Greetings, Edgedancers! My name’s Lyndsey, and your intrepid and faithful Alice and I are here to bring you chapter two of the Edgedancer Reread! We’ll be switching back and forth throughout this post, discussing our thoughts in “real time,” as it were, so strap in and prepare for some awesomeness.
Lyn: First of all, I just have to say how much I adore Lift. She has such a unique voice, and really reads well as a younger character. Sanderson does great things with POV and voice for many of his characters, but Lift in particular is unique in that I can always tell immediately when I’m in one of her chapters! Her inner voice is so different and the things she notices are… well, shall we say more crude than what most of Sanderson’s characters think about. It’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t want to be another GRRM or Stephen King, and many of his readers appreciate that – but Lift walks a fine line between tame vulgarity and childish exuberance that I find quite charming.
Alice: Welp. There’s really nothing to disagree with there, Lyn: I love Lift! I’m never quite sure how to respond to readers who say they skip her Interlude on rereads, and haven’t read Edgedancer, because they just don’t like her. Umm… To each his own? (Then again, I can’t understand skipping anything, because I want the whole starvin’ story!!) Anyway… Lift definitely has a thirteen-year-old mentality! The delicate balance of innocence despite a rough childhood is endearing, but it’s always jerked back from cloying by either snark or vulgarity, or both. One of my (many) favorite Lift lines is, “I’m so storming pure I practically belch rainbows.” It captures her essence so well.
L: Plus that’s a pretty hilarious mental image. And on that note, we’ll move on to…
Lift has come to a city cut into the starvin’ ground in order to hide. Nothing else. Just hide.
Really. (We believe you, Lift. Suuuuuure we do.)
She and Wyndle have a conversation in which Wyndle is awful uncomfortable about the prospect of becoming a Shardblade, but Lift doesn’t catch on. We learn that the “real” reason Lift decided to trek out here was to try some awesome pancakes – oh, and that Darkness guy’s somewhere in the city, too. Is that important? Naaaaah, it’s all about the pancakes!
A few other important notes: the Everstorm hasn’t hit yet, but we have reason to believe it’s on the way. (Insert dramatic chord.)
Kadasixes and Stars
L: WHAT? Pick only ONE quote? I’m gonna channel Lift here and say that you ain’t the boss of me! I’m gonna pick TWO and there’s nothing you can starvin’ do to stop me.
“It’s not about sustenance. It’s about torture.”
Stormfather, but I love her. She’s hilarious, and her back-and-forth banter with Wyndle always brings a smile to my face.
“So now you’re normal.”
“Course I am. It’s everyone else that’s weird.”
On a more serious note, I particularly like this one because, as a “weird kid,” I can relate to it so much. I think many of us had this feeling growing up, when we liked things that others didn’t or just didn’t fit in for some reason, and it made us outsiders. Whether that “thing” was fantasy novels, or a certain sport, or theater, or being an introvert… or liking really awesome pancakes… we were teased or bullied or just plain ignored because of them. (If you never had this experience, I envy you.) Lift has such a wonderful way of viewing the world, an outlook that I wish I had been mature enough to adopt. She’s normal. She’s perfectly fine just the way she is, and she sees no reason to have to justify it to anyone. You go on with your bad self, Lift.
Alice, did you have a quote that particularly resonated with you?
A: Well, of course! There are always too many – some just for fun, and some for the depth of meaning. With Lift, there are usually some that are both! But I’ll pick one:
“But don’t you feel something? Out there? Building?”
“A distant thunder,” Lift whispered, looking westward, past the city, toward the far-off mountains. “Or . . . or the way you feel after someone drops a pan, and you see it falling, and get ready for the clatter it will make when it hits.”
“So you do feel it.”
“Maybe,” Lift said.
She’s such an odd mix of insight and insouciance. Even here, right after a perfect – if somewhat bizarre – description of the building Everstorm, she won’t admit that she feels what she just described. Granted that since we know what’s coming, it’s far more effective on us than it would be on your random Azish citizen…. Still, I loved the creepy feeling this gave me as an intimation of what she feels coming.
L: Wyndle is being very cagey about Shardblades in this chapter. He clearly doesn’t want to become one – I wonder why? Has he had bad experiences in the past that he’s beginning to remember, or does he just not relish the idea of being swung around in the hands of a hyperactive teenager? (And who can blame him for that, really.) I can only imagine that being responsible for the death of another being, especially when you don’t have agency in the act, is difficult to come to terms with. It must be difficult to be a tool – especially a tool for murder, even “justified” murder.
A: I do have a thought on this, but it goes with another bit that I’ll address below. RAFO.
“I’m a gardener, not a soldier, so I’ll not have you hitting people with me.”
L: He let it slip here, but Lift doesn’t catch on completely.
A: This cracked me up, and at first I couldn’t believe she didn’t catch it… but she really has no reason whatsoever to suspect that he will become her Blade. She doesn’t know any of the other new Radiants yet. Okay, then.
“Something is wrong – I can feel it.”
