Okay, I posted a spoilery tweet yesterday. It said, "Jasnah was wrong #Oathbringer" I did delete the tweet after a couple of my friends complained about the spoileryness, but since I want to talk about my whole thought process, spoilers included.
Note, I don't say what she's wrong about, though I'm going to guess that's a moot point. People don't like spoilers, don't like other people to tell them what's going on so I've gotten some pushback from my friends who haven't read the book yet about the tweet.
I'd also like to note that I posted that tweet after reading 230 pages of the 1200 page book, so it's also possible I'm wrong. It's at this point an opinion and a prediction. Regardless, if my post offended you for being a spoiler, I apologize.
Below the jump break is the spoilery explanation of the tweet (keeping in mind I've still only read about 550 pages of the book, so I'm still less than half-way through the book).
At the end of "Way of Kings" Jasnah reveals that the Voidbringers are the Parshmen. I realize this is going to be a controversial claim, not least because some Parshmen clearly do become Voidbringers, but I think she's wrong to tell everyone that Parshmen are Voidbringers, and I think it show's she's a racist. The point I want to make is kind of a "square == rectangle; rectangle =/= square" argument.
Jasnah's quite happy to claim the Parshmen are Voidbringers with no nuance at all to the claim. By where I am currently in the book she's also happy to champion the idea of completely exterminating Parshmen in order to defeat the Voidbringers. Jasnah sees Parshmen as a species that are separate and, because of the danger some of them pose to humans, as a species that does not deserve to exist anymore.
The thing is, not all Parshmen become Voidbringers. Kaladin and Moash both interact with non-bonded Parshmen and find that they're totally like the Alethi people who used to own them, down to their names and the accents they speak with. When Parshmen turn into Voidbringers by bonding with the spren of their ancestors many of them go crazy and, to a large extent, their personality seems to be overwritten by the spren that bonds to them. That says to me that Parshmen aren't *really* Voidbringers. The true Voidbringers are the spren who essentially enslave the Parshmen.
Dalinar's visions offer another clue in this direction. I'm going to have to go back and check, but during "Way of Kings" Dalinar never says the Voidbringers look like Parshmen. This despite the fact that he's fighting Parshmen the whole time. So, either Dalinar never notices that the Voidbringers look like Parshmen until Jasnah's statements makes him realize it, or the Voidbringers don't actually look like Parshmen. Maybe they're changed too much by the spren; maybe Dalinar is too focused on the humans/Radiants around him to really study the Voidbringers. Still, it seems significant that we spend a whole book with Dalinar fighting the Voidbringers in his visions and it isn't until the suggestion that Voidbringer=Parshmen is made to him externally that he sees any Parshmen-looking Voidbringers. Yes, I know, that may have been authorial slight of hand, keeping us from realizing what the Voidbringers were until Jasnah could reveal it. One of the frustrating things as a reader is that the author can hide information that would, in the real world, be naturally available and do it to create drama. Sanderson is certainly capable of doing that, so it's no smoking gun that Dalinar didn't realize the Voidbringers were Parshmen first.
Still, Dalinar's visions show us huge stone-beasts that are so unlike Parshmen it's a little hard to credit the idea that Parshmen are all the Voidbringers. I'm guessing that the spren who bond with the Parshmen must be capable of bonding with other creatures, or perhaps animating creatures who otherwise shouldn't exist.
Things I'm loving: that all the different traditions around Roshar have preserved pieces of the truth and have bought into some lies. I think it's wonderful nobody is absolutely right or wrong about Voidbringers or the Radiants, or the Almighty. It speaks to how hard it is to preserve truth over time, and how, no matter how they may try to keep knowledge pure, people change the meaning of religious records and texts to fit the culture they inhabit.