Kaladin: Authority doesn't come from a rank. Syl: Where does it come from? Kaladin: From the men who give it to you. That's the only way to get it.
Kaladin started as the son of an upper-middle class citizen. His father was a surgeon, which is very high up for a darkeyes. After a complicated series of events at home result in his brother being sent to join the military, Kaladin joins to protect him. Tragedy resulted from this, and ultimately ended with Kaladin's entire unit being wiped out and he himself being enslaved. After he became a slave, he winded up in the ownership of Highprince Sadeas, as a "bridgeman" forced to carry bridges to allow the Highprince's army to traverse the Shattered Plains, a duty that is fraught with death and dishonor. It is here, at his lowest point, that Kaladin discovers what he is truly capable of....Has flashback chapters in Book 1, The Way of Kings.
The Ace: From the point of view of most others around him.
Broken Ace: From his own point of view, and those who know him well. According to the back cover of Words Of Radiance, this is a necessary precondition for Surgebinding.
Angry Black Man: While discrimination in the Alethi culture is generally along the lines of eye color rather than skin shade, Kaladin fits the spirit of this trope in a number of ways. He's a member of a discriminated group, harboring massive justified hatred towards all members of the oppressing group, and makes more trouble for himself by making this hatred clear to anyone and everyone he meets.
Dalinar: You've got a massive chip on your shoulder, son. Not that it's not understandable.
Author Avatar: Probably not to any great extent, but he shares at least one important bit of background with his author—both of them had parents who wanted them to go into medicine, but they ended up doing something else.
Badass Normal: In the flashbacks we see him kill a Shardbearer with nothing but natural skill and a little luck.
Badass Creed: "I shall protect those who cannot protect themselves." And when he says it, the Stormlight explodes from his body and bowls over all the nearby Parshendi.
In the second book, "I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right". Allows Sylphrena to assume Shard form, and sucks in every drop of Light in the halls, instantly healing his lethal internal injuries.
Again when he personally saves Dalinar from Szeth. Twice. Once at the beginning of the second book, and once at the end.
Blade on a Stick: his Weapon of Choice is the spear, both because it is a natural weapon for him, and because Alethi culture restricts the sword to lighteyes. He even becomes the first Shardbearer in the series whose Shardblade becomes a spear since he's so familiar with the weapon. Not that she can't become a sword, dagger, and shield as well.
Blue Is Heroic: Everything from his new uniform to the color of his eyes after speaking the 3rd oath. Blue is the color of the Windrunners.
Bond Creatures: His Nahel bond with Syl grants her sentience and him access to Surgebinding.
The Captain: The men of Bridge Four start referring to him as this eventually. Later on, Dalinar establishes him as the captain of the new royal bodyguard.
Failure Knight: He fails to protect his little brother, which drives him to try to protect anyone else he ever deems to be his responsibility (his spear squad, Bridge Four). His reaction is generally not pretty.
Good Angel, Bad Angel: If Syl acts as his Good Angel then the aspect of himself which he calls 'the Wretch' (representing his apathy) fulfills the role of Bad Angel.
Gravity Master: Unconsciously. He's constantly and unknowingly drawing arrows away from him and his bridge team, and pulling them into the bridge. Later on, he pulls dozens of arrows directly into his shield, though the raw force behind that many arrows hitting it throws him through the air. Not got the hang of running up walls yet though.
In the second book, he advances his powers, letting him fly and run on walls.
Guardian Angel: Metaphorically, he grows into this over the course of the first two books. This culminates when, on the verge of death from both his broken leg and his internal injuries from a Shardplate gauntlet to the chest, he says the third of the three sets of the Immortal Words of the Windrunners, the frost behind him forming briefly into the shape of wings as he pledges to protect Elhokar, regardless of whether he likes him or not.
Heroic Second Wind: Every time he speaks a new oath, but most notably at the end of Words of Radiance.
Defining character trait, particularly when he refuses to take the Shardblade and Plate from the Shardbearer that nearly killed Amaram.
In a weird way, this is revealed to be the source of his and Syl's powers: She's an Honorspren, so the oaths he gives literally empower him. If his oaths contradict, like they do for much of the second book, Syl actually begins losing sentience and their bond weakens.
Hurting Hero: After all the crap he's been through, its no surprise.
Improbable Age: Trained surgeon, squadleader, and the first dark eyed captain in history...at only nineteen years old.
I Shall Taunt You: He deliberately crafts armor from Parshendi carapace and makes a shield covered in Parshendi bones to draw their arrow fire. It works spectacularly.
Knight in Sour Armor: He's utterly convinced that the lighteyes are all corrupt and selfish bastards. Dalinar finally breaks him of this when he gives up his Shardblade for all of Sadeas' bridgemen. The fact that he becomes a lighteyes at the end of Words of Radiance doesn't hurt either.
Not Quite Flight: Kaladins powers allow him to literally 'fall with style'. When Windrunners fly into the sky they're actually falling up.
The Paladin: Helping the helpless is a strong personality trait of his from the start, both on the battlefield and with medicine. In Words of Radiance, it is eventually revealed that his powers are a direct result of this, and fade when he stops being protective.
Power Glows: He has to consciously reign in his Surgebinding because of the glow it emits once he realizes the extent of his powers.
Praetorian Guard: At the end of The Way Of Kings, Dalinar places him in command of a new royal bodyguard to protect Elhokar, and Bridger Four and many of the other bridgemen form the new guard, trained by Kaladin.
Survivor Guilt: One of his defining traits, especially with regards to his brother Tien.
Took a Level in Badass: Repeatedly, over the book, until he finally starts fully manifesting his Surgebinding.
And again in Words of Radiance when he speaks the Third Ideal and manifests Syl as his Shardblade/Shardspear/Shardshield.
Walking Disaster Area: Lampshaded constantly throughout the book. Eventually partially justified - Syl is an Honorspren and has been giving Kaladin unconscious Surgebinding powers. Kaladin continually strives to do the right thing, getting himself into dangerous and disastrous circumstances. Syl's bond has given him the strength to survive them, when others haven't.
A young woman undertaking a desperate plan to save her family from destitution. She takes up a wardship with Jasnah Kholin to steal her Soulcaster, but finds this difficult as she begins to enjoy learning.Has flashback chapters in Book 2, Words of Radiance.
Admiring the Abomination: As any dedicated scholar would do. Even when getting chased by a Chasmfiend, she makes sure she can draw up an annotated sketch of its anatomy later.
A rare positive variant. The key to being a Lightweaver seems to be the ability to speak a lie and by speaking it, make it true. For example, tell a band of deserters that they are soldiers again, and they will become soldiers, and fight and die as heroes.
On a darker note, for years she convinced herself that her father killed her mother, having repressed the memory that Shallan killed her in self-defense.
Beware the Nice Ones: For a fairly nervous, kind and polite young women she has a surprisingly impressive body count.
Big Screwed-Up Family: It says something when Shallan, who is overly nonconfrontational and nervous to a fault outside of her home, is the most well-adjusted member of the Davar clan.
Broken Bird: In her flashbacks, though by the time of the series she's put herself back together... more or less. This is apparently what allowed her to become a Lightweaver.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Can come off as this when the scholarly side of her takes over, such as interrupting Adolin's boasts about his battles on the Shattered Plains to wonder how he poops in Shardplate.
Cool Sword: She is a Shardbearer. A true Shardbearer, wielding a living, bonded spren, compared to the dead ones everyone else is using.
Deadpan Snarker: Seems to have a compulsion to make witty remarks at almost any opportunity.
For Science!: She uses a variant to justify her stranger requests.
Yalb: This is madness, Brightness! Shallan: No, this is scholarship!
Genki Girl: She portrays this image in public. It's not quite an act but...it's an incomplete image of her.
Guile Hero: She slowly evolves into this over the course of Words of Radiance, learning how to fake various accents and lie more effectively, as well as general social lessons. She still blushes when confronted, though.
Heroes Want Redheads: Her lovely auburn hair is commented upon by multiple people as one of her best physical attributes. She and Adolin are betrothed, and it appears that there might be some latent Belligerent Sexual Tension with Kaladin, as well.
Heroic BSOD: After Jasnah learns that Shallan stole her Soulcaster. She manages to snap out of it by part 5 of The Way of Kings.
