Follow TV Tropes


Characters / The Stormlight Archive Main Characters

Go To

  • Main Character Index
  • Urithiru note 
  • Alethkar note 
  • Advertisement:
  • Heralds, Knights, and Spren note 
  • The Fusednote 
  • Races and People of Roshar
  • Other note 

Due to size, the page has been split. WARNING! All spoilers before Rhythm of War are UNMARKED!

    open/close all folders 

Book-focus characters


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 darkeyed citizen. His father was a surgeon, which is very high up for a darkeyes. After a complicated series of events at home resulted in his brother being sent to join the military, Kaladin joined up too 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.
  • Amicable Exes: With Lyn as of Rhythm of War. Veil and Adolin set them up, but she broke it off due to his severe battle with depression.
  • Angry Black Man: While discrimination in the Alethi culture is generally along the lines of eye color rather than skin shade and he is ethnically Alethi, 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. Plus, he's Ambiguously Brown, though that applies to the Alethi in general.
    Dalinar: You've got a massive chip on your shoulder, son. Not that it's not understandable.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Delivers one to Dalinar - if Amaram is so honorable, then why didn't he jump in to save Renarin and Adolin?
  • 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". It allows Sylphrena to assume Shard form, and sucks in every drop of Light in the halls, instantly healing his lethal internal injuries.
    • In Rhythm of War, "I accept that there will be those I cannot protect." Kaladin finally lays down the burden he has carried from the very first time we met him, and dozens of windspren slam together into real Shardplate.
  • Badass Longcoat: As the Captain of Dalinar's guard.
  • Barrier Warrior: In Rhythm of War, after discovering and swearing his Fourth Ideal, Kaladin is able to manifest his Shardplate around different people to protect them.
  • 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, and leaves her to Adolin.
  • 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 Syl 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.
  • Broken Pedestal: As a youth, Kaladin viewed most lighteyes as being heroic and noble, and that the more scheming and honorless ones were the rejects and outcasts and not real lighteyes. Roshone's and later Amaram's treatment of him, as well as his experiences as a slave, convinced Kaladin of the opposite, engendering a bitter hatred for much of their kind that takes a very long time for Kaladin to escape from.
  • 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.
  • Chest Insignia: Once Kaladin swears the Fourth Ideal, he earns a true set of Shardplate. His Shardplate has the glyphs for Bridge Four emblazoned on the chestplate.
  • Chick Magnet: Come Rhythm of War Kaladin is the #1 bachelor in all of Urithiru. He's a brightlord on good terms with the king and queen, a Radiant, a famous hero, and a great guy in general. Kaladin has no idea until Adolin points all this out to him.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: He always tries to save people; he usually fails, in the beginning.
    • This is very strongly implied (then later outright confirmed) to be something he'll need to overcome before he can swear the Fourth Ideal of the Windrunners and earn his Shardplate - that he'll need to accept that there are people that he just can't save, no matter how hard he tries.
  • 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.
    • In the third book, he admits that he believes there is a God because the only way he could have gone through so much crap was if someone was actively messing with him.
  • The Dead Have Names: He never forgets the people who've died under his watch.
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded: Feared and respected by his enemies for his incredible combat prowess. Moash believes he cannot be beaten in an actual fight, and even Odium considers Kaladin a potentially fatal threat to his plans. You know you've made it when a God of Evil has you on his high priority target list.
  • Driven to Suicide: Very nearly early on. Syl convinces him not to. In Rhythm of War Moash works hard to drive him to it, convinced that it is completely impossible to beat Kaladin in an actual fight. He very nearly succeeds.
  • Elemental Motifs: He is practically the wind itself. He is the first of a new generation of Windrunners in the rebuilt Knights Radiant, he feels a certain freedom out in the open and hates being imprisoned and chained in any way, and any time he battles an enemy in the air, he always at some point mentally crows that "the skies are mine."
  • Empowered Badass Normal: He was a master spearman, and then he developed Windrunning 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.
  • Fatal Flaw: His tendency to lash out at anyone he perceives to have wronged him (up to and including any lighteyes that isn't Dalinar) in the first two books causes him a lot of trouble. It's part of the reason he ends up as a bridgeman, it nearly gets both Syl and Elhokar killed, and it also places a heavy burden on his relationships with both Shallan and Adolin.
  • 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.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Having fought in a war with incompetent leaders, it should come as no surprise that he's got a few scars on him (as noted by a lighteyes considering buying him). He gains more in slavery, including a few brands on his forehead. When he joins Bridge Four, he gets even more. Once he becomes a Radiant, the scars and his slave brand refuse to heal, as he effectively considers them a part of himself. They finally heal in Rhythm of War when he manages to find and swear by the Fourth Ideal, giving up his self-loathing and accepting that it is okay that he cannot save everyone.
  • 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. In the second book, he advances his powers, letting him fly and run on walls, including helping others fly.
  • 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 five 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.
  • Guile Hero: Not as much as some other characters, but he's become an able tactician on the field and can outwit many of his opponents, especially when the chips are down and he's under-equipped and/or is lacking in equipment. In particular, he puts this trope into high gear when fighting during the occupation of Urithiru, with most of his victories or escapes against the Pursuer in particular being when he outsmarts the Fused.
  • 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 Survivor's Guilt. He manages to survive due to sheer willpower, but it still almost leads him to suicide.
  • Heroic BSoD: Several, especially early on.
    • When he finally can't take being a part of Bridge 4 anymore, he wanders off to the Honor Chasm to jump off. Syl snaps him out of it.
    • After surviving the Highstorm and being confronted with the knowledge that bridgemen are Cannon Fodder, he also enters into another one. His men snap him out of it.
    • Falls dangerously close to another one in Radiance with Syl unresponsive, his powers seemingly gone, his oath in shambles, unsure what to do about Moash and the king, and his body wounded to the point where his men and Dalinar have to leave him behind when they ride into danger while he faces months of recovery. Notably, this is the only one he fights off more or less alone, resolving that no matter what, he'll pick himself up and keep soldiering on, even if he has to do it without Radiant abilities and with a near-crippling wound.
    • Comes again during the fall of Kholinar in Oathbringer, when he's overwhelmed by the realization that he doesn't hate or want to hurt any of the sides forced to slaughter each other in the siege, and thus has absolutely no idea how to protect anyone. Also notable in that this one isn't caused by multiple factors slowly wearing him down, but by the sheer momentary horror he witnessed.
    • In Rythym of War, his PTSD has finally worn him down to the point he's on the verge of a total mental collapse. Dalinar has to force him to retire before it happens.
  • Heroic Build: It's pointed out several times that he is considered tall, even by Alethi standards. He starts out lanky, but packs on a lot of muscle running bridges, and later training in Dalinar's army.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Every time he speaks a new oath, most notably at the end of Words of Radiance.
  • Hero Worship:
    • How his men come to view him, never doubting for a single second that he would find his way out of any problem. Skar, in particular, seems to believe that Kaladin could somehow protect them from the entire Alethi army.
    • His hero worship for Dalinar grows throughout Words of Radiance, as Dalinar is essentially an embodiment of all the virtues he prizes most—but, being Kaladin, he can't help but believe that Dalinar will fail him as all other lighteyes has, and spends much of the book looking for any reason to mistrust him. He doesn't find one, of course.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • A 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.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Tien. However, he feels this way about pretty much everyone who dies near him. Tien was just the first.
