|Born||ca. ? 1120|
|Abilities||Bondsmith, Old Magic, Shardbearer (formerly)|
|Titles||Highprince of Alethkar (formerly), Highprince of War|
|Groups||Knights Radiant (Bondsmiths), Kholin army|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”I see beauty in you, Dalinar Kholin. I see a great man struggling against a terrible one.
Dalinar Kholin (Alethi pronunciation: [ˈdæ·lɪn·ar koˈlɪn] DA-lin-ar ko-LIN) is an Alethi highprince of Alethkar. He is known as the Blackthorn for his military prowess and is the Highprince of War. He is the younger brother of the late King Gavilar, uncle of King Elhokar Kholin and Jasnah Kholin, and currently married to Brightness Navani Kholin, Gavilar's widow. He has two sons, Adolin Kholin and Renarin Kholin. He is a member of the Order of Bondsmiths and is the de facto leader of the reformed Knights Radiant.
- 1 Appearance and Personality
- 2 History
- 2.1 Early Life and the War to Unify Alethkar (1120 – 1166)
- 2.2 War of Reckoning (1167 – 1173)
- 2.3 Refounding of the Knights Radiant (1173 - )
- 3 Attributes and Abilities
- 4 Relationships
- 5 Quotes
- 6 Trivia
- 7 See Also
- 8 Notes
Appearance and Personality
Dalinar is an aging, but powerfully-built man in his fifties, with a warrior's face. He has black hair that is gray in the temples, and blue eyes. He is often described as the opposite of handsome, with numerous bruises and an "unfortunate" face. His nose has been broken at some point during his youth, and it's been crooked ever since. He has numerous old scars on his chest and arms, a remnant of hundreds of battles fought, to the extent where doctors are worried about his ability to use his sword arm. When he owns Shardplate, he chooses to wear it as an unpainted slate grey color, without any unnecessary decoration or adornment.
”I'm a man of extremes, Navani. I discovered that when I was a youth. I’ve learned, repeatedly, that the only way to control those extremes is to dedicate my life to something.— Dalinar 
In his youth, Dalinar was heavily addicted to the Thrill, to the point of turning to other drugs, like firemoss, when it wasn't possible. Back then, he cared for little more than killing, often ignoring strategy and tactics in favor of rushing into battle. While initially, he sought equal combat, over time the Thrill corrupted that desire, to the point where eventually Dalinar relished in the murder of common soldiers, and found fighting other Shardbearers to be a chore. Over time, Dalinar managed to temper that hot-headedness to become a keen strategist and logistician, although he retains his desire to be at the forefront of a fight to this day. At the time, he also had an overblown sense of personal pride, willing to pushing thousands of people for a small subset of them ambushing him.
The death of his wife, Evi, changed everything. Dalinar began to drink heavily, often ignoring his family or acting with outright hostility towards them, and doing only the most perfunctory of social functions. Though he was somewhat aware of how horridly he acted, it seemed he was unable to temper himself, even after making a conscious effort. It wasn't until the death of his brother and a visit to the Nightwatcher, where his memories of Evi and the events at the Rift were pruned by Cultivation, that he managed to get past this.
”I have spent too much of my time worrying about what people think, Navani. When I thought my time had arrived, I realized that all my worrying had been wasted. In the end, I was pleased with how I had lived my life.— Dalinar 
In the present day, Dalinar Kholin is a man defined by duty, striving to act in a honorable and righteous manner. He is, however, keenly aware of his own failings in this regard, and his tendency towards the extreme. He seeks out causes that he can believe in and which he can dedicate himself to, such as the Alethi Codes of War or The Way of Kings. He considers the latter in particular to be a particularly important part of his current self, as it was the book that began to heal him following his brother's death, and it's this book he constantly refers to for advice.
Dalinar considers himself wholly a soldier and general with no talent for back-room politicking. He is unflinchingly honest and straightforward, preferring to speak plainly rather than engage in any delicate diplomatic dance. He has a bad habit of trusting people, such as Sadeas and Amaram, based on prior association, to the point of ignoring even the most obvious alarm signs.
Dalinar cares little for social propriety, considering the opinions of others to be wholly irrelevant to himself so long as they don't actually impede his actions. He doesn't, however, deal well with not being in control; he finds the idea of events important to him being impossible for him to influence distressing, and has a bad habit of going over regular chain of command to claim power for himself.
He can be somewhat egalitarian in his assessment of others, in particular soldiers, and will often promote men based not on eye color or social status, but rather on the ability they display. This extends beyond the Vorin ranks system, as Dalinar is willing to give a chance to people he doesn't normally associate with fighting, like Parshmen or women, if he considers their skills valuable or if they are recommended to him by someone trustworthy. This doesn't mean he's entirely free of bias, however, and when the worlds of the court and the military collide, he can often end up referring back to the established social order, possibly without fully realizing it.
Early Life and the War to Unify Alethkar (1120 – 1166)
Dalinar was born in about 1120, second son to the Kholin princedom in Alethkar. In his youth, Dalinar deeply respected his elder brother Gavilar, and although envious of him at times, he follows his brother into a war to unite Alethkar under the Kholin banner.
In his youth, Dalinar had feelings for Navani, but he realized that Gavilar was also interested in her. For Gavilar's sake, he steps aside. Later, Navani admitted to having an interest in Dalinar during this time, but since Gavilar was the one who chased her, she chose to accept his proposal.
Dalinar, Gavilar and their friend, Torol Sadeas, sought to unite the scattered Alethi princedoms and have a true kingdom once more. Each highprince historically ruled over their lands individually, and conflicts between the princedoms were common. This strife between the warring highprinces had lasted for centuries. Gavilar's vision was to put an end to that.
The Kholins started by conquering their neighbors by force. From the beginning, Dalinar was an unstoppable terror on the battlefield. In some part due to his close connection with the Thrill and Dalinar's own callous bloodlust, he quickly created a reputation for being able to win any engagement. Dalinar by himself could clear a battlefield of opponents, losing himself in the ease of killing.
