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Lessie - an alternate character interpretation


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We know very little about how kandra work. Even if they do clearly appear as kandra, instead of being fully in hiding mode, when they are not viewpoint characters, as MeLaan was not in SoS, we cannot truly take anything they say or do at face value. Though of course that was a different era, before Harmony, we should always remember that for a thousand years their very existence was the extreme long-con, them being the ultimate spies not against other people, but Ruin himself. Depending on your personal level of paranoia, MeLaan's comment that she is just showing everyone what they need to see to keep them on mission is either a bit of light-hearted fun, or extremely creepy. Therefore, let me start by saying that is this is all guesswork based on what makes sense and feels right to me.

I mostly only have questions, and what few theories I do have lack any kind of proof, but hopefully you will find what I have to say interesting and worth reading. I am only mildly Cosmere aware - I lurk these forums a fair amount, and have read most major theories; however I do not on my own automatically think in Cosmere terms. Furthermore, I intend to find an interpretation that is character driven, not system driven. I certainly appreciate the very consistent and rule based nature of Mr. Sanderson's magic systems, however I consider characters more interesting as people first (e.g. certain behaviour may be a documented result of Cosmere stuff, but if I can find a personal reason for it, I will always prefer that). I believe my interpretation is based on text - albeit by arguably over-analysing things - without adding any speculation that is explicitly external to the books, but it is an interpretation, an alternative reading, and as such has little direct evidence to support it. With this disclaimer out of the way, I will now present everything as obvious facts for the sake of clarity, but do keep these first paragraphs in mind.

1. Background

To understand Lessie-kandra, I first need to establish how her mind works. To do that, I will have to go back to TenSoon. This is especially helpful, because Lessie-kandra is compared to him quite heavily - I could of course question that information, but I do not have any reason to, and I think that that bit of insight is key. A very simplistic way to summarise what happened in the first trilogy would be that Vin's friendship allowed TenSoon's personality to manifest. Two things to note about this:

a) his personality was there before, he was not actually completely empty - that was what drove him to take all the contracts, resent humans, etc. - it was merely not dominant and on the surface;
B) Vin's actions provoked him to let his personality through, and develop, but it was not like flipping a switch - now you are a blank slate, now you are the real TenSoon.

A good comparison - though I do not believe the two are exactly the same - would be to children. A teen has the core of their personality ready, but needs the experience and confidence to fully grow into it. I think I can be very brief here, by simply saying "coming of age".

A kandra that chooses TenSoon's path - like Lessie-kandra did, for example - would be like a child, not having the room to become who they are, because their self is being suppressed by the personalities they keep taking on. Kandra, especially the old ones, are very dedicated to their roles. I think that Wayne's viewpoint chapters in both AoL and SoS give a good approximation of this, where he starts thinking like his disguise, to get into the role. Kandra must surely do something similar. Now, I want to point out that even in the case of kandra, I do not mean to go over the top with this, and suggest that they somehow lose their identities, or are truly blank slates; simply that their personal growth is delayed and very slow, spread over a long time - in some cases many centuries.

One last thing to note: this is all about their personality, and what can best be described as their own awareness of it, and confidence in it. It is independent of their factual knowledge, or practical abilities.

2. Relationship with Wax

I do not believe Lessie-kandra was in love with Wax. That is to say, I do not believe it was as simple as that.

While it may not have been Harmony's - or Lessie-kandra's - intentional plan, I think it was logical for the Lessie-persona to fall in love with Wax, and vice versa. This approach is not very romantic, but it makes sense in the story; it is also something that happens in real life as well. Love can be mysterious and special, and all the rest, but also sometimes there are people that make a good couple, and it is easy to see why and how they would fall in love.

The complications begin when we realise that Lessie-kandra's actual personality, her core, was also such that this relationship appealed to her. In the prologue, there are two interesting bits of dialogue with Lessie-kandra, that are very telling.

First, she says that killing Wax would have been like killing what he stood for. This proves that she knew about him - in reality, very likely knew more about him than just his Roughs reputation; Harmony sent her to be his bodyguard, he must have told her at least something of why Wax was important - and it is a very profound statement. It also reveals an appreciation of Wax, his goals, and his morals.

