Due to size, the page has been split. WARNING! All spoilers before Rhythm of War are UNMARKED!
- Main Characters note
- Urithiru note
- Alethkar note
- Heralds, Knights, and Spren note
- The Fusednote
- Other note
Races and Peoples of the Physical Realm
Humans on Roshar are significantly more diverse than other worlds.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Downplayed. There are a number of quirks with how traits are inherited, like eye and hair color, that suggest they are subtly different from earth humans on a genetic level. There are other slight differences - for example, Herdazians have crystalline nails, while the Natan people have slightly bluish skin.
- Evil All Along: Not at the current era the series takes place at, but ancient humans played this straight. Despite history presenting them as victims, it turns out that humans are really the first Voidbringers, and alien invaders who betrayed the singers to boot.
- Fantastic Caste System: Many different cultures have different caste systems. People in the five Vorin kingdoms are divided into lighteyes and darkeyes, on the Peaks people are divided by birth order, in Babatharnam power is given based on your age, etc.
- HeelFace Turn: Down Played. Humanity used to worship Odium but later switched to serving Honor and Cultivation.
- Humans Advance Swiftly: Humanity's strongest advantage over the singers is how quickly they can adapt and advance their technology. A Fused may research for a millennia what a human can discover in a single lifetime.
- Human Aliens: Not only are Rosharan humans (who originate from Ashyn) subtly distinct from Cosmere standard (not to mention real life) there are entire populations such as the Iri that aren't native to Ashyn either.
- Humans Are Warriors: The "soldiers" variant. Humans are relatively fragile compared to the singers and lack the natural synchronization singers can achieve through attuning the same rhythms, so they compensate with training and discipline.
- Invading Refugees: Humans aren't native to Roshar; they fled to it after accidentally turning Ashyn, their home planet, into a Death World (though some humans still live on Ashyn in floating cities). At first there was peace between humans and parsh, the original species who ruled Roshar, but for some reason the two races entered war with each other, eventually ending with humans taking over.
- Multicolored Hair: A person's hair color is so defined by their origin that people of mixed race have proportionately different colors in their hair.
- People of Hair Color: It is easy to tell where a person comes from by the color of their hair, or combination if it's mixed.
- Alethkar: Black.
- Jah Keved: Red.
- Iri: Metallic golden-blonde.
- Planet of Hats: During the days of the Silver Kingdoms, each kingdom had its own role. Only one, Alethela (which became Alethkar) has been revealed: they were the warriors, the watchers. Other purposes can be infered by the current state of each region: Thaylens were likely involved in transportation or supply lines with their tendency towards sailing and mercantile activities, while the region around Azir likely had some role in governance and bureaucracy, which is still reflected in modern times.
A "cursed" race known for being somewhat jovial despite the hate they receive from everyone else. Siah Aimians are humanoids with minor shapeshifting powers, while Dysian Aimians are hordes of insect-like creatures.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Dysians of Roshar are almost all involved with one, though since there are only twenty-four on the planet that's not as impressive as it sounds.
- Anti-Magic: At least a few Dysian Aimians managed to breed with larkins, producing hordelings with their Investiture-draining biology.
- Benevolent Conspiracy: The Sleepless are dedicated to protecting entire worlds, but have no qualms with "culling" humans as needed. Their main goal on Roshar is the protection of the Dawnshard, which is a divine "Command" that is incredibly powerful and dangerous and was part of what was used to splinter Adonalsium.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Not all of a Dysian's forms are tiny hordelings. Some of them are full on Greatshells.
- Creepy Good: According to Arclo, the Aimians are allies of the Knights Radiant in their mission to defend Roshar, but how they go about it is fundamentally disturbing.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite their generally nonthreatening nature, a knowledgeable character describes them as extremely dangerous. In Edgedancer, a Dysian Aimian kills two apprentice Skybreakers with contemptuous ease, and notes that the Herald of Justice isn't stupid enough to try and fight him.
- Curse: Mention is made of the "Curse of Kind," but no details on what this is.
- Humanoid Aliens: They're not human, and consist of two distinct species. While Siah Aimians have a mostly-human Shapeshifter Default Form, the Dysian Aimians are a Hive Mind of insect-like "hordelings" that have great difficulty with even a rudimentary human shape.
- Human Shifting: Siah Aimians are able to alter their physiology at will, changing both their appearance and the functionality of their organs, as well as taking away headaches at a thought. Dysian Aimians are a bit... different.
- Immortality: The full extent of their abilities is unclear, but both Siah and Dysian Aimians expect to live for centuries, if not forever.
- Nothing about the specifics of Siah Aimian immortality has been revealed, but Axies the Collector doesn't see a problem in the idea that his quest to catalogue all spren will take at least a few hundred more years.
- Sleepless can, at least theoretically, die: they are a hivemind, and if all of their "hordelings" are wiped out at once, they will die. However they are able to survive forever by replacing individual members that die, as long as a large-enough portion survive. Arclo notes that they have more trouble figuring out what to do with their long lives than actually surviving.
- Insectoid Aliens: Dysians are aliens, despite their superficial similarity to Roshar's native life.