  • Improbable Age: Trained surgeon, squadleader, and the first darkeyed captain in history... at only twenty Rosharan years old. He's a bit older by Cosmere Standard, and ours, because Rosharan years are longer, but not that much older.
  • 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. Adolin begins using it in the third book as well. He's also commonly known as "Stormblessed", although he's not always a huge fan of it, even as it becomes his house name as a lighteyes.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Knowing that the Parshendi view the bodies of their dead as sacred and untouchable, he deliberately crafts armor from Parshendi carapace and makes a shield covered in Parshendi bones to draw their arrow fire. It works spectacularly. He also employs this to great effect against the Pursuer.
  • 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. Him taking the Fourth Ideal of the Windrunners in Rhythm of War indicates that he is finally ready to accept his failings without being crushed by them.
  • It's All My Fault: He blames himself entirely for Tien's death, since he had promised his parents he would protect them. This is especially notable because it's one of the few things he doesn't blame Amaram for. Amaram promised to keep Tien in a non-combat role for a few years, but tossed him into a spearsquad after just a few months. But Kaladin ignores that, even after he realizes how corrupt Amaram really is, because he's too busy blaming himself.
  • 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 Bridgemen, only the 7 ft tall Rock has inches on him.
  • Living Legend: By Rhythm of War Kaladin is known far and wide as the slave-turned-brightlord who reformed the Windrunners and earned his place as one of Dalinar Kholin's most trusted soldiers.
  • Meaningful Name: "Kaladin" is one letter away from "paladin". See below for more about that. In addition, in Alethi "kalad" means "eternal" and "in" - "to be born unto". So the combination means "born unto eternity".
  • Meaningful Rename: Upon becoming a lighteyes, his name officially is changed to "Kaladin Stormblessed," with the latter being the name of his house.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: His name is a derivative of Kalak, one of the Heralds.
  • Never My Fault: An odd example—he tends to either blame himself too much or blame everything on others. At his worst moments he starts blaming the lighteyes for absolutely everything wrong in his life. This is most clear when he is in the chasms with Shallan, which is the lowest point in his character development. He tells Shallan that all lighteyes are equally to blame for exploiting darkeyes, but refuses to accept responsibility for being an angry cynic, only saying "I am what the lighteyes made me." Thankfully, it doesn't take him too long to start improving again.
  • 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. By the second book, Sanderson has apparently given up; Rock uses the "Kaluhdeen" pronunciation, which Kaladin notes is wrong.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: He's the scowling and brooding roguish man compared to Adolin's affable and friendly nature, though Kaladin is a good man below the surface. Notably, Shallan's own noble Radiant persona is attracted to Adolin while her thief persona Veil is into Kaladin.
  • Not Quite Flight: Kaladin's powers allow him to literally 'fall with style'. When Windrunners fly into the sky they're actually falling up.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Finds himself identifying with the freed parshmen in spite of himself.
  • 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 his actions and oaths of protection come into conflict.
  • The Paragon: He embodies the second Divine Attribute of the Windrunners, leadership, almost as much as he does protecting. People want to follow Kaladin, to live up to his example and believe the best in themselves. In Rhythm of War, while in purely practical terms his resistance against the occupation doesn't do much (it actually makes some things worse), the people believe in him enough that they start getting shash marks painted on their foreheads to show their support.
    Syl: So many looked up to you, Kaladin. Your squad of soldiers. The enemies you fought. The other slaves. Even some lighteyes.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Anyone outside of Bridge 4 rarely sees him without his signature scowl.
  • Personality Powers: As a Windrunner, Kaladin has the ability to affect gravity (changing which direction things fall and letting items attract flying arrows) and to stick things together with Stormlight. As bridgeleader of Bridge 4 and then as captain of Dalinar's guard and a member of the Knights Radiant, he draws in the other members of the bridge crews, binding them together into a unified whole and changing the course of their lives.
  • Power Glows: Once he realizes the extent of his powers, he has to consciously reign in his Surgebinding because of the glow it emits.
  • Practically Different Generations: In Oathbringer he meets his new baby brother, Oroden, who is roughly twenty years younger than him.
  • Praetorian Guard: At the end of The Way Of Kings, Dalinar places him in command of a new royal bodyguard to protect Elhokar, and Bridge Four and many of the other bridgemen form the new guard, trained by Kaladin.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Discussed with Syl. His oaths as a Windrunner require him to be honorable and good, but who determines what actually is honorable and good, especially when both sides have valid points? He can only conclude his powers work on whatever he and Syl feel fits the oaths rather than any sense of cosmic morality.
  • 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. Strangely it seems he actually got the nickname two entirely unrelated times, as no one in Amaram's army was around to spread it among the bridgemen, they simply start calling him it after he survives a highstorm, implying that refering to someone as "stormblessed" is a normal thing. Ultimately it even becomes his actual surname as a lighteyes house.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: He seriously takes it personally when he fails to protect someone. Years after the fact, he's haunted by Tien, by the members of his squadron in the prologue, and all throughout Oathbringer, every time he watches people he knows perish, he enters a Heroic BSoD. A large part of Rhythm of War is him coming to terms with and accepting the fact that he can't save everyone.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In Rhythm of War, Kaladin's post-traumatic stress from the near-endless combat he's had to endure comes to a head. He can't sleep, has difficulty remembering positive things, and is freezing up in combat. It gets bad enough that Dalinar has to relieve him of command for his own health and safety.
  • Spanner in the Works: One of several for the plot laid out by the Diagram. And later, Odium considers him such a huge problem for his plans that he tasks Moash with dealing him one way or another.
  • Survivor Guilt: One of his defining traits, especially with regards to his brother Tien.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Averted. In Rhythm of War he is forced to retire from active combat due to his post traumatic stress. The circumstances of the novel require him to take up the spear again, but he barely pulls through and retires again immediately after.
  • There Are No Therapists: Anywhere on Roshar, the concept just doesn't exist. The best the ardents know to do is lock people with mental health issues up in dark rooms. They mean well, but it's assumed that people with depression or post traumatic stress just never get better. In Rhythm of War Kaladin sets out to change this during his retirement, essentially inventing therapy as a concept.
  • 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 Syl manifests as his Shardblade/Shardspear/Shardshield, showing how crazy powerful a fully functioning Shardblade actually is.
    • In Rhythm of War he finally swears his fourth ideal, manifesting living Shardplate. It is as much a step above the standard as a living Blade is above a Shardblade, able to not only protect him but manifest around other people in danger.
  • 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.
  • Warrior Therapist: In Rhythm of War, Kaladin develops into one in the most literal sense (a warrior who is a specialist for treating the mentally unwell) as he discovers the limitations of the ardentia's understanding of mental health treatment. He uses his medical experience, his personal experiences with depression, and his position as a Radiant to begin treating mentally ill people in Urithiru.
  • You Can Barely Stand: At the climax of Words of Radiance, he has a broken leg, multiple internal injuries, and gets most of his 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 noblewoman undertaking a desperate plan to save her family from destitution. She takes up a wardship with Jasnah Kholin, princess of Alethkar, to steal her Soulcaster, but finds this difficult as she begins to enjoy learning. Partway through her wardship, however, Shallan finds herself embroiled in far greater conspiracies and powers than she ever expected.

