Gavilar Kholin

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Gavilar Kholin
King Gavilar.jpg
House Kholin
Spouse Navani
Children Elhokar, Jasnah
Parents Dalinar's father
Siblings Dalinar
Relatives Adolin, Renarin, Kaves
Ancestors Sadees
Descendants Gavinor
Died Tanat ? 1167,[1][2][3][4] killed by Szeth
Abilities Shardbearer
Titles King of Alethkar, Gavilar the Majestic[5]
Groups Sons of Honor
Nationality Alethi
Homeworld Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Introduced In The Way of Kings
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My people need to be united, and I need an empire that won't simply turn to infighting once I am gone.

—Gavilar to Eshonai[3]

Gavilar Kholin is the King of Alethkar, a nation on Roshar, until his assassination by Szeth under the orders of the Parshendi. He is the brother of Dalinar Kholin and married to Navani Kholin, with whom he has two children, Elhokar and Jasnah.

Appearance and Personality[edit]

My husband was an excellent king, (...) but he didn't have a single scholarly finger on his left hand. (...) He was a man built after the classical masculine ideal.

—From Navani's biography of Gavilar[6]


Gavilar looks regal with his beard combed, glowing gemstones on the fingers and uniform of newer styles.[7] He has strong features, a square chin, a black beard with a hint of white, and pale green eyes.[1] He has a set of bright blue Shardplate,[8] which he often lends to others in favor of wearing a modern suit, and wears a black iron circlet as crown.[9]


He's an ambitious man who is obsessed with the rise of House Kholin and overshadowing the Sunmaker and his legacy.[8] He wants to lead a sustainable kingdom and doesn't overlook responsibility. He is very knowledgeable of history; he has theories on why Sunmaker’s kingdom did not stand as well as knowledge on the history of some blades including Oathbringer that would eventually be Dalinar's.[8] He is known for his political skill for making alliances[7] and is more inclined to trick his enemies into turning against each other,[8] though he doesn’t feel guilty if his strategy included pillaging or brutal killing,[10] as his best friend and trusted adviser Torol Sadeas would push for.[11] He had a tendency to use those around him, even if he cared for them.[12]

If he was still alive, Gavilar would be proud of some aspects of Dalinar and less proud of others; for example, he would think Dalinar not ambitious enough.[13]

In his youth, he had a habit of summoning and dismissing his Blade when getting ready for a battle, perhaps as a way to relieve stress.[8] It's unknown if he retained it in his middle age.

Attributes and Abilities[edit]


Gavilar's Shardblade, Firestorm,[14] was six feet long with a design along the blade that resembled burning flames that "almost seemed to glow." Gavilar's plate is painted blue with gold bands around the edge of each plate. The helm has three waves of wings which are small and almost horn-like. People who see his plate consider it beautiful. Gavilar's skill in using the blade and plate can be matched by very few people.[1] Gavilar's Shards are now used for training purposes.[15]


Sometime before his death, Gavilar begins receiving visions from the Stormfather during every highstorm.[16][17] These visions feel real to him.[18] 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, Gavilar hears the voice of Honor speaking to him, commanding him to "unite them." As the visions are pre-recorded, Gavilar cannot communicate with Honor.[19] Much like his brother, he was on the path of becoming a Bondsmith, but unlike Dalinar, he never reached that stage.[20]


Early Life[edit]

Young Gavilar and Dalinar

Gavilar and Dalinar were born into a provincial branch of the Kholin family, with Gavilar being born some time before 1120.[21] His mother died when he and his brother were young, and his father was absent from his life and spent his time dueling. After their father suffered a permanent head injury in a duel, Gavilar took over a paternal role for his younger brother Dalinar, teaching him things like how to shave.[22]

Gavilar was only fourth dahn, and not considered a serious contender for highprince. He eventually conquered the Kholin princedom however, killing some of his relatives and taking the title of highprince for himself.[23]

From the start, Gavilar was supported by his brother. Dalinar would often introduce Gavilar to people he felt Gavilar should know. This led to some confusion when Gavilar was introduced by his brother Dalinar to Navani. Dalinar introduced them because he wished to court Navani himself, but Gavilar believed Dalinar intended him to court Navani with the introduction.[24]

Unification of Alethkar[edit]

Dalinar Kholin remembers the beginning of the war as he and Gavilar wanting "stuff" that others had and fighting to get the "stuff." Gavilar never refuted that story at the beginning, but, by around the time of the battle on Rathalas, he was looking more towards building a kingdom that would mean something.[7] This seems to be connected to the birth of his first child Jasnah.[8]

Gavilar, Sadeas and Dalinar led the war. Gavilar claimed the throne and made alliances; Torol Sadeas dealt with problems; and Dalinar won battles.[7] Gavilar was more inclined for a strategy that would turn the highprinces against each other. Sadeas, however, pulled him towards brutality;[8] he did not seem to be concerned if his troops pillaged a city.[10] It is implied that the war was very long and bloody, but Gavilar eventually won it after the defeating Highprince Kalanor, who was pushed into battle after Gavilar's forces pillaged his villages and killed all peacemakers.[10]

Towards the end of the war, Gavilar started talking of the Alethi Codes of War, likely after he started receiving visions from the Stormfather.[7]

Ruling Alethkar[edit]

He is exactly what we need ... Hard enough to lead a war; soft enough to be beloved during peace. He has foresight and wisdom.

