|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”Somebody has to start. Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it is right. If nobody starts, then others cannot follow.—Lirin
Lirin is a darkeyed Alethi surgeon and citizen of the second nahn. He lives and works on the outskirts of Hearthstone within the Sadeas princedom of Alethkar. Lirin is married to Hesina and is the father of Kaladin, Tien, and Oroden.
As second nahn, Lirin and his family are full citizens of Alethkar and have the right to travel and the right of inquest. Additionally, Lirin's position as a surgeon grants him further legal protections such as immunity from enlistment. Lirin's ancestors had not always been of such a high rank, and the forefathers bought and worked their way up the social ladder throughout multiple generations.
Lirin's home is built on the outskirts of Hearthstone and is larger than the normal household building due to the inclusion of his surgery room.
Appearance and Personality
Lirin is balding, thin, and bespectacled. He is diminutive and stands several fingers shorter than his wife. He rarely wears his glasses except when performing surgery as they are one of his most valued possessions, and he fears breaking or damaging them as they would be difficult to replace.
Lirin rarely drinks, but his alcohol consumption increased after the death of Wistiow and the arrival of Roshone. He enjoys calculating the trajectory of the Highstorms, and going on walks to clear his head.
Lirin is stubborn and dislikes ambiguity, often becoming pessimistic when faced with uncertainty. While he prefers not to cause unnecessary strife or embarrassment, and will discount town gossip, he will confront those who pose a threat. He is considered to be quite strange by the other townsfolk, and they are often uncomfortable around both him and his family. While his wife attributes this reaction to his learning and knowledge, Lirin finds that their hostility comes, at least in part, from their insecurities surrounding his family's higher social standing. Regardless of their discomfort, the townsfolk of Hearthstone respect Lirin and appreciate the work he does. Lirin, in turn, cares about the people of Hearthstone, despite their aversion to him, and feels tied to the town through his connections with the other residents.
Lirin can be highly critical, particularly of those he does not agree with, and is a strong opponent to needless danger. He is strongly averse to violence, and disagrees with the need for war, as well as the Calling of being a soldier. His explanations of the world are given with precision and are sometimes sterile in nature.
”The Heralds were sent to teach mankind ... They led us against the Voidbringers after we were cast from heaven.
Lirin believes in the teachings of the Heralds, who have shared roots with the practice of medicine. He teaches his son Kaladin of their wisdom during his apprenticeship and is always carefully to outline the distinction between the Heralds and the Knights Radiant. According to Lirin, one of the fundamental tenets of the Vorin religion is the ability to climb in social rank. Lirin does not believe in folktales about Voidbringers, though he does acknowledge that they were the enemies of the Heralds.
Attributes and Abilities
Surgery and teaching
”The children of the men and women whose lives we save. That's who tells stories of surgeons.
Lirin trained as a surgeon under Vathe in the town of Shorsebroon near Hearthstone. Lirin is a decent surgeon, both steady and calm under pressure, though if he was to live in a larger city he would likely only be a medical assistant rather than a surgeon in his own right. He takes on two apprentices, first his son Kaladin, and later, Mara.
He is particular about keeping time during his surgeries and is the only person in the town to own a fabrial clock. Lirin is also conscious of the quality of light he uses when treating patients, and for a long time has a goblet of spheres on permanent loan from brightlord Wistiow. He has lived and worked in Hearthstone for long enough that the other citizens sometimes hold him to expectations that are impossible to reach, and will react in anger when he is unable to work miracles.
Lirin believes that lives are priceless and as such does not charge for his work as a surgeon. He is meticulous about the cleanliness of his surgery and his family spends large amounts of time keeping both the rooms and the medical tools clean. After a surgery, Lirin coats his tools in oil after first cleaning them with alcohol. This is one of the older traditions of the medical field.
As a surgeon, Lirin has accepted that he will not always be able to save those in his care and must sometimes make the difficult decision to prioritise one patient over another. He works by a specific set of guidelines: if the patients are equally wounded, then treat the youngest, if not, treat the most severe. Above all else, however, know when a patient is beyond saving.
As a youth, Lirin traveled to Kharbranth as a courier, where he was introduced to different cultures and societies. He had particularly poor luck when meeting people from Thaylenah, all of whom tried to swindle him.
While traveling he met Hesina, the daughter of a high-ranked family, and they fell in love. Although his initial introduction to her parents was a disaster, Hesina and Lirin got married and began a family in Hearthstone.
