Alice: Welcome back to the penultimate episode of the Edgedancer reread! Lyndsey is back with us this week, fresh off her spooky tour of the haunted places of Massachusetts. How fitting, as Lift makes a paranormal discovery of her own this week…
Lyn: It’s appropriate that we dive into these two chapters just before Halloween, because storms above is chapter 18 a creepy one. The Everstorm approaches, no one is what they seem, and food is scarce in this week’s installment of the Edgedancer reread!
Chapter 17: Lift attempts to be awesome at Awesomeness and completely fails… so she falls back on running after the two Skybreakers instead. She arrives at the amphitheater out of stormlight. Before she can make her way into the alleyway where she hears a scream, the Stump arrives and hauls her into the orphanage for safety. She gives Lift the final of the three meals she was promised, then Lift makes her way back out into the alleyway to find out what has become of the Philosopher.
Chapter 18: Lift tentatively makes her way into the alley, looking for the body of the Philosopher. She finds the bodies of the two Skybreakers instead, and discovers that the Philosopher is not at all what he seemed. He is a collective of cremlings, a creature hundreds (if not thousands) of years old. He holds no kind regard towards Nale, but doesn’t seem to hold any animosity towards Lift. During their discussion, Lift realizes that the other proto-Radiant in the city is none other than Stump, who has been unconsciously healing the children brought to her with stormlight. She runs off to try to save her from Nale, who is most certainly on his way.
Kadasixes and Stars
…maybe even a thief and a thug could do some good along the way.
L: You’re one to talk, Lift, with how much food you steal! On a more serious note, I’d like to use this opportunity to have a bit of fun and imagine how Lift is going to react to/interact with some of the other Main Characters, should she ever meet them. (All this Oathbringer hype’s gotten me wanting to speculate!) Let’s start off with my favorite – Kaladin. I’ve mentioned before in this reread that I think they’ll get along well. Kaladin has a tendency to take the lost and forgotten under his wing, and he’s got a surprising amount of patience for those who he helps this way. I can definitely see him being a big brother type to Lift, should they ever meet.
A: It seems to me that first impressions could be crucial, here. If he sees her vulnerability, like we’ve been seeing (inside her head) these last few chapters, he would totally become a brother, guardian, and mentor. If he sees her snarky, independent, irreverent persona first… I’m less sure.
L: That’s a really good point. He wasn’t too keen on Shallan until he saw her vulnerable side. Though Lift’s darkeyed, so she’s got that in her favor at least. If she were lighteyed Kal would give her even less of a chance! Speaking of Shallan… Do you think she’d just be annoyed by the “lower” humor Lift uses as opposed to her puns and “witticisms”?
A: Hah! Not in the least! Shallan might blush redder than her presumed Shardplate will someday glow, but she did a fair bit of off-color joking with her brothers. She’d probably think Lift was a priceless treasure! Uh… Although maybe not with Adolin around…
L: Which segues us nicely into Adolin and Renarin! So far Adolin seems to be quite a lot like Kaladin, in that he’s kind-hearted towards the downtrodden (even if he does give them nicknames like “Bridgeboy”). I think he’d be kind and patient with Lift, and probably have to restrain laughter at some of her more colorful epithets. As for Renarin… poor kid’s had it rough, so he and Lift have a bit of a kinship there… but he’s also very introverted. I suspect that Lift would make him feel uncomfortable and on-edge.
A: I think you’re totally right about Adolin; Renarin is trickier. Exposed to the side of Lift we get in most of these two chapters – the uncertain, questioning, lost little girl, I could see Renarin feeling a certain kinship. But if all he got was the cocky street kid with enormous attitude… uncomfortable and on-edge would be the minimum.
L: As for Dalinar… he’s shown a lot of patience and kindness for those who are downtrodden, too, exemplified the most in his saving Kaladin from Sadeas. Lift’s also a Knight Radiant, so I suspect he’d feel a certain obligation in keeping her from harm.
She’d sworn an oath to remember people like them. She hadn’t meant to. It had just kind of happened. Like everything in her life just kind of happened.
“I want control,” she whispered.
A: I hope that someday we see the beginnings of her development as a Radiant. So many of the things she thinks, especially in these last few chapters, seem so poignant now. From the outside, it sometimes looks like she’s “doing stuff,” but from inside her head when she’s being honest with herself, it’s hard not to see the vulnerability of a child who is alone in the world.
L: Well, she’s supposed to have a book in the back 5, right? So we’d be getting flashbacks of some sort. Whether they’d be of her time before Way of Kings, or from the time skip (there is going to be a time skip, right? I’m remembering that correctly?) we don’t have any way of knowing, though.
