by Ben McSweeney
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
A Shardblade is a type of Invested weapon found on Roshar that is typically carried by the Knights Radiant and the Heralds of the Almighty. Shardblades wielded by Radiants are spren who have taken a physical form, and as such are splinters of Shard Honor and Cultivation. They are usually used with Shardplate, Invested armor that also exists on Roshar, as Shardblades are so large that they are unwieldy on their own. Making use of a Shardblade is referred to as Shardwielding and those who are bound to a Shardblade are referred to as Shardbearers.
- 1 Abilities
- 2 Types
- 3 History
- 4 Politics
- 5 Culture
- 6 Battle Tactics
- 7 Known Shardbearers
- 8 Cosmere
- 9 Development
- 10 Trivia
- 11 Notes
While there are a few differences between the various types of Shardblades, they all share a few common traits. All are larger but lighter than any normal sword, often at or approaching six feet in length, while simultaneously extremely light. All Shardblades that are bound to a specific owner can be summoned and dismissed at will. When summoned, they appear in one's hand, coalescing out of mist, with water condensing along the length of the Blade. When a Blade is dismissed it also vanishes into mist. They are composed of an unknown metal that is the body of a Shard, the same type as appears on the keyhole of an Oathgate. The tensile strength of Shardblades is very high; while they can bend a small amount, Shardblades appear to be unbreakable. Shardblades are said to have a sort of magnetism to them, anyone who sees one is drawn to it.
Shardblades can cut through non-living objects, such as wood or stone, as if they are passing through water. Even though they can cut through nearly any material, there is still a slight bit of resistance even when cutting through inanimate objects. When cutting through an object, Shardblades leave behind distinctive perfectly clean cuts. However, when swung at a person or other living object, the edge of the Shardblade will fuzz, leaving the physical body unharmed, and cutting the being's soul. The wielder of the Blade feels a small tug of resistance as the Blade passes through living material. If the Blade cuts the core of a person's limb, the person feels a flash of incredible pain and then the limb turns gray and becomes limp and numb. If an internal organ is pierced by a Shardblade, it may be killed or cease to function. If the Blade strikes the spine or head, the eyes of the person blacken and burn out with a dark smoke rising from them. When a person is killed this way by a Shardblade, death is not instantaneous; it often takes a few moments for the person to be completely dead. Once a person or other living thing has been killed, its remains can be cut like any other inanimate object. This applies to plants as well; it takes two swings of a Shardblade to sever a plant, one to kill the soul and another to cut it. Non-living portions of a living thing, such as hair or nails can be cut with a Shardblade before the creature itself is killed. Parts of a body that have been damaged by a Shardblade are typically referred to as Blade-dead.
Shardblades cannot be blocked by any typical weapons or armor, but they can be halted by a few things. One Shardblade can block another Shardblade, and when the two collide they may produce sparks. Shardplate can also stop a Shardblade, although two blows to a section of Shardplate is typically enough to shatter it. The half-shards of Jah Keved were also designed by more modern artifabrians to be resistant to Shardblades. These are shields with an Augmenter attached, allowing them to withstand two blows from a Shardblade before breaking. The final known way to block a Shardblade is with aluminum, which is a rare material on Roshar as it can only be obtained through Soulcasting. It is worth noting that the aluminum only nullifies the supernatural sharpness of the Blade, so a thin sheet of aluminum foil would be sheared through easily by a Blade.
Healing Shardblade Wounds
There are only two known ways for a Shardblade wound to be healed. A Radiant who is infused with Stormlight is capable of healing themselves when they are wounded by a Shardblade, but it requires a large amount of Stormlight. When a Radiant heals a Shardblade wound on themselves, they create an entirely new piece of soul to replace the old and graft it on to their Spiritweb, leaving a scar behind. This healing leaves the wounded limb weakened and aching for a time afterwards. This process is seemingly incapable of saving a Radiant from the instantaneous death of a Shardblade wound to head or spine. The Surge of Progression allows for a process known as Regrowth, which is capable of healing Shardblade wounds or even death by Shardblade. It requires near-immediate healing though, and a significant amount of power. Regrowth fabrials can be created, and were put to use by Radiants before the Recreance. A potential third way to heal a Shardblade wound is making use of a fabrial such as this, but it is as of yet uncertain.
There were three main types of Shardblades used on Roshar during the Era of Solitude. They were the Honorblades of the Heralds, the Shardblades of the typical Radiants, and the dead Shardblades of the Radiants who abandoned their oaths at the Recreance.
Main article: Honorblades
The Honorblades are a variety of Shardblades. They are the ten weapons of the Heralds, given to them by the Shard Honor. They are weapons of power beyond that of the average Shardblades of the Radiants. Each Honorblade is a work of art, flowing and inscribed with glyphs and patterns. The Honorblade of each Herald grants Surgebinding abilities that corresponded with the order of Radiants that its Herald led. The Honorblades, unlike the Shardblades, are not made from a bond with a spren. This means that they can be used indiscriminately, without regard for oaths or anything else. The Heralds abandoned these Blades in an attempt to end the Oathpact, so they can now be used like any other Shardblade, although they do still grant Surgebinding abilities. Honorblades are capable of activating Oathgates, unlike dead Blades.
”The Heralds glow like the sun, wield the Honorblades, and speak with the voices of a thousand trumpets. They could cast down buildings with a command, force the storms to obey, and heal with a touch.
Seven of the Honorblades are held by the Shin, who have kept them safe for millenia. The Honorblade of Jezrien is held by Kaladin but it is not bonded to him. Talenel's Honorblade has been stolen by unknown people. The Blade he held when he arrived in Kholinar was swapped at some point for the Shardblade that was brought with him to the Shattered Plains. The final Honorblade is in the possession of Nale, who went back to retrieve his Blade after abandoning the Oathpact.
The Honorblades are bonded like a typical dead Shardblade, taking ten heartbeats to summon. It is unknown if a gem needs to be added to them in the wake of the Heralds' betrayal of the Oathpact. Honorblades also change the color of a person's eyes to the color that corresponds with the abilities that particular Honorblade grants. For instance, Jezrien's Honorblade turns its owner's eyes a sapphire blue. However, that only occurs while the Blade is summoned. Once it is dismissed, its holder's eyes are returned to their natural color. Unlike dead Shardblades, Honorblades do not vanish automatically if the Blade is dropped, they must be intentionally dismissed. Bonding with multiple Honorblades would be easier than bonding to multiple dead Shardblades and much easier than bonding with multiple Radiant spren.
Radiant Shardblades are granted to people who are on the path to becoming a full Radiant and have sworn a particular oath of the Immortal Words. The number of oaths they must swear before obtaining their blade varies from order to order. At that point, the spren belonging to the Radiant will gain the ability to become a Shardblade unique to that particular Knight Radiant. Some Nahel spren are forbidden from telling their Radiant about how to gain their Blade, although this differs between Orders. As long as the spren is with the Radiant the spren can transform into a Blade instantaneously. The spren becomes mist and coalesces into the Blade when it is desired, and then dissipates back to mist when the Blade is dismissed. If the Radiant is a darkeyes, their eyes are lightened, though this effect is temporary and lasts only for a few hours after they summon the Blade. It is possible that the effect will eventually become permanent. Each Radiant's eyes also change to the specific color that corresponds with their order. This effect may not occur or be less noticeable if the person is already lighteyed.
”The Honorblades are what we are based on, Kaladin. Honor gave these to men, and those men gained powers from them. Spren figured out what He'd done, and we imitated it.—Syl to Kaladin
The spren still is capable of speaking with their Radiant while in Blade form. In addition to that, the spren need not take the shape of a Blade. They can become a spear, a shield, a knife, an axe, a hammer, or a large variety of weapons. In the past they may have even taken the form of bows, although it is uncertain what was used for a string. A spren may take many forms when it becomes solid, but it must be metal. Certain unserious forms, like a table fork, are also possible, though strange forms may annoy the spren. Radiant Blades may be lent to others, just like their dead counterparts, and may even change form in order to aid the borrower. When the Radiant who owns the Blade dies, the spren is freed and may bond again with another person one day. A Radiant's living Shardblade can be used to activate Oathgates.