- Insistent Terminology: Dysians don't have bodies of cremlings, they have bodies of hordelings. They insist on the distinction because they're not actually native to Roshar.
- Fantastic Racism: Persecuted by other races under the belief that they are Voidbringers, due to their odd biology/shadows. Their homeland of Aimia was also apparently "scoured," but by who or why is unclear. Judging by how other people treat them, it's likely that few, if anyone, know their true nature.
- Magitek: Their homeland of Aimia was apparently the source of all of the current Soulcasters, and they are very hostile to the idea of anyone discovering what other secrets they kept there. When it was occupied by a mixture of humans and Sleepless, their original fabrial technology was extremely advanced, to the point that the otherwise barren and uninhabitable islands were temperate, fertile, and densely populated.
- Revealing Cover-Up: The attempts by the Sleepless to keep people away from their abandoned islands has unintentionally drawn even more attention to them and the secrets they are keeping.
- The Shadow Knows: Their shadows bend toward light instead of away from it.
- The Sleepless: Dysian Aimians refer to themselves as the Sleepless. Due to their natures as hiveminds, some members of the horde are always awake, meaning that Dysians are never fully asleep. Presumably, Siah Aimians still need to sleep.
- We Are Everywhere: There are numerous parts of the books with seemingly-random cremlings that show up during important scenes, particular around characters who have turned Radiant. During one of Dalinar's visions of the Last Desolation, he even notices a strange pile of cremlings that had been burnt during the battle. While some of these may just be normal cremlings, several of them are almost certainly parts of a Dysian Aimian. Arclo also specifically mentions Kaladin, Dalinar, Shallan, and Szeth as people that the Aimians are observing.
- The Worm That Walks: A Dysian Aimian's "body" is composed of hundreds of "hordelings," tiny, crustacean-like creatures that most Rosharans mistake for common cremlings (a term used for any type of tiny crustaceans) at a glance.
The People of Alethkar
A warrior race, and the ethnicity most of the viewpoint characters belong to. They are ruled by ten highprinces, who were recently united (in theory) by a king.
- Blood Knight: When in battle Alethi (or at least lighteyes) feel a battle lust known as the Thrill, which is caused by one of the immensely powerful Unmade Voidspren.
- Crippling Overspecialization: As a kingdom of soldiers, their first thought is always combat. In Oathbringer, it takes Dalinar a while to realize that Renarin's Healing Hands can be used to help the sick and injured; he had assumed Regrowth was only useful for getting soldiers back on their feet in the middle of a fight.
- Functional Addict: The Alethi often use the Thrill to motivate their troops, letting them descend into controlled bloodlust in battle. Much of Alethi culture makes more sense when you consider that many of them are literally addicted to killing people, and have constructed their entire society to justify it. In the climax of Oathbringer, Odium brings Nergaoul to Thaylen City, driving the entire Sadeas army insane and turning them on the city they were supposed to be defending.
- Never Learned to Read: Alethkar is a Vorin kingdom, meaning that men are not allowed to read true letters. Glyphs are an exception, but those are designed to be recognizable even to someone who has never encountered them before, so everyone insists they don't count. More complicated glyphs require training to read, but most men don't learn them.
- Our Nudity Is Different: Like all Vorin kingdoms, their women pin up their left hand as a safehand, and seeing it unclothed is considered the same as seeing a woman topless. In addition, hair being worn loose is considered scandalous, and Alethi women have no problem with wearing form-fitting dresses that hug the curves of their bodies very tightly.
- The Paladin: What they used to be during the days of the Silver Kingdoms, before eventually disintegrating into the Blood Knight.
- People of Hair Color: Pureblood Alethi have jet-black hair, while those with mixed ancestry have some of their hair black and some some other color.
- Proud Warrior Race:
- Alethi venerate the pursuit of war over all other Callings in life. Soldiers and duelists are their heroes; scholars are either ardents or women, and most Alethi men are either mostly or totally illiterate. Back in the days of the Silver Kingdoms, the Alethi were specifically designated as the nation of warriors, the ones who protected the other nine kingdoms from the Voidbringers.
- One problem that Dalinar encounters in The Way of Kings is that the extended, drawn-out siege, while severely straining the Alethi kingdom's population and economy, is still something that the Alethi highprinces are deeply enjoying because of the constant fighting, competition, and rewards. Merely suggesting finding a way to more efficiently fight, such as working together with other highprinces to leverage their individual strengths, is regarded at best as misguided and at worst as cowardice. Other highprinces are so focused on the idea of competing with each other that they regard Dalinar's ideas as some attempt to weaken them so their princedom can be conquered or absorbed.
- This is deconstructed later on; the Alethi mastery of war and love of battle makes it nigh-impossible for Dalinar to build any kind of coalition outside of Alethkar, since every other leader assumes that Dalinar is just planning to conquer them. The Unmade behind the Thrill certainly helped with that.
- This is further exploited by Odium in the climax to Oathbringer, when Odium uses the Thrill upon the Alethi troops under the Sadeas banner, causing their low-key rage and hatred and animosity toward the Kholins to manifest into a bloody rage that pushes them to betray their allies and turn on the Alethi and Thaylen troops.