The Surgeon And his Apprentice
Lirin began training his son Kaladin in the profession of surgery from a young age. When Kaladin was ten, he worked with his father on a young girl, Sani, who had major injuries to one of her hands. The surgery doubled as a learning opportunity, and together Lirin and his son were able to save four of the girl's five fingers. After the operation, Kaladin helped his father to clean the surgery room and discussed why he had been late. Disapproving of his son's choices to hang around with older village boys like Jam, Lirin argued with Kaladin over the usefulness of surgeons and soldiers. After shifting the conversation, Lirin continued his son's study, quizzing him on various diseases and medicines. He believed Kaladin had great potential and expressed his desire to send Kaladin to Kharbranth after he turned sixteen to study.
Several years later, Kaladin unsuccessfully tried to save the life of Miasal, who had fallen from a considerable height. Lirin was called to the scene by Alim, but did not arrive before the girl died. Afterwards, Lirin sought out Kaladin, and found him weeping on the steps near the surgery room. Before coming to find his son, he had gone to inspect the child, and despite Kaladin's inability to save her, he was impressed by the work Kaladin had done. The two of them sat together as the sun set, while Kaladin continued to grieve.
Brightlord Wistiow and the Goblet of Spheres
Lirin and Brightlord Wistiow were close friends despite the differences in their social standing. In 1165, the brightlord fell ill and was attended by Lirin who, despite his best efforts, was unable to save the citylord's life. On the day of Wistiow's death, Lirin traveled to his manor to speak with the man. During his visit, he prepared documentation on behalf of the brightlord, that would gift his family a number of diamond broams. After the document was read to the brightlord by his clerks, Wistiow ordered his staff from the room, leaving Lirin as the only witness to his authorization of the transaction. Later, after returning home, Lirin was found by Kaladin in his surgery room. After telling his son of the brightlord's passing, Lirin informed him about the "inherited" spheres and how they would be used to pay for Kaladin's further study in Kharbranth when he was older.
The brightlord was not in his right mind during his last few days and did not have the capacity to transfer this wealth. Lirin, with the help of his wife Hesina, engineered the theft of their friend's wealth, as they knew that his death would mean the loss of the potential union between their children. Rumors sprang up not long after the brightlord's death surrounding the legitimacy of the transaction, though concrete evidence was never produced to prove the spheres had been stolen.
On a rare night of indulgence, Lirin warned his elder son against returning to Hearthstone after finishing his studies. The pair were shortly interrupted by a group of masked townsmen who had come to rob them and take Wistiow's spheres. Lirin knew they were members of the town, and not bandits as assumed by Kaladin, and refused to be intimidated by them. Instead of cowering, he removed the cloth covering the spheres, and lit up the night, exposing the thieves and taking away their anonymity. When Lirin showed he was willing to stand against them, the men disappeared.
When the new citylord, Roshone, arrived in Hearthstone without prior warning, Lirin and his family gathered in the town square to greet him. Though Lirin attempted to welcome the new citylord into the town, Roshone immediately sneered at him and rebuffed his efforts, blaming him for Wistiow's death and the need for a new citylord in Hearthstone. After Roshone departed for his manor, Lirin compared his arrival with that of throwing a butcher in the game breakneck-- what comes next depended entirely on the other player.
Life for Lirin went downhill quickly after Roshone's appointment as citylord. Roshone suspected that Lirin stole Wistiow's spheres, though Lirin claimed they were given to him, and attempted to coerce Lirin into giving the spheres to him with his economic and political clout. At Roshone's suggestion, the townspeople ceased their donations and inflated the price of their goods, as they felt intimidated by Roshone and wished to avoid his anger. However, they continued to donate in secret, leaving food around the town for Hesina to find while she worked.
”If we lack for something to eat, we can feast upon the attention you lavish upon us, Brightlord.
After the family lost access to all sources of income, Roshone invited Lirin to dine with him, so he could further break the surgeon. Despite his mother's attempts to distract him, Kaladin joined his father for the meeting. On their way to the manor, Lirin discussed the possibility of the family moving away, but admitted he struggled with the thought.
Tensions were high when Lirin and Kaladin joined Roshone in the manor's dining room. Initially, Roshone tried to seat the surgeon at a separate table; an insult against Lirin, who was entitled to a seat at the brightlord's table by his invitation and rank. Despite being offered food, Lirin did not eat, instead choosing to skip directly to the reason for his invitation. Roshone wished for the return of Wistiow's spheres, which Lirin had continuously refused. The citylord could not regain the spheres using legal means, as he was unlikely to win an inquest against the surgeon. Unable to get past Lirin's stubborn refusal to return all of the spheres, Roshone turned to negotiation. After an outburst from Kaladin, Lirin sent his son away to the kitchens and continued the discussion with Roshone in private. During the conversation, he argued back and forth with the citylord over the amount he was willing to return, but he grew frustrated and left before an agreement was reached.
