Here we are, my friends, already at the end of the Edgedancer reread. Can you believe it? It’s been a lot of fun, and now we’re hitting the finale, with thunder and lightning and Heralds, oh my! Join Lyndsey and me as we watch the climax play out, in and above the Tashi’s Light Orphanage. Discussion and pancakes, ahoy!
Chapter 19: The Everstorm is bearing down on our heroine, and she hurries back to the orphanage only to find the door open. She confronts Nale and his lack of emotions in an attempt to get him to waste what little Stormlight he has remaining, but he sees through her ruse and pins her clothes to the floor with a knife. The Stump reappears and smacks Nale with a piece of wood, but he turns and strikes her and she falls. He stabs her, intending to use her as bait, but Lift ducks around him and exits onto the rooftop. Wyndle blocks Nale’s strike by becoming a Shard…rod, and Lift forces Nale to confront the reality of the Everstorm. He admits that he has failed, that he was wrong—then he flies off.
Chapter 20: Denouement! Lift eats some pancakes (because of course she does) and makes the horrifying discovery that there are only nine types. She summons Wyndle as a Shardfork (I’m torn between giving her an affectionate smile and rolling my eyes) and tells him that they’re heading back to Azimir. Before leaving, Lift pauses long enough to give a pancake to the guard she’d caused so much trouble for, then heals as many of the refugees as she can. She and Wyndle saunter off into the sunset, hopefully to return in Oathbringer…
Kadasixes and Stars
I can’t defeat him. I’ve got to change him.
Lyn: I love love love this. Nale—though his actions are awful—does have what he believes are altruistic reasons for doing them. Making him realize this will turn him from a dreadful enemy into an extremely powerful ally, and storms above are our heroes going to need all the help they can get. This seems like another running theme in The Stormlight Archive, and it’s something that I appreciate more and more with each successive reread. Violence can’t solve all the world’s problems—as a matter of fact, it solves very few of them. We see this in our world, echoing through the annals of history. Kill one man and his children rise up to avenge him, and the cycle of violence continues, unending. But if you can manage to put yourself into the shoes of the other person, if you empathise, if you can help them to understand that what they’re doing is hurtful to others and is not the right path—therein lies the path to true peace. “I will unite instead of divide. I will bring men together.” “I will protect those I hate, so long as it is right.”
Alice: I agree, Lyn; this is one of the most profound statements in the series so far—which is saying something in a series full of profound statements. The best part is that so often in fantasy, “changing someone” involves magic, but not this time. The only magic Lift uses is when Wyndle blocks the blow so Nale doesn’t kill her. She effects the change through a purely human interaction, engaging him with words, information, and finally a hug.
On a lighter note, though, I have to include another quote:
“You’re an insult to the order you would claim,” Darkness said, striding after her.
“Sure, probably,” Lift called. “Storms, I’m an insult to my own self most days.”
“Of course you are,” Darkness said, reaching the bottom of the steps. “That sentence has no meaning.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. A totally rational and reasonable way to fight a demigod.
A: Before she gets all profound, she gives him some nonsense just to … keep him off balance? Distract him? Whatever—it’s pure Lift.
“There are Words that you must speak.”
They won’t help.
Tonight, the Words were the easy part.
L: She’s so right about this. Facing what’s practically a demigod, when you’re just a teenager (maybe a pre-teen) is a pretty tall order.
A: But- but- but- but the Words are Important!!! (and she’s gonna need that Shardthingy…)
“I can make Stormlight.”
“Yes. Baffling, but true.”
L: I don’t have much to say about this except that I love Wyndle’s response.
Wyndle sighed a long, soft sigh, melting away, transforming into a silvery length of metal.
L: Did he do this because she’d already said the words in her heart, or was he breaking the rules in order to save her?
A: You know, that’s a good question. I sort of assumed it was the former, but that’s partly because I assume the spren are bound by the rules. One possibility is that they do have some leeway when their human’s life is threatened at this stage (Shallan?). Another is that, spoken Words or no, she’s living the Words she needs to speak. The biggest argument against either of these is that Syl needed Kaladin to literally speak the Words back in WoR. The most notable difference is that Syl is an honorspren and might be bound more tightly than a cultivationspren… and that the Stormfather was watching and trying to stop her from returning to Kaladin. I suspect that at least for certain orders, there may be a tiny bit of leeway. It would be an interesting question to ask Sanderson sometime when you see him, though.
