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Parshendi is an Alethi word that roughly translates to 'parshmen who can think'.[1] Unlike their docile cousins, the Parshendi are clever, accomplished warriors. They were first encountered by Dalinar as he explored the Shattered Plains along with his brother Gavilar. The Stormfather has called them the Old Ones.[2]

Once unknown whether they had a central place of habitation (as the Plains had not been thoroughly explored), it has been confirmed that they inhabited Stormseat (i.e., the former capital of Natanatan), which they called Narak in the east of Roshar.[3]



Eshonai of the Listeners - Shardbearer
Fan art by Petar Penev

The Parshendi, as observed by Alethi warriors, have black or white skin[4] marbled with red and very muscular builds, especially in the legs, the strength of which allows them to leap the chasms of the Shattered Plains. They have orange-colored carapace-like armor which appears to grow organically on their bodies. Parshendi males wear black-and-red beards woven with small gemstones.[5] They also wear primitive clothing and carry their weapons on their backs.


The Parshendi learned to change their forms. They need a highstorm in order to change forms and such a change involves bonding with spren. The change can affect their appearance, physical abilities and mental faculties. Parshendi songs of the past spoke of hundreds of forms. However, until recently, only dullform was known and only seven forms are known today:[6]

The Parshendi had learned that capturing spren was possible from humans, then figured out the process on their own. A captive spren made the transformation much more reliable. Before, there had always been an element of chance. You could go into the storm wanting to become a soldier, and come out a mate instead.[7]

  • Dullform - Not a keen-minded form, it is a relic from the past, before the Parshendi discovery of the newer forms.[7][3]
  • Envoyform - This form affords one abilities such as the knowing of all languages.[8]
  • Mateform - Used for reproductive purposes, it impedes other thoughts, making it difficult to focus on anything else.[9][3]
  • Nimbleform - Used for nurturing the young and for doing the kind of delicate work that requires more agility.[3]
  • Stormform - Results from bonding with stormspren (a kind of Voidspren).  In Stormform, Parshendi retain their natural skintone, augmented with small, tough ridges under their skin.  Their eyes turn red and they exhibit sexual dimorphism in the form of hairstrands and breasts.[10][7][11]
  • Warform - A fighting form. In it, Parshendi grow plates of chitin armor on their arms, shoulders, chest, and even head. It also seems to give them advanced physical capabilities, although hampers some creative abilities.[3]
  • Workform - More limber and more rugged than warform, it has a mental block making it difficult to commit violence.[12][3]

There is also a reference to slaveform (those known as parshmen), which is not a true form, but the lack of a bond with a spren.

Forms could not be commanded; every person was free to choose for themselves. Transformations could be cajoled and requested, but they could not be forced. Their gods had not allowed this freedom, so the listeners would have it, no matter what.[7]

Forms of power include stormform, nightform, smokeform, decayform, and envoyform.


Unlike the kandra and koloss of Mistborn, each of which has a 'hole' in them that allows Ruin to come in and take over, the Parshendi are naturally protected from such a takeover. However, many of the spren the Parshendi may let into each their gemhearts do have such a hole. Odium is thus allowed to take control of these Parshendi who bond with such spren.[13]

According to Brandon, the Parshendi can provide mutual relationships with spren, just as humans can.[14]

The Parshendi lifespan, when compared to that of humans, is shorter and they grow faster. While the shorter lifespan isn't really noticeable, the growing older is.[15]


The Parshendi exhibit four differing genders: male and female, who can collectively reproduce, and each their variants, malen and femalen, who've been neutered.[3]

One malen was described as being heavily armored, with no hair, and carapace encroaching across his cheeks.[16]

Of the femalen, the fannahn-im were the builders who had created the palace in Kholinar.[17]


PFP sithface

Parshendi Fighting Pair
Fan art by sithface[1]

