheres (and by extension, five known gemstones used in spheres), with some combinations of denomination and gemstone overlapping in value.
Below is a table of all currently-known spheres, with their value given in terms of a diamond chip, the lowest denomination of the lowest-valued gemstone.
|Diamond||1 dc||5 dc||20 dc|
|Garnet||5 dc[Citation needed]||25 dc||100 dc|
|Ruby||10 dc[Citation needed]||50 dc||200 dc|
|Sapphire||25 dc||125 dc||500 dc|
|Emerald||50 dc||250 dc||1000 dc|
One diamond chip is enough to buy a loaf of bread.
Spheres are normally described by their gemstone and denomination. However, instead of the gemstone, spheres are sometimes referred to by color. For example, a ruby mark may be referred to as a "firemark" while a diamond chip may be referred to as a "clearchip." Below is the list of known alternate names.
- The Way of Kings chapter 3
- The Way of Kings chapter 27
- The Way of Kings chapter 8
- The Way of Kings chapter 44
- The Way of Kings chapter 23
- Words of Radiance chapter 22
- The Way of Kings chapter 33
- The Way of Kings chapter 37
- The Way of Kings chapter 17
- The Way of Kings chapter 11
- Peter says five chips per mark, four marks per broam, and that others are of equal value
— 17th Shard forums - 10 November 2011
- Words of Radiance chapter 43
- The Way of Kings chapter 63
- The Way of Kings interlude I-7
- The Way of Kings chapter 30
- The Way of Kings chapter 55
- Words of Radiance chapter 9