Brightlords and ladies, parshendi and spren! Have you gotten your fill of speculation after reading chapters 10-12 of Oathbringer? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because this week Alice and I are tackling chapters 7 and 8 of Edgedancer! These chapters are considerably meatier than those we’ve analyzed so far, so strap in and prepare yourselves for some Diabolical Deeds, Awesome Adventures, and Scrupulous Spren! Alice, you got any more fun alliterative descriptions of these chapters?
Alice: Edgedancer Eavesdropping and Purloined Pancakes, naturally!
Chapter 7: After her encounter with Stump and the Philosopher, Lift has a discussion with Wyndle in which she theorizes why Stump may be trading dun spheres for infused ones (none of her theories are terribly complimentary). She follows Captain Hauka back to the captain’s apartment and climbs the wall, where she falls asleep, leaving Wyndle to keep watch. He wakes her some time later to inform her that Darkness has arrived. She listens in as Darkness interrogates Hauka about Lift’s antics earlier, then follows when he leaves.
Chapter 8: Lift tails Darkness into a market, where he catches a young thief. He summarily kills her with his shard(honor?)blade. Lift attempts to heal her, but fails (*sob*). She follows Darkness back to a building, grows a tree outside of a first floor window in order to gain entry, and proceeds to steal his pancakes.
Kadasixes and Stars
“Anytime you can make someone else feel something, you’ve got power over them.”
Lyn: This is SHOCKINGLY insightful for such a young woman, and really speaks volumes about both her fear of attachment and how mature she is (for her supposed age). An argument is always more persuasive if you can elicit an emotional response.
Alice: All true, Lyn. Lift is such a chameleon, it’s often a shock when she says something so profound. When she wants to annoy Wyndle, she talks like a street urchin, but when she forgets to be annoying, she’s astonishingly perceptive and articulate.
“You did come to the city chasing him,” Wyndle said.
“Pure coincidence,” she mumbled.
“No it’s not. You showed off your powers to that guard captain, knowing that she’d write a report about what she saw. And you knew that would draw Darkness’s attention.”
“I can’t search a whole city for one man; I needed a way to get him to come to me. Didn’t expect him to find this place so quickly though. Must have some scribe watching reports.”
A: She’s also clever—and occasionally too clever for her own good. I’ll admit that I honestly didn’t think very much about why she made such a scene at the guard post, very visibly snitching food and dumping the grain. She’s perfectly capable of doing something like that solely to get some food and some entertainment. Besides, it was a way to get into the city and at the same time take food from a thief and give it to the hungry, which is a very Lift sort of thing to do. So, yes, I had to have it spelled out for me: she did it primarily to get Darkness out looking for her. The rest was just serendipity. Crazy child. And again, it shows remarkable understanding of human behavior.
L: I’ll go after this from a more “analysis of writing” stance in a later section.
“She’d never been good with time”
L: MORE EVIDENCE AS TO MY THEORY THAT SHE’S WAY OLDER THAN SHE LETS ON.
A: Ummmm… Sure, Lyn. Absolutely.
L: You’ll see! You’ll all see! ::maniacal laughter::
“You don’t need sleep, right, Voidbringer?” “I do not.”
L: Well that’s an interesting little tidbit of information.
A: Okay, so I had to go look it up, because it seemed like I knew that already. Kaladin had the same question for Syl—she was amused by the idea—and asked her to keep watch over him at night to make sure Gaz didn’t try to kill him in his sleep. (TWoK, Chapter 14)
L: Unsurprisingly, I had completely forgotten about this.
“If she didn’t use the power, it eventually vanished. Took about a half a day.”
L: Good to know.
A: So… does that mean she can only turn it into stormlight while it’s in her stomach or small intestine? Sounds like it, if Brandon did his usual research. Once the food gets beyond a certain point in the system, or beyond a certain degree of digestion, she can’t use it.