In the early days of the unification war, Dalinar hand-picked his own elite force of soldiers, sometimes even selecting enemy combatants and winning them over. One notable encounter of this was when fighting Brightlord Yezriar, an enemy soldier shot Dalinar with massive black arrows. The wounds were very serious, but Dalinar was so impressed at the distance the archer shot from that he chased him down. This archer was Teleb, and Dalinar recruited him on the spot. Those black arrows with which Teleb shot Dalinar mark the incident that gave Dalinar his famous moniker of The Blackthorn.
”We looked at this place here, this kingdom, and we realized, 'Hey, all these people have stuff .' And we figured ... hey, maybe we should have that stuff. So we took it.—Dalinar's view of the war
Over the next year, Dalinar won his own Shards. His Plate he won in combat that involved kicking a man off of a cliff. The Plate was still new to him when the war took them to Rathalas, otherwise known as the Rift, where Brightlord Tanalan rules. Dalinar knew that Tanalan had a Shardblade, and in the ensuing battle, he went straight to Tanalan to kill him and win the Blade. He defeated Tanalan but Tanalan's body was taken away by his men before the Shard appears. Dalinar tracked down the place where Tanalan was taken and found Tanalan's widow, and Tanalan's young son holding the Shardblade. Dalinar takes the Blade but can't find it within himself to kill Tanalan's family. After the battle, Gavilar tells Dalinar that the Blade he won is Oathbringer, the sword that belonged to the legendary Alethi conqueror, Sadees the Sunmaker.
A year later, the war had started to slow down and the Kholins were looking for allies. They turned to Rira and Iri. They negotiated with Toh and Evi, a Westerner Brightlord and his sister. During one of their initial meetings, Dalinar impressed them by walking about in a highstorm and stopping an assassin from killing Gavilar in a notably casual manner.
Two years after that, the war was still on going. Dalinar and Evi were betrothed, not yet married. Dalinar led the attack against Highprince Kalanor, intent on winning the Shards that Kalanor held. While in the battle, Dalinar gets so caught up in the Thrill that he didn't realize he killed Kholin men during the assault. Dalinar killed Kalanor in single combat, winning his Shards, but the Thrill was so strong in him that when Gavilar approached him afterwards, Dalinar went after his own brother with the intent to kill him. Only when Gavilar took off his helm and smiled at him did Dalinar snap out of it. Deeply ashamed of himself, Dalinar gifted Gavilar the Shards he had just won. He swears to himself that he must never be king.
After five more years, the war had officially ended but the fighting hadn't. Evi was pregnant with their first child, but their relationship was strained by Dalinar's willingness to kill and Evi's horror at it. Gavilar received a demand from Rathalas, telling Dalinar to return the Blade to their heir. Though Gavilar was upset that Dalinar didn't deal with the Tanalan heir, Evi was happy to find out that Dalinar had spared the Tanalan boy so many years ago. Dalinar was happy both to have pleased Evi and also at the news of a Rift rebellion, for if they were going to rebel, he would have the opportunity to fight.
But a year later, Dalinar was still safe at home in Kholinar. His restlessness turned to using firemoss and permanently maiming people in tavern fights. At a wrestling match, Dalinar was summoned away with the news that Evi was in labor. He ran to see her, and found her afterwards, with his son already born. Dalinar was so overjoyed when he saw his son the first time that he was overtaken with gloryspren. He named him Adolin, "born unto light", and spoke a hope for him that he would have his father's strength, but also his mother's compassion.
Gavilar was present at Adolin's birth, but brought Dalinar some bad news. He'd been unable to contain the situation at Rathalas. He'd decided not to send Dalinar to fight there, however, opting to send him instead to fight the Herdazians and Vedens on Alethkar's border as a gesture of Kholin strength. Dalinar fought on the border against the Herdazians for four years, ensuring the security of Alethkar's border and gaining leadership experience and capability to match his personal prowess in combat, becoming known as his brother's best general. Unfortunately, for all that time, the princedom of Rathalas still refused to submit. Evi brought Adolin and their second son, Renarin, to the battlefront. It was the first time Dalinar met Renarin, and he wasn't pleased to learn the meaning of Renarin's chosen name: "Like one who was born unto himself." Evi reminded Dalinar that he didn't answer many of her spanreed messages and he could have had input into Renarin's name if he'd wanted to. It bothered Dalinar that even so long after battle, even while interacting with his family, that the Thrill takes so long to fade.
Dalinar spent more years fighting the Vedens. As Adolin grew into his adolescence, Dalinar was pleased to have his oldest accompany him on the years-long campaign and became a somewhat wiser and kinder man, attempting to be better now that he wished to be a role model for his son. Dalinar was coaching Adolin on battlefield strategy when Evi arrived with a letter from Gavilar. Dalinar guessed the contents before Evi could even finish the letter: Gavilar was sending him to the Rift. The Rathalas rebels were more entrenched than ever, and Gavilar was out of options. Dalinar, pleased to hear the news, suggested that they might never settle in Kholinar again. Evi was distraught to hear it, and cried at the thought that she might never again have a life free from war and death. Both upset at each other, Dalinar promised Evi at least a year in Kholinar after he put down the rebellion at the Rift.
After some soul-searching and wishing to spare his wife pain, Dalinar approached the Rift's leaders in person, and Dalinar spoke with Tanalan the younger, the boy he spared who had grown up into the Brightlord of the Rift. Though initially hostile, Tanalan listened to Dalinar's plain-spoken assessment that the rebels would lose, and even considered Dalinar's offer of a personal duel between themselves. Tanalan informed Dalinar that Sadeas was working against him, and Dalinar promised him the rank of Highprince in return as the two concocted a cover story that would allow both sides to save face and call it a political victory. Dalinar left him with Tanalan's directions to where Sadeas' men were hiding, pleased that he was able to find a peaceful solution, knowing that it would make Evi happy.
Dalinar and his men approached the cavern where the Sadeas men were working, but realized that it made no sense for traitors to be wearing their own colors. He recognized that it was a trap just as it sprung. Tanalan had lied to him. The Rathalas rebels triggered a landslide that killed the Kholin men accompanying him, but though seriously wounded, Dalinar survived.