According to Word of Brandon, the scene with her counting to ten heartbeats "means what you think it means". A shardblade takes ten of the owner's heartbeats to summon. The scene means she has one, each of which are considered priceless and rare. Given her culture's sharply defined gender roles, it's practically unheard of for a woman to have one, much less someone with the image she tries to present in public.
Due to her flighty and friendly nature, a lot of people (especially Kaladin) assume she lived an easy and pampered life. Ha.
Shallan: You don't realize it, but you just said something very very funny. Kaladin: Then why aren't you laughing? Shallan: It's not that kind of funny.
Normally, she's cheerfully shy and demure, but when a true life or death situation comes up, she turns into a stone cold killer. She killed her mother as a child with the Shardblade said mother was trying to take from her, strangled her father with the necklace he bought her, and stabbed Tyn (her conwoman mentor) through the heart after a short fight.
Tyn: Sometimes, we must do things we don't like, kid. Difficult things. [Shallan summons her Shardblade and kills Tyn] Shallan: Difficult things. Yes. I believe I told you. I've learned that lesson already. Thank you.
Non-Action Guy: Shallan does not do confrontation, of any kind, despite possessing a Shardblade, and killing her father.
Parental Favoritism: She was the only child in the family that her father never abused and rarely got angry with. Whether this was because of actual favoritism or because he knew she had a Shardblade and was scared of her, we'll never know, since he's dead by her hand.
Photographic Memory: She can remember any scene perfectly with a bit of effort and a blink, and then forget it later, after sketching it. This is initially presented as an acquired skill, but her ability to sketch invisible creatures unconsciously suggests it is more supernatural in nature. The revelation that she is a fledgling Surgebinder strongly suggests that these Memories are somehow related one of her Surges, whether Soulcasting or (more likely) Illumination.
Rousing Speech: She gives a speech to a group of deserters that inspires them and reminds them of the men they could have been. This causes them to fight for her.
Self-Made Orphan: As a child, killed her mother in self-defense when her mother tried to kill her after her Radiant abilities started to manifest. This drove her father mad, and she eventually had to kill him as well to protect her brothers.
Stepford Smiler: A variation, in that she is consciously and deliberately repressing her memories of killing her mother and father in order to function. Implied to be a non-magical use of her talents as a Lightweaver.
Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar (Szeth-son-Neturo)
"What am I? I am....sorry."
The Assassin In White sent to kill the former Alethi king, gets several viewpoint sections of his own throughout The Way Of Kings. His title of "Truthless" is never quite explained, though it is later implied that he was given his Shardblade by his people. Despite his talents, Szeth hates hurting people, and hates himself even more for his talents at doing the same.Will have flashbacks in Book 3.
Apologetic Attacker: Hates killing, and cries as he does. In the prologue, he actually does apologize before attacking.
Broken Ace: Completely destroyed by finding out that he was never really Truthless, and could have stopped the murders at any time. This is probably part of why Nalan considers him eligible to become a Skybreaker.
Cassandra Truth: He tried to warn the Shin of the coming Voidbringers. He was right, but they didn't believe him and branded him Truthless. He convinces himself that they were right, only to discover that he was right all along after encountering Kaladin.
The Combat Pragmatist: Even in uses of his magical powers, he doesn't fight fair. Special mention goes to the time when he killed a Shardbearer by destroying a balcony beneath him.
Cool Sword: A master with his Shardblade, and refuses to part with it. It's actually an Honorblade, and the direct source of his Surgebinding. Later, he gains access to a sword that is strongly implied to be Nightblood from Warbreaker.
Of anime ninja. Most evident in the chapter where he's the assassin of a crime lord wannabe, and wears the classic black outfit, combined with his big, anime-esque Shin eyes.
Perhaps also an expy of the various protagonists of Assassin's Creed. His physical description might as well be one of Ezio Auditore, and his occupation, needless to say, fits as well.
Extreme Doormat: He will do anything the person who holds his Oathstone orders, except commit suicide or give up his Shardblade. This is actually cultural. Shin "warriors" are treated like slaves, with Shin culture greatly favoring farmers and craftsmen and elevating them to the rulership positions of society, and soldiers being slaves that are conditioned to view themselves as having little value and to obey whoever possesses them.
Face Death with Dignity: After realizing that he isn't Truthless and truly accepting responsibility for all the death he has inflicted, he lets Kaladin kill him. Too bad for him that Nalan has other plans for him.
The Fettered: Bound to follow the orders of whomever holds his Oathstone. He has only two limits: he will not kill himself, and he will not give up his Shardblade. But anything else his master commands - anything - he will immediately carry out, no matter how much he hates it, even if it will sow war and chaos and kill hundreds of thousands of people. Even if he's standing next to a horrible monster who is deliberately killing people in front of his own eyes, Szeth will not act against them.
Foil: To Kaladin especially. Both value honor and despise the actual act of killing, and are both slaves after a fashion. In the debate of To Be Lawful or Good, Kaladin falls under "Good", while Szeth ascribed to a version of "Lawful". Whereas Kaladin takesresponsibility foreverything, Szeth takes it fornothing. The powers they exhibit are also similar. However, Szeth is an assassin, not a soldier, and is not actually a surgebinder until joining the Skybreakers, who are rivals to the Windrunners Kaladin is one of.
Gravity Master: The thing that makes him so deadly, since nobody else understands his abilities or how to counter them. Outdoors a simple touch is enough to guarantee a kill on someone, because he can catapult them into the sky.
Hitman with a Heart: He hates killing, but that is the task that he is best at, and he has countless masters willing to use his powers.
Honor Before Reason: Because he's a Truthless, he has to do whatever his masters tell him and can't take his own life. At several points in The Way of Kings he has a strong desire to act, but can't because he is a Truthless.
I Cannot Self-Terminate: As Truthless, he is not allowed to take his own life. Once he learns he isn't Truthless, he lets Kaladin finish him.
Just Following Orders: A weird case. On the one hand, he is bound to follow any order his master gives him, with the sole exceptions of killing himself or giving up his Shardblade. On the other, it is explicitly stated that he is still 100% morally responsible for every evil order he follows. Kaladin specifically calls him out as a coward for using this excuse to justify everything he has done. After finding out that he wasn't Truthless, that the claims of the return of Radiants and Voidbringers that got him declared Truthless were correct, he goes slightly off the deep end, because that would mean he could have refused every one of those evil orders.
Last Request: He grants both of Gavilar's as he believes that such things are sacred.
Professional Killer: His entire role as a warrior from Shinovar, along with his Surgebinging abilities and Shardblade.
Sanity Slippage: He gets progressively less stable over the course of the first two books, especially once he realises that Kaladin is a Radiant, since it means that the "lies" he told that made him Truthless were actually true all along.
Szeth: THEY TOLD ME I WAS TRUTHLESS!
A Parshendi Shardbearer who seems to know Dalinar Kholin, and battles him during the second tower raid, and can also speak Alethi. She is revealed in Words of Radiance to be a general of the Parshendi, and due to the respect the other Parshendi have for her, she is essentially their leader. She seeks to save her people by any means possible, even if it requires assuming a dangerous new form.Will have flashbacks in Book 4.
And I Must Scream: After she gains Stormform, becoming a voidbringer, she is frequently disturbed by her true self screaming in her head.
Anti-Villain: As with most of the Parshendi, Eshonai's main goal is the defense of her people while trapped between two near-equally bad options: either fight the Alethi in a slow battle of attrition, or allow Gavilar to complete whatever his plans were that would bring back the Parshendi's gods and start up another Desolation.
Chekhov's Gunman: Appears briefly to fight Dalinar in The Way of Kings. Words of Radiance reveals that she's essentially the leader of the Parshendi, and she plays a very important role in it.
Disney Villain Death: Adolin headbutts her into a chasm. She's wearing Shardplate at the time, so she probably survived the actual fall, but a Highstorm and an Everstorm crashed into each other right above her head, so her survival remains ambiguous.
Large And In Charge: The highest ranked Parshendi military leader left alive, and towers over her soldiers at seven feet tall. Looks even bigger since her Shardplate bulges out due to her War Form carapace underneath.
"We follow the codes not because they bring gain, but because we loathe the people we would otherwise become."
One of ten Alethi highprinces, fighting a war with the nominal aid of the other highprinces to avenge the assassination of his brother, the former king. Once renowned for his raw martial prowess, he is now plagued with doubts about his people's culture and the war they are fighting, and also by strange visions that seem to be of the distant mostly-forgotten past and which contain hints of a dark future that may be in store.Will have flashbacks in Book 5.
