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Related to BioChromatic Breath, Endowment
Type Ability
World Nalthis
Universe Cosmere
Featured In Warbreaker, The Stormlight Archive

Heightening is a term used to refer to the different levels of power an Awakener may attain. By obtaining more Breaths, an Awakener can increase their level of Heightening, gaining more power and abilities.


Number Breaths needed Abilities granted
First 50 Aura recognition
Second 200 Perfect pitch
Third 600 Perfect color recognition
Fourth 1,000 Perfect life sense
Fifth 2,000 Agelessness
Sixth 3,500 Instinctive awakening
Seventh 5,000 Invested breath recognition
Eighth 10,000 Command breaking
Ninth 20,000 Greater awakening, audible command
Tenth 50,000 Color distortion, perfect invocation, mental commands, possibly others

The Heightenings, while commonly thought of as discrete levels, are in fact merely markers of a continuous progression. Each Breath gathered increases an Awakener's power. For example, although perfect color recognition is reached upon the Third Heightening, every additional Breath gathered before then will incrementally increase an Awakener's ability to distinguish between colors. Reaching a new level of Heightening merely marks the point at which these abilities reach their full potential. There are exceptions to this, like Color Distortion which is unique to the Tenth Heightening.

The number of Breaths needed to reach a particular Heightening is not exact. Achieving a given Heightening may require fewer or more Breaths, depending on circumstances and the strength of the Breaths which the Awakener has gathered.[1] Additionally, very little is known about the upper Heightenings as the only known people to have ever reached the Eighth Heightening or above are the Hallandren God Kings, Vasher, and Shashara, so the abilities associated with those Heightenings may not be the full extent of their powers or may be incompletely understood.

By the time of the True Desolation on Roshar, the term "Heightening" appears to have entered into broader parlance in the cosmere, as the Elantrian Riino initially thought Kaladin had attained a Heightening, though Riino quickly realized that he was mistaken and that Kaladin is a Surgebinder.[2]

First Heightening[edit]

The First Heightening grants Aura Recognition, the ability to see the Breath auras of others instinctively, and an increased life sense. This allows them to judge roughly how many Breaths the person holds and the general health of that Breath.[3]

For those who are rich enough to be able to buy Breath from others this is where most stop, as it is enough to extend their lifespan by a decade or so and give an increased life sense.[4]

Second Heightening[edit]

The Second Heightening grants Perfect Pitch to those who receive it.[5]

Third Heightening[edit]

The Third Heightening grants Perfect Color Recognition, the ability to instantly and instinctively determine exact shades of colors and their hue harmonics.[6]

It would act strangely with those with color vision deficiency, and supposedly similar conditions such as achromatopsia as well. The way that it interacts with it would supposedly be pleasing to those with the condition.[7]

Fourth Heightening[edit]

The Fourth Heightening grants Perfect Life Sense, maximizing the ability to instinctively sense other people around you, and to tell when they are watching you. Users can also sense plants, such as grass or lichen.[8] Life Sense can also sense spren, even if they are invisible.[9] Drabs are not detectable, though.[10]

Anyone with Breath has some quantity of life sense, but it is imperfect until the Fourth Heightening.[11]

If an Aviar like Kokerlii were nearby, it would interfere with the Awakener's life sense.[12] Copperclouds,[13] a Feruchemist filling a nicrosilmind with their Investiture fully,[14] and Aluminum can also block life sense.[15]

Fifth Heightening[edit]

The Fifth Heightening grants Agelessness; an Awakener's resistance to aging and disease reaches its maximum strength.[16] These persons are immune to most toxins (including the effects of alcohol) and most physical ailments (such as headaches, diseases, and organ failure).[17] The person no longer ages and becomes functionally immortal.[1]

Note: Returned achieve the Fifth Heightening by virtue of their Divine Breath. They do not actually receive two thousand Breaths when they Return, but instead receive a single, powerful Breath, which brings with it the powers of the first five Heightenings.[18]

Sixth Heightening[edit]

The Sixth Heightening grants Instinctive Awakening, the ability to immediately understand and use basic Awakening Commands without training or practice. More difficult commands are easier for them to master and to discover.[19]

Seventh Heightening[edit]

The Seventh Heightening grants Invested Breath Recognition, the ability to recognize the auras of objects, and can tell when something has been Invested with Breath via Awakening.[1]

Note: Reaching above the Sixth Heightening is incredibly rare, and so few people understand the powers of the Seventh Heightening and above. Very little research has been done.

Eighth Heightening[edit]

The Eighth Heightening grants Command Breaking, the ability to instinctively override Commands in other Invested objects, including Lifeless.[20] This requires concentration and leaves the Awakener exhausted. Since some of Lightsong's priests can break commands, it is obvious that the eighth heightening is not required in the process, but most likely grants a significant increase in the ability.

Note: The only known people ever to reach the Eighth Heightening and above are the Hallandren God Kings, Vasher, and Shashara, although Xisis is known to have the tenth heightening.[21]

Ninth Heightening[edit]

The Ninth Heightening grants Greater Awakening, the ability to Awaken stone and steel, which create type IV BioChromatic Entities like Nightblood, though doing so requires large Investitures of Breath and specialized Commands.[22] This ability has not been widely studied.

The Ninth Heightening also grants Audible Command, the ability to Awaken objects that they are not physically touching, but that are within the sound of their voice.[5]

Tenth Heightening[edit]

Susebron Awakening using the power of the Tenth Heightening

The Tenth Heightening grants Color Distortion, the natural and intrinsic ability to bend light around white objects within their BioChroma, creating colors from them as if from a prism.[11] It is unclear if these colors can be used to fuel Awakening.

The Tenth Heightening also grants Perfect Invocation, the ability to draw more color from the objects Awakeners use to fuel their art. This leaves objects drained to white, rather than grey.[20] Combined with the Color Distortion, an Awakener can create quite a stunning view. White objects cannot be drained to grey.[23]

A third ability granted is the ability to give commands mentally, called Mental Command, although this is said to be difficult to learn. This is the ability that allowed the God Kings of Hallandren to pass on their breaths after their tongues were removed.[20]

There are rumors of other powers granted by the Tenth Heightening which are not understood or have not been made known by those who have achieved it.[1]


  • The way having more Breaths makes a person experience the world around them more vividly is partially inspired by the similar effect achieved by channelers from the Wheel of Time.[24]
  • The effects of various Heightenings can be replicated through merely being highly Invested, such as by holding a Dawnshard.[25][26][27]


  1. a b c d Warbreaker Ars Arcanum#
  2. Oathbringer chapter 97#
  3. Warbreaker chapter 14#
  4. Warbreaker chapter 5#
  5. a b Warbreaker prologue#
  6. Warbreaker chapter 3#
  7. FanX Spring 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-04-19#
  8. Warbreaker chapter 21#
  9. Words of Radiance interlude I-6#
  10. Warbreaker chapter 22#
  11. a b Warbreaker chapter 15#
  12. Calamity Philadelphia signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-20#
  13. Shadows of Self Lansing signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-13#
  14. Kraków signing
    Arcanum - 2017-03-21#
  15. Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-21#
  16. Warbreaker chapter 32#
  17. Warbreaker chapter 35#
  18. Warbreaker epilogue#
  19. Warbreaker chapter 49#
  20. a b c Warbreaker chapter 58#
  21. Tress of the Emerald Sea chapter 52#
  22. Warbreaker chapter 51#
  23. Skyward San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-08#
  24. General Reddit 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-02-20#
  25. Dawnshard epilogue#
  26. Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A
    Arcanum - 2020-11-06#
  27. Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A
    Arcanum - 2020-11-06#
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