Kaladin and Syl
Fan art by botanicaxu
|Eye Color||Pale blue (originally dark brown)|
Kaladin Stormblessed, |
Captain of the King's Guard
Lirin (father), Hesina (mother), |
Tien (brother), Oroden (brother)
|Appears in||The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, Oathbringer|
Kaladin is one of the main protagonists in The Stormlight Archive. An accomplished spearman and a natural leader, he eventually becomes the captain of Elhokar Kholin's King's Guard, formerly known as the Cobalt Guard, House Kholin's personal honor guard.
He is known by many as Kaladin Stormblessed, a nickname he first gained in Amaram's army due to his reputation for being extremely lucky. The name would later resurface when his squad of bridgemen, Bridge Four, started referring to him by the name as a sign of great respect and admiration. (Notably, his bridge squad had a reputation for losing the fewest members amongst any in the army.) Following Bridge Four's rescue of Dalinar's army after Sadeas's betrayal, the crew became famous throughout the warcamps and Kaladin became known to most therein as Kaladin Stormblessed. He has risen farther than any darkeyes could dare to hope, gaining the trust of both lighteyes and darkeyes of every race and gender.
AppearanceEditKaladin is a tall man, only a few inches shorter than Rock (who is nearly seven feet in height), with the brawny physique of a soldier and a bridgeman. His black Alethi hair is shoulder-length and wavy, and mostly covers the slave brands on his forehead.
Kaladin's eyes are dark brown, but become pale blue after summoning Syl as a weapon.
While he wouldn't mind going to war and winning honor, Kaladin wants to travel, to see what other lands are like. He doesn't really want wealth, titles, or armies. He wants to protect the men who trust him. He has a constant desire to help people, no matter how they treat him. He acts with honor and admires those who also act with honor. He has a deep mistrust of lighteyes due to his treatment from Brightlord Roshone, Brightlord Amaram and Highprince Sadeas. He continues to persevere and attempts to save those around him, even when the odds are stacked against him. Recently though, he is revising his opinion of lighteyes, having realized that Dalinar truly cares about his men.
Kaladin seems to suffer from depression. Through his viewpoints, we see symptoms: a general feeling of hopelessness, guilt, apathy, and discontent. His depression flares most dangerously when he feels he has failed at protecting those he promised to keep alive, and during times when it is perpetually rainy or cloudy (like during the Weeping.) At one point, he even contemplated suicide. Having lived with these feelings, he generally finds ways to overcome them, either through his discipline learned as a soldier, or from responsibilities to still others. His spren, Sylphrena, is a large help as well, often being the voice of reason in his bouts of melancholy.
Kaladin naturally exhibits the traits of the Alethi Codes of War. This can be seen when he's a bridgeleader, as he insists that each man wear his vest at all times during their bridge shifts (readiness); when he practices carrying planks of wood to inspire his men (inspiration); when he allows himself to be beaten up by soldiers to avoid further trouble (restraint); when he insists on running at the front during every last bridge run (leadership); and when he risks his life and spends resources to take care of injured bridgemen (honor). As these traits come naturally to him, many people - both lighteyed and dark - have compared him to lighteyes, as it is often assumed lighteyes naturally exhibit such traits as well. Kaladin protests these comparisons, refusing any connection to lighteyes.
Kaladin doesn't seem to have a need to create romantic relationships. He may or may not have a romantic interest in Shallan, but there is little to be gained there for him. He doesn’t need a spouse to find someone he can trust and confide in. He has the comraderie of his men, his increasing trust in Dalinar, and his growing friendships with Adolin and Shallan. Nonetheless, his strongest bond of all seems to be with Syl.
Kaladin is the eldest child of Lirin and Hesina, darkeyed Alethi of the second nahn. He and his brother, Tien, were raised in the town of Hearthstone. In his youth, Kaladin went by a shorter version of his name, Kal. He stated that he did so because he thought that Kaladin sounded too much like a lighteyes name. Lirin was the town's surgeon, and Kaladin was studying under him as his apprentice. Once Kaladin turned 16 years of age, his father wanted him to travel to Kharbranth to study to become a real surgeon.
