War of Reckoning

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War of Reckoning
Plateau Battle by Miguel Sastre.jpg
by Miguel Sastre
Participants Alethkar, Listeners
Effects Summoning of the Everstorm
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive

The War of Reckoning was a conflict on Roshar between Alethkar and the listeners. This name for the conflict was used by Brightness Hashal[1] in reference to the Alethi's goal of delivering justice upon the listeners for their role in the assassination of the Alethi King Gavilar Kholin.


While exploring a forest south of the Shattered Plains, King Gavilar's brother Dalinar Kholin encountered a society of non-slaveform singers who called themselves listeners.[2] Not knowing what they are, and seeing their similarity to parshmen, Gavilar's stormwardens coined the term Parshendi,[3] meaning roughly parshmen who can think. "Parshendi" became the official Alethi term for the listeners, and it also spread to other countries on Roshar. The listeners did not show any offense for the term.[4]

Diplomatic relations were established, and eventually a treaty was made between the Alethi and the so-called Parshendi. The king invited a Parshendi delegation to celebrate the signing of the treaty in Kholinar.[4] That night, Gavilar revealed to Eshonai, a member of the delegation who could speak Alethi, his secret intention to bring back the old singer gods in order to also bring about the return of the Heralds. He mistakenly believed that the Parshendi would welcome this idea. In reality, the ancestors of the listeners had abandoned their gods in favor of freedom, and they did not want their gods to return.[5]

After hearing the news from Eshonai and fearing Gavilar's plans, the Council of Five decided to have the Alethi king assassinated that very night.[5] They assigned this task to their newly-acquired slave, a Shin Truthless named Szeth who possessed Jezrien's Honorblade. After an intense fight, the man who would later be called the Assassin in White succeeded in killing Gavilar.[4]

While the rest of the listeners fled from Kholinar, three members of the Council of Five—Gangnah, Klade, and Varnali—remained to take credit for the assassination. The Alethi had the three hanged.[6]

During Gavilar's funeral service, his son and successor King Elhokar made the Alethi highprinces vow to avenge his father's death. This Vengeance Pact between the highprinces and the new king became Alethkar's declaration of war against the Parshendi.[7]



Each princedom in Alethkar had its own army. There were ten highprinces, namely Roion, Sadeas, Aladar, Kholin, Vamah, Ruthar, Thanadal, Hatham, Bethab, and Sebarial. Each committed part of their armies into fulfilling their Vengeance Pact with King Elhokar, and had set up warcamps on the leeward side of the Shattered Plains. Each highprince had his own warcamp built on one of ten crater-like rock formations that were once inhabited by the listeners.[8][3][9]


The majority of the Alethi armies were composed of darkeyed spearmen organized into battalions and led by lighteyed officers. Darkeyed soldiers were only allowed spears[4], so Alethi archers and swordsmen were all lighteyes.[10]

Aside from regular weapons, the Alethi also had around twenty Shardblades.[11] It is uncertain exactly how many of these were used in the war and how many remained in Alethkar, but there were more than thirty official Shardbearers in the warcamps, a few of whom had both Plate and Blade.[12]

The Alethi also had fabrials, some of which, like grandbows, had military applications.


Unlike the Alethi, the listeners had a single unified army. Their society was governed by the Council of Five, whose members each represented one of the five singer forms that the listeners used. The Council member who used warform, which is the singer form used by listener warriors, served as the general of the army.[13]

At some point during the war, Eshonai became the warform member among the Five and started leading the fight for survival against the Alethi. She also possessed the listeners' only remaining set of Shardblade and Shardplate, and used these in addition to warform during battle.[14][13]

Warform gave listener warriors a carapace armor as well as increased strength.[9] Though not as strong or resilient as someone with Shardplate, warform listeners were a real threat to regular human soldiers. Their strength allowed them to use heavy weapons like battleaxes, hammers, and sometimes clubs and swords.[15] They were also capable of jumping far enough to cross chasms[16], something that only those with Shardplate could do on the Alethi side.[17]

