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Eshonai vs. Venli Flashbacks?

Eshonai vs. Venli Flashbacks?   62 members have voted

  1. 1. Who would you prefer as a flashback character?

    • Eshonai
      20
    • Venli
      42

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Posted (edited)

In the latest reddit update on Book 4, Brandon talks about potentially replacing Eshonai with Venli as the flashback character. I'm really curious how everybody feels about this, should Brandon decide to actually change it. I know after Oathbringer came out, a lot of people were confused about the choice to keep Eshonai as the flashback character. I personally love Eshonai, and I was excited to see how her flashbacks would contribute to Venlis character arc. But honestly i feel like Venli might really be the right choice in this case, especially with Brandon saying that she is in a far better position to explore cosmere secrets.

So how does everybody feel about this?

Edited by Ciridae
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While I can see Venli flashbacks being a lot of fun from a "cosmere-nerd" point of view (read: all of us) I worry that doing flashbacks for Venli rather than Eshonai could adversely affect the earlier books.  

To be clear, I'm talking purely about narrative flow.  I think it could feel really strange for someone reading the series all the way through (at least once the first 5 are complete) to spend so much time with Eshonai in the earlier books, only for her to die and never show up again.  It makes it seem like the earlier books were misplotted, with narrative threads that kind of just... hang.  I was ok with Eshonai dying specifically because there was the promise of more information about her with the flashbacks - Brandon always talks about fulfilling your promises to your readers, and he's promised more with Eshonai.

To be clear, though, I don't think that Eshonai flashbacks are the only way to fulfill this promise.  They might be the cleanest, but I think that other ways are possible (showing Eshonai in the Venli flashbacks, having characters refer to her, etc.)  So I hope that if he goes the Venli route, he finds a way to wrap up the narrative promises he's made with Eshonai.

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I always liked Eshonai over Venli (though at the end of Oathbringer they started to go closer to be equal) but with Brandon saying Venli's flashbacks will give us more chance to learn and explore cosmere secrets I cannot decide which I prefer. Just - a character I like or more information on cosmere? (I didn't vote as I can't deicide what I prefer.) 

 

41 minutes ago, Jozomby said:

I think it could feel really strange for someone reading the series all the way through (at least once the first 5 are complete) to spend so much time with Eshonai in the earlier books, only for her to die and never show up again.  It makes it seem like the earlier books were misplotted, with narrative threads that kind of just... hang.  I was ok with Eshonai dying specifically because there was the promise of more information about her with the flashbacks - Brandon always talks about fulfilling your promises to your readers, and he's promised more with Eshonai.

Actually, I feel it can be the other way around as well. Eshonai's point of view makes sense as Venli knew too much back than. I felt like the promise was about all that was going 'behind the scenes' with singers, not the certain character. And with Eshonai being dead, focusing on her might as well feel out of place. And don't forget, she will still come back in flashback sequence, just wouldn't have a viewpoint. 

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I would prefer for Brandon to make the Eshonai flashbacks work somehow. Simply because I loved Eshonai and this is our last chance to see from her eyes.

But I'm definitely not opposed to Venli, if that's how it needs to go.

Seems like a mix of the two would be ideal... Like the way Dalinar and Adolin shared "Dalinar's chapters" in TWoK. Brandon followed up with a comment yesterday that he was considering this option as well, though he doesn't seem to like it for whatever reason.

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I prefer Venli over Eshonai. I liked Eshonai fine in WoR but during OB I came to like Venli as well and her viewpoints would serve the same purpose as Eshonai's in terms of listener lore and life and bring us more info about the Cosmere.

Also, Eshonai's dead. There's no need to get more attached to her than necessary.

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I could the flashbacks doing double duty. We could see something from Eshonai’s POV and at the end she’ll see something Venli is doing but doesn’t think anything of it before it switches over to Venli and what she was doing.

Another option could be doing the flashbacks out of order and have it where Timbre is asking Venli questions about her role at the time. This could be a very different way of doing flashbacks similar to how Dalinar was remembering his at roughly the same time we were reading them, or they could be compared to the thematic flashbacks from Lost where a theme from the past is similar, or influences, the present.

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Admittedly I never got the whole Eshonai thing to begin with, but to copy something I wrote elsewhere...

