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Species Singers
World Roshar
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
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The listeners (called the Parshendi by the Alethi) are a group or ethnicity of singers on Roshar.

Prior to the True Desolation, they lived on eastern Roshar, near the Shattered Plains. During the War of Reckoning, they inhabited the city of Narak.


The Last Legion and Abandoning of the Gods[edit]

Long are the days since we knew the dark home,” Mother sang softly to one of the Rhythms of Remembrance. “The Last Legion, that was our name then. Warriors who had been set to fight in the farthest plains, this place that had once been a nation and was now rubble. Dead was the freedom of most people. The forms, unknown, were forced upon us. Forms of power, yes, but also forms of obedience. The gods commanded, and we did obey, always. Always.
Eshonai's mother to Eshonai[1]

The listeners were originally called the Last Legion,[1] and like other singers in the Voidbringer army, they followed the commands of the Fused, who the listeners termed their gods. They lived in somewhere called the dark home (but this might have been metaphorical for being under Odium's influence, and not an actual place). The Last Legion was sent to fight in the farthest plains, probably the plains of Natanatan and the Shattered Plains.[1]

Then, one day, the Last Legion fled, leaving the forms of power for dullform. Despite being cripplied, it would lead to freedom from their gods. These listeners composed many songs to remember their history and forms, such as the Song of Listing, Song of Secrets, and Song of Histories because they risked forgetting everything. They had only known how to transform into forms other than dullform and mateform with the help of gods.[1]

Since the listeners recall this story about throwing off the Fused, this event must have occurred prior to or around the time of Aharietiam, the Last Desolation, as Fused been trapped in Damnation for four and a half millennia after that point.

Later, near the time of the Recreance and what was probably the False Desolation,[2] the Unmade Ba-Ado-Mishram Connected to most singers, providing the singers with forms of power and Voidlight.[3] The Knights Radiant sought to stop this threat by imprisoning Ba-Ado-Mishram. They succeeded but in doing so, stole part of singers souls, turning them into slaveform.[4] The listeners somehow were spared from this event and became the only singers on Roshar with their minds still in tact.

The listeners inhabited the broken kingdom of Natanatan and the Unclaimed Hills in eastern Roshar for long time, unknown to most humans.[1] For much of this, they knew only dullform and mateform, but eventually discovered warform and workform (and much later, nimbleform).

The listeners were much less unified than they are when seen during the War of Reckoning. They were once split into a number of separate tribes, with raids and assassinations as a relatively frequent occurrence. This is reflected in the listeners having enough cultural experience with assassination to have norms as to how an assassinations ought to be carried out.[5]

Alethi Discovery[edit]

To modern humans, the listeners were originally discovered by Alethi King Gavilar's brother Dalinar Kholin during a hunting trip.[6][7] Dalinar was scouting in a forest which had not been on any maps. In a valley south of the Shattered Plains and about two weeks' march from the Drying Sea, Dalinar saw the first listener camped on the other side of a tributary of the Deathbend River. The Alethi called these "intelligent parshmen"--the listeners--the Parshendi.

The Alethi made a treaty with the listeners to secure trade routes. Due to a translation error, the Alethi interpreted the listener gods to be the greatshells on the Shattered Plains, the chasmfiends, and not the Fused. However, Gavilar, having seen visions, knew more than he let on. Gavilar came up with a plan to bring back the listener gods to bring back the Heralds[8]. Gavilar gave Eshonai a black sphere--filled with Voidlight--to the listener leaders, the Five, and Gavilar hoped they would welcome their gods returning.

But, the listeners feared their gods' return, having cast them off for so long. After frantic debate, the Five decided they would maintain freedom at any cost. So, they hired an assassin, Szeth, on the eve of their treaty. They instructed him to wear white because it was a Parshendi tradition for assassinations.[9]

The assassination led to the formation of the Alethi Vengeance Pact and caused the War of Reckoning, a prolonged war between the listeners and the Alethi on the Shattered Plains.

War of Reckoning[edit]

During the war, these listeners moved their population to Narak from the western edge of the Shattered Plains, where the Alethi warcamps are now situated, though hundreds of thousands of listeners had lived scattered across the entirety of the Plains.[10][11] The war of attrition lasted for six years, and their population slowly dwindled.[11]

Eventually, Venli persuaded Eshonai that they would die unless they did something drastic. Venli had discovered stormform, one of the forms of power, and Eshonai took the form and was controlled by the form, forcing many other listeners to adopt it as well in order to stop the Alethi and the destruction of their species.[Citation needed]

At the Battle of Narak, where Highprince Dalinar Kholin led an expedition to end the War of Reckoning, the listeners in stormform, sung a terrible song. It formed the Everstorm and with it, the True Desolation began.

After the battle, Rlain laments that with the listeners taking up stormform, the listeners no longer exist.[12]

The True Desolation[edit]

Shortly after the Battle of Narak, the Fused began to Return in the Everstorm and took over former listener's bodies and killing them in the process. Venli nearly sucuumbed to this, until Odium stopped a Fused from entering her. Venli instead received envoyform.[13]

Odium used Venli to tell the story of the listeners to try and inspire the newly restored singers to fight.


Male listeners grew beards, which they thread through beads infused with Stormlight.

The listeners learned how to capture spren in gemstones by watching humans, then working out the process for themselves. This allowed them to make changes to their forms much more reliably, where before there was an element of chance with the transformation.[11]

Notable Listeners[edit]

See Also[edit]


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