|Born||ca. ? 1120|
|Abilities||Bondsmith, Old Magic, Shardbearer (formerly)|
|Bonded With||the Stormfather|
|Titles||Highprince of Alethkar (formerly), Highprince of War (formerly),|
King of Urithiru
|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, also known as the Blackthorn, is an Alethi member of the Order of Bondsmiths, bonded to the Stormfather. He is the de facto leader of the reformed Knights Radiant.. He is the younger brother of Gavilar, and uncle of Elhokar and current Queen of Alethkar Jasnah Kholin. He is currently married to Brightness Navani Kholin, Gavilar's widow. He has two sons, Adolin and Renarin from Evi, his first wife. Before he renounced the title, letting Adolin take over in his place, Dalinar was the highprince of the Kholin princedom.
Appearance and Personality
Dalinar is an aging, but powerfully-built man in his fifties, with a warrior's face which he keeps clean-shaven. 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 was broken at some point during his youth, and it has 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. He wears a sapphire signet ring with his house's glyphpair on it.
”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 other 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 punish thousands of people for a small subset of them ambushing him.
The death of his wife, Evi, changed everything. His overwhelming guilt led to Dalinar beginning 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 an 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 Torol 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.
Attributes and Abilities
Dalinar was raised in the Vorin religion; his Calling is to be a leader, and his chosen Glory is determination. At some point in his life, he joined a lay devotary called the Order of Talenelat. However, over time his faith wavers, and his visions lead him to conclude that the Almighty is dead. This ends with his excommunication from the Vorin church.
In his younger years, Dalinar Kholin has been considered one of the greatest warriors of the modern world, and though in the present day his reputation has faded somewhat, he is still incredibly dangerous. Throughout his life, Dalinar has seen every aspect of war, from open-field combat to logistics and sieges. His only blank spot appears to be naval combat, as though not land-locked, the Alethi do not typically war on sea.
For most of his life, Dalinar possessed a set of Shardplate, as well as a Shardblade named Oathbringer, with the latter coming into his hands after he killed highlord Tanalan in the first siege of the Rift. He was considered extremely skilled at using both. This being said, near the end of the War of Reckoning he gave them up. Oathbringer was given to Torol Sadeas, in exchange for all of his enslaved bridgemen, while the Plate was given to Renarin shortly afterward.
Dalinar is the head of the Kholin household, and as such holds authority over all other members of his family. 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-turned-wife Navani, and his niece Jasnah. As the highprince, Dalinar owns all of the land belonging to the Kholin princedom.
He also commands the Kholin Army, though, in battles, he often passes the command to his eldest son. The army is large and well-trained, although it takes significant losses in the Battle of the Tower. The Cobalt Guard and Bridge Four, two units of honor guard dedicated to protecting the king and the Kholins, are also part of the army. He also once had a group of soldiers who accompanied him into battle, Dalinar's elites, but they seem to have been dissolved by the War of Reckoning, though some of their members still fight for him.
Dalinar’s presence is often regarded as incredibly powerful, perhaps even unconsciously so. At the feast before Gavilar’s assassination, Navani notes that Dalinar seems to attract his own cluster of lighteyes, likening the arrangement to planets orbiting around a star, at once hungry for and fearful of the fire. When meeting with the high princes for a council on the Shattered Plains, Shallan likens him to a boulder as he stands, causing everyone to stop arguing and listen to what he has to say.
”I assumed I was dreaming myself, when I saw the first vision. When they kept happening, I was forced to acknowledge that no dream is this crisp, this logical. In no dream could we be having this conversation.
Since Dalinar began reading The Way of Kings, he has been experiencing visions during every highstorm. These visions feel real to him. He experiences them as himself, but other people in the visions see him as someone else, not as an outsider. At the end of every one of them, Dalinar hears the voice of Honor speaking to him, commanding him to "unite them". As the visions are pre-recorded, Dalinar cannot communicate with Honor.
While Dalinar is having the visions, his body attempts to act them out in reality, leading to him appearing to have fits and speak gibberish while to his eyes, he's moving around and speaking the native language. Eventually, the blabbering is revealed to be Dawnchant, an ancient, long-dead language, proving the visions to be real.
At the Battle of Narak, the Stormfather informs Dalinar that he would receive no more new visions. However, after becoming the Stormfather's bonded Knight Radiant, Dalinar can replay the previous ones 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 or they are physically touching him.
As he gets closer to becoming a Bondsmith, Dalinar begins to be able to shape his visions and has had two vision-like experiences that the Stormfather disclaims any responsibility for. The first happens just before he formally bonds the Stormfather and shows his childhood home, followed by an enveloping warmth. The second happens after he flees the Thrill at Vedenar and shows Nohadon go shopping, followed by a thunderclast attack.
”Yours is the power Ishar once held. Before he was Herald of Luck, they called him Binder of Gods. He was the founder of the Oathpact. No Radiant is capable of more than you. Yours is the power of Connection, of joining men and worlds, minds and souls. Your Surges are the greatest of all, though they will be impotent if you seek to wield them for mere battle.—The Stormfather on Dalinar's abilities
Dalinar has a Nahel bond with the Stormfather, the personification of storms and the divine. This makes him a Knight Radiant of the Order of Bondsmiths. His Surges are Tension and Adhesion. Adhesion allows him to bind objects together, and Tension grants the Surgebinder power over Soft Axial Connections, though what precisely this entails is yet to be revealed.
Like all Surgebinders, Dalinar can draw or breathe in Stormlight, which gives him superhuman strength, speed, and healing capabilities. As a Bondsmith, Dalinar can bind inanimate objects, allowing him to restore broken things from pieces to their original shape. The ability seems to manifest as Dalinar hearing the broken pieces talk to him, though it's uncertain whether this happens every time.
He can also Connect to people - by touching them, he can acquire the ability to speak and understand their native language, though it wears off after a time. This ability has other implications, but he is unable to pick up other people's abilities with them.
Dalinar has other abilities, seemingly connected to the Stormfather's particular relation to Honor. He can summon Honor's Perpendicularity, which provides a temporary way to move between Roshar and Shadesmar, as well as a near-infinite amount of Stormlight while open. Outside of it, he can also refill spheres with Stormlight and supercharge other Surgebinders with it, although it's uncertain whether this is part of Bondsmiths' toolset, or an ability unique to him.
Early Life and the War to Unify Alethkar (1120 – 1166)
Dalinar was born in about 1120, the second son to the Kholin princedom in Alethkar. His mother died when he was young and he was primarily raised by a parshman nurse. 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.
”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
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.
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 ruled. 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 appeared. Dalinar tracked down the place where Tanalan was taken and found Tanalan's widow, and Tanalan's young son holding the Shardblade. Dalinar took the Blade but couldn’t find it within himself to kill Tanalan's family. After the battle, Gavilar told Dalinar that the Blade he won was 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 ongoing. 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 got 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 afterward, 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, swearing 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 afterward, 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.
”May you have your father’s strength, and at least some of your mother’s compassion, little one—Dalinar's thoughts upon first holding Adolin
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 then triggered a landslide that killed the Kholin men accompanying him, but though seriously wounded, Dalinar survived.
”I intend to so thoroughly ruin this place that for ten generations, nobody will dare build here for fear of the spirits who will haunt it. We will make a pyre of this city, and there shall be no weeping for its passing, for none will remain to weep.—Dalinar planning his revenge on Rathalas
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 Soulcast, 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.
”She came to us, to plead. How could you have missed her? Do you track your own family so poorly? The hole you burned … we don't hide there anymore. Everyone knows about it. Now it’s a prison.—Tanalan's last words to Dalinar.
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 had 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 had 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 on 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
”Brother, follow the Codes tonight. There is something strange upon the winds.—Gavilar's last words
A year later, in 1167, the Parshendi signed a formal treaty with Alethkar in the Alethi capital of Kholinar. Within hours of signing the treaty, the Parshendi sent Szeth, the Assassin in White, to assassinate Gavilar. While the Alethi king was 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.
”Evi had said the Old Magic could transform a man. It was about time he started trusting her.—Dalinar deciding to travel to the Valley
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.
In doing this, I provide for him a weapon. Dangerous, very dangerous. Yet, all things must be cultivated. What I take from you will grow back eventually. This is part of the cost.
It will do me well to have a part of you, even if you ultimately become his. You were always bound to come to me. I control all things that can be grown, nurtured.That includes the thorns.
”—Cultivation explaining her plan to Dalinar
On his separate way to the Shattered Plains, he visited the Nightwatcher. The Thrill was notably absent. As he approached, he again experienced visions of Rathalas burning, and its people screaming, more real than it had ever been since 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 could not 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.
Afterward, Dalinar found himself outside, unable to remember the specifics of his agreement. He could not 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 had 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 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 had changed from seeking vengeance on the Parshendi to competing for gemhearts to gain wealth for themselves. Dalinar realized the war on the Parshendi had become nothing but a game to the Highprinces and he strived to unite them. He wanted to be the Highprince of War to realize 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 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 did not 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 maintained his belief 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.[expand]
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
”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.
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.
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 honor 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 - 1174)
”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 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 dueling. He had previously forbidden Adolin from dueling, as it went against the Codes for an officer to duel during wartime, but this time Adolin would be dueling 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 honorable.
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 restated his trust in Kaladin, warning 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 dueling 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. In 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. Afterward, 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.
Afterward, 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 of Narak
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 next day, 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 a 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 to try and save as many people as possible for when that happens.
Uniting Roshar (1174)
Now bonded with the Stormfather, Dalinar freely revisited the visions to try and learn more about the previous desolations. He saw Odium’s light, a vision of a figure in dark Shardplate, with nine shadows and glowing red eyes. The Stormfather explained that the nine shadows were the Unmade, and the figure was Odium’s champion. What he saw in this vision convinced him of the urgency of forming an alliance with the other leaders of Roshar.
Meanwhile, in Urithiru, Dalinar was informed that someone had murdered Sadeas. After breaking up a fight between members of Bridge Four and a contingent of Sadeas soldiers he had the body moved to a side room and called for Ialai. While waiting for Ialai and the other Highprinces to arrive he contemplated all of the men they had lost at Narak and how understaffed they were, in scribes and officers. He realized that while it did make him look bad, Sadeas' death was something to celebrate. He then took this opportunity to delegate. He appointed Aladar as the Highprince of Information and instructed him to establish a police force to create law and order within Urithiru. He made Sebarial the Highprince of Commerce and told him to set up markets, secure supplies, and turn Urithiru into a functioning city. He put Adolin in charge of their soldiers and commanded him to count all of their troops and oversee their training. Shallan and Renarin, their Radiants, were not given specific tasks, rather they were given Stormlight, now a non-renewable resource, and instructed to use it to practice using their abilities.