- It's rather telling that the only Calling that the Alethi consider to be as almost as high and noble as being a warrior is to be a farmer or smith, because farmers and smiths keep the armies fed and armed. Many Alethi are even superstitious of surgeons and apothecaries, treating them as strange mystics rather than proper healers.
- While there are a number of highly skilled Alethi engineers and artifabrians, most of their works are focused on creating new engines of war, particularly siege equipment, or fabrials that help with healing, such as painrials to numb injured body parts.
- In Rhythm of War, the Alethi troops in Urithiru very nearly manage to recapture the pillar in the basement of the tower, despite fighting a surprise attack of stormform Regals, Heavenly Ones, and Deepest Ones that have already infiltrated the tower using nothing but pure discipline and smart tactics. Venli admits that this sort of warrior spirit and discipline is what allowed humanity to always survive the Desolations.
- Odium mentions in Rhythm of War that he plans to exploit this. He ultimately intends to use the humans of Roshar, along with the singers, as troops in his Forever War to conquer the larger Cosmere. The Alethi are ideal soldiers to serve in his armies.
- The Stoic: Alethi, as a race, are known for being very reserved at all times. Public displays of any form are frowned upon, from affection to demanding duels for insults.
- In The Way of Kings, Dalinar announces he intends to finally march on a chasmfiend, and his soldiers let out a few eager whoops. Dalinar notes that this is an "extreme display of emotion" from his men, equivalent to anyone else jumping for joy and cheering.
- It's to the point that Dalinar can't do anything to Sadeas despite Sadeas very explicitly trying to get Dalinar's entire army killed in battle on the Shattered Plains. The excuses he gave were publicly acceptable, and accepted, so Dalinar had to swallow it for the time being.
- Villain Protagonist: Most of our viewpoint characters and protagonists are Alethi. And Alethkar is not a nice place. It is a theocratic monarchy with a strict Fantastic Caste System, built on slavery, with corrupt highprinces more concerned with the Thrill of battle and making a sphere on the side than any kind of true leadership. They have been waging wars of conquest against the rest of the world for centuries, and the last man who managed to unify the various princedoms into a kingdom turns out to have been a bloodthirsty narcissist obsessed with godhood.
- War for Fun and Profit: By the main plot of The Way of Kings, this is what the Alethi armies have been reduced to. They originally were fighting for revenge against the Parshendi, but the War of Reckoning has become little more than a contest between the different highprinces over who can gather the most gems from gemhearts, with actual revenge being at best a secondary concern for the vast majority of them, barring Dalinar Kholin and his family.
The People of Azir
Short and brown-skinned people from west-central Roshar. They are known for their paperwork. Lots of paperwork.
- Badass Army: While they lack the flexibility of the Alethi military, the Azish armies have extremely powerful pike formations and their commanders are highly competent. They also make use of effective light cavalry and horse archers, as opposed to the heavier cavalry used by the Vedens and Alethi.
- Insistent Terminology: They are adamant that there is always a Prime. The intricate process that follows the death of one Prime isn't to determine who will become the new one, it's to determine who has already unknowingly become the new one.
- Mundane Utility: Since they are rarely at war, the Azish frequently hire out their Shardbearers for construction projects. The entire city of Yeddaw was constructed out of a rocky plain using Azish Shardbearers to cut and clear out the stone.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: They require proper forms for absolutely everything, from electing their new leader to transporting and punishing prisoners to recquisitioning snacks. There are even forms to fill out for coming out as gay. Reconstructed: their government requires a huge amount of paperwork, but it's also an extremely stable meritocracy. Despite Taravangian's manipulations, they have yet to fall into civil war like the other major nations.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- When Nale pulls out a form giving him the authority to execute Lift, the leaders of the country are very disturbed that he's going to kill a young girl for petty theft.
- Those same leaders refuse to start a civil war when their leader is assassinated, citing "too much paperwork."
- Paperwork is so essential that they make a point to send Dalinar a certification from their engineers and stormwardens that the Oathgate in their city is definitely not working, complete with notarization. They also make a point that the Oathgate is not functional, not that it is actually broken.
- Dalinar eventually gets them to join into his coalition, not by intimidation or impassioned speeches, but by giving them a series of logical essays arguing why it's in Azir's best interests to join him. He treats each of the three essays he brings as weapons to be used in "combat".
- Also, the Azish parshmen awakened by the Everstorm, instead of rebelling or looting like those in other lands, filed a formal grievance with the government, suing for back-pay and damages. The Prime Aqasix was even negotiating with them in good faith until the Voidspren had them march off to join the Fused's war against humanity.
- Stalker Without a Crush: Their leader, the Prime Aqasix, is said to belong to the entire nation, so anyone can enter a lottery in order to watch him sleep or go about his day-to-day business.Lift: Sounds creepy.
Gawx: A little.
The People of Herdaz
A boastful people with crystalline, slate-colored fingernails. They are close to the Reshi Isles, and claim several of them.
- Beneath Notice: Lopen claims that Alethi can't tell Herdazians apart. Herdazian slaves and soldiers swap places to give themselves chances to take vacations. This is of course stupidly illegal, but none of the Alethi notice. Once the Bridge crews join Dalinar's army, several of Lopen's "cousins" show up to join, claiming to have left other highprinces' armies.
