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Kaladin (Alethi pronounciation: [ˈkæl·ə·dɪn]

Appearance and Personality[edit]

Kaladin is a fairly tall and muscular man with multiple scars on his body.[1] He has tan skin[2] and shoulder-length, wavy black hair, typical of an Alethi. He is born with dark brown eyes[3], though after swearing the Third Ideal of the Windrunners, his eyes turn very pale blue that glow while holding Stormlight.[4] Like most Rosharans, Kaladin's eyes have an epicanthic fold[5] that appear faintly amber-colored when he is holding Stormlight.[6] His face is square and firm with strong lines and a proud chin. He prefers to be clean-shaven, but during his time as a slave, he grows a long, scraggly beard.[7] He is branded on his forehead with a sas nahn glyphpair, indicating his slavery, and a shash glyph meaning "dangerous".[8]

Kaladin is a natural leader who inspires belief and confidence in his men. In Amaram's army, his squad members call him lucky and believe that being in his squad grants them supernatural protection.[3] Kaladin also transforms Bridge Four from a dejected and despondent group with the worst reputation into a highly-motivated and effective fighting force. Dalinar Kholin remarks that his men are remarkably loyal and think very highly of him.[9][10]

Ever since childhood, Kaladin has had a strong protective instinct, which only grows once he begins discovering and swearing the Immortal Words. He uses his medical skills to save people, first as an apprentice surgeon and later as a battlefield medic. As a youth, he joins the army so he can look after his younger brother, Tien.[11] As a squadleader in Amaram's army, he recruits the youngest members with the least training to his squad so that he can train and protect them.[12] As captain of Dalinar's personal guard, he protects Dalinar and the king from assassins on multiple occasions. Kaladin shows a deep sense of loss when those under his protection die.

Kaladin also displays several classic symptoms of clinical depression, amplified by the loss and pressures that are forced upon him. He is prone to depressive episodes, particularly during the Weeping.[13] By the time he joins Bridge Four, he has lost so many people that he falls into a deep depression. He thinks himself cursed because he always survives while others do not.[8] At his lowest point, Kaladin falls into apathetic despair and becomes suicidal.[14] Despite the outward confidence he is often able to show, he often feels like a failure, focusing on the many deaths that he feels he could have prevented. During these times, he feels morose and chapters from his point of view describe that he was feeling "gray" and morose, spiraling farther into depression.

Kaladin is deeply conflicted about killing, finding it philosophically hard to justify. Furthermore, he considers the notion that one must kill in order to protect ironic and paradoxical. Although he is a soldier, he has been trained as a surgeon, whose highest calling is to save all lives. Additionally, as a member of the Order of Windrunners, he lives by the Ideals of his order, to which protecting life is central. It is further irony that Kaladin's powers of killing appear to be at their strongest when he is actively protecting something or someone. This paradox has plagued Kaladin and Syl both, who have been unable to explain why killing is justified if the protection of life matters.

Kaladin draws a black and white distinction between lighteyes and darkeyes, harboring a deep resentment and distrust for virtually all lighteyes, fueled by the betrayals of people like Roshone, Amaram, and Katarotam. Ironically, Kaladin himself is noted for having many lighteyed qualities. Many characters remark that Kaladin has the bearing of a lighteyes—meaning a leader or noble, since the term "lighteyes" encompasses these qualities in the Alethi language—and others have noted that "Kaladin" sounds like a lighteyed name, rather than a darkeyed name. Further, when Kaladin comes into his true power as a Knight Radiant, he becomes lighteyed. Kaladin despises these qualities in himself, because they make him more similar to lighteyes.[4]

Due to his recent struggles, Kaladin shows hostility and resentment, although at times, wit, sarcasm, and intelligence show through. He appears to have got his sense of humor from his mother and is constantly questioning the world around him.


Early Life (1153–1168)[edit]

Early childhood[edit]

Young Kal by User: Botanicaxu

Kaladin was born in late 1153 to Lirin and Hesina, a family of second nahn, in the town of Hearthstone in Torol Sadeas' princedom in northwestern Alethkar. His younger brother, Tien was born two years later. Growing up, Kaladin preferred the shorter name Kal to his full name, which he felt sounded like a lighteyes’s name. At the age of eight, Kal began training with his father in surgery, though he dreamed of becoming a soldier. At first, he became sick at the sight of wounds and injuries. Over the next couple of years, he grew used to the sight and assisted his father during surgeries which he figured would come in handy on the battefield. However, the amount of time Lirin spent with books and sick people, coupled with their class disparity, made people uncomfortable to be around Lirin and Kal, by association. As a result of his isolated upbringing, Kal became very close with his brother and, at the encouragement of his parents, Laral Wistiow, the daughter of the citylord.[15] [16]

Surgeon or soldier[edit]

In 1164, Kal assisted his father in amputating one of the fingers of a fifteen-year old girl named Sani. Once finished, Lirin asked Kal why he was late. Kal admitted it was because he went with Tien to see what Jam, a boy two years older, had learned from his quarterstaff training. Kal was excited because Jam’s father was a soldier in Brightlord Amaram’s army. Lirin replied that he knew Jam’s father, having operated on his leg three times, a “gift” from his time as a soldier. Kal argued they needed soldiers, but Lirin claimed they needed surgeons more. Lirin doubted that his son could actually hurt someone as he cried nearly every time someone was brought to them. Kal promised he would get stronger causing Lirin to ask who put these ideas in his head. Kal countered that it was about honor and that no one told stories about surgeons. Lirin told him there were two kinds of people in the world, those who save lives and those who take lives, that one couldn’t protect by killing. Lirin then informed Kal that once he turned sixteen, he wanted to send Kaladin to train with real surgeons in Kharbranth. Lirin told Kal he had a gift from the Heralds and he didn’t need to waste it on the small dreams of other men.[15]

Young Kal and Tien by User: Botanicaxu

Two years later, Kal and Laral were talking atop a low ridge of boulders to the east of Hearthstone while Tien gathered rocks at the base. Kal told her of his father’s plans to send him to Kharbranth to train to become a surgeon. Hurt, Laral asked why he didn’t tell her. He lied, saying he didn’t think his father was serious. Placing her hands on her hips, Laral wondered about his previous plans to be a soldier. His expression became gloomy as he was conflicted on which path to choose, surgeon or soldier. Sensing his distress, Tien ran up to Kal with a rock that he found, giving it to Kal to make him feel better. Kal did feel better and went with Tien to find a lurg, pocketing the rock. Laral rejoined them, commenting that Tien changes Kal for the better. Once again, Laral asked Kal what he planned on doing if his father tried to send him to Kharbranth. Knowing they wouldn’t take him until he was sixteen, Kal told her that he had some time to decide. Laral said that it seemed like his father was forcing him to do what he wants, not what Kal wanted. She encouraged him to become a soldier instead, implying that he could marry her if he won a Shardblade in battle, thereby becoming a lighteyes. However, he missed the implication even though he was attracted to her and continued looking for lurgs with Tien.[16]

Later, they encountered a group of older boys, one of whom makes the claim his father won a Shardblade in the wastescum skirmishes. At Laral’s prompting, Kal contradicted him, which led to the boy, Jost, challenging Kal to a quarterstaff fight. Although it was his first time holding a weapon, his natural talent for combat manifested. However, seeing that he hurt Jost, he stops himself from fighting anymore. Jost, having no similar inhibition, beats Kal to the ground. Kal then asked Jost to teach him, but the older boy declined, telling Kal to “go be what you are.” Joined by Tien, Kal made his way home while contemplating what he wants to be. Once home, Lirin informed Kal that Citylord Wistiow had died and bequeathed a goblet full of spheres to Kal so he could study in Kharbranth.[16]

Two months later, thirteen-year-old Kal attempted to treat a five-year-old girl named Miasal on his own. Kal started treating her, but it was too late as Miasal died from blood loss due to multiple severe wounds. An hour later, his father found Kal in front of the surgery room crying to himself. Lirin told him that he is proud of Kal’s work and there was nothing he could have done to stop Miasal’s death. Kal confessed to Lirin that he doesn’t want to be a surgeon, but Lirin just answered that he would have to learn when to care.[17]

You have to learn when to care, son. And when to let go.