Badass Normal: Losing his shards doesnt slow him down much, considering he's still able to fight evenly with Szeth during the climax of Words of Radiance.
Broken Ace: Like all Surgebinders. His breaking seems to have originated in his drunken failure to save his brother from Szeth.
Cool Sword/BFS: His Shardblade. He gives it up to Sadeas, and then takes the one brought by Talenel. He eventually casts this one aside as well to bond with the Stormfather, who tells him he refuses to become one for him.
The Fettered: Adheres to his chosen code of conduct despite ridicule from his rivals and complaints from his son, and he goes so far as to give up his Shardblade to keep his promise to Kaladin and Bridge 4 to free them.
Four-Star Badass: An extremely competent general who is also an extremely good warrior. However, he is progressively losing the Alethi Thrill, to the point where he doesn't fight as much as he used to, at least not as willingly.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Due to seeking the Old Magic, he has no memory of his wife other then the fact she existed, and can't even hear her name properly when it's spoken. It has not yet been revealed whether this was the wish or the price.
The Man Behind the Man: Pretty much everyone admits that Dalinar is the real king of Alethkar by the point of Words of Radiance.
My Greatest Failure: Years later, he still hasn't forgiven himself for being passed out drunk while his brother fought an assassin. It's not until the Assassin in White comes for him that he finally forgives himself; he realizes at that time that even if he'd been there to defend Gavilar, Szeth would have killed him without breaking a sweat.
Second Love: Finds one in and is one to Navani Kholin. He resists this for a time, since in Alethi culture it's highly improper for him to date his brother's widow, but after he is betrayed by Sadeas and nearly killed, he changes his mind.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Dalinar is an interesting study of the concept. In his youth he was very cynical, but Gavilar's death prompted him to become an idealistic proponent of the Codes of War and the concepts in The Way of Kings. However, by the end of the first book, he's come to realize that this won't work to unite the highprinces, because the Alethi highprinces are selfish and refuse to act for the greater good. Dalinar decides to cut a middle ground, forcing the highprinces to work together through blunt force; in his own words, he is treating them "like children" because they do not know any better.
Warrior Prince: As is the norm in Alethi society; a Highprince who isn't a warrior wouldn't garner much respect among his peers.
The Kholin Family
Dalinar's elder son and heir. Worries throughout the novel over his father's visions. He has a love for dueling (in fact, it's his religious Calling) and doesn't take well to his father's insistence to follow the Codes.
Broken Ace: Quite possibly Averted, as he's pretty much the only major protagonist not somehow broken. This may be the biggest thing keeping him from developing into a Radiant.
Foil: According to Word of God, Sanderson created Adolin to have a contrasting viewpoint to Dalinar.
Hidden Depths: Much, much smarter than he lets on. He's not yet as great a leader as his father, but he's well on his way, and he also demonstrates quite a bit more in the way of Genre Savvy by murdering Sadeas.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: Knifing Sadeas in the dark is the sort of tactic that Dalinar would frown on, but the victim had it coming and then some.
Ladykiller in Love: After unsuccessfully courting every eligible woman in the warcamps, he gets betrothed to Shallan, and rapidly falls in love with her.
Master Swordsman: Probably the single most talented swordsman in the world, surpassing even his father and uncle. It's implied that he could easily rise to King's Champion if he wasn't at least trying to follow his father's ban on duels in time of war. In Words Of Radiance, Dalinar decides to put some pressure on the Highprinces by having Adolin start taking their Shards from them in duels. Nobody seems to think that conquering 20+ Shardbearers should present Adolin with much of a problem.
Never Learned to Read: Like all Alethi men, he can't read. Unlike most, he never even bothered to learn the simplified glyphs that men are allowed to read.
Rich Idiot with No Day Job: While not actually one - he is always fighting on the front line and is a competent battlefield commander - Adolin is considered one by most of the Alethi upper crust, who make it clear that they think he is an arrogant fop.
Serial Romeo: Constantly switching girlfriends, it's lampshaded by his brother on several occasions. He's stopped in Words of Radiance mostly because he's unsuccessfully courted every lighteyed woman in Dalinar's warcamp.
Dalinar's younger son, who has a blood-sickness and is not fit for battle. Dalinar decides to get him a Shardplate to help mitigate this.
Broken Bird: Like all Surgebinders. In his case, it's probably due to his epilepsy, and consequent inability to live up to his culture's standards.
Green Thumb: One of his powers as a Radiant, as a user of the Surge of Progression, through the Growth method.
Healing Hands: One of his powers as a Radiant, as a user of the Surge of Progression, through the Regrowth method.
Ill Boy: He has a blood-sickness, and Dalinar coddles him. Wit insists he is stronger than he appears. Being a Radiant helps.
Master of Illusion: One of his powers as a Radiant, as a user of the Surge of Illumination.
Modest Royalty: Constantly pointed out as one of his primary virtues. Not only does he take to the rather embarrassing training Shardplate requires without a word of complaint, but he begs Kaladin to be allowed to join Bridge Four, and is happy to be given the menial tasks like cleaning the dishes.
Non-Action Guy: Due to his blood sickness, he's useless in a fight. Dalinar thinks this could change if he got some Shardplate. In Words Of Radiance, thanks to getting Shardplate and a Shardblade, he shakes this by becoming a badass. And as it turns out later, he's a Radiant.
Powered Armor: Dalinar plans to win him Shardplate so that he can fight. At the end of the first book, Dalinar realizes there's a simpler solution, and simply gives him his own Plate.
Dalinar's late wife, who he spent three years courting. As part of his deal with the Nightwatcher, Dalinar has lost all memory of her.
Ret Gone: But only for Dalinar, who has lost his memories of her and cannot hear her name when spoken.
"It strikes me that religion-in its essence-seeks to take natural events and ascribe supernatural causes to them. I, however, seek to take supernatural events and find natural meanings behind them."
Niece of Dalinar Kholin, and sister of the current reigning king of Alethkar, a famous scholar and an infamous heretic. During the events of The Way of Kings, she remains in Kharbranth, studying something. She is very dedicated to her research, and belongs to a somewhat obscure order of historians that search for the truth in history.
Alchemy Is Magic: Can Soulcast without a Soulcaster due to being able to bind the Surge of Transformation.
Badass Bookworm: She uses Soulcasting to great effect against some random thugs resulting in three of them being vaporized and one Taken for Granite... and then orders Shallan to treat her actions as a problem for research into ethics.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: Is suddenly killed in the first part of Words of Radiance. Ultimately subverted when she turns up alive at the end of the book; she was able to survive by healing with Stormlight and slipping into Shadesmar with her Elsecaller powers.
Famed in Story: She's one of the most famous people on Roshar, out of a combination of her family connections, personal brilliance, and rather... unorthodox beliefs and activities. To say that her reputation proceeds her would be a massive understatement.
Hollywood Atheist: Shallan initially assumes her to be this, actually averted, while she can be brusque and somewhat of an Insufferable Genius at times, she's a genuinely good person who shows tolerance and respect for Shallan's religious beliefs.
Impossible Shadow Puppets: The first sign of her being a Soulcaster in her life was the fact of her shadow sometimes pointing toward light instead of away from it, though only she noticed. This is all but outright stated to be due to Ivory.
No Pronunciation Guide: In interviews, Sanderson pronounces her name "Yasnah," but there's no hint of this in the books.
Not So Stoic: Generally very calm and emotionless. Then Shallan is put in danger when she stabs herself in the arm, and later ingests poison. Notably, Jasnah thinks she bears a portion of the blame for both events. Jasnah is suddenly a lot less emotionless.
Oh, Crap: In part five of The Way of Kings, when Shallan shows her the picture of Shadesmar. Shallan decides to take a Memory of her expression because of Jasnah's usual temperament.
Stern Teacher: This starts with her elaborate scheme to prevent all but the most determined from even reaching her, and reaches a point where she admits she may be too tough after Shallan's faked suicide attempt.
Teleporters and Transporters: As an Elsecaller, she can bind the Surges of Transformation and Transportation, with the latter allowing at least teleportation into and out of Shadesmar in the flesh.