—Sadeas on Gavilar[25]

After winning the war, Gavilar took the throne as King of Alethkar. Gavilar did prove to be a proficient leader; he made sure the vision was towards a unified kingdom, and politics were the main tool for doing so. He wanted to ensure Elhokar would be able to hold it together without need of "putting out fires."[26]

He was not soft, but approached things differently, using propaganda,[26] talking to heirs of the highprinces on civic projects, censuring Dalinar and Sadeas on losing the Rift,[27] and even the initial approach towards rebels, trying to scare them by fighting on the borders.[9] Some highprinces considered this softness or weakness, yet he could be hard; some examples are his disappointment on knowing Dalinar had spared the heir of Tanalan[26] or the way he talked of attacking Herdaz or Jah Keved.[9]

It was during this time that he was most committed to the Codes of War. He talked of the Radiants as truly great when Alethkar was looked up to.[9]

Gavilar and the Listeners (1165 - 1167)[edit]

We live without honor, for your gods once brought ours. Without them, we have no power. This world is trapped, Eshonai! Stuck in a dull, lifeless state of transition. Unite them. I need a threat. Only danger will unite them.

—Gavilar to Eshonai[3]

In approximately 1165, Gavilar and Dalinar made an expedition to the south of the Shattered Plains where they discovered the listeners, referred to by the humans as Parshendi. Dalinar, while scouting at a campsite, was the first to meet them. Although the other members of the expedition initially did not believe tales of intelligent parshmen, Eshonai's group came to the camp the next day. At first they couldn't believe parshmen could live on their own, but they found that these parshmen were friendly, curious and learned the Alethi language quite easily. Gavilar's stormwardens began calling them Parshendi. Although Gavilar had never before been scholarly, he grew more and more fascinated by the Parshendi. Despite Dalinar's attempts to return to Alethkar, Gavilar wanted to stay on the Shattered Plains to learn more about the Parshendi.[6] Gavilar's officers thought the Parshendi were savages, but Gavilar thought the Parshendi were "an enclave of memories. A window into the past."[3]

It's unknown why Gavilar made the treaty with the Parshendi. Many people believe it was because he knew the listeners had shardblades, but as a member of the Sons of Honor, Gavilar wished to start a Desolation to return the Heralds. He believed bringing back the Parshendi's old gods would benefit both the Parshendi and the humans, despite Eshonai's insistence that the Parshendi abandoned their gods. Even while witnessing her horror, he believed the Parshendi would be pleased that the Alethi were allies in seeking the return of their old gods.[3]

Gavilar meeting with Eshonai on the night of his death

Assassination (1167)[edit]

The night of his assassination, Gavilar was attending a feast celebrating a treaty with the listeners. Before the feast he spoke in the lower palace floor with five people, including Amaram and Taravangian;[3] in his conversation with Taravangian, he discussed the visions he had been seeing and warned the other king that a storm was coming.[17] When he discovered that Eshonai had seen the meeting, he decided to speak to her about his plans. Gavilar wanted to bring back the listeners' gods, the Unmade, and start a new Desolation. Despite Eshonai's protests to the contrary, he believed this would benefit everyone, including the listeners. He then gave Eshonai a black sphere and asked her to take it to The Five and tell them what he had told her.[3]

At some point during the feast, Gavilar slipped into the hallway to speak privately with Amaram. It is not known what they discussed. His daughter, Jasnah, found them talking. He rebuked her for her contempt for the party and expressed an interest that she and Amaram become closer acquainted. When Amaram left, Gavilar refused to tell Jasnah what they were discussing and went back into the party.[2]

Tell…tell my brother…he must find the most important words a man can say….

—Gavilar's last words[1]

When Gavilar learned that Szeth was in the palace to assassinate him, he put on his shardplate and prepared to act as a bodyguard while Sadeas prepared to act as the fleeing king. Szeth initially fell for it, fighting him and leaving to pursue Sadeas after he temporarily incapacitates Gavilar. When Gavilar does not follow Szeth, however, Szeth realizes the ruse. He returns and continues fighting Gavilar. Gavilar's helm was shattered and his plate was damaged, but he managed to injure Szeth by punching his face. In order to finish the fight, Szeth lured Gavilar onto the balcony and broke it using lashings.

