|Magic||Surgebinding, Fabrials, Voidbinding[Citation needed]|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”Spren appear when something changes—when fear appears, or when it begins to rain. They are the heart of change, and therefore the heart of all things.
Spren are fragments of the powers of creation that have since then gained sentience due to human intervention on Roshar. They are vastly varied in their appearances, characteristics, and levels of intelligence. Most spren consist of the essences of Honor and Cultivation, or a mixture of both that leans towards either one Shard or the other. Spren that are attracted to emotions, like angerspren or fearspren, have more of Honor than Cultivation, and the spren that are attracted to natural phenomena, like decayspren or windspren, vice versa. There is also another spectrum of spren known as Voidspren that presumably consist of only Odium's essence. Some spren predate the arrival of Honor and Cultivation to Roshar, and perhaps even the Shattering. These are Splinters of Adonalsium itself that it left behind intentionally and that have attained sentience on their own since then.
They dwell mostly in the Cognitive Realm. It is where the powers of creation come alive, shaped and given cognizance by the ideas and concepts of collective experience of sentient creatures being personified as an external entity over time into spren. They have their own societies, politics and cities there. Though the Shadesmar was built by humans and other sentient species, the spren shape, rule, and live there. The transition of spren into the Physical Realm leaves holes in their memories, impairs their cognitive functions in some ways, and even alter their appearance. Once they make the transition, they cannot affect the Physical Realm except in very minor ways.
Spren being far more extensive and numerous than the Seons and the Skaze, Splinters of Devotion and Dominion respectively, is one of the reasons Roshar does not have the same problem with travelling to the Cognitive Realm as Sel, even though Honor is Splintered just like the other two Shards. On Roshar, spren act as a "release valve" for the uncontrolled power of the Honor.
- 1 Characteristics
- 2 Symbiotic Relationships
- 3 Surgebinders spren
- 4 Known Subtypes
- 4.1 Alespren
- 4.2 Angerspren
- 4.3 Anticipationspren
- 4.4 Awespren
- 4.5 Bindspren
- 4.6 Captivityspren
- 4.7 Coldspren
- 4.8 Creationspren
- 4.9 Cryptics
- 4.10 Cultivationspren
- 4.11 Cusicesh
- 4.12 Deathspren
- 4.13 Decayspren
- 4.14 Exhaustionspren
- 4.15 Fearspren
- 4.16 Flamespren
- 4.17 Gloryspren
- 4.18 Gravityspren
- 4.19 Greatshell Spren
- 4.20 Groundspren
- 4.21 Heatspren
- 4.22 Highspren
- 4.23 Honorspren
- 4.24 Hungerspren
- 4.25 Inkspren
- 4.26 Joyspren
- 4.27 Keenspren
- 4.28 Laughterspren
- 4.29 Liespren
- 4.30 Lifespren
- 4.31 Logicspren
- 4.32 Luckspren
- 4.33 Musicspren
- 4.34 Painspren
- 4.35 Passionspren
- 4.36 Rainspren
- 4.37 Riverspren
- 4.38 Rotspren
- 4.39 Santhid spren
- 4.40 Shamespren
- 4.41 Starspren
- 4.42 Stormspren
- 4.43 Windspren
- 5 Possible Spren
- 6 Theories and Speculation
- 7 Notes
There are said to be thousands of different kinds of spren, each named for a different type of phenomenon. There are actually several different varieties of spren. Everything has a "spren" based on how it is viewed cognitively and how long it has been viewed that way. These spren are the cognitive aspects of objects in the Physical Realm and can be "spoken to" in the Cognitive Realm. Soulcasting works by "bribing" this type of spren with Stormlight. The other main variety of spren are those that manifest in the Physical Realm and are the ones people most often interact with. They are the personification of certain cognitive ideals and concepts, such as natural forces or emotions. These cognitive ideals are similar to those that determine the appearances of the Returned on Nalthis and the plausibility of Forgeries on Sel and are based off of human perception.
Larger spren have the ability to shape-shift often mimicking faces, as well as being able to mimic voices. Apart from a few sentient sub-types, spren are not intelligent and therefore speaking with them is an exercise in futility; a fact often learned as a child. Spren are often ignored because of this. Larger spren also have the ability to pick up small objects and give small pinches of energy.
The causal link between spren and their namesake is not fully understood on Roshar. Some spren, such as rotspren, are said to cause their namesake, whereas others, such as windspren, are merely attracted to it.
While spren are often invisible, they are said to be ever present and will appear around the phenomenon they are named for. The exception is in Shinovar, where no spren appear. Some spren are easier to find than others, however even the most common will, at times, fail to appear. Larger spren will often appear to a singular person, who they will taunt and play with. Some humans, such as Rock, have the ability to see these spren, even if the spren in question does not explicitly reveal themselves to the viewer. These people are called alaii'iku by the Unkalaki.
As creatures of nature, spren are not particularly concerned with good and evil.
Cryptics are not the only type of manifested spren to dwell in Shadesmar.
Spren of the same sub-type are "essentially the same individual."
Some types of spren live in symbiotic relationships with various other creatures extant on Roshar.Perhaps the best known examples of this are greatshells. There is a type of spren that lives in their bodies which contribute to their ability to grow to such large sizes.
Each Order of the Knights Radiant formed a Nahel Bond with a different type of spren.[Citation needed] This bond is similar in nature to the bond between a Seon and its master. The bond between a knight and their spren could be strengthened by verbally or mentally stating certain Ideals or ideas related to their Order. Once the bond has strengthened to a certain point, the spren gains the ability to become a Shardblade when needed. A sword was the base form for a shardblade since they were fashioned after the Honorblades but they could become any shape their knight needed such as a spear, hammer, or shield.
It is also possible that the Ryshadium breed of horses get their unique traits from bonds with spren.
- Honorspren of Kaladin
- Cryptic of Shallan
- Inkspren of Jasnah
- Dalinar's spren
- Cultivationspren of Lift
- Renarin's spren
”Test successful. Have noted spren who appear only when one is severely intoxicated. Appear as small brown bubbles clinging to objects nearby. Further testing may be needed to prove they were more than a drunken hallucination.
A rare type of spren that appear only in Iri. They appear occasionally to people who are under the influence of alcohol. They appear as "small brown bubbles" that cling to objects close to the observer. They were given the name "alespren" by Axies the Collector, a scholar who studies spren, after considering the name "intoxicationspren". The locals refer to them as sudspren.
Axies theorized their existence but was only able to observe them once, leading him to doubt their existence. As there are other stories of people seeing them, their existence is likely.
”Vamah was watching them stand there, and his expression was as thunderous as a highstorm, angerspren boiling up from the ground around him like small pools of bubbling blood.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Fifteen
A common type of spren that appear around people experiencing anger. They, generally, have the appearance of pools of boiling blood bubbling up from the ground around the feet of the angry individual.
Among the Parshendi, angerspren have the appearance of bolts of lightning that radiate out from the feet of the angry individual.
”A few anticipationspren—like red streamers, growing from the ground and whipping in the wind—began to sprout from the rock and wave among the soldiers.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Six
A common type of spren that appear around people looking forward to something. They appear as red streamers that grow out from the ground and blow in the wind. They often appear around soldiers directly before a battle.
”A single awespren, like a ring of blue smoke, burst out above him, spreading like the ripple from a stone dropped in a pond. Shallan had seen such a spren only a handful of times in her life.— Words of Radiance: Chapter 78
A very rare type of spren that appear around people who are very awestruck.