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 Alcoholic: After learning she could cure herself of alcohol with Stormlight, her Veil persona developed a taste for beer, wine, and even Horneater vodka. Shallan actually complains about Veil's new habit after how much Stormlight she had to use to cure the hangover.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Of a sort. After their time in the chasms, she admits to herself that Kaladin's confidence and dangerous intensity are very attractive.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Shows clear attraction to Kaladin, Adolin, and Jasnah. Confirmed by Word of God. Her Veil persona is more open about her attraction to women.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Per Word of God, Shallan's issues with her personalities are not intended to match any real-life psychological disorder, especially due to the way her Lightweaver abilities interact with these issues. He still brought in a consultant on Dissociative Identity Disorder to try to avoid any Unfortunate Implications.
  • 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.
  • Badass Longcoat: When she starts posing as Veil to infiltrate the Ghostbloods, she goes through Tyn's things for an appropriately cool outfit.
  • 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 she didn't know how her mother died. Others believed her father had killed her, and she would always correct them but blank on what happened. In truth, Shallan herself killed her in self-defense.
    • After awhile it stops being positive and becomes extremely unhealthy. Shallan gets so used to doing this as a coping mechanism that she has to stop and ask Pattern what memories she has that are real and which ones are fake. It escalates into magically induced Multiple Personalities before she starts to get a handle on it.
  • Becoming the Mask: Her two most used personas, Veil and Radiant, start to take on minds of their own midway through Oathbringer. It starts with Veil starting to insult Shallan behind her back and escalates from there. Particularly Veil being enamored with Kaladin and Radiant being the only one of the three who can use Pattern as a shardblade. In Rhythm of War she basically operates as three separate people in one body, usually denoting who's in control at the moment by changing her hair and outfit.
  • Beneath the Mask: Shallan basically hides herself behind multiple personalities and masks in order to cope with her various traumas. The true person, underneath it all, is best summed up:
    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 woman, she has an 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.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: By Rhythm of War her selves manifest this way to let her allies know who is in control at the moment. Radiant is blonde, Veil a brunette and Shallan keeps her original red hair.
  • 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.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: A great deal about her. For example, her tendency to blurt out snarky commentary. We learn from her flashbacks that she got into the habit while trying desperately to cheer up her brothers in their broken home.
  • 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. [[Spoiler: She actually has a living one and a dead one, and intentionally hides this from herself]]
  • Crippling Overspecialization: She realizes in Oathbringer that she's been focusing on her Lightweaving exclusively after her last Soulcasting attempt failed.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Seems to have a compulsion to make witty remarks at almost any opportunity, though with less emphasis on the deadpan. Discussed when Jasnah gently chides her for saying "the first passably clever thing that enters your mind" and encourages her to be more thoughtful in her snark.
    Merchant: Brightness... I believe you stray into sarcasm.
    Shallan: Funny. I thought I'd run straight into it, screaming at the top of my lungs.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Apparently even Odium believes that she's an Elsecaller and not a Lightweaver, if Sja-Anat is to be believed.
  • Dissonant Serenity: One sign that her Brightness Radiant persona has started to manifest is that the normally timid, kind, and empathetic Shallan shifts to a cold, calm, and brutally logical mindset. Chronologically, she first shows this when she calmly poisons and then garrotes her father to protect her family and as punishment for killing her stepmother. This side of her gradually begins to manifest more and more until Shallan creates it as a full, separate personality to handle combat situations.
  • 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?
  • Evil Mentor: She tends to attract these, first Tyn and then Mraize.
  • 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.
    • Early on in The Way of Kings, Shallan has a flashback to her holding "a long silvery sword in her hand, sharp enough to cut stones as if they were water," and a later scene has her counting to ten heartbeats, and thus being in process of summoning a Shardblade. 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. It's later shown that the ten heartbeats aren't necessary to summon the blade, as she's bonded with a spren. [[Spoiler: Well, that blade. Her other blade does require ten heartbeats, but she confuses them on purpose to forget]]
    • 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. This eventually manifests as the "Brightness Radiant" personality she relies on in times of battle and danger.
      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.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: She is quite petite, and constantly annoyed at having to jog to keep up with "storming Alethi and their long legs". With Adolin, the problem is exacerbated when he's in his Shardplate or riding his giant Ryshadium.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Her father racked up a ton of debts and even more ill-will before he died.
  • The Lad-ette: As Veil, she is very much one of the boys: rambunctious, hard-drinking, checking out girls and being an aggressive flirt.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Her father sheltered her a great deal, she didn't get out much until the events of the story.
  • Loss of Identity: A serious issue that crops up over the course of Oathbringer, due to her ever-expanding Split Personality. Shallan begins losing herself between Shallan the reclusive scholar, Veil the street-smart spy, and Brightness Radiant, the calm and composed warrior.
  • 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. And then her split personalities start having their own opinions on the matter. Veil, especially, declares Adolin boring, and Radiant muses that a Knight would probably be a better match. Shallan ultimately chooses Adolin because he sees Shallan, even when she's cycling through her personalities and doesn't know who she is. Kaladin, despite Syl's urging, accepts this and moves on.
    • Interestingly, while Shallan herself decides that she loves Adolin, the Veil personality finds Kaladin far more attractive, viewing Adolin as being "just a friend." Meanwhile, the Radiant personality prefers Adolin purely for practical reasons.
  • Magic Feather: She has to draw pictures of something before she can make an illusion of it. Pattern notes that this shouldn't be necessary, implying she'll grow out of it as she develops. She does start practicing this in Oathbringer.
  • 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.
    • Her name sounds similar to szalona, which is Polish for insane. Considering her multiple personalities, it's rather fitting.
    • Veil is a conwoman, streetwise and good at hiding her own feelings. She is also the defense mechanism Shallan made to repress and hide her painful memories, her veil to the truth.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Her name is a derivative of Shalash, one of the Heralds.
  • The Napoleon: Not huge, but Shallan is slightly envious of her already head taller fiancee riding beside her on a massive Ryshadium warhorse, exacerbating their height difference.
  • 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. She instead leaves violence to either her Veil or Brightness Radiant personas, depending on which one's particular skillset, interests, and attitude are appropriate to the situation at hand.
  • One Head Taller: 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.
  • Pals with Jesus: Of a sort. Hugging Hoid in Words of Radiance led to him befriending, joking with, and even helping her with her Split Personality problems.
  • 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.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: With Adolin. It was originally orchestrated by Jasnah for purely practical reasons but turns out to be an ideal union for the two of them, and has the added bonus of politically connecting one of the most skilled new Radiants to the Kholin House.
  • Personality Powers: As a Lightweaver, she has the ability to cast illusions and to Soulcast, transforming one thing into another. A large part of her arc is lying about things (such as her wish to become Jasnah's ward or describing the deserter band as heroes) and then making them true. Shallan later admits that much of her own persona is actually a fabrication created in an attempt to survive her childhood traumas.
  • 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 reveals it as supernatural in nature - actually one of the resonance powers of her Surges.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Both Veil and Radiant are reflections of this in Shallan. Veil is impulsive, passionate, and quick to act, enjoying drinks and brawling and thievery. Meanwhile, Radiant is much calmer, colder, and analytical, as well as utterly ruthless. Shallan herself sits in the middle of these two extremes.
  • Repressed Memories: Many, many of them, just to function on a daily basis. Each of these memories are so traumatic yet significant that they serve as her truths, or the Lightweaver equivalent of the numbered Ideals.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: In-universe example. Shallan has a tendency to be forced to reveal her safehand, which in Vorin society is equivalent to going topless, but in real life it's just her left hand.
  • 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.
  • Sanity Slippage: A more subtle example than most, but Shallan clearly begins to lose her grip on reality following the traumatizing events of her life. When her Lightweaving powers start manifesting in full, Shallan uses them to create alter-egos and begins hiding within them to protect herself. Over the course of Oathbringer these alter-egos begin manifesting themselves as full on separate selves, and a large part of Shallan's Character Development is her learning to cohesively see all parts of herself.
  • Self-Made Orphan: As a child, she killed her mother in self-defense when her mother tried to kill her after her Radiant abilities started to manifest. Her father voluntarily took the blame and became ever darker and more twisted as a result, 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.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: She struggles with this on occasion, particularly with her involvement with the Ghostbloods. She knows how dangerous and manipulative they are, but the allure of all of the knowledge and skills they offer her tempt her to furthering their objectives.
  • 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. That said, both Hoid and Pattern are of the opinion that her optimistic nature is not a mask of her broken self but a genuine part of who she is, if but one facet of it.
  • Split Personality:
    • She created the street-wise, ladette personality Veil in Words, and then the calm and composed Brightness Radiant in Oathbringer. They start to gain more definition (especially Veil) as the book wears on, to the point that Veil begins talking about Shallan behind her back, and Shallan herself shrinks from the controlling personality to just another illusion. She creates a few more personalities over the course of the book, but tosses them aside for altering her mind to a disturbing degree.
    • In the final battle of Oathbringer, Veil and Radiant appear to help Shallan create an army with Lightweaving. We see everything from Shallan's point of view... even after it becomes clear that Shallan is just an illusion, and Radiant has the body at the moment.
    • In Rhythm of War, Shallan, Veil, and Radiant find a balance with each other and solidify as distinct personalities with assigned goals. They've vowed not to keep secrets from each other and to not permit more fragmentation of their personalities. Though there is the risk of a fourth entity, called "Formless", who represents every dark secret Shallan represses that is trying to manifest within them. At the climax of Rhythm of War, Shallan confronts the final truth Veil had been concealing for her and reintegrates Veil into herself.
  • Split-Personality Merge: In Rhythm of War, Shallan finally accepts all of the memories she had blocked from her past, and all the pain attached to them. Veil, who embodied that mental block, fully integrates with Shallan and stops being a separate entity.
  • Third-Person Person: In her various personas, she refers to "Shallan" as a different person.
  • Trauma Conga Line: She is a Radiant, it comes with the territory. From her incredibly abusive home growing up, to the death of her mentor, to killing both her mother and father she has been through a horrible ordeal. Not to mention that when she killed her mother she was already a Radiant, with well -eveloped powers at a young age. This implies an even darker history we aren't aware of yet. The original breaks in her soul that allowed her to become a Radiant were simply from growing up in a broken home. But after she killed her mother accidentally with a Shardblade, she broke her bond without realizing it would kill her spren. Pattern is her second bonded spren.
  • Uneven Hybrid: Her red hair is apparently a sign of Horneater ancestry, which makes her a tiny part listener. She also tends to hum when she's drawing and can apparently interpret Pattern's humming.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Shallan can't wield Pattern as a weapon on her own; even the idea of using Pattern as a sword causes her to start having an emotional breakdown, since in his Blade form he was what killed her mother. The only way she can turn him into a Blade is to adopt a persona who isn't afraid of using him that way, or to summon him as a tool rather than a weapon.


