by Ashley Coad
|Abilities||Forms of Power, Willshaper|
|Titles||The Last Listener|
Voice of Lady Leshwi
Voice of the Lady of Wishes (former)
Voice of Odium (former)
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”I feel like a relic. Already I seem like a cast-off ruin from a nearly forgotten day.—Venli
Appearance and Personality
”Why should I continue to obey your orders, spren? You should obey me.
Venli is slender, with a thin face and red-and-white marbled skin. She wears her hair long, down to her waist, and ties it in three places. Her eyes are dark and glassy like all singers, though they appear violet in the right light. During the War of Reckoning, she utilizes nimbleform as a substitute for the undiscovered scholarform. She later changes into stormform for the Battle of Narak, making her bulkier and taller, and smiles often while wearing it. Following the battle, she transforms into envoyform. In that form, she has visible breasts and is extremely tall, taller even than the Alethi humans.
In any form she has, Venli seems to tend towards the fatalistic, putting the odds of things like the war ending or her own survival at rather low. While she wishes she had the power to fight, she does not consider herself to be skilled in this regard, and being on a battlefield distresses her. On the other hand, she's highly ambitious, and by and large does not care about the plight of her people, so long as she gets what she wants -- power and recognition. To that end, she can be extremely manipulative and deceitful; however, when those goals, and the respect they'd give her, are threatened, she grows angry. She seems jealous of her sister and her position, and tries to take over once the two are both in stormform. It remains unclear how much of Venli's ambition came from having Ulim, a Voidspren, inside of her gemheart for a long period of time.
Eshonai's death is a massive catalyst of change in her. Over time, Venli comes to understand how horrid her actions have been and their true cost, and regrets them deeply, beginning to care about the other singers and their plight. She acknowledges her responsibility for causing the Everstorm to be summoned, and admits that this was an awful thing to do. However, she retains her prideful streak, and will not accept any compromise with humans.
Attributes and Abilities
”Venli's eyes always seemed to have an extra depth of secret knowledge to them.
Venli is a highly skilled scholar and researcher; she has managed to create a functional writing system from scratch and has discovered, among others, the nimbleform, as well as stormform. She can think on her feet and make snap decisions. She also has some ability as a craftswoman, having constructed and decorated the home where she and her family lived in Narak. She doesn't, however, have much in the way of combat skills; though she mentions having used an axe before, it's unclear whether it was in battle, and she's unfamiliar with swords.
In nimbleform, Venli is agile and precise, as well as keen-minded. Assuming stormform makes her significantly stronger and tougher, almost enough to rival a person wearing Shardplate. It also lets her shoot red lightning from her hands. Those abilities go away once the envoyform is thrust upon her, though she grows even taller. Instead of casting lightning, she gains the ability to speak and understand any language, both human and singer, on Roshar. She also mentions having other, lesser gifts, though those are unspecified.
With envoyform being one of the forms of power, Venli has a voidspren in her gemheart; however, she's also bonded with Timbre, a Reacher, making her a Willshaper. Though this allows her to breathe in Stormlight, it's uncertain if she has all the abilities that a human Willshaper would. As she has only just said the First Ideal, she's yet to be seen using any Surges.
Though the voidspren within Venli's gemheart remains there, Timbre has it trapped. This allows Venli to retain her envoyform abilities and switch between red and normal eyes at will, letting her blend in with Odium's forces.
Venli is the sister of Eshonai, and though her age is unclear, she is younger by a year. When the two were children, Venli would often stay at home and help their mother, Jaxlim, while Eshonai travelled. Both sisters wore workform at the time. At some point, Venli and Demid became mates, and though the relationship did not produce any children, they remained together even after changing into different forms.
Eventually, Venli settled into the role of a scholar. After the listeners first made contact with humans, she created a written script, recognizing the value of recording information on paper. Over the next five years, she and her team wrote down all listener song and stories to be preserved and cross-referenced. Through this, they also discovered nimbleform. Venli took it on and joined listener leadership as its representative.
War of Reckoning
On the day of the peace treaty with the Alethi and the Assassination of Gavilar Kholin, the Alethi king, Venli and another listener, Klade, were led by an unknown voice -- possibly Ulim -- to purchase Szeth, which led to the killing. Following that event, Venli and Ulim worked together on discovering new forms. Though she claimed to Eshonai that she was researching mediationform to treaty with humans, in reality, Venli sought to capture a stormspren and unlock the associated stormform.