L: I wonder if this is just an affectation of his nervous nature, something that only cultivationspren can sense, or something all spren sense?
A: Oh, that has so many possibilities for theorizing… because I have this ongoing theory that all the Orders on the lower half of the “double eye” graphic are closer to Cultivation, while the ones on the upper half are more of Honor. The Truthwatchers are next to the Edgedancers and share a Surge, and they certainly seem to sense things beyond what others do. Then again, Sylphrena seemed to sense when the stormspren started showing up, so maybe it’s all spren after all.
“We only moved to bond with you because the Cryptics and the honorspren and everyone else were starting to move.”
L: EVERYone else, eh, Wyndle? This is nice to hear that we’ll almost certainly be seeing all of the orders of Knights Radiant eventually! No one’s sitting it out.
A: There’s hope, anyway!
“Everyone who had any idea of how to accomplish all this died centuries ago!”
L: I’d assume because they were all bonded and hence became the static, dead Shardblades being wielded these days. But what happened to spren whose Knights died either before the Recreance or during the final battle? Surely they’d still have information and memories about this whole process. They’re basically immortal, right? If their Knights died, did they also become dead Blades, or did they seek out different Knights? Has this ever been addressed? So many questions!
A: As far as I know, these are questions we have no way of answering yet. Outside the broken-bond issue, we don’t know how long an individual spren can function: is there some kind of fading away, or do they just sort of remain the same forever, with the only difference being whether or not they’re bonded? Because if it’s the former, then there’s an easy reason for the knowledge to be lost over time; if it’s the latter, then it seems like there ought to be a few cultivationspren around who weren’t bonded at the moment of the Recreance.
I’m going to wax excessively wordy again and overlap some of your quotes, Lyn, (sorry!) because I love this whole conversation where Lift is trying to maneuver Wyndle into explaining more about Shardblades. (I love more than just this part, really, but I can’t quote whole pages. I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules or something.)
“It’s forbidden. You must discover it on your own.”
“That’s what I’m doing. I’m discovering it. From you. Tell me, or I’ll bite you.”
“I’ll bite you,” she said. “I’ll gnaw on you, Voidbringer. You’re a vine, right? I eat plants. Sometimes.”
“Even assuming my crystals wouldn’t break your teeth,” Wyndle said, “my mass would give you no sustenance. It would break down into dust.”
“It’s not about sustenance. It’s about torture.”
Wyndle, surprisingly, met her expression with his strange eyes grown from crystals. “Honestly, mistress, I don’t think you have it in you.”
I have to suggest that part of what Wyndle is doing, in refusing to tell her how to get her Shardblade, is obeying the rules laid down by Ishar way back when the Knights Radiant were founded. I get the feeling he doesn’t really have a lot of choice – but I also get the feeling that for all his seeming spinelessness, he wouldn’t break this rule if he could. He may wilt far too readily when she gets tyrannical, but when he has enough reason, he’s perfectly capable of standing up to her.
L: And yet, he does let it slip a little later. I wonder if that was really an accident on his part, or if he’s trying to not-so-subtly lead her to the right conclusion…
A: I’m going out on a theory limb: I think the way he wilts, and the way he’s so reluctant to become a Blade that Lyn noted above, is more of a dislike of confrontation than it is actual fear. He knows perfectly well she can’t actually hurt him, right? And he really doesn’t want her to go around hitting people with him, even though it can’t actually damage him, right? So I think he just doesn’t like the conflict. What’s more, I’m guessing it may be typical of his kind; it seems to fit with what little we know of Edgedancers. If I can remember, this is something I’ll be watching as we go – evidences for or against this idea.
Journey Before Pancakes
“They got these pancakes here, with things cooked into them. Ten varieties.”
L: Okay, so… to me, these sound an awful lot like Japanese okonomiyaki.
Doesn’t it look delicious? Enough to make your mouth water. There are different kinds, and almost all of them are savory as opposed to sweet.
If you’ve never had okonomiyaki, it’s something like a very thick pancake with all sorts of stuff mixed in with the batter – shredded cabbage, meats, veggies, spices, sauces, you name it. You can either stuff your dish to bursting with fillings or scale it back to have a more soft, custardy interior. When my husband and I visited Osaka several years ago, we gave it a try. They brought us the batter and we poured it out ourselves onto a hot section of the table, flipping it and then cracking an egg over the top. It was VERY filling (I could only finish half) and very delicious. It would be easy to have ten different varieties, since there are almost limitless ways to combine all the possible fillings! Alice, any ideas on what a different real-world analogous food could be?
A: Honestly, this sounds like the most probable of all the suggestions I’ve heard, and I’ve heard quite a few! My first thought was crepes, because I’m used to those being wrapped around all sorts of things, but I think the okonomiyaki sounds way more like the pancakes in Yeddaw.
Friends and Strangers
L: Dalinar is briefly mentioned, and it’s important to note that Wyndle calls him a warlord. Which… I mean, he’s not wrong, but it’s just interesting to see that – outside of Alethkar and the characters whose eyes we’re accustomed to seeing Dalinar through – he’d be a pretty intimidating figure.