Despite his injuries, Dalinar's rage drove him forward in revenge against Tanalan's betrayal, the Thrill burning in him like never before. He slaughtered the rebels who ambushed him, unconscious of how savagely he killed them. Half dead, he dragged himself back to the Kholin camp in such a state of rage that his appearance provoked fearspren from Evi when she first saw him again. Though she maintained that they should take a few days to find a peaceful solution, Sadeas said what Dalinar felt: the Rift needs to pay. Dalinar had the soulcasters put to use making oil and sent Evi away. He promised to destroy Rathalas so thoroughly that nobody will rebuild there for ten generations, to make it a pyre, that nobody will cry over the city because everyone in it will be dead.
The Thrill didn't let Dalinar sleep until the assault on the city of Rathalas. A group of messengers from the city came out with a flag of truce, but Dalinar ordered them shot dead before they can approach the camp. Dalinar ordered the attack to take place at night. With the oil that he had ordered soulcasted, Dalinar, Sadeas, and their combined forces began to burn Rathalas. Only when much of the Rift is up in flames did Dalinar order his forces in. All the while Dalinar made a genuine attempt to hold the Thrill at bay, knowing that enjoying this act of revenge would take away the last sliver of decency he had left.
After making his way through the city, Dalinar finally came face to face with Tanalan. Tanalan begged for his family's lives, but Dalinar's response was, "I am an animal." He explained that like an animal, he'd been pushed to being feral, and once an animal goes feral, there's no coming back. He refused to spare Tanalan's family. As Tanalan wept at the destruction of the palace and the city, knowing his family just died, Dalinar wondered at how the Thrill still wasn't satisfied with the destruction.
His anger re-kindled at Tanalan, Dalinar said at least he didn't hide away in the secret hiding spot the Tanalan family used before, because they burned it. Tanalan started laughing hysterically at this, and told Dalinar that Evi had been in there. He explained how Evi had snuck into the city to beg Tanalan to surrender, so that they might be spared. Tanalan and captured Evi to use her as a hostage, and sent messengers to notify Dalinar of this--the same messengers Dalinar had ordered killed without even meeting them. Evi had died there. At this, Dalinar strangled Tanalan to death, but Tanalan died smiling. Looking at the raging inferno that is Rathalas, Dalinar's words about a feral animal being impossible to control came back to him. It was impossible to go into the city, and his own men have to pull him away.
Six hours later, they recovered Evi's body where Tanalan said it would be. Though it looked like Evi had gone to defect, Dalinar made sure nobody called her a traitor. To himself, Dalinar refused to admit he was responsible for this. He told his people at the warcamp that Evi died a hero, and he had burned the Rift in retribution.
Years later, Dalinar's reaction to his memories of what happened at the Rift was to drink. Immediately after and even years later, Dalinar can hear the screams of Evi and the people of Rathalas, burning. Dalinar's dependence on alcohol was very serious, to the point that his family sometimes hid his alcohol from him, and he was reduced to asking it from strangers.
Gavilar's Change and the Discovery of the Parshendi
In the years after the reunification of Alethkar, Gavilar began to lose his thirst for battle. He had started reading a book called The Way of Kings, trying to convince Dalinar and his other Highprinces to be peaceful and to follow the Alethi Codes of War. Like the other Highprinces, Dalinar resisted his brother's ideas, finding them unpalatable and strange – even un-Alethi. To try and change Gavilar's mind, Dalinar convinced him to go an expedition, a hunt for a chasmfiend. He suggested this hoping to remind Gavilar of the good times in their youth, to reawaken his brother's fighting spirit.
In 1166, Dalinar and Gavilar set out on their expedition. In an unmapped forest south of the Shattered Plains, Dalinar met a Parshendi patrol. At first disbelieving what he thought were simple parshmen acting individually in a civilized society, Dalinar quickly accepted that the Parshendi were intelligent and organized, unlike their parshmen cousins. Dalinar brought Gavilar to meet them, and within days the Alethi and Parshendi could communicate well.
Meeting the Parshendi was ten years after the events of the Rift, and Dalinar was still an alcoholic. After returning to Kholinar, Dalinar realized he felt more himself on the expedition than in the decade leading up to it. His alcoholism led to fits of anger and emotional distance from his sons, Adolin and Renarin, who had grown up a lot in that time. Though he'd felt especially a lack of connection from Adolin, it's his second son who connected with him here. Renarin broke through with his unfailing love for Dalinar, and this was what made Dalinar realize he needed to stop hating his sons for making him miss Evi.
War of Reckoning (1167 – 1173)
Gavilar's Death and Dalinar's Transformation
A year later, in 1167, the Parshendi signed a formal treaty with Alethkar in the Alethi capital of Kholinar. Within hours of the treaty signing, the Parshendi sent Szeth, the Assassin in White, to assassinate Gavilar. When the Alethi king is assassinated in the middle of the feast, Dalinar was in a drunken stupor, completely unaware and unable to help. Even after this time, Dalinar was still struggling with his alcoholism, though he hadn't lost his temper with his sons since the time that Renarin reached out. Gavilar's last words were written beside his body, addressed to Dalinar, saying that he must find the most important words a man can say. Dalinar recognized the quote from The Way of Kings.
At Gavilar's funeral, Elhokar swore revenge against the Parshendi on behalf of all the Alethi. Dalinar was pleased that this could be something to unite the Alethi people in spirit, finally. While he told Adolin to go swear the Vengeance Pact on behalf of the Kholin house, he wandered off to drink. He was on his way when he heard the words from "The Way of Kings" in the hallways. When he followed the voice, he found his niece Jasnah reading the book. Though he was still desperate for a drink, he sat down and requested that she continue. She read the book to him, start to finish. When she finished, she and Dalinar embraced, and she left.
Adolin found Dalinar the moment after, to ask about the Kholin forces that they will send to the Shattered Plains. Dalinar decided then and there that he needed to be a better man. He told Adolin that he had been a poor father, but that he was so proud of his sons. Dalinar created a plan so that he could leave for the Shattered Plains separate from the other forces, and that a delay would not be considered unusual by anyone else.
