In the Stormlight archive, Honour describes Odium as

"the most dangerous of the 16".

However, Ruin from the Mistborn destroys multiple settlements for no reason at all, and this is before he reaches his maximum power! Odium admittedly has shattered the geography, and made Voidbringers etc., but to me Ruin seems far more powerful than Odium so why would Honour consider Odium to be the most dangerous?

  • Can you edit your question to prevent any spoilers?
    – jgadoury
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 15:19
  • 1
    @jgadoury is this better? I tried, but removing to much will probably make the question unclear. Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 15:24
  • 2
    It is worth noting that Ruin destroyed those cities because of his intent, which is to destroy things. Odium is a different shard, with a different intent. He is also limited in some fashion (as Ruin was for a long time), the manner of which has not been made clear, but is probably tied to Honor/Cultivation.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 20:25
  • 1
    @MarkGardner - Mistborn shows that a lot of things can happen behind the scenes, and Honor the Shardholder being dead is a very different thing than Honor the Shard being destroyed / Splintered.
    – Radhil
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 13:32
  • 2
    @MarkGardner - Sorry, you said you'd read Mistborn so I assumed you'd understood. The Mistborn "gods" did die, but this did not eliminate their power, and someone else came along and picked them up and used them. The same concept is at work here. "Honor" is a specific person, and that person may be dead, but that may not have eliminated the power of Honor, and some parts of it may still do its job. That's broadly what I'm saying, and events in Mistborn show its possible.
    – Radhil
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 13:41

1 Answer 1


Odium has killed Shardholders and destroyed other Shards before, in times before the current story in the Stormlight Archive, something Ruin had yet to do (although he did try during the events of Mistborn).

The letter that takes up some of the epigraphs in The Way of Kings - the one implied to be from Hoid - makes clear that Odium paid visit to Sel, the world on which Elantris takes place. According to Arcanum Unbounded, this happened in Sel's prehistory, long before any story set on that world, and all we see are the results. The two Shardholders on that world are dead by Odium's hand, and the Shards that they held were destroyed thoroughly enough that their power could not be picked up by another. It is possible that this is not the only world or gods he has done this to - Tanavast as Honor's Shardholder certainly is dead as per the end of Way of Kings although what the full story is we still don't know.

From the perspective of a Shardholder (Honor), this makes Odium a rather ultimate evil, as Shardholders have been proven to be somewhat eternal. They've created worlds, and will last beyond those worlds, and all the humans on them. Unless this one thing that has just as much power comes along and rips it all apart.

Ruin, by contrast, only attempted to destroy Preservation after Preservation betrayed and imprisoned him.

Weighed into this is the potential for Odium to outmaneuver those that would oppose its murderous plans. While it has the same power as other Shards, some Shards have shown varying ability to peer into the future and plan accordingly. Vorinism, the main religion seen in Stormlight Archive, teaches that this futuresight is of the Voidbringers, of Odium, although their mythology is shown to get several things wrong, and may simply be an artifact of Honor not having this skill. More worryingly, perhaps, mention is made of a Parshendi shape called "nightform" that can be seers, and predicts the rise of Odium again. Many Parshendi forms appear to have nothing to do with Odium, but this does appear to associate Odium with futuresight and mark him as far more dangerous than Ruin, who had limited to none (Preservation definitely could see the future, though not really well).

From a human perspective, the difference is probably academic. Ruin wanted to end the world of Scadrial, after his brief fling with helping create it. Odium likewise seems to want to end Roshar, although whether this is just what he wants or whether there is more to it (it's implied Odium can't move on until he wins) we have yet to learn. Both Shards have the tendency to corrupt or take control of mortals to do their bidding. So from a human face, they are likely equally evil.

  • I would add a few things here. First, a Shard's talent for seeing the future depends on its intent. Ruin had a more short term intent, which made it poor at seeing the future relative to Preservation, Similarly, Cultivation was a lot better at seeing the future than Honor, for obvious reasons. So if Odium is better at seeing the future than Ruin, that could make him more dangerous.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 19:49
  • Second, though this is not related to how dangerous they are, necessarily, Ruin sought to destroy the universe, to lower it to a state of maximal entropy. Odium, on the other hand, wants to become the strongest entity in the universe, which is why he destroys other Shards (he probably hates them). Once he does that, he can exert his intent unopposed (which would not involve killing all humans, so much as making them hate each other as much as possible). Odium probably had the opportunity to kill everyone on Sel, say, after Splintering the Shards that protected them, but apparently did not.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 19:55
  • @Adamant - for (1), the only word we have on Odium's futuresight is Vorinism, a religion which seems to have gotten more than a few of it's facts twisted, so it's not something I feel can be brought into the discussion yet, and (2) is pretty much moot to anyone currently walking around Roshar, since the current strategy of Desolation seems to end with either death or puppeted by rage-spren while you scream at yourself from inside your own head. What you say is true from a Cosmere / 17th Shard viewpoint I suppose; we're just not getting those stories yet.
    – Radhil
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 20:05
  • 3
    Well, I think it's clear that endless war is definitely right up Odium's alley. "Wait!" Kaladin said. "Why is there so much war? Must we always fight?" He wasn’t sure why he asked. The questions simply came out. The storm rumbled, like a thoughtful aged father. The face vanished, shattering into droplets of water. "Odium reigns, the voice said more softly." What better expression of hatred could there be?
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 20:29
  • @Radhil we also have the Parshendi songs, which mention "Shadeform" or something like that. the song says that it could see the future, prophesying the important event at the end of book 2. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 14:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.