Lirin later revealed to Kaladin on their trip home that he never intended to give up the spheres. He had gone to the meeting to give the appearance of bending but had known that Roshone would never have agreed to only a partial transfer. Roshone was a petty man, who targeted and lashed out at Lirin as a surrogate for those he blamed for his exile from Kholinar. He would never be happy until he had taken away all power from Lirin and had been beaten down completely. Lirin, aware of the brightlord's plans, used the opportunity to gain his family a reprieve from the oppressive citylord. It was during this same discussion that Kaladin learned the truth about Wistiow's spheres and his parents' role in their theft.
After a catastrophic whitespine hunt, Roshone's son, Rillir, died whilst in Lirin's care. The young man was brought back, along with his father, ahead of the rest of the hunting party in the hopes he could be saved. Two others were injuries in the attack, however Alds and Milp had been left to be retrieved by the other townsfolk. They likely died of their wounds. Rillir's wounds were extensive, and after an assessment, Lirin determined he could not save the boy. Roshone, lying on a separate table screamed at the surgeon to help his son, however, Lirin instead opted to tend to Roshone, whose wounds weren't as severe. He administered dazewater to the brightlord to calm him, as well as to Rillir to ease his suffering. When he removed the whitespine tusk from Roshone's leg, Lirin was presented with the opportunity to end the citylord's life. Unable to kill those in his charge, he instead chose to save the brightlord's life. After the operation, Roshone was returned to his manor to rest and his son's body sent to the crypt. Once again sitting on the steps outside of their home, Kaladin questioned his father over whether he would have let Roshone die if he had not also been in the room. Lirin responded in the negative; he could not have let another in his care die, though Kaladin's presence had helped to strengthen his resolve.
After Rillir's death, Lirin began to spend brightlord Wistiow's spheres. He did not need to do this; the family could survive as they were and had been offered assistance by Hesina's parents if required. However, by spending the spheres Lirin presented the illusion that Roshone had won and he had finally broken. He planned to continue in this fashion until Kaladin had reached the age of sixteen, and the spheres could be sent with him to Kharbranth. Regardless, Lirin did not enjoy having to spend the spheres.
Tien and Kaladin
Six months later, during the Weeping, the townsfolk of Hearthstone gathered once more in the square to await the arrival of a lighteyes. The last time they had gathered, Roshone had become their city lord, this time they were greeted by Highmarshal Amaram, cousin to Roshone and leader of the princedom's army, in the absence of Highprince Sadeas. Roshone, who had become reclusive following his son's death, also made an appearance. When Laral appeared, and it became obvious she was now betrothed to Roshone, Lirin sternly warned Kaladin against making a scene. Amaram, who had been in the region to visit his cousin, used the opportunity to recruit new members to fight on the princedom's border. Lirin worried that Kaladin would volunteer, however his son did not step forward. After only six men volunteered, Amaram read through a list of townsfolk who would be pressed into the army to increase their numbers. Among the names chosen, was Tien, Lirin's second son.
The conscription of Tien had not been random. Roshone, vindictive and angry that Lirin had been unable to save Rillir, conspired to take away the surgeon's son. While Lirin and Kaladin could not be forced into the army due to their professions of surgeon and surgeon's assistant, Tien as the carpenter's third apprentice could be targeted. Lirin attempted to prevent his son being taken, but was interceded by the highmarshal. Roshone insisted that Lirin's second son be impressed, and gloated at the victory he believed to have won over the surgeon. In an attempt to calm the situation, Amaram promised to make the boy a messenger to keep him away from combat. Kaladin, unwilling to let the matter lie, offered to volunteer in his brother's place. When denied, he chose to enlist alongside his brother to protect him from harm. Kaladin promised his devastated parents that he would take care of Tien and bring him home after their four-year tour.
Tien died, not four months after their departure. Lirin and Hesina received correspondence from Kaladin after his brother's death to inform them of his failure as well as his decision to not return to Hearthstone. They did not reply. Several years later, they received notice that Kaladin had also been killed.