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.

Has flashback chapters in book 3, Oathbringer.
  • Affably Evil: When he was younger. He really plays up the barbarian warlord thing, and would probably be quite at home swapping drinks and stories with Conan. He's also charismatic enough to recruit enemies on the battlefield who managed to impress him after they literally tried to kill him just minutes ago. He also suffers from no self-delusion about what they're doing or why. But despite all this, there's still a reason he's the most hated and feared man on Roshar.
  • The Alcoholic: After burning his own wife Evi to death, he turned to the bottle to cope with hearing her dying screams all the time. He stopped only after his brother was murdered while he was too drunk to help. In Oathbringer, he briefly restarts drinking when he fully recovers his memories, but eventually forces himself to stop.
  • The Antichrist: Dalinar is Odium's chosen nine-shadowed champion, the one who will lead the Voidbringers to victory over the Knights Radiant and humanity. Thanks to Cultivation though, Dalinar had become mentally strong enough by the time Odium came knocking on his door to fully accept the truth about himself and resist giving in, thus becoming the Anti-Anti-Christ instead.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: As the Blackthorn, this was his reason for helping Gavilar take over Alethkar: the best way to determine who should be the king over all of them was to find out who the best warriors were and who could conquer who.
  • The Atoner: When he was the Blackthorn, Dalinar was truly terrifying. He's making efforts to move beyond this, though, especially after Gavilar's death. Oathbringer involves him fully coming to terms with everything he did as the Blackthorn, especially the burning of Rathalas and the accidental killing of his wife. When he finally accepts all of the pain and the crimes he's committed and vows to move past them to become a better man, he attains the Third Ideal of the Bondsmiths and is able to create Honor's Perpendicularity.
  • Badass Normal: Losing his Shards doesn't slow him down much, considering he's still able to fight evenly with Szeth during the climax of Words of Radiance.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: A rare positive example. Young Dalinar was a hotheaded, obsessively violent brutish drunk who mercilessly crushed Alethkar to put his brother in power, believed war was a game that couldn't be civilized, and hated the very idea of politics. Dalinar now is The Fettered who strictly follows the Codes, engages in politics and avoids war where he can, and highly values duty and honor.
  • 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.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • After Gavilar died, he took control of himself, refusing duels, rarely responding to insults, and all in all looking more towards peace than war—all things that the Alethi see as weakness. But he's still the Blackthorn, and there are some lines that should not be crossed with him. Threatening and insulting his family is the big one.
    • When Sadeas calls Renarin useless, Dalinar calmly says that clearly he misheard Sadeas, since if Sadeas really had called Renarin useless, Dalinar would have no choice but to kill Sadeas and shatter the entire kingdom. Sadeas quickly backs down.
    • When Elhokar demands Kaladin be executed following Kaladin's challenge of Amaram, Dalinar says, quite calmly, that if Elhokar tries to make good on that threat, he will make Dalinar his enemy. Dalinar has spent the last six years doing everything in his power to preserve Elhokar's power base and unify Alethkar, but he is willing to throw it all away if it's the only way to protect Kaladin.
  • Big Good: Despite his bloody past, he stands as the sole uniting force in Roshar giving humanity a chance of survival. His major arc themes even include uniting instead of destroying.
  • Blood Knight: In his younger days, he lived for the Thrill of battle and spends most of his downtime either partying or looking for sparring matches to fill the void — to the extent that he accidentally maimed several of his own men in a "friendly fight".
  • Brought Down to Badass: He's cast aside a Shardblade twice. Hasn't stopped him from kicking ass. Zig-zagged when he gains Surgebinding abilities of his own.
  • Broken Ace: Like all Surgebinders. His breaking initially seems to have originated in his drunken failure to save his brother from Szeth. In truth, the breaking came much earlier when he accidentally killed his wife and intentionally slaughtered the population of the Rift in a haze of rage and wrath as the Blackthorn.
  • The Cassandra: Dalinar is right about most of the problems of Roshar, from the conventional - how the obsession with war is harming their nation, and how the lack of discipline is causing them to act less like a state and more like a unruly mob, and the need for unity - to the more supernatural, such as the return of the Radiants, the approach of the Everstorm, and Roshar's very fate hanging in the balance. Unfortunately, he's dogged by rumors of degrading mental health, speculation that he's gone soft, and his In-Universe reputation as a Retired Monster.
  • Cool Sword:
    • His Shardblade Oathbringer is a BFS with a wave pattern and a hooked tip, and is famed for having been the personal weapon of Alethkar's founder. He gives it up to Sadeas in exchange for Bridge Four, which really messes with Sadeas' mind.
    • He later takes the cleaver-like Shardblade brought by Talenel, but unbinds it as well to bond with the Stormfather, who tells him he refuses to become a Blade for him.
  • Covered in Scars: His career as a soldier was a long and bloody one, to himself and everyone he faced. When being mended in Words of Radiance, the surgeon balks at the number of scars at his shoulder and questions how he can even use his arm at all from all of the scar tissue.
  • Curse: Bears one as the traditional price for receiving a blessing from the Nightwatcher. Oathbringer reveals the Nightwatcher neither blessed nor cursed him. Instead Cultivation herself "pruned" Dalinar's memories and soul, an effect that mimicked the Nightwatcher's usual pattern.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Every one of the Shards on Roshar has worked their designs on him: Honor's spren sends him visions and formed a Nahel bond with him, Odium grooms him his entire life to be his monstrous champion, and Cultivation sealed away his memories so he can grow beyond the Blackthorn.
  • 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.
    • Bites him coming and going as he starts to play politics. His bloody reputation serves him among the Alethi, but negotiating with the highprinces instead of beating them into submission is taken as a sign of weakness. Other nations still recall the bloodthirsty warlord, and see his honest overtures of alliance as a trick.
    • One of Dalinar's problems is that while he recognizes that he is feared as the Blackthorn among his own people and the greater world, his Laser-Guided Amnesia means that he doesn't know the precise reason why he is so feared. He burned down an entire city, killing the entire population, for an ambush that the city's highlord had sprung on him, and in the process unknowingly killed his wife. Once he starts to remember, he really understands why everyone outside of Alethkar initially thought his overtures of peace were a deception.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Inverted: being blackout drunk during Gavilar's assassination is what made him turn to the Codes. It's later revealed that guilt over burning the city of Rathalas and his wife really did lead him to drown his sorrows in booze, and the party was just an excuse to do it without comment.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: As a Bondsmith.
  • Everyone Has Standards: As the Blackthorn, he was ruthless and brutal, killing hundreds of men singlehandedly. But even he refuses to actually harm children, even when those children are the heirs to princedoms. This comes back to bite him hard when one of them grows up and starts rebelling, setting off a chain of events that lead to Dalinar burning Evi alive.
  • 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. His ability to recharge Stormlight on command via Honor's Perpendicularity makes him a vital asset on the battlefield, even if he doesn't fight on the front lines.
  • Hero Killer: He was this back in his Blackthorn days, where we see him fight and kill several people who frame themselves - pretty accurately - as champions taking a heroic stand against a conquering tyrant. One had even bonded a Ryshadium. For his part Dalinar considered them hypocrites, inasmuch as he thought of it at all, because of the underhanded ways they took and kept power.
  • 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.
  • Hypocrite: Dalinar is constantly worried he'll be viewed as one, due to his attempts to both follow his own codes of honor and also take control and lead the world to safety. Later on, as he recovers his memories and learns of the horrible things he did in his youth, he slides further into this fear. Ultimately, however, he starts to make peace with this, realizing that it is often a sign of growth.
    The Stormfather: You are not a hypocrite, Son of Honor.
    Dalinar: I am. But sometimes, a hypocrite is nothing more than a man who is in the process of changing.
  • 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 isn't revealed until late in the series whether this was the wish or the price. Forgetting Evi was the price for not hearing her dying screams all the time. Unlike others who dealt with the Nightwatcher, his amnesia is temporary because it wasn't granted by the Nightwatcher, but rather her mother Cultivation, who took his memories away until the time came when he was strong enough to deal with his sins.
  • Laughably Evil: In Oathbringer, as the Blackthorn, Dalinar's boorishness and nonchalant attitude towards slaughter and war (especially compared to present Dalinar) are worth a laugh or two. It's probably for the best, otherwise it'd be much harder to read his chapters. Of particular note is his Brutal Honesty on why they conquered and unified the kingdom.
    Dalinar: We looked at this place here, this kingdom, and we realised, "hey, all these people have stuff." And we figured... hey, maybe we should have that stuff. So we took it.
  • Legendary Weapon: Oathbringer was said to once belong to the Sunmaker, the last Alethi conqueror to unify the princedoms before Gavilar.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Pretty much everyone admits that Dalinar is the real king of Alethkar by the point of Words of Radiance. He's not necessarily happy with this, though. In Oathbringer, he steps away from that role, instead taking up the rule of Urithiru itself and putting aside the rule of Alethkar.
  • 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.
    • His real greatest failure was accidentally burning his own wife Evi along with an enemy's family. Their dying screams haunted him so much he turned into a raging alcoholic to deal with it. Gavilar dying to an assassination while Dalinar was busy getting drunk was merely the last straw that led to Dalinar cleaning up his act and becoming the man who he is today.
  • Named Weapons: His Shardblade is called Oathbringer.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: He did have good reasoning for trusting Sadeas, but...
  • One-Man Army: Even before he had won his Shardblade and Plate, Dalinar was terrifyingly skilled in battle. Afterwards he was close to unstoppable. Sadeas even remarked that they needed to find him a set of Plate and Blade solely so he'd stop showing up those who already owned them.
  • Papa Wolf: When Sadeas calls Renarian "useless" in front of him, Dalinar calmly responds with a I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That, because if he had heard Sadeas insult his son, he would be obliged to make Sadeas pay for it.
    Dalinar: Surely you would not say that, as such an insult would demand that I summon my Blade and seek your blood. Shatter the Vengeance Pact. Cause the king's two greatest allies to kill one another. Surely you would not have been that foolish.
  • 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 an enemy of Dalinar.
  • Personality Powers: As a Bondsmith, he has the ability to magically adhere two items together, much as Kaladin does. He has been working since the first book of the series to unify the highlords of Alethkar (and then the new Knights Radiant).
  • Rated M for Manly: Seen as this in-universe. He even exploits it to support Renarin by attending a scribe/research meeting (something that is traditionally women's work) - after all, nobody can possibly claim anything Dalinar does is not manly.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The most reasonable of the highprinces. In fact, the others are so unreasonable that they think he's a coward for suggesting such ridiculous things as "peace," or "diplomacy," or "the war is a massive drain that is destabilizing the country."
  • Red Baron: "The Blackthorn", a nickname earned when he continued to fight and claim victory in a battle despite having several black fletched arrows sticking out of him.
  • 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, one of only three spren in the world suitable for a Radiant of the Order of Bondsmiths.
  • Retired Badass: Though he remains an extremely dangerous fighter, the start of the series sees him slowly stepping away from frontline battles due to his distaste with the pointless and aimless campaign the Alethi wage on the shattered plains. By the end of Words of Radiance he formally retires from frontline fighting, due in equal part to his new station as the leader of the reformed Knights radiant, and the fact that his newly-bonded spren, the Stormfather himself, refuses to let him bond a Blade or to manifest as one himself.
  • Retired Monster: Due to his actions as the Blackthorn, Dalinar is seen as this by the rest of Roshar. And they're arguably right. This - combined with much of the world's willingness to see Alethkar this way - is one of his main obstacles to creating meaningful diplomacy with the rest of the world.
  • Second Love: Finds one in and is one to Navani Kholin. He resists this for a time, since in Alethi culture it's 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.
  • Super Empowering: Through his ability with Connection as a Bondsmiths, he can Invest other Knights Radiant with Stormlight by touch to replenish their stores. Dalinar can also augment their Surgebinding abilities. By combining his connection to the land with Shallan's Lightweaving, they can produce a three-dimensional map of Roshar with exact detail.
  • Warrior Prince: As is the norm in Alethi society; a highprince who isn't a warrior wouldn't garner much respect among his peers. In Oathbringer, he has trouble with gaining allies through diplomacy because of this.
  • Was It All a Lie?: He doesn't take Sadeas' betrayal well.
  • We Used to Be Friends: He and Sadeas used to get along in the past. Not so much now. And Sadeas' betrayal in The Way of Kings destroys what was left of their friendship.
  • The Wise Prince: Invoked after Gavilar's death, when he begins to follow the moral precepts of The Way of Kings in Gavilar's memory. He makes a point of becoming an honourable highprince, a wise advisor to Gavilar's son, and a worthy leader to his people.


