Characters: The Stormlight Archive

The Stormlight Archive, Brandon Sanderson's new Epic Fantasy series is already taking off with a vast group of characters.

See Mistborn, Elantris, and Warbreaker for more characters around the Cosmere.

For Hoid and the Shards of Adonalsium and other Cosmeric forces, see The Cosmere.
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Main Characters


Kaladin (AKA Kaladin Stormblessed)

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.
  • 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.
  • Badass Longcoat: As the Captain of Dalinar's guard.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Begins to develop a touch of this with Shallan in book 2, but seems to have decided that it's not going anywhere once he realizes there's attraction there.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • When he and Bridge Four save Dalinar's army.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome He always tries to save people, he usually fails, in the beginning.
  • Combat Medic: Trained as a surgeon, but truly talented as a soldier. Still, when the situation warrants it he tends to flip over to speaking like a surgeon.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Likely literally. Kaladin goes through so much crap over the first book. For a while, he even thinks himself cursed.
  • Determinator: After deciding to reform Bridge 4, he refuses to give up. This behavior grows steadily over the first two books, including even to the point of protecting those he hates if it's the right things to do.
  • Driven to Suicide: Very nearly early on. Syl convinces him not to.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: He develops Surgebinding abilities due to his symbiotic link with Syl.
  • 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 clinical depression and the associated 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.
  • Handicapped Badass: Mentally rather than physically. Kaladin has what we would recognize as severe clinical depression and what seems to be Seasonal Affective Disorder even before he starts dealing with his Survivors Guilt. He manages to survive due to sheer willpower, but it still almost leads him to suicide.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Every time he speaks a new oath, but most notably at the end of Words of Radiance.
  • Hero Worship: How his men come to view him. Skar, in particular, seems to believe that Kaladin could somehow protect them from the entire Alethi army.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • 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.
  • In-Series Nickname: He went by "Kal" when he was younger, but eventually grew out of it. Moash starts calling him by that name in the second book.
  • 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.
  • I Should Have Been Better: Feels this way about his failure to protect... well, anyone. The deaths of Tien, his spear squad, his fellow slaves, and his fellow bridgemen weigh heavily on him. Part of his Character Development is learning to live with this and accept The Chains of Commanding without taking personal responsibility for every death.
  • 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.
  • Large and In Charge: Amongst the Bridgmen, only the 7 ft tall Rock has inches on him.
  • Meaningful Name: "Kaladin" is one letter away from "paladin". See below for more about that.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: His name is a derivative of Kalak, one of the Heralds.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Sanderson mentions that in-universe his name is pronounced "Kal-uh-deen," but everyone (including Sanderson himself) ends up calling him "Kal-uh-din" instead.
  • 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.
  • Protectorate: His bridge crew.
    Gaz: What are they to you? Why do you even care?
    Kaladin: They're my men.
  • Red Baron: "Stormblessed". It starts in Amaram's army, then the bridgemen start using it, then Dalinar's army.
  • Spanner in the Works: One of several for the plot laid out by the Diagram.
  • 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.
  • You Can Barely Stand: At the climax of Words of Radiance, he has a broken leg, multiple internal injuries, and gets a few ribs broken when a Shardbearer punches him in the gut. But he still stands between Elhokar and Moash.


Shallan Davar

"What am I? I'm terrified."

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.
  • The Apprentice: To Jasnah after being accepted as her ward.
  • Astral Projection: Can send her mind into Shadesmar, the Rosharan region of the Cognitive Realm.
  • Believing Their Own Lies:
    • 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.
  • Beneath the Mask: Every now and again we get a glimpse of her true face. This Tear Jerker says it best:
    An image formed in front of her, born of Stormlight, created by instinct. She hadn't needed to draw this image first, for she knew it too well.
    The image was of herself. Shallan, as she should be. Curled in a huddle on the bed, unable to weep for she had long since run out of tears. This girl... not a woman, a girl... flinched whenever spoken to. She expected everyone to shout at her. She could not laugh, for laughter had been squeezed from her by a childhood of darkness and pain.
    That was the real Shallan. She knew it as surely as she knew her own name. The person she had become instead was a lie, one she had fabricated in the name of survival.
  • 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.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Takes time away from her studies to sketch young men working without their shirts on. Later on, Shallan is talking with Adolin and thinking on something important, and then he smiles, and... what was she thinking about, again?
  • Fiery Redhead: Ironically mixed with non-confrontational behavior.
  • 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'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.
  • Hidden Depths: So many hidden depths.
    • 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.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Her father racked up a ton of debts and even more ill-will before he died.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Her father sheltered her a great deal, she didn't get out much until the events of the story.
  • Love at First Sight: Falls head over heels in love with Adolin pretty much as soon as she lays eyes on him.
  • Love Triangle: One nearly forms around her between Adolin and Kaladin, though Kaladin consciously attempts to defy the attraction, once he recognizes it.
  • The Napoleon: Not huge, but Shallan is slightly envious of her already head taller fiancee riding beside her on a Massive Ryshadium War horse, exacerbating thei height difference.
  • Master of Illusion: She can use Lightweaving to create illusions. She frequently does this to disguise herself.
  • Manipulative Bastard: A heroic one, like all Lightweavers.
  • Meaningful Name: Shalash happens to be the patron of the Lightweaver Order.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Her name is a derivative of Shalash, one of the Heralds.
  • Nature Lover: She loves sketching pictures of plants and animals, and seems to be one of the first people to notice the principle of symbiosis (or at least, nobody she ever read had mentioned it).
  • 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.
  • One Head Shorter: Conspicuously shorter than her fiancee Adolin, though justified in that Alethi are quite tall on average. Kaladin is tall even by Alethi standards, so it goes straight into Huge Guy, Tiny Girl.
  • 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.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: With Adolin. Even she realizes it, and she's rather embarrassed.
  • 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.


Highprince Dalinar Kholin, "The Blackthorn"

"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 3.
  • 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.
  • Becoming the Mask: He did this on purpose, with the Codes. The Blackthorn was little better than a bloody cudgel in Gavilar's hand; with Gavilar's death, Dalinar realized he needed to be something else. He followed the Codes for long enough that it became as natural as breathing. Kaladin gets close to this truth when he wonders if his gesture at the end of The Way of Kings is just him pretending to be honorable. He decides that if you're willing to give up a Shardblade to "pretend" to be honorable, you're not really pretending any more.
  • 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, Oathbringer. 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 Dreaded: As the Blackthorn, Dalinar was feared. Navani says that the reason she chose Gavilar over him wasn't because Gavilar was going to be king, but rather because Dalinar frightened her.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: As a Bondsmith.
  • Father to His Men: Dalinar cares greatly for the safety of his soldiers, and refuses to ask them of anything he'd not be willing to do himself.
  • 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.
  • Front Line General: Leads from the very front of his army in Shardplate to minimize his army's losses. Takes a more behind the lines position after giving his Shardplate to Renarin.
  • Honor Before Reason: In the first book, motivated by guilt over his brother's death. Even the king who literally wrote the book on honor (or a vision of him) tells him to be more realistic. Later gets over it and learns to balance honor and practicality.
  • 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.
  • Named Weapons: His Shardblade is called Oathbringer.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: He did have good reasoning for trusting Sadeas, but...
  • Parental Substitute:
    • After Gavilar's death, he had to act as a father to Elhokar. Part of the problem with Elhokar's reign is that Dalinar coddles him a bit too much, treating him like a child.
    • After the climax of The Way of Kings, he starts treating Kaladin as a son, specifically like Adolin. It's just easy to miss because he treats Adolin like a soldier. It comes to a head when Elhokar is mad at Kaladin for derailing the plan to deal with Sadeas. Elhokar wants him executed, but Dalinar flat-out says that if he tries, he'll make Dalinar an enemy.
  • Red Baron: "The Blackthorn".
  • Refuge in Audacity: When he decides to bond a spren and become a Radiant, he doesn't go for any typical small fry- he bonds the freaking Stormfather himself.
  • 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.



