Authors – and Brandon Sanderson in particular – like to use shorter fiction to fill in gaps in larger stories. Publishers like to use them to fill gaps in publishing schedules, and to attract new fans. Sometimes, though, they can backfire. In this case, I bought book 3 of the Stormlight Archive, Oathbringer, four years ago. Before I got around to reading it, though, I learned about this book, Edgedancer. I like to read things in order, so I decided to wait until I had this. I took me until this spring to finally buy it. So, waiting for the fill-in stopped my reading of the series dead in its tracks. That’s not exactly Sanderson’s fault, but it does mean that I’ve completely lost track of what was happening, which somewhat defeated my whole purpose.
In any case, Edgedancer is a moderately self-contained piece, though some knowledge of the larger world is useful in understanding what’s going on. Sanderson lays out his reasons for writing this separate installment in an afterword, but I wasn’t really convinced that he accomplished them. For example, he intended to show how the protagonist, Lift, took some key oaths. And throughout this story, her companion Wyndle is encouraging her to say key Words. Yet she never does either – at least not in a way that doesn’t require a lot of unfounded inference.
That said, Lift is a fun character – full of light-hearted sass. Her backstory isn’t made clear here – apparently there’s yet another short story that may do that – and there’s not a lot of logic to what she does and where she goes, but it’s enjoyable to follow along with her as she eats her way through the story. I can’t say I’m glad I waited for this, but it was an easy and quick, if non-essential read.