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Shallan Davar

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Shallan Davar
Fan art by sdumagny[4]
Biographical information
Ethnicity Jah Kevedian
Nationality Jah Kevedian
Gender Female
Born 1154
Status Alive
Abilities Surgebinding (Lightweaver), Shardbearer
Physical Description
Hair Color Red
Eye Color Soft Blue
Social Information
Aliases Veil
Title(s) Ward of Jasnah Kholin
Family House Davar
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 pursued 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 and her House's servants. 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.[1]

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.

Seeking JasnahEdit

After the 'incident' that resulted in her father's death, Shallan proposed that she seek out Jasnah Kholin, a noted scholar and heretic - also sister of King Elhokar - 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 (one of her father's Thaylen business connections) and his wife, Ashlv, aboard the Wind's Pleasure. After finding that Jasnah had already departed from two previous places where she expected to meet her, she finally caught up with 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.


Welcome to the City of Bells
Fan art by botanicaxu[1]


Family - 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.

Kabsal - In Kharbranth, she meets the Ardent, who shows an interest in her. Eventually, he even suggests leaving the Ardentia to be with Shallan. Shallan was flattered by his attention and grew closer to him. 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.

Jasnah - Shallan developed a loose friendship with Jasnah. Despite that she was planning to steal Jasnah's fabrial, Shallan was reluctant to do so, yet eventually did. Jasnah had begun to trust and care for Shallan, but once Shallan revealed that she had stolen from her, Jasnah was deeply hurt and upset. Jasnah had believed Shallan was one of the only people she thought she could trust. Fortunately for Shallan, their relationship 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 Jasnah's 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 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.[2]

Adolin Kholin - Adolin is introduced first to Shallan by Jasnah, who asks if a betrothal would be accepted if one was laid down between the two young people.[2] Shallan was ecstatic, because she knew she would then be able to pay of the debt collectors that were tormenting her family. Yet, after Jasnah's sudden 'death', the reasoning behind the betrothal crumbles. Until Adolin laid eyes on her fiery red hair, of course. After Shallan delivered the news of Jasnah's 'death', she went on to talk about the betrothal to Dalinar. He consented, based on Jasnah's opinion and Adolin's stark interest. As the book progresses, Shallan and Adolin like each other more and more. But, after the chasm incident, her feelings concerning Adolin become unclear as her eyes wander to Kaladin.

Kaladin - The two start on a bad note when Shallan tricks him at the insistence of Tyn, on which occasion she pretended to be a Horneater princess, and demanded his boots, which he grudgingly relinquished to her. This did not go without consequence; he later denied her accusation, being Captain of the re-named Cobalt Guard (i.e., Bridge Four). Shallan has an uneasy relationship with Kaladin, who is highly suspicious of her and her hostility toward him. Yet, when they both fall into a chasm because of a failed assassination attempt on Dalinar's life, they have lots of time to talk. Kaladin had been suspicious and hostile toward her and gave Shallan his two cents. Eventually Kaladin admitted that he wanted the world full of people like Shallan, in that he meant she was unbroken. She then described the nothing that came with being broken, a feeling so intimate it couldn't be told by someone who had not experienced it. Then as Kaladin described it, she amazingly smiled. They came to an understanding and friendliness by the near end of the incident and Shallan chronicled to Kaladin the times that broke her, words she had never shared with anyone before. Kaladin also told her of his life and the events that crushed him. She has still only ever told Kaladin the details of her past. It is up for debate whether Kaladin and Shallan hold an interest for each other now.



Michael Whelan's Endpapers for Words of Radiance, featuring Shallan[3]

Shallan is as an accomplished sketch artist, and can almost perfectly recreate any scene of which she has taken a 'Memory' - an extremely detailed visual recollection, which is forgotten once drawn. Her Calling is in Natural History and she finds most texts on the subject lacking in at least literary merit, quality of illustration, or scientific accuracy.

She has discovered that she can soulcast without the 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, on a couple of occasions Shallan began to summon her Shardblade (in spite of her self-determination never to use it), but 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.

Shallan remains in possession of a Shardblade, which she rarely summons (though previously has) as her training with its use is limited.

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.[4]

Drawing ProcessEdit

When Shallan collects a Memory of a person, she snips free a bud of their soul, cultivates it, and grows it on a page.[5]

Charcoal for sinew, paper pulp for bone, ink for blood, the paper's texture for skin.[5]

She falls into a rhythm, a cadence, the falling of her pencil like the sound of breathing from those she depicts.[5]

A blank page was nothing but potential, pointless until it was used.[5]

The less Shallan is in the now and the more she is in the then when drawing, the better her sketches are.[5]


When initially met, Shallan is soft spoken and determined, though it doesn't take long for her intelligence to come through. She has a sharp and witty tongue and it lashes out sometimes. Yet, she feels embarrassed and improper afterwards. 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 characteristic 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. However, when it comes to dealing with her emotional survival in the face of adversity, Shallan distracts herself, refusing to think about things that bother her.[6]

The Way of KingsEdit


Fan art by Reiyeka[2]

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.[7] 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.[8]) 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.[9] 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.)

Warning Book Spoiler: Significant plot details follow.

Words of RadianceEdit

Shallan exm

Fan art by ex-m[3]

Shallan spends much of her time in Words of Radiance finding her self-confidence and her great inner strength and ability is revealed.  Conditionally betrothed to Adolin[2] through Jasnah's machinations via spanreed, she embarks upon a journey from Kharbranth to the Shattered Plains - with Jasnah - at her mentor's insistence that they join her uncle, Dalinar, in his warcamp.[2] Aboard the Wind's Pleasure, with Tozbek at the helm, an assassination attempt (orchestrated by the Ghostbloods) is made on Jasnah and, with Shallan's increasing Lightweaving ability, her mentor's dilemma is effectually masked by her ward in illusion. Jasnah's ultimate disappearance while aboard ship leaves Shallan in a position whereby she is forced to fend for herself.[10] With her subsequent destruction of the Wind's Pleasure,[10] Shallan finds herself beached by the Santhid she'd previously investigated,[2] with only Pattern beside her and, after alerted to it by him, the trunk of Jasnah's books and notes her mentor had taken aboard ship.[6]

Stranded in the Frostlands, encouraged by Pattern, Shallan discovers even more her abilities as a Lightweaver. (This is the moment when Pattern iterates, "I am a stick," interpreting her spheres' words,[6], thereby encouraging Brandon's 4/1/14, April Fool's Day post.) Pattern encouraged her to offer truths in effort to transform the stick into fire, but Shallan slipped into Shadesmar and only narrowly escaped it.[6]

Afterward, Tvlakv found her and she appropriated him and his men as her servants, as a noble lady would.[6]

Later, when put into stressful social situations, Shallan creates an illusory, older, more refined version of herself to present. Throughout the novel she compares herself - first, to Jasnah - then to her alter ego, Veil, and finds herself lacking.[11] 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.[12] 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, that he had given her, when the poison didn't work.[13]


  • Lin 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. Yet, as we learn later in the series, he was not responsible for their deaths. The love for his daughter did not extend to anyone else. 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.[14]
  • 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 (Blackbane), 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. Shallan once bargained to save his life from debt collectors.
  • Malise Gevelmar - Shallan's stepmother and her father's second wife. She was left in charge of Shallan's education but succeeded miserably.


By the end of Words of Radiance, Shallan is eighteen years old.



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