Venli, the Last Listener

"I wish I could believe, Timbre. I really wish I could. But you don’t know what you're working with in me. You don't understand."

Eshonai's sister, a scholar of the listeners. A background character through most of the series, she becomes a major viewpoint character later on.

Has flashbacks in book 4, Rhythm of War.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Her desire for more knowledge and more understanding slowly devolves into just a desire for more power. The influence of the Voidspren in her gemheart is a large part of it, but that wasn't all of it.
    • She lampshades this at the end of Oathbringer, wondering how she became so obsessed with power.
  • Amicable Exes: Zig-zagged. Parshendi are asexual in all forms except mateform, so she refers to the man who seems to be, in human terms, her husband, as her "once-mate" when in any other form. Since neither of them particularly care for mateform, they don't have any intention of entering it again any time soon. They are, however, still closer than friends. Until he dies.
  • Anti-Villain: In Oathbringer. She's still working for the bad guys, but begins defying them in subtle ways and eventually becomes a Radiant. By Rhythm of War she has truly begun her journey as a hero.
  • Cain and Abel: She's set up as the Cain to Eshonai's Abel. The story then subverts expectations when Eshonai becomes evil while Venli gets a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Cartesian Karma: Downplayed. She knows that her possession by a Voidspren warped her, but much like Dalinar she refuses to deny responsibility for what she did under its influence.
  • Character Development: Her first appearances painted her as something of a Smug Snake, a villainous foil to her sister Eshonai, the most prominent and damning example of how far the listeners had fallen. After Eshonai's death and seeing the truth of what her actions have led to, she becomes a far more conflicted character.
  • Dark Messiah: She ends up in a form of power called an "Envoy," sent to tell a carefully edited version of the Parshendi-Alethi war in order to inspire the singers to Odium. At the end of Oathbringer, after becoming a Knight Radiant, she begins teaching them of what the listeners were like before the war.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: In Rhythm of War, she starts experimenting with stone-shaping, as a Willshaper.
  • Demonic Possession: She spent most of her life with a Voidspren living in her gemheart, warping her emotions and manipulating her into being an agent of the coming Desolation.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: She's very annoyed how she's stuck at home being the dutiful daughter unlike Eshonai who's running off chasing her dreams, yet it's Eshonai who gets all the love and respect.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: She loved Eshonai, but also grew to resent her fame.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Her fall to villainy started when her research into new forms was overshadowed by Eshonai's rediscovery of the human race, driving her to do whatever it took to get back in the spotlight.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Gradually over the course of Oathbringer.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: She is a Willshaper, whose oaths revolve around freeing people from bondage. Including people she considers her enemies, or at least not her concern. When she first says the words of her Second Ideal, they're rejected—because while she freed a prisoner, she also recently watched the Fused carry away Lift—a little girl- in a cage and didn't try to do anything about it. One needs to truly mean the words of an Ideal for it to be accepted.
  • Last of Her Kind: The Fused tell her that she is the last listener, until they discover Rlain. Venli wonders several times where the survivors of the Battle of Narak went. It's implied that they became the Fused and are all dead.
    • She is later overjoyed to discover that they are not all dead, and immediately seeks them out to try to make some measure of amends for her crimes.
  • The Mole: She met a Voidspren named Ulim who helped her develop stormform, thus causing the return of her gods that her people had been working against for millennia. In Oathbringer, she becomes a Knight Radiant bonded to a lightspren and begins fighting against Odium from inside the enemy camp.
  • More Than Mind Control: As much as she'd like to blame Ulim's influence for all of her horrible actions, she can't deny that a part of herself was genuinely swayed by his praise and promises of glory. While Ulim's possession made it hard for her to question her actions, there were plenty of times he was out of her gemheart and she still continued with the plan.
  • Motive Decay: Afflicted her badly due to Voidspren possession. At first she was driven to find new forms largely in an effort to heal her mother's dementia. Then it became about protecting the Listeners from humans while showing up her sister. And finally it was simply about proving her own power and worth.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: Despite having both a Voidspren and a lightspren, Venli is unable to both keep her Red Eyes, Take Warning disguise and channel Stormlight simultaneously.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Struggles with this after seeing exactly what her gods are and the horrific way they use the listeners. Made that much worse by the fact that Venli herself was the main architect of their return.
  • Seers: As it turns out, being able to shape stone with a touch is the least of her abilities. The stones have a deep memory and Connection to her people's history, amplified by her study of their songs, and call up visions of the past in animated stone. She can also look into the Cognitive Realm, revealing hidden spren and whether a given listener is Fused, Regal, or ordinary.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: In Rhythm of War, she uses her Radiant abilities to see into Shadesmar, as a Willshaper.
  • Translator Microbes: Her Envoy form can speak all languages, both the ancient Dawnsinger language and all the modern human languages. It even extends to body language and nonverbal communication, which allows her to interpret complex and accurate meanings from simple combinations of Rhythms, or full sets of instructions from simple deliberate gestures.
  • Unwitting Pawn: She was easily seduced by a mysterious woman and a Voidspren named Ulim into bringing back the Voidspren and conjuring up the Everstorm by playing on her desire for recognition.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Certain passages in previous books state that it's supposed to be impossible for singers to form the Nahel bond.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: After bonding to Timbre, she gains the ability to draw on Stormlight, but since she keeps the Voidspren for her Envoy form, Timbre keeping it contained, she can retain the abilities it gives her, and turn her red eyes on and off at will, though she can't have them active when channeling Stormlight. In Rhythm of War she finds out that she can also use Voidlight to power her radiant abilities.


