Fanart of Shallan on the steps of the Palanaeum
|Eye Color||Soft Blue|
|Title(s)||Ward of Jasnah Kholin|
|Occupation||Ward and Scholar, Knight Radiant|
|Appears in||The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance|
Shallan is one of the main protagonists in The Stormlight Archive. Daughter of the recently deceased Brightlord Davar of Jah Keved, Shallan pursues and receives scholarly training as a ward of Jasnah Kholin.
Shallan is the fifth and youngest child and only daughter of Brightlord and Brightness Davar. She was quiet and timid and lived a sheltered life, except that she was subjected to her father's cruel rages, mostly directed toward her brothers. She is largely self-educated, since her mother died when she was young; her stepmother was not educated, and three tutors were driven away by her father's rudeness or temper.
Although she has a fascination with drawing (at which she is gifted through her ability to take 'Memories' of her subject matter and is quite accomplished at doing so), she names Natural History as her Calling and is a member of the Devotary of Purity, which her father chose for her.
It is hinted that Pattern was present for most of Shallan's childhood. She appears to have a smattering of memories about him, but the extent of Pattern's involvement in her childhood isn't yet known.
After the 'incident' that resulted in her father's death, Shallan proposed that she seek out Jasnah Kholin, a noted scholar and heretic, and attempt to steal Jasnah's soulcaster while under the pretext of becoming her ward and student. Shallan has a genuine interest in scholarship and dislikes the duplicity of the plan, but feels compelled because of her family's perilous straits. She took passage from Vedenar with Captain Tozbek and his wife Ashlv aboard the Wind's Pleasure, one of her father's Thaylen business connections. After finding that Jasnah had already departed from two previous places where she expected to meet her, she finally caught up to her in Kharbranth. She was escorted to the Palanaeum by Tozbek's crewman Yalb, where her first application to become Jasnah's ward was rejected. She met Kabsal while waiting to make a second attempt, which was also rejected. Yalb assisted her to make a third, which succeeded.
Shallan seems to get along well with her family members (with the exception of her father and stepmother) and frequently contacts them via spanreed. She is referred to as her father's 'favorite' by her brother, Nan Balat.
In Kharbranth, she meets the Ardent, Kabsal, who shows an interest in her. Eventually, he even suggests leaving the Ardentia to be with Shallan. However, Kabsal died after accidentally poisoning himself (and Shallan) without having the antidote, which Jasnah had removed by soulcasting her portion of that which was eaten by all three of them. Shallan seemed to think that Kabsal genuinely cared for her near the end, even though Jasnah says he was just a man that used her to get close enough to Jasnah, so that he could kill her.
Shallan developed a loose friendship with Jasnah. However, for her family, she stole Jasnah's fabrial, which led Jasnah to seem deeply hurt and upset once revealed. (Shallan was one of the only people Jasnah thought she could trust.) Luckily, this was soon repaired as Shallan proved her soulcasting abilities to Jasnah and assured her of her true desire to learn and study. Shallan had to promise Jasnah that she would no longer lie to her.
With the revelation of Shallan's ability (and her need to find the Oathgate), Jasnah realized the importance of their need to be with her uncle, Dalinar Kholin, her mother, Navani, and her brother, King Elhokar Kholin on the Shattered Plains. Before embarking upon their journey, a message from Navani revealed that she and Jasnah had discussed arranging a marriage between Shallan and Adolin Kholin.
Shallan is an accomplished sketch artist, and can perfectly re-create any scene of which she has taken a 'Memory' - an extremely detailed visual recollection, which is forgotten once drawn. She has a strong interest in Natural History and finds most texts on the subject lacking in at least one of literary merit, quality of illustration, or scientific accuracy.
She has discovered that she can soulcast without need of a fabrial by visiting Shadesmar. She has also learned that the soulcaster she had been determined to steal is a nonfunctional fake, and that Jasnah can also soulcast without one.
In a suppressed memory she recalls 'the event' that led to her father's death where she remembers a long silvery sword in her hand that is sharp enough to cut stone. Within The Way of Kings, Shallan has (on a couple of occasions) begun to summon her Shardblade (in spite of her self-determination to never use it), but has so far avoided completing the process.
