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Herald

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Herald
Heralds.jpg
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
This page or section contains spoilers for Rhythm of War!
This information has the ability to potentially ruin elements of the plot for the reader. Proceed with caution if you have not read this book.
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The Heralds, they were honorable. Perhaps not as divine, but I may even like them more, to know they were once just normal men and women.

The Heralds are servants of the Almighty worshipped across the whole of Roshar. There are ten of them, with each associated with one of the Ten Essences and one of the ten orders of the Knights Radiant. They are known by different names in different cultures -- in Azir, they are known as the Kadasixes,[2] and in Vorin countries, the suffix "'Elin" is often appended to their names, presumably as a honorific.[3][4][5][6][7]

History[edit]

Becoming Heralds[edit]

Humans could never win when the creatures they killed were reborn each time they were slain. And so, the Oathpact.

—The Stormfather on the creation of the Heralds[1]

Most of the Heralds were born on Ashyn, with Shalash as possibly the only exception. After humanity destroyed that planet's ecosystem, they traveled along with the rest of the refugees to Roshar, although they weren't the Heralds yet at that point.[8][9]

Prior to the first Desolation, most of them held various positions of importance -- scholars, generals, priests, and kings. After the Fused began to return, Honor formed the Oathpact, granting the newly-made Heralds a connection to him and, through it, their supernatural abilities.[1] How people were chosen to become Heralds is uncertain; it's possible that it has something to do with the Proving Day.[10]

The Desolations[edit]

The Heralds abandon the Oathpact after the Last Desolation

Almighty above. You’re broken too, aren’t you? They all were.

Kalak after centuries of Desolations[11]

From there on, the Heralds were stuck in the cycle of Desolations. At the end of each one, they would travel to Braize, their presence there preventing the voidspren and the Fused from returning to Roshar. They would attempt to hide, but eventually, Odium's forces would track them down and begin torturing them until one of the Heralds broke. At this point, the Heralds would be returned to Roshar and resurrected to push Odium's forces back.[1]

At some point, the spren began mimicking their abilities, creating the first Surgebinders.[12] The Heralds found that surprising, but had no compunctions against using the Surgebinders in battle.[13] Ishar imposed structure upon them, creating the Knights Radiant, and each Herald took patronage over the Order that matched their Surges.[14] The last to do so was Nale, who initially rejected the Skybreakers even when they called him their master.[15]

Eventually, the pattern of continuous resurrections and torture led to the Heralds growing increasingly stressed and psychologically damaged, making each Heraldic Epoch -- the period between the Desolations -- shorter as they broke faster and faster.[1] Things came to a head in the Aharietiam, a Desolation where only one Herald, Taln, died in battle. Those who survived were supposed to return voluntarily; however, Ishar theorized that one Herald remaining in Braize was sufficient to keep the Oathpact going. And so, the Heralds decided to abandon Taln to his fate, leaving their Honorblades -- and the Oathpact -- behind.[11] To hide this fact, they told the ordinary people that the Desolations were over, and that they would take the fight to the Tranquiline Halls.[16]

Shalash the vandal

Era of Solitude[edit]

What a gift you gave them! Time to recover, for once, between Desolations. Time to progress. They never had a chance before. But this time … yes, maybe they do.

—Taln to Shalash[17]

For the next four and a half thousand years, Taln remained on Braize, being tortured by the voidspren to make him break and allow them to return.[17] At the same time, the nine living Heralds went on to live among the people of Roshar, hiding their true nature. The only one to recover his Honorblade was Nale, who also remained in touch with the Order of Skybreakers, eventually joining them and becoming their leader.[18]

Over time, the mental state of the Heralds deteriorated. Nale grew compassionless;[19] Kalak became paranoid;[20] Jezrien started to drink heavily;[21] Shalash began to track down and destroy her own artwork.[22] While Shalash and Nale both believed that Ishar remained unaffected, he, too, went mad.[23] He took over the country of Tukar, becoming its god-priest, and started to swing wildly between megalomania and the desire to end his own existence.[24][25] When Nale came to him with questions about the possibility of a new Desolation arriving, Ishar told him that the return of Knights Radiant could prompt it, causing Nale to travel the world killing any potential Surgebinders.[26] At some point, perhaps in pursuit of this goal, he and Kalak found themselves in the Kholinar palace on the night of king Gavilar's assassination.[27]

True Desolation[edit]

Taln announcing the True Desolation

The burdens of nine become mine. Why must I carry the madness of them all? Oh, Almighty, release me.