Ow, Wyndle’s voice said in her head.
L & A: ::gigglesnort::
“I will listen,” Lift shouted, “to those who have been ignored!”
L: I always get the shivers when Words are spoken. So cool.
A: ::nods:: There’s not much to add, but YES. Something about the Ideals just has a goosebump-inducing effect… not to mention fist-pumping and whooping!
“There is… a connection between our power, when condensed, and metal.”
L: ::eyes Mistborn and wonders if there’s a connection::
A: I’ll bet there is. There has to be. Can’t see any way for this to not be true (she says with complete, unfounded confidence…).
L: Shardfork. SHARD. FORK. Need I say more?
A: Well, I just have this to add: BAHAHAHAHAhahahaha! (I love the Shardfork.)
“I was a very regal fork, wouldn’t you say?”
“Y’know, Wyndle. It’s strange, but… I’m starting to think you might not be a Voidbringer after all.”
L: SHE CALLED HIM BY HIS NAME!
A: I hate to suggest it, but is this a sign of maturity? Or just a sign that she finally got tired of the game? Much as I adore Lift, I have to admit that I could be happy to see her occasionally not lie to herself about everything.
L: Well, she’s definitely way more mature than she lets on. I think it’s all just been a game to get under his skin, but she finally respects and cares enough to let him in.
Journey before Pancakes
L: Since this is the final chapter, let’s review the “ten” pancakes we’ve discovered! (Really only nine, since they dedicate the “idea” of one to Tashi.)
- Tuk-cake—eaten for prosperity
- Clemabread—thick and granular, with spicy paste at the center. Later Lift says it breaks apart easily, almost a mush.
- ???—One of the pancakes was salty, with chopped up vegetables.
- ???—Another tasted sweet. (This one is mentioned a few times.)
- ???—The third variety was fluffier, almost without any substance to it, though there was some kind of sauce to dip it in.
- ???—A dense variety, with mashed-up paste in the center that was too sticky and salty.
- ???—Covered in little crunchy seeds.
- ???—Has sugar in the center.
- ???—A type with a real thick, mealy texture.
A: I’m not sure if the clemabread was one of the pancakes, though; it strikes me as more of an everyday food you find anywhere in the area. Lift was familiar with it, at least. But that leaves us with one missing. Oops…
L: Hmm, you’re right. “Sweet” ones were mentioned more than once, so maybe there are several varieties of sweet ones.
A: Well, I’d certainly go for several varieties of sweet ones. Chocolate, raspberry, apple… I mean, think how many varieties of danish you see! I love them all and then some.
I don’t suppose he needed the extra words (given that he was shooting for 18,000 and ended up with 40,000), but I sort of wish Sanderson had given each variety a name and a purpose, just for the fun of it.
Friends and Strangers
“Leave my kids alone, you monster.”
L: Shades of Molly Weasley here, and I love it.
A: This was a beautiful thing. As one who (I’m reasonably sure) sometimes comes across to kids as a cranky old lady, I loved the mama-bear attitude here. I may not be very accepting of some of their nonsense, but don’t you dare touch my kids! (I drove the school van for my daughter’s middle-school volleyball team this year… scared the living daylights out of them all when someone had her seat belt unbuckled on the freeway. But don’t anyone touch my girls!)
L: I feel much the same about the younger members of the cosplay community I interact with at conventions, so I totally get where you’re coming from. I think Stump gets a bad rap from Lift in the limited time we got to know her.
The old lady cracked as she hit, and fell limp, motionless.
A: Not quite sure why he thought he needed to stab her too. That fall sounds like enough damage. Ow.
L: His mother came back for him! HOORAY!
A: I loved this scene so much. SO MUCH.
Huh, Lift thought. The mom couldn’t have known that Mik had been healed— it had only happened yesterday, and the city was a mess following the storm.
A: She came back to get Mik even though she “knew” it would be super-hard to take care of him with such severe brain damage. I’m glad he was healed, but I’m even more glad she came back before she knew about it. ::sniffle::
Storming Mother of the World and Father of Storms Above
“Majestic as Damnation’s own gonads.”
