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by Randy Vargas
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
Appearance and Anatomy
Greatshells refers to a variety of creatures both aquatic and land-bound. They do, however, share a number of physical characteristics. They are uniformly massive, vastly larger than a human; the largest creatures on the planet, both on land and in the water, are greatshells. They possess an exoskeleton, and multiple legs. They have no tongue, and a complex set of jaws; though it's unclear if they're all carnivorous, it is unlikely. Their blood is violet, and has a musty, moldy smell.
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. 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. Their sheer size makes domesticating most species unfeasible, although there are stories of greatshell riders in places like Kadrix. If the chulls are considered greatshells -- which is unclear -- it would make them the only case of widely-spread domestication of greatshells.
The greatshells maintain their enormous size by bonding with mandras, a type of spren. Mandras decrease their weight, allowing them to exist and move their bulk in defiance of square-cube law. Aquatic greatshells may not need a bond. Perhaps to facilitate this bond, greatshells possess gemhearts, massive gemstones, within their bodies. For this reason, they're often hunted; some species, like the lanceryn and chasmfiends, have been hunted down to extinction or near-extinction over their gemhearts.
Known greatshell species
- The Way of Kings chapter 36#
- The Way of Kings chapter 12#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-3#
- Shallan's sketch: Chasmfiend
- The Way of Kings chapter 15#
- The Way of Kings chapter 26#
- Words of Radiance chapter 49#
- 17th Shard Forum Q&A
— Arcanum - 2012-09-27#
- Oathbringer chapter 99#
- Words of Radiance Seattle signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-08#
- Oathbringer interlude I-13#