On his separate way to the Shattered Plains, he visited the Nightwatcher. The Thrill is notably absent. As he approached, he again experienced visions of Rathalas burning, and its people screaming, more real than it had ever been since he lived that night. More visions came of killing the Parshendi, of killing Elhokar and taking the throne for himself, invading other lands and becoming emperor over all. He knew that this was his future.
Finally the Nightwatcher came to him and asked what the Son of Honor and the Son of Odium wanted from her. He asked her whether he could ever be forgiven. The Nightwatcher grew aggravated, as she couldn't grant this request, but another being approached. A matronly woman with brown skin and a brown dress, calling the Nightwatcher ‘child', commanded Dalinar to attend her instead.
Though at first, this woman seemed like she would reject him, telling him to seek out Honor instead, Dalinar insisted. She told him she would not change him, but she would prune him. The cost would be high. She warned him she would also take Evi. Dalinar agreed to her terms.
Afterwards, Dalinar found himself outside, unable to remember the specifics of his agreement. He couldn't fathom that he would ask for forgiveness, of all things, and found it silly in hindsight that he would come to the Nightwatcher. He assumed that he had asked for and been given the boon of peace. He resolved then and there to stop drinking, to stop moping. He decided at this moment to start following the Alethi Codes of War - he'd failed to follow the Codes and it had cost his brother his life. He asked for a copy of The Way of Kings to be brought to him along the way to the Shattered Plains.
The War Against the Parshendi
At first, Dalinar threw himself into the fighting against the Parshendi with abandon, his guilt driving him. But as his grief faded, so did his thirst for battle and war. Dalinar and the Kholin warcamp followed the Codes when no other Alethi highprince would. He studied the words of Nohadon, the author of The Way of Kings, convinced that he must now become an example to Alethkar and lead them towards peace and honor.
At the same time, Dalinar began having fits during every highstorm. During these fits, Dalinar lost awareness of his surroundings, experiencing visions of the past as though he were living them himself. The visions seemed to be from the Almighty, leading Dalinar to believe that God was telling him to unite the Alethi Highprinces. In most of these visions, the Knights Radiant were present. This loss of awareness was frightening by itself, but seeing the Radiants as heroes was disturbing to Dalinar and his family. The Kholins kept Dalinar separate from others during highstorms, not willing to let others see him during these fits.
Men began to speak of Dalinar the same way they'd spoken of Gavilar later in his life, namely that he was becoming weak and feeble despite Dalinar's history as a terrifying force on the battlefield as the Blackthorn. The rumors of his madness during the storms combined with his strange obsession with the teachings of The Way of Kings lost Dalinar a lot of respect and influence among his peers.
The War Changes
The battle against the Parshendi was the first time Dalinar lost the Thrill in his memory. This loss of the Thrill during battle caused Dalinar to question why he was fighting this war and whether alternative methods of settling the Alethi dispute with the Parshendi would yield better results. The Highprinces saw Dalinar's wish for a more peaceful resolution as a further sign of weakness, rather than wisdom, so he kept these questions to himself.
Dalinar was deeply frustrated by the war at the Shattered Plains, as the Highprinces' priorities have changed from seeking vengeance on the Parshendi to competing for gemhearts in order to gain wealth for themselves. Dalinar believed the war on the Parshendi had become nothing but a game to the Highprinces and strives to unite them. He wanted to be the Highprince of War to realise this. Despite his ambivalent feelings about staying at the Shattered Plains, Dalinar was devoted to Elhokar and the nation of Alethkar above all. Though Dalinar rarely went on hunts, in 1173 he decided to accompany Elhokar and Sadeas. Elhokar managed to tease Dalinar into a footrace, and for his nephew's sake, Dalinar let him win.
Adolin wondered at this, and Dalinar explained that it was important to lift up Elhokar and support him in even the small ways. Even the little victories would help Elhokar feel more like a king and raising his confidence and reputation would actually make him a better king. Adolin was impressed at this logic, but was quickly appalled when Dalinar then confided his wish for the Alethi to be back in Alethkar. Adolin was shocked and upset at this suggestion, even when Dalinar shared his concern about the state of affairs back in their home since they've been away at war for so long. Adolin was already worried about his father's sanity, but when Dalinar began to make important decisions based on the visions – like wanting to leave the Shattered Plains – Adolin questioned the wisdom in trusting dreams, especially blasphemous ones. Dalinar maintained that the visions were real and grew further determined to unite the Alethi highprinces.
A chasmfiend surprised them on top of the plateau, and Dalinar saved Elhokar from being killed by it. It was a reminder of Dalinar's strength to their armies, but it doesn't last. After the battle, Elhokar showed Dalinar a cut strap on his saddle and asked him to look into it. Elhokar suspected the work of assassins but Dalinar believed Elhokar to be overly paranoid; he agreed to investigate to allay Elhokar's fears. He took Adolin to check on the cut strap but the results were inconclusive. Dalinar told Elhokar that it was unclear and he was overreacting, but Elhokar staunchly believed that someone was trying to kill him.
Dalinar still didn't know what Gavilar meant by his last words, telling him to find the most important words that a man can say.
Dalinar Reaches Out
Dalinar and Sadeas worked in tandem to strongarm another Highprince, Vamah, into using the king's Soulcasters, ensuring that Vamah must depend on Elhokar's resources to continue in the war. Though Adolin was suspicious of Sadeas, who could be unkind at times, Dalinar knew that Sadeas held the good of Alethkar as his top priority as much as he did. It was situations like this that Dalinar knew that he could trust Sadeas in his goal of uniting the highprinces. Dalinar continued to try and use other means to convince - or manipulate - the other highprinces to follow Elhokar.
Dalinar promised Renarin that he would give him a set of Shardplate as soon as he had one to spare.
