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Kaladin (AKA Kaladin Stormblessed) Edit
The Hero of the story so far, and one of several viewpoint characters, Kaladin started as just your average son of a middleclass citizen. His father was a Surgeon, which is very high up for a Darkeyes. Then he joined the military to protect his brother, failed and to make up for it, he became a master with the spear and vowed to protect his squad. He failed, but in the process killed a Shardbearer. Which is effectively impossible without a Shardblade or Shardplate of one's own. After he became a slave, he winds up in the ownership of Highprince Sadeas and decides to try one more time. He vows to protect his bridge crew. He is not only successful, he discovers he has magic powers, and beats ANOTHER Shardbearer in the process of saving Highprince Dalinar's life. Then he earns his freedom because Dalinar is a man of his word.
- The Ace
- Author Avatar: Probably not to any great extent, but he shares at least one important bit of background with his author--both of them had parents who wanted them to go into medicine, but they ended up doing something else.
- Badass Abnormal: in the flashbacks we see him kill a Shardbearer with nothing but natural skill, then he develops Surgebinding abilities.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome He always tries to save people, he usually fails, in the beginning.
- Combat Medic
- Dead Little Brother
- Driven to Suicide: Very nearly
- Failure Knight he fails to protect his little brother
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: If Syl acts as his Good Angel then the aspect of himself which he calls 'the Wretch' (representing his apathy) fulfills the role of Bad Angel.
- Hurting Hero: Such a lot.
- I Should Have Been Better: Feels this way about his failure to protect his brother.
- Knight Templar Big Brother To his little brother
- Survivor Guilt
- The Hero
- Took a Level In Badass
- Walking Disaster Area: Lampshaded constantly throughout the book. Eventually justified upon the revelation that Syl is an Honorspren and has been giving Kaladin unconscious Surgebinding powers.
Highprince Dalinar Kholin (AKA: The Blackthorn) Edit
The second major character of the first book, one of ten Alethi highprinces, fighting a war with the nominal aid of the other highprinces to avenge the assassination of his brother, the former king. Once renowned for his raw martial prowess, he is now plagued with doubts about his people's culture and the war they are fighting, and also by strange visions that seem to be of the distant mostly-forgotten past and which contain hints of a dark future that may be in store.
- A Father to His Men
- The Fettered: Adheres to his chosen code of conduct despite ridicule from his rivals and complaints from his son, and he goes so far as to give up his Shardblade to keep his promise to Kaladin and Bridge 4 to free them.
- Four-Star Badass
- Honor Before Reason Accused of it by his enemies.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Due to seeking the Old Magic, he has no memory of his wife other then the fact she existed, and can't even hear her name properly when it's spoken.
- It has not yet been revealed whether this was the wish or the price.
- Warrior Prince
- Word of God: Dalinar was the first character Sanderson came up with for the series, and he "is the soul of the series, for me."
Adolin Kholin Edit
Dalinar's elder son and heir. Worries throughout the novel over his father's visions, although he was happy when the visions were proven at least tentatively true. He has a love for dueling (in fact, it's his religious Calling) and doesn't take well to his father's insistence to follow the Codes. This changes during the battle for the Tower.
- Foil: According to Word of God, Sanderson created Adolin to have a contrasting viewpoint to Dalinar.
- Serial Romeo: Constantly switching girlfriends, it's lampshaded by his brother on several occasions.
Shallan Davar Edit
The third main viewpoint character in the first book, a young woman undertaking a desperate plan to save her family from destitution. She takes up a wardship with Jasnash Kholin to steal her Soulcaster to replace the one her father had, which broke, but finds this difficult as she begins to enjoy learning.
- Badass Abnormal: Like Jasnah, she can Soulcast without a Soulcaster, something that isn't seen anywhere else.
- Deadpan Snarker: Seems to have a compulsion to make witty remarks at almost any opportunity.
- Hidden Depths: According to Word of Brandon, the scene with her counting heartbeats "means what you think it means".
- For those who haven't read it yet, a shardblade takes ten of the owner's heartbeats to summon. The scene means she has one, each of which are considered priceless and rare. Given her culture's sharply defined gender roles, it's practically unheard of for a woman to have one, much less someone with the image she tries to present in public.
- Impoverished Patrician; Her father racked up a ton of debts and even more ill-will before he died.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Her father sheltered her a great deal, she didn't get out much until the events of the story.
- Parental Favouritism: She was the only child in the family that her father never abused and rarely got angry with.
- Photographic Memory: She can remember any scene perfectly with a bit of effort and a blink, and then forget it later, after sketching it. This is probably a supernatural ability.
- Self-Made Orphan: Apparently being the favorite didn't stop her from somehow killing him, though she still feels guilt about it.
Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar Edit
The Assassin In White sent to kill the former Alethi king, gets several viewpoint sections of his own throughout The Way Of Kings. His title of "Truthless" is never quite explained, though Taravangian's words later make it seem as though he was given his Shardblade by his people.
- Extreme Doormat: He will do anything the person who holds his Oathstone orders, except commit suicide or give up his Shardblade.