Gavilar fighting Szeth

A piece of wood gravely injured him by stabbing him in the side where his plate was damaged. As he was dying, Gavilar had a small, strange black sphere that he gave to Szeth and told him not to let some unknown group get it. He wished his brother to know the "most important words a man can say".[1] Szeth then proceeded to write in Alethi those words in Gavilar's blood on a wooden block, which was later deciphered by Jasnah Kholin. Dalinar then took this to mean the words of the Knights Radiant.[1]

At the end of his life, he believed he was being watched.[3] Gavilar expected an attempt on his life, but not by the Parshendi. His suspects included Thaidakar, Restares, and Torol Sadeas, despite being on apparent good terms with Sadeas at the time.[1] The Parshendi ordered his assassination because he was going to bring back their old gods,[3] but he never became aware of this reason.[1]


Gavilar the Majestic, first king of Alethkar in the new Kholin Dynasty, thirty-second highprince of the Kholin princedom, heir of the Sunmaker and blessed of the Almighty. His accomplishments will be lauded by all, and his dominion extends to the hereafter.

—Spoken at Gavilar's holy interment[5]

At Gavilar's holy interment, he was lauded by the presiding ardent. His body was Soulcast into a stone sculpture. At the interment, the Alethi highprinces swore the Vengeance Pact and would go on to fight the War of Reckoning to avenge his death.[5]

A number of works about Gavilar's life exist, including "Gavilar's Account",[28] dictated by Gavilar to Jasnah a year before his murder; "Matain's account";[6] and "King Gavilar Kholin, A Biography" by Navani.[6] Navani's biography crafted Gavilar a selective legacy, leaving out his abusive, dismissive treatment of her and his family so only she would have to bear the burden of who he really was.[29]


House Kholin[edit]

There is not much information on Gavilar's family dynamics, but there are hints of complex relationships.

He is rather abusive and dismissive towards his family. Despite this, after his death most of the Kholins have remember him positively and even revere him.

Dalinar Kholin[edit]

Gavilar feels affection for his brother Dalinar, but he tends to use people around him as tools to further his goals.[12] After their mother died and their father suffered a brain injury and was left unable to take care of them, he took on a sort of paternal role over Dalinar.[22]

When Gavilar was still alive, Dalinar often introduced him to people that he felt that he should know.[24] Dalinar refuses to allow criticism of Gavilar[30] and devotes himself to protecting Elhokar, the remaining piece of his brother.[31] Dalinar feels responsibility for his brother's death, believing that he could have stopped the assassination;[32] he had counseled Gavilar to follow the Codes up until his death.[5] His guilt and grief (related to Gavilar and other people he believed he had failed) were major factors in his fundamental change as a person.[33][34]

Elhokar Kholin[edit]

Late in his life Gavilar had a low opinion of Elhokar, telling Navani he is not even capable of mediocrity. Due to his feelings on Elhokar, he felt as if he was not a worthy heir to the throne.[4]

Elhokar himself remembered Gavilar as a perfect king he would never live up to, so he disliked when Gavilar was mentioned.[32]

Navani Kholin[edit]

You have no fame, accomplishment, or capacity of your own. Everything distinctive about you came from someone else.

—Gavilar to Navani[4]

Although he and his wife Navani were once close and plotted the conquest of Alethkar together, when Navani spoke with passion on her spren research, Gavilar simply ignored her.[26] Later in life as Gavilar developed larger goals, he stopped including Navani in his plans. He left her to handle the public-facing duties of the monarchy alone and repeatedly told her she is worthless, and was very dismissive of her passions and her intelligence.[4]

Due to how openly abusive he was towards her, Navani saw the darker side of his character. On the day of his assassination, he pushed her over the edge and caused her to burn a glyphward asking for the Almighty to kill him. Due to this, she felt responsible for his death when he was assassinated later that day.[4] Despite her hatred for him, she chose to hide it, writing him a legacy of being the ideal Alethi man.[4][29] She considers this illusion that she conjured to be what he once was.[4]

Jasnah Kholin[edit]

Jasnah spent a lot of time with Gavilar discussing the Parshendi, and later says it was a rare time when she truly connected with him. This suggests that they were never that close, and always had a very strained relationship.[6] Though she seems to respect his opinion, Gavilar often treats Jasnah as part of his legacy rather than a person, ignoring her resistance to marrying Amaram and demanding she follow the Vorin church in spite of her convictions.[2][4]

Dalinar references Gavilar's problems with young Jasnah and what he describes as her lunacy.[9] Jasnah herself mentioned a childhood disease nobody remembered.[35] As her father, he was likely a large factor in her treatment during this period, locking her away in a padded cell and leaving her with lasting trauma that still haunts her in adulthood.[35][9]

Jasnah takes great interest in the changes near the end of his life.[6]

Sadees the Sunmaker[edit]

Hopefully my accomplishments won’t be as ephemeral as his.

