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Threnody

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Threnody
Threnody icon.svg
by Isaac Stewart
Shards None current, potential Investiture from Ambition's past presence
Investitures Shades
System Threnodite system[1]
Universe Cosmere
Featured In Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell
Never call this land hell. Respect the land as you would a dangerous beast, but do not hate it.
Silence's grandfather[2]

Threnody is the world that contains the Forests of Hell.[3] It is the setting for the story Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell. It is a temperate world with notable features such as large forests, mountains and oceans. This planet is populated by humans, known as Threnodites, as well as hostile cognitive shadows, referred to locally as shades. The shades can only be combated with silver, which makes the metal an incredibly valuable resource on the planet.

Geography and Ecology[edit]

The planet itself contains two large continents separated by an ocean.[4] Little has been revealed about the larger of the two continents, although it is the original homeland of humans on Threnody.[2] It is known as the Fallen World and contains Homeland. The smaller of the two continents is nearly entirely covered by the deciduous Forests of Hell, along with rivers, some unforested mountains, and caves.[4][2] Fortress Cities have been built in the mountainous regions, while homesteads and waystops dot the Forests themselves, connected by primitive roads.[2] Silver appears to be an abundant resource on this continent, although it still remains valuable due to its usefulness in repelling shades.

There are a wide variety of herbivores in the Forests including rodents, deer, birds, rabbits, and turkeys.[2] Hogs are kept by some of the inhabitants of the Forests, but they are not eaten. Because of the Simple Rules, there are no predators within the Forests, if indeed any ever existed at all: anyone, animal or human, who spills blood draws the attention of the dangerous shades, so any predators that once inhabited the Forests are long dead. The shades themselves are the most numerous creatures within the Forests, and they limit population growth of humans and animal species alike by attacking (and usually killing) any who break the Simple Rules, regardless of their intentions. The Forests themselves are said to be unnaturally quiet, particularly at night, perhaps due to the threat of the shades.

Plants that grow in the Forests include fenweed, which can be used as a poison, and wetleeks, whose sap glows under the light of a specific type of glowpaste. There are also large fields of pale white mushrooms that grow in the Forests.

History[edit]

Early History[edit]

The Threnodite system is a site warped by an ancient conflict.
— Khriss's essay on the Threnodite system[4]

Little is known about the early history of Threnody. At some point in history, Ambition, a Shard of Adonalsium, arrived in the system.[4] Some level of Investiture existed on the planet[clarification needed], although it is unknown whether it was a natural manifestation or if it was related to Ambition. The origin of the human population is unknown, but it predates Ambition's arrival. They populated the larger of the two continents, later known as the Fallen World, building a technologically advanced culture that got at least as far as developing gunpowder.[2] Threnodite explorers discovered the smaller, more heavily-forested continent on their world, which was populated predominantly by shades. The horrified explorers called the area the Forests of Hell, believing the shades to be the spirits of the damned. A very few settlers, called the Forescouts, were the first to colonize the newly-discovered continent.

Some time later, the Shard Odium arrived in the system, intent on killing Ambition.[4] The two Shards fought in interplanetary space, battling on all three Realms. Odium tore chunks of Investiture off Ambition during the fight, mortally wounding the other Shard. These broken chunks of power twisted every planet in the system, including Threnody and its people. Ambition fled the system, pursued by Odium.

Abandonment of the Fallen World[edit]

Smiling was wasted energy. And love…love was for the people back in Homeland. The people who'd died to the Evil.
Silence Montane's thoughts on Homeland[2]

Soon after the discovery of the Forests of Hell, a mysterious force known as the Evil appeared on the larger continent of Threnody.[4] Its exact origin is uncertain, but the Evil consumed the entire continent of mankind; according to legend, it feasted on the souls of the humans that lived there. Whatever the truth is, the panicked survivors of the Evil were forced to flee their continent and go across the ocean to the continent that contains the Forests of Hell.[2] They came lacking some essential resources, but they brought with them records of their life back on their old continent.[4] Aided by the Forescouts that already inhabited the Forests, the refugees gradually settled into the Forests, constructing several Fortress Cities in the mountains of the continent and homesteads in the Forests themselves.[2]

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell[edit]

By the time of Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, around a century after the abandonment of the home continent, humanity has recovered somewhat, settling into an uneasy equilibrium with the shades in their new home.[2] They remain fearful that the Evil will cross the ocean at some point in the future and finish wiping out humanity.[4] The new continent and the Forests are still largely unmapped and unexplored, and a handful of expeditions have set out to their original continent, but none have returned. Despite the records that the original refugees brought with them, the Fallen World and Evil have slipped into the realm of legend. Over this century, the city of Lastport has become the most powerful on the continent.[2]

There has been at least one visit onto the planet by a Worldhopper.[4] Khriss has been to the Forests of Hell and spent some time there, guided by her assisstant Nazh, who is a Threnodite himself. Khriss is interested in the world and the shades, but as of yet has not had time for extended study of the world and its Investiture.