A: That’s what I’m wondering. Given the time skip between arcs, I don’t know whether to expect the second-arc flashbacks to go back to the very beginning, or just cover the stuff we need to know from the skip. Possibly both.
She felt him wrap around her leg and tighten there, like a child clinging to his mother.
Lift hesitated, then patted [Wyndle]. She just… she just had to accept it, didn’t she?
L: For a moment I really thought that this was her way of saying “yes I was listening to you this whole time and I know that you’re supposed to be my Shardblade,” but… I guess not.
A: Not directly, maybe, but I think this acceptance is a step in that direction. Accepting that it’s okay to not know what to do – that maybe no one really does – is a profound acceptance of the First Ideal. Realizing that she can still make a decision and act on it, even not knowing if it’s right, may be what frees her to speak her next Ideal.
This whole conversation is stuffed with listening. Between thoughts directly about listening, and snippets of things she listened to, she’s moving toward the Ideal that will take her to the next level. She’s going to listen as hard as she can, and what she understands from really listening will give her the understanding to act as needed. And of course, when she speaks the words, she’ll gain the Shard…things that Wyndle can become, so she has time and opportunity to do what she has decided on.
Journey before Pancakes
L: Another of the Sweet Stuff Pancakes.
A: And a good thing, too – she’s going to need all the awesomeness she can get. (I wonder whether she gains more from protein or carbohydrates. Because I think about these things.)
L: I’d guess carbs, if only because she seems to metabolize the energy swiftly. Maybe protein gives her more, but it’s more of a slow burn…
Friends and Strangers
L: Man, I hope he gets reunited with his mother someday, and that it is a happy reunion…If she only had to give him up because she couldn’t care for him because of the injury, there’s a possibility that they could find one another again… right?
A: RAFO!! (I really love the way this works out, but it won’t happen until next week, so I refuse to comment further.)
L: Once again my awful memory betrays me.
A: Speaking of Mik, I love the way this slips in here, before Lift has it figured out. On a first read, it’s interesting; on a reread, it’s Blatant Foreshadowing of the Most Blatant Sort.
L: PREPARE FOR THINGS TO GET SPOOKY UP IN HERE. Also for me to type in all caps a lot because I love horror and this scene makes me all the right kinds of happy.
“She listened as the silence of the alley gave way to a clicking, scraping sound. It encircled her.”
L: BUGS. WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE BUGS.
A: So we could all be as totally creeped out as possible, of course. I don’t mind bugs in general, but when I can hear them skitter? In the dark? Giving the impression that they could jump on me unexpectedly? CRRREEEEEP OUT.
The walls seemed to be moving, shifting, sliding like they were covered in oil.
L: Right, so. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King and all things horror. I’ve been working in haunted houses for almost 20 years and spend an embarrassing amount of time watching horror films and tv shows (have you seen The Exorcist TV show yet? If not, go watch it because it’s awesome). I do actual paranormal investigations and have done the overnight lockdown tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. So believe me when I say that it takes a lot to creep me out. AND THIS DID IT. Well done, Sanderson.
The shape of a man, though as lightning lit him she could see that he wasn’t all there. Chunks were missing from his flesh. His right shoulder ended in a stump, and storms, he was naked, with strange holes in his stomach and thighs. Even one of his eyes was missing. There was no blood though, and in a quick succession of flashes she picked up something climbing his legs. Cremlings.
L: So Mister Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas, only human-shaped and without the burlap sack. (And presumably he doesn’t glow under a black-light.) Awesome. So awesome. I envision these cremlings as roaches, probably because roaches gross me out, though I suspect they’re supposed to look a bit more like little shrimp.
Thousands upon thousands of cremlings coated the walls, each the size of a finger. Little beasts of chitin and legs clicking away and making that awful buzz.
L: SANDERSON. WHY. NO. (but-actually-yes-please-keep-doing-this-it’s-amazing)
A: SANDERSON. WHY. NO. (Really. NO.)
Several climbed up his face, and his eyes crawled out, new ones replacing them so that he went from being darkeyed to light.
L: Dude. So aside from the amazing horror aspect of this, I also like that he can change his eye color. This is a handy trick to have in a society where eye color equates social standing.
A: Heh. So by this time, I just have to shut off all the put-myself-in-her-place imagination and switch to analytical mode. In that light – wow, this is cool stuff! So awesome to be able to change details as needed.