L: This is interesting. If my understanding of biology is correct (and please note that it’s been a long time since I took any classes), the way that the body metabolizes energy from food is that enzymes in the stomach and intestine break the food down into amino acids and glucose, which are in turn used by cells as energy. The stormlight reaction, however, appears to happen almost immediately upon ingestion. Does this mean that there’s a secondary biological function happening here, happening before the body’s natural processes? If not, how much of the nutrients are being allocated for stormlight and how much for the body’s necessary functions? Lift doesn’t seem as if she’s eating considerably more than she should (like some of the Flashes from DC Comics have to, for example), which leads me to believe that there’s some sort of secondary reaction happening here.
A: Well, I’m not really capable of intelligent evaluation on this subject. I skipped biology and went for chemistry, so anything I know about it would only be google-fu. On a guess, based solely on how I read her Interlude, I’d say there’s some of both. She gets some nourishment from anything she eats, but not as much as she would if she weren’t turning it into Investiture right away.
“Mistress, please don’t get yourself killed. It would be traumatic. Why, I think it would take me months and months to get over it!”
L: Only months, huh, Wyndle? Nice. Real nice.
A: Okay, I laughed! But her rejoinder was a winner: “That’s faster than I’d get over it.”
L: Let’s talk about how much power it takes to do things, as this is a bit of a sticking point for me in the Stormlight Archive. I love this series, but nothing’s perfect, after all. She has a little bit of awesomeness left over from what she ate last night, since I don’t think she ever managed to get a bite of that purple fruit, and with that she manages to grow this tree probably a few feet (something that usually takes months to years in the real world), the rockbuds around her feet, some vines, and (presumably) unconsciously grow the vines that were surrounding her in the morning when she’d woken up. This seems to belie Wyndle’s earlier assertion that growing things will take more energy than consuming them would provide! If she can grow this tree a couple FEET on such a tiny amount of awesomeness, I can’t imagine that expending enough to grow a few fruits would be much of an issue either… Perhaps someone who is more well versed in physics (conservation of energy?) or biology can weigh in on this one. I will note that she says “a couple pieces of fruit didn’t provide much”—so she did eat that purple fruit earlier, then?
A: There are a couple more steps in there, actually. We don’t know for sure that the vines on top of the wall grew around her by feeding on her Stormlight overnight, though it certainly sounds like they could have. While following Darkness, then, she does think about not having eaten since the night before, and picks up the purple fruit. It’s not clear whether or not she got a bite, but even if she did, she used it plus what little was left from last night, all on trying to heal the girl Darkness killed. But after that,
“Lift seized two of his fruits and stared him right in the eyes as she took a big, juicy bite of one and chewed.”
While we’re not told specifically, it seems safe to assume that she ate them both while following Darkness the rest of the way, and that’s why she thinks about the “couple pieces of fruit.”
L: Ah, yes. I had forgotten that bit.
A: Even so, it does seem a bit much to think she could make that little tree grow so much. My best guess would be that producing vines and leaves doesn’t take as much energy as producing fruit, but that’s a pretty lame justification. It really doesn’t seem like two pieces of fruit should let her grow that much stuff.
L: Moving on… So Lift doesn’t just GROW the vines to push aside the bar inside the window—she directs them WHERE to grow as well. I feel like this is a significant distinction.
A: Back in the Interlude, she grew some vines up around the window frame to pop it open and let her into the palace, but this seems much more finicky. I’m assuming skill increases with practice, but this is pretty wild.
L: It raises some interesting questions for sure. Is she using some sort of subconscious negotiation skill like Shallan tried to do with the stick? (“Wouldn’t it be nice to be fire?”)
“So, guess we go spy on them, eh?”
Wyndle whimpered, but—shockingly—nodded.
L: This little interaction between the two of them makes me so happy. Wyndle’s clearly coming around to his own responsibilities as the spren of a burgeoning Knight Radiant. With great power, Wyndle…
A: I’m so with Lift on this—I’m shocked that Wyndle agreed! But yes, absolutely happy that he’s accepting the need to do something about Darkness. It’s a scary thought, because these two up against Nale is just bizarre, but it needs to be done.
L: I love the imbalance of power. It’s a very David and Goliath archetype.
Journey before Pancakes
L: Purple fruit! Aaaaand that’s all we got about it.