—A death rattle collected by the Diagram.[28] It's possible it refers to Taln.

Sometime around the year 1173, Taln finally broke, and returned to Roshar to proclaim a new Desolation.[6] He was initially disbelieved by Rosharans, who assumed him to be some random madman, which was further confirmed, in their eyes, by his deranged, near-catatonic behavior.[29] Some of the Heralds, such as Nale, initially refused to believe a new Desolation has arrived, though he was convinced upon seeing the awakening of the Parshmen.[30]

When Dalinar Kholin sought to bring Tukar into his alliance, Ishar refused him, claiming that instead, it was Dalinar's forces who should bow down to him, and give Urithiru over to him, which was met with no answer.[24] At the same time, Shalash was searching for Taln, aware that, if the Desolation has returned, so had he. She was eventually pointed on the right track by Mraize.[31]

Ash and Taln met again during the Battle of Thaylen Field.[22] After surviving the fighting, Shalash attempted to bring Taln with her to Ishar, but the two were intercepted by Jasnah Kholin before they could make it to the Oathgates. At the same time, Jezrien, hiding as a drunkard in the captured Kholinar, was killed by Moash in a way that made him permanently incapable of returning. The shock of it sent Taln and Shalash unconscious.[23]

Abilities[edit]

The Heralds glow like the sun, wield the Honorblades, and speak with the voices of a thousand trumpets. They could cast down buildings with a command, force the storms to obey, and heal with a touch.

Shallan's recollection on what she was taught about the Heralds.[32]

Resurrection[edit]

The Heralds are Cognitive Shadows capable of repeatedly returning back to life and have become so heavily Invested they are no longer human.[33][34] While alive, they do not age, allowing them to live for millennia.[22] Upon death, they are transported to Braize, where they are tortured until one of them breaks. When that happens, they are returned back to life on Roshar.[1] This process isn't well-understood, though one thing that is certain about it is that unlike the Fused, the Heralds do not hijack human bodies to resurrect.[35] Unlike similar resurrected entities, like the Nalthian Returned, the Heralds don't have to consume Investiture in order to remain alive.[36]

This ability to resurrect makes the Heralds essentially immortal. It was not until seven thousand years after the Oathpact that singers figured out they can be trapped in gemstones, much like spren can. The method involves stabbing them with a specially constructed raysium dagger.[23] The dagger would trap the Herald's soul into the gemstone at its hilt. The trapped Herald's bond to the Oathpact would be severed, causing the soul to disintegrate back to a normal soul, then go on to the Beyond, permanently killing the Herald.[37]

On the other hand, their nature as cognitive shadows ties the Heralds to Roshar -- while they can travel between Roshar and Braize, they cannot leave the greater Rosharan system.[38]

Surgebinding[edit]

Each Herald wields an Honorblade, a sword similar in function to a Shardblade, albeit far more powerful.[11] Honorblades can be bonded like regular Shardblades, and are similarly sharp, but unlike Shardblades, they allow their wielders to utilize two Surges each. As such, while wielding their Blades, each of the Heralds is a Surgebinder.[39] While they each have an Honorblade assigned to them, in the past, they would occasionally swap their Honorblades between each other, allowing them to use the Surges of others.[40]

Spren would later copy the Heralds' Surgebinding, thus creating the Knights Radiant, with each order matching the powers of one of the Heralds.[12] The Radiants have some powers that the Heralds lack -- for example, the Heralds did not have squires.[41] However, unlike the Knights, the Heralds were powered directly by Honor, and had access to raw levels of Investiture that no Radiant could possibly match.[42][43] Additionally, they didn't need to draw Stormlight from gems, which implies they could get it directly from their bond with Honor.[44] This ability appears to be inherent to the Heralds and not tied to their Honorblades as it is not replicable by other users. How this manifests after Honor's death and Splintering is unknown.

