Greetings, oh fans of the Sanderson! We are here today to bring you yet another reread!
This one is specifically intended to lead up to the release of Oathbringer, which I’m sure many of you are reading in the serialized form released here on Tor.com. Today, we begin an accompanying reread of the novella Edgedancer, released in the Cosmere short works collection Arcanum Unbounded. This is, as noted in the AU postscript to the novella, an opportunity Sanderson took to fill in some of the details for Lift and Nalan which needed to happen between their appearances in Words of Radiance and the next time we see them in Oathbringer. Note: this reread will contain no spoilers for Oathbringer. Read along, then, and lets start right in!
First, some housekeeping. If things go as planned (and we know how plans are!), this reread will be a joint effort between your accustomed rereader Alice Arneson and your new favorite rereader, Lyndsey Luther. Since we haven’t worked out all the details yet (something something Oathbringer prep), I’m winging it this week on Chapter 1, working with a tentative list of themes, with probably-lame titles for them. If there are additional recurring units you’d like to see, or if you have suggestions for what to call them, speak up in the comments and we’ll take it all into consideration. And now, let’s check in on Lift and Wyndle.
(a.k.a. a recap of the chapter)
Lift races across a field, ignoring Wyndle’s complaints—as usual—and just as she gets nicely going in a glide, she crashes into something and feels stupid. Also as usual. Once she’s stopped, Wyndle takes advantage of the moment to argue further about her decision to leave Azimir, but she is adamant. She takes off running again, thinking about all the reasons she had to get out of there; it all comes down to feeling like everyone was trying to change her.
She crashes again, first from losing her balance, then from hitting a tree. Wyndle continues his rebuke of her rudeness in leaving, but she insists she left Gawx a note—she ate his dinner. Though Wyndle doubts the effectiveness of her means of communication, it does remind her of the price she has to pay for practicing her awesomeness so much—she’s run out of food again. As she begins sucking on her handkerchief in case it has crumbs in it, Wyndle moans about his own sacrifice—back in Shadesmar, he’d had the most magnificent collection of the souls of chairs.
Walking now, Lift enters a small forest and pauses to look back. Wyndle, still trying to figure out why she wanted to leave, asks hopefully if they’re going back, but no—she’s just saying goodbye.
Kadasixes and Stars
(a.k.a. quote of the week/chapter)
Lift shaded her eyes. The wrong things were changing. She was supposed to stay the same, and the world was supposed to change around her. She’d asked for that, hadn’t she?
Had she been lied to?
Well, there’s a clue… Lift had asked the Nightwatcher to make her stay the same, which is why she was so confident in insisting that she was only ten, even if she’d been ten for three years.
(a.k.a. interesting things about Wyndle and/or their bond)
This would be the place to crack up over Wyndle’s big project, interrupted by the decision to send him to bond Lift. Back in the Cognitive realm, he was a gardener. No pedestrian gardener, either, growing anything so lame as plants. No, Wyndle was an artist. He had a magnificent collection of the souls of chairs, which he grew into grand crystals. Before the Ring chose him for this “atrocious duty” he’d even been planning an entire exhibition of sofas! LOL.
Journey before Pancakes
(a.k.a. food, because Lift + Food = Awesomeness)
Food is critical to Lift, so we’ll note when/what Lift is eating, especially if it actually matters. In this chapter, it’s more a matter of what she’s not eating—because she already ate everything she’d brought along, and is reduced to sucking on her handkerchief, hoping there are some crumbs left in it.
Friends and Strangers
(a.k.a. people we should notice for one reason or another)
There really isn’t anyone in this chapter but Lift and Wyndle, plus mention of Gawx and reference to his advisors, but there will be people of note along the way. Some will be people we’ve seen in the books already, some will be new people that might be important later, and some will be representative of entire cultures. On that note…
For anyone who forgot, Gawx is the young thief who was with Lift when she snuck into the palace to eat the Viziers’ dinners. He was struck down by one of Darkness’s minions, but Lift went back to him, speaking her second Ideal and healing him. (I’m assuming it’s her second, anyway, because we don’t know it isn’t.) Because of this miracle, the viziers made him Prime Aqasix – the emperor of Azir. For what it’s worth, they renamed him Yanagawn, because Gawx isn’t a very emperorish name.