A: Well, that and you take a bite straight out of it, rather than having to peel it, I guess. I can always come up with some kind of lame add-on… ;)
L: Something like a plum, maybe. So, regarding Lift stealing Darkness’s breakfast:
Most dangerous man in the world? Check.
Possibly a Knight Radiant? Check.
Owns a shardblade, and has no compunctions about killing little kids for stealing food? Check and check.
Operation Steal Breakfast is a GO.
A: Naturally. I mean, we’re all about growing and facing increasing challenges, right? Back in WoR, she thought about robbing the Bronze Palace, “Seemed like a dangerous thing to try. Not because she might get caught, but because once you robbed a starvin’ palace, where did you go next?” Guess she figured out the answer to that question.
“One of the pancakes was salty, with chopped up vegetables. Another tasted sweet. The third variety was fluffier, almost without any substance to it, though there was some kind of sauce to dip it in.”
L: First of all I’d like to say that this is one of the few (very few) times that I wish Sanderson would channel his inner Brian Jacques or GRRM and really make us TASTE these things. I always appreciated how the Redwall books could make me salivate just from the descriptions! However, Sanderson’s already edging in on nearly-too-long wordcounts, so maybe this is for the better.
Anyway. The first one sounds more like a savory okonomiyaki, as we’ve discussed previously. The second could be a type of crepe, whereas the third sounds like a modern American pancake to me.
A: That third one sounds familiar, but I can’t quite figure out what it sounds like. “Fluffy buttermilk pancake” doesn’t quite fit my idea of “almost without any substance to it” … but I’m stuck.
Thanks. This will now prey on my mind for the next week or until I figure it out. Better yet, maybe someone will address this in the comments. (Please? Pretty please? HELP!!!)
L: Help us, Obi-Wan Commentors! You’re our only hope!
A: I have a bad feeling about this…
Friends and Strangers
“Tashi doesn’t care much for what you do here… In fact, I’d pray that he doesn’t reach your city, as I doubt you’d like the consequences.”
L: Another Herald?! I wonder if he’s the crazy king in the neighboring city that was mentioned earlier…Is this Talenel, Herald of War? Ishar? Both of them together maybe, or just a misinterpretation/mispronunciation of one of their names?
A: Did we address Nun Raylisi in Chapter 3? I get so confused trying to keep track of the names of the various gods of the myriad cultures… Nun Raylisi reminded me of Nu Ralik from the Purelake religion, but there the other half was Vun Makak, and here it’s Tashi. Or maybe Tashi and Nun Raylisi don’t have anything to do with each other. And how many of these are based on Heralds? Shards? Sheer human inventiveness?
I’m so confused… but in this case, it certainly seems that Nale knows exactly who “Tashi” is supposed to represent. My best guess is that it refers to Ishar, but I have no real support for that notion.
L: Dear Sanderson: Please give us a list of names of characters (and aliases) someday…
Old Skybreaker Man
A: So… dude on (a very casual) watch at the door of Nale’s Local Skybreaker HQ. No idea if he’s important or not. He’s not a very good guard… But then, he couldn’t be expected to watch the windows, I suppose, and it’s not too shocking if he figures he’ll hear anyone at the door while he does his business.
Storming Mother of the World and Father of Storms Above
“I ain’t gonna talk about bollocks and jiggers and stuff. I’m not crass.”
L: Sure you’re not. Suuuuuuuure.
Darkness & Co.
“He’s hunting someone in this city, Wyndle. Someone with powers… someone like me.”
L: If we didn’t know for certain that he was hunting potential surgebinders before, we know now!
“Can I see your papers again?”
“You will find them in order.”
L: I don’t know why this amused me, but it did. Just the matter-of-fact “Yes yes, I know what I’m doing, back to business please”-ness of him.
A: Like most things about Nale/Darkness, it creeps me out. He’s done everything he can to leave his humanity behind him. I’m not a big fan of drama queens, but he goes much too far the other way!!
