Nightblood by Silverbeam

Fan art by Silverbeam[1]

Biographical information
Race Awakened sword
Gender Neutral
Status Alive
Abilities Various
Social Information
Aliases Shardblade
Title(s) Shardblade
Family Vasher (co-creator), Shashara (co-creator)
Appears in Warbreaker, Words of Radiance , Arcanum Unbounded, Edgedancer, Oathbringer

Nightblood is an Awakened sword, native to the world of Nalthis and formerly wielded by Vasher, now Zahel. It was later given to Szeth by Nale.[1] It was created from the power of Breaths that had been pulled from living hosts and pushed into something unnatural.

Nightblood works on Roshar because the Awakened sword can use any form of Investiture. Brandon has also said that Shardblades are allomantically "pushable", but even the Lord Ruler (from the original Mistborn series) would have had problems pushing on it.

It is generally accepted within the fan community that Nightblood and the sword given to Szeth by Nale are one in the same. In addition, Brandon has been asked questions regarding Nightblood and Zahel on Roshar without contradicting this assumption, which is generally regarded as an implied confirmation.[2]


Nightblood is described as a long, thin-bladed sword in a silver sheath with a clasp, of an unusual weight, the hilt of which is pure black.[3] It exudes a trail of black smoke from any uncovered portion of the blade. Szeth likens the smoke to Stormlight, only dark.[1]


"Hello. Would you like to destroy some evil today?"

–A common introduction to his wielder by Nightblood.

As an Awakened sword created to destroy evil, Nightblood is very satisfied with itself when it kills. Yet, it seeks affirmation; it wants its creator to be proud ... to be impressed by its actions. It reacts like a child in many ways.[4]

The sword says whatever comes to its steely mind, whether or not its comments are relevant. It is like a child, speaking or asking questions without inhibition.[5]

Nightblood has opinions, and it rarely lies. However, any thoughts that Vasher forms in his mind, Nightblood mind-reads and thinks they are directed at itself. In Nightblood's opinion, everything should be directed its way. However, the sword has trouble with things that aren't fully formed in Vasher's mind. It has difficulty interpreting fleeting and momentary thoughts; flashes of image, sound or scent; connections made, then lost, then recovered again. Some logical leaps are a bit too complex for the sword.[6]

A quirk of Nightblood's nature is that anyone whom it considers "good" will feel sick when confronted with it. Conversely, those whom it considers to be "evil" will be compelled to kill themselves. It has decided that anyone who would use itself for generally harmful purposes such as murder, theft, or extortion is evil.[7]


Nightblood was created by Vasher and his wife, Shashara, through a form of Investiture known as Awakening. (Later, Vasher used Nightblood to slay Shashara when it became clear that she was going to reveal to the general populace how to create more sentient swords.[8]) This particular form of Investiture appears to be restricted to Nalthis and is not known to be applicable on Roshar.

It took a person who had reached the Ninth Heightening to Awaken stone or steel. Awakening an inanimate object, such as a sword, requires a specific Command in order to grant a purpose to the entity. Shashara learned to forge the Breath of a thousand people into a piece of steel, Awaken it to sentience, and give it a Command. Shashara gave Nightblood the Command: Destroy evil. Neither she - nor Vasher - anticipated that, in being a sword, Nightblood did not possess the moral background to distinguish good from evil. Nightblood is a terrible, destructive thing - but it had been created to destroy. It doesn't understand life or what life means. It only knows its Command and tries so very hard to fulfill it.[9]

Drawing Nightblood has a terrible cost. Each creature struck with the blade immediately flashes and becomes smoke. A single scratch and bodies dissolve like paper being consumed by an invisible fire, leaving behind only a large stain of blackness in the air. When it is done with a group, there is never anyone to question. In slamming Nightblood through a wall, the stone dissolves just as easily as flesh, evaporating away.[10]

Nightblood can't "see" ... but with its powerful, twisted BioChroma, but it can sense life and people. Both are things Nightblood had been created to protect.[11]

After The events of Warbreaker, Nightblood came to be in the possession of Nalan'Elin - or Nale - the Herald of the Almighty, Herald of Justice, though just when - or how - this occurred remains as yet unknown. Nale refers to Nightblood as a Shardblade, perfectly suited to Szeth's task and temperament.[1]

Within Warbreaker, the sword devours Breaths to be powered. It might be assumed that it will feed on Stormlight while on Roshar.

In Edgedancer, Szeth pulls Nightblood out of its sheath just enough so that black smoke pours from the blade. In the sword's presence, Lift feels a sudden, terrible nausea.[12] Szeth later states that the sword likes her.[13]

He calls Nightblood "sword-nimi".[12]


Nightblood is fascinated by gender, and trying to figure it out. Unlike spren like Syl, Nightblood has not self gender assigned as an influence of interacting with humans. That said, Vasher was probably the one who just started calling him "He," so if you want to take the issue up with anyone, go to him.

–Brandon Sanderson[2]

Q&A with BrandonEdit

Q: Will you tell us a little about the sword from Warbreaker?

A: Nightblood is a weapon that I devised. He is partially inspired by my love of Michael Moorcock's writing.[14] He was built into the cosmere using many of the foundational cosmere magic system things that exist on multiple worlds.[15]

Q: What would happen if Nightblood and a Shardblade hit each other?

A: RAFO[16]

Footnote: Brandon has stated that Nightblood is, "orders of magnitude," more powerful than a Shardblade.

Q: Is Nightblood more dangerous or less dangerous now that he - obviously needs Investiture ... any Investiture?

A: I'd say more dangerous, a little bit easier to get the Stormlight.

Q: Why did you put Nightblood in The Stormlight Archive?

A: Nightblood and Vasher were in the original version of The Way of Kings before I wrote Warbreaker. Warbreaker in a way was actually introducing those two characters I'd already created.

Q: A while back someone asked if Hoid's sword is Nightblood, you said that was interesting. Is it similarly Invested?

A: I'm going to RAFO that. It is a very interesting question.

Footnote: Hoid's sword has been proven to not be Nightblood. Nightblood is now in Szeth's possession.

Q: So at the end of Words of Radiance, was that Nightblood?

A: It is Nightblood! Vasher is in there too if you look for him.

Q. Can Nightblood be considered a Splinter and does it function like a spren Realmatically? Are there distinct differences is what I'm asking.

A. Nightblood is kind of his own strange thing. He's an attempt to use one magic to replicate something in another. He's closest to a spren, but kind of like a ... robot spren, for lack of better words to use.

Q. When you say that Nightblood is "an attempt to use one magic to replicate something in another," do you mean life in general, or are you referring to a specific effect in a specific magic system?

A. There are those involved who knew that Shardblades existed before they tried the Nightblood experiment.

Q. So does this mean Vasher had knowledge of Shardblades before creating Nightblood?

A. It means what I wrote, and nothing more at this point. :)

Q. Dude. That's the most tantalizing RAFO I've seen in awhile. Have other Shards made Shardblades besides Honor?

A. :) RAFO

Q. Is that why Vasher uses the word 'Investiture' instead of some personal term for it?

A. I could be wrong, but I think Vasher was the first one in any book I allowed to use cosmere-aware terms for speaking of things like the magics. (Investiture is one of these.)[17]

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