Shards of Adonalsium
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Over time, Shardholders become this for their Shards. This is also the reason why Rayse refuses to assimilate Shards, as they will change his personality.
- God Is Dead: The result when a Shardholder is killed and the Shard Splintered.
- God of Evil: Sort of in the case of villainous Shards. However, it's more whatever the name is than straight up "Evil", including Odium, Ruin, and Dominion.
- Literal Split Personality: Each of the Shards is a fragment of the original Adonalsium, giving the impression that they were each a piece of its personality originally.
Bavadin's Shard (To be moved upon learning name)
- Seer: And, according to Tanavast, better than he is at it.
- Posthumous Character: She and Skai were killed by Rayse before the events of Elantris. It is implied that their deaths are related to the fault line that screwed up AonDor, but the precise details are unclear.
- Evil Counterpart: The actual personality and alignment of Dominion are unknown, but the magics stemming from this Shard (namely Dakhor and to some extent the Skaze) seem to be dark versions of AonDor.
- Posthumous Character: He and Aona were killed by Rayse before the events of Elantris. It is implied that their deaths are related to the fault line that screwed up AonDor, but the precise details are unclear.
- Big Good: Or at least he was, until Odium killed him. He's trying to shape Dalinar Kholin into fulfilling this for him in his absence.
- Honor Before Reason: His magic system grants the powers of Surgebinding to those who exercise this.
- I Have Many Names: Almighty, Honor, Tanavast, and according to the ardents, Elithanathile (He Who Transforms).
- Like a God to Me: The people of Alethkar, Roshar, worship him as "the Almighty".
- Seer: He can see the future, but he isn't very good at it.
Shardworld: Unknown, possibly Roshar
- Bad Powers, Bad People: According to Hoid, he was already a Jerkass before bonding to the Cosmic Principle Of Hatred.
- Big Bad: Of The Stormlight Archive, or at least appears to be.
- Bigger Bad: He is set up as the most significant evil presence in the Cosmere, and his actions have caused a lot of the problems seen on the other Shardworlds, even if he wasn't directly influencing their events. To be more specific, he is all but outright said to be responsible for the damage inflicted to Sel (the world where Elantris is set) and splintered the Shards used by four others (Aona, Skai, Tanavast and one other unknown holder).
- The Dreaded: Everyone who knows about him is terrified of him.
- Eviler Than Thou: Killed Skai and Splintered Dominion, the Evil Counterpart of Devotion, as part of his attempt to keep others from rising against him.
- The Ghost: Hasn't actually been seen yet, but the effects of his power have been felt throughout The Stormlight Archive. Word of God confirms that his nexus isn't even on Roshar, it's on Braise (another planet in the same star system).
- Made of Evil: He's a giant mass of hate.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Aside from "Odium", we have Rayse, which sounds similar to "Raze".
- The Power of Hate: Quite literally.
- Serial Killer: Has shades of this, having killed at least four Shardholders.
- All-Powerful Bystander: Justified because initially all his power is tied up in keeping Ruin imprisoned and after Ruin gets out, one of his first acts is to kill the weakened Preservation's mind.
- Arc Number: Sixteen, which was built into everything surrounding his powers and actions as his "signature."
- Big Good: For Mistborn: The Original Trilogy.
- The Chessmaster: Preservation is the best Chessmaster in the whole Gambit Pileup in the Mistborn series. Culminates with Vin absorbing his power and using that to destroy Ruin, because while Preservation himself can't destroy, humans can because they are of both Preservation and Ruin.
- Cleopatra Nose: Leras is noted as having a prominent nose.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: For all of The Well of Ascension and most of The Hero of Ages, everyone assumes that the mists are of Ruin and a deadly danger to the land, thanks to Ruin's manipulation.
- The Man Behind the Man: A rare heroic example.