- Beware the Silly Ones: The Herdazians give the impression of being irreverent, silly, and comic relief. Even a bit goofy. In an interlude we see a Herdazian general, who is just as eccentric as the Lopen of Bridge Four. He's also incredibly competent, humiliating an Alethi general and feeding him to a greatshell for his crimes against civilians, all while practicing escaping from handcuffs. And by the fourth book, we see Herdaz had held out for a year against the singers' armies until it finally fell, doing damage far out of proportion to their very small size.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Although Herdaz was abandoned by the other human nations, they still resisted the singer invasion as long as they could. The nation fell, but the invasion cost the singers far more than anyone anticipated.
- Finger Snap Lighter: Many Herdazians, but not all of them, carry a piece of metal called a "sparkflicker" that they strike against their crystalline fingernails as a flint-and-steel lighter to create fire.
- Space Jews:
- Most people tend to assume they're either this or Mexican. They don't have enough specific stereotypical physical traits to fight with any one group, but they're a downtrodden and ignored people who often live in their own communities/slums in foreign countries and have their own unique slang. Their names and language have a Mexican ring to them, and they have huge families with lots of cousins that no outsiders are able to tell apart. Their mothers play into any number of different stereotypes, as they are friendly, loving, overbearing women who take no nonsense from anyone (including the king of Alethkar) and guilt their children into doing as they say.
- In the audiobook they've been given Australian accents, just to make the whole thing even more confusing.
- Word of God has stated that the original inspiration was "Mexico mashup with Korea."
- Uneven Hybrid: They have Parshendi blood, but not as much as the Horneaters. If Herdazians have the same ability to see spren Lopen doesn't mention it, although Rock claims this ability comes from bathing in the lakes atop the Horneater Peaks rather than being something intrinsic to their race.
The People of Iri
A chaste people with metallic gold hair, the Iri hail from the warmer north-west corner of Roshar.
- Human Aliens: In background confirmed by Word of God it turns out that the people of Iri aren't native to Roshar or to Ashyn. They, or at least parts of their culture, have migrated across several worlds in the past.
- Our Nudity Is Different: Iri is a warm nation, so they often walk around in little more than wraps. But they still have very strict clothing laws, and actual nudity will quickly result in imprisonment.
- People of Hair Color: Their metallic gold hair is famous, and a lock of it is often seen as good luck.
- Like Alethi black, Iri hair breeds true in proportion to the amount of Iri blood you have.
- Pieces of God: Old Iri religion (which has fallen out of favor) claims that all people are fragments of one divine whole, a perfect creature who knew everything but had experienced nothing. So the One split himself in order to have ignorance and experience, and all will eventually return to One in the end.
Parsh/Singers/ListenersThe parsh, or singers in their language, are a native humanoid race on Roshar, with an antagonistic history with the humans, which are found in two groups during the beginning of the series.The parshmen are a slave race of marbled black, white, and red-skinned humanoids who have no will of their own and will follow any orders given. The Parshendi, on the other hand, are a Proud Warrior Race who live in eastern Roshar and who are at war with the Alethi after murdering their king. The Parshendi call themselves "listeners", as they are attuned to a variety of "rhythms" native to the planet Roshar which represent different concepts and emotions, which most humans generally cannot hear.
- Alien Blood: It's orange and smells of mold, much like that of greatshells. This is a strong hint that they, like the greatshells, are natives of Roshar.
- And I Must Scream:
- The Parshendi do not truly want to fight, for the most part, just wanting to prevent their gods from returning. As shown by Eshonai when she changes to stormform, every time she attunes to the Rhythm of Peace, the Voidbringer she has become can hear her true self screaming, and the stronger the true self becomes, the more frequently the screaming is heard. By implication, this happens to almost all of the stormform Parshendi.
- The parshmen transformed by the Everstorm were in a roughly analogous situation as parshmen slaves, though they didn't realize it until they were awoken. One of these transformed parshmen describes living as a slave as being aware at some level that something was deeply wrong, but not being able to understand what was missing.
- Anti-Villain: The Parshendi turned out to have a very good reason to assassinate Gavilar. He was going to bring back the Parshendi "gods," which would turn them into Voidbringers again. The parshmen transformed into Voidbringers by the Everstorm aren't even fighters, and mostly just try to run away from the former human slave masters.
- Axe-Crazy: "Fused" singers are often mentally unstable, to the point that the ones who are sane are automatically promoted to leadership positions. This is because they are controlled by the souls of long-dead singers who go more and more insane with each body they inhabit. The old ones tend to go completely crazy and are little more than brutal berserkers in battle, and many Fused want to wipe humanity off Roshar no matter the cost.
- Berserk Button: Don't disturb Parshendi bodies. They will go absolutely berserk if anyone desecrates Parshendi corpses.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: They can actively adjust to different "forms" based on need by bonding with spren, which they have a natural ability to see. They may be humanoid, but are not human, as they recognize the Alethi humans as separate from themselves. They also have bones that are bright red, and their blood has the same moldy smell as that of greatshells. They also have gemhearts, apparently in addition to regular hearts.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Regals are this, Voidbringers influenced by Odium in a "form of power" such as stormform. Regals usually gain some abilities in exchange for the change in personality, which is caused by a particular Voidspren inhabiting their gemhearts.
