|Abilities||Old Magic, Shard of Odium|
|Titles||King of Kharbranth (former), King of Jah Keved (former), Odium|
|Residence||Kharbranth (palace), Urithiru|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”I am the monster who will save this world.—Taravangian to Szeth
Taravangian is the king of Kharbranth and Jah Keved. He is the leader of the secret society known as "the Diagram" which believes the truth and the path to human salvation lies in the set of predictions and instructions he laid out on the day he was a genius. He is the current Vessel of the Shard Odium.
Appearance and Personality
”Someone must bear the responsibility, someone must be dragged down by it, ruined by it. Someone must stain their souls so others may live. Society offers us up to trudge through dirty waters so others may be clean.—Taravangian to Dalinar
Taravangian is an aged man with a wispy white beard, which he shaves during the True Desolation. He has pale grey eyes and an open, kindly face. He lives with perpetual aches in his body and other symptoms of old age. Before he Ascended as Vessel of Odium, he was in his 70s in Rosharan years.
He is popular among many for providing free access to city hospitals funded by an admittance fee to the Palanaeum, and he is known to visit the hospitals on a weekly basis. Ruling Kharbranth with the help of a council, he has been quiet and humble for his entire life, leading many people to believe he is slow witted. People who know him better know he had a keen intelligence until his "illness" 5 years before the Battle of Thaylen Field. The illness is a consequence of a visit to the Nightwatcher who granted him great intelligence and great compassion, but cursed him to never have them at the same time. As a result, he wakes up every morning with a fluctuation of both. On some days, he cries and has compassion for everyone around him, while unable to have intelligent conversations, while on others he is brilliant, yet easily speaks of killing singing children.
Taravangian is a pragmatic man who considers it his duty to do whatever it takes to make a better world. When he poses a moral dilemma, asking what to do if three of four men are guilty of murder and one is unsure which is innocent, he says "To prevent murder to happen again … I must hang them and weep." He believes religion fills gaps and brings a sense of comfort which prevents understanding. He trusts only the Diagram, which is the result of his raw intelligence.
Attributes and Abilities
Every morning he takes an intelligence test that he devised for himself on intelligent days. The test takes the better part of an hour and is made up of mathematical problems. A trio of stormwardens consult regarding his answers and decide his intelligence for the day. The stormwardens as well as Mrall, his head bodyguard, also decide if he is fit to rule and what restrictions he will be subject to. He is restricted to his room on both his worst and best of days because during both he tends to make irrational regulations. He also tends to be more compassionate the less intelligent he is. His intelligence changes during each night, regardless of whether he is asleep or awake.
Taravangian has surprising knowledge of the Shin and the Shin language, which is rare outside of Shinovar. He also knows women's script and has solved Fabrisan's Conundrum. He is responsible for Dalinar's knowledge of how to capture a spren: giving it what it wants. This knowledge is key for Dalinar's victory over Nergaoul at the battle of Thaylen City.
When Taravangian was born, the surgeon said there was a cord around his neck. He made public that he might have diminished capacity and the recommendation was to keep him on outer estates in favor of others. Though the diminished capacity was not present, the reputation followed him all his life. He was childhood friends with Adrotagia and his nickname was Vargo. Taravangian met Battar, a Herald posing as an ardent named Dova, who said that the True Desolation was close.
The Nightwatcher and the creation of the Diagram
Taravangian asked the Nightwatcher for "the capacity to save humankind." He was granted the boon of great intelligence and great compassion, but the curse of not having them at the same time. As a result, he wakes up every morning with a fluctuation of both. This was granted by Cultivation rather than the Nightwatcher.
On his day of greatest genius, "20 hours of lucid insanity", he covered every surface of his bedroom in hieroglyphics he invented that day. They offered a brutal path for humanity's survival, which he believed to be the Nightwatcher's attempt to save humankind. The writing was transcribed and annotated into a book by Adrotagia and other scribes. The book came to be known as the Diagram. Taravangian created a secret society with the same name in order to aid in interpreting it, and then to fulfill those interpretations.