He suggested to Elhokar that they withdraw from the Shattered Plains. Like Adolin, Elhokar was horrified at the suggestion and was alarmed at what his uncle was thinking. Dalinar changed tactic, stating that they had lingered on the Plains for far too long and that they needed a new strategy to defeat the Parshendi. He asked Elhokar to make him the Highprince of War so he might have the power to enforce changes in the other warcamps. Elhokar refused to give him the title unless Dalinar could prove that it was possible for the Highprinces to productively work together.
Adolin told Dalinar that the girth strap on Elhokar's saddle was cut after all, but it wasn't clear whether it was an accident or not. They decided that Elhokar was being paranoid but they know they couldn't rule out his suspicions. Dalinar had a fit in front of his men for the first time, one where he met a pair of Knights Radiant, but refused to be ashamed. He claimed it was good for his men to actually see it for themselves instead of believing rumors. Almost right after this, Elhokar publicly announced that there was a plot on his life, and that based on the evidence of the cut girth strap, he was naming Sadeas to be the Highprince of Information to investigate the assassins. This allowed Sadeas as much power as Dalinar would have had as Highprince of War; it was a direct snub by Elhokar for refusing to take the attempt on his life seriously.
Dalinar's first overtures of partnership with some of the other Highprinces were rejected. Adolin was upset at what just happened and suspects Sadeas will try something. He argued with Dalinar and told him that the visions were just nonsense. Dalinar instead went to listen to a reading of The Way of Kings, and wondered if Adolin is right. The reading was interrupted by a chasmfiend sighting. For once, Dalinar agreed to go chase it, and Adolin succeeded in retrieving the gemheart. Dalinar looked east from their plateau to see a Parshendi wearing Shardplate.
Later he found out that eight of the Highprinces have refused to go on a joint assault with him, leaving him only Sadeas to partner with. Dalinar was disturbed by his failure in this, and at the changes in himself. He confided his feelings in Navani, who had recently arrived at the Plains, and confessed that he was going to abdicate to Adolin. She disagreed and encouraged him to stay the course.
He accepted this. Soon after, another highstorm passed, and he had a vision while Navani attended. In this vision, he met Nohadon, and wondered why the author of a book promoting a way of peace said that now only the sword was needed. When he came back to himself, Navani proved his visions to be real when she recognized what Dalinar had been speaking during the visions was the Dawnchant, a long dead language that Dalinar couldn't have known. Knowing that the visions were real bolstered Dalinar's confidence, and he knew for certain now that his task was true. He had to unite the princes and he knew he could trust Sadeas.
Battle of the Tower
Dalinar and Sadeas set out on their joint expedition. They used Sadeas' method of crossing chasms, a point of contention between them because Dalinar thought they wasted too many lives. When they started fighting the Parshendi on a distant plateau, Sadeas pulled his troops and bridges out, leaving Dalinar, Adolin, and the whole Kholin army surrounded by the Parshendi, stranded with no way out. Adolin yelled that he had told Dalinar not to trust Sadeas and Dalinar agreed. They were fighting a losing battle, waiting until they died. Dalinar squared off against the Parshendi Shardbearer, but he was losing.
”Well, you've shown me something today, Sadeas – shown it to me by the very act of trying to remove me. . . You've shown me that I'm still a threat.
Things were looking hopeless for them when a single bridge crew, Bridge Four, led by Kaladin, returned and saved them. The bridge offered the army a way off of the plateau and Kaladin was able to fight off enough of the Parshendi to allow Dalinar, Adolin, and the remains of the Kholin army to escape. Dalinar promised Kaladin that he would free him and his crew from Sadeas. They all returned to the warcamp to confront Sadeas.
When Sadeas refused to sell the bridgemen to Dalinar, Dalinar offered his Shardblade, Oathbringer, in payment instead. Sadeas accepted. Dalinar appointed Kaladin as the captain of all the bridgemen who would be trained as soldiers to replenish the Kholin army. Bridge Four was appointed as the honour guard for Dalinar and his family. Dalinar also gave Kaladin his cloak, to mark him as a Kholin soldier and even part of his family. Dalinar also gave his son Renarin his Shardplate. By relinquishing both of his Shards, Dalinar kept his promises to Kaladin and Renarin, proving himself to be an honorable man.
Dalinar realized that the assassination attempt on Elhokar was a fabrication and he confronted his nephew. The king admitted to cutting his own girth strap, but he maintained that he had nothing to do with the weakened gemstones in his Shardplate. Dalinar emphasized his loyalty to his nephew by attacking and then not killing Elhokar, stated his love for him and his desire to protect him. Dalinar unequivocally ordered Elhokar to name him the Highprince of War and Elhokar agreed to do it. Dalinar also informed Elhokar that he was now in a relationship with Navani, Elhokar's mother, and that he should get used to it.
In the next highstorm, Dalinar experienced another vision in which he realized that the Almighty, who had spoken to him in his visions, had all this time been unable to hear what Dalinar was saying. Dalinar realized that he had misinterpreted the visions and that the Almighty had not been calling him to specifically unite Alethkar or specifically to trust Sadeas. The Almighty's words in the visions were a recording and not a conversation with him. The Almighty said to Dalinar that he, God, was dead and that Odium had killed him.
Refounding of the Knights Radiant (1173 - )
”I'll have us be what we were before, son. A kingdom that can stand through storms, a kingdom that is a light and not a darkness. I will have a truly unified Alethkar, with highprinces who are loyal and just. I'll have more than that. I'm going to refound the Knights Radiant.— Dalinar to Elhokar
Dalinar started planning, in his capacity as Highprince of War, to unify Alethkar and refound the Knights Radiant. Navani had begun staying with him while he had his visions so she could record them and translate what Dalinar said. After such a vision, Dalinar went to bed, and when he woke up the next morning, he found glyphs scratched onto his wall: Sixty-two days. Death follows.
Kaladin, as Dalinar's bodyguard, was embarrassed that someone managed to sneak into Dalinar's room and write such a threatening message. Dalinar didn't blame Kaladin in the least, and made note that he trusted Kaladin significantly. He sent Kaladin away, assuring him that this message was a small matter. Navani wondered why Dalinar seemed to know what it meant, and Dalinar responded that it simply meant he had very little time. Dalinar didn't tell anyone that he suspected he'd somehow written those glyphs himself without knowing it.
