by Marianne Eie
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”They pick their rider, son. We fixate on Shards, but any man -- courageous or coward -- can bond a Blade. Not so here, on this ground. Only the worthy win here . . .—Dalinar to Adolin
Ryshadium are a subspecies or breed of horse on Roshar. They are genetically distinct from other horses, though they are still capable of mating with them. They are likely descended from horses that were brought to Roshar when humans first arrived. They are often referred to as "the third Shard" in addition to a Shardblade and Shardplate.
Ryshadium are larger than other breeds of horse -- among others, Gallant is two hands taller than an ordinary mount. They can have various coat colors, including black and white. Additionally they can have both light or dark eyes, which have rectangular pupils. Unlike ordinary horses, Ryshadium have stone hooves and thus do not require shoes. This is likely an adaptation they have developed for life on Roshar. It is unknown if the hooves are actually stone, or a stone-like material.
Ryshadium are significantly stronger than other warhorses. They can carry a Shardbearer in full Plate, demonstrating their enhanced strength and endurance. They are also faster than other horse breeds. They are strong enough to withstand a Shardbearer jumping into their saddle without any injury to themselves, an action that would break the backs of most ordinary horses.
Ryshadium also have a higher level of sentience than other animals.
Ryshadium exhibit many behaviors that are unique to the breed. They posses a certain level of sentience. It is unclear the exact degree of sentience they posses, although there are multiple times throughout the series when a Ryshadium appears to understand its rider. Such intelligence and understanding can be seen in their relationships with their riders. Humans will often carry on conversations with Ryshadium and the horses will seemingly answer, either through body language or sounds such as snorts.
In turn, humans take great care not to upset them. A Ryshadium will not be stabled with regular horses, but rather on its own pasture, large enough to run around in. On the rare occassions that a Ryshadium needs to carry someone other than their rider, the rider typically has to spend a long time convincing the horse to do so. This being said, common grooms typically don't know how to care for a Ryshadium, and once back in its pasture, the horse is sometimes left to fend for itself.
In battle, Ryshadium will hold their ground even in circumstances when other horses would flee, either through training or their natural abilities. It is indicated that Ryshadium are difficult to train. This is likely due to the fact that they cannot be ridden unless they choose a rider first.
Ryshadium as a whole are not a domesticated species. They roam in herds across Roshar, though they rarely stray into the West. It is only after one chooses to bond a human that they allow themselves to be taken out of the wild.
Choosing a Rider
Ryshadium are known for choosing and obeying only a particular rider. Dalinar describes the experience of having a Ryshadium accept him as a rider as “indescribable”. It is indicated that one must be “worthy” to be chosen by a Ryshadium. What the measure of worthiness is, however, remains unclear.
Riders often communicate with their Ryshadium as if the horses have full or partial understanding of what their riders are saying. Furthermore, they do respond with body language and sounds indicating that this is true. While Ryshadium are useful in battle, Shardbearers will sometimes fight unmounted so that they do not endanger their Ryshadium in close attacks. Ryshadium are loyal to their riders, and will risk their lives to find and aid them.
Though Ryshadium choose their rider, they will allow others to ride them as they are needed; in one instance, Ryshadium were used to carry three wounded men from the battlefield.
- Dalinar with Gallant
- Adolin with Sureblood
- Hatham with unnamed Ryshadium
- Kalanor with unnamed Ryshadium
Ryshadium have a symbiotic bond with spren. While the benefits the Ryshadium gain are clear (strength, self awareness), it is unclear what the spren receive in return. Ryshadium are – like humans – one of the few non-native species to have developed a spren bond. The specific type of spren that bonds with them is unclear, although it could be musicspren as they have been seen around the Ryshadium even when there is no music playing.
- Ryshadium is a word also used in the Alcatraz series; Radrian Blackburn asks Leavenworth Smedry how to bypass the Sentinel's Glass of Ryshadium during the torture.
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