Dalinar Kholin
Dalinar Kholin

Fan art by ex-m[5]
Biographical information
Ethnicity Alethi
Nationality Alethi
Gender Male
Status Alive
Abilities Shardbearer (formerly), Surgebinding (Bondsmith)
Social Information
Title(s) Brightlord, The Blackthorn,
Highprince of War
Family House Kholin
Occupation Highprince, Leader of the Knights Radiant
Appears in The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, Oathbringer

Dalinar Kholin is one of the main protagonists in The Stormlight Archive. He is a Highprince of Alethkar and was a famous Shardbearer. During his youth, he helped his brother, King Gavilar, to unite Alethkar, then a country of ten individual princedoms. His prowess in battle was enough to earn him the singular title of the Blackthorn.

While he was a Shardbearer, his Shardblade was named Oathbringer.[1] Unlike most Alethi Shardbearers, he chose to wear his plate without decorations, leaving it its original slate grey color. Like his son, Adolin, he rides a Ryshadium: a black horse named Gallant.[2]

In the present time, he is much more infrequently that warrior that inspired awe and terror, but instead a thoughtful leader, seeking the unification of Alethkar above all else, even at the expense of his reputation. By the end of Words of Radiance, he has discovered his Surgebinding capacity and has spoken the second Ideal of the Bondsmiths. His spren is the Stormfather.


Blackthorn AA

The Blackthorn by Alex Allen[1]

In his youth, Dalinar was known for his ferocity and skill. He was commonly known as the Blackthorn, and was well respected. However, after his brother Gavilar's death, Dalinar started reading The Way of Kings and following the Alethi Codes of War. He became less fierce, and even began to momentarily lose the 'thrill' in Brandon's The Way of Kings. He eventually admitted to his desire for a more peaceful existence, causing him to lose a lot respect and gain the formation of rumors that he had become 'weak'.

(There is an article at that describes Dalinar, the man, pre-Oathbringer here.)


Dalinar credits as his Devotary the Order of Talenelat, yet, he'd never had much to do with ardents. His Devotary, to him, is simple and straightforward. He got his fill of politics with the court; he hadn't the desire to find more in religion.[3]


The Way of KingsEdit

The Blackthorn Cune

The Blackthorn
Fan art by Cunegonde[2]

In his youth, Dalinar helped his brother, King Gavilar, to reunite Alethkar's warring Highprinces after centuries of strife. Dalinar had been the warrior, genius of the battlefield, scattering their opponents, slaying their leaders and best Shardbearers, bending them to Gavilar's rule. His prowess in battle earned him the nickname 'Blackthorn' and a reputation amongst the common folk as being one of the greatest warriors and generals who ever lived.[2]

Dalinar has won many Shardblades and much Shardplate in battle. During the first year of the War of Reckoning, he won a set which he gave to his brother's son, King Elhokar, for Elhokar to award to a warrior he thought worthy of such an honor.[4]

He is presumed to be a widower who has two children, Adolin and Renarin. Dalinar sought the Old Magic after his wife supposedly "passed away". His boon - or his curse - is the loss of his memories of his wife. He can't even remember her name. Anytime someone says it in his hearing, it registers as a "shh" noise in his mind (i.e., Shshshsh).

The night of Gavilar's assassination, Gavilar asked Dalinar to follow the Alethi Codes of War. However, that night Dalinar drank himself into a stupor, in violation of the first Code, and was unable to save his brother. Dalinar blames himself for his brother's death and shows deep remorse, as he feels he should have been there to fight at Gavilar's side in his final moments.

Dalinar RC

Fan art by Rich Clark[3]

Dalinar has changed a lot since his brother's assassination. His guilt has driven him to accept the Alethi Codes, which he holds to despite how outmoded and archaic they seem to his contemporaries. Dalinar has become relentless in following the Codes and in requiring his sons and troops to do the same, though he excuses the other Highprinces and their armies. The Altethi Codes also drive him to instate very strict dress codes throughout his warcamp: a soldier must be dressed at all times with only two options: summer or winter coat. Sadeas notes (during a conversation where Dalinar is critical of the extravagant fashions being worn by other Highprinces) that Dalinar is more critical than even he, who is fond of fashion, just in the reverse. Dalinar's strict accordance with the Codes also applies to his armor; while other Highprinces and Shardbearers paint or decorate their plate (that of Sadeas is red), his is a dull natural gray.

Dalinar has recently begun seeing visions during highstorms. He initially thinks of these as coming from the Almighty, and accepts them as unquestionably true. Later, due in large part to pressure from Adolin, Dalinar begins to regard his visions as suspect. Dalinar's visions caused him to question himself at every turn.

