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What is up with Soul Casting?

Discuss the first Stormlight Archive novel, The Way of Kings! Please read the README topic before posting.

What is up with Soul Casting?

Postby JonSnow » Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:11 pm

I'm almost halfway through tWoK right now, and something is really bothering me. Soul Casting.

Apparently, a Soul Caster with a large enough gemstone can change any object into any other... Examples of this have already been on a HUGE scale (changing regular dirt into a Marble quarry) and it's been mentioned that Soul Casting was "limitless" given a big enough gemstone like the one found inside the chasm fiend.

The above being said, I can't understand a few things:

#1. Why wouldn't Soul Casters just Soul cast some rocks into some huge Gemstones as needed, ensuring that they could Soul Cast all they want without ever running out of "Soul Casting fuel?" One form of precious rock can be Soul cast (Marble), why not others?

#2. Why wouldn't Soul Casters just Soul cast up a bunch more Shard Plate and Shard Blades? They can change any object into any other with no limits? How is anything rare in a world where some people can just change any object into any other?

#3. Why does anyone fight traditional battles with regular weapons if you can Soul Cast? Soul Cast the plateau they are standing on into smoke or whatever so they all fall to their deaths. Soul Cast a bunch of sharp stones from the air above the enemy army. Come up with any remotely creative idea for using Soul Casting in a battle and the book hasn't presented any reason this isn't done.

It doesn't take a very creative mind to come up with scenarios in which limitless Soul Casting "breaks" the world... How could any sort of economy exist in a world with Soul Casting?

I really like this book otherwise but I don't know if I can get past the ridiculous power of Soul Casting unless it is checked in some way...

The idea of Shard Plate and Shard Blades are kind of dumb too (Shard Plate regenerates itself? please...) but I can get past that... Soul Casting on the other hand...
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Re: What is up with Soul Casting?

Postby Andygal » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:55 pm

it's mentioned at one point that Soulcasting cannot be used to create actual gemstones for some reason. Also, Shardblades and Shardplate have some very spepcial magic that probably couldn't be duplicated by a Soulcaster. Also Soulcasting fabrials are very rare, and all the fabrials in the known world are controlled by the ardents who are sparing with when and how they are used.
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Re: What is up with Soul Casting?

Postby Moogle » Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:21 pm

Very good questions. Andygal covered the main bits, but to reiterate:

1) You can't actually create gemstones with Soulcasters. You can create things of value near to them however, like opal, jade, and marble... but these don't hold Stormlight.

2) It has been speculated that Shardblades were in fact created by Soulcasting. Things are, however, not quite that easy. Shardblades are probably not made of metal (if they are, it's a very special metal). It is only easy to Soulcast one of the Ten Essences - you can change something to blood easily, or smoke, or fire, but you can't very easily change something into a radioactive substance. Creating a Shardblade is not that easy, particularly considering there's something very magical about them. You apparently "Bond" to a Shardblade, which is not an effect Soulcasters create - they simply create physical things, not magical things (thus far, anyway - again, there's the Shardblade theory).

3) Soulcasting an entire plateau would require enormous amounts of gemstones. It would be ridiculous. I don't even know if you could do it. This isn't the WoT where infinite energy is one gateway away - Stormlight is very much a limited, albeit renewable, resource. I suspect when they call something a quarry, it is small compared to what we would call a quarry. It takes a lot of Stormlight to do things. Highstorms come only every couple days (I believe we tried to figure it out and had answers ranging from every day to a week). In addition, Soulcasters are far more valuable because they provide food and shelter. If you use them all on fighting, all of a sudden you can't eat without supply trains all the way back from your home, which, as mentioned, is extremely expensive. You also can't handle any highstorm damage. Doing extremely large tasks also tends to break your gemstones, which sucks (though the larger the gemstone, the less prone it is to breaking, part of why they are valuable).

As well, using Soulcasters, a tool from the Almighty himself, to hurt people is blasphemous. Using the power of the divine to kill? It's unthinkable. Your creative examples of Soulcasting could work - I am partial to Soulcasting the air to mustard gas - but the amount of Stormlight and gems required to affect an army is way too high for practical use, without considering the fact that Soulcasters are controlled by the ardents (except for a few exceptions, like Jasnah) and wouldn't let it happen anyways. Also, you can only Soulcast things you are physically in contact with according to common knowledge. So... good luck turning the air above the enemy to rock.

Also, Shardplate regenerating itself isn't that ridiculous when you consider that they use giant crabs in place of horses. :P
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Re: What is up with Soul Casting?

Postby JonSnow » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:37 am

Awesome, thanks guys. I just got to the part where they mention that they can't SoulCast gemstones themselves for whatever reason.

I was encouraged by your comments explaining that SoulCasting isn't quite as ridiculous as it seemed at first. It wasn't clear on what you could or couldn't SoulCast at first in the book (it just said any object into any other).

I'm liking this book/series more and more as I read on.

I actually don't think that using the Chulls is all that ridiculous. I can imagine a world in which a giant crab-like creature existed. I actually think there were enormous crabs in the prehistoric past of our world - and I think given the proper conditions it is more than plausible for such a creature to evolve. Magic armor that gives super strength is more than slightly less explicable, especially when it can magically regenerate itself from a tiny scrap :roll:. It's a cool concept though, so I hope there is some decent way to "explain" Shardplate so that it seems less ridiculous as they already have with SoulCasting.
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Re: What is up with Soul Casting?

Postby Andygal » Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:02 am

I think we will learn more about Shardplate and Shardblades in later books, they are sort of mysterious in story as well, and it seems like something that will be explored.

Also, arthropods couldn't grow to the sizes they do on Roshar in our universe, the square cube law means they'd crush themselves under their own weight. Brandon said there's magic involved.
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Re: What is up with Soul Casting?

Postby Moogle » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:24 pm

Well, Roshar also has a smaller force of gravity than Earth as well - apparently that's the only way he could get the bridges to work. I imagine that helps chulls out. Chasmfiends though? Those things couldn't exist. That said, they do have a gigantic gemstone inside their bodies, and we know that fabrials can increase the strength of materials...

Also, I think that the Shardplate regenerating itself is it Soulcasting the air around it. It takes Stormlight, after all, and typically cracks gemstones while doing so. It would make sense, along with the Shardblades-were-Soulcasted theory. It also doesn't introduce any new knowledge, which is a plus (well, except that things can Soulcast on their own. So... nevermind. >.>)

Oh, and I found that quote that sparked the theory:

“Why forge the metal,” Vstim said, “when you can carve an object from wood in the precise shape you want, then Soulcast it?”


Shardblades have beautiful designs all over them, and are typically in shapes you couldn't forge.
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