- Body Surf: If a Fused loses their current body, they can simply possess a new one in the next Everstorm.
- Creatures by Many Other Names: They're variously called parshmen, Parshendi, listeners, singers, Voidbringers, and Fused depending on which book it is, which group of them it is, and which character is narrating.
- Defector from Decadence: The Parshendi/listeners on the Shattered Plains are actually a group known as the "Last Legion" who deliberately travelled to the far east of Roshar to escape their "gods." In the process they lost all knowledge of most of their hundreds of possible forms, reverting to dullform and mateform exclusively. The fact that Gavilar was planning something that would bring back the listeners' gods (which involved releasing one of the Unmade, which he apparently had imprisoned in a perfect gemstone) was terrible enough that they acted to immediately assassinate him before he could set his plan into motion.
- Demonic Possession: Singers who become Voidbringers are possessed by Voidspren, which themselves are the souls of previously slain Parshendi whose anger and hate were empowered by Odium, allowing them to take over their descendants' bodies. It turns out that those taken over by a Voidspren are effectively dead, with their minds being severed from their bodies and cast into the Cognitive Realm to eventually fade away like any other dead person.
- Devil in Plain Sight: All of Jasnah's research points to the parshmen/Parshendi being the mythical Voidbringers. Words of Radiance confirms this, but adds that not all Parshendi want to be Voidbringers. The closest comparison would be Marsh as a Steel Inquisitor under the control of Ruin. It turns out that when the Everstorm passes over and turns parshmen into Voidbringers, it actually just restores their minds; they still remember everything they did as parshmen, but now they can think like humans, and they mostly just want to be left alone. The Voidbringers that were spoken of in legend are rather the Fused, created by Odium from the souls of the original singers who fought humanity and now inhabit the bodies of their descendants.
- Fantastic Caste System: Upon their return, the Fused instituted a very specific caste system based on one's hierarchy and abilities:
- At the top are the Fused, the strongest of forms. There are nine or ten varieties, each with access to a darker version of a single Surge. They are the souls of ancient singers who remember when humans first came to Roshar, and who have taken the bodies of contemporary singers. Every time they die, they are reborn and go a little bit more insane. The souls of their hosts are ripped out of their bodies, dead, as part of the fusing process.
- Far below the Fused are the Regals, the forms of power like stormform and envoyform. They are created when a non-sentient Voidspren enters a singer gemheart. In theory the Regal are still themselves, but the Voidspren influences them with so many negative emotions that they turn into twisted and hateful versions of themselves. Regals generally work directly for a Fused in a specific role, such as stormform Regals acting as military officers and envoyforms acting as interpreters.
- Below the Regals are regular singers who were former parshmen and who regained their minds following the Everstorm. They act as the workers and soldiers of the Fused, and the warriors are typically commanded by a Regal officer.
- The sentient, unbodied Voidspren sit in an unclear place in this hierarchy, roughly at the level of the Regals but maybe a bit higher. It's also not clear if they are the souls of ancient singers or something else.
- The Parshendi are treated as traitors to the Fused for their act of abandoning the war.
- Godzilla Threshold: The main reason why the listeners even consider stormform is because it would be better than the inevitable extinction of their entire people at the hands of the Alethi.
- Hive Mind: This was speculated - singers always sing in unison even when out of hearing range of one another. But it ultimately subverted. Instead it is more complex: all their thoughts and emotions follow different songs that they tune themselves into, which are in sync across all Roshar. The difference between parshmen and Parshendi is that parshmen cannot sense the songs and so cannot tune their thoughts.
- I Did What I Had to Do: The listeners had a good reason to assassinate Gavilar, but they don't blame the Alethi for wanting vengeance. Gavilar was trying to bring back their gods, which would have transformed them into Voidbringers and enslaved them to Odium.
- Innocently Insensitive: The Alethi named the listeners "Parshendi", which means "parshmen that can think." Neither the Alethi nor the listeners seem to see anything wrong with this label. They're also coincidentally accurate in this case, since the listeners admit that parshmen are "slaveform" and genuinely have slow thought processes. It's even more accurate in Oathbringer, as once the Everstorm hits, all parshmen are turned into Voidbringers and thus regain the ability to think.
- Large and in Charge: Forms of power (Regals) are slightly larger than normal singers, roughly six to seven feet depending on the form. The Fused take it Up to Eleven, with the smallest being over seven feet tall and built like walls, and the largest being the size of buildings.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Singers shift slightly in temperament depending on form. Dullform are extremely stupid, mateform are playful and sexual, workform are non-confrontational to a fault, and stormform is flat-out Demonic Possession. Nimbleform and warform have minimal mental changes, but warforms still enjoy obeying orders from their lawful superiors.
- Mundane Utility: They sometimes use the Pure Tones of Roshar, the songs they all can hear and tune to their emotional state, as a method for keeping time.
- Non-Mammalian Mammaries: Females have breasts, despite being... something other than mammals, though they are understated unless they're in mateform. The Alethi were only able to distinguish genders by presence or lack of beards.