Each default form that Radiant Shardblades take is unique, typically around six feet in length and a handspan in width. They can be edged on one or both sides, and are often ornamented with glyphs, as well as patterns along the edges, which may correspond with the essence of that particular Radiant's order. The Blades also glow slightly along its lines with the Polestone color that corresponds to their Radiant's order.
Radiant Shardblades are, in a way, more fragile than other Shardblades. A Radiant must remain faithful to their oaths or they risk damaging the Nahel bond with the spren. If their oaths are continually disobeyed, the bond will weaken and then break, killing the spren and trapping them in the form of a dead Shardblade. As Shardblades were originally patterned off of Honorblades, when their spren is killed they revert to the form of a sword, even if their Radiant preferred a different form. It is potentially possible for that same person to reestablish the bond and return the dead Shardblade to its previous state.
”Dead. Then they live again a little when someone summons them, syncing a heartbeat to their essence.
Dead Shardblades are blades that were once owned by members of the Knights Radiant. If a Radiant that has a Shardblade betrays their oaths, their spren is killed and its body is trapped in the shape of the Blade. Dead Shardblades lose some of the functionality that they once had. The Blades lose most of their ability to change into different weapons, although the shape of the Blade may change slightly to accomodate its owner after being used for a long time. The dead Shardblades are nearly identical to how they appeared while still wielded by the Radiants, but there are two small differences. Each dead Shardblade has a Polestone attached to its pommel or crossguard, whereas the the Shardblades wielded by Radiants do not. These gemstones allow for a new bond to be created between a person and a dead Shardblade. They also lack the subtle glow possessed by the Blades of active Radiants. Another difference between the two is that dead Shardblades do not automatically remain summoned when dropped or placed somewhere by their owner. If a Shardbearer does not intentionally command their Blade mentally to remain, the Blade will automatically be dismissed and will have to be summoned all over again. When a Shardblade is not actively summoned, the spren appear within Shadesmar as a deadeye, where their eyes take on an appearance of having been scratched away, like scraping paint off a painting. The deadeyes have no apparent personality or autonomy, instead they will wander to the location that corresponds with the location in the Physical Realm of their corpse, or the person bonded to it unless prevented from doing so. If the person it is bonded to is themself in Shadesmar the spren will follow them around within Shadesmar.
As the Nahel bond with the original Radiant seems to have been severed, a new bond has to be formed in order for a Blade to be summoned and dismissed. When a new owner touches a Shardblade for the first time, the gemstone on the pommel flashes. The person who wishes to bond with the Blade must keep it in close quarters to his or her self for five days before the bond is set. At that point they can summon and dismiss it. The spren inside the Blades are not completely dead, just mostly. As they are a little alive, they can sync a heartbeat to their essence. It takes ten heartbeats for a dead spren to be revived and summoned as a Shardblade. A dead spren can choose to summon earlier than ten heartbeats, though how they do this is unknown. If a person attempts to summon a dead Blade while in Shadesmar, the deadeye will turn their head to them in an unnatural way and begin screaming. Once a person is bonded to a dead Shardblade, their eyes do lighten if they are not already lighteyes. Since the gemstone on the pommel is the basis for the bond between a Blade and its owner, if the gemstone is removed or damaged, its owner will be unable to summon or dismiss the Blade until the gemstone is replaced.
When the holder of a dead Shardblade is killed, the Shardblade appears on the ground next to them. A dead Shardblade may also be given up willingly. This process of breaking the bond requires willing the bond to break with intense concentration while touching the gemstone of the Blade. When the bond is severed completely, the gemstone on the pommel flashes, and the former wielder feels a sensation of icy cold wash through their body. If someone who was previously a darkeyes breaks their bond with a Blade, their eyes return to their original coloration. A person may be bonded with multiple dead Shardblades but they have to be summoned individually.
”It just feels wrong to me. I hate it. I'm glad he got rid of it. Makes him a better man.
Dead Shardblades also have one other unique trait. When touched by a Radiant or Radiant-in-training, the Radiant will hear the agonizing screams of the dead spren. If the Radiant touches the dead Blade of another, the person it is bonded to will also hear screams and be accused of murdering the spren. This experience is terrifying. There is no known way to free the spren trapped within dead Shardblades, they have been so severely damaged that it would require their original knight to repair them in almost all cases. These deadeyes do have some measure of awareness of their surroundings in the Physical Realm, and may grow to hate some wielders less because they approve of their actions, screaming more quietly in their hands. Other living true spren that are capable of forming the Nahel bond will sometimes express dislike and revulsion for anyone wielding a dead Shardblade, no matter the character of the person bound to the Blade. They consider these Blades to be abominations, and distrust those that use the corpses of their relatives as mere objects. Other spren have managed to understand the reasons humans still make use of the Blades.
Dead Shardblades may be returned to their previous function if their previous Radiant recommits themselves to their abandoned oaths. Their spren can be reawoken and the dead Shardblade returns to its previous functionality. However, once their original Radiant has died, there is no known way to bond with the dead spren, heal their mind, and repair the Blade. It is possible for someone speaking the oaths of the Radiants to heal the spren within the Blade, but it would be very difficult. The spren has had some portion of their consciousness torn away when the Nahel bond was broken and this chunk would have to be replaced to fix the Blade. Adolin Kholin may be on the pathway to repairing his Blade in some way, potentially due to his close relationship with his Blade. He is able to determine the spren's name, Mayalaran, summon it earlier than normal, and even sense impressions from the Blade.
Main article: Heraldic Epochs
The very first Shardblades were the Honorblades. They were gifted to the ten Heralds by the Almighty, the Shard Honor, to aid in the fight against the Voidbringers and Odium. While these weapons were useful, over time it became clear that the Honorblades were not enough to continually defeat the Voidbringers. Each Desolation the Heralds would return to a populace that had forgotten them, and each time humanity drew closer to annihilation. The spren, seeing how Honor had granted the Heralds these supernatural weapons and abilities, formed Nahel bonds with humans and did the same. The Blades they created together were the very first of the Radiant Shardblades.
”We had to be given Shardblades to fight, otherwise we would have had to resist the Voidbringers with clubs.
These Shardblades were used by the Radiants to fight against the Voidbringers for at least several Desolations. Finally, the Last Desolation, Aharietiam, occurred. The Heralds, broken under the pressure of their torture, abandoned their Honorblades and broke the Oathpact. They told mankind that humanity had won the war finally and left the Radiants to guide mankind themselves. At some point the Shin people obtained these nine remaining Honorblades and took them, guarding them for millennia. At some point it was known that Shardblades could be blocked by aluminum, although this knowledge has slipped into legend and been largely forgotten.
Era of Solitude
Main article: Era of Solitude
The Radiants continued on, independently of the Heralds for several hundred years at least, until the Day of Recreance, when the Radiants abandoned their Shards for unknown reasons. When the Radiants laid down their Shards at the Recreance, they broke their bonds with their spren by betraying their oaths, killing them and trapping their bodies within the Shardblades they left behind, leaving the spren in a state of eternal agony. Initially, when the Radiants abandoned their Shardblades, the Blades remained fantastically sharp, but could no longer be bound to a person or summoned. This betrayal of the Nahel spren broke their trust with humankind. They refused to bond with men anymore and returned to Shadesmar. At some point during the Era of Solitude, the Herald Nale retrieved his own Honorblade for reasons unknown.
A few decades after the Recreance, a process was discovered to add a gemstone to the pommels of the Shardblades. The Shardblades even shifted form to allow for the gemstones. This returned some of their old function to the dead Blades. They could once again be summoned, but they were not the same. For the next several hundred years following the Recreance, Shardblades were prized among nations of the world both as weapons of war and symbols of power. These Blades were considered to be heirlooms, and their paths and histories are accounted for through the generations. In the years immediately following the Recreance, a book called Arts and Majesty was written, dividing disciplines into masculine and feminine. It claimed that masculine tasks were those done with two hands, while feminine tasks could be done with one. This was an attempt by men to gain exclusive control over Shardblades; an attempt that was almost entirely successful. This cultural shift happened over a particularly brief period of around twenty years. During this time, Shardblades were also used for some unusual purposes, such as carving the city of Yeddaw out of the ground.
It is uncertain if or when any new Radiants crafted Shardblades during this time period. It seems unlikely, as the Nahel spren had all retreated to their homeland of Shadesmar. There may have been a few dissident spren, similar to Sylphrena or Ivory but if there were any, they were few and far between. It is likely that any few Radiants arising during this time were killed by Nale, as he had been working for centuries to prevent the return of the Radiants.