"Where are you, Blackthorn? Why have you not come to face me again?"

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.
  • Bold Explorer: She wants nothing less than to travel the world by herself, finding new peoples and places. In fact, this wanderlust is what led to the Alethi and the Parshendi meeting in the first place.
  • BFS/Cool Sword: The Shardblade she wields is noted to be big even for a Shardblade.
  • 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 the book.
  • 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.
  • Fighting from the Inside: After changing to stormform, she gathers all those who refuse to change together, thinking that it will make them easier to execute once the rest of her people are Voidbringers. But she puts some of her closest friends in charge of guarding them, who then lead them down into the chasms, implying that her true self was manipulating her Voidbringer mind into giving them a chance to escape.
  • Four-Star Badass: A general with a Shardblade. The last Shardbearer among the Parshendi, actually.
  • Just You And Me And My Guards: Rather conspicuously only engages other Shardbearers after they've been weakened by regular Parshendi warriors. Understandable since the Alethi have a considerable advantage in number of Shards they have.
  • 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.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: She notes that she prefers to act contrary to the instincts the forms force on her. Workers are non-aggressive to a fault; when in workform she sought out confrontation. Mates are playful and useless; she forced herself to remain productive. She even orders her soldiers to attempt to paint while in warform, despite the fact that they are both physically and mentally unsuited for it.
  • Shock and Awe: Gains lightning powers by assuming stormform.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: She accidentally caused most of the plot of the series by stumbling upon the Alethi while she was out exploring. Admittedly the Everstorm and the Desolation likely would have happened eventually anyway, but she feels understandably guilty about the exact events leading up to it.
  • Worthy Opponent: Thinks of Dalinar this way.


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 5.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Hates killing, and cries as he does. In the prologue, he actually does apologize before attacking.
  • Appropriated Appellation: "The Assassin in White" after his assassination of Gavilar.
  • Badass: Just read about him using his abilities.
  • 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.
  • Expy:
    • 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 takes responsibility for everything, Szeth takes it for nothing. 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.
  • Healing Factor: His Surgebinding allows him to heal from wounds.
  • 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.
  • Magic Knight: More like a magic ninja really.
  • Man in White: What he's known for, anyway.
  • McNinja: Though a Professional Killer and Magic Knight, his typical methods are more of this type.
  • Out of Focus: He gets much less attention in Words of Radiance, but is planned as the focus character of book three, Skybreaker.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Even most Shardbearers don't stand much of a chance.
  • 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.

The Kholin Family


Adolin Kholin

"My father thinks I'm a better man than he is. Unfortunately for you, he's wrong."

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.
  • Agent Peacock: In his armor, he is a massive, unstoppable badass. Outside of his armor, he is an insufferably beautiful man who insists on wearing cologne even while in prison and adores fashionable attire to the point that he is constantly bristling against his father's order that he wear his uniform at all times.
  • 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.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Sometimes has trouble keeping track of what he did to offend any particular female.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Perfectly willing to resort to this in duels if needed. While he won't break the actual rules, he's willing to use tactics like grappling, headbutting, and brawling instead of pure Shardblade-on-Shardblade combat, which the Alethi upper crust consider distasteful.
  • Cool Sword: A Shardblade.
  • The Dandy: Adolin loves fashionable clothes, to the point that he keeps folios of the latest fashions from Alethkar and reads through them while at winehouses so he can keep up to date and have properly fancy attire ready.
  • Foil: According to Word of God, Sanderson created Adolin to have a contrasting viewpoint to Dalinar.
  • Front Line General: Like his old man, Adolin fights from the frontlines.
  • 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.
  • Hot-Blooded: Though he learns to understand his father's point of view.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: A non-murderous variety. Adolin finds hunts against beasts positively boring, due to how the prey has little chance of countering the elaborate hunting methods humans can come up with. Much prefers one on one duels, where warriors can pit their wits against an opponent of equal intelligence and strength.
  • I Knew It: In-Universe. He's insufferably pleased when he finds out Kaladin is a Radiant.
    Adolin: Ha! I knew there was something going on with him.
  • 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.
  • Love at First Sight: Was immediately smitten with Shallan upon seeing her. Though he only really fell for her after she asked him about what he did if he needed to poop in Shardplate.
  • 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.
    • And indeed, during the big duel, he fights three Shardbearers at once, on his own, and holds his own.
  • Named Weapons: Notable in universe for being an exception, he hasn't named his Shardblade, feeling that it would be presumptous.
  • 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.
  • Not Hyperbole: He really had courted every eligible woman in the warcamps before Shallan showed up.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Wears cologne and "reads" fashion magazines.
  • 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 - up until the point where he thoroughly beats their asses in duels.
  • 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. And because he's fallen in love with Shallan, who so far fits him to a tee.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Adolin is much sharper than his foppish pretty boy warrior prince appearance would suggest. Every suspicion he had in the books so far has been founded to some degree. Sadeas WAS plotting against them. Amaram's reputation WAS too good to be true. And there WAS something unusual about Kaladin.


Renarin Kholin

Wit: Can you speak, yet say nothing ridiculous?
Renarin: Nothing ridiculous.

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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has it in him, as seen by his quote.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Depths: He's a Radiant, of the Order of Truthwatchers.
  • 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.
  • Out of Focus: While he eventually is revealed to be a Radiant, he isn't the focus of most of the action in the first two books.
  • 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 Wife 

Dalinar's Wife

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.
  • Good Is Dumb: Navani insists that she wasn't an idiot, just not very clever. It's implied she's downplaying it to spare his feelings. She was, however, always perfectly calm in the face of Dalinar's often unpredictable passions.
  • No Name Given: Or at least no name known to the readers, since her name is only stated from the perspective of Dalinar.
  • Posthumous Character: Barely.
  • Ret Gone: But only for Dalinar, who has lost his memories of her and cannot hear her name when spoken.


Jasnah Kholin

"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.
  • The Ace: Shallan views her this way: an incredible scholar with stunning charisma and a surgebinder on top of it. She complains to herself about how perfect Jasnah is on several occassions.
  • 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.
  • Broken Ace: She's a surgebinder, so it goes without saying. It's partly whatever happened to her in the past, and partly carrying the weight of trying to save the world from a new Desolation.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: A necessity for becoming a Surgebinder. We don't really know what it is, but there are a few hints that it involved Rape as Drama.
  • 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. Also shown just before her apparent death when Shallan comes into her study and finds her not only exhausted, but actually showing a fear spren. She finds it shocking.
  • 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.
  • Single Tear: A variant. Shallan walks in on her in a vulnerable moment, and sees her trying to hide a single fear spren beneath her books. She realizes that if her emotional control has slipped enough to draw even a single spren, Jasnah is terrified.
  • 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.
  • The Stoic: Always maintains extreme emotional control, never drawing emotional spren even when furious.
  • 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

"We go to war for years and years, never noticing the real villains, working quietly in my own camp. They watch me. Always. Waiting. I see their faces in mirrors. Symbols, twisted, inhuman..."