In Words of Radiance, Shallan discovers and develops the second Surge belonging to her: Illumination. Through the use of Stormlight, she can create illusions of things she has recently sketched. These illusions mist over and revert to Stormlight when someone tries to touch them. She uses this, in particular, to disguise herself as someone else by virtue of a sketch she has made from a Memory. In the appendix, Ars Arcanum, it is revealed that sound is also part of the Surge, Illumination, though Shallan has yet to discover how to implement sound as part of her illusions.
As we first meet her, Shallan is soft spoken and determined, though it doesn't take long for her intelligence to come through. Kept under the thumb of her father throughout her youth, her sharp tongue only began to manifest as a sign of rebellion against her father's restrictions. Her quick wit becomes a defining characterstic in her relationships with both Adolin and Kaladin in Words of Radiance.
Despite a childhood of tutors who were also run off by her father, Shallan's natural curiosity and abilities lead her into Natural History, which she follows as her Calling. She is constantly excited by small marvels of science, seeking happiness where she can find it after her abusive childhood. She takes pleasure in a job well done in her research, and uses her Memories to create very detailed annotations. She hates the feeling of not knowing, while at the same time revels in the excitement of discovery. Her curiosity repeatedly leads her into trouble, but her cleverness generally gets her back out of it.
Shallan is fiercely loyal to her family, to Jasnah, and to her research.
While in Shadesmar in The Way of Kings, Shallan encounters a being with whom she must negotiate in order to Soulcast. (Entry into this realm is granted by a type of spren that most people cannot see. Shallan can only see them in her drawings, though she can communicate telepathically with them at all times; Elhokar Kholin can see them in mirrors.) This spren grants Shallan access to Shadesmar when she speaks a truth to it about herself; the stronger and more secret the truth, the stronger the bond between the spren and the Soulcaster. It is assumed that the being Shallan speaks with in Shadesmar is one of these spren (i.e.: Pattern). (Later, Jasnah indicates to her that the more infused spheres one has, the easier it is to manipulate Shadesmar; Shallan was nearly pulled into the sea when she visited there with only one dun sphere.)
Shallan spends much of her time in Words of Radiance finding her self-confidence and her great inner strength is revealed. With the disappearance of Jasnah, Shallan is forced to fend for herself as she discovers her abilities as a Lightweaver. When she is put into stressful social situations, she almost always creates an illusory, older, more refined version of herself to present. Throughout the novel she compares herself to her alter ego, Veil, and finds herself lacking. In truth, however, she is remarkably confident in her approach to dealing with many of the most powerful people in Alethkar. By the end of this novel, she is forced to confront not only her past but also her abilities as a Radiant. This leads her to become confident in herself as Shallan. Throughout Words of Radiance, flashbacks reveal the great compassion and loyalty Shallan had for her brothers and the ways in which she held the Davar family together in the face of their violent father.
Through her flashbacks in Words of Radiance, Shallan eventually reveals that her mother tried to murder her when her Lightweaving abilities surfaced. Her father defended her. As the result of both her parents' actions in this, Shallan created strong mental blocks to avoid recalling anything about her mother's gruesome death. Further, while stranded in a chasm together, Shallan reveals to Kaladin that she ended her father's reign of terror by poisoning him. She later had to strangle him with her own necklace when the poison didn't work.
- Brightlord Davar - Shallan's abusive father who cheated his way through life and left his family destitute. He was accused of killing his wife and her lover. He was a frequent drunk who went on violent rampages where he would psychologically or physically torment his sons, beat his house staff, and waste money the family didn't have with lavish parties to 'elevate' his status amongst his peers. After beating his second wife to death, letting his fourth son be taken by debt collectors (essentially loan sharks), and threatening to murder his eldest son (by whom he'd been threatened with his own death), he is poisoned and then strangled by Shallan.
- Helaran - Shallan's missing, eldest brother, a full Shardbearer. Dead. Killed by Kaladin.
- Balat - Shallan's next older brother, who develops a fascination with death after the passing of their mother, which often manifests itself in his pointless killing of innocent creatures.
- Wikim - Shallan's brother who struggles with depression. He eventually admits his struggles to Shallan and gives her his secret stash of poison, which she later uses to kill their abusive and homicidal father.
- Jushu- Shallan's brother who persists in a gambling habit, thereby putting him in danger, his life threatened.