”Old friend, Honor might be dead, but I have felt … something else. Something beyond. A warmth and a light. It is not that God has died, it is that the Almighty was never God.—Dalinar to Kadash
When the Everstorm came next, Dalinar felt the enemy’s presence, and the enemy was aware of him in return. Navani went to comfort him, and in the process of their conversation asked him why he kept pushing off their marriage. He said that this time he wanted to do it properly with oaths. Navani responded that no ardent would marry them as they were considered siblings under Vorin law and were not permitted to marry by the church. She told him that she was not trying to take Evi's place and she understood that Dalinar still had affection for her. Dalinar told her that she was wrong and admitted that he had been unable to hear his wife's name or remember anything about her for years. He said that he remembered having gone to seek the Nightwatcher, who removed his memories of Evi. Dalinar had the idea of asking the Stormfather to marry them, as he was a higher power than the Vorin ardentia. Several hours later they convened the wedding on top of one of the towers of Urithiru with a small gathering of guests including Elhokar, Kadash, Sebarial, Aladar, Kalami, Teshav, and Dalinar's sons. After Elhokar gave his blessing to the proceedings, the Stormfather arrived and revealed himself to all present as a face that stretched to both horizons regarding the attendees imperiously. The Stormfather received their vows and departed.
After the congratulations had wound down, Kadash arrived to confront Dalinar. Kadash said that he would have to report what he had seen to his superiors who would not be pleased that Dalinar had tried to circumvent them. Dalinar tried to persuade him but was unsuccessful. During their discussion, Dalinar remembered more of his past, that what had happened at Rathalas had been horrific for Kadash, but few more details than that. Kadash did not succeed in getting Dalinar to recant his heresy and Dalinar did not succeed in convincing Kadash that his visions were legitimate.
With things at Urithiru under some control, Dalinar and the current leadership turned their eyes to the rest of the world, wanting to find some way to reach out to them. While they studied the map, Shallan and Dalinar’s powers interacted, creating a three-dimensional image of the world out of Stormlight. This allowed Dalinar to get a better grasp of the situation and create a plan. He decided that they would focus on protecting the cities with Oathgates as that was their key advantage over the Voidbringers, with an initial focus on Thaylenah, Azir, and Jah Keved for their strategic importance.
The scout Lyn interrupted this meeting to inform them all of a second, copycat murder. They went to see the body and found it murdered in the same manner that Sadeas had been killed. Dalinar assigned Adolin to Aladar’s team to lead the investigation into Sadeas' death.
Later Dalinar convened a meeting with Aladar, Navani, Kalami, and Teshav to receive the communications of the other monarchs. The Azish were the first to reply. Dalinar tried inviting them to Urithiru and explore the tower. Their reply ignored his invitation and simply thanked him for warning them about the Everstorm. Dalinar offered them aid to fight off the singers. They replied that they would welcome an exchange of aid and asked for reports of what they knew about the Voidbringers. They said that their city was in relatively good shape and they were negotiating with the freed parshmen. Dalinar tried asking them to let him come to Azimir through the Oathgate so they could speak in person. The Azish then claimed, falsely, that the portal was not functioning and sent documents to prove this. They then promised to contact him again and signed off.
Next, they turned to Fen. Dalinar tried to invite her to Urithiru so they could talk in person but she refused. She said that her city had been devastated by the Everstorm, and the parshmen had stolen all of their ships and so she did not have time to go on a sightseeing trip. Fen said that while she was interested in the economic opportunities the Oathgates provided, she was not interested in joining any coalition.
After the meeting with Fen had come to an end and the others had departed, Elhokar came into the room and confronted Dalinar. Elhokar told Dalinar that he was a better king than himself and then announced that he was swearing fealty to Dalinar. Dalinar asked him what he intended in that and Elhokar explained. Dalinar would be the Highking of Urithiru. He would abdicate his princedom to his heir, Adolin, and must remove himself from the affairs of Alethkar. Dalinar could give orders to Elhokar, but Elhokar had the power to decide how to carry them out. He would only be able to command the highprinces when they were in his domain, which included Urithiru and the Shattered Plains. They decided to delay making the official announcement until later when all of the details could be worked out.
Elhokar then told Dalinar that he wanted to go to Kholinar with an army to secure it and sort out the riots that were happening there. Dalinar said that he thought it was a good idea, but that it made more sense to take a small force into the city to unlock the Oathgate and transport the troops to Kholinar through the portal. Dalinar at first hesitated at sending the king into a possibly hostile city but then decided that it was a good idea, as it gave a much-needed boost to his nephew's morale and self-esteem. They decided to wait for Kaladin to return so he could lead Elhokar on his mission. As Elhokar was leaving they received word from Kharbranth that Taravangian had located a new Radiant in his city and that they would be using her Shardblade to come to Urithiru, through their Oathgate, and join Dalinar's coalition.
”Vex Odium, convince him that he can lose, and appoint a champion. He will take that chance instead of risking defeat again, as he has suffered so often. This is the best advice I can give you.—Honor's instructions for Dalinar
While Dalinar was inspecting Jezrien's Honorblade which he had in his possession, the Stormfather and Dalinar discussed Odium and his weaknesses, namely whether Odium could be bound by oaths. The Stormfather confirmed that he could be bound. Dalinar, remembering Honor's messages in his visions, suggested that a contest of champions between Odium and the Knights Radiant could hold Odium off if the champion would be defeated. The Stormfather explained that winning such a contest would only delay Odium. He said that to Odium, who was immortal and unchanging, time was immaterial. However, for the humans, winning additional time to prepare would be a worthy goal. After their conversation, Dalinar hid the sword in an empty sewage pipe and decided that the squires of Bridge Four could use it to practice their Surgebinding if Kaladin took much longer to return.
Dalinar wanted to spar to work through these plans, but no ardent was willing to spar with him. Dalinar’s ardents were being pushed to a decision between loyalty to the Almighty, or to Dalinar the known heretic. Instead of one of his ardents, Dalinar ordered Aratin, one of General Khal’s sons, to spar with him in a wrestling match, which he lost. As the match finished, Navani arrived with word that the Iriali queen wanted to speak earlier than scheduled.
”Dalinar remembered. Her name had been Evi. She'd been tall and willowy, with pale yellow hair—not true golden, like the hair of the Iriali, but striking in its own right.—Dalinar remembering Evi.
Finding that he thought better when in activity, Dalinar ordered Kadash to spar with him while he argued with both Kadash and the Iriali queen in two separate conversations. Dalinar refused to budge with Kadash, insisting that he wouldn’t change his mind and recant without evidence. The queen informed Dalinar that, instead of joining his coalition, Iri was going to ally with the Voidbringers. She said she might reconsider her choice if the Alethi would return Adolin’s Shardplate, which she claimed was rightfully Iri's. Navani observed that the Plate was rightfully Adolin’s by inheritance of his mother, Evi. This was the first time that Dalinar was able to hear Evi’s name since his trip to the Valley. Over the next few days he regained many of his memories of their time together.
Soon afterward, Taravangian arrived at Urithiru with Adrotagia, Malata, and a small group of scribes, guards, and advisors. He was the first monarch to answer Dalinar's call and travel to Urithiru via the Oathgates. He introduced Malata the Dustbringer to Dalinar as the newest Knight Radiant. After exchanging greetings Dalinar led Taravangian on a tour of the tower and explained to him what they knew of its workings. As they walked Dalinar offered Adrotagia and Taravangian the use of Alethi troops to aid in the defense of Kharbranth and its Oathgate but they declined his offer, claiming that they had enough Veden soldiers to defend themselves and that they had successfully fended off the singer attack on their city. Dalinar then let Teshav lead Taravangian on the rest of his tour and went to speak with Navani while he waited for them to return.
A warning, from Tezim the Great, last and first man, Herald of Heralds and bearer of the Oathpact. His grandness, immortality, and power be praised. Lift up your heads and hear, men of the east, of your God’s proclamation.
None are Radiant but him. His fury is ignited by your pitiful claims, and your unlawful capture of his holy city is an act of rebellion, depravity, and wickedness. Open your gates, men of the east, to his righteous soldiers and deliver unto him your spoils.
Renounce your foolish claims and swear yourselves to him. The judgment of the final storm has come to destroy all men, and only his path will lead to deliverance. He deigns to send you this single mandate, and will not speak it again. Even this is far above what your carnal natures deserve.”—Tezim's message to Dalinar
Dalinar and Navani discussed Taravangian's senility and she assured Dalinar that he could be trusted. They also discussed whether or not Malata could be trusted. Dalinar Related to Navani how his memories of Evi were still returning bit by bit and Navani told him that in all of her research she had never found an instance of the Nightwatcher's curses becoming undone.
After their tour was complete, Adrotagia asked Dalinar when the other monarchs of Roshar would be arriving to join their coalition. After a pause, Navani admitted that they were the only ones to accept their invitation and agree to come to the tower. Dalinar gave a brief summary of their communications with the other monarchs. The Iriali were dismissive, neither Marabethia nor Rira would respond, the Reshi had no government, the Babatharnam's Most Ancient was coy, the Makabaki implied that they were waiting for the Azish, and the Shin only sent a cryptic congratulatory response. Dalinar explained that, for strategic reasons, their primary focus was on cities with Oathgates, especially Azir, Thaylenah, and Iri. He said that the Natans were being coy, and the Herdazians thought that he was trying to trick them. As he was speaking Navani interrupted him saying that they had gotten word from Tezim, the god-king of the Tukari via spanreed earlier that day. Navani read the letter aloud to all present. Rather than agreeing to join the coalition, the letter demanded that they submit themselves to his rule and give him control of Urithiru.
Having heard Dalinar explain their situation, Taravangian asked him where they would attack next. He said that he had been told that it was the typical Alethi strategy and that Thaylenah seemed like a good place to start. Dalinar realized that, despite his efforts at diplomacy, this was what everyone thought and expected the Blackthorn would do. He tried to tell them that they were not planning on attacking anyone but the Voidbringers and that they would create their coalition through peaceful diplomacy, not battles and death. However, he was able to see that Adrotagia and the other Kharbranthians did not believe him, assuming that he was lying to them. This conversation with Adrotagia prompted Dalinar to reconsider his strategy of peaceful negotiations as well as the oaths he had taken as a Bondsmith.
