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The History of Man.jpg
Participants Heralds, Knights Radiant, Voidbringers
Effects Destruction of Roshar
World Roshar
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
This page or section contains spoilers for Oathbringer!
This information has the ability to potentially ruin elements of the plot for the reader. Proceed with caution if you have not read this book.

They were destruction made manifest, Brightlord. Each one was so profoundly devastating that humankind was left broken. Populations ruined, society crippled, scholars dead. Humankind was forced to spend generations rebuilding after each one.

Kalami describing a Desolation[1]

Desolations are cataclysmic events on Roshar.[2]


The Heraldic Epochs

Little is known about them except in 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][7][8][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.[9]

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.[7] The coming of a Desolation was announced by the appearance of the Ten Heralds.[3][5][10] The appearance of the Midnight Essence was also a sign of an upcoming Desolation.[7] 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.[12]

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.[10] At the Battle of Narak stormform listeners summon the Everstorm, which appears to be referenced as the True Desolation.[13]



Main article: Fabrials

All this time we’ve been assuming that we lost great technology in the Desolations, but it seems we are far, far more advanced than the ancients ever were.

Jasnah about fabrials[14]

During the ancient Desolations, mankind did not have access to the modern fabrials and fabrial knowledge that is currently known on Roshar. The only fabrials they had access to were ancient fabrials.[14] These fabrials seem to work through a mutual agreement with a sentient spren rather than trapping a spren in a gemstone. The vast majority of fabrials seem to replicate surges and were used in a support position rather than actual combat. The Oathgates utilizes the surge of Transportation to allow instantaneous travel across the continent. Healing fabrials use the surge of Progression to heal wounds and seem to have been carried often by Radiants on patrol. Although it is not courrently known how these fabrials were created, Aimia could have been involved as that is where soulcasting fabrials originated. It is also possible that Urithiru is a giant fabrial powered by the Sibling.


The Desolations were so terrible they destroyed learning and progress and left behind a broken people.

Humanity was stuck at an extremely low level of technology during the Desolations. Most soldiers fought with bronze and leather armor.[16] Because of the destruction, humanity often still had stone tools and weapons when the Heralds returned. The Heralds would attempt to push humanity forward several thousand years worth of technology in the year before the Desolation, which often included learning to cast bronze. Even when humanity had learned to cast bronze already, the Heralds tried to advance technology further.[12] Other areas they attempted to push technology forward include medicine, where Vedel would teach techniques such as keeping wounds clean.


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[7]

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.[8] That victory was later referred to as the Last Desolation.


History of Roshar
Expulsion to Roshar The Desolations Aharietiam
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