While they also used archers just like the Alethi, the listeners' combat strategy also involved using warpairs[18], or pairs of warriors who fought side by side as partners. These listener warpairs would jump around the battlefield in coordinated maneuvers and attack enemy troops with heavy weapons from multiple directions.[2]

When the war started, the listeners moved to the ruins of Stormseat, located at the center of the Shattered Plains. They called this central place Narak, which in their language meant Exile. It served as the base of operations for their army as well as refuge for the rest of their people.[9]


Beginning of the Siege[edit]

In order to fulfill the Vengeance Pact as quickly as possible, the Alethi highprinces initially planned a full-scale attack on the Parshendi. However, they were unable to immediately locate the enemy's center of operation, and upon arriving at the Shattered Plains, the highprinces realized that a full-scale attack on the plateau in the center of the Plains would present huge risks because of highstorms.

The Shattered Plains[19] cover an enormous area, and armies must cross chasms to get between plateaus, making a campaign to the center of the Shattered Planes vulnerable to a highstorm while exposed on the plateaus.[1] Therefore, the highprinces decided upon a siege strategy.[20][21] 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.[20]

The Impact of Gemhearts[edit]

Once the Alethi settled on the border of the Shattered Plains, they discovered that chasmfiends live in the chasms between plateaus. Chasmfiends contain gemhearts which hold enormous amounts of Stormlight for use in Soulcasting. This enabled the armies to Soulcast metal for weapons, wood for bridges, barracks of stone and food for troops.[20]

The safest way to win a gemheart of a chasmfiend would be to wait for a chasmfiend to climb on a plateau, where it would pupate.[20] Once this happens, the chrysalis could be opened with a Shardblade[18] or more slowly with hammers and chisels.[15]

Both the Alethi and the listeners used these gems to sustain their armies, prolonging the siege and greatly extending the duration of the war. Whenever a chrysalis is spotted on a plateau, a race between the listeners and Alethi highprinces would occur.[20] Whoever arrived first would have to retrieve the gemheart from the chrysalis before the opposing army arrives, otherwise a battle would occur.

For five years, the war was fought mostly through these skirmishes over gemhearts.

Loss of Unity Between Highprinces[edit]

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.[22] This led to rivalry between the highprinces because success in gaining gemhearts meant wealth and appreciation from King Elhokar.[23]

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.

A map of the Battle of the Tower

The Battle of the Tower[edit]

Main article: Battle of the Tower

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

When Dalinar worked together with Sadeas, a chasmfiend was spotted on the Tower.[24] 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.[24] This worked as planned until Sadeas abandoned Dalinar, leaving Dalinar trapped.[25]

Dalinar and the remnants of his army were saved by Bridge Four led by Kaladin. In the aftermath, Dalinar made his nephew, King Elhokar, declare him Highprince of War. It was Dalinar's goal to re-focus the Alethi armies into finally fulfilling the Vengeance Pact and to unite them again.[26]

Stormform and the Failed Peace Talks[edit]

Seeing the steady decline of her people and becoming war-weary, Eshonai was eager to find a way out of the protracted war. She had been planning to approach Dalinar Kholin and sue for peace. However her sister, the scholar Venli, did not believe such a plan would work. Instead, Venli argued that they should use a Form of Power in order to defeat the Alethi.[9]

Secretly guided by the voidspren Ulim[27], Venli had previously captured a stormspren, a spren that granted stormform. This Form of Power was believed to allow the summoning and control of storms.[9] Eshonai initially protested the idea due to the form's connection to their hated gods. However, after the other leaders sided with Venli, Eshonai ended up volunteering to experiment with stormform to see what it does.[13]

Prior to bonding the stormspren, and with the help of Dalinar's son Adolin[28] and the listener warrior Thude, Eshonai was finally able to arrange a meeting with Dalinar to discuss a possible end to the war. The plan was for the meeting to happen in seven days. Having received confirmation of the arrangement, Eshonai went out to experiment with stormform.[29]