- Mass Super-Empowering Event: The mists that "attack" people in the second and third books are actually Preservation's power identifying those with innate Allomancy and forcing them to Snap.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Sacrificed most of himself to set off the dominoes that would ultimately lead to the death of his opposite number, Ruin. Technically he didn't actually die until much later, but since his sacrifice left him almost totally unable to interact with the world, and his eventual true death was also part of his plan it counts.
- Red Herring: Presented as a possible Big Bad in The Well of Ascension. In reality he's the Big Good, but circumstances made him look like a villain.
- Split Personality Merge: Merges with Ruin within Sazed to become "Harmony".
- Thanatos Gambit: He knows that he's going to die, so he sets up Vin as the heir to his power.
- Above Good and Evil: Ruin denies being malevolent; to him, the destruction of the world is both inevitable and natural.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Ati was once a kind and generous man.
- Badass Boast: "I am mountains that crush. I am waves that crash. I am storms that scatter. I am the end. ...I am Ruin."
- Big Bad: The true villain behind all the events of the original Mistborn trilogy.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The little we see from his perspective (through Marsh) indicates that his claims that things are only beautiful when they end is completely genuine as far as he is concerned. To him, life and the story of peoples' lives are insignificant compared to the ending that they reach.
- Break Them by Talking: He shows up several times for the express purpose of doing this to Vin. The fact that he feels the need to do this is her first clue that on some level he's human, and therefore fallible.
- The Chessmaster: Hoo, boy. For most of the Mistborn trilogy, everybody is dancing on his strings.
- The Corrupter: To people who have hemalurgic spikes, with subtlety ranging from making them hold onto an item to convincing them to do morally dubious experimentation to simply urging them to kill everyone they meet. He's so good at this last one that he sometimes has to force his victims to not kill everyone they meet, as it is slowing them down.
- Destruction Cannot Comprehend Life: As Vin points out to him during her scathing "The Reason You Suck" Speech. He just doesn't get people's non-destructive impulses.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Pulls one of several people, notably Kelsier (to Spook and Quellion), the Lord Ruler (to Penrod), and Reen. Vin sees through the last pretty quickly, at least when it's more than just the voice.
- Evil Redhead: As a human, he had red hair. This is played with, because he was only evil as a Shardholder, and he didn't have a body then. Before obtaining Ruin, the man he once was, Ati, was actually kind and generous.
- Face-Heel Turn: He was once a kind and generous man, but due to his Shard's Intent he was corrupted and became nothing more than an instrument of destruction.
- Fake Memories: He is able to edit the contents of Copperminds, allowing him to create them.
- Faux Affably Evil: Willing to act friendly towards Vin and others, but evil to a fault.
- For the Evulz: a lot of his conversations with Vin seem to have no purpose other than to taunt her, especially when he gloats that his servant killed Elend.
- Hannibal Lecture: Tries to do this with Vin once she is captured by Lord Aradan Yomen.
- Hero Killer: By far the most powerful and terrifying villain in Mistborn. He'd have killed the whole world if Vin hadn't managed to stop him, and even then it was a close call.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: When Ruin and Preservation worked together to create the world, they both put part of themselves into humanity, thus allowing humans to both preserve and destroy. Thus, when Vin absorbed Preservation's power (just as planned) she could use that same power to attack and destroy Ruin, unlike Preservation.
- Just Between You and Me: Shares part of his plan with Vin.
- Made of Evil: Or at least, made of destruction.
- The Man Behind the Man: To just about everyone.
- Manipulative Bastard: Even though he suffers form Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, that doesn't mean he's not good a playing on peoples' darker emotions. Especially obvious with Spook.
- Meaningful Name/Name's the Same: His name when he was still human, Ati, is a variation of Atë, the greek personification of ruin. Ironically, in the Aon language of Sel, his name means 'hope'.
- Motive Rant: Rants about how it wants to destroy everything.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Ruin" pretty much says it all, really.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: He could have prevented his eventual defeat simply by not forcing Marsh to read the message he intercepted from Spook.
