Hoid is a recurring character in the cosmere. He has appeared in almost every cosmere novel, short story, and novella which takes place in that universe.
Hoid was involved in the events taking place before any of the cosmere's published books begin and is the second oldest character seen so far. He was originally human, but has changed enough that when asked, Brandon only says "It's complicated." Hoid is not a Shard, nor is he a Herald, but something else entirely. He is very skilled with disguises, and the overtness of his involvement varies from book to book. In some, he is named outright and makes references to other events and places in the cosmere, while in others he is seen only deep in disguise, almost unrecognizable. Brandon has confirmed that all of these appearances are the same individual, but that he worldhops between planets. Hoid's motives are unknown, and most of his actions occur behind the scenes.
His particular style of storytelling in which he manipulates sand or smoke to illustrate his stories, as in Warbreaker and The Way of Kings, does not originate from White Sand, but from another unpublished story, The Liar of Partinel. In Warbreaker, Siri asked Hoid where he learned his style of story telling. Hoid answered, “I learned it many, many years ago from a man who didn’t know who he was, Your Majesty. It was a distant place where two lands meet and gods have died. But that is unimportant.” His origin will be revealed in the Dragonsteel series, and so it is commonly believed Hoid is from Yolen, the world of Dragonsteel and Liar. He also has a "home base" somewhere in the cosmere.
Hoid is neither the author of the Ars Arcana, nor of the back-of-book blurb for Words of Radiance. He occasionally will show up somewhere, stand around for a while, realize there isn't a novel-worthy plot going on, and leave.
- 1 History
- 2 Appearance & Personality
- 3 Abilities
- 4 Storytelling Method
- 5 Known Pseudonyms
- 6 Speculation
- 7 Quotes
- 8 Trivia
- 9 Notes
Very little of Hoid's origin is known beyond the fact that he was present at the Shattering of Adonalsium. He knew the original Vessels personally, was friends with Rayse, and Tanavast once bought him a drink. His appearances are listed below, organized by book series and not necessarily in chronological order. He makes no appearance in Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell.
Sel (Elantris & The Emperor's Soul)
- Elantris - Disguised as a beggar, he helps Sarene smuggle weapons into Elantris. He also tries to become an Elantrian, but fails in the end.
- The Emperor's Soul - As the Imperial Fool for the Rose Empire, he betrays Shai, resulting in her capture and imprisonment.
- The Final Empire - He acts as Kelsier's informant in Luthadel.
- Mistborn: Secret History - Kelsier encounters Hoid at the Well of Ascension while in the Cognitive Realm. When Kelsier asks Hoid who he is, Hoid gives several descriptions of himself including "a Drifter" which is the name Kelsier uses for him. Kelsier punches Hoid, but Hoid easily overpowers him and uses the Well of Ascension to enter the Physical Realm where he takes a piece of metal After his altercation with Hoid, Kelsier relates what happened to Leras who refers to Hoid as "Cephandrius" and calls him an "old friend."
- The Well of Ascension - He spent much of his time in the Terris Dominance, where he was wrapped up in things he didn't anticipate. Elend and Spook encounter him on their way back to Luthadel as the unnamed leader of the Terris refugees who fled the Inquisitor attack on Tathingdwen.
- The Hero of Ages - Hoid again acts as an informant, this time in Fadrex City. On the advice of Ashweather Cett, Vin goes to Hoid for information, but feels uneasy about the meeting and decides not to speak to him.
- Alloy of Law - At the wedding of Lord Joshin Yomen and Lady Mi'chelle Ostlin, Hoid is seen speaking to them, once again dressed as a beggar.
- Shadows of Self - Hoid acts as the new coach driver for Waxillium Ladrian.
- The Bands of Mourning - In The New Ascendancy broadsheet story 'Nicki Savage, Paranatural Detective in... the Unknown Constructs of Antiquity,' a young white-haired man is mentioned as wanting to tell Savage a story.
- The Bands of Mourning - Hoid appears as a beggar and gives Wax a strange coin. When asked why he is on the grounds of Kelesina's mansion, he states he "owns the place, technically."
