This is a rant that usually happens in-person.
It’s hard for me to keep track of the conversation unless I’m speaking.
If the Legacy of Kain series were a proper time loop, then Raziel receiving his own soul as a wraith blade when Kain shatters the physical sword on him would make sense — but it doesn’t. Time loops work when history is fixed.
History in the Legacy of Kain series is flexible, as demonstrated through the introduction of multiple paradoxes. Sure you can travel through time, but you can’t change anything — that’s the point. Until suddenly they can.
Defiance does a pretty effective job of misdirection — when Raziel finally does enter the Reaver, the drama is so thick you can scarcely breathe, and then you get one of the most anticipated boss fights ever.
The Soul Reaver is certainly a powerful artifact — perhaps the most powerful weapon in the game unless of course you count Moebius’s staff — which just happens to be another all-powerful device created by the winged race.
For the sake of clarity, I’m going to try and refer to the pre-Raziel Reaver as the Blood Reaver and the post-Raziel Reaver as the Soul Reaver.
– Vorador forges the metal blade and hands it over to the Ancients.
– The Ancients enchant the blade, thus creating the Blood Reaver.
– The Sarafan kill Janos Audron and claim the Blood Reaver.
– Younger Raziel becomes trapped in the blade — now the Soul Reaver.
– The Soul Reaver winds up in the hands of William the Just.
– Younger Kain shatters William’s Reaver with a future copy of the blade.
– Younger Raziel repairs the Soul Reaver before traveling into the past.
– Younger Kain acquires the Soul Reaver and travels into the past.
– Younger Kain returns to the present with the Soul Reaver.
– Elder Kain shatters the Soul Reaver on Younger Raziel.
– The Soul Reaver affixes itself to Raziel, who travels into the past.
So what’s the problem?
Raziel’s soul was necessary to reanimate him as a vampire — the soul is treated as an animating force in the Soul Reaver series. Sure, there might be soulless automatons but that’s not how the vampires work.
Does Raziel the Younger have a soul when he emerges from the Abyss in the beginning of Soul Reaver? He had one when he entered the Abyss as a vampire — and it’s certainly implied that vampires need one in order to operate.
And the vampire-wraith hybrids we see later on certainly have their souls, since that’s how they become reanimated. And the Hylden we see possessing corpses in the exact same manner as Raziel certainly have souls.
The reason I ask this — is because when Raziel finally enters the blade, he’s already got two souls. He has his own (animating force) and he’s got the one shaped like a sword. Two of Raziel’s souls enter the sword in Defiance.
So when the “time loop” completes itself (eventually) as Kain leaves the Soul Reaver for his younger self to find and carry into the future to shatter on the Younger Raziel once again, blah blah blah — that Raziel will have three souls.
The solution sounds simple enough then, right?
Raziel emerges from the Abyss as a wraith without a soul.
The Soul Reaver shatters on him, triggering the “Reaver paradox” because it… can’t consume its own soul. Oh, oops. Why does the paradox occur then?
Not a solution after all.
We aren’t done yet — if we’re back to the “three’s company” theory of souls, Raziel might hypothetically pick up another copy of his soul each time a Reaver Paradox occurs. He might carry the souls from previous dead timelines.
But near the beginning of SR2, Raziel is “leeched of his soul energy” to restore William’s Reaver — the one that will eventually be wielded by Kain.
Is that — what, is that the answer? Repairing the blade is a “soul dump,” that basically costs Raziel one soul to continue? He then proceeds farther into the past with just one soul — oh, but wait.
Raziel acknowledges he still has two souls in the climax of SR2. If repairing the Soul Reaver cost one soul — Raziel wouldn’t have had enough souls to “pay the toll” in his first iteration of the time loop.
So where am I going with this…?
While thoroughly complicated, the Legacy of Kain doesn’t actually describe a traditional time loop, more like a time helix or something similarly bizarre.