L: See… I’m a huge fan of anti-heroes, which may be why this called to me a bit. But then later he goes too far, even for me. This isn’t to say that he might not eventually pull a heel-face turn—god knows that Jaime Lannister did for me, even after permanently disabling a child in book 1.
A: That may be part of it; I’ve never much liked the anti-hero approach. I enjoyed the Covenant books, but have no desire to reread them; it was too annoying to have the main character be so determinedly gittish. Can’t comment on ASoIaF—I’ve neither read nor watched.
“Special operative of the prince…” “…an ancient but rarely used designation.”
L: I wonder if it’s THIS prince or a past one that he gained this title from. If he, being immortal, gained said designation hundreds or even thousands of years in the past, it would still apply, and therefore adhere to the letter of the law (which definitely seems to be his modus operandi). How very… Aes Sedai of him, if it’s true. He’s the very definition of lawful neutral.
A: Well, that’s a thought. I just assumed he searched back and found some title that could be used, and arm-twisted the Tashikki prince into granting it to him. It would be much more fun as a title he was granted centuries ago!
He seemed to move too quickly for his own steps, like he was melting from shadow to shadow as he strode.
L: Some form of Power? Or simple familiarity with the terrain?
A: The Skybreakers have the surges of Gravitation and Division. While we know some of what Gravitation can do, we know almost nothing of Division (except that Dustbringers could apparently make stone burn). I read this as being indicative of Surgebinding, but not in any way we’ve seen yet. ::shrug:: I guess we’ll have to wait and see if this shows up again when we see more of the Skybreakers?
“Removing a hand leads to high rate of recidivism, as the thief is left unable to do honest work, and therefore must steal.”
L: Excuse my language, but… GodDAMN, Nale. That’s some dark s***. I mean… probably true, it makes sense logically and all, and I’m certain that he’s lived long enough to have gathered a large sample size proving this conclusion, BUT STILL. Immortals not caring for the lives of mortals is always a story trope that fascinates me because it DOES make a lot of sense, and the addition of his adherence to law just enhances this, but… dude. It was a KID.
A: So cold. Inhumanly so. I mean, the whole “chop off a hand for stealing” is a stupid sort of law, for exactly the reason he states, but that doesn’t make killing the girl a better solution.
L: It’s a very “A Modest Proposal” type solution… only not satire.
A: Yes. Loss of a hand for stealing is not an uncommon punishment historically, IIRC, but at the same time it’s not a very effective one.
L: Well… one could argue that it’s VERY effective as a crime deterrent. Commit a crime—die. That’ll sure make you stop and think before doing it.
A: As a deterrent, if it’s strictly enforced, I suppose, but as a random act it’s just bizarre and frightful. Also inhuman, dude.
L: True. :(
Wyndle: “He has eyes you cannot see.” “He will have a spren, like me.”
L: I find it veeeerrrrrry interesting that Wyndle can’t tell a Herald from a Knight Radiant.
A: I know, right? I’d have expected a spren to be able to tell, somehow. They’re supposed to Know Things.
L: So do we have any idea what the difference is in value between a dun vs. infused sphere? I can’t imagine that it would be TOO much, seeing as how all they’ll have to do is wait until the next highstorm and it’ll be infused again. The “devaluation” is transient, not permanent, so it can’t possibly affect the value more than a small percentage, right?
A: I think this was addressed in TWoK, maybe? The fact that it’s infused proves that it’s valid tender; if it’s dun, you can’t be 100% sure without either taking it to a professional, or waiting for the next highstorm to hang it out for recharging. But you’re correct, the difference in value isn’t all that high.
“What game are the Alethi playing?”
L: Again, this seems like a very mature thought for her. (I’m clinging to this tinfoil theory until the bitter end, Alice.)
A: I’ll laugh myself sick if this turns out to be true, Lyn. I don’t think it is, but it’s a hilarious theory.
L: ::sings:: It’s my tinfoil, and I’ll wear it if I want to, wear it if I want to, wear it if I want to…
Nice of them to leave it out, up high enough that only she could get to it.
L: Shades of Wayne from Mistborn Era 2, here.
A: So much yes.