Dalinar convened a meeting with Shallan, Adolin, Renarin, Taravangian, Elhokar, Kalami, and the rest of the highprinces and their wives and scribes. He helped Shallan create an illusion of a map of Roshar which they used as a reference. They discussed possible methods of convincing the Thaylens and Azish to join their coalition. Kalami brought up the fact that Iri was moving to conquer some of the land that they had long coveted. They discussed the large numbers of Voidbringers gathering in Marat as well as the increasing number of cities going "dark", and having all of their spanreed communication cut off abruptly. The last reports from Kholinar before the shutoff had been to say that large armies were gathering outside the city. Dalinar announced to the assembly that he thought that it was clear that the enemy was making a move to capture as many cities with Oathgates as they could, and their next step would be Azir or Jah Keved. Highprince Aladar announced his agreement with Dalinar's assessment though Ruthar was quick to retort with an insult. Aladar moved to summon his Shardblade but Dalinar held him back.
Shortly afterward, Ialai Sadeas arrived at the meeting accompanied by Meridas Amaram. Adolin stepped toward Amaram staring murder at him but Dalinar restrained him from doing anything to the man. Dalinar attempted to welcome Ialai and thank her for joining the meeting. She replied that she had only come because it was a convenient place to find all of the highprinces assembled together. She proceeded to announce that she had chosen Amaram to be the new highprince of the Sadeas princedom, a clear gesture showing her disregard for what Dalinar thought. After Elhokar gave his approval, Dalinar acknowledged Amaram as the new Sadeas highprince, and Adolin called Amaram a bastard and stormed out of the room.
Afterward, having retired to a smaller room with Navani, Taravangian, and some others, they received Azir's response to his plea which Teshav read aloud. The Azish said that they had decided to seal off the Oathgate until they could destroy it. They explained that a magical portal into the middle was too large a danger to allow to stand. They said that they would maintain trade relations with Alethkar but asked that Dalinar stop asking them to open the Oathgate.
”Surely you see. A queen would have to be either stupid or desperate to let an Alethi army into the very center of her city. I’ve been the former at times, and I might be approaching the latter, but … storms, Kholin. No. I’m not going to be the one who finally lets Thaylenah fall to you people. And on the off chance that you’re sincere, then I’m sorry
Though frustrated by their rebuttal Dalinar did not give up. He asked Teshav to contact Queen Fen of Thaylenah to see if she would speak with him. He realized that with the Natans responding positively and Kharbranth and Jah Keved already at his side through Taravangian if he could convince the Thaylens as well they could form a unified Vorin coalition of the eastern states and hopefully eventually they could convince the nations of the west to join them once they saw what they had achieved. While he was waiting for a response from the queen, he noticed a hole in the ceiling and decided to investigate it. He took a chair and stuck it to the wall with Stormlight and used it to climb up and look into the hole. He found a mink carrying a dead rat in its mouth scurrying down a long tunnel as a faint breeze blew towards him. As he was contemplating what he found and the implications it had for Shallan's investigation into the Unmade that was killing people in the city, he was interrupted by Teshav who said that Fen had started to write.
Fen said that she was too busy caring for her city which had been hit hard by the Everstorm and didn't have time to be bothered by his attempts at tempting her into a coalition. Dalinar tried to offer her troops and supplies to help her rebuild if they could join together, but her refusal was firm. He tried again saying that it was not the time for her to try to fight on her own, but again she refused. She said that she was not gullible enough to allow Alethi troops into her city. Dalinar thanked her for her time, told her that his offer remained on the table, and left the room to find some fresh air and clear out his frustration.
After walking through the halls of Urithiru for an hour, Lyn caught up to him saying that Bridge Four had found something that needed his attention. When he arrived at the balcony where they were waiting for him he found Oathbringer protruding from the planter box where it had landed after Adolin had dropped it out of a window higher up in the tower. Even though he used a handkerchief to pick up the blade and did not directly touch the metal he still heard the blade's scream in his mind. Dalinar put the blade on his shoulder and went to the Sadeas part of the tower. On his way there he asked the Stormfather if it was possible to revive the blade but the Stormfather did not know of a way to do so.
”It’s not a matter of morality, is it? It’s a matter of thresholds. How many guilty may be punished before you’d accept one innocent casualty? A thousand? Ten thousand? A hundred? When you consider, all calculations are meaningless except one. Has more good been done than evil? If so, then the law has done its job. And so … I must hang all four men. And I would weep, every night, for having done it
When he found Ialai in her chambers, with Amaram at her side, he set the blade on the floor and turned to leave. Ialai expressed her surprise that he was giving it to her unconditionally and Dalinar, wearily, told her that he was not the one who had killed her husband. Afterward, Amaram lectured Dalinar, calling him a hypocrite, and Dalinar stormed off to his chambers. When he reached his outer common room he found Taravangian sitting by the heatrial that Navani had installed there. The two of them sat together in silence for a while as Dalinar contemplated his failure to assemble a coalition. Taravangian broke the silence and they discussed the nature and origin of morality. Dalinar brought up the story of the Hogman's Murder from the Way of Kings and they discussed what they would have done if they had been the judge in the story. Taravangian said that he would kill all four men as that would be the best for society, but Dalinar did not think it was so clear cut.
After Taravangian left, the Stormfather told Dalinar that he was not a hypocrite but Dalinar disagreed and said that a hypocrite is simply someone who is changing. Dalinar asked the Stormfather if he had any more visions of Nohadon to show him and the Stormfather said that Dalinar had already seen all of his visions. Dalinar then asked to see the vision where he met Nohadon again and moved to get Navani to record it for him. The Stormfather offered to bring Navani into the vision with him, a possibility which Dalinar had not considered. The Stormfather explained that he could bring anyone who was touching Dalinar into the vision as well as anyone who is within a highstorm. Dalinar realized that this was his solution to his issues with the other monarchs and started planning his next move.
”Maybe you're right, and I am a tyrant! Maybe letting my armies into your city is a terrible risk. But maybe you don’t have good options! Maybe all the good men are dead, so all you have is me! Spitting into the storm isn’t going to change that, Fen. You can risk possibly being conquered by the Alethi, or you can definitely fall to the Voidbringer assault alone!—Dalinar to Fen
Several days later, during the next highstorm, Dalinar had the Stormfather bring Fen into a vision with him. He chose the Starfalls vision so she could see the Knights Radiant first-hand in their former glory. He had the Stormfather insert Fen into the story in the place of Heb, whose role Dalinar had played in his first run-through of the vision, and he took the place of the female Knight who came to help the villagers. Dalinar entered the vision flying through the air having been Lashed there by his Windrunner companion. Before they reached the village Dalinar tried to question the other Knight about the nature of Shardplate but was unsuccessful. When he reached the ground, he retraced his footsteps and found Fen in the center of the village leading an organized resistance against the Midnight Essence. She recognized Dalinar and the Stormfather slowed the vision for them so they could talk.
At first, she was skeptical that it was more than a dream but Dalinar told her how he came to realize that they were real and she seemed to accept what he said. Dalinar told her that he had brought her into his vision because he wanted to talk to her in person and through letters and spanreeds. He praised her efforts at organizing the people of the village and asked her if she would turn her back on the rest of the world. She replied that her nation was suffering and that she had a hard time believing that the Almighty had chosen him, a tyrant and murderer, to lead the Knights Radiant.
”Where was this passion earlier? Why didn't you speak like this in your letters to me? [...] That made it sound like I was talking to a committee. It’s what one always assumes anyway, when communicating via spanreed.—Fen to Dalinar
Dalinar breathed in Stormlight to show her that he was a Radiant and repeated his claim that he was commanded to unite. She retorted that that was the same claim tyrants like Sadees and the Ardents of the Hierocracy used to justify their actions. Dalinar began growing frustrated and started raising his voice and shouting at her. He said that maybe allowing him and his armies into her cities was a risk, but she had no other choice, and if she did not act soon and make a united stand against the Voidbringers their world would be doomed. To Dalinar's surprise, Fen was not fazed by his outburst. On the contrary, she seemed to like being yelled at. She said that over the previous several months she had been hearing rumors that he had gone mad and then when she heard that he had predicted that a new storm would come she concluded that the rumors must have been true. Dalinar asked her what she thought when the storm came and she told him that it proved he was up to something, but she was not sure what it was. Dalinar asked her if she thought he was working with the enemy. She said that the voice on the other end of the spanreed was not the Blackthorn she knew and so had been sure, but after their conversation, she would reconsider. She asked Dalinar to let her finish the vision and the two of them parted ways. Afterward, the Stormfather did not think that Fen had been convinced but Dalinar thought that she would end up visiting Urithiru.
Next Dalinar asked the Stormfather to bring him, Navani, and Jasnah into the Broken People vision so they could learn from the past. First Dalinar entered on his own, and then fought through a group of wild men, losing an arm in the process. After a Stoneward helped Dalinar and his companions reach safety he let his Stormlight heal his arm and asked the Stormfather to bring in the women. Navani was quickly distracted by a Regrowth fabrial, and after a brief discussion with Dalinar praising his bravery in sharing the visions instead of hiding them, Jasnah went off in another direction to investigate on her own. After she pestered the Radiant with the fabrial to let her look at it, Navani and Dalinar walked through the battlefield together. Dalinar asked the Stormfather to include Navani in his responses and they discussed the events of Aharietiam as they explored together. When they reached the place where the nine Honorblades had been stuck into the ground in a circle by the surviving Heralds they stopped walking and Dalinar demanded to know the full story. The Stormfather then related the story of the Oathpact and the Last Desolation as he remembered it.