The Parshendi fight in groups of two, often one bearded and one non-bearded individual. Scholars have speculated that this is some form of apprenticeship that warriors must undergo, or perhaps a mark of hierarchy amongst the Parshendi, but a closer examination suggests that the non-bearded Parshendi are female, which makes it likely that the pairs are husband and wife.[18]

The Parshendi sing chants in battle and for other important occasions. They always sing in time with each other no matter how far they are separated, whether or not they can hear each other, which suggests that the Parshendi can communicate telepathically.[19][20] This singing has been observed also in their kin, the much more docile and smaller parshmen, which might explain why parshmen speak so rarely. However, they may not need to hear a call to action in order to revolt.[20]

Parshendi communication has a suprasegmental component of rhythm.  The rhythms Parshendi sing impart information and seem to both reflect and influence their emotions.  When stormform is discovered, hitherto forgotten rhythms are introduced such as the Rhythms of Fury and Craving.

The Parshendi appear to have a strongly developed sense of honor in battle, ignoring wounded and vulnerable enemies to attack the most dangerous foes. They also have a very strong sense of reverence toward their dead.* Parshmen are allowed to care for their own dead because of this sensitivity; the bodies are wrapped in white linen and carried into the wilderness to be laid on slabs of stone.[21] Parshendi who fall in battle on the Shattered Plains are left on the stone fields.

The Parshendi are known to have several Shardbearers, however, they are seen only rarely.

Individual Parshendi are capable of seeking the Old Magic and receiving a boon and a curse from the Nightwatcher.[22]


The Way of Kings[]


Parshendi Woman
Artwork by Dan dos Santos[2]

As the Parshendi celebrated a newly-forged alliance with the Alethi, they sent Szeth-son-son-Vallano, a Shin Truthless, to assassinate the King of Alethkar (i.e.: Gavilar). According to Parshendi honor codes, Szeth was ordered to wear white so that he would be seen coming.[1] As a result, he became infamous as the Assassin in White. These events led to the Vengeance Pact, a campaign to destroy the Parshendi on the Shattered Plains.[23] King Elhokar and the ten Alethi Highprinces lead the war, which has led to the Shattered Plains becoming the true center of Alethi power.

During the battle for the Tower, when some amongst the Parshendi gave Kaladin loathing gazes, they also made an odd gesture by cupping a hand to each their right ear and pointing at him before finally retreating.[24]

Words of Radiance[]

Choosing to murder Gavilar had been an act to affirm the decision of their ancestors to return the Parshendi to primitive levels (i.e., Dullform and Mateform).[7] The choice had been one of courage. They'd hoped that a long war would bore the Alethi. However, they'd underestimated the Alethi; the gemhearts changed everything.[7]

There had once been hundreds of thousands of Parshendi on the Shattered Plains. Now, only a fraction remains. Still, they had been a united people who rejected their gods and sought freedom in obscurity.[7]


The document, Eila Stele, reveals that the Dawnsingers were Parshendi and the native inhabitants of Roshar, which destroys the original theory that the Dawnsingers were spren. Humankind came to Roshar seeking help after accidentally destroying their own world with Surgebinding. Commanded by their gods and motivated by their pity, the Dawnsingers helped humankind, only to be betrayed. They called humankind Voidbringers, for they had brought a void that sucked in all emotion.[25][26]

These events describe the first Desolation and were the truth that led to the Day of Recreance.[26]

Rhythm of War[]


Parshendi Couple
Artwork by Dan dos Santos[3]

(To be continued.)

Noteable Parshendi[]


Our gods were born splinters of a soul,
Of one who seeks to take control,
Destroys all lands that he beholds, with spite.
They are his spren, his gift, his price.
But the nightforms speak of future life,
A challenged champion. A strife even he must requite.

