Surgebinding is a magic system which involves ten types of Surges, which are the fundamental forces of nature. A person who can utilize Stormlight to bind Surges is called a Surgebinder. Surgebinders were not originally intended to exist by the Shards on Roshar. They weren’t designed into the system and so are more of an accident.
By the final days of the Era of Solitude, knowledge of Surgebinding is all but totally lost. Its effects haven't been seen for millennia and histories from times of the Heraldic Epochs, when Surgebinders fought during the Desolations and formed the Orders of the Knights Radiant, are all but nonexistent. Most who are aware of it know it mainly from inaccurate legends.
During the events of Words of Radiance, Jasnah, Shallan, Kaladin, Szeth, Lift, and Lopen all use Surgebinding to various ends. Shallan, Kaladin, Lift and Dalinar all deepen their commitments to the Radiants.
Stormlight is typically drawn from infused gemstones by inhaling and willing it to enter the body. As long as the Surgebinder is holding his or her breath, Stormlight leaks out much more slowly. Surgebinders holding Stormlight can hold their breath for greatly increased lengths of time, with Stormlight sustaining the body in place of oxygen.
In unique cases, Surgebinders may also draw on stormlight through alternate means, such as Lift's ability to metabolize Stormlight.
Surgebinders also appear to have natural gifts, along with the other powers they possess. Although they trained hard to achieve their current levels of perfection, both Szeth and Kaladin were drawn to combat and had an affinity for it from their beginnings. The same link is visible between Soulcasters and academics.
The Orders of the Knights Radiant are believed to have been completely comprised of Surgebinders.
- Main article: Resonance
The combination of Surges amongst Surgebinders has unique effects, known as Resonances. This has been confirmed by Brandon and it is Cosmere-wide mechanics when a Nahel bonded individual has access to two different powers.
Lightweavers' Resonance has something to do with their mnemonic abilities (i.e., the mental images that Shallan had).
Readers don't yet know the Resonances of other Orders of Knights Radiant.
Surges work differently for different orders; for example, Illumination for Truthwatchers and Lightweavers is slightly different.
Spren and BondsEdit
Each of the different Orders of the Knights Radiant are related to one kind of spren. From Dalinar's conversations with Nohadon, it is known that this bond between humans and spren is called the Nahel bond.
For example: Kaladin, a Windrunner, bonds with Syl; Shallan, a Lightweaver, bonds with Pattern; Renarin, a Truthwatcher, bonds with Glys; Lift, an Edgedancer, bonds with Wyndle; and Jasnah, an Elsecaller, bonds with what is being called an inkspren named Ivory.
Edgedancers bond with Cultivationspren.
The spren that bond with Bondsmiths are said by Brandon to be unique. The Stormfather is one of these spren and he is now bonded with Dalinar. It is stated within Words of Radiance that there are only ever up to three Bondsmiths at a time, and that they are closer to Heralds than other Knights Radiant.
Types of SurgesEdit
There are ten Surges: Adhesion, Gravitation, Division, Abrasion, Progression, Illumination, Transformation, Transportation, Cohesion, and Tension. Their glyph representations are shown on the diagram by the small images.
Each Order of Knights Radiant had two Surges associated with it, and each Surge was used by two different Orders (see links on the diagram). The Order of the Windrunners made use of Gravitation and Adhesion.
The Surge of Pressure and Vacuum. This is the Surge used to perform Full Lashings, binding an object onto another; used by Windrunners and Bondsmiths.
- A Full Lashing binds objects together for as long as the Stormlight lasts. It is similar to a Basic Lashing but works on different principles. To create a Full Lashing, an object is infused with Stormlight, then pressed to another object. The two objects become bound together with an extremely powerful bond, nearly impossible to break. In fact, most materials would themselves break before the bond holding them together would. Bindspren may appear near objects held by a Full Lashing.
The Surge of Gravity. This Surge is used for Basic and Reverse Lashings. With it, the Surgebinder is able to change the direction of his/her gravitational pull and its magnitude; used by Windrunners and Skybreakers.