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, he acts 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 Works for his own plan in Words of Radiance, after which he finally realizes this is a problem.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • He is largely seen as a childish brat who only manages to eke out some cleverness when he's being cruel. Underneath, he is a good, intelligent man who just wants to avenge his father and fulfill his legacy of keeping the country united. Unfortunately, his family treats him like a child, which results in him acting like a child. Given a chance, he rises to the occasion.
    • For example, early in The Way of Kings, Dalinar mentions retreating from the Shattered Plains back to Alethkar. Elhokar assumes this is a sign of cowardice. Half a book later, the subject comes up again, and Dalinar explains his goal of stabilizing Alethkar, winning the war, and securing the Shattered Plains in more detail—and Elhokar understands perfectly.
      Elhokar: Why didn't you just say that in the first place?
      Dalinar: [thinking] I underestimated him.
  • 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.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: A result of being well aware he is an Inadequate Inheritor to the throne of Alethkar is that he has a serious complex when it comes to this, which comes out at the worst times.
  • 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.
  • Modest Royalty:
    • Normally very very much not, but there are hints of it breaking through. Near the end of Words of Radiance, he comes to Kaladin's barracks to ask him for advice, even requesting he teach him the secret of leadership. And at the very end of the book, he ends up being ordered around by Lopen's mother when he's brought to her house to hide. He complains, but in a good-natured, friendly way.
    • It's mentioned that he reserves seats in the dueling arena for darkeyes, despite the lighteyes grumbling about having to mingle with their "inferiors." He never seems to even consider reversing this policy.
    • Essentially, Elhokar is a very decent man; he's just a really horrible king, and the knowledge of this wears on him.
  • Oh Crap!: When Dalinar starts to beat him at the end of The Way of Kings.
  • The Paranoiac: He's constantly convinced people are trying to kill him, which is honestly understandable considering the assassination of his father. When his leather saddle girth snaps during a hunt, he is absolutely convinced that it was intentionally cut by someone, and refuses to hear anything to the contrary. Sadeas realizes that he knows who cut the strap, which is why he doesn't use it to implicate Dalinar. Dalinar takes it a step further, realizing that Elhokar cut the strap himself because no one was taking his fears seriously.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • 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 unfortunately failed to pass it on before he died.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Passes off a mysterious black orb to Szeth as he dies, only saying "They must not have it." Szeth hides it in Jah Keved so that his masters can't take it from him, but he has no idea what it actually is.
  • Last Request: He makes two to Szeth, who obliges him in both.
  • Posthumous Character: He dies in the prologue of the first book. The prologues of books one through five all show that same night from different perspectives, giving more views of him.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: United Alethkar through violent war, and also put up a reasonable showing as a full Shardbearer against Szeth.
  • Shipper on Deck: He was trying to set up Jasnah with Amaram, but it didn't go anywhere. In addition to Jasnah's disdain for marriage in general, she's dismissive of Amaram specifically, and he actually seems a little afraid of her.
  • You Are Too Late: As he's dying, he smiles and says that Szeth is too late. Considering that he was trying to bring back the Voidbringers, that's pretty disturbing.


Navani Kholin

"Something's going on. Something bigger than our war here, something bigger than Gavilar."

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.
  • Widow Woman: The widow of Galivar, though she finds a Second Love.
  • Wrench Wench: A less hands on, and more design version. She's heavily involved in the engineering of new fabrials.


Queen Aesudan

Elhokar's wife, who is in Kholinar during the events of The Way of Kings.
  • Corrupt Church: She is unintentionally at the center of it, as she spoils her ardents and allows them to do whatever they want in exchange for assurances that what she does is the right thing to do.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: She seems to be a vain and foolish woman who surrounds herself with sycophants. She is at one point compared, in great detail, to the Ten Fools (figures from relegious scripture). We don't get to read the comparison, but we have been told what the traits of two of the fools are: Eshu, who speaks of things he does not understand in front of those who do. and Cabin, who behaves like a child even though he was an adult.
  • The Ghost: She doesn't have a single appearance in the first book, and barely in the second, though she is at least discussed.
  • No Name Given: Not in the first book, anyway.
  • Obliviously Evil: She is constantly concerned about the nature of her soul and place in the Almighty's plan. Unfortunately, her many ardents have discovered that it's not too difficult to convince her that the most important thing is showering them with luxuries and ignoring everything that happens outside her palace. This has resulted in the people of Kholinar starving while heaps of food rot at the palace.


Dalinar Kholin

See the "Main Characters" folder.

Alethi Highprinces


Highprince Torol Sadeas

"You can't have an army with two generals, son. Your father and I, we're two old whitespines who both want a kingdom. It's him or me. We've been pointed that way since Gavilar died."

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 break 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.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Sadeas is willing to betray any and everyone he works with, even his king, if he thinks it will net him an advantage.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Racism: While he looks down on everyone not named Sadeas, he especially looks down on darkeyes. The few chapters from his perspective have him scoffing at their presence in the dueling ring (Elhokar reserves seats for them), their lives, and the idea that they have some purpose other than to die for his glory. After a bridgerun, he has the gall to accuse them of idling about "while better men died." Never mind that the reason they collapse after a run is because he pushes them so hard and they're shocked because half of them die every time.
  • 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.
  • Happily Married: In spite of his many, MANY flaws, for all intents and purposes Sadeas seems to be this with his wife, who is just as much a schemer as he is.
  • 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.
  • Leave No Survivors: Adopted this policy early in the war, slaughtering a large group of cornered Parshendi who tried to surrender. This act is largely responsible for inspiring all the Parshendi to fight to the death, transforming the conflict into one of total war.
  • 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. Until the second book reveals that was just a facade.
  • 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.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Sadeas still persists in trying to undermine Dalinar, even after the Voidbringers return and a freaking Desolation begins, because he honestly believes everyone is still playing his game of politics- he's genuinely clueless just how irrelevant he is to the grand scheme of things. Luckily for the world, Adolin gets the point across.
    • His treatment of Adolin, specifically, is this in a different way. He sees much of himself in Adolin, and assumes he'll be able to get him onto his side eventually. He just figures Dalinar's lessons need to be beaten out of him first. Adolin is much like Sadeas, which means he's ruthless enough to follow his father's honor to the logical conclusion, finally killing Sadeas for his constant attempts to undermine the kingdom.


Highprince Roion

"If I were them, I'd just form up out there as if to prepare for an attack—but then I wouldn't. I'd stall, forcing my enemy to get stuck out here waiting for an attack until the highstorms returned!"