- Gravity Master: The thing that makes him so deadly, since nobody else understands his abilities or how to counter them.
- Magic Knight: More like a magic ninja really.
- My Master, Right or Wrong
- Person of Mass Destruction: Even most Shardbearers don't stand much of a chance.
Jasnah Kholin Edit
Niece of Dalinar Kholin, and sister of the current reigning king of Alethkar, a famous scholar and an infamous heretic. During the length of the book, she remains in Kharbranth, studying something ( Her studies are later revealed to be about the true nature of the Voidbringers. She is very dedicated to her research, and belongs to a somewhat obscure order of historians that search for the truth in history.
- Badass Bookworm: She uses Soulcasting to great effect against some random thugs resulting in three of them being vaporized and one Taken for Granite... and then orders Shallan to treat her actions as a problem for research into ethics.
- Badass Abnormal: Her Soulcasting is unique in that she doesn't need a Soulcaster, something she shares with Shallan and is the fact that eventually convinces her to rehire Shallan after the theft.
- Hollywood Atheist: Shallan initially assumes her to be this, actually averted, while she can be brusque and somewhat of an Insufferable Genius at times, she's a genuinely good person who shows tolerance and respect for Shallan's religious beliefs.
- Stern Teacher
Sylphrena "Syl" Edit
A mysterious Spren who follows Kaladin throughout his enslavement. Usually taking on the appearance of a young woman she attempts to encourage Kaladin and keep him from giving up hope.
- Anthropomorphic Personification : All spren appear to be this to some degree. Though initially believed to be a simple windspren by Kaladin Syl is in fact an Honorspren; spirit of oaths, promises and nobility.
- Familiar: Shares a bond with Kaladin through which she gains greater sentience and he gains surgebinding abilities.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Performs the role of Good Angel for Kaladin.
- Invisible to Normals: Is usually only visible to those she allows to see her, but some people, such as Rock, are born with the ability to see her, and maybe any spren.
- It could be that Rock's people have enough honor or nobility to see her.
- Invisible Jerkass: May have a heart of gold but she does enjoy playing pranks, usually only appearing afterwards to laugh at her victim.
- Mystical Waif: Of the six inch high variety.
- Non-Human Sidekick
- Shape Shifter: Can seemingly take any form but usually chooses to appear as a young woman about a handspan tall.
- Spirit Advisor
- Wham! Line: "I am Honorspren".
King Taravangian Edit
The king of the small city-state, Kharbranth. He is thought somewhat dull by his peers. However, he is well-liked due to funding hospitals throughout the city for those who can't afford medical care. His reasons for funding the hospitals is somewhat harmed by the fact that he has any person deemed to far gone to be saved killed deliberately, just so he can record the cryptic messages some people say as they die. He claims that he will save the world.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Most of the other lighteyes in Kharbranth consider Taravangian somewhat slow and unskilled at politics. In reality, he is at the head of a large conspiracy which has resulted in the deaths of many nameless citizens just to harvest information, and the killings of several very important foreign dignitaries.
- Not exactly "obfuscating": according to Word of God, he used the Old Magic at some point and now his IQ changes randomly each day.
- The Chessmaster: Taravangian is much smarter than he appears, as shown by the multiple levels of backup plans and the specificity of his orders to Szeth. It is also implied that he has other pawns in the waiting.
The King's Wit (AKA Hoid) Edit
The King's Wit is a traditional position held in the Alethi court. The job of the Wit is to make fun of the highprinces and others in the court, so that the King does not have to "sully" himself and give insults. The current King's Wit (Hoid) is very good at his job. However, his comments have a weight to them, and he appears to know more than he lets on, though what he knows more about is left vague. A small group of men are looking for him, under the name of Hoid, in what is presumed to be a variety of places, though the only confirmed is the Purelake. Why they want him is unknown. He helps Dalinar and Adolin on more than one occasion, both with jokes and serious advice, and he later helps Kaladin, before disappearing. By the end of the book, he is back in Kholinar, the capital of Alethkar, when the Lost Herald arrives at the gates.
- Deadpan Snarker: Wit's entire job is to be this. He spends every feast thrown by the King just sitting by the entrance, insulting everyone who walks in with an easy, practiced air. He also mocks Sadeas, one of the most powerful highprinces, several times.
Wit: Sadeas, I don't believe you've ever paid me a sphere. Though, no, please, don't offer. I can't take your money, as I know how many others you must pay to get what you wish of them.
Sadeas: A whore joke, Wit? Is that the best you can manage?
Wit: Each man has his place. Mine is to make insults. Yours is to be in-sluts.
- The Jester: His role practically mimics that of the medieval court jester, as he is allowed (and required) to insult members of the court.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Dalinar believes that Wit knows more than he should, and is later proven right, when Wit/Hoid is revealed to know the Lost Herald, and been expecting him to appear.
- Fourth Wall Observer: Said by Hoid, "I began life as a thought, a concept, words on a page." Plus, his character has appeared in every Sanderson "world" barring that of the Alcatraz Series. Since all these separate worlds are stated through Word of God to be in the same universe (the cosmere) this actually makes sense.