Also, apparently Lift likes to call Gawx’s viziers THE NOODLES. Okay, I admit it, I just wanted an excuse to talk about them because noodle’s a funny word. Nooooooodle. Noodle.
That’s all I got. Alice?
A: Noooodle. Noooope. I got Noooothing else. Because Noooodles win All The Things.
Storming Mother of the World and Father of Storms Above
“I got two powers,” Lift said. “I can slide around, awesome, and I can make stuff grow. So I could grow me some plants to eat?”
“It would almost certainly take more energy in Stormlight to grow the plants than the sustenance would provide, as determined by the laws of the universe. And before you say anything, these are laws that even you cannot ignore.” He paused. “I think. Who knows, when you’re involved?”
L: Interesting to note that growing plants would output more energy than consuming them would provide.
A: I thought that was fascinating for two reasons. First, there’s a sneaky way to answer a fan question by answering Lift’s question: No, you can’t use Stormlight to grow things to fuel your Stormlight, because conservation of energy and Investiture and stuff has to be preserved. Second, there’s the perfectly snarky and sneaky qualifier – because really, who knows, when Lift is involved!? And so we have most of an answer… but not 100%. Sneaky Sanderson is sneaky.
L: As for curses… We’ve seen Lift use “starvin’” before (in Words of Radiance), but damn if it doesn’t amuse me every time it shows up. It’s such an appropriate curse for her!
Darkness & Co.
“This guy has been murdering his way across Roshar too.”
L: We’ve seen evidence of this (he killed Ym and tried to kill Lift), and can surmise that he’s killing those who have the potential to become Knights Radiant. But why?
A: R A F O… No, seriously, I think this gets addressed when we get farther in, so I think we should wait for it to come up before we talk about it more. Suffice it to say that the
viziers noodles have been hearing about him and are most interested in his behavior.
L: Clothes! (Of course I’d zero in on this, being a cosplayer.) Tashikki clothes are described as “a long piece of cloth wrapped around themselves, feet to forehead. It wound around both legs and arms individually, but also wrapped around the waist sometimes to create a type of skirt.” This is very cool to me, because this style of dress (using a simple, unstitched piece of cloth) is present in many cultures’ historical backgrounds. The Indian dhoti and the Scottish great kilt are examples of a piece of fabric simply being wound about the body. The beautiful thing about this, historically, is that this cloth can then be used for other things, like blankets! Huzzah for utilitarian garb!
This had once been a large, flat plain. Her vantage on a hilltop, though, let her make out hundreds of trenches cut in the stone.
L: Cutting a city out of the ground with Shardblades is a very cool concept. But the way the layout of the city was described immediately made me think of Elantris. Is there some reason the trenches are laid out the way they are? When viewed from above, do they make a glyph of some sort? Or am I overthinking this and they’re simply laid out in such a way to better facilitate the drainage of storm-water from the city?
A: Again, I think that the layout gets addressed later in socioeconomic terms, but I might be wrong about that. The original design, I assume, was a combination of practicality and aesthetics. I hope so, anyway. But I wanted to talk a little more about the Azish Shardblades. Their use in excavation is a fascinating contrast to the way the Alethi covet them as prized objects of war. Back in the The Way of Kings, when Dalinar was using his Shardplate, his warhammer, and Oathbringer to whack out a latrine trench, people pretty much thought he’d lost his mind – it was close to sacrilegious, to them, to use the Shards in such a mundane purpose. It’s almost comical to be reminded that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily view them in quite the same way.
To be perfectly honest, though, half the reason I wanted to talk about the utility of the Shardblades is an excuse to quote something…
She’d heard some of the fancy scribes in Azir talk about it—they said it was a new city, created only a hunnerd years back by hiring the Imperial Shardblades out of Azir. Those didn’t spend much time at war, but were instead used for making mines or cutting up rocks and stuff. Very practical. Like using the royal throne as a stool to reach something on the high shelf.
She really shouldn’t have gotten yelled at for that.
Trust Lift to slip in a hilarious mental image so you almost slide right over it…
L: Haha. Slide over it. I get it. That was a pretty awesome play on words, Alice.
One last note. Interestingly, the weeping is starting and stopping again…
A: …which means that one of the few predictable weather events on this wacky world is no longer predictable. That’s gotta hurt.
Okay, that’s enough out of us for this week. It’s your turn. What did we not cover? What were your favorite quotes? Join us in the comment section, and then come back next week when Lyndsey will tackle chapters 3 and 4, in which … more pancakes!
Alice is a busy SAHM, blogger, beta reader, and general literature fan. She is enjoying the discussion of the Oathbringer preview chapters every week, and hopes you all have seen and had the opportunity to participate in the kickstarter Kaladin project by The Black Piper.
Lyndsey is a writer and cosplayer. She is currently working as an actress for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire (the best day job ever for a fantasy author), and now she really wants some okonomiyaki. You can see more of her work on her website or follow her on facebook or twitter.