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, who gets several viewpoint sections of his own throughout The Way Of Kings. His title of "Truthless" is only vaguely 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.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: He's one of the last, and probably the most unlikely, of Dalinar's Radiants in Oathbringer. That being said, Sixth Ranger might apply better, as there are still 2 more books before a time skip and 7 more books in total.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Hates killing, and cries as he does. In the prologue, he actually does apologize before attacking a guard who questions who he is (see the quote above), and one of the only times we actually see him lose his temper and kill in anger is when he realizes that one of the targets he has been ordered to assassinate forced Szeth to kill a lot of innocent bystanders, by holding a feast in order to set up a trap for the Assassin in White.
  • Appropriated Appellation: "The Assassin in White" after his assassination of Gavilar.
  • Back from the Dead: He is saved by Nale after being stabbed by a Shardblade and swept out to sea, mere moments before he would have been permanently killed, thus fulfilling his culturally mandated service as a Truthless. This is probably a Bad Thing. We learn later that his soul wasn't reconnected to his body properly, and people like Lift who can perceive other worlds in greater detail can actually see it trailing along just behind his movements like a ghostly afterimage.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In Oathbringer, in triumphant contrast to his role in the preceding book.
  • 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. Coming to terms with this was hard on him.
  • Cessation of Existence: According to his religion, he still incurs the guilt for every evil act he's ordered to commit while a Truthless, and after his death his soul will suffer the punishment. But if he doesn't follow those orders, then his soul will simply be annihilated on death.
  • Character Development: Big time. He begins as a narcissistic version of The Atoner, constantly upset at himself for being an assassin and killing people. The weight of his sins continues to eat away at his sanity until it reaches a breaking point in Words of Radiance, where Kaladin's existence shows that his initial claims of Voidbringer return are true, meaning that his initial reason to be branded Truthless is false. From this, he is killed in his duel with Kaladin and revived by Nale. After undergoing training with the Skybreakers, Szeth eventually swears his oaths, becomes a full-blown Knight Radiant, and participates in the final battle of Oathbringer on the side of the heroes.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Szeth's father Neturo is very conspicuously still alive (it's why he refers to himself using his dead grandfather's name instead), and back in Shinovar. At least, this is what Szeth believes until book four, when it is revealed that Neturo has been murdered by Ishar.
  • Climax Boss: In Words of Radiance. Szeth crashes the book's climactic battle, fights and defeats several main characters in quick succession, before being taken out in a pitched battle with Kaladin and Syl.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Even in how he uses 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, or when he killed a man by sending him flying up into the air only to fall back down to the ground.
  • The Comically Serious: His lack of understanding regarding what Nightblood is talking about combined with how completely seriously he takes what it and Lift say provides a sizable amount of humor in Oathbringer.
  • 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 and in fact is Nightblood from Warbreaker. Having bonded a highspren in Oathbringer and named himself a Skybreaker, the possibility of Szeth dual-wielding Nightblood and a Shardblade is very real.
  • The Dreaded: Szeth himself usually doesn't get this treatment, but as the Assassin in White, he is feared everywhere. The Alethi treat him this way after Gavilar's death to the point that he becomes a sort of boogeyman. Elsewhere in the world, the Assassin in White becomes feared after Szeth's rampage on Taravangian's orders. This is inevitable after killing the king of Jah Keved and his two Shardbearer bodyguards, bringing the second-strongest kingdom on Roshar into chaos and destruction in a single night. The government of Azir even shuts down because they assume whatever replacement they elect is doomed to be killed by him.
  • Easily Forgiven: A Justified Trope. Despite his past crimes, Szeth is accepted by the other Knights because they desperately need all the help they can get, and he appears to be the only Skybreaker they have. And then ultimately defied, as when he isn't needed they keep him imprisoned - albeit voluntarily, since everyone knows that between being a Radiant and holding Nightblood they couldn't actually hold him if he wanted to escape.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Szeth is immune to the Thrill. He may be a mass murderer with an ocean of blood on his hands, but he's never enjoyed killing.
  • 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.
  • Extreme Doormat: He will do anything that the person who holds his Oathstone orders, except committing suicide or giving 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.
  • Feel No Pain: Between all the physical and psychological horror he's gone through, not to mention his Stormlight Healing Factor, his reaction to pain is pretty much "yeah, whatever."
  • 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 him, 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, which 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. And when inside, he can walk on walls and ceilings as well as glue someone to any surface, or even crush them by "dropping" heavy objects on them in any direction he pleases.
  • Healing Factor: His Surgebinding allows him to heal from wounds. It's not as strong as a true Radiant's, however, so he can't heal from Shardblade wounds. The fact that Kaladin can is the first big crack in his worldview. Taravingian tries to brush it off by claiming that Kaladin must have stolen one of the Honorblades that grants Regrowth (which would be either the Edgedancer or Truthwatcher Blades), but in the final battle even that explanation breaks down, and Szeth's brain breaks with it.
  • Heel–Face Turn: He spends Oathbringer training with the Skybreakers. When he finds out that Nale has decided to side with the singers, Szeth ultimately decides to follow Dalinar instead.
  • 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 Truthless.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: While he is only ever seen using Gravitation and rarely Adhesion, in Oathbringer he mentions that he has trained in all ten Surges, so he is able to outmaneuver a Fused using Abrasion who assumes that he is confused by her powers.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Part of his culture's naming conventions, but for the first two books he uses he uses X, grandson of Z instead of son of Y so that his still-living father is not shamed by association for having a Truthless son.
  • 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 culturally bound to follow any order his master gives him, with the sole exceptions of killing himself or giving up his Shardblade. On the other, he is still morally responsible for everything he has done, even by his culture's own standards. He actually explicitly states at one point that "I am not absolved. It is a common mistake stone-walkers make. Each life I take weighs me down, eating away at my soul... It is my punishment. To kill, to have no choice, but to bear the sins nonetheless." 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. He still doesn't see that he could have refused them either way, however.
  • Last Request: He grants both of Gavilar's as he believes that such things are sacred.
  • Loophole Abuse: He's adept at spotting loopholes in how he can act, and especially so at spotting the loopholes in the various trials that the Skybreakers set up to test their recruits. Later on, when Nalan tells him he has to swear to follow a set of laws as part of the Third Ideal of the Skybreakers, Szeth realizes that he can theoretically swear to follow any set of laws, including those of a specific person, so he chooses Dalinar.
  • Magic Knight: More like a magic ninja really.
  • McNinja: Though a Professional Killer and Magic Knight, his typical methods are more of this type.
  • Never My Fault: While he is normally too good at accepting fault (it's part of the reason he remained Truthless instead of just ignoring his masters), his dwindling sanity means he starts blaming his victims for being too weak to stop him. Blaming the king of Jah Keved for setting an ambush during a feast makes sense. Blaming a random unarmed bystander for not killing him does not.
  • One-Man Army: He carries a Shardblade and can use the surges of Gravitation and Adhesion. Nothing can stop him. Shardbearers, dozens of soldiers, and even Knights Radiant can barely stand against him. To date, there has only been one person who could effectively stop him.
  • Only Sane Man: Among the Skybreakers in Edgedancer, which is honestly quite off-putting. He's the only one who notices that their boss is obviously insane and blatantly ignoring the evidence in front of his own eyes. Every time he brings it up, the other Skybreakers get mad at him for being disrespectful, though Nale himself doesn't mind.
  • Out of Focus: He gets much less attention in Words of Radiance, but is planned as the focus character of book five.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Even most Shardbearers don't stand much of a chance. Shardplate will protect someone from the direct effects of Szeth's powers, and a Shardblade will let them fight against him without it being complete suicide, but the best that most people who tangle with him have managed to accomplish is making him work for it a little.
  • Pet the Dog: He interacts civilly with a terrified Lift during Edgedancer, despite knowing she's one of his new boss' targets.
  • Professional Killer: His entire role as a warrior from Shinovar, along with his Surgebinging abilities and Shardblade.
  • Red Baron: He gained infamy as "the Assassin in White" for murdering the Alethi king while wearing an all-white uniform. He is later sent on a royal killing spree, made to wear the white again so that the whole world would know the Assassin in White's hand in regicide.
  • Sanity Slippage: He gets progressively less stable over the course of the first two books, especially once he realizes that Kaladin is a Radiant, since it means that the "lies" he told that made him Truthless were actually true all along.
  • Sanity Strengthening: By Edgedancer, he's gotten a lot better about his insanity, or at least been able to hide it better, and even realizes that Nale is losing his mind. Culminating in him becoming a Defector from Decadence in Oathbringer and becoming a Skybreaker who does not follow Nale at all.
  • Self-Restraint: By Rhythm of War he is being held prisoner when he isn't needed for his duties. Everyone knows he could escape at any time, and is choosing not to.
  • Subverted Catch-Phrase: One of his common thoughts, when ordered to do something horrible, is a simple "he would do as his masters demanded." Near the end of Oathbringer, when he swears his Ideal to follow Dalinar, he thinks the same thing—but of a much less horrific task.
    Szeth of the Skybreakers envied Kaladin, the one they called Stormblessed, in the honor of protecting Dalinar Kholin. But of course, he would not complain. He had chosen his oath.
    And he would do as his master demanded.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Despite being new to the order, Szeth's experience with Gravitation puts him head and shoulders above the other Skybreakers in a training exercise. However, the others soon realize his talent, and he becomes a priority target. He puts up a good fight, but is eventually pummeled. He gets the last laugh with a loophole.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Szeth's personal test of character in Oathbringer. By the strictest rule of law, the Voidbringers—ancient spirits of the dead, harvesting their own people's souls to inhabit new bodies—claim original ownership of Roshar, through birth and now conquest, and are championed by Odium. Nale considers taking their side to be the lawful thing to do, the Skybreakers' duty. But as Nightblood points out, serving a blatant evil just because it has the letter of the law on its side is no different than the bloody years Szeth spent bound to his Oathstone. In the end, Szeth decides that he wants to do good, but believes his soul is too twisted to judge good from evil on his own—and so swears himself to Dalinar.
  • Token Evil Teammate: One of several among the Knights Radiant but to his credit, he was somewhat manipulated into committing the horrifying murders he performed.
  • Undying Loyalty: Szeth is a master of this. He perfectly follows the orders of whoever holds his Oathstone (with only two exceptions), and when becoming a Skybreaker, he has to swear to follow an external set of laws. Nothing says this cannot be the law of an individual, so Szeth chooses to swear ultimate loyalty to Dalinar.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: When using Nightblood, he has no idea how it works, so he routinely draws the sword rather than use a Sheath Strike like Vasher. This means every time he draws it, he sucks up a lot of Stormlight and has a high likelihood of dying. It's only in a battle with one of the Fused that he even realizes that the sheath is a viable weapon at all, when it successfully blocks a blow from Nightblood.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He tries to kill Taravangian for not telling him that his father was dead. This ends in Taravangian being able to use Nightblood to kill Rayse and become the new Odium.
  • Weak, but Skilled: While using the Windrunner Honorblade, he required much more Stormlight than even the weakest Radiant, but he had trained his entire life in the Surges.
  • You Killed My Father: He's furious when he learns that Ishar killed his father to recover the Bondsmith Honorblade and draws Nightblood against him, chipping the Honorblade.

