Sixth of the Dusk is a trapper of the Eelakin people. He was trained by his uncle on the island of Sori, one of the forty-some islands that make up the Pantheon archipelago. The trappers’ duty is to capture and breed Aviar — special birds that grant their owners unique magical powers. At the end of their training, each trapper selects an island where he will employ his skills for the rest of his life. Dusk chose the largest and most dangerous of the islands — Patji, the Father. The Eelakin people worship these islands as deities and burn offerings to buy their graces. The islands are sacred, and the trappers are their priests.
Patji, and the water surrounding it, is teeming with vicious and deadly creatures. These predators hunt minds, reading the thoughts and emotions of their prey before employing the lesser, mundane senses. Because of this, Dusk is a cautious and wary man. He’s meticulous in everything he does. Dusk is also quite rough around the edges, seeing no need for human companionship and no reason for talk in most situations. His personal Aviar, Kokerlii and Sak, keep him company as well as protect his life with their magical gifts.
The tradition of the trappers stretches back before remembrance among Dusk’s people, but soon their way of life will be threatened. The Ones from Above push progress upon the Eelakin, visiting them with ships that fly among the stars, promising untold technological wealth. The Ones from Above are sowing the seeds of change, causing many of the Eelakin to no longer be content with the way things have always been. The Ones from Above grant iron-hulled ships and powerful cannons so that more and more people can visit the Pantheon islands, seeking out the Aviar and their mystical abilities. No one seems to know the true motives of the Ones from Above, or if they can truly be trusted.
In a mere 94 pages, Sanderson creates a vivid, deadly, and complicated world. His imagination runs rampant while depicting the dangerous creatures that inhabit Patji such as deathants, nightmaws, and bloodscratches. The magic system he’s constructed is both unique and mysterious, as he reveals only enough about the Aviar and their abilities to leave the reader wanting to know more. Sanderson depicts a civilization at war with itself: tradition fighting against progress and change. Sixth of the Dusk forces the reader to question whether change is a good thing, and whether technology furthers a society or harms it. Can tradition coexist with progress, or must one destroy the other?