”He thought he could faintly make out tiny spren, dark blue and shaped like little splashes of ink, clustering around the place where the rock met the wall.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Fifty-Seven
Spren that appear around objects bound with a Full Lashing. They appear as small splashes of dark blue ink. Their relationship to the Lashings is not fully understood. Kaladin believes they are what hold the objects together, while Sylphrena disagrees, saying they could be attracted to the Full Lashing Kaladin had created.
”It appears I'll have another chance to search for captivityspren.— Axies the Collector
A type of spren theorized to exist by Axies to appear around people in captivity. Despite being imprisoned numerous times he has never observed them, leading him to doubt their existence. While imprisoned, Kaladin sees strange spren like taut wires crossing before him. These are captivityspren.
”Her drawing gathered about a half-dozen of them, pulling them by her act of creation just as a bright fire would draw flamespren.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Seven
An uncommon type of spren that appear around creative acts such as painting or drawing. They are of medium-size, about finger-length, and glow with a silvery light. They take the form of objects they have recently seen exactly but move them in odd ways, such as a table that rolls like a wheel.
When drawing, the more skilled one is, the more likely creationspren are to appear.
- Main Article: Cryptics
A type of sentient spren that formed Nahel Bonds with the Knights Radiant, granting them their powers. Cryptics grants the Surges of Transformation and Illumination to the bonded human. In the Cognitive Realm they have the appearance of figures in robes that hang "too stiffly" as if they were "made of glass" and instead of heads they have a floating symbol full of "impossible angles and geometries." In the Physical Realm they take the shape of a complex and constantly shifting geometric pattern slightly raised off a surface or object. They can also manifest as a floating three-dimensional mass of twisting lines.
- Main article: Cultivationspren
A type of sentient spren that formed Nahel Bonds with the Knights Radiant, granting them their powers. Cultivationspren grant the Surges of Abrasion and Progression. They appear in the physical realm as a growing vine with crystals. Wyndle refers to himself as a cultivationspren.
- Main Article: Cusicesh
A unique spren, the only known member of its sub-type, that appears in Kasitor Bay at the same time each day. It is one of the largest known spren. For ten minutes each day Cusicesh rises from the waters and forms a face that is constantly changing that faces the Origin. Nearby people report a sense of fatigue, which may or may not be because of expectation.
”Only the dying could see deathspren. You saw them, then died. Only the very, very lucky few survived after that. Deathspren knew when the end was close.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Thirty-Eight
A type of spren that appears only to people near death. Very few people survive after seeing deathspren, and due to their rarity, some considered them to be a spren that actually did not exist. They have the appearance of many-legged fist-sized creatures, and are black with glowing red eyes that leave trails of light. They whisper with voices like paper being torn. Lirin said that deathspren are repelled by water.
”I didn't know men got this old. You sure he's not decayspren wearing a man's skin?— Sylphrena to Kaladin
”She noticed something sweeping through the air above her. She cringed, looking up to find large, birdlike creatures circling around her in Shadesmar. They were a dark grey and seemed to have no specific shape, their forms blurry.— Words of Radiance: Chapter Eleven
A type of spren that appear around exhausted people. In Shadesmar they seem indistinct yet also large and birdlike. Their appearance in the physical realm has not been described, but they appear among the Kholin forces following the Battle of the Tower.
”Fearspren—wiggling and violet—sprang up through the wood and wriggled in the air.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Six
A common type of spren that appear around people experiencing fear. They have the appearance of small, violet globs that crawl up from out of the ground and gather around the feet of the fearful. They seem to be attracted to the highest concentration of fear in an area; people experiencing less fear will fail to attract fearspren.
”Tiny flamespren danced around [the torches], like insects made solely of congealed light.— The Way of Kings: Prologue
A common type of spren that appear around fire. They appear as tiny insects made of congealed light. They will often dance around flames, constantly changing in size, shape, and luminosity like the flames themselves.
The ardent Geranid was studying flamespren when she discovered that if she measured them in someway the spren seemed to be "stuck" by that measurement. This is similar to the physical process of wave-function collapse in quantum mechanics.