Dalinar brought together a small group composed of Navani, Elhokar, Adolin, Renarin, Kaladin, his top general, Khal and Khal's wife, Teshav. Dalinar had released a proclamation stating that all gemhearts won in battle now belong to the king and the wealth will be apportioned at the Crown's discretion. This proclamation was made in order to refocus the Highprinces' attention on the war and not on gaining wealth. Dalinar did this also knowing that it would enrage the Highprinces and possibly set them against him. He nonetheless deemed the proclamation a necessary action. He wanted the Highprinces angry, to remind them of why they came to the Shattered Plains in the first place.
The next thing he announced is that he intended to disarm the Highprinces, making them more malleable, by having Adolin begin duelling. He had previously forbidden Adolin from duelling, as it went against the Codes for an officer to duel during wartime, but this time Adolin would be duelling for others' Shardblades and Shardplates.
Lastly, when prompted on his endgame, Dalinar stated his intention to refound the Radiants. He wasn't sure why exactly he needed to refound the Radiants, but he knew he only had about sixty days to do it.
Dalinar Tries Again
The first Highprince Dalinar approached was Aladar. He approached Aladar in person while Adolin led the Kholin troops into battle to help Aladar's army. Aladar was unhappy with him, citing that Dalinar's proclamation hurt him, but Dalinar had none of it. He threatened Aladar by reminding him what happened to another highprince, Highprince Yenev, when Yenev refused to accept the unification of Alethkar. Dalinar offered advice on the battlefield below where they were talking, and though his advice won Aladar the battle, Aladar still refused to side with him.
After another highstorm and vision from the Almighty, Kaladin spoke with Dalinar. He told Dalinar about what happened to him in Amaram's army, namely that he had won a Shardblade in battle, but Amaram had stolen it from him and sold Kaladin into slavery. As Amaram was an old friend of Dalinar's, and staying at the Shattered Plains, Dalinar didn't quite believe Kaladin. He asked for proof, citing his experience of Amaram's character as honourable.
Almost right after, someone tried to assassinate Elhokar. Dalinar and Kaladin discussed it, namely that the attempt was extremely clumsy and was done by someone with a Shardblade. Dalinar re-stated his trust in Kaladin, and warned him that there will be more assassination attempts, and something worse – the Everstorm.
The Assassin in White
Szeth came after Dalinar on the night of another highstorm. Dalinar, Adolin and Kaladin went to fight him, but Szeth handled them with ease. Dalinar shouted that he would never let Szeth take Elhokar's life, but Szeth said he was here to kill Dalinar. Szeth swung his Blade down and Dalinar caught it in his hands, a maneuver known as the lastclap, giving Kaladin enough time to tackle Szeth out of the palace.
At a meeting with the other highprinces, Dalinar offered a place to Shallan Davar, the young woman who was in a causal betrothal arrangement with his son, Adolin. She refused, explaining that she already had a place in Highprince Sebarial's warcamp. Dalinar and the other princes discussed the Assassin, but Dalinar dismissed their arguments, stating that the Assassin was essentially unstoppable. Therefore the best course of action would be to try and stop the reason for the war. Since the Parshendi were the ones who hired Szeth last time, Dalinar suggested going to the Parshendi to discuss terms of peace. Adolin had been receiving requests from the Parshendi in that regard already. Dalinar announced his plan to meet the Parshendi and either agree on peace or defeat them.
Preparing for the Storm
Though Dalinar didn't want to send Adolin to meet the Parshendi, Adolin argued that Dalinar was the most important man around. Dalinar could not be risked. Adolin met the Parshendi Shardbearer, Eshonai, and pretended to be Dalinar. He communicated with Dalinar from a distance via spanreed so that his answers would sound like his father. Eshonai made clear that the Parshendi would not deal for peace, and would make an assault on the Alethi later. Though this meant Dalinar had a lot of work to do to get an army together that could face the Parshendi, his conscience was clear. He told Adolin to win more duelling matches, to gather as many Shards as possible before this battle with the Parshendi.
That night, Adolin was to fight a duel against multiple opponents to try and win more Shards. At the arena, there were four combatants for Adolin to fight instead of the implied two. Dalinar was close to going in to back Adolin up, but he had no Plate or Blade to use. Renarin jumped into the fight armed with only a Blade and no Plate. Dalinar shouted at the crowd, asking someone to help his sons, but no one answered, including Amaram. Kaladin walked in and joined the fight to help Adolin and Renarin.
With Kaladin's help, the fight was won. The king offered Adolin a boon, but Kaladin took the opportunity to challenge Amaram. Elhokar demanded Kaladin's life for the insult, but Dalinar defended him, stating that if Elhokar were to execute Kaladin, then he would make an enemy of Dalinar. Afterwards, Dalinar reprimanded Kaladin, and ordered him to accept the time in prison Elhokar compromised on. He blamed Kaladin for losing them their chance to move against Sadeas, but thanked him for saving his sons' lives.
Dalinar visited Kaladin in prison, letting him know Elhokar would release him soon. He explained some of Elhokar's actions, including that of exiling Brightlord Roshone - not aware that Roshone was responsible for the death of Kaladin's brother, Tien. Dalinar told Kaladin that though his feelings were not misplaced, the only way he was going to change things was by being a leader beyond reproach.
The Expedition Sets Off
With only days to go before the Everstorm came as predicted by the glyphs on his walls, Dalinar was trying to gather as many allies as possible for the excursion into the Plains. He went to speak with some Highprinces at a party, but at the party he found that someone had been spreading around papers which are accounts of his visions for the purpose of humiliating and discrediting him. They were Navani's words of the accounts but twisted to mock him. Navani was upset that her own words were being used to hurt Dalinar, but Dalinar took it in stride. He stood up on a table and declared that what the sheets say is true, more or less. He told everyone there that his visions would vindicate him, and he was eager to speak with everyone present about it. He spent the rest of the party speaking with interested parties, ignored outright mockery but engaged the crowds trying to get support for the battle with the Parshendi.