- "Not So Different" Remark: The freed parshmen act like the humans of the country they're in after having their Identity and Connection restored by the Everstorm, possibly because of the way Connection and Identity work in the Cosmere, and possibly to show that they really were members of their nation. Many times, the quickest way to get a singer that's being abusive to stop is to say that 'they're acting just like them' (the humans).
- Our Demons Are Different: The Fused are effectively demons, as they are the souls of ancient dead listeners who were kept from passing on by Odium and their hatred for humanity. They inhabit the bodies of willing listeners, which severs the original body's soul permanently, although most Listeners aren't told of this ahead of time. They also tend to have sinister carapace patterns and Spikes of Villainy, in contrast to the normal parsh.
- Proud Warrior Race:
- The Parshendi have elements of this, even when they aren't warriors. Special note goes to when they dress Szeth in white to assassinate Gavilar.White clothing for a killer was a tradition among the Parshendi. Although Szeth had not asked, his masters had explained why.
White to be bold. White to not blend into the night. White to give warning.
For if you were going to assassinate a man, he was entitled to see you coming.
- Warform has this as their entire hat. They happily follow orders, march in formation, and behave like proud warriors who go so far as to seek out a Worthy Opponent on the battlefield and ignore the wounded and infirm.
- The Fused take it even further. Quite often a Fused will find a Worthy Opponent (usually a Radiant) and choose to challenge them to a one-on-one fight even when they have allies nearby, simply because it's fun. Being immortal helps.
- The Parshendi have elements of this, even when they aren't warriors. Special note goes to when they dress Szeth in white to assassinate Gavilar.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Forms of Power cause red eyes, which the Parshendi deem as signs of the Voidbringers, since they actually are them. Caused because Forms of Power involve possession by Voidspren, who are a hateful fiery red.
- Slave Race: The parshmen, who are apparently unable to live without being told what to do. Parshendi call this "slaveform". The Parshendi also have a "dullform", which looks very similar to a parshman. Dullform Parshendi are very slow of thought, but still maintain their individuality and capacity for independence, so many of them have managed to pass as parshmen to spy on the Alethi, such as Rlain, a.k.a. "Shen", of Bridge Four.
- That Man Is Dead: Singers who turn into Fused are completely erased, their minds being severed and thrown into the Cognitive Realm the same as if they were killed, and their bodies taken over by the Voidspren.
- Villain Has a Point: They're the antagonists, but many characters admit that the singers have some very real grievances against humanity.
- Weak, but Skilled: The Fused tend to have weaker overall Surges compared to Radiants, and only have one compared to the Radiant two. But their sheer age and experience allow them to fight with far more skill and precision compared with mortal Radiants. They are also extremely skilled with weapons and tactics, as well as mundane skills such as crafting and engineering. In addition, their core abilities, such as flying for Heavenly Ones, don't use Voidlight.
- Worthy Opponent: The Heavenly Ones tend to have an archaic but very strong code of honor and almost always prefer to fight one-on-one. Kaladin and his Windrunners use this to their advantage by having individual Windrunners challenge individual Heavenly Ones to duels, which tends to not only minimize losses but allow a smaller group of Radiants to fend off a much larger group of Fused, as the ones without a foe to fight will stand off until they get a chance to duel.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: It's mentioned that some humans tried to compliment the Parshendi by telling them what valuable slaves parshmen are. The Parshendi find this horrifying.
The People of the Purelake
A calm and slow people from the Purelake, the waist-deep lake at the center of the continent. The Purelakers have their own religion, and consider outsiders to be odd and hurried.
- Entitled to Have You: A very calm and friendly version of this trope (just like everything else the Purelakers do). Purelaker courtship involves doing favors for someone until they are so far in your debt they have no choice but to marry you to make up for it. If they don't want to marry you, they need to do favors in return to keep the scales balanced.
The People of the Reshi Isles
Residents of the living islands on the northern edge of the continent, the Reshi are a carefree people who appreciate boldness in all things. They are not, however, uneducated savages. Many Reshi are immigrants from other nations, and they bring knowledge with them. The Reshi also send students to study across the continent.
- Nonlethal Warfare: They fight wars whenever their islands come close together, but there are very few casualties. The 'war' mostly consists of elaborate boasting contests breaking down into individual duels that don't often kill the participants.
- She Is the King: The leader of an island is always called the king, regardless of gender. The Reshi find the confusion this produces in outsiders hilarious.
- Further revelations of Word of Brandon, such as that the king in question is a trans man, might call this into a bit of question as to whether it's a common cultural practice or a generational peculiarity.
- Troll: The Reshi have a habit of screwing with outsiders. For example, they refuse to speak of the true nature of their islands so that newcomers will be surprised, and they jump from higher heights when outsiders are around.
- Unsportsmanlike Gloating: They believe strongly in boldness. This means boasting and bragging are important parts of a trade negotiation, but not the only ones.
The People of Shinovar
A strange people from beyond the western mountains, where highstorms barely reach. Their land is more similar to Earth ecology than the rest of the continent, and they believe that bare stone is sacred and should not be trod upon.
