by Petar Penev
|Abilities||Cognitive Shadow, Skybreaker, Shardbearer|
|Titles||Herald of the Almighty, Herald of Justice, Patron of the Skybreakers|
|Aliases||Nalan, Nin, Nin-son-God, Darkness, Nakku, The Illuminator, The Judge|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”Without the law, there is nothing. It is all we have, the only sure thing in this world.—Nale
Nale, also known as Nalan, Nin, or Nakku, is one of the ten Heralds of The Almighty on Roshar. He's the Herald of Justice and the patron of the Order of Skybreakers, as well as a Skybreaker himself.
Appearance and Personality
”Justice does not expire.—Nale
Nale is dark-skinned, and often described as looking Makabaki, or more specifically Azish. The most notable aspect of his appearance is a crescent-shaped birthmark on his right cheek. He's typically dressed in a uniform of an Azish constable -- a black coat with a double row of silver buttons and a stiff silver collar poking up from beneath, as well as gloves with long collars of their own. His eyes are mentioned as looking glassy, unfeeling and cold. Vorin artwork seems to typically portray him as bald, though it's uncertain whether he actually is.
Nale is obsessed with order and law, and will go to extreme lengths to ensure he doesn't break any laws of the land he's in. This is because he's lost his own sense of justice and morality, and as such, he believes that the only way for him to act correctly is to obey a code of conduct created by others. He is, however, capable of bending the rules to his advantage, such as by appointing himself a lawman to enable him to kill, or pressuring local authorities to change the law.
This being said, Nale's still focused on obeying the rules, and will punish even his own underlings for breaking them, regardless of whether doing so is to his advantage. He thinks the world of Ishar, and will do anything the man commands, to the point of self-delusion, in all but most dire of circumstances. In his actions, he seems utterly devoid of mercy, and will execute the maximum penalty without a shred of compassion or leniency, even if they aren't his targets. He respects those who share his own blind obedience, and will target them as recruits for the Skybreakers. While willing to respect that people are fallible, he expects higher standards from those he chooses.
Most of Nale's current-day behavior is a result of his experiences during the Desolations. Back then, he was capable of emotions and compassion; however, this was tortured out of him on Braize. In his better moments, Nale is aware of what he's lost, and can be horrified by his own behavior, but his current coping patterns quickly reassert themselves.
He seems to have some problems correctly perceiving the passage of time, expressing surprise that a food he'd left behind many years, if not decades prior had gone bad.
Attributes and Abilities
Herald and Radiant
As a Herald of the Almighty, Nale is functionally immortal. He does not appear to age while on Roshar; and when he does die, he is transported to Braize, where he can return to when he wishes, though this comes with the risk of releasing another Desolation. He also has access to an Honorblade, and is in fact the only Herald to have recovered his after the Aharietiam. The Honorblade makes him a Surgebinder, granting him powers over the Surges of Division and Gravitation.
Apart from his powers as a Herald, Nale has formed a Nahel bond with a highspren, making him a Skybreaker. He's the only Skybreaker in centuries to have reached the Fifth Ideal, and has access to a living Shardblade, giving him two Blades in total. His double bond -- with the Honorblade and the spren -- will slightly enhance his powers. He also has some sort of "hack" that lets him acquire Stormlight where others cannot, though it might be due to his nature as a Herald.
Nale is the head of the Order of Skybreakers, with many of its members sworn to follow him directly by their Third Ideal. This provides him with a small, but powerful fighting force willing to obey his every command. They seem to follow him unquestioningly, even when he turns against humanity. Some of them are as high as the Fourth Ideal, while others are merely squires, though all seem rather well-trained.
Apart from the Skybreakers, Nale seems to have vast resources and connections. He has access to various rare items and creatures: he can acquire a larkin without apparent difficulty, has a Regrowth fabrial able to bring people back from the dead, and was even in possession of Nightblood for a while, having gotten his hands on it by means unknown. He keeps caches of food and supplies throughout the continent, though many of them are poorly-maintained.
He seems well-connected in Western Roshar. He can track Lift over vast distances and easily get his hands on attire of local lawkeepers, as well as necessary paperwork for him to join them. He's also fostered good relationships with most local governments, enough so that they're willing to grant him authority after he reveals himself and the Skybreakers to them.
Before the Recreance
Nale was born on Ashyn, either before or during the great calamity that befell it and forced the human population to leave. Like most others who would eventually become Heralds, he travelled to Roshar to settle there. Sometime afterwards, when the Desolations began, Nale joined the Oathpact, becoming a Herald of the Almighty.
When the Surgebinders began appearing, Nale was initially reluctant to take them under his patronage, even though the nascent Skybreakers named him their master. Following some sort of the disturbance in the toparchy of Revv, however, he agreed to do so, becoming the last Herald to formally accept his Knights Radiant.
Like all other Heralds besides Taln, in time Nale grew too exhausted to keep participating in the Oathpact. He and the others left their Honorblades behind and abandoned the Oathpact in an event later known as Aharietiam. Unlike the others, however, Nale eventually recovered his Blade. He also ended up bonding a highspren and joining his own Radiant Order, becoming the only Herald to have done so.
Era of Solitude
At some point, either before or after the Recreance, Nale began working to prevent another Desolation from happening. Eventually, likely following the advice of Ishar, he came to understand it as eliminating every nascent Surgebinder other than the prospective Skybreakers, whose bonds he had the capacity to permit and deny. By the time of the reunification of Alethkar, he was still doing it, forming a methodology that agreed with his own sentiments: he would track down Surgebinders who had committed some kind of a crime, no matter how minor, and execute them under the pretense of punishment.