Wouldn't you? Would you swear it? Swear upon an unknown? These Heralds swore they would hold back the Voidbringers, and what happened to them? There is not a man alive who has not broken an oath, Dalinar Kholin. Your Radiants hold in their hands the souls and lives of my children. No. I will not let you do as your predecessors did. You know the important parts. The rest is irrelevant.”—The Stormfather's warning for Dalinar
He told them how the ten Heralds went to Honor and created the Oathpact to seal the Fused in Damnation to prevent their immediate rebirth. He told them how after millennia of repeated Desolations, the Heralds had given up and had abandoned Talenel in Damnation to hold off the Voidbringers on his own. Dalinar realized, and the Stormfather confirmed, that the madman who had come to Kholinar with a Shardblade had indeed been the Herald Talenel, broken after four and a half millennia, coming to warn humankind of the coming Desolation. The Stormfather told Dalinar that with Taln's return and the other Herald's betrayal the Oathpact had been weakened to the point of destruction. Navani asked the Stormfather if this was what had caused the Recreance but the Stormfather said that that was a deeper secret and refused to tell it to them, saying that it would cause Dalinar and his Radiants to abandon their oaths as their predecessors had. Dalinar protested that he would not abandon his oaths no matter what but the Stormfather said there was no way he could know that and still refused to tell him. Dalinar worried that not knowing this secret would come back to bite them later, but he knew that there was nothing for him to do about it but wait.
Soon afterward, Dalinar convened a meeting with Navani and the other Radiants to discuss what he had learned and its implications for their plans. Kaladin argued that the common singers were innocent and that they should not be fighting them and instead focusing their efforts on the Fused. Jasnah pointed out that he was being naive and that the events of the past showed that they could not come to a peaceful arrangement with them. Kaladin mentioned that Elhokar had asked him to accompany him on a mission to liberate Kholinar and rescue Aesudan and Gavinor. Dalinar suggested that he take three of his squires, the king, and Adolin as backup and fly with the next highstorm to liberate and unlock the Oathgate that was in the city. Jasnah interjected and said that they were being too narrow-minded and needed to have a broader approach. She said that while retaking Kholinar was a worthy short-term goal, they needed to come up with a plan to deal with the problem of the parshmen and the Fused. Jasnah told them that their best option would be to find the Heralds and kill them, sending them back to Damnation, in the hope that their return would restore the Oathpact and prevent the Fused from reincarnating in the Everstorm. When Kaladin protested she said that the alternative was that they exterminate the parshmen to deny the Fused their hosts. Dalinar interrupted their argument and said that while locating the Heralds would be a good idea, they did not know enough about the mechanics of the Oathpact to justify her plan. They decided that Jasnah would be responsible for locating the Heralds while Kaladin trained his Squires to be aerial scouts and Navani researched the Unmade. They then had a general discussion about which of the other Rosharan kingdoms they should approach next.
”Your butt is too nice. Old guys shouldn't have tight butts. It means you spend waaay too much time swinging a sword or punching people. You should have an old flabby butt. Then I’d trust you.—Lift telling Gawx why he should not trust Dalinar
At the next highstorm, Dalinar had the Stormfather bring Emperor Yanagawn of Azir into the vision of the Last Desolation. In the beginning of the vision, Dalinar kept his distance from the boy, felling any hostile soldiers who came near, to allow him to experience the vision for himself. He silently watched the young emperor question the soldiers of Feverstone Keep about what was happening. After they both witnessed Jezrien announce that they had defeated the Voidbringers for good and ended the war, Dalinar approached Yanagawn and revealed himself. At first, Yanagawn didn't believe Dalinar that he had brought into Dalinar's vision and instead believed that as emperor of Azir the Heralds would speak through him. Dalinar ignored his claim and used the battlefield as proof that they needed to work together. As they walked away from the battlefield the emperor told Dalinar what he been taught about Sadees, the Sunmaker. The viziers had told him about how when Sadees had conquered Azir he had massacred the populace. As Dalinar was trying to tell Yanagawn that he was different from his ancestor, to the Stormfather's surprise, Lift entered the vision and interrupted them. After a brief exchange, Yanagawn told Lift that Dalinar was trying to convince him to trust him. Lift told him not to trust Dalinar, took the emperor, and vanished. After they departed the Stormfather was in a state of shock and Dalinar was forced to sit out the remainder of the vision in silence.
Later, when Renarin sat in on a meeting of scribes who, led by Jasnah and Navani, were attempting to figure out the workings of the city, Dalinar came and joined them to provide a boost of support and self-esteem for his son.
Later, Dalinar had his first experience with controlled flight when Kaladin and his squires transported him, along with Navani, Kadash, Elhokar, and Rushu, back to the warcamps. The trip had two goals- so Kaladin could test flying as a group before his mission to Kholinar with Elhokar, and so Dalinar could inspect and assess their situation at the warcamps. After Brightness Jasalai led them on a short tour of the warcamp they discussed the logistics of maintaining a permanent Alethi presence on the Plains. After they finished they received word from Fen, whom Dalinar had recently sent into one of the visions unsupervised, saying that she would be willing to come and visit Urithiru. Dalinar then promised to send her a Radiant to open her Oathgate and transport them to the city.
Afterward, Dalinar went to the monastery to look for the madman who had been kept there. He had a conversation with Kadash in the monastery about what Kadash and the rest of the Vorin church would do if Dalinar could prove that the Almighty had died. When Dalinar tried and failed to enter the room where the madman had been kept he asked the Stormfather if he could use Tension to get in, but the Stormfather told him that he was not ready yet. Dalinar then went outside the building where he found that someone had cut a hole in the wall with a Shardblade. When he inspected the scene all he found was a dart tipped with blackbane poison. Dalinar then had Kaladin use his Shardblade to cut open the ardents' archives room and told him about his mission to Thaylen City. He then gave Navani the records he had retrieved for her as well as the dart he had found and then returned to Urithiru.
”Honor? No, he truly is dead, as you've been told. I’m the other one, Dalinar. They call me Odium.—Odium introducing himself to Dalinar
At the next highstorm, Dalinar brought Navani, Jasnah, Yanagawn, and a group of his viziers and scribes into the Highway to the Sun vision. Jasnah pointed out that the vision seemed to have taken place during the False Desolation. Dalinar tried to explain to the young emperor what was happening in front of them as the boy was hesitant to go near the action. He told Yanagawn that he had brought him into the vision since if they would not join forces then the least Dalinar could do for them was give him the information he had so their scholars could work through it. Yanagawn told him that he did not have any real power as the viziers were the ones who truly ran the country. Dalinar let Yanagawn hear Honor's message and watched the emperor and his other companions fade away. However, for him, the vision did not fade. Instead, Odium appeared before Dalinar as the Stormfather's presence faded away.
”Dalinar looked at it, baffled, then up at the old man. In Odium's eyes, he could see that violet-black fire. Deep, deep within. The figure with whom Dalinar spoke was not the god, it was merely a face, a mask. Because if Dalinar had to confront the true force behind those smiling eyes, he would go mad.—Dalinar on Odium
Dalinar, thinking strategically, tried to get Odium to divulge his plans. Dalinar asked Odium why he could not just leave them Roshar alone and leave. Odium asked him if he was serious and Intended to truly release him from his bonds and set him free. He told Dalinar that if that were to happen he would begin by killing Cultivation and destroying the remnants of Honor, after which he would significantly alter their realm. Dalinar asked Odium if he would accept a challenge of champions, but Odium declined, saying that he did not need to take the risk since he knew that Dalinar would free him. Dalinar told Odium that now that he had seen him, he was no longer afraid of him. Odium smiled and let Dalinar glimpse a fraction of what he truly was. After it ended Dalinar found himself lying on the ground, completely overwhelmed, with Odium standing over him. It was then that Dalinar realized that the man he was speaking to was a mere mask of Odium's true infinite being. He knew that if Odium's true power were to be unleashed upon Roshar the entire planet would be destroyed in an instant. Odium sensed something nearby and told Dalinar that they would meet again. After Odium left Lift appeared and told Dalinar that she would convince Gawx to go to Urithiru.
Leading Roshar (1174 - )
After Kaladin and Shallan returned from Thaylen City, having unlocked the Oathgate, Dalinar had Malata transport him, Navani, and Taravangian through the portal to meet with Fen. When he arrived, he was struck by how much damage the Everstorm had done to the city. When he met Fen she offered to give him a tour of the city. After being led through six temples Dalinar told Navani that this was boring him and she explained why Fen was bringing them to the temples and Dalinar realized that as a leader he also had to be a diplomat. When they arrived at the temple of Battah Fen, after a hesitation, let them inside to see the field hospital that had been set up there to care for the people who had been injured by the Everstorm and the escaping parshmen. Taravangian asked Fen if he could bring his surgeons to her city and she accepted his offer. Dalinar tried to offer her troops to help rebuild but Fen would not respond. Dalinar realized that Fen was not an absolute authority in Thaylenah and as long as the merchants of the city suspected Dalinar of trying to conquer the city she could not allow him to bring any soldiers into the city.
”I don’t want your life, son, I don’t want your city or your kingdom. If I’d wanted to conquer Thaylenah, I wouldn’t offer you a smiling face and promises of peace. You should know that much from my reputation.—Dalinar to Kdralk after stabbing him in his chest.
Fen excused herself saying that she had to meet with her council. While Dalinar waited he decided to provoke a fight to show that he did not intend to conquer the city. He started asking Kdralk questions about the city's defenses triggering the lad's ire. Dalinar asked him to fight him in a duel with longswords and alternating advantage with Kdralk going first. Dalinar dodged the boy's sword for the duration of the fight until he allowed him to strike him in the chest. Dalinar pulled out the sword and let his Stormlight heal him. The boy told Dalinar that it was his turn to take the sword but Dalinar declined to fight him saying that he had already been bloodied. He told Kdralk that if he had been trying to conquer his city he would not be walking around exchanging pleasantries, he would bring an army. To Dalinar's surprise he suddenly felt a rush of shame. He realized that this bullying method of getting his way was the way of the Blackthorn not the Bondsmith. He walked away to be alone with his thoughts leaving behind an awed crowd. As he was walking he heard a voice in his head, the same one he heard in his visions that always told him "Unite Them". He soon realized that this was different, he was hearing hundreds of voices speaking to him together. He realized that he was hearing the spren of the shattered temple and its desire to be whole again. He started gathering the stones of the temple and using his Surgebinding to fuse them back together.
”Shardbearers can't hold ground. [...] Fen, I have Radiants, yes—but they, no matter how powerful, won’t win this war. More importantly, I can’t see what I’m missing. That’s why I need you.—Dalinar to Fen
After Dalinar had finished fixing the front wall of the temple he asked a nearby scribe to write to Urithiru telling Renarin to come. By the time Fen had returned Kdralk and the other soldiers had started gathering the broken stones so Dalinar could fuse them back together and healed people were streaming out of the field hospital. Dalinar explained to her that they needed her help since if they were alone, they could not win. He told Fen that he needed her strengths to complement his own. Dalinar convinced her to join him and his coalition in Urithiru and she gave him advice on how he could convince the Azish to join his side.