— Lirin to Kal after Miasal's death [17]
Kal as a child in Hearthstone by User: Sheep

Near the end of 1166, Kal was walking through the city of Hearthstone when he overheard two women claiming that his father stole the spheres from Citylord Wistiow upon his death. Gritting his teeth and knowing that was his father, Kal stepped out of the alleyway and gave one of the women a sharp look, causing both to flee inside the bakery. His satisfaction was short-lived as he didn’t understand why people said such things about his father. He was still stewing when he turned a few corners, walking to where his mother stood on a stepladder. When Hesina asked about his lessons, he blurted out that everyone hated his father and that they believed he stole the spheres from Wistiow. He also lamented that he didn’t have friends and asked what would happen if he wanted to become something other than a surgeon. Hesina reminded him that he had Tien and that he shouldn’t be so quick to discard his studies because he wanted to be like the others. She also told him not to hate the townspeople as they were just repeating what they had heard. Seeing her glance to the citylord’s manor, Kal debated whether or not he should try to see Laral again. Each time he had tried, he’d been turned away by her nurse. He wondered what it would be like marrying Laral and if he did, would he always feel inferior to her. He was still considering this fact and debating whether or not to be a surgeon or a soldier when Lirin ran in declaring the new citylord had arrived.[18]

Desperate times[edit]

Kal went with his parents to the town square to await the arrival of Citylord Roshone. Tien was already there waiting for them, having already picked out a spot near the rain barrels. As Tien ran by, some older boys made an unintelligible remark about him which made Kal furious, wanting to confront them, but knowing it wasn’t a good time. Kal joined Tien on the rain barrels so he could get a better view of the procession. A dozen wagons followed a fine black carriage that was pulled by four sleek black horses. The carriage stopped and a middle-aged man stepped out wearing a violet coat. The lighteyed man scanned the crowd with a distasteful look on his face before turning to climb back into his carriage without addressing the crowd. Before he could, Lirin called out, trying to welcome him to Hearthstone, introducing himself as the town’s surgeon. Roshone responded by blaming Lirin as the reason he ended up in “this pitiful miserable quarter of the kingdom.”[18]

Citylord Roshone’s arrival brought great misfortune to Kal’s family. Believing that Lirin had stolen the spheres from Wistiow, he coerced the townspeople to stop making donations for Lirin’s work, which was the primary source of the family’s income. While the townsfolk acquiesced, they still secretly provided provisions to Lirin and Hesina. One night while drunk, Lirin told his son not to make the same mistakes he did and get sucked back into this tiny, foolish town. Kal argued that Lirin had always told him to come back, but Lirin admitted he’d been an idiot when he said that, adding that the townspeople didn’t want him there. Kal asked him why they couldn’t just spend the spheres, but his father said the spheres were for his education. Besides, if they did spend them, they would be doing exactly what Roshone wanted them to do. Instead, they did the best with what they had with Kal continuing his studies, Hesina taking on random jobs, and Tien apprenticing with Ral, a carpenter in town. At the same time, Kal was secretly still trying to decide what path he would take in the next several months, that of a surgeon or a spearman. A series of thumps interrupted Kal’s thoughts, sending him scrambling out of his chair. His father pulled open the door revealing not a monster, but three masked men demanding the spheres. However, they weren’t the highwaymen as Kaladin initially thought, but rather Luten, Horl, and Balsas, normal townsmen presumably hired by Roshone. Ashamed and caught off guard, the men left without taking anything.[19][20]

If you’re going to confront him, then you should have someone to support you.

—Kal to his father before dinner with Roshone[20]

Half a year later, Roshone invited Lirin to the mansion for dinner. Although Lirin and Hesina tried to hide the meeting from him, Kal found out and attended, wanting to support his father if he confronted the citylord. As they rode through the city, Kal asked his father why they tried to hide the meeting. Lirin admitted that he wasn’t sure if he even wanted to attend as a part of him just wanted to take the family and flee to Kharbranth or another Alethi town. Lirin confessed that he had tried to leave once, but there was a tie between a man’s heart and his home and he couldn’t bring himself to leave. Having cared for the townspeople for so long, he couldn’t leave them in the hands of Roshone. Once they arrived, the pair were led to a dining room where Roshone was already eating. A servant gestured to a side table set up in a room off the main dining hall, but Lirin sat down at Roshone’s table insisting that he was of second nahn and surely he could have a place at his table. Not wasting any time, Roshone discussed their present situation and asked them to return the spheres, ending their defiance. When Kal responded with an outburst, Lirin sent him away to the kitchens. There, Roshone’s son, Rillir walked in with Laral, and confusing Kaladin for a servant, ordered him to fetch their supper. Kal, protesting that he wasn’t a servant, lost an argument over his calling with Rillir, leaving him humiliated. As Lirin and Kal left the mansion, the latter admitted to his father that he had been considering joining the army. However, he had resolved to becoming a surgeon so that he would have the education to stand up to the lighteyes. During their conversation, Kal saw something unfamiliar in his father’s eyes, guilt. He then realized that Lirin had indeed stolen the spheres from Wistiow, changing everything, but also changing nothing. He resolved to use the spheres for his training, but would eventually pay them back to Laral.[20]

Somebody has to start[edit]

While on a hunting trip, Roshone and Rillir were seriously injured by a whitespine and brought to Lirin’s surgery room. Kaladin and Lirin determined that Rillir’s injuries were already fatal and tended to Roshone despite his protests. They anesthetized both patients, Roshone for surgery and Rillir for mercy. During the procedure, Lirin hesitated when he discovered a piece of the whitespine’s tusk near Roshone’s femoral artery. Kaladin considered how easy it would be to fake an accident, but they continued on to save Roshone’s life as Rillir died. When Kaladin asked his father why he did not let Roshone die, Lirin answered that they have to be better men than the lighteyes.[21]

Somebody has to start. Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it is right. If nobody starts, then others cannot follow...Because, son. We have to be better than they are.

—Lirin to Kaladin [21]

A decision made[edit]

In the Weeping of 1168, Kaladin found himself increasingly hoping for the sun and the wind again, the weather making it difficult for him to get things done. One day, when Kaladin was lying on the roof during the rain after repairing a leak, Tien called up to him, wanting to join him. While Kaladin didn’t think anyone else could cheer him up, he knew Tien could because somehow he just always knew the right thing to do. At first, it was just the two of them sitting in silence. Then, Tien presented Kaladin with a gift, an intricately carved horse that he made at Ral’s shop. Kaladin asked if he showed the beautiful horse to Ral, but Tien confessed that it got him into trouble because it wasn’t useful. Not a bit discouraged, Tien said he would make him proud tomorrow by finishing a chair. Kaladin found himself amazed at his brother’s ability to smile even in the darkest of times, swearing things grew brighter around them in that moment.[11]

However, it was short-lived as Kaladin admitted his concerns about their father having to spend the spheres to not only Tien, but also his mother. Hesina promised him that there would be enough spheres for him to go to Kharbranth in two months. Kaladin suggested that perhaps the entire family should come with him, not wanting to leave them behind, especially with Roshone “strangling” them. Hesina informed Kaladin that they only spent the spheres to make Roshone think he was winning, not because they needed to. Once Kaladin left, the spheres would be safe in the hands of the ardents while he studied to become a surgeon. However, Hesina reminded him that that his life was his own and that he didn’t have to become a surgeon to make them proud. They sat for awhile, Kaladin considering her words and what Tien could possibly like about the rain, when Lirin came with news that there was a gathering in the square.[11]

Roshone assembled the townsfolk as Meridas Amaram, a general for Highprince Sadeas, had arrived in Hearthstone to recruit soldiers for the army. There, Kaladin and his family were shocked to learn that Laral was now engaged to Roshone himself after Rillir’s death. Meanwhile, since only six men had volunteered, Amaram asked Roshone to announce the list of conscripts. As citylord, Roshone was barred from from placing Lirin or Kaladin on the conscription list because they served a vital function to the town. However, Roshone placed Tien’s name on the list instead. When Kaladin tried to take his brother’s place, he was denied because the law gave the choice to Roshone alone. Left with no other option, Kaladin enlisted in the army in order to protect Tien and promised his devastated parents that he would bring Tien back safely in four years. Amaram also promised Lirin that he would make Tien a messenger boy for a while.[11]

In four years, I will bring him home safely. I promise it by the storms and the Almighty's tenth name itself. I will bring him back.