- Hoid is slated to play a major part in the forthcoming sci-fi Mistborn trilogy.
- Warbreaker - Lightsong summons him to the Court of the Gods, where he recounts the story of Vo, explains the origin of the Hallandren God Kings, and answers Lightsong and Siri's questions. He likely achieved perfect pitch while on this world by obtaining additional Breaths. Perfect pitch is later confirmed as something Hoid had attained.
Roshar (The Stormlight Archive)
”I've come to your land to chase an old acquaintance, but I end up spending most of my time hiding from him instead.
- Hoid has visited Roshar prior to the Way of Kings.
In a departure from his previous appearances, Hoid plays a more conspicuous role in the events on Roshar. Most often seen under the guise of Wit, Elhokar Kholin's court jester, he influences Dalinar, going so far as to ask Dalinar if he has ever heard the term "Adonalsium". He also tells Kaladin the story of Derethil and the Wandersail. During the course of the story, Hoid uses a special, ancient flute called a Trailman's flute. It is also likely that he uses Lightweaving to cause the smoke from the fire to take the form of various elements from his story. In the first Interlude, Ishikk talks with three men from the Seventeenth Shard who had paid him to search for Hoid in the Purelake. These three men are Galladon, Demoux, and Baon. He appears again towards the end of the book as Taln arrives in Kholinar.
Hoid again in this plays his minor role as Wit, though he is absent for most of the book. In Shallan's flashback to three and a half years ago, she meets Hoid disguised as a messenger, and he talks to her. Rock also describes an encounter with him in the Horneater Oceans and calls him Lunu'anaki, the god of travel and mischief who cannot hurt man.
Hoid is also seen acting as the carriage driver for Adolin when he is visiting Shallan at Sebarial's warcamp. He speaks to Kaladin about his flute and mentions that he wants an interesting story from him. When Shallan recognizes him she happily hugs him for his advice from three and a half years prior when he encouraged her at her worst and told her to keep seeking the light.
Hoid, acting as Wit, visits Kaladin while he is in prison. He tells Kaladin the story of a man named Fleet who raced a highstorm across one end of Roshar to the other. Fleet wins, but dies of exhaustion at the end, and his spirit goes on to race the wind forever.
The three letters in part two of Oathbringer are directed at Cephandrius. The first two explicity says this, but the third one just says friend, however it is likely that they are all referring to the same person.
Hoid appears as Wit in the middle of the novel, discussing the nature of power with Shallan. He later helps her get into the Cult of Moments, and finds Shallan at her darkest moment when she discovers the food she has been giving to the poor is just making things worse.
Ash comments why is Midius giving away pictures of them when she sees the drawings of Talenel and Shalash. Midius is a name Hoid is refereed to as in an unpublished work and it is probable that Ash is referring to Hoid in that instance. If the drawings are from Hoid he probably gave Jasnah the drawings after meeting her upon her return from Shadesmar before he headed to Kholinar  Hoid is shown insulting a person who does not speak alethi in an attempt to get a reaction from the man. upon realizing that he can't understand alethi Hoid decides repeating it all in Thaylen would be boring so he cuts in front of the man. The man hits him and Hoid removes a loose tooth as he leaves the area, discarding the tooth. Hoid then awakens a doll to convince a little girl to leave the corpse of her mother, and after giving the child into the care of a family he heads to the palace where he also acquires a Cryptic, presumably the spren Elhokar was about to bond before he died.
In the epigraphs in Part 2 of The Way of Kings, there is the text of a letter. Both its author and recipient are unknown. This letter refers to Vessels by their names and begs the recipient for aid in the struggle against Rayse, holder of the Shard Odium. If Hoid wrote this letter, it offers valuable insights into his personality and goals. The author of the Letter is being hunted by the Seventeenth Shard and has set a false trail for them to follow, which lines up well with the interlude in which three men are searching for Hoid. Brandon has also said that we "may have read that Hoid has specific beef with Rayse," with the Letter being the only real example of this.