One of the first things he studies are Death Rattles. These experiments were run at a secret hospital hidden in his palace, filled with hundreds of beds for the terminally ill, poor, and forgotten who would not be missed. The patients were slowly killed by draining their blood so the Silent Gatherers could record the cryptic sentences spoken in the seconds before death. Through these Death Rattles, Taravangian hoped to gain information with which he can update the Diagram. He was aware that they were caused by Moelach, but the Silent Gatherers may not have been.
During a highstorm, Taravangian's granddaughter became trapped within a room in the Conclave when a large stone fell and obstructed the doorway. The king enlisted the help of Jasnah Kholin, who had already been in the city, offering her access to the Palanaeum in exchange for the use of her Soulcaster to remove the rock. Making a deal with the heretical princess was a dangerous political move on Taravangian's part as it risked angering the ardentia. Ostensibly, Taravangian made the deal because his architects would not have time to cut through the boulder before the next highstorm arrived and because removing the boulder by conventional means would gave risked further cave-ins in the area. In actuality, Taravangian could have rescued his granddaughter on his own, but wanted to see Jasnah's powers in order to confirm his suspicions that she was a Surgebinder. Before Soulcasting the rock to smoke, Jasnah recommended that the king and his staff move to the end of the hall to be out of range; however, Taravangian refused, ostensibly out of a desire not leave his granddaughter to go through the ordeal alone. The Alethi princess then Soulcast the stone into vapor, freeing the king's granddaughter, along with the child's nursemaids and several palace servants. Taravangian offered to hold a feast as a way of thanking Jasnah; however, she declined instead requesting to be taken directly to the Palanaeum so she could begin her study.
The incident with Taravangian's granddaughter had been deliberately planned by the king. He suspected Jasnah was using means to soulcast that did not include the use of the fabrial she carried and intentionally engineered a scenario where he could observe her work. Despite his ulterior motives, he was concerned for his granddaughter's well-being and did not want her to be harmed, despite putting her in a dangerous situation.
Weeks later, Taravangian joined Shallan and Jasnah for lunch on their balcony in the Veil. In response to Jasnah's inquiry, he reported that his granddaughter had recovered from her ordeal, though now avoided the narrower passageways of the Conclave in case of a repeat incident. Curious, he asked the princess where she had acquired her Soulcaster, further confirming his hypothesis that she "was" the Soulcaster when she declined to answer. He acknowledged her refusal and turned the subject towards Shallan and her artistic skills, which had earned her quite the reputation in the Conclave and Palace. She was all too happy to fulfill the king's request for a portrait, which he intended to give as a gift to his granddaughter. 
While Shallan drew, the king struck up conversation again with Jasnah, this time about religion and the Jasnah's lack of faith. He had trouble understanding how she could differentiate between right and wrong when what was right was a dictate of the Almighty. Right and wrong, Jasnah argued, shouldn't be subject to the will of an unseen being. To her, morality and human will were as independent from religion as mathematics. Taravangian ultimately claimed to disagree with the scholar, though he did admire the efficiency of her arguments. Jasnah explained that she had no intention of trying to convert him to her beliefs, unlike those in the ardentia, who had repeately tried to convert her.
Shallan, who had been engrossed in the conversation, went to finish her drawing of the king, however, found that she had added several Cryptics to the background of her sketch by accident. She destroyed the drawing, promising Taravangian that she would do him another by the end of the day. Shortly after, Taravangian excused himself so he could visit one of the many hospitals that he had established in Kharbranth. After he took his leave, Jasnah chided Shallan for calling the king dull and told her that she was not to refer to him in that manner. She deeply admired the man who reminded her of her uncle Dalinar and found them both to be earnest and sincere.
After several people were killed in the theater district of Kharbranth, Taravangian stepped in, hoping that he could prompt the city watch into action. His efforts failed and despite the reprimands, the watch continued to ignore the section of the city that had been terrorized by criminals. Eventually, Jasnah took it upon herself to remove the criminals, traveling into the city late at night with Shallan and purposely putting them in a situation where they would be attacked. After she killed the men using Soulcasting, Jasnah explained to Shallan that she had done so as a service to the king of whom she felt she had taken advantage. She worried that Taravangian did not realize the danger he had put himself in by welcoming her to his city and did what she could to help him.
