Kliss is one of the Noble ladies that attend the balls that vin also goes to. She turns out to be an informant, and requests payment from Vin when she reveals a secret.

"Wait!" Vin said. "What was that you said about Elend earlier? He's going to get what he deserves?"
"Hum?" Kliss said, turning. "Why . . . that's right. You've been asking after Shan Elariel's plans, haven't you?"
Shan? Vin thought with rising concern. "What is she planning?"
"Now that, my dear, is an expensive secret indeed. I could tell you . . . but then, what would I have in return? A woman of an unimportant house like myself needs to find sustenance somewhere. . . ."

Now at this point I assumed she could have meant anything sustaining, and the usage is quite broad. However it's emphasised again a little later

Vin turned back to the smiling Kliss. The woman winked at her. "I'll keep your Allomancy a secret, child. Just make certain I get payment by tomorrow afternoon. A lady must buy food—and as you can see, I need a lot of it.

'I need a lot of it' seems like such an odd turn of phrase. I had gotten the impression, previously, that Kliss was a short, plump woman from this:

Kliss turned eagerly, obviously excited by the prospect of another person with whom to gossip. “Lady Valette!” she said, waddling forward

So not someone natural needing 'a lot' of food.

I know it seems like such a small point to pick up on, but it really caught me as a strange thing to emphasise by mentioning twice.

The only thing I could find was a quote from the author:

Kliss was intended to be a throw-away character used in one chapter, but now she's become an informant and a conspirator.

Brandon's Blog

So, why did Kliss need so much food? Surely there's plenty at the ball, and also back at her houses' 'keep'? Even the unimportant houses would be wealthy enough to feed their nobles excessively well?

  • 2
    Perhaps physical size was an indicator of wealth/power? Someone of an unimportant noble house who wanted to appear wealthier/more powerful might attempt to gain more weight.
    – Xantec
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 18:25
  • @Xantec odd idea, but possible?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 18:30
  • i understood it to simply be a tease, she wants money for information, and kinda jokes about her size in the process. Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 13:22
  • Is Kliss perhaps an Edgerunner? From the Roshar system (Stormlight Archives)
    – Stormie
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 9:51
  • 1
    @Stormie I wouldn't know, I should read those books.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 10:13

1 Answer 1


When Kliss said that she needs a lot of food, I took it that she was being sarcastic.

As an informant Kliss would not offer any information without payment of some kind, including what she needs the money for. She is simply making a satiric comment, poking fun at herself being plump, in attempt to make herself seem less dangerous and to seem to provide a purpose for her payment request, without actually providing one.

  • 1
    I agree, and I would add that food often gets used as a symbol/metonym for getting by in the world, e.g. "A girl's gotta eat", "putting food on the table", "living hand-to-mouth" (which Kliss may have been, as it were, if her house was adversely affected by the sabotage/ conspiracy/ bankruptcy efforts of Kelsier's crew: I don't remember specific details of which house she was from and which ones they were targeting, but I'm sure that there would have been some flow-on effects from those targeted houses on to others who depended on them etc.), "I know which side my bread is buttered on" etc.
    – RuthP27
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 13:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.