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by Ben McSweeney
Parents Neturo
Ancestors Vallano
Born 1138
Abilities Skybreaker, Shardbearer
Titles Truthless of Shinovar
Aliases Assassin in White
Groups Knights Radiant (Skybreakers)
Birthplace Valley of Truth
Residence Urithiru
Ethnicity Shin
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
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 (Alethi pronunciation: [ˈszɛθ] SZETH), formerly Szeth-son-son-Vallano or Szeth-son-Neturo, Truthless of Shinovar, and Skybreaker of the 4th ideal, is a Shin from Roshar. He is the son of Neturo, who was son of Vallano.[2]

Appearance and Personality

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 Nale, 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 moves. [4]

Szeth is currently a Skybreaker of the third ideal and serves Dalinar Kholin. He intends to return to Shinovar and bring justice to the ones who exiled him as his fourth Skybreaker ideal quest. [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]


Early Life

I knew a voice like yours once, sword-nimi. ... A single one, in my mind, when I was young. I hope things go better this time.

— Szeth telling Nightblood about his youth[6]

Szeth heard a voice in his mind, similar to Nightblood's, in his mind when he was younger. It ended badly for him somehow, perhaps relating to the events that made him Truthless.[6] In his youth, he trained with Honorblades [7] and was well trained in all ten surges. He practiced ice skating as a training exercise that mimics Abrasion.[8] Szeth claimed that the Voidbringers were returning to Roshar.[9] The Shin leaders told him that his claims were false and named him Truthless.[10] He was named Truthless at approximately 27 years of age and was traded to the Thaylen merchant Vstim shortly afterwards.[11] 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] Just after being exiled from Shinovar Szeth visited Urithiru for the first time.[12]

Confronting Gavilar Kholin by User: Sheep

Assassin in White

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[13].

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.[14] 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.[14]

Vengeance Pact

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

In flight by User: Sheep

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.[15]

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.[16]

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.


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

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

What I am owed will come to me eventually! Every bit of it. I will drown in it, stonewalker!

—Szeth to Dalinar[17]

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.


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.[18]

Time in Yeddaw

Szeth traveled to Yeddaw with Nale to find a potential radiant who lived there.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] When Szeth was viewed by Lift he trailed a strange glowing afterimage.

Becoming a Full Skybreaker Radiant

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 - this is only be possible after swearing the Second Ideal.

Szeth and Nightblood by LittleGreyDragon

Later, he was Lashed to the Purelake along with other Skybreaker hopefuls and squires to complete the next test.

The challenge was based on a message sent via spanreed by the city's minister who let them know there was a breakout 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 their motives. He learnt that this was a Reshi idealist population who had non-violent attitude, even towards criminals, but mercy was withdrawn when they escaped. Just after that, he went hunting for a convict.

He was able to find and fight one, finding the convict had 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 prison. He asks if the list of guilty included the administrator, and as he was the first in the list, Szeth draws his sword and kills him. With this he is allowed to swear the 2nd Ideal, is able to draw in Stormlight and is chosen by Ki to become his master. [6]

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[6]

The next test was based on the newly acquired ability to Lash by the Skybreaker hopefuls. It involved Lashing oneself through the air and throwing pouches of colored powder at other competitors- the one with the least spots of color on their outfit would win the game. Szeth originally held the lead, but when the rest of the group realised he would win, he was surrounded and pummeled with pouches. Shortly after, his Stormlight ran out and he fell into the Purelake.

After exiting the Purelake, Szeth wins the contest because the color on his outfit was washed away by the water. He is about to swear the next oaths when Nale finally arrived and took Szeth and most of the other full Skybreakers 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 Aharietiam and that he will defend the Voidbringers and fight the Knights Radiant. [22]

Szeth believes he does not have a choice other than to follow Nale, but in a conversation with his sword Nightblood [23], he decides to swear his oath to Dalinar Kholin[24]. Nale believes the problem with following a man instead of law is a 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 Dalinar Kholin. This is my oath." and becomes a full Radiant. [5]

Battle of Thaylen Field and Aftermath

Szeth killing a Thunderclast by Matthew Johnson

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. [25]

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. [26] 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. [8]

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. [8] 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. [8].

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. [27]

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

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.


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.[28] 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. Since unbonding Jezrien's Honorblade, he has since become a Skybreaker of the Fourth Ideal.


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.


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, which is the reason why Szeth had no bond to a spren. After losing his Honorblade, Szeth was presented with Nightblood.[18]



Szeth is given a sword by Nale, which he calls "sword-nimi". This sword, also known as Nightblood, is sentient and can communicate with Szeth telepathically. Szeth is warned not to draw Nightblood except in case of extreme emergency and only if he carries a great deal of Stormlight, as the sword is extremely dangerous and can feed upon souls.[29]

They have conversations often and Nightblood knows a good deal of information about Szeth's past. Szeth tells Nightblood he had another voice speak to him in his youth, and that he hopes this time it goes better[6]. Nightblood has no sense of time and speaks often of his creators and wielders such as Vivenna, Shashara, and Vasher even though Szeth has no idea who they are. Nightblood helps him decide which side to take.[30]

Szeth will partially draw the sword to see how other people react to it; the sword causes "good" people to feel sudden nausea.[20]

Szeth has only fully drawn the sword twice, during the Skybreaker test at the Purelake[6] and at the Battle of Thaylen Field.[25] In both cases the sword singlemindedly begins screaming "DESTROY EVIL!" into Szeth's mind while quickly consuming any available Stormlight and causing him extreme pain.[26]


Continuity Change

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.[35]


  1. a b Words of Radiance interlude I-14 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-14#
  2. a b The Way of Kings interlude I-6 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-6#
  3. a b c d The Way of Kings interlude I-3 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-3#
  4. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 90 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_90#
  5. a b c d e f g Oathbringer chapter 121 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_121#
  6. a b c d e f Oathbringer chapter 92 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_92#
  7. Oathbringer chapter 98 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_98#
  8. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 120 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_120#
  9. Words of Radiance interlude I-14 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-14#
  10. Words of Radiance interlude I-10 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-10#
  11. The Way of Kings interlude I-4 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-4#
  12. Words of Radiance interlude I-10 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-10#
  13. Oathbringer prologue Summary: Oathbringer/Prologue#
  14. a b The Way of Kings prologue Summary: The Way of Kings/Prologue#
  15. The Way of Kings interlude I-9 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-9#
  16. The Way of Kings chapter 71 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_71#
  17. Words of Radiance chapter 85 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_85#
  18. a b Words of Radiance chapter 88 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_88#
  19. Edgedancer chapter 9 Summary: Edgedancer/Chapter_9#
  20. a b Edgedancer chapter 15 Summary: Edgedancer/Chapter_15#
  21. Edgedancer chapter 16 Summary: Edgedancer/Chapter_16#
  22. Oathbringer chapter 106 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_106#
  23. Oathbringer chapter 116 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_116#
  24. Oathbringer chapter 117 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_117#
  25. a b Oathbringer chapter 118 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_118#
  26. a b Oathbringer chapter 119 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_119#
  27. Oathbringer chapter 122 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_122#
  28. A Memory of Light Milford Signing
    Arcanum - 2013-02-16#
  29. Words of Radiance chapter 90 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_90#
  30. Words of Radiance chapter 116 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_116#
  31. /r/fantasy AMA 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-09-01#
  32. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-26#
  33. Shadows of Self signing San Jose
    Arcanum - 2015-10-09#
  34. Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017
    Arcanum - 2017-09-21#
  35. Three Stories in New Formats
    Brandon's website - 2015-04-05Cite:
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