The Coppermind has spoilers for all of Brandon's published works, now including The Lost Metal. Information about books that have not yet been released, like the secret novels releasing in 2023 and Stormlight 5, is allowed only on meta-pages for the books themselves. For more details, see our spoiler policy. To view an earlier version of the wiki without spoilers for a book, go to the Time Machine!
|Profession||Carpenter’s apprentice, Soldier in Amaram's army|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”It’s not as bad as it seems, Kaladin... Things are never as bad as they seem. You’ll see.—Tien to Kaladin
Tien is the second son of Lirin and Hesina and brother to Kaladin and Oroden. Tien is two years Kaladin’s junior and eighteen years older than Oroden. He is pressed into Highmarshal Amaram’s army, where he is killed during battle.
Appearance and Personality
”It's just hard to be gloomy when he’s around.
He has a mix of unruly brown and black hair, and is small for his age. He has a slight build and round cheeks that are often flushed. Due to his size and childlike features, Tien is often mistaken for being younger than his actual age. This has led to him being mocked on occasion by the other children in Hearthstone. Despite Roshone's treatment of his family and the towns ostracism, Tien liked living in Hearthstone and had not considered moving away before being conscripted.
Tien has a fixation with rocks, of which he owns a large catalogued collection. Some of the rocks in Tien’s collection show off hidden strata if doused with water or change color under certain lights. Due to his aversion with blood, Tien is unable to apprentice to his father and instead works for Ral, the town carpenter. Ral finds his apprentice frustrating as Tien is easily distracted and will work on his own projects instead of those set by his master.
Tien is an excitable person and always seems to find beauty in things that others would consider mundane. He is an optimist and tries to please those around him as well as brighten their day. He shares similar traits with Shallan Davar, a fellow Lightweaver, both of whom are artistically talented and work to raise the spirits of those around them. Tien was seen as a burst of sunshine by those around him, particularly Kaladin, and did not want people to see him differently, implying some self-esteem issues.
Attributes and Abilities
Before he died, Tien bonded a Cryptic and swore at least the first oath. As a Lightweaver, he could access the Surges of Illumination and Soulcasting, had enhanced mnemonic abilities and experienced color and light differently to those around him. Tien's perception of someone could also cause slight alterations to their mood. Tien attracted a Cryptic due to his hiding belief that he was not a good person, as he knew people saw him as a burst of sunshine and he didn't want them to see differently.
The Skybreakers knew Tien was bonded to a Cryptic while he served in Amaram's army, and believed him to be the only Surgebinder within Amaram's forces. Through their spying on the group, the Ghostbloods are aware that there was at least one manifested Radiant within Amaram's army, who had been killed. This information is passed on to Shallan, from Mraize. The whereabouts of Tien's spren are unknown.
”Tien smiled, then set a rock on the ground... Tien had a habit of finding those and thinking they were incredibly precious.—Kaladin about Tien's rock collection.
As a young boy, Tien often spent time with his brother Kaladin. The pair were friends with Laral, the daughter of Brightlord Wistiow, and also spent time around the other children in the town; when he was eight, he and his brother hung out with Jam, one of the other boys in the town. Jam’s father had been teaching him how to use a quarterstaff and the other children of the town were intrigued to find out what he had learnt. Tien’s father, Lirin, did not approve of his sons spending time with the older children in the town, particularly if it interfered with Kaladin’s duties as surgeon’s assistant.
Tien often played with Kaladin and Laral, climbing rocks and searching the area for wildlife. On the day of Wistiow’s death, Tien spent time collecting rocks and looking for lurgs with his two friends. He presented his brother with one of the rocks he had found; a weathered stone that contained a hidden pattern of colored strata. Tien showed his older brother how the pattern would reveal itself when water was applied to the rock face. Kaladin attempted to return the stone to Tien, however, his brother insisted that he keep it. Tien often found rocks that he would pass along to Kaladin, in the hopes that they would help to lift his mood.
