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Szeth

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Szeth
Szeth.jpg
by Ben McSweeney
Family
Ancestors Vallano
Parents Neturo
Born 1138
Abilities Surgebinder (Gravitation/Division)
Shardbearer
Titles Truthless of Shinovar
Aliases Assassin in White
Groups Knights Radiant (Skybreakers)
Birthplace Valley of Truth
Residence Urithiru
Ethnicity Shin
World Roshar
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
This page or section contains spoilers for Oathbringer!
This information has the ability to potentially ruin elements of the plot for the reader. Proceed with caution if you have not read this book.
I am Truthless. I do as my master requires and I require no explanation.

—  Szeth, regarding his oath.[1]

Szeth-son-son-Vallano/Szeth-son-Neturo (Alethi pronunciation: [ˈszɛθ·sʌn·sʌn·vəˌlɑː·no] SZETH-son-son-va-LAN-no), Truthless of Shinovar and Skybreaker of the 3rd ideal, is a Shin from Roshar. He is the son of Neturo, who was son of Vallano.[2]

Appearance and Personality[edit]

This man was not sane. Szeth-son-son-Vallano was the most dangerous weapon on all of Roshar, and he was broken.

—  Taravangian's assessment of Szeth near Veden[1]

He is short, bald, and has large, round eyes like most Shin, which normally are dark green, but change to pale sapphire when he summons his Shardblade.[3]

During his time as Truthless, he was given an Honorblade and was cast out from the Valley of Truth, forced to bear the blade and the sins of all those he served. Szeth is bound unwavering to honor, he is loyal to the extent that he will do anything asked by his master including self mutilation. He is forbidden to take his own life or to give up his Blade. Szeth, while accomplished at assassination, is not a willing killer, always facing inner turmoil when taking a life. He hears the screams of his victims when he closes his eyes and loathes himself so that he descends into madness.

Later, he was killed and Nin, the Herald of Justice, restored him. He used a type of fabrial to heal his body before his spirit departed, this took too long and his spirit did not reattach properly. As consequence of this, he leaves a glowing after image when he moved. [4]

Szeth is currently a Skybreaker of the 3rd ideal and serves Dalinar Kholin. He wants to travel back to Shinovar and bring justice to the ones who exiled him. [5]

Szeth loathes himself after his many killings and blasphemies. His madness was not healed as he hears whispers. Nin called it the effect of Szeth's connection to the powers, and said that he was hearing trembles from the Spiritual Realm. Memories of the dead he'd killed. He doesn't fear them, but still weeps. [4]

History[edit]

Early Life[edit]

Szeth is bound to his Oathstone. Whoever owned his Oathstone, owned Szeth. Szeth is obliged by his honor to do as the owner commanded with the exception of killing himself or giving up his Shardblade.[3]

In his youth, he trained with honorblades [6] and was well trained in all ten surges [7].

He was named Truthless at approximately 27 years of age and was traded to the Thaylen merchant Vstim shortly afterwards.[8]

Just after being exiled from Shinovar Szeth visited Urithiru for the first time.[9]

Assassin in White[edit]

When he was 29 years of age, Szeth was purchased by Klade, a member of the Parshendi ruling council. When Klade pressures him, Szeth tells him about his Shardblade and his abilities[10].

The Parshendi ruling council orders Szeth to murder King Gavilar Kholin of Alethkar during the Alethi-Parshendi treaty-signing celebrations, in public, and be seen doing it with live witnesses. As he attacked he was fooled into believing Gavilar was a bodyguard. Szeth was forced into chasing after the escaping target, instead of fighting a protracted battle. However soon after, he realized the target was simply a decoy, since Gavilar would be much safer in his own Shardplate, fighting with his Shardblade, instead of fleeing for his life. Doubling back, Szeth abandoned chase and returned to kill Gavilar. A fierce battle between Gavilar and Szeth commenced. Gavilar almost succeeded in killing Szeth with a Shardplate enhanced punch, but ultimately failed and fell to his death upon a piece of wooden debris which impaled him in a spot where the Shardplate had been broken. Before dying, Gavilar had two last requests: to tell his brother to "find the most important words a man could say," and to protect a mysterious black sphere that shone dark light. Szeth honored both requests, scrawling a message to Dalinar into the wood with Gavilar's own hand and blood.[11] Eventually he also hid away the black orb somewhere in Jah Keved.[3]