- Omnicidal Maniac: His very nature is the end of all things, and part of the bargain that allowed the two gods to create life at all stipulated that Ruin would eventually get to destroy it all.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Two cans. His power is sealed in the Well of Ascension, and his body is atium... also known as the single most valuable substance in the Empire.
- Spikes of Villainy: By its nature as an intangible being it can't have them, but its power fuels the evil spike-based magic Hemalurgy.
- Split Personality Merge: Merges with Preservation within Sazed to become "Harmony".
- Weaksauce Weakness: He can't see or directly affect words written in metal- a rather potent weakness, as his greatest success came from altering written records, especially prophecies (this is due the fact that the magic systems on Scadrial are fueled by metal, and thus glow with power to his senses. Trying to read words on a metal tablet would be like us trying to read scratches on a really powerful lightbulb). He also can't read minds, though he can influence them if the person has a Hemalurgic spike.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: According to the First Letter, Ati was a good-natured and generous man. Ruin... isn't.
Ruin and Preservation
Magic: Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy
- The Dreaded: Odium is terrified of him, as being a holder of two Shards means he is quite possibly the most powerful entity in the Cosmere.
- God's Hands Are Tied: Due to the way his powers work, he can't really do much without a great deal of effort. The fact that he also wants to preserve free will and knows what happens when Shardholders use their powers indiscriminately is probably also part of it.
- Actual Pacifist: Rock in The Stormlight Archive claims he's not allowed to hurt humans. Rock's view might be a bit skewed (he also thinks Hoid is a god), but admittedly Hoid has never been seen physically hurting anyone.Hoid: You needn't fear me. I'm terribly ineffective at hurting people. I blame my upbringing.
- All-Powerful Bystander: How powerful he is is unknown, but he's very prolific in worldhopping.
- Almighty Janitor: He often takes the position of a beggar or other low-profile role, though his job as the King's Wit in Roshar is a partial exception due to his proximity to an important ruler. Although his power level isn't known much, he is implied to be planning something that spans the entire Cosmere, likely related to Odium.
- Angel Unaware: We still don't know precisely what he is, but he's very old and much stronger than he pretends. In Words of Radiance, Dalinar finally cottons on that there's something more to him than meets the eye.Dalinar: Are you a Herald, Wit?
Hoid: Ha. No. Thank you, but no.
- Ascended Extra: While he wasn't really an "extra" per se, he didn't have an extremely large amount of involvement in events in books before The Stormlight Archive. In that series, he is becoming an increasingly major character, with his knowledge of the Cosmere taking the forefront, and people actively seeking him out.
- Bald of Awesome: At least in Mistborn: The Final Empire.
- Beneath the Mask: As shown first in "the first Letter" in The Way of Kings and in his characterization up front in Words of Radiance, he is actually extremely serious, and the threat of Rayse/Odium has become serious enough that he has far more breaks in his Obfuscating Stupidity, and more swearing and shouts as well.
- The Cameo: His appearances so far, including at the Shattering of Adonalsium.
- Combo Platter Powers: The extent is a matter of speculation; at minimum, he has Lightweaving, feruchemy (per Word of God), some means of Worldhopping, and a way to dilate time. In The Well of Ascension he gets a lerasium bead, which would make him a full Mistborn; in Words of Radiance, he is implied to be using Allomancy and to have enough Breath to have reached at least the Second Heightening. Finally, he seems to think he wouldn't suffer any lasting damage from a shardblade. Whew.
- Cool Old Guy
- Dead Person Impersonation: If early looks at The Liar of Partinel are accurate, he took the name of his own Lightweaving master following the latter's assassination, and kept it for hundreds of years after. However, given the sheer amount of time and the fact that he goes to many worlds where people would have no idea who the original Hoid is, it's largely irrelevant.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially in his role as the King's Wit, where he is a legal, institutionalized Troll.Second Letter: I am told that in your current incarnation you’ve taken a name that references what you presume to be one of your virtues. This is, I suspect, a little like a skunk naming itself for its stench.
