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The Desolations had happened during the near-mythical shadowdays, before real history began. Before mankind had defeated the Voidbringers and taken the war to heaven.

Dalinar's thoughts[1]

Desolations are cataclysmic events on Roshar.[2]


The Heraldic Epochs

Little is known about them except legends. Desolations came in regular cycles.[3][4][5] During Desolations, the inhabitants of Roshar were attacked by an enemy force, generally called Voidbringers.[6][1][7][5] The cycle of Desolations seems somehow attached to the Oathpact.[3] According to lore, there were ninety-nine Desolations, however, the actual number of Desolations is much smaller.[8]

It is the duty of the Knights Radiant to stay vigilant and prepare themselves and mankind for Desolations, and to fight the Voidbringers when it arrives.[1] The coming of a Desolation was announced by the appearance of the Ten Heralds.[3][5][9] The appearance of Midnight Essence was also a sign of an upcoming Desolation.[1] One of the Desolations lasted eleven years.[5]

In the aftermath of each one, mankind was broken. Great cities in ashes, industry smashed. Each time, knowledge and growth were reduced to an almost prehistoric state.

Mankind was devastated in the aftermath of each desolation. Around ninety percent of the population was destroyed each time. This level of cataclysmic event pushed men to a technology level equivalent to that of the stone age. Although society would sometimes progress beyond that before the next Desolation began, the Heralds would often be forced to push technology forward thousands of years in the single year after their return.[11]

At the end of what is called the Last Desolation, nine of ten Heralds abandoned the Oathpact leaving only Talenel to return to damnation, the place where the Heralds go between the Desolations. This leads to a period of about 4,500 years without a Desolation.

Dalinar has visions sent from the Almighty that often depict ancient Desolations.

The True Desolation

When Talenel appears at the gates of Kholinar, he announces the coming of the True Desolation.[9] At the Battle of Narak Stormform Listeners summon the Everstorm, which appears to be referenced as the True Desolation.[12]

Modern Lore

According to Vorinism, mankind fought the Voidbringers during Desolations ninety and nine times, before mankind finally won and drove them back to the Tranquiline Halls.[7] That victory was later referred to as the Last Desolation.


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