Dalinar decided to give Jezrien's Honorblade, which he had hidden away, to Bridge Four so they could practice their Surgebinding while their captain was away. While he was retrieving it, he had a conversation with the Stormfather about the Heralds and their current situations. The Stormfather told Dalinar that he was not like an ordinary Bondsmith. He had the powers that Ishar, Binder of Gods, before he became the Herald of Luck. He told Dalinar that there were only three Bondsmith spren but not say who they were. Dalinar then took the Blade to Bridge Four and gave it to them with instructions that they use it to continue their training.
Dalinar then went to his rooms where Navani and Fen prepared him for his visit to Azimir. Fen gave him a packet of papers which she, Navani, and Jasnah had written as well as a spanreed to communicate with the tower and Navani handed him a box containing his lunch. As he was walking to the Oathgate he used Adhesion to break up a fight between some of Sadeas and Aladar's soldiers. Dalinar realized that Sadeas's soldiers were getting worse and resolved to come up with a solution to their continued disobedience and brawling. He decided that as a temporary measure he could have them work in Thaylen City repairing the damage the Everstorm had wrought to keep them busy and out of trouble. Jasnah then transported him through the Oathgate, which Lift had unlocked for him, to Azimir.
"You are not what I expected, Blackthorn," Noura said.
"And what did you expect?"
"An animal," she said frankly. "A half-man creature of war and blood."
Something about that struck him. An animal … Echoes of memories shuddered inside of him.”—Noura and Dalinar
When Dalinar arrived in Azimir and emerged from the Oathgate control building he found himself surrounded by a contingent of armed and armored Azish soldiers. He declared that he was unarmed and handed over his first attack, a four-page essay written by Queen Fen arguing about the economic value of the Oathgates. While the viziers and scions were reading the essay Dalinar tried, and succeeded, to use Spiritual Adhesion to forge a Connection with a nearby servant and understand what the Azish were saying. The viziers noticed this and were impressed, but after further deliberations, they decided that Fen's essay was not persuasive enough. Upon hearing this Dalinar reached into his packet and gave the viziers Navani's six-page essay which contained schematics and details of many of the fabrials they had developed. As they were in the middle of reading Navani's essay Dalinar reached into his packet and retrieved the third and final essay, Verdict, written by Jasnah. The viziers were extremely impressed by Jasnah's writing and it persuaded them to bring his arguments before the Prime and his council. They then led him to a waiting room for him to sit in while he waited for their decision. While Dalinar was pacing in the waiting room Lift arrived and ate his lunch. After a bizarre conversation with Lift, Noura returned to tell Dalinar what they had concluded. He said that while Jasnah's essay had been a work of art, in the end it was Navani's more sincere paper which had persuaded Azir to come to Urithiru and join the coalition. He told Dalinar that representatives from Emul, Tashikk, Yezier, Alm, Desh, and Liafor would be joining them as well. As Dalinar was reentering the Oathgate building, Noura told him that he had expected Dalinar to be more of a savage than he was. Dalinar told him that he had changed from the man he once had been. This conversation triggered a wave of recovered memories to flood through Dalinar. The memories of Evi and what had happened at the Rift overwhelmed him, and when he arrived in Urithiru he stumbled and collapsed to the floor.
”They thought he was sick. They thought his collapse on the Oathgate platform had been caused by heart troubles or fatigue. The surgeons had suggested rest. But if he stopped standing up straight, if he let it bow him down, he worried the memories would crush him.—Dalinar reflecting on recovering his memories.
”This is the sacrifice, isn't it? Someone must bear the responsibility. Someone must be dragged down by it, ruined by it. Someone must stain their soul so others may live. [...] The burden for the blood of those wronged must rest somewhere. I am the sacrifice. We, Dalinar Kholin, are the sacrifices. Society offers us up to trudge through dirty water so others may be clean. Someone has to fall, that others may stand.—Taravangian to Dalinar
After eight days of hiding in his chambers tortured by the memories of what he had done, Dalinar emerged back into public to join the crowd of people waiting for news from Kholinar. They had received word that Kaladin and his group were attempting to liberate the Oathgate. While Dalinar watched the combined army crammed on the Oathgate platform awaiting their transportation he asked the Stormfather how he could be bonded to a man who had committed such atrocities, but the Stormfather did not understand what the problem was. He said that he himself had burned cities before, but now with the insight their bond had given him he could see a difference.
Dalinar went into the common room where the other leaders were waiting for the news and sat down next to Taravangian next to the heatrial. Dalinar thanked him for leading the Azish, who had arrived the previous day while Dalinar was still incapacitated, on their tour of the tower. Dalinar spoke with Taravangian about their previous discussion about morality and asked him how someone could live with themselves after making such a compromise. Taravangian explained to him that as leaders it was their duty to bear the responsibility for injustices that happen under their rule.
After Dalinar finished speaking with Taravangian they received word from Kholinar that the mission had failed and that they were unable to unlock the Oathgate. The writer at the other end of the spanreed did not tell them what had happened to Elhokar, Kaladin, Shallan, Adolin, and the others leaving the residents of Urithiru in the dark, not knowing what had befallen them.
When the time came for the first meeting with all of the members of the coalition, Dalinar still feeling haunted and weary from what happened in Azir, asked Navani to lead the meeting in his place. Throughout the meeting Dalinar sat in his chair, gazing imperiously at all present with little participation in the debate. When the meeting took a recess Navani sat down with Dalinar and told him that he needed to get out of the tower and take a break. They decided that Dalinar would go to Vedenar to assess the situation over there before they sent in troops to aid Taravangian and his people.
It seemed that Dalinar had been four people in his life. The bloodlusty warrior, who killed wherever he was pointed, and the consequences could go to Damnation.
The general, who had feigned distinguished civility—when secretly, he'd longed to get back on the battlefield so he could shed more blood.
Third, the broken man. The one who paid for the actions of the youth.
Then finally, the fourth man: most false of them all. The man who had given up his memories so he could pretend to be something better.”—Dalinar reflecting on his past.
As Dalinar toured Vedenar he tried to distract himself but he was unable to and his mind kept wandering back to what he had done at Rathalas. Eventually, Navani was led away from him and Dalinar made his way to a gazebo to look upon the ruins of the city by himself. As he gazed upon the remains of the civil war, he smelled smoke and heard phantom weeping, things he remembered feeling before he went to the Nightwatcher. Eventually, Taravangian arrived carrying a half-shard to show Dalinar. They discussed how the fabrials were made and Dalinar, suddenly overwhelmed by the moral implications of 'enslaving' spren inside fabrials, tried to change the subject. They discussed the morality of what Sadees, Dalinar's ancestor, had done to Roshar. Taravangian argued that they would be better off if Sadees had succeeded in his quest of conquering all of Roshar as it would have left them better equipped to fight off the Voidbringers as a unified force. Dalinar was uncertain that this would have justified the slaughter and death such a conquest would have required, and he said that in any case, they could not change the past. Taravangian started to explain to Dalinar how artifabrians trapped spren in gemstones for fabrial, but Dalinar became overwhelmed again and hastily left the king's presence.
Dalinar made his way to the stormshelters outside the city walls where he inspected the city's troops, a process which seemed to calm him down. At the end of his inspection, he came to a tent filled with wounded soldiers. One of them, Geved, told Dalinar what fighting in the Veden civil war had been like. As he listened to Geved's description of the battle he recognized that the Thrill had been involved, and he began to feel the Thrill inside him. This was the first time in a very long time that Dalinar had felt the Thrill within himself. He realized that throughout his time on the Shattered Plains when the Thrill had been fading from within him it had not been because he had been working to overcome it, rather the Thrill had left him.
If you become that first man again, it will stop hurting. In your youth, you did what needed to be done. You were stronger then.
Is this leadership? To cry each night? To shake and tremble? Those are the actions of a child, not a man.
Give me your pain.”—Odium speaking to Dalinar as he tried to escape the Thrill.[disputed]
Dalinar's composure collapsed again, and he dashed away, desperate to be away from all of the people. He made his way to the city walls and reflected on his past as he walked along the fortification. He was interrupted by a Veden soldier who wanted to know why an Alethi man was spying on the city's walls. Dalinar felt the Thrill surge within himself, urging him to attack the man. He dashed away trying to escape from the Thrill, but it did not work. He tried sucking in Stormlight to push it away, but it only made it worse. As he made his way to the Oathgate, trying to slow his pace and keep his head up, he heard voices in his head telling him to give up responsibility for what he had done. He lost all composure and began charging through the city trying to get to the Oathgate and the escape it provided as fast as he could. When he arrived at the Oathgate he found Navani and a number of ardents, Curates, members of the Holy Enclave in Valath wearing blue robes and holding ornate staves waiting for him. The ardents announced that they could no longer tolerate his claims that the Almighty had died, and they were proclaiming that he was to be excommunicated and considered anathema to all good Vorin people. As the ardent began outlining his heresies Dalinar felt the Thrill surge within him, urging him to kill the man standing before him. Dalinar fled, dashing for the control building before he could do the man any harm. Dalinar then, despite the Stormfather's protests, reached into the Spiritual Realm and forced something into the Oathgate, activating it without a Shardblade.
Dalinar stumbled from the Oathgate in a daze, ignoring everyone around him. As he walked, he heard Evi's voice in his mind telling him to accept who he was and not try to escape it. He made his way to his room and picked up The Way of Kings, but he could not read it and it could not help him. He dropped the book and, almost unconsciously, made his way to Adolin's room. He searched the room until he found the bottle of strong violet wine Adolin kept for special occasions. He realized that he was turning back to the way he was before he went to the Nightwatcher but he decided that it would be worth it if it meant he wouldn't start killing people again. He drank from the bottle and drifted away.
After three days of drinking away his problems, Dalinar experienced a strange dream. He woke up in a room that he recognized from one of his earlier visions but was not quite the same as he remembered it. He tried asking the Stormfather why he had brought him into the vision, as they had agreed that with Odium's intrusions the visions were too dangerous, but there was no response. He found Nohadon behind him sitting at a desk covered in piles of papers. Dalinar assumed that he was writing his magnum opus, The Way of Kings, but Nohadon corrected him and told him that he was simply writing a shopping list of ingredients he needed to bake Shin bread. Nohadon perceived that had been having a hard time and brought Dalinar with him on his trip to the market to take his mind off of his troubles. After haggling with a grain merchant, Nohadon told Dalinar that he had learned how to bake Shin bread from a woman who had hosted him near Shin Kak Nish. He told Dalinar that his life, like the woman's life, was unfair.