Although the highprince with the best archers of the Alethi forces, Roion has earned the fewest gemhearts.
  • Archer Archetype: His forces have the best archers of the Alethi highprinces.
  • General Failure: Not a terribly competent war leader to begin with, and only hurt more by the fact that his talented archer troops are very ineffective against the Parshendi.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Attacks Szeth to try and save Dalinar, is easily slain in turn but manages to buy time.
  • The So-Called Coward: Sebarial often calls him a coward, while Dalinar believes Roion is merely cautious. In the end he sacrifices his life by attacking Szeth to try and help Dalinar.


Highprince Thanadal

Not a Shardbearer, this highprince relies on Brightlord Resi, his only Shardbearer, for most of the fighting.


Highprince Sebarial

"Well said, you old turtle! Maybe this trip won't be a complete bore. Onward, then! To glory and some such nonsense."

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.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: On the battlefield. His mistress even reads a novel while the battle rages.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Depths: Jasnah dismisses him as a rude idiot, he does in fact have a very keen mind and a significant soft side. He seems to get a fair amount of millage out of being underestimated.
  • 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. His mistress implies he has taken in highborn ladies in distress before too.
  • 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



"Don't you want to become a lighteyes? Win a Shardblade?"

The daughter of the brightlord of Kaladin's home village of Hearthstone. Their parents were setting up she and Kaladin to wed, but that plan derailed when her father died.

  • Old Man Marrying a Child: After Roshone's son died, she became betrothed to Roshone. Age-wise, it was perfectly legal (though the fact that Roshone was technically her guardian at the time might have made it tricky), but the fact remains that he was a good twenty or more years older than her.
  • Tomboy: When she was younger, she spent most of her time playing with Kaladin and Tien. As she grew older, her maids stopped letting her do that sort of thing.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: When Roshone and his son moved into town, she was cut off from Kaladin, and forced to become cold to him to fit in.

    Kaladin's Father 


"That's like trying to stop a storm by blowing harder. Ridiculous. You can't protect by killing."

Kaladin's father, the surgeon of the small town of Hearthstone. He is a deeply generous man who refused to charge for his services, subsisting on donations from grateful townsfolk. After he failed to save the elderly Brightlord Wistiow, Brightlord Roshone moved in, and everything changed.
  • Actual Pacifist: He refuses to kill, even by inaction, under any circumstances.
  • Dark Secret: He is accused of forging documents from Wistiow willing his family a large gift of spheres for Kaladin's education. Turns out he really did do it, though he is insistent that if Wistiow had been lucid in his last hours, he would have done so willingly.
  • Education Mama: Of a sort. He is insistent on training Kaladin to be a surgeon and sending him to Karbranth when he comes of age. Kaladin would rather be a soldier, but he learns well regardless.
  • Honor Before Reason: There are several times where he could have killed Roshone, or even just let him die, but he always refuses. He also refuses to ask for payment for healing or move his family to a more prosperous city, despite knowing it would be far easier on him.

    Kaladin's Mother 


"You burn a glyphward out in front of your house, and it will turn away evil. It's easy. Your father won't give someone a ward to heal them. He'll insist that they stay in bed, drinking water, taking some foul medicine, and washing their wound each day. It's hard. They'd rather leave it all to fate."

Kaladin's mother, a well-off darkeyed woman who was wooed by a surgeon and followed him to a lonely town in the middle of nowhere. She is intelligent and refined in all things, and never complains about her lot, but Lirin secretly feels guilty for what he has put her through.

  • Never Learned to Read: Specifically averted; Hesina is noted to be the only woman in town who can read. And, of course, none of the men are allowed to.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever exactly happened between Lirin and her parents that led to her leaving the city and rarely speaking of them.
    Hesina: [to Kaladin] Don't let your father's words unnerve you. He always gets pessimistic at times like this.
    Lirin: I do not.
    Hesina: [Disapproving Look]
    Lirin: Name one other time.
    Hesina: Meeting my parents.
    Lirin: Stormwinds, let's hope this doesn't go half as poorly as that.
  • Proper Lady: She comes off as a perfectly refined Alethi darkeyed woman, who ended up in a remote corner of the country but retained her courtly manner.


Brightlord Roshone

"I do not like your little town. I do not like being treated like an exile. I do not like living so far from anything—everything—important. And most of all, I do not like darkeyes who think themselves above their stations."

The citylord of Hearthstone, who took over when Brightlord Wistiow died. It's obvious from the beginning that he was exiled for some political offense in the city, and he blames the town, especially Lirin, for his suffering.
  • Fantastic Racism: Like most Alethi lighteyes, he finds darkeyes to be little better than slaves, and is annoyed whenever they won't just give him everything he wants without arguing. The reason he ended up in Hearthstone was because he asked Elhokar to help him get rid of some bothersome elderly darkeyed silversmiths he was competing with. When they made an issue of it, they were thrown in jail pending an inquest, where they died in short order. Dalinar exiled Roshone to a distant corner of the country "where he could do no harm."
  • It's All About Me: He wants the spheres Brightlord Wistiow gifted to Kaladin's family. There doesn't seem to be anything he actually wants them for—he just wants them because he doesn't want anyone else to have them. This is also what led to him getting banished to Hearthstone in the first place. He screwed over Moash's grandparents because he was having trouble competing with them legally.
  • Never My Fault:
    • He blames Lirin for his presence in Hearthstone, due to the surgeon failing to save the previous Brightlord. Nevermind the fact that the more direct cause was Roshone asking his friend the crown prince to screw over an innocent pair of competitors.
    • When his son is killed in a hunting accident, he blames Lirin for failing to save him—despite the fact that the hunt was Roshone's idea in the first place, and Lirin could have easily have killed him on the surgery table.
  • One Degree of Separation: He competed with Moash's grandparents and got Elhokar to practically have them killed, was exiled by Dalinar, and made Kaladin's childhood hell.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: When a shop belonging to an elderly darkeyed couple was giving him trouble, he had Elhokar screw them over. Dalinar stepped in as soon as he could, but the couple had already died in prison, waiting for the inquest. Dalinar then banished him as far from his connections as he could, in the hopes of keeping him from doing any more harm.



"Every storming day, we'd get up and fight on those plateaus. And we wouldn't make any progress. Who cared if we made progress? It was the gemhearts the highprinces were after. And there we were, locked into virtual slavery by our military oaths."

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.
  • Pet the Dog: A portrait Shallan drew of him in a regal light (absolutely opposite of how he imagines himself) reduces Gaz to tears.
  • 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

"This is for my men. You can't begin to understand the weights I carry, spearman."

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.
  • It's All About Me: Kaladin thinks this is his attitude. He's shocked to learn Amaram is actually a Well-Intentioned Extremist who genuinely believes his actions serve the greater good.
  • 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.
  • Too Good To Be True: Adolin's opinion about his reputation.



"I'm going to die, aren't I?"

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.


Captain Niter

The captain of the Cobalt Guard.
  • Bus Crash: Stops appearing partway through The Way of Kings. The next time he's mentioned is a fair bit into Words of Radiance, when Zahel tells Kaladin that he died during the second tower assault.
  • The Leader: Of the Cobalt Guard.


Danlan Morakotha

"Dalinar holds himself back. He knows he should take the throne, but hesitates out of love for his dead brother. The other highprinces interpret this as weakness."