Stormform gave Eshonai a different kind of armor and the ability to jump chasms more easily. She started attuning to a new set of Rhythms that were more aggressive.[30] More importantly, the new form changed Eshonai's personality, making her more arrogant and belligerent. She abandoned her plan to negotiate. Instead, she challenged the Alethi to try and destroy her people if they could.[31] She planned to lure the whole Alethi army out far away from their warcamps and destroy them with a summoned highstorm.[32]

Along with Venli, Eshonai organized the adoption of stormform for all of their people. A few of the listeners did not agree to this plan and managed to escape.[32] Rlain, a listener spy who infiltrated the Alethi army and joined Bridge Four, returned from his espionage mission and discovered the new stormform army. He decided not to join them.[33]

The Battle of Narak[edit]

Main article: Battle of Narak

After negotiations with Eshonai fell through, Dalinar proposed a joint assault on the Parshendi camp in order to end the war and fulfill the Vengeance Pact once and for all.[31] Out of all the Alethi highprinces, only Aladar, Roion, and Sebarial joined him in the end. They set out near the start of the Weeping, expecting no highstorm to impede their attack.[10] Along the way they met up with Rlain, who reported to Dalinar what had happened to his people.[33]

Upon the arrival of the Alethi armies in Narak, a large number of the stormform listeners initiated the ritual song to summon a storm, while the rest prepared to fight the invaders.[34]

The battle was fought on three plateaus. Aladar, Roion, Adolin each led soldiers on their own designated plateau while Dalinar gave orders from the command tent on another plateau. Sebarial's army reinforced Aladar's and Roion's, as Sebarial himself did not fight.[34]

The stormform listeners showed the ability to shoot red lightning, which they successfully weaponized against the Alethi. Roion's army was eventually defeated, but Adolin and Aladar managed well enough on their plateaus.[35]

Having been warned by Rlain that the stormforms' song will bring destruction, Dalinar instructed Adolin to stop the singers.[34] Adolin found a way to get to the singers and killed many of them, but Eshonai attacked before he could finish the task.[36] In the end, even though he defeated Eshonai, he was unable to prevent the song from being completed. The summoned storm turned out to be the Everstorm, and it came towards them from the west, bringing red lightning.[37] In addition, the Stormfather sent an unexpected highstorm, coming from the east as highstorms usually do.[38]

Szeth arrived on the battlefield on a mission from Taravangian to assassinate Dalinar, but was thwarted by Kaladin.[38] Shallan Davar managed to find and activate the ancient Oathgate within the city, and the surviving Alethi army was safely transported to Urithiru before the combined Everstorm and highstorm destroyed the whole city of Narak.[37][38]

The surviving remnants of the stormform army eventually ended up as vessels for the Fused, the immortal commanders of Odium's army that returned through the Everstorm. The exception was Venli, whom Odium spared for his own purposes.[39]

The non stormform listeners who escaped into the chasms survived with the help of a chasmfiend.[40]


Having to battle on the Shattered Plains, with its unique chasm-filled terrain, brought some notable characteristics to the war.

The Use of Bridges Between Plateaus[edit]

While warform listeners were able to jump the distance between plateaus, an Alethi army could only cross a chasm with a wooden bridge from an adjacent plateau. There was no way to climb a plateau from a chasm.[41] Permanent bridges could only be constructed next to the warcamps because any permanent bridges built further on the plains were destroyed by listener raids.[22]

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.[17][2]
Light Portable Bridges
These were only light in comparison to the bridge-towers. At least twenty five men were needed to carry a bridge, though the bridges were constructed with spaces for forty men.[41] Their advantage was that they could be carried even while running, so they were much faster than the bridge-towers. Instead of offering cover, the bridgemen were exposed to the listener archers during the approach of the final plateau.

