- "A lot of superstitious nonsense is spoken about glisters. About them being souls, spirits or the like. In fact, they are the seeds of open sky which blow in from beyond the Edge. This they have done from the beginning of time, sowing the land with life."
- —Bungus Septrill
Glisters were the seeds of life blown in from Open Sky. Long ago, they would become life when they reached Riverrise, but later on, Sanctaphrax blocked their way. They would instead settle in the Stonecomb. They resembled little glowing flashes of light.
In the First Age of Flight, very little was known about glisters and they became an object of fear and superstition, although in reality they were more or less harmless. Glisters fed on emotions, and changed color depending on what kind of emotion was present in the vicinity. Their favorite emotion was fear, and, should any be present, glisters would glow brighter than usual. Though glisters could not harm people directly, prolonged exposure to them caused temperamental and sometimes violent behaviour. During the annual "March of Fools", glisters were attracted to the Viaduct Steps, glowing and warm-colored. During funerals in the Stone Gardens, ones that flashed and sparked would gather around.
Role in Sanctaphrax
In early Sanctaphrax, a special, beautiful rock known as cliff-marble was used in construction. When the Academy of Wind built their entire school out of cliff-marble, it was discovered that the material had the property of attracting glisters. So many of the creatures were drawn to the building that the academics within went mad and killed each other. The cliff-marble was subsequently removed from most of the buildings in Sanctaphrax, and the Cliff Quarries where the rock was hewn were abandoned.
Experiments were carried out on glisters in the Ancient Laboratory by the First Scholars, who intended to create their own artificial life by focusing the energy of a storm on a glister. This experiment led to the disastrous creation of the Blood-Red Glister, which put an end to studies in the laboratory. Far later, however, Linius Pallitax attempted an identical experiment with a Great Storm instead of a normal thunderstorm, and produced the Gloamglozer.
Role in the Deepwoods
Despite the obstruction of the Sanctaphrax rock, many Glisters found their way to the Deepwoods. Drawn to Lullabee groves, some Glisters, known as Caterworms, wove Caterbird cocoons, from which a Caterbird emerged around once every century.
While descending, descenders encountered Glister Storms, for example on Nate Quarter's third descending expedition, which occurred on The Great Overhang. They looked like tiny pulsates of light and came out of nowhere, darting around everywhere. When they attacked it felt "like a needle stabbing at the senses". This was particularly troublesome for waifs such as Fenebrule who throw himself out into the void as he could not cope with the attack of his waif senses.