A: Because you wouldn’t want The Fork to complain about you being crass. Nope.
L: So, we talked a little earlier in the reread about Lift’s age (and I donned my foily chapeau to claim that I think she’s actually way older than she says she is). But the postscript to Edgedancer here in Arcanum Unbounded does seem to lay this theory to rest. “She actually thinks her aging stopped at ten,” he says. (I know, I know, you all were right, I’ll go sulk in a corner and ball up this hat to toss in the trash.)
A: Okay, so now I really want Sanderson to throw in a twist where she turns out to be five hundred years old, because she didn’t stop at 10, she stopped at 11… but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen. She’d have to have worse amnesia than Shallan’s.
Darkness & Co.
“Once I would have welcomed you as a sister.”
L: This makes me sad. Sad because of who he could have been, and sad because of what he’s lost, even if he doesn’t realize it (yet).
“You are right. It seems I have finally released myself from the last vestiges of guilt I once felt at doing my duty. Honor has suffused me, changed me. It has been a long time coming.”
L: Interesting that he says honor has suffused him, since honor is the realm of the Windrunners, not the Skybreakers… Whenever a character in Stormlight says something like this, I read it with a capital letter—Honor. It’s hard to see the word as just a simple turn of phrase when the powers literally walk and talk among them!
A: Too true. Still, the Skybreakers are of Honor, if not as closely tied as the Windrunners, and all the Heralds are of Honor to some extent. I have to think that he’s referring to the Shard as much as the concept.
“There are many useful emotions.”
“Which you totally feel, all the time.”
“Of course I do…” he trailed off, and again seemed to be considering what she’d said.
L: Poor guy. I still feel bad for him. He doesn’t realize how bad he’s gotten, how detached from his own humanity he is.
A: I found this whole conversation very eye-opening. I know we had the hints back in the WoR prologue, that perhaps they were all “getting worse,” but we didn’t really have much clue what that might mean. Even in the conversations we saw elsewhere with Darkness—in Azir, and here in Yeddaw with his minions—he seemed cold, but not necessarily insane (or possessed…). In this conversation, with someone who doesn’t treat him with any sort of awe or reverence, and who continually throws irrelevant comments at him, he suddenly seems far less … together. He keeps stopping to think about what she says, even though half the time it’s near nonsense. His actions don’t change, but his mind seems… slightly disconnected, or something. Like Szeth’s soul.
“I will listen,” Lift shouted, “to those who have been ignored!”
“What?” Darkness demanded.
“I heard what you said, Darkness!”
L: One could argue that Nale wasn’t exactly being ignored, but… I digress. (Later on she says “Even people like Darkness, whom I’d rather not have heard,” which clarifies this a little.)
A: Yeah, not ignored exactly, but he sort of wasn’t even listening to himself. Lift put together the pieces of what he’d said about stopping the Desolation—because she’d listened—with what was happening—clearly the Desolation. She makes him look at it, and that’s what finally breaks through the self-deception. She listened both to him, and to what was going on in the world.
In that moment it seemed, strangely, that something within him emerged. It was stupid of her to think that with everything happening—the rain, the winds, the red lightning—she could see a difference in his eyes. But she swore that she could.
L: Is Sanderson implying with that “something emerged” that something was possessing him (something like the Thrill, perhaps?) or is this just artistic license to indicate that his eyes have been opened and his mind changed? Knowing how Sanderson likes to throw these little tidbits at us and then blow our minds with them later, I’m inclined to believe the former.
A: I read this as “the part of him that had been repressed (by madness, or by Odium, or by an Unmade??) finally got free again.” His sanity? His humanity? The quality for which he was chosen as a Herald in the first place? I’m pretty sure it’s more than just changing his mind about things, one way or the other. That language is too Significant.
“Storms. Jezrien… Ishar… It is true. I’ve failed.” He bowed his head.
And he started weeping.
L: ARGH my heart breaks for this big jerk. THE THINGS HE MUST HAVE DONE. I can’t even imagine. He’s put all that guilt on the backburner and thinks he’s ascended to some higher state, but he clearly hasn’t. This realization breaks him open and all that guilt just comes pouring out. All those deaths, all at his hands, for NOTHING. (Okay so maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I do love me some angst and I really really hope we get some kind of backstory or POV chapters from him one day.)
A: Yep, Sanderson did it again. Someone I was perfectly happy to loathe has now become an object of sympathy. If he continues on this path of awareness, I’m going to have to root for him. Not sure how I feel about that…
L: Join me in my love for the anti-heroes, Alice… Joiiiiin meeeee…
“I’m sorry,” Lift said.
He looked to her, face lit red by the continuous lightning, tears mixing with the rain.
“You actually are,” he said, then felt at his face. “I wasn’t always like this. I am getting worse, aren’t I? It’s true.”
A: And this is where Lift shames everyone. She really is sorry for him, despite the fact that he just tried to kill her, and deliberately left Stump downstairs to bleed out as a trap for her. Forget grace of movement and all that—she has the heart of an Edgedancer: loving and healing.
“You know, the day the Almighty was handin’ our brains? I went out for flatbread that day.” … “But I got back by the time the Almighty was givin’ out looks,” Lift called. “What kept you?”
L: Man… I’ve gotta admire her guts.
She hugged Darkness.
L: MY HEART. ::clutches her chest:: Why do you do this to me, Sanderson? WHY?!
A: I’m pretty sure he feeds on our tears, Lyn. OUR TEARS GRANT HIM POWER TO WRITE. I’m… uh… not sure how I feel about that theory, either.
L: I guess that’s one explanation for his ungodly fast writing speed. No more or less plausible than the SanderBots!
A: Still and all, I loved this. I never in a million years would have expected a hug to be the climax of this story, and there it is.
Who cared about bows and swords and stuff? This opened all kinds of more interesting possibilities.
L: I’m not sure I want to know what kinds of possibilities she’s entertaining.
A: FORKS. A fork you don’t even have to carry around, you just hold out your hand and you have a fork. Heh.
Or lockpicks… or… okay, maybe I don’t want to think about it after all.
“You should have a weird little thing hanging around you. Not me. Something weirder.”
L: Oh my god, Lift. In the immortal words of Sam from Sam & Max Freelance Police, “You crack me up, little buddy.”
A: Clearly weirdness is a matter of perspective. I’m not sure even a spren can possibly be any weirder than Lift.
“I can tell,” Lift said. “You obviously don’t walk around very much.”
L: ::wince:: Apply salve directly to burned area.
A: Stormlight heals better than salve. Just sayin’…
Lift smiled and dug a pancake out of her pocket. This woman had been visited by Darkness because of her. That sort of thing earned you a debt. So she tossed the woman the pancake … then used the Stormlight she’d gotten from the ones she’d eaten to start healing the wounds of the refugees.
L: This right here is what turned me from being somewhat aloof towards her character to downright loving her. Lift has a tendency to come across as uncaring and flippant to everyone, but she really, truly cares about others beneath that irreverent exterior. The fact that she gave up her food—her food!—to someone else because she put them through a hardship is so touching. We know that food is just about the most important thing in the world to her, so it’s akin to giving up your most prized possession. And then to go around healing all the refugees… what a good heart she has. (And side-note… what poor Kaladin wouldn’t have given for that healing power, huh?)
A: Too true! I loved her just casually walking along healing everyone until she ran out of Stormlight, and then walking off into the sunset, as it were.
Kaladin would love that power, but as Lift says… healing them all is at once too big a project, and too small.
L: Well… that’s all, folks. This has been a lot of fun, and I hope that Alice and I will get a chance to return for the eventual Oathbringer reread (after the dust has had a chance to settle from the initial release, of course). Happy reading when that monster of a novel hits the shelves, Edgedancers (and all you other orders as well, especially my fellow Windrunners)!
(A: Yes, even the Skybreakers are welcome…)
Lyndsey’s baby just started walking, so you can imagine how much free time she’s had to work on her own writing lately. This doesn’t bode well for NaNoWriMo, but she’s still going to do her best. If you’re participating too, feel free to drop her a friend request!
Alice’s fond hopes of life slowing down after volleyball season seem destined to perish, but at least she has excellent Oathbringer-preparation reading to recommend if you haven’t seen them already. Lyn’s second Cosplay post was out on Monday, and Paige did an excellent write-up on what we know—and don’t know—about the Parshendi/Listeners, going into the third book. Are you hyped up yet?