Other[edit]

Apart from the Surges, Heralds get a number of other advantages, although what precisely they are is uncertain.[45][46] It's possible that those include superhuman speed and reflexes.[47] However, they are also said to have no innate powers, suggesting that whatever they can do is the result of either their connection to Honor or their own experience.[48] Although not all the Heralds were originally soldiers, they have mastered their fighting skills throughout the ages, and are now capable of fighting multiple Shardbearers with ease. Moreover, each Herald had their own field of expertise, such as leadership, medicine or smithing, and the knowledge of how to teach those skills to others.[13] Heralds are able to procreate, though not necessarily in the traditional way.[49]

Heralds are able to share pain with each other through their bond, but it is unknown if they can do this outside of Braize.[1] They are also able to sense when another Herald has permanently died, which can cause them enough shock to render them temporally unconscious.[23]

Some Heralds are more cosmere-aware than others.[50] A few of them are aware of AonDor, but only on a conceptual level.[51]

Heralds of the Almighty[edit]

Jezrien[edit]

Known as the Herald of Kings in the East, Kadasix of Kings in Azir and the Prime Kadasix in Emul.[52][53] At some point prior to becoming a Herald, he ruled as a king.[11] He is associated with the number Jes (1), the essence Zephyr, and the attributes Protecting and Leading. He is patron of the Order of Windrunners.

Surges: Adhesion, Gravitation
Other names: Jezerezeh'Elin (Vorinism), Yaysi (Iri and Rira)[54], Yaezir (Azir)[52]
Status: deceased; killed by Vyre on Odium's command.

Nale[edit]

The Herald of Justice.[47] He is associated with the number Nan (2), the essence Vapor, and the attributes Just and Confident. He is patron of the Order of Skybreakers. Unlike the other Heralds who abandoned the Oathpact, he eventually recovered his Honorblade.[18] While he was the last to accept his own Order, he was also the only Herald to join it.[15][55]

Surges: Gravitation, Division
Other names: Nalan'Elin (Vorinism), Nin-son-God (Shinovar), Nakku the Judge (Makabak)[30]
Status: alive; fighting for singers on the Emul frontline.[56]

Chanarach[edit]

Associated with the number Chach (3), the essence Spark, and the attributes Brave and Obedient. She is patron of the Order of Dustbringers.

Surges: Division, Abrasion
Other names: Chanaranach'Elin (Vorinism), Chana (nickname)
Status: alive; current location unknown[57]

Vedel[edit]

Associated with the number Vev (4), the essence Lucentia (Light), and the attributes Loving and Healing. She is patron of the Order of Edgedancers.

Surges: Abrasion, Progression
Other names: Vedeledev'Elin (Vorinism)
Status: alive, current location unknown.

Pailiah[edit]

Associated with the number Palah (5), the essence pulp, and the attributes Learned and Giving. She is patron of the Order of Truthwatchers.

Surges: Progression, Illumination
Other names: Pali (nickname)
Status: alive; last seen in Kharbranth, in the Palanaeum.[58][59]

Shalash[edit]

Known as the Herald of Beauty or Lady of Dreams.[60][53] Daughter of Jezrien. She is associated with the number Shash (6), the essence Blood, and the attributes Creativity and Honesty. She is patron of the Order of Lightweavers. For the past several centuries, she has been tracking down and destroying any depictions of herself she could find.[22]

Surges: Illumination, Transformation
Other names: Epan (Emul), Ash (nickname), Shush-daughter-God (Shinovar)
Status: alive; in Emul with Talenel, held by Jasnah Kholin.[61]

Battar[edit]

Associated with the number Betab (7), the essence Tallow, and the attributes Wisdom and Care. She is patron of the Order of Elsecallers.

Surges: Transformation, Transportation
Other names: Battah'Elin (Vorinism)
Status: alive; likely in Kharbranth.

Kalak[edit]

Associated with the number Kak (8), the essence Foil, and the attributes Resolute and Builder. He is patron of the Order of Willshapers.

Surges: Transportation, Cohesion
Other names: Kelek'Elin (Vorinism), Kellai (Iri and Rira)[62], Restares[63]
Status: alive; in Lasting Integrity.

Talenel[edit]

Often called the Herald of War,[29] and sometimes also known as the Herald of Soldiers and the Bearer of Agonies.[64][1] Associated with the number Tanat (9), the essence Talus, and the attributes Dependable and Resourceful. He is patron of the Order of Stonewards. Unlike the others, he wasn't a king, general or famous scholar prior to becoming a Herald. He's also the only Herald not to abandon the Oathpact at the Aharietiam, as he was dead at the time; as a result, he'd spent the past four and a half thousand years being tortured in Braize.[1]

Surges: Cohesion, Tension
Other names: Talenelat'Elin (Vorinism), Taln (nickname)
Status: alive; in Emul with Shalash, held by Jasnah Kholin.[61]

Ishar[edit]

Known as the Herald of Luck, and, earlier, the Binder of Gods.[25] Associated with the number Ishi (10), the essence Sinew, and the attributes Pious and Guiding. He is patron of the Order of Bondsmiths.