They began looking for lurgs, quickly finding one amongst the boulders. After Laral joined them, they dissolved the lurg's cocoon to watch it jump around, looking for food. When the creature settled down to respin its cocoon, Kaladin manipulated it onto a rock so that it could be moved around without being further disturbed. He gave the lurg to Tien, who then moved off to search for more of the amphibians. While he searched, Tien’s brother and Laral moved down the hill to speak with some of the other children in the town and a fight broke out. After the other boys had left, Tien gifted his brother another stone that he had found while lurg hunting.
When Tien was eleven years old, the governance of Hearthstone was taken over by Brightlord Roshone. On the day of Roshone’s arrival, Tien was waiting for his family in the square, having saved them places near the water barrels. Despite Tien’s father’s attempts to welcome the new citylord, the initial introduction of Roshone went poorly.
Roshone's animosity towards Tien's father, led him to target the family, cutting off their means of income and pushing them towards poverty. Much of Roshone's grudge against Lirin stemed from his inheritance of the late Brightlord Wisitow's wealth.
Eighteen months after the arrival of Roshone, Tien’s father met with the Brightlord. Hesina was tasked with distracting her two sons, to keep them away from the meeting. Tien had found a new rock, that he shared with his mother and brother while the three prepared the evening meal. He found the rock fascinating as it changed color when viewed from different angles. Hesina, suggested that the change was caused by the spren of the rock and the three spoke further about spren and souls. Tien disagreed with his mother, explaining that he thought the change was caused by light instead of spren. During the conversation, Kaladin snuck away to join his father at Roshone’s manor. After the dinner, Lirin admitted to Kaladin that the spheres had been stolen, and requested that Kaladin did not inform his brother of what he had learnt.
Life for the family continued to get worse after Tien’s father had been unable to save the life of Roshone’s son, Rillir. When Rillir was brought to Lirin after being attacked by a whitespine, Tien was pulled away from the surgery room by his mother, due to his aversion to blood.
Six months later, Tien found his brother on the roof of their house. Knowing Kaladin often struggled during the Weeping, Tien did what he could to support his brother, sitting with him and giving him an intricately carving of a horse. Unable to work as a surgeon’s assistant, Tien had been taken on by the town’s carpenter, Ral. Tien had a natural talent for carving, however often got distracted, to the displeasure of his master. Ral often got frustrated at Tien, though did admit that the boy had a talent for woodcarving.
Hesina joins her sons after a time, and they discussed the family’s situation. Despite their predicament, Tien liked living in Hearthstone and did not wish to move with Kaladin to Kharbranth, though he was excited at the opportunities presented to his brother. During the conversation, Kaladin realised that though his father had begun to spend Wistiow’s spheres, he did so to deceive Roshone, and make him believe their situation was worse than it seemed.
Lirin found his family on the roof and they relocated to the town square to greet Highmarshal Amaram, who had been passing through the region. While he visited Roshone, Amaram engaged in recruiting several members of the town to his army. When not enough men volunteered, Tien, along with four other men, were pressed into the army to expand its ranks. Unlike his father or brother, Tien was not immune from enlistment due to his profession. Lirin attempted to prevent Tien’s recruitment, however was stopped by the Highmarshal before he could cause a scene. Amaram promised to make the boy a messenger to keep him out of danger and away from the fighting.
The thought of joining the army terrified Tien. Unable to let the matter lie, Kaladin offered to take his brother’s place, however Roshone was insistent. Kaladin enlisted along side his brother, in the hopes of keeping him safe and they both moved away from Hearthstone.
”Gotta do what you can to stay alive, son. Turn a liability into an advantage whenever you can. Remember that, if you live.—Varth talking to Kaladin about Tien
Tien and Kaladin were separated after being drafted, despite Kaladin's belief that they were meant to be assigned to the same squad. Kaladin searched for his brother after their separation, enlisting the help of his squad leader Tukks, who eventually located Tien in squad seven. While in squad seven, Tien was given rudimentary training with a spear, and then shifted into a deep reserve unit. Tien hoped that he would be able to travel to the Shattered Plains to join the King's army.