”You've said the oaths, but do you understand the journey? Do you understand what it requires? You’ve forgotten one essential part, one thing that without which there can be no journey.—Nohadon to Dalinar
Dalinar told him about his struggles with trying to convince the monarchs to join with him and how he wanted to be able to force them to listen to him. Nohadon asked him why didn't force them if it was for their own good, and Dalinar replied that he was trying to follow Nohadon's example from The Way of Kings. Nohadon replied that he had done that after trying and failing to force people to work with him. They then discussed how having morals and standing by them comes with a cost. Dalinar heard thumping outside the building they were in and when he went outside to check what it was he found a massive skeletal stone creature. The Thunderclast reached a hand out to Nohadon who touched it, stilling the great creature. Nohadon asked Dalinar what this part of his nightmare represented, and Dalinar told him that it represented his pain and hypocrisy. Nohadon told him that hypocrisy can mean that a person is changing and it is not necessarily a bad thing. His words resonated within Dalinar and he remembered that he himself had said those words. When he woke up Dalinar realized that it had been a dream, not a vision, and suddenly remembered the events of Gavilar's funeral.
As Dalinar shaved and dressed the next morning he reflected on the events of the night before, both the strange dream and the memories he had recovered. He reflected on the flaws of human memory, how people remembered events and people differently, and the general perception of Gavilar had changed over time. Dalinar reached out to the Stormfather and was relieved to find that the spren was still with him, as he had feared that what he had done with the Oathgate in Vedenar would cause the Stormfather to leave him. He asked the Stormfather if he had been behind his dream with Nohadon, but the Stormfather had no knowledge that the dream had occurred, confirming Dalinar's suspicions that it had been an ordinary dream and not a vision. Feeling refreshed and at least partially recovered from his drinking spree, Dalinar left his room to find out what the others were up to.
Oh, Ruthar, you can't win this fight. Jasnah has thought about the topic far more than you have. It’s a familiar battleground to her—
Storms, that was it.”—Dalinar thinking about Ruthar's response to Jasnah
He found Taravangian sitting by the hearth outside his study and took him to the tactics meeting taking place up in the Gallery of Maps. When he arrived Aladar, who was leading the meeting, greeted Dalinar and asked him if he was feeling better. Dalinar replied that he had been meditating and started to ask Aladar about their plans for the war. He was interrupted by Fen who demanded to know why he had abandoned them. Dalinar first tried to explain that he had taken his excommunication from the Vorin church poorly, but then admitted that he had not done the right thing. This satisfied Fen and the others and the meeting proceeded, returning to their discussion of how to fortify Jah Keved. As they were discussing how to defend the land near the Horneater Peaks Dalinar noticed Navani entering the room and called for a break to consider what had been discussed.
After Dalinar thanked Navani for staying with him and supporting him during his struggle with his memories and his alcoholism he looked at the map of Roshar and tried to discern where the enemy would attack next. As he was examining the map Jasnah arrived and had a verbal spat with Ialai Sadeas, who wisely backed down. Ruthar tried to respond to Jasnah by decrying her heresy. Dalinar sighed internally thinking that Ruthar had no chance of winning an argument with Jasnah about a topic so familiar to her. This triggered an idea in Dalinar and he realized, shouting it for all to hear, that the Voidbringers would not be attacking Jah Keved after all since the land was too familiar to the humans fighting for the coalition. The meeting resumed and after a quick process of elimination, it was determined that the singers would be attacking Thaylen City. They then worked out arrangements for sailors and ships from Kharbranth and Tashikk, along with some Alethi soldiers, to go to Thaylen City to help with its defense.
As the meeting concluded Fen approached Dalinar and asked him to recant his heresy for the sake of preserving their unity and prevent a religious collapse but he refused. After he left the meeting Dalinar went and found Kadash. He tried to tell Kadash that he was releasing him and all of his ardents from his service so they would no longer have to serve a heretic, but Kadash refused. He told Dalinar that his people needed the ardents, whether or not Dalinar himself believed they did. Kadash then tried to convince Dalinar to release a statement of support for the Vorin church even if he himself no longer believed, but Dalinar walked away. Once he had gotten far enough away from Kadash Dalinar called out to the Stormfather and asked him if the Voidbringers had a highprince or another sort of leader. The Stormfather told Dalinar that there was one and Dalinar asked the Stormfather to arrange a meeting between them during the next highstorm.
As he waited for the highstorm to arrive and examined some of the tower's strata with Navani, Dalinar received word from Fen that she had evidence that the Voidbringers were building a flotilla of ships near Marat. Dalinar suggested that they have the next meeting in Thaylen City and then the highstorm hit, and he entered the vision.
”Be strong, Dalinar. I have faith in you, even when you don't have it in yourself. Though it will hurt for a time, there is an end. Peace is in your future. Push through the agony. Then you will be victorious, my son.—Odium to Dalinar
Dalinar found himself in the palace he remembered from previous visits to the vision, taking the place of one of the guards, and saw Nohadon walking with Venli. The Stormfather warned Dalinar that Odium noticed that the vision had begun and would be coming soon. Dalinar decided to make the most of his time and approached Venli to speak with her before it was too late. He introduced himself to her but she reacted with his hostility and refused his repeated attempts at proposing a truce. As they were talking, they heard a loud noise and as the vision began to break apart Venli told Dalinar the He, Odium, was the true reason they could not make a treaty. She told him that his only hope of survival would be to surrender to Odium and hope that he did not destroy them. They were torn apart from each other and Dalinar used his Surgebinding to reach out to her to touch her and send her back to safety.
As soon as Venli had gone Dalinar felt himself being ripped apart by Odium's power. When he regained his senses Odium appeared beside him. He asked Dalinar what he had been seeing and re-formed the vision to see for himself. Odium told Dalinar that he knew his pain and he was the only one who truly understood it. Dalinar asked if there could be peace and Odium told him that it would come after Dalinar destroyed Roshar and he rebuilt it. Dalinar tried to ask for a contest of champions but he could not get the words out and he realized that he had no hope of fighting or defeating Odium. Odium told Dalinar that while there would be pain, he should push through it, and in the end, there would be peace and he would be victorious. After the vision ended Dalinar heard the Stormfather weeping from the price he had paid to keep Odium out of the vision for as long as he had.
When Dalinar arrived in Thaylen City he was met by Meridas Amaram who reported on the work his men had done to secure the city. Amaram tried to convince Dalinar to give him command of the fight to liberate Alethkar but Dalinar commanded him to continue his work in Thaylen City and Amaram walked away. After discussing the problem of merchants and bankers leaving Thaylen City with Fen Dalinar spoke with the Stormfather about what Odium had almost done to him. The Stormfather told Dalinar that Odium could have Splintered him but held himself back out of fear of causing Cultivation to strike back at him. Dalinar asked the Stormfather who the other Bondsmith spren were, and the Stormfather told him that the Nightwatcher was one, but he refused to tell Dalinar about the third who slumbers. They discussed Honor's state at the time of the Recreance and then Dalinar left to go to the meeting.
As Dalinar looked over the room he heard a voice in his head saying Unite them but the Stormfather insisted that he did not know who was speaking those words. Dalinar noticed the Azish fleet arriving in the harbor and asked Yanagawn to update him on the status of their troops. Fen took charge of the meeting and started to discuss the situation in her city. As they finished discussing the defenses of the city and the Azish began outlining their guidelines for the coalition Dalinar noticed Renarin suddenly leaving the meeting. He turned and saw a scribe bring Jasnah and Navani a sheaf of papers. The Stormfather rumbled in Dalinar's mind and he had a sudden feeling of impending danger. Suddenly spanreeds around the room began flashing and writing. Fen read over one of her scribes' shoulder that the Everstorm had just hit Shinovar, four days earlier than expected. Dalinar suggested, and the others agreed, that it was a good time to take a break from the meeting. Dalinar began to feel relieved that the looming disaster he had felt coming had not been so bad, but the Stormfather told him that the disaster had not come yet. Dalinar realized that there was more to the message they had all received and asked Navani and Jasnah what it was. They told him that there had been a breakthrough in translating the Dawnchant and they had been sent a translation of the Eila Stele which described the First Desolation from the perspective of the Dawnsingers. After Navani finished reading it Dalinar was confused by the way the writer described the Voidbringers as not having shells. He realized that the person writing the stele was not a human, but rather a parshman, and therefore the humans were the invaders, not the singers.
”This is what you feared, a world that turns not upon force of armies, but upon the concerns of scribes and bureaucrats.—Dalinar
Taravangian stood up and said that he would like an explanation for the news he had just received, a sentiment echoed by Fen and Noura. Dalinar tried saying that they should adjourn to deal with the coming storm and discuss the news afterward. Taravangian said that while that may be a good idea, he was concerned by the revelation that they did not have the 'moral high ground' in their conflict. Fen replied that she did not care about that but instead she wanted an explanation for the "highking" arrangement Dalinar had made with Elhokar before he left for Kholinar which would have made Dalinar into an emperor. Dalinar objected that it was an exaggeration and Navani said that it was merely an internal Alethi affair and they would be releasing a statement explaining it shortly. Noura then asked them to explain the accounts of two unreleased visions in which Dalinar met with the enemy, Odium. Jasnah interjected that all of these revelations happening simultaneously were clearly meant to be a coordinated attack against them. All of the monarchs started talking at once and Navani and Jasnah tried to defend Dalinar while he sank into his chair. He realized that he had always feared living in a world ruled by scribes and scholars instead of armies and military strength, and that in this new world he had just been soundly outsmarted.
”I … understand now as I never did before. The ancient Radiants didn't abandon their oaths out of pettiness. They tried to protect the world. I blame them for their weakness, their broken oaths. But I also understand. You have cursed me, human, with this capacity.—The Stormfather speaking to Dalinar
Dalinar left the meeting early and went to his rooms. He discussed what he had learned with the Stormfather who told him that this knowledge, when the previous generation of Radiants had learned it, had led them to abandon their oaths and caused the Recreance. Dalinar promised the Stormfather that he would not abandon his oath and he would not allow his radiants to abandon theirs either, but the Stormfather was doubtful. Dalinar noticed the men of Bridge Four solemnly making their way to the Oathgate. He asked them why they were leaving and Teft told him that after what they had heard they were no longer sure that they should continue fighting. He told Dalinar that they would wait for Kaladin to return and see what he thinks of it. After they had passed the Stormfather told Dalinar that through their bond he was now able to understand why the radiants had decided to abandon their oaths.