Culture and Society[edit]

Race and Language[edit]

There appears to be little sense of importance to race or ethnicity among the modern Threnodites.[2] Some people have darker skin than others, but there do not seem to be any racial divides amongst the people; they are mostly focused on survival. A few still have faint memories of the lands they once came from, such as the Homeland, but those memories do not have much significance in day-to-day life. Nothing is known about Threnodite languages, but it appears that most in the Forests speak the same tongue. A common swearword in the local language is "shadows". In the Forests, people often bear names that indicate sorrow or grieving, such as Lamentation or Silence.

Religion[edit]

See also: God Beyond
You can rail against the God Beyond, but it will change nothing. William was a fool and an idiot. You are better off. We are Forescouts. We survive. We will be the ones to defeat the Evil, someday.
— Silence's Grandmother on the God Beyond[2]

Little is known about the cultures of the nations that once existed on the Fallen World, as they were destroyed in their entirety.[2] The people of a place that is now simply called Homeland worshiped the God Beyond, basing a religion around it. They symbolized this religion with a dagger, which was often made of silver and carved with symbols of divinity. They also made small shrines to their god. This religion is still practiced in the Forests by some, who have adapted it to fit recent events. Some people, such as Silence's grandmother, believe that the coming of the Evil was a part of the God Beyond's plan and that the Forescouts are destined to one day return to the Fallen World and defeat the Evil there. Others, such as Silence Montane, dismiss these notions as mere superstition.

Fortress Towns[edit]

Main Article: Fortress Towns
The smaller continent is a frontier, mostly unexplored and unnamed, with several bastions of civilization. I have visited one of the largest of these, and even it feels unfinished—set up haphazardly by refugees fleeing across the ocean, lacking some basic necessities. They focused on making it a fortress first, and a home second.
— Khriss's essay on the Threnodite system[4]

The people that fled to the smaller continent did not set up nations there upon their arrival.[2] Fearing that the Evil would manage to follow them across the ocean, they instead founded several Fortress Towns[4] in the mountains, such as Bastion Hill and Lastport.[2] They focused on making these places cities into fortresses rather than homes, and even much later these places still feel as if they are half-built.[4] Nonetheless, these serve as centers of civilization and law within the Forests.[2] They have their own legal systems that lay out procedures for things such as marriages, taxation, bounty hunters, and debt collection. A person must have citizenship at a fort if they wish to live there, so Homesteaders and others cannot simply move into the forts. These towns claim to own the paths through the Forests and the land on either side, but in reality have little authority beyond their own walls. The fortdwellers see some waystops along the roads as being strategically important and dislike when they are owned by "unknown elements" like Silence Montane. They tax those homesteaders and waystops outside the cities, ostensibly charging to maintain the roads and send out occasional patrols of soldiers. In reality, the patrols are uncommon and the roads poorly maintained and overgrown. Occasionally, the forts will embark on projects such as the construction of bridges to help the Homesteaders, but their work is often shoddy and does not last long, as in the case of the New Bridge. As a result, many individuals who live in the Forests simply refuse to pay the tax collectors, becoming criminals by default.

Lives spent living in the mountains--with few shades in the area--makes many fortdwellers skittish about shades and unused to following the Simple Rules.[2] They avoid traveling the Forests, particularly at night. If they are forced to do so, they remain perfectly silent and do not speak. Fortfolk have a particular way of looking at the Forests, averting their gaze and rarely looking at them directly or staring too deeply into the trees. Those traveling in the Forests without proper guidance often end up violating one of the Simple Rules and are slaughtered by the shades. They tend to wear fancier clothes than the homesteaders: black coats with shirts covered in lace at the front, as well as wide-brimmed hats with tall tops. The lands near the forts are relatively infertile and they are dependent on the Homesteaders for the majority of their food.

