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Szeth

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Szeth-son-son-Vallano
Szeth.jpg
by Ben McSweeney
Family
Ancestors Vallano
Parents Neturo
Born 1138
Abilities Windrunner (formerly), Shardbearer (formerly), Skybreaker
Birthplace Valley of Truth
Nationality Shin
World Roshar
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
This page or section contains spoilers for Edgedancer!
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.
I am Truthless. I do as my master requires and I require no explanation.
— Szeth, regarding his oath.[1]

Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, is a Shin from Roshar. He is the son of Neturo, who was son of Vallano.[2]

Appearance and Personality[edit]

This man was not sane. Szeth-son-son-Vallano was the most dangerous weapon on all of Roshar, and he was broken.
Taravangian's assessment of Szeth near Veden[1]

He is short, bald, and has large, round eyes like most Shin, which normally are dark green, but change to pale sapphire when he summons his Shardblade.[3]

Szeth has been named Truthless, he was given an Honorblade and was cast out from the Valley of Truth, forced to bear the blade and the sins of all those he served. Szeth is bound unwavering to honor, he is loyal to the extent that he will do anything asked by his master including self mutilation. He is forbidden to take his own life or to give up his Blade. Szeth, while accomplished at assassination, is not a willing killer, always facing inner turmoil when taking a life. He hears the screams of his victims when he closes his eyes and loathes himself so that he descends into madness.

Szeth is master of the three lashings, Stormlight, and the Shardblade he wields. Szeth is proficient at the martial art of Kammar as well. Furthermore, he shows cunning, intelligence, resourcefulness and determination. When ordered, Szeth is an unstoppable killing machine.

Szeth loathes himself after his many killings and blasphemies. He is forbidden to take his own life, but he would welcome death.

History[edit]

Early Life[edit]

Szeth is bound to his Oathstone. Whoever owned his Oathstone, owned Szeth. Szeth is obliged by his honor to do as the owner commanded with the exception of killing himself or giving up his Shardblade.[3]

He was named Truthless at approximately 27 years of age and was traded to the Thaylen merchant Vstim shortly afterwards.[4]

Just after being exiled from Shinovar Szeth visited Urithiru for the first time.[5]

Assassin in White[edit]

At some later point Szeth came into Parshendi possession by as of yet unknown means. When he was 29 years of age, he was given orders to murder King Gavilar Kholin of Alethkar during the Alethi-Parshendi treaty-signing celebrations, in public, and be seen doing it with live witnesses. As he attacked he was fooled into believing Gavilar was a bodyguard. Szeth was forced into chasing after the escaping target, instead of fighting a protracted battle. However soon after, he realized the target was simply a decoy, since Gavilar would be much safer in his own Shardplate, fighting with his Shardblade, instead of fleeing for his life. Doubling back, Szeth abandoned chase and returned to kill Gavilar. A fierce battle between Gavilar and Szeth commenced. Gavilar almost succeeded in killing Szeth with a Shardplate enhanced punch, but ultimately failed and fell to his death upon a piece of wooden debris which impaled him in a spot where the Shardplate had been broken. Before dying, Gavilar had two last requests: to tell his brother to "find the most important words a man could say," and to protect a mysterious black sphere that shone dark light. Szeth honored both requests, scrawling a message to Dalinar into the wood with Gavilar's own hand and blood.[6] Eventually he also hid away the black orb somewhere in Jah Keved.[3]

He wore traditional white Parshendi assassin attire on the night he killed Gavilar, which led to him being known as the Assassin in White. Parshendi customs bade assassins to wear white, for if someone were to be assassinated, they were owed a fair warning.[6]

Vengeance Pact[edit]

Following Gavilar's death, the Parshendi threw away Szeth's Oathstone as they fled Kholinar. As the Alethi believed that Szeth had fled with the Parshendi they did not attempt to track him down and instead began the Vengeance Pact, waging war on the Parshendi. Meanwhile Szeth was eventually picked up by Avado. The travelling merchant took him to Jah Keved in fear of possible Alethi retributions against strange foreigners in the wake of their king's death. Over the course of more than 5 years, the Oathstone changed possession many times before landing in the hands of Took, a transient worker. Took was robbed and killed after a night of drinking in Ironsway, a town in the Bavland, and Szeth's Oathstone went to Makkek.[3] With Szeth under his control, Makkek set out to gain wealth, first by killing his fellow robbers, and then establishing a gambling den in Bornwater.[2]

On one of Makkek's missions, this time to eliminate a rival who had opened his own gambling place, Szeth infiltrated the local lord's mansion where his target Gavashaw resided. There he met a mysterious stranger who knew of Szeth and his role in Gavilar's death, revealing in detail of Szeth's powers, and also of a new master they both now served, revealing his Oathstone taken from Makkek. Gavashaw and Makkek had both been killed.