Weeks later, Taravangian visited Shallan in the hospital after her supposed suicide attempt. Taravangian visited the hospitals of Kharbranth at least once a week and was a welcomed sight for those admitted on the ward. During his visits he would sit and talk with each patient, checking on their progress, and doing what he could to help. Shallan complimented the king on the greatness of Kharbranth's hospitals, an accomplishment of which the man was extremely proud. Taravangian denied Shallan's request to be released from the hospital. However, before he left, did grant her wish for visitation rights. Outside the ward, Taravangian ran into Jasnah who had been studying in the waiting room. He explained that Shallan could now receive visitors and passed on the news that she had decided to return to her family's estate before leaving the princess to visit with her student.
Szeth, the Assassin in White, traveled to Kharbranth with orders to kill the king after causing destruction throughout Jah Keved. The assassin had explicit instructions on how the king was to be killed: it was to be done quietly, without any additional deaths and the man was only to die after he acknowledged Szeth's intent. Taravangian ignored Szeth's declaration when confronted, instead speaking to him of the chaos and destruction the assassin had caused. He revealed to Szeth had he had been the assassin's hidden master and was in possession of the man's Oathstone. Taravangian had also deliberately put his own name on Szeth's list to deflect suspicion from himself. He took Szeth to his hidden hospital, where Szeth witnessed the atrocities the king of Kharbranth was committing to maximize access to the Death Rattles. Taravangian freely admitted to the monstrous acts he had committed before commanding Szeth to seek out Dalinar Kholin on the Shattered Plains and end his life.
King of Jah Keved
The Diagram shows that Taravangian needs to unite Roshar under his rule in order to save mankind. The first path is Jah Keved and per the scripts he needed to gain possession of Szeth's Oathstone. He is able to do so and orders Szeth to kill a number of world leaders, including Hanavanar, the king of Jah Keved, as well as various other highprinces of Jah Keved. The power vacuum in Jah Keved resulted in a devastating succession war, which wiped out all of the remaining highprinces. Taravangian arrived at the city in time for the death of the last Veden Highprince Valam who named him king of Jah Keved. Taravangian is able to fulfill his plot without anyone suspecting his intervention. They believe he was given the title as an act of spite from Valam and accept Taravangian as King.
Dalinar's coalition of Roshar
One of the Diagrams interpretation results in the request to kill Dalinar and Taravangian sends Szeth to kill him. During the Battle of Narak, Szeth goes after him but is beaten by Kaladin. Shortly after, Szeth discovered he was not Truthless, and forsakes his Oathstone, breaking his allegiance with Taravangian. After this failure, Taravangian decided to move closer to Dalinar. He is the first king to unite with Dalinar. When he finds out no other king would be part of the coalition, he recommends invasion. After his surprise at Dalinar's negotiation strategy, he agreed to follow him and eventually moved with him to Urithiru. While he pretends to work with Dalinar, he secretly plots to gain political advantage. He bursts the market by sending supplies via Jah Keved, he has his Knight Radiant Malata working the Oathgate, and he sends merchant ships to Thaylen City with healers. He shares their knowledge in fabrials with Navani, and lets them know of technology that will create half-shards. After having a relatively brilliant day, he decides that the best action is to take Dalinar's place on the Coalition and after will push for its collapse. He believes this will make Odium meet his agreements and save "what he can, abandon the rest".. Though he was dismissed or not needed in the war councils where the defenses for Jah Keved were being planned, he was plotting to find secrets that would destroy Dalinar. He sends his Radiant's spren, Spark, to spy on him, and, along with his scholars and other Diagram followers, is able to succeed. During a meeting with all the other kingdoms' representatives in which they determine the enemy would strike Thaylen City, he strikes against the highprince by leaking three facts:
1) Elhokar had sworn to Dalinar as High King, and though this was an Alethi political tactic, some other kingdoms felt threatened that Dalinar would ask the same from them. This erodes Fen's faith in the coalition, though she stays with Dalinar because she would prefer him to lead than the Voidbringers.
2) Dalinar had a vision in which Odium threatens to destroy the world. This causes conflict concerning the use of powers that can't be controlled, in this case, Dalinar's. This causes Yanagawn to break off the alliance.
These revelations were enough to destroy most of the coalition, with only the Thaylen queen staying with Dalinar.
