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Heralds

Illustration by Isaac Stewart

The Heralds are servants of the Almighty worshiped in Vorinism. They were once considered deities by the people during the Heraldic Epochs, and are still revered in Vorin Kingdoms. Bound by the Oathpact, they would come from Damnation to fight the Desolations and then return for millennia of torture until the next Desolation. They founded the orders of the Knights Radiant to protect mankind against the Voidbringers.

The Heralds were once men and women, though they've died many times, and are now what are known as Cognitive Shadows. They are not Shards, like Honor. In local religions, they're more like saints than gods.

"The Heralds were sent to teach mankind," Lirin said. "They led us against the Voidbringers after we were cast from heaven. The Radiants were the orders of knights they founded."

Lirin to Kaladin[1]

Eventually, following a victory in yet another Desolation and weighed down by the prospect of millennia of torture, nine Heralds chose to abandon their self-appointed burden, hoping that Talenel'Elin might be enough to uphold the Oathpact. They told the people that mankind had finally won; thus, the event was known for the past 4,500 years as the Last Desolation or Aharietiam in Vorinism.

The Heralds carried Honorblades, which were much like modern Shardblades, but far more powerful. It is not known what became of the nine Heralds who abandoned the Oathpact. However, it was confirmed that Shalash was seen in The Way of Kings.[2]

Names & AttributesEdit

There are ten Heralds; five male and five female. Each represents an Ideal and is associated with one of the ten essences, numbers, gemstones, body focuses, Soulcasting properties, primary and secondary divine attributes, and orders of Knights Radiant.[3]

# Number Herald Primary/Sec Divine Attribute Image
1 Jes Jezrien Protecting Leading King image
2 Nan Nalan (Nale) Just Confident Hooded man
3 Chach Chanarach (Chana) Brave Obedient Woman with something akin to a helmet
4 Vev Vedel Loving Healing Hooded woman
5 Palah Paliah (Pali) Learned Giving Woman with hair going all directions
6 Shash Shalash (Ash) Creative Honest Woman with large jewel on forehead
7 Betab Battar Wise Careful Woman with band around head, over hair
8 Kak Kalak (Kelek) Resolute Builder Man with uncovered hair, long bangs
9 Tanat Talenel (Taln) Dependable Resourceful Helmed man
10 Ishi Ishar Pious Guiding Old man with long beard

In the present day, the Heralds are apparently going mad. In the Prologue of Words of Radiance, Jasnah overhears Nale and Kalak speaking with one another:

"I'm worried about Ash."

"You're worried about everything."

"She's getting worse," the voice continued. "We weren't supposed to get worse. Am I getting worse? I think I feel worse."

"Shut up."

"I don't like this. What we've done is wrong. That creature carries /my lord's/ own Blade. We shouldn't have let him keep it. He - "

The two passed through the intersection ahead of Jasnah. They were ambassadors from the West, including the Azish man with the white birthmark on his cheek. ...

The Azish man, the one dressed in black and silver, stopped and looked her up and down.[4]

ConnectionsEdit

Lurcher:

Here are the lists of things that I've noticed could be reasons why certain Herald images get chosen. I also picked up on alot of this stuff because the folks over at Tor have done a WoR re-read and have a dedicated "Heraldic Symbolism" subsection they devote for each chapter. They speculate as to why the specific Herald(s) were chosen. Specifically, Alice Arneson (one of the re-readers) has seemingly done some good research into this, so I'll give her credit for a lot of this.

I mostly listed these out for my own reference as I've been meaning to do so (since I usually keep them in my head when figuring this out when reading).

  • Herald themselves (mentioned, talked about, or actually has an appearance).
  • Some object associated with a Herald (example: a specific Herald's Honorblade.
  • Member of order (ex: Kaladin=Windrunners=Jezrien), Characters portraying divine attribute behavior (example: Loving and Healing).
  • Characters portraying the inverse of divine attribute behavior (example: Hating and Destroying).
  • Herald of <concept> - things associated with that concept. Known examples: 1) Shalash: Herald of Beauty 2) Nalan: Herald of Justice 3) Jezrien: Herald of Kings 4) Taln: Herald of War 5) Ishar: Herald of Luck.
  • Roles associated with a Herald. Known Examples: 1) Chana: Guards 2) Taln: Soldiers/war 3) Ishar: Ardents/religion 4) Vedel: Physicians.
  • Essences: Essence, body focus, soulcasting properties ... (this one is a stretch as I never really could pinpoint this well enough).
  • Jester/Masked face: This can be tied to chapters with Wit in them or tied to concepts related to him, the biggest one (I think) being storytelling.

How'd I do? :)

Note: I loved the "Four Lifetimes" chapter's Heraldic symbolism in Oathbringer,[5] but I thought that was great showing the different roles/lives Kaladin has filled: Surgeon (Vedel), Soldier (Taln), Guard (Chana), and Leader/Windrunner (Jezrien). Bravo.

Peter Ahlstrom:

How did you do? Pretty much a home run. There's only one thing you're missing, which you may have implied, and that's the gemstones. Also, there's a little bit more to #5 that will be explored further later in the series.

Your "Four Lifetimes" analysis is spot-on. Congratulations.[6]

TheoryEdit

So, every Herald has some madness related to his or her divine attributes.

Nale, Herald of Justice, is following the law by the letter. Not the spirit, but what is written down.

Ash, Herald of Beauty, who should be Creative, is destroying artwork depicting her.

Kalak, whose order is the adventurous Willshapers is rather paranoid now.

Jezrien, who should be a Leader, is getting drunk and speaking gibberish on Gavilar's "Last Supper" (although as this person is described as having a long black and grey beard, this could also be Ishar.)

Q&A w/BrandonEdit

Q. Did Ishar deceive Nalan on purpose or was he just wrong - he had wrong information?

A. All the Heralds are insane.

... It manifests in different ways. Do not trust anything any Herald says. Ever.

... Nale trusts Ishar too much.

Q. Okay, but so did he do it on purpose, or ... ?

A. Um ... So "on purpose" is a difficult thing when you're referring to someone with the psychology that Ishar has.

Q. Did he know what it was - that it was a lie?

A. ... I'll RAFO that until I get to him, but the answer is kind of a yes and a no. ... So there is part of him that knows and there is part of him that doesn't want to believe it. And yet the things he's been doing lately in Roshar are done because he knows what's coming.[7]

Q. Now that we have canon art of Ishar, Shalash, Jezrien, and Vedel, what Rosharan nationalities would you say they resemble the most?

A. Jezrien and Vedel would be seen as Alethi, most likely. Shalash would be seen as Azish, while Ishar would be seen as Shin, probably.

Q. Wait, but if Ishar looks like he’s from Shinovar, how did the Tukari accept him as the God-Priest?

A. That's a RAFO - but is a question you're supposed to be asking.[8]

Q. Were the Heralds alive for the human exodus from Ashyn?

A. Yes. They were not Heralds then, but they all made that trip. I believe. You can't nail me down on that one, because it's possible that Ash was born after, but I don't think so.[9]

Q. Moash killed a god? One of the Heralds?

A. He did. One of the Heralds. And trapped his soul so he couldn't be reborn.

Q. That's what it is. Trapped his soul, didn't actually kill him?

A. It's killed him ... . It was like, extra killed. The Heralds are bound to a cycle of rebirth that happens ... that they wanted to make sure didn't happen that time.[10]

ReferencesEdit