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Map roshar

Map by Isaac Stewart

Endpaper 2

Endpaper by Isaac Stewart

Roshar is the name of the world, system, and the main continent on the planet where the epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive, takes place.[1][2][3]

According to Brandon, there is something on the other side of this world, but it's mostly just empty ocean.[4]

There are three Shards that have influence on Roshar. These are Cultivation, Honor and Odium.

That said, Roshar was inhabited before Honor and Cultivation arrived,[5] thus before the Shattering of Adonalsium.[6]

System[]

The Rosharan system is comprised of a series of gas giants which crowd its outer reaches. Still, nobody has been able to observe them directly, as their manifestations in Shadesmar (i.e., the Cognitive Realm) is minor.[7]

There are three worlds in the habitable zone (i.e., Roshar, Ashyn and Braize), all of which are inhabited to one extent or another.[8]

The showpiece of the system is the middle world of Roshar itself.[9]

Location[]

While Roshar is predominantly located in the southern hemisphere of its world, there are some islands that curve over the equator there.[10]

Description[]

Roshar is quite a large world by cosmere standards. It's circumference is about 22,110 miles,[11] which is smaller than Earth,[12] but it's a world that varies greatly, especially from east to west.

Environment[]

Roshar exists at 0.7 cosmere standard in gravitation, 0.9 in size, and possesses a high-oxygen environment.[13] Visitors to Roshar should know that fire will respond unusually because of this environment.[14]

Said visitors should also be aware that lengths and times mentioned in essays and stories about the world usually use local measurements. A Rosharan year is longer than cosmere standard.[15]

Gravitation, the strong axial force, surface tension ... these things have come alive, as have more abstract notions such as Transformation and Transportation.[16][17]

Life on Roshar has been shaped over millennia by massive, Invested storms, which pose a danger that cannot be overstated.[18]

These storms predate the arrival of the Shards Honor, Cultivation, and Odium on Roshar - as do many of the spren. However, the presence of the storms molded and transformed the world's nature to the point that it is difficult to distinguish what is pre-Shattering in origin, and what is a newer development. Many of the spren that now exist on Roshar have arisen from the friction between Honor, Cultivation, and Odium.[19]

A Rosharan year is longer than cosmere standard, and a Rosharan foot is larger than cosmere standard.[20]

Roshar is very bountiful and thriving.[21]

Temperature variation on Roshar doesn't follow much of a pattern, and is relatively small in variance. It's caused by the blowing of the storms, so over the long term, looking VERY hard, one could probably find some patterns. They'd be related to the frequency and strength of storms during that time of year.[22]

Landscape[]

Further information: Highstorm, Flora, and Fauna

The landscape of Roshar varies across its regions. Along the eastern coast, near the oceans where the highstorms originate, the land is beaten harshly by said storms, eroding away any soil, leaving rough rock formations. Almost all types of life have some type of protective shell or encasing into which they can retreat for protection.

The lands in Shinovar, farthest west on the main continent of Roshar, have soil and grass that does not retract. This region is mostly protected from the highstorms by the high peaks of the Misted Mountains. Most plants that grow in Shinovar can not grow in other parts of Roshar.

Roshar has three moons - Salas, Nomon and Mishim, each of which waxes and wanes separately from the other. Roshar's seasons generally last only a few weeks and the world's surface gravity, at 0.7g, is significantly weaker than that of Earth. This is, in part, responsible for the exceptional growth of native creatures such as the greatshell.

Roshar Panorama by Sasha Radivojevic

Roshar Panorama
Fan art by Sasha Radivojevic[1]

Ecology[]

Roshar is home to a diverse and unique ecology containing dramatic megafauna and fascinating symbiotic relationships between creatures (both humanoid and not) and Splinters of Investiture.[23]

The most dramatic of these is the relationship between humans and self-aware spren, which is the basis for the magic of Surgebinding. This magic has strong roots in natural physics, with the spren being personifications of the forces themselves (called Surges locally).[24]

The pattern of bonding spren to human is merely an expansion of what already exists in the nature of the world of Roshar. For example, gargantuan crustaceans grow to incredible size without collapsing under their own weight, not just through the nature of the world, but through symbiosis with spren. Certain animals obtain flight through similar means, and there is even a race of equines that - through the spren bond - have adapted to life on the world and obtained a high enough level of self-awareness to nearly be named a sapient species.[25]

A lot of the ecology on Roshar was, "Can I create something that looks like a tidal pool or a reef that's, like, a break for the waves, where things are crashing into it a lot." Just kind of building this idea around that.