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.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Tries to act like an airhead, even though she actually isn't.
  • Romantic False Lead: Teased as potentially being the true perfect girl for Adolin, but as usual, they break up.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: She's a fairly minor character, but the information she collects and sends to Taravangian is what causes him to send Szeth to kill Dalinar.

Bridge Four

    Bridge Four 
Kaladin's bridge crew, he was assigned to this group by Gaz in order to get him killed. It takes a while, but this backfires. Hard.
  • Hidden Depths: All of them have their secrets that only come out when they get close together. They don't think they want to give them up otherwise, seeing as it's all they have left.



See the "Main Characters" section



"I ain't grouchy, I just have a low threshold for stupidity."

An old slave who insists there is nothing special about him.
  • Badass Grandpa: A former spearman of some sort.
  • Cult: A former member of one who awaited the return of the Knights Radiant. It's only when he saw Kaladin inhale Stormlight that he believed, though.
  • It's All My Fault: Blames himself for the death of the Envisagers, even though they were already doing a fine job of killing themselves.


Rock (Numuhukumakiaki'aialunamor)

"Airsick lowlanders."

A member of Bridge Four. He was originally Sadeas' chef, but he developed a dislike for the man and varnished all his food with Chull Dung. All of it.
  • Actual Pacifist: Though he's willing to shoot a bow at a length of wood, he's not willing to hurt anyone. Though he is willing to use a substantially sized log against Kaladin during practice.
  • Affectionate Nickname: He refers to Shallan as "cousin," a nod to her Horneater blood.
  • 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!
  • Culture Clash: With the Alethkar.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The nickname "Horneater" that his people have earned is not an embellishment. Rock has difficulty finding Unkalaki alcohol in the low lands, with most tavern owners worried that it'd melt through the cups.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Downplayed example. His people's language sounds Hawaiian and they live on volcanoes.
  • Gentle Giant: He's very strong, and could be a good fighter. However, he's still an Actual Pacifist.
  • I Ate WHAT?: Gets sent to the bridge crews after his first attempt to serve Sadeas a meal. Turns out chull dung has a rather more distinctive taste than he realized, though it didn't help that he used an ''impressive'' amount.
  • 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 is only a few inches shorter, but can't nearly match Rock's muscular bulk.
  • 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.


The Lopen

"You'll be wanting me, gancho!"

A cheerful one-armed Herdazian bridgeman, who begged to join Bridge Four for the simple reason that Kaladin was the only one picking bridgemen, so whoever got picked must be special.
  • 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 Nicknamer: Has some shades of this.
  • 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.



"Am I Bridge Four?"

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.
  • Defector from Decadence: After seeing what has become of Eshonai as a storm form, Rlain rejoins Bridge Four and teaches the Alethi how to fight storm form Parshendi.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Kaladin's I Shall Taunt You seems to have been his.
  • Extreme Doormat: Even more than other Parshmen.
  • 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.



"I am not a foolish jester or storyteller. I do not 'give tales.' I spread knowledge of cultures, peoples, thoughts, and dreams. I bring peace through understanding. It is the holy charge my order received from the Heralds themselves."

An Azish Worldsinger.
  • The Apprentice: Formerly, to Hoid.
  • Berserk Button: He is a Worldsinger. Not a storyteller. There's a difference, which he will expound greatly upon.
  • Mr. Exposition: Of a sort. He's a Worldsinger, meaning he can give information on a wide variety of cultures. He doesn't like to brag about it, however.



"I'd join them in a heartbeat. If I were in charge, things would change. The lighteyes would work the mines and the fields. They would run bridges and die by Parshendi arrows."

One of the bridgemen on Bridge Four. He was formerly a jerk to Kaladin, but he warms up to him.
  • The Ace: Though not to the same extent as Kaladin, Moash excels at every new task set to Bridge 4.
  • Cool Sword: In Words of Radiance, Kaladin gives him a set of Plate and Blade, making him a full Shardbearer.
  • Evil Counterpart: He and Kaladin initially start out obsessed by revenge, but Kaladin pulls out in time. Moash doesn't.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: He may talk big, but its clear that he only joins the Diagram to take revenge against Elhokar.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Is horrified when he realizes what his desire for revenge let him to do, and also at the realization that he's too far in and needs to keep going.
  • Revenge: He tells Kaladin that his motivation is revenge against the Lighteyes. In Words of Radiance, it turns out that he wants revenge against Elhokar, who unintentionally killed his grandparents.
  • The Rival: To Kaladin, initially.
  • 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.



King Taravangian

"Sometimes, you must tear down a structure to build a new one with stronger walls. And we are going to need strong walls in the coming years. Very, very strong walls."

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.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • 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. He notes that this isn't the case for most people.
  • I Am a Monster: Szeth calls him one, and he doesn't object to it at all. His viewpoint chapter indicates that he really does agree.
    Taravangian: Yes, but I am the monster who will save this world.
  • 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: 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.
    The Diagram: Q: For what essential must we strive? A: The essential of preservation, to shelter a seed of humanity through the coming storm. Q: What cost must we bear? A: The cost is irrelevant. Mankind must survive. Our burden is that of the species, and all other considerations are but dust by comparison.


A Stick

"I am a stick."

A stick found in the Frostlands. With Pattern translating Shallan tries to convince it to become fire.



"Brightlords have failed us in the past."

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.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Becomes much more trusting and subservient towards of Shallan when he realizes how many times she didn't kill him with her shardblade for threatening or berating her.

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.
  • A God I Am Not: Though some are worshiped as them.
  • 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, Herald of Kings)

"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.
  • Badass In Charge/The Leader: Of the Heralds.
  • 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, Herald of Justice)

"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.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Carries around a variety of extremely powerful tools. These range from a fabrial that can bring someone back after they are killed by a Shardblade, to a captive Larkin he uses to drain stormlight from Radiant prisoners.
  • 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.
    • Somewhere between a Knight Templar or an Inspector Javert, given that he'll freely execute both a kindly old man for a forty-year-old Accidental Murder and a thirteen-year-old thief who only steals food.
  • 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.


Chanarach ("Chana")

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.
  • In-Series Nickname: She has the nickname Chana.
  • 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.
  • Healing Hands: Implied, considering the way healing works here.
  • Le Parkour: Implied, from the fact that she's associated with the Order of Edgedancers, who manipulate Friction and Growth.


Paliah ("Pali")

A Herald said to be able to see the future.

She is associated with the Truthwatcher Order of the Knights Radiant. Her divine attributes are Learned and Giving.
  • In-Series Nickname: She is called "Pali" by some of the other Heralds.
  • 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, Herald of Beauty)

"A woman sits and scratches out her own eyes. Daughter of kings and winds, the vandal."
Death Rattle

The daughter of Jezrien, the Herald king. She appears in The Way of Kings, destroying priceless works of art, especially those related to her. 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.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Associated with an Order of the Knights Radiant that specializes in Lightweaving and Soulcasting.
  • Ax-Crazy: Av tells Baxil not to bother her if he values his limbs.
  • The Cameo: Brandon revealed that she appears in The Way of Kings, in response to being asked if she was The Mistress.
  • House of Broken Mirrors: Goes around destroying every portrait, sculpture, or other representation of herself she can find.
  • In-Series Nickname: Called Ash by the other Heralds.
  • Master of Illusion: Associated with the Order of Lightweavers, who use this and Soulcasting.
  • No Name Given: The name of the "Mistress" isn't revealed during her appearance in The Way of Kings. She was only confirmed as Shalash (after much fan speculation) by Word of God.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Baxil and Av don't seem to actually know her real name, and only refer to her as "The Mistress". The Heralds, in turn, exclusively refer to her as "Ash."
  • 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)

"Forgive us."