—Gavilar to Toh in reference to the Sunmaker.[7]

During his conquests and reign, Gavilar looked towards the Sunmaker for guidance. Although the Sunmaker is revered by most in Alethkar for creating a united empire, Gavilar had a more negative view of him. Gavilar blamed the destruction of the Sunmaker's empire on his greed and inability to be satisfied with what he conquered. He hoped that he'll be able to create a longer-lasting empire and overshadow the Sunmaker in the hearts and minds of the people.[7]

Despite his criticisms of the Sunmaker, Gavilar was willing to use his connection to him to his advantage. For example, Gavilar did not wish to wear a crown because the Sunmaker refused to.[9]

Sons of Honor[edit]

Although Gavilar was not in charge of the Sons of Honor, he was an influential member of the group. He was responsible for an expansion in the ranks of members, including bringing in Amaram.[36] He was an important enough member to have access to and knowledge of their plan to return the Voidbringers, including the black spheres.[3] Despite this, Gavilar suspected Restares, leader of the Sons of Honor, of his assassination, indicating that there might have been some conflict or suspicion between the two.[1]


He had some working relationship with Thaidakar and the Ghostbloods, although it is suggested that this relationship was far from amicable and trustworthy. Gavilar deeply distrusted Thaidakar, to the extent that when he was assassinated, he was the first person he suspected of hiring the assassin.[1]

The Stormfather[edit]

Near the end of his life, he began to be given visions by the Stormfather.[17][16] He was on his way to become a Bondsmith, but was never able to complete the bond before his death.[16]

The Heralds[edit]


He had some working relationship with Kalak, also known as Restares, who spoke to him in his palace on the day of his assassination. The exact details of this relationship, however, are unknown.[2][4][37] It most likely had to do with his spheres of Voidlight and Anti-Voidlight, and in his position in the Sons of Honor, of which Restares is the leader of.[4][36]


He had some working relationship with Nale, who spoke to him in his palace on the day of his assassination. The exact details of this relationship, however, are unknown.[2][4][37] It most likely had to do with his spheres of Voidlight and Anti-Voidlight, of which was apparently the topic of discussion during their meeting.[4]


  • In The Way of Kings Prime, Gavilar went by the name Nolhonarin. Much like Gavilar, Nolhonarin dies before the story proper begins.[38]


Preceded by
(Previously Sadees)
King of Alethkar
c. 1145 to c. Tanat ? 1167
Succeeded by
Elhokar Kholin
  1. a b c d e f g h i j The Way of Kings prologue#
  2. a b c d e Words of Radiance prologue#
  3. a b c d e f g h i j Oathbringer prologue#
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l Rhythm of War prologue#
  5. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 105#
  6. a b c d e f The Way of Kings chapter 45#
  7. a b c d e f g Oathbringer chapter 19#
  8. a b c d e f g Oathbringer chapter 11#
  9. a b c d e f g Oathbringer chapter 49#
  10. a b c Oathbringer chapter 26#
  11. Oathbringer chapter 29#
  12. a b Skyward Pre-Release AMA
    Arcanum - 2018-10-27#
  13. YouTube Live Fan Mail Opening 1
    Arcanum - 2021-10-30#
  14. Words of Radiance interior art gallery
    Brandon's site - N/A#
  15. Words of Radiance chapter 16#
  16. a b c Leipzig Book Fair
    Arcanum - 2017-03-24#
  17. a b c Words of Radiance interlude I-14#
  18. The Way of Kings chapter 19#
  19. The Way of Kings chapter 75#
  20. Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-03#
  21. /r/Stormlight_Archive
    Arcanum - 2017-09-21#
  22. a b Oathbringer chapter 107#
  23. /r/Stormlight_Archive
    Arcanum - 2017-08-09#
  24. a b The Way of Kings chapter 64#
  25. Oathbringer chapter 76#
  26. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 36#
  27. Oathbringer chapter 88#
  28. The Way of Kings chapter 36#
  29. a b Rhythm of War chapter 65#
  30. The Way of Kings chapter 61#
  31. The Way of Kings chapter 15#
  32. a b The Way of Kings chapter 12#
  33. Oathbringer chapter 118#
  34. Oathbringer chapter 119#
  35. a b Oathbringer chapter 47#
  36. a b Oathbringer chapter 40#
  37. a b Rhythm of War chapter 77#
  38. The Way of Kings Prime chapter 1#
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