Sorry for missing a couple weeks (one to the 2nd writing challenge, one to illness). We’re back on track with chapter 8. This one brings us back to Grace Valence after our brief time with Liley and Neil. Release notes may contain spoilers; feedback is welcome on all fronts. Enjoy!
Gray knows some things we don’t. No surprise there, as she’s experienced this world for some indeterminate number of “generations” whereas we’ve known the city for only a few weeks. She doesn’t spend much time thinking about these things, though—she’s far more occupied with the things she doesn’t know. I think this is more realistic than having her give us internal monologues about the history of the city and Watch, but let me know if you think otherwise.
Gray and Warn are friends, but it’s not a perfect friendship. They certainly have a great rapport, but they also have some fundamental differences.
Then again, who wouldn’t be fundamentally different from Gray? From what we’ve seen so far, she’s essentially peerless; maybe worshipped by some and mocked or feared by others, but equalled by none. All those things she knows—who else in the city knows them?
If this were Tundra of Heroes, she would be Intra Noi, disconnected from the people around her and struggling to convey her wisdom to the masses.
Of course, as I keep saying, this isn’t Tundra of Heroes. She’s disconnected, but not particularly trying to reconnect. And her great life’s work, despite her great status and talent, seems to be one of servitude. She does not place herself above the people (except, as we’ve seen, she knows to claim privileged stature when threatened). She eats her own slop. She toils underground to provide thankless mobs with sustenance. Am I saying this as part of some project of judging her? No… I’m just investigating her position.
Not knowing exactly where her role in this story is leading, I can say that I personally hope that she overcomes her horrible bond to Earl and starts kicking ass. She’s the sorceress, after all, the dreaded witch whose demonic brews could do anything. I don’t think alchemy in this setting is meant to be particularly magical, and I certainly don’t think Gray fulfills the role of the typical high fantasy sorcerer, but she has a reputation, a following, and a power—even if all that power does is make her hair sleek and her eyes shiny. And knowledge is power, and she has a lot of that. So here’s to Gray and a future in which she has more agency. I’m rooting for you, Dr. Valence!
Until now, I think we’ve seen Warn in a fairly sympathetic light. He’s old, and no longer the strongest and most fit soldier in Watch, and we know he has a sharp tongue and a tendency for discipline, but he is open to Liley’s plan in chapter 2 and he’s a good friend to Gray. His openness toward unconventional tactics and his predisposition toward sympathy with the lost, with Gray, with the job of the alchemists, all of these are nice…
But the things he says about the dustfolk trigger warning signs for Gray. I won’t say more.
Keep an eye out.
Oh Earl. What a tremendous clown. But for the first time we see past his mask. He’s afraid of something, or resigned to something. We don’t know. I’m sure Gray is curious. I think Neil and Liley might have a few clues. I’ll leave those for a future set of release notes, however.
Do what you need to do.
Read the chapter. :)