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  1. I noticed the references to dragons, too. I think this might be a situation where a dragon showed up in the distant past and deliberately seeded a bunch of dragon legends in case there was a use for an impressed population in the future. According to Tress, that’s a thing they do.
  2. IIRC, the Black Death killed one third of the European population. So definitely a sizeable dent in the global population, but not one third. The relative lack of variation in the human genome compared to other species suggests that there was a serious population bottleneck at some point in prehistory. That’s probably the closest thing we have to a traditional fantasy apocalypse in the real world.
  3. As Design points out, the situation on Komashi is weird, and stuff happens here that is only possible because of the outlandish circumstances (ie camping out right next to a dead Shard). If the machine had been built and activated anywhere else in the cosmere, it’s likely the results would have been very different, and maybe not as deadly. The Investiture we see in the book seems much more prone to accepting suggestions than what we see elsewhere in the cosmere, so maybe Virtuosity-flavoured Investiture is inherently more impressionable than baseline? That could mean that Komashi natives are more vulnerable to having their souls messed with (or eaten by a machine) than everyone else. Having said that, even if this particular disaster could only have happened on Komashi, the cosmere is an incredibly dangerous place. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a near-apocalypse. The situation on Threnody is pretty dire, Ashyn was apparently rendered uninhabitable, and Scadrial has had at least two very near misses.
  4. Yumi is a standalone story that can be read on its own. It has quite a few references to Stormlight Archives, but I don’t think you need to read that to understand it. If the cosmere connections in Tress didn’t bother you, I reckon you can go ahead and jump right in with Yumi.
  5. They are definitely more Invested than baseline in addition to being able to use Investiture. That’s why Kelsier was able to stick around long enough to become a Cognitive Shadow. It’s true that Elantrians and Nalthians with lots of Breath are longer lived, but that’s an effect of the specific type of Investiture they have. I’ve just remembered this exchange from chapter 22: Which implies normal yoki-hijo, who are presumably just as Invested as Yumi, have normal life spans.
  6. One main character death (excluding bad guys) makes the tone a lot darker. A million deaths of nameless, faceless characters has little impact on tone. That’s just kind of how it works.
  7. Being heavily Invested does not, in and of itself, slow or stop aging. Other Invested people (eg Radiants, mistborn, etc) age normally — the people who have extra long lifespans have some other effect going on. Yumi didn’t age during the 1700 years she was trapped by the machine because she didn’t have a physical body. Now that she has regained a physical form, there’s no particular reason to believe her lifespan will be unusually long.
  8. If I recall correctly, the maximum number of yoki-hijo at any given time was 16, and the number just happened to be 14 at the time when the machine turned on. The story never really gets around to explaining why the yoki-hijo are like that, since it’s not super relevant to the plot. It might be Virtuosity’s influence, but given that the number 16 crops up quite a bit in the cosmere, it could be something else.
  9. I think what happened is that yellow was never supposed to be prominent in the setting as it doesn’t fit the aesthetic, and sometimes reading too much into off-the-cuff WOBs can give the impression that there’s a mystery somewhere when there actually isn’t.
  10. Virtuosity splintering herself is a tantalising detail that doesn’t give us that much information to work with. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few different things it could mean. The Vessel decided to Splinter her Shard for big picture reasons The Vessel was having a bad time and this was her way out Splintering is in the nature of the Shard, and the Vessel was just along for the ride Also worth noting that it’s not confirmed that the Vessel died in the process. She could have survived and now she’s hanging out somewhere as a Sliver, for all we know.
  11. From Chapter 17: There are definitely parallels between Komashi and Threnody, but I’m not sure how much we can read into them. Design has seen both, and seems to consider Komashi to be uniquely weird. I think it’s interesting that both worlds have Investiture zombies which are essentially people who didn’t pass on properly when they died, struggle to maintain a sense of self and become dangerous. The practical differences between Shades and Nightmares might be down to the differences between Ambition and Virtuosity — different Shards mean the rules are different.
  12. I don’t think so. They don’t say or do anything that suggests they’re worldhoppers. They have some knowledge of an Invested Art analogous to Awakening, but they seem to have discovered that independently.
  13. Finished the book last night, took time to digest. Things I liked: Both settings were very inventive and fun to read about. I love it when Brandon gets extra creative like this. The writing style. I enjoy Hoid’s voice a lot, with the fun asides, talking directly to the audience, and still being able to deliver the serious emotional moments. It feels dialled back a bit from Tress, which suits the tone of the book, being closer to regular cosmere style and less fairy tale style. I wouldn’t mind at all if future books were written in this voice. Painter is great. I like how we get to know him and see that he’s struggling with something before peeling back the layers to find out what exactly happened to him. His backstory doesn’t feel at all surprising when we get there, and that’s really cool — we got to know him through the life he’s living now, to the point where he doesn’t need to be ‘explained’. Yumi is great. I loved seeing her slowly slide away from the rigid control of her life as a yoki-hijo, then break away as she comes to understand the extent of the abuse, then take control of the situation for herself when she uncovers the abuse behind the abuse. Liyun is great. She seems like a complete monster when she’s introduced, but as you find out more, her behaviour makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t change the fact that she’s done horrible things, but it adds complexity and nuance when you realise that she’s just another flawed human being in a difficult situation, perpetuating the abuse because that’s what she knows how to do. The mystery, and the reveals at the end. I like how you can relatively easily piece some of it together (I guessed fairly early that the two ‘worlds’ were actually physically right next to each other and only separated by the shroud), but the details of how this all works and what it means for the characters comes as a shock. Some things I wasn’t so keen on: The romance aspects were just kind of okay. They weren’t actively bad or anything, but I didn’t feel like they added anything to the story. If Painter and Yumi had just been really close friends it might actually have worked better IMO. I’m … not sure how to feel about the rock stacking machine. Given what’s been going on in the real world lately, it can’t not feel like it’s about the dangers of AI. And I wouldn’t necessarily mind that, except that Awakened objects are functionally very different from the kinds of AI we have in the real world, which makes the stacking machine stuff ring a bit hollow for me. Overall, really enjoyed it. It’s nice to have another good standalone cosmere book that has connections to other cosmere stuff but doesn’t require lore knowledge to be understood. I think I liked Tress a little more, but this one is not far behind.
  14. Yumi and Painter are still alive and running the noodle shop at the time Hoid is telling the story, and there’s no reason to think either of them have longer than normal lifespans. So I don’t think there can be more than a few decades between the events of the story and Hoid’s telling. Maybe cosmere space travel goes from ‘first forays off planet’ to ‘interstellar tourism is normal’ within one lifetime, but it seems more likely to me that Komashi is behind the major players in terms of technological development.
  15. This line from chapter 31 caught my eye: It’s referring to Yumi’s idea to stack the ‘souls’ of rocks and have Painter copy what she’s doing. This leads to them summoning a spirit which gives them an instruction: destroy the machine. I doubt this is a poetic way to say that Yumi felt like the idea came from nowhere. It seems much more literal than that — someone or something essentially told Yumi what to do in order to summon a spirit. My first thought is that the spirits themselves are contacting Yumi here. They understand the situation, and are acting to free themselves. But if they can communicate like this, why don’t they just tell Yumi what they want her to do? Why use the roundabout method of having her summon one of them? Is some other person or thing influencing Yumi here? Who could it be?
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