”Below, his men cheered, sending up calls that rose above the Parshendi war chant. Gloryspren sprouted around him.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Sixty-Five
A type of spren that appear around people when they experience pride in their accomplishments. They appear as golden orbs of translucent light.
A type of spren that has a symbiotic relationship with greatshells, they, in part, enable them to grow to such large sizes. They look like tiny tongues of smoke, such as those from snuffed candles. They only appear leaving a greatshell's corpse after it has been killed.
The Tai-na of the Reshi Sea have an extraordinary variant of spren, referred to as the "soul" of the greatshell by the Reshi, that allow them to grow to truly gargantuan sizes. These "souls" will sometimes show themselves to people and do such things as slowing a person's fall.
A type of spren to which Rosharans attribute the pull of gravity.
- Main Article: Highspren
- Main Article: Honorspren
A type of sentient spren that formed Nahel Bonds with the Knights Radiant, granting them their powers. Honorspren grant the Surges of Gravitation and Adhesion. They were said to be quite "discerning" in deciding who they would bond with. Sylphrena refers to herself as honorspren.
”As he spoke, he attracted a few hungerspren. They looked like brown flies that flitted around the man's head, almost too small to see.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Two
A type of spren that appears around people experiencing extreme hunger. They appear as tiny brown flies that flit around the hungry person.
- Main Article: Inkspren
A type of sentient spren that formed Nahel Bonds with the Knights Radiant, granting them their powers. Inkspren grant the Surges of Transformation and Transportation. Inkspren appear as human-shaped figures dressed all in black. They have been described as being coated in what seems to be oil, and as having a mother-of-pearl or prismatic quality to their look. They are capable of blending into shadows.
”Joyspren rose around her, like blue leaves that started at her feet then moved up in a swirl before flaring out above her as if in a blast of wind.— Words of Radiance: Chapter Twenty-Eight
A relatively rare type of spren. Shallan experiences them at the end of the boots incident.
”A few laughterspren—minnow-like silver spirits that darted through the air in circular patterns—began to zip about them.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Fourteen
A type of spren that appears in the presence of laughter. They have the appearance of small, silver minnows that dart in circular motions around those who are laughing.
Another name for Cryptics. 
”A few lifespren—tiny, glowing green specks—floated around the shalebark mounds. Some danced amid the rifts in the bark, others in the air like dust motes zigzagging up, only to fall again.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Thirty-Nine
A common type of spren that appears around plant-life, particularly just after highstorms. They look like "motes of glowing green dust or swarms of tiny translucent insects."
”There were said to be logicspren—in the form of tiny stormclouds—who were attracted to great arguments...— The Way of Kings: Chapter Seven
A type of spren that flies around skyeels. They have the appearance of tiny, blue, arrowhead-like fish that dart around the skyeel in the general direction of its travel. It is commonly believed by Rosharans that they aid the skyeel to fly in some manner, but the accuracy of this belief is not known. They are referred to as "luckspren" by sailors, but it may not be their true name.
”Musicspren zipped through the air around [the drummers], the tiny spirits taking the form of spinning translucent ribbons.— The Way of Kings: Prologue
A type of spren that appear around musical performances. They have the appearance of "spinning, translucent ribbons." A single, pure note is enough to draw at least one musicspren, if only for a short time.
”Painspren swarmed the ground, like small orange hands or bits of sinew, reaching up from the ground amid the blood of the fallen.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Forty-Seven
A common type of spren that appear around those experiencing pain. They have the appearance of sinewy, orange hands. They crawl out of the ground and swarm the pained, latching on to the wounded areas.
”Passionspren, like tiny flakes of crystalline snow, floated down in the air around them.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Sixty-One
A type of spren that appears around those experiencing romantic passion. They look like small flakes of snow.
