Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive Series And Dalinar’s Redemption Arc

The search for redemption is the main focus of the Stormlight Archive, emphasizing that the journey is more important than the destination.

Redemption arcs help to make realistic characters with moral grey hair. They also support the optimistic idea that anyone is worthy of saving and that every person has a bit of goodness. The story of Dalinar’s redemption is told backwards by Brandon Sanderson in Stormlight Archive. His role is that of a noble and honorable character. He also becomes a hero to readers who learn to love him [1] and fight a just war against his brother the king. The reader can explore the past of Dalinar alongside him and determine if it is worth resolving. He must accept his bloodlust and learn to live with it. The transformation of Dalinar from bloodthirsty warrior into a leader with renowned integrity is a dynamic and well-crafted character. He refuses to allow his past to define his future.

The first book introduces Dalinar as a noble highprince who is also an admirable soldier. Other highprinces are depicted as selfish and greedy. They have since abandoned the codes for the war camps and are only concerned with the looting of gems. They are all contrasted by Dalinar. He is the only one who upholds the war camp codes. He refuses to duel, wears uniform and even forces his sons to follow the code. He seems to be solely concerned about the victory of the war. He is not willing to engage in petty battles to gain an advantage over the highprinces. Instead, he plans to strategize to win the war long-term. Furthermore, Dalinar doesn’t support bridgemen being used by other highprinces[2]. He also shows compassion for bridgemen in the final book. He gives his shardblade to one his worst enemies in exchange for the freedom from a group of enslaved Bridgemen. When asked by Dalinar about his motives, the bridgeman replies that a life is priceless. The bridgeman replied that a lifetime is priceless. Dalinar responded, “coincidentally,” to the same question. Your men and you gave your lives for me today. All I had to repay was one priceless weapon” (The Way of Kings 1106). This is an unforgettable line that shows how Dalinar values human life. He doesn’t like violence. Reviewer Daniel Greene notes that Dalinar’s backstory makes him a different character. He is more cautious about making his men go into battle or encouraging violence… and he’s afraid of feeling bloodlust again.” (“Dalinar”) He is described as an honorable man who has grown tired of violence. However, perhaps he fears the person he once was. He is feared by some other soldiers and highprinces of the warcamps. He has holes in the memory and is unable remember his wife’s name. While he seems to take pride in his sons, the dialogue between them suggests that this may not have been always the case. While Dalinar may be trying to become a better person than he is, neither Dalinar nor the reader know exactly what he has accomplished. No matter what his past may be, Dalinar believes that no accomplishment is as important as the journey it took to get there… It’s the journey which shapes us. Our tired feet and strong backs from all the travels have left us with sore eyes. But, we are now able to see the new joy of the lived experiences. He doesn’t care where he starts, his journey is what defines him. His past experiences and present help to bridge the gap between the two. Their kingdom’s armies were nearly unstoppable while his brother was still king. Dalinar was a brutal and merciless warrior. His shardblade made him almost unstoppable and left bloodshed wherever he went, pillaging innocents and killing them, regardless of whether they had conquered the town. He was a cruel and brutal fighter and longed for violence. Evi, his spouse, was the result of an unmarried political marriage. Evi was kind, gentle, and peaceful. She was a gentle, caring, and peaceful person, no matter what Dalinar tried to push her away. Dalinar was the opposite, he didn’t care about his family. He was only interested in his conquests. Dalinar intended to be an example to other kingdoms, and not conquer the Rift. Evi went to the Rift to negotiate with its king and to plead for his surrender as Dalinar’s army advanced on the Rift. The Rift was constructed of wooden structures that crawled along the edge of a chasm. This allowed Dalinar to easily exploit its design. He used oil to smear the kingdom and set it on fire from the highest point, declaring that he would destroy the place for ten generations. We will burn this city and no one will be left to weep for its loss. All civilians, innocent children, men, and women, were still there. Red, videographer, explains that while there are many reasons villains can turn evil, they’re almost always very personal because they have to come from the villain. (“Trope Talk”) Evi was present in the Rift as he burnt it. This is the tipping point for Dalinar’s character. It makes it clear that he realizes the extent of his atrocities. When his actions caused pain to someone he cared about, he realizes that it was not the first time he had done so. He was not just a bad person. It is now a long cycle, filled with drinking, guilt, and trying not to remember what he did. Evi is drawn to the story by its written form. The Dalinar we see in the past is nothing like the Dalinar we love today. Dalinar must also ask himself if he’s done enough to redeem himself since then.

Although Dalinar was unable to face his crimes at the time, he finds himself in a position to accept his past and confront it. It’s rewarding to read flashback chapters as well as current chapters in order to see how Dalinar responds to each piece of a new memory. Brandon Sanderson described it in an interview as the “back and forth” between Dalinar’s current self and his former self, the journey he took when he a young man, and how he finally finds his fulfillment in middle life. (Carmony). These memories are brought back to life at the worst possible time for the plot. While he finally has the chance to end the war for good and his kingdom is under attack, he faces opposition from both religious groups and other countries. He must lead the plot, but his trauma from his past renders him useless. He spends days in bed wrestling with his thoughts. He is more likely to grow in character through his own inner realizations than from external circumstances. Even when he returns in the main plot, he always feels like a hypocrite. He is also called a hypocrite by other highprinces. How can he be morally superior to condemn their bad actions when they have killed thousands? While he doesn’t feel like he can argue with them, a deeper thought reveals that a hypocrite sometimes is someone who is still learning. He is who he has become because of the past mistakes. He will naturally want to distance from past mistakes but he must also accept them as part. His transformation is confirmed by his friends and family. Dalinar’s assassin ends up giving his life for him. His son, whom Dalinar ignored and neglected for most of his life, called Dalinar “the best man in Alethkar[3]”. (Oathbringer 990). After Dalinar had released them, the bridgemen chose to follow Dalinar. Despite his past, Dalinar realizes that the person he has become is a better person. Even though he still hasn’t forgiven himself, his closest friends and family have seen him as a redeemed person. They see him as someone who has learned from his mistakes. Dalinar’s storyline is a perfect example of this analogy. A journey cannot be started at the beginning without it becoming about regression and not growth. He sees that his journey cannot begin as a perfect man. While accepting his past is part of who he really is, he recognizes his future and the direction he intends to go, as well as his will to do better.

His transformation from a brutal, cruel soldier to a noble, honorable leader demonstrates that every character is worthy of redemption. While it may seem that Dalinar isn’t about redemption at first glance, he exhibits compassion and integrity throughout the story. Once the reader discovers the past of his cruel father and neglectful mother, Dalinar’s perception changes drastically. The reader is reminded of Dalinar’s progress since then. He was amazed at his dramatic change, how determined he was to become a better person and how much faith his family has in him. His redemption story is proof that regret is an indicator of growth. That people can always learn, improve, and change.


  • paulwallace

    Paul Wallace is a 44-year-old anthropology professor and blogger. He has been writing about anthropology and other topics for over a decade. He has also taught anthropology at the college level for over a decade.

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