|Abilities||Cognitive Shadow, Shardbearer (formerly)|
|Titles||Herald of the Almighty, Herald of War, Herald of Soldiers, Bearer of Agonies, Patron of the Stonewards|
|Aliases||Talenelat'Elin, Taln, Talat, Stonesinew, Tuk|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”What a gift you gave them! Time to recover, for once, between Desolations. Time to progress. They never had a chance before. But this time ... yes, maybe they do.—Taln
Talenel, known as Talenelat'Elin in Vorinism and nicknamed Taln or Talat, is one of the ten Heralds of the Almighty and patron of the Order of Stonewards. He's often titled the Herald of War, or the Herald of Soldiers. At Aharietiam, he was abandoned by the rest of the Heralds and forced to return to Damnation alone. He returned shortly before the arrival of the Everstorm, his mind ruined by torture, to bring warning of the upcoming True Desolation.
Appearance and Personality
Taln is a tall, dark-haired, stoutly built man, with thick arms like a soldier or laborer. He is dark-skinned, appearing almost Makabaki in coloration and his eyes are a dark brown color as well. Taln also wears a beard. After his reappearance on Roshar in the Era of Solitude he is disheveled looking, with broken nails, long, matted, and ragged hair, as well as bits of wood and leaves tangled in his beard. His clothing at his return is merely a ragged piece of cloth wrapped around his waist. Taln's eyes appear wild and mad and he stands with a straight back and his head upright when he is aware of his surroundings. When Taln is in his stupor his eyes are dull and expressionless and he sits slumped and morose. Taln speaks perfect Alethi with a northern accent.
”The burdens of nine become mine. Why must I carry the madness of them all? Oh, Almighty, release me.
Little to nothing is known of Talenel's personality before Aharietiam. As patron of the Stonewards, Taln was a man who exemplified the traits they found valuable, including resolve, strength, and dependability. He was also self-sacrificing, often being killed during Desolations in order to achieve victories thought to be impossible. When men fight and die, nothing could prevent Taln from fighting alongside them. This penchant for stubbornness as well as his selflessness are likely what allowed Taln to resist the torture in Damnation for over four thousand years to prevent a Desolation from coming to Roshar. Upon his realization that he had been betrayed by the other Heralds, Taln felt only joy that mankind had been given enormous time to recover and might finally have a chance at defeating Odium in the True Desolation.
After the torture in Damnation, Taln's mind was heavily damaged. Upon his return to Roshar, Taln displayed true awareness only at his arrival in Kholinar and a handful of other times. Dalinar opening Honor's Perpendicularity allowed him to temporarily become fully lucid. Most of the time Taln spends dully repeating a mantra about the coming Desolations and the preparations that mankind must make to fight the Voidbringers. Sometimes he speaks at a whisper, sometimes at a shout, but always he stares unseeingly. His thoughts are confused and scattered, at times nonsensical. He often thinks of his time being tortured, and seems to perceive the world around him as being on fire. He has some dim recognition that he has returned too late to stop the coming Desolation. Taln's battle reflexes seem sharp still, and he may still react to attacks, such as when he saved Amaram's life by snatching a dart out of the air, although fighting itself terrifies him. Taln may also react to Surgebinding done in his vicinity with shock and aggression, although he is able to recognize the person Surgebinding as a Radiant. However, in both these instances, Taln soon lapses back into his waking non-responsiveness and is unable to be roused again. He is capable of some limited movement in this state, such as lying down, but spends most of his time merely sitting. His trauma has caused some to dismiss him as a simple madman.
Attributes and Abilities
Herald of War
As one of the Heralds of the Almighty, Taln is a Cognitive Shadow capable of resurrection. Upon death, he returns to Damnation to be tortured unceasingly, and returns to Roshar when he or any other Herald breaks. He is ageless, like the other Heralds.
Serving as the the Herald of War, Taln was one of the most skilled fighters on Roshar. He was the most formidable fighter among the Heralds without dispute. His reflexes are inhumanly quick, and he is even stronger than his massive build would suggest, able to throw open the gates of Kholinar on his own. He was once a capable commander, able to win battles thought to be unwinnable, even at the cost of his own life. He also excelled at training soldiers, and helped prepare mankind's warriors for the Desolations.
Shardwielding and Surgebinding
As a Herald, Talenel has access to his Honorblade, a magical sword given to him by the Shard Honor. Like all Shardblades, it's able to cut through any material effortlessly. This increased his already great potency on the battlefield, particularly against thunderclasts, as his Blade can cut their stone bodies easily. Having spent centuries using the Honorblade in the fight against the Voidbringers, Taln was highly experienced in its use. The Stormfather considers him to be indisputably the greatest duelist among all the Heralds.
