The Sunlit Man

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The Sunlit Man
Setting Cosmere
Released October 2023[1]
Publisher Dragonsteel Entertainment
This page or section contains details from the unpublished work Secret Project Four!
This information has the potential to ruin plot elements of both published works and upcoming book releases for the reader. It should also be considered uncanonical and could completely change in the future.

The Sunlit Man is the fourth and final of the four secret projects that are being released in 2023 as part a Kickstarter campaign. It is set to come out in October.[2][1] It is a cosmere story set on a hitherto-unseen planet.[3] On March 24th 2022, Brandon released the first ten chapters along with some brief commentary, which can be found on his website, as well as listened to on YouTube.

Synopsis[edit]

Years ago he had comrades in arms and a cause to believe in, but now the man who calls himself Nomad knows only a life on the run. Forced to hop from world to world in the Cosmere whenever the relentless Night Brigade gets too close, Nomad lands on a new planet and is instantly caught up in the struggle between a tyrant and the rebels who want only to escape being turned into mindless slaves―all under the constant threat of a sunrise whose heat will melt the very stones. Unable to understand the language, can he navigate the conflict and gain enough power to leap offworld before his mind or body pay the ultimate price?

—Tor blurb [4]

Summary[edit]

The story takes place in the space age of the cosmere. It follows Sigzil, made immortal through unknown means and accompanied by Auxiliary, a dead spren-like being bonded to him. Now calling himself Nomad, he Skips from planet to planet to escape a group called the Night Brigade. Complicating his escape is the fact that Nomad is beset upon by a Torment, a mysterious condition that makes him incapable of causing harm, even in self-defence or defence of others.[2]

Nomad's latest Skip takes him to a world of deadly sunlight, where he is immediately captured and placed in a fighting arena. There, those who lose are sent out to die in the sun, while the survivors are transformed into Invested warriors. When the arena is attacked by refugees hoping to rescue their captured people, Nomad throws his lot with them, and soon discovers they seek an entrance to mythical lands beneath the ground, where they believe they will find safety.[2]

Setting[edit]

The planet The Sunlit Man is set on is a small, slowly-spinning world with an elaborate ring system surrounding it. The star it orbits emits vast quantities of both heat and Investiture. This supercharges the growth of plants - a sown seed can grow and mature fully over the course of a single dawn. However, as the sun rises fully, the extreme temperatures immediately incinerate both the flora and any creatures unfortunate enough to be caught in its light. As such, the planet's human inhabitants are constantly on the move, travelling just ahead of the rising sun under light reflected by the planetary rings.[2]

They do so in two major ways. Individually, the locals have access to hoverbikes fast enough to outpace the rising sun. Long-term, they live on hovering airships, most of them roughly the size of houses. Fleets of such ships, called columns, can assemble together into mobile cities for the sake of convenience, with flat surfaces that lock together to form roads. When split apart, some of the ships are devoted to farming, sowing seeds that are then harvested during dawn as the columns travel around the planet.[2]

Three columns are known to exist -- one commanded by a man called the Cinder King, another inhabited by refugees led by a trio of women called the Greater Good, and a little-known northern column, whose inhabitants speak with difficult-to-decipher accent. The people are descended from Threnodites, although they do not seem to become shades upon death. Additionally, there is evidence that Scadrians were once present, and may've created or adapted some manner of underground living space that now remains locked.[2]

Aside from the sun, Investiture on the planet manifests through simmering stones which Nomad nicknames the embers. Such embers are used as power sources for hoverbikes and ships. They can also be injected into people by means of a spear, replacing the heart. People implanted with embers -- called ember men and ember women by Nomad -- have parts of their chest burnt away, leaving gaping holes in their ribs and skin, and granting them enhanced reflexes and strength. The ember men and women seem to lose their minds in the process, obeying the wishes of the Cinder King while acting aggressive towards their former friends and loved ones.[2]

Development[edit]

I sat down and decided I was really going to push myself to write this last one because I’ve really wanted to get it done in that slot between projects that I knew I had to work on for contractual reasons. Because if I didn’t, I worried I’d never get around to it.

—Brandon[2]

Like the other secret projects, The Sunlit Man was written during the Covid-19 pandemic, as stopping conventions and international travel gave Brandon more time to write.[5] Unlike the other three, the story was not written as a gift for Brandon's wife Emily. Rather, it was based on one of the first ideas Brandon had for a cosmere story, and one which he had not had the time for beforehand.[2]

The original idea involved Hoid -- then called Topaz -- waking up on an unknown planet and trying to both figure out its magic system and to recruit its people into a looming interstellar war. As the cosmere developed, however, Brandon realized that Hoid no longer worked as the protagonist of this prospective story. Instead, he turned to Hoid's three apprentices, settling on Sigzil, whom he decided to make a major figure in the cosmere's future.[2]

The initial setting was a world that was a sphere eternally rolling on the surface of another planet, forcing its inhabitants to always move. While the idea of a planet rolling on a planet was quickly discarded, Brandon kept the concept of a world where people had to perpetually move or die. This was partially to reinforce the theme of Sigzil/Nomad having to keep moving in order to avoid the Night Brigade.[2]

Trivia[edit]

Notes[edit]

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