Kaladin had dreams of becoming a soldier and joining the war against the Parshendi on the Shattered Plains. On one occasion, he practiced fighting with a staff and thought that it felt right in his hands. Ultimately, however, he decided to become a surgeon. However, when General Amaram came to Hearthstone to recruit new soldiers, Brightlord Roshone required Tien be conscripted into Amaram's forces in an attempt to punish Lirin for failing to save his own son, Rillir, from a mortal wound received when hunting. Attempting to protect Tien, Kaladin volunteered - against his father's wishes - to join the army as well.
Kaladin served first as a regular soldier in Amaram's army. Later, during a bloody battle in Kaladin's first year as a soldier, Tien was killed by a lighteyed officer. This caused Kaladin to work harder to protect the ones he cared about. Subsequently, he learned how to use the spear very well. Within four years, he was promoted to squadleader, and led a team of twenty-five soldiers. He made a practice of paying for barely trained youths, such as Cenn, from less competent commanders. Each youth reminded him of Tien, and he tried to make up for the failure he felt when his brother died by protecting them. He would also get runners to take his wounded men off the field, often through bribery, or would treat the wounded himself. With a combination of his own skill with the spear, superior training and care for his men, and unusual tactics, his squad took so few losses that he became known as Kaladin Stormblessed.
In battle with another Alethi lord - a Shardbearer (later revealed to be Shallan's brother, Helaran, who possessed both a Shardblade and Shardplate, and who killed most of Kaladin's squad before going after Amaram) - Kaladin killed him by slamming a spearhead through the eye slit of the Shardbearer's helmet, thereby winning both the Bearer's Blade and Plate. Kaladin felt sickened at the idea of becoming like one of the lighteyes by accepting the Plate and Blade and gave them to one of the few survivors of his original squad, Coreb. Amaram asked to see the few remaining survivors of Kaladin's squad in private. After asking why Kaladin didn't want either Blade or Plate, Amaram ordered the remaining four squadmembers to be killed, taking the Shards for himself. Amaram spared Kaladin's life, branding him as a slave instead, because he had saved Amaram's life and because he knew the truth behind Amaram's acquisition of the Shards. This stoked Kaladin's hatred for lighteyes, and he began to adopt the outlook that lighteyes were corrupt, selfish, and deceitful.
Kaladin was a slave for several months, sold and bought by several slave owners. Through his early months of slavery, he led several unsuccessful escape attempts, each one resulting in a high cost to his master, and had usually involved many more armed slaves. He was eventually branded with a shash glyph, meaning "dangerous". Roughly eight months into his slavery, he was bought by the slavemaster Tvlakv, to be sold at the Shattered Plains. It was here that the spren, Sylphrena, first met Kaladin face-to-face, though because she was unbonded, she appeared to be little more than a windspren. He was eventually sold to Highprince Sadeas's army to serve as a bridgeman.
As a bridgeman, Kaladin served on Bridge Four under the watchful eye of Gaz. During his first bridge run, Kaladin was positioned in the front, facing waves of Parshendi arrows. Despite this onslaught and the death of many other bridgemen, Kaladin survived. He expected to die on each of the runs he made, but always returned relatively unharmed. It was during these first few weeks as a bridgeman that Kaladin and Syl grew close - Kaladin out of desperation for someone to share his misery with, someone who would talk to him, and Syl out of her bond, though this fact was unknown to them at the time. One day, however, Syl said she had to leave, citing that she couldn't watch this anymore and that she might be gone for a while. Kaladin begged her not to go, but was unable to convince her, and so she left, leaving him even more depressed. That night, thoughts of the bridge runs and of the bridgemen they left dying or dead on the plateaus, began to leave an impression on Kaladin that, despite anything he could do, he and the other bridgemen were destined to die on plateaus, alone and discarded as fodder by everyone else. In particular, he lamented over the death of a young man that reminded him of his younger brother, Tien. He hadn't even learned the youth's name, and the youth had died on the very day he joined the bridge crews, his eyes staring sightlessly up at the sky, blood pooled in them.