Refounding of the Knights Radiant
”Speak again the ancient oaths and return to men the Shards they once bore. The Knights Radiant must stand again.
The first non-Skybreaker Radiant confirmed to have created a Shardblade following the Recreance was Shallan Davar, a young Veden girl. She and her spren, a Cryptic known as Pattern, reached the point in their bond where Shallan gained a Shardblade. However, Shallan's mother, who was possibly connected with the Ghostbloods or Skybreakers, recognized her potential as a Radiant. She attempted to murder Shallan, but was instead killed in defense by Shallan wielding her Shardblade. This experience was so traumatizing to Shallan that she was unable to recall the exact circumstances of how she gained her Blade for many years, so knowledge of how Shardblades were created remained hidden.
In the year 1168, Szeth-son-Neturo, a Truthless of Shinovar was sent by the Parshendi to kill Gavilar Kholin, king of the kingdom of Alethkar. Wielding the Honorblade of the Herald Jezrien, which he had received from his people, Szeth assassinated many other rulers on the orders of King Taravangian of Kharbranth. The use of this Honorblade destabilized the political structures of most of the influential kingdoms of Roshar, particularly Azir and the nation of Jah Keved, where a succession war occurred.
In the final few days of year 1173, a former slave known as Kaladin Stormblessed, who had bonded a honorspren named Sylphrena, swore the third Ideal of the Windrunners. This allowed Syl the ability to become a Shardblade, returning the knowledge of the origins of Shardblades to mankind. Kaladin used his Shardblade to then kill Szeth, and reclaim Jezrien's Honorblade. By this same time, Jasnah Kholin had also managed to progress to a point in her bond where her spren, Ivory, could become a Blade. A few days later, in 1174, the Edgedancer Lift swore the third Ideal of her order, allowing her spren Wyndle to take the form of a Shardblade.
Following the arrival of the Everstorm and the start of the True Desolation, Voidspren and the Fused made an active effort to gather up available dead Shardblades, as well as Plate. At least one other Radiant, Malata of the Dustbringers had progressed sufficiently far to manifest a Shardblade as well.  Renarin Kholin has also managed to manifest a Blade, but his spren Glys has been corrupted by Sja-anat, meaning his Blade may be something entirely unique. Following the rediscovery of Urithiru, living Shardblades have became enormously important for permitting the operation of the Oathgates which allowed for Dalinar's coalition to form. Jezrien's Honorblade was given by Kaladin to Dalinar, who kept it secret for some time. During Kaladin's absence on his mission to Kholinar, Dalinar entrusted the Honorblade to the men of Bridge Four, hoping they could guard it and use it to practice their abilities. Just before the Battle of Thaylen Field, the men of Bridge Four were attacked in Urithiru by an agent of Taravangian who stole the Honorblade. Taravangian surrendered the Honorblade to Odium as a part of their agreement, who then gave it as a reward to Moash.
”Any man can win a Shardblade. Slave or free. Lighteyes or dark. It's the law.
Shardblades were often one of the most tangible expressions of power between various nations. Kingdoms with many Shardblades were often considered to be more politically powerful than the others. Those without Shardblades, especially the smaller kingdoms, lived in fear of those with Shardblades. In the major Vorin kingdoms, Alethkar and Jah Keved, Shardblades are sign of nobility and power. The highprinces of these nations and oftentimes their children or favored highlords typically have a Blade or two. With perhaps twenty or so Blades each, Jah Keved and Alethkar have the most Blades of any kingdom on Roshar. These Blades are passed down family lines, although if a Shardbearer is killed, their Blade goes to their killer.
”This weapon is worth fortunes. Cities, palaces, kingdoms.
Even within the Vorin kingdoms themselves, those with Shardblades were usually seen as more powerful. Highprinces of Alethkar and Jah Keved jostle with one another for position and influence, and Shardblades are just another tool and indication of power and authority. Duels for Shards can be used to embarrass political enemies as well as to weaken their military strength. For instance, Highprince Dalinar Kholin had his son duel Shardbearers that supported Torol Sadeas politically, in order to disarm and shame them. As most Blades are won by those who already have their own Shards, not all Blades are kept by the person that wins them. Oftentimes they are bestowed upon an heir or relative, a worthy warrior, a loyal officer, or even sometimes promised to an ally. It is worth noting though that even if a person is said to own a Shardblade, their it is considered treasonous to sell the Blade or defect to another kingdom. However other than this exception, when a person is able to claim and bond a Blade without having it taken from them, no one will question their ownership of the weapon.
Outside of Vorin Roshar, other regions usually have far fewer Blades and they deal with them quite differently. The Thaylens have only five Blades, which they keep in the hands of their Royal Guards. The Herdazians have but a single Blade, which is kept in the royal line, passed from each king to his heir. In the Makabaki regions, the Prime Aqasix of Azir controls the Imperial Shardblades which he rents to the smaller kingdoms. The Selay have several Blades of their own as well. Even the listeners have their own Shardblades, although their numbers have dwindled down to a single Blade as the Alethi gradually kill the listener Shardbearers in the War of Reckoning and took their Blades for themselves.Smaller and weaker nations such as Kharbranth, however, have no Shardblades, leaving it to the mercy of the kingdoms with Shardblades. The island people of the Reshi Sea do not have any Blades either, which leaves them at a disadvantage to the Alethi during border conflicts. The Unkalaki of the Horneater Peaks do not have any Shardblades, but the first man to gain a Blade would be able to unite the Peaks as king.
A less common use for Shardblades was in assassination. Shardbearer assassins were by no means commonplace, but the Weeper and Szeth-son-Vallano used Shardblades in assassinations. A potential strategy made use of by Shardbearer assassins is to give the Blade to a woman. Centuries after the last female Radiants, Shardblades are rarely carried by women, so no one would expect to have to defend against, for instance, a washerwoman wielding a Shardblade. Other Shardbearer assassins, such as the Weeper, remove the burned out eyes of their victims, to hide the fact that they make use of a Shardblade.
While Shardblades were certainly renowned for their use in combat, that is not to say that they did not have any impact on culture. Rather, they were one of the most important drivers of Rosharan culture, most noticeably in the Vorin nations. They have influenced theology, mythology, society, and even introduced the sport of dueling into Alethkar and Jah Keved, two of the most powerful kingdoms on the face of Roshar.
One of the primary goals of artifabrians and their research is the reproduction of Shardblades and their complement, Shardplate. The kingdom that gained the ability to manufacture Shardblades and Shardplate would quickly become the most powerful in the entire world. It is commonly said that artifabrians are only a few years away from managing to recreate Shardblades, but this has never proven true. In fact, no artifabrian has ever come close to duplicating the effects of a Shardblade. For many years, artifabrians have believed that the supernatural qualities of a Shardblade are due to the gemstone in their hilts, which they believed to be a fabrial. In 1173, artifabrians discovered that the gemstones were not originally a part of the Blade and are only important in allowing for the Blade to be summoned and dismissed. The most important Shardblade-related fabrial development are the half-shards of Jah Keved, which were a groundbreaking development in combating the Blades, but are still nowhere near the real ones.
Theology & Mythology
”We have strength and power granted by the Almighty. It's a great responsibility, and it's our duty to use it for the protection of our men.
According to Vorin doctrine, the Shardblades were gifts from the Almighty, used to fight the Voidbringers, who were said to have skin of stone. As humanity was barely making spears, and their metalworking was incredibly basic, they needed the aid of their god to drive the Voidbringers from Roshar and the Tranquiline Halls and back into Damnation. While the Radiants were initially a force for good, it is said that over time they became corrupt and eventually betrayed mankind in some way, possibly helping the other side. Thereafter they were known as the Lost Radiants, and some began to say that their powers had been a curse or merely fanciful tales. The Honorblades have been elevated to a place of legend, considered to be mythological treasures. In Vorinism, it is not believed that being killed by a Shardblade destroys the soul, likely due to their connection to the Radiants. There are legends of a light, silvery metal that falls from the sky and has the capacity to block Shardblades.