Sadeas pioneered the technique[42] of using the light bridges, advantageous for their mobility, manned by bridgemen who were left exposed for the purpose of attracting enemy fire that would otherwise have centered on his soldiers.[41][20][43] That is also why bridgemen were neither armored nor trained.[20] When others of the highprinces saw Sadeas' success, they began using his system as well.[42]

Dalinar did not use those bridges because he was convinced that officers shouldn't demand anything from their soldiers that they would not do themselves and reproached Sadeas for wasting lives.[20][25] Later, though, Sadeas and Dalinar worked together. Sadeas, who could reach a plateau faster than anyone else with his light bridges, went ahead with most of his force and secured a foothold; Dalinar followed at the pace of his chull-drawn bridges, although he could reach the contested plateau twice as quickly because he crossed on some mobile bridges Sadeas had lent him so he didn't need to stop and lower his own bridges at each chasm. At the final plateau, Dalinar would put his own bridges forward so as not to waste bridgemen's lives.[44]

Kaladin was the first to train a bridgecrew of a light bridge[45] and had considerable success with it.[46] Not only did he manage to make them faster than other crews, he also devised the method of "side carrying" the bridge so that it could shield arrows from bridgemen.[43] Although this method significantly protected the bridgemen, it was a strategical failure to Sadeas' army. The Parshendi archers realized Bridge Four were too well protected and focused their arrows on the bulk of soldiers instead, causing heavy loss of trained soldiers instead of expendable bridgemen. Other bridgecrew who awkwardly tried to imitate them failed to deliver the bridges and this resulted in a lost battle. As punishments, Lamaril was executed and Kaladin was left out for the highstorm.

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.[18]

Also, Shardblades were a very effective way to cut open the chrysalis in order to get the gemheart.[18]

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

Chasm Duty[edit]

During battles on the plateaus, falling into chasms was a real risk for both Alethi soldiers and Listener warriors, and many died in this manner. The dead who were left after a battle were also blown into the chasms during highstorms. There, the dead were flooded to the leeward end of the chasms, where they stayed until another flood pulled them elsewhere.[16]

Search teams consisting of soldiers or bridgemen were periodically sent down into the chasms to gather weapons, armor, spheres, or anything 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.[16]


History of Roshar
Assassination of Gavilar The War of Reckoning The True Desolation
  1. a b The Way of Kings chapter 43#
  2. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 28#
  3. a b The Way of Kings chapter 45#
  4. a b c d The Way of Kings prologue#
  5. a b Oathbringer prologue#
  6. Words of Radiance prologue#
  7. Oathbringer chapter 105#
  8. Map of Alethi warcamps
  9. a b c d e Words of Radiance interlude I-1#
  10. a b Words of Radiance chapter 76#
  11. The Way of Kings chapter 52#
  12. Words of Radiance chapter 5#
  13. a b c Words of Radiance interlude I-4#
  14. The Way of Kings chapter 68#
  15. a b The Way of Kings chapter 40#
  16. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 27#
  17. a b The Way of Kings chapter 55#
  18. a b c d The Way of Kings chapter 26#
  19. Map of Shattered Plains
  20. a b c d e f g h The Way of Kings chapter 15#
  21. The Way of Kings chapter 18#
  22. a b The Way of Kings chapter 17#
  23. The Way of Kings chapter 12#
  24. a b The Way of Kings chapter 64#
  25. a b The Way of Kings chapter 65#
  26. The Way of Kings chapter 69#
  27. Oathbringer interlude I-3#
  28. Words of Radiance chapter 26#
  29. Words of Radiance interlude I-5#
  30. Words of Radiance interlude I-8#
  31. a b Words of Radiance chapter 51#
  32. a b Words of Radiance interlude I-11#
  33. a b Words of Radiance chapter 78#
  34. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 81#
  35. Words of Radiance chapter 82#
  36. Words of Radiance chapter 83#
  37. a b Words of Radiance chapter 84#
  38. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 86#
  39. Oathbringer interlude I-6#
  40. Rhythm of War chapter 115#
  41. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 6#
  42. a b Words of Radiance chapter 8#
  43. a b The Way of Kings chapter 32#
  44. The Way of Kings chapter 58#
  45. The Way of Kings chapter 14#
  46. The Way of Kings chapter 59#
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