The Grishaverse
The Grishaverse

"I have no queen, no king, and no country. I have only ever had what I believe."
— Tolya Yul-Bataar, Rule of Wolves

Tolya Yul-Bataar is the twin brother of Tamar Kir-Bataar. Formerly a mercenary, member of Sturmhond's crew, and member of the Soldat Sol, Tolya is a Grisha Heartrender who fought with Alina Starkov during the course of the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Despite being Grisha, Tolya usually fights with a variety of weapons.

After the Ravkan civil war, Tolya becomes a member of Nikolai Lantsov's personal guard.


Tolya's mother was a Grisha stationed near the Shu Han border and his father a Shu Han mercenary. After their mother's death, the twins left for Novyi Zem with their father so that they would not get drafted into the Second Army.[1] Both twins were raised in the church and learned to read liturgical Ravkan.[2]

Siege and Storm[]

Tolya and Tamar volunteered to go up against the Darkling and his Grisha, unlike the other people in Sturmhond's crew, who drew straws.[3] The twins were among the few people that knew who Sturmhond really was: Nikolai Lantsov.[4] When Alina Starkov arrives on the Darkling's ship, Tolya wakes her from the sleep Ivan induced and puts her back under when the Darkling's men approach. He later defends Alina after seeing Ivan mistreat her, although Ivan uses his power on the twins before Sturmhond appears.[5]

After Rusalye is spotted, Sturmhond's crew attacks the Darkling's men on his ship. Tolya picks up Alina, but is stopped when Ivan begins to crush his heart. However, he stands up when the other Heartrender is distracted and reveals his own powers, killing Ivan. Tolya then jumps to the Volkvolny, Sturmhond's ship.[6] Once they escape the Darkling and Alina kills Rusalye, Tolya and Tamar works its scales free. Tolya rooms with Malyen Oretsev on the ship.[3]

Tolya occasionally helps while Tamar teaches Mal and Alina combat techniques. They soon leave the Volkvony and board the Hummingbird, which they take through the Shadow Fold.[1] Tolya and Tamar open fire on the volcra there, but the flying craft crashes in a lake outside the Fold. Tolya carries an injured Kovu out of the lake and heals his arm.[7]

Later, Mal asks Tolya and Tamar to become part of Alina's personal guard.[8] When Fedyor Kaminsky and other Grisha arrive to see Alina, Tolya pushes through and moves everyone back.[9] The twins guard Alina's room in the Little Palace, entering when the Darkling appears to her and she lets out a burst of light.[10] They also block angry members of the Second Army from entering Alina's room after she tells each Grisha Order to select two representatives,[11] and they guard the council meetings.[12]

In the library, Tolya finds Alina researching Ilya Morozova and helps her translate liturgical Ravkan from a book before bowing to her.[2] He animatedly discusses weaponry with Botkin Yul-Erdene, and he and Tamar easily win against other Grisha at the Little Palace when sparring.[13]

At some point, the twins arrange for the Apparat to meet Alina at a Suli fortune-telling party,[14] although Tolya stays behind due to his conspicuous size.[15] After David Kostyk's display of mirrored dishes is successful, Tolya lifts him onto his shoulders in celebration.[16]

Tolya and Tamar stand among the pilgrims to watch the sunrise[14] when they see Alina walk out and become swamped by pilgrims. They rescue her and take her back to the palace. Tolya then finds Mal and almost chokes him, furious that he had fallen asleep on his shift.[17]

When the palace is attacked, Tolya and Tamar gather the Sun Soldiers and lead a charge to fight the nichevo'ya.[18] The twins are ready to get Alina out when the Darkling arrives, but she chooses to hear his terms and accepts. Tamar and Tolya reluctantly agree to take the remaining people to safety. However, Alina then tries to drain the Darkling of his power. Tolya stops Mal from going to her, but eventually releases him, and the Heartrenders heal Alina after she almost destroys herself. They then escape through the tunnel. When Alina talks to them, the twins kneel before her, believing her to be a Saint. On her orders, they threaten the pilgrims not to call Genya Safin Razrusha'ya.[14]

Ruin and Rising[]

In the White Cathedral, Toyla and Tamar spar on the training floor. They later enter the Kettle behind the Apparat, having restrained Alina's friends,[19] who they claim meant to betray her. However, when Mal springs into action, Tolya fights the Apparat and his Priestguards,[20] having planned the whole attack so Alina can summon light through the master flue.[21]

While journeying to the surface, Tolya takes David's bag and recites epic poetry.[22] When parts of the cavern explode, Tolya is momentarily trapped under rock along with Tamar and Adrik Zhabin. He digs Sergei Beznikov and Stigg out, and he and Tamar help them recover. At the surface, he offers to investigate a group of smugglers they had seen, but is too conspicuous to go himself.[23]

Tolya and Tamar charge into the clearing when Mal and Alina are ambushed by First Army soldiers. He throws Harshaw over his shoulder and helps kill the rest of the militia before he and the others board Nikolai's Pelican, which they take to the Spinning Wheel.[24]

