|Author||Hoid, Frost, Endowment, Patji, and Harmony|
|World||Roshar, Yolen, Nalthis, First of the Sun, and Scadrial|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
The letters are a set of correspondence between Hoid and several other prominent figures in the cosmere, including Frost, Endowment, Autonomy, and Harmony. Hoid's initial letters express his fears concerning Odium--both his former attacks against various Shards of Adonalsium, his activities on Roshar, and the potential for future devastation throughout the cosmere--and calls for assistance from the recipients. Subsequent letters, all addressed to Hoid, are a response to this call for aid.
In addition to giving some insight concerning the significance of the conflict on Roshar as it relates to the greater cosmere, the letters give some insight into the histories, goals, and personalities of their authors.
The First Letter
The first letter, written by Hoid to Frost, argues for the danger presented by Rayse, the vessel of Odium, hoping to draw Frost out of his oath of nonintervention. Hoid points out that Rayse was dangerous even before taking the Shard of Odium upon himself, and thus if Ati could be so corrupted by the Shard of Ruin then Rayse will only be made worse. Hoid cites the Shattering of Devotion and Dominion on Sel as proof of the threat Odium presents. He then dismisses concerns of his own biases and asks Frost to call off the members of the Seventeenth Shard who have been hunting for him on Roshar before making his final plea.
Old friend, I hope this missive finds you well. Though, as you are now essentially immortal, I would guess that wellness on your part is something of a given. I realize that you are probably still angry. That is pleasant to know. Much as your perpetual health, I have come to rely upon your dissatisfaction with me. It is one of the cosmere's great constants, I should think.
Let me first assure you that the element is quite safe. I have found a good home for it. I protect its safety like I protect my own skin, you might say. You do not agree with my quest. I understand that, so much as it is possible to understand someone with whom I disagree so completely. Might I be quite frank? Before, you asked why I was so concerned. It is for the following reason: Ati was once a kind and generous man, and you saw what became of him. Rayse, on the other hand, was among the most loathsome, crafty, and dangerous individuals I had ever met. He holds the most frightening and terrible of all the Shards. Ponder on that for a time, you old reptile, and tell me if your insistence on nonintervention holds firm. Because I assure you, Rayse will not be similarly inhibited. One need only look at the aftermath of his brief visit to Sel to see proof of what I say. In case you have turned a blind eye to that disaster, know that Aona and Skai are both dead, and that which they held has been Splintered. Presumably to prevent anyone from rising up to challenge Rayse.
You have accused me of arrogance in my quest. You have accused me of perpetuating my grudge against Rayse and Bavadin. Both accusations are true. Neither point makes the things I have written to you untrue. I am being chased. Your friends of the Seventeenth Shard, I suspect. I believe they're still lost, following a false trail I left for them. They'll be happier that way. I doubt they have any inkling what to do with me should they actually catch me. If anything I have said makes a glimmer of sense to you, I trust that you'll call them off. Or maybe you could astound me and ask them to do something productive for once. For I have never been dedicated to a more important purpose, and the very pillars of the sky will shake with the results of our war here. I ask again. Support me. Do not stand aside and let disaster consume more lives. I've never begged you for something before, old friend.
I do so now.”—The First Letter
The Second Letter
The second letter is a reply to the first, written by Frost to Hoid. In this letter, Frost dismisses Hoid's concerns, arguing that Rayse has been trapped by Honor in the Rosharan system, and thus the threat he presents is sufficiently obstructed for the time being. Though his frustration with Hoid comes through in the opening lines, he names Hoid a friend and begs him to consider the danger that Hoid's own meddling may introduce.
I'll address this letter to my "old friend," as I have no idea what name you're using currently. Have you given up on the gemstone, now that it is dead? And do you no longer hide behind the name of your old master? I am told that in your current incarnation you've taken a name that references what you presume to be one of your virtues. This is, I suspect, a little like a skunk naming itself for its stench.
Now, look what you've made me say. You've always been able to bring out the most extreme in me, old friend. And I do still name you a friend, for all that you weary me. Yes, I'm disappointed. Perpetually, as you put it. Is not the destruction we have wrought enough? The worlds you now tread bear the touch and design of Adonalsium. Our interference so far has brought nothing but pain. My path has been chosen very deliberately. Yes, I agree with everything you have said about Rayse, including the severe danger he presents. However, it seems to me that all things have been set up for a purpose, and if we—as infants—stumble through the workshop, we risk exacerbating, not preventing, a problem.