Stories of heroes wielding Shardblades were pervasive among the peoples of Roshar, particularly the Vorin darkeyed. Young children play at having Shardblades, and dream of growing up to join the army and win one for themselves. Young lighteyed children often have wooden toy swords, carved to look like Shardblades. Some young men carry fine daggers carved in the likeness of Shardblades. In rural towns, the tales of Lanacin the Surefooted, Evod Markmaker, and Raninor of the Fields, legendary and revered darkeyes who won Shardblades, inspired men to go off to war in hopes of winning a Shardblade, and thus riches and fame for themselves and their loved ones. However, a darkeyes winning a Shardblade is so incredibly uncommon that it has not happened in over a lifetime. Given the preponderance of Blades in the Vorin kingdoms, some see it as a sign that the nations themselves have been blessed by the Heralds.
Even though the Radiants are a distant memory of the past of Roshar, their influence still permeates Vorin society. Indeed, it is the memory of the Radiants, whose eyes were lightened upon bonding their Blade, that led to the stratification of Vorin society into castes based on eye color. Even some titles may be passed with Shards; for instance in Thanadal's princedom, the owner of a certain set of Shards is typically given the title of Royal Defender.
The cardinal rule of Shardblades is that any person who kills a Shardbearer is entitled to the Shards that person possess, regardless of their social status. Any person in Vorin society that gains a Shardblade is instantly raised to the level of a fourth dahn lighteyes if they were not already at that rank or higher. This grants that person the title of highlord, as well as lands of their own and incomes from those lands. Upon being raised, they may make their own noble house or ask permission to join another house. Anyone that bonds a Shardblade instantly becomes one of the most influential people in the kingdom, and their presence is expected at all social events of note. They are so important that they become, to some extent, above the law. For more series crimes, Shardbearers are either pardoned or executed, as it is impossible to imprison a Shardbearer against their will. This is true whether the Shardbearer is lighteyed or dark, but far more lighteyes become Shardbearers than darkeyes.
When someone bonds a Shardblade, most commonly they maintain that bond up until the point of their death or it is lost in a duel or some other way. It is worth noting though that to win a Blade fairly requires a true contest, in most cases. Doing something like taking one from a child who cannot defend themselves may be frowned on or cause for rebellion, although there is oftentimes no way to force the Blade to be returned. The only circumstance that a person would willingly give up their Blade is when they become to weak or ill to be able to use it themselves, and even then it is uncommon and done with reluctance. In Vorin kingdoms, upon a Shardbearer's natural death, a Blade is most commonly passed on down their family line. While passing the Blade from father to son is the most common, every person who owns a Blade has the right of bestowal, the ability to chose their successor themselves. Most Shardblades have a detailed history and lore of their own as well of drawings done of them Royal records done by scholars track the lineage of Blades down through the generations as they are passed down families or change hands between brightlords and kings. Oftentimes they also are given a name, such as Firestorm or Sunraiser, although some Shardbearers prefer not to name their Blades.
Shardblades are often used in greatshell hunts, enormous Vorin sporting events. Typically the Shardblades are used in the very final stages of the hunt, after the beast has been wounded by volleys of arrows and shots from a grandbow. In the case of the chasmfiends of the Shattered Plains, the Shardblades are used on the beasts's legs. Shardbearers ride around beneath the greatshell, cutting through one leg at a time until the remaining legs cannot support the chasmfiend's weight and it collapses. The creature is then killed with the Blades and its gemheart is harvested. Some consider the Blades to be so effective that the greatshell hunts are unsportsmanlike. It is unknown what role Shardblades play in other greatshell hunts.
”Fighting with Shardblades, though, that could be like a dance. The large weapons took a great deal of skill to swing properly, and Plate was resilient, so exchanges were generally drawn out. The fights were filled with grand motions, wide sweeps. There was a fluidity to fighting with a Shardblade. A grace.— Dalinar's thoughts on Shardblade duels
The Vorin kingdoms of eastern Roshar have a proud tradition of dueling, particularly with Shardblades. A duel between Shardbearers was not just a contest of skill, but an art form all its own. Lighteyes and darkeyes alike gathered in arenas, to view not only a simple battle, but a grand spectacle. While there were rules and regulations as to what was permitted and forbidden during a duel, oftentimes certain actions were forbidden by traditions stronger than law. Duels are supposed to be fought slowly and gracefully, both opponents testing one another before dueling in earnest. Duelists nearly always make use of traditional dueling styles, such as Windstance or Smokestance. Duels that are instead fought quickly with fast, brutal blows are nontraditional and unpopular with both highjudges and audiences, if not technically forbidden. While Shardblades typically do not need to be swung at full strength in combat, it is useful during a duel with someone also wielding another Shardblade. Some duels are fought without a Shardblade, but even many of those are fought without a shield evoking the classical ideal of a duel with Shardblades.
”I am highprince here, Dalinar. In this arena, my word is the only law, granted me by the authority of the king.
Duels are moderated by a highjudge, who has absolute authority over what occurs during a duel within the arena. Both duelists agree to terms in front of the highjudge before a duel. Duels are usually fought until a specific number of sections of Plate are Shattered. The typical number of Plates duelists fight for is one, but higher stakes duels can go for more two or three, but this can prove dangerous.  Some try to jam their Blade in gaps between the sections of Plate, hoping to break them. This is a dangerous move though, and risks seriously wounding an opponent. A duel can also go until surrender, which allows a man to keep fighting until he feels he is bested or is rendered incapable of further fighting. If a highjudge feels a duel has gone too far, she can end the duel herself. Duelists can also agree to a paired duel, in which one man fights two or a disadvantaged duel wherein the disadvantaged side need only have fewer duelists than the other side. Specific language when challenging another person to a duel is crucial as other duelists will use any flaws in the wording of the challenge to skew the duel to their own advantage.
Duels can be fought for a variety of reasons. One is for sport, fighting to duels to practice and display skill. Someone dueling can choose to compete to become the dueling champion of the kingdom. This is determined by statistical dueling rankings, which prevent just any Shardbearer from challenging one ranked far higher. Typically, a dueling champion will only agree to fight someone close to him in the rankings. Working ones way to the top of the rankings can typically take a year or two. Another reasons someone can challenge another to a duel is in recompense for an insult or some sort of wrongdoing. This usually only applies to people of a similar rank, a subordinate is typically not permitted to challenge his superior to a duel. Duels can also be fought wagering Plate, Blades or both. These duels are uncommon and usually something of a spectacle. This is one of the few ways that Shards change hands outside of actual combat. Duels to the death are very rare, although accidental death or serious injury are not unheard of in duels. One of the few ways that a duel to the death is permitted is permitted by the Right of Challenge, which is sometimes granted by a boon from the king. The Alethi Codes of War forbid dueling in times of war, to avoid injuring officers, although few modern Alethi keep to the codes.
Duelists themselves have their own strongly held set of traditions, both as individuals and as a whole. Some are borne out of necessity, such as how a Blade is held to avoid slicing something by accident or how to think of an enemy in combat. Others are less practical and seem almost mystical or spiritual. The manner in which they show respect to the traditions and institutions of dueling itself is one. Many duelists feel that the Blade itself is a part of them, a tradition perhaps dating back to the Radiants themselves. Some such as Adolin take this even further, believing that the Blade is a duelists life, and that they must be respected. Some also believe that a Blade cannot fail its wielder, a loss occurs only when the duelist fails the Blade.
A Shardbearer is typically trained in a specific way among the Alethi. Lighteyed boys of appropriate rank around the age of ten are chosen by an ardent swordmaster for training. These boys typically already have at least some training with the sword. The swordmasters train in training grounds run by the ardentia. The swordmaster's job is teaches them the ten Shardblade Stances, which are used in both dueling and regular combat. They train with Blades in two ways. If the trainee has no Blade of his own, they can make use of wooden practice swords that approximate the balance and weight of a real Blade. They may also borrow one of the King's Blades. Either way, when training with real Blades a guard is used to blunt the cutting edge. The origin of these guards is unknown, but they are believed to come from long ago. As the Blades of the original Radiants could naturally dull themselves to prevent injury, it seems likely that they were developed at some point following the Recreance. The guards are made of metal and conform to the edge of any Blade. The guards themselves are useless and fragile on their own, but they are perfect for training. A swordmaster also coaches their student on how to control the Blade with their mind, commanding it to remain in place so it can be loaned to others.
