GriffinMaze

What did folks find MOST interesting about the Venli/Eshonai flashbacks?

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So I was really bored by the flashbacks in the book. I personally have no emotional investment in Venli as a character so seeing her come to be was not interesting to me in the least

 

BUT

 

I am very interested in what other people got from the flashbacks. I think other perspectives might make me appreciate them more. Your thoughts?

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The flashbacks were the least effective of any of the books so far because they were split between two characters, only one who is still alive and Venli isn't even the main character of this book, probably 3rd in line behind Navani and Kaladin. 

The last Eshonai flashback was very bittersweet and effective emotionally though. The Venli flashbacks gave us some lore nuggets. 

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I was pretty intrigued by the palace scene, particularly the conversation between Ulim and Nale.

Edited by Necessary Eagle
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Venli in Kholinar in the night of Gavilar death was incredible. This night still the best event Sanderson elaborated in Stormlight with each book unraveling more and more details and secrets, can't wait for book 5!

 

Contrary to what most people I found those flashbacks more interesting than Kaladin's or Shallan's. It showed more about Listeners culture and organization, and also explained Venli's relationship with Ulim. It was way less meaningful however, as Venli's is not as important ad Kaladin or Shallan were for books 1 and 2

 

Kaladin's flashback in just worth character study, many people read books for this, but I'm not exactly interested in them. I always skip their flashback when re-reading because IMO it's very clear what his flashback means and don't add much in the general Stormlight plot 

Shallan's flashback was a bit more intriguing, as she contacted Hoid and her family was closed tied with many organizations, the Ghostbloods, the Skybreakers and her mother herself we still not knowing how she knew about Radiants. But I found her chapters mostly blurry and confusing, after 6 years we are still getting details of her past. Anyway, her flashback is at least worth revisiting after reading recent events 

 

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umm...the last one showing Eshonai's goodbye vision of Roshar was nice.

All the other ones honestly felt pretty skippable to me.  It felt like the flashbacks were more included out of a sense of obligation than narrative necessity.

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5 hours ago, Necessary Eagle said:

I was pretty intrigued by the palace scene, particularly the conversation between Ulim and Nale.

Yeah, this was really the only interesting thing that happened in the flashbacks for this book.

3 hours ago, Subvisual Haze said:

umm...the last one showing Eshonai's goodbye vision of Roshar was nice.

All the other ones honestly felt pretty skippable to me.  It felt like the flashbacks were more included out of a sense of obligation than narrative necessity.

Agreed.  We've seen enough Eshonai POV already, that these flashbacks didn't really tell us very much we didn't already know.

Looking forward to Szeth flashbacks in the next book, though!

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I agree, the Ulim palace scene was intriguing, and the Eshonai final scene was delightfully bittersweet. 

But mt biggest takeaway from the flashbacks was that the Return was brought about not really due to nefarious evil plotting on the part of Venli, but mostly because Venli was a selfish brat with sibling rivalry issues. 

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19 minutes ago, Czernobog said:

I agree, the Ulim palace scene was intriguing, and the Eshonai final scene was delightfully bittersweet. 

But mt biggest takeaway from the flashbacks was that the Return was brought about not really due to nefarious evil plotting on the part of Venli, but mostly because Venli was a selfish brat with sibling rivalry issues. 

I am actually confused about that even more. It looked like there were three separate things:

-Taln breaking 

-Venli summoning the storm.

-Everstorm already happening in Cognitive realm before no 1 and no 2

I am not sure how they are related. Everstorm appears to predate the other two, so would it happen without Taln breaking? What if one or two of the above elements don't occur?

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4 hours ago, Subvisual Haze said:

It felt like the flashbacks were more included out of a sense of obligation than narrative necessity.

Brandon indicated he originally planned to reveal Listener culture in this book, but realized he had to reveal it sooner. So, yeah, felt more like he was obligated to do them because of the structure he set for the series. It doesn't help that Eshonai was the far more interesting character and one fans were bonding with, then she gets killed off and we get her selfish sister as a replacement. Just not enough time for the emotional investment. He needed to start showing Venli's good side much, much more in OB so that these flashbacks to her previous self would contract tot he current Venli, not highlight how far she has to go yet (making her a less likeable character). The flashbacks seemed shorter this time, and maybe that's because Brandon accounted for less interest (from the beta reads).

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On 11/23/2020 at 5:48 PM, Alcatur said:

I am actually confused about that even more. It looked like there were three separate things:

-Taln breaking 

-Venli summoning the storm.

-Everstorm already happening in Cognitive realm before no 1 and no 2

I am not sure how they are related. Everstorm appears to predate the other two, so would it happen without Taln breaking? What if one or two of the above elements don't occur?

If Taln did not break, no Fused could leave Braize. If he had not broken, while the Everstorm could still happen, it would lack the ability to re-body dead Fused on Roshar itself, because no Fused would be on Roshar. 

If Venli had not encouraged tons of Stormform, and had them collectively singing, the Everstorm could not have been pulled into the Physical from the Cognitive. If this had not happened but Taln had still broken, Fused could return to Roshar, but would return to Braize upon death (just like in every previous Desolation).

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I liked the Venli flashbacks the least of all the chapters. She was selfish and unpleasant in the first book and hasn't changed a lot. She only has a Radiant spren because Eshoni died. Even Rlain still doesn't like her. She is aware that she not a very good person and does some good things but she is too much of a coward to really help people. 

Venli's chapters gave us some Listener lore and even more details about the killing of Gavilar but I could have not read it and not missed it.