Appearance & Personality
Hoid's appearance varies dramatically from book to book. He's often in disguise, which makes his true appearance difficult to ascertain. Couple this with the fact that he can most likely Lightweave his appearance in order to look however he wants, it makes it nearly impossible to know for sure what he looks like. To the best of our knowledge, his face is lined, hawk-like and arrow shaped. Hoid is tall and thin and also has a sharp nose and jaw with delicate eyebrows. He tends to cock his head to one side and has keen blue eyes. Hoid's hair is white, although he occasionally dyes it.
Hoid's true personality, while also usually disguised, is more easily seen as he occasionally drops whatever part he is playing. One of his overall most noticeable traits is his sharp wit and intelligence. The characters he plays often have a penchant for jokes and mockery but when he removes the facade his personality often seems mysterious and grave.
Hoid cannot easily kill people "because of certain things in his past." Rock says he cannot hurt man because it is forbidden by other gods. He also tells a young Shallan, "You needn't fear me. I'm terribly ineffective at hurting people. I blame my upbringing." Hoid apologizes to Kelsier after beating him in a fight, stating he doesn't have the inclination to do real harm to him.
On Roshar as King Elhokar's wit he was described as
”Tall and thin, the King’s Wit rode easily on a black gelding. He wore a stiff black coat and black trousers, a color matched by his deep onyx hair. Though he wore a long, thin sword tied to his waist, as far as Adolin knew, the man had never drawn it. A dueling foil rather than a military blade, it was mostly symbolic.— 
The blade is not magically invested but has personal value to Hoid.
Hoid does not yet have the abilities of every planet he's visited. Some of his powers predate the Shattering, but none of them are gained through Hemalurgy. When asked about how many types of magic he can use, Brandon has pointed out that they are all really part of the same system so it's difficult to count, but he wouldn't say that Hoid knows 'hundreds' of varieties of magic.
Hoid can change his appearance using an unknown power.
Possible illusion magic from Yolen. This allows him to create images of anything he likes, and even possibly change how he looks to others. This is the presumed power that Hoid uses when telling stories in his various disguises.
Hoid is very good at manipulating Shadesmar. He can travel to any world he likes, and can even use this ability to move swiftly around a single planet and to get to otherwise inaccessible areas, like the Well of Ascension. However according to Rock when he encountered Hoid he had to ask Rock what time it was in the Horneater calendar, which may mean that while he is very good at getting around places he does not always know when he will arrive on a planet (locally speaking) or that his worldhopping is imprecise in terms of the time it takes for him to travel somewhere.
Extremely long life and time dilation
Hoid is far older than any human could really live. He also hasn't lived through all those years. He can move swiftly forward in time, but has not yet traveled backwards in time.
Hoid is able to regenerate body parts and even heal his soul if it is severed. He is unafraid of Jasnah's Shardblade saying, "I'd be surprised if that little knife of yours poses me any real threat ...." Sanderson has also said that Hoid would do well in a fight between all his protagonists because he is "really, really, really hard to kill." Hoid comments about his healing being repressed for a few days before his tooth grew back.
Hoid retrieved and may have ingested a bead of Lerasium from the Well of Ascension so that he could become an allomancer. He does appear to consume metal in Shallan's flashback the same way an Allomancer would. Brandon also said that he did it to make people act a certain way, implying that he was burning brass or zinc.
Hoid likely has additional Breath, something that a scene in Words of Radiance seems to confirm, as he mentions how playing and tuning an instrument was easier now with "perfect pitch" - something granted to those with the Second Heightening (at least 200 breaths). He Awakens a doll prior to leaving Kholinar.
