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Chapter 45



Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers.

Chapter 45 (A Bold Heart, A Keen and Crafty Mind)

Eshonai flashback! Notably, we haven’t seen any flashbacks in the first two parts of the book. Does that mean that Eshonai’s bits are going to be confined to part 3 only, in a departure of format from the previous books? Or does it mean that her parts were too spoilery to include until after the Urithiru invasion? It’s really hard to imagine the second one being true. This stuff is nine years old and there isn’t much from the listeners back then that would impact our reading of current events, at least assuming that Brandon wants to space out his reveals to the end of the flashbacks.

Anyway, that title. Except for “crafty” it seems like a description of the Willshaper virtues, or just virtues in general. Crafty is unexpected, especially in reference to Eshonai. Oh, unless it’s a split description? Maybe the first part is about Eshonai and the “keen and crafty mind” is about Venli. That could jive with the chapter symbol which shows two listeners: one holding a blade and one talking to a spren. 

“She found this to be flat out ridiculous.” Good, because I was thinking the same thing. Mapping the world steals its secrets and is therefore a bad thing? Sounds like someone woke up in idiotform after last night's highstorm.

In the eyes of a listener, lifespren look like green balls with white spines poking out (as compared to the no-spines version that humans see.)

Oh, you went all the way around the forest, did you? Obviously the world isn’t big enough to have two rivers. --Not that I’m sure she’s wrong, just that it seems like the setup for getting her very lost.


Dreaming of the day they could conquer one of the ten ancient cities at the perimeter of the Shattered Plains.

Conquer is a weird word to use here. They aren’t trying to fight humans at this point, and the ancient cities should just be ruins. What do they need to do to conquer one?
Also, I realized that this is presumably the moment she meets Gavilar for the first time. It will be interesting to get the other side of that.

The Song of Making Paper--a good reminder that nearly everything they have is oral tradition.

Oh, I get it. The listeners are living in small family groups and tribes. There are inter-clan conflicts over the cities. I hadn’t thought about the way their war with the humans would serve as a unifying force or how fractured their society might have been before it started.


Their ancestors had turned their faces to the storm and marched away, abandoning their very gods in the name of freedom.

I like that phrase, “turned their faces to the storm.” I wonder if it is idiomatic or just a direct description of what happened. I’d be interested to see if it is used/applied in other situations.

Instead of sitting by the fire and complaining, she would experience the beauties Cultivation offered.
The listeners obviously have known more about the major figures of Roshar than the humans did, but I’m curious about what their traditions say about Cultivation, as well as honor. As far as I remember the only thing we’ve heard so far is that Honor and his spren betrayed them by creating nahel bonds for humans instead of listeners.


The river continued flowing for days once a storm passed. 

Hm. I know it’s not the case everywhere, but I’m used to “river” being used to refer to constant feature of the landscape rather than a temporary or periodic one. There’s places in the world where streams are really only present after rainfall, but the regularity of highstorms would make that a different beast on Roshar.

(On that note, I was already feeling bad about predicting that Eshonai didn’t realize she was lost and had found a different river. It discounts her intelligence and experience for the sake of a joke. This idea that rivers usually don’t exist constantly really kills the idea, which is probably a good thing. Eshonai would be able to tell what was going on.

Riverspren have carapace?

Weird cremling = sleepless? Who knows? They look like regular ones too, supposedly.

Scattering flamespren to ensure the embers won’t reignite. That’s an application I hadn’t considered, and a neat companion to the medical progress based on rotstpren.

Yup, there’s the human meeting.

Ninety one stanzas about forms? That’s a lot of forms. Way more than I was guessing. They really did lose a lot when they abandoned the old ways. 
Almost didn’t realize we’d switched over to Venli. It’s shocking how that change in association taints my impression of “dutiful daughter with loving relationship to her mother” with a cast of “jealous sister” even without anything changing about the scene beyond my assumption of which character it was.

Aww, Venli thinking her mother is perfect is just such a wholesome moment. I love it. It’s also nice to see that Jaxlim (we didn’t know her name before, right?) still has all her faculties at this point, though of course that’s tinged with the sorrow of her looming senility.

What does it mean for them to be a First-Rhythm family? I really don’t have a good guess without more information.

It’s a strange parallel to see the parshendi being warlike on the shattered plains and compare that to the Alethi. There are more similarities in culture, or at least situation, than I anticipated.

The (non-city) listeners are living in hogshide tents? I’m surprised that they farm hogs. I wouldn’t have thought that an Easter Roshar activity or a listener activity.

Ah, Jaxlim says Eshonai has a bold heart, which means the title is indeed speaking of both sisters. Oh, there it is in the next bit of dialogue. She compliments Venli’s keen and crafty mind.

Oh, Jaxlim is the keeper of songs. I sort of thought that all of the listeners tried to learn the songs to some degree, and it was just personal interest that made Jaxlim focus on them. While that may also be true, she has a designated position within their society to remember and teach the oral tradition.

Hm. Venli’s comparison of Jaxlim’s coloring to “marbled stone” as a compliment makes me think of Urithiru and its strata. But surface stone is mostly crem covered, and except for the windblades at Kholinar we haven’t seen any marbled rock. Shallan’s family quarried marble itself, so it’s possible that the ruins at the shattered plains were built using marbled/stratified stone, but that’s not the apparent norm on Roshar. I’m curious where the listeners stand with respect to stone and their interaction with it. It’s certainly not going to be anything like the Stone Shamanism of the Shin, who I would think more likely to consider natural stone for comparisons to something beautiful.

Huh. Their dad is gone, “seeking the eastern sea.” Is that abandonment and wanderlust or just misfortune on a journey? Also, what was he looking for? I like that Venli takes after her father physically but identifies with and emulates her mother, while the inverse is true of Eshonai. It makes them more complex as people.

The singing together and the reverence Venli has for her mother is more wholesome goodness. Yay!

Wait, Venli helped discover warform (or maybe did it singlehandedly) ?! Wow. I had no idea. I thought her research had yet to bear fruit besides the voidspren treachery. You go, Venli! I am suddenly excited to have her in proximity with Navani for the fabrial science and spren research sessions. Her time as envoy made me forget that she started out as a researcher.

Yes, looks like it was a personal success to rediscover warform. Neat.

The desire to be bold like Eshonai is woven in here very well to convey a natural envy/respect for her sister.

Hm. The Five. I don’t think that’s a significant numerology association, but it’s hard not to look for one. As far as I can recall, the latest WoBs as of Oathbringer had pretty firmly indicated that the number associations were primarily planetary rather than shardic. I.e. 10 is important for Roshar, not for Honor specifically, and 16 is Scadrian not of Harmony or its constituent parts. However, it’s also sort of an emergent property of shards plus planet, so hard to say. The Nine who lead the Fused are therefore a Braize connection rather than an Odium connection specifically, though the two are probably interlinked in some way. With that in mind, I’m going to avoid speculating about the Five being half of ten or possibly a Cultivation associated number. It’s probably just cultural.

On that topic, though, I do have to wonder about the three bondsmith spren. It’s natural that there would be one for Honor, one for Cultivation, and one that’s a mix, but at the same time it makes me wonder if there’s more to it realmatically as opposed to simple math.

Okay, other listener families include Pure-Song, and Fourth-Movement. Combined with First-Rhythm I have even less of an idea of those derivations than I did before.

Poor Venli, stuck in Eshonai’s shadow.


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