Crash Course IV

Art (c) Leiana Leatutufu
The Mime Order is already making its way into readers' hands, so today I present to you the penultimate Crash Course blog. There will be one more after this on the "planes of being" in The Bone Season – the divisions and differences between the spirit world, physical world, and Netherworld – but today, we're talking about spooling and spirit combat.


A spool is a group of at least two spirits. The word can be used as a noun (a spool of spirits) or a verb (to spool spirits, i.e. to create a group of them).

All voyants have the natural ability to create spools, though some are better at the art than others. Rephaim can create much larger, stronger spools than human clairvoyants can. When beckoned, the spirits "plug in" to the voyant's aura and gravitate towards it. They will automatically attempt to defend this voyant if they come to harm. Spirits have to be relatively close to a voyant to be spooled, unless that voyant is a summoner, a kind of guardian. Summoners can summon spirits from wherever they please. 

Spooling becomes more difficult in certain situations, and some spirits work better in spools than others. For example, it's almost impossible to create a spool in the presence of an Emite, as spirits flee from them and have no interest in going anywhere near them. A ghost – a spirit that resides near a certain place, called its "haunt" – will only be happy in a spool if it's near its point of origin. If you take it too far away, it will become irritated and uncooperative. Eventually, it will violently pull away from the spool, breaking it apart and scattering all of the spirits a voyant has gathered. 

It is extremely rare for a voyant to be able to spool a breacher, though it is thought in some circles to be possible. Paige first sees a voyant with a spool of poltergeists when she's on the train at the beginning of The Bone Season. Few voyants would have the courage to attempt it. Breachers, the strongest of all spirits, can have some impact on the physical world. Archangels and poltergeists are both classified as breachers, with the poltergeist being considered the most dangerous. They will not work well in spools with lower-level spirits, or even with each other. Such spirits are generally used individually. 

Spirit combat

When a voyant is faced with a dangerous situation, they can use spirits – either individually or in spools – to defend themselves. Some voyants will always keep a spool nearby as a means of protection. Spirits in a spool will automatically defend the voyant whose aura they are plugged into. They do this by attacking an enemy dreamscape, filling it with memories from the spirit's mortal life. As Paige notes in The Bone Season, it's best to grab spirits that have lived violent lives, as the images they create will be all the more unsettling and disturbing for the person they're attacking.

Not all spirits will defend voyants automatically (though they will generally side with humans over Rephaim, as they were human once), but in a spool, they are obliged to do the best they can. 

Here are the spirit types we've already heard about in The Bone Season (and I've added one that appears in The Mime Order). I'm hoping I'll be able to get you guys a more detailed document on spirit types later in the series, when I write out Jaxon Hall's pamphlet On the Machinations of the Itinerant Dead.

  • Archangel: A powerful form of guardian angel that has remained with one family for several generations. Breacher.
  • Boundling: These spirits make their debut appearance in The Mime Order. They are spirits that have been captured by a binder. Sometimes compared to guardian angels, they are more aggressive than defensive, obeying a binder's commands rather than acting automatically to defend him or her from harm. They can change the appearance of a clairvoyant's dreamscape. They can only be spooled by their binder.
  • Drifter: A general term for spirits that voyants can use; the spirits of people who fear death too much to succumb to their second death in the "last light" (see the next Crash Course entry). Low-level, good for spooling. 
  • Fallen angel: These are spirits that have been killed, then forced to defend their murderer. Nashira Sargas controls several fallen angels. Precisely how they are bound is unknown. They are a "dark" form of guardian angel and behave in a very similar fashion. 
  • Ghost: A spirit that sticks to a particular place, usually the place where it died. Moving a ghost from its "haunt" will annoy it.
  • Guardian angel: The spirit of a person that has died to protect someone else. They remain with that person and continue protecting them. They will respond with extreme aggression if their charge is threatened.
  • Poltergeist: The most feared of all spirit types, the poltergeist is a breacher that can leave physical wounds, which can hurt for the rest of a person's life if the poltergeist wills it. Poltergeists usually died violently, or have a vendetta that remains unfulfilled. Amaranth is known to allay the pain of a poltergeist's mark.   

It is possible, if rare, for a spirit to fall into two categories. For example, Nashira controls a fallen angel that is also a poltergeist. 

All of these spirits have slightly different ways of engaging in spirit combat. Ghosts and drifters will simply fire off memories into the enemy dreamscape, while poltergeists will slice and archangels will throw and unbalance a foe. Guardian angels are not breachers, but they can cause tremendous damage to a voyant's dreamscape.

A spirit can be banished to the outer darkness a place in the aether that lies beyond the reach of voyants if the threnody is uttered. Banishment requires knowledge of the spirit's name, but chanting the rest of the threnody will still weaken and distract a spirit to the point that they may not be able to defend their "host" voyant. 


  1. You've created such an fascinating world, Samantha! :) Amazing. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Did you make the rules before writing or during? Did you research spirits beforehand at all?

  3. It's so detailed with the maps and definitions I'm sure it took a lot of time. It's was worth it though. I would love to write a book but I wouldn't know how to go about the research and planning as you did. You are a genius. This is my favorite series, before you my favorite was the private series by Kate Brian and her spinoffs from the private series

  4. Is there a reason Rephaite don't turn into spirits upon death? I know they are from the Netherworld and technically biologically immortal. But they can die, and have similar functions as humans. What would prevent that from happening? Just finished The Song Rising, and was thinking about it!


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