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.
  • The Paranoiac: His flavor of Sanity Slippage.
    Kalak: I'm worried about Ash.
    Nale: You're worried about everything.
    Kalak: She's getting worse. We weren't supposed to get worse. Am I getting worse? I think I feel worse.


Talenel'Elin ("Taln") (Vorin: Talenelat, Herald of War)

"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.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: Shows up at the end of The Way of Kings to declare that another Desolation is coming.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: He often wins seemingly hopeless fights, but at the cost of his own life.
  • Heroic Vow: He is the only Herald still bound by the Oathpact.
  • I Have Many Names: Taln (by his fellow Heralds), Talenelat (in modern Alethkar), and Stonesinew.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Has a habit of charging into impossible battles. However, he also has a tendency to win them at the cost of his life.
  • Left for Dead: In the prologue for Book 1, the other Heralds left him to die and be tortured in Damnation.


Ishar (Vorin: Ishi, Herald of Luck)

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


Sylphrena ("Syl")

Syl: Kaladin. Do you know the Words?
Kaladin: All I wanted to do was protect them.
Syl: That's why I've come. The Words, Kaladin.

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.
  • Empathic Weapon: Becomes this at the end of Words of Radiance.
  • Equippable Ally: Can turn into a Shardblade, or any other weapon Kaladin needs.
  • 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.
    Syl: But I am a god, Kaladin. Just a very very tiny piece of one.
  • 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.
  • In-Series Nickname: Her name is Sylphrena, but she has the nickname Syl.
  • Invisible to Normals: Is usually only visible to those she allows to see her, but some people, such as Rock, are born with the ability to see her.
  • Invisible Jerkass: May have a heart of gold but she does enjoy playing pranks, usually only appearing afterwards to laugh at her victim.
  • Mystical Waif: Of the six inch high variety in one of her more common forms.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Serves as one to Kaladin, and to a lesser extent to the entirety of Bridge Four.
  • Pieces of God: As a spren related to consciousness rather than nature, she's a Splinter of Honor, who is in turn a Shard of Adonalsium.
  • Shape Shifter: Can seemingly take any form but usually chooses to appear as a young woman about a handspan tall.
  • Spirit Advisor: Serves as this to Kaladin, after a fashion. She's the reason for him learning the Immortal Words of the Order of Windrunners, after all.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Like most spren, she can transform of her own free will.
  • Wham Line:
    • In Way of Kings."I am Honorspren".
    • And again in Words of Radiance. "Oh, that's right. You probably want me to be a spear, don't you?"

    The Nightwatcher 

The Nightwatcher

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, and is clear on the rules. She's also less of a Jackass Genie to those without selfish intentions. For example, someone who wanted to save his family from poverty and starvation got supplies, at the cost of seeing upside down for the rest of his life: he considered it worth it.
  • Equivalent Exchange: her gifts and curses seem to be in proportion, though the exact rules haven't been established.



"So fascinating. You are all so fascinating."

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.
  • Alien Geometries: His Physical Realm form is a living, constantly shifting fractal. Shallan specifically notes that any time she tries to draw him she can't do it justice because his surface is infinitely detailed.
  • Bad Liar: Despite the fact that he loves lies, he's really bad at making them up himself.
  • Catch Phrase: "It is a pattern".
  • 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.
  • Verbal Tic: "Mmm..."
  • You Are Number Six: Apparently he has a real name, but it consists of lots of numbers and is hard to say.


The Stormfather


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.
  • The Chooser of The One: The Almighty left him with the visions to give to whoever he deemed worthy. Dalinar is the most recent, but there were others before him, including Gavilar. Kaladin has a highstorm vision at one point, but it might not have been from the same package, and Szeth implies he was made Truthless because of visions as well.
  • 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.



"Have you realized, that while you claim to be a master thief, I do all of the work in this relationship?"

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.
  • The Leader: Leads the Ghostbloods.
  • Not Me This Time: Gavilar assumes that he's the one who sent Szeth after him. Szeth has never heard of the man; if Thaidakar sent an assassin, Szeth got there first.



"You still appear conflicted. What must I do to put you at ease? Shall I step up onto this desk here and do a jig?"

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.



"I hired the hunter I felt best for the task, and I understood the risks."

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.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • 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.



"I have many times asked myself, why those of you here go about so brazenly with features exposed to all who would see them. My mask reserves my self. Besides, it gives me the ability to adapt."

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.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When she realizes that Shallan's plan to sneak into the Ardentia is to pretend that Iyatil is her crazy sister. To her credit, she plays along like a champ.

    Lin Davar 

Lin Davar

"Everywhere I step, I find only corners. Slowly, they trap me."

Shallan's abusive father. Revealed posthumously to be a member of the Ghostbloods.
  • Abusive Parents: He beat all of his sons and treated them horribly.
  • 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.

Other Characters



A man searching for Hoid alongside Blunt (Baon) and Grump (Galladon). He's Demoux from Mistborn, and he is now a part of the Worldhopping organization known as the Seventeenth Shard.



A man searching for Hoid alongside Thinker (Demoux) and Blunt (Baon). He's Galladon from Elantris, and he has joined up with the worldhopping organization known as the Seventeenth Shard.



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.



"Kid, two people live in this room. The first is a grouchy swordsman who has a soft spot for kids who are in over their heads. He comes out by day. The other is a very, very grouchy swordsman who finds everything and everyone utterly contemptible. He comes out when some fool wakes him at a horrid hour of the night. I suggest you ask the first man and not the second. All right?"

A swordsman who instructed Adolin and Renarin in swordsmanship.

    Rysn and Vstim 

Rysn and Vstim

A young Thaylen merchant apprentice and her Babsk.
  • Bond Creatures: Rysn accidentally bonds with a hugely valuable creature called a Larkin by falling off a cliff. It looks sort of like a cute winged crayfish. While we don't know the full significance of this, another character uses a captive Larkin to drain the stormlight from Lift.
  • 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.
  • To Be a Master: Rysn aims to be a master trader like her Babsk Vstim.


Axies the Collector

A Siah Aimian seeking to learn the secrets of the Spren.
  • Animated Tattoo: He marks his body with his notes, and can change their color in order to see them. This is useful, seeing as he is a scientist and is regularly robbed blind.
  • Cosmic Plaything: He appears to be literally cursed with horrible luck, and is regularly beaten thrown in jail or robbed blind. He never seems to take it hard though, mostly because he is implied never to be in real danger.
  • For Science!: He has dedicated his (apparently very long) life to learning the secrets of all spren. He considers going on a bender in a bad part of town to determine if intoxication spren exist to be perfectly reasonable. They do, by the way.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: His attitude concerning the Spren. Or rather Gotta Catalogue 'Em All.
  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: His shadow goes towards the light, rather than away.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: As mentioned, he is literally cursed with bad luck. The results range from being stripped naked beaten and robbed to somehow offending people enough to be hung upside down from a rope to eventually be fed to a greatshell. He's entirely unfazed by all this.
  • Mugging the Monster: According to Vstim's reaction to seeing an Aimian, people are constantly doing this and just don't realize it because he's too nice to fight back. Apparently escaping from being thoroughly tied up, upside down, ready to be fed to a greatshell shouldn't actually be a problem for him.



