Welcome to my liveblog of Rhythm of War! Index post here. Beware of spoilers.
Internal Art (Part 1)
The book is out! Hooray! I imagine that all of you did the same thing I did, which was immediately open to the endpages to pore over the beautiful Herald images.
This post will be my reactions to those images, as well as the sketchbook pages that accompanied the chapters I’ve already read.
Before that, though, a brief note about my current plan. I will continue to liveblog Rhythm of War as I read it. I’m enjoying this a great deal. The barrier to reading is a bit higher than I was expecting--in addition to the time and coordination it takes to go through a chapter like this compared to simply cracking open the book and reading until no-sleep-o’clock in the morning, my wife thinks I’m ridiculous for taking notes while I read, so I’ve mostly been doing this on nights that she works. On top of my own work schedule picking up, that has meant that I’m progressing at a substantially slower pace than I anticipated. Still, this is helping me to pace myself a lot and is enhancing my experience of the book like I expected, so I’m planning to continue and share my reactions through to the end.
In addition, I’ve finally decided what I’m going to do with Dawnshard. I received by copy over a week ago, and a small part of the delay in getting the next blog update done was debating with myself over whether to take a break from Rhythm of War to read (and probably blog about) Dawnshard. I finally decided that I’m going to hold off and read Dawnshard out of sequence after finishing Rhythm of War. So it will be a while, but once I do finish this liveblog you can expect another one to pop up where I’ll share my reactions to the novella. If it’s anything like Edgedancer was, it will have a major influence on my reading of Rhythm, and I’m curious how my take on Rhythm may change.
Anyway, that’s enough business. On to the artwork!
As usual, all of the internal art for this book is available on Brandon’s website, and I’ll be linking to most of the pieces there. Unfortunately, the herald endpages are not currently posted there, so instead the links will take you to the coppermind, which has been updated.
First up, Pailiah! I’m slightly embarrassed to say that when I first looked at this picture I primarily noticed the vine-covered tree behind her, and assumed that this was Vedel, patron of the Edgedancers. Her earrings even reminded me of keys. As it happens, though, we already got art of Vedel. No, this is Pali, and she’s rendered gorgeously here.
The obvious standout is the depiction of the associated spren. (Do we have a name for these yet? The obvious one is truthspren, for the Truthwatchers, but I don’t remember them being named so far.) This is what Glys would have looked like prior to the weirdness of Sja-Anat. They are really striking in their lightning-like appearance, and at first I didn’t notice that each one has a little wisp of cloud at its center, as a part of the spren (rather than simply mist in the environment to texture the image, as I first assumed).
The glove on her safehand is a reminder that these are in-world depictions, as the Vorins would have drawn their mythic heralds. But that’s a sidenote. The real beauty of this piece is the way Pali’s book takes pride of place in the composition. You almost don’t even notice that she’s also holding an honorblade with the way its curve blends as a continuation of the lines of her dress. Yet, though she’s not brandishing it in any way the book (heraldic virtue of learned) is clearly close to her heart and her true treasure.
I’m a little weirded out by the statuary in the background. A big stone face that clearly shares her features, but she’s not Shash, associated with artwork, so … oh. Oh! Because truthwatchers use their illumination surge to reveal the underlying nature of things. Pali’s spirit (or an aspect of her core, perhaps) is revealed here in stone. Symbolism!
Overall, she strikes me as someone that could have a wonderful conversation with Jasnah. Except of course, that she’s now several thousand years of insanity removed from the person this art was based on. Now I’m just making myself depressed.
Moving on, we have Kalak! Though it wasn’t the first thing that grabbed my attention, I should probably address the big cracked stone face behind him, since I just covered the one in Pali’s representation. But honestly? I got nuthin. His stance definitely shows off his virtue of resolute, and the associated essence of foil/metal is reflected in his pauldrons and the arc framing the stone face, but the cracking face itself? I dunno.
The thing I do love about this piece though is the fluttering petals (or whatever Rosharan equivalent is depicted) that blow in the same breeze that flutters the tassels of his cloak. Why? Because it gave me the lightbulb moment of realizing that “Kelek’s Breath” as the most ubiquitous of heraldic curses is probably metaphorical. Those drifting petals evoke a “breath of life” feeling that is gentle yet energizing.
We don’t know enough yet about the Willshapers and their surges to speculate much beyond that, but I will say his image here isn’t what I would immediately associate with the fabled wanderlust of that order. It makes me wonder a bit about how builder as a heraldic virtue came to be associated with that group… though with what Venli has been getting up to I can definitely see it coming through as at least a secondary attribute.
I’ll also note the glyph for 8 that adorns his … drapey sash thing? I don’t know what to call it. Anyway, that’s a good example of another thing that would be added by the in-world artist, and a lovely detail that you can pick up when you pay attention to the scripts and other worldbuilding that gets built into all aspects of these books, but which can also just appear as a pleasant-looking flourish if you don’t know to look for it. It makes me wonder what else I’m missing.
Anyway, it’s late and I will need to continue this tomorrow. I’ll go ahead and post this first analysis for now. Tune in next time for Darkness and the patron of Dustbringers!