Storming Mother of the World and Father of Storms Above
(a.k.a. anything we learn about the Shards, the Old Magic, or curses)
If we learn anything specific about Shards or the Old Magic, it should be called out. I shall include any bizarre things Lift says; they may be unrelated, but I don’t care. This title is actually one of her curses much later in the story, and it cracks me up.
In this chapter, we learn a tiny bit, as noted in the quote above: when Lift went to the Nightwatcher, she asked not to change. Whether this is simply beyond the Nightwatcher to accomplish, or she didn’t entirely understand the request, we don’t know. We just know that it didn’t happen the way Lift wanted it to!
Darkness & Co.
(a.k.a. anything about the Skybreakers)
Of course we have to note everything we learn about Nalan and the Skybreakers in general. Also Szeth. And Nightblood. This chapter doesn’t say anything about them, but they’ll show up eventually.
(a.k.a. everything else that we want to talk about, duh.)
Partly because I don’t have the exhaustive coverage of recurring units that I did last time, and partly because I want to do it this way, I expect this to be significantly larger than the Exhale section of the Warbreaker reread. This week, for example…
The only real action is Lift running away from Azimir and attempting to learn how to use her Abrasion Surge, which is entertaining but not all that momentous. It’s interesting, though, that part of her reason for the current effort is the words of Darkness, back on that fateful night:
They were elegant things of beauty, Darkness had said. They could ride the thinnest rope, dance across rooftops, move like a ribbon on the wind…
She keeps pretending to blow it off, but it really matters to her. She wants to fit that image, somehow.
Anyway, the Big Thing in the chapter is why she left Azimir. As noted a couple of times now, Lift has a real issue with change for some reason – not with the world around her changing, but herself. We can only speculate on what happened in her past to make her so averse to it, but we do see the effects. As she’s running and sliding, she thinks about the ways the viziers etc. kept trying to “fix” her—comfortable clothing, shoes, lessons, studying the Knights Radiant and what she could do.
It had started to consume her. If she’d stayed, how long would it have been before she wasn’t Lift anymore? How long until she’d have been gobbled up, another girl left in her place? Similar face, but at the same time all new?
She’s afraid of letting anyone get to know her too well, or get too close to her. If they knew her, and started expecting things of her, she’s afraid she’ll start trying fulfill those expectations, and next thing, she’ll have changed. There’s one last thing, which Wyndle suspects may be the real reason she left; it’s not entirely, but I think he’s more right than Lift will admit anyway.
“Is this about what happened to you?” Wyndle asked. “I don’t know a lot about humans, but I believe it was natural, disconcerting though it might appear. You aren’t wounded.”
For a girl who had believed, or convinced herself to believe, that she wouldn’t ever grow up or change, menarche would be a rude shock. (I mean, it’s a bit of a rude shock for any girl, but this would be worse, I think.) Eventually, she’ll admit that there’s a bigger reason she left Azimir and went the direction she chose, but I suspect this evidence that her body is changing despite her boon was a triggering factor.
Well, it’s a short one, but that’s it for this week’s reread. Next week… well, I don’t know exactly what will happen next week, but it will involve chapter 2 and probably chapter 3. Till then, join us in the comments! Also, please, let’s keep the discussion free of spoilers for the released chapters of Oathbringer, because not everyone is reading along. If you absolutely must mention something, make sure to white the spoiler text.
Alice Arneson is a SAHM, blogger, beta reader, and literature fan. In Oathbringer news, the copyedit is complete; look for a refresher on the Knights Radiant to come soon, another great cosplay article, and of course the early release chapters. Also, did y’all see the announcement of the Black Piper soundtrack project for The Way of Kings? The kickstarter campaign will be launching soon—I heard rumor of this coming Saturday.