Afterwards he spoke with Wit. Wit told him that he was a tyrant, though he didn't denounce Dalinar for it. Dalinar lamented this, and explained that even a benevolent tyrant wasn't what Roshar needed right now. When he and Gavilar tried to unify Alethkar years ago, they did it with force, and Dalinar realized that they didn't succeed – they only showed the other Highprinces that strength was the right of rule.
The expedition started. Dalinar visited an injured Kaladin, who was previously missing down in the chasms of the Shattered Plains. During their conversation, Dalinar thought he saw something about Kaladin, and he wondered if Kaladin was the one he'd been waiting for. Kaladin denied it. Dalinar took Amaram to meet Kaladin. He asked Amaram if the stories Kaladin had told him were true, and Amaram denied it. Dalinar then demanded that Amaram apologize to Kaladin, going so far as to hold a Shardblade to Amaram's throat.
As it turned out, Dalinar had devised a test to see if Amaram was who Kaladin claimed he was. Dalinar knew Amaram had lied to him. He was forced to let Amaram go, even though he and Kaladin knew he was a murderer. They made a plan to retrieve Amaram later.
The Battle at Stormseat
On the way, Shallan had co-opted the scribes and cartographers, with Navani's help, for the purpose of finding the lost city of Urithiru. While discussing the Knights Radiant, Shallan suggested that Dalinar's task may not have been to refound the Knights Radiant, but to gather them. She revealed her Lightweaving abilities, and Dalinar cried in awe. Dalinar tried to give her leadership over the Knights Radiant, but she refused. He told her that she reminded him of Jasnah, his deceased niece and her mentor. She gave him hope for the future, that he might truly be able to change the world in the right way.
A Parshendi surrendered to the Alethi armies, one named Rlain, previously known as Shen, who had worked in Bridge Four. Rlain had disappeared a while back, but admitted now that he was a Parshendi spy. Rlain told Dalinar that the Parshendi were no more, and had been replaced with their ancient gods. Dalinar promised to help, and asked Rlain to speak to Shallan and give her the directions to the Parshendi city. They marched and by the day of the glyph's warnings, arrived near to the Parshendi city and where Shallan thought the Oathgate was.
The day after, Dalinar and his soldiers saw Parshendi on the plateau next to them, lined up with glowing red eyes. Dalinar told Shallan to find the way to Urithiru at all costs, as that was their only hope of retreat if things went wrong. He gave Roion, Aladar, and Sebarial their orders, bolstering them as needed. Dalinar's plan changed when Rlain told him the song the Parshendi were singing must be stopped – the Alethi armies attacked the Parshendi immediately.
The battle started in earnest, and the Parshendi's song began stirring up a storm. Dalinar heard a voice talking to him, and recognized it as the Almighty's voice. This was the first time he'd heard the voice in his waking hours, outside of visions. Dalinar asked him who he was, since the Almighty claimed he was dead, but the voice says he was not the Almighty, but something left behind of Him – a sliver of God. This voice, the Stormfather, told Dalinar he was sorry that Dalinar would die here, and that this was the end of the visions.
Dalinar received word that Shallan found the entrance to Urithiru and ordered all troops to evacuate there immediately. Before he could follow, Szeth appeared. Dalinar tried to convince Szeth to leave, but quickly realized that Szeth was not in his right mind. They began fighting, but as before, Szeth was too much for him. Roion tried to help Dalinar, but was quickly killed. Szeth used the Surge of Gravitation to send Dalinar shooting up into the sky, ensuring his death by letting him fall from a great height. Dalinar was rescued from this fall at the last second by Kaladin, who used his new powers as a Windrunner to lower Dalinar safely back to the ground. Dalinar knew that Kaladin was what he has been looking for all this time.
Dalinar got everyone to the plateau where the gateway to Urithiru was. Shallan got the Oathgate to work and teleported everyone on the plateau to Urithiru. There, he went to the rooftop of the city's tower and tried to speak with the Stormfather again. The Stormfather answered, but didn't want to help Dalinar at all. The Stormfather was required by the Almighty to share the visions, but the Stormfather was angry at humanity for killing spren in the past. Dalinar didn't give up and demanded a bond with him. The Stormfather grudgingly acquiesced, though had no hope for Dalinar's chances of success at defeating Odium. Dalinar was now a Bondsmith, one who brought men together.
”I will unite instead of divide, Stormfather. I will bring men together.— Dalinar's second Oath as Bondsmith
He went back to Kaladin, Shallan, and Renarin, the other Radiants that he knew of. He warned them that the Everstorm was coming, and it would change the parshmen into those red-eyed Parshendi they knew were Voidbringers. His task now is try and save as many people as possible for when that happens.
He marries Navani through oaths sworn to the Stormfather, thus further angering the ardentia.
After the Everstorm has raged over Roshar, he contacts different monarchs and leaders (like the Emperor of Azir, The Queen of Thaylenah and King Taravangian of Kharbranth and Jah Keved) to form a coalition against the voidbringers, without much success. In order to record his story, he asks Navani to teach him how to read and write.
Attributes and Abilities
Dalinar is the head of the Kholin household. His nephew, Elhokar Kholin, is an exception, as Elhokar is in the royal line and thus above and outside Dalinar's authority. The Kholin family is made up of his sons Adolin and Renarin, his sister-in-law Navani, and his niece Jasnah. As highprince of the Kholin princedom, Dalinar owns all of the land belonging to the Kholin princedom.
Dalinar is also the head of the Kholin army. Though he is the commander of the whole Kholin army, he often gives leadership over battles and other aspects to his son, Adolin.
Within the Kholin army is the Cobalt Guard, the honor guard of the members of the Kholin house.
Since Dalinar began reading The Way of Kings, he has experienced visions during every highstorm. These visions feel real to him. He experiences these visions as himself, but seems to take on a role of a real person - other people in the visions see him as someone else, not as an outsider. In every vision, Dalinar hears a voice speaking to him, a voice he believes to be the Almighty. This voice speaks cryptically, not answering Dalinar's questions, and commanding him to "unite them". This is probably because the visions function more as pre-recorded experiences than interactable activities.
