|Died||Battle of Narak|
|Groups||Council of Five|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”It is you. (...) I have found you at last.— Eshonai to Dalinar at the Battle of the Tower.
Eshonai is a listener Shardbearer who lives in Narak on the Shattered Plains of Roshar during the War of Reckoning. She was one of the first Parshendi to come in contact with Gavilar Kholin's soldiers in the Unclaimed Hills.
Appearance and Personality
Her skin is a marbled red and black, and she is large of stature, standing seven feet tall in Shardplate. Her Shardplate is silver with a red cape. She speaks Alethi with a thick accent. She wears warform due to the conflict with Alethkar. When not wearing Shardplate, her uniform consists of a cap and a red cloth that stretches over her warform armor.
As a youth, people were used to Eshonai wandering off in the middle of a task. She has the best spoken Alethi of any of the listeners.
Her preferred form is workform because it is more flexible, limber, rugged, and because the form's aversion to violence forces her to think differently to solve problems. She finds it difficult to tolerate listeners who prefer mateform , and has trouble understanding why anyone would want to remain in that form for longer than necessary to produce offspring. Her confusion on this subject at one time extended to humans, when she was baffled by the fact that humans have only a single form that is easily distracted by sexual urges.
Though she accepts her duties as a general for her people, she feels trapped and constrained by the role, and by living on the Shattered Plains. Even her uniform contributes to her emotional discomfort, and the repetitive tasks of military life numb her mind. She blames her uniform for her personal worries. However she never speaks of her discomfort in her role. She enjoys the feeling of strength she gets from wearing Shardplate, and it gives her something reliable in the world.
Eshonai's true passion is exploration, and she yearns to be free of her role as general so she can explore. She even contemplates exploring human civilizations, though she has a preference for exploring the wilderness. However, she believes these feelings are meaningless in comparison to the importance of protecting her people. She holds that remembering the fallen is important, but of lesser concern than protecting the living. She goes so far as to accompany her strike forces even when she has an injured leg from the Battle of the Tower, because she is the only Shardbearer among the listeners.
She believes that she is personally responsible for the War of Reckoning because she was the first to make contact with the Alethi. Despite being fully aware of the dire predicament of her people, she does not blame the Alethi for their pursuit of vengeance. While she fights the Alethi out of necessity, she would prefer to negotiate a peace with them.
Eshonai was an explorer who often travelled the wilderness of Natanatan. She started out exploring alone, creating maps and expanding the listeners' understanding of the world, then began leading expeditions during her teenage years, after her adventures sparked interest amongst her people. Her exploration lead to the listeners' first contact with humans in 1165, when she encountering Gavilar's expedition to the south of the Shattered Plains.
Assassination of Gavilar
On the day of his assassination, Gavilar spoke to Eshonai privately. She was the first listener to learn that Gavilar wanted to bring back the listeners' old gods. He gave her a dark gemstone and told her to give it to The Five. Taking the gemstone, Eshonai went to the Five and told them of Gavilar's plans, and the group decided to assassinate the Alethi king. Though Eshonai was not yet on the Council of Five, the council gave her a vote and listened to her advice due to her role as an interpreter. She voted in favor of killing Gavilar, in order to keep the listeners free of their gods and to affirm the decision made by their ancestors centuries ago.
The War of Reckoning (1167-1173)
Sometime between the assassination of Gavilar and the Battle of the Tower, Eshonai became a member of the Council of Five and was made the general of the listener army. After the death of the king, the listeners relocated to Narak in the hopes that a war of attrition would deter the Alethi from pursuing longterm action. Unfortunately, the presence of chasmfiends on the Shattered Plains allowed the war to continue for many years, with the Alethi and listener forces clashing over the beast's gemhearts. Eshonai would sometimes join her troops in the skirmishes over these gems.
The Battle of the Tower
During the battle, Eshonai duelled Dalinar Kholin as the army made its retreat. She defeated him in combat, and recognised him as the Alethi Shardbearer she had been searching for, but was stabbed in the leg by Kaladin Stormblessed, who made his escape with Dalinar before she has a chance to speak with him. As the army made its retreat from the Tower (Roshar), she saluted Dalinar as a gesture of respect. She allowed the Alethi to escape the battle without attacking them once they clear the Tower.
Eshonai was the first to adopt Stormform after it was rediscovered by her sister Venli, though did so reluctantly. The new form caused Eshonai to become more warlike and destructive, leading her to switch from seeking peace with the Alethi, to desiring their extermination. Her new aggressive personality made her more willing to kill disobedient listeners, including her comrades, friends, and family. Any who refused to obey her orders were rounded up by Eshonai, whose intent was to have them killed.
In the Battle of Narak, she led the listener army, who had taken Stormform, to battle, with the intent to destroy the Alethi forces. After Adolin pushed her into a chasm, she rammed her Shardblade into the ground, in an attempt to not be swept away by the floodwaters. Despite her efforts, Eshonai drowned.
”This is progress. (...) Progress is learning to control your world. Put up walls to stop the storms, choose when to become a mate.— Eshonai convincing herself of the necessity for capturing spren.
”Our people are crumbling. (...) We're being weathered away. We moved to Narak and chose a war of attrition. That has meant six years with steady losses. People are giving up.— Eshonai trying to decide what to do about Venli's discovery of stormform.
”I will agree to this test. However, (...) I must be the one who tries the new form first.— Eshonai offering herself as a test for stormform in case something goes wrong.
”With enough of us bearing this form together, we could bring it. We could bend the storms to our will, and could bring bring them down upon our enemies.— Eshonai upon returning to Narak in stormform.
”The humans will leave their warcamp together, in one large army that intends to reach Narak during the lull. They will be completely exposed on the plains, with no shelter. A highstorm at that time would destroy them.— Eshonai's plan for winning the War of Reckoning, in stormform.
- The reason she was killed off and Venli used in her viewpoint role instead was due to there already being other characters in the series who was a "paragon soldier who's trying to do the right thing".
- Eshonai is the Shardbearer on the cover art of the Way of Kings. She is described as wearing silver Shardplate and a red cloak — both traits shared by the figure in the forefront of the painting.
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— Arcanum - 2018-11-08#
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