“Is my mind becoming full? I can breed new hordelings specialized in holding memories. Do I need to sense what is going on in the city? Hordelings with extra eyes, or antennae to taste and hear, can solve that.”
L: This is just such a cool concept. I’ve seen collective consciousness stuff done in other media ::cough the Borg cough:: but this is a really fascinating take on it. He’s not assimilating other aspects into himself, he’s literally breeding them. And how does that work? How does he imbue these hordelings with these special abilities (which sound an awful lot like how the Steel Inquisitors gained powers which weren’t theirs by birth, just sayin’)? There’s got to be some sort of magic going on here, I’d assume of a kind that’s native to the world, since these buggies are just so… Roshar. Is it selective breeding over the course of hundreds of years, in which he finds bugs with recessive traits and slowly makes them dominant? Or is this some sort of magical power where he can force the traits into the hordelings?
Axies the Collector
“When one achieves immortality, one must find purpose beyond the struggle to live, as old Axies always said.”
L: So do all the Aimians know one another, or what? (Also, it bears mentioning that I had forgotten about the fact that Axies was an Aimian and had to go look it up on the Coppermind. Did we learn about the Siah in the text, Alice, or is that WoB stuff?)
A: It’s kind of a mixture. We learned the names of both Siah and Dysian in the text of TWoK, (Interlude 5 and Chapter 54, respectively), and we learn a few things about them – like how the Siah can modify their bodies, and (though I didn’t register it at the time) how Dysians can take themselves apart and recombine differently. But for me, anyway, the WoB cleared up a lot of confusion about them.
… and created other confusion, come to think of it. Combining all the little tidbits together, you get a very interesting picture of these two races. Back to the first question, I think it’s fairly safe to say that all the Aimians know each other. There aren’t all that many of them, and it seems that there are even fewer of the Dysian than the Siah Aimians. Add to that, they seem to all be virtually immortal, so, yeah. I think they all know each other.
Storming Mother of the World and Father of Storms Above
“I heard an interesting idea once, while traveling in a land you will never visit.”
A: First of all, is he referring to Aimia? Or has he been to other planets, and knows there are good reasons that no human will go there? … or is this just the arrogance of someone widely travelled, dismissing the possibilities available to a street urchin?
Second, who are the Omnithi? Are they just some obscure little splinter group somewhere, or are we going to see them again? There are some very odd belief systems in this Cosmere…
Darkness & Co.
“I’m not the one that Nale is chasing; he knows to stay away from me and my kind.”
L: Well that’s interesting. Even the Heralds are afraid of the Aimians?
A: I really wondered about this. Arclo indicates that he’s on the same side as the Radiants, which sort of also implies the Heralds, but then he says that Nale knows to stay away from him. Is that because he’s a Herald, or because he’s Nale the Crazed Skybreaker? Would the other Heralds find a friend in him?
Places for forgotten children.
She’d sworn an oath to remember people like them.
One old man, found dead in an alley after the storm.
But Lift… Lift would remember him.
L: Oh honey, you have no idea. You’re not gonna be able to forget THIS guy for a loooooong time, I don’t think.
“I want control. … Not like a king or anything. I just want to be able to control it, a little. My life. I don’t want to get shoved around, by people or fate or whatever. I just… I want it to be me who chooses.”
L: This feels like a running theme in Stormlight. Kaladin wants control over his circumstances so he can protect those he cares about. Shallan wants control over her life, too. So does poor Szeth, who’s been forced to do such awful things against his will. Renarin seems to want some kind of agency instead of being pulled along in Dalinar and Adolin’s wakes. Dalinar’s probably the only one to break the mold, here, as he’s always had quite a lot of control over the events in his life… perhaps too much control.
A: Kind of a running theme in real life, isn’t it? Don’t we all long for a little more control over the kinds of things that happen to us? How we react to the realization of not being in control shapes who we become.
The hungry sky rumbled above. Lift knew that feeling. Too much time between meals, and looking to eat whatever it could find, never mind the cost.
L: Only Lift would describe a sky as HUNGRY.
I’m confused about the way this city is set up. Lift mentions how stupid it is to have homes inside the slots, but isn’t the city constructed in such a way that the storm waters will flow down the bottoms? Why is she surprised when people don’t leave their homes? Do they not do so for other storms? Even if this storm is blowing the wrong way, that shouldn’t matter if the homes are all safely down inside slots/valleys, right?
A: Well, I finally did it. I went searching for a description that I knew was in here somewhere… but it turns out that what I was remembering is from the alpha read, and got pruned out. Back in chapter 4, Lift noted that all the shanties were up on stilts and all the homes and shops that were carved into the stone have three or four steps up to the doorways, to keep them above the water level during a storm.