The Honorblade granted Taln access to the Surges of Cohesion and Tension. Unlike the Knights Radiant, he had no need for Stormlight, as his Surgebinding was powered directly by Honor. It's unknown if this has been impacted by Honor's death. What his Surges did is unclear at this point.
In the present day, what precisely has happened to Taln's Honorblade is unclear. The weapon he arrived with in Kholinar was shaped like an enormous spike, long, narrow, and straight. The weapon he arrived with on the Shattered Plains was wide and cleaver-like, and screams when touched by a Radiant, marking it as a dead Shardblade. As such, it's clear that somewhere on his journey from Kholinar to the Shattered Plains, someone swapped his Blade, but it is unknown who stole it and for what purpose.
Herald of the Almighty
Not much is known about Taln's life before he became a Herald, but he was not initially intended to number among them and he was the only Herald who was not a king, scholar, or notable individual. As Herald, he and the others fought in a series of Desolations against the Voidbringers and Odium in defense of mankind. Prior to each Desolation, Taln trained soldiers to fight the Voidbringers. After each Desolation, Taln and the others returned to Damnation, where they were tortured. Each time, if Taln himself was killed during the fighting, he automatically returned to Damnation. After several Desolations, the Knights Radiant were founded by Surgebinders with Ishar's help and Taln became patron of the Order of Stonewards, who shared access to the same Surges he possessed. It is possible that Hoid met Taln at some point during this time, as Hoid seems familiar with the man.
After several centuries of Desolations, during Aharietiam, also known as the Last Desolation, Talenel chose to attempt to hold a passage by a northern waterway, a near impossible task. While he managed to defend it successfully, he was killed in the fighting and returned to Damnation. However, Taln was the only Herald to die in this Desolation. All of the other surviving Heralds, wearied by millennia of torture, chose to abandon the Oathpact, leaving only Taln bound to it. Ishar believed that as long as one Herald remained bound to the Oathpact, this could end the cycle of Desolations. Taln alone remained bound to the Oathpact and returned to Damnation to be tortured.
Return to Kholinar
Desolation has come. Oh, God . . . it has come. And I have failed. ”Who am I? I . . . I am Talenel’Elin, Stonesinew, Herald of the Almighty. The—Talenel
Around four and a half millennia later, not long after the Battle of the Tower, Talenel returned to Roshar from Damnation. It is uncertain how he returned or where precisely he arrived, but he was covered in condensation, and had twigs and leaves stuck in his beard. Taln quickly rushed to Kholinar, cutting through the city gate with his Honorblade to give warning to the Alethi that the True Desolation was upon them. Hoid knew when and where Taln would arrive, and was waiting in Kholinar for him. After his proclamation, Taln promptly collapsed.
Travel to the Shattered Plains
After his arrival in Kholinar, Taln was apprehended by the men of House Kholin. Taln displayed no awareness following his collapse, repeating his mantra with no regard for his surroundings. Due to the odd circumstances of his arrival and his possession of a Shardblade, Taln was brought to the Shattered Plains by Bordin, one of Dalinar Kholin's most trusted servants. Hoid accompanied them for a portion of the journey, but along the way ran off into the hills. At some point between Taln's arrival in Kholinar and his arrival at the Shattered Plains, someone swapped Taln's Blade with another. Bordin brought Taln to Dalinar and Elhokar Kholin, who tried to question him on his past and the origin of his Blade, but they determined nothing. Dalinar and Elhokar did not put any thought into his claims that he was a Herald, believing him a simple madman. Dalinar sent Taln to a monastery in his warcamps in the care of his ardents, hoping they could do something to alleviate his madness. Dalinar also took Taln's Shardblade, bonding it himself as a part of his investigation into Kaladin's claims that Amaram was a murderer and a thief.
The ardents placed Taln in a small, dimly lit cell in their monastery where he remained unresponsive despite their care. Once Taln was placed in the monastery, several groups became aware of his presence on the Shattered Plains. The Ghostbloods became aware of him somehow and were interested in him because he had drawn the attention of the king and Dalinar. Their source provided them with sketches of Taln. The Sons of Honor became aware when Dalinar ordered Bordin go drinking with some Amaram's men and talk about Taln. As part of his investigation into Amaram, Dalinar wished Bordin to spread the lie that Taln had mentioned a cache of Shardblades on the Plains. This news spread to Amaram, who contacted Bordin and had him bring him to see Taln in the monastery. At this same time, Shallan Davar visited Taln on the behalf of the Ghostbloods. Shallan recorded his mantra but was unable to get a reaction out of him until she drew in some Stormlight, provoking a sudden and violent reaction from Taln, who shoved her into a wall. Appearing semi-lucid, Taln identified her as a Radiant, but quickly lapsed back into his mantra shortly afterwards. Shallan decided that she believed him to be a simple madman. While Shallan was still in the room with Taln, Amaram and Bordin arrived to see Taln, so she concealed herself in the cell with Lightweaving. Upon seeing Taln, Amaram determined that he believed the man to be a Herald, but was unable to get him to speak or interact at all. Wishing to recover the fictitious Blades, Amaram left Taln in the cell.
