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Appearance Gray-toned
Magic Awakening
World Nalthis
Universe Cosmere
Featured In Warbreaker

Awaken to my Breath, serve my needs, live at my Command and at my word. <Security phrase>.

—The Command by which Lifeless can be created with a single BioChromatic Breath.[1]

Lifeless are a type of magical entity originating on the shardworld Nalthis, created by Awakening. They are classified as Type Two Biochromatic Entities: Mindless Manifestations in a Deceased Host.[2]

When an Awakener infuses a skeleton or a corpse (preferably human) with a Breath, it becomes animate without becoming fully alive. This creature is then able to follow specific commands much like any other Awakened creation.

However, Lifeless differ from other Awakened objects in several ways. Firstly, the Breath used to animate them cannot be reclaimed by the Awakener. Secondly, they are much more flexible and intelligent in obeying orders; this is ascribed to the fact that they have a brain and are therefore less reliant on the cognitive impulse from the Awakener to determine their actions. Thirdly, they can be given further commands, or have their previous commands rescinded, without an infusion of more Breath.


The soul of a Lifeless is so diminished that, while it is possible to make a Hemalurgic spike from one, you could only get the barest hint of a charge, producing a very weak spike.[3] Nonetheless, Lifeless retain a certain amount of self-awareness after their Awakening, although the implications of this are as yet unexplored.[4] The Lifeless known as Clod seems to help Vivenna beyond his commands on multiple occasions.[5]


A Lifeless will remain animate and useful for several years as long as the body remains in good condition. This period of usefulness may be extended by injecting ichor-alcohol into the blood vessels of the Lifeless.[2] Physical damage to a Lifeless may be repaired to an extent; lacerations may be sewn shut, damaged muscles replaced.[6] Yet in time the accumulated modifications lessen its resemblance to a living thing, making it more difficult for Breath to keep it functioning as intended.[7]

Lifeless are useful soldiers due to the fact that they do not feel pain and require very little maintenance and no food. Furthermore, the Lifeless retains a measure of the skill that it possessed when alive.[6] This makes it exceedingly economical to reuse the dead soldiers in one's army as Lifeless, as doing so saves money on training costs as well as upkeep.

Interactions with other Magic Systems[edit]

Corpses that have been Soulcast into stone could be Awakened, however, this will not reanimate the person who died. The existing Spiritual Connection of the deceased person, and the shape of the Soulcast stone, however, will make the stone easier to Awaken.[8] Unlike Kalad's Phantoms, corpses Soulcast into stone do not need bones imbedded in the rock to be Awakened.[9]


  • Around the time he wrote Warbreaker, Brandon has hoping to include a Lifeless viewpoint character in the Warbreaker sequel;[4] it is unknown whether or not this is still the case.
  • An Awakener who is turned into a Lifeless using their own Breath, could theoretically reclaim Breath from objects they had Awakened while alive.[10]


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