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Shallan's Sketchbook - Part II

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

Cryptics (image here)
Before anything else, I have to say how much I love the little sketch at the bottom of the page.”I’ve never seen a cryptic running. I expect they would look very silly.” Indeed, yes. I’m sure Ben had a great time drawing that one, and I like it as a moment of lighter-humored Shallan layered on top of her naturalist observations.

Their hands being only obsidian or marble, black or white, suggests something connected to their relationship with lies and truth, but I’m not sure if the connection is more than aesthetic. I hadn’t thought that their robes/bodies also shifted, but it seems that they do split/fold/fracture as the cryptic moves. 

There are a huge variety of fractal shapes that the cryptics could have as their heads. Of the ones shown in the picture, the one in the lower right with the nearly sphere-like appearance is the creepiest to me. 


Ashspren (image here)
Rude gestures, huh? That adds a lot of character to the description and image, and as obscene motions go this is an inventive and evocative one. I’m expecting to get an additional commentary in the text on the cultural context and what the spren think it means, but just the description itself is enough to catch the gist.

I’m not sure from the drawing whether the ashspren have eyes that are typical of Rosharan humans or if they are even narrower. Compared to the herald portraits and the folio pages, these seem to be on an extreme end (and to enable a very condescending /  wily set of facial expressions). 

The ripped pants of the female ashspren here, along with her slightly tattered cloak, are interesting associations with a spren of destruction and decay. Notably, the other spren in the illustration has much finer clothing that lacks ragged edges. It’s not possible to tell from the picture whether the spren follow safehand norms, though my suspicion is that they do not.

I do love that mental image of ashspren in the physical realm, burning through things but leaving the object unharmed behind them. It’s similar enough to draw comparisons to Pattern and the other Cryptics, but still very unique.


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