Rayse is captive. He cannot leave the system he now inhabits. His destructive potential is, therefore, inhibited. Whether this was Tanavast’s design or not, millennia have passed without Rayse taking the life of another of the sixteen. While I mourn for the great suffering Rayse has caused, I do not believe we could hope for a better outcome than this. He bears the weight of God’s own divine hatred, separated from the virtues that gave it context. He is what we made him to be, old friend. And that is what he, unfortunately, wished to become. I suspect that he is more a force than an individual now, despite your insistence to the contrary. That force is contained, and an equilibrium reached.
You, however, have never been a force for equilibrium. You tow chaos behind you like a corpse dragged by one leg through the snow. Please, hearken to my plea. Leave that place and join me in my oath of nonintervention. The cosmere itself may depend upon our restraint.”—The Second Letter
Three additional letters were written to Hoid (two using one of his aliases, Cephandrius), in response to messages similar to that presented in the first letter. The responses vary, though they are generally dismissive or apathetic toward Hoid's plea.
First Oathbringer Letter
The first of these letters is written by Endowment and offers a dismissal much like Frost's. It notably expresses a disdain for multiple Shards sharing a planet, referencing an oath that they made not to settle near one another. Endowment ultimately argues that Rayse's activity is none of Hoid's business, and that Odium, and potentially Hoid himself, will be dealt with if they feel the need arises.
I received your communication, of course. I noticed its arrival immediately, just as I noticed your many intrusions into my land. You think yourself so clever, but my eyes are not those of some petty noble, to be clouded by a false nose and some dirt on the cheeks. You mustn't worry yourself about Rayse. It is a pity about Aona and Skai, but they were foolish--violating our pact from the very beginning. Your skills are admirable, but you are merely a man. You had your chance to be more, and refused it. No good can come of two Shards settling in one location. It was agreed that we would not interfere with one another, and it disappoints me that so few of the Shards have kept to this original agreement. As for Uli Da, it was obvious from the outset that she was going to be a problem. Good riddance. Regardless, this is not your concern. You turned your back on divinity. If Rayse becomes an issue, he will be dealt with.
And so will you.”—First Oathbringer Letter
Second Oathbringer Letter
The second letter is written by Patji, an avatar of Autonomy, and mentions First of the Sun. As things stand, Autonomy dismisses Hoid's concern, believing Rayse to be captive, and even offers some admiration for the trapped Shard. The author refers to itself in a plural sense and suggests that Hoid may have found more favor if he had approached some other avatar. The letter is closed with a challenge by which Hoid may earn the Shard's respect.
You must know better than to approach us by relying upon presumption of past relationship. You have spoken to one who cannot respond. We, instead, will take your communication to us – though we know not how you located us upon this world. We are indeed intrigued, for we thought it well hidden. Insignificant among our many realms. As the waves of the sea must continue to surge, so must our will continue resolute.
Did you expect anything else from us? We need not suffer the interference of another. Rayse is contained, and we care not for his prison. Indeed, we admire his initiative. Perhaps if you had approached the correct one of us with your plea, it would have found favorable audience. But we stand in the sea, pleased with our domains. Leave us alone. We also instruct that you should not return to Obrodai. We have claimed that world, and a new avatar of our being is beginning to manifest there. She is young yet, and--as a precaution--she has been instilled with an intense and overpowering dislike of you. This is all we will say at this time. If you wish more, seek these waters in person and overcome the tests we have created.
Only in this will you earn our respect.”—Second Oathbringer Letter
Third Oathbringer Letter
The third letter is written by Sazed, the vessel of Harmony, evident in the writing patterns, the reference to two diametrically opposed Shards, and his relative ignorance regarding Adonalsium. While Harmony does not dispute Hoid's claims, he feels unequiped and expresses a hesitancy to offer any support before he is able to place any trust in the man, of whom he knows nothing about. He requests that Hoid visit him directly before taking any action of his own.
Your letter is most intriguing, even revelatory. I would have thought, before attaining my current station, that a deity could not be surprised. Obviously, that is not true. I can be surprised. I can perhaps even be naive, I think. I am the least equipped, of all, to aid you in this endeavor. I am finding that the powers I hold are in such conflict that the most simple of actions can be difficult. I am also made uncertain by your subterfuge. Why have you not made yourself known to me before this? How is it you can hide? Who are you truly, and how do you know so much about Adonalsium? If you would speak to me further, I request open honesty. Return to my lands, approach my servants, and I will see what I can do for your quest.”—Third Oathbringer Letter
The Sixth Letter
I did receive your latest communication. Please forgive formality on my part, as we have not met in person. I feel new to this role, despite my years of holding it. You will admit to my relative youth, I think. I have been fascinated to discover how much you’ve accomplished on Scadrial without me noticing your presence. How is it that you hide from Shards so well?