–Brandon Sanderson[26]

Nations/Regions[]

During the Heraldic Epochs, Roshar was ruled by a coalition of ten nations known as the Silver Kingdoms. In the Era of Solitude, following the departure of the Heralds and the demise of the Orders of Knights Radiant, those kingdoms crumbled into smaller ones:


Perpendicularities[]

The waters within the Horneater Peaks are both a Shardpool and Cultivation's perpendicularity.[27]

Worldhoppers and spren know well the perpendicularity of Honor to be unstable and dangerous.[27]

Roshar has multiple perpendicularities.[28]

Population[]

Roshar's population includes several non-human races, such as the Aimians and the Parshendi, as well as many races of sentient spren.[29]

There are also several races on Roshar that have Parshendi blood in them, such as the Unkalaki and the Herdazians.[30]

RosharPeoples

Peoples of Roshar
Fan art by BotanicaXu[2]

Characteristics[]

According to Brandon, as the Rosharan people enter a kind of early industrial age in relation to their scientific understanding, they're realizing things they took for granted have principles behind them that can be tweaked.[31]

Rosharans call everything Surgebinding.[32]

There are things about Rosharans that make it so that a lot of diseases have trouble getting a foothold there. They have a little bit extra something that is making them a little tougher and making them a little more disease resistant.[33]

Economy[]

According to Brandon, one trick in worldbuilding is to focus one's attention on the things that are going to be a source of conflict or passion to the characters. So, most of that which upon he focuses his attention is where conflict exists. Trade deals are a source of conflict, so where it's a source of conflict to the his various cultures, he's spent more time dealing with it.[34]

Shards[]

As previously stated, there are three Shards that have influence on Roshar: Cultivation, Honor and Odium. According to Brandon, in color representation, Cultivation is green, Honor is blue-white, and Odium is red-gold.[35]

That said, Brandon has also stated that because red can also mean corrupted Investiture in the cosmere, he would call Odium's real color gold, because readers are going to see red when Odium is corrupting other things.[36]

Magic Systems[]

Further information: Magic Systems

Given Brandon's answers to questions asked on tor.com, he based some of the Roshar magic systems on the Jewish mysticism of Kabbalah.[37] Magic systems on Roshar include fabrial science, Surgebinding, Voidbinding, and the Old Magic.[38] Both Honor and Odium each grant magic based on specific pathways in the spiritweb of persons as defined by the ideals of each their order of Knights Radiant.[39] The Old Magic requires the rewriting of a person's spiritweb to allow for the required changes.[40]

Notes[]

Much of Roshar is inspired by tidal pools and coral reefs.[41][42]

The cosmere runs along a 10,000 year gap and Roshar falls right into the middle of the timeline.

There are extensive articles on tor.com about what readers know of Roshar thus far here ... and here.

Trivia[]

Roshar is modeled off the Julia set.[43][44] (The very shape of the Rosharan continent is based on the shape of a Julia set.)[45]

Q&A with Brandon[]

Q. You have said before that all the planets had their names before the arrival of the Shards. Is Roshar the planet's name before the Shards arrived?

A. Yes.[46]

Q. One of my favourite parts about Roshar is the diverse set of cultures that exist in the world. Could you talk about some of the inspirations for the complicated cultures such as the Alethi?

A. Building Roshar, I wanted to make sure that I was doing a little extra worldbuilding work. I don't want to say that for something like Mistborn I'm not doing worldbuilding work, but my focus was in other areas. I wanted Mistborn to be accessible, so I made it an Earth analogue.

