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War of Reckoning

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War of Reckoning
Participants Alethi Highprinces, Listeners
Effects Summoning of the Everstorm
World Roshar
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
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This page or section needs to be updated with new information for Words of Radiance!
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The War of Reckoning is a conflict on Roshar between Alethkar and the Parshendi, named by Brightness Hashal.[1] It begins when Szeth-son-son-Vallano murders Gavilar Kholin on the orders of the Parshendi.


The Alethi army is comprised of ten armies, each from one princedom, and led by the highprinces. The highprinces in the war are Roion, Torol Sadeas, Aladar, Dalinar Kholin, Vamah, Ruthar, Thanadal, Hatham, Bethab and Sebarial.[2]


On the edge of the shattered plains there are ten warcamps, each of them serving as a base of operations for each highprince fighting on the plains. The ten warcamps are situated in hollows on the leeward side of the Shattered Plains.[2]



The Parshendi are a single army. Their camp is on a big plateau in the center of the Shattered Plains, in the ruins of Stormseat.


The Vengeance Pact[edit]

When King Gavilar is assassinated by the Assassin in White, the Parshendi take credit for the assassination. This leads to the formation of the Vengeance Pact.[3] In order to fulfill the pact, the Alethi highprinces follow the Parshendi to the Shattered Plains.[4]

Beginning of the siege[edit]

The original plan of the Alethi highprinces is to attack the Parshendi and defeat them in the attack. However, upon arriving at the Shattered Plains, the highprinces realize that a full-scale attack on the plateau in the center of the Plains would present huge risks because of highstorms.

The Shattered Plains[5] are an enormous area and armies must cross chasms to get between plateaus making a campaign to the Shattered Planes center vulnerable to a highstorm while exposed on the plateaus devastating the armies.[1]

The highprinces decide upon a siege strategy.[3][6] As the Shattered Plains are only accessible from the leeward side, the plan assumed the Parshendi would leave their camp from hunger and face the Alethi.[3]

The impact of gemhearts[edit]

Once the Alethi settle on the border of the Shattered Plains, they discover that chasmfiends live in the chasms between plateaus. Chasmfiends contain gemhearts which hold enormous amounts of stormlight for use in soulcasting. This enables the armies to Soulcast metal for weapons, wood for bridges, barracks of stone and food for troops.[3]

Both the Alethi and Parshendi use these gems to sustain their armies, prolonging the siege.

Rivalry between highprinces[edit]

In order to cut the supplies of the Parshendi, the highprinces race to gemhearts before the Parshendi could get them.

The safest way to win a gemheart of a chasmfiend is to wait for a chasmfiend to climb on a plateau, where it would pupate.[3] Once this happens, the chrysalis can be opened with a Shardblade[7] or more slowly with hammers and chisels.[8]

Whenever a chrysalis is spotted on a plateau, a race between the Parshendi and Alethi highprinces occurs.[3] Whoever arrived first--Alethi army or Parshendi--was usually attacked by the other. Since every highprince worked on his own, depending on where the chasmfiend was pupating, several Alethi armies could attempt to get to the chasmfiend first. Whenever an army arrived and another Alethi army was already there, the second army turned back home.[9] This led to rivalry between the highprinces because success in gaining gemhearts meant wealth and appreciation of King Elhokar.[10]

Over the years the result was that the Alethi army lost its original purpose—to fulfil the Vengeance Pact—and their unity. The ten armies fought on their own instead of fighting united against the Parshendi.

The Battle of the Tower[edit]

A map of the Battle of the Tower by Isaac Stewart

The Tower Plateau was a very large plateau not far from the centre of the Shattered Plains. Because of this, the Parshendi always arrived first whenever a chasmfiend pupated on the Tower Plateau. Also, they usually had enough time to arrange themselves into battle formation and prepare their defense. That's why no Alethi army had ever won a battle at the Tower during six years of the war.

When Dalinar worked together with Sadeas, a chasmfied was spotted on the Tower.[11] According to their plan, Sadeas, whose armies were faster than Dalinar's, had to clear a space on the Tower for Dalinar's troops, who were better trained, to engage the Parshendi.[11] This worked as planned until Sadeas abandoned Dalinar, leaving no way to retreat for Dalinar.[12]

Dalinar and the remnants of his army were saved by a Bridge Four led by Kaladin. In the following, Dalinar made his nephew, King Elhokar, declare him Highprince of War. It was Dalinar's goal to re-purpose the Alethi armies into to fulfilling the Vengeance Pact and to unite them again.[13]


The location of the war—the Shattered Plains—brought some notable characteristics with it.

The use of bridges between plateaus[edit]

While Parshendi were able to jump the distance between plateaus, an Alethi army could only cross a chasm with a bridge from an adjacent plateau. There was no way to climb a plateau from a chasm. The bridges were made of wood.[14] It was only possible to construct permanent bridges next to the warcamps because further on the Plains, permanent bridges were destroyed by Parshendi raids.[9]

During a race for a gemheart, mobile bridges were used by the Alethi armies. There were two main types of bridges.

heavy bridge
Bridges that functioned like siege-towers. Those were very heavy and needed to be pulled by chulls and thus were very slow. Their advantage was that they offered cover for the Alethi army until the bridge was lowered over the chasm.[15][16]
light portable bridges
These were only light in comparison to the bridge-towers. At least 25 men were needed to carry a bridge[14]. Their advantage was that they could be carried even running, so they were much faster than the bridge-towers. Instead of offering cover, the bridgemen were exposed to the Parshendi archers during the approach of the final plateau.

Sadeas was the first one to use the light bridges and had much success with them because of their mobility. He also used the exposed bridgemen on purpose to attract enemy fire that would otherwise have centered on his own soldiers.[14][3][17] That is also why bridgemen were neither armored nor trained.[3]

Dalinar did not use those because he was convinced that officers shouldn't demand anything from their soldiers that they would not do themselves.[3][12] He reproached Sadeas for wasting lives. Later Sadeas and Dalinar worked together. Sadeas could reach a plateau faster than anyone else, because he used the light bridges and left his main army with Dalinar. Dalinar followed with the slow bridges, using the light bridges to cross the chasms. At the final plateau, Dalinar put his own bridges forward, not to waste bridgemen's lives.

Kaladin was the first to train a bridgecrew of a light bridge[18] and had considerable success with it.[19] Not only he managed to make them faster than other crews, he also managed to figure out a way of carrying the bridge so it could offer protection for the crew.[17]

The use of Shardbearers[edit]

When an army arrived at a plateau and the enemy army was already formed up for battle, the only way for the attackers often was to send in Shardbearers who could jump over the chasm and clear a space for the bridges to land.[7]

Also, Shardblades were a very effective way to cut open the chrysalis in order to get the gemheart.[7]

Apart from that, Shardbearers had the same use as in every other battle during that time on Roshar.

Chasm duty[edit]

During battles, Alethi soldiers and Parshendi warriors often fell into the chasms. The dead who were left after a battle were blown into the chasms during highstorms. At the bottom of the chasms, the dead were flooded to the leeward end of the chasms, where they stayed until another flood pulled them elsewhere.[20]

Soldiers or bridgemen were sent down into the chasms to gather weapons, armor, spheres or anything other of value from the dead. Chasm duty was dangerous because of the risk of another highstorm flooding the chasms and because of chasmfiends who could come upon a search-team.[20]


History of Roshar
Assassination of Gavilar The War of Reckoning The True Desolation
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