King Elhokar Kholin
The current king, replacing his father Gavilar. Elhokar is a paranoid and foolish king, but his suspicions seem confirmed when it turns out that someone cut his saddle strap in a bungled attempt on his life. Dalinar makes it his goal to support him.
Drowning My Sorrows: He spends the climax of Words of Radiance pass-out drunk, due to making the mistake of asking Kaladin if he's a good king.
Evil Overlord: Subverted. For a time in Words of Radiance, it appears that without Dalinar around, his acts are all around horrible. However, as Dalinar reveals and Kaladin eventually accepts, he's not actually a bad person. He's trying his best, and while he's rather incompetent at his job and picks the worst company, that doesn't make him evil.
Green-Eyed Monster: He tries hard to be a good king, but consistently fails. When he sees others (such as his uncle and Kaladin) doing a better job than him, he gets frighteningly jealous. This leads to, on one occasion, him acting as a Spanner in the Worksfor his own plan in Words of Radiance, after which he finally realizes this is a problem.
Inadequate Inheritor: His father, Galivar, was The Good King, well liked by many. Elhokar himself is a borderline Man Child, is completely paranoid for other assassins, and has a serious Green-Eyed Monster complex as a result of all of these when comparing his bad reputation to his father's good one.
The Load: He often needs to be rescued or protected, usually from disasters caused by his own poor judgment. He becomes a literal example of this during the second book, when he is too drunk to walk unassisted, and leans on an injured Kaladin while they are trying to escape from assassins.
Oh, Crap: When Dalinar starts to beat him at the end of The Way of Kings.
Someone really was trying to kill him when they cut the strap. Not really, since he faked it. But he wasn't the one to remove the Stormlight from his Shardplate.
His fears regarding seeing assassins in the corners of his eyes are partially correct. They're actually Cryptics like the ones Shallan sees.
Puppet King: More or less, considering the highprinces basically do whatever they want. By the end of the first book, Dalinar is taking steps to slap the highprinces down and make Elhokar more than a puppet.
King Gavilar Kholin
"Tell... tell my brother... he must find the most important words a man can say..."
The deceased king of Alethkar. The Parshendi sent a Shin assassin to kill him on the night they were signing a treaty with him. He had a great deal of knowledge, but is unfortunately dead.
Gavilar's widow. In the past, Gavilar and Dalinar fought over her hand. She comes to the Shattered Plains in The Way of Kings in order to do some research.
Her Heart Will Go On: She starts courting with Dalinar at the end of The Way of Kings. There are implications, later, that her marriage to Gavilar was less than perfect, however.
Mama Bear: She was never really able to fuss over Jasnah growing up (she jokes that the girl acted middle-aged since she was six), but after a frosty first meeting with Shallan, she eventually starts mothering the girl.
Second Love: Find this in and is this to Dalinar Kholin.
The Smart Guy: Not as much as her daughter Jasnah, but she is a steadfast researcher.
The most powerful and successful of the Alethi highprinces, and a direct rival to Dalinar. Unlike Dalinar, Sadeas does not possess a Shardblade, but he makes up for this with exceptional cunning and clever - if costly - combat tactics, such as the use of bridgemen. Adolin strongly suspects him of trying to undermine or eliminate Dalinar, but Dalinar views Sadeas as more of a friendly rival who is upholding the typical Alethi concept of viewing everything as a competition, and believes he can be reasoned with.
Anti-Villain: Presents himself as one when he betrays Dalinar, saying he did it to remove a dangerous influence on Elhokar and to help unite the Alethi highprinces. It's not clear if he honestly believes it or is spouting more bullshit.
Turns out that he's spouting total bullshit. He wants Dalinar and Elhokar dead so he can breath Alethkar into pieces and rebuild it even stronger than before.
Archer Archetype: Not by choice. Without a Shardblade, Sadeas can't take full advantage of the speed and power that his Shardplate offers him in close combat, and instead uses a massive, extremely powerful bow that can only be used with Shardplate.
Blood Knight: The Thrill is now the only thing which makes him feel alive.
Cool Sword: Is given Oathbringer by Dalinar in exchange for the freedom of every one of his bridgemen.
Drop the Hammer: The other weapon Sadeas relies on is a massive warhammer common among Shardbearers without a Shardblade.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In the second book, he can't understand why Dalinar bought the bridgemen from him, and assumes it must have been some failed attempt to weaken his army. The fact that Dalinar was simply rewarding good men doesn't even occur to him.
Eye Scream: Adolin kills him by stabbing him through the eye.
Friendly Enemy: With Dalinar. Doesn't stop him from betraying Dalinar.
Green-Eyed Monster: Sadeas desperately wants a Shardblade; Dalinar uses the opportunity to take one from a Parshendi Shardbearer to convince him to go along with the joint-plateau plan. Later on, Dalinar buys all of Sadeas' bridgemen with his Shardblade.
Heel Realization: Admits to himself that he's not glad Dalinar isn't losing his touch and that he's going to undermine Dalinar to protect his personal power anyway. He persists in claiming that his way is better for the kingdom in the long run, but it comes across as paying lip service to the idea.
Heroic Sacrifice: Attempted, at least. In the book's intro, he is actually the one wearing King Gavilar's robes when Szeth shows up, intending to draw the Shardbearer away from Galivar, who is disguised as a Shardbearer bodyguard.
Just Between You and Me: Does this to Dalinar after betraying him, and then to Adolin on occasion in Words of Radiance.It gets him killed.
Magnificent Bastard: In-universe. Dalinar realizes he's been brilliantly outmaneuvered when Sadeas uses his own warnings to the king to maneuver himself into being named Highprince of Information. Later on, Sadeas warms up to Dalinar and seems to be interested in his ideas about the Codes, and works with him on joint-plateau assaults. This sets up his ultimate betrayal.
Manipulative Bastard: Sadeas knows how to twist people around, especially other highprinces. He's less effective against lower-ranking troops, and someone like Kaladin is confounding.
My Master, Right or Wrong: Sadeas is ultimately loyal to Elhokar, and will do whatever it takes to protect his king, alongside Dalinar.
Starter Villain: Arc Villain and The Heavy for the first book and most of the second, repeated revelations render his political schemes minuscule as the grand scope of the series is unveiled, and he is unceremoniously killed by Adolin by the end of the second book after he has been eclipsed as a threat.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Sadeas and Dalinar do not get along, but they'll put aside their differences to protect Elhokar.
Ungrateful Bastard: Dalinar saves his life when his army is flanked by Parshendi. Sadeas promptly betrays him on their next joint outing to the Tower.
We Have Reserves: Sadeas thinks nothing of the deaths of the bridgemen; in his observation, the bridgemen's deaths due to being unshielded and unarmored are better than the deaths of "real" soldiers who would die if the Parshendi didn't specifically target the vulnerable bridgemen. He even denies the bridgemen armor specifically because the Parshendi tend to target them over all else.
We Used to Be Friends: He and Dalinar used to be good friends until the night Galivar died, as both of them blame the other. Sadeas blames Dalinar for being drunk during the assassination, while Dalinar blames Sadeas for failing as a decoy. Eventually the two team up and it looks like their friendship might eventually be repaired. Then Sadeas betrays Dalinar and leaves him and his forces to die, which had been Sadeas's intention all along.
Although the highprince with the best archers of the Alethi forces, Roion has earned the fewest gemhearts.
The only Highprince to never go hunting for gemhearts.
Boring but Practical: While the other Highprinces are running around getting people killed collecting gemhearts, Sebarial has been building a permanent economy in the warcamps. It's not glamorous, but it's far more profitable, especially since he doesn't have to hire more men every other day due to losses from fighting the Parshendi.
Gentleman Snarker: Shows up at councils of war more or less entirely just to amuse himself by poking fun at people.
Hates Everyone Equally: Tries to put on this facade, since, as he explains to Shallan, it makes sure he won't forget anyone especially deserving. However, he is upset when Roion dies anyway, showing this isn't necessarily true.
Henpecked Husband: Except it's his mistress rather than his wife doing the henpecking.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He insults everyone yet, he is one of the few good Highprinces, and seems genuinely upset when Roion, his favorite insult bait, dies.
Long-Lost Relative: When Shallan claims he offered her lodging at his camp, he covers by saying that she's a distant relative.
Others from Alethkar
The commander of Sadeas' bridgecrews who disappears halfway through The Way of Kings.
Character Development: He becomes less of an asshole over the course of The Way of Kings. By Words of Radiance he's actually a pretty decent person again.