- Dimensional Traveler: Traverses between Shardworlds by way of the Cognitive Realm/Shadesmar, even from Sel, and, presumably, from Roshar as wellnote .
- Fourth Wall Observer: As noted by him in The Way of Kings, "I began life as a thought, a concept, words on a page." Plus, his character has appeared in every Sanderson "world" of the Cosmere. He even mentions Adonalsium to Dalinar once.
- Inexplicably Awesome: We understand some of his magic and how he moves between Shardworlds, along with his world of origin and his real name. However, we don't really know anything else about him, up to and including his motives, most of his history, and his actual appearance.
- In the Hood: In Elantris, where he is also The Faceless due to the hood shrouding his face completely.
- The Informant: To Kelsier in Mistborn: The Final Empire.
- The Jester: His job as "the King's Wit" in Alethkar, Roshar is to be this, being allowed (and required) to insult members of the court. However, the narration makes clear that this is not the same thing. His role as the Imperial Fool of the Rose Empire is implied to be another example. He plays a short, similar role in the Court of the Gods in Nalthis as a storyteller who explains some history of Hallandren to Siri.
- Master of Illusion: He is capable with Lightweaving, among other skills. This makes it very hard to tell what he actually looks like.
- Meaningful Background Event: He practically is one due to his many behind the scenes acts. By the time of The Way of Kings, some of the people he crossed paths with are starting to put ends together to find out what is going on.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Uses an unknown application of feruchemy to sense where important events are going on.
- Mysterious Past: And pretty much every other time about him, actually.
- Noodle Incident: He cheerily mentions a time he spent the better part of a year inside a large stomach, being digested. Of course, he doesn't bother explaining this any further.
- Obfuscating Disability: In Mistborn: The Final Empire, he pretends to be blind so that Kelsier will let his guard down. Unfortunately, Kelsier sees right through it, being familiar with the skaa underworld, but it doesn't end up mattering much. Considering Hoid's other characteristics, odds are he was intentionally letting Kelsier know that he was faking blindness so as to have Kelsier assume he was just another Skaa urchin/informant.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: With varying success depending on who he's talking to. As shown in The Stormlight Archive in progressively increasing amounts, he is actually extremely astute and troubled by the goings on of several of the Shards, especially Odium.
- Older Than They Look
- Only Known by Their Nickname: According to he himself, he "abandoned his real name long ago", meaning that Hoid isn't actually his name. According to early looks at The Liar of Partinel, the earliest novel in The Verse chronologically so far, his real name is Midius, and he took the name of senior jesk and master Lightweaver Hoid on Yolen following the latter's death.
- Pals with Jesus: He personally knew the Shardholders before they became gods. In Words of Radiance, he mentions flippantly that he had drinks with the Almighty, and never thought of him as particularly divine.
- Planar Champion: To a small degree, by way of the Shadesmar.
- Time Master: He ages very slowly, and has been in all of the Cosmere works in chronological order. However, he has not seen all of the years he has gone through, meaning he has some form of time travel.
- Troll: His entire job as the Alethi King's Wit in Roshar is to be this. He spends a feast thrown by the King just sitting by the entrance, insulting everyone who walks in (except Dalinar) with an easy, practiced air. He also mocks Sadeas, one of the most powerful highprinces, several times.Wit: Sadeas, I don't believe you've ever paid me a sphere. Though, no, please, don't offer. I can't take your money, as I know how many others you must pay to get what you wish of them.
Sadeas: A whore joke, Wit? Is that the best you can manage?
Wit: Each man has his place. Mine is to make insults. Yours is to be in-sluts.
- The Unfettered: In Words of Radiance, he admits to Dalinar that he would let all of Roshar die if it helped him in his goals, even if he had to do it with a tearful gaze.
- Wizard Beard: Part of his disguise in Warbreaker.