In Warbreaker, Lightsong calls Hoid to tell the story of Hallandren history to him and Siri. As he told the story, he dropped sands, dusts, and small objects. As he told the story he began by trailing sand out of his hand, then he added a powdery black sand, when both trails mixed it became a white sand. He began to scatter fern leaves and then threw the handful up with blue and deep red dust making it seem like a minor explosion. He sprinkled silver glitter in front of him, then trailed powdery brown dirt. Black dust, and then flower petals. He then sent out a spray of half a dozen colors from both hands. Then bright yellow dust from one hand and black from the other. Torn writing on paper, followed by metal bits, black charcoal dust from both hands, he crumbled clay, sprinkled golden dust around, bits of grass and earth, a white powder and then a spray of water that turned into mist.
While telling stories with smoke he uses a flute, blowing the smoke, it may be Lightweaving that causes patterns and images to appear in smoke.
In The Way of Kings the chasms echoed the music allowing him to speak and play without the music ever seeming to stop. It is unclear how the flute could be used without chasms or canyons.
- Roamer - by Galladon in the Purelake
- The King's Wit
- Imperial Fool of the Rose Empire
- A storyteller in the Court of the Gods
- Cephandrius Maxtori (citation does not help post missing) 
- Cephandrius Maxtori
- Midius Midius is a name Hoid is refereed to as in an unpublished work, it is probable that Ash is referring to Hoid.
Worldsingers & Worldbringers
The names of the Worldsingers, a group of storytellers on Roshar, and the Conclave of Worldbringers, the leading body of the original Terris religion, are strikingly similar. Brandon has stated that this is not a coincidence. Some believe that Hoid is a common root to both of these organizations, one of which, the Worldbringers, was very Realmatically aware. There may be also a connection between the Worldsingers and the Dawnsingers, due to similarity of names.
Brandon has confirmed that Hoid does in fact have a lerasium bead. His original intent in acquiring the bead was to become an Allomancer, but Brandon's careful wording throws into question whether or not Hoid actually used the bead for that purpose. The First Letter also mentions an "element" which its author is keeping safe. This could refer to Hoid and his lerasium.
”I only tell stories, Your Grace. They may be truths, they may be fictions. All I know is that the stories themselves exist and that I must tell them.
”I learned it many, many years ago from a man who didn't know who he was, Your Majesty. It was a distant place where two lands meet and gods have died.— Hoid to Siri on where he learned his particular method of storytelling.
As Hoid developed that type of storytelling, it's possible that the "man who didn't know who he was" is himself. Also, "where gods have died" and "many, many years ago" seem to speak of the Shattering. This land spoken of may be Sel as The Letter in the epigraphs of The Way of Kings mentions that two of the sixteen died there.
The Way of Kings
”The foolishness of men who care, Dalinar, and the brilliance of those who do not. The second depend on the first—but also exploit the first first—while the first misunderstand the second, hoping that the second are more like the first. And all of their games steal our time. Second by second.—Hoid to Dalinar
Nonsense. Balderdash. Figgldygrak. Isn't it odd that gibberish words are often the sounds of other words, cut up and dismembered, then stitched into something like them—yet wholly unlike them at the same time?
"I wonder if you could do that to a man. Pull him apart, emotion by emotion, bit by bit, bloody chunk by bloody chunk. Then combine them back together into something else, like a Dysian Aimian. If you do put a man together like that, Dalinar, be sure to name him Gibberish, after me. Or perhaps Gibletish.
”— Hoid to Dalinar (after namedropping Adonalsium)
”I've abandoned my real name. But when next we meet, I'll think of a clever one for you to call me. Until then, Wit will suffice—or if you must, you may call me Hoid.— Hoid to Dalinar
I began life as a thought, a concept, words on a page. That was another thing I stole. Myself. Another time, I was named for a rock."
"A pretty one, I hope."
"A beautiful one," the man said. "And one that became completely worthless for my wearing it.
What you saw belongs to you. A story doesn’t live until it is imagined in someone’s mind."
"What does the story mean, then?"
"It means what you want it to mean. The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon. Too often, we forget that.
”— Hoid to Kaladin on stories
”People see in stories what they're looking for, my young friend. I have no answers for you. Most days, I feel I never have had any answers. I've come to your land to chase an old acquaintance, but I end up spending most of my time hiding from him instead.— Hoid to Kaladin
”Can you feel it? Something just changed. I believe that's the sound the world makes when it pisses itself
”What is it we value? Innovation. Originality. Novelty. But most importantly...timeliness. I fear you may be too late, my confused, unfortunate, friend.