Tolya finds a mentally unstable Sergei after he goes missing.[25] After the Darkling visits Alina in her head, Tolya is woken up and the group discusses how the Darkling could use the Fold against West Ravka.[26] Tolya suggests rallying the Soldat Sol to help.[27]

During the attack on the Spinning Wheel, Tolya runs toward Mal and Alina, and they leave the hangar on the Bittern with the others.[28] He tries to heal Adrik, whose arm was torn off by the Darkling's nichevo'ya, and buries the arm after carrying Adrik off the ship.[29] When the group splits up, Tolya travels with Mal, Alina, Zoya, and Harshaw. He acquires a map of the eastern mountains so they can get to the Firefalls and find the firebird, guiding them along the way.[30]

After Alina practices making the group invisible with her power, Tolya remains unconvinced that she can bring down the Fold, but tells her that he is grateful for having met her.[31] He escorts the Soldat Sol to the eastern shore of the Fold to wait for the others.[32] After Alina drives a dagger into Mal's chest to amplify her power, Tolya and Tamar attempt to revive him.[33] When the Darkling is defeated, Alina tells Tolya to make it appear like she had been matyred, and he agrees.

Alina later arrives to meet him and Tamar in the royal barracks, and Tolya lies that Alina is their sister. Before Alina's false funeral, Tolya convinced her to let Ruby's body be tailored to resemble her.[34]

King of Scars[]

The second time Nikolai Lantsov escaped from his bedroom as a demon, Tolya witnessed it and woke Zoya so they could track him down together.[35]

Tolya goes with Nikolai to Lazlayon and disapproves of Count Kirigin. He dreads passing through the tunnels due to his near-death experience when leaving the White Cathedral, but faces his fear[36] and brings David and Nadia back to their homes. He joins a meeting with the Grisha Triumvirate to discuss the izmars'ya and dislikes the idea of spying on the other countries' diplomats.[37]

Tolya later takes Yuri Vedenen inside the Grand Palace. That night, he sees Nikolai's demon break out of his bonds and fly towards Balakirev. He slows the demon's heart, but he and Tamar are almost too late.[38] Tolya escorts Yuri into a meeting the next morning and pressures him into talking about the obisbaya ritual, which Nikolai then asks Tolya to learn more about.[39]

He departs with the king and others on a journey to the sites where alleged miracles have been performed.[40] In Adena, the twins are attacked by khergud before Nikolai kills the soldier.[41] The group soon enters the Shadow Fold, where they encounter the Cult of the Starless Saint. Tamar and Tolya disembark the sandskiff to investigate, but Nikolai, Zoya, and Yuri vanish before they return.[42] Unable to find them, the twins travel back to Os Alta. They, along with David and Genya, plan for Isaak Andreyev to impersonate Nikolai and cover up his disappearance.[43]

Tolya and Tamar take the tailored Isaak to Count Kirigin's estate and back, coaching him on how to behave like a king. After dinner, the twins lead Isaak back to the royal quarters and shepherd him to safety after the door is rigged with poison.[44] Tolya encourages Isaak to recite poetry for Ehri Kir-Taban, but is ignored. During the party, he and Tamar revive Birgitta Schenck after she almost drowns. He reassures Isaak afterward and guards him as he talks with Ehri.[45] Later, he and Tamar accompany Isaak to Lazlayon for the izmars'ya demonstration.[46]

The twins inform the others that Fjerda plans to march on Ravka.[47] After Isaak is killed by Mayu Kir-Kaat, who had been disguised as Ehri, Tolya stands over his body. He and Tamar take Mayu back to her chambers and Isaak's body to Lazlayon. Tolya is furious upon seeing that the Darkling has returned.[48]

Rule of Wolves[]

Tolya, Tamar, Nikolai, and Zoya travel to Yaryenosh, a town ruined by the blight, and Tolya threatens the Suli there to stand down when conflict arises.[49] Tolya then follows Nikolai to Nezkii and helps fend off the Fjerdans. After the enslaved Grisha are brought to safety, Tolya boards Nikolai's flyer and they meet Kalem Kerko, who assisted in the victory.[50]

Back in Os Alta, Tolya and Tamar spar. They discuss strategy with Nikolai and Zoya, then witness as the Tavgharad set themselves on fire before them. Tolya finds two Healers for Ehri Kir-Taban, who is badly burned.[51] On the day of David Kostyk and Genya Safin's wedding, Tolya wears a kefta and walks with Nikolai to meet the others. He sets a thorn-wood crown upon David and Genya's heads during the ceremony, then supports Nikolai in confronting Queen Makhi Kir-Taban.[52] Tolya attends the wedding dinner afterward. When Os Alta is bombed, Tolya directs the Grisha to the town and signals Lazlayon for help.[53] He comforts Genya after David's funeral. Tolya also protests against the Ravkan rockets, wanting to avoid further destruction.[54]

