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Talenel

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Talenel
Taln.jpg
by User: Botanicaxu
Titles Herald of the Almighty,
Herald of War,
Patron of the Stonewards
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.
The Ancient of Stones must finally begin to crack It is a wonder that upon his will rested the prosperity and peace of a world for over four millennia.
— The Diagram, Book of the 2nd Ceiling Rotation: pattern 1[1]

Talenel, nicknamed Taln, and called Talenelat'Elin or Stonesinew in Vorinism, is one of the Ten Heralds of the Almighty[2] and patron of the Order of Stonewards.[3] He is also referred to as the Herald of War,[4] Herald of Soldiers[5] and Bearer of Agonies.[6] At the end of the Final Desolation, Taln was abandoned by the rest of the Heralds, forced to return to Damnation alone.[7] In the millenia that followed, Taln became a figure of myth and legend across the world.[8] In the Era of Solitude he has since returned to Roshar, his mind ruined by torture, to bring warning of the Everstorm.[2]

Appearance and Personality[edit]

Appearance[edit]

Taln is a tall,[9] dark-haired, stoutly built man, with thick arms like a soldier or laborer.[10] He is dark-skinned, appearing almost Makabaki in coloration and and his eyes are a dark brown color as well. Taln also wears a beard.[11] After his reappearance on Roshar in the Era of Solitude he is disheveled looking, with broken nails,[12] long, matted,[2] and ragged hair,[10] as well as bits of wood and leaves tangled in his beard.[2] His clothing is at his return is merely a ragged piece of cloth wrapped around his waist. Taln's eyes appear wild and mad[2] and he stands with a straight back and his head upright when he is aware of his surroundings.[9] When Taln is in his stupor his eyes are and dull and expressionless[12] and he sits slumped and morose.[10] Taln speaks perfect Alethi with a northern accent.[12]

Personality[edit]

The burdens of nine become mine. Why must I carry the madness of them all? Oh, Almighty, release me.
—Dated Naneses 1173, unknown seconds pre-death. Subject: a wealthy lighteyes. Sample collected second-hand.[13]

Little to nothing is known of Talnel'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.[3] He was also self-sacrificing, often allowing himself to be killed during Desolations in order to achieve victories thought to be impossible.[7] When men fight and die, nothing could prevent Taln from fighting alongside them.[14] 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.[1] Upon his realization that he had been betrayed by the other Heralds, Taln felt only joy that humanity had been given time to recover and might finally have a chance at defeating Odium in the True Desolation.[15]

After the of torture in Damnation, Taln's mind was heavily damaged. Upon his return to Roshar, Taln displayed true awareness only at his arrival in Kholinar[2] and a handful of other times.[9][10] Most of the time Taln spends dully repeating a mantra about the coming Desolations and the preparations humanity must make to be prepared to fight the Voidbringers.[12] 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,[9] although fighting itself terrifies him.[14] 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.[10] However, in both these instances, Taln lapses back into his waking non-responsiveness and is unable to be roused again.[9][10] He is capable of some limited movement in this state, such as lying down, but spends most of his time merely sitting.[10] His trauma has caused some to dismiss him as a simple madman.[10][12]

History[edit]

Herald of the Almighty[edit]

by: Sheep
Taln with his Honorblade

Not much is known about Taln's life before he became a Herald, but he was not initially intended to number among them.[16] As Herald, he and the others fought in a series of Desolations against the Voidbringers and Odium in defense of humankind.[17] Prior to each Desolation, Taln trained humanity's soldiers to fight the Voidbringers.[12] After each Desolation, Taln and the others returned to Damnation, where they were tortured.[7] Each time, if Taln himself was killed during the fighting, he automatically returned to Damnation. After several Desolations, the Knights Radiant was founded by Surgebinders with Ishar's help[18] and Taln became patron of the Order of Stonewards, who shared access to the same Surges he possessed.[3] It is possible that Hoid met Taln at some point during this time, as Hoid seems familiar with the man.[2]

Aharietiam[edit]

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.[19] While he managed to defend it successful, 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[edit]

Who am I? I . . . I am Talenel’Elin, Stonesinew, Herald of the Almighty. The Desolation has come. Oh, God . . . it has come. And I have failed.
— Talenel[2]

Around four and a half millenia later, not long after the Battle of the Tower, Talenel returned to Roshar from Damnation.[2] 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[edit]

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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[12] 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.[22]

The ardents placed Taln in a small, dimly lit cell in their monastery where he remained nonresponsive despite their care.[10] 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.[10] 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.[22] 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.[23] At this same time, Shallan Davar visited Taln on the behalf of the Ghostbloods.[10] 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.[23] 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[edit]

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.[23] While Amaram tried to get Taln on his feet and into the carriage, Iyatil attempted to assassinate Amaram with a blowgun. Taln's reflexively caught both darts with his hands, and Iyatil fled. Taln seemed to be conscious for a moment, examining the dark 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.[24]

The Battle of Thaylen Field[edit]

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 to Ash[15]

During the Battle of Thaylen Field, Ash sneaked into Taln's tent, which was left unguarded when Sadeas's solders were corrupted by Odium.[16] She attempted to rouse Taln with no success.[25] When Dalinar Ascended, swearing the Third Ideal of the Bondsmiths and summoning Honor's Perpendicularity, this seemed to awaken Taln.[15] 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.[14] 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.