Focus Characters' Spren Companions


Sylphrena ("Syl")

"I'm no highspren. Laws don't matter; what's right matters."

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. In Oathbringer, Syl points out that she's actually both a windspren and an honorspren, since all things on Roshar are connected to some degree, and she can be different things at once. Considering the Stormfather, it makes perfect sense.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Syl is very distractible. In Rhythym of War, she admits that she feels like she has two brains. A rational brain that can focus on important topics, and a childlike brain that constantly jumps to the nearest thing she notices. She regrets that her impulsiveness usually wins out.
  • Bond Creatures/Familiar: Shares a bond with Kaladin through which she gains greater sentience in the Physical Realm 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.
  • Covert Pervert: Has watched individuals being intimate.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: It's not romantic, but her bond with Kaladin just reeks of this.
    • In Rhythym of War she scribes / reads for Kaladin as he works. Alethi men are (culturally) forbidden to be literate, and writing is usually handled by their wives. At the very least, they are Platonic Life-Partners.
  • Drama Queen: She tends to react rather more dramatically than necessary, especially when she doesn't get what she wants.
    [Syl] stopped next to [Kaladin], placed her hands on her hips, and went into full pout. She unfolded her arms so that she could fold them immediately again and huff loudly.
  • Empathic Weapon: Becomes this at the end of Words of Radiance.
  • Equippable Ally: Can turn into a Shardblade, or any other weapon Kaladin needs.
  • Expy: She's blue, she floats around as a streak of light or as a girl in a blue dress, and she is bonded to exactly one person, with whom she has very silly interactions, making her a near-direct homage to Navi.
  • A God Am I: 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.
  • Hidden Depths: She cares so much for Kaladin that in Rhythm of War she goes to Dalinar and asks if he could use his Bondsmith powers to let her experience Kaladin's depression, so she can understand how to help him better. Dalinar refuses, but he does give her some advice on helping Kaladin that she takes to heart. Also, she thinks of herself as having two minds, a distractable one and a sensible one, and she expresses frustration at switching between the two. Much like someone struggling with a condition such as ADHD.
  • 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.
  • Last of Her Kind: She is the only honorspren who was bonded to one of the old Knights Radiant to still retain her consciousness. She was the youngest of them, and bonded to an old man. When he died in battle shortly before the Recreance, she went into a coma (normally spren can survive the death of their Knight without trouble, but she was too inexperienced), and thus survived when all the others were killed. The Stormfather found her later and revived her, but he's still a bit protective of her because of this.
    • She is also apparently the last of the honorspren to be created directly by the Stormfather, making her essentially an honorspren princess.
    • By the events of Oathbringer, there are other honorspren who are bonding with Windrunners. In addition, the previous generation of bonded honorspren still technically exist as deadeyes, but they cannot think anymore, and only mindlessly follow around whoever has bonded to their body.
  • Magical Girlfriend: A platonic example. They have an inseparable, deeply loving but non-romantic relationship, and Syl certainly lives up to the usual Magical Girlfriend antics.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Of the platonic kind towards Kaladin.
  • Meaningful Name: Sylphrena. A sylph is an imaginary air spirit, and Syl appeared to be a windspren to Kaladin before revealing what she really was. And even then, she still acts very much like a windspren and describes them as her cousins.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: While most honorspren are taciturn and rigid, Syl is happy-go-lucky and flighty.
  • 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.
  • The Prankster: She really does enjoy this, though she's a bit hampered by being mostly intangible. She makes oe though. She once went to an enormous amount of trouble to lure a rat into Kaladin's boot.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: We find out in Oathbringer that she is the last of the ten honorspren created directly by the Stormfather, making her essentially their princess. They call her the Ancient Daughter.
  • Shapeshifter: Can seemingly take any form but usually chooses to appear as a young woman about a handspan tall.
  • Shipper on Deck: Really thinks Kaladin should hook up with Shallan, and even suggests this while on a ship.
  • 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, but only in the Physical Realm. In Shadesmar, it requires Stormlight. Syl makes the most liberal use of her shapeshifting, becoming just about anything she wants on a whim.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: When Syl left for the Physical Realm for the first time, the Stormfather put a bounty on her along with wanted posters in the Cognitive Realm in an attempt to get her back. It's still in effect by the time Oathbringer takes place, even though she left years ago.
  • 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?"
  • Womanchild: She's one of if not the oldest honorspren alive, yet she's a curious and childlike prankster who struggles with more mature concepts like loss and depression. Her many, many years nearly catatonic might be to blame for never growing up.