Dangerous Deserter: One of a group of deserters that goes after Shallan's caravan in Words of Radiance. Subverted shortly afterward, when Shallan pretty much talks him and the other deserters into turning back around and being proper soldiers who protecting others.
Jerkass: Though less so as he stays with Bridge Four long enough.
His one point-of-view chapter indicates that he has as much contempt for himself — if not more — than for the bridgemen under his watch.
It turns out that, once removed from the pointless fighting on the Shattered Plains and given something worth fighting for, Gaz becomes a surprisingly nice guy.
The Neidermeyer: Kaladin quickly picks up on this, though it's not entirely unjustified, seeing as bridge crews aren't meant to amount to much anyway, and are expected to die early.
The Nicknamer: Calls Kaladin "Lordling", but only to be an asshole.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When the Alethi remove him from his role as bridgecrew taskmaster, he deserts outright due to his disgust at how the Highprinces use their soldiers for their own greed. The fact that the hunt was on for scapegoats and that Gaz had a truly staggering number of creditors after his hide didn't exactly make the decision difficult, either.
Brightlord Meridas Amaram
The lord Kaladin formerly served under.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: One of the most well-respected of brightlords, and one of the few Alethi brightlords who Dalinar truly respects. Adolin, slightly more Genre Savvy than his father, correctly notes that Amaram's sterling record sounds entirely too much like a man who spends a lot of energy on keeping up appearances.
Cool Sword: His Shardblade, which he stole from Kaladin.
Dark Secret: He never earned his Shardblade. He stole it from Kaladin and sold him to slavery on a false charge.
Fantastic Racism: At first he was surprised that a Herald might have dark skin and self-consciously chides himself for assuming they'd all look like Alethi. He's convinced that the Herald's dark eyes must be some sort of disguise though: so in other words he can overcome his Fantastic Racism but is still blinded by his Fantastic Classism.
I Did What I Had to Do: Insists that stealing Kaladin's Shardblade was necessary for the fate of the world, as he can utilize it far more effectively. Eventually, he comes to regret his actions. That is, he regrets enslaving Kaladin rather than killing him.
Loophole Abuse: Like all good Alethi men, he can't read, but he understands the simplified glyphs used in their place. Amaram has taken to stringing them together in sentences (rather than just singly and in pairs), creating a crude pictograph language.
Oh, Crap: His reaction when he realizes Dalinar knows what he did with Kaladin.
Nice to the Waiter: At least, when nothing important is at stake. Shallan after disguising herself as one of his servants, is surprised to learn that he knows his servant's name, that she has the night off, and her current relationship status.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Subverted. Kaladin thought he was this for a long time, but when Kaladin refuses the Shardblade he won, he promptly has his spear team killed and Kaladin himself Made a Slave so he can have the Shardblade himself.
A new boy in Kaladin's squad.
Decoy Protagonist: Dies in the introductory chapter for Kaladin, though this isn't made apparent until the end of Part 3 of the first book.
Killed Off for Real: Although resurrection is possible in The Stormlight Archive, Cenn is struck down by a Shardbearer and doesn't come back.
A spanreed operator working for the Kholins. Comes to visit from another warcamp and starts dating Adolin. They stay together for an unusually long time, but then end up breaking up in between The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance.
Hidden Depths: Aside from a brief slip-up in her airhead act, she doesn't seem to be anything special in The Way of Kings. Then in Words of Radiance, it's revealed that she's trying to kill King Elhokar.
The Mole: She's secretly working for Taravangian, aiding his Diagram plot by trying to kill Elhokar.
Badass Pacifist: He's a shockingly good brawler considering that he refuses to fight for real. Word of God is that he wasn't always a second son, implying that he used to be a fourth son (the warrior), but two of his brothers died and his role was reassigned.
Cooking Duel/Drinking Contest: When Dunny insults him, he tries to challenge Dunny to an alil'tiki'i duel. This is apparently the traditional form of dueling on the Peaks, and involves seeing who can still sing intelligibly after drinking the most mugs of beer. As an added bonus, soon everyone is so drunk that they'll probably forget why they were fighting in the first place!
See the Invisible: He can see Syl all the time, unlike most of Bridge Four, who only see her sometimes.
The Big Guy: Near seven feet, he's the tallest member of Bridge four. Kaladin notes that while he's only a few inches shorter than the Horneater, Rock is twice as broad as him.
Team Chef: For Bridge Four. Rock's stew is one of the first things that starts to bring Bridge Four together.
The Unpronounceable: His real name (see above), which is why everyone calls him "Rock", since it's the name of a kind of rock where he comes from.
"You'll be wanting me, gancho!"
A cheerful one-armed Herdazian bridgeman, assigned to Bridge Four as a cruel joke.
An Arm and a Leg: Completely useless as a bridgeman due to his injury. He makes a pretty good waterboy, though.
Determinator: Downplayed example, but from the moment he found out about Kaladin's powers, he was constantly trying to breathe in Stormlight. By the end of Words Of Radiance, it finally worked, and his arm started to regrow.
The Load: He was intended as this by Gaz. Kaladin has him carry the water instead, and his insufferably cheerful demeanor helped keep Bridge Four's morale up.
Massively Numbered Siblings: Cousins rather than siblings, but the same idea. In the second book, it seems like every night he's brought a new cousin to join Bridge Four, and in his viewpoint chapter he casually mentions about a dozen of them standing guard at his mother's house.
N-Word Privileges: Lopen apparently has Roshar's biggest collection of one-armed Herdazian jokes. He'll have to start coming up with some two-armed Herdazian jokes, though.
The Pollyanna: Doesn't seem to have a problem losing an arm or being a slave.
Spell My Name with a "The": Some of his cousins call him The Lopen because he's the only Lopen they know. When he finally gets a passage told from his point of view, it turns out that he thinks of himself as "The Lopen" too.
A Parshman bridgeman given by Gaz as one of his last.
Bizarre Human Biology: As a Parshendi, he can assume a number of different forms depending on what is needed for the given task.
Hidden Depths: He's actually a Parshendi who has assumed dullform (which looks more or less like a parshman) to spy on the human camps. Eventually reveals his true name (Rlain) and shifts to warform after his people become Voidbringers.
The Quiet One: As expected from a Parshman. Less so once he returns as a Warform Parshendi and rejoins Bridge Four.
Unwitting Pawn: In his quest to get revenge on Elhokar, he is recruited by a band of patriots working to stabilize Alethkar. They are actually followers of Taravangian's Diagram, and while they claim they just want to kill Elhokar to put Dalinar on the throne, they're actually trying to kill both of them to destabilize the region so Taravangian can take over.
The king of the small city-state, Kharbranth. He is thought somewhat dull by his peers. However, he is well-liked due to funding hospitals throughout the city for those who can't afford medical care.
Taravangian is much smarter than he appears, as shown by the multiple levels of backup plans and the specificity of his orders to Szeth. It is also implied that he has other pawns in the waiting.
Later, it's revealed that he's working off of an immeasurably complex set of documents referred to as the Diagram; a massive set of writings, scribblings, sketches, and rantings that he produced while locked in his chambers on a day when his Old Magic-warped intelligence reached an unprecedented peak. The Diagram contains spot-on predictions for events all over the world and is practically a one-stop book of prophecy, but is so complex as to be virtually impossible to interpret.
Con Lang: In-universe. During his most brilliant moment, he invented an entirely new language because all existing ones were too imprecise.
Dumb Is Good: Despite seeming stupid, he is unusually kind and compassionate for a king. He notes that his compassion and his intelligence seem to be inversely linked, so that he's kinder on his stupider days.
I Am a Monster: Szeth calls him one, and he doesn't object to it at all.
Taravangian: Yes, but I am the monster who will save this world.
Knight Templar: Willing to go any lengths to save the world. Thus far, he's released Szeth to go on an incredible killing spree, reduced the nation of Jah Kaved to burned-out anarchy, and countless other crimes.
Never Learned to Read: Averted; in his interlude, he casually mentions that he learned the womens' script years ago.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Zigzagged Trope. Most of the other lighteyes in Kharbranth consider Taravangian somewhat slow and unskilled at politics. In reality, he is at the head of a large conspiracy which has resulted in the deaths of many nameless citizens just to harvest information, and the killings of several very important foreign dignitaries. However, according to Word of God, he used the Old Magic at some point, with his IQ changing at random each day, making this either played straight or averted depending on when people see him.