- The character of Hoid existed before the concept of Adonalsium was developed. He first appeared in a short story Brandon wrote long ago, going by the name Kamp. He was on a planet trying to figure out how the magical system of the area worked.
- Brandon has stated that Cephandrius is the closest to his real name. Only a few decades off.
- Brandon has stated that Hoid is his favorite character, but he couldn't say why without giving away spoilers.
- Brandon may eventually write a parallel novel to the Mistborn series that chronicles what Hoid was up to behind the scenes.
- Hoid loves bacon.
- Hoid's parents were married, or at least he is not illegitimate.
- Who is the oldest character we know?
— Theoryland - 2014-8-13Cite: Theoryland/1084-24#
- We would call him human, but he's not exactly that
— Theoryland - Mar 22, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1088-4#
- Is Hoid a Herald?
— Theoryland - 2010-12Cite: Theoryland/697-21#
- This is, indeed, the very same person
— Theoryland - Jul, 2009Cite: Theoryland/690-39#
- Does the sand storytelling in Warbreaker have to do with White Sand?
— Theoryland - Jan 10th, 2011Cite: Theoryland/590-40#
- He is a primary viewpoint protagonist of 'Dragonsteel, but that happens before all of the other books
— Theoryland - Aug 31st, 2011Cite: Theoryland/622-135#
- Hoid has a home base
— 17th Shard forums - 29 September 2012Cite: 17S-post/42472#
- Who wrote the dust jacket?
— Theoryland - Mar 19, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1080-5#
- Hoid appears on planets where nothing happens
— 17th Shard forums - 05 March 2014Cite: 17S-post/104720#
- Hoid was at the Shattering
— Timewasters Guide forum - 2009-12-19Cite: twg/7302-0#
- Odium and Hoid were once friends
— Theoryland - Feb 15th, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1105-1#
- Words of Radiance epilogue Summary: Words of Radiance/Epilogue#
- Is there a Hoid cameo in Shadows for Silence?
— Theoryland - 2015-1-17Cite: Theoryland/1115-50#
- Elantris chapter 58 Summary: Elantris/Chapter_58#
- Elantris chapter Postscript Summary: Elantris/Chapter_Postscript#
- Deleted prologue from The Emperor's Soul
— Brandon's website - 2014-03-31Cite: BrandonSanderson.com/the-emperors-soul-deleted-prologue-imperial-fool#
- The Final Empire chapter 19 Summary: The Final Empire/Chapter_19#
- Mistborn: Secret History part 2 chapter 1 Summary: Mistborn: Secret History/Part_2_Chapter_1#
- Hoid has a metal he isn't supposed to have
— Theoryland - Dec 18th, 2011Cite: Theoryland/1013-1#
- Hoid got wrapped up in things he didn't expect to be involved in, and they dominated much of his time during the events of The Well of Ascension.
— Theoryland - July 2009Cite: Theoryland/428-58#
- The Well of Ascension chapter 56 Summary: The Well of Ascension/Chapter_56#
- Is Slowswift Hoid?
— Theoryland - 2008-10-15Cite: Theoryland/727-24#
- Was the "beggar in black" Hoid?
— Theoryland - Nov 11th, 2011Cite: Theoryland/632-3#
- Shadows of Self chapter 7 Summary: Shadows of Self/Chapter_7#
- New Ascendancy broadsheet
- When will we hear Hoid's story?
— Theoryland - Nov 8, 2011Cite: Theoryland/689-5#
- Warbreaker chapter 32 Summary: Warbreaker/Chapter_32#
- Warbreaker chapter 52 Summary: Warbreaker/Chapter_52#
- Words of Radiance chapter 59 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_59#
- The Way of Kings chapter 57 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_57#
- Has Hoid been on Roshar before?