"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. It's questionable what sort of spren, exactly, the Cryptics are; some call them liespren, but they don't care for that term very much.
  • 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.
  • Catchphrase: "It is a pattern."
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Has shades of this.
  • Cuddle Bug: Randomly interrupts an intimate moment between Adolin and Shallan in the Cognitive Realm by giving them a hug just because he can. Plus, he likes having arms and using them.
  • 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. There's an even darker secret — that wasn't Pattern, it was Testament, whom Shallan killed by rejecting her oaths shortly after killing her mother. Pattern is actually Shallan's second spren.
  • Equippable Ally: The first actually, the second after Testament of the new wave of spren (chronologically) to assume Shard form.
  • Face of a Thug: Shallan is initially terrified when she gets glimpses of him in the corner of her eye because he looks like a Humanoid Abomination. Once she gets to know him, she finds out he's very nice, albeit awkward because of the differences between Cryptic and human mentality.
  • Famed in Story: Pattern is actually famous among his fellow Cryptics as the first in ages to actively seek out and interact with humans after the Recreance. His bravery in interacting with beings that could kill spren is what made him the ideal pick as the first Cryptic in recent history to travel to the Physical Realm and bond with a human.
  • Foreshadowing: Pattern is insistent that Shallan will inevitably break her oaths and kill him in the future. Notice he never said she'll kill him again. Likewise, he's very naive and new to the ways of Roshar despite supposedly having spent some time there already before Shallan broke her oaths as a child, unlike Syl who picked up right where she left off after Kaladin reforged his oaths and brought her back. As it turns out, Pattern is actually a newcomer who just entered Roshar; the Cryptic Shallan bonded with as a child is an entirely different individual, which Pattern knew all along but never told her.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: He understands a lot of complex concepts easily, but has difficulty with rather simple ones, like eating.
  • Invisible to Normals: Unlike most Radiant spren he actually averts this, though he's good enough at blending into surfaces that most people don't notice him unless they already know what to look for.
  • Literal-Minded: He's fascinated with the idea of "lies", and lumps everything that isn't a plain, factual statement (i.e. sarcasm, metaphors, jokes, expressions) in that category.
  • Master of Unlocking: A lock is just a pattern, after all, and he is so very good with patterns.
  • Mood Killer: In Oathbringer, Shallan assigns Pattern as her chaperone for her date with Adolin, since in Vorin customs it isn't permitted for two unmarried people to be alone together. Eventually he understands that it's his job to prevent them from "mating". After a long conversation and the duo share a long look, Pattern buzzes out, "No mating!", spoiling the tenderness. Amusingly, Rhythm of War confirms he doesn’t actually know what mating is.
  • One Steve Limit: It turns out every Cryptic prefers to be called Pattern in the human tongue, much to the Lightweavers' annoyance. Since Pattern got first dibs, he gets to keep the name while the other Cryptics get new ones.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Since his name isn't practical for humans to use.
  • 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.
  • Suicide Mission: Fully expects Shallan to break her Oaths and kill him eventually, but believes that what he can learn and do before his death will be worth the sacrifice.
  • Super Intelligence: A very specific form. He is a savant at data analysis, being able to pull enormously complex patterns out of the background noise.
  • Verbal Tic: "Mmm..."
  • You Are Number 6: 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.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: He is the embodiment of the storm and the human idea of the storm. He admits to Dalinar that he cannot change his nature and that he must always be a raging storm that destroys everything in its path, since that is how he is viewed to begin with, and being an entity of the Cognitive Realm, he's bound to human thought.
  • 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.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: This works out for both good and bad. On the one hand, he has to allow the Radiants to reform and grant visions of the coming apocalypse whether he wants to or not. On the other hand, he can't stop the Parshendi from bonding with Voidspren either.
  • 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.
  • Humanity Ensues: Just like other bonded spren, he slowly comes to understand humans better and better. He's not too happy about it, especially since he begins to understand why the Heralds did what they did, and understand the reasoning the old Radiants had for abandoning their oaths. Dalinar is actively encouraging him to be more merciful and empathetic, noting that even though the Stormfather is a storm, he's also an entity with a will and the capacity to choose.
  • 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. It's also vaguely implied he might have intended it as a Mercy Kill, since he thought everyone was doomed.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Through the highstorms, he is the source of magic in Roshar, but he can't control what people do with it once they have it. He seems genuinely regretful when Eshonai accidentally gets herself possessed by a Voidbringer spren, but tells her he can't stop it.
  • Merger of Souls: The Stormfather existed before, but after Honor was killed, he ended up merging with his Cognitive Shadow.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Instead of his usual anger or confidence, when Dalinar deals with Odium, the Stormfather usually becomes a weeping mess, just to demonstrate how powerful Odium is.
  • 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.
    • Crosses over into Knight Templar Parent when it's revealed he really, really, really wanted Syl back badly. As in, "he put a bounty on her head and wanted posters for identification all over the place" badly. To be fair, he thought she was dead for centuries.
  • Pet the Dog: He is rarely merciful, and doesn't stop his storm for anyone, but he did show Eshonai the world after her death.
  • 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. He's even apparently merged with his Cognitive Shadow.



A small, comet-like spren who followed Eshonai around, and later Venli. She is a Reacher, also known as a lightspren.

  • Bond Creature: Bonds with Venli at the end of Oathbringer.
  • Brutal Honesty: Timbre is always direct and straightforward with Venli, especially when disappointed in her actions.
  • Dramatic Irony: The original spren avoided bonds with singers due to the singers' connection with Odium. Timbre doesn't know this, but does know that humans (supposedly) betrayed spren in the Recreance, which leads her to bond with a singer.
  • Happy Dance: A version in Rhythms. Once she subdues and traps the voidspren in Venli's gemheart she can be heard pulsing to Victory.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: She communicates by pulsing to different listener rhythms, which should just allow her to convey moods. Somehow, though, Venli seems to be getting a lot more information than she describes receiving, e.g. Irritation followed by Loss gives her that the reason she bonded with Venli is because humans killed so many spren in the Recreance, which even in context is an impressive leap.
  • One Degree of Separation: Kaladin and the others meet her father in Shadesmar. He mentions his father is a deadeye and he has a daughter who is off "chasing dreams," and Timbre (who is chasing dreams) mentions that her grandfather is a dead Blade.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: When she enters Venli's gemheart, she is able to trap the Voidspren residing there, allowing Venli to retain her Envoy powers and the glowing red eyes when necessary, but without controlling Venli's emotions.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Somehow managed to create a Nahel bond with a singer, something specifically stated to be impossible in a previous book. Apparently the past singers could form Nahel bonds with various spren, but the ancient conflict with Odium drove them away from the singers.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: She is engaged in the struggle to convince Venli of this. While willing to criticize her faults, Timbre also is constantly supportive and pushing Venli to be the person she knows she can be. Given Venli's issues this is difficult at best.