Nale, most likely accompanied by Kalak, was present during the feast to celebrate the treaty between the Alethi and the Parshendi, which ended with the Assassination of Gavilar Kholin, the Alethi king. He briefly spoke with Elhokar Kholin, then left the feasting hall and stumbling on Jasnah, whom he treated rather coldly before moving on.
Following the feast, Nale continued his trail of murder, killing Ym for a minor crime. Afterwards, he focused his efforts on Lift, tracking her down all the way to the royal palace of Azimir. While he managed to catch her, and fill out the proper paperwork to have her killed, Gawx died in the process and Lift managed to heal the boy. This led to Gawx being pronounced the new Prime Aqasix and pardoning Lift, which in turn forced Nale to relent, as he had no excuse to kill her anymore.
Nale briefly returned East for the Battle of Narak, where he caught and revived recently-killed Szeth. He proceeded to recruit the Shin and give him Nightblood, which he had acquired at an uknown point in the past. Afterwards, he took Szeth with him back West on another hunt, this time to Yeddaw, to track down yet another budding Surgebinder. He successfully found Stump, but before he could kill her, Lift confronted him just as the Everstorm was approaching. The combination of the storm and Lift's words managed to get through to Nale as he realized that his plan had failed, and that he had killed for nothing.
Following the Everstorm, Nale seems to have undergone a small breakdown, leaving for parts unknown for several weeks before coming back for Szeth, dropping him off at the Skybreaker training grounds, then leaving again to seek Ishar's guidance. Whatever Ishar had told him apparently worked well enough to calm Nale down, enough so that he was back to his confident self when he returned months later.
He took all the Skybreakers with him south, to Marat. There, he told them the truth of the Aharietiam and the origins of the Desolations. Afterwards, they went further, to Thaylen City, though only Nale and Szeth were present during the Battle of Thaylen Field. As they watched, Nale informed Szeth that he intended for the Skybreakers to follow the singers, as they were the original owners of Roshar. However, he did not participate in the battle.
Initially, Nale attempted to convince Szeth to do the same. When the Shin chose to follow Dalinar instead, Nale had no hard feelings about it, and promised to return later to teach Szeth the Surge of Division. He then departed, though it's uncertain where to.
Nale greatly respects Ishar and his opinions, believing the Herald of Luck to be the only one who hasn't succumbed to madness. It was likely at Ishar's suggestion that Nale began his crusade against Surgebinders, and when the Everstorm comes, Nale goes to Ishar for comfort and advice.
By contrast, Nale doesn't seem to respect the other Heralds very much. He has been keeping tabs on Jezrien, and considers him to be little more than a drooling idiot in the recent years. It's also likely that he's met with Kalak on the night of Gavilar's assassination, suggesting that the two keep in touch; however, he has little patience for the man and his worries.
Nale seems highly impressed with Szeth, calling him one of the people most deserving of joining the Skybreakers. He's apparently been watching Szeth for a considerable period of time while the latter was Truthless, and greatly respects his obedience to the Oath, enough so to revive him from death and entrust him with Nightblood.
Even later, Nale seems to take a special interest in Szeth above other candidates. He seems comfortable telling Szeth his life story and speaking to him in private about the true history of the world. He's also fairly indifferent and accepting of Szeth's opinions, despite them disagreeing with his own. Even when Szeth decides to side with the people opposing singers -- and, by extension, Nale -- the Herald respects it and remains friendly, even promising to teach him further.
Nale has been hunting Lift relentlessly for a while by the time she arrives in Azimir and attempts to rob the Bronze Palace, enough so for her to recognize him right away. She nicknames him Darkness, and is initially terrified of him, though when his plans to kill her fail, he departs easily enough.
Afterwards, Lift takes to hunting him herself, trying to stop him from killing more Surgebinders, which eventually leads to the two having a confrontation in Yeddaw. Nale is initially rather glad that she came to be judged, and has every intention of killing her. However, she manages to talk him down and point out to him that the Desolation is starting again, which seems to temporarily return him to his senses. She even hugs him, although he departs shortly after.
As a Herald, Nale is significant in a number of Rosharan cultures. In Vorinism, he's called Nalan, and is associated with the number 2 (or Nan), the Essence of Vapor, and the attributes Just and Confident. People often swear by Nalan's hand, or say "Nalan send..." to express hope.
In Shinovar, he's revered as Nin-son-God, and believed to be the founder of humanity. The Azish know him as Nakku the Judge. He's also ascribed the title of the Illuminator, and is mentioned as having a hundred other names across the world, among them the Herald of Justice.
- Nightblood wouldn't consider Nale to be evil.
- Nale's birthmark is something unique to him, at least among the Heralds.
- Words of Radiance interlude I-9 #
- Words of Radiance chapter 43 epigraph#
- Oathbringer chapter 106 #
- Words of Radiance interlude I-2 #
- Words of Radiance chapter 88 #
- Edgedancer chapter 8 #
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- Nale relief
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- Stormlight Three Update #5
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- /r/books AMA 2015
— Arcanum - 2015-05-18#
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- The Way of Kings chapter prelude #
- Orem Signing
— Arcanum - 2019-03-16#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-2 #
- The Way of Kings prologue #
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- Edgedancer chapter 15 #
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- Words of Radiance chapter 44 #
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- Orem Signing
— Arcanum - 2019-03-16#
- Oathbringer Chicago signing
— Arcanum - 2017-11-21#