Unable to deal with this existence any longer, he walked to a chasm - the Honor Chasm, named from being the place bridgemen chose to commit suicide, one of the last decisions left only to them - where he contemplated throwing himself down to end his life. He only stopped when Syl returned, holding blackbane, a poisonous leaf. Mistaking it for something precious, she offered it to Kaladin in the hopes it was what would bring him out of his depression. For Kaladin, his perspective shifted. Before, he began to connect the deaths of those he loved with their association with him. Simply by being close to them, he endangered them. He rationalized this with the fact that he still had not died, yet had seen the deaths of so many before him. These bridgemen were in better hands if he was the one that died this time. Syl, however, asked him to really try one more time. These men were already dead, she argued. What more could Kaladin do to them? But if they were going to die, couldn't he at least prolong their life, to enrich it until death finally claimed them? Kaladin acknowledged her point, and felt hope for the first time in a long time. He was no longer Kaladin Stormblessed, as he was long ago, but he was no longer the wretch that waited to die in his misery.  Upon returning to camp, he threatened and bribed Gaz into allowing him to become the bridgeleader for Bridge Four, thus giving him some small measure of command over the rest of the bridgecrew. He forced each man of Bridge Four to give him their names, and swore to remember them, to protect them.
The the next day, Kaladin treated the bridgemen as members of a squad, forcing them to line up in ranks outside their barracks in the mornings for the daily schedule. Though the bridgemen were all but insubordinate - mocking him openly or glaring at him while refusing to obey even the smallest orders - Kaladin wasn't deterred. He forced himself to train for the duties of a bridgeman by walking and running with a board balanced on his shoulder, in an effort to build up strength and stamina. Bridge Four mocked him for this as well, believing he was finally mad, selfishly wanting them to work harder than necessary, or attempting to earn favor with his superiors.
On the plateau run directly after his night at Honor Chasm, Kaladin finally earned the respect of at least some members of Bridge Four. During the final assault, Kaladin's position of bridgeleader gave him the most coveted position of a bridge run: the back. Instead of taking it, however, he insisted on the bridgeman at the very front and center - Rock - to switch places with him. Rock protested only once before obliging, commenting on Kaladin's supposed stupidity. The final assault was brutal, yet left Kaladin uninjured. In the ensuing chaos, Kaladin also saved the lives of several wounded bridgemen. Kaladin learned that he could earn money on stone-gathering duty with collected knobweed sap, selling it to an apothecary illegally, at the same time gaining antiseptic. The extra money is used to buy medicine and bandages, as well as better food. The traditional meal of stew before turning in begins, and the men of Bridge Four begin to open up, feeling for once in their lives a hope they had long thought crushed. During chasm duty, he lost himself in a kata, stunning the bridgemen in his skill with the spear. Over the course of several battles in which Kaladin saved lives, as well as defied death numerous times, most of the bridgecrew began listening to his advice, even to the point of worship, save Moash. Through Kaladin's training, Bridge Four actually became the safest of the bridgecrews, whereas previously, it had been known as the one least likely to have its members survive. Kaladin saved a few lives from other bridgecrews as well.
Trying to save lives, Kaladin taught Bridge Four to use a side-carrying method, causing an unprecedented defeat for Sadeas's forces, saving Bridge Four but dooming all else. Through this, his handler's handler, Lamaril, is condemned to execution, while Kaladin is sentenced to brave the highstorm exposed. In a dream, a voice speaks to Kaladin and calls him "CHILD OF TANAVAST, CHILD OF HONOR, CHILD OF ONE LONG SINCE DEPARTED." He survives, prompting Teft to realize he is a Surgebinder and he used the Stormlight of the sphere in his hand, which was drained after the highstorm, but Teft keeps this quiet. Kaladin is then hailed a miracle by all, but begins to believe it futile to fight after understanding that bridgemen are just bait for the Parshendi.