—Kaladin's promise to his parents[11]

Amaram's Army (1168–1172)[edit]

Natural talent[edit]

Kaladin received his initial training under Tukks, who taught him learned the importance of controlled passion—to be passionate and to care without losing control of his emotions—a lesson that he did not initially understand. During his training, Kaladin demonstrated a natural aptitude for being a soldier, learning the spear faster than anyone else in his cohort, barely even needing instruction, much to Tukks’ surprise.[22][23]

It’s good to care when you fight, so long as you don’t let it consume you. Don’t try to stop yourself from feeling. You’ll hate who you become.

—Tukks to Kaladin on his first day of training[22]
Kaladin after Tien’s death by User: Exmakina

Tien's Death[edit]

Despite Amaram’s promise to Lirin, the older messenger boys, including Tien, were soon organized into several squads of reserve units to make up for a shortfall in recruitment. Dalar assured Kaladin that these squads would not see combat unless the army is in serious danger. Less than four months after his enlistment, Kaladin took part in his third real battle. Amaram’s army was attempting to hold a hilltop, but as the battle deteriorated, messenger boys were assigned to Sheler's company. Hearing that the messenger squad was sent to the front, Kaladin ran recklessly through the battlefield in an attempt to reach his brother. On the southeast side of the hill, Squadleader Varth placed Tien and two other boys in the front lines, successfully using them as bait. Kaladin, killing a man for the first time during his run, reached Tien only after he had been killed. Weeping and bleeding from wounds taken during his run, he hugged Tien’s dead body until long past the end of the battle.[24]

Don't worry. I'll bring you home. I'll protect you, Tien. I'll bring you back...

— Kaladin weeping over Tien's body [24]


Kaladin sent a letter to his parents informing them of Tien’s death and his decision not to return to Hearthstone. He spent the next year driving himself to exhaustion every day on the practice yard, vowing vengeance and never letting another person die because of his lack of skill. He became the best spearman in his company and was rumored to be the best in the entire army.[12][25] He eventually met Tarah, the daughter of an assistant quartermaster, who coaxed Kaladin out of his single-mindedness, claiming it would burn him out. The two became romantically involved, but they separated soon after she was transferred to a scribe’s job in Mourn’s Vault. Kaladin blamed himself for their failed relationship, knowing that he’d been stupid not to send responses to her letters.[26][27] He later joined the Takers under Tukks' leadership. There, Kaladin met Durk, who became a mentor to him. Durk was impressed with Kaladin’s abilities, considering him a natural born soldier, an artist with a spear.[7] Unfortunately, every member of the Takers was eventually killed with Kaladin being the lone survivor. At the age of eighteen, Kaladin was promoted to squadleader, marking him the youngest one in the army and becoming known as Kaladin Stormblessed.[8]

Kaladin, Cenn, and Dallet on the battlefield by User: Exmakina

Fighting the Shardbearer[edit]

Four years later, in Ishi 1172, Kaladin fought his final battle in Amaram’s army. Prior to the battle, Kaladin met with a Squadleader Gare and two of his sergeants. Kaladin bribed Gare to transfer Cenn, a young and inexperienced soldier, to Kaladin’s own squad, whom he entrusted to his sergeant Dallet. He also bribed the surgeons to give priority to his men. While bribing the surgeons, the money pouch stuck to his hand by what Kaladin assumed to be a windspren, although it was actually his first meeting with Sylphrena. After consulting with Dallet, Kaladin went to the front lines to prepare for battle.[12]

Once the signal to march was given, Kaladin’s well-disciplined squad used non-standard tactics to avoid taking any casualties. However, the larger battle didn’t go nearly as well. When the larger body of Amaram’s forces broke, Kaladin’s squad was left in the middle of the enemy. During the chaos, Kaladin single-handedly defeated six men to save Cenn, who had been stranded alone without the rest of the squad.[3] After treating Cenn, Kaladin saw an enemy battalionlord and decided to kill him, hoping such a feat would get him transferred to the Shattered Plains, where Kaladin believed the real fight and honorable men can be found. Kaladin and two of his subsquads executed their plan flawlessly, with Kaladin himself landing the killing blow on the enemy battalionlord.[12]

Immediately after, an unknown enemy, a full Shardbearer, later revealed to be Helaran Davar,[28][29] appeared and cut through Amaram’s army, killing Cenn, Dallet, and two more of Kaladin's men. Helaran continued on to attack Amaram, whose honor guard has abandoned him. Enraged, Kaladin and his twenty remaining men chased after Helaran. Helaran killed sixteen of Kaladin’s men before Kaladin finally managed to kill him, saving Amaram’s life. Amaram and Coreb, one of Kaladin's men, urged Kaladin to claim Helaran’s Shards, as it was his right to do so by ancient tradition. However, Kaladin was disgusted by the thought of wielding the same Blade that claimed the lives of so many of his friends. Instead, Kaladin gave the Shards to Coreb and walked away.[12]


A few hours later, Kaladin was called to Amaram’s warcenter, where he met Amaram and a group of his men along with the four surviving members of his squad. After a short conversation, Amaram and his men ambushed Kaladin, killing the surviving members of Kaladin’s squad while Kaladin himself was restrained. Amaram apologized but said this was the only way to ensure secrecy. He informed Kaladin that he had thought it over for hours before finally being convinced by Restares that the best interests of Alethkar would served if he wielded the Shards himself. As an act of mercy and gratitude, Amaram spared Kaladin’s life and branded him with the “sas nahn” glyphpair to mark him as a slave to be sold.[30]

It’s not about Alethkar! It’s about you! Storm it, you’re supposed to be better than the others!

— Kaladin to Amaram after his men were struck down for the Shardplate [30]
Sas nahn and shash

Slavery (1172–1173)[edit]


Kaladin spent the next eight months under at least six different slavemasters, suffering from constant and squalid conditions. Initially, Kaladin was defiant, making ten escape attempts. Although several of them were successful, he always ended up getting re-captured. In his tenth escape attempt, he led a group of twenty armed slaves, including a man named Goshel. However, they all died, leaving Kaladin to believe he failed them. By the eighth month, Kaladin fell into despair and stopped making any escape attempts.[8][13]

Though he should have been killed for his tenth escape attempt, Kaladin’s master found him “intriguing,” and branded his forehead with the shash glyph, meaning “dangerous”, and sold him. Eventually, Kaladin was bought by Tvlakv and it was during this time that Kaladin hit his lowest point. He found and hid away some poisonous blackbane leaves, unsure of whether or not he wanted to use them to commit suicide, kill his master, or something else. Regardless, he took comfort in having options open to him. However, when a fellow slave took ill, Kaladin’s instinct to protect and heal re-emerged and Kaladin attempted to save his life. His attempts failed as Tvlakv had the slave killed in order to avoid the infection spreading.[8][31]

