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Eshonai portrait large.png
by Exmakina
Parents Mother
Siblings Venli
Died Battle of Narak[1]
Abilities Shardbearer
Groups Council of Five
Species Singer
Nationality Listener
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
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It is you. (...) I have found you at last.
— Eshonai to Dalinar at the Battle of the Tower.[2]

Eshonai (Alethi pronunciation: [ɛˈʃoːnaɪ̯] eh-SHOW-nigh)[3] was a listener Shardbearer[2] who lived in Narak on the Shattered Plains of Roshar during the War of Reckoning. She was one of the first Parshendi to come in contact with Gavilar Kholin's soldiers in the Unclaimed Hills.[4]

Appearance and Personality[edit]

Her skin was a marbled red and black, and she was large of stature, standing seven feet tall in Shardplate. Her Shardplate is silver, and she wore a red cape with it. She spoke Alethi with a thick accent.[2] She wore warform due to the conflict with Alethkar.[4] When not wearing Shardplate, her uniform consisted of a cap and a red cloth that stretched over her warform armor.[5]

As a youth, people were used to Eshonai wandering off in the middle of a task. She had the best spoken Alethi of any of the Listeners[6].

Her preferred form is workform because it is more flexible[6], limber, rugged, and because the form's aversion to violence forces her to think differently to solve problems. She finds it difficult to tolerate Listeners who prefer mateform , and has trouble understanding why anyone would want to remain in that form for longer than necessary to produce offspring. Her confusion on this subject at one time extended to humans, when she was baffled by the fact that humans have only a single form that is easily distracted by sexual urges.[4]

Though she accepts her duties as a general for her people, she feels trapped and constrained by the role, and by living on the Shattered Plains. Even her uniform contributes to her emotional discomfort, and the repetitive tasks of military life numb her mind. She blames her uniform for her personal worries. However she never speaks of her discomfort in her role. She enjoys the feeling of strength she gets from wearing Shardplate, and it gives her something reliable in the world.[4][5]

Eshonai's true passion is exploration, and she yearns to be free of her role as general so she can explore. She even contemplates exploring human civilizations, though she has a preference for exploring the wilderness. However, she believes these feelings aremeaningless in comparison to the importance of protecting her people. She holds that remembering the fallen is important, but of lesser concern than protecting the living. She goes so far as to accompany her strike forces even when she has an injured leg from the Battle of the Tower, because she is the only Shardbearer among the Listeners.[4]

She believes that she is personally responsible for the War of Reckoning because she was the first to make contact with the Alethi. Despite being fully aware of the dire predicament of her people, she does not blame the Alethi for their pursuit of vengeance. While she fights the Alethi out of necessity, she would prefer to negotiate a peace with them.[4][5]



Eshonai was an explorer, and often traveled the wilderness of Natanatan. She started out exploring alone, creating maps and expanding the Listeners' world, and ended up exciting and leading her people on expeditions as early as her teenage years. Her exploring lead to the Listeners' first contact with humans, encountering an Alethi expedition to the south of the Shattered Plains lead by Gavilar Kholin in the year 1165 of the Vorin calendar.[5][7]

Assassination of Gavilar[edit]

On the day of his assassination, Gavilar speaks to Eshonai privately. She is the first Listener to learn Gavilar wants to bring back the Listeners' old gods. He gives her a dark spren trapped in a gemstone and tells her to give it to The Five. The trapped spren convinces Eshonai that Gavilar truly can bring the old gods back. She tells the Five of Gavilar's plans[6].

Eshonai helps the Five decide to assassinate Gavilar. Though she was at the time not yet on the Council of Five, the council gave her a vote and listened to her counsel due to her role as an interpreter. She voted in favor of killing him, in order to keep the Listeners free of their gods and to affirm the decision made by their ancestors—the Last Legion—centuries ago when they decided to embrace dullform in order to be free of their gods.[5][6]

The War of Reckoning (1167-1173)[edit]


Sometime between the assassination of Gavilar and the Battle of the Tower, Eshonai was placed on the Council of Five and made the general of the Listener armies. She lead their strike forces onto the plains in skirmishes with the Alethi for gemhearts after they had relocated their population to Narak and chosen to begin a war of attrition in hopes of the Alethi growing bored.[4][5]

The Battle of the Tower

During the battle, Eshonai duels Dalinar Kholin as the army is making its retreat. She defeats him in combat, and recognises him as the Alethi Shardbearer she's been searching for, but is stabbed in the leg by Kaladin Stormblessed, who makes his escape with Dalinar before she has a chance to speak with him. As the army makes its retreat from the Tower, she salutes Dalinar as a gesture of respect. She allows the Alethi to escape the battle without attacking them once they clear the Tower.[2]

The Everstorm
Eshonai bonding with a stormspren in the Everstorm, by Casey Fallon

In an attempt to test the newly rediscovered Stormform, she is the first to adopt it, despite reluctance about using it -- and after doing so undergoes a major shift in personality, becoming more warlike and determined to wipe out the Alethi, despite originally wanting peace; it is implied that the form exerts the change over her, and that she is trapped and unable to take control of herself.[5][8][9][10]

Her new, aggressive personality even makes her willing to kill Parshendi who do not obey her, including the soldiers in her own division, those she considered close friends, as well as her own family; Venli and her mother. She goes so far as to have dissidents among the population of Narak rounded up to be killed.[10]

In the Battle of Narak, she leads a Parshendi population of stormforms to battle in an attempt to destroy the Alethi.[11] After Adolin pushes her into a chasm,[12] she rams her Shardblade into the ground and hangs on to it to survive the flooding during the storms. She drowns in the water.[1]

Later, Ulim leads Venli and Demid to Eshonai's body to retrieve her Shards.[1]


This is progress. (...) Progress is learning to control your world. Put up walls to stop the storms, choose when to become a mate.
— Eshonai convincing herself of the necessity for capturing spren.[5]
Our people are crumbling. (...) We're being weathered away. We moved to Narak and chose a war of attrition. That has meant six years with steady losses. People are giving up.
— Eshonai trying to decide what to do about Venli's discovery of stormform.[5]
I will agree to this test. However, (...) I must be the one who tries the new form first.
— Eshonai offering herself as a test for stormform in case something goes wrong.[5]
With enough of us bearing this form together, we could bring it. We could bend the storms to our will, and could bring bring them down upon our enemies.
— Eshonai upon returning to Narak in stormform.[4]
The humans will leave their warcamp together, in one large army that intends to reach Narak during the lull. They will be completely exposed on the plains, with no shelter. A highstorm at that time would destroy them.
— Eshonai's plan for winning the War of Reckoning, in stormform.[4]


  • The reason she was killed off and Venli used in her viewpoint role instead was due to there already being other characters in the series who was a "paragon soldier who's trying to do the right thing".[13]
  • Eshonai is the Shardbearer on the cover art of the Way of Kings. She is described as wearing silver Shardplate and a red cloak — both traits shared by the figure in the forefront of the painting.[14]


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