— Theoryland - Mar 22, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1088-11#
- The Way of Kings chapter 54 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_54#
- The Way of Kings epilogue Summary: The Way of Kings/Epilogue#
- Words of Radiance chapter 46 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_46#
- Hoid in Words of Radiance
— Theoryland - Mar 17th, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1061-3#
- Words of Radiance chapter 55 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_55#
- Oathbringer chapter 121 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_121#
- Oathbringer epilogue Summary: Oathbringer/Epilogue#
- Cite error: Invalid
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- Oathbringer's letters are from Shards we know.
— 17th Shard forums - 2017-11-19Cite: 17S-post/638473#
- The Way of Kings chapter 12 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_12#
- The Way of Kings interlude I-1 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-1#
- Protagonist Brawl
— Theoryland - Mar 24th, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1044-9#
- Words of Radiance chapter 45 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_45#
- Brandon on Hoid
— Theoryland - 2016-12-03Cite: Theoryland/1181-6#
- Does Hoid have all the abilities of the planets he's visited?
— Theoryland - Mar 14, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1110-5#
- Hoid has no Hemalurgy
— Theoryland - Jan 17, 2015Cite: Theoryland/1115-44#
- How many kinds of magic does Hoid know?
— Theoryland - 2014-9-4Cite: Theoryland/1094-43#
- Brandon on Hoid
— Theoryland - 2016-02-26Cite: Theoryland/1151-76#
- Where is Hoid in The Well of Ascension?
— Theoryland - Jul, 2009Cite: Theoryland/428-102#
- Well, by this point Hoid had been to the Well--getting there just before Vin--and had retrieved something from it
— 17th Shard forums - 27 September 2012Cite: 17S-post/42244#
- Can Hoid jump through time?
— Theoryland - Aug 31st, 2011Cite: Theoryland/622-106#
- If Hoid got beheaded, would his body grow a new head?
— Theoryland - Mar 4th, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1071-2#
- How does Hoid know where to go when?
— Theoryland - Nov 8th, 2011Cite: Theoryland/689-4#
- How does Hoid know where to go?
— Theoryland - Jan 9th, 2013Cite: Theoryland/895-2#
- Did Hoid use his bead for Feruchemy?
— Theoryland - Mar 29, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1047-9#
- Brandon on Hoid
— Theoryland - 2016-02-25Cite: Theoryland/1151-7#
- Wit's drink
— Theoryland - Mar 4th, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1073-1#
- What alloy did Hoid drink?
— Theoryland - Mar 20, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1048-29#
- It seems quite likely that he would
— Theoryland - Feb 16th, 2013Cite: Theoryland/949-11#
- Words of Radiance chapter 81 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_81#
- Cephandrius Maxtori
— 17th Shard forums - Oct 9th, 2015Cite: 17S-post/337235#
- Hoid is also called Topaz (from the large gem stone he wore a long time ago)
— 17th Shard forums - Oct 9th, 2015Cite: 17S-post/337201#
- Shadows of Self release party
— Arcanum - 2015-10-05#
— Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
- Mi'ch says Brandon said that their similarity in names wasn't a coincidence
— 17th Shard forums - 06 December 2011Cite: 17S-post/22043#
- Realmatic theory was part of the ancient Terris religion
— 17th Shard forums - 29 September 2012Cite: 17S-post/42471#
- Well, he has a bead of Lerasium
— Theoryland - 2013-01-23Cite: Theoryland/897-21#
- Hoid has metal he isn't supposed to have
— 17th Shard forums - 23 December 2011Cite: 17S-post/24231#
- Is Hoid an allomancer?
— Theoryland - Mar 29, 2014Cite: Theoryland/1047-15#
- It's Here
— Brandon's website - 2010-8-31Cite: BrandonSanderson.com/its-here-2#
- Hoid has been around forever, long before Adonalsium became the central plot of his story
— 17th Shard forums - 26 September 2012Cite: 17S-post/42219#
- I’ll have to say Hoid is my favorite
— Theoryland - Jul, 2009Cite: Theoryland/690-43#
- Cite error: Invalid
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