Sylphrena meeting Kaladin in the slave wagon by User: Sheep


It was during this time that Kaladin first noticed Sylphrena. Though she’d been following him for several months, Kaladin believed her to be nothing more than the average, albeit mischievous windspren. As Kaladin was rubbing the blackbane leaves between his fingers, Syl asked him what he had. At first, he ignored her, but not without noticing some oddities about her, such as the exceptionally long period of time that she had been following him. When she called him by name, he was shocked as he didn’t believe that spren could use people’s names. To his knowledge, spren could mimic voices or expressions, but they didn’t have actual intelligence or memory. Kaladin thought he was insane at first, but he eventually started to converse with Syl. During the course of their first conversation, Syl asked Kaladin why he didn’t fight like he used to. Kaladin continued to question how she knew both his name and what he did weeks ago. He finally confessed to her that he had failed, remembering the deaths of Tien, Cenn, Dallet, Tukks, and the Takers. After the slave took ill and Tvlakv had him killed, Syl asked Kaladin why he didn’t cry. Kaladin replied that it wouldn’t change anything and maybe she should ask the Almighty why men cry. During a storm, Syl chased after it, but eventually returned. Kaladin wondered why she didn’t go with the other windspren, but she told him she liked it there with him.[8][31]

Finding the way after all[edit]

Days passed and the wagons continued to roll on until one particular day when they didn’t stop at their usual time, leaving Kaladin to wonder why they hadn’t stopped for their afternoon slop. Well past noon, they finally rolled to a stop and Bluth and Tag joined Tvlakv. The three quickly started arguing as they held up a piece of paper. Kaladin called out, asking Tvlakv if he was lost and offered that perhaps he should seek guidance from the Almighty who had a “fondness” for slavers. Tvlakv walked over and asked Kaladin if he knew anything of the area. Kaladin requested the map and without even reading it, he ripped it into pieces, much to Tvlakv’s horror. Tvlakv called for the mercenaries, but both Bluth and Tag declined to intevene. Realizing that Kaladin was probably invaluable at that point, Tvlakv asked what the former wanted in exchange for guiding the caravan. Kaladin suggested a cliff, not for a vantage point as Tvlakv assumed, but one to throw the slaver off of.[31]

Annoyed, Tvlakv told Kaladin it was good that he was fueled by hatred because it would make him strong, but cautioned that it could keep him from getting vengeance. Kaladin countered, saying he didn’t want vengeance as he learned a long time ago it didn’t work. Tvlakv argued that Kaladin was young still and that he could escape his fate and hunt down the man who sold him into slavery, Highlord Amaram. Shocked, Kaladin asked how Tvlakv knew about Amaram, but the slaver just said men talk. Though Tvlakv knew the truth about Kaladin’s brands, he told the younger man that they both had to play the game for now to avoid an even worse fate. However, they were at crossroads because Kaladin had left the map in shreds. Kaladin admitted he had never been this way so he didn’t know where to go. As Tvlakv walked away, Kaladin cursed, realizing he almost found himself liking the slaver.[31]

The wagons continued to roll on after their exchange, even through highstorms. Well before the end of one of them, Bluth lowered the sides of the wagon, allowing the rain to soak the slaves. Kaladin argued that it was too early to be taking down the sides, but Bluth stated that Tvlakv wanted them clean today. Realizing they were probably nearing their destination, Kaladin scanned the landscape wondering where they were going. Syl returned to tell Kaladin there were many others like him nearby. As she pointed eastward, Kaladin was shocked to see the enormous army encampment he’d heard stories about, the place Tien wanted to go in the end, the army he spent years trying to get into - The Shattered Plains.[31]

Bridgeman (1173)[edit]

Bridge Four[edit]

In 1173, Tvlakv released Kaladin and the other slaves from the wagon and brought them to be inspected by Hashal, the wife of the lighteyed officer who was in charge of the slaves in Highprince Sadeas's army. Hashal was not particularly impressed with the men Tvlakv presented until her eyes found Kaladin. Despite eight months as a slave, he was still far more muscled than the others. Hashal inquired if he was a military man and Kaladin stated that he was in Amaram’s army and a citizen of second nahn. She inspected his brands, clicking her tongue at the "shash" glyph, telling him such a mark meant death. Asking how he ended up here, Kaladin told Hashal that he killed someone while drunk. Despite his mistake, Kaladin spoke of his talents with a spear and asked her give him a chance to fight again in her brightlord’s army. However, Tvlakv told Hashal not to listen to him as he was a deserter. Enraged, Kaladin reached for Tvlakv but he was knocked to the ground and then pulled back in line. Tvlakv continued by saying that Kaladin could not be trusted as he had led rebellions against his prior masters and who knows how many of the slaves he had corrupted. Hashal asked which ones and assigned those, along with Kaladin, to be bridgemen. Due to his “shash” glyph, his reputation as a deserter, and his attitude during the exchange, Kaladin was specifically sent to Bridge Four, the bridge crew with the worst reputation and casualty rate.[1]

Kaladin was placed under the command of the bridge sergeant Gaz and was immediately forced to go on a bridge run completely unprepared and unequipped. Bridge Four was sent to carry a large bridge, allowing Sadeas’s soldiers to cross the plateaus of the Shattered Plains and assault the Parshendi. Gaz ran beside Bridge Four, calling out commands during the run due to the their most recent bridgeleader tossing himself down the Honor Chasm. He sent Kaladin to the open slot at the tail of the bridge. Without a vest, the wooden supports dug into Kaladin’s skin causing his shoulders to bleed. As they ran, a nearby bridgeman offered Kaladin advice. Eventually, Gaz called them to a stop and they lifted the bridge into place, allowing the army to pass. They repeated this process, with Kaladin eventually asking why they weren’t turning around. One of the other bridgemen just chuckled and told him they weren’t there yet and to be glad they weren’t. After more than a dozen times, Gaz ordered Kaladin to the front for the final push, declaring that newcomers get to go first. Kaladin quickly realized why arriving was the worst part. The Parshendi volleys launched, killing the men around Kaladin. They eventually got the bridge dropped, but at the expense of the bridgemen, resulting in many casualties. Kaladin just collapsed, knowing he should move or at least bind his wounds, but he just couldn’t, falling unconscious instead. Kaladin was about to be left for dead by the retreating bridge crews, until Syl called out his name and urged him to move. He forced himself to his feet and asked the windspren if she had a name. As he limped through the casualties, he found the body of the leathery faced man who had been nice to him. He harvested his vest and shoes, tying them on as the windspren introduced herself as Sylphrena.[1]

Honor Chasm[edit]

Kaladin sitting by the Honor Chasm by Madison Coyne

Over next few weeks, Kaladin grew more and more depressed. Of the twenty-five men who had survived his first bridge deployment, twenty-three had died leaving only Kaladin and one other man. Bridge Four continued to be replenished, with many of those men dying to only to be replaced. They went through countless bridgeleaders, which typically was a favored position on a bridge crew, always getting to run in the best places. However, in Bridge Four, that didn’t matter. Kaladin didn’t bother to learn the names of the bridgemen as it just seemed pointless. One day, as they were working in the lumberyard, new recruits were brought in to be assigned to the bridge crews. Kaladin looked up and a young boy barely fourteen or fifteen caught his eye, reminding him of Tien. He had the same frightened eyes which immediately made Kaladin’s protective instinct kick in. However, all he could think of was how everyone he’d tried to protect ended up dead. Syl, unable to bear seeing Kaladin in such a hopeless state, decided to leave, afraid of what would happen to her if she stayed. On the next bridge run, the youth and the last man that survived Kaladin’s initial bridge run died, leaving Kaladin the senior member of Bridge Four. Faced with losing Syl, his only friend, and his inability to protect the boy, Kaladin seriously contemplated suicide. That night, he went to the Honor Chasm, intending to jump off.[32]