Dalinar met the Azish contingent as they left the temple where the meeting had taken place and made their way out of the city, heading for the docks. Most of them ignored Dalinar but Noura stopped and spoke with Dalinar about what they had decided. He said that regardless of the threat the Voidbringers poised the Surges he and his radiants wielded were dangerous and should not be used. He said that they were going to sail back to Azimir in ships that Taravangian had lent them so they would not have to use the Oathgate. When he found Fen he asked her if she would abandon him too, but she told him that she had no choice but to accept his help. Taravangian approached him and apologized for releasing all of the information, claiming that he had thought everyone else had access to it already. He then told Dalinar, without explaining why, that he was forced to leave Dalinar and not stand with him anymore. Dalinar tried arguing with him to get him to stay but Taravangian left anyways. The Stormfather told Dalinar that he had tried to hide this for his own good, saying that lying to themselves was one of the things men did best. Dalinar tried objecting but the Stormfather told him that he himself had been living a lie for the past six years, trying to pretend that he had not killed Evi. Dalinar had no response to this and, feeling dejected, returned to his villa.
The Battle of Thaylen Field
”What is the most important step that a man can take?—Dalinar Kholin
As the Everstorm rolled into the city Dalinar was surprised to see that Odium's forces had sailed during the storm and were arriving in the city so soon. Once it had reached the city the storm stopped moving and settled down upon the city as the singers began disembarking from their boats. As Dalinar watched Amaram's troops rush out of the city onto the field he heard General Khal shouting for troops to be sent from Urithiru, but he realized that they would not be able to arrive in time to help. He took his copy of The Way of Kings in his hand and stepped out into the city.
As Dalinar made his way through the city, dodging civilians as he walked, he suddenly felt the Thrill wash over him. After a brief struggle with himself, Dalinar rejected the Thrill and continued on his way. As started to walk again a Thunderclast sent a giant boulder smashing into Dalinar, pinning him to a wall, but he was able to use Stormlight to extract himself. He watched the Thunderclast tear apart the Thaylen Gemstone Reserve allowing several Fused to enter the building and extract a large ruby that had been stored there. Dalinar saw the Fused knock over a young woman on a palanquin over and he ran over to help. As Dalinar looked back at the retreating Thunderclast he saw, through a hole in the city wall, that Amaram's soldiers' eyes were glowing red and they had changed sides.
Dalinar stepped through the hole in the wall onto the rubble beyond. Lift appeared beside him and Dalinar instructed her to retrieve the King's Drop from the Fused who had taken it. After Lift departed, Odium materialized among the soldiers and walked towards Dalinar accompanied by Amaram, Venli, Yelig-Nar, and several Fused. He gave instructions to the Thunderclasts and then turned to Dalinar and told him that their time had come.
Amaram's soldiers parted around Dalinar as they walked into the city and Dalinar ignored them as they passed. Dalinar began to despair of ever defeating Odium who seemed too vast and powerful an entity to be destroyed. Then he remembered what Honor had told him in one of his visions about appointing a champion. Dalinar turned to Odium and demanded that they have a contest of champions together. He told Odium that killing the humans would not free him from Roshar and he said that if Odium wins the contest, he would allow him to leave, but if the human's champion prevailed Odium must allow the humans to live. Odium warned Dalinar that as a Bondsmith his words had an effect and he must be certain that he meant what he said, which caused Dalinar to hesitate. After thinking it over Dalinar told Odium that he was sure he wanted the contest, and Odium accepted it. Dalinar asked Odium who he had chosen as his champion, asking if it was Amaram, but Odium said that Amaram was not strong enough for what he wanted. The Thrill surged into Dalinar, stronger than ever, as Odium told Dalinar that he had been preparing him for all of his life for this very purpose and he was sure Dalinar would make the right decision. Dalinar tried telling Odium that he was wrong, but instead of answering him, Odium asked him what Evi would say. Dalinar heard Evi's voice crying and screaming as she burned to death in Rathalas. Odium told him that her death was not his fault, that he had made Dalinar kill her.
”Blame me, Dalinar. It wasn't you! You saw red when you did those things! It was my fault. Accept that. You don’t have to hurt. Let me have the pain, Dalinar, give it to me, and never feel guilty again.—Odium to Dalinar
Odium started showing Dalinar visions of things he had done in the past while under the Thrill and telling him again and again that the things he had done were not his fault, but Dalinar pulled The Way of Kings close to his chest and refused to give in. Odium then sent him back into his memories of what happened at the Rift. Dalinar begged for mercy but Odium told him that he would keep reliving it until he gave in and admitted that it had not been his fault. Odium then had a bolt of lightning blast Dalinar's book from his hands and he dismissed its author, Nohadon, as a long-dead failure. Dalinar fell to his knees and he heard the Stormfather whimpering in his mind. Dalinar tried to look away from the vision but there was nowhere to turn as he was surrounded by the vision. Dalinar tried to think of something that would distract him from his pain, but the only thing available was the Thrill. He remembered how he had always needed the Thrill to keep him going. He slumped over and as he heard Evi weeping he thought about how he had never deserved her. As he was crying, he felt the sound of the Stormfather's weeping leave his mind as Odium pushed the great spren away, leaving Dalinar feeling alone. Odium knelt beside Dalinar and told him that he was not alone and never had been as Odium had always been with him. As the Thrill surged within him Dalinar realized that he was a fraud just like Amaram. His veneer of honesty hid the murderer who killed women and children beneath a facade of honor. As Odium begged him to let go and give him his pain Dalinar trembled with pain and clawed at the ground as he thought of how he had failed his family. He thought he could not live with all of this pain and tore out his fingernails to try and distract himself but it did not help him forget the agony of his true self.
Odium announced to the watching singers that it was done and that Dalinar would now be their leader. The Fused complained that they were being made to follow a human but Odium threatened to reclaim his power that kept them alive and they backed down. Amaram walked up and gave Odium Nightblood's sheath and Odium gave him a gemstone and instructed him to swallow it so that he could bond with Yelig-Nar. Amaram asked if he would be allowed to kill Dalinar and Odium told him that someday he might unless Dalinar killed him first.
Odium turned to Dalinar and told him that the pain was over and that it was time to claim his new position as head of Odium's forces. While he huddled in too much pain to breathe or think he felt something inside his clenched fist and he opened it revealing a single gloryspren. This triggered a thought in Dalinar's head. He realized that the most important step a man could take was always the next step he took. Agonized and trembling, Dalinar forced his mouth open and spoke one sentence.
”YOU CANNOT HAVE MY PAIN!—Dalinar to Odium
Odium stumbled back in surprise as he heard what Dalinar had said. Dalinar shouted at Odium that he had been the one to kill the people of Rathalas, not Odium. He said that while Odium had been there with him it had been his choice that caused Evi to die. He said that he accepted responsibility for what he had done and that Odium could not take it away from him. As Dalinar shouted at Odium he noticed that gloryspren were gathering around him and circling him in the air. Odium asked Dalinar what he hoped to gain by doing this. Dalinar replied that if he pretended that he had not done the things he had done it would mean that he could not grow to become a better person. Dalinar felt a familiar warm calming lite within him and he heard the words Unite Them echoing in his head. Dalinar said that a journey cannot be a journey if it does not have a beginning. A thunderclap sounded in his head and he felt the Stormfather return to him, surprised and frightened by what was happening. Dalinar then swore the Third Ideal of the Bondsmiths:
”I will take responsibility for what I have done, if I must fall, I will rise each time a better man.—Dalinar swearing his Third Ideal
Dalinar heard the voice in his head saying Unite Them once again as thousands of gloryspren streamed around him. Beyond them, Odium stumbled back looking smaller than ever. As the voice saying Unite Them was even louder in his mind Dalinar thrust his left hand out and grabbed hold of the Cognitive Realm and he stretched his right hand out and grabbed hold of the Spiritual Realm.
Venli approached him and asked him what he was. As he stood with his arms stretched out listening to the silence Dalinar heard a familiar woman's quiet voice saying that she forgave him. Dalinar opened his eyes and told Venli that he was Unity. Dalinar then slammed both of his hands together and summoned Honor's Perpendicularity as a tower of light extending all the way up to the sky. Odium shouted at Dalinar that "they" had killed him.
”I am Unity.—Dalinar to Venli
After hearing Evi's voice forgive him, the pain that he had just promised to accept upon himself started to fade away. Sounding stunned, the Stormfather told Dalinar that the Words of his oath had been accepted. Odium stumbled back and shouted orders to attack Dalinar. Venli did not move, but Amaram slowly stopped shielding his eyes from the light and began summoning his Shardblade. Dalinar told Amaram that he could change, but Amaram pointed to his chest and said that he would never be forgiven. As Amaram swung Oathbringer at Dalinar a pillar of light swung off of the pillar and Kaladin appeared and used Syl to block the blow. Moments later Adolin and Shallan emerged from the column of light as well to Dalinar's great relief. When no one else stepped out of the column Dalinar realized that Elhokar was gone.
Dalinar opened his eyes and the column of gloryspren slowly faded away as he released the Realms and the perpendicularity collapsed. The power in him withdrew leaving Dalinar feeling exhausted. He saw that he had infused the gemstones scattered across the field, leaving him and his Radiants a wealth of Stormlight to use. The Stormfather told Dalinar that he had opened a direct conduit into the Spiritual Realm and asked him how he was able to renew the spheres. Dalinar told him that their Connection together allowed him to do it. He said that their bond was stronger than previous Bondsmiths since Honor was no longer alive.
Kaladin, Jasnah, Renarin, Lift, Shallan, and, to Dalinar's surprise, Szeth gathered around Dalinar. Dalinar counted seven Radiants rather than the ten he had been expecting. The Stormfather told him to look behind him and he saw Shalash and Taln walking towards him. Dalinar turned back and surveyed the battlefield. He saw that Odium had faded away almost completely and all that remained were the Fused, Yelig-Nar, and Amaram with his ten thousand soldiers, as well as the Thrill which manifested as a massive red cloud hanging over the ground near the water. Dalinar asked the Stormfather why only nine Radiants had come to join him, but the Stormfather did not know why the tenth Radiant had not come.