- Beware the Nice Ones: They are humble, pacifist traders, wishing for little more than to remain in their homeland, where they can contemplate nature and truth. They also possess eight of the Honorblades left behind by the Heralds. Judging by Szeth's skills, at least a few of their number are trained on these weapons, meaning that if it came to a war between them and the rest of the world, they would be a serious threat.
- Dark Secret: The Shin are the custodians of eight of the Honorblades left by the Heralds when they broke the Oathpact. The ninth was reclaimed by Nin, and the last one is still held by Taln.
- Perfect Pacifist People: A dark version. They maintain their pacifism by enslaving anyone in their society who takes up arms. They apparently weren't always pacifists, though, as at some point in their distant past they invaded the rest of Roshar, which is spoken of in the same breath as the Sunmaker and the Hierocracy in terms of "take over the world" attempts.
- Proud Merchant Race: Inverted. The Shin are an extremely humble merchant race. No word on how proud they are of this fact though.
- Reluctant Warrior: Fighting is thought to be an extremely lowly position, as opposed to in Alethkar.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Shin are pacifists. As noted under Reluctant Warrior, fighting is thought to be a very lowly profession, on par with slavery.
- Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Stone Shamanism teaches reverence for stone, Stormlight, and peace. Therefore the Shin refuse to walk on stone or damage it in any way, never use Stormlight for illumination, and consider fighting to be the lowliest of occupations. The rest of Roshar doesn't really have any choice when it comes to walking on stone, as it's pretty much all there is further east. The only reason the Shin can avoid it is because they live on the only part of the continent where the highstorms are weak enough that there is actual soil.
The People of Thaylenah
A merchant people from the island nation of Thaylenah. They practice Alethi Vorinism, and are known for their long eyebrows.
- The Apprentice/Mentor: Their standard way of training new merchants is to have someone apprentice to a trademaster. The apprentice is legally the property of their babsk for the duration of their apprenticeship, acting as sort of a combination of child and slave.
- Magic Feather: Thaylen religion, based around "the Passions," involves carved charms representing an emotion such as bravery. The charms are not magical and the Thaylens do not think that they are; the intent is for the charm to remind you to keep the emotion in mind when you need it.
- Never Learned to Read: The Thaylen are technically a Vorin nation, but they have their own spin on the religion, and often ignore the ban on men reading. They do try and keep it quiet around the Alethi and the Veden, though.
- Path of Inspiration: It is implied that their "Passions" are the last remnant of the religion that worshiped Odium, the original human god. By the time of Dawnshard, they've caught on, and the religion is swiftly going out of fashion.
- Proud Merchant Race: They are the best-known merchants on Roshar, and even on the Shattered Plains, a good chunk of the shopkeeps are Thaylen. Aspiring merchants enter into apprenticeships with trademasters in order to learn their skills.
- Unusual Eyebrows: Thaylen eyebrows are so long that they are tucked behind their ears.
The People of the Horneater Peaks (Horneaters)
Mountain-dwellers who believe that the order of your birth should determine your place in life. They also like loud, drunken singing.
- Alien Lunch: The Horneaters like eating crabs and other shelled animals without removing the carapace first - hence their name. This is because they apparently have extremely strong jaws and throat teeth that let them crush shells that would break the teeth of ordinary humans.
- The Clan: The rulers of the Unkalaki are called nuatoma, and their family clans are the nuatoma's servants.
- Drinking Contest: The traditional form of dueling on the Peaks is to see who can still sing intelligibly after drinking the most mugs of beer. Hopefully by the time the duel gets well underway, everyone's so drunk they've forgotten what it was they were fighting about.
- Extreme Omnivore: They actually DO eat horns and shells. And lowlanders barely consider their ale drinkable.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Their language, and something of an islander identity (with islands being peaks, and lakes on top of them being called oceans) bring comparisons to Hawaiians. Deliberate.
- Fantasy Pantheon: Unkalaki mostly worship spren, with a few major deities - gods of trees, mountains and seas - who might be a spin on three Shards of Roshar, and other minor gods, like Lunu'anaki, god of travel and mischief, who may or may not be Hoid.
- Foreign Queasine: Horneaters are so called because they eat the horns and shells of the things they catch, as Unkalaki have very strong teeth and jaws that let them crack and chew shells. A common gibe is to accuse them of putting rocks in their food, and their beer is also said to melt cups. Despite this, the food that they cook for lowlanders is often very good and edible.
- Overly Long Name: Unkalaki names are short poems, which makes them rather long - Rock's proper name, for example, is Numuhukumakiaki'aialunamor.
- Uneven Hybrid: They have some Parshendi ancestry, which allows them to see some spren that aren't otherwise visible, as well as faintly hear the same songs that the Parshendi listen to.
- It's worth noting that Rock claims the ability to see spren actually comes from swimming in the lakes atop the Horneater Peaks. Azure's comments in Oathbringer indicate that Cultivation's Perpendicularity, which allows travel between the Physical and Cognitive realms, is atop the peaks, meaning that Rock is probably correct.
The People of Jah Keved
A neighboring country to Alethkar, and another Vorin kingdom. They do not share the same military tradition as the Alethi, but they are their staunchest rivals, and hold nearly as many Shards.
