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Nightblood

Nightblood
Fan art by Silverbeam[1]

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

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 and 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]

Appearance[]

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]

Personality[]

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

–Nightblood to Szeth[1]

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]

Lift perceives Nightblood as a "she," and Nightblood doesn't care.[6]

Characteristics[]

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.[7]

A quirk of Nightblood's nature is that anyone whom it considers to be "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.[8]

Nightblood can sense where Vasher is. This is because Nightblood has ingested and fed off Vasher's Breaths in the past. When he does that, it connects him to someone. It's also one of the secrets as to why Vasher doesn't get sick when holding Nightblood, even though he's a good person. It's not simply familiarity (though that is part of it). Nightblood has a built-in test. If he feeds off you and you survive, then you become somewhat immune to his powers.[9]

Whatever Nale's reasons for entrusting Szeth with this weapon, Szeth considers it to be a holy object. When he undoes the clasp on the sword and draws it, he hears a rushing sound, like a thousand screams. A wave of power, like the beating of a terrible, stunning wind. Colors change around him, deepen, growing darker and more vibrant. Liquid darkness flows from the Blade, then melts to smoke as it falls.[10]

Ordinary Shardblades burn only the eyes, but this Blade somehow consumes the entire body. It seems to sear away even a man's soul.[10]

During an attack, Nightblood's voice is insistent, forceful. After a kill, the voice sinks to a deep muttering in Szeth's mind, the words slurring. It strikes him as sounding like the voice of a beast falling into a stupor after having gorged itself.[10]

Nightblood can consume more Investiture than Chiri-Chiri.[11] Though it does so, it does not view Investiture as evil.[12]

Nightblood would get full before consuming even the smallest fraction amount of Odium.[13]

According to Brandon, satiated on Investiture, Nightblood is much less dangerous. Also, by technicality, more susceptible to damage or death. But when Nightblood is full, it's harder for it to pull things in, so all sorts of things could happen. It's not that Nightblood is weaker, it's not like the metal is easier to break or bend, it's more that it's not as likely to suck one's soul.[14]

Biography[]

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.[15]) 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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18]

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.[19] Szeth later states that the sword likes her.[20]

He calls Nightblood "sword-nimi".[19][10][21]

When given Nightblood, Szeth was told by Nale to never let it leave his presence. To Szeth, this seems like more of a burden than an aid. He'd also been cautioned about drawing it.[10]

Nightblood tells Szeth that it's sure Szeth can spot evil. That Szeth seems smart, if increasingly kind of boring.[10]

According to Nightblood, Vivenna used to tell it that cruelty is only for men, as is mercy. It tells Szeth that they can choose one or the other, and beasts cannot. When asked by Szeth whether it counts himself as a man, Nightblood tells him that sometimes she (i.e., Vivenna) talked like she did. That after Shashara* made it, she argued with Vasher, saying that it could be a poet or a scholar. Like a man.[10]

Nightblood tells Szeth that Vivenna never drew it even once. That she carried it for a long time too; maybe even a couple of days.[10]

While is a training session with other Skybreaker squires, Szeth "hears" Nightblood speaking to him:

"Make a stand," the sword suggested. "You can take them."

–Nightblood to Szeth[21]

After the Battle of Thaylen Field, Szeth draws in Stormlight from the gemstones near Dalinar - which had charged after he'd slammed the realms back together - and was able to feed Nightblood enough to return him to his sheath.[22]

Taravangian killed Rayse with Nightblood soon after the reconquest of Urithiru.[23]

Notes[]

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]

According to Szeth, the name Shashara* sounds like Shalash, the eastern name for the Herald "Shush-daughter-God." He thinks that perhaps this sword's origin was with the Heralds.[10]

Brandon has said that if Nightblood was made with different materials, this would most likely change what is happening with Nightblood, and that includes different types of metals.[24]

Speculation[]

While Nightblood was indicated to have been sated with the Investiture of the Shardholder Rayse,[citation needed] readers speculate whether the sword could be wielded to slay a Shard itself.

Some of these same readers have also speculated that Nightblood becomes stronger with the more Investiture that the sword absorbs, and that the upper limit to the sword's ability to do so might also be increasing.

Q&A with Brandon[]

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.[25] He was built into the cosmere using many of the foundational cosmere magic system things that exist on multiple worlds.[26]

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

A: RAFO[27]

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. 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.[28]

Q. Do we know why Nightblood didn't take up a Shard?

A. Nightblood didn't take up a Shard, Nightblood was not there... Oh, [they're] probably just asking why Nightblood did not absorb the entire Shard of Odium.

Nightblood cannot hold that much Investiture. At least not at that rate, right? Like, if you drop Nightblood without his sheath... I have to do it this way, because otherwise you drop him on the planet and he would absorb the entire planet, right. This is not a power I want Nightblood to have. I do not want Nightblood... Nightblood is a very dangerous tool without also being the death star.

I did not want... I actually was happy that I had the chance to put that scene in so I kind of put the kabosh on Nightblood being able to absorb the entire Investiture of an entire Shard. Not where I wanted... I didn't want that to be a promise people thought was coming. Now, he can absorb a lot and it's also rate of absorption is a pretty important deal.

...

People are gonna quote me on this in ten years and things like that and say "but, but, but". Just, you know, understand that there are specific ways that I'm trying to phrase some of these things.[29]

References[]

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