Before Kaladin could step off the ledge, Syl returned, excitedly carrying a leaf of blackbane with her. Syl, in her naivety, having seen Kaladin previously take heart in having the poisonous leaves with him, assumed they would make Kaladin feel better. Syl recalled how everything seemed to go wrong when he lost the leaves, how he used to fight and make his soldiers feel like family. She admitted that was one of the things that drew her to him to begin with. Kaladin just lamented that he failed, that everything he touches withers and dies. Syl pleaded with him to give it one more try, reminding him that he couldn’t hurt the bridgemen any worse. Opening his eyes, he left the chasm and resolved himself to become bridgeleader. He marched up to Gaz and seized the man by the throat, sweeping his legs out from under him. Kaladin then intimidated and bribed the man into giving him the position along with the autonomy to run Bridge Four. Entering Bridge Four’s barrack that night, Kaladin found the men all huddled inside just as he left them. Kaladin visited with each man, introducing himself as bridgeleader and learning each of their names. Later, Kaladin went to sleep with a sense of purpose in protecting the men.[14]

Kaladin confronting Gaz by Sheep

Reforming Bridge Four[edit]

The next morning, Kaladin resolved to make some changes in Bridge Four. The first of these included training early in the mornings, putting an end to the group’s sleeping in. When Moash protested, Kaladin punched him in the gut and threw him over his shoulder, taking him outside. The others, shocked and not wanting to suffer the same fate, filed out into the sunlight. As Kaladin outlined his plan, he was immediately met with resistance from his fellow bridgemen who felt chores and bridge runs were more than enough to build their endurance. Kaladin argued that his primary duty was to keep them alive and since he couldn’t do anything about Parshendi arrows, he had to make them stronger. Moash called over to Gaz and asked if they had to listen to Kaladin to which Gaz replied that the bridgeleader only had authority on the field. Moash looked back to Kaladin and told him to storm off, causing the rest of the men to leave as well. Kaladin, undeterred by the men’s resistance, went off to the lumberyard to train by himself. He eventually attracted a crowd that included Teft, Rock, Dunny, and some of the other members of Bridge Four.[33]

Before the next bridge run, Kaladin visited an apothecary to purchase some supplies so he could tend to the wounded. However, he quickly discovered that antiseptic was expensive, despite knobweed reeds growing just outside of camp. Kaladin settled on a needle and gut as well as some bandages, spending the four marks he had left from paying Gaz off. Returning to camp just as the bells sounded, Kaladin yelled for the men to line up for the next bridge run. As the men neared the Parshendi lines, Kaladin demanded to switch with Rock, taking the most dangerous center-front spot of the bridge for himself, a rarity for a bridgeleader. During the assault, Kaladin was adamant on rescuing the six who fell. He dragged Hobber and Dabbid to safety with the help of Rock. As he turned to go back out to the field, Teft and Rock stopped him, going back to check on the other three. They returned with Leyten, the only other survivor. Kaladin quickly started to work, providing medical care to the wounded men. After the long battle, they returned to camp with their three wounded in tow much to Gaz’s protests.[34]

Because bridgemen were supposed to be expendable, Kaladin was told that he could keep tending to the wounded men, but they would not be paid or fed while they were unable to work. Not wanting to give in to Brightlord Sadeas, the bridgeleader asked other members of Bridge Four to pitch in money and food to care for the men. However, all refused except for Rock. He offered to share his food with Hobber, who was the least injured of the three. Knowing it would only be a matter of time before the rotspren were attracted to the wounded, Kaladin came up with the idea of collecting knobweed stems during stone-gathering detail. With the stems, he could create the antiseptic the men desperately needed and even sell some to get more supplies and food. Gaining the trust of Rock and Teft, Kaladin enlisted their help to find and collect the knobweed during their new detail. Syl assisted as well, finding patches of knobweed and guiding Rock—who was mysteriously able to see her—to them. While working to extract the sap that night, Kaladin started building camaraderie with the two men, even managing to get Rock to open up and share some of his life story.[35][36]

Kaladin in the chasms by Rumyana Zarkova

Kaladin returned to the apothecary and made a deal for his bridge crew to gather knobweed sap in return for a skymark per bottle of sap and some bandages. Upon returning from selling the sap, Gaz sent Bridge Four to do chasm duty, recovering valuables from the war dead who had fallen into the chasms. In the chasms, Kaladin continued to build rapport with the men, bringing Dunny into the fold, who sang for the men while others hovered behind. Through their work, Kaladin came across a spear in the chasms. Picking it up and holding it drew the ire of Moash, Sigzil, and Earless Jaks, who began taunting the bridgeleader. Ignoring their gibes, Kaladin closed his eyes and went into a trance. He performed an advanced practice kata with the spear, revealing his talent as a genius spearman to the men, leaving them speechless. During the display, Teft, along with some of the other men, noticed an unknown spren—actually Syl—zipping around Kaladin. Through the rest of their chasm duty and on the walk back, more men started to open up. The night culminated in Kaladin using the money he had earned to purchase food and assigning Rock to cook a stew. Not a single person refused to partake in eating around the fire. The next day, a majority of the men followed his orders to rise out of bed and practice.[22]

Side carry[edit]

Kaladin managed to get all the men to submit to his authority and participate in training. The training cut down on their losses, but Kaladin was still unsatisfied. Realizing that the bridge itself could act as a shield, Kaladin started training the men to shift the bridge and carry it on its side. The practice was slowing going, which left Gaz pleased at the prospect of Bridge Four losing more members. Prior to the next bridge run, Kaladin gained Lopen as a member from a new batch of recruits. They were immediately sent the next run. Realizing it was going to be a difficult approach, Kaladin ordered Bridge Four to perform the side carry as they engaged the Parshendi. The side carry was a success as it completely protected Kaladin’s men. However, other bridge crews tried to emulate the side carry. Not having trained in the maneuver, the other bridge crews failed. Lacking a sufficient number of bridges to cross the chasms and with the timing of the assault desynchronized, the battle was thrown into chaos and Sadeas lost. Understanding that he’d undermined the army’s strategy, Kaladin ordered Rock and Teft to stand down and Kaladin stepped up to Gaz and Lamaril to accept his fate.[37]

The Stormfather's judgement[edit]

I want you to go back into the barrack and tell the men to come out after the storm. Tell them to look up at me tied here. Tell them I’ll open my eyes and look back at them, and they’ll know that I survived.

—Kaladin to Rock, Teft, and Moash before the highstorm [38]

As punishment for the failure, Highprince Sadeas demoted several officers and executed Lamaril, the lighteyed officer directly in charge of the bridgemen. Sadeas declined to execute Kaladin directly, but instead decided to let the Stormfather judge him. Kaladin would be freed if he could survive being tied to the side of Bridge Four’s barrack during the highstorm. Prior to the highstorm, Rock, Teft, and Moash came to see Kaladin and promised they would remember him. Kaladin asked them to tell the men to come out after the storm and they will see that he had survived. Teft gave Kaladin a dun sphere for good luck and the men retreated into the barracks as the storm approached.[39] As the storm raged and slammed into Kaladin, Syl told him to grab the roof and then the ring that his rope was attached to. He did as she said knowing that if he let go, he’d be dangling in the air again. However, the rain numbed his fingers and caused him to slip, flapping in the air again. As he hit the roof, everything went black and silent. During the darkness, Kaladin met the Stormfather in the form of a gigantic, inhuman, smile face. Immediately after, Kaladin’s Surgebinding abilities manifested and he drew upon Stormlight from the glowing blue sphere before falling unconscious.[38]

Kaladin Stormblessed[edit]

After the highstorm, the bridgemen followed Rock and Teft to go check on Kaladin. The bridgeleader hung by his ankles, his skin sliced in a hundred places. Just as the men gathered around him horrified, Kaladin’s eyes snapped open. His hand dropped the sphere that had been given to him, now dun, shocking Teft who knew the sphere should be infused. Wanting answers, he told Kaladin he better survive and the men rushed to cut him down. They cared for him and posted a constant guard by his bed. His injuries were severe, even attracting Deathspren. While recovering, Teft brought three infused spheres telling Kaladin he couldn’t leave them. He watched as Kaladin unconsciously consumed the Stormlight, causing Teft to suspect he may be a member of the Knights Radiant. Ten days later, Kaladin made a miraculous recovery and his men, never having known of his previous army service, revived the name Kaladin Stormblessed.[6][40]

