I warned you. As I catch up on any and all the Brandon Sanderson I can get my onion-y hands on, there is going to be a lot of reviews featuring the author. Last week I wrapped up my look at The Reckoners series with two reviews, Mitosis and Calamity. Now, the G.O.B. is closing in on talking about all things Cosmere.
Todays review is on a short story that I waited a long time to read. I first heard of this Cosmere story on the podcast that Sanderson hosts, Writing Excuses. It was originally published as a collection in, Shadows Beneath, with all 4 pod cast hosts adding a unique story. Along with the final drafts of each story, were rough drafts which you could read to see the progress, and thought process of the author. Further, each story was featured on an episode of Writing Excuses, where all four authors dissect the stories inside out. Unfortunately for me, that was a difficult book to find in Western Canada, and I have only just begun my soiree into eBooks. After a long wait for this elusive Brandon Sanderson story, it was recently rereleased as part of the Arcanum Unbounded Cosmere collection. After being one of the first stories I read from the amazing collection, I also reread the piece again as part of an ebook bundle I purchased along with my first eReader.
I always like to start off my reviews with a bit about what lead me to read the story in question. It was a long road to get this one in my hands. The underline feelings I had about needing to read this one specifically, proved true. As Sixth of Dusk by Brandon Sanderson is now one of my favourite Cosmere reads, and one of the best things I’ve read from an author I often vocally praise.
Sixth of Dusk was originally published in ‘014 as part of the Shadows Beneath collection. Set in a world never before seen in Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere greater Universe, the novelette is unique to his other works. Taking place on the planet First of the Sun, the human populace is on the brink of technological breakthroughs- as influenced by foreign species- while clinging to traditions that have made the world what it is. First of the Sun is primarily a water planet with many islands, the world is infested with a plethora of dangerous creatures and plant life. The magic system does not belong to the humans of this planet, instead they rely on the mysterious powers of birds.
Main character, Sixth of Dusk, is part of a long line of hunters/explorers trained to navigate the wild islands of the planet. Using methods passed down to him, he helps raise and nurture birds that will grow to have mystical powers. Accompanied by his own loyal birds that keep dangers away, and warn him of fatal risks. Meanwhile, his island has become the focus of a group whose intentions are to find the source of the birds unique powers and share it with the aliens who have visited the planet. With warnings of a destructive force that could destroy everything, Sixth, his birds and a lost traveller must find a way to stop the world around them from changing forever.
There are so many things about this story to love. The first major appeal is the magic system. It is one of the things the author does best, but this story has another great twist. Giving the birds, and animals the powers, forcing the humans to cooperate with nature on a completely different level. And, of course these are not predictable powers like fire or ice, but powers that are specific to the world around them. With immediate danger lurking in every corner of the planet, people have to rely on these birds to survive.
Surprisingly there is a lot of background fit in to this short book on the human populace of First of the Sun. Sixth- while being a difficult name to repeat- gains his name as the sixth child of his mother. Dusk, would reference the time of day he was born. There is also a lot of information on how he gained his training, and the rules he must follow if he wishes to return from the wilds. The character himself would seem bland and uninteresting to anybody living on the planet, but to us, the readers, his amazing skillset and abilities are entertaining to the point that I want 300 more pages on Sixth himself.
What stands out most in this story is the message. And it is one that we can easily resonate with. The battle between nature and technology. This world has relied on nature to its core, for as long as can be remembered. With outside forces now bringing in technology ahead of their time, the local populace is faced with the choice to survive as they were or accept these world altering changes. Leaving the delicate ecosystem at risk, when considering what these changes could bring.
Like I said, this is one of my favourite reads from an author that I already adore. After reading it twice within a few months, I already crave another. I highly recommend this piece to, well, everyone. You do not have to be deep into the worlds and books of Brandon Sanderson to enjoy this read. And if you are a major fan of the scribe, than this is a cannot miss. Not because it carries any major connections to the universe around it, but because it is a quick highlight of the industry leading author. 5/5, Sixth of Dusk is a winner through and through. I honestly cannot think of one red mark, I loved it from beginning to end. As one of my new favourite places in the Cosmere all I can hope is that one day Brandon Sanderson decides to give us a full out novel or series.
from Third of Midnight.