Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers.
Internal Art (Part II)
Nale. Darkness. Oh, yes. His detached expression really works for what we know about his emotionless approach to things, while at the same time that eyes-closed transcendence looks almost rapturous despite the internal focus. He’s centering himself like a completely self-assured Javert from Les Mis.
Also, he’s floating in a very defying-gravity sort of way, which is appropriate. And is the pommel of his sword a skull? Hard to tell for sure.
The next thing that leaps out at me is those “crows” in the background. They are so beautifully reminiscent of the hovering skybreakers from Szeths training chapters during Oathbringer. I can see them winging in, ready to swoop down and render judgement. (His sword is out, not simply held but readied, in contrast to the other herald images we’ve seen.) But I’m getting distracted. The important thing is that those aren’t just black-feathered chickens. At least one of them has a very different body plan in its silhouette. My money is on a larkin, despite the differences to the other depictions we’ve been given. And that is FASCINATING. Why would the patron of the Skybreakers be associated with larkin? He used one against Lift in her first appearance, but presumably they weren’t always hunting down Radiants. What happened in the forgotten past that linked Nale with those creatures?
Also, it’s interesting to me that he apparently has the scar that has been distinctive in all of his appearances in the text. I didn’t think about it before, but surely the Heralds would be availed of the same stormlight-fueled healing as our Radiants, at the very least. So it makes sense that something as cognitively part of his identity as an unhealed scar would also be something he acquired long ago and that reappears with each incarnation. That fundamentally changes it for me from a quirk of descriptive shorthand to something central to his character, and I am now incredibly curious about the story behind it. Is it a scar he received prior to becoming a herald in the first place? Is it something acquired afterward that was meaningful enough to retain? What does it mean to him?
Not gonna lie, I don’t love this one as much. Chana’s presentation here feels too European to me. Which, honestly, so did Jez in a lot of ways, but while the depiction is beautiful it doesn’t feel distinctive to me. Sort of generic fantasy warrior princess.
Her sword is cool, with the empty central portion of the “bladed tuning fork” variety. Oh, actually, with all the cymatics stuff, tuning fork might not be terribly off. Especially since in my mind cymatics relate to the destruction at the shattered plains which (for some reason not actually supported by the text) I’ve associated with the Dustbringers in my mind. Okay, I’m going on ridiculous tangents here. Time to reel it back in.
I’m not sure if I would have noticed the glyph for “3” in the archway over her head if I hadn’t already looked at the 8s on Kalak’s outfit. Another nice touch of internal worldbuilding. The falling leaves make me think of autumn and things dying/failing, which would be appropriate to the Dustbringers except that those seasons are meaningless outside of Shinovar. Rosharan artists wouldn’t use “fall colors” with that same intention. So I’m wondering if the orange motes are instead a depiction of spren. I don’t remember if we got a description of the dustbringer’s spren back in the urithiru meeting where she was acting dodgy. (I don’t even remember her name, and at this point the coppermind is probably updated with RoW info so I’m not going to look it up either.) The gem associated with Chana is ruby, but the orangish-red of the order glyph matches decently to the orangish-red of the foliage in the picture, so that’s probably the primary effect they’re going for.
The armor is good, and I like that it’s a lighter weight appearance than what we’ve heard about shardplate elsewhere. Even Jez’s armor looked fairly bulky in his portrait. Notably, Chana is NOT wearing a covering on her safehand. Was this portrait done by someone in another part of Roshar? Does it predate the Vorin taboo of safehand exposure? I’m quite interested to know.
Finally, why is Chana floating?!?! Neither of the surges she and her order had access to should allow her to float or fly, right? It doesn’t make sense to me.