Held By Amaram
A few weeks later, after the Battle of Narak, Amaram broke into the monastery, cutting through the wall of Taln's cell with his Shardblade. While Amaram tried to get Taln on his feet and into the carriage, Iyatil attempted to assassinate Amaram with a blowgun. Taln reflexively caught both darts with his hands, and Iyatil fled. Taln seemed to be conscious for a moment, examining the dart with interest, but then he returned to his stupor. Amaram was unable to rouse him and so he put him into his carriage, heading for Urithiru.
Amaram smuggled Taln through the Oathgate at Narak and to Urithiru, and afterwards he brought him with him to Thaylen City where Amaram was supervising the reconstruction of the city following the damage of the Everstorm. Taln was kept in a tent built against the city wall under the guard of Sadeas soldiers. During this time, the Ghostbloods learned of Taln's location, information Mraize shared with the Herald Shalash.
The Battle of Thaylen Field
”Four thousand years? Ash… Ash. What a wonderful thing.
During the Battle of Thaylen Field, Ash snuck into Taln's tent, which was left unguarded when Sadeas's soldiers were corrupted by Odium. She attempted to rouse Taln with no success. When Dalinar Ascended, swearing the Third Ideal of the Bondsmiths and summoning Honor's Perpendicularity, this seemed to awaken Taln. Ash explained that the Heralds had abandoned them, but he expressed only joy at the opportunity their betrayal had given mankind. He felt Dalinar waiting for them, although he did not know who was calling to him. He and Ash walked onto the battlefield, where they were recognized as Heralds by the Stormfather and Dalinar. Shortly thereafter, Taln's lucidity faded again, and he hid cowering from the fighting. After the battle was over, Ash tried to get Taln through the Oathgate, hoping to bring him to Ishar, who she believed could help him. However as they waited in line, they felt the true death of Jezrien and Taln began to whimper and collapse. As they inadvertently caused a commotion, they were recognized by Jasnah Kholin, who compared their faces to drawings she had received from Hoid.
As one of the Heralds, Taln has impacted mythology and culture in a variety of ways across all of Roshar. In the Vorin nations, he is known as Talenelat'Elin and Stonesinew. There, he is revered as a warrior who helped to drive the Voidbringers from Roshar and has now taken the fight to the Tranquiline Halls with the other Heralds. Like all Heralds, he has temples dedicated to himself in major cities like Thaylen and Kholinar. The Order of Talenelat is a lay devotary based in Alethkar, dedicated to him. Taln is also the namesake of a major Rosharan constellation, Taln's Scar. Traditionally, he's associated with the number 9 (tanat) the Essence of Talus, and the Divine Attributes of Dependable and Resourceful.
Some people refer to Taln as the Bearer of Agonies, and swear by his name, while the Sons of Honor call him the Great Prince. "Taln's palms" and "Taln's nails" are both rarely-used exclamations. "Talat's hand" appears to be a related one.
While his role in the western culture isn't well-known, he is counted among the lesser gods under Tashi. In Yeddaw, one of the traditional ten pancakes eaten during the Weeping are dedicated to him.
Below is the full text of Taln's mantra that he repeats when he is in his stupor. There is some variation to it, but this is the typical form it takes.
”I am Talenel'Elin, Herald of War. The time of the Return, the Desolation, is near at hand. We must prepare. You will have forgotten much, following the destruction of the times past. Kalak will teach you to cast bronze, if you have forgotten this. We will Soulcast blocks of metal directly for you. I wish we could teach you steel, but casting is so much easier than forging, and you must have something we can produce quickly. Your stone tools will not serve against what is to come. Vedel can train your surgeons, and Jezrien . . . he will teach you leadership. So much is lost between Returns . . . I will train your soldiers. We should have time. Ishar keeps talking about a way to keep information from being lost following Desolations. And you have discovered something unexpected. We will use that. Surgebinders to act as guardians . . . Knights . . . The coming days will be difficult, but with training, humanity will survive. You must bring me to your leaders. The other Heralds should join us soon.—Talenel'Elin
- Taln will be the focus character of one of the books in the second arc of The Stormlight Archive.
- Taln's portrait used in the chapter arches is called the Soldier by the Dragonsteel Entertainment staff.
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