At the battle in Arkesk, Tolya fights beside Nikolai, but is overwhelmed by Fjerda's new weapon.[55] Tamar soon arrives, and the twins protect Nikolai as he releases his demon. They watch Zoya overtake the Fjerdans while in the form of a dragon.[56] Tolya later attends Zoya's coronation and takes her to meet a group of Kaelish aristocrats.[57]

Personality and traits[]

"Despite his intimidating size, Tolya was the shyer of the twins, the killer who should have been a scholar, if fate had ordered their lives differently."
— Description of Tolya, Rule of Wolves

Tolya is more stoic than Tamar is, yet he is courageous, honorable, and intensely loyal to Alina and Nikolai. He is shown to have an avid interest in and excellent memory for epic poetry in both Shu and Ravkan.

Like Tamar, Tolya believes that Grisha power originates from divine gifts; however, he seems to adhere to these beliefs more staunchly than Tamar does.

Due to the events of Ruin and Rising and potentially his extended time in the White Cathedral, Tolya has speluncaphobia, or a fear of caves and underground places. This is seen when he and Nikolai have to use the underground passageways that lead to and from Lazlayon. To cope with his fear, he recites epic poetry.

Tolya states that he is not interested in romantic relationships, because his books and his faith have always been enough.[53]

Physical description[]

Like his twin sister, Tolya has dark hair, bronze skin and golden eyes, although Tolya has long hair that he keeps tied at the base of his neck. He is described as very tall and extremely strong. He has huge arms that he keeps exposed, even in winter. Due to his Shu heritage, he has monolids. Both he and his twin sister have tattoos on their arms dedicated to the Sun Saint.

Despite being Grisha, he and his sister do not wear kefta, instead opting for the olive green uniform worm by the First Army. During their time as members of Alina's personal guard, they wear peasant roughspun and golden sunburst pins.

Powers and abilities[]

Like Tamar, Tolya also wears a shark tooth as an amplifier.[37]




Tamar Kir-Bataar[]


Alina Starkov[]

Tolya is a good friend of Alina and helps her until the end to defeat the Darkling and destroy the Shadow Fold. At the end of Ruin and Rising, Tolya states that Alina is like a sister to himself and Tamar.



  • Tolya is one of few characters in the Grishaverse who can read liturgical Ravkan.
  • Nina Zenik mentions "a Heartrender at the Little Palace who can recite epic poetry for hours" in Six of Crows;[58] she may be referencing Tolya.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Siege and Storm, chapter 7
  2. 2.0 2.1 Siege and Storm, chapter 16
  3. 3.0 3.1 Siege and Storm, chapter 5
  4. Siege and Storm, chapter 9
  5. Siege and Storm, chapter 2
  6. Siege and Storm, chapter 4
  7. Siege and Storm, chapter 8
  8. Siege and Storm, chapter 10
  9. Siege and Storm, chapter 11
  10. Siege and Storm, chapter 13
  11. Siege and Storm, chapter 14
  12. Siege and Storm, chapter 15
  13. Siege and Storm, chapter 17
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Siege and Storm, chapter 23
  15. Siege and Storm, chapter 18
  16. Siege and Storm, chapter 19
  17. Siege and Storm, chapter 21
  18. Siege and Storm, chapter 22
  19. Ruin and Rising, chapter 1
  20. Ruin and Rising, chapter 2
  21. Ruin and Rising, chapter 3
  22. Ruin and Rising, chapter 4
  23. Ruin and Rising, chapter 5
  24. Ruin and Rising, chapter 6
  25. Ruin and Rising, chapter 7
  26. Ruin and Rising, chapter 9
  27. Ruin and Rising, chapter 10
  28. Ruin and Rising, chapter 11
  29. Ruin and Rising, chapter 12
  30. Ruin and Rising, chapter 13
  31. Ruin and Rising, chapter 15
  32. Ruin and Rising, chapter 16
  33. Ruin and Rising, chapter 17
  34. Ruin and Rising, chapter 18
  35. King of Scars, chapter 2
  36. King of Scars, chapter 4
  37. 37.0 37.1 King of Scars, chapter 6
  38. King of Scars, chapter 7
  39. King of Scars, chapter 9
  40. King of Scars, chapter 11
  41. King of Scars, chapter 12
  42. King of Scars, chapter 14
  43. King of Scars, chapter 16
  44. King of Scars, chapter 21
  45. King of Scars, chapter 23
  46. King of Scars, chapter 26
  47. King of Scars, chapter 29
  48. King of Scars, chapter 39
  49. Rule of Wolves, chapter 3
  50. Rule of Wolves, chapter 6
  51. Rule of Wolves, chapter 8
  52. Rule of Wolves, chapter 15
  53. 53.0 53.1 Rule of Wolves, chapter 18
  54. Rule of Wolves, chapter 20
  55. Rule of Wolves, chapter 37
  56. Rule of Wolves, chapter 40
  57. Rule of Wolves, chapter 49
  58. Six of Crows, chapter 16