|Sole dancers, you see.|
And thus we meet the souldancer herself. Astlin, a girl who hap a portion of her soul ripped away from her by the Guild has been living in the ruins of a metropolis, eating the old and infirm, sacrificed to her for generations. It isn't until Xander shows up and treats her with compassion and pity that she manages to control her desire to feed.
We are also introduced to Szodrin, a Night Gen who seems to be working for the Guild, but when we met him he was in Guild-jail, and it turns out he knew Xander's mother and his been looking for Xander for his own reasons.
Which is all a convoluted way of saying that Brain Neimeier might be crafting more detailed and intricate plots that any author working today. His books are woven through with so many threads, it can be hard to keep track, and you often find yourself wondering about the significance of what you're reading. There are moments where I have to remind myself to be patient - all will be revealed in due course.
When we realize that Astlin is a telepath who has lured Xander into a trap, I found myself wondering why we spent so long inside her imaginary world. It seemed like a waste of words, until you realize that she isn't just another monster, but a key player in the story. We needed to see her world, to get to know her, so that when she is revealed to be the vessel for a portion of Thera - a role she struggles with - we have a little compassion for her, and have a reason to root for her.
That sort of reveal takes time to set up, and Neimeier shows tremendous patience in laying all of the groundwork in order to maximize the power of the reveal.