I know a lot of people were excited for Eshonai flashbacks, but I was always so, SO concerned how that would play into the main story.  (With her being dead and all.)  I really, really hope Brandon goes with the idea of Venli flashbacks instead.  The flashbacks in the first three books tied into the main narrative so perfectly, I just can't imagine how that could happen again with a dead character.

 

3 hours ago, Jozomby said:

To be clear, I'm talking purely about narrative flow.  I think it could feel really strange for someone reading the series all the way through (at least once the first 5 are complete) to spend so much time with Eshonai in the earlier books, only for her to die and never show up again.  It makes it seem like the earlier books were misplotted, with narrative threads that kind of just... hang.

Just to play devil's advocate, I see it as the opposite.  Having a minor character die in book 2 and then get flashback chapters in book 4, as opposed to our budding radiant who's deeply connected to Odium's forces and helped bring about the Everstorm, seems like poor plotting, not the other way around.  Venli's appearances go from 0, to mentioned in other POVs, to having her own POVs and interacts with both good and bad forces and becomes a radiant, to flashback character.

Eshonai goes from mysterious unknown whose name we only get as a chapter title (I believe,) to interlude POVs then dies, to nothing in book 3.  Adding flashback to the end of that chain seems far more out of place than giving Venli the flashbacks.

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24 minutes ago, What's a Seawolf? said:

Admittedly I never got the whole Eshonai thing to begin with, but to copy something I wrote elsewhere...

I know a lot of people were excited for Eshonai flashbacks, but I was always so, SO concerned how that would play into the main story.  (With her being dead and all.)  I really, really hope Brandon goes with the idea of Venli flashbacks instead.  The flashbacks in the first three books tied into the main narrative so perfectly, I just can't imagine how that could happen again with a dead character.

 

Just to play devil's advocate, I see it as the opposite.  Having a minor character die in book 2 and then get flashback chapters in book 4, as opposed to our budding radiant who's deeply connected to Odium's forces and helped bring about the Everstorm, seems like poor plotting, not the other way around.  Venli's appearances go from 0, to mentioned in other POVs, to having her own POVs and interacts with both good and bad forces and becomes a radiant, to flashback character.

Eshonai goes from mysterious unknown whose name we only get as a chapter title (I believe,) to interlude POVs then dies, to nothing in book 3.  Adding flashback to the end of that chain seems far more out of place than giving Venli the flashbacks.

I think Venli makes more sense as a flashback character because she knows a lot more than Eshonai. She was doing secret things with the voidspren Ulim prior to Words of Radiance. 

I really felt a fondness for Eshonai with her as the POV for the prologue of Oathbringer her easily distracted, day-dreaming, naive explorer personality is endearing. But, she didn't get to explore very much and then she died. 

I agree with your point that Eshonai flashbacks would be kind of janky plotting. In the first 3 books the flashbacks have revealed secrets about each radiant's past and informed what they are doing in the present. I'm not Brandon, so I don't know what interesting secrets Eshonai might have, but Venli certainly has some and is a main character in the present.  

Whichever flashback character we get, the good news is the other character will be in the flashbacks a lot. I would prefer Venli's interior monologue though, because I think it would be more revealing. 

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I love Eshonai but those Cosmere secrets are too tempting, so for now I'm gonna stick to that ray of hope that is the "Venli flashbacks and Eshonai novella" option.

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I mean, Eshonai is dead, and Venli is really cool, and the first listener Radiant ever. So I got to go with Venli.

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The reason why I always liked Eshonai more then Venli is that I tend to get attached to warrior character easier then I do to scholarly or intellectual character. Of course during the time that the flashbacks will be taking place Eshonai wouldn't have even been a warrior but an explorer. On the whole I would have preferred Estonia but having dead flashback character always seamed like a whacky idea to me. Whatever ends up happening I am confident in Brandon and team Sanderson to stick the landing. 

Also, I'm always down for some Cosmere secrets, give me all of the Comer secrets!!! 

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Well, thats a tricky situation. I think it would be nice to have Venli cause all 10 books would refer to one Radiant in the Thaylen Field battle, but also it kinda could give a hint about the characters. I liked the idea of Eshonai's flashbacks with her being dead, cause it creates a sense of "danger" (that character will have a dedicated book, but that doesnt mean he will be alive). Plus, it would be kinda weird to give Eshonai the Oathbringer prologue not to give her more flashbacks ...

