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Truthless

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Truthless
Related to Shinovar
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
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I am Truthless. I do as my master requires, and I do not ask for an explanation.

—Szeth, regarding his oath[1]

The Truthless are the lowest social class among the people of Shinovar. The underlying meaning of the word "Truthless" is similar to "liar", but not quite the same.[2]

A Truthless is a slave to anyone who holds their Oathstone; rather than being bound by the tenets of their faith, they are obligated to obey the commands of their master in all things except for taking their own life and, in the case of Szeth-son-son-Vallano, giving up his Honorblade.[3] Most outsiders consider Truthless highly valuable due to their great obedience, but they are considered worthless by the Shin, who cannot accept any payment for a Truthless, even if it is pressed upon them.[4]

Being named Truthless is used as a terrible punishment by the Shin.[5] Truthless have to bear the guilt of all the deeds that they are commanded to do -- even though they must obey their masters, they are not absolved of the guilt of their actions, as outsiders commonly believe they are.[5] Being prohibited from taking their own lives is part of the punishment as well, as it helps extend their suffering as long as possible.[6]

The concept of the Truthless likely originates in the beliefs of Stone Shamanism: Szeth avoids questioning the tenets of Stone Shamanism out of fear that that would lead him to question his status as Truthless.[7]

Becoming Truthless[edit]

The leaders of the Shin can name someone Truthless as punishment for a fundamental betrayal of their people.[8] Szeth is named Truthless after making a claim that the Voidbringers and Knights Radiant will return to Roshar, which the leaders of the Shin consider to be a dangerous lie.[9] He is also equipped with Jezrien's Honorblade, though that is a special case and not usually done.[10] While he is Truthless, the Stone Shamans of Shinovar intend come to reclaim his Blade after he dies.[7]

When Szeth discovers that the claim for which he was called a liar and made Truthless is actually true, he begins to think of himself as never having been Truthless at all and stops following the rules accordingly.[11] This may indicate that it is generally possible to have one's Truthless status retracted, though that is not certain, given that he makes that decision unilaterally and is in a somewhat unstable mental state by that time.

Oathstones[edit]

Each Truthless has an Oathstone assigned to them; whoever holds it becomes their master and the Truthless is required to strictly obey their orders.[6] Despite the absoluteness with which Szeth obeys his masters, Oathstones have no magic properties; it is solely a sense of honor that holds Truthless to their orders.[12][13]

Szeth's Oathstone, the only known one so far, is a plain chunk of rock, about the size of a sphere, that contains embedded quartz crystals and a visible iron vein;[6] it is not known how Oathstones look in general.[14]

When a Truthless knows that their Oathstone is unheld, they are required to retrieve it and then stand quietly in place until someone interacts with them.[6] If their Oathstone were destroyed, a Truthless might try to put the pieces back together, switch their devotion to the object that destroyed it, or return to Shinovar to get a new one;[15] if a person consumed it, they might treat that person as their master.[16]

Shin warriors are traded by means of stones that are very similar to Oathstones.[17]

Notes[edit]

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