”The enemy brought a very big stick to this battle, Captain. I'm going to take it away.—Dalinar on the Thrill
Kaladin asked Dalinar for orders and Dalinar watched Amaram get back as his soldiers and the singers began to recover. Dalinar realized that neutralizing the Thrill was one of the most important things for them to do. Dalinar noticed that his wrist fabrial had been shattered when the bolt of lightning had struck his book and he had an idea of how to deal with the Thrill.
Dalinar ordered Renarin to secure the Oathgate, unlock it, and bring the reinforcements waiting in Urithiru through the portal and into Thaylen City. He told Shallan to Lightweave up an army for Amaram's soldiers to fight. He told her that they should be easier to deceive as they were currently under the thrall of the Thrill. He asked Jasnah to use her Soulcasting to repair the hole in the city's wall. Dalinar told Kaladin that he would serve as his bodyguard during the battle, defending him from Amaram. He told Lift to take Szeth and bring him the ruby that the Fused had taken. Dalinar started to walk toward the water and told Kaladin that they were going to go stop the Thrill.
As Dalinar approached the red mist that was the Thrill he stopped and peered into the mists. He saw familiar images of things he and the people he had killed in the past. He was able to hear the Thrill's warming pulses, like the beats of a drum. Dalinar greeted the Thrill and stepped into its mist.
The Thrill recognized Dalinar and was happy to see him. As he walked through the mist, he saw times when the Thrill had been with him and times when it had withdrawn. He realized that the Thrill had no actual intent, let alone a malevolent one. He saw that the Thrill was simply the primal desire and urge to fight. The Thrill returned all of the memories of himself that Dalinar hated. He realized that while once he had gone to the Nightwatcher to forget what he had done, he no longer wanted to lose those memories. He told the Thrill that he welcomed it and that he accepted who he had been. As his vision became tinged with red Dalinar thanked the Thrill for giving him strength when he needed it. As he watched himself walk towards Rathalas on his way to burn the city, Dalinar told the Thrill that he understood it.
After a while drifting in the Thrill's embrace Lift arrived and delivered the King's Drop to him. Lift asked him why heeded the stone, and Dalinar remembered what Taravangian had told him about how fabrials were made, by giving a spren what it wants and is familiar with to lure it into a gemstone. He told Lift that Shallan had scared Re-Shephir causing it to flee, but he said that the Thrill was not intelligent enough for that and could only be defeated by someone who understood it very well. Dalinar lifted the gemstone and embraced the Thrill for the last time. Dalinar thanked the Thrill for giving him strength when he needed it, and as the Thrill snuggled closely with him, he told it that it was time for it to take a rest. After the Unmade was successfully trapped in the gemstone the red mist faded away causing Amaram's soldiers to stop mid-charge and lie retching on the ground, having suddenly had the Thrill removed from within them. The sky then cleared as the Everstorm departed while the Fused and singers sailed away in their boats. The battle had been won.
Dalinar began walking back to the city, with Kaladin and Lopen each supporting one of his arms, leaving a trail of exhaustionspren behind him. Navani ran out of the city and took over from the bridgemen walking Dalinar the rest of the way. As they walked Dalinar told her how he had realized that the two months of pain from his memories had been exactly what he needed to experience in order to stand up to Odium. He thanked her for inspiring him, saying that her broken fabrial hanging from his arm had reminded him how to trap the Unmade. He showed Navani the ruby containing Nergaoul and told her that he wanted her to keep it safe and study it to figure out what had enabled it to trap a spren as powerful as an Unmade. Dalinar then asked Navani to teach him how to read and write.
Later, back in the city, Dalinar accepted Fen's thanks and they sent a message to the Azish to try and explain what had happened. On the way to his villa, Dalinar stopped at the temple of Talenelat, which had been converted into a meeting place for the generals, to look the room over. As he was examining some of the depictions of Taln's many last stands Taravangian arrived and told Dalinar that he had brought his surgeons to help. Dalinar thanked him for the help and asked him why he had abandoned them to the enemy. Taravangian told Dalinar that he had assumed that Dalinar would fall and so he had arranged the events to play out in a way that would leave him as head of the coalition in Dalinar's place. He told Dalinar that for the good of Roshar he had been forced to do what he had done. Even with all of the conversations about philosophy that they had had together, Dalinar was shocked by Taravangian's ruthlessness. Dalinar realized that Taravangian had not become king of Jah Keved by chance and asked him how he had done it. Taravangian told Dalinar how Dova had warned him of the coming Desolation and he had sought out the Assassin in White and given him instructions of which monarchs to kill and in what order to do so. Later when he received word of where Skar and Drehy were with Gavinor Dalinar supercharged Kaladin with Stormlight and sent him to get them.
Back in Urithiru Dalinar convened another meeting and had Shallan conjure the illusion of the map of Roshar for him. Dalinar had Shallan color the parts of the map to represent the different power groups on Roshar- the singers, the Azish, the lands of the coalition, and the neutral lands of Shinovar and Tukar. Dalinar asked Shallan to show him Kholinar and he used his connection with the Stormfather to help her create the illusion.
Shallan said to Dalinar that based on Kaladin's reports the singers wanted to have their lands back and they did not want to destroy Roshar. She asked Dalinar if they could just allow the singers to keep Kholinar but Dalinar told her that they could not give in. He said that as long as Odium was leading the singers they would not stop fighting until every human had been wiped from the map. Dalinar then brought up the matter of the traitor among them and they discussed who might have opened the Oathgate and let the Voidbringers into Urithiru.
Dalinar said that they needed to pick a new king to lead Alethkar now that Elhokar had died. Adolin tried saying that Gavinor should be the king as he was the heir to the throne, but Dalinar said that the boy was too young to lead. Dalinar said that he would prepare Adolin's coronation to take place after his wedding with Shallan. Adolin then confessed to Dalinar that he had been the one who had killed Sadeas. Dalinar tried to push it away and said that they could work around this, but Adolin insisted that he was not fit to be king and refused to accept it. Dalinar said that he needed to divest himself from all power in Alethkar so he could lead the Radiants. Shallan then suggested that they coronate Jasnah to be queen of Alethkar and they agreed.
After Adolin and Shallan's wedding, Dalinar returned to his rooms to continue writing his book. As had become usual, now that Bridge Thirteen had become Teft's squires, Szeth sat outside Dalinar's door acting as his bodyguard. Oathbringer, his former Shardblade, hung on the wall in front of him after Rock had given it to him as repayment. Dalinar sat at his desk writing his book until Navani came in and gave him some help with his pronouns. Dalinar reflected that the men of Vorinism had gotten the worse deal when they had given the arts of scholarship to women and kept the arts of war and fighting for themselves instead. Navani asked him what the ardents thought about him having learned to read and Dalinar told her that since he was already excommunicated there was nothing else they could do to him. She told him that they might leave him, but Dalinar disagreed and told her that he thought that Kadash might start to change his mind. He told her that Kadash had been reading through old theological texts trying to find justification for modern Vorinism and, while he might not want to believe it, eventually he would have to admit that Dalinar had been right. Dalinar was happy to have entered a new world where he could read any book he wanted by himself and all of the possibilities it opened up for him. Dalinar looked up at the Shardblade hanging above him and wrote a title for his book of memoirs- Oathbringer, My Glory and My Shame.
The War Continues
Six months after the battle in Thaylen City Dalinar met with Ral-na, king of the residents of Relu-na, and his son Talik to negotiate a treaty together so the coalition would have allies in the north in case the enemy began making moves in the region. He had Lopen speak to them first in order to reassure them about his intentions.
Contest of Champions
A year later, Dalinar was brought into a vision by Odium, in which he set the terms of their contest of champions--one champion for each side would make it to the top of Urithiru unharmed by either side, and fight to the death. If Dalinar's champion won, Odium would retreat to the kingdoms that he had conquered, giving control of Thaylenah, Herdaz, and Alethkar to the coalition. If Odium won, he would remain in the Rosharan system, but he would gain Dalinar's soul to transform into a Fused.
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 an 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 soldier. 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 is possible this was because Gavilar was a more advantageous match, Navani claims that young Dalinar scared her with his intensity. 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 is 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, 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
”I am [a hypocrite], but sometimes a hypocrite is nothing more than a person who is in the process of changing—Dalinar to the Stormfather
Hoid. Those two have been around since I was 15 and so, there is some favoritism for them, perhaps, just in longevity sense. ”I will say Dalinar is my oldest character, followed by
Dalinar is one of Brandon's oldest characters. He appeared in Brandon's first book, written when he was fifteen; there, he was named Jared. Like Dalinar, Jared was a younger brother to a well-liked king who was eventually assassinated; unlike Dalinar, Jared takes over the reins of the kingdom and takes his time to mold his nephew into a proper ruler, as the proto-Elhokar character (alongside proto-Jasnah) is initially kidnapped by the same assassins. While the story itself was canned, Brandon took Jared with him further, into Dragonsteel, where he participated in the Shattered Plains plot that would eventually be moved to The Stormlight Archive.
The next known incarnation of Dalinar is Dalenar, in The Way of Kings Prime. Like Jared before him, Dalenar loses his older brother to assassins, although it seems he doesn't become the next king himself. Dalenar has three sons: Sheneres, Aredor (who would eventually become Adolin), and Renarin, with Sheneres dying at the start of the book while trying to protect the king. At the end of the Way of Kings Prime, Dalenar is forced to kill Elhokar for the greater good; Brandon eventually took that out, having decided that Dalenar trying to help his nephew would make the plot more interesting.
Brandon eventually rewrote the entire story from scratch, creating The Way of Kings we have today. It's then that Dalenar became Dalinar, and, according to Brandon, it was then that he finally got the character "right".
- When pressed to give his favorite character, Brandon often points towards Dalinar, although he also notes that this might be because of how long ago he was created.
- Early on in the writing of Oathbringer, Brandon intended for it to be Szeth's book, with Dalinar's being the fifth. While the two were eventually swapped, Stormlight Archive 5 will also feature a lot of big Dalinar moments.
- Dalinar is somewhat based on Subutai, a Mongolian strategist famous for a long and illustrious military career in service to Genghis Khan and his son, Ögedei Khan.
- Dalinar is a Gryffindor.
- There was a Feruchemist keeping watch on Dalinar in his house.
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