"I am a stick."
A stick found in the Frostlands. With Pattern translating Shallan tries to convince it to become fire.
No Sell: He does not want to become fire, he is a stick.
Leader of a large group of deserters. He runs afoul of Shallan, and while he dislikes her immensely, she manages to convince all of his men to follow her. He considers all the deserters (including himself) cutthroat scum.
The Cynic: He makes constant comments about how the deserters Shallan recruited are going to turn on her eventually, and doesn't believe for a second that she can grant them clemency for their crimes.
Defrosting Ice King: He starts out convinced that Shallan is an ignorant and naive lighteyes who got lucky in convincing the deserters to fight for her. Once he finds out she has a Shardblade when she kills Tyn with it, he warms up to her, apparently deciding that she's more like him than she pretends.
Heralds of the Almighty
The ten Heralds were warriors of the Almighty, chosen to aid mankind during the Desolations. However, they abandoned their duties after many times having to return to Damnation, shattering the Oathpact.
Cool Sword: The Honorblades, which are similar to Shardblades, but not quite the same, granting Surgebinding powers associated with the Order of Radiants that the Herald led. Talenel'Elin is the only one known to still have one.
Fallen Hero: Implied in Way of Kings and Words of Radiance that while the Heralds are still apparently alive and on Roshar (minus Talenel), they have all gone insane to varying degrees. Nale has taken his obsession with law to the logical extreme, Jezrien spends his time as a drooling idiot and possibly a drunkard, Kalak has become whiny and scared towards paranoid levels, and Shalash is running around destroying sculptures and paintings of herself. And they're getting worse.
The Oathbreaker: Everyone except Talenel'Elin, since he was dead at the time of the breaking.
Wordof God says that the Oathpact may not be as dissolved as the Heralds would have liked to think when they tried to abandon it.
Jezrien (Vorin: Jezerezeh)
"It has been decided. The Oathpact ends now."
The Herald King, also known as the Stormfather, though the two are actually separate entities. Appears in the Prelude to tell Kalak that it is time for the Oathpact to end. He is also the father of Shalash.He is associated with the Windrunner Order of the Knights Radiant. His divine attributes are Protecting and Leading.
Fallen Hero: By the time of Words of Radiance, Nale says he'll lead humanity... if he ever stops drooling.
I Have Many Names: Or rather, gained several names after the last Desolation. These include Jezerezeh'Elin and Stormfather.
Like a God to Me: He's worshipped as the "Stormfather" in Alethkar, who leads the highstorms, and, along with other Heralds, as a god in other parts of the world. However, see A God I Am Not.
Nale ("Darkness") (Vorin: Nalan)
"Justice does not expire."
Also known as Nin to the Shin.A Herald who seeks justice above all other things. During modern times, he has become a constable and is hunting down and killing Surgebinders that have committed crimes, no matter how minor the offence.He is associated with the Skybreaker Order of the Knights Radiant. His divine attributes are Just and Confident.
Badass Beard: According to his statues, though it's not clear if they got it right.
By-the-Book Cop: By the time of the story, he's taken this to the extreme. He believes the only true thing in the world is laws, including the laws of mortal men. Therefore, despite marching all over the planet hunting down surgebinders, he is always very careful to make sure that they have committed some crime that makes executing them legal. It might be a harsher punishment than they'd normally receive, but it is definitely legal. He takes Szeth under his wing after the latter finds out he never should have been made Truthless. Yes, Szeth's masters made a mistake, but Szeth obeyed their laws, and Nale holds that ideal very highly.
I Have Many Names: His name is Nale, but he's also called Nalan by Vorinism, Nin by the Shin, and Darkness by Lift.
In-Series Nickname: Lift gives him the nickname Darkness because she doesn't know his real name.
The Stoic: He shows no emotion. Ever. The closest is when one of his men kills an unarmed hostage; Nale insists that the man remain behind and receive whatever punishment the local law deems necessary.
A Herald with little known about her at this time. Mentioned in a story from Hoid to have raced Fleet and lost.She is associated with the Releaser/Dustbringer Order of the Knights Radiant. Her divine attributes are Brave and Obedient.
No Name Given: In The Way of Kings, we don't learn her name. However, subverted when we do learn it in Words of Radiance.
Super Speed: Implied to have some power that makes her fast, because Hoid speaks of Fleet beating her in a race as a serious accomplishment.
Vedel (Vorin: Vedeledev)
One of the Heralds. Mentioned by "Taln" to be a healer who could help the sick and train the surgeons.She is associated with the Edgedancer Order of the Knights Radiant. Her divine attributes are Loving and Healing.
No Name Given: Her name isn't revealed in The Way of Kings. Subverted when it is revealed in Words of Radiance.
Shalash ("Ash") (Vorin: Shallash)
"A woman sits and scratches out her own eyes. Daughter of kings and winds, the vandal."
The daughter of Jezrien, the Herald king. She appears in The Way of Kings, but it has not been confirmed who she is in the book. According to Nale, she has been "getting worse", although it isn't clear what he means by this.She is associated with the Lightweaver Order of the Knights Radiant. Her divine attributes are Creative and Honest.
Sanity Slippage: Implied; in the prologue of Words of Radiance, Jasnah runs into Nale and another Herald (possibly Kalak) talking about how "Ash" is "getting worse."
Battar (Vorin: Battab)
A Herald with relatively little known about her at this time.She is associated with the Elsecaller Order of the Radiants. Her divine attributes are Wise and Careful.
Women Are Wiser: Apparently, though we don't know for sure if that's accurate.
Kalak (Vorin: Kelek)
The point of view character in the prelude to The Stormlight Archive. He was the last Herald to make it out of the Final Desolation, and missed out on the other Heralds deciding to abandon the Oathpact. He feels great regret when he leaves his Blade and abandons the Oathpact as well.He is associated with the Willshaper Order of the Knights Radiant. His divine attributes are Resolute and Builder.
Intro-Only Point of View: The prelude of The Way of Kings is from his point of view, but he doesn't show up for the rest of the book.
Talenel'Elin ("Taln") (Vorin: Talenelat)
"Who am I? I am Talenel'Elin, Herald of the Almighty. The Desolation has come. Oh god... it has come. And I have failed."
The only Herald to die in the Final Desolation. While the other Heralds abandoned the Oathpact, he was forced to stay true to it by being tortured in Damnation.A man claiming to be Talenel appears at the end of The Way of Kings, proclaiming that he has failed and that another Desolation is coming. He is associated with the Stoneward Order of the Knights Radiant. His divine attributes are Dependable and Resourceful.
Back from the Dead: He shows up alive again in the epilogue, arriving before Hoid and proclaiming that he has "failed", most likely referring to the death of the Almighty.
Badass: He snaps out of his Madness Mantra twice: Once when Shallan performs some Lightweaving in from of him, and once when someone tries to kill Amaram in front of him. In the latter case, he casually grabs a few poisoned darts out of the air so fast that the target couldn't even see him move.
Chekhov's Gunman: In the Prelude to The Stormlight Archive, it's mentioned that he's the only Herald that didn't break the Oathpact. At the end of The Way of Kings, someone claiming to be him shows up to declare that another Desolation is coming.
The Determinator: Stated to be one of his defining traits. It's implied that his willpower is what's been keeping the Desolations back for the past four millennia.
Disney Death: He seems to die again in the epilogue, but his Honorblade doesn't vanish. In the next book, he's found in an insane asylum, since nobody believes he is actually Taln.
Left for Dead: In the prologue for Book 1, the other Heralds left him to die and be tortured in Damnation.
Ishar (Vorin: Ishi)
A Herald who was said to have helped found the Knights Radiant.He is associated with the Bondsmith Order of the Knights Radiant. His divine attributes are Pious and Guiding.
Bald of Awesome: According to his statues, he has no hair. He's also badass enough to fight in the Desolations. However, it's not clear if the statues got it right.
Beings of Magic
A mysterious Spren who follows Kaladin throughout his enslavement. Usually taking on the appearance of a young woman she attempts to encourage Kaladin and keep him from giving up hope.
Anthropomorphic Personification: All spren appear to be this to some degree. Though initially believed to be a simple windspren by Kaladin Syl is in fact an Honorspren; spirit of oaths, promises and nobility. She even notes by implication that spren are attracted to whatever it is they are named for, rather than that they cause it.