Second, she talks about how she did some things for Granite Joe she is not very proud of. I do not think this foreshadows her turning against Harmony, however I do think she was talking about more than just her cover. We know that she was always somewhat unconventional, and did things most kandra find distasteful. We also know that Harmony made use of this - indeed, this was why she became Wax's bodyguard. Knowing about Wax, and how important he is, she felt she was doing something important and worthwhile in this job, something she could fully get behind.

Just for the record, I do not think there is anything inherently unlikely about a kandra falling in love with a human - I only question it in this specific case. In summary, the high regard she held Wax in was genuine, and part of her "normal" personality, however it, and their being in love, was also tied to, and very probably started by, the Lessie-persona.

3. Chain of events - going rogue

Here is where things get really confusing. At first glance - and first reading of SoS - the events seem to be:

    I. Harmony wants Wax to return to the city.
   II. Lessie-kandra does not approve, believes Wax would be happier staying where he is.
  III. Harmony pushes Lessie-kandra hard, but without taking control of her.
  IV. Harmony arranges the Lessie-persona's death.
   V. Lessie-kandra snaps and goes crazy [more on this in the last part].
  VI. Lessie-kandra begins to plan and execute the downfall of Harmony, to free everyone from him.
 VII. Lessie-kandra gets and uses one or more trellium spikes.
VIII. Lessie-kandra removes one or more of her spikes.

The order of these events is implied, however not confirmed. In fact, the events themselves are uncertain; IV. especially is questionable.

I. and II. are pretty much undisputable and I have nothing to add.


We do not know what Harmony pushed Lessie-kandra to do. It could be that he wanted her to encourage Wax to return to the city, maybe even return with him. There is some evidence for this, and it is the most benevolent reading. It is also the only scenario which could lead to Lessie-kandra arranging the Lessie-persona's death herself. On the other hand, it could also be that the thing Harmony pushed Lessie-kandra into was IV. More, a possible extension of this would be that Harmony was also the one who prevented Lessie-kandra from coming out to Wax initially. While by the end of SoS, after she becomes unstable and a year passes, I can grudgingly accept that she just wanted to spare Wax because she knew that the truth would hurt him, this does not work at the start. It is very difficult to imagine that Wax would be overly upset if "Lessie" just got up after he shot her and explained things right then and there (or within a few days).


This is the biggest issue. Who arranged it? Harmony or Lessie-kandra?

I am not going to go into the latter too much, because to me it makes no sense. The Lessie-persona's death was what made Wax return to the city, which is precisely what Lessie-kandra did not want to happen - if she arranged her death, she miscalculated very badly, and that does not seem to fit with her brilliant, extremely methodical nature.

Even if Harmony arranged it, though, there are problems. The way Bloody Tan talks seems very in line with what Lessie-kandra thinks. Why would this be the case? If he is just a random criminal who happened to be one they were chasing when the Lessie-persona needed to die - honestly though, how many people on this forum are willing to believe that? - he should not be saying anything relevant at all. But if he is not a random criminal - who is he? His dialogue seems to be counter to Harmony's goals, which makes me believe that even though Harmony arranged to use him, he is not somebody Harmony is directly controlling - either via his godly powers, or just by talking to them and asking them to help, as he sort of does with Wax. However, since this the point where Lessie-kandra is being the most heavily influenced, and her death is not something she wants, I find it unlikely that she would cooperate with Bloody Tam. It is worth consideration, however, that maybe since Harmony was not completely controlling her, once she realised what was going to happen, she gave Tam information, so that it would get back to Wax and be a clue to him.

V. to VIII.

These are things we know happened, but the order is not determined at all - both just among these four, and their location on the list. It seems likely that Harmony's heavy handed influence was what made Lessie-kandra go crazy and turn on him, but not certain. It could be argued that by refusing to go along with his plans in the first place, warranting such heavy intervention, she was already rogue. Did she go crazy and remove her spike(s) out of madness, or did she go mad because of a lack of spikes? Did she remove her spike(s) and look for alternatives then, finding trellium, or was gaining access to trellium what triggered her to removes her spike(s)? If having trellium made her confident enough to remove her own spike(s), and removing her spike(s) is what made her insane, does that mean the she had access to trellium before she snapped? It has been noted that Harmony seems very troubled by her ability to hide, yet does not directly tie this ability to her lack of spike(s). Further, Harmony implies that the madness is a result of spikelessness, yet I do not think he ever comes out and explicitly states that Lessie-kandra only went insane because some of her spikes were removed. All of this could be made more crazy, if we assumed that she got a trellium spike in her during her time running around in the Lessie-persona. Maybe that spike influenced her, or opened her to influence. Maybe that is why she started opposing Harmony's wishes in the first place, requiring him to step in. This is probably more of a stretch, but we know for certain nothing that would prevent this. Primarily the point I am trying to make is simply that despite SoS seeming like it reveals many things and appearing shocking, we actually know very little of what exactly happened for sure. Any of these variations could be true, or any other combination of these events could have happened, and it would still fit with the tiny amount we can be certain of.