”[Rainspren] were said to be the souls of raindrops...— The Way of Kings: Chapter Forty-Four
A type of spren that appears most often during the Weeping. The have the appearance of glowing, ankle-height, blue candles that, despite seeming to melt, never grow shorter. They have a single eye at the top of their body. They often stand in puddles. Kaladin also finds these spren "creepy." 
”[The Purelake] was filled with tiny fish, colorful cremlings, and eel-like riverspren.— The Way of Kings: Interlude One
A common type of spren that appear in bodies of water such as rivers or the Purelake. They are often described as being "eel-like." They are among the larger varieties of spren and have the ability to mimic faces and expressions as well as voices, often choosing to torment people while doing so.
”Rest... and keep that wound clean. We don't want to attract any rotspren. Let me know if you see any. They are small and red, like tiny insects.— Kaladin
Unlike most spren, which most Rosharans believe are only attracted to their namesake, rotspren are said to be the cause of sickness and infection. They are seen to be repelled by water and antiseptics such as Lister's oil, Knobweed sap, and Larmic mucus.
”It was the time between moons, and so he was lit mostly by the firelight; there was a spray of stars in the sky above. Several of those moved about, the tiny pinpricks of light chasing after one another, zipping around like distant, glowing insects.— The Way of Kings: Chapter Forty
A rare type of spren that appear at night amongst the stars. They appear as small points of light that chase one another like insects.
Stormspren are a variety of Voidspren. 
”Windspren were devious spirits who had a penchant for staying where they weren't wanted...— The Way of Kings: Chapter Two
A common type of spren that appear in the presence of wind. As one of the larger types of spren, windspren are able to change their appearance at will, though they often appear as "ribbons of light without form."
A type of spren believed to exist by more traditional, rural followers of Vorinism. Those with more education believe they are simply fabrications of the Knights Radiant to support their dominance.
During the Era of Solitude on Roshar, most people living in cities believed the Voidbringers were a type of evil spren. This is perhaps a reference to Thunderclasts which seem to be created from corrupted spren bonding with stone.
In WoR we find out that the Voidbringers are Parshendi bonded with various Voidspren (such as Storm Spren) to transform them into the "Forms of Power" used by their dark gods.
Theories and Speculation
It may be possible that there are larger categories of spren. When accused of being a Voidbringer Pattern retorts that "[he] is no voidspren..." From this it has been extrapolated that the divisions of spren may have two axis: their power level and their source. The power axis has been addressed above and has 3 main anchor points (though if graphed spren would likely form a spectrum). These points would be the common spren (those who embody/personify the effects of human consciousness) Bondspren (those capable of forming a Nahel Bond with a human and depend on this bond for sentience while outside of Shadesmar) and Godspren (also capable of forging a Nahel Bond, but who have great power in or influence over the physical realm even without it) A spren's other dimension, its source, refers to which shard ultimately caused its existence. Most spren would likely be the product of Honor or Cultivation (say honorspren and cultivation spren respectively), while Voidspren are of Odium.
It should be noted that so far a number of times spren have been called Gods or as Syl put it "a tiny part of one." And Sanderson has confirmed that spren are splinters.[Citation needed] If it is assumed that the Desolations began to occur before Odium killed Honor then it is likely that the Knights Radiant were formed before Honor shattered entirely. This would imply that spren, at least Bondspren, where present in the world before Honor shattered. If this was true of Honor than it was/is likely true of Cultivation as well. These protospren present before Honor's death would be the equivalent of the piece of Preservation within each Scadrian.
In support of the above assumptions there is the fact that Odium is by no means dead, yet his Voidspren are still present on Roshar (and therefore likely inhabit Shadesmar as well). If he can send spren into the cosmere while alive but "imprisoned by the oathpact" (an act which would be necessary to create the Voidbringers and bring about each of the previous 99 desolations) it might be true that Honor and Cultivation can send spren while alive too.
- The Way of Kings chapter 37
- Words of Radiance chapter 3
- Words of Radiance chapter 1
- Are all spren that can Nahel Bond called honorspren or just Windrunner spren?
