Fifth Season Ch 8, Interlude, Ch 9
Syenite and Alabaster travel to Allia. The subject of "node maintainers" comes up, orogenes that stop earthquakes around their base. The node maintainers are orogenes who failed training. Alabaster comments that stonelore wasn't as fixed in the past as it is now, and suggests society can be different; Syenite doesn't see how. Alabaster quells a massive quake, harnessing Syenite's power to do so (something supposedly impossible). They visit the node maintainer that set off the quake. The surrounding area isn't as devastated as Syenite thinks it should be, but everyone is dead inside the compound. Alabaster describes how node maintainers are surgically maimed to use their orogeny instinctively, then sedated. Alabaster says that children of orogenes without orogeny become Guardians.
We're invited to think about what's missing from the world, and given some examples.
Syenite and Alabaster arrive in Allia. They're met by Asael, a minor functionary in the comm's leadership. Alabaster takes offence at the slight. Alabaster says his orogeny overwhelms his need to eat. Alabaster's food is poisoned. He uses Syenite again to extract the poison from his system; there's confusing description about falling upwards. Alabaster says something about parallel scaling and quotes from a stonelore table that supposedly doesn't exist.
- We've seen Alabaster do lots of things that are supposedly unusual for an orogene. But we've not seen what's "usual" (apart from Essun destroying Tirimo), and we've only Syneite's word for how unusual they are. Does this technique work?
- Stepping outside the narrative, how does the episode with the node maintainer connect to the themes of the book?
- What are Alabaster's motivations in explaining all this to Syenite? Do you think he would do the same for all the orogenes he mentors, or is Syenite something different?
- In the interlude, we're invited to spot what's missing. What is it?
- Technology: there's electric lights, telegraphs, and asphalt, but no power sources we've seen other than muscle. Is the technology consistent?