Transforming Bridge Four into spearmen[edit]

After his recovery, Kaladin accompanied Bridge Four on their next bridge run. Once they dropped the bridge, Kaladin watched the battle raging on the next plateau alongside Rock and Sigzil. The latter asked why the bridgemen weren’t allowed to use shields during runs. Rock suggested that shields would slow them down, but Kaladin realized it was because they were bait.[40] Kaladin slipped into despair as he realized there was no hope for his men. Things were compounded the next day when Kaladin met Matal, their new commander, and was re-acquainted with his wife, Hashal. She informed Kaladin that her husband would not run the bridge crews with the same laxness as his predecessor. Hashal then permanently assigned Bridge Four to chasm duty. Given the new orders and knowing their place as bait, Kaladin realized that further training as bridgemen would be a futile endeavor. Instead, he proposed training the men to become spearmen in order to escape, which his men accepted.[13]

During a highstorm, Kaladin dreamed he was the storm, traveling east to west, seeing the ground from the perspective of the storm itself. He passed over the Shattered Plains, the Sea of Spears, Kholinar, the Horneater Peaks, and countless other cities and villages. His path crossed Szeth’s in the middle of an assassination. Finally, he met the Stormfather once again, who left with with a cryptic message regarding the Oathpact being shattered and Odium reigning. Kaladin gasped awake to find himself being restrained. He attacked his “assailants,” but quickly realized they were just members of Bridge Four. They told him he had been in a fever dream and that he tried to walk out into the highstorm. Shaking off his vision, Kaladin went to clean up, even letting Rock give him a shave. Later that day, Bridge Four was given a new recruit, a parshman that Kaladin named Shen. Kaladin found himself walking around Sadeas’ warcamp an hour later, still worried about his dream. He asked Syl if she knew anything about Odium, which caused her to hiss and flee immediately to a nearby building. Before he could ask why the word set her off, Kaladin heard a series of curses behind him. Turning, Kaladin witnessed Adolin Kholin saving a prostitute from being beaten by a lighteyed officer. Choosing to escort the prostitute to the border, Adolin threw an emerald chip to Kaladin and told him to deliver a message that he couldn’t make his meeting and would reschedule. Kaladin took the money, but didn’t deliver the message due to his disdain of Adolin’s attitude and lighteyes in general. Syl returned, but was distressed at Kaladin’s increasingly dark attitude concerning lighteyes and his breach of the implicit agreement to do as Adolin asked.[7]

During their chasm duty detail, Kaladin secretly began training Bridge Four, which had now dwindled to twenty-four members, as spearmen. To assist with the training, Kaladin tricked Teft into revealing that he had been a soldier and appointed him to oversee the men. To maintain their cover of working in the chasms, he assigned Lopen, Rock, Dabbid, and Shen to do the actual salvage work with Syl’s assistance. Kaladin was impressed at the men’s progress after only a few hours and remarked that thanks to their adverse conditions, they were ironically the most motivated and fit recruits he had ever seen.[23]

In one of the next bridge runs, Dunny was killed. Frustrated, Kaladin began rescuing members from other bridge crews, commanding his men to carry them back to the barracks despite barely having enough resources to care for his own men. Kaladin’s actions coupled with the fact that the arrows seemed to dodge him when he ran point further raised Teft’s suspicions about the bridgeleader being a Knight Radiant.[41] During chasm duty a week after Dunny’s passing, Bridge Four found slightly more than an emerald broam’s worth of money, including an actual emerald broam. With the money, they realized they could not only feed and care for the wounded bridgemen, but they could also advance their escape plan. Kaladin decided to turn over the emerald broam—an amount of money that no bridgeman could ever safely spend—but kept the rest. Rock, though an avowed pacifist, took up a bow and attached the pouch to the underside of one of the permanent bridges using an arrow. Lopen covertly retrieved the money during their next bridge runs and turned the money over to Kaladin.[42][43]

Discovery of Surgebinding powers[edit]

In one of the next runs, Bridge Four dropped to just twenty-six members when both Maps and Arik died. Kaladin struggled to deal with their deaths, worried that soon he’d be the only one left. The rest of Bridge Four also appeared anxious as they fell in with their bridgeleader. Returning to camp, Kaladin dismissed the men, who in turn gave him a salute that Teft taught them. Teft lingered, allowing the bridgeleader to look at his arm. Under the ruse, Teft punched Kaladin, forcing him to unconsciously use his powers to defend himself. Kaladin demanded to know what Teft was doing, who just replied that he was testing something. Before either man could discuss it further, Lopen pointed out that Kaladin was glowing. Grabbing Teft, Kaladin demanded to know what he’d done to him. Teft denied doing anything, pointing out that Kaladin had been feeding off Stormlight since he’d been sick. Seeing Syl out of the corner of his eye, Kaladin confronted the spren about his powers. Realizing they come from the Knights Radiant, Kaladin grew scared and wanted to be rid of them. Syl questioned why he’d want to be rid of something of the Windrunners. Kaladin wondered if he was cursed, which caused Syl to run away. When Lopen and Teft found him, Kaladin fled, overwhelmed at his new discovery.[43]

Wit telling Kaladin the story of Wandersail by Ryland Malcolm

That night, Kaladin came across Hoid, who told him the story of Derethil and the Wandersail, a story that Kaladin interpreted as one about taking responsibility. Before Hoid left, he gave Kaladin a Trailman's flute and charged him with looking after his apprentice, Sigzil, who he now graduated to a full Worldsinger. Syl, who was present for the story, returned to Kaladin and explained she was behind what was happening to him. Syl offered to cut off their bond, but it would leave them both crippled. However, Kaladin decided to accept the responsibility that Surgebinding represented and use the power to help others.[43]

Kaladin spent the next week trying to learn how to use his Surgebinding powers with Teft’s help with little to no success while Bridge Four continued to train under Rock’s leadership. While trying to learn Surgebinding, Teft told Kaladin what he knew of the Knights Radiant, teaching him the First Ideal of the Immortal Words.[44]

Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination

— First Ideal of the Knights Radiant

Their training was interrupted when Hashal came to visit. She informed Kaladin that Bridge Four would now go on every bridge run, citing they were a “model” for the other crews. They would no longer get the normal break between runs, a further reprisal for the side carry incident, and would now do chasm duty at night. Responding to the increased danger this change brought, Kaladin came up with a plan to use the skins of dead Parshendi found in the chasms as armor. In order to bring the armor out of the chasms, Kaladin successfully managed to use his powers to run up a wall and attach the armor to the underside of the permanent bridge they originally used to hide the spheres.[44]

During one of the next bridge runs, Kaladin donned the carapace armor and ran ahead of the bridge crews, drawing the attention of the Parshendi. The desecration of a Parshendi corpse enraged the warriors who focused all of their efforts on Kaladin, ignoring everyone else on the battlefield. Drawing in Stormlight, Kaladin dodged arrows, his muscles reacting quickly. As Bridge Four came into range, an arrow cut open Kaladin’s arm, but to his surprise, it began to seal up instead of bleed. Continuing to serve as a distraction, Kaladin’s Surgebinding abilities protected him and the bridge crews from any harm, marking his plan a resounding success. While Bridge Four was resting and watching Kaladin treat a Thaylen man, a group of Parshendi soldiers attempted to ambush them. However, Dalinar Kholin came to their rescue and saluted them as he left. Given the success of the carapace armor, Matal gave Kaladin permission to outfit all of Bridge Four in the armor, with his wife Hashal claiming it was her idea the entire time. He set Leyten, an apprentice armorer, to work on making the sets of carapace armor with the help of the wounded men. Meanwhile, the spearmen’s training advanced rapidly, with Moash and Skar emerging as the most skilled.[45][25]