"You're my pet Voidbringer, and no lies are going to change that. I got you captured. No stealing souls, now. We ain't here for souls. Just a little thievery, the type what never hurt nobody."

A thirteen-year-old thief and Radiant, specifically an Edgedancer.
  • Awesomeness As A Force: She refers to her abilities as "becoming awesome".
  • Bond Creature: Her spren, Wyndle, though she refers to him as a Voidbringer because it annoys him.
  • Green Thumb: One aspect of her powers of Growth.
  • Healing Hands: The other aspect, known as Regrowth.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: In her own words, she's so storming pure she practically belches rainbows. In truth she actually is, returning to heal a companion at the cost of being caught by someone trying to kill her.
  • Little Miss Badass: She's a scrappy little thing, who nearly manages to escape from Nale before being hit with an attack of conscience.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: She's a lot smarter than she lets on, though she's still a child and uninterested in the technical details of magic. For instance, she insists Windle is a voidbringer not because she actually thinks he is but rather because it annoys him.
  • 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.

Historical Characters



"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 Sunmaker 

"The Sunmaker"

The last man to unite the Alethi highprinces, which he did when he was only seventeen years old.

The Knights Radiant

    Knights as a whole 

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.
  • The Chosen Many: Every single individual Knight was chosen by an individual spren, but there were still more than enough to form ten distinct knightly Orders.
  • Cool Sword: All of them had Shardblades, which were their Spren.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Every individual Order had its own role, and stepping too far outside that role could cause them to lose their powers. In Words of Radiance, Kaladin wants to punish Amaram (and to a lesser extent Sadeas), but Syl repeatedly points out that Windrunners protect the innocent—punishing the guilty is a job for a Skybreaker. Unfortunately, there aren't any Skybreakers around, so Kaladin keeps trying to find ways to justify striking back, both to himself and to Syl.
  • 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 Order of Windrunners 

Windrunners, followers of Jezrien

"I will protect those who cannot protect themselves."

Wielders of the Surges of Adhesion and Gravitation and followers of Jezrien, the Herald of Kings. The Windrunners were known for their nobility, their leadership, and their ability to soar through the air, which is the source of their name.

    The Order of Skybreakers 

Skybreakers, followers of Nale

"I will put the law before all else."

Wielders of the Surges of Gravitation and Division and followers of Nale, the Herald of Justice. The Skybreakers were the police of the Radiants, known for their ability to separate the innocent from the guilty, despite not actually having any special powers in that area.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Their primary creed. They will obey the law, period.
  • Gravity Master: Since they share the Surge of Gravitation with the Windrunners, this is implied.
  • Not Quite Flight: Like the Windrunners, they fall in the direction of their choosing, including straight up.

    The Order of Releasers 

Releasers, followers of Chanarach

Wielders of the Surges of Division and Abrasion and followers of Chanarach. They were also known as the Dustbringers, but they disliked that term due to the similarity to Voidbringers. They were known for being very dangerous on a personal level.
  • Berserk Button: They really didn't like the name Dustbringers, which didn't help their reputation for being dangerous.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Their exact powers are unknown, but they were the ones who did the most damage in the Last Desolation. Implied to be Playing with Fire or similar.
    Kalak: Smoke curled from the occasional patches of growth or heaps of burning corpses. Even some sections of rock smoldered. The Dustbringers had done their work well.

    The Order of Edgedancers 

Edgedancers, followers of Vedel

"I will remember those who have been forgotten."

Wielders of the Surges of Abrasion and Progression and followers of Vedel. They were known for being the most elegant and refined of the Radiants, but at times focused on unimportant things.
  • Green Thumb: The Surge of Progression lets them affect growth, such as by turning seeds into vines in seconds.
  • Healing Hands: A more advanced use of Progression lets them heal damage. They can even bring back the dead if they get there in time.

    The Order of Truthwatchers 

Truthwatchers, followers of Paliah

Wielders of the Surges of Progression and Illumination and followers of Paliah. They seem to be the only Order with the ability to see the future, a powerful but dangerous gift.
  • Green Thumb: With the Surge of Progression, they can manipulate plants in the same way as Edgedancers.
  • Healing Hands: Like Edgedancers, they can heal wounds if skilled enough.
  • Seer: They could see the future to some extent, though how this works is unclear.

    The Order of Lightweavers 

Lightweavers, followers of Shalash

"Lightweavers make no oaths beyond the first. You must speak truths."

Wielders of the Surges of Illumination and Transformation and followers of Shalash, Herald of Beauty. Lightweavers tended to be artists and other creative types, and acted as the moral center of the Radiants, using their powers to inspire their fellows.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Their access to the Surge of Transformation allows them to Soulcast, turning one thing into another. Some are easier than others; blood is one of the Ten Essences, for example, so transforming anything into blood is very easy even if the Soulcaster has limited biological understanding.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: This is how the greatest works of the Lightweaver function. To spin a lie, and then invite those around you to step into the lie and make it truth.
  • Master of Illusion: Lightweaving, despite its name, covers not just illusory light but sound as well—and possibly the ability to manipulate the other senses.
  • Photographic Memory: Shallan has this, and a few lines from the in-universe Words of Radiance book implies this was standard for Lightweavers.

    The Order of Elsecallers 

Elsecallers, followers of Battar

Wielders of the Surges of Transformation and Transportation and followers of Battar. Due to the fact that both of their Surges involved contact with the Cognitive Realm, Elsecallers were known for having a great affinity with spren in general.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: They were some of the original Soulcasters, along with the Lightweavers. They seem to have been better known for it.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Using the Surge of Transportation, they can move bodily to Shadesmar, and then arrive elsewhere in the Physical Realm.

    The Order of Willshapers 

Willshapers, followers of Kalak

Wielders of the Surges of Transportation and Cohesion and followers of Kalak. They were known for being capricious and adventurous, and were often thought of as unreliable.
  • Bold Explorer: They were known for being adventurers and explorers, enjoying seeing strange new things.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Like the Elsecallers, they could teleport directly into Shadesmar, but they were not known for this ability in the same way.

    The Order of Stonewards 

Stonewards, followers of Talenel

Wielders of the Surges of Cohesion and Tension and followers of Talenel, Herald of War. They were known for being strong, resolved, and utterly dependable.
  • Determinator: The determinators. They were the Order best known for mirroring their Herald, and their Herald is the one who survived being tortured for four thousand years. Unfortunately, this also made them pretty stubborn.

    The Order of Bondsmiths 

Bondsmiths, followers of Ishar

"I will unite instead of divide. I will bring men together."

Wielders of the Surges of Tension and Adhesion and followers of Ishar, Herald of Luck. The Bondsmiths had a much lower member rate than the rest of the Orders; three Knights wasn't a particularly small number for them.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Again, three Knights was an ordinary number for them, when most of the Orders had hundreds. They could have more, but didn't go to any great recruiting drives. Probably has something to do with their spren being "godspren" like the Stormfather.