Homesteaders[edit]

See also Forests of Hell
You couldn't spend your life trapped inside, frozen by fear of the darkness. Live like that, and...well, you were no better off than the people in the forts. Life in the Forests was hard, often deadly. But it was also free.
— Silence's thoughts on life in the Forests[2]

The Threnodites who homestead the Forests of Hell are a tough, practical people.[2] They are more focused on survival than anything else, and have little time for sentimentality and emotion. The forestborn are much more at home with the Forests and the shades than the fortfolk. Most cannot afford enough silver to fully encircle their homes and lands, so they live among the shades, sometimes even allowing them to enter their homes, and accept that the Simple Rules are just a way of life. Even the Homesteaders do not care for traveling the forests at night, but they accept that at times they will have to do so. They often live in large family groups of up to a dozen. Homesteaders wear plain clothing and eat simple foods, such as gravied venison and beer. One can often tell a Homesteader by the way they walk, in a deliberate slow pace that will not draw the shades. The Homesteaders are an independent group; they have a deep dissatisfaction with the fortfolk, who they feel have broken their commitments, unfairly taxing them while failing to properly maintain and patrol the roads; in fact, many people who live in the Forests are technically criminals, according to the forts, for dodging the taxes levied on them by the forts. The Homesteaders tend to not want anything to do with the forts at all, considering the fortdwellers to be prim and soft, unable to survive in the Forests. Homesteaders know that their lives are harder and more dangerous than those of the fortfolk, but they value their freedom more than anything. Forestborn are often a superstitious people as well, believing that hogs ward away shades and so refusing to eat them. Many people are afraid to touch those who have been disfigured by shades, fearing the taint of their touch.

Homesteaders primarily survive by farming the fertile forest clearings for grain to produce flour and other higher-quality foods than the forts can provide.[2] They also trap and raise a variety of creatures such as turkeys and rabbits. They have to be careful when they slaughter these creatures, because they risk exposing blood to the air and enraging the shades. Others travel to the cities, selling goods to the fortfolk. Some people, known as fire merchants, travel the Forests with already-kindled fire sources, selling access to those who are unable to light their own fires due to the Simple Rules. Waystops are another common type of business; they provide food and shelter those who are unwilling to make camp in the Forests, unprotected from the shades. These waystops are often seen as neutral territory, where criminals may visit without fear of bounty hunters. Criminals commonly frequent the Forests, where they can live far from the authority of the forts.

Economy[edit]

As silver is the only known material capable of wounding a shade or healing the withering damage their touch inflicts, it is one of the most critical resources on the planet.[2] Homesteaders carry weapons of silver and pouches of silver dust, in case of injury. Barriers made of silver can be embedded in the ground or around a door frame to create areas that shades cannot access. These are commonly used to protect waystops in the Forest. However, once silver has been touched by a shade, it blackens and becomes ruined, useless against any future shades, making silver a precious commodity. While Threnodites make use of a coin-based currency, measures of silver form the basis of the Threnodite economy. Homesteaders grow the majority of crops and breed most livestock, which they sell back to the Fortress Towns in exchange for silver. It is implied that the silver is mined in the mountains near the Fortress Towns, giving them control of the resource. Silver prices often fluctuate, which can put hardship on those in the forests who are trying to pay the fort taxes while still having enough silver to defend themselves.

Since the Fortress Towns have such a weak grasp on the Forests themselves, they provide an ideal refuge for criminals fleeing the justice of the fortfolk.[2] As such, bounty hunting is a common occupation, especially among the forestborn. This is further incentivized by fort law, which allows bounty hunters to keep anything that belongs to the person they bring in, except for stolen goods. Famous bounty hunters, such as the White Fox and Bloody Kent, have become legends and folk heroes, with elaborate stories told about their exploits and the mysterious powers they are reputed to control. Some bounty hunters work in groups, and may track a high-value bounty through the Forests for months.

Technology[edit]

The stories of what gunpowder could do were often as fanciful as stories of the Homeland.
— Silence's thoughts on gunpowder[2]

Before the arrival of the Evil, the people of Homeland had discovered gunpowder.[2] However, when humankind flees from its influence much knowledge is left behind. Technological innovation has been rather stifled in the Forests by the Simple Rules, specifically the rule against kindling fire. This has rendered technologies such as firestarters or gunpowder nearly useless in the Forests, although myths of gunpowder's explosive properties remain. It has also restricted the development of any sort of combustion-related technologies, such as steam engines. Any and all fire must be provided by a fire merchant, so once they are kindled, most fires are never allowed to go out. The Threnodites have also found an alternative light source, a material called glowpaste, which provides a soft blue light and makes shades glow as well. They have also domesticated several species of animals on the planet, including horses and dogs, which they use in their everyday life.[2] They have also domesticated hogs, turkeys, and rabbits, which are raised and carefully slaughtered for food.