Kaladin's depression returned, as it seemed as though the world was weighted against him and his crew. Kaladin decided to train the rest of the bridgecrew to use spears so that they could fight their way out of slavery. At the same time he trained his abilities with Teft, learning to infuse Stormlight and realized that Sylphrena is part of the reason he is able to do so.
On a bridge run to the Tower, Sadeas betrayed Dalinar and after much contemplation, Kaladin lead a willing Bridge Four to sacrifice their freedom while saving Dalinar and his army. With his father's voice in his mind, it is here that he speaks the Second Ideal of the Windrunners.
After Kaladin and his bridgecrew were set free by Highprince Dalinar, they joined his warcamp and later accepted the position as his Honor Guard, with Kaladin as their Captain. Most of the bridgemen also freed by Dalinar, who didn't take up his offer of money and freedom, joined as his spear company, led by Kaladin. Kaladin was only promoted to Captain because naming him higher would have caused problems. (He is outside the normal chain of command; he cannot order lesser ranked lighteyes around, and higher ranked lighteyes cannot order him around.) Dalinar gave Kaladin the cloak he'd worn in battle that day, washed and patched, with the glyphpair of khokh and linil sewn into the back in white embroidery.
Kaladin carries out his duty as Honor Guard to Dalinar, which develops into guarding Adolin, Renarin, and Navani. After a suspected assassination attempt on King Elhokar, he is also placed in charge of the King's Guard. As well as guard duty, he has the responsibility of training the newly freed bridgecrews. He does so by taking some potential officers to the chasms with Teft to give them the same training from which Bridge Four benefited. At the same time, Kaladin explores his own abilities out of sight of most others, fearing that the lighteyes would find a way to take it or Bridge Four away from him.
Kaladin cements the training of the other bridge crews by taking them on patrol around the warcamps. While on patrol with the men who would become officers, he ran into Shallan pretending to be a Horneater princess. After his defeat in a verbal conflict with her, Kaladin was forced to surrender his boots to her. This left a negative impression in Kaladin's mind and reinforced his view of lighteyes toying with people that they see as lesser than themselves.
Upon returning to the warcamps, Kaladin had a quick meal with his men, then went to guard King Elhokar, Dalinar, and the other Kholins at the royal palace during the coming highstorm. While on duty, he dozed and was warned by the Stormfather that the Assassin in White was coming. He woke and moved the King and his family out of the royal chambers, seeking to escape the palace, only to encounter the Assassin in one of the back hallways along their escape route. During the ensuing fight, Szeth's Honorblade cut through Kaladin's right arm, rendering it useless, and Szeth revealed that he wasn't there to kill Elhokar, but Dalinar. Kaladin forced Szeth back out through the hole he had cut in the stone wall of the building and, by holding Stormlight, Kaladin was able to regain the use of his arm, something that should've been impossible, something that shocked Szeth. Szeth fled following their encounter, and Kaladin collapsed.
Abilities and PowersEdit
Kaladin learned knowledge of surgery from an apprenticeship with his father, which was further enhanced by his experience of tending to soldiers and bridgemen on the battlefield.
He is an extremely skilled spearman, and was thought to be one of the best in Brightlord Amaram's army. Kaladin was naturally talented with the spear, as is hinted by his feeling that the staff feels right. However, he claims that it was not until after his brother's death, when he threw himself into practicing the spear, that he perfected his skills.
He becomes a powerful Surgebinder with the ability of the Windrunners, an Order of the Knights Radiant. He also has the ability to use stormlight to heal, even limbs wounded by Shardblades, as seen after his first fight with the Assassin in White. These abilites come from his relationship with Syl, an honorspren, though he knows very little of all that which he might be capable.