Upon succeeding, Venli intended to test the form herself, and was angry when The Five decided to let Eshonai do it instead. Though they did so out of concern, fearing the loss of Venli and her talent if the form turned out to be defective, she was jealous, and thought that her sister was distrusting her, and trying to steal her discovery. After Eshonai's thoughts got altered by the stormform and she began to enact the plan to transform all listeners, Venli also reacted badly, believing her strategies to be too aggressive. She intended to seize control from her sister, and suggested killing the listeners who refused to adopt the new form.
”How long can you keep being two people, Venli? How long will you vacillate?—Venli imagining what Eshonai would think of her
After the Everstorm was created, Venli, led by Ulim, sought to find her sister, gone missing during the battle. She was heartbroken upon finding Eshonai dead, and stunned when Ulim told her that he only sought the Shardplate she'd been wearing at the moment of her death. The event somehow unlocked her ability to attune to the old, pre-stormform Rhythms. While stripping the Shardplate off Eshonai, Venli also spotted a strange spren escaping from underneath the corpse.
When nine listeners were chosen by Ulim to receive "new forms," Venli and Demid were among them. In the Everstorm, the Fused replaced their souls and possessed their bodies, with the sole exception of Venli. Odium himself protected her, and she was given envoyform instead. After realizing that the others were effectively dead, Venli once more spotted the strange spren, and hid it from the Fused.
Afterwards, Venli became Odium's chief propagandist, first in Kholinar, then in Marat, telling the tragic tale of the listeners who, according to the new narrative, sacrificed themselves to free the Parshmen of their mindless slavery. During that time, she was kept apart from other singers to maintain her mystique; in lieu of contact with her people, she began chatting at her mute spren, whom she nicknamed Timbre. At Timbre's urging, she finally admitted that summoning the old gods was a horrible mistake, and that she wished she could be like her sister.
While she was in Marat, Dalinar Kholin pulled her into one of his visions, and attempted to negotiate; Venli, however, refused all overtures of peace. The conversation was cut short by Odium breaking into the vision space, with Dalinar managing to send Venli out just before his arrival. After that event, Venli boarded one of the ships heading to Thaylen City.
During the Battle of Thaylen Field, Venli remained mostly out of the fighting, serving as a translator. She accompanied Odium to witness Dalinar's presumed fall from grace. After he managed to recover and summon Honor's Perpendicularity instead, she crept away and returned to the ships, where she swore the First Ideal, bonding with Timbre and becoming a Surgebinder. This allowed Timbre to live inside her gemheart and capture the voidspren there, letting Venli retain her Odium-derived red eyes.
Following the battle, Venli remained on the Thaylen ships. Upon hearing the former Parshmen note that they have no idea who their people are, she decided to tell them the real story of the listeners.
Venli was brought along with Raboniel and a scouting troop of makay-im during the invasion of Urithiru to serve as her Voice. Upon the initial seizure, she was attacked by a human soldier, and killed him in a panic. Afterwards, both she and Timbre attuned the Lost, although Raboniel merely admonished her to carry a knife in the future.
After discovering that Rlain was still alive, she went to Raboniel to request his freedom. Before she could do so, though, Mraize entered the room with Lift in a cage, giving her to Raboniel as a gift in exchange for access to the Oathgates. Venli, discomforted by this, left to fetch Rlain. On her way there, she attempted to swear the Second Ideal of the Willshapers, swearing to free those in bondage, but Cultivation did not accept them. Upon further reflection, she realized that she couldn't truly swear such an Ideal after having just seen a human child in a cage.
Upon hearing that Kaladin was free and in the tower, she went to Leshwi to plead protection for Lirin and Hesina, as both Venli and Leshwi knew that the Pursuer wouldn't hesitate to use them in a bid to lure him into a fight. Leshwi granted this request, and Venli used this opportunity to bring Lirin to tend to the unconscious Radiants. While visiting them with Rlain, Dabbid arrived, telling the four that Kaladin was asleep and wasn't waking up. Venli realized that Lift would likely be able to heal him, and used Cohesion to free her, hoping that the Fused would assume that a human Stoneward had survived. Instead of telling Rlain, Lirin, and Hesina that she was a Surgebinder, though, she claimed to have a Shardblade.