- A Basic Lashing creates a change in gravitational pull, temporarily altering the magnitude and vector of gravity affecting an object. More than one Basic Lashing can be applied to an object at the same time, to increase its acceleration in the selected direction. Fractional Basic Lashings are also possible; a half-Lashing can be used to make an object weightless, and a quarter-Lashing to cut its weight in half.
- A Reverse Lashing gives an object a gravitational pull, causing other objects to be drawn to it like to a magnet. This Lashing requires the least amount of Stormlight. It is much more difficult to have items that are on the ground pulled to this object because of the strength of the bond they have with the ground. It is easier to pull items in the air or mid-flight, for example pulling arrows towards a shield or bridge.
The Surge of Destruction and Decay. It's currently not exactly explained how this Surge works, but it seems to be able to cause spontaneous combustion; like crushing hard objects to dust. Used by Skybreakers and Dustbringers.
The Surge of Friction. With it, the Surgebinder can make the touch of their body near friction-less (i.e., enabling them to glide across a floor as if it were slippery ice). It may do other things as well; used by Edgedancers and Dustbringers.
The Surge of Growth and Healing, or Regrowth. This Surge can exponentially increase speed and manipulate plant growth. At advanced stages, it also enables the Surgebinder to heal other persons, in an immensely increased version of normal Stormlight healing, capable of bringing someone back from the brink of death; used by Edgedancers and Truthwatchers.
The Surge of Light, Sound, and Various Waveforms. It's used to create illusions, both visual and auditory; used by Truthwatchers and Lightweavers.
The Surge of Soulcasting. The ability to change matter without a Soulcaster. Initially, it is restricted to the Ten Essences. But, with experience, the Soulcaster can perform more intricate and complex transformations using the Essences as a basis; used by Lightweavers and Elsecallers.
This ability is unique among the powers of the Knights Radiant as it is the only ability that is affected by the type of gem used to power it. For example, if a Surgebinder wanted to soulcast something into stone, s/he would have to use a topaz to enter Shadesmar.
The Surge of Motion and Realmatic Transition. There are rumors that this Surge allowed the Radiants to teleport - to instantaneously transport themselves to another location; used by Elsecallers and Willshapers.
The Surge of Strong Axial Interconnection. Little is known about how this Surge works; used by Willshapers and Stonewards.
The Surge of Soft Axial Interconnection. It is still unknown just how this Surge works; used by Stonewards and Bondsmiths.
Information on the Three Lashings can be found in the Ars Arcanum in The Way of Kings.
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Q. When Surgebinding, the person is Binding a Surge (the elemental force). Are those Bindings (the spiritual link) the focus for Surgebinding on Roshar?
Q. Are Surgebinding and Awakening related?
Q. Are the two Surges [that each Knight Radiant has access to] completely separate or can they be combined together? Something like maybe allowing a Lightweaver to create a solid illusion by combining their illumination Surge and their soulcasting?
A. Yes, they can, but it's not always directly obvious in a straightforward way, such as your example. 
Q. When Szeth walked through an area he had lashed in Interlude 9, could he have decided to let himself be affected by his own full lashing? How does this extend to other surgebinders?
A. Using a full lashing to stick yourself to something is inherently inferior to changing the gravitational pull and being able to move on that plane instead. So I see very rare instances where you would want to. But it is within the scope of the powers to be affected by it if he wanted to be. It will still affect other Surgebinders, and they will not be able to not be affected, unless there is a specific ability or item that is preventing it.
- ↑ The Way of Kings, Prologue - To Kill
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 60. That Which We Cannot Have
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Words of Radiance, 89. The Four
- ↑ Words of Radiance, Inter9.
- ↑ Words of Radiance, Prologue - To Question
- ↑ JordanCon 2016
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 44. One Form Of Justice
- ↑ Fundamental forces ...
- ↑ Ars Arcanum
- ↑ Soulcasting restricted to specific Gem types
- ↑ Spiritual link?
- ↑ Magic systems ...
- ↑ Combining Surges
- ↑ Lashings?