Herald Nalan
Drawing by Isaac Stewart
Biographical information
Gender Male
Status Alive
Abilities Surgebinding
Social Information
Aliases Nalan'Elin, Nalan, Nin
Title(s) Herald of Justice
Occupation Herald of the Almighty
Appears in The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, Arcanum Unbounded, Edgedancer, Oathbringer

Nale is one of the ten Heralds of the Almighty. He is the Herald of Justice and the reluctant, but eventually acceptant, patron of the Order of Knights Radiant known as Skybreakers. He is associated with the number Nan and the divine attributes Just and Confident.[1]

He is known as Nalan'Elin or Nalan in Vorinism, and Nin amongst the Shin.[2]



Relief of Nalan'Elin
Drawing by Greg Call[3][4]

This image is a depiction of Nalan by Alethi stonemasons, with the sword of retribution held over his head.[3]

Nale is a dark-skinned man (like a man from the Makabaki region), distinguished by his dead eyes and the white mark on his cheek; a pale patch, shaped like a hooked crescent. He dresses in a crisp black uniform with silver buttons and a silver shirt underneath and wears thick gloves with stiff cuffs, extending halfway back around his forearms.[5][6][7]

He has a supernatural ease to his movements.[8]


Little is known of Nale in the past, except that he exemplified the virtues Justice and Confidence.

In the current timeline, he is cold and detached, showing no emotions even when thwarted. Still, he believes that Justice does not expire.[5]


The only time Nale appears agitated is when one of his minions breaks a law, which prompts him to physically discipline the minion and instruct him/her to give himself/herself up to the law.[9]

Though still remaining true to an ideal of Justice, his ideal appears to be somewhat warped, as he fanatically strives to uphold the letters of laws to perfection, stating that "it is the only genuine beauty in the world".[6]

While he might well be called the Herald of Justice, his point is in following a chosen code and sticking to it no matter what. In that sense he makes a perfect example of "Justice is blind."[citation needed]

Now, in Nale's chosen code, being a Surgebinder is the biggest crime ... so much so that other crimes are petty in comparison. Now, his hypocrisy is that he is using other, sometimes smaller crimes, to make hunting Surgebinders valid.[10]


In the current timeline, he believes that Tashi doesn't care much for what residents of Yeddaw do there.[8]

Further, where the law allows discretion in punishments, he believes that removing the hand of a thief leads to a high rate of recidivism, as the thief is left unable to do most honest work, and therefore must steal. In such a case, he could make crime worse instead of reducing it.[8]

Overarching all, however, (and responsible for his murderous actions) is the 'truth' - he claims - Ishar made clear to him:

"If the bonds between men and spren are reignited, then men will naturally discover the greater powers of the oaths. Without Honor to regulate this, there is a small chance that what comes next will allow the Voidbringers to again make the jump between worlds. That would cause a Desolation, and even a small chance that the world will be destroyed is a risk that we cannot take. Absolute fidelity to the mission Ishar gave us - the greater law of protecting Roshar - is required."

–Nale to his underlings[10]

Nale believes that to question is weakness; that one must do one's duty. Further, that to question is to accept a descent into inactivity. That the only path to sanity and action is to choose a code and to follow it.[10]

"The minds of men are fragile, their emotions mutable and often unpredictable. The only path to Honor is to stick to your chosen code. This was the way of the Knights Radiant, and this is the way of the Skybreakers."

–Nale to Szeth[10]

With regard to Surgebinders, he believes that if he and his underlings don't stop one, that others will congregate. That they'll clump together. He states that he's often found them making contact with one another during the past five years, if he left them alone. He insists that they must be drawn together.[10]


Lift agrees with Wyndle that Nale is dangerous and describes him as a man who kills people. That he murders people who don't seem to be connected.[7]

She notes that people give him lots of space, moving away from him like they would a guy who's backside couldn't help but let everyone know what he'd been eating lately.[8]

Further, she hates him because it seems that he does what he does without a shred of guilt.[11]


And thus were the disturbances in the Revv toparchy quieted, when, upon their ceasing to prosecute their civil dissensions, Nalan’Elin betook himself to finally accept the Skybreakers who had named him their master, when initially he had spurned their advances and, in his own interests, refused to countenance that which he deemed a pursuit of vanity and annoyance; this was the last of the Heralds to admit to such patronage.