Battle of Thaylen Field and Aftermath
Taravangian was decided to ensure Dalinar's failure at Thaylenah. By the time Odium strikes them, he and his people had already left and had retrieved their ships. He also wrote to the singers and opened the gate to Urithiru to attack there and prevent them from sending help to the Thaylens. Much to Taravangian's surprise, Dalinar and his allies win the battle. He comes clean on several points, including his plotting to take the throne of Jah Keved, his usage of Szeth, and knowledge of the Desolation. He however kept to himself the existence of the Diagram and that he brought the singers to Urithiru. Though Dalinar would never again trust him as before, this does clear the air and their relationship is not fully broken. Eight days after the battle, on a day of below average intelligence, he received a vision from Odium, who took a tall form reminiscent of the Shin with a scepter in his hand. Taravangian tried to convince Odium that he only wanted to serve him and begs him to visit him another day, but Odium sees through him immediately and orders him not to prostrate himself. He then asked Taravangian why he would be inclined to speak with the king on a day of intelligence, thereby allowing him to negotiate from a position of power, declaring that such an event would never happen. Taravangian then offered a deal to Odium, knowing the god couldn't afford to face Dalinar directly again for fear of losing a previously declared contest of champions. The agreement would trade his help by sharing the Diagram's information (though he could not read Renarin's participation) and giving him the Honorblade in exchange for sparing the people of Kharbranth (the city itself, any humans born into it, and their spouses). Odium accepted, placing Taravangian and the Diagram firmly under the control of Dalinar's enemy.
Betrayal and Imprisonment
A year later, Taravangian distanced himself from Kharbranth and his fellow Diagram members in preparation of being contacted by Odium, who commanded him to have his forces betray Dalinar's on their campaign in Emul. As Taravangian expected, the betrayal is swiftly dealt with and Dalinar has him arrested and imprisoned.
Dalinar, wishing to see the good in Taravangian, did not immediately execute him, instead keeping him prisoner in a well-furnished home where Taravangian's requests were cared for. During this time, Taravangian's mental state deteriorated, and he spent more days in his cognitively impaired, compassionate state. He was visited by Szeth and Renarin, but was too slow to carry on a conversation, and believed that he failed at his plan of manipulating Szeth. Dalinar eventually declared that he was not to be executed, and instead sentenced him to lifelong imprisonment so that he could prove to Taravangian that the coalition was capable of defeating Odium.
Taravangian, however, realized that he could kill Odium himself, guessing that if Szeth saw the Shard manifesting, he would strike out with Nightblood. He had also figured out that the future of anyone close to Renarin would be obscured to Odium, due to the fact that both of their methods of seeing the future used Fortune. Consequently, he requested that Dalinar bring him an Oathstone so that Szeth would come to his prison with the intent of killing him. He also asked Sja-Anat for a way to ensure that Odium arrived at the same time as the assassin and, knowing that Odium was tracking her corrupted spren, she sent him two gemstones with corrupted windspren.
Just as Taravangian had plotted, Szeth entered his house, intending to kill him. As Szeth was reaching for his knife, Odium arrived and pulled Taravangian's mind out of the Physical Realm. Still next to Szeth in the Physical Realm, Taravangian reached for the Cognitive manifestation of Nightblood and used the weapon to attack Odium. Szeth then killed Taravangian, but before he could pass into the Beyond, Nightblood consumed Rayse, the original Vessel of Odium. As Taravangian was having his least intelligent day yet, his emotions ran rampant, giving him an Intent very similar to that of the Shard, allowing him to Ascend to become the new holder of Odium.
Vessel of Odium
After his Ascension, Taravangian conversed with Cultivation, who explained some of the nature of his new power. Taravangian intends to expand Odium's influence throughout the cosmere after his and Dalinar's contest of champions is settled, regardless of the outcome.
As the Vessel of Odium, Taravangian confronted Hoid, who expected to meet Rayse. Hoid noticed that something was amiss, and attempted to play it off so as not to make Taravangian suspicious. Taravangian saw through it, however, and wiped Hoid's short-term memory by destroying the Breaths in which he held it, then replayed the same conversation with him, slightly altering his dialogue so as not to set Hoid off.
