Szeth-son-son-Vallano of Stormlight Archives

Get to know all about Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Szeth-son-Neturo, Truthless of Shinovar, and the Assassin in White from the Stormlight Archives written by Brandon Sanderson.

Szeth’s Background

Hailing from Shinovar, a land separate from the rest of Roshar, Szeth belongs to the Shin people who are known for their strict adherence to an ancient code of obedience called the Way of Kings.

Shinovar is a unique region within Roshar, characterized by lush vegetation, stable climate, and a peaceful way of life. The Shin reside in small, isolated communities, cultivating the land and valuing simplicity and order. They have developed advanced agricultural techniques and possess a deep respect for nature.

From a young age, Szeth was indoctrinated into the strict traditions and customs of the Shin. He was taught to obey without question, follow the Way of Kings meticulously, and carry out his duties with unwavering loyalty. The Shin view disobedience as a grave sin, and those who violate the Way of Kings are branded as Sinners.

As Szeth grew older, he gained recognition within his community for his exceptional skills in combat. His proficiency with the sword, agility, and quick reflexes made him a formidable warrior. Despite his talent, Szeth’s life took a dark turn when he was marked as a Truthless.

Being selected as a Truthless is a deeply significant event among the Shin. It is believed that Truthless individuals have committed terrible sins in their past lives, and as a result, they are burdened with eternal shame and the responsibility of carrying out the most unpleasant and dangerous tasks assigned to them by others.

For Szeth, becoming a Truthless meant he was stripped of his personal agency and forced to become an assassin. He was given an Oathstone, a symbol of his obedience, which he had to carry and follow the commands of his masters without question. The Oathstone became a constant reminder of his subservience and a tangible representation of the weight of his sins.

Bound by the code of obedience, Szeth carried out numerous high-profile assassinations throughout Roshar. His incredible combat skills, combined with the power of Lashings and his Shardblade, made him a formidable and feared presence on the battlefield.

However, despite his obedience and proficiency in combat, Szeth’s soul was burdened with guilt and a deep yearning for redemption. He questioned the righteousness of his actions and the morality of the system that had enslaved him. This internal conflict added layers to his character, making him more than just a fearsome assassin.

Throughout the series, Szeth’s journey is one of self-discovery and the search for personal freedom. He grapples with his past, seeking a path that aligns with his own sense of justice and a chance to redeem himself from the sins he believes he has committed.

Szeth’s complex background, shaped by the Shin culture and his life as a Truthless, provides a rich foundation for his character development. It explores themes of duty, honor, identity, and the struggle for personal agency in the face of a rigidly obedient society.

Shin culture

The Shin take great pride in their cultural identity and maintain a strong sense of community and tradition. They possess a distinctive physical appearance, characterized by epicanthic folds in their eyes, setting them apart from other inhabitants of Roshar.

Shin live in small, self-sufficient communities, separated from the rest of Roshar. They have limited contact and trade with outsiders, preferring to preserve their unique way of life and cultural practices.

Agriculture plays a central role in Shinovar. The Shin have developed advanced farming techniques, allowing them to cultivate the land effectively. They practice sustainable agriculture, placing great emphasis on environmental stewardship and maintaining the delicate balance of their ecosystem.

The Shin people revere the Almighty, the deity believed to be responsible for the creation of Roshar. They have a deep spiritual connection with their surroundings, viewing the land as a gift from the Almighty and treating it with reverence and respect.

Everyone in Shinovar follows a strict code of conduct known as the Way of Kings. It is a comprehensive set of rules and principles that dictate their behavior and moral compass. Obedience and adherence to the Way of Kings are of utmost importance to the Shin, guiding their daily lives and interactions with others.

Shinovar is a high value on education and the pursuit of knowledge. They have developed an extensive system of education, passing down their cultural traditions, history, and specialized skills from one generation to the next. Education is seen as a means of preserving their unique way of life and ensuring the prosperity of their community.

The Shin also possess a rich artistic heritage. They are skilled craftsmen, renowned for their intricate woodwork, pottery, and textiles. Their creations often reflect the natural beauty of their surroundings and incorporate elements of their spiritual beliefs.