He wore traditional white Parshendi assassin attire on the night he killed Gavilar, which led to him being known as the Assassin in White. Parshendi customs bade assassins to wear white, for if someone were to be assassinated, they were owed a fair warning.[11]

Vengeance Pact[edit]

Following Gavilar's death, the Parshendi threw away Szeth's Oathstone as they fled Kholinar. As the Alethi believed that Szeth had fled with the Parshendi they did not attempt to track him down and instead began the Vengeance Pact, waging war on the Parshendi. Meanwhile Szeth was eventually picked up by Avado. The travelling merchant took him to Jah Keved in fear of possible Alethi retributions against strange foreigners in the wake of their king's death. Over the course of more than 5 years, the Oathstone changed possession many times before landing in the hands of Took, a transient worker. Took was robbed and killed after a night of drinking in Ironsway, a town in the Bavland, and Szeth's Oathstone went to Makkek.[3] With Szeth under his control, Makkek set out to gain wealth, first by killing his fellow robbers, and then establishing a gambling den in Bornwater.[2]

On one of Makkek's missions, this time to eliminate a rival who had opened his own gambling place, Szeth infiltrated the local lord's mansion where his target Gavashaw resided. There he met a mysterious stranger who knew of Szeth and his role in Gavilar's death, revealing in detail of Szeth's powers, and also of a new master they both now served, revealing his Oathstone taken from Makkek. Gavashaw and Makkek had both been killed.

Taravangian's Assassin[edit]

The stranger gave Szeth a list of high ranking targets, all of whom were to be eliminated with the same skill displayed over five years ago in Kholinar. Szeth set out to do his work. His second last goal was King Hanavanar of Jah Keved whom he killed along with his two Shardbearer guards.[12]

King Taravangian, the last one on Szeth's hit list, turned out to be his secret employer. Widely known as the dim witted, elderly, yet kind king of Kharbranth, Taravangian actually ran a secret hospital hidden in the king's palace. It was built in a large room with wide railings on the sides. Its purpose was to slowly kill the incredibly sick, elderly, or just undesired remnants of society by slowly draining the blood out of them, thereby protracting their death out of public eyesight. Taravangian did this because some of the dying spoke during the last moments of their life, which he thought might provide valuable insight about the coming Desolation. So in order to prepare for it, he began collecting their Death Rattles.[13]

During a Highstorm, Szeth attacked King Elhokar's palace on the Shattered Plains. He entered the palace through a hole he cut in a high stone wall. He killed Beld and cut through Hobber's midriff, crippling the use of his legs. He proceeded to fight against Adolin, Kaladin, and Dalinar who all believed he was there to assassinate Elhokar. He quickly gained the upper hand, lashing Adolin to the ceiling and cutting through Kaladin's arm. When he was about to kill Dalinar, Dalinar caught his Shardblade between his hands, a maneuver known as the lastclap, allowing Kaladin to push both himself and Szeth through the hole in the wall that Szeth had made to enter the palace. The two of them fell to the ground, both surviving. Szeth panicked when he saw Kaladin healing his arm, and when Kaladin told him he was a Windrunner, Szeth fled.

Contemplation[edit]

After his confrontation with Kaladin, Szeth retreated to the top of Urithiru where he wondered if he was wrong the entire time. He stared into the distance and trying not to blink, as he heard the screams of his victims every time he closed his eyes. Szeth shouted at the sun demanding to know why must he bear the sins if he was not Truthless. He decided to go looking for answers, or someone to kill.

Meeting with Taravangian[edit]

Szeth found Taravangian and demanded to know if the Radiants were returning. He held himself barely in check, and his self control was almost gone. Taravangian quickly deflected and told Szeth that an honorblade that allows regrowth was used and that the man Szeth fought was no Radiant. Szeth was appeased and vowed to kill Kaladin and retrieve the honorblade. Taravangian forbade him and ordered Szeth to kill Dalinar Kholin while staying away from the man.