“She hadn’t realized that she’d picked a spot surrounded by and overgrown with vines…”
L: I’m willing to bet an emerald broam that they weren’t there when she went to sleep, and she’s been growing them in her sleep somehow. This is interesting, that she can use her powers unconsciously.
A: It’s not 100% provable, but it certainly seems reasonable, given the wording. It’s a very Sanderson thing to do.
“You showed off your powers to that guard captain, knowing that she’d write a report about what she saw. And you knew that would draw Darkness’s attention.”
L: Told you I’d get back to this eventually. Here we have another example of Sanderson’s mastery of hiding the truth from the reader through use of an unreliable narrator. We saw him do the same thing in the original Mistborn novel, where Kelsier was planning things that the reader never suspected, even though we were in his head. I love it when he does stuff like this.
“Infused spheres, captain?” “I traded for them.”
L: From Stump, I wonder? Can Truthwatchers infuse gems? Which order was speculated to do that, again? I can’t see how anyone would have any infused gems at all this far after a highstorm, unless someone invested them…
A: Earlier, Lift mentioned the unexpected highstorm, and that only those who had left spheres out by luck would have them infused. All things considered, though, I don’t think Hauka would have gotten infused spheres from Stump, knowing what we know about the latter’s activities. Then again, since she doesn’t entirely know what those activities are, maybe so.
Regarding children sewing while taking lessons in order to pay for the education:
L: Yet another really cool little worldbuilding touch! Guess there’s no tax-funded public education in this town.
A: In sort of a bizarre way, I kind of like this idea. Then again, I’m the one who always has to have something to do with my hands in order to concentrate. Keeps taxes down, anyway.
“Was that necessary?”
L: He says what we’re all thinking!
Lift resurrecting the girl…
“Ah,” Wyndle said. “Yes, separated from the rest of the city by raised lips. Rainwater in the streets will flow outward, rather than toward this cistern, keeping it pure. In fact, it seems that most of the streets have a slope to them, to siphon water outward. Where does it go from there though?”
L: Wyndle making mention of the rainwater being siphoned away from the cistern in the center is going to be important, isn’t it? I feel like Wyndle, with holes in my memory!
A: I needed to quote this just for the sake of discussion, since the question was asked early in the reread. We’re going to get a little more explanation in a future chapter, but at this point we mostly get to make note that the civil engineers did actually think about what happens when a highstorm dumps several inches of rain onto a city cut into the ground. (It’s also worth noting that a highstorm in Tashikk isn’t quite the same thing as a highstorm on the Shattered Plains. By the time the storm has crossed most of the continent, it’s much weaker; there’s far less wind, and presumably somewhat less rain as well.) Given the location of Yeddaw, I sort of assume they had the foresight to carve a drainage channel to the east that slopes all the way to the river.
“But of course, this wasn’t the right kind of listening.”
L: So SHE knows the right kind, but she’s not telling US. Stingy kid! Give us some intel already, Lift!
She’d stolen from a palace, and the starvin’ emperor of Azir. She’d needed something interesting to try next.
L: Easy there, Locke Lamora Jr. Next thing we know she’ll be telling someone she only needs to hold them until Wyndle shows up, or punching old ladies. (And now I want to see this team-up.)
A: Once again, I have no idea what you’re talking about. (Well, only sort of one.) Someday, I’ll have to go read those…
A: Well, there you have it—another episode of the LynAndAlice comedy show. (L: ::jazz hands::) Or whatever. Not so comedic now; Darkness shows up, and things get… well, darker. Join us in the discussion and share your insights. And please, someone, identify that pancake for me.
Lyndsey (gleefully) played a lawful evil character in D&D once or twice, but even she thinks that Darkness took this a bit too far. You can follow her writing or cosplay work on her website or follow her on facebook or twitter.
Alice, on the other hand, has trouble playing Monopoly or Risk because she hates being mean to people and can’t collude worth beans. She is enjoying the discussion of the Oathbringer preview chapters more every week, and hopes you all have seen and had the opportunity to participate in the kickstarter Kaladin project by The Black Piper. (Time is running out on that one, by the way. Just sayin’.)