Kaladin charging the Parshendi by Pam Hage

Battle of the Tower[edit]

Ten days later, on Tanatashev 1173, Bridge Four participated in the Battle of the Tower, where the combined armies of Highprinces Sadeas and Dalinar assaulted the Tower. By this time, they had not only perfected using the carapace armor and large wooden shields, but they had made enough sets to outfit the entire unit. Kaladin led the charge, staying in front of the other decoys, trying to distract the Parshendi forces as best he could. However, his efforts weren’t as successful as the first time he donned the armor. Five bridge crews dropped, slaughtered right where they ran. While Bridge Four fared better, they didn’t arrive unscathed. Skar and Teft both suffered injuries, which Kaladin tended to once they reached the Tower. Once Kaladin finished, he surveyed the battlefield and to his surprise, Sadeas was retreating. At first, he thought something must be wrong, but then he quickly realized that Sadeas had set up a trap, abandoning Dalinar and his men on the Tower with no means of escape.[46][47][48]

Bridge Four retreated with the rest of Sadeas’ army, lagging behind so they could carry their wounded. As Kaladin carried the bridge, he had the idea of using the battle to escape, allowing the army to think that his men had been killed. Once Matal agreed to leave them behind, Kaladin explained the details of the escape to the men and offered to stay behind with the wounded men. Bridge Four protested, but Kaladin commanded them to stick to the plan. However, there was more than just the wounded men plaguing him. Looking back to the Tower, he watched as Dalinar and his men continued fighting. The men of Bridge Four asked if there was anything they could do, but Kaladin refused, claiming it would be suicide. Syl, who had taken up the form of a full-sized person, spoke up and revealed that she remembered being an honorspren, a spirit of oaths, promises, and nobility. After a moment of internal conflict, Kaladin ordered his men to turn around and head back towards Dalinar’s army.[24]

Kaladin led Bridge Four as they charged the plateau in hopes of giving Dalinar’s army a chance to escape. He was filled with one purpose only and that was to protect. He ran ahead, dodging arrows, but he quickly realized something was wrong. Syl drew his attention back to Bridge Four and the many arrows pointed at their unshielded flank. He ordered them into side carry position to deflect the arrows, something they hadn’t done in weeks. Reaching his crew, he turned just in time to see more archers behind them drawing for a large volley. He screamed and threw every bit of Stormlight he could into his shield, pulling over a hundred arrows into it. Seeing what Kaladin had done, both groups of Parshendi that had released volleys turned and fled. Knowing that Kaladin was in no condition to run the bridge, Moash led the rest of the men onwards to help Dalinar. Kaladin crawled to the edge of the chasm and asked Syl if she could help make him stronger, who shook her head. As he listened to the sounds of war and death around him, he was transported back to the most horrible of days, the day Tien died. When he snapped out of his trance, Syl asked him if he knew the Words. Wanting to save his men, Kaladin took up a spear and spoke the Second Ideal of the Windrunners, progressing his path to becoming a member of the Knights Radiant.[24]

I will protect those who cannot protect themselves

— Second Ideal of the Windrunners
Kaladin jumping over a chasm and onto the Tower to save Dalinar and his army by Grant M. Hansen

Kaladin fought with amazing prowess, his natural talents enhanced to unnatural levels by Stormlight. He single-handedly engaged and defeated dozens of Parshendi. Kaladin and his men held the bridge until Dalinar’s soldiers were able to fight their way to them. During the brief respite, the bridgeleader checked on his men, learning they had suffered three casualties and several injuries. Kaladin organized the retreat, putting Teft in charge of the bridgemen and keeping Moash by his side. Upon closer inspection of the Alethi soldiers, Kaladin realized that neither Highprince Dalinar nor Adolin were with them. Heading back to the front lines, Kaladin found the Cobalt Guard, the group sworn to protect Adolin, still fighting. Knowing they wouldn’t leave without their highprince, Kaladin searched for Adolin and ordered him to retreat. However, Adolin refused to leave without his father. Kaladin convinced him to go with Moash while he went to retrieve Dalinar. He leapt over the chasm to where Dalinar was fighting with Eshonai, both of whom were utilizing a full set of Shards. Fighting a Shardbearer for a second time, Kaladin rescued Dalinar and retreated with what remained of his army. Dalinar commended Kaladin for his actions and promised that he would ensure their safety from Sadeas.[49]

A promise kept[edit]

When they arrived back at the warcamps, Kaladin and the rest of Bridge Four accompanied Dalinar to confront Sadeas. Dalinar offered to pay an exorbitant sum of money, sixty emerald broams each, for the freedom of the bridgemen, but Sadeas refused. Finally, Dalinar offered his Shardblade Oathbringer in exchange for the men, which proved to be an offer Sadeas couldn’t refuse. With the deal made, Dalinar walked up to a shocked Kaladin and instructed him to gather the men he left behind and return to his warcamp. Later that night, Dalinar offered to make the bridgemen soldiers in his army, with Bridge Four becoming his personal guard. Kaladin accepted an appointment to the rank of captain, agreeing after Dalinar promised him an extraordinary amount of authority and autonomy for a darkeyes.[50][9]

Kholin's Bodyguard (1173—)[edit]

by Exmakina
Kaladin wearing his Captain's uniform.

Rebuilding the army[edit]

After the massive casualties at the Battle of the Tower, Kaladin was tasked with turning the remaining bridgemen into a standing army. He promoted Teft, Moash, Skar, Rock and Sigzil to lieutenants, a rank between captain and sergeant, to form a command structure for a thousand men. More specifically, Kaladin named Rock quartermaster, with Lopen as his second, and appointed Sigzil to be their clerk as he was the only one who could read glyphs. He put Teft in charge of training, suggesting that he combine the remaining bridgemen into twenty crews and train two members in each to go back and train the others. Kaladin promised a few men to assist Teft, but explained that would have to do as most of Bridge Four, including Moash and Skar, would be needed to keep Dalinar alive. Without the highprince, Kaladin feared that the bridgemen would just be sold back to Sadeas by his successor. With word spreading that the emperor of Azir was dead at the hands of the Assassin in White, Kaladin reminded Teft that the assassin had already killed Gavilar and they just had to hope he was done. Regardless, they had to protect Dalinar at all costs.[51]

Freedom, Bridge Four[edit]

Once in agreement, they rounded up the rest of the men in Bridge Four and went to get their slave brands covered with tattoos. Hobber sat down first, with each man following, receiving tattoos that said “Freedom, Bridge Four.” Sitting down last, Kaladin closed his eyes and waited for the tattooist to finish. She cursed, revealing that the tattoo ink wouldn’t take. Kaladin sighed, realizing he was unconsciously holding Stormlight in his veins. He banished the Stormlight and she tried again, the ink taking this time. He looked in the mirror, seeing his slave brands covered up for a moment. Syl landed on his shoulder and he unconsciously sucked in Stormlight which melted the tattoo. The tattooist cursed again and picked up her rag, preparing to try again. However, Kaladin insisted that it was fine and tossed a small bag of spheres to the tattooist.[51]

The scars haven’t finished with me yet, it appears. I’ll try again another time.