Surges: Tension, Adhesion
Other names: Ishi'Elin (Vorinism), Ishu-son-God (Shinovar)
Status: alive; currently ruling Tukar as God-Priest.

Official depictions[edit]

Unlike most other characters, the Heralds have official depictions of them in the Stormlight Archive. Those are said to be in-universe artwork, and as such, they're not entirely accurate.[65] Four of them can be found at the beginning and end of Oathbringer, while four more are present in Rhythm of War.

Trivia[edit]

  • In The Way of Kings Prime, the Heralds reincarnated by taking the body of a Rosharan, similar to the Fused, but this is no longer how they return.[35]
  • Also in The Way of Kings Prime, the Heralds were capable of sensing the location of the Honorblades, although that ability appears to have been dropped when the story changed into its current form.[66]
  • The portraits of the Heralds used in chapter arches each have their own title in Dragonsteel Entertainment's files:[67]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b c d e f g h i Oathbringer chapter 38 #
  2. Words of Radiance interlude I-9 #
  3. The Way of Kings chapter 6 #
  4. The Way of Kings chapter 18 #
  5. The Way of Kings chapter 55 #
  6. a b The Way of Kings epilogue #
  7. Words of Radiance prologue #
  8. Skyward Denver signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-15#
  9. Oathbringer chapter 111 #
  10. The Way of Kings chapter 5 #
  11. a b c d Prelude to the Stormlight Archive #
  12. a b Words of Radiance chapter 87 #
  13. a b Oathbringer chapter 47 #
  14. Words of Radiance chapter 42 epigraph#
  15. a b Words of Radiance chapter 43 epigraph#
  16. Oathbringer chapter 42 #
  17. a b Oathbringer chapter 119 #
  18. a b Oathbringer chapter 106 #
  19. Oathbringer chapter 115 #
  20. The Way of Kings prologue #
  21. Oathbringer chapter 88 #
  22. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 117 #
  23. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 121 #
  24. a b Oathbringer chapter 24 #
  25. a b Oathbringer chapter 64 #
  26. Edgedancer chapter 9 #
  27. General Reddit 2020
    Arcanum - 2020-03-05#
  28. The Way of Kings chapter 54 epigraph#
  29. a b Words of Radiance interlude I-7 #
  30. a b Edgedancer chapter 19 #
  31. Oathbringer interlude I-8 #
  32. Words of Radiance chapter 63 #
  33. /r/fantasy AMA 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-08-31#
  34. Oathbringer Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-21#
  35. a b Skyward Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-16#
  36. Read For Pixels 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-09-01#
  37. Rhythm of War chapter 92 epigraph#
  38. Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  39. Oathbringer chapter 16 #
  40. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-07-16#
  41. General Reddit 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-10-04#
  42. Boskone 54
    Arcanum - 2017-02-17#
  43. BookCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-06-01#
  44. Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-03#
  45. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-08-04#
  46. Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
  47. a b Words of Radiance chapter 88 #
  48. Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014
    Arcanum - 2014-09-04#
  49. YouTube Livestream 23
    Arcanum - 2020-12-17#
  50. Skyward Anchorage signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-12#
  51. Skyward Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-16#
  52. a b Words of Radiance interlude I-9 #
  53. a b The Way of Kings interlude I-7 #
  54. Oathbringer chapter 26 #
  55. Oathbringer Houston signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-18#
  56. Rhythm of War chapter 47 #
  57. Miscellaneous 2017
    Arcanum - 2017-06-01#
  58. The Way of Kings chapter 33 #
  59. General Signed Books 2017
    Arcanum - 2017-04-10#
  60. Words of Radiance chapter 30 #
  61. a b Rhythm of War chapter 50 #
  62. Oathbringer chapter 36 #
  63. Rhythm of War chapter 78 #
  64. Oathbringer chapter 59 #
  65. FanX 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-09-08#
  66. Skyward San Diego signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-07#
  67. Miscellaneous 2020
    Arcanum - 2020-08-04#
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