The Burning White: Book Five of Lightbringer (Lightbringer #5)

The greatest leaps are occurring in the improvement of firearms. In most cases, each musket is the product of a different smith. This means each man must be able to fix his own firearm and that pieces must be crafted individually. A faulty hammer or flashpan can’t be swapped out for a new one, but must be detached and reworked into appropriate shape. Some large-scale productions with hundreds of apprentice smiths have tried to tackle this problem in Rath by making parts as nearly identical as possible, but the resulting matchlocks tend to be low quality, trading accuracy and durability for consistency and simple repair. Elsewhere, the smiths of Ilyta have gone the other direction, making the highest-quality custom muskets in the world. Recently, they’ve pioneered a form they call the flintlock. Instead of affixing a burning slow match to ignite powder in the flashpan and thence into the breech of the rifle, they’ve affixed a flint that scrapes a frizzen to throw sparks directly into the breech. This approach means a musket or a pistol is always ready to fire, without a soldier having to first light a slow match. Keeping it from widespread adoption is the high rate of misfires—if the flint doesn’t scrape the frizzen correctly or throw sparks perfectly, the firearm doesn’t fire.

Thus far, the combination of luxin with firearms has been largely unsuccessful. The casting of perfectly round yellow luxin musket balls is possible, but the small number of superchromatic yellow drafters able to make solid yellow luxin creates a bottleneck in production. Blue luxin musket balls often shatter from the force of the black powder explosion. An exploding shell made by filling a yellow luxin ball with red luxin (which would ignite explosively from the shattering yellow when the ball hit a target) was once demonstrated to the Nuqaba, but the exact balance of making the yellow thick enough to not explode inside the musket but thin enough to shatter when it hit its target is so difficult that several smiths have died trying to replicate it, probably barring this technique from wide adoption.

Other experiments are doubtless being carried out all over the Seven Satrapies, and once high-quality, consistent, and somewhat accurate firearms are introduced, the ways of war will change forever. As it stands currently, a trained archer can shoot farther, far more quickly, and more accurately.


Tattoos. From a time when factionalism ran high, before all the noble houses had intermarried so much, before single families existed with a kaleidoscope of skin tones within single generations.

At the time, for a number of reasons, the Parians had been more isolated and were more uniformly dark-skinned, which gave numerous drafting advantages that some of them interpreted as being expressions of Orholam’s favor on them as the people who had united under Lucidonius first.

Colored lenses could be lost or unavailable when needed, and were initially prohibitively expensive, so lighter-skinned drafters had taken to tattooing blocks of their own colors on their skin so they’d always have a source available. But color tattoos didn’t work nearly as well for darker-skinned drafters, which included most of the Parians, who were the politically dominant force at the time.

Rather than lose their advantages, several of the most powerful families united to argue that wights were hiding incarnitive magic behind tattoos. They successfully rammed through a prohibition on tattoos, conveniently ignoring that naturally very dark skin could hide incarnitive magic and luxin-packing just as well.

Incarnitive luxin. A term for luxin when it is incorporated directly into one’s body. This is forbidden by the Chromeria as debasing or defiling Orholam’s work (the human body itself) with man’s work and is seen as a slippery slope to trying to fully remake the body and become immortal. In certain cases, the luxiats have turned a blind eye to more minor or prosthetic uses.


Dogs: Being highly susceptible to will-casting, dogs are not allowed on the Jaspers. Ships carrying dogs that so much as dock without permission face a small fine, while disembarking with a dog may result in seizure of the ship and striping for shipowner and the dog’s owner and death for the dog.

Cats: As they are necessary to control the populations of mice and rats, cats are allowed on the Jaspers. That they’re highly resistant to will-casting also plays a part. The Beneficent Hiram D., the renowned will-caster of Blood Forest, testified on the matter before the Magisterial High Court, saying, ‘Cats shrug off all attempts at either being mastered or cajoled to do what they don’t wish to do, either amused or profoundly insulted that a human would even make the attempt. Before investigating this matter on your lords’ instigation, I wasn’t afraid of cats. Now I am.’

Other: Other animals are allowed, prohibited, or subject to taxation in accordance with how domitable they are. Horses, for example, must display a registered brand, pass yearly inspection, and pay a duty, making them a luxury item beyond even the already heavy expenses of keeping them fed and stabled on an island.

One more small, silly scene just for those of you who can’t stop until the very last page: