CRUISING THE COSMERE: Edgedancer (BOOK REVIEW)
Dear readers, I’m on a Sanderson high at the minute! After finishing Words of Radiance I was left with a serious book hangover and decided to jump straight into the next instalment on my Cruising the Cosmere journey – Edgedancer. This being a short novella which revolves around our young protagonist, Lift, who we first encounter in Words of Radiance. I’d just like to warn readers there will be spoilers for Words of Radiance and you really shouldn’t read Edgedancer unless you’ve read that.
During an interlude in Words of Radiance Lift was left in the protection of the newly appointed emperor of Azish – Gawx, after she narrowly escapes from a dangerous man she knows only as Darkness. However in Edgedancer stifling palace life does not suit Lift one bit, and as soon as she gets wind that this so-called Darkness is murdering people with Surgebinding abilities, she sets forth to stop him. This may be a short tale to add to the immense Stormlight Archives series, but it nonetheless is a significant one.
I know Lift is a character who leaves Brandon Sanderson fans quite divided, yet it is made clear in Words of Radiance that she will become a more substantial character later on in the series, after all she is revealed to be one of the Knights Radiants. Therefore this novella provides a nice stepping stone into understanding Lift’s character much better.
“She hated how rich people made up this romantic dream of what an orphanage should be like. Perfect, full of sweet smiles and happy singing. Not full of frustration, pain, and confusion.”
Lift is originally from the Reshi Islands, but after becoming an orphan she flees her homeland to traverse through different lands in Roshar, and survives by becoming a successful thief. To her advantage, she has a rare ability – Lift can process food directly into Stormlight, which then gives her Surgebinding powers, of which you’ll learn all about within this novella.
Art by Michelle N @noblesgal (Instagram)
I can certainly see why Lift would be unlikeable for many readers – her repetitive use of ‘awesomeness’ which she uses to refer to her Surgebinding abilities, and the way she refers to her spren Wyndle as a ‘Voidbringer’ mostly just to annoy him, could be irritating to many. She has an insatiable hunger, for the reasons I have mentioned, and hence thinks about food all day! She’s also reckless, impulsive and seemingly puts very little thought into the consequences of her actions.
Having said that, I personally felt Lift was a fun, cheeky character who realistically illustrates a young girl on the very cusp of adolescence. I mean come on, what teenager doesn’t rebel and act wildly on occasions?! And aren’t most 10-13 year olds annoying enough to make you want to throttle them at least once a day?! On a more serious note though, I found Lift worked brilliantly to bring a nice contrast to the more somber, broken characters such as Kaladin and Dalinar.
You see, Lift has a whimsical way of seeing the world, and it seems as though her main purpose in Edgedancer was to cause mischief and mayhem. It becomes clear however that she truly wants to help protect others against harm, to defend the destitutes, but admittedly she does go about it in the most irresponsible ways. But what can you expect from an orphan living on the streets? At face-value Lift comes across as carefree, but underneath, Edgedancer reveals a young girl who desperately desires to remain a child forever, a girl who is ultimately afraid of the adult she will become and the responsibilities she will have to bear. Through Sanderson’s capable hands, we begin to see a character who is simply in denial. At her heart, Lift is just trying to mask her vulnerability because without an adult’s guiding hand, it’s the only way she knows how to survive.
‘“Will you fight them, little Radiant?” the assassin asked. “You alone, against two journeyman, Skybreakers? A Herald waiting in the wings?”
She glanced at Wyndle. “I don’t know. But I have to go anyway, don’t I?”
That’s not to say she’s been completely alone though, as a Knights Radiant, Lift also has her bonded Spren. Wyndle is from the cognitive realm, and as you can see from the fan art I’ve included, he appears to Lift as vines. If you’ve been following my reviews then you’ll know I’m in love with all the spren characters, and Wyndle is no exception. It’s made obvious that he has a distinct dislike at the thought of Lift using him as a Shardblade even though it’s one of his primary purposes. Wyndle is a lover of nature, and to grow and nurture is his greatest aspiration, he never intends to be destructive yet that is what he’ll inevitably become.
In terms of looking at the broader aspects of Edgedancer, how does Sanderson correlate it to the other full length novels in the Stormlight Archives series? Well, he cleverly links the epilogue of Words of Radiance where we witness Szeth meeting the Herold Justice, and furthers their story in this novella. In turn we learn more about Skybreakers and the role they play in the world of Roshar. We also begin to explore more of the nations within Roshar as this tale is set in the downtrodden city of Yeddaw, and within the city we meet a few characters who I’m sure will become important figures. I’m now learning that to fully appreciate Sanderson’s work, we have to constantly keep our eyes peeled for connections and to dabble in foreshadowing!
I believe that Edgedancer creates a lovely compelling bridge between Words of Radiance and my next Sanderson read, Oathbringer. If you’re as obsessed with Stormlight Archives as I’ve become then this novella is a must-read.