In terms of weaponry, bladed weapons are uncommon in the Forests, as using them risks drawing blood.[2] Most bladed weapons, such as spears, knives, and crossbows, are made of silver and used only to combat shades. When fighting another human, Threnodites tend to make use of weapons that rely on blunt force and are unlikely to draw blood if used appropriately, such as cudgels and garrotes. They also have developed an easy-to-crank crossbow that fires blunt bolts, which do not draw blood but hit hard enough to stun an enemy. In the event that spilling blood is absolutely necessary in the Forests, the desperate make use of burlap sacks that have been sealed with tar. If they can get the sack over someone's head, they can smash their skull in; as long as the blood does not reach the open air, the shades do not become enraged. Overall, the Simple Rules make it incredibly difficult to kill another person, so large-scale battles and wars seem nonexistent between the forts or in the Forests.

Manifestations of Investiture[edit]

Cognitive Shadows and Other Investiture[edit]

See also: Shades

Unlike some of the other worlds in the Cosmere where full Shards of Adonalsium are present, such as Roshar or Scadrial, Threnody has no active manifestation of Investiture that humans can use themselves.[5] The Investiture on Threnody takes the form of shades, barely conscious cognitive shadows of human spirits[4] that appear as translucent white figures that wander the Forests.[2] They are not innately aggressive, but become enraged and respond violently to any violations of the Simple Rules. Any flesh that a shade touches becomes black and withered, and if the contact is bad enough, the person will die and occasionally return as a shade themselves. The only thing that is able to combat shades is silver. It is unknown whether or not silver on Threnody is Invested in any way. The Evil is also related to Cogntive Shadows in some way, but specifically how is still uncertain.[6]

Prior to Odium's clash with Ambition, there was some other form of Investiture already in existence, but its precise origin is still unknown.[4] It may simply be a natural manifestation of Investiture, or it could be related to Ambition. It is uncertain whether this Investiture still exists.

Perpendicularities and Subastral[edit]

Without a full Shard currently residing on the planet, Threnody lacks a stable perpendicularity.[4] This absence prevents anyone from making an easy transition between the Physical Realm and Shadesmar, restricting travel to and from the world.[4] On occasion, perpendicularities form on the planet, but they are unstable and difficult to predict. Their origin is uncertain, but it is known to be morbid[4], so they may be related to the shades. There are currently no details on the appearance of Threnody's subastral in the Cognitive Realm. However, the Selish organization known as the Ire have troops on the border of Threnody in the Cognitive Realm to prevent cognitive shadows, presumably shades, from escaping the subastral.[7] The reflection of the larger continent, where the Evil lives, in the Cognitive Realm is very dangerous to visit.[4]

Planetary System[edit]

Main article: Threnodite system

Threnody is the the third planet in the Threnodite system, located between the planets of Elegy and Purity, orbiting a red star.[1] The planet itself has no moon. Visible in the night sky of Threnody is an unusually bright patch of stars, called Starbelt.[2] It is useful for navigation in the Forests of Hell during the night; the light usually filters through the trees fairly well. The Starbelt is the same patch of unusually bright stars that is visible from Scadrial and other worlds in the Cosmere.[8][9]

Notable Threnodites[edit]

Development[edit]

Brandon Sanderson planned for Threnody to exist within the Cosmere for many years, intending to one day write a novel detailing the escape of humanity to the Forests of Hell, seeking refuge from the Evil.[10] He had not yet written a book set there when George R. R. Martin asked him to write a story for an anthology he was planning with Gardner Dozois called Dangerous Women.[11] Brandon planned to tell a story about a middle-aged woman working as a bounty hunter, and discovered that the already-planned world of Threnody would fit the story well. Brandon still intends to one day write a full novel set on the world, but is toying with the idea of changing the story to follow an expedition from the Forests back to the Forgotten World.[10] Many of the names used on Threnody are based on Puritan names.[11] The Simple Rules were inspired by the Jewish rules for the Sabbath.

Trivia[edit]

  • A Threnody is a song, hymn, or poem that is composed or performed in mourning of the dead.[12]
  • Threnody is named in memorial of someone or something.[13]
  • Travelling to and from the planet is difficult.[14]
  • This planet was named by Isaac Stewart, who has drawn the maps in many of the books set in the cosmere.[11]

Notes[edit]

This page is complete!
This page contains all the knowledge we have on the subject at this time.
Windrunner (talk) 21:10, 16 March 2017 (MST)