Dalinar seeks Navani's help in writing down his visions. During the vision in which he experiences the past through the eyes of one of Nohadon's advisors, he speaks in an old language which has never been understood. Navani recognizes one of the phrases he repeats over and over again and then finds the words in one of Jasnah's books. By crossreferencing his translation, they validate the truthfulness of his visions and also provide a link to understanding a forgotten ancient language.[citation needed]

After rebuffing her on numerous occasions, Dalinar succumbs to his feelings for Navani and admits that he had never intended to 'give' her to his brother and that he often introduced many people to his brother. The resulting marriage between Navani and Gavilar was basically the result of Gavilar misunderstanding his brother's introduction to her as an invitation to court her. Navani confides to Dalinar that she feels homeless in Kholinar: people ignore her and view her as irrelevant. Dalinar and Navani share a kiss. Both are worried about the judgement that may come from the courtiers since she was his brother's wife. During one of their conversations Dalinar convinces Navani to describe her thoughts of his wife. It is implied that Navani is unaware of his memory loss with regard to his wife, and every time she speaks the woman's name Dalinar hears it as Shshshsh. Navani describes her as very likable and nice, and that she attempted to find a way to dislike her, but her jealousies were unfounded over time due to her sweet nature. She does mention that the woman was not very clever or cunning, but that not everyone can be that way. Navani also mentions that she had high hopes for "the four of them" to become close friends prior to Gavilar's assassination.[citation needed]

Dalinar's visions insist that he should unite the Alethi through peace, instead of the first unification that Gavilar achieved. The constant competition on the Shattered Plains for glory is exactly the opposite of a truly unified kingdom. Dalinar seeks to end the pointless fighting by first allying himself with Sadeas, trusting him because of his interpretation of a vision, to the chagrin of Adolin.

After being betrayed by Sadeas at the battle at the Tower and subsequently saved by Bridge Four,[5][6] Dalinar exchanges his Shardblade for the bridgemen of Sadeas's camp.[7] He later requests of King Elhokar that he become Alethkar's Highprince of War, and succeeds.

Later another vision occurs, and he finally realizes that they weren't conversations, rather messages or recordings. He also learns that the Almighty is dead, and is the individual who recorded the visions.

Words of RadianceEdit

Dalinar's viewpoint begins in another vision; as a soldier who is hunting for a "rogue" spren: Voidspren. He hunts with a squad and a Radiant, and sees her seemingly talking to herself. They later find the spren, and it summons a Thunderclast. Then the Almighty's recording manifests in a soldier, who speaks to him using the Almighty's voice. It explains more about the role of the Knights Radiant, and asks Dalinar to found them again.

The Assassin in White, Szeth, comes to the King's castle, and Dalinar, Kaladin and Adolin fight the Assassin, while Renarin escorts Elhokar out. Szeth reveals that he is there for Dalinar, not Elhokar, as was first assumed.[8] After being kicked by Szeth and brought kneeling to the ground, Dalinar catches Szeth's Blade between the heels of his palms when Szeth swings the Blade down.[8] The trio manage to repel the Assassin, but a number of Bridge Four's men are left incapacitated or dead and Dalinar is injured; he suffered a split along his left cheekbone, and a broken nose.[9]

Dalinar founds the Knight's Radiant, and appoints Amaram as their head. (He is also their only member at the time.) Dalinar is approached by Kaladin, whom he attempts to assure that Amaram isn't an evil person, but at first Kaladin seems to rebuff him. Later, when Adolin executes his plan to fight a spectacular duel against Sadeas, and is outnumbered, he is caught in a bind to find a way to help. Renarin leaps in, but freezes, causing Dalinar more panic. Kaladin helps Adolin, but is later thrown into prison by Elhokar, due to his challenge of Amaram after the duel. Dalinar later visits Kaladin and discusses his actions with him.


Shardplate and ShardbladeEdit

The Blackthorne

The Blackthorne
Fan-art by PeterMan2070[4]

Unlike most Shardbearers, Dalinar chooses to wear his Plate plain, without any decorations or paint. He also chooses to wear it almost constantly. After Sadeas's betrayal, he relinquishes his sword, Oathbringer, to Sadeas in exchange for the lives of the bridgemen who rescued him at the Tower. He then states that he will also give his Shardplate to his younger son, Renarin.

Dalinar, with his original set of Shards, has won many Shards from Shardbearers he has defeated. He has made gifts of these extra sets to his nephew, King Elhokar.

Visions and PowersEdit

Main article: Dalinar's visions

Although an expert swordsman and fierce warlord, Dalinar does not seem to have any additional power like Kaladin or Shallan. Throughout The Way of Kings, however, he is plagued by strange visions. These visions affect him solely during highstorms. Initially, he considers them prophecies from the Almighty. However, after Adolin vocally puts his sanity in doubt, he begins to consider himself deluded and thus incapable of ruling House Kholin. When Navani realizes his garbled mumbling is in fact a translated line from an ancient poem no one had previously understood, it is proven his visions were indeed somewhat prophetic. He then accepts he is not "getting old" and realizes he mustn't abdicate the position of Highprince yet.[citation needed]

Unite them. The sun approaches the horizon. The Everstorm comes. The True Desolation. The Night of Sorrows.

–Almighty, during one of Dalinar's visions[10]

In Words of Radiance, it is implied that he has used Stormlight to heal before, first when attacking the stormform Parshendi (when a healer asks how he could possibly still use his arm) and again in Urithiru (when he takes in Stormlight and remarks that it feels familiar).