- Arch-Enemy: Because they have a long border with Alethkar, they have been long rivals with the Alethi, and many commanders and brightlords in Jah Kaved are bitter enemies of Alethkar. This makes it relatively easy for Taravangian to appoint commanders who are perfectly willing to betray their temporary Alethi allies and join Odium's side.
- Boisterous Bruiser: The Veden are known for being passionate and proud—or at least more passionate than the reserved Alethi.
- Never Learned to Read: As a Vorin kingdom like the Alethi, they believe this very strongly. Shallan always feels uncomfortable around Thaylen men just because she's worried they might be able to read.
- Our Nudity Is Different: Like all Vorin kingdoms, their women pin up their left hand as a safehand.Tyn: It's just a hand, Shallan. Storms, you Vorins are so prim. That hand looks exactly like your other hand.
- Uneven Hybrid: Some of the populace apparently has Horneater ancestry (as evidenced by the proliferation of red hair), making them a tiny part listener.
- You Are in Command Now: Highprince Valam ends up as king due to being the last survivor of the succession war. As he's dying from his wounds, he realizes that Taravangian plans to take over after his death, and decides to simplify matters by naming Taravangian his heir, and then having his bastard son kill him to spare him weeks of pain.
Races and People of the Cognitive Realm
In Shadesmar, honorspren appear like humans made out of blue-white light, with clothing that is a part of their essence (though they will usually carry physical weaponry). They are militaristic, with multiple fortress-cities and their own fleet, and appear to have many truespren of other species as servants.
- Technically Naked Shapeshifter: Like several other truespren species, honorspren appear to wear clothing shaped from their own essence.
In Shadesmar, highspren appear as human-shaped voids through which stars can be seen. Their bodies in Shadesmar are still solid and can be touched as normal. They do not seem to commonly wear clothing. While humans can only recognize them by silhouette, they appear capable of recognizing each other without difficulty. When they move, the starfields seen through their bodies do not appear to move with them. They are highly isolationistic, rarely mingling with other spren.
- Celestial Body: Highspren appear as voids through which stars can be seen.
In Shadesmar, ashspren appear as humans with ash-white skin. When they move quickly or strike something, their flesh puffs away into ash, briefly revealing the bones beneath before regrowing. They are fairly common in mixed-race settlements such as Celebrant, and don't seem to have particular cities of their own.
In Shadesmar, cultivationspren appear as humanoids made of many thin green vines woven together like cloth, with teeth, hands, and eyes made of crystal. They are ruled by a body known as the Ring. They frequently act as traders and merchants, and as such maintain cordial relationships with almost all races of spren, even those that dislike each other.
In Shadesmar, mistspren appear to be made out of swirling mist, with a mask of translucent crystal for a face. They are capable of changing their form in Shadesmar, and while they usually use humanoid forms they are not required to. They will often wear clothing, most commonly boots, gloves, and vests, which hover over their mist. At least some of them are affiliated with the honorspren, serving as sailors on their ships.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Unlike most truespren, mistspren are capable of changing their shapes while in Shadesmar. They most often use humanoid forms, but are not restricted to those alone.
In Shadesmar, Cryptics take the form of tall, willowy figures in too-stiff robes that hang off them as if made from glass rather than fabric. Above their collars, where a human's head and face would be, they have a floating symbol full of impossible angles and geometries. Different individuals have slightly different head patterns. Despite not having any apparent means to do so, they are capable of hearing, seeing and speaking as well as any other spren. They are relatively reclusive, ruling only a single city in Shadesmar and not making any attempts to conquer territory. However, it is not unknown to encounter cryptics in multi-spren cities such as Celebrant.
- One Steve Limit: Enforced: While all Cryptics desire to be called "Pattern" in human languages, their Radiants insist on giving each of them a unique name so that humans can understand who is being talked about.
- Planet of Steves: All Cryptics desire to be called "Pattern" in human languages. They are able to use precise inflections to specify which Pattern they mean when talking to each other.
- Technically Naked Shapeshifter: As with several other truespren species, the robes Cryptics wear are technically part of their bodies.
In the Physical Realm, inkspren have the same appearance as they do in the Cognitive, though they can change their size from as tall as a person to no bigger than a speck of dust, or anywhere in between. They can form a Nahel bond with humans, granting the ability to bind Transformation and Transportation and making a Knight Radiant of the order of Elsecallers.
- Sizeshifter: While an inkspren cannot change its appearance in the Physical, it can grow or shrink anywhere from their size in Shadesmar down to no bigger than a speck of dust.
- Strange-Syntax Speaker: Inkspren use simply "be"/"is" instead of phrases like "be here" or "exist" — for example, "a spren is" rather than "there's a spren here", or "a traitor is" instead of "a traitor exists".
In Shadesmar, Reachers appear as humanoid figures with metallic bronze skin, like living statues. They will usually wear clothes that are not a part of their essence. They often work as sailors and guides, and have been sighted both in multi-racial settlements such as Celebrant and serving under honorspren.
In Shadesmar, peakspren appear as humanoids made from stone. They are covered in cracks which appear to glow from within as if molten, though these do not seem to cause any actual pain or difficulty. They will usually wear clothes that are not a part of their essence. They often act as sailors or merchants.