By the end of Words of Radiance, he has learned to turn Syl into a Shardblade (or whatever other weapon he chooses). He's also gained full control of his gravitational abilities, and has spoken the first three Ideals of the Order of the Windrunners. (Kaladin spoke the Second Ideal of the Windrunners in the modern Alethi language.) There are also hints that Kaladin is able to share his Surgebinding powers with the loyal members of Bridge Four.
Kaladin was very close to his brother. As he had next to no friends, he often spent time with Tien. Kaladin was protective of his younger brother and deeply loved him. Tien was the only person who could cheer Kaladin up, especially during the Weeping. His death traumatized Kaladin and forever left him a much harder and angrier man.
Tarah was his girlfriend while in Amaram's army, but she had to leave to work for a far away Brightlord in order to keep her father safe. She sent Kaladin a couple of letters Kaladin had scribed to him, but he never responded.
|“||" ... I let Tien die, I failed my spearmen, the slaves I tried to rescue, Tarah ... ." He hadn't thought of her in some time. His failure with her had been different from the others, but was a failure nonetheless.'||”|
–Kaladin while thinking on those he failed.
What would have happened to him, if Tarah hadn't coaxed him out of his single-minded dedication? Would he have burned himself out, as she'd claimed?
–Kaladin while viewing Bridge Four training with the spear.
In a flash of light, he saw her eyes as she looked up from where her head had been resting against his chest, beads of water on her eyelashes. With his hands around her waist, hers around him, it was as close as he'd held a woman since Tarah.
–Kaladin and Shallan as she tells him of her past.
Laral Wistiow is Kaladin's childhood friend. As a child, she used to frequently play in the woods with Kaladin and his brother Tien. Kaladin's mother also often encouraged Kaladin to play with Laral, because Laral was a lighteyes - a person of higher rank than Kaladin. Although they were really good friends, they began to drift apart after Laral's father, Brightlord Wistiow died. Laral may have had romantic feelings for Kaladin in her childhood, as she was constantly encouraging Kaladin to join the army to achieve higher rank and turn into a lighteyes. Kaladin has also been hinted to have had romantic feelings for her as he grew up, remarking that she grew into quite a beautiful young woman, but unfortunately, when he left the village, Laral was seen to be engaged to Brightlord Roshone, after Rillir's - his son's - death.
Moash received both Blade and Plate from Kaladin. Moash's betrayal is what encouraged Kaladin's growth in his powers and in understanding his oath.
ShallanEditKaladin's first true impression of Shallan was similar to that of all lighteyes he had previously met. While leading a patrol in the outskirts of the Shattered Plains, Kaladin came across Shallan and Tyn, the former under the guise of a temperamental Horneater princess. Not recognizing Shallan as Adolin's causal betrothed, Kaladin was wary of her and her retinue as he asked them of bandit activity. When he mentioned that Shallan looked 'spindly for a Horneater,' she acted offended, demanding that he apologize by giving up his boots or else she would walk into the Kholin camp and declare that 'Kholin is stealer of boots and taker of women's virtue.' Unwilling to argue with Shallan, he tossed his boots to her. When he later discovered who she truly was, his opinion of her plummeted. His future interactions with her did little to improve her reputation with him. Unable and unwilling to think that a lighteyes could have been raised in anything short of luxury, Kaladin did not see a scholar, merely a woman who thought herself to be superior, viewing darkeyes as playthings. It was only while trapped together in a chasm that Kaladin's opinion of Shallan changed. Kaladin shared his past with Shallan as a way to justify his anger and mistrust of lighteyes. In turn, Shallan revealed to him the secrets of her own past, that she had actually lived through a traumatic childhood and had still turned out for the better. It was here that Kaladin saw Shallan for who she was: a woman that survived horrors few others could admit to, and still sought to capture the good in life.