 

I have faith in Sanderson and I know he will choose what fits best to the story.

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I personally am hopping that we get two sets of flashbacks one with each sister and have them put in such a way so that they mirror each other giving us some nice parallelism.

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17 hours ago, Draginon said:

I could the flashbacks doing double duty. We could see something from Eshonai’s POV and at the end she’ll see something Venli is doing but doesn’t think anything of it before it switches over to Venli and what she was doing.

This is how I imagined it.  They flashbacks would be from Eshonai's POV, but would be about both sisters' past.  The parallels between Eshonai's rebellious past and Venli's current secret-Radiant-behind-enemy-lines stories were one of the things I was most excited about.  

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20 hours ago, What's a Seawolf? said:

Admittedly I never got the whole Eshonai thing to begin with, but to copy something I wrote elsewhere...

I know a lot of people were excited for Eshonai flashbacks, but I was always so, SO concerned how that would play into the main story.  (With her being dead and all.)  I really, really hope Brandon goes with the idea of Venli flashbacks instead.  The flashbacks in the first three books tied into the main narrative so perfectly, I just can't imagine how that could happen again with a dead character.

 

Just to play devil's advocate, I see it as the opposite.  Having a minor character die in book 2 and then get flashback chapters in book 4, as opposed to our budding radiant who's deeply connected to Odium's forces and helped bring about the Everstorm, seems like poor plotting, not the other way around.  Venli's appearances go from 0, to mentioned in other POVs, to having her own POVs and interacts with both good and bad forces and becomes a radiant, to flashback character.

Eshonai goes from mysterious unknown whose name we only get as a chapter title (I believe,) to interlude POVs then dies, to nothing in book 3.  Adding flashback to the end of that chain seems far more out of place than giving Venli the flashbacks.

I'm with you.  Eshonai was always a minor character, so it's totally fine for her to disappear after two books.  More than anything, I'm interested in seeing why Sanderson wants to tell a flashback story of hers.  The flashback sequences have always been my least favorite part of the SA books.  Shallan's was so-so, but felt significant to me because it revealed a lot of interesting new things about her character that are very relevant to her current plot and that we couldn't have known otherwise.  Kaladin's was also just OK, but told an interesting personal story that explained a little bit about what life was like for "regular" Alethi and what had started his life on a dark turn.  Dalinar's, imo, was lame.  Just about everything we learned from the story that was relevant to Dalinar's current character or the overall plot could have been better told without doing flashbacks.  I just couldn't get invested in characters who (other than Dalinar himself) are all dead now.  I would have been happier if the flashbacks were about half the length.  

I think Sanderson is trying tell us something with his "killing his darlings" comment.  He talks about this on the Writing Excuses podcast, a phrase he has for the need to kill off ideas that you as a writer think will be great in theory, but are either too hard to pull off in practice or just aren't nearly as exciting to anyone other than you.  I think he set up the idea of having a certain structure for each SA book and sometimes the overall book suffers for it.  What could a set of flashbacks with Eshonai and/or Venli tell us that is relevant to the characters and story we see in the main plot?  Maybe Venli's motivations and reasons for doing what she did?  He may be considering either changing or pulling back on the flashback structure in general.  Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of faith in Sanderson and whatever he ultimately does will be great, but so far the flashbacks have been (imo) the least great part of it.

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Here's an idea- do neither. Instead let's see timbre. Still have the willshaper order. Just from the point of view of the spren... Which could be interesting as it were. Beauty of the cosmere secrets, more about spren cities, and more about eshonai + venli. Not to mention, breaks the formula for a change. 

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I'm torn. On one hand, I like Eshonai and want to see more of her. On the other hand Venli has secrets. But Venli is a divisive character for some, and learning about her shady past before you even learn to really like her as a character/person might keep her divisive forever. 

I do like the compromises the best; if Venli gets the book, then Eshonai gets a novella. Or they both share flashbacks (making RoW even longer hehehe)! Yeah, I think I'm more of a fan of that.

Overall, I just want Eshonai's story out there.

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I can see why Sanderson is torn on writing it when we're torn on who we would prefer! I would like to see Eshonai's perspective of the treaty and the forms. But she's also dead and might not provide anything further to the story (I agree a novella may best suit her).

I'd also like to see Venli cope with the loss of her sister and the gain of Timbre.