Taravangian's Assassin[edit]

The stranger gave Szeth a list of high ranking targets, all of whom were to be eliminated with the same skill displayed over five years ago in Kholinar. Szeth set out to do his work. His second last goal was King Hanavanar of Jah Keved whom he killed along with his two Shardbearer guards.[7]

King Taravangian, the last one on Szeth's hit list, turned out to be his secret employer. Widely known as the dim witted, elderly, yet kind king of Kharbranth, Taravangian actually ran a secret hospital hidden in the king's palace. It was built in a large room with wide railings on the sides. Its purpose was to slowly kill the incredibly sick, elderly, or just undesired remnants of society by slowly draining the blood out of them, thereby protracting their death out of public eyesight. Taravangian did this because some of the dying spoke during the last moments of their life, which he thought might provide valuable insight about the coming Desolation. So in order to prepare for it, he began collecting their Death Rattles.[8]

During a Highstorm, Szeth attacked King Elhokar's palace on the Shattered Plains. He entered the palace through a hole he cut in a high stone wall. He killed Beld and cut through Hobber's midriff, crippling the use of his legs. He proceeded to fight against Adolin, Kaladin, and Dalinar who all believed he was there to assassinate Elhokar. He quickly gained the upper hand, lashing Adolin to the ceiling and cutting through Kaladin's arm. When he was about to kill Dalinar, Dalinar caught his Shardblade between his hands, a maneuver known as the Last Clap, allowing Kaladin to push both himself and Szeth through the hole in the wall that Szeth had made to enter the palace. The two of them fell to the ground, both surviving. Szeth panicked when he saw Kaladin healing his arm, and when Kaladin told him he was a Windrunner, Szeth fled.

Contemplation[edit]

After his confrontation with Kaladin, Szeth retreated to the top of Urithiru where he wondered if he was wrong the entire time. He stared into the distance and trying not to blink, as he heard the screams of his victims every time he closed his eyes. Szeth shouted at the sun demanding to know why must he bear the sins if he was not Truthless. He decided to go looking for answers, or someone to kill.

Meeting with Taravangian[edit]

Szeth found Taravangian and demanded to know if the Radiants were returning. He held himself barely in check, and his self control was almost gone. Taravangian quickly deflected and told Szeth that an honorblade that allows regrowth was used and that the man Szeth fought was no Radiant. Szeth was appeased and vowed to kill Kaladin and retrieve the honorblade. Taravangian forbade him and ordered Szeth to kill Dalinar Kholin while staying away from the man.

Battle of Narak[edit]

Szeth attacked Dalinar during the climax of the Battle of Narak. Dalinar was able to temporarily hold his own before being lashed to the sky, to eventually fall to his death after the stormlight sustaining the lashing ran out. Szeth believed his mission was completed and attempted to casually leave, when he was confronted by Adolin. Kaladin, who recently regained his powers and stated the third ideal of the Windrunners, caught Dalinar and returned him safely to the ground. Kaladin and Szeth then battled above the colliding Highstorm and Everstorm. During the battle Szeth came to the realization that Kaladin was truly a Radiant, thus he was never Truthless. He then attacked Kaladin once again, but intentionally failed to defend against counterattack, and Kaladin stabbed him through the chest with Syl. As Szeth's corpse fell into the storm, Kaladin recovered the dropped Honorblade.[9]

Ressurection[edit]

Moments after his death, Szeth was revived by Nale. Though he was initially outraged at being returned to life, Nale promised to give him a new purpose. He then presented Szeth with Nightblood.[9]

Time in Yeddaw[edit]

Szeth traveled to Yeddaw with Nale to find a potential radiant who lived there.[10] During his time in the city, Lift passed him in the city's Grand Indicium. He confronted her and drew Nightblood to test her. He left her when Nightblood's power was unable to harm her.[11] Later he found her chasing after him and the other Skybreakers, he stopped to inform her that she could not possibly get there before they did, and also told her the identity of the person they were seeking.[12] When Szeth was viewed by Lift he trailed a strange glowing afterimage.

Attributes and Abilities[edit]

Surgebinding[edit]

Szeth was bonded to an Honorblade which granted him the Surgebinder powers of a Windrunner. He was not bound to an honorspren like the other known Windrunner, Kaladin.[13] Szeth possessed relatively expert knowledge of the Windrunner order of the Knights Radiant, knowing the name of the order as well as the name for the powers they possessed: the three Lashings.

Shardblade[edit]

Szeth possessed an Honorblade that was long and thin, edged on both sides. It was smaller than most others. Being bonded to this blade granted Szeth the abilities of a Windrunner. Hence why Szeth had no bond to a spren. After losing his Honorblade, Szeth was presented with Nightblood.[14]

Continuity Change[edit]

Szeth's death was subject to a continuity change. In the original hardcover edition of Words of Radiance Szeth was killed by Kaladin driving Syl as a Shardblade into his chest, severing his spine. Brandon felt this was out of character for Kaladin, and changed the text with the release of the paperback edition of the book. Szeth's death now occurred when he unbonded his Blade and fell through the Highstorm.[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b Words of Radiance interlude I-14
  2. a b The Way of Kings interlude I-6
  3. a b c d The Way of Kings interlude I-3
  4. The Way of Kings interlude I-4
  5. Words of Radiance interlude I-10
  6. a b The Way of Kings prologue
  7. The Way of Kings interlude I-9
  8. The Way of Kings chapter 71
  9. a b Words of Radiance chapter 86
  10. Edgedancer chapter 9
  11. Edgedancer chapter 15
  12. Edgedancer chapter 16
  13. Is Szeth bound to a spren?
    Theoryland - 2013-02-16
  14. Words of Radiance chapter 88
  15. Three Stories in New Formats
    Brandon's website - 2015-04-05
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