–From Words of Radiance, chapter 5, page 17[12]

Last DesolationEdit

After their victory in the Last Desolation, Nale abandoned the Oathpact, along with his fellow Heralds, except for Talenel.[13]

Six Years AgoEdit

Nale was present in Kholinar during King Gavilar's assassination, accompanied by a short and thin Alethi man (i.e., Kalak). At one point during the feast, he was engaged in conversation with Elhokar, and afterwards encountered Jasnah while talking in an abandoned hallway with his Alethi companion.[14]

The PresentEdit

Nale found Ym - a budding Surgebinder and an unintentional accomplice to murder 40 years ago - in an unknown city. After a brief chase, Nale caught and killed him with his Shardblade.[5]

Later, Nale pursued Lift, a fledgling Edgedancer and a young thief, from Marabethia to Azir. He followed her into the Prime Aqasix’s palace, which she'd infiltrated during the holy conclave, then in session electing the new Prime. After a chase, he eventually caught her. Even as he half apologized for what he was about to do, he was dispassionate.[10] On the brink of executing her, the new Prime, Gawx, appeared and pardoned her of her crimes, which made Nale stand down and let her go.[9]

He observed Szeth's fight with Kaladin (at least the finale), and used some sort of fabrial to restore Szeth to life after Szeth died and fell from the highstorm. (Szeth's death occurs only in the rewrite of Words of Radiance - i.e., initially the paperback version of Words of Radiance following the original hardcover copy; subsequently, all later versions of the novel.) He identified himself to Szeth as the Herald of Justice, and recruited him, despite Szeth's objections.[6]

"You? Not worthy? I watched you destroy yourself in the name of order, watched you obey your personal code when others would have fled or crumbled. Szeth-son-Neturo, I watched you keep your word with perfection. This is a thing lost to most people - it is the only genuine beauty in the world. I doubt I have ever found a man more worthy of the Skybreakers than you."[6]

He agreed that Szeth had indeed destroyed himself and that he'd died; that Szeth's bond to his Blade had been severed, that all ties - both spiritual and physical - had been undone. Yet Nale offered Szeth training and ... a new Shardblade; a large black blade trailing black smoke in a metal sheath which spoke in Szeth's mind. This blade is Nightblood from Warbreaker.[6]

As Nale moves through the city of Yeddaw in Tashikk, people give him a lot of space. He never pauses to consider his route, or to look at the wares of street vendors. He seems to move too quickly for his own steps, like he is melting from shadow to shadow as he strides.[8]

After apprehending Tiqqa, he declares himself to a shopkeeper to be a special deputized operative, granted free jurisdiction throughout the kingdom by the prince.[8]

After killing Tiqqa, he looks confused as to why anyone would be bothered by what he'd done, then turns and continues on his way.[8]

Shortly thereafter, he is observed by Lift to have entered a building in a better part of town.[8] She follows and overhears him denying the Voidbringers' existence to Szeth. He states that what Szeth saw was a few listeners from the old days, free to use the old forms. That they'd summoned a cluster of Voidspren.[10]

Nale then denies the Everstorm's existence, claiming that it means nothing, that it's an oddity.[10]

In his his renewed conflict with Lift on the third floor of Tashi's Light Orphanage while staring out a trapdoor in the ceiling, Lift urges Nale (whom she calls Darkness) to look at the storm behind him. A sorry, sad group of evicted parshmen stand on the ground below. Their eyes glow with the red of the lightning. Nale attempts to deny this and Lift tells him he's failed, that it has come. Looking into the storm, Nale realizes she's right. He calls out to his fellow Heralds and admits he's failed. He bows his head and starts weeping. Lift then hugs him. He clings to her and weeps. Then, he pushes himself away, starts to glow, shoots into the sky, and vanishes.[15]

Abilities and PowersEdit

Nale is in the possession of an undescribed Shardblade, which may be his Honorblade, given that Lift notes he was glowing faintly and running too quickly when he was chasing her. This suggests that he is either the one who recovered one of the Honorblades from the Shin, or that he is able to infuse Stormlight on his own.[9]

He also has a larkin, and uses its ability to absorb Stormlight to then drain Stormlight from the Surgebinders he hunts.[9]

Nale has the ability to restore life after death, even if the individual's soul has been been cut through - dead for certain - as long as the brain of the individual hasn't also died, with the right fabrial (as he did for Szeth).[6]

To Lift, Wyndle indicates that Darkness will have a spren, not unlike himself, but likely invisible to her and anyone else but the bonded individual.[8]


Szeth refers to Nale as Nin-son-God.[10]