Bond Creatures/Familiar: Shares a bond with Kaladin through which she gains greater sentience and he gains surgebinding abilities. If the bond is severed, as Kaladin can choose for her to do if he asks, both boons are lost.
Equippable Ally: Can turn into a Shardblade/Shardspear/Shardhammer/Shardwhatever.
A God I Am: Played for Laughs. Rock insists that she is a god, and mentions that he'll build a shrine for her eventually. She loves this idea, and also likes to play with Rock by landing on his shoulder and laughing as he awkwardly tries to bow to her.
Good Angel, Bad Angel: Performs the role of Good Angel for Kaladin. He doesn't really have a bad angel to balance it out, though, unless you count his crippling issues with what appears to be depression.
And again in Words of Radiance. "Oh, that's right. You probably want me to be a spear, don't you?"
A mysterious being living on Roshar. To those who visit her for the Old Magic, she gives you a boon which she thinks you deserve, as well as a curse to balance it.
The Ghost: Although referenced often, she is never seen.
Jackass Genie: Though she at least seems to only give the curse and boon to those who explicitly seek it out.
A "Cryptic" spren that grants Shallan her Soulcasting and Surgebinding powers. While in the physical world, he appears as a pattern of impossible, constantly-shifting lines that moves from surface to surface. In Shadesmar, he takes on the form of a humanoid being wearing a stiff cloak with a head shaped like an infinitely-complex (possibly fractal) geometric symbol.
Cunning Linguist: He can puzzle out most ancient languages to a degree, since all languages are patterns, and newer languages are based on older ones.
Dark Secret: He is Shallan's. He came to her as a child, and she began to grow into her surgebinding abilities. When Shallan's mother realized her daughter was becoming a Radiant, she tried to kill her, and Shallan used Pattern as a Shardblade to kill her.
Equippable Ally: The first of the new wave of spren (chronologically) to assume Shard form.
Humans Through Alien Eyes: He understands a lot of complex concepts easily, but has difficulty with rather simple ones, like eating.
Master of Unlocking: A lock is just a pattern, after all, and he is so very good with patterns.
Pieces of God: As a spren related to consciousness rather than nature, he's a Splinter of Honor, who is in turn a Shard of Adonalsium.
Spirit Advisor: Serves as something like this for Shallan, although she spends more time teaching him how humans think. For Pattern, anything that is not the literal truth is a lie, and he has great fun growing to understand concepts like metaphor and sarcasm.
You Are Number Six: Apparently he has a real name, but it consists of lots of numbers and is hard to say.
The entity that sends the Highstorms. He is loud, quick to anger, and very, very dangerous, but he cares deeply for his children and wants to serve the wishes of his father, Honor. He is often conflated with Jezrien, the Herald King.
Bond Creature: Dalinar bonds to him at the end of Words of Radiance, much to his annoyance. He insists that he won't turn into a sword, however.
Hair-Trigger Temper: He gets angry a lot. Threaten his children? He's furious. Dare to try and survive one of his storms? He's furious. Talk to him? He's furious.
Eshonai: Though the spren had betrayed her people, they still respected the Stormfather. He would kill anyone who did not respect him.
Kill 'em All: When the Parshendi summon the Everstorm, an act which will surely kill off the Alethi armies and all their camp followers, the Stormfather responds by... sending a Highstorm early, which has an even higher chance of killing off the Alethi armies and all their camp followers. Some of the things Syl says imply that sending Highstorms is his answer to everything.
Overprotective Dad: He is the father of the Honorspren, and refuses to let any of them bond with humans, as he is terrified that they will be killed again. However, if they successfully make the bond, he can't stop them.
Pieces of God: As a spren related to consciousness rather than nature, he's a Splinter of Honor, who is in turn a Shard of Adonalsium. Some of his statements imply that the Stormfather may be one of the largest remaining pieces of Honor; he's certainly one of the most powerful spren in Roshar.
Lift's spren, who appears as vines growing on the ground, invisible to most. He is a scholar and gardener, constantly upset with Lift's antics.
Beleaguered Assistant: Lift insists that he's a Voidbringer she trapped, and now he has to do what she says. He's not.
Wyndle:I wanted to pick a distinguished Iriali matron. A grandmother, an accomplished gardener. But no, the Ring said we should choose you. "She has visited the Old Magic," they said. "Our mother has blessed her," they said. "She will be young, and we can mold her," they said. Well, they don't have to put up with— Lift: Shut it, Voidbringer.
Irony: Spren lose their memories when they cross over to the Physical Realm. Due to his people's precautions, he kept the majority of his memories, and is therefore able to explain to Lift exactly how their bond works, the reason he came back in the first place, and what can be done to stop the coming Desolation—all questions the other Surgebinders have been asking their spren constantly. Unfortunately, he's bonded to Lift.
"I can't affect the Physical Realm except in minor ways," Wyndle said. "This means that you will need to use Investiture to—" Lift yawned. "Use Investiture to—" She yawned wider. Starvin' Voidbringers never could catch a hint.
Nature Lover: He was apparently a respected gardener in the Cognitive Realm, though he grew crystals rather than plants.
The leader of the Ghostbloods. A shadowy figure who wants the secrets of Roshar for himself.
The Ghost: Despite being an important character, he hasn't been seen yet.
A member of the Ardentia. He believes in Vorinism, and has made it his mission to convert notorious heretic Jasnah Kholin to its teachings. Along the way, he becomes friends with Shallan Davar. He is actually a Ghostblood.
Sinister Minister: Of a sort. He's not malicious to anyone but Jasnah as far as is known, but he did try to kill her.
One of the Ghostbloods who Shallan meets in the Alethi warcamps.
The Apprentice: Shallan is surprised to find that he is Iyatil's apprentice, rather than the other way around.
Dimensional Traveler: Implied; he wonders if someone is human, and notes that "he's certainly not of the local species." Most people from Roshar don't use the word human regularly, and definitely don't know there are more on other planets.
Knife Nut: He's very fond of throwing sharp things in Shallan's direction to judge her reactions.
Mysterious Backer: Shallan has no idea what his end goals are. She initially assumes he's doing something evil, but the fact that he only had Jasnah assassinated because she had done the same to a number of his men casts his actions in a different light.
He coos over Shallan's drawings like a proud father, and compliments her on completing a task without him even noticing she had attempted it.
Mraize: It is not often that I am proven a fool. Well done.
At the end of Words of Radiance, he tells Shallan he will bring her family to the Shattered Plains and Urithiru. Not as hostages or in exchange for anything, but as a gift in recognition of Shallan's accomplishments.
Secret Test of Character: When he accepts Shallan as a provisional member, he idly notes that while Ghostbloods are not allowed to kill each other, killing provisional members is another story. Shallan takes the hint, and is careful to dodge the assassins that try to follow her.
Seen It All: Iyatil mentions that he is very hard to surprise, as he has apparently seen much in his lifetime.
A Ghostblood woman who Shallan initially mistakes for a boy, both for her figure and the fact that she wears a mask.
Cool Mask: Her mask is made of some kind of orange carapace, possibly Parshendi. She threatens to kill the ardents who try to remove it.
The Mentor: She's actually Mraize's master, not the other way around. He specifically refers to her as his babsk, the Thaylen word for this.
Madness Mantra: She fakes one when pretending to be Shallan's crazy sister.
Domestic Abuser: Sort of. After Shallan killed her mother, he pretended that he had been the killer to protect her. But the stress of this caused him to become genuinely abusive to his second wife, Malise Gevelmar, who he later murdered.
No Name Given: Shallan refers to him often in The Way of Kings, but we didn't find out his name in that book. However, we eventually learned it in Words of Radiance.
Posthumous Character: Dead before the story begins, but still gets some character development in Shallan's flashbacks.
A woman who breaks into houses to destroy art. She is aided by Baxil and Av.
Ax-Crazy: Av tells Baxil not to bother her if he values his limbs.
No Name Given: Her name isn't revealed during her appearance in The Way of Kings.
A man searching for Hoid alongside Grump (Galladon) and Thinker (Demoux). He is Baon, a character from the unreleased Cosmere book White Sand, and he has joined the worldhopping organization known as the Seventeenth Shard. He's also an archer.
The Cameo: He is a character from White Sand, one of Brandon's unreleased works.