Races and Peoples of Roshar

    Humans in general 


Humans on Roshar are significantly more diverse than other worlds.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Many different cultures have different caste systems. People in the five 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.
  • People of Hair Color: It is easy to tell where a person comes from by the color of their hair.
    • Alethkar: Black.
    • Jah Keved: Red.
    • Iri: Metallic golden-blonde.
  • Planet of Hats: During the days of the Silver Kingdoms, each kingdom had its own role. Only one, Alethela (which became Alethkar) has been revealed: They were the warriors, the watchers.


The People of Aimia

A "cursed" race known for being somewhat jovial despite the hate they receive from everyone else. Also have minor shapeshifting powers.
  • Curse: Mention is made of the "Curse of Kind," but no details on what this is.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Per Word of God, they're not human. They also consist of two distinct species.
  • Human Shifting: Are able to alter their physiology at will, changing both their appearance and the functionality of their organs, as well as taking away headaches at a thought.
  • Fantastic Racism: Persecuted by other races under the belief that they are voidbringers due to their odd biology/shadows.
  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: Their shadows bend toward light instead of away from it.


The People of Alethkar

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.
  • Never Learned to Read: Alethkar is a Vorin kingdom, meaning that men are not allowed to read true letters. Glyphs are an exception, but those are designed to be recognizable even to someone who has never encountered them before, so everyone insists they don't count. More complicated glyphs require training to read, but most men don't learn them.
  • 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.
  • The Stoic: Alethi, as a race, are known for being very reserved at all times. Public displays of any form are frowned upon, from affection to demanding duels for insults. It's to the point that in the second book, Dalinar can't do anything to Sadeas despite Sadeas very explicitly trying to get Dalinar's entire army killed in the previous one.


The People of Azir

Short and brown-skinned people from west-central Roshar. They are known for their paperwork. Lots of paperwork.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: They require proper forms for absolutely everything, from electing their new leader to transporting and punishing prisoners to recquisitioning snacks.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • When Nale pulls out a form giving him the authority to execute Lift, the leaders of the country are very disturbed that he's going to kill her for petty theft.
    • Those same leaders refuse to start a civil war when their leader is assassinated, citing "too much paperwork."


The People of Herdaz

A boastful people with crystalline, slate-colored fingernails. They are close to the Reshi Isles, and claim several of them.
  • Asexuality: Due to their Parshendi blood, they have a higher chance of being asexual than other races.
  • Beneath Notice: Lopen claims that Alethi can't tell Herdazians apart. Herdazian slaves and soldiers often swap places to give themselves chances to take vacations. This is of course stupidly illegal, but none of the Alethi notice.
  • Space Jews: They lack any stereotypical Jewish physical traits and aren't known for any association with money, but they're a downtrodden and ignored people who often live in their own slums in foreign countries. The clincher, however, is their mothers: Friendly, loving, overbearing, women who take no nonsense from anyone and use guilt to make their children do as they say.
  • Uneven Hybrid: They have Parshendi blood, but not as much as the Horneaters. If some Herdazians have the same ability to see spren, Lopen doesn't mention it.


The People of Iri

A chaste people with metallic gold hair, the Iri hail from the warmer north-west corner of Roshar.



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.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: All of Jasnah's research points to the Parshmen/Parshendi being the mythical Voidbringers. Words of Radiance confirms this, but adds that not all Parshendi want to be Voidbringers. The closest comparison would be Marsh as a Steel Inquisitor under the control of Ruin.
  • 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.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Parshendi have elements of this, even when they aren't warriors. Special note goes to when they dress Szeth in white to assassinate Gavilar.
    White clothing for a killer was a tradition among the Parshendi. Although Szeth had not asked, his masters had explained why.
    White to be bold. White to not blend into the night. White to give warning.
    For if you were going to assassinate a man, he was entitled to see you coming.
  • 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. Caused because Forms of Power involve possession by Voidpren, who are a hateful fiery red.
  • 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.


The People of the Purelake

A calm and slow people from the Purelake, the waist-deep lake at the center of the continent. The Purelakers have their own religion, and consider outsiders to be odd and hurried.
  • Entitled to Have You: A very calm and friendly version of this trope (just like everything else the Purelakers do). Purelaker courtship involves doing favors for someone until they are so far in your debt they have no choice but to marry you to make up for it. If they don't want to marry you, they need to do favors in return to keep the scales balanced.


The People of the Reshi Isles

Residents of the living islands on the northern edge of the continent, the Reshi are a carefree people who appreciate boldness in all things. They are not, however, uneducated savages. Many Reshi are immigrants from other nations, and they bring knowledge with them. The Reshi also send students to study across the continent.
  • She Is the King: The leader of an island is always called the king, regardless of gender. The Reshi find the confusion this produces in outsiders hilarious.
  • Troll: The Reshi have a habit of screwing with outsiders. For example, they refuse to speak of the true nature of their islands so that newcomers will be surprised, and they jump from higher heights when outsiders are around.


The People of Shinovar

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.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Shin are pacifists. As noted under Reluctant Warrior, fighting is thought to be a very lowly profession, on par with slavery.


The People of Thaylenah

A merchant people from the island nation of Thaylenah. They practice Alethi Vorinism, and are known for their long eyebrows.
  • The Apprentice/Mentor: Their standard way of training new merchants is to have someone apprentice to a Trade Master. The apprentice is legally the property of their babsk for the duration of their apprenticeship, acting as sort of a combination of child and slave.
  • Magic Feather: Thaylen religion, based around "the Passions," involves carved charms representing an emotion such as bravery. The charms are not magical and the Thaylens do not think that they are; the intent is for the charm to remind you to keep the emotion in mind when you need it.
  • Proud Merchant Race: They are the best-known merchants on Roshar, and even on the Shattered Plains, a good chunk of the shopkeeps are Thaylen. Aspiring merchants enter into apprenticeships with Trade Masters in order to learn their skills.
  • Unusual Eyebrows: Thaylen eyebrows are so long that they are tucked behind their ears.


The People of the Horneater Peaks (Horneaters)

Mountain-dwellers who believe that the order of your birth should determine your place in life. They also like loud, drunken singing.
  • Asexuality: Due to their Parshendi blood, they have a higher chance of being asexual than other races.
  • 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.
  • Extreme Omnivore: They actually DO eat horns and shells. And lowlanders barely consider their ale drinkable.
  • 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.
  • Uneven Hybrid: They have some Parshendi ancestry, which allows them to see some spren that aren't otherwise visible.


The People of Jah Keved

A neighboring country to Alethkar, and another Vorin kingdom. They do not share the same military tradition as the Alethi, but they are their staunchest rivals, and hold nearly as many Shards.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: The Veden are known for being passionate and proud—or at least more passionate than the reserved Alethi.
  • You Are in Command Now: Highprince Valam ends up as king due to being the last survivor of the succession war. As he's dying from his wounds, he realizes that Taravingian plans to take over after his death, and decides to simplify matters by naming Taravingian his heir, and then having his bastard son kill him to spare him weeks of pain.

Alternative Title(s):

The Way Of Kings, Words Of Radiance