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At the end of "Steelheart" by Brandon Sanderson the weakness of the epic Steelheart is revealed:

He can only be hurt by someone who doesn't fear him.

That makes me wonder: Could Steelheart be killed/hurt by an animal or is his weakness only exploitable by humans?

If his weakness was exploitable by animals, I'd say an animal attack should work as long as the animal surprises Steelheart (so that he can't use his powers to kill or scare it) and doesn't attack out of fear. But would the poison of animals like spiders or snakes work when they attacked Steelheart in such a way? I'd guess that poison would not work because his body simply remains unaffected by it even in case of a surprise attack. Otherwise it should have been possible to take the poison from, say, a snake and use it to kill Steelheart with it since the animal isn't scared of Steelheart. But it is very likely that it already has been attempted to poison Steelheart and it obviously hadn't worked, so I assume that poison can be ruled out. I have no reference to know for sure, though.

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I recently read the book and wondered the same thing. It seems to me that yes, Steelheart could be killed by an animal, since animals don't fear him. This would explain Steelheart's paranoia, since any kind of accident could cause him to die. However, since the weakness is related to the person performing the action, not the form the action takes (if I shoot him, it's not relevant that the maker of the bullets never heard of him and therefor isn't afraid of him), it still wouldn't be possible to kill him using poison. Although in theory it should work to simply drop a spider on him...

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