–From the Listener Song of Secrets, final stanza[27]

Upon returning to Dalinar's army after his defection, Shen - now Rlain - speaks to Dalinar of the Parshendi's gods:

They are the souls of those ancient. Those who gave of themselves to destroy.[28]
They hate you and your kind, sir. This new form they have given my people ... it is something terrible. It will bring something terrible.[28]

When Venli steps up to a group of newly Returned Fused, two still have trouble moving. They lurch, stumble, fall to their knees. A different two wear smiles, twisted and wrong. It is her determination that the listener gods are not completely sane.[29]

When she accuses Ulim of deceiving those amongst them who were chosen to open themselves up to a new form that would be stronger than stormform, he tells her that their gods need bodies. He says that it's like this every Return, and that she should be flattered for the good of the race. That those are the Fused: ancient souls reborn.[29]

She then acknowledges the path she had placed herself on from the moment she'd first listened to Ulim years ago, deciding that she would risk the return of her people's gods.[29]


Main article: Singers


Main article: Listeners


Main article: Listener Songs


Main article: Listener Rhythms


Something must be done about the remnants of Odium's forces. The parsh, as they are now called, continue their war with zeal, even without their masters from Damnation.

–From drawer 30-20, first emerald[30]

We are uncertain the effect this will have on the parsh. At the very least, it should deny them forms of power. Melishi is confident, but Naze-daughter-Kuzodo warns of unintended side effects.

–From drawer 30-20, fifth emerald[31]


Jasnah theorised that the Parshendi and the parshmen are the Voidbringers.[32][33][19] It was later confirmed by Graves that she was right.[34]

According to Brandon, historically there is something preventing the Parshendi from picking up a sword of Radiance.[35]

Also according to Brandon, a Parshendi could form a bond with an intoxicationspren, but it wouldn't be the best idea they ever had.[36]

*Touching the bodies of the fallen was taboo. The old songs spoke of days when humans had hacked apart listener corpses, searching for gemhearts. Leave the dead to peace instead; it was their way.[37]


For real world examples from which Brandon drew for Parshendi singing, he stated that he used Hindu chants in his head.[38][39]


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Way of Kings, Prologue - To Kill
  2. Words of Radiance, 89. The Four
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Words of Radiance, Inter1.
  4. The Way of Kings, 26. Stillness
  5. The Way of Kings, 27. Chasm Duty
  6. Sanderson PreRelease read
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Words of Radiance, Inter4.
  8. Words of Radiance, 26. The Feather
  9. Words of Radiance, 14. Ironstance
  10. Words of Radiance, 22. Lights In The Storm
  11. Words of Radiance, 81. The Last Day
  12. Words of Radiance, 15. A Hand With The Tower
  13. Book signing, Orem, UT, 12/6/14
  14. Oathbringer release party, Provo, UT, 11/13/17
  15. Starsight Release Party, Orem, UT, 11/26/19
  16. Oathbringer, 54. An Ancient Singer's Name
  17. Rhythm of War, 14. Voice
  18. The Way of Kings, 56. That Storming Book
  19. 19.0 19.1 The Way of Kings, 74. Ghostblood
  20. 20.0 20.1 Words of Radiance, 6. Terrible Destruction
  21. The Way of Kings, 55. An Emerald Broam
  22. Old Magic
  23. The Way of Kings, 43. The Wretch
  24. The Way of Kings, 65. The Tower
  25. The Way of Kings, 45. Shadesmar
  26. 26.0 26.1 Oathbringer, 111. Eila Stele
  27. Words of Radiance, 34. Blossoms And Cake
  28. 28.0 28.1 Words of Radiance, 79. Toward The Center
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Oathbringer, Inter6.
  30. Oathbringer, 77. Stormshelter
  31. Oathbringer, 81. Ithi And Her Sister
  32. The Way of Kings, 52. A Highway to the Sun
  33. The Way of Kings, 72. Veristitalian
  34. Words of Radiance, 87. The Riddens
  35. Oathbringer release party, Provo, UT, 11/13/17
  36. Oathbringer release party, Provo, UT, 11/13/17
  37. Oathbringer, Inter3.
  38. Parshendi singing
  39. Syllable, Word or Verse