— Theoryland - Mar 17th, 2012
- Please explain what you will about shards and splintering and slivers
— 17th Shard forums - 19 October 2013
- Words of Radiance interlude I-9
- Does Roshar have a similar problem, with Honor being Splintered?
— Reddit - 2013-03-11
- The Way of Kings chapter 49
- The Way of Kings chapter 48
- Are there poopspren?
— Reddit - 2013-04-02
- Are the changing beauty standards of Returned and the "plausibility" of Forgeries determined by the same kind of "cognitive ideals or concepts which have taken on literal personification over time" that some types of Spren represent?
— Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
- You have mentioned that certain spren are an embodiment of concepts. How does that work for the concepts like honor, that can mean opposite things to different culture groups?
— Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
- The Way of Kings chapter 2
- The Way of Kings chapter 6
- The Way of Kings chapter 14
- Can spren die? Syl's what, a Bonding Spren?
— Theoryland - Sep 22nd, 2012
- The Way of Kings chapter 57
- The Way of Kings chapter 7
- The Way of Kings interlude I-4
- The Way of Kings interlude I-5
- The Way of Kings chapter 21
- Would that also mean that certain spren had an alignment or would some spren be catered toward good or evil or not?
— Theoryland - Apr 17th, 2012
- Tell us something new about Cognitive Realm, please
— Theoryland - Sep, 2012
- The Way of Kings interlude I-8
- The Way of Kings chapter 17
- Are the magic fish of the Purelake a result of symbiotic bonds with spren?
— 17th Shard forums - 18 December 2013
- What are the smoke-y spren that appear around a dead chasmfiend?
— Theoryland - Sep, 2012
- Words of Radiance interlude I-1
- Is the bond between a Seon and its master similar to the Nahel bond between a Surgebinder and his spren?
— 17th Shard forums - 02 October 2013
- Words of Radiance chapter 84
- Words of Radiance chapter 86
- Words of Radiance prologue
- Ivory is an inkspren
— Theoryland - Nov 29th, 2016
- Words of Radiance chapter 88
- Edgedancer chapter 2
- Words of Radiance chapter 89
- The Way of Kings chapter 15
- Words of Radiance chapter 78
- Words of Radiance chapter 62
- So those were actually captivityspren!
— 17th Shard
- Seattle Signing Report
— 17th Shard forums - 10/14/2013
- The Way of Kings chapter 29
- Words of Radiance chapter 42
- The Way of Kings chapter 38
- The Way of Kings chapter 45
- The Way of Kings chapter 10
- Words of Radiance chapter 11
- The Way of Kings chapter 68
- The Way of Kings prologue
- The Way of Kings chapter 32
- The Way of Kings chapter 65
- The Way of Kings chapter 12
- Words of Radiance interlude I-3
- The Way of Kings chapter 60
- The Way of Kings chapter 67
- Words of Radiance chapter 28
- Edgedancer chapter 6
- The Way of Kings chapter 39
- The Way of Kings chapter 3
- Words of Radiance chapter 35
- Skyeel Illustration Description
— Inkthinker's DeviantArt
- Shallan's Sketchbook: Skyeels
- The Way of Kings chapter 33
- The Way of Kings chapter 47
- The Way of Kings chapter 1
- The Way of Kings chapter 16
- The Way of Kings chapter 61
- The Way of Kings chapter 44
- The Way of Kings interlude I-1
- The Way of Kings chapter 27
- The Way of Kings chapter 22
- The Way of Kings chapter 40
- Words of Radiance chapter 81
- The Way of Kings chapter 34
- The Way of Kings chapter 4
- Are all windspren really just unbonded honorspren?
— Theoryland - Apr 15th, 2013
- The Way of Kings chapter 42
- The Way of Kings chapter 52
- Words of Radiance chapter 4
It has yet to be reviewed.