Meaning of being Truthless

Truthless individuals become social pariahs, cast out from their communities and condemned to a life of isolation and servitude. They are seen as tainted and dangerous, feared by their fellow Shin. The stigma associated with the Truthless is so strong that even mentioning their name is considered taboo among the Shin.

As Truthless, their lives are no longer their own. They are assigned a master who holds their Oathstone, a sacred stone that represents their servitude. The Truthless must unquestioningly obey their master’s commands, fulfilling any task they are given, no matter how heinous or dangerous it may be.

The Truthless are trained to obey without hesitation, without questioning the morality or consequences of their actions. They are conditioned to prioritize the will of their masters above all else, even if it means sacrificing their own well-being or committing acts of violence.

Despite their outcast status, Truthless individuals possess exceptional skills and abilities. They are trained in various forms of combat, assassination techniques, and stealth. This training, coupled with their unwavering obedience, makes them formidable and deadly agents.

Redemption and Atonement:

For a Truthless, the possibility of redemption and regaining honor is almost nonexistent. They are trapped in a cycle of perpetual servitude, their actions dictated by their masters. The only hope for redemption lies in fulfilling their assigned tasks to the best of their ability, attempting to restore some semblance of honor through unwavering loyalty and obedience.

Rare Exception:

While the Truthless are generally treated with fear and disdain, there are rare instances where a Truthless is believed to have been wrongly labeled. These individuals may seek to prove their innocence or challenge the perceptions of society, embarking on personal journeys of self-discovery and redemption.

Szeth, also known as Szeth-son-Son-Vallano, is one such Truthless. His story explores the complex emotions, conflicts, and moral dilemmas associated with being a Truthless. As a central character in the Stormlight Archive series, his journey offers a deeper understanding of the psychological and societal implications of this unique Shin concept.


Szeth possesses the Surgebinder ability known as Lashings, which allows him to manipulate gravity. Through the use of Stormlight, a magical energy found in the Stormlight Archive universe, Szeth can perform different types of Lashings:

  • Basic Lashing: Szeth can perform Basic Lashings to change the direction of gravity for objects or people, allowing him to walk on walls or ceilings, create floating platforms, or even send enemies hurtling into the air.
  • Reverse Lashing: Reverse Lashing allows Szeth to invert gravity, causing objects or people to be repelled away from a surface. This technique enables him to create powerful defensive barriers or launch devastating attacks.
  • Full Lashing: Full Lashing involves manipulating gravity on all sides of an object or person simultaneously. This allows Szeth to control their movement and orientation in three-dimensional space, granting him incredible maneuverability and agility.

Szeth’s Shardblade

Szeth’s most iconic weapon is his Shardblade, a massive, ethereal blade forged from Shardplate. The Shardblade is a revered and highly sought-after weapon in the Stormlight Archive world. It can cut through almost anything with minimal effort and has the ability to sever the soul, instantly killing its target.

  • Bond with the Blade: Szeth’s bond with his Shardblade is unique and personal. He is the only known Truthless to possess a Shardblade, and his connection to it is both a source of power and a reminder of his servitude.
  • Deadly Efficiency: Szeth’s proficiency with the Shardblade is unparalleled. He wields it with precision and speed, effortlessly cutting down his foes. The Shardblade’s ability to sever souls combined with Szeth’s combat skills makes him a formidable adversary.
  • The Cost of Use: While the Shardblade is a devastating weapon, it comes with a significant drawback. Its use consumes the souls of those it kills, leaving behind a heavy burden of guilt for Szeth. Each life taken with the Shardblade weighs heavily on his conscience, contributing to his inner turmoil.

Psychological Toll

The Lashings and Shardblade play a pivotal role in shaping Szeth’s character. The immense power at his disposal, coupled with his ingrained sense of honor and duty, creates a deep conflict within him. He questions the morality of his actions and struggles with the weight of the lives he has taken.

  • A Life of Servitude: Szeth’s skills with Lashings and the Shardblade, combined with his Truthless status, make him a lethal weapon controlled by others. He is forced to carry out orders, often against his own moral compass, perpetuating his internal struggle.
  • Redemption and Purpose: Throughout the series, Szeth seeks redemption and strives to find a purpose beyond his servitude. His abilities become tools for him to challenge the injustices he witnesses and, ultimately, to reclaim agency over his own life.

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