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Ok, friends, I apologize if this has already been discussed before. I searched for a post about it and couldn't find one, so I figured I'd open the discussion if it doesn't already exist. I've been noticing what I feel to be a quiet trend going on in the Cosmere - Silver. I would like your opinions on what this could mean or if i'm just plain crazy. Silver is not always in a meaningful spot within the Cosmere (clothing, decor, etc)... but when it does appear in a meaningful role, it seems to work the same way throughout the Cosmere. Considering how often Silver makes an appearance, it seems apparent that the metal is present on all of the cosmere worlds... some of those worlds seem to have discovered its very special uses and effects. Just to name a few key examples of silver making notable appearances within the Cosmere: Nalthis - Nightblood's sheath. To contain Nightblood's immense powers and abilities, he is kept within a silver sheath. When Nightblood is even slightly released from this sheath, his power is also released and he influences his surroundings. Like taking the cap off of something that kept him "bottled" up. Threnody - Silence Montane's dagger. Silver (weapons/dust) is the only thing on Threnody known to touch/harm/ward against shades... hence Silence's silver dagger. Silver can even heal a whither wound that has recently been caused by a shade. Silver on Threnody is widely known and coveted because of its effectiveness against shades. This is important because shades are, presumably, connected to/from/part of the spiritual realm. And yet silver is the one known defense that can touch/fight/resist them without ill effect. Scadrial - Electrum. I've always wondered why silver itself wasn't technically an allomantic metal... it seems like it should be. It does, however, show up in the Silver+Gold alloy known as Electrum. As near as I can tell, Electrum is the only metal of the 16 metals that is powerful enough to neutralize a God Metal (Atium) in another allomancer. "Thank you, Silver... because without you, Gold alone would only let me see my possible past self. With you, however, I can see all of my future selves - disabling Atium's advantage for its user. Whew!" Silver saves the day again! Roshar - Shardplate, shardblades, (and half-shards?). The shardplate(s) and shardblades of Roshar are repeatedly referred to as silver. Let's start with a few quotes. WoK Prologue mentioned Szeth's honorblade: "Szeth turned and continued on his way, slippered feet falling on the soft red rug. The Shardblade, as always, glistened silver and clean." ... and before that, the WoK Prelude mentioned shardplate itself: "Juxtaposed between them were others in gleaming plate armor. One group walked past, four men in their ragged tanned skins or shoddy leather joining a powerful figure in beautiful silver plate, amazingly intricate. Such a contrast." Along with many MANY other examples and quotes throughout WoK and WoR that (other than paint and ornamentation) repeatedly refer to Shardplate and shardblades as silver or "silvery metal." Crazy questions: In keeping with this silver theory here, is this what spren become when they transform into shardblades?...do they imitate/become silver? Could this be why shardblades can block/hit other shardblades and yet cut through everything else as if it wasn't even there? When the Vedens manufactured "half-shards," were they made of silver? Shallan encountered a keyhole at the Oathgate (at the end of WoR) that was "made of the same stuff" as a shardblade, as she put it. It doesn't seem implied that a spren had transformed into said keyhole... but rather unlike shardblades, no spren was involved. I theorize that no spren is necessary for this "stuff" (silver?) to exist in the physical realm. Therefore, the keyhole could possibly be made of simple silver. It's possible that the Vedens have managed to create their half-shards simply by discovering the proper metal to use when forging them. 1.) Have some Veden smiths forge shields of silver. 2.) Power the shield with infused gemstones (just like shardplate). 3.) and VIOLA! ...Half-Shard? ... Crazy crazy questions bouncing around my head. At any rate, one thing that seems certain to me is that silver is very special within the cosmere. It's possible that its effects and influence span across all three realms at once! I'm not saying that everything described as "silver" or "silvery" has some profound meaning behind it... but there might just be a bit of a cosmere-sized trend here. To me, if there really is a trend, it seems that silver can "counter" powers within the cosmere. Like shielding nightblood, touching/harming shades, mixing with gold to allow an allomancer to negate the effects of atium, stopping/blocking a shardblade's attack, etc... If anyone in the Cosmere knows what's going on, it's Hoid... and even he keeps a silver sword handy. "Wit picked his way through the groups of attendants, holding a cup of wine in one hand, silver sword belted at his side." "Wit sat on a raised stool at the end of the bridge leading onto the island. Wit actually dressed as a lighteyes should—he wore a stiff black uniform, silver sword at his waist." Seems like Hoid knows something about the benefits and usefulness of silver that we don't. Can you guys think of anymore examples? ...or am I crazy? What does silver mean to the Cosmere?