L: That’s right! It was the bit with the steps that I remembered.
A: But in the alpha, there was also a description of a narrow but very deep opening at the sides of the streets – more or less a storm drain. I don’t know if it was because Sanderson decided it didn’t work, or because he was cutting word count, and decided it wasn’t really necessary to explain everything beyond what Lift says there:
“The waters should still wash this place away,” Lift said.
Well, they obviously didn’t, or the place wouldn’t be here.
Sometimes, you don’t need to get into the engineering of a place, and you just state that it works…
Anyway, back to your comment, Lyn, I assumed Lift’s comment about people being stupid to stay in their homes rather than seeking a storm shelter was aimed at those who lived in the alleyway – the shanty dwellers. The city is set up to minimize the wind and to carry off the excess water, but the shanties built in the alleyways would still be vulnerable – and tonight, more than ever. Also, a day or two in this city can’t change the attitudes developed over a lifetime of living in places where seeking shelter was vital during highstorms.
L: The corpse of the Skybreaker woman is covered in a… a silky substance? What is that and why does it creep me out so much? Are the hordelings secreting some sort of webbing like spiders? Ugh. Now I’ve creeped myself out even more.
A: Well, thanks for nothing, Lyn. Now I’m going to see the Dysian cremlings as a spider horde. And I’ve always been terrified of spiders. FINE.
L: You’re welcome. ::blows kiss::
“There are a group of people who believe that each day, when they sleep, they die,” the old man continued. “They believe that consciousness doesn’t continue – that if it is interrupted, a new soul is born when the body awakes.”
L: Yeeeaaaahhhhh that’s a creepy thought. Do they try to stay awake for long periods of time?
“One would assume that chaos would follow if each human sincerely believed that they had only one day to live.”
L: Philosophically/sociologically speaking this is fascinating to consider.
A: This whole philosophy is bizarre. How does an author come up with stuff like this? But as you say, however bizarre it may be, it’s a fascinating thought experiment!
“You needn’t fear me. My war is your war, and has been for millennia. Ancient Radiants named me friend and ally before everything went wrong.”
L: Somehow I find this hard to believe COMING FROM A CREEPY BUG MONSTER DUDE.
“We watch the others. The assassin. The surgeon. The liar. The highprince.”
L: I really like that he echoes the text from the back of The Way of Kings here – especially since that description of the story was what got me to pick the book up in the first place. (For those who might not have read it, this is the passage I’m referencing:)
There are four whom we watch. The first is the surgeon, forced to put aside healing to become a soldier in the most brutal war of our time. The second is the assassin, a murderer who weeps as he kills. The third is the liar, a young woman who wears a scholar’s mantle over the heart of a thief. The last is the highprince, a warlord whose eyes have opened to the past as his thirst for battle wanes.
L: Now I’m wondering if an Aimian might not have been the narrator in that…
A: I’m not 100% on this, but I think that’s been confirmed.
“I can pass for a human almost as well as a Siah these days.”
L: I had to go and look “Siah” up, because I had completely forgotten what they were. Thank the Stormfather for the coppermind wiki…
The Stump trades spheres for ones of lesser value, probably swapping dun ones for infused ones. She launders money because she needs the stormlight; she probably feeds on it without realizing what she’s doing!”
L: I think I see now. So she’s trading, say, a dun garnet for an infused diamond (garnet is worth more than diamond)? I’m still not sure I understand how this is considered laundering, based on what I know of the technique from films/tv shows/books.
A: Well. Back in the Chapter 13 & 14 reread, I mentioned that I assumed she was “trading larger dun spheres for smaller infused ones” – maybe this is why I made that assumption. One of the dangers of a reread is that sometimes you don’t realize you’re remembering things that come later in the story! The fact that the Stump doesn’t realize she’s using the Stormlight still makes me wonder why she would do this, though.
One week and two chapters left! Join us in the comments, and don’t forget to mark (or white out) spoilers if you address the Oathbringer early release chapters.
Lyndsey recommends her fellow horror fans check out “As Above So Below,” an under-appreciated film in honor of the season. She’s begun work on her own Shardblade in the hopes that she’ll have it finished by the November release party, so if you want to follow along on her progress, follow her on facebook.
Alice hopes you had the opportunity to check out the Highstorms article from resident Stormwarden Ross Newberry yesterday. Keep watching for more good info! Also, in case anyone cares, volleyball season is finally over and life can go back to whatever passes for normal around her house.