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I really liked these flashbacks. Although, these were probably the weakest flashbacks so far - in terms of pacing, gripping the readers, etc, it probably was also the most relevant flashbacks for the story as a whole. Previous flashbacks focused on individual character development (not saying that I didn't enjoy those), but RoW's flashbacks showed how Venli almost single handedly caused the war, brought her people to near extinction, how Nale played a significant part in that, how "The Return/Desolation" was an orchestrated thing and not something that accidentally happened due to a chance conversation between Gavilar and Eshonai.

Edited by shadeslayer
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I enjoyed the exploration and expansion of past-Venli's motivations. She was manipulated by Axindweth (!) and Ulim more than I recalled. Also enjoyed adding a little more complexity to Eshonai - she wasn't just the 'better' sister, she had flaws too (ignoring family etc.) The flashbacks showed how both had qualities and both were flawed. The flashbacks helped emphasize the total tragedy of Venli being the last* Listener.

What bothered me more was the present-Venli still doing a lot of hiding and sulking. I guess it would have been unreasonable for her to be a full-fledged hero by this point, but I think it would have been a more satisfying contrast to the flashbacks. Her arc in book 5 really needs to continue to feel complete. She's the perfect person to continue the Listeners, and she's going to grow into an awesome Willshaper, but she's not there yet.

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I thought the palace scenes as mentioned above were interesting and the last Eshonai chapter was good because of its emotional impact. Other than that these were a miss for me. I didn’t like the split between Eshonai and Venli and they just kind of seemed unnecessary. 
 

I do agree with others that the flashback chapters in all the books are typically my least favorite (excluding Dalinar’s which I liked). I’m thinking Szeth’s may be interesting in the next book though because we know so little about Shinovar. 

Edited by StormingTexan
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I forgot to say earlier... one of things that fascinated me in the palace scene was the before/after of Venli three days without Ulim ("Maybe this is a bad idea and will just bring disaster on my people? Why am I doing this, again?") to Venli with Ulim ("On a second thought, starting a war and getting everyone killed makes perfect sense! Let's go!") Showed how much she was being brainwashed, and made her a bit more redeemable to me. I mean, she's still petty and reckless, but it wasn't her true self that was willing to kill everyone to get what she wanted.

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Ulim was in general quite fun, and defenitely made those chapters easier to get through. His conversation with Nale was a highlight for sure. Otherwise, Eshonais final scene is one of the best ones Brandon has written, and really made her character memorable. In a way though, I feel like our two Singer-MCs got upstaged by the Singer/Fused antagonists in Raboniel and Lezian. Rlain was also way cooler than either one of the sisters. 

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These flashbacks weren't nearly as emotionally charged as the others but I did appreciate how they filled in some of the details leading up to the Everstorm and return.

I wasnt really clear before on how Venli could have met Ulim before Taln broke. I figured Odiumspren must have been locked on Braize but seeing that he was actually brought in a gem by a Terriswoman serving Odium makes sense .

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Axindweth - a Terriswoman was trying to restore Odium?!

The palace scenes. Nale told Venli about Szeth?!

Eshonai’s last flight.

The rest were boring.

Edited by Kingsdaughter613
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Actually one of my favorite flashback moments was seeing Rlain interacting with Thude and Eshonai pre-war and getting a little insight into his personality back then. And of course, Eshonai’s send-off gift from the Stormfather was fantastic. 

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On 11/23/2020 at 2:25 PM, Czernobog said:

I agree, the Ulim palace scene was intriguing, and the Eshonai final scene was delightfully bittersweet. 

But mt biggest takeaway from the flashbacks was that the Return was brought about not really due to nefarious evil plotting on the part of Venli, but mostly because Venli was a selfish brat with sibling rivalry issues

To be fair, in her own book she didn't even get to have her own flashback scenes to herself but instead had to share them with Eshonai.    And then later, when people ask which one of these was the best, people invariably point to Eshonai's. 

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The flashbacks made me realise that while I didn't care much for Eshonai previously, I really disliked her here. I think people always considered Venli to be the selfish,"bad" sister. But basically she was a scared child left with dealing with a sick mother, while her sister was out wondering the world and looked at her family as limited. I feel that it's natural for Venli to grow resentment towards Eshonai and want to compete with her. There was a particular chapter where Venli was really lost and she kept wishing that Eshonai be there with her, that she needed her. This of course doesn't excuse what she's done, but I can really understand where she's coming from. 

My favourite moment from the flashbacks was the one were the two of them are singing the Dawn song or whatever and then Venli tries to tell Eshonai what she's been doing with Ulim, but the latter is already asleep so Venli goes out into the storm and catches the first Stormspren that night. For me that read as a decisive moment for her and it showed that even after working with the spren for a while, for a second there she was "weak", she still was that scared girl who needed her big sister, but Eshonai wasn't there (cause she's never been there) and that kept her going with the plan. 

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14 hours ago, mariapapadia said:

 But basically she was a scared child left with dealing with a sick mother, while her sister was out wondering the world and looked at her family as limited. I feel that it's natural for Venli to grow resentment towards Eshonai and want to compete with her.

This is an awesome point I didnt think about at all

 

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I really like Eshonai and Venli humming together after taking care of their hurt mother.

That was the last true connection between them, and at the end Venli was ready to tell everything to Eshonai but the opportunity was missed.

It just somehow hit me very hard.

 

Also, I think the flashback was lacked a center mystery, which makes previous ones more interesting.

In tWOK, how did Kaladin became a slave?

In WoR, why did Shallan kill her father?

In OB, what happen to Dalinar's wife?

There is no crucial question for the listener sisters, it just shows their part away and some aftermath.

Luckly I think we have a reall good mystery for book five. (What happened to Szeth and his family and make him Truthless) 

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