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Chasmfiend Hunt by Randy Vargas.jpg
Type Animal family
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
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Greatshell is a term used to describe various large crustaceans native to Roshar. The family includes numerous related species,[1] among them chasmfiends, Tai-na, and the extinct lanceryns.[2][3][4]

Appearance and Anatomy[edit]

Greatshells consist of a variety of creatures both aquatic and land-bound. Their appearance varies widely, but they share a number of physical characteristics. They are massive, vastly larger than a human; the largest creatures on the planet, both on land and in the water, are greatshells.[4] They possess an exoskeleton and multiple legs.[5] Their exoskeletons are chitinous, and known species have carapace armor that is extremely difficult to penetrate.[6] They have no tongue, and a complex set of jaws;[7] though it's unclear if they're all carnivorous, it is unlikely. Their blood is violet, and has a musty, moldy smell.[8]

Greatshells breed slowly, and for most species, their populations are generally small. They all reproduce the same way: an adult greatshell transforms (pupates) into a chrysalis, which eventually produces a number of young.[9] They do not seem to have a singular biome they thrive in; they can be found as far east as the Shattered Plains, as far west as Aimia, and as far north as the Reshi Isles.[4][2] Their sheer size makes domesticating most species unfeasible, although there are stories of greatshell riders in places like Kadrix.[2]

Gemhearts and Spren Bonds[edit]

The greatshells maintain their enormous size through Nahel bonds with mandras, a type of spren also known as 'luckspren'.[10] Mandras decrease the animal's weight, allowing them to exist and move their bulk in defiance of the square-cube law.[11] To facilitate this bond, greatshells possess gemhearts, massive gemstones, within their bodies that the spren can enter.[12] The type of polestone may vary in some species, while it is consistent in others.[13] The size of the gemheart scales up with the size of the animal.[14] Due to the buoyancy of water, the largest greatshells are aquatic,[15] and it is possible that some aquatic greatshells can survive without a spren bond.[16]

Gemhearts hold great value, and greatshells are often hunted; some species, like the lanceryn and chasmfiends, have been hunted down to extinction or near-extinction over their gemhearts.[2]


Known greatshell species[edit]

Chulls and gumfrems are large, domesticated crustaceans, but they are smaller than the species usually named as greatshells.


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