- Taravangian's head scribe and closest friend. Even on his days of genius he is aware of her intelligence. He has real fondness for her. They are childhood friends.
- She is a Veden bodyguard and Dustbringer. She works for him and follows his lead, however she had said she "is not his" and they were there because her spren Spark suggested visiting Urithiru now that it has been rediscovered.
- Taravangian is fully aware of Odium's power. On the day Taravangian created the Diagram, he drafted out plans to save humanity from Odium. But on the same day, he also anticipated his direct confrontation with Odium after the Battle of Thaylen Field, and wrote down instructions for the future and dumber version of Taravangian on that day to follow. He explained that after the contest of champions was agreed, Odium would need people to do his bidding lest he get pressed into a duel he may lose. Taravangian makes a deal with Odium, trading the help of the Diagram and the Honorblade in exchange for sparing the people of Kharbranth. Odium comments on his drive, saying, "Your passion does you credit".
- Taravangian's Grandchildren
- Taravangian has three grandchildren who write to him. They are oblivious to the Diagram and his plans. The eldest is Gvori, accepted at the school of storms, Karavaniga, the middle accepted forwardship and little Ruli. He has another granddaughter whom he arranged to become trapped in a rockslide in an attempt to see Jasnah Kholin use her Soulcaster. Despite his ulterior motives, he was concerned for her wellbeing and did not want her to be harmed, even though he put her in a dangerous situation.
”Our law will claim innocent men-for all judges are flawed, as is our knowledge. Eventually, you will execute someone who does not deserve it. This is the burden society must carry in exchange for order.—Taravangian to Dalinar on executing three murderers and one innocent
”Nightwatcher, Odium's victory will kill you too. Couldn't you gift me and not curse me?—Taravangian reflecting alone
- What happens to Taravangian increases multiple types of intelligence, not just raw 'processing power'. Someone tapping enough feruchemical zinc could achieve something similar but not quite the same.
- Taravangian was deaf in the original draft of Way of Kings Prime. Brandon removed this part of Taravangian's character as he thought he had done it poorly.
- Taravangian would make a worse President of the United States than Rashek.
|King of Jah Keved
||Succeeded by |
- Words of Radiance interlude I-12#
- The Way of Kings chapter 70#
- The Way of Kings chapter 3#
- Oathbringer chapter 86#
- Oathbringer chapter 24#
- Skyward release party
— Arcanum - 2018-11-06#
- The Way of Kings chapter 7#
- The Way of Kings chapter 48#
- Oathbringer chapter 12#
- Oathbringer chapter 16#
- Oathbringer chapter 21#
- Oathbringer chapter 107#
- Oathbringer interlude I-5#
- Oathbringer chapter 28#
- The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson
— Arcanum - 2018-10-25#
- The Way of Kings chapter 71#
- Oathbringer chapter 100#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-14#
- Tel Aviv Signing
— Arcanum - 2019-10-18#
- Death Rattle Quotes#
- The Way of Kings chapter 5#
- The Way of Kings Annotations
— Arcanum - 2017-11-03#
- Supanova 2017 - Sydney
— Arcanum - 2017-06-16#
- The Way of Kings chapter 29#
- The Way of Kings chapter 36#
- The Way of Kings interlude I-6#
- Oathbringer chapter 58#
- Oathbringer chapter 29#
- Oathbringer chapter 96#
- Oathbringer chapter 65#
- Oathbringer chapter 111#
- Oathbringer chapter 121#
- Rhythm of War interlude I-3#
- Rhythm of War interlude I-6#
- Rhythm of War chapter 66#
- Rhythm of War interlude I-9#
- Rhythm of War interlude I-12#
- Rhythm of War interlude I-7#
- Rhythm of War chapter 113#
- Rhythm of War chapter 114#
- Rhythm of War epilogue#
- Oathbringer chapter 27#
- Oathbringer chapter 122#
- Stormlight Three Update #5
— Arcanum - 2016-11-19#
- Firefight Seattle UBooks signing
— Arcanum - 2015-01-06#
- General Twitter 2013
— Arcanum - 2013-10-24#
- YouTube Livestream 6
— Arcanum - 2020-04-23#