Also, it is important to note that Harmony likes to interfere as little as possible, wants to ensure people have independence from him and free will as much as possible, and the idea of personally taking care of things is distinctly unpleasant to him. By SoS, after Lessie-kandra has destroyed a dam, causing who knows how much damage, and murdered a lot of people, he is ready to handle her, but the question is, was he always? I find it entirely possible that Lessie-kandra exploited Harmony's principles. She can very easily be opposed to him, and work against him, and as long as she keeps her actions below a certain level of visibility and wrongness, Harmony would not directly involve himself. For example, could she break into an empty house and steal some jewellery or would that be something that Harmony find offensive enough to prevent himself? Could she rob a bank, if she only used a fake gun and made sure not to hurt anyone, only scare them? Could she murder one person? Two? At what point exactly would Harmony decided to go Old Testament on her? I think murder is a pretty good threshold, but we cannot know for sure, and in all honesty, it does not really matter. The only important thing is: could she start working on her evil plan and by not doing any technically wrong for a while, avoid Harmony's ire? One last thing to note in this area: Harmony is not omniscient. Under normal circumstances he can probably find most people and information that he wants, but he has to work at it. This is my lack of Cosmere knowledge showing, so please do correct me on this point, but I actually think he cannot directly read the minds of non-spiked people - I recall that this is mentioned in SoS at one point and it was a main plot point in the first Mistborn trilogy, though that was only Ruin.

The numbering above is what I prefer. I. to III. seem fairly certain, and I think arranging the Lessie-persona's death makes more sense for Harmony than Lessie-kandra. I also think that tying back to 1. and 2. the Lessie-persona's death was what made Lessie-kandra go crazy. The reason she did not go to Wax and reveal the truth initially was that she could not do it. Their relationship was tied very strongly not just for Wax, but for her as well, to the Lessie-persona. On top of that, acting as her true self was not something she was overly used to or comfortable with. When she lost the Lessie-persona, which she grew fond of - she even says at the end she wanted to become her - and which was the core of her connection to Wax, she simply could not take it. I also think that as I mentioned, she did not immediately remove her spike(s). She is ancient and extremely crafty. She fully exploited Harmony's principle's against him. She started planning, and somehow, somewhere along the way, she was given trellium. Armed with that, she only removed her spike(s) once her plan reached the point where Harmony would have stepped in, and after she was certain it would work out for her, thanks to trellium. The only thing I am baffled by is Bloody Tam. I cannot for the life of me figure out a scenario that makes sense. In a way, this makes everything I said so far look weak, because I cannot work everything in - I admit, this does bother me, however I have no choice but to accept it, because no alternatives I could think of, or read on these forums, properly account for his oddity in a way that is fits and works with everything else. Mr. Sanderson's consistency is beyond question, so I am sure there is a logical explanation, but it has not been found yet; or at least it has not yet been presented in a way that I find convincing and acceptable.

4. Insanity

Much has been said about Lessie-kandra's supposed insanity. Serious mental health issues aside, I think there are four primary ways in which one can be insane.

First, the worst case, is a loss of the ability to think normally. People in this category are no longer capable of making the same logical connections a healthy person does. This prevents them from functioning in many situations, causes their behaviour to be off, and their plans, if they can make them at all, are not workable because the steps do not properly follow each other. Lessie-kandra's pragmatic cognitive abilities have not decayed. Her planning, attention to detail, and execution of said plan prove this.