I have reached out to the others as you requested, and have received a variety of responses. Much as you indicate, there is a division among the other Shards I would not have anticipated. Endowment at least responded to my overtures, though I have not been able to locate Invention again following our initial contact. Whimsy was not terribly useful, and Mercy worries me. I do think that Valor is reasonable, and suggest you approach her again. It has been too long, in her estimation, since your last conversation. The deaths of both Devotion and Dominion trouble me greatly, as I had not realized this immense power we had was something that could be broken in such a way. On my world, the power always gathered and sought a new Vessel.
That said, the most worrying thing I have discovered in this was the wound upon the Spiritual Realm where Ambition, Mercy, and Odium clashed - and Ambition was destroyed. The effects on the planet Threnody have been….disturbing. Other Shards I cannot identify, and are hidden to me. I fear that their influence encroaches upon my world, yet I am locked into a strange inability because of the opposed powers I hold.
I have begun searching for a pathway out of this conundrum by seeking the ideal person to act on my behalf. Someone who embodies both Preservation and Ruin. A....sword, you might say, who can both protect and kill. But this does not get to the core of your letter. I have encouraged those who would speak to me to heed your warnings, but all seem content to ignore Odium for the time being. In their opinion, he is no threat as long as he remains confined in the Rosharan system.
I do not share their attitude. If you can, as you supposed, maintain Odium’s prison for now, it would give us necessary time to plan. This is a threat beyond the capacity of one Shard to face. Unfortunately, as proven by my own situation, the combination of Shards is not always a path to greater power. We must assume that Odium has realized this, and is seeking a singular, terrible goal: the destruction - and somehow Splintering or otherwise making impotent - of all the Shards other than him. To combine powers would change and distort who Odium is. So instead of absorbing others, he destroys them. Since we are all essentially infinite, he needs no more power. Destroying and Splintering the other Shards would leave Odium as the sole god, unchanged and uncorrupted by other influences.
You say that the power itself must be treated as separate in our minds from the Vessel who controls it. I find this difficult to do on an intrinsic level, as although I am neither Ruin nor Preservation, they make up me.
Regardless, I will try to do as you request. However, you seem more afraid of the Vessel. I warn you that this is a flaw in your understanding. You have not felt what I have. You have not known what I have. You rejected that chance - and wisely, I think. However, though you think not as a mortal, you are their kin. The power of Odium’s Shard is more dangerous than the mind behind it. Particularly since any Investiture seems to gain a will of its own when not controlled.
My instincts say that the power of Odium is not being controlled well. The Vessel will be adapted to the power’s will. And after this long, if Odium is still seeking to destroy, then it is because of the power. Of course, I admit this is a small quibble. A difference of semantics more than anything. In truth, it would be a combination of a Vessel’s craftiness and the power’s Intent that we should fear most.
Regardless, please make yourself known to me when you travel to my lands. It is distressing that you think you need to move in the shadows.”—The Sixth Letter
- Brandon intends for the first five books in the Stormlight Archive to have letters in their epigraphs.
- OdysseyCon 2016
— Arcanum - 2016-04-08#
- Shadows of Self signing London UK
— Arcanum - 2015-10-19#
- Oathbringer signing Houston
— Arcanum - 2017-11-18#
- Salt Lake City signing
— Arcanum - 2017-12-16#
- The Way of Kings chapter 12 epigraph#
- Words of Radiance chapter 59 epigraph#
- Oathbringer chapter 33 epigraph#
- Oathbringer chapter 42 epigraph#
- Oathbringer chapter 53 epigraph#
- Words of Radiance chapter 74 epigraph#
- By process of elimination, Endowment is the only known, living Shard who fits with the context of the letter.
- Bonn Signing
— Arcanum - 2019-05-15#
- Oathbringer signing London
— Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
- Stormlight Three Update #5
— Arcanum - 2016-11-19#
|Shards||Ambition · Autonomy · Cultivation · Devotion · Dominion · Endowment · Harmony · Honor · Invention · Mercy · Odium · Preservation · Ruin · Valor · Whimsy · 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 · Initiation · Perpendicularity · Worldhopper · Spiritweb · Resonance · Axon|
|Other||Hoid · Khriss · Seventeenth Shard · Ire · Shattering · Letters · Silverlight|