These visions are disturbing to watch from the outside, and he speaks other languages for their duration. At first, Dalinar and his household thought he was speaking gibberish, but Navani recognizes what he speaks as the Dawnchant. That is a language Dalinar was never taught, and thus couldn't be speaking unless the visions were real.
At the Battle of Narak, the Stormfather told Dalinar he would receive no more visions. Though now that he is bonded to the Stormfather, he can replay past visions at will during Highstorms. He can even bring in other people to share the vision with him, as long as they are inside a Highstorm at the time.
Dalinar has a Nahel bond with the Stormfather, the spren of the Almighty, and the personification of storms and the divine. His Surges are Tension and Adhesion. Adhesion allows the Surgebinder to bind objects together, and Tension grants the Surgebinder power over Soft Axial Connections.
Like all Surgebinders, Dalinar can draw or breathe in Stormlight, which gives him superhuman strength, speed, and healing capabilities. As a Bondsmith, Dalinar is able to unite inanimate objects and Connect to people. Dalinar Connected to an Azish ambassador and was able to then speak and understand Azish. This ability has other implications, but he is unable to pick up other people's abilities with them.
Dalinar's relationship with his family is complicated. He idealizes his brother, and, as a younger man, was frequently willing to make sacrifices in Gavilar's favor. However, he also heavily envied him, mostly when it came to Gavilar's wife, Navani, although such moments of envy were often accompanied by intense sense of shame. His own marriage was significantly worse, as he and Evi had little in common and even after years together, Dalinar still pined for Navani. While Dalinar did his duty in marrying Evi and fathering children with her, he could not make himself fall in love with her, which he somewhat regretted. The cultural barrier between the two would lead to a number of misunderstandings, and while Dalinar sometimes let Evi have her way, he often did so out of frustration rather than genuine affection.
Dalinar's relations with the younger generation of House Kholin are no less fraught. He has been idealizing Adolin since the moment the boy was born, and favored him heavily to the detriment of Renarin. Although he generally supports him, he often resorts to treating Adolin as a subordinate soldier rather than a son when trying to have his way. While outwardly claiming that Adolin doesn't have to be perfect, Dalinar seems to expect it from his son, and the realization that this might not necessarily be the case has him reeling. Adolin in return adores Dalinar, and finds the idea of opposing him to be terrifying.
Renarin, on the other hand, was often ignored by his father. Dalinar didn't even participate in selecting the boy's name, ignoring Evi's messages, and quickly lost interest in the boy when it turned out he did not have the capacity to be a solider. Even when Renarin was a teen, Dalinar could sometimes forget his name, simply referring to him as "the other one" in his thoughts. Since his visit to the Nightwatcher, however, the relationship between the two grew better, with Dalinar trying to understand and support Renarin.
Dalinar grew highly protective of Elhokar following Gavilar's death, having sworn to himself that he would not let the boy come to harm. Over time, however, his tendency to take control begins to take precedent. However non-deliberately, Dalinar starts to pull the kingdom out of Elhokar's hands. Though Dalinar isn't happy about it, he does little to stop himself once he realizes it, and often forces his will on his nephew. He does see traces of Gavilar in Elhokar; this is, however, rare.
Dalinar's relationship with Jasnah is perhaps the best among his relatives. The two bond together over The Way of Kings, and respect each other's knowledge and opinions. Dalinar considers Jasnah to be the most trustworthy person in his family, often wishing that she would come to the Shattered Plains with him. Jasnah likewise is willing to aid her uncle, offering heartfelt advice when needed.
Dalinar and Navani are deeply in love with each other. They have been for decades now; however, initially Navani chose Gavilar over his brother. While it's possible this was because Gavilar was a more advantageous match, Navani claims that young Dalinar scared her with his intenstity. Dalinar never stops carrying the torch for her, even after his own marriage, and at one point nearly killed his brother for a chance of being with Navani. The two part ways shortly after Gavilar's death, with Navani remaining in Kholinar to keep an eye on Aesudan.
When the two meet again, Dalinar's a changed man, and strives to keep to the Vorin tradition, which states that his sister-in-law should be like a sister to him. Navani, however, has none of it, and begins to flirt with him almost immediately, to his mild panic. Eventually, he does give in, and the two begin a proper relationship, with Dalinar himself making it public by telling Elhokar about it. From then on out, the two form an effective team, working together both on Dalinar's visions and on warcamp politics. While their relationship is generally considered scandalous, Sadeas' betrayal overshadows it until it's accepted as the new normal. Eventually, the two decide to take it further, and when no Vorin ardent is willing to help, they have the Stormfather himself marry them.
Dalinar is often willing to share his secrets with Navani; notably, she's one of the very few people he's told about not remembering Evi, and the one he turns to when he seeks someone to take notes on his visions. He seems unwilling to tell her everything, though; he doesn't share the details of the events at the Rift once he remembers them, possibly out of fear that it would push Navani away.
”So today, you and your men sacrificed to buy me twenty-six hundred priceless lives. And all I had to repay you with was a single priceless sword. I call that a bargain.— Dalinar to Kaladin
”I have been treating the other highprinces and their lighteyes like adults. An adult can take a principle and adapt it to his needs. But we're not ready for that yet. We're children. And when you're teaching a child, you require him to do what is right until he grows old enough to make his own choices.— Dalinar to Elhokar
- Dalinar was originally from the first book that Brandon wrote when he was fifteen, where he was named Jared. Brandon used him in other books, such as the unpublished Dragonsteel, before eventually using him in The Stormlight Archive. Brandon has said that he didn't get the character "right" until he re-wrote The Way of Kings from scratch after The Way of Kings Prime.
- Dalinar was originally named Dalenar in The Way of Kings Prime
- Dalinar originally had three sons in The Way of Kings Prime: Sheneres, Aredor and Renarin. Sheneres died while trying to protect his uncle.
— Arcanum - 2017-09-21#
- Oathbringer chapter 71 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_71#
- Brandon saying "Dalinar" at a reading
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