Powers and Abilities[edit]

Herald of War[edit]

As one of the Heralds of the Almighty, Taln is unable to truly be killed. In actuality, the Taln is now a Cognitive Shadow.[26] Upon being killed, he is returned to Damnation to be tortured,[7] although it is uncertain how he gains a new body when he returns to Roshar. It is likely that he is also ageless, like the other Heralds seem to be.[14]

As Taln served as the the Herald of War,[12] it is likely that Taln was one of the most skilled fighters of Roshar. His reflexes certainly are inhumanly fast,[9] and he is even stronger than his massive build would suggest, able to throw open the gates of Kholinar on his own.[2] He is also a capable commander, able to win fights thought to be unwinnable, even at the cost of his own life.[7] Taln also excels at training soldiers as well, he helps ready humanity's warriors for the Desolations.[12]

Shardwielding and Surgebinding[edit]

As a Herald, Talenel has access to his Honorblade, a variety of Shardblade given to him by the Shard Honor. This Shardblade is able to cut through any material, stone, steel, or even living things effortlessly. This allowed Taln to be a formiddable foe on the battlefield, particularly against thunderclasts, as his Blade can cut their stone flesh easier than anything else. As he had spent an enormous amount of time using the Honorblade in the fight against the Voidbringers, Taln was likely very experienced in using his Blade. Unlike most Shardblades, this Honorblade also granted Taln access to the Surges of Cohesion and Tension. As he was not sworn to a spren, he was able to do with his Blade what he liked, without regard for any oaths. Taln also had no need for Stormlight, his Surgebinding was powered directly by Honor.[27] It is unknown if this has been impacted by Honor's death. It is unknown precisely what the Surges he had access to did, but they likely were also helpful in the fight against the Voidbringers in some way. In the present day it is uncertain what precisely has happened to Taln's Honorblade. The weapon he arrived with in Kholinar was shaped like an enormous spike, long, narrow, and straight.[2] The weapon he arrived with on the Shattered Plains was wide and cleaver-like,[22] and screams when touched by a Radiant, so it must be a dead Shardblade.[28] Some time between his arrival at Kholinar and his arrival at the Shattered Plains, someone swapped his Blade,[21] but it is unknown who stole it, for what purpose, and whether this impacts Taln's status as a Herald.

Culture[edit]

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[9] and Stonesinew.[10] 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.[17] Some refer to him as the bearer of agonies and swear by his name.[29] One of the devotaries of the Vorin Church is named the Order of Talenelat, after Taln.[30] He is often depicted in sculpture and art, along with the other Heralds.[8] In the Royal Ward of Thaylen City,[31] there is an entire temple devoted to Talenel, with reliefs and murals depicting his last stands against the Voidbringers.[5][31] Taln along with the rest of the Heralds have been so mythologized that it is now assumed that they would look Alethi.[9] One group, the Sons of Honor revere the Heralds greatly, and refer to Taln as Great Prince. Notably, a major Rosharan constellation has been named Taln's Scar.[32] Taln is not just a major figure in Vorin mythology, he and the other Heralds are prominent in other eastern nations as well, although less is known about his role in their cultures.

Taln's Mantra[edit]

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[12]

Trivia[edit]

  • Taln will have an expanded role in future books of The Stormlight Archive,[33] and will have a flashback book at some point in the future.[34]
  • Taln has the pigmentation of a black person on Earth.[35]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b Words of Radiance chapter 83 epigraph
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k The Way of Kings epilogue
  3. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 37 epigraph
  4. Oathbringer chapter 47
  5. a b Oathbringer chapter 59
  6. Oathbringer chapter 38
  7. a b c d e Prelude to the Stormlight Archive
  8. a b The Way of Kings prologue
  9. a b c d e f g h Words of Radiance chapter 88
  10. a b c d e f g h i j k l Words of Radiance chapter 63
  11. The Way of Kings chapter epliogue
  12. a b c d e f g h i j Words of Radiance interlude I-7
  13. The Way of Kings chapter 54 epigraph
  14. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 121
  15. a b c Oathbringer chapter 119
  16. a b Oathbringer chapter 117
  17. a b The Way of Kings chapter 45
  18. Words of Radiance chapter 42 epigraph
  19. Prelude to the Stormlight Archive
  20. The Way of Kings interlude I-7
  21. a b Why didn’t Dalinar get the powers of a Stoneward when he bonded Taln’s honorblade?
    — {{{site}}} - 31 May 2017
  22. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 76
  23. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 64
  24. Oathbringer interlude I-8
  25. Oathbringer chapter 118
  26. Have we seen cameos of Heralds on other Shardworlds?
    Theoryland - 6 December 2016
  27. Boskone 54 Signing Line
    17th Shard forums - 17 February 2017
  28. Words of Radiance chapter 89
  29. The Way of Kings chapter 6
  30. Words of Radiance chapter 54
  31. a b Oathbringer chapter 111
  32. The Way of Kings chapter 2
  33. Which minor Stormlight characters might get points of view?
    Theoryland - Jan 10th, 2011
  34. How do you plan to structure the points of view in Stormlight Archive?
    Theoryland - Aug 31st, 2011
  35. Taln has the pigmentation of a black person.
    — Reddit - Jul 12th, 2016
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Windrunner (talk) 02:30, 15 November 2017 (MST)