Second, when people lose grip on part of reality. It can be summed up in one word as delusion. This and the first one can occur at the same time, but they are separate things. The first one is about how you connect two points, and this is about what those two points are, to put it simply. In this case, the affected person may make plans that are well structured, logical, may make arguments that are convincing; however the key issue is that one or more part of their reality is wrong. To give a blatant and silly example, if a very charismatic and talented politician suddenly became convinced that aliens [in the sci-fi sense, not immigration] run the government and started rallying people against them, he could have some success, by virtue of his talents - he would still know how to work a crowd, for instance. Lessie-kandra could be considered in this group depending on what you think about her plan against Harmony. I do not think that is the case, however. Needless to say I do not approve of mass murder, but I do not think her conclusions and goals are inherently incorrect.

Third, we will often call someone crazy for doing something too far from normal. Serial killers are often in this category - though they can suffer from the first and second version too. A serial killer that kills their victims in a sadistic way for no overall purpose other than the fact that he enjoys it can very easily be seen as crazy, even if the previous two do not apply. This definitely does not apply to Lessie-kandra. At first glance her murders, some of which are quite gruesome might seem to qualify, however there was always a point to them. To repeat, this is not about whether I approve or not, of course, but there is a difference between a killing that serves a rational purpose, and one that is done just for the sake of it.

Fourth, which I can best describe as "unreasonable focus". This is not a very good description, to be honest, but I cannot think of a better one. The best way to explain, I think, is via example. A common trope is that close to the final battle, the hero has to do something very difficult. "I will defeat the evil overlord by walking through his maze of doom." "But Bob, that's crazy!" Other variations include the heroic last stand or suicide mission. Many different motivations and circumstances can be the cause of this, but I would argue that very often the underlying mentality is one of "it does not matter how hard this is, if I fail everything is lost, I have to commit myself to this task fully and without any reservation or consideration and concern for any other priorities". Despite the examples, this is of course not a necessarily good thing. Such release of discipline and control can indeed be crazy - and very dangerous, in more ways than one. This is the version that best describes Lessie-kandra. The reason she can be fairly described as insane in SoS is because she has decided on a goal, and has set her mind on achieving it to a truly radical extent.

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I look forward to reading through your post, but before I do I want to suggest a change to the thread title so that it's less spoilery. (For example, call her Paalm rather than Lessie-kandra.) Topic titles show up in other places through the site, not just here on the SoS board.

Edited by ccstat
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I've edited the thread title.



In regards to your theory... given the connection between Tan and Paalm's feelings on being manipulated, I suspect Tan was responsible, in some sense, for getting her the trellium spike. Perhaps she investigated his lair after popping out of her grave, or perhaps he spiked her himself when holding her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Something that I find at least worth considering is that Lessie's death was not strictly "arranged." It could have happened as an accident, and then became an opportunity to make a "clean" break with Wax. All of the following are interesting scenarios for an "unarranged" death:

1) Paalm had been arguing with Harmony about it for a while. She was resisting his urging to leave Wax. Once she was "killed," Harmony convinced her that this was the right time to end it.

2) Paalm herself decided to end it then, afraid of what Wax would do if he found out she was kandra. Her anger was only given to Harmony later on as she went mad.

3) Harmony convinced her, or took control of her at the last second, to pull into the gunshot to fake her death. It was still opportunistic, but also involved a deliberate choice to get shot.

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Interesting. There are some things I think you either misstated or I misread. According to Harmony and Ten-Soon a Kandra needs 2 spikes to maintain sanity but only 1 spike to be sentient. A Kandra with 2 spikes can be controlled by Harmony so Bleeder has to remove a spike to be "free". It's still unclear if Harmony not being able to see the Trellium means she could wear 2 spikes and not be controlled or if a Trellium spike would would let her maintain sanity.


You are certainly correct about us not really knowing what Harmony did when he pushed Bleeder too far or if he forced Lessie to die. I think we are being lead to think that but it isn't stated anywhere.


Bleeder did some of her murders just to get Wax involved. The one that got me was Father Bin, he was the priest that Wax contacted to perform his marriage to Steris but she left other clues that pointed to him also.


The whole Bloody Tan mystery is beyond me. I don't understand the clues if they are there.


There is one last thing I wonder about. Wax loved and was in love with Lessie. What would his response have been if she had revealed herself as a Kandra and not a human while they were still ib the Roughs? His response on the bridge when she died would indicate he still loved her but that was during the severe shock of her 2nd death. That is not the same as having to face her as a Kandra when there is a tomorrow and he has to wake up and eat breakfast with her. Maybe that is what Harmony was going to force.

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