At first, Kaladin sees Adolin as spoiled and arrogant, though he grudgingly recognizes the good in the man when he witnesses him protecting a woman from men that tried to assault her. Kaladin's interactions with Adolin are mostly brief taunts and the occasional glare, both men tolerating the other's presence out of necessity. It was during Adolin's duel with four Shardbearers that the two gained a healthy respect for each other, Adolin proving himself equal to at least two full Shardbearers while Kaladin volunteered to fight alongside the prince at a suicidal disadvantage. After the duel, while the king was offering a boon to Adolin, Kaladin unknowingly embarrassed Elhokar by demanding a Right of Challenge to face Amaram in the arena, resulting in his incarceration. This only further convinced Kaladin that lighteyes couldn't be trusted. Upon being freed, however, he discovered that Adolin had demanded to be locked up in the same prison, and refused to be released until Kaladin was pardoned. When questioned why, the prince would only say that it wasn't right after Kaladin had saved his life. Adolin then offered Kaladin one of the newly won sets of Shards, though the former bridgeman refused both, stating that the artifacts had killed too many of his friends for him to want anything to do with them. Confused, the prince instead gave the set to Moash at Kaladin's recommendation. The two became fast friends, and shared a trust that neither man had ever thought anyone worthy of.
Dalinar became a rock for Kaladin when the bridgeman's life was lost to a storm. While still a bridgeman, Kaladin heard of Dalinar's reputation, and though he suspected the man of the same treacherous habits that he associated with lighteyes, he continually saw proof of the opposite, that Dalinar was an honorable man who refused to play the games of the Highprinces. It was only when Dalinar offered up his Blade, Oathbringer, for Bridge Four's freedom that Kaladin admitted it to himself. Having witnessed the impressive discipline and courage of Bridge Four himself, Dalinar offered them a place in his army as his honor guard, the Cobalt Guard. Feeling obligated to repay Dalinar for freeing his charges, Kaladin gave the men a choice between life in the Kholin army and freedom. All chose to serve Dalinar, and so Kaladin took up the mantle of Captain. Throughout the next few months, Dalinar surprised and impressed Kaladin by refusing to play the games of the Highprinces, however difficult it made his life. He spoke to darkeyes as equals, and would frequently acknowledge sound advice from Kaladin, praising the bridgeman for jobs well done and forgiving him when he fell short. He began to give Kaladin more responsibilities, such as no darkeyes had ever been given before, eventually placing him in charge of the King's Guard, with Bridge Four serving in its ranks. Kaladin, in return, would continually strive to meet the expectations of his patron and leader, unwilling to accept anything less than perfection. Throughout his employment with Dalinar Kholin, Kaladin held nothing but the utmost respect for the man.
Kaladin sees Navani as statuesque.
It was asked of Brandon on Facebook why Kaladin retains his slave brands even after his transformation. Brandon responded that it depends on how Kaladin envisions himself.
Kaladin is the only viewpoint character who hasn't aged a full year between The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. He is currently 20 years old.
This page needs references. Please help improve this article by adding them.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Way of Kings, 10. Stories of Surgeons
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Way of Kings, 73. Trust
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Way of Kings, 67. Words
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 The Way of Kings, 68. Eshonai
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 The Way of Kings, 46. Child of Tanavast
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 87. The Riddens
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Way of Kings, 16. Cocoons
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 51. Sas Nahn
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 57. Wandersail
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 The Way of Kings, 11. Droplets
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 1. Stormblessed
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 47. Stormblessings
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 2. Honor is Dead
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 6. Bridge Four
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 49. To Care
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Words of Radiance, 28. Boots
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 32. The One Who Hates
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 Words of Radiance, 33. Burdens
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Words of Radiance, 86. Patterns Of Light
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 68. Bridges
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 62. Three Glyphs
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 63. Fear
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 74. Striding The Storm
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 73. A Thousand Scurrying Creatures
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 58. Never Again
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 22. Lights In The Storm
- ↑ Slave Brands
- ↑ Age