Dalinar is one of the most brilliant and blessed military strategists in known history, able to read any battle and come up with a clear plan for victory. He is also the only person to reason that Hoid is well beyond what he lets on, offering several good guesses as to just what Hoid might be. However, according to Hoid himself, he is 'just a man'.[citation needed] The fact that Dalinar has figured more than this out is a testament to his intelligence.


Toward the end of Words of Radiance, Dalinar bonds with the Stormfather whilst in Urithiru, and is labelled a Bondsmith by said spren.[11] It is understood that Bondsmiths can manipulate the Surges of Tension and Adhesion, although Dalinar has yet to demonstrate these abilities. As with all Surgebinders, Dalinar makes use of Stormlight to heal wounds after he is defeated and Lashed upwards by Szeth.



Dalinar loved his brother greatly and truly. While he was envious of him, his envy never grew into downright jealousy despite whatever happened. While he considered killing Gavilar (at some point) for the throne and Navani, he ultimately decided to forever swear never to take the throne or court Navani, though the latter eventually proved to be impossible. After his brother's death, he fell into deep guilt as he was drunk on the floor while his brother was fighting for his life.[citation needed]


During his youth he was extremely attracted to Navani and intended to court her. However, upon introducing her to Gavilar, his brother began courting her instead, which resulted in him suppressing his feelings for her. Throughout her marriage and after her husband's death, Navani apparently always loved Dalinar despite having initially chosen to marry Gavilar. She states her reason for doing so was because of Dalinar's "intensity".[citation needed] After Navani makes several obvious passes at him, Dalinar finally relents and kisses her, confessing his love. After overcoming his guilt and the impropriety of the situation, he eventually acknowledges their relationship to both Adolin, Renarin, and his nephew and her son, King Elhokar.[citation needed]

Brightness KholinEdit

Dalinar's wife and the mother of his two sons. Dalinar sought out the Old Magic and lost all recollection of his wife.

... she was gone, vanished from his mind, a blank patch of fog in his memory.[4]

This "curse" is persistent, rather than a simple erasure of memories; when others mention her name in conversation, he immediately forgets it. The boon he received from the Old Magic is currently unknown. Some speculate, however, that the boon was in fact the removal of his wife from memory - a request that would remove the pain of her loss. If such is the case, the curse he received would then be unknown.

Dalinar hesitated to remarry because he hated the idea of replacing her. Everything of his wife had been taken from him. All that remained was a blank.[4]


He is close to his son though this does place them in conflict at times. Still, he loves Adolin and is proud of him. Their relationship is put under great strain during The Way of Kings as Adolin doubts his father's visions. He " ... is more strict with Adolin [than with Elhokar or Renarin]. It is a flaw in Dalinar’s character. It is not about Adolin. It is also because Adolin is his heir and also in line for the throne."[12]


He cares for his son. He both does and does not understand his son at the same time. Being second born, Dalinar understands what it is like to be overshadowed by his older brother but unlike him, Renarin is Adolin's biggest supporter. Dalinar does love his son no matter what.


Dalinar comes to trust Kaladin when he and the members of Bridge Four rescue him and his men at the battle of the Tower.[5][6] Dalinar found him to be a somber leader and is struck by his men's discipline. Recognizing his value and that of Kaladin's men, Dalinar offers Sadeas his Shardblade, Oathbringer, in exchange for them.[7] Initially, Dalinar makes them his honor guard, replacing the Cobalt Guard.[13] Later, after an assassination attempt on King Elhokar, he makes them the King's Guard and Kaladin their captain. Dalinar believes Kaladin is a man who can help change the kingdom.[14]


  • Brightness Kholin (Shshshsh) - Wife (status unknown)
  • Adolin Kholin - Eldest son and heir
  • Renarin Kholin - Son
  • Gavilar Kholin - Brother (deceased)
  • Navani Kholin - Sister-in-law, love interest
  • Jasnah Kholin - Niece
  • Elhokar Kholin - Nephew
  • Aesudan Kholin - Niece-in-law
  • Unnamed child - Greatnephew (son of Elhokar and Aesudan)
  • Shallan Davar - Causal daughter-in-law


  • It was hinted by Brandon Sanderson that during the initial draft of the novel, Dalinar and Navani were actually wed.[citation needed]

Q&A with BrandonEdit

Q. As Dalinar gave his Shardblade to Highprince Sadeas, was his motivation only to free the Brigdemen as “Thank you” for the help? Or did he already plan to build a team from soldiers who are loyal only to him?

A. He certainly saw the side benefits. However, his primary motive was to make a statement. Not just as a thank you, but as a way of proclaiming to all of the Alethi, "What we have been doing is wrong. This wealth is not worth the lives of men."[15]

Q. When Dalinar and Honour are having a "chat" at the end, Honour says "I don't know who you are, or how you found your way here." Does Dalinar visit the Spiritual realm in his dreams then?

A. RAFO. (Sorry.)[16]

Q. Is the reason Dalinar rejects the Thrill because he has a connection to the Stormfather through his visions?

A. The answer is yes, this is part - this is in play. Though you could say the reason he has a connection to the Stormfather also influences the reason he rejects the Thrill, so it may be more correlation than causation, but there's at least a little causation as well.[17]



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