The Ditz: Appears to be a bit of one when he tells the others that he wants to use a magic fish to find Hoid.
Really 700 Years Old: As a Returned, he's been around for a very, very long time, even before he traveled from Nalthis to Roshar.
Rysn and Vstim
Rysn and Vstim
A young Thaylen merchant apprentice and her Babsk.
Gone Horribly Right: Vstim pretends to be sick so that Rysn has to take the lead in negotiating, but she believes that he's dying and goes to desperate lengths to fulfill what she sees as his last wishes.
Little Miss Badass: She's a scrappy little thing, who nearly manages to escape from Nale before being hit with an attack of conscience.
Paradox Person: Appears this way to most other people, as, due to a boon from the Nightwatcher, she can touch spren outside of their Shard forms, and as such uses Wyndle as various tools that others could not.
Wizard Needs Food Badly: Due a boon from the Nightwatcher, she can process her food into Stormlight rather than breathing it in. It does mean that excessive use of her powers risks malnutrition, however.
"I walked from Abamabar to Urithiru."
A legendary king that wrote the book "The Way of Kings", which formed the basis of the Ideals of the Knights Radiant. He is known for uniting the Silver Kingdoms in ancient times. Although a great king, the current Vorin culture dismisses his teachings, and his book was nearly banned.In one of his visions, Dalinar meets a young king who he believes to be Nohadon. In the aftermath of a Desolation, this young man is distraught, and is worried about how willing spren are to bond with bad people who stir up chaos. He tells Dalinar that he will unite Roshar by force.
The Good King: He was renowned as one of the greatest kings ever, due to his humility, wisdom, and honor.
King Incognito: On his famous walk from Abamabar to Urithiru, he didn't mention his being the king to anyone, so he was unrecognized.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Sort of. "Nohadon", the name he's most well known by on Roshar is actually his holy name. As well, Bajerden, the other name he's known by, may not even have been his real name.
Shrouded in Myth: There are a lot of legends about Nohadon, and some people don't even think he even existed.
The Knights Radiant
The Knights Radiant/The Lost Radiants
"Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination."
Ten groups of Surgebinders that fought alongside the Heralds in the Desolations. Wielding Shardblades and wearing Shardplate, they helped protect mankind from the Voidbringers. However, long ago they all simultaneously abandoned their oaths and left mankind to their fate, in an event that would become known as the Recreance. In modern times, the Radiants are thought of as villains and cursed at by people everywhere.
Broken Ace: All of them, though few know that these days.
Cool Sword: All of them had Shardblades, which were their Spren.
Historical Villain Upgrade: In-universe. Although they did betray their Oaths, the current Vorin cultures claim that they betrayed and tried to destroy mankind.
The Oathbreaker: They all abandoned their Oaths, which had the side effect of killing their Spren.
The last man to unite the Alethi highprinces, which he did when he was only 17 years old.
Humans on Roshar are significantly more diverse than other worlds.
Fantastic Caste System: Many different cultures have different caste systems. People in the three Vorin kingdoms are divided into Lighteyes and Darkeyes, on the Peaks people are divided by birth order, in Barbathnum power is given based on your age, etc.
Multicolored Hair: A personís hair color is so defined by their origin that people of mixed race have proportionately different colors in their hair.
A warrior race, and the ethnicity most of the viewpoint characters belong to. They are ruled by ten Highprinces, who were recently united (in theory) by a king.
Blood Knight: When in battle Alethi (or at least Lighteyes) feel a battle lust known as the Thrill. This is actually caused by a very powerful Voidspren.
The Paladin: What they used to be during the days of the Silver Kingdoms, before eventually disintegrating into the Blood Knight.
Proud Warrior Race: Alethi venerate the pursuit of war over all other Callings in life. Soldiers and duelists are their heroes; scholars are either ardents or women, and most Alethi men are either mostly or totally illiterate.
Back in the days of the Silver Kingdoms, the Alethi were specifically designated as the nation of warriors, the ones who protected the other nine kingdoms from the Voidbringers.
A merchant people from the island nation of Thaylenah. They practice Alethi Vorinism, and are known for their long eyebrows.
Unusual Eyebrows: Thaylen eyebrows are so long that they are tucked behind their ears.
Mountain-dwellers who believe that the order of your birth should determine your place in life. They also like loud, drunken singing.
Cooking Duel/Drinking Contest: The traditional form of dueling on the Peaks is to see who can still sing intelligibly after drinking the most mugs of beer. Hopefully, by the time the duel gets well underway everyone's so drunk they've forgotten what it was they were fighting about in the first place.
Foreign Queasine: Horneaters are so called because they eat the horns and shells of the things they catch, Unkalaki have very strong teeth. A common gibe is to accuse them of putting rocks in their food too.
A strange people from beyond the western mountains, where highstorms barely reach. Their land is more similar to Earth ecology than the rest of the continent, and they believe that bare stone is sacred and should not be trod upon.
Dark Secret: The Shin are the custodians of the nine Honorblades left by the Heralds when they broke the Oathpact.
Perfect Pacifist People: A dark version. They maintain their pacifism by enslaving anyone in their society who takes up arms.
Proud Merchant Race: Inverted. The Shin are an extremely humble merchant race, no word on how proud they are of this fact though.
Reluctant Warrior: Fighting is thought to be an extremely lowly position, as opposed to in Alethkar.
The Parshmen are a slave race of marble-black skinned humanoids who have no will of their own and will follow any orders given. The Parshendi, on the other hand, are a Proud Warrior Race who live in eastern Roshar and who are at war with the Alethi after murdering their king. The Parshendi call themselves "listeners".
And I Must Scream: The Parshendi do not truly want to fight, for the most part, just wanting to prevent their gods from returning. As shown by Eshonai when she changes to stormform, every time she attunes to the Rhythm of Peace, the Voidbringer she has become can hear her true self screaming, and the stronger the true self becomes, the more frequently the screaming is heard. By implication, this happens to almost all of the stormform Parshendi.
Anti-Villain: The Parshendi turned out to have a very good reason to assassinate Gavilar. He was going to bring back the Parshendi "gods" which would turn them into Voidbringers again.
Berserk Button: Don't disturb Parshendi bodies. They will go absolutely berserk if anyone desecrates Parshendi corpses.
Bizarre Alien Biology: They can actively adjust to different "forms" based on need, with the most common being the extremely strong, naturally armored "war form". However, they may appear human, but are not, as they call the Alethi humans, as separate from themselves. They also have bones that are bright red, which makes it... distinctive when someone disturbs Parshendi bodies.
Brainwashed and Crazy: It is highly implied that the Voidbringers are Parshendi who have become this, influenced by Odium in a "form of power" such as stormform.
Defector from Decadence: The Parshendi/Listeners on the Shattered Plains are actually a group known as the "Last Legion" who deliberately travelled to the far east of Roshar to escape their "gods." In the process they lost all knowledge of most of their hundreds of possible forms, reverting to dullform and mateform exclusively. The fact that Gavilar was planning something that would bring back the Parshendi's gods was terrible enough that they acted to immediately assassinate him before he could set his plan into motion.
Godzilla Threshold: The main reason why the Parshendi even consider stormform is because it would be better than the inevitable extinction of their entire people at the hands of the Alethi.
Hive Mind: Parshendi always sing in unison even when out of hearing range of one another. All their thoughts/emotions follow different songs that they tune themselves into. The difference between Parshmen and Parshendi is that Parshmen cannot sense the songs and so cannot tune their thoughts.
The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Parshendi shift slightly in temperament depending on form. Dullform are extremely stupid, mateform are playful and sexual, workform are non-confrontational to a fault, and stormform is flat-out Demonic Possession. Nimbleform and warform have minimal mental changes, but warforms still enjoy obeying orders from their lawful superiors.
Non Mammalian Mammaries: Females have breasts, despite being... something other than mammals, though they are understated unless they're in mateform.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Forms of Power cause red eyes, which the Parshendi deem as signs of the Voidbringers, since they actually are them.
Slave Race: The Parshmen, who are apparently unable to live without being told what to do. Parshendi call this "slave form". The Parshendi also have a "dull form," which looks very similar to a Parshman. Dullform Parshendi are very slow of thought but still maintain their individuality and capacity for independence, so many of them have managed to pass as Parshmen to spy on the Alethi such as Rlain, a.k.a. "Shen", of Bridge Four.