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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)
Physical Description
Hair Color Auburn-red
Eye Color Light blue
Social Information
Aliases Veil
Title(s) Brightness
Family House Davar
Occupation Ward of Jasnah Kholin,
Ghostblood (affiliated), Knight Radiant
Appears in The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance

Shallan Davar is one of the main protagonists in The Stormlight Archive. Daughter of the recently deceased Brightlord Lin Davar of Jah Keved, Shallan pursued and received scholarly training as a ward of Jasnah Kholin.

She is one of the first Surgebinders to reappear after the Last Desolation more than 4,500 years ago, and by the end of Words of Radiance she has spoken the First Ideal of the Lightweavers and has access to a Shardblade.


Shallan is pale-skinned (in an era when Alethi tan is seen as the mark of true beauty), has light blue eyes and auburn-red hair (in which is manifest her impure family line). Her freckles had mostly faded as she'd reached young womanhood, but there are still some visible, dusting her cheeks and nose.[1] She also has a ready smile.[2]


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.[3]



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 throughout most of her childhood. As a child, she displayed Surgebinding abilities, which led to her mother attempting to kill her. Her father defended her, resulting in her mother's death. Because of this, Shallan erected mental blocks to avoid recalling the event. The resulting years saw her as mute and antisocial. Her father grew to be a cruel and angry man, though his rages softened before they were ever directed at her.

It is hinted that Pattern was present for most of Shallan's childhood. She appears to have few memories of him, but the extent of Pattern's involvement in her childhood isn't yet known.

Seeking JasnahEdit


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

After her father's death, Shallan sought out Jasnah Kholin, sister to King Elhokar and an accomplished scholar. Carrying her family's broken soulcaster with her, she planned to study under Jasnah as a ward so that she might switch out Jasnah's working soulcaster for her family's broken one. She hated the idea of stealing from the most prominent woman in the field of scholarship, though she felt compelled to do so to save her family from ruin. Left with no choice, 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.

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.[4] 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.[5]) 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.[6] 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[7] 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.[7] 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.[8] With her subsequent destruction of the Wind's Pleasure,[8] Shallan finds herself beached by the Santhid she'd previously investigated,[7] 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.[3]

Stranded in the Frostlands, encouraged by Pattern, Shallan discovers even more of her abilities as a Lightweaver. (This is the moment when Pattern iterates, "I am a stick," interpreting her spheres' words,[3], 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.[3]

Afterward, Tvlakv found her and she appropriated him and his men as her servants, as a noble lady would. She nevertheless felt like one of the ten fools in doing so.[3]

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]


Shallan first encounters Tyn, who is affiliated with the Ghostbloods, while trudging through the Frostlands toward the Shattered Plains.[12] During a spanreed conversation between Tyn and her superior, Shallan discovers that it was Tyn who sent assassins after Jasnah, at her superior's direction. Between them, a fight ensues and Shallan winds up killing Tyn with her Shardblade.[13]

Later, once arrived within the warcamps, Shallan hopes to infiltrate the Ghostbloods, due to both her father's and Brother Kabsal's involvement within it. As Veil, she gains a meeting with Mraize, who sets her to the task (supposedly, through her mistress, Tyn, who is indisposed) of breaking into Amaram's manor to investigate therein and learn his hidden secrets.[9]

With her Lightweaving, Shallan can now prepare multiple disguises ahead of time, switching between them as needed. Her sequence of disguises and misdirection achieves her goal of accessing Amaram's secret room. She works quickly to commit everything in Memory, and then pull off another masquerade to cover her tracks and keep anyone from getting suspicious. Exiting the manor, she slips back into her messenger disguise and is in the right place for Amaram to find her. She delivers her message about "her mistress" (i.e., herself sans disguise) wanting to document Amaram’s Plate and Blade, then discovers that his Blade is the one once held by her brother, Helaran. Due to Amaram's blithe description of the "assassin" and his own "counterattack" which killed the young man, Shallan learns that her brother is truly dead.[14]

Shallan (as Veil) meets with members of the Ghostbloods in the Unclaimed Hills to deliver her drawings of Amaram's secret room. She has carefully chosen which bits of information are revealed in the drawings, but inadvertently reveals that she can draw very accurately from memory. While Mraize is impressed with the drawings, he realizes that Shallan killed Tyn and is working on her own. She is commended for this but realizes as she's dismissed that in his parting words, Mraize has given the others tacit permission to try to kill her. She creates an Illusion in which to hide and sends Pattern to use her voice to tell the carriage driver to return to the warcamp. When her Illusion dissipates, she begins the long walk back to the warcamp while practicing accents with Pattern. Their practice is disrupted by the discovery of her carriage burned, her coachman and his parshmen murdered. She continues her walk more somberly, pondering how she could have handled this so no one died.[15]

Much later, Shallan learns that Mraize has discovered her true identity. She is informed that he holds her brothers as leverage for her continued participation within the Ghostbloods. Nevertheless, rather than blackmail her, Mraize chooses to gift her with her family, indicating that he has mentioned her debt so that it finds purchase within her mind.[16]



Endpapers for Words of Radiance, featuring Shallan
by Michael Whelan[17]

Her Calling is Natural History, though she finds most texts on the subject lacking in at least literary merit, quality of illustration, or scientific accuracy, and she is a member of the Devotary of Purity, which her father chose for her.[18] Despite this, she is fascinated with the living world, and sketches impressive drawings of people, places, events and more in her sketchbook through the use of 'Memories' - perfect recollections of things she has seen, which are involuntarily forgotten after being drawn.

She is largely self-educated; her mother died when she was young, her stepmother was not educated, and her tutors were all driven away by her father's temper.

Shallan has the ability to use Patern as a Sharblade, however due to supressing the memory of her mothers death Shallan uses this ability sparingly. It was only when faced with the functioning Oathgate at Stormseat/Narak that Shallan realizes that her Shardblade was infact Pattern - a living spren - and that it would be required to open the Gate.[19] It is not known if Pattern is capable of transforming into different Shards, though Shallan is aware of the ability to use Pattern as a Shardblade and has done so before.

Shallan is capable of soulcasting without the need of a fabrial, though her instruction on the ability ceased with Jasnah's 'death'. She has postponed developing her soulcasting abilities in favor of her other Surge: 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, but otherwise function as perfect replicas of her sketches. As her abilities grow, she learns to attach these illusions to Pattern. 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.[20] Discovered in Words of Radiance, she begins experimenting with her Illumination skills while infiltrating the Ghostbloods and searching for Urithiru.

She can sketch a series of 'faces' in the morning that she can use for an image in the afternoon. If she waits longer than a day, however, the image is blurred and sometimes looks melted.[14]

The process of creation left a picture in her mind that eventually wore thin.[14]

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.[21]

Charcoal for sinew, paper pulp for bone, ink for blood, the paper's texture for skin.[21]

She falls into a rhythm, a cadence, the falling of her pencil like the sound of breathing from those she depicts.[21]

A blank page was nothing but potential, pointless until it was used.[21]

The less Shallan is in the now and the more she is in the then when drawing, the better her sketches are.[21]


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, 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.[7]

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.[7] 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 Words of Radiance 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., the King's Guard: 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.


  • 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.[22]
  • 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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