One of the strongest traditions in Alethkar is the loaning of the King's Blade. In Alethkar, both the king's Blade and his Plate are available to be used in a duel by those who have the favor of the king and are without Shards of their own. Borrowing the Blade does cost a hefty amount of spheres, but it is not uncommon. Oftentimes kings dislike or are uncomfortable with this tradition, but they still follow the tradition. Kings will also make their Blades available for trainee Shardbearers to practice wielding an actual Blade. This tradition is one of the reasons the Alethi have the best trained Shardbearers on Roshar. Whenever a Shardbearer is killed or dies, there is always someone prepared to bond their Blade and use it right away. On some occasions, a king will even allow their Blade to be used in actual combat, but it is uncertain how commonly this occurs. If a king has multiple Blades, he will sometimes bestow one of the King's Blades on someone who he thinks is deserving of a Blade of their own. Before the monarchy was restored in Alethkar, the highprinces carried on the tradition of the King's Blade by lending their own Blades.
Shardblades are such an effective tool on the battlefield that they have inspired their own tactical and countertactical uses. Combat in a battle against a vast number of regular soldiers differs significantly from a duel, and so the tactics that a Shardbearer makes use of are also quite different as well. Shardblades are typically most effective when they are used by a person that is also wearing Shardplate, as the Blades are so large that they are unwieldy without Plate. The tactics discussed below typically assume the person wielding the Shardblade is also wearing Shardplate. These tactics also typically apply to dead Shardblades, as those who use them do not have inherent access to Surgebinding. It is worth noting however, that dueling knowledge may also come into play on the field of battle, if a Shardbearer faces an enemy Shardbearer.
”A Shardbearer wasn't just a force of destruction; he was a force of morale and inspiration. The men fought more vigorously as they saw their brightlord felling foe after foe. Shardbearers changed battles.— Dalinar's thoughts on Shardbearers
The first tactical decision made using Shards is often deciding where to deploy them. As Shardblades are as rare as they are effective, generals and tacticians must decide where they are most useful. Shardbearers typically only fight in the most important battles. For instance, no Shardbearers were necessary when the Alethi fought the Reshi in the wastescum skirmishes, but every single Shardbearer has been deployed to the Shattered Plains for the War of Reckoning. While sending as many Shardblades to a conflict as possible may seem a simple solution, it may leave an army exposed elsewhere or leave its homeland defenseless. Another consideration is the fact that sending Shardbearers to a battle may serve as a deterrent to one's enemies, but it may also escalate the conflict and provoke one's enemies to send their own Shardbearers into battle.
Shardbearers often lead formations themselves, cutting a hole in enemy ranks with their overwhelming force. This creates a gap that well-trained men can exploit, which can allow for an army to overcome superior numbers. The usefulness of this tactic is twofold. Few regular men can put up an effective resistance against a Shardbearer, allowing them to lead a spectacularly effective charge, and also this tactic puts the Shardbearers at the front of the regular soldiers, often giving them a boost in morale as well. Shardbearers will also sometimes be used in defensive fights to bolster the gaps in their own lines, moving quickly between weak places to give soldiers a chance to recover and return to their formation. When a Shardbearer has Plate and Blade, they can also easily cut their way behind enemy lines, where they can wreak havoc with impunity and cause confusion that their own soldiers can then exploit. Unlike fighting in a duel, the most effective way to combat large groups of soldiers is to maintain momentum and keep the Shardblade in constant motion, always cutting. Practiced Shardbearers will use their control over their bond with their Shardblade to make use of it unexpectedly. They may throw their Shardblades in a more ranged attack than they are used to and then dismiss it once the damage is done so that they can summon it back to their hands. Another uncommon tactic is unexpectedly dismissing the Blade, which can surprise an enemy who is preparing to dodge the Blade or parry it. This works particularly well when the Shardbearer is wearing Plate.
Due to their awesome power, Shardbearers fighting together often have to be careful that they do not inadvertently hurt one another or their own men. Fighting in tandem with Shards is a skill all its own, keeping close enough to support one another but just far enough away to avoid interfering in the other's fight. While the skill is uncommonly practiced, two Shardbearers supporting one another in combat can achieve incredible success. Many times a Shardbearer will wade into enemy lines, bolstered by an honor guard fighting a few steps behind them. The honor guard does not spend time defending the Shardbearer directly, but rather stays nearby to support the Shardbearer, so if his Plate is severely damaged or he is seriously injured, the Shardbearer can retreat to safety and not risk their life or their Shards. Bolder Shardbearers will leave this honor guard behind and will attack enemies alone, either on foot or horseback. Such a move is a tactical risk, as an isolated Shardbearer is at his most vulnerable and the loss of a Shardbearer in combat may prove disastrous for their own forces. Shardbearers may also fight alone when capturing a wall or taking down some other fortification. Narrow wall tops are ideal for Shardbearers, as they are able to easily kill the clustered soldiers. They must take care when scaling walls however, as some handholds are designed to be retracted by the defenders. Unexpectedly pulling in a ledge that a Shardbearer is hanging from can be enough to send them spilling to the ground, cracking their Plate or killing them.
As Shards are often passed down family lines, many times it ends up in the hands of someone that prefers not to be involved directly in combat. Aged warriors, those who lack a talent for fighting, or those who prefer to lead tactically from the rear may not desire to engage directly in combat themselves, but also do not want to deprive their army of a Shardblade. Shardbearers can will their Blade to remain and still remain fully bonded to the Blade. This has lead to the practice of highprinces and other lighteyes lending their Blades to skilled officers. This tactic relies on a great deal of trust on both sides though. As the owner of the Blade has the ability to recall the Blade at any moment, the person fighting with it must trust that the owner will not dismiss the Blade, leaving them unarmed. For their part, the owner of the Blade must trust that the person wielding it will not interfere with the gem on the Blade or allow it to be damaged, which would prevent the true owner from being able to summon it until it is replaced with a new gemstone.
The Shardblade is such a powerful weapon that its versatility is often only limited by the creativity of its bearer. For instance, Adolin Kholin used his Shardblade stuck into the side of a plateau as a platform to stand on while clearing a space for him to stand on top of the plateau. In another instance, Dalinar cuts section of rock away, allowing it to fall on his opponents below him. He also will cut the stone underneath the feet of his opponents to make them lose their footing. An experienced Shardbearer can find a multitude of ways to use a Blade to his advantage in battle beyond the tactics in which they are typically trained.
The most effective way of countering a Shardblade is to send another Shardbearer against them. By leveling the playing field in this way, the overwhelming power of a Shardblade is negated and victory is left to the most skilled of the fighters. However, when going up against a full Shardbearer, a person with both Blade and Plate, a Blade is often not enough to ensure victory. In fact, in a duel between someone with only Plate and someone with only a Blade, the person with Plate will more often be successful, as they only need to get in one good strike on their opponent. This is why most Shards are won by people who are already full Shardbearers.
”In fighting a Shardbearer, everything became about that Blade. The Blade that nothing could stop, the Blade that didn't just kill the body— but severed the soul itself.
As swords and arrows are practically useless against a Shardbearer, heavy weapons such as war hammers and axes are often used in an attempt to shatter the plate. The most common tactic is to simply drown a Shardbearer in enemies. Enemy forces attempt to attack from all directions, hoping that the Shardbearer may grow distracted or disoriented. Despite the fact that most regular soldiers are afraid to face a Shardbearer, when they attack in large groups the weight of the army can force even the reluctant forward, and there is always the chance that someone will get in a lucky blow. Shardbearers are vulnerable if they can be separated from the soldiers supporting them, so if an army can separate a Shardbearer from their honor guard and limit their mobility, they have a decent chance of killing him. One tactic to reduce a Shardblade's effectiveness is to get in close to the Shardbearer, staying within the Shardbearer's reach and taking advantage of the Blade's long, non-lethal hilt. Fortifications may be constructed with this principle in mind, keeps built with narrow corridors to prevent a bulky Shardbearer from maneuvering. There are also soldiers trained specifically to deal with Shardbearers. They utilize ropes and hooks to try to unbalance or trip the shardbearer, though this isn't always successful as shardplates are heavy. As the Shardblades cut through corpses instead of knocking them away like a normal weapon would, Shardbearers often become surrounded in corpses, which can lead to unstable footing and decreased mobility. In extended battle, Shardbearers are rarely the last fighting, their enemy focuses on bringing them down first so that their Blades can be turned on their own men once they have fallen. This means when a Shardbearer is killed, recovering their Blade and Plate are a higher priority than even retrieving the highlord's body.
One common vulnerability a Shardbearer has is their own arrogance. In fact, oftentimes Shardbearers allow their combat skills to dull or never bother becoming terribly skilled in the first place, as they become used to being near-invincible and fantastically stronger than any of their opponents. This can be the undoing of a Shardbearer who faces a more practiced opponent or a Surgebinder. One specific move to counter a Shardblade that makes use of this weakness is called a lastclap. Oftentimes Shardbearers do not swing at their full strength as they typically do not need to do so when fighting in large battles, as they have a Blade that can cut through any material. This means that when they are swinging downward at an enemy with an overhead blow, the person they are swinging at can sometimes catch the Blade between their palms. Some see this as a dumb move, only useful as a last resort, because it relies fully on an enemy's lack of care.
One uncommonly exploited weakness in a Shardblade is the gem at its hilt. If the gemstone on the hilt of a Blade is damaged or removed and the Shardbearer is somehow disarmed, he will be unable to summon the Blade to himself. However, if someone can get close enough to a Shardbearer to disable his Blade in such a way, they are likely close enough to either kill the owner or be killed by him, making this tactic often impractical. Oftentimes, a surprise attack is the quickest way to kill a Shardbearer. If they are not currently on the battlefield, and therefore not in their Plate, a Shardbearer can be attacked before they have a chance to summon their Blade. In close quarters fighting, such as hand-to-hand or with a knife, Shardblades are too long to be useful and are only a liability if summoned, eliminating the advantage of a Blade.
Combat in the Shattered Plains
Shardblades also are helpful when dealing with the Shattered Plains in particular. When attempting to cross from one plateau to another that is held by an enemy, full Shardbearers will often leap the chasm between the two plateaus and establish a "beachhead" for the men setting bridges behind them. This strategy is often followed by a cavalry attack across the bridge to push back the enemy. Those who fight against the Shardbearers often attempt to push the Shardbearers off the plateau and into the chasm, killing them instantly, so this tactic is incredibly dangerous for unskilled Shardbearers. Shardblades are also useful in harvesting gemhearts rapidly from chasmfiends. A Blade can be used to kill the pupating chasmfiend, cutting through its chrysalis easily. Once dead, a Shardblade can easily be used instead of mallets to break open the chrysalis and remove the gemheart, allowing the Alethi to retreat quickly.
The Shardblades listed here are formed from living spren that have formed a Nahel bond with a human being. Any person that has bonded with a spren but has not yet manifested a Shardblade is not listed here.
|Spren Name||Radiant Name||Order||Typical Form||Notes||References|
|Ivory||Jasnah Kholin||Elsecaller||Sword||Blade is long and thin|||
|Pattern||Shallan Davar||Lightweaver||Sword||Initially believed it to be a dead Shardblade - Has several faint lines down its length, glowing softly the color of garnet|||
|Sylphrena||Kaladin Stormblessed||Windrunner||Spear, sword or shield||Blade and spear are covered in swirls with Windrunner's symbol at the center.|||
|Wyndle||Lift||Edgedancer||Pole or fork||Has never appeared as a Blade|||
|Glys||Renarin||Truthwatcher*||Thin, almost without a crossguard with waving folds to the metal||Glys is a corrupted spren, so the situation is unique|||
|unknown||unknown||Windrunner||Sword||Radiant from the Heraldic Epochs|||
|unknown||Teft||Windrunner||Spear||Spear with a strange crossguard|
|unknown||Nale||Skybreaker||Sword||Distinct from his Honorblade, otherwise not described|||
This list of known dead Shardblades is organized by current owner or most recent known owner.
|Shardbearer||Blade Name||Previous Holder||Appearance||Notes||References|
|Adolin Kholin||Mayalaran||Tinalar||Sinuous cutting edge, crystalline back, former Blade of an Edgedancer||Won in a duel in Adolin's youth|||
|Aladar||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Prefers to lead from rear, often lends Blade to officers|||
|Dalinar Kholin (Unbound)||Unknown||Talenel - Unbound||Wider than average - cleaver-like||Unbound at the request of the Stormfather|||
|Elhokar Kholin (Deceased)||Sunraiser||Kalanor||Long, thin - etched with ten fundamental glyphs||Sunraiser's owner is unknown following Elhokar's death. Elhokar also possesses his father's old Blade, Firestorm.|||
|Eshonai (Deceased)||Unknown||Unknown||Wicked and barbed, flame patterns||Taken by the Fused along with her Plate|||
|Gavilar Kholin (Deceased)||Firestorm||Unknown||Edged on both sides, flame patterns||Currently in possession of Elhokar as King's Blade, looking for worthy owner|||
|Graves (Deceased)||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Stolen by the Fused for purposes unknown|||
|Hanavanar (Deceased)||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Kept Blade a secret, two of his murdered men also had Blades, fate of all three unknown|||
|General Khal||Unknown||Relis Ruthar||Unknown||Won by Adolin in his duels|||
|Liss||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Kept a secret to be used in assassinations|||
|Meridas Amaram||Unknown||Helaran Davar||Thick, curved, one edge in shape of flames or ripples, a gem stone set at the pommel. Etchings all along its surface.||Stolen by Amaram from Kaladin|||
|Moash (Lost)||Unknown||Abrobadar||Edged on both sides, twisting vine pattern at center, heliodor pommel||Given up to the Fused in exchange for his life.|||
|Renarin Kholin (Given up)||Unknown||Salinor Eved||Unknown||Won by Adolin in his duels, given to ardents after Renarin could manifest his own Blade|||
|Resi||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Only full Shardbearer in Thanadals camp, called Royal Defender|||
|Ruthar||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Only Blade remaining to Ruthar after Adolin's duels|||
|Talanor||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Only possess a Blade, refused Adolin's duel off|||
|Dalinar Kholin (Not bonded)||Oathbringer||Meridas Amaram||Handspan wide, curvy, hooked tip, edged on one side with wave-like serrations near hilt||Given to Dalinar after Amaram was shot to death with a Grandbow by Rock -- who refuses to take up Amaram's Shards.|||
|Valam (Deceased)||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Left beside body of the king, current owner unknown|||
This is a list of former Shardbearers that have lost their Blade or have died and had their Blade claimed by someone else. The references section refers to the first specific instance this person was mentioned to have a Shardblade or the Shardblade appeared, for specific references for the details provided in this table, see the respective Shardbearer's page.
|Shardbearer||Blade Name||Previous Holder||Next Holder||Appearance||Notes||References|
|Abrobadar||Unknown||Unknown||Moash||Edged on both sides, twisting vine pattern at center, heliodor pommel||Won by Adolin in his duels and given to Moash|||
|Gallam||Unknown||Unknown||Relis Ruthar||Unknown||Defeated by Highprince Ruthar in the battle against Kalanor, Blade was given to Relis Ruthar|||
|Helaran||Unknown||Unknown||Meridas Amaram||Thick, curved, one edge in shape of flames or ripples, helidor pommel||None|||
|Kalanor||Sunraiser||Unknown||Elhokar||Long, thin - etched with ten fundamental glyphs||This Blade was won by Dalinar, but given to Gavilar for his as-of-yet unborn heir|||
|Relis Ruthar||Unknown||Gallam||General Khal||Unknown||Won by Adolin in his duels and given to Khal|||
|Sadees||Oathbringer||Unknown||Unknown||Long, Curved, with wavelike serrations near the hilt||Eventually passed down to Tanalan|||
|Tanalan||Oathbringer||Unknown||Dalinar Kholin||Long, Curved, with wavelike serrations near the hilt||Eventually passed from Sadees|||
|Torol Sadeas||Oathbringer||Dalinar Kholin||Meridas Amaram||Long, Curved, with wavelike serrations near the hilt||Traded to Sadeas by Dalinar for the lives of the Bridgemen|||
|Salinor Eved||Unknown||Unknown||Renarin Kholin||Once had a ruby on the pommel, destroyed by Adolin||Lost to Adolin Kholin, who granted it to his brother|||
|Tinalar||Mayalaran||Unknown||Adolin Kholin||Sinuous cutting edge, crystalline back, former Blade of an Edgedancer||Lost a duel to Adolin in his youth|||
This table tabulates the original owners of the Honorblades, as well as their abilities, desciption, and current or most recent owner.
|Original Herald||Current Owner||Surges Granted||Appearance||Notes|
|Battar||Stone Shamans||Transformation & Transportation||Unknown||None|
|Chanarach||Stone Shamans||Division & Abrasion||Unknown||None|
|Ishar||Stone Shamans||Tension & Adhesion||Unknown||None|
|Jezrien||Moash||Adhesion & Gravitation||Short, thin, & double-edged||Formerly held by the Stone Shamans, Szeth, and various members of Bridge Four.|
|Kalak||Stone Shamans||Transportation & Cohesion||Unknown||None|
|Nale||Nale (Reclaimed)||Gravitation & Division||Straight and unornamented, with two slits down its length.||At some point Nale returned to reclaim his Blade.|
|Pailiah||Stone Shamans||Progression & Illumination||Unknown||None|
|Shalash||Stone Shamans||Illumination & Transformation||Unknown||None|
|Talenel||Unknown||Cohesion & Tension||Possibly spike-like||The Blade Taln returns with is not the same one he has later.|
|Vedel||Stone Shamans||Abrasion & Progression||Unknown||None|
Shardblades, like the spren they are made from, can likely be termed Splinters, due to the fact that they are fragments of a Shard. The metal that a Shardblade is comprised of is the condensed essence of Honor, making it somewhat similar to Scadrial's god metals. Shardblades are an alloy of Honor's god metal and is Allomanticaly viable, though what it would do is unknown.
Interactions with other Investitures
Shardblades also seem to have a unique interaction with the Innate Investiture. When a Shardblade cuts a living being, it seems to sever the Spiritweb of the being it is used on. It is uncertain how a Shardblade would behave if it was used on a post-Reod Elantrian, as they are simultaneously living and dead, so it is possible that it would cut the Elantrian's flesh or merely leave the limb dead, depending on when the Elantrian is struck by the Blade. Shardblades of all types also seem to be bonded directly to a person's Spiritweb. Hemalurgy could be used to steal a Shardblade from someone, although it is unknown how Hemalurgic decay would impact this. As heavily Invested objects, Shardblades would be mostly immune to Allomantic Pushes and Pulls. Additionally, Shardblades are theoretically capable of cutting or interfere with the lines produced by burning iron or steel, due to as they are manifest in the Spiritual Realm. People from off-world are able to use Shardblades.
Forgery could be used to gain a Shardblade, with some restrictions. The Investiture is not powerful enough to temporarily create a new Shardblade, and if it somehow could it would be terribly inefficient. Instead, if a person had once held a Shardblade and gave it up, a Forger could rewrite their past to make it that they had never given up the Blade, and they would then be able to summon that same Shardblade. This would have the effect of tricking a Blade into believing that it is bound to two people at once and could be summoned by both of them. It is theoretically possible for the seons and skaze of Sel to take the form of a Shardblade, but something would need to pull them more fully into the Physical Realm, like the Nahel bond does for the spren.
While there are only three known ways to heal from a Shardblade wound on Roshar, it seems likely that other magic systems would also allow for that same healing. On Scadrial, goldminds of Feruchemy could be used to heal Shardblade damage. The Divine Breath, the Breath of the Returned of Nalthis, able to heal any typical wound or illness, is also a possible solution for repairing the damage. On Sel, the Aon Ien, used for healing, could potentially heal a Shardblade wound as well.
Relationship to Nightblood
See also: Nightblood
While most Shardblades originate on Roshar and seem to be ultimately derived from the power of Honor and possibly Cultivation, this is not true of all Shardblades. The technical definition of a Shardblade is a heavily Invested weapon, so Shardblades can be crafted with any manifestation of Investiture from any Shard, although some methods are far more difficult. For instance, the sentient sword Nightblood, created by Vasher and Shashara of Nalthis using Awakening and Investiture derived from the Shard Endowment, is also considered a Shardblade. However, it is no ordinary Shardblade. While he cannot be summoned or take other forms like a spren can, he is in fact several orders of magnitude more powerful than the Shardblade of a Radiant. It is unknown, but possible that he is on a similar power level to the Honorblades. It is also unknown what would occur when he is struck against a Shardblade or Honorblade, whether it will be destroyed or damaged in any way. Like the Honorblades, he consumes far more Investiture than a Radiant Shardblade, which does not require any fuel, and typically would feed on Breath or a person's soul. Now that he has arrived on Roshar, it seems that he can also use Stormlight as fuel for his abilities.
”Can I make a situation where these oversized, over-stylized blades are actually practical? Why in the world would you need a weapon like that? And how do you actually use one?
Brandon Sanderson's inspiration for Shardblades came out of the books, art, and video games in the fantasy genre during the 80s and 90s. He was a big fan of the Final Fantasy games on the NES, in which there are oversized swords. Impractically large and ornate swords were common in other fantasy art during this time period as well. Brandon began to think about the circumstances in which these swords would be actually be practical and the kinds of enemies that they would be useful in combating. He also began to wonder how he could even make these swords useful, and came to the conclusion that they would have to be summoned. Brandon also felt that lightsabers are the coolest magic sword, but because Star Wars is science fiction, he wanted to come up with a cool magic sword for the fantasy genre.
Over the years, Brandon's concept of the Shardblade has grown and evolved in small ways that sometimes he still struggles to keep straight. For instance, Shardblades originally could be stolen from their owners by knocking the gemstone off of the hilt. Eventually Brandon decided that other methods of stealing a Shardblade were more dramatic, so he altered the way that bond with a Shardblade worked. Even still, he occasionally forgets about this change in the Shardblade bond when drafting new books in the Stormlight Archive.
- In the initial draft of The Way of Kings, Kaladin earned a Shardblade while defending Elhokar from an assassin, and kept it instead of giving it up.
- Brandon had a character dual wield a pair of Shardblades in the initial draft of The Way of Kings from 2002.
- There is a miscount in the original draft of Words of Radiance, where Dalinar's army ends up with one too many Shardblades after Adolin has completed his duels. It was corrected by making Teleb borrow one of the King's Blades.
- Hoid cannot be injured by a Shardblade, because it damages the soul and Hoid's healing method repairs the soul.
- There is no theoretical upper limit to the number of dead Shardblades a person can bond, and a person may have multiple living Shardblades, but it would be difficult to obey the oaths of multiple orders at the same time.
- Dalinar Kholin is unable to summon his Shardblade while he is experiencing one of his visions.
- Adolin Kholin has a habit of repeatedly summoning and then dismissing his Blade when he is nervous.
- The Way of Kings prologue Summary: The Way of Kings/Prologue#
- Words of Radiance chapter 87 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_87#
- The Way of Kings chapter 13 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_13#
- The Way of Kings cover synopsis
- Words of Radiance chapter 16 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_16#
- The Way of Kings chapter 18 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_18#
- Words of Radiance chapter 8 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_8#
- Words of Radiance chapter 5 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_5#
- Firefight signing Chicago
— Arcanum - 2015-02-20#
- Words of Radiance chapter 84 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_84#
- Words of Radiance chapter 26 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_26#
- Oathbringer chapter 7 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_7#
- Words of Radiance chapter 44 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_44#
- Oathbringer chapter 50 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_50#
- Words of Radiance chapter 32 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_32#
- Edgedancer chapter 8 Summary: Edgedancer/Chapter_8#
- Words of Radiance chapter 72 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_72#
- Words of Radiance chapter 56 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_56#
- The Way of Kings chapter 68 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_68#
- The Way of Kings chapter 22 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_22#
- The Way of Kings Ars Arcanum Summary: The Way of Kings/Ars Arcanum#
- The Way of Kings interlude I-9 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-9#
- An Evening with Brandon Sanderson
— Arcanum - 2017-02-01#
- Words of Radiance chapter 48 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_48#
— Arcanum - 2017-02-03#
- Words of Radiance chapter 33 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_33#
- Firefight signing Chicago
— Arcanum - 2015-02-20#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-9 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-9#
- The Way of Kings chapter 19 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_19#
- Hal-Con 2012
— Arcanum - 2012-10-30#
- Prelude to the Stormlight Archive Summary: The Stormlight Archive/Prelude#
- Words of Radiance signing Dayton
— Arcanum - 2014-03-19#
- Oathbringer chapter 16 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_16#
- Words of Radiance chapter 63 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_63#
- Words of Radiance chapter 88 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_88#
- Firefight signing San Francisco
— Arcanum - 2015-01-17#
- Arcanum Unbounded signing Fort Collins
— Arcanum - 2016-11-29#
- @EmagSamurai signed book
— Arcanum - 2013-12-18#
- The Way of Kings interlude I-3 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-3#
- Starsight Release Party
— Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
- Words of Radiance signing Omaha
— Arcanum - 2014-03-13#
- Edgedancer chapter 2 Summary: Edgedancer/Chapter_2#
- Oathbringer chapter 90 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_90#
- Words of Radiance chapter 86 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_86#
- Words of Radiance chapter 85 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_85#
- Oathbringer chapter 5 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_5#
- Words of Radiance signing Chicago
— Arcanum - 2014-03-22#
- Firefight signing Chicago
— Arcanum - 2015-02-20#
- Edgedancer chapter 20 Summary: Edgedancer/Chapter_20#
- Words of Radiance signing Chicago
— Arcanum - 2014-03-22#
- Oathbringer chapter 8 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_8#
- Words of Radiance chapter 18 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_18#
- Words of Radiance chapter 66 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_66#
- Words of Radiance chapter 68 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_68#
- Words of Radiance signing Houston
— Arcanum - 2014-03-11#
- Words of Radiance signing Philadelphia
— Arcanum - 2014-03-21#
- Oathbringer chapter 73 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_73#
- Words of Radiance chapter 67 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_67#
- The Way of Kings chapter 52 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_52#
- Oathbringer chapter 89 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_89#
- The Way of Kings chapter 51 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_51#
- Oathbringer chapter 120 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_120#
- Oathbringer chapter 75 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_75#
- Oathbringer chapter 76 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_76#
- /r/fantasy AMA 2017
— Arcanum - 2017-02-10#
- Oathbringer chapter 43 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_43#
- Words of Radiance chapter 89 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_89#
- Words of Radiance chapter 14 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_14#
- 17th Shard Forum Q&A
— Arcanum - 2012-09-28#
- The Way of Kings chapter 73 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_73#
- Words of Radiance chapter 57 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_57#
- Oathbringer chapter 28 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_28#
- Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
- Firefight release party
— Arcanum - 2015-01-05#
- Oathbringer chapter 18 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_18#
- Oathbringer chapter 10 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_10#
- Firefight release party
— Arcanum - 2015-01-05#
- Words of Radiance Seattle signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-08#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-7 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-7#
- The Way of Kings chapter 45 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_45#
- Words of Radiance chapter 64 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_64#
- Oathbringer Chicago signing
— Arcanum - 2017-11-21#
- Oathbringer chapter 100 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_100#
- The Way of Kings chapter 67 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_67#
- Words of Radiance chapter 3 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_3#
- The Way of Kings chapter 17 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_17#
- The Way of Kings chapter 29 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_29#
- The Way of Kings chapter 23 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_23#
- Firefight Phoenix signing
— Arcanum - 2015-01-21#
- Words of Radiance chapter 25 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_25#
- Words of Radiance Seattle signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-08#
- Arcanum Unbounded - Edgedancer Postscript Summary: Arcanum Unbounded/Edgedancer_Postscript#
- The Way of Kings chapter 75 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_75#
- The Way of Kings interlude I-6 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-6#
- The Way of Kings chapter 71 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_71#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-14 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-14#
- The Way of Kings chapter 57 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_57#
- Words of Radiance epilogue Summary: Words of Radiance/Epilogue#
- Edgedancer chapter 19 Summary: Edgedancer/Chapter_19#
- Oathbringer interlude I-3 Summary: Oathbringer/Interlude_I-3#
- Oathbringer chapter 24 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_24#
- Oathbringer chapter 117 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_117#
- Oathbringer chapter 1 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_1#
- Oathbringer chapter 64 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_64#
- Oathbringer interlude I-14 Summary: Oathbringer/Interlude_I-14#
- Oathbringer chapter 122 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_122#
- The Way of Kings chapter 46 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_46#
- The Way of Kings chapter 69 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_69#
- The Way of Kings chapter 15 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_15#
- Words of Radiance chapter 51 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_51#
- The Way of Kings chapter 24 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_24#
- The Way of Kings chapter 28 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_28#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-11 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-11#
- The Way of Kings chapter 5 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_5#
- The Way of Kings chapter 16 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_16#
- Words of Radiance prologue Summary: Words of Radiance/Prologue#
- Words of Radiance chapter 36 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_36#
- The Way of Kings chapter 60 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_60#
- Words of Radiance chapter 49 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_49#
- The Way of Kings chapter 61 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_61#
- The Way of Kings chapter 21 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_21#
- The Way of Kings chapter 43 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_43#
- Stormlight Three Update #4
— Arcanum - 2016-09-09#
- Words of Radiance chapter 39 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_39#
- Oathbringer chapter 19 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_19#
- The Way of Kings chapter 58 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_58#
- Words of Radiance chapter 76 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_76#
- Oathbringer chapter 36 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_36#
- Oathbringer chapter 11 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_11#
- The Way of Kings chapter 12 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_12#
- Words of Radiance chapter 45 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_45#
- Words of Radiance chapter 52 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_52#
- Words of Radiance chapter 37 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_37#
- Words of Radiance chapter 55 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_55#
- Oathbringer chapter 15 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_15#
- Words of Radiance chapter 35 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_35#
- Words of Radiance chapter 58 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_58#
- General Twitter 2014
— Arcanum - 2014-09-02#
- The Way of Kings chapter 56 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_56#
- The Way of Kings chapter 65 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_65#
- The Way of Kings chapter 26 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_26#
- Oathbringer chapter 66 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_66#
- Words of Radiance chapter 54 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_54#
- Words of Radiance chapter 82 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_82#
- The Way of Kings chapter 55 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_55#
- Oathbringer chapter 106 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_106#
- Words of Radiance chapter 19 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_19#
- Words of Radiance chapter 22 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_22#
- Words of Radiance chapter 69 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_69#
- Oathbringer chapter 26 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_26#
- Oathbringer chapter 22 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_22#
- Oathbringer chapter 38 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_38#
- Steelheart Seattle signing
— Arcanum - 2013-10-14#
- Firefight San Francisco signing
— Arcanum - 2015-01-17#
- Arcanum Unbounded signing Hoboken
— Arcanum - 2016-12-03#
- Starsight Release Party
— Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
- Orem signing 2014
— Arcanum - 2014-12-06#
- 17th Shard Forum Q&A
— Arcanum - 2012-09-26#
- Words of Radiance San Diego signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-04#
- DragonCon 2012
— Arcanum - 2012-09-04#
- Shadows of Self Denver signing
— Arcanum - 2015-10-06#
- 17th Shard Forum Q&A
— Arcanum - 2012-09-26#
- Firefight release party
— Arcanum - 2015-01-05#
- Calamity Seattle signing
— Arcanum - 2016-02-17#
- Words of Radiance signing Omaha
— Arcanum - 2014-03-13#
- /r/fantasy AMA 2013
— Arcanum - 2013-04-18#
- Annotation for Warbreaker 12 Cite: Annotation/Warbreaker/12#
- Elantris chapter 19 Summary: Elantris/Chapter_19#
- Calamity Austin signing
— Arcanum - 2016-02-25#
- Warbreaker chapter 51 Summary: Warbreaker/Chapter_51#
- Words of Radiance signing San Fansisco
— Arcanum - 2014-03-06#
- Calamity Seattle signing
— Arcanum - 2016-02-17#
- Words of Radiance Houston signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-11#
- JordanCon 2016
— Arcanum - 2016-04-23#
- Warbreaker chapter 56 Summary: Warbreaker/Chapter_56#
- Words of Radiance San Diego signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-04#
- Words of Radiance Chicago signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-22#
- General Reddit 2013
— Arcanum - 2013-06-03#
- Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014
— Arcanum - 2014-09-04#
- Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson
— Arcanum - 2011-01-10#
- 17th Shard Forum Q&A
— Arcanum - 2012-09-27#
- Words of Radiance release party
— Arcanum - 2014-03-03#
- Words of Radiance signing Chicago
— Arcanum - 2014-03-22#
- Words of Radiance chapter 50 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_50#