Less than four months after being drafted, Tien was killed during battle against Brightlord Hallaw. During the encounter, two other undertrained messenger boys were assigned to Varth's squad, and Tien volunteered to join them, in order to help them out. Unable to use the boys effectively in combat, Varth positioned the three at the front of the lines, to act as a distraction for the enemy. He saw the three messengers as liabilities due to their lack of training. Tien and the two other messengers were killed by an enemy lighteyes, after Varth pulled his squad pulled back, leaving the three of them exposed to the enemy.
Kaladin, who had been looking for his brother during the battle, arrived moments before Tien was struck down and killed. He lay on the battlefield with his brother’s corpse for hours, not returning to camp until long after the battle had ended. Tien’s parents received notice of his death from Kaladin, shortly after the incident.
”How is it you can always smile?... It’s dreadful outside, your master treats you like crem, and your family is slowly being strangled by the citylord. And yet you smile. How, Tien? And why is it that you make me want to smile too?—Kaladin about Tien
Tien is almost always able to lift his brother's mood and helps Kaladin during his bouts of depression. He often gifts Kaladin rocks, as a way to try and help him feel better, but is also a good judge of when Kaladin needs company rather than support. Despite Kaladin’s request of his brother, Tien always called him by his full name instead of his childhood nickname of Kal.
Tien and Kaladin often spend time together as children and play pranks on the other members of their family. During their childhoods, they would wrestle for fun as well as play catch and climb rocks with Laral. Of the three of them, Laral was always the better climber.
Tien's death greatly affected Kaladin, for which he still feels immense guilt and anger over. After his brothers death, Kaladin began to recruit young boys to his army unit, who had been put in similar positions to Tien, in the hopes of saving them. He also threw himself into training to distract himself from his brothers death, until he was eventually pulled out of his single mindedness by Tarah. He continued to carry around Tien's rocks while in the army, though rarely brought them out, and mistook others to be his brother both before and after he was made a slave.
Unable to face his parents and his broken promises, Kaladin intended to re-enlist at the end of his four year tour, and continued to carry his guilt after being forced into slavery. After Amaram's betrayal, Kaladin began blaming the Brightlord, along with himself, for breaking the promises he had made. Even after being freed from slavery, Kaladin still refused to contact his parents because of his brother's death.
- There was no specific inspiration for the relationship between Kaladin and Tien; instead it grew naturally out of Kaladin's characterization. Brandon has also said he has a preference away from family relationships that cause isolation, as he finds the dynamics within families interesting and important to readers.
- It is mostly a coincidence that Tien, a surgeon's son, has a name that contains the Aon for healing.
- Legion Release Party
— Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
- The Way of Kings chapter 44#
- The Way of Kings chapter 46#
- FanX 2018
— Arcanum - 2018-09-06#
- The Way of Kings chapter 16#
- Oathbringer chapter 7#
- The Way of Kings chapter 67#
- The Way of Kings chapter 25#
- The Way of Kings chapter 37#
- Oathbringer chapter 121#
- Mini-Con 2021
— Arcanum - 2021-11-22#
- MisCon 2018
— Arcanum - 2018-05-26#
- Skype Q&A
— Arcanum - 2018-10-08#
- The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson
— Arcanum - 2018-10-25#
- Oathbringer chapter 40#
- Skyward Pre-Release AMA
— Arcanum - 2018-10-20#
- The Way of Kings chapter 10#
- The Way of Kings chapter 31#
- The Way of Kings chapter 41#
- The Way of Kings chapter 4#
- Oathbringer chapter 91#
- The Way of Kings chapter 47#
- Oathbringer chapter 5#
- The Way of Kings chapter 14#
- Oathbringer chapter 112#
- The Way of Kings chapter 63#
- The Way of Kings chapter 9#
- The Way of Kings chapter 2#
- Oathbringer chapter 120#
- Oathbringer chapter 6#
- Oathbringer release party
— Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
- Stormlight Three Update #5
— Arcanum - 2016-11-21#
- /r/brandonsanderson Skyward AMA
— Arcanum - 2018-10-06#