”We're surgeons. Let others rend and break; we must not harm others.—Lirin to Kaladin
When Kaladin returned to Hearthstone following the Everstorm, he found his father tending to the wounded. The parlor of Roshone's manor had been converted into a triage room for Lirin, his wife, and his apprentice, Mara, to use to see to the wounded. Although he did not initially recognize his son, Lirin quickly came to identify the newcomer and both he and Hesina shared a heartfelt reunion with Kaladin. While his wife saw to feeding and tending their son, Lirin argued with Roshone's guards who had been put on edge by Kaladin's brands. Lirin refused to let his son be sent away again, and vowed to buy Kaladin's writ of slavery if needed. After growing frustrated, he looked to compromise with Roshone's guard, and by extension the brightlord himself, by writing to highprince's administrators for an explanation, buying the family time.
While Kaladin discussed the town's situation in private with Roshone, Lirin continued to treat those wounded by the Everstorm. When he returned to the parlor, Kaladin slipped back into his old role as assistant, and helped his father administer first aid. Lirin disapproved of Kaladin's path towards violence; while he believed war was inevitable, he wished that his son did not have to be involved.
The Fourth Bridge
Because of this, Kaladin arranged to take the entire population of Hearthstone via the Fourth Bridge.[expand]
Lirin does not get along well with Hesina's parents and as such they are not often spoken of around Kaladin or his brother. Lirin's introduction to his wife's parents went quite poorly. Marrying Lirin greatly impacted Hesina's social standing and Lirin occasionally regrets the sacrifices she made to move with him to Hearthstone. They do not always see eye to eye, and Lirin finds Hesina's religious beliefs frustrating. Regardless, he loves his wife and they are happy together.
Lirin had hoped he would be able to take Tien on as a second apprentice, who could take over from his brother when Kaladin left for Kharbranth. Unfortunately, Tien's phobia of blood prevented him from following in his fathers footstep and Lirin reluctantly let him apprentice to the carpenter, Ral. Lirin is protective of his son and enjoys his excitable nature. He is devastated when Tien is forced into the army by Roshone and it is only Amaram interceding that stopped him from causing a scene on the day Tien was recruited.
He disapproves of both of his son's hanging around the older children in the town, particularly those who encouraged fighting and the revere the Calling of soldier.
”There are two kinds of people in this world, son. Those who save lives. And those who take lives.—Lirin to Kaladin
Kaladin was trained by Lirin as a surgeon's assistant and showed a great aptitude in the field of medicine. He is proud of his son's work as a surgeon and believes with training and dedication, Kaladin can surpass him in skill. During his childhood, Kaladin's parents were at odds over how much time he should spend studying versus having a traditional childhood. Whether due to, or despite these disagreements, Kaladin is granted two hours a day by his father where he is not required to study.
”You have to learn when to care, son. ... And when to let go. You'll see. I had similar problems when I was younger. You'll grow calluses.—Lirin to Kaladin
Lirin hoped to send Kaladin to study in Kharbranth, where he could further his training under medical scholars. After the arrival of Roshone, Lirin and his wife request for Kaladin to take the entry tests early, however their request is denied. Despite warning Kaladin (during one of his gloomier moments), against becoming stuck in Hearthstone, Lirin has always hoped his son would return home after completing further study.
Throughout his training, Kaladin often struggles with the emotional burden of losing patients. While Lirin sympathises with his son's need to care, he also is resolute in his teachings that there is such a thing as caring too much. Nevertheless, he is proud of his son's abilities.
Kaladin admires his father's bravery and his ability to stand up to those who outrank him. He is proud to be his father's son, though he questions the morality of some of Lirin's choices. Lirin doubts Kaladin's ability to cause harm to others and is deeply disappointed when confronted with the fact that his son owns a Shardblade and has become a killer.
”The lighteyes don't care about life ... So I must. ... We have to be better than they are.
There is a great deal of animosity between Lirin and the citylord of Hearthstone, Brightlord Roshone. Roshone's resentment of Lirin, while initially stemming from his relocation to the farming town, is further fueled by Lirin's stubbornness as well as the death of Roshone's son. In turn, Lirin dislikes Roshone's pettiness and condescending attitude and find him to be greedy and a bully. Roshone wishes to break Lirin's will instead of simply drive him away and would not make it easy for the family to move away from Hearthstone.
Lirin does not allow his detestation of Roshone to interfere with his duties as a surgeon, despite the burden it would ease for his family. The relationship between Roshone and Lirin, while remaining hostile, settles down after the depature of Tien and Kaladin, likely due to Roshone's guilt.
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