We need to talk about the silver plating on Vin's earring! Somewhere between the moment Vin's mother drove this little bronze spike through Vin's sister into Vin's ear, and the moment we first see Vin in Book 1, this bronze earring became plated in "silver" (which must negate its Hemalurgic effects for reasons I'll explain) and then locked away inside of a box. Even ignoring the larger implications of Silver throughout the Cosmere, and isolating our attention only at Scadrial's magic system... We know that silver on Scadrial has no known Allomantic, Feruchemical, or (most importantly) Hemalurgic properties at all. If the earring were silver-plated before spiking through Vin's sister, then that silver would have nullified the spike's ability to behave as a hemalurgic spike and accept a hemalurgic charge. In contrast, if the earring was silver-plated after receiving a hemalurgic charge, then the silver would have blocked the earring's effects on the wearer (much like Nightblood's sheath blocks his power). If this bronze earring was plated in silver, then it's logical to infer that even if Vin wore it like that (fully silver-plated), then Ruin wouldn't have been able to reach her, nor would she have been able to tap into the extra seeker properties with which the spike was charged. Interestingly enough, that silver plating was notably wearing away throughout Vin's story. From Well of Ascension - Chapter 33: "Vin stood quietly. Absently, she pulled out her bronze earring—her mother’s earring—and worked it between her fingers, watching it reflect light. It had once been gilded with silver, but that had worn off in most places." From Hero of Ages – Chapter 54: "Silver. Useless, unburnable silver. Like lead, it was one of the metals that provided no Allomantic powers at all. “An unpopular metal indeed . . .” Yomen said, nodding to the side. A servant approached Vin, bearing something on a small platter. Her mother’s earring. It was a dull thing, Allomantically, made of bronze with some silver plating. Much of the silver had worn off years ago, and the brownish bronze showed through, making the earring look to be the cheap bauble it was. “Which is why,” Yomen continued, “I am so curious as to why you would bother with an ornament such as this. I have had it tested. Silver on the outside, bronze on the inside. Why those metals?" I figure that neither Reen nor Vin could've done this silver-plating to the bronze earring. They wouldn't have been concerned in the least with having it silver-plated while they were poor and had a hard enough time staying [relatively] safe and fed. I think someone who was cosmere-aware or, at the very least, was "Ruin-aware" was responsible for having the earring silver plated. I doubt Hoid would have done this, as well. My imagination says that he would have sooner destroyed or stolen the earring if he really wanted to interfere with Ruin's plans. Hoid wouldn't have preserved the earring so carefully. The fact that the earring was neutralized/silver-plated rather than destroyed... and the fact that it was placed in a box and that box was kept rather than disposed of... well, I would guess Preservation was behind this silver-plating. I think he did what he could to influence people and events around Vin to protect her while keeping in line with his own will to 'preserve' above all else. From Hero of Ages – Sazed's final Epigraph (just before the epilogue): "Vin was special. Preservation chose her from a very young age, as I have mentioned. I believe that he was grooming her to take his power... I believe that she must have drawn some of the mist into her when she was still a child, in those brief times when she wasn’t wearing the earring. Preservation had mostly gotten her to stop wearing it by the time Kelsier recruited her, though she put it back in for a moment before joining the crew. Then, she’d left it there at his suggestion." If the earring had been placed while Vin was an infant and left in her ear, then it's a safe assumption that Ruin would have had her entire lifetime to work his influence... if, of course, it hadn't been for the presumed efforts of Preservation to buy her as much time as he could. I asked Brandon Sanderson "Who was responsible for getting Vin's bronze earring plated in 'silver'?" and apparently that question was good enough to award me an RAFO card. :-) I will be framing it. Don't judge me. Who plated Vin's bronze earring in "silver"? When did they do it? Why? Is the plating on Vin's earring really silver (or just perceived to be Silver by the Scadrians)? ...is it the same metal as Nightblood's sheath? It seems to me that the silver plating on Vin's earring and Nightblood's famous "silver sheath" were essentially there to perform the same job. What do you think?
So I received my beautiful slipcased copies of Shadows of SIlence in the Forest of Hell and Perfect State today, and there was a preface in SoS that wasn't included in the previous versions of the story - I have typed it below for you, word for word, as I think it provides some interesting insight into Threnody... "When George R.R Martin approached me to ask if I'd be willing to contribute a story to Dangerous Women, I was ecstatic. George is known best for his Westeros books, but he is also an excellent author, having put together many anthologies. His recent themed anthologies with Gardner Dozois ave become something of a "Who's Who" in the fantasy and science fiction world. It was a real honor to be invited/ After he told me the theme was "dangerous women", I at first thought of Perfect State, the other novella in this collection. I had a very rough draft of that done, but hadn't submitted it anywhere for publication I sent that to George and Gardner, and they felt it wasn't on theme enough, and asked if I had anything else. I didnt, not yet, but something had happened recently that had planted a seed in my mind. I had been involved in some genealogy work, and had run across the name of a Puritan woman called Silence. That intrigued me. Who would name their daughter Silence, and for what reason? Charity I can get. Faith makes total sense. But Silence? Perhaps she was late int he birth order, and her parents were really hoping to sleep through the nights this time. Either way, the name stuck with me. I'd had the idea for Threnody, the Cosmere world when a group of pilgrimesque people fled the Old World because it was overrun by a terrible evil long ago. It was actually a very early Cosmere world, developed around 1999 or 2000. (Though the name didn't get assigned to it until Isaac gave a suggestion upon reading this novella.) Having an intriguing Puritan name and a world that took inspiration from early American history seemed a ready-made match, but I had to ask myself, how was Silence going to be dangerous? I was worried that the anthology was going to be stuffed full of women either in the "femme fatale" vein or the "I wear black leather and kick demon butt" vein. I've often felt that we, in fantasy, sometimes do a poor job of representing people (both male and female) who are powerful and capable in ways other than their ability to stand in a fight. Yes, giving a woman a sword is one way to make her dangerous, but I resist making every powerful woman into one who has become so by forcing her way into a traditionally male-dominated realm of face-to-face combat. The world was mostly formed in my head, though over the years I'd added the diea of the shades for various reasons. One was to show off a few hints regarding the Cosmere afterlife, and another came during my initial research for the Stormlight Archive, where I read a lot about classical Hebrew life and philosophy. The original idea for Threnody was to make a system of magical rules with their roots int he Law of Moses and Jewish tradition. (Not mixing blood with milk, not kindling flames after nightfall on the Sabbath etc.) Many of these rules transformed over the years, leaving their roots behind in the same way that the Stormlight magic system left behind its roots in the fundamental forces of physics. But you can see those hints still having an influence on the tone and setting of this story. This intersection of these ideas developed into this story, one that soon became one of my favorite Cosmere tales. I hope you enjoy it! (And no, for those searching, Hoid does not make an appearance. Unfortunately, he needed to be somewhere else in the timeline at this point.)