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I like the idea of flashbacks for a POV character showing them through a different person's eyes. Venli flashbacks from Eshonai's perspective. 

I think perhaps a mix might work best, though. 

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I see Eshonai and Venli as more or less one character from a narrative perspective.  The importance of a character from anonymous background character to main character, in Stormlight books, goes something like this: anonymous background < named background < POV interactive = interlude POV < non-interlude POV.  We've seen a few characters get "promoted" so far.

Moash went from anonymous background to named background to POV interactive through the events in WoK, remained an important side character in Kaladin's POVs throughout WoR, and finally became a main character in Oathbringer.  The same is true for Teft, and arguably Rock and Lopen are also now POV characters.

In WoK Eshonai was an anonymous background character.  At the beginning WoR she moved up to interlude POV and Venli appeared as a named background character.  After Eshonai bonded the stormspren, she became more of a named background character in her own POVs, and Venli's role became more POV interactive.  By the beginning of Oathbringer, Eshonai was dead and thus permanently demoted to named background, and Venli had moved up to a main POV role.  If you take the combined plot importance of the two sisters, it's roughly equivalent to Teft's or Moash's trajectory.

In my estimation, the decision of doing flashbacks from one or the other is relatively moot.  Each character did a certain amount of solo adventuring/research, but ultimately they're going to start and end in the same place.  As far as the impact of the flashbacks, there will probably be more value in Venli looking back on her life and the decisions she made than Eshonai doing the same, unless Eshonai is still floating around as a cognitive shadow somewhere.

1 hour ago, WhiteEmporer said:

I think perhaps a mix might work best, though. 

This is probably the best solution.

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5 hours ago, Wander89 said:

I can see why Sanderson is torn on writing it when we're torn on who we would prefer! I would like to see Eshonai's perspective of the treaty and the forms. But she's also dead and might not provide anything further to the story (I agree a novella may best suit her).

I'd also like to see Venli cope with the loss of her sister and the gain of Timbre.

More for curiosity than anything - what do you what to see from Eshonai that you haven't seen already?  We've already seen her perspective of the treaty and Gavilar's murder, we've also already seen her perspective on the forms.  Is it just that you like her as a character and want to see more pages written from her perspective?  That's totally cool if that's the case.

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41 minutes ago, agrabes said:

More for curiosity than anything - what do you what to see from Eshonai that you haven't seen already?  We've already seen her perspective of the treaty and Gavilar's murder, we've also already seen her perspective on the forms.  Is it just that you like her as a character and want to see more pages written from her perspective?  That's totally cool if that's the case.

Maybe perhaps the early life of Eshonai. She was told to make great discoveries, lead expeditions to find new life. She was a cartographer (I think that was the profession) so im sure there are more stories. I get that it might not benefit in story form but she was a great character, might be more suited to a novella. Might even be more Timbre stories.

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I have found Eshonai flashbacks a strange and uninteresting prospect since OB. Much rather focus on building Venlis character, and giving us juicy Cosmere stuff. 

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On 8/28/2019 at 8:40 AM, Scion of the Mists said:

This is how I imagined it.  They flashbacks would be from Eshonai's POV, but would be about both sisters' past.  The parallels between Eshonai's rebellious past and Venli's current secret-Radiant-behind-enemy-lines stories were one of the things I was most excited about.  

One way it could really work out that’s unique could be that Timbre had been observing Eshonai for a long time and now that she’s bonded with Venli she’ll be remembering stuff from those moments and asking Venli what was going on before going into a mid-chapter flashback similar to Kaladin remembering his brother’s death mid-chapter in WOK.

How interesting would it be to have hidden flashbacks like this?

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Eshonai was an extremely interesting character I wanted to see much much more of. I sadly couldn't care less about Venli, and currently prefer she gets killed off so interesting characters get more screen time.  So he needs to either find a way to make Venli interesting as a character fast or make sure there's enough interesting stuff going on that the book can carry her along the way while he catches up on developing her. And I don't see how Venli flashbacks will help with that given readers that dislike her or don't care about her are going to feel like her flashbacks are a grind.  Better to start with Eshonai flashbacks to help pull those readers in. I could see round-robin flashbacks, or starting with Eshonai flashbacks then shifting to Venli ones, but starting with Venli flashbacks for a character that he's failed to develop properly risks compounding that mistake.

Edited by Argel
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