— Kaladin to the rest of Bridge Four when his tattoo melted away[51]

Upon Bridge Four’s return to the barracks, Rind was waiting for them with their new Cobalt Guard uniforms. While the men eagerly tried on their uniforms, Teft hesitated, unsure if he deserved to wear something like this again. Kaladin objected, saying the uniform was what he was and not to let the slave rule him. Teft countered, asking Kaladin when he was going to admit he was doing the same thing. Teft tried to convince him that he needed to show Dalinar that he was a Surgebinder and a lighteyes. However, Kaladin confessed that he had everything taken away from him by the lighteyes and for now, he couldn’t let them take this too. Dropping the subject, Teft put on his uniform and joined the others. With the uniforms sorted out, the men cut off the insignia of the Cobalt Guard, declaring themselves Bridge Four.[51]

Becoming what Dalinar needs[edit]

Kaladin set up rotations to protect Dalinar, always assigning himself, Moash, or Skar for the Blackthorn. After a small council, Dalinar wished for Kaladin and his best men to take on more duties extending to protecting Navani, his sons and eventually King Elhokar himself. Dalinar confessed that there may have already been an attempt on the king’s life when the gemstones on his Shardplate seemed to be sabotaged. Unsure of who to trust, Dalinar asked Kaladin to familiarize himself with how the King’s Guard works and to learn from them. Once their training was complete, Kaladin would be in charge of a new group guarding the king consisting of some of the old King’s Guard and Kaladin’s own men. Kaladin worried that his men were stretched thin, but Dalinar said he was not alone in that problem.[52][53]

During a trip to the chasms, Kaladin asked Syl what she thought about Dalinar’s plan to reform the Knights Radiant. She exclaimed that not only was it a wonderful idea, but she was jealous that he thought of it first. He then asked her if a spren could be writing the glyphs on the wall. While she didn’t know, Syl admitted that she had seen a spren like red lightning, a dangerous spren. Kaladin asked Syl if there were more like him. Though she expected the question, she didn’t answer him at first. She eventually told him that there were others like him as spren, those she didn’t know, tried to reclaim what was lost. Syl goes on to say that Kaladin has to become what Dalinar is looking for and not to make him search in vain.[54]

While in the chasms, Sigzil conducted some baseline tests of Kaladin’s Surgebinding abilities with Rock and Lopen’s assistance. They had to rely on counting as Sigzil didn’t have a proper clock to time Kaladin, nor did he even know how to measure Stormlight. Kaladin suggested that they use chips since they were weighed before being encased in glass. However, Sigzil worried that he was wasting Kaladin’s time as there was still so much about Stormlight that they didn’t know. Lopen reassured him that it wasn’t a waste and asked if Kaladin could stick him to the wall. Able to do so, Rock commented that this skill could be very useful in battle. They continued to experiment further with his new abilities, the others taking up spears to test him. Just like with his spear, Kaladin knew these new abilities would take lots of practice. This meant Kaladin would have to find a new person like himself to spar with. Calling it a day, the men returned to the warcamp and to the news that a hero had come to the Shattered Plains. Kaladin’s heart became ice when he heard the hero was none other than Highlord Amaram, the man who stole Kaladin’s Shardblade and branded him a slave.[55]


Seven days after Amaram’s arrival, Kaladin went with Moash, Drehy, and five other men to the sparring grounds to guard the Kholin sons. The ardent asked what kinds of danger Kaladin expected, but after a word from him, she acquiesced and accommodated the men. Kaladin pointed out watch locations for the men, but Moash hung back asking Kaladin about Amaram. Kaladin admitted to being in his army and it being the last place he fought before becoming a slave. Moash promised him that they would take down Sadeas, Amaram, and any others that had wronged them. As Kaladin walked the practice grounds, Syl asked Kaladin if he wanted to talk about the situation with Dalinar and Amaram. Kaladin declined, knowing that Dalinar would not believe him if he spoke out against a lighteyes and the highprince’s friend. Instead, he walked to meet Adolin and Renarin, telling them they would watch the area, much to Adolin’s dismay. As Syl and Kaladin talked about the origin of Shards, the latter noticed a man moving in the shadows. Kaladin engaged the man who introduced himself as Zahel. Unbeknownst to Kaladin, Zahel was the swordmaster who taught Adolin, Renarin, and other lighteyes.[56]

Zahel tried to convince Kaladin to train under him so that he could learn how to fight Shardbearers, arguing that his battlefield training wouldn’t be enough. Kaladin declined, not wanting to be associated with Shardblades. Zahel implored him to reconsider, challenging Kaladin to spar, telling the latter to convince him to leave him alone. Zahel dropped the blade and slammed Kaladin to the ground with his fists. Getting back to his feet, Kaladin assumed a defensive stance, thinking at some point, Zahel would get tired. The swordmaster told Kaladin that if he was wearing Plate, he wouldn’t tire. Kaladin countered that if that was the case, he would use a different tactic. Zahel told him that if this really was an assassination attempt, he would use a different tactic, too. With that, Zahel charged Renarin, causing Kaladin to dash towards the prince. The swordmaster stopped, spinning to swing at Kaladin, eventually taking him to the ground, defeating him. Zahel asked Kaladin what would have happened if there were two assassins. Adolin agreed, causing Kaladin to charge him. The highprince soundly defeated Kaladin, leaving him with more than just physical bruises. Zahel chastised Adolin, sending him to help Renarin. Leaning down to Kaladin, Zahel told him he had tenacity, citing that he must have fought Shardbearers before since he didn’t flinch when the blade came toward him. Ultimately, Zahel said he wouldn’t force Kaladin to learn under him, but that the captain hardly knew what he was doing against Shardbearers. Once alone, Kaladin questioned Syl on what happened, explaining that the Stormlight just left him. Syl asked him who he was protecting. He didn’t know as he walked over to check on Moash, drawing in Stormlight to heal his shoulder and bruises.[57]

Attributes and Abilities[edit]




Notable Art and Images[edit]


  1. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 6 #
  2. The Way of Kings prologue #
  3. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 1 #
  4. a b Words of Radiance chapter 87 #
  5. /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-15#
  6. a b The Way of Kings chapter 38 #
  7. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 46 #
  8. a b c d e f The Way of Kings chapter 2 #
  9. a b The Way of Kings chapter 73 #
  10. Words of Radiance chapter 75 #
  11. a b c d e The Way of Kings chapter 44 #
  12. a b c d e The Way of Kings chapter 47 #
  13. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 43 #
  14. a b The Way of Kings chapter 11 #
  15. a b The Way of Kings chapter 10 #
  16. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 16 #
  17. a b The Way of Kings chapter 20 #
  18. a b The Way of Kings chapter 25 #
  19. The Way of Kings chapter 31 #
  20. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 37 #
  21. a b The Way of Kings chapter 41 #
  22. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 27 #
  23. a b The Way of Kings chapter 49 #
  24. a b c d The Way of Kings chapter 67 #
  25. a b The Way of Kings chapter 63 #
  26. Words of Radiance chapter 68 #
  27. Oathbringer chapter 112 #
  28. Words of Radiance chapter 52 #
  29. Words of Radiance chapter 73 #
  30. a b The Way of Kings chapter 51 #
  31. a b c d e The Way of Kings chapter 4 #
  32. The Way of Kings chapter 9 #
  33. The Way of Kings chapter 14 #
  34. The Way of Kings chapter 17 #
  35. The Way of Kings chapter 21 #
  36. The Way of Kings chapter 23 #
  37. The Way of Kings chapter 32 #
  38. a b The Way of Kings chapter 35 #
  39. The Way of Kings chapter 34 #
  40. a b The Way of Kings chapter 40 #
  41. The Way of Kings chapter 53 #
  42. The Way of Kings chapter 55 #
  43. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 57 #
  44. a b The Way of Kings chapter 59 #
  45. The Way of Kings chapter 62 #
  46. The Way of Kings chapter 64 #
  47. The Way of Kings chapter 65 #
  48. The Way of Kings chapter 66 #
  49. The Way of Kings chapter 68 #
  50. The Way of Kings chapter 69 #
  51. a b c d Words of Radiance chapter 2 #
  52. Words of Radiance chapter 4 #
  53. Words of Radiance chapter 5 #
  54. Words of Radiance chapter 9 #
  55. Words of Radiance chapter 12 #
  56. Words of Radiance chapter 16 #
  57. Words of Radiance chapter 18 #