I consider Roshar my showpiece for worldbuilding, and as such I wanted everything about it to display some of the best of what science fiction and fantasy is capable of: new ecologies, new cultures, cultures that feel real but that at the same time are not just earth analogues. Because of that, I've done a lot of work to individualize and distinctify a lot of the various cultures on Roshar.

Now, that said, creativity is really the recombination of things you've seen before. We as human beings, by our very nature, can't imagine something we've never seen. What we can do is take different things we've seen and combine them in new ways. That's the soul of creativity. It's the unicorn idea—we've seen things with horns, and we've seen horses. We put the two together and create something new, a unicorn.

Because of that, I don't know if it's possible to create a culture in a fantasy book that isn't inspired in some way by various earth cultures. I'm trying not to be as overt about it as The Wheel of Time was, because one of the cool things about The Wheel of Time was its twisting and turning of Earth cultures into Randland cultures.

That's a big preface. What are my inspirations for the Alethi, for all of the different cultures? There's definitely some Korean in there. There's some Semitic cultures in there. The magic system table, the double eye, is based on the idea of the Sefer and the Tree of Life from the Jewish Kabbalah. That's where I can trace the original inspiration of that. I can trace the original inspiration of the safehand to Koreans not showing people the bottom of their feet because they felt that that is an insult—that's not something you do. I can trace the Alethi apparel to various different clothing influences. I'm hoping that a lot of where I get the cultures is based off the interplay between the setting, the histories, the idea of the highstorms, and the metaphor of the desolations. My influences come from all over the place.[47]

Q. Would children on Roshar be taught the names of the different spren in school, like kids with animals in our world?

A. Oh, yeah, definitely. Good idea. I bet that they would. Definitely, spren would probably be like learning to say "kitty" around here.[48]

References[]

  1. Cosmere Q&A, 17th Shard, Sept. 2012
  2. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 535
  3. Starsight Release Party, Orem, UT, 11/26/19
  4. Oathbringer release party, Provo, UT, 11/13/17
  5. General Twitter 2015, 1/1/15
  6. Stormlight Three Update #4, /r/Stormlight_Archive, 9/8/16
  7. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 535
  8. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 535
  9. Arcanum Unbounded, pg.535
  10. Book signing, Prague, Czechia, 10/26/19
  11. JordanCon 2018, Atlanta, GA, 4/20/18
  12. Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 72, Reactormag.com, 2/25/16
  13. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 535
  14. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 536
  15. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 536
  16. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 535-536
  17. Transformation and Transportation are Elsecaller Surges.
  18. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 536
  19. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 536
  20. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 536
  21. Book signing, Orem, UT, 12/6/14
  22. Stormlight Three Update #4, /r/Stormlight_Archive, 9/8/16
  23. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 535
  24. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 535
  25. Arcanum Unbounded, pg. 536
  26. YouTube Livestream 1, 1/11/20
  27. 27.0 27.1 Oathbringer, 93. Kata
  28. Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A, 11/6/20
  29. Non-human races on Roshar
  30. Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A, 8/13/14
  31. Rhythm of War Preview Q&As, 7/28/20
  32. Shardcast Interview, 1/23/21
  33. YouTube Livestream 32, 6/3/21
  34. The Way of Kings Re-Read Interview, Tor.com, 6/10/14
  35. iCon 2019, Tel Aviv, Israel, 10/15/19
  36. iCon 2019, Tel Aviv, Israel, 10/15/19
  37. Brandon Sanderson Answers Your Questions About The Way of Kings, Reactormag.com, 6/10/14
  38. New WoB: Roshar's Three (Plus) Magic Systems, 17th Shard, 3/12/16
  39. The Way of Kings, 75. In the Top Room
  40. Oathbringer, 114. The Cost
  41. Cosmere Q&A, 17th Shard, Sept. 2012
  42. General Twitter 2015, 1/1/15
  43. Book signing, Bonn, Germany, 5/15/19
  44. Julia set, en.wikipedia.org
  45. JordanCon 2014, Roswell, GA, 4/11/14
  46. The Ten Core Shardworlds, 17th Shard, 11/24/11
  47. The Way of Kings Re-Read Interview, Tor.com, 6/10/14
  48. YouTube Livestream 26, 1/27/21
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