While serving as an interpreter between Raboniel and Regals coming to deliver reports, Raboniel and Venli discussed the listeners. Venli admitted shame at being the one directly responsible for her people's downfall, asking Raboniel why there couldn't be peace. Raboniel commended her on her service and gave her a writ of authority and a map showing a settlement of listeners on the Shattered Plains. Venli realized that it might be the group that had refused stormform before the Battle of Narak, and when Rlain found her crying, she told him the entire story of what she did. Rlain attuned Betrayal, a decision that she called smart, and he said that they should attempt to save the Radiants before seeking out the other listeners. She disagreed with this, and told Dul and Mazish that it was time to leave.
As Venli waited with Dul and Mazish for an Oathgate transfer to Kholinar, Timbre expressed disappointment that Venli was abandoning the Radiants. Ignoring this, Venli walked to the front of the line to find out what was taking so long, and discovered that Vyre had left to meet with Raboniel, taking with him the only Blade that the Fused had that was capable of working the Oathgates. Venli moved everyone inside and decided to smuggle Kaladin and his family out with herself, Dul, and Mazish, who agreed that it was a good idea. They headed for the atrium, where they found Kaladin fighting the Pursuer. Although Kaladin forced Lezian to retreat, Vyre dropped Teft's corpse on him, and Venli attuned the Lost as he grieved. The Pursuer attacked him again, and after killing him, Kaladin headed toward Venli. She feared that he was coming for her, but instead, he attacked the "shanay-im" holding his father.
Venli watched as the humans desperately defended the Radiants against the Pursuer's troops, and at Timbre's urging, revealed her status as a Radiant to Leshwi. Contrary to Venli's expectations, she was overjoyed, and asked Venli if Timbre knew of an honorspren named Riah. Venli relayed the message that most of the old spren were killed in the Recreance, but despite this, the fact that the spren had forgiven the singers was enough to convince Leshwi that the Radiants must be protected, and she joined the humans in fighting Lezian's troops. During the fighting, Rlain arrived in the atrium, setting up a triage in the aftermath of the battle. He took command, telling the group that they should head for an Oathgate on the misconception that Venli had a Blade. She quickly disabused him of this notion, and while he was contemplating what to do, Kaladin, having just sworn the Fourth Ideal, arrived and activated the Oathgate to the Shattered Plains for them.
After leaving the tower, Venli located the listener settlement on the map, finding that Thude and Jaxlim, among others, were still alive. Although the group treated Venli with suspicion, and in some cases, outright hostility, they allowed her through to see her mother, who was the only one besides Venli herself who remembered the songs. Having brought a Reacher in the hope that it would heal her mind, Venli began to sing the Song of Mornings; Jaxlim's favorite of the old songs. Just when Venli was about to lose hope, Jaxlim recognized her, and Cultivation finally accepted her Words.
- Venli is the focus character of Rhythm of War, with the flashbacks split between her and Eshonai.
- Brandon has planned to kill off Eshonai and put more emphasis on Venli from very early on in the story's development, having always considered her to be the more interesting of the two sisters.
- At present, Venli is one of only three singer viewpoint characters in the Stormlight Archive, alongside her sister and Rlain.
- Rhythm of War chapter 11#
- Rhythm of War chapter 104#
- Rhythm of War chapter 14#
- Oathbringer interlude I-11#
- Oathbringer interlude I-3#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-1#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-13#
- Oathbringer interlude I-7#
- Oathbringer interlude I-6#
- Oathbringer chapter 109#
- Oathbringer chapter 115#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-4#
- Words of Radiance interlude I-11#
- Oathbringer interlude I-1#
- Oathbringer chapter 121#
- Oathbringer chapter 120#
- Rhythm of War chapter 83#
- Oathbringer prologue#
- Oathbringer chapter 4#
- Oathbringer interlude I-9#
- Oathbringer interlude I-12#
- Oathbringer chapter 118#
- Rhythm of War chapter 37#
- Rhythm of War chapter 67#
- Rhythm of War chapter 60#
- Rhythm of War chapter 96#
- Rhythm of War chapter 107#
- Rhythm of War chapter 109#
- Rhythm of War chapter 114#
- Rhythm of War chapter 115#
- Skyward San Francisco signing
— Arcanum - 2018-11-08#