Battle of Narak[edit]

Szeth attacked Dalinar during the climax of the Battle of Narak. Dalinar was able to temporarily hold his own before being lashed to the sky, to eventually fall to his death after the stormlight sustaining the lashing ran out. Szeth believed his mission was completed and attempted to casually leave, when he was confronted by Adolin. Kaladin, who recently regained his powers and stated the third ideal of the Windrunners, caught Dalinar and returned him safely to the ground. Kaladin and Szeth then battled above the colliding Highstorm and Everstorm. During the battle Szeth came to the realization that Kaladin was truly a Radiant, thus he was never Truthless. Unable to accept his actions, Szeth unbonded his Honorblade and fell through the Highstorm to his death.

Resurrection[edit]

Moments after his death, Szeth was revived by Nale, who used a fabrial to heal his body before his spirit departed [4]. Though he was initially outraged at being returned to life, Nale promised to give him a new purpose. He then presented Szeth with Nightblood.[14]

Time in Yeddaw[edit]

Szeth traveled to Yeddaw with Nale to find a potential radiant who lived there.[15] During his time in the city, Lift passed him in the city's Grand Indicium. He confronted her and drew Nightblood to test her. He left her when Nightblood's power was unable to harm her.[16] Later he found her chasing after him and the other Skybreakers, he stopped to inform her that she could not possibly get there before they did, and also told her the identity of the person they were seeking.[17] When Szeth was viewed by Lift he trailed a strange glowing afterimage.

Becoming a Full Skybreaker Radiant[edit]

When Szeth came back from Yeddaw, master Ki let him know that his mission with Nale was his first task and after being evaluated was found worthy of the First Ideal [4]. This however was not enough for him to draw stormlight as this will only be possible after swearing the second one.

After that, he was lashed to the Purelake along with other hopeful and squires who were looking to complete the next test. The challenge was based on a spanreed sent by the city’s minister who let them know there was a break of convicts, they were all guilty and had a tattoo on their forehead. The request was to find the guilty and execute them. While most of the squires and hopefuls started immediately to find and execute the convicts, Szeth stayed and questioned motives. He learnt this was a Reshi idealist population who had non-violent attitude even towards criminals and that the minister paid tribute to maintain facilities but mercy was withdrawn when they escaped. Just after that, he went hunting for a convict, he found and fought one, finding he has a knife but also notices he is thin, dirty and emaciated. Before letting him drown, Szeth also questioned him finding there was only one guard in the Fort. Once back, he sees other convicts and confirms that they were also badly fed, and probably under an internal regime, letting him to understand this was the result of a badly administered place. He asks if the list of guilty included the administrator and as he was the first in list, he draws his sword and kills him. With this he is allowed to swear the 2nd ideal, is able to draw stormlight and is chosen Ki to become his master. [18]

I swear to seek justice, to let it guide me, until I find a more perfect Ideal.

—  The Second Ideal of the Skybreakers, as sworn by Szeth[18]

The next test was a team “game” with color pouches. The winner will be whoever would have least color from the other team in their uniform. Szeth gets wet and his uniform is cleaned. He confirms he outsmarted everyone as the winner would be based on the coloring and he had none.

He is about to swear the next oaths when Nale came form them and took them to Marat. There he showed Szeth a village conquered by listeners and fused. He explained they were the original species populating Roshar, and told him about Hariethiam and that he will defend them and fight humans. [19] Szeth in the beginning believes he does not have a choice other than follow Nale, but in a conversation with his sword Nimi (Nightblood) [20], he decides to better swear his oath Dalinar Kholin[21]. Nale believes the problem with following a man instead of law is lack of consistency but supports his decision. [5]

After the battle of Battle of Thaylen Field, he swears his the third ideal: “I swear to follow the will of Dlainar Kholin. This is my oath." and becomes a full radiant. [5]

Battle of Thaylen Field and Aftermath[edit]

Szeth arrives to Thaylen just in time for battle and meets Lift. She lets him know Dalinar has asked him to get a gemstone that the Fused have and he decides to help her.

He draws his sword (Nightblood) and starts to fight. He finds purpose wielding his sword and putting his trust in Dalinar. He swept through the enemy’s army, the red-eyed soldiers turning to black smoke. He thirsted for death but could never enjoy it. He kept killing until a female voice, Lift’s voice, stopped him. He couldn’t let the sword go, it was consuming him and his soul. Lift got to him, held his face and sent stormlight into him, trying to feed the sword, but it started to drain her too as black veins started to grow on her arms. [22]

At that time, Dalinar became Unity and infused all the gemstones in the floor, which was enough to free them both. With a grey face, Szeth got blade back into its sheath. [23] After that he did meet with Dalinar and the rest of the radiants. He explained his loyalty and is given the task of helping Lift with the gemstone. He envies Kaladin for having the honor of protecting Dalinar, but did not complain and went to fulfill his task. [7]

Szeth confronts the fused who have the gemstones and is out skilled. They outnumber him and are more skilled. The gem is taken by a Fused who can do abrasion and makes it very slippery so only she can hold it. Though Szeth feels beaten, Lift has a plan. He is able to trick the Fused as she underestimated his abilities with surges and catches the gem on a jacket that they successfully swap with a carefully cut rock. [7] The task ends up being fulfilled by Lift who is able to get into the mists surrounding Dalinar; a task that Szeth did not want to do. [7].

After the battle is over, he and Nale have a conversation where Szeth swears the 3rd oath and becomes full radiant by bonding a highspren. Nale confirms he lost his ability for compassion after the tortures and that is why he will follow someone else, the law of the Singers. He will continue to train Szeth even if they meet in battle and fight each other. [5]

I swear to follow the will of Dalinar Kholin. This is my oath.

—  The Third Ideal of the Skybreakers, as sworn by Szeth[5]

Szeth wants to go back to Shinovar and cleanse the Shin of their false leaders. [5] He then becomes Dalinar’s bodyguard. [24]

I will cleanse the Shin of their false leaders, so long as Dalinar Kholin agrees.

—  The Fourth Ideal of the Skybreakers, as sworn by Szeth[5].

Attributes and Abilities[edit]

Szeth is master of the three lashings, Stormlight, and the Shardblade he wields. Szeth is proficient at the martial art of Kammar as well. Furthermore, he shows cunning, intelligence, resourcefulness and determination. When ordered, Szeth is an unstoppable killing machine.

Surgebinding[edit]

Szeth was bonded to an Honorblade which granted him the Surgebinder powers of a Windrunner. He was not bound to an honorspren like the other known Windrunner, Kaladin.[25] Szeth possessed relatively expert knowledge of the Windrunner order of the Knights Radiant, knowing the name of the order as well as the name for the powers they possessed: the three Lashings.

Honorblades[edit]

Szeth has trained with all the Honorblades that the Shin possessed (8 out of 10), and thus has experience using all of the surges. He is shown to have detailed knowledge of the capabilities of Edgedancers, but seems to prefer the surge of gravitation above all the others as it grants him the power of flight.

Shardblade[edit]

Szeth possessed an Honorblade that was long and thin, edged on both sides. It was smaller than most others. Being bonded to this blade granted Szeth the abilities of a Windrunner. Hence why Szeth had no bond to a spren. After losing his Honorblade, Szeth was presented with Nightblood.[14]

Relationships[edit]

Nightblood[edit]

Szeth is given a sword by Nale, which he calls sword-nimi. This sword, which is also known as Nightblood talks to him in his mind and can read his thoughts. Szeth was warned not to draw it except in case of extreme emergency and only if he carry much Stormlight, lest it will feed upon his soul. [26]

They have conversations often and Nightblood knows a good deal of information about Szeth's past who tells him he had a voice like him in the past, and hopes this time it goes better[27]. Nightblood helps him decide which side to take.[28]

Szeth draws the sword twice. The first time in the Purelake. When he drew the sword, he heard a rushing sound, like thousand screams. Colors changed around him. They deepened, growing darker and more vibrant. It shouted DESTROY!. Liquid darkness flowed from the Blade, and then melted to smoke as it fell. Flesh and blood puffed instantly into black smoke. This sword seemed to sear away even the man's soul. He was able to ram it back into its silvery sheath. [18] The second time, it almost consumed him and Lift, this happened at the Battle of Thaylan. [22]

Trivia[edit]

Continuity Change[edit]

Szeth's death was subject to a continuity change. In the original hardcover edition of Words of Radiance Szeth was killed by Kaladin driving Syl as a Shardblade into his chest, severing his spine. Brandon felt this was out of character for Kaladin, and changed